On a misty, cold November Committee Assembly morning, the Olympia Police are dispatched to the longest pier at the Port of Olympia. The Speaker’s car, with door still open, stands empty. He’s missed a caucus meeting. He’ll miss more.
Lobbyists Getting Revenge Against The Speaker?
Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. Romans 12:19
“And if you punish, you shall inflict an equivalent punishment. But if you resort to patience (instead of revenge), it would be better for the patient ones.” Sura 16:126 The Quran (Koran)
The Devil’s Gavel
The Devil’s Gavel, a second political revenge thriller by James Boldt is available at Amazon on Kindle, and soon all e-readers. The plot to do-in the House leader plays out between Olympia, Tacoma and Seattle. An unthinkable and surely unspeakable vengeful plan comes together after the Speaker rips a two-year project off the final consideration calendar on Sine Die night. Rick Ray goes over the edge and he is thrown together with a woman almost twice his age who has her own decade’s old anger to unleash on the Speaker. Hell hath no furry…
Austin Jenkins wrote of Boldt’s novel, “…momentum and pacing are good. The story has intrigue and yet feels authentic. Rick seems real! Boldt has a real knack for dialogue – which I think is one of the hardest parts of fiction writing.”
Former lobbyist Gary Gardner finished an early release and added this, “A great read. I loved the classic detective noir kind of style of writing in the first person, and it held my interest throughout, and I loved the plot twists and turns. A modern political thriller in the classic old private eye noir style that’s a great read for fans of politics, mysteries and thrillers.”
A Sample? Sure
The Devil’s Gavel
Another Political Revenge Thriller by James Boldt
Note to readers: This is a work of fiction. It’s all just stuff that I or someone made up. The people aren’t real, the things they do are not real, the whole story is a fabrication. The buildings, restaurants, bars, living areas and descriptions are all fake places. The only thing real in this novel is the geographic area, the beautiful Northwest United States.
Thank you’s and acknowledgments: Thank you to my wife Cynthia Gallegos-Boldt for being abandoned almost every night for two years while I was ripping this piece of prose from my soul. Thank you to Gary Gardner, and Austin Jenkins for taking the time to read through this novice’s work. Thank you Lisa Thatcher for your encouragement, former Chief Herbst, Jefferson County Fire District 4 for your hands-on and verbal teaching of fire and law enforcement crime scenes, my mom for saying, “Hell yes, keep writing…”, and all the people who got sick of reading and rereading the same stuff over and over and trying to be constructive. And finally, thank you, Amazon and Smashwords for destroying the Byzantine agent/publisher book guild that until this century blocked thousands of good writers who were “almost ready,” never giving them the chance.
Second week of November, fall legislative committee hearing week
A 2010 Ford SUV sits facing north at the southern most tip of Puget Sound. A ‘Buy American’ bumper sticker is peeled back at the upper right hand corner. The all-dirt finger pier of the Port of Olympia is the only piece of ground yet undeveloped for imports that will contribute to the U.S.’s trade deficit. Early November rain doesn’t discriminate. It covers every inch of the paint on the vehicle. An Olympia police department detective is doing his best to practice his situational awareness training and understand what he sees.
Twenty-three hours earlier seventy-five self-labeled anarchists stood in the same spot and protested the deportation of some type of military equipment. The anarchists, freedom-fighters, all dressed in black, don’t like it. The armored vehicles are headed for Iraq, Syria or Africa. For his work this early morning the detective doesn’t know which, and doesn’t care.
“I’m The Chief, I can’t be late. It starts when I get here detective. What do ya know Jordan, talk to me?”
“A mess chief.”
“Details Jordan, talk to me.” Their visible breath hangs in front of them on a still, cold, damp morning.
The cedars and hemlocks across the inlet drip with moisture. Fog, billows of it play hide-and-seek among the trees. Everything is wet. It’s the Pacific Northwest in November. There’s a reason they call it the Olympic Rain Forest. Jordan visualizes Native Americans gliding through the flat water in long, pointed boats, darting in and out of banks of fog hundreds of years ago. It would have been quiet, only the swish of paddles, a grunt at the pull of the carved oars would carry across the water. He comes out of his daydream. “I have a car with some type of fluid on the driver’s bucket seat, looks animal excretion-like.”
The Chief looks up at Jordan. “Animal excretion-like, what pray-tell does that mean in English?”
“Looks like a seagull got in the car and crapped right in the driver’s seat. It’s wet and white.”
“Thanks for the ornithological clarification.”
“Ornithological?” The detective went on, “Uh, and the driver’s door is and was open on arrival. Olympia Fire got the first call. The car’s surrounded by about a hundred pairs of foot prints from a citizen’s rally yesterday. Keys are still in it. Most of the folks at the rally wore some type of boot I’m guessing. What isn’t covered up by the prints walking all over each other, the rain has melded into a blob of mud and small puddles.”
The Chief squinted. “Where’s the body? Is there a body missing?”
The detective flips a page of a small spiral notepad. “Yep, the driver. The car owner’s wife called Thurston County 911 and said her husband didn’t come home last night.”
“We’re here because a guy didn’t come home one night? I think I’ve heard this before.”
“Right chief, but this time the State Patrol also told us a very important person has missed two caucus meetings this morning.”
“Very important? Really, and who is that? These legislators are all so important.”
“I just got the results from running the VIN number. The car belongs to The Speaker of The House. John Ormsby.”
The Chief looks up at the sky trying to find some peace and takes in two breaths worth of the cold, damp, Puget Sound air, “Oh boy, any footprints leading toward the water?”
