May 02, 2005

A Canticle For Lieberman (pt 6)

Pacific Views theater presents the continuation of a short work of fiction. Any resemblance of the characters to persons living or dead is purely in the interests of parable, satire, and entertainment. See the fiction archive for previous installments.

"You called, Sir? I came as soon as I could."

"I know you did, Robin, thank you. Fortunately, we still have a little time before He gets here. Now, we've been very impressed with both your loyalty and your work over the last few years. More so with your work. I have legions of bootlickers, but the more successful we are, the harder it is to find new operatives with the creativity to present ... a certain appearance of objectivity and detachment. That's still useful from time to time."

"Thank You, Sir. And if You don't mind, before who gets here?"

"We'll get to that, but first, I've got a new assignment for you." He waved her off as she started to respond. "No, no, you won't have to leave your job but you will be scaling back your time there. We need you on the board of the Washington Times Foundation, to advise them on their philanthropic activities. I can't stress how important this is."

"Well, I'd be honored, but I don't see, well, I don't have any experience with charity organizations. I don't want to disappoint You."

"You'll mainly give public relations advice, be an in-house media advisor."

"They need someone to write press releases, be a spokesperson? I don't know ..."

"You'll have a very minimal profile, you won't be making public statements or anything like that. You will also be volunteering, to sidestep any ethical questions. We'll be sending your pay directly to your Cayman account. Our Father will reward you handsomely."


"Yes, now about that. I've encouraged all of you, all the members of the circle, to remember that we're not doing all this work for ourselves. We're doing it for the ultimate good of the country, to prepare America and eventually the world to follow the will of our True Parents. I've spoken with Ms. Coors, Mr. Santorum, Mrs. DeVos, and Mr. Norquist along with other members of our True Father's acknowledged family, and we're in agreement that you can be trusted to join us in working for Him with full knowledge and consent. Robin, you should know that He asked for you by name, provided that those of us who knew you personally would vouch for you. This is a great honor."

"Sir, I can't tell You how thrilled I am. When You spoke about our Father before I thought You always meant, ... but wait, what does this have to do with working at the Washington Times Foundation?"

"Robin, our True Father and Lord of the Second Advent is the Reverend Sun Myung Moon, and the foundation is one of the vehicles that does His will in America. I'm sure you thought I was referring to someone a little ... less corporeal, but we're very fortunate to be here during His lifetime. He would like you to assist in making sure that the foundation receives favorable coverage when it pleases Him, and that it stays off the radar when that pleases Him."

"..." Robin had never in her life been so glad to be slow at snappy comebacks. She'd been a bare 30 seconds from a crack about the Moonie Times, and probably, having to hire someone to taste her food for the rest of a certainly short life. She put her head in her hands and sobbed; in relief, fear and precariously disguised laughter.

"Here, here, have a tissue. I know you must be overwhelmed, but we did promise Him that you're steady as a rock, don't go proving us wrong on the very first night." She could hear the smile in his voice, he was pleased by her reaction, taking it as a sign of suitable awe.

"Oh sir, I just, I'm sorry ..." She dabbed at her eyes, thankful she was only wearing lipstick tonight. "It's just such an honor that you would place so much faith in me. I feel unworthy, sir, but I trust that you know what you're doing and I'll do my best."

"Of course you will. Of course. Now He'll be here in about five or ten minutes, why don't you pop out and freshen up. Oh, and ask Ms. Grace to send some tea in for all of us on your way back."

"Thank you, sir, I will." Safely locked into the restroom down the hall, she laughed into her hands, careful to be quiet. She wanted to punch at the walls, to kick something, shatter the mirror over the sink and crush the fragments into powder under the heels of her shoes. But laughing was probably safer at the moment. That is, it would be safer until she got back out there and had to remember the gravity of the situation.

The man behind the man with his finger on the button was an ex-con with a penchant for mass marriages and fleecing the congregation. His known followers were, well, all the people she really tried to avoid at ceremony. Think, she told herself, how very unfunny it would be if you were the next luckless, tranked to the gills offering to Moloch. She could picture the headline: Reporter still missing, presumed dead, police seek answers in the D.C. CZ.

Okay, less amused now. She splashed some cold water on her face, dried off and then touched up her lipstick. Let's get back out there and practice speaking only when spoken to.

"Ms. Grace, thank you, I'll take it in if you'll let me."

"Thank you, Robin. And by the way, the other gentleman the Secretary was waiting for is already here. But I'm sure he's only just had time to shake hands and take a seat, so not to worry."

