The stakes are high. Our yet-unnamed hero is moving forward in league with Donovan, his ex-pursuer, to go up against corrupt leadership at the highest level. The story is seemingly reaching its high point. It will be interesting to see where this experiment in stream-of-consciousness, first-person writing will take me.
Thank you to those who have reached out to me with corrections. I am writing this without a net with the eventual intent to publish it as a book. If you find additional mistakes or things that don’t make sense, please email me at email@example.com
As I go back and clean up chapters, they are being published on other serial sites. Those sites are up through about Part 4 as I complete this current Part 17 installment. Those additional sites are:
Now enjoy the latest unedited installment of Road Kill.
Road Kill Part 17
Susan Martin-Conway was the ultimate Washington insider. Both she and her husband were political icons. Back in the 1990’s Steven Conway was the leading presidential contender. He was a powerful senator with charisma, looks, and political positioning who was a shoe-in to win the White House. In the summer before the election, he was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer. It was a very aggressive form of the terrible disease and the public watched him waste away in the spotlight.
He announced that he was dropping out of the campaign in July and succumbed to the disease mere weeks before the election less than four months later. The nation grieved as they watched his young family mourn the passing of a man who was viewed in many circles as the second coming of John Fitzgerald Kennedy.
As the nation mourned the loss of a potential president, there was the very real vacancy that existed in Conway’s senate seat. He was from Philadelphia and had a stronghold on the seat for the Democratic party even though the district that he represented included the heavily Republican Harrisburg area. Conway’s charisma and centrist views were enough to unite both political parties behind him. His seat was one that Republicans hoped to grab so they could increase their majority position against the strong Democratic executive branch of the government.
As the scramble to fill the seat ensued, Conway’s senior staff came up with a stroke of genius. Conway’s wife Susan was an Ivy-League-Educated attorney who had given up her law practice to become a mother and political wife. She had stood by her husband and campaigned for him. She had helped him craft many of the key bills that he successfully brought to Congress, often against the odds. She had helped him reach across the aisle to the Republicans assuring passage of these bills by catering to their pet projects. She and her husband forged quite a team and the late Senator Conway’s staff didn’t see any reason that should continue. They had a discreet meeting his widow to float the idea of her taking his seat.
To say that Susan Martin-Conway had political ambitions would be an understatement. She and her husband had agreed that they could partner, but that he needed to be the face of the office. In terms of intellect, she was head and shoulders above him. She crafted many of his policies and speeches. She reviewed drafts of his proposed bills and even supervised his staff. They knew her as well as they knew her husband, maybe better.
But even his senior staffer, Mary Beth Matthews, was taken aback when the widow agreed so quickly. It was almost as if she had been waiting for this to happen. She justified it by saying it would help her to get past her grief and honor Steven’s memory by continuing his good work. As much as Mary Beth wanted to believe that, she felt some kind of undercurrent. Of course, that well-hidden undercurrent was actually the speeding whitewater of ambition that had been suppressed in Susan Martin-Conway since her husband had taken center stage.
It was a whirlwind from that point forward. Martin-Conway made an impassioned speech to the Senate that was picked up on C-Span and broadcast over and over on news networks of all political leanings. She said all the right things, paused and teared up in all the right places and paused for thunderous applause in the right spots. She had written the speech with very little input from the staff, but they all agreed that it didn’t need a lot of work.
She was allowed to take her husband’s place and was able to get passage of three bills that he sponsored in the final 18 months of his term. When it came time for the election for his seat, she took to the process quite naturally. She had stood by Steven for years and had orchestrated much of his fundraising and his public appearances. The machine they had created together had continued to run without him and she won the election by a large margin and continued winning.
When the Democrats retook the White House in 2008, she was tapped by the incoming president to be Secretary of State. She had been disappointed that he had not considered her for Vice President, but during their meeting he explained that, with the volatility around the world, the Secretary of State would be a pivotal role that needed a strong leader and could lead to consideration for the presidency down the road.
When the word ‘presidency’ registered with Susan, she was all in. She accepted the position, sailed through the confirmation hearings and increased the visibility and impact of the cabinet spot to heights not realized since the days of Henry Kissinger.
As I thought about it, Project Oscar started to fit her ambitions. The President’s second term was coming to an end. The Secretary of State had been positioning herself by being more visible than ever. Republican candidates had already announced their candidacies. The Democrats were ominously quiet. There had been unprecedented growth during this president’s two terms coupled with a settling down of trouble spots around the world. New diplomatic and trade agreements had been forged with previously unfriendly nations. Many felt that it was just a matter of the president naming his successor and the obvious choice was Susan Martin-Conway.
That made what we were trying to accomplish even more important, but equally more dangerous.
I asked Ben, in a flippant tone, if he had any ideas about taking down Project Oscar and, potentially, the powerful Secretary of State that everyone loved.
“Well, first we have to make people love her less. Then we have to get her to admit what’s going on.”
It was an answer that I took as being over simplistic at first, but then the brilliance of it hit me. Would people love her less if they knew she was planning the invasion of Middle Eastern countries to basically steal and profit from their oil? In the current political environment, there would be those that would applaud the plan, but the overwhelming majority would likely see it as nation or world-building. That was a common practice in the days of the Roman Empire, Nazi Germany and, to some extent, Russia and China, but not something associated with the United States. A leader seeking to unilaterally do something like this would be frowned upon around the globe.
“There’s something I don’t understand about this,” Ben said as I pondered the enormity of the situation. “How can we justify invading these countries? Back with 9-11, it was the ‘weapons of mass destruction’ and the harboring of terrorists that justified our invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. There has to be some type of event to trigger what she has planned.”
Ben was absolutely right. Even with the invasions following the 9-11 attack, the crackpot conspiracy theorists invaded the Internet with ‘evidence’ that George W. Bush had faked the airplane attacks on the World Trade Center and had intentionally imploded the buildings with explosives. What if, in this case, something like this was actually being planned? What if Martin-Conway was going to stage some type of attack to justify the invasion of the Middle Eastern countries targeted by Project Oscar? It was a longshot, but it was as good a place to start as any other.
Ben and I spent the next several hours going through every memo and every file that I had downloaded from the State Department’s server. There were plenty of documents tied to Project Oscar, but nothing related to possible staged or real events to justify its start.
“There is a lot of money being funneled to military spending,” Ben said after a long period of silence. “It’s almost like money laundering. I’ve been able to track large amounts of money all over the world that have ended up in The Pentagon’s coffers under an account called Anti-Terror. The money from that account has been used to buy a lot of military gear, but I also see very large expenditures going to a company called PG Shipbuilders. When I looked them up, I found that they are primarily in the business of building oil rigs. Looks like we’re preparing to transport the spoils of war.”
The fact that money was being spent on preparations meant that things had moved out of the planning stages. This kind of money wasn’t spent on operations that weren’t intended to move forward.
Ben kept rattling off expenditures, but then he became very quiet. He appeared to be accessing the same set of files over and over.
“This doesn’t add up. I need you to come and take a look at this.”
I rolled my chair over to Ben’s workstation and looked at what was concerning him. I didn’t like what I saw.
“Could this be what we’re looking for? Man, I hope not.”
As I looked at the collection of files, I concurred with Ben’s thoughts. If this was the trigger event, things just became much more serious and deadly, but we needed to be sure.