“No, not one, everything we have heads south, toward town. Then onto the port’s paved staging area and that’s where we lose ’em.”
“So, right now we call him missing. And, we’re not talking to anyone Jordan, no one. And you tell the firefighters and EMTs who were here to put a lid on it, got it? I don’t want my butt in a vice.” The Chief looks at the detective. Then she looks past the yellow tape that separates the world of the known from the world of the unknown. She tips her head down to the collage of footprints and visualizes a team of divers in the water just beyond the car. She can almost hear the whomp of the news helicopter’s blades that will soon be overhead. “Get the State Patrol’s forensic team in here now!”
“They’re on their way chief. They’ve taken jurisdiction from us. The legislature’s in town for a week of hearings. They’re get’in ready for their regular session in January.”
“Jordan, there’s nothing regular about any part of the legislature and don’t ever forget it.”
Eight months earlier, the end of the previous legislative session, Olympia, Washington
Every bar near the capitol has weak drinks, bad food and ears. Tonight I don’t care, but I should. I grip my drink and look across the table at my friend. “I’ve only been at this eight years Denny, but I’m not sure I can take the lying and double crossing at this level.”
“Listen Rick, if you think you are the first lobbyist to be left at the station when the train pulls out you better take a deep breath. Look around this place. Every person in here has been told one thing and got the other. It’s politics. It’s the legislature, and you know it. How long have you been at this? Stop the pity-party already, and have another drink. And most of all, lower your voice. Are you suicidal?” Denny raises his arm. A waitperson heads our way.
I change from beer to real fuel. “I know. I just hope my client will understand. I can’t afford to lose them over this. I worked double-time on that bill. Oh…ah, scotch-rocks, please.” I tip the beer glass past horizontal draining every drop of a beer that has three words in its title. “You know, you start to think about how you can get even with these jerks.”
“Get even with The Speaker of The House? Oh, boy. Now you’re crazy. Remember the first two rules of lobbying?” Denny was shaking his head.
“Yeah, never ever trust a legislator because they’ll lie to ya. And, rule number two? Never forget rule number one. It’s not funny Denny.”
“OK, so have you forgotten them both?” Denny settles for another beer.
“No, he was just such an ass. He looked me right in the eye and reassured me.”
“Are you going to go back up there tonight and try to talk to him about it?”
“Good, then you might have a lobbying practice in the morning. You better go somewhere and count to ten. No you better count to a hundred. Slowly.”
Every fifteen minutes another handful of lobbyists who have lost their bills to The Speaker’s calendar maneuver trickle into the bar. None of them seem to be taking it as personally as I. I look at the worn carpet, and long faces. I see my future, and tonight I’m not sure I like it. “Man this bothers me,” I grunt to Denny.
My good friend wipes a drop of ale from his lip. “Get over it Rick. Now. And lower your voice. I’m trying to help you here. This isn’t about you, it’s the politics of the end of the session. It’s end-of-session games, you know that. All the crap runs together.” Denny has just about given me all the advice he’s going to. A few heads turn at every boisterous utterance of “asshole,” and “bastard.” He pushes his chair back from the dated, plank top table. I notice he catches a glimpse of the pictures on the wall of early 1900s logging operations and rail cars. As he says good-bye to me I realized the only thing that has changed since the era of the photos is the size of the logs, and the means of transport for the incoming legislators. “No more revenge talk, Rick, it’ll kill your career faster than losing one bill at the end of a session. I’m serious.” Denny points a forefinger at me, throws a twenty on the table then heads for his waterfront home in suburban Seattle, with his suburban wife and two, cute little suburban children.
Here I sit, by himself. Maybe I should talk to some of the lobbyists I don’t know so well. Maybe they have sympathetic tales to tell me. Something. Anything.
Just then a long slender hand, with bright red nails slides a business card from my left to the center of the table. I look up before reading the card. “Do I know you?”
“Arlene Jessup.” She extends her hand. It’s a grip of a fifty-something-year-old attractive woman. Her steel gray eyes drill into mine. “Do you really want to get even? I don’t want to talk now, but call me when you cool off kid. Yes, half the people in here know you’re hot, hurt, and talk too loudly. Grow a pair, then call me, no email, nothing written. Trust me, a lot of people would like to put a stick in The Speaker.” Arlene, intentionally carrying herself erect, slowly walks for the door and never looks back. Her suit must have cost a couple of grand. No one wears clothes like that. Who is this woman?
Arlene Jessup. I’ve heard that name. Where? Grow a pair? What kind of woman says that to a guy she’s never met? Jessup? I move over to a table with two female lobbyists and the staff director for the Senate Transportation Committee. Misery loves company.
Nights like this remind me why it was a good idea to buy my little bungalow a block from the capitol building. I’ll stay in Olympia again tonight, the night of Sine Die. Funny, Sine Die is Latin for final end. If my new client, Sam Richert, President of QualPlus Health Supply doesn’t have a big heart I’ll be looking at my Sine Die with him when we meet next week for our post-session recap. Man I dread that.
Our legislation was ready to run. It was on the final calendar. The Speaker is a piece of crap.
I can walk to my Olympia house, or actually we’ll walk, Sheri and I. No DUI for me. That’s all I’d need. I can sleep in for the first time in three weeks. The folks in my Tacoma neighborhood won’t see me drag Sheri Lambs home tonight, though they have on a few other occasions. Sheri manages the Legislative Information System. Sheri and I are buddies, close buddies. Hell I don’t know what we are and either does she, and tonight, again we don’t care, at least I don’t care. She’s fun, cute, older, smart, independent and at least on the surface comes with few strings and maintenance requirements. I think.