Remington gulped his second vodka martini and raised his voice an octave
or two. "Your guy has to get right on the law and order issue or he
will lose the election. It's as simple as that, Geena. Is there any
part of what I just said that you do not understand?"
Geena hated herself for allowing Jack Remington to lecture her as if
she were college girl. He was even more a bully than her father, retired
Capt. Joseph "Buck" Fallon of the Philadelphia Police Department.
She forced a countenance of attentiveness while Jack grooved on the
sound of his own words and his awareness that he scared hell out of
Geena over lunch at the Slate on West 56th street in Manhattan, around
the corner from CBS.
Geena thought she spotted Ed Bradley on a cell phone at a table just
beyond the mahogany bar. She resisted the temptation to ask Jack for
confirmation about Rather's patronage of the Slate. It would only make
her look undeniably sophomoric in the backdraft of the Remington glow.
"Likely voters see your boy as half a fag. He has to show he has balls,
Geena. The really weird thing is that your boy is not doing nearly as
well among women as he should. He's charming and good looking enough
to be a movie star. But he doesn't make them feel safe. That's the end
game, Geena. Voters want a protector. It's that simple!"
"Every time they pick up a newspaper they read about somebody murdering
somebody else," Jack Remington continued. "Or it's about kids dressed
in black spraying a school yard with bullets from an automatic weapon.
Or a seemingly normal woman killing her own children. These are the
things that resonate. At this moment, I tell you, New Jersey voters
are looking for a governor who will give them a sense that they're protected.
Your boy has to persuade them that he can be that guy."
The waitress, Denise, interrupted Jack's analysis with his usual order,
a grilled cheese sandwich with pickle. Denise, a little past 40, kept
her legs in chorus line shape even though they failed to carry her to
the big show business career she dreamed about upon her arrival in New
York 20 years earlier. Geena surmised Jack lunched at the Slate most
of the time because of the ego boost he got from Denise's flirtations.
Normally, Jack threw down one martini but Geena assumed he ordered the
second one because he felt badly about having to deliver bad news to
her on the latest polling results. The statistics showed with election
day two months off that "her boy," Matt Moran, trailed Harvey Denton
by eight points in the June 4 primary election for governor of New Jersey.
Geena knew that Jack took a fatherly approach in his dealings with her,
even though he'd jump into the sack with her in a heartbeat if she even
hinted at an opening. They had talked previously about how leading Matt
Moran to victory would establish Geena as a big-time political guru
and the fame and fortune that would go with it. This was Geena's big
chance and she knew that within Jack's tough exterior was a heart rooting
for Geena to succeed.
Known as the "Silver Fox" because of his shock of closely cropped white
hair, Jack Remington had been an established star on the Democratic
guru circuit for 25 years. Most of Jack's big wins were in New York
providing road maps to the hearts and minds of voters for more than
two dozen candidates pursuing the office of mayor, governor, U.S. Senate,
the House of Representatives, etc. His firm grossed between $6 and $8
million a year, a number that tripled 10 years ago when he was discovered
by corporate America and shifted his emphasis to non-political work.
Jack is also known as a maverick because of his disdain for political
correctness and his unwillingness to open an office in Washington. This
places him on the second tier among politicos but he is nonetheless
recognized as one of the stars of the game, albeit out of the capital
mainstream and growing old.
Pollsters are a special breed of know-it-alls and Jack Remington was
typical. They draft their questionnaires, select their test audience
and run the interviews. They return with a formula for victory, provided
the candidate is willing to tell voters in their speeches, news releases
and television commercials only and precisely what the voters want to
hear. Really good pollsters, like Jack Remington honing in on the law
and order issue, discover in the research the cutting issues that provide
an edge to one side or the other. Geena sometimes wondered what George
Washington would have done about that controversial war with England
if somebody like Jack Remington had been around. What would old George
have done if a 17th century pollster advised him beforehand that the
voting-eligible population broke 55/45 against crossing the Delaware
River to attack the Hessians at Trenton. But then she remembered not
even focus group could have been assembled then because there were no
freaking registered voters at the time.
