Chapter 28

Wednesday, May 16th, Washington D.C.

These last few weeks, we had been sailing through campaign issues furiously, but normally. This was our life and we were used to it. But when I met Issy at the Metro station after work, she was nearly crying.

“What’s going on, baby?” I asked as I put my arm around her. We walked briskly over to the down escalators at the South Capitol Metro entrance and instead of walking down them, as we always do; Issy buried her head in my shoulder and started to weep.

My wife never weeps. In twenty-nine years of marriage, I’ve only seen her cry like this a dozen times, and half of those times were for a dog we used to have.

We boarded the metro and she sat quietly next to me. Just before the Ballston station, Issy said, “I get the distinct impression my boss doesn’t trust me, anymore.”

I looked at her seriously and asked, trying to get her to smile, “What basis does your loser candidate have to make you feel that way?”

It worked, Issy smiled and said, “Not the candidate, Silly, but Priscilla, our Chief of Staff.”

We stepped outside Ballston station where the weather was a balmy seventy-two degrees. I crossed behind Issy, so I could walk beside the street, as always. My grandfather taught me to be a gentleman. I held her hand and we strolled along like kids out on a date. We walked on home and I started dinner while Issy sat at our kitchen bar and told me about her day.

When she was done, I knew why she felt the way she did.

“It started the moment I walked in the door. Apparently yesterday, when I took the day off, Priscilla started asking around about me, in such a way that it caused suspicion from others, which I felt all day today.”

She started to tear up again. Clearly not like her. But I remained silent. There was nothing I could do; besides, I was kneading our 99% lean ground turkey, which we now eat thanks to my cardiologist. I was making patties and working in my secret ingredients so they will not taste like cardboard.

Another tear rolled down her cheek. This time she resolutely sat up taller, wiped it away with the back of her hand and went on.

“She disagreed with something in the joint report we did on news outlets.”

“What?” I asked.

Not the right time though. Issy needed to keep venting.

“Apparently, three weeks ago Priscilla had a visiting pastor in to give her comments on my report. It appears this pastor is a shaker and mover in her community and a huge donor, too.”

I nodded as if I understood, but I still didn’t have a clue.

“When Priscilla sat me down late this morning, she asked me why I pigeon-holed people into watchers of one kind of news and not the other.”

“What a weird question,” I thought to myself. My eyes must have conveyed this to Issy, because she said, “I thought it was a weird question, too.”

I merely nodded and she went on, “I’m glad Priscilla has this new pastor friend. I want her to bounce things off as many people as she has time for. So, I don’t mind people questioning my work, Jude.”

“I know, baby,” I said, meaning it. “I know you believe there is wisdom in a multitude of counselors.”[i]

Quick as a whip she came back, “There is a version of that text which says there is ‘victory’ in a multitude of counselors.”

“Not this year, Issy,” I retorted.

She smiled and went on, “It seems this pastor led Priscilla to believe my comments were somehow grounded in racism. This pastor said, ‘Priscilla, those are the words I hear from my colleagues, fellow pastors, who refuse to expand their tribe.’”

My eyes went wide. Hers got narrow and angry.

“I don’t know who this pastor is, but I. . .”

At this I forcefully interrupted. The patties were on the stove sizzling and my hands were nice and clean, so I leaned down, our eyes level. I am only a few inches taller than Issy, but with her sitting on our counter-height stool I needed to lean way down to be nose to nose with her. Then I stretched to her and gently rubbed noses.

“Baby,” I said, “Slow down. Our struggles are not with flesh and blood,[ii] right?”

She nodded and I went on, “In fact, God wants us to thank Him for everything,[iii] right?”

This time she rolled her eyes, but I kept on. “So, lover, thank the Lord for this difficult day and this idiot pastor, and tell me how you responded to Priscilla.”

My wife is no dummy. She has always recognized that Scripture is more important than her feelings, and, thank the Lord, she put her anger behind her and picked up her story.

“I was hurt that Priscilla would think anything like that of me and I told her so in no uncertain terms. She sat back and pondered before she responded to me, but her response was equally disconcerting. She said, ‘I thought so too, Issy, but some of your colleagues here wonder if your religious grid of thinking keeps you from seeing social issues in their proper and modern light.’ My mouth went wide when she said that, Jude. There was nothing for me to say.”

“I wanted to ask, ‘My colleagues? Which colleagues?’”

I put my arms around her for a few moments and then heard a crackle on the stove which meant I needed to turn over the patties.

Issy continued, “The rest of the day, every time someone looked at me, I wondered if they were the one stabbing me in the back.”

After a pause she went on, “The next thing I wondered was, ‘What does the candidate think of me?’”

