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.