Chapter 21

April 4th, Wednesday Night, Washington D.C.

Issy had an extra skip in her step when she walked towards me as I was waiting at the South Capitol Metro Station.

“What are you excited about?” I asked.

“Why, you of course, baby,” she quipped, with a twinkle in her eye.

We started to walk down the escalators but could only walk a few stairs since people were on both the right and left side of the escalators’ steps.

“Don’t people know you’re supposed to allow people to walk down these escalators?” I whispered to her.

When we got onto the lower platform and awaited our train, she said, “Let’s go to dinner at P. F. Chang’s. It’ll be on my expense account.”

I looked at her warily and she added, smiling, “My boss authorized me to work on a project with my husband who is working for and promoting the wrong candidate.”

I raised my eyebrows and sitting next to her on the silver line train for the next twelve or thirteen stops, I listened to her story.

Priscilla Ellsworth, the Chief of Staff, called Issy into her office and said, “Issy, I’ve been contemplating an interesting statistic. These stats are impressive, and maybe even scary, if we are not prepared for them.”

After a moment, Priscilla had continued, “Did you know that when we add Protestants and Catholics together, they are roughly sixty-seven percent of the nation?”

Issy knew it was a rhetorical question, so she waited and her CoS went on. “There are some other religious groups in the USA, rounding up the religious peoples in the USA to approximately seventy-six percent. That means, Issy, only twenty-three percent of the people in the USA claim no religious affiliation at all!”

She looked up at Issy and asked, “Did you know that?”

“Yes, Ma’am,” Issy responded, and then in typical Issy fashion, she added, “I don’t agree with those numbers, but they’re close enough.”

The CoS apparently didn’t care about the exact numbers, so she prepared to continue.

Just then their candidate walked into the office of the Chief of Staff. Issy said she started to stand but the CoS went on, nodding to their boss. “Issy, we have been talking about these numbers and would like you to jump on a project for us.”

“Yes, ma’am. What would you like me to do?”

“This project would normally be overseen by our advertising department, but with you on staff we thought you could bring us a unique and specific perspective.”

Issy waited for the directive. “Issy, what does seventy-six percent of the nation think about our news media outlets? Is the religious community buying what they are saying?”

Issy said the Chief of Staff looked at the candidate for approval and then said, “Issy, can you put together a non-partisan view of John and Jane Q. Public’s views on our media outlets? We think it could make a significant impact on our advertising direction, since seventy-six percent of the nation claims a religious affiliation.”

Issy said she sat back and then respond. “As you know,” looking at both her CoS and the candidate, “My husband and I have a very stringent work ethic, which we are diligent to maintain, but I am thinking, if you want this to be non-partisan, it might not be a bad idea for us to both work on this, because there are sure to be things he will see that I will not.”

Immediately, the CoS objected and said, “Can’t you get someone from our own team?”

“Of course, I can ma’am, but it’ll be partisan and you two want non-partisan.”

“I don’t know,” she said, looking at their boss.

“You know,” Issy went on, “My husband won’t expect his name to be anywhere on this report. He doesn’t care about the publicity.”

It was a tense few minutes of silence when everyone was thinking it through. Issy was looking from the candidate to the CoS when she got the nod from the candidate, who immediately left the office.

Shaking her head uncomfortably, Priscilla said, “Okay, Issy, do this with your husband. But this better not come back and bite us!”

“I promise it won’t, Ma’am. By the way, what’s the timeline on this?”

So that night, at the P. F. Chang’s on Glebe Road in Arlington, we started on what amounted to a white paper on religious people’s views of the media outlets.

 Same Night, FBI Headquarters

Sammie and Billy were in my office exactly on time, as expected. From what I’d observed, I liked their commitment to their work.

“How well do you two know your respective Religion Consultants?” I asked.

Billy looked at Sammie and I said, “Is your answer contingent upon Sammie, Billy?”

He blushed so deeply I couldn’t tell where his pimples were.

“No, sir,” he said, a little harshly, “I was looking at her to see if she wanted to go first.”

“Oh,” I said, surprised, and I was rarely surprised. “Both a scholar and a gentleman. Billy, I’m impressed.”

I was actually embarrassed. Quickly I looked at Sammie, nodding for her to speak.

“Well,” she said, “Until this project, I just viewed Jude as one of the staff. I really had no idea of his importance to the team, and I confess I still don’t, but I am amazed at his work ethic.”

“How so?” I asked.

“Because, sir, he is a bulldog when he is on a project. Now that I am looking into the management of his emails and texts, I’m seeing a man who methodically works an email till it is brought to conclusion. Even his filing method is pedantic.”

Again, I asked for clarification.

“Sir, he doesn’t keep emails in files; he is so methodical, that when he brings an email thread to a conclusion, he deletes all the previous emails except the last one, which has the entire thread. And then he puts it in the trash.”

“Every one of his emails is in the trash, making all of his emails accessible by date, by person or by subject, and there is no confusion of duplicates, because he has deleted all of them.”

I thought she was done, but she wasn’t. “One more thing he does is to constantly update the subject line on emails; I suspect, so he can find them easier.”

I heard Billy chuckling and I turned to him. “What’s so funny?” I asked.

“Well sir, the couple are completely opposite in their email management.”

Again, I asked for clarification.

“Sir, my colleague makes email files for everything. I suspect she has so many email files she probably forgets where some things are.”

They both laughed now. Clearly geeks. And then I asked, “Do the two collaborate in any way at work?”

“Jude and Issy?” Billy asked. “They are so squeaky clean, there is no way they would ever do anything like that.”

“They would never jeopardize their employment, or their reputations,” added Sammie.

“I agree with you two. I just wanted to get your thoughts,” I said and then nodded to the door for them to go.

 Same Night, Arlington VA, Jude & Issy’s Home

“I’d like to give her an overview of where we’re going and then I’ll do the research and let you read it. I think the Chief of Staff will feel better knowing I did the bulk of the work.”

“Good idea, baby. I’ve been thinking about your task and want to maintain a clear and obvious separation between you and me, so make sure anything you upload to your computer does not have an email trail back to me.”

“I had already thought about that and decided I would use a thumb-drive to transport any documents.”

“Perfect, baby. This will be fun working with you, collaborating on a project.”