A large chair had been pulled alongside the one she'd been sitting in, facing away from the door towards the Secretary's desk. "Just come up and set it here on the desk, Robin." She somehow took the necessary steps and set the tray down before turning. "I'd like you to meet our True Father, the Rev. Moon."

He put his hand out. Robin immediately got down on one knee and kissed the back of his hand. The thick silk of his suit gave off waves of incense and air conditioning. It was definitely bespoke, and as she bowed further to touch her forehead to his feet, she was tapping against shoes that cost more than her rent.

"You may rise, child, you may rise. Your loyalty is gratifying, but such displays are not necessary. You have done well in my service, and now is the time both to reward you and entrust you with more serious responsibilities. Take your seat and let's speak about your future."

The Permanent Secretary had already poured the tea for all of them. She took her cup as she sat down, glad of something to hold on to.

"Robin, I've been told that you don't need much hand-holding. There isn't much time tonight so I'll have to trust that this is the case. This is your briefing book and first assignment outlines." Moon handed over a bundle of papers, some bound into a paper folder, all in a ratty, brown accordion file. He sipped his tea as she gave them a cursory look and then continued.

"The European press has been nosing around the sales of surplus U.S. military vehicles to the foundation. They have evidence, pictures, suggesting that they're being sold to the North Korean military. You need to figure out a way to best misdirect their curiosity and keep the story out of the news here. A Pentagon contact will be in touch with you to help work out the details.

"There are a few other things to arrange, write releases for, some planned charity work in the Contaminated Zones that you'll be consulted about, but nothing else that you can't figure out. The vehicle surplusing program must not be interfered with, it's your top priority to represent the foundation's interests purely as a transfer of scrapped equipment useful for nothing but the metal."

The Permanent Secretary jumped in. "Robin, you should know that this program was approved by the president himself, and is considered a top national security priority. China must be held at bay, and the alliance with North Korea has to remain a secret. You have a tremendous amount of latitude in your recommendations, though your liaison will run all plans through this office for final approval so you shouldn't worry about overstepping. It takes a little while to get the feel for this sort of thing, and we'll give you plenty of feedback."

Moon cleared his throat. "If you do well, we intend to give you a more active role in coordinating the foundation's activities. But again, only if you do well. We will also be looking for a certain level of zeal towards bringing about the Second Advent precipitated by total war in the Holy Land, and a dedication to ridding the world of the ghetto hellions and the sexual perverts, all the dung-eating dogs that offend heaven itself."

Robin nodded. "It will be an honor to do your work, dear father."

"Of course it will. And when we bring about the cleansing, it will mean your salvation. You will come with those of my holy family to our sanctuary, where you will escape the destruction we shall wreak on our enemies."


"When we bring about the Second Advent. The destruction of Jerusalem and the scum of the Middle East, the scourging of China, and for good measure, the pestilential southern continents. The backlash will wipe out the accumulated trash of America's inner cities. The clean races will have the world's bounty to themselves, and the holy family will be prepared to lead them. You will be among that number, Robin, if you do your work well. How do you like Australia?"

"Very well, thank you, father." They were serious about that Armageddon nonsense, the race cleansing? For real? She'd always thought it was just a way to pull in the rubes, but they ...

"Now. The Secretary and I still have things to discuss, but a couple more things before you go. If anyone interferes with your work, we will remove them for you. Don't act on your own, we don't want too many bodies piling up, or for you to develop a reputation for making threats. You will be well compensated, but you are not now entitled to discounts at restaurants or retail establishments. This is not a coupon club. We can cover certain levels of rule breaking on your behalf, but if you become too much of a liability you will be cut loose from our good graces and protection. More discretion is required of you than before, not less."

Robin looked towards the Permanent Secretary with a question forming on her face. He hurried to explain. "It isn't that we don't trust you, you've been very responsible in the past, but there have been certain ... incidents with other candidates. It's better to have everything up front, don't you think? Now, I'm sure you're in a hurry to get back to your weekend."

"Ah. Yes sir, thank you sir. Thank you, father Moon." She bowed as she stood up, kissed the proffered hand a second time, and took care to close the door quietly and snugly behind her. As she looked down at the accordion folder and her ridiculously small evening bag, Ms. Grace stepped over with a briefcase.

"Here you are, dear. He said you'd need one of these, it looks like you do at that. And take an umbrella, it's pouring out there. A cab is already waiting for you downstairs, go on now." She offered her thanks and rushed down to a cab whose backseat was mustier and more fermented than the one that had brought her here.

"Where to?"