I returned my attention back to her in time to hear her say, “I was hurt, and I was ticked.”

Our T.V. isn’t hooked up to any cable stations, so we like to watch movies we’ve purchased. And yes, I pulled out a chick-flick for us to enjoy during dinner tonight.

Thinking over what Issy had endured today, I was reminded of the persecution Jesus says is coming to those who follow Him. I made a commitment to get up early in the morning and reread that portion of Scripture.[iv] But not because of the persecution caused by me having to watch a chick-flick tonight, you understand.

 Same Day, FBI Safe House

Billy and I arrived at the same time. I don’t know why I like him; he’s not the most attractive guy I’ve ever dated and we’re not even really dating, but I do really like him.

Anyway, we got there at the same time, sat down and Billy shared with me what he’d found on the server from Issy’s Chief of Staff.

“Sammie, this is getting worse. I saw Issy when she left our CoS, Priscilla Ellsworth’s office today and she looked like she was ready to cry.”

I was shaking my head. This wasn’t a surprise but what he said next was.

“Sammie, I then found a file note that Priscilla asked our candidate if she should invite the FBI or Homeland Security to investigate Issy.”

“For what?” I asked.

“A racist ideology which would reflect on the candidate, if not dealt with quickly and decisively.”

My eyes got wide and I asked, “What did the candidate say?”

Billy replied with a smile, “Thankfully, the candidate reaffirmed the party’s trust in Issy. The exact words were, ‘I have come to trust Issy greatly. I don’t know this Atlanta pastor yet. You’ll need some strong evidence, not just opinion. Sorry Pricilla. PS. I don’t want your suspicions in her file, either.’”

Changing subjects, I asked Billy, “Have you seen Homeland Security’s tracks looking through Issy’s hard drive?”

“Yes, I’m seeing it from numerous departments and they are not covering their tracks as well as they used to.”

He paused and then continued, “It’s as if they are so convinced Issy. . .”

“And Jude,” I added.

“You’ve been seeing their tracks in Jude’s hard drive too?”

I simply nodded my head.

Billy continued, “I get the sense they are so confident these two are dirty and will be confronted soon that they do not think they need to cover any tracks. They just aren’t concerned.”

“I sense the same thing, Billy. I liken it to arrogance.”

“And Jack, at FBI? What do you think is going on with him?

“I don’t know, Sammie. He’s gone kind of quiet. But he hasn’t given me any directives, so I’m going to keep looking for information which will help me connect the dots.”

I was tired and Billy could tell.

“Come on, it’s time to go,” he said. “But before we do, let’s pray.”

 Same Day, Atlanta GA

“This better be good, Clyde. I don’t like Skyping you into my home. What do you want?”

His face, which was beginning to look chubby, was beaming. “You look like the cat which swallowed the chicken, Clyde.”

For a moment his dumb face looked at me from my cell phone. I had heard this stupid quote last month on Holiday. If he looked this stupidly at me, I probably won’t use it in a sermon. But I do like it. I like the cat’s bravado. I imagine her strutting around.

Clyde was speaking.

“What?” I asked. “Repeat that.”

“Operation Judas has begun in earnest. I just downloaded a file, deep into both hard drives, into which I will start adding the documents you gave me, making the principals appear disloyal.”

I sat back and smiled my Cheshire grin, which I was becoming more and more comfortable with and certainly proud of.

After a long moment I came back to Clyde. “Nice job, Clyde.” I decided I’d throw him a compliment-bone.

He was saying thank you or something. I don’t know, because I disconnected the call.

 Late, Same Day, Arlington VA

“Who was that?” Issy said, waking up.

It was 10:00 pm and Issy and I were asleep. But I had just taken a call from Harold.

“I hope I’m not calling too late?” he said.

“No, no.” I assured him, coming awake and leaving our bedroom in hopes of not awakening Issy. “Glad to hear from you. What’s up?”

There was a long stretch of silence, so I said nothing and just waited.

My phone dinged and a text came in from him.

It said:

“I recently found this website and I’ve been looking into his various posts. I don’t know that I agree with everything he says, because a number of times he says he, ‘doesn’t focus on the politician’s voting record.’ Anyway, Jude, I thought you might find it interesting. Maybe we can talk about it.”

“I’d like that. I got your text. I’ll look into it starting tomorrow.”

“Alright, goodnight,” he said.

“Good night, Harold, and thanks for the call.”

When I got back into bed I told Issy, “I think I just got an olive branch from Harold.”

And then I heard her snore.


[i] Proverbs 11:14

[ii] Ephesians 6:12

[iii] Ephesians 5:20

[iv] John 15:20