Jack clasped his hands behind his head and looked sternly into Geena's
"And what about the Ted Bundy thing? How's that going?"
Diners snapped their heads to focus on Jack and Geena when they overheard
the name of the most despicable murderer in history. Even the term serial
killer was coined because of Bundy and his horrific crimes. Geena shot
a few hard looks around the room to back off the snoopers. She leaned
into the table and whispered, "I have been laying the groundwork for
the past month and I am now ready to pull the trigger. It's a tough
trick to pull off and I had been hoping your polling results would tell
us we're on the right track without having to do the Bundy thing. But
I guess we have no choice."
"You're damn right about that, Geena," Jack responded, his booming voice
at mid-level volume. "Stop wasting time on this. I tested hypothetically
how people would feel if your boy solved the Coed murders and pinned
it on Ted Bundy. It flipped things completely. It showed them clearly
that Matt Moran has both compassion and a pair of balls. Solving the
coed murders would mean Moran could beat Denton by eight points rather
than the other way around. Believe it or not, this could position Matt
for the presidency four years from now. He has everything going for
him - except a strong selling point on the law and order issue."
Geena stuffed Jack Remington's written report into her handbag, kissed
him on the cheek and hurried out of the Slate. She paid the $45 parking
fee to retrieve her Jeep Grand Cherokee then inched her way along Seventh
Avenue to the Lincoln Tunnel towards the New Jersey Turnpike.
Bash Kenyon picked up the phone on
the third ring. "Kenyon? It's Geena Fallon. Remember me?"
Kenyon was stunned and could not speak for a full ten seconds.
"I'm here, Geena, and yes I do
have a vague recollection, like yesterday in the gym. My workout calls
for ten repetitions of each exercise. I always do eleven. That's because
your birthday is November 11, and when I do the extra lift I tell myself,
'This one's for Geena.' Yeah, I guess you could say your name ring's
"Same old 'Bash' Kenyon. The rapier
is never sheathed."
Kenyon wondered if Geena could hear
his heart pounding over the telephone. He was thankful she could not
see the color drain from his face. Nor could she tell his mouth had
gone dry. They had not spoken in ten years, not since he came home from
a weekend assignment and found she had cleared her stuff out of the
cottage they shared. She left a hand-written note: "Gotta go now.
Explanation to come." It never came. Rumors circulated, confirmed
by an item in the April 22,
of Newsweek about the upset primary election victory of Hannah Springwater.
PAT GARRETT'S GRANDSON
IN HAIL OF BALLOTS
the past 12 years, DeForrest M. Garrett has represented a State Senate
district situated southeast of Tucson, Ariz., based on his tough positions on extending the death penalty to rapists
and career criminals as well as his
lineage to the legendary Sheriff Pat Garrett.
He lost his bid for an unprecedented fourth four-year term when
newcomer Hannah Springwater, a Native-American public health nurse,
beat him by 76 votes in the May 2 primary election for the Democratic
victory came in part because of an attack on the incumbent's claim to
the ancestral Garrett connection. Ms. Springwater's research team traced
public records in five states to unearth the truth: "DeForrest
M. Garrett" was actually born Noah Doe to Sylvia Frankel, father
unknown, in Washington, D.C. on November 15, 1932.
would make the incumbent a liar about his age as well as his identity
since he claims to be 46, ten years younger than the truth," said
campaign consultant Geena Fallon who masterminded
Ms. Springwater's stunning upset of the man who many insiders
predicted would run for the U.S. Senate next year once he slilpped past
this year's reelection campaign. Most pundits considered the dashing
Garrett/Doe a lock for reelection this year prior to a 10-day blitz
of television ads, direct mail pieces and local news stories orchestrated
by Ms. Fallon.