She hesitated before giving Paul's address. It would have been good to be alone for a while, but stupid to do anything unexpected. Anyway, she was hungry and there was still time to make the restaurant. She drummed her fingers softly on the briefcase in her lap the whole way back as fey little grins fought with a blank stare.

This was running through her mind, over and over again: They want to end the world as we know it. They really think there's a survivable WWIII, and there's no higher purpose to this than hoping to be the last people standing in the middle of a global catastrophe.

All the seemingly random provocations made sense now. She'd understood the need to be strong on defense. It had seemed reasonable that elements of society that tended to sprout anti-war movements had to be stamped on to make sure the country could be protected in a dangerous time, it was really for their protection. Unless that wasn't the point at all. Unless the danger had been contrived, encouraged even.

The Permanent Secretary was nearly beyond the reach of political harm. When the laws were changed authorizing the Senate to appoint and elect a Secretary of Defense to serve 12 year terms, Holy Joe had seemed like the dark horse candidate. It was clear now that the office, created in response to a carefully guided public perception that the power to make war needed to be returned to the hands of Congress, had likely been created with him in mind.

For years he'd been cushioned in the warmth of the media's affection. His party leaders liked him because they could mostly count on his vote. Republicans liked him because they could bank on hearing their party line come out of his mouth most of the time when he was near an open microphone. He looked like a staunch supporter of Israel, but as she knew, his real allegiance was to the powerful evangelical lobby. They were eagerly looking forward to an Armageddon that would start with the leveling of Jerusalem.

His congressional colleagues had held him in such regard that they even took pains to avenge the loss of his Senate seat in 2006. Though more probably, they'd been afraid of what would happen to them if they didn't. The prominent liberal blogs that had done the most to raise money for his Democratic opponent were hampered by internet campaign regulations, and several of their operators were arrested on charges of conspiring with terrorists that originated in congressional hearings on site owner liability for unregulated message boards.

That wasn't the end of it, either. The FEC, acting on claims filed by the Secretary's lawyers, fined traitorous district-level Democratic Party organizations in Connecticut so heavily that they were effectively wiped out. The Democrat who'd beaten him in the primary and won the general election got onto a plane two years later and was carried feet first from a crash site. A month went by and the cause of the small plane's demise had been definitively attributed to ice on the wings. She shuddered to remember reading the full report.

He really wants to end the world. And he's untouchable.

The cab driver was startled when the back door opened and slammed shut again almost as soon as the car stopped, but a careless pile of cash in the box more than covered the fare and usual tip.

As she opened the apartment door, Paul looked up from the memos he'd reburied himself in. "Back so soon? Well alright, and here, I thought I'd be sitting around by myself the whole evening."

"I guess the Secretary wanted to get back to his weekend plans, as well. Are you still up for wining and dining?"

"And then some. I'm ready right now, if you need a minute just meet me at the car, I'll be calling the restaurant on the way down. Oh yeah, and our bags are already in the trunk, I had a fit of optimism just after you left." He kissed her on the way to grabbing his jacket and was already dialing as he headed out the door.

Robin took a look at herself in the bathroom mirror as she was washing her hands. Eyes don't look puffy? Check. Not sweating profusely? Check. Maniacal bursts of laughter held at bay? Check. When she came out, she tucked the briefcase in her corner of the closet beside her laptop and the rest of the work papers that awaited her Sunday afternoon return. She nearly ran downstairs to the waiting car.

"Well aren't you in a hurry tonight. How do you race down the stairs dressed like that anyway? You should be hobbling, or something." She stuck her tongue out at the teasing. "That's better, we're supposed to be leaving all the serious stuff up there."

"For now."

"Don't be morbid. Maybe our offices will be wiped out by acts of nature and we won't have to come back Monday."

"I don't think nature likes us that much. Anyway, they'd just tell us to work from home."

"Then we'll just have to make do with the weekend. It'll be fun, you remember fun, right?"

"I do. Speaking of which ..."

To be continued.

Part 5 < > Part 7

Fiction Archive

Posted by natasha at May 2, 2005 01:12 AM | Fiction | Technorati links |

First, Let me say I'm enjoying this immensely!

Next, just for fun: it turns out Moon's "post-apocalypse" stronghold is actually in South America, a gazillion acres over one of the world's largest aquifers. For more information on this go to and look at Jeff's recent post on Maurice Strong (who just happens to own the land above the last great acquifer in the US lower 48).

Great stuff!

Posted by: CaliforniaDrySherry at May 2, 2005 05:40 PM