Monday, March 31, 2008

Legacy, Chapter Two

June 1994

John March ignored the twitch of pain in his left arm as he down shifted on the approach to Downing Street. He really did not want to drive his own car, a Triumph TR-6, from Oxford to Westminster, not after the deaths by bombing of Tim Stamper and Sarah Harding, but certain appearances had to be maintained. Though his uncle would often offer to send a car to pick him up John preferred to drive himself around. Even if it was on the wrong side of the road.

Security around the Prime Minister's official residence had been beefed up. There was a new guy at the police checkpoint. He had never seen a Minnesota driver's license before, nor was he aware of the fact that the Prime Minister had an American nephew. A police sergeant had to come over to clear things up. As he drove away from the checkpoint John caught a glimpse in him rear view mirror of the sergeant chewing the new guy a new one.

John drove past a visibly disappointed valet to the parking area normally used by cabinet ministers and bureaucrats. He parked in the late party chairman's space. It was a bit disrespectful, but who was going to complain?

John was dressed to attend Stamper's funeral. He put on his serious academic face as he entered 10 Downing Street. Corder was waiting just inside the door.

"Commander Corder." Said John.

"Doctor March." Corder replied.

"We're... not quite there yet." Said John. "May I ask of favor of you?"


"Could you see to it that no one plants a bomb in my car while I'm parked here?"

For a very brief moment Corder had the deer in the headlights look on his face, but he quickly recovered.

_Gotcha!_ John thought without changing the expression on his face.

"Yes... of course." Said Corder. "The P.M. is expecting you."

John charged up the stairs and entered the Prime Minister's office. His uncle, Francis Urquhart, also dressed to attend the funeral, had been dictating a letter to a stenographer when he entered the room.

"John!" said the Prime Minister. "It is good to see you again. Even under the circumstances."

"Yes." John replied. "It is a sad thing to lose two close friends to those barbarians."

"Of course." Said Francis. "And congratulations on being awarded your doctorate!"

"Thank you Uncle Francis." Said John."I do hope you and Aunt Elizabeth could attend the ceremony."

"We'll see." He replied. "Was there anything else?"

"Yes, Uncle Francis," Said John. "There is a matter that I need to speak to you about, in private."

The Prime Minister nodded to the stenographer and sat down. The stenographer closed the door as she left the room.

"Well?" Said Francis. "What is it?"

John reached into his coat pocket and pulled out a tape cassette. He laid it on the Prime Minister's desk and said. "This."

On the label of the cassette was written the name, "MATTIE STORIN".

Francis Urquhart looked up at his nephew in shock.

"Tim Stamper gave it to me before he died." Said John. "He acted as if I were some sort of naive and idealistic child. As if I didn't already have blood on my own hands."

"Did you play the tape?"

"Of course I played the tape!" John replied. "That's why I brought it down here, I can't just toss it out into the trash!"

Francis looked back down at the cassette.

"No." He said. "Of course not."

John March continued to speak.

"Bringing down this government is simply not an option and if it were to get out that you put rat poison in someone's cocaine that might cause the Minneapolis Police to reopen the investigation into my father's death."

Francis looked back up at his nephew. "I thought that matter was settled?"

John chose this moment to sit down before replying.

"Certain evidence was suppressed twelve years ago because it would have been embarrassing to the local branch of the Democratic Party for it to get out that one of their biggest donors and an announced candidate for state governor was a cokehead."

Francis silently pondered for a moment.

John continued. "Of course, given what I've heard about the current administration in
Washington, being a cokehead may not be such a liability."

From some of the reports that the Prime Minister had read it would appear that the interior of the White House was a virtual snowstorm.

"There is another issue." Said John. "As you may recall I have certain long range plans. These plans do not include being blown up in my own car or being shot in the head and dumped in a vacant lot by so-called Irish terrorists."

Francis looked up with a shocked stare.

"How do I assure that this won't happen?" Said John. "Do I have to kill someone? Or should I talk to Corder about that?"

"No." Said Francis. "You shouldn't have to speak to Corder."

Francis Urquhart took this moment to lean back in his chair. He placed his elbows firmly on the armrests and clasped his hands together.

"So," he said in a voice the verged on the reptilian, "do you really believe that you can do it? Become the President of the United States?"

Very calmly, John March replied. "Yes."

"It's a long term project," he continued, "but it is doable."

Someone knocked on the door to the Prime Minister's private office. It was Corder.

"The car is ready Prime Minister." He said.

"Thank you Corder." Said the Prime Minister.

Francis Urquhart and John March both stood up.

"I have to do the eulogy for Stamper," said Urquhart.

"Oh, I wouldn't miss that for anything." replied March.

Legacy, Chapter One

January 2008

Nothing lasts forever. Even the longest, the most glittering reign must come to an end someday.

Some people mourned the passing of British Prime Minister Sir Francis Urquhart.. Others, of a less civilized frame of mind, saw his death as a cause for celebration.

Air Force One lifted off from runway 12L of the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and turned left onto the great circle route towards London. It was the usual practice of American Presidents to fly directly to the capital of a foreign nation whenever he would attend the funeral of that nation's leader. But in this case President George W. Bush, being a good Christian gentleman, had decided to offer a lift to the sister and other American relatives of the late Prime Minister.

Mary Urquhart March was one of the small number of the sons and daughters of the British aristocratic class who continued to marry members of wealthy American families. In her case a Richard Charles March II of Minnesota.

The March family fortune began in the industries of lumber, mining, and local railroads but shifted to other endeavors over the course of time. When Mary Urquhart met and married Richard, who was named for the legendary creator of the family fortune, he was a charming gentleman who showed no hint of the character flaws that would ultimately bring about his early demise. Richard was now interred in the family crypt in Lakewood Cemetery in Minneapolis.

Mary Urquhart March had borne three children for her husband.

The first, Richard Charles March III, had upon entering the University of Minnesota immersed himself in the local drug culture and ultimately discovered Heroin. He was subsequently interred next to his father in the family crypt.

The second, Anne Elizabeth March, had left the University as a Marxist agitator and a lesbian. It was no surprise to anyone that she had joined the ruffians who celebrated her uncle's death.

The last, John Andrew March, had skipped entering the University and instead enlisted in the United States Army as an infantryman. He had night-schooled his way to Bachelor's degree and was selected for Officer Candidate School. It was after being wounded in a fratricide incident during Operation Desert Storm and receiving a medical discharge that he, with his uncle's influence as a newly minted Prime Minister, he went to Oxford to continue his postgraduate studies and earn a doctorate in history. John would use that "piled higher and deeper" degree and his subsequent writings as a ticket to a political career.

John Andrew March was now entering his second year as the Republican Governor of the State of Minnesota. Even without that he was still the dutiful son who would accompany his mother to her older brother's funeral. But John wanted to be elected to a higher office. And a photo opportunity was a photo opportunity, even if it was literally over his uncle's dead body.

John sat at a window seat on Air Force One, contemplating the path he had taken to reach this point, and the path he must follow to reach his ultimate goal.