Kenyon -- which is what everybody called
him instead of Bash, short for Sebastion, and the key to a distinctive
byline for his newspaper column -- kept the Newsweek blurb folded in
his dresser drawer. It confirmed the rumors he had heard about Geena
having grown infatuated with Sal Virgillio, prominent campaign guru
and president of the Paladin Group in San Francisco. The Paladin Group grew quickly in the 1970s managing campaigns in California and other western states. Sal Virgillio figured
out ways to help Democrats succeed in spite of the enormous popularity
of Ronald Reagan.
secret to Sal's success was an attack dog mentality. His TV spots boiled
opponents in oil then peeled off their skin. Sal engineered a bitter
campaign in 1987 in which Democrats wrested control of the 40-member
New Jersey State Senate from Republicans and set the stage for Democrat
Jim Florio's victory in the gubernatorial election two years later.
Sal deigned to do the New Jersey race since it was an off-year for high-profile
national elections. Besides, his presence in and around New York would help position him for a role in the 1988
Geena and Kenyon were colleagues at
the Trentonian. They also were to have been married. They moved in together
after Kenyon had gone through the agony of explaining his decision to
his first wife, Christine. The divorce worked out beautifully for Christine.
After moping for six months, she landed a job covering sports for a
local TV station and met super agent Billy Beck. Christine married Billy
Beck. They have two blond children and live in an historic home a block
from the Princeton University campus, except when summering at their oceanfront
home on Long Beach Island. She sent Kenyon a first edition, signed copy
of the book they co-authored, "Six Pack Supple", on staying
fit after 40, for Christmas with a card saying the home video would
be out in the spring. They projected a market of a quarter million pudge-concious
baby boomers paying $19.95 for a quick-fix shape-up featuring Bobby
and Chris Beck and the wives of five of Bobby's most famous clients.
covered the 1987 campaign day-by-day for the Trentonian; Kenyon wrote
a Monday analysis column plus lengthy thumb-suckers for the Sunday edition
heavy with shudda-wudda-cudda angles. Kenyon was as impressed as Geena
with the genius of Sal Virgillio. In retrospect, Kenyon wondered why
he was shocked when Geena took off with Sal. A day didn't go by that
she failed to relate an amusing anecdote about a Sal Virgillio tactic
or brainstorm in either the New Jersey election of 1987 or others he
had run in the past. Sal ran political campaigns the way Tom Landry
presided over an NFL football game at Texas Stadium. Landry was the
senior man on the NFL Rules Committee and he used the power of that
appointment, usually just an icy sideline stare, to psych out game officials
faced with the dangerous decision of
calling a Cowboy penalty on anything slightly short of blatant.
Like Landry, Sal worked every angle in pursuit of competitive advantage.
A former English professor, Sal was
a lethal combination of brilliance and relentlessness. In 1987, anyone
could see Sal was one short step away from the big time. Sal spoke frequently
of his dream to run the 1988 Presidential race and knock off front-runner
George Bush. While under Sal's spell, Kenyon completely missed Geena
falling in love with Sal. It crossed the point of no return when Sal
let her secretly listen in on a conference call among himself, the New
Jersey Democratic Chairman and the top three fund-raisers to develop
campaign strategy. Actually, it was Sal announcing the strategy, although
he went through the motions of listening to each conferee express concerns
and ideas before he gradually took over the discussion and steered it
into a Sal Virgillio monologue. Presumably, it would have ended in applause
if everyone had been in the same room.
When wide-eyed Geena related the story
to Kenyon, he argued with her for compromising professional ethical
standards by agreeing never to write about the episode, even in post-election
coverage. Kenyon was no prude about the tedious ethical correctness
of journalism and had traded off more than a few ethical conflicts to
gain a better understanding of a situation or scoop that put him a few
paces ahead of his competitors. He could rationalize his own moves because,
he told himself, he was doing this in behalf of his readers. But Geena,
by having no other motive but to satisfy her own prurient curiosity,
had gone way too far over the line. Still, the basic point -- Sal had
won Geena's heart -- was totally lost on Kenyon until he came home that
fateful night from a two-day assignment in Atlantic City and found the terse farewell note. It, too,
yellows in neat folds with the Newsweek article under the socks in Kenyon's