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22 April, 2009 / Erik

The Fuller Equation, Chapter One

1. Blood on the Podium

My name is Fuller and I am the Voice of God.

I’ll fill you in on the rest later. First, I’ve got to keep a man from dying. Scanning the dais, all I see are people scattering and watching their persons for fear of another set of gunshots. There hasn’t been a report since the sounds that took down the future of the nation.

Meanwhile, here’s me, a short fool trying do what little I know to stop the blood loss. I think I see the Senator’s wife running off stage to get the secret service or some sort of medical help. My shirt’s coated in White House worthy hemoglobin; it’d be ruined if it hadn’t been red to begin with.

Heh.

How did I get to this point? Why am I the only one helping him?

No, wait. Focus and keep applying pressure. Senator Garland, still conscious despite begin shot, looks at me and smiles. I don’t particularly like to be smiled at and this is the single scariest fucking smile I’ve ever seen.

“So is one of you motherfuckers going to do something about the very important person dying in my hands?” I shout to the few people left in earshot. I don’t know if anyone can hear me over the ambient hum of all the other delegates running for their own little useless lives.

“Fuller …” says presidential candidate Garland. It’s just a statement of fact and a sad commentary on where we all are; I’m bearing witness to his last breath. Another scan of the stage and I see the running mate. That Fuckhead gives me a thumbs-up before running into protective custody. Why the fuck is no one trying to save him?

I barely sense Garland’s hand sliding across mine from the barrier all the blood has created. No headshot. They wanted him to linger and cough to death.

I stumble through encouraging words. “The paramedics will be here soon, boss.” I do what you see in movies when things like this happen. I finally think to look up for my own safety and I only get a glimpse of him: a man dressed entirely in white. The fucking dream was real. Shoot me now, Man in White, I don’t want this.

I hear a shrill voice scream my name and I lose sight of the man in white. I look to stage right and see Valerija barreling toward the dais. You’d think her security clearance would’ve been lifted when I fired her treacherous ass.

“Get back! He’s still here!” I shout at her.

“Who?”

“The guy who’s killing the future, you stupid bitch!” I wonder if she was part of their plan all along. The medics finally arrive and someone shouts for me to keep holding down the spot. They finally take over their duties completely and I follow the stretcher, keeping an eye out for men in white. Thankfully, EMTs wear blue. We’re running down corridors with exposed steampipes and fire-proofing toward the ambulance they always keep at conventions just in case of “serious-shit” level events like this. Garland is still smiling.

“They always wanted you anyway, Fuller,” he says as we get to the elevator. He quietly says one last thing before a secret service dude pushes me aside and Garland’s wife tramples me to be at his side. The agent just nods a no and I perceive. This is the last time I can hope. Mother of fuck, Garland’s already dead. The elevator doors close.

I hear that foolish girl behind me, huffing as she catches up to us; her boots clod against the concrete. I just wish she’d trip. C’mon, give me a pratfall to lighten the mood.

She wraps her arms around me and instinctively, I move in kind. That cinnamon smell. Pale skin in contrast to my own tan. Night black hair and contact. I hold her face in my bloody hands. She can make it a painting someday and jumpstart her artistic career. Fuck if I care. I take one last drink of those chroma-key eyes. Stop time if you can because I’ll never let you in again. I leave blood on her face and say, “this changes nothing. You are terminated.” The waterworks come on.

“Our best hope just died and you’re crying over a job?”

#

The pressure is so strong, I just want to slam my head against a pillar until all the yolk oozes out and ends this bullshit. Opening my eyes reveals a world too filled with color. Harsh blue from the lights. Intense whites on the walls. And red. Fuck. The image-handler’s perfume alerts me to her presence. When I get my eyes to adjust to the full brunt of reality, I see she’s cried her mascara out. She’s sniveling and looking for support.

“Speak,” I command. If she’s looking for comfort, she’s come to the wrong fucking place.

“Um … uh … it …”

“Faster!”

“Itwentoutlive!” she shouts. Good, get all the grief out. Wish I could do it as easily, but momentum keeps me from becoming a forgotten gelatin mold.

“What went out?” The green room is amazingly low on horror. My bloodied red shirt is lying on the ground. Either she stripped me or I took it off before I passed out on the couch. She sits down to collect herself.

“What you did … helping the Senator. It went out live. Um, they want you for interviews.”

Uh …

“Seriously, Fuller.”

“Where’s the Fuckhead?” I ask.

“Secure location.”

“Jesus fucking Christ. What do you people have in mind?”

“Something reassuring? I mean, putting you in public …” she starts to laugh. I always figured she’d break from the stress of managing me for Garland’s campaign, but … “Oh God, Fuller. We don’t know what else to do. He’s dead.”

Confirmation winds me.

Three things I’m sure of. One: the Party is already planning to put the Fuckhead in Garland’s place and nothing I can do will stop that. Two: the Vice President has surely appeared on Television already, decrying today’s events. Three: The Party does not want me on television.

