* * *
“I, James Colin Hudson, do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
John waved to the gathered faithful and smiled to boisterous cheers. He had done it; he had successfully stolen the presidency of the United States. He made appropriate dismissals of staff members and appointed enough to keep up the appearance of cleaning house and set into the motions of being president.
* * *
Several months after the inauguration, Teresa attended a private dinner with former president John Michaels. She was writing a story about what retired presidents did with their time. It was a puff piece, and she knew it, but John made sure she was at the top of the list of press invitees, and he was happy to have her around.
“Tim’s gonna be so upset that he didn’t get invited to shoot some video.”
John chuckled, “You and Tim can be there for my next great adventure, whatever President Hudson wants me to do.”
Something clicked in the back of Teresa’s mind. She viewed the whirlwind campaign with a detached perspective that she was unable to do when she was close to the story. It was the diaspora of a dandelion – each seed fluttering in the wind was a piece of the puzzle. She excused herself and went into the hall to make a phone call.
Her call was answered on the second ring; her brother was nothing if not predictable. “Tim,” she whispered after he got his greeting out of the way.
“What is it?”
“Do you have any video of any of the candidates together or with President Michaels?”
“I can look, but other than election night, nothing comes to mind.”
“Right,” she hissed, her voice getting louder with excitement. “There weren’t any Vice presidential candidate debates, either! Something doesn’t add up!”
She couldn’t have known John was listening at the door. She was comfortable with John and in her excitement made a rookie mistake: Talking about a sensitive story where others could hear her.