[ABOUT THREE MONTHS LATER]
Susan and I had been driving to work together at this point. It had been my turn to drive, Which left Susan free to be shocked and angry when we drove up to the house she shared with two other young women.
On the street in front of the house the Minneapolis Fire Department had put the fire that had been set on her Ford Escort. From the pattern of damage on the car I immediately guessed that the fire had been set with an old school Molotov cocktail.
The Minneapolis Police were already present and an uniformed officer had been posted at the open front door of Susan’s house. When Susan I walked up I got a good look at the door. It did not look like it had been forced open.
“I’m sorry,” said the officer at the door, “this is a crime scene.”
It was time to let this fellow know who the boss was.
“Officer,” I said, “I’m Al Keller, the Governor’s Chief of Staff.”
I then pointed to Susan with my right thumb and spoke again.
“And this is Susan Mercer, she’s the press secretary for Governor March’s presidential campaign.”
I then used the right thumb to point over my back at the burned up hulk of the car on the street.
“She is the owner of that car that’s about to towed away as evidence.” I continued. “I believe that she will need to speak to the detectives investigating this incident.”
The unpleasant fact of reality at the time was that the political administration of the city of Minneapolis had been solidly under the control of the local branch of the other party for over three decades.
Yes, the Democratic Farmer Labor Party of Minnesota is every bit as bad as it sounds.
John, in his capacity as governor, had found it necessary to tell the current mayor of Minneapolis that if municipal administration’s slack attitude toward acts of violence against Republicans in his city continued that he would send in a military police unit from the Minnesota National Guard to deal with the problem. It was now obvious that this incident could very well trigger that response.
And every cop in Minneapolis was fully well aware of this.
The cop at the front door nodded.
“Of course, sir.” He said. “If you would follow me ma’am.”
As the cop lead Susan into her own home I saw two more vehicles drive up to the crime scene. They were an uplink van and a minivan belonging to KMSP-TV, the local Fox Network affiliate.
In the minivan was one of the local reporters and Sonya Newman. Sonya had been assigned by Fox News to John’s campaign for president. Off the air everyone working on the campaign called her Sunny.
“Susan,” I said, “go in and talk to the cops, I’ll talk to Sunny and Tom.”
Susan nodded and went into the house with the front door cop. I turned to walk over to the reporters.
“Hi Sunny, hello Tom.” I said.
“Hi Al,” said Sunny. Tom just nodded.
“Tom,” I said, “Susan’s inside with the cops, why don’t you go in and talk to them.”
“Alright.” Said Tom sullenly. And he went inside the house.
“Al,” said Sunny, “what’s with you and Tom, apart from you being straight?”
“I recommended a book to him.” I said.
“Atlas Shrugged or Starship Troopers?” She said.
“The Pink Swastika,” I replied, “it’s about homosexual culture in the Weimar Republic and the subsequent Reich.”
“I know Ernst Rohm was gay.” She said.
“It goes further than that.” I said. “Apparently there was a big split back in the Weimar days with two completely antithetical groups in Germany, one group ultimately got sent to the camps, and the other group basically joined a certain party and ended up running the camps.”
“Okay.” She said. “I can see why Tom would be upset to read that.”
Sunny then looked and pointed at the charred wreck of Susan’s car.
“So why did this happen?” She asked.
I saw that the rear bumper of the car, with it’s two bumper stickers, was still intact. I walked over and pointed to it.
“Well,” I said, “Susan has made no secret of the fact that she had worked on the election campaign of Little Larry Null.”
I then pointed to the stickers on the bumper. The first was a NULL sticker from the previous presidential election. The second was a MARCH sticker from the current campaign.
“In fact John brought her in the campaign the moment that she mentioned that fact.” I said.
Then I had a thought.
“Can we do this again with the camera running?”
“Yes.” Said Sunny.
She looked back at the cameraman, who then nodded in apparent agreement.
We started over again when Sonya Newman, the intrepid reporter for the Fox News Channel, asked me why this incident happened.
I repeated what I had said before and then continued on.
“Miss Mercer decided that the election of Laurence Null was a mistake and she wanted everyone on the road to know it, someone on the other side clearly has a problem with this.”
When camera switched off Sunny asked me another question.
“So what do you really think about this.” She said.
“I can’t really say.” I replied. “I want John to win this one.”
That wasn’t going to stop Sunny.
“If I say anything, it will be that its from an anonymous campaign official.” She said.
I stepped up and whispered in her ear.
“It involves duct tape, a set of headphones, and an old Yoko Ono record, one from the late Sixties on the Apple Records label.”
Sunny stepped back a bit.
“You know,” she said, “there is such a thing as water boarding.”
It was at the moment that Tom stepped out from the house and walked over to us. He walked up to me and spoke.
“Al,” he said, “you better go inside and talk to Susan.”
That was the longest sentence Tom had spoken to me off camera in almost a year.
I walked into the house and went straight to Susan’s room. It was very readily apparent that there was no damage to the door of the house or to anything not belonging to Susan.
When I entered Susan’s room I saw that practically everything was damaged in some way.
Including her pink teddy bear.
I had to jump to the conclusion that one or both the roommates were involved in this act of vandalism. But that was something for the Minneapolis Police to sort out. If the Mayor and his crew didn’t get in the way.
Susan was sitting on the bed holding her teddy bear in her hands. I sat down next to her.
“Grandma gave her to me.” Susan said.
I took a closer look at the bear and saw a small white tag with three letters in the Cyrillic alphabet.
“Russian?” I asked.
“Grandma bought her in Leningrad during one of those silly fraternal socialist tours of the old Soviet Union.”
I nodded and then had an idea.
“My mom has a sewing machine.” I said. “She could stitch her back together.”
Susan looked at me and nodded.
“And it’s time for you to meet her anyway.” I also said.
“Okay.” She replied.