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  • Writer's pictureMark Meier

The Brotherhood #24

By Mark W. Meier

Part 24

Act III

The First Horseman


The next day I brought you a check written from an account from an investment firm called Gilbert and Associates. The account would vanish the moment funds transferred, and the number on the note stunned you into silence.

When you could speak again, you pointed. “Is that for real?”

“It could be.” I brushed imaginary lint from my black suit jacket. “If you update our agreement.”

I popped open my briefcase and drew out a new contract.

You hummed while inspecting the specifics. “Still looking for twenty percent?”

“With my help you could become governor.” I could almost hear the gears turning in your head. I snatched the check back. “If you’re not interested I’ll be on my way.”

“Wait.” Your mind still tried to sort out the details of being a benevolent world dictator.

After extensive experience with humans I could nearly read your thoughts. “Don’t think you can hide anything from me. I know about your accounts in the Caymans, Switzerland, and even Libya.” None of them were all that impressive, considering your prospects. However, if I delivered on my promises they’d eventually be flush with cash.

The Libyan account was supposed to be your deepest secret. Not much cash, but the account grew consistently, fueled by profits from a very minor interest in their oil industry.

“You –” You paused in shock. “You know about Libya?”

“I know about everything. You bleat about not taking bribes, but you do. I know about them all. Construction companies, activist groups, even fellow party members.”

“That’s all going to be used to get good things done when I get into higher office.”

Exactly what I expected – and wanted. “I know about your accounts worldwide, and the stash of eighteen thousand, two hundred twelve dollars tucked away under your kitchen sink.”

Your eyes widened. “How?”

“It doesn’t matter, Bob. I know, and that’s what counts.” I pointed at the contract on the desk. “If you sign that, I’ll want every penny you owe me. If you don’t sign, I’ll find someone else and destroy you in the process.” I didn’t need money, just subservience.

I could tell you considered your girlfriend – secret from everyone but me. Your wife was a secondary thought.

“No, I don’t want a percentage of Andrea’s income. But don’t think you can hide your money there.” A thoughtful look flashed. “Nor Lisa’s.”

You picked up a pen and scrawled your signature. “I want that check, Leo.”

You still thought I wasn’t needed in the long run. You were wrong.

“Of course.” I handed you the check. “Pleasure doing business with you. I’ll expect twenty percent from all your income, this moment forward.”

You frowned. “Does that include this check?”

“Money from my firm is exempt. You only owe me for money you generate, however that happens. I don’t care if it’s your salary, payments for speeches . . . bribes . . . whatever. I’ll know if you’re cheating.”

Heading for the door I heard you pick up the phone and speak to your latest secretary. “Grace, I have a check for you to deposit.”

When she came to get the check you confided in Grace your hopes and ambitions. Invisible, I watched as your secretary hid her opinion of you as a crackpot. You didn’t notice her comments were filled with derision when you mentioned being the first horseman. As a Christian, she knew better and quit the next day. A new executive assistant soon took her place – a senior imp from the Brotherhood.

As usual the political landscape changed. Another unknown candidate took the congressional seat. Under the influence of my Brothers, he and others like him created a mess of the legislature. When the man’s term wound down his donors dried up.

Yours didn’t.

***

One thing we never counted on was a primary challenger.

Your pacing wore a path in your office’s new carpeting. You paused at a dwarf mugo pine tree near your window. “We should have someone in her campaign framed. Maybe Katheryn herself.”

I knew Katheryn Small hadn’t picked up so much as a parking ticket. “Nobody would believe that. We’ll have to pick someone like her campaign manager. If it’s revealed she hired a criminal to run her campaign, it would make people question her judgment.”

You resumed pacing. “The crime would have to be significant. Just embezzlement won’t do it. Kidnapping?”

I frowned. “Too disconnected from Small.” The solution had to come from you. As the saying goes, you can lead an ephemeral to corruption but you can’t make him cheat. I waited to see what you thought up.

Finally a smile bloomed. “Abusing his wife. It’s the perfect way to sully a female candidate.” You moved to your chair and leaned back.

“I’ll take care of it.” I closed my briefcase. “It won’t be connected to you.”

That night I followed her manager, Frank Chemworth,to his townhouse. He’d snapped at campaign workers all day. A perfect opportunity.

His wife, Mandy, had been home for an hour. Spaghetti sauce simmered on the stove while she spoke to a friend on the phone. I rushed unseen into the kitchen ahead of Frank.

Mandy heard the front door close. “Hold on, Sheila, I think I hear Frank.”

My Brothers and I can move faster than the blink of an eye. I punched Mandy in the face and waited for her to cry out before disconnecting the call and knocking her unconscious.

Frank ran in and I stabbed him in the side with a paring knife his wife had on the counter. I screamed in her voice.

Frank’s head hit the handle of the refrigerator and he crumpled. Using Mandy’s phone I dialed 9-1-1.


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