I eye the shirt on the ground. “Miss McKenzie?” She looks up in disbelief. She is listening. “If I agree to go on, you’ll follow my lead, right? No backtracking? If you get fired, you’ll live with it, right?”

She nods her head in the positive. I get up and reach for the shirt. She instinctively moves to block me, but holds back. I put the shirt back on and she starts buttoning me up.

“No tie?” she asks.

I shake no.

“I guessed,” she says. “I don’t know how well the blood will show up on TV. Hell, your shirts have always been skirting illegal red.”

“A friend from home told me about that.”

“You can’t stop being a bastard, can you?” She straightens my collar.

“That’s what my mother keeps telling me.”

She starts to laugh. It’s the first genuine thing I ever get from her. For all the phoniness the job requires, she’s a believer in the Honest Appeal. Her faith allowed her to put up with me.

“You’re smiling,” I say.

“You said my name.”

#

One of the press-stooges is getting ready to introduce me. I take a good breath. We’re still at the scene of the crime and they’re broadcasting in these cushy skyboxes. It’s the shine of “all systems normal” from this side of the stage. I still haven’t seen the footage. I have no idea what spin is on it. Miss McKenzie didn’t have much more info than a lot of people saw me holding onto Garland’s life.

I loathe going on the national news shows. These things never go well. In the beginning, it was so simple because I dealt with people one on one. Give me a TV camera and … Anyway, here’s the transcript:

Press-stooge: “Welcome to the show, Fuller.”

Fuller: “Uh, hi.”

Press-stooge: “I wish the circumstances were better.”

Fuller: “I wish I could find the shore.”

Press-stooge: “Right. So what will people remember most about the Garland Campaign?”

Fuller: “Hopefully, they’ll remember its honesty. The transparency with which Senator Garland wished to operate as a candidate and as president was, quite honestly astonishing.”

[Just like to break in here to mention that I am capable of stringing together ready-for-broadcast thoughts.]

Press-stooge: “It was an amazing journey to the nomination.”

Fuller: “I’m afraid, though, it’ll be remembered as the last time regular people were allowed anywhere near the center seat of power.”

[Aw, fuck. I started off so well]

Press-stooge: “Excuse me?”

Fuller: “Senator Garland wasn’t all that juiced in. He was buddies with people who got him the right ears and the right hands. I’m just a guy from Haverbrook, California. Almost everybody on the campaign was on the outskirts of the system. Oh sure, everybody had connections … but we’re as Washington Outsider as you can really get. Well, except the F—head. He’s the usual Washington Sleaze.”

[Here, some of the staff got nervous. From history, they knew once I started to say fuck, it was only a matter of time.]

Press-stooge: “Now, millions of Americans watched as you tried to keep Senator Garland alive. Weren’t you afraid for your life?”

Fuller: “I was pre-occupied at the time, Randall. The gunman could’ve splattered my f—ing brain all over the stage and I wouldn’t’ve noticed until I was sweating in Hell.”

[The nice thing about screwing around on air like this: it discourages follow-up questions.]

Press-stooge: “Fuller, if you could … what were Senator Garland’s last words?”

Fuller: “He said, “F— those bastards, Fuller.”

#

Miss McKenzie manages to get us a limo out of the convention hall and back to the ritzy Sheraton or Omni or Westin we were all booked at. She fills me in on the news getting through the Garland camp as I look at the streets littered with campaign signs and other debris. I should’ve told the people to clean up their mess while I had the chance. Anyway, Garland never regained consciousness and his widow is now at a secure location. Our suites are being protected and, well, we’re welcome to leave by 11AM tomorrow. Miss McKenzie has already been told her services will no longer be required. We’ve both been let go.

“So when will the Fuckhead formally get the nomination?” I ask.

“Oh, not until after the funeral. They’ll have to make it look good for the public.” She moves to my side of the limo and lays her head in my lap, her normally bunned blond hair all splayed out over my black pants. The eye make up has left messy circles framing blood-shot eyes. Aw, hell.

I let my right hand into her hair. Contact.

“It’s not the end of your career, Miss McKenzie.”

I hear a sniffle. “You sure?”

“You’re a hard worker. You don’t sleep with the clients. You’ve also got me as a reference.”

I get her to laugh again. “C’mon, if people know you handled me, they’ll know you can handle the Second Coming with a nice smile and aplomb.” It might not keep her from issuing tears, but it stops me from flooding the world with crap it really doesn’t want. In her hair, I find something that nulls out the weight around me.

“Mmm. How come you aren’t always this nice?”

“I’m usually carrying fourteen sacks of potatoes.”

She doesn’t respond, but I know she wishes she could understand what the fuck I’m talking about.

Heh.

For the rest of our slow crawl back to the hotel, my red right hand buries itself in her sand-of-color, but soft-of-touch hair and traces the side of her face. She occasionally murmurs. As long as I keep her calm, I can say I’m doing some good in this world.

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2 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. Erik / May 8 2009 2:22 pm

    Continue onto Chapter Two: http://tiny.cc/fuller02

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  1. I Want to Build a Brand « Future Threat and the Hope of Progess

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