Hi. Welcome back. This will be the last episode of the series. It was an absolute pleasure for me, getting to work with some writers I hold in high regard. I have to thank you too for staying with us. Let’s hope all dots connect [visibly] after this episode. [Here’s where we left off]
I had absolutely no clue how my day would go as I left that state house that morning. With the weekly executive meeting out of the way, I thought I’d coast into the weekend. My planned visit to some construction sites was mere formality – nothing I considered disturbing. It looked like a smooth sail. What did I know!
Even Macbeth’s witches could not have predicted a call from the president – but there he was on the first line. It was the last thing one could have expected, seeing as we weren’t from the same party – or on particularly good terms. But, elections were around the corner; sh*t happens.
My first guess was that he wanted to offer me a deal – a sweet one. Something like saying his party would not vie for my seat if I withdrew support for my candidate in his home state. I would certainly consider that – forget what I said in the papers. Anything short of that, and he would just have wasted quality airtime. Maybe I should have known better.
I wish I could bring myself to cut the call while he spoke. What nerve! Bloody militocrat! Telling me how to run affairs in my own state? I’m not one to deceive myself; I came here to eat – same for him. But, I’d never understand the sermons of a thief. How does one preach against gluttony with a full mouth? He was gobbling at the centre; yet, he felt the need to meddle in the little nibbling we did in our little corner. Why couldn’t he stay true to the politician’s creed – ‘eat and let eat’?
Whatever the case, he was president – and I couldn’t afford such games at this crucial time. So, I quickly summoned the members of my inner circle – ‘super six’ is what I called them. These ones were my cabinet within the cabinet; they could be trusted. Like with Jesus, if my crucifixion was near, these had VIP reservations to the mount of transfiguration. We were in one accord. And, everyone knew they were the ones with the real power, anyway. The others just made up the numbers – and shared in the spoils.
I hated impromptu meetings – even the ones I had to call. But, this was imperative. Someone had some explaining to do. We had to strategize if we were to get past this glitch.
And, just as I took my seat, the headline from a top magazine caught my eye. It had been carefully arranged on my desk. Someone wanted me to see it. “Terminal 8: The Terminal End of a Political Giant“. It was already in the public domain? Shivers traced a maze through my entire body.
I could already feel cramps in my chest as I yelled for an explanation. They should just have put a gun to my head! How on earth could they have let it get out? They didn’t. They had bought and incinerated the whole publication before it circulated. They were quick to explain that. I should have trusted them more. What was on my desk was the only surviving copy. I had to know how far my detractors would go.
It felt like some invisible hand had turned on the room’s air-conditioners. My lips couldn’t immediately stop trembling – but my relief was obvious. It, however, didn’t change the taste of failure I felt in my mouth. To think this same project that almost ruined me was what got me into office!
My promise to re-activate and expand the state’s railway system eased my path into office. The people wanted nothing as badly as cheap, effective transportation – and I was the man they looked to to provide it. I had promised to get more trains for the seven existing terminals. I also promised to build seven new terminals; ‘14 by 2014’ we called it. Strategy worked like magic.
We managed to get an extra train for the existing route after two years. That was some progress, at least – but humans can be hard to please. I’m sure we would have built on that if more pressing things hadn’t come up.
First was the need to fulfill less public campaign promises I had made; I had to pay my debts. More importantly, though, my deputy was trying to depose me with his wealth. I needed extra funds to match his ‘gifts’. It was in the state’s interest that I remained number one.
Now, four months to the next elections, karma had come knocking. We hadn’t gone past foundation on the 8th terminal. In fact, I had totally forgotten about it. So, I didn’t need special diagnosis to know the almost-scandal was the reason my blood pressure was climbing. It also didn’t help that two of my six had just strolled casually in – smirks smeared across their faces. But, they brought my tonic. Soon, I bore that smirk of victory too.
They had just returned from some groundwork. They had finished plans to add the railway project to my deputy’s portfolio – and impeach him on grounds of gross misconduct and non-performance. After all, the constitution never explicitly stated what constituted ‘gross misconduct’. They had to call in favours from legislators we had helped trounce a few charges. But it was now a done deal. Brilliant!!! I loved this team. They always helped the people see the hero in me!
No better time for tea and ‘kola’. They say whoever brings kola brings life – but one of us felt differently. He seemed more interested in the tea lady’s internal dimensions than the sharing formula we were drafting. Poor fellow! Well, in his defense, it didn’t affect his work!
The meeting had been a huge success. Again, the ‘super six’ had delivered. The president couldn’t have seen this coming. So what if it cost the state a little (more)! I cleared my throat to get everyone’s attention as we prepared to leave. “Great job, people. I believe this Terminal 8 crap is dead now. Please handle the press. We cannot afford any surprises in the coming elections”.
“One last thing, I hear there’s a nurse somewhere in this whole story. Arrange her to be my special guest this weekend since the first lady is away”. I have weaknesses too – but I do mine with some class.
That would be all, folks. Thanx for an amazing ride. Please let us know what you think of the series. I should get to paying my own blog-debts now 😀 Happy Easter!!!