“Why don’t you want to tell the King that his son’s were financing terrorists all over the world and working with Iran, his arch enemy?” Frank asked with a cocked eye brow.
He was baiting me: “It’s over my pay grade,” I replied.
“That’s true but I doubt that would bother you,” Frank returned.
“You’re right, it would not and if I knew the King was supporting terror in the US like his sons, I would cut his throat, King or not,” I replied.
“Wait a minute. You knew that Crown Prince was funding terrorism for sure?“ Ben asked. And then he added, “That’s why the blacked out boxes on the screen whenever we were at your command center. That’s why you were looking at South Africa on Google a few weeks ago. You knew what they were planning and when. That’s why you were off last week.”
“Oh my God. You?”
“Careful Ben, you are getting into areas that it would be better if you didn’t know anything about,” I replied.
The conversation ended when Troy called and asked if I could come to the Oval Office.
“OK, I will be right up,” I replied into the phone.
“Gentleman, I need to go upstairs, you will have to excuse me,” I said as I stood and closed the folder.
In the Oval Office there were three Senators from the President’s opposition party.
Senator Sloane was the first to speak, “We have been promised for weeks that there were recommendations coming for the college security upgrades. These things are going to take months to implement. Where are they?” he asked.
“The task force has been extremely busy as we all have. The preliminary report will be released in a week to 10 days after the President’s team has a chance to review it for policy adjustments,” I replied.
“The first release will deal with general campus security; armed guards, more guards and reduction of available access to the campus grounds. Very few of the colleges seem to be interested in stepping up security to the levels needed; many are not even at minimum basic levels given the challenges of today.” I said.
“One issue is funding; a good security package nationwide is going to cost several billion. No one seems to want to address that issue; the colleges are waiting for handouts. Even the ones that have hundreds of millions in trust funds and endowments are not going to pay for it,” I said.
“We have to pick numbers – and haven’t done that yet – but I cannot see any college getting funding if they have more than ten million in investments, trust, or endowments. There are so many other small colleges that are county and state or self funded that are going to need financial help with the security changes,” I replied.
“If funding is to be provided, all should be provided for; I won’t have it any other way,” Senator Almost replied.
“So you are saying a major college with sports programs making millions and hundreds of millions in investments should still receive funding for the more expensive system at the expense of the smaller colleges,” I replied.
“Why of course, the small colleges should be eliminated; the students there forced to go to the bigger better equipped schools. Those small schools get funding that the larger schools can put to better use,” he replied.
“I think there are a lot of people that won’t see it that way. A few months ago you stood on a stage with me and declared complete support for whatever it took to make all colleges secure. Now are you going to stand on the stage and say only the best are worthy of that support?” I returned.
I was to go before several house committees next week – including educational appropriations – and testify. I would have the data completed by then. Half my team would have new direction to go tomorrow.
He never answered; just looked away. I went back to Section Twelve more determined than ever to expand and develop national standards and set funding levels for all college security, and then shove them down his throat.
I would be in the Senate the day the proposal was voted on. I was begged almost weekly to write op-eds for major newspapers and TV interviews. As much as I detested the media, I would use it against the Senators if I needed to.
Ben was right, my week off and the events in South Africa had left me with a mean streak that was growing and a determination that was dangerous.
Vicky called to tell me that Balthazar was gone and all evidence that he had been there was burned. The cleanup crew even wiped the bars down with chlorine to remove any DNA and had the mattress burned.
“Good job,” I replied.
Vicky was learning, just as all of my mates were. They were long past needing detailed explanations when we talked about or suggested something; it was like they were beginning to read my mind, understood why and they did not forget things.
We discussed several times about how the radio station that Hanna had told us about could work for our own advertising outlet. I did not know what they really thought and had not brought it up again. In today’s email dump I was CC’d on an email from the FCC to Jenny and Marcy that the ownership change, new format and call letters had been approved.
There were three land deed notice transfers in the paper, one for fifty acres on the Island. One of the others was further south on 301, right at the overpass and the third was for the radio station property. I knew Marcy had put a bid in for them.
Both properties were already zoned heavy residential and commercial. If the zoning was changed, the one on the Island could be a one of a kind project in the county and the whole shore; if not, it would be a development.
Marcy had eyes on the other property and several ideas for it. She was looking for an outlet to sell all the cars and trucks coming in from the rental and leases other than at wholesale auctions. If that one did or did not come through she wanted to build a major truck stop on the highway.
Lorrie had input on that plan; being at the airport she always heard the truckers at the restaurant complaining there was no easy location to get fuel, food and access to load brokers in the area. The only places on the island to get diesel were the WAWA and they were not suited for OTR (over the road trucks). The over the road guys need a parking /rest area to be able to meet the sleep requirement.
The one the state had in the area was small. Not more than a dozen trucks could park there and the concessions and bathrooms closed at night. The truck drivers would pull in there to get their mandatory sleep hours. As if that was not bad enough, the DOT officers would roll in, banging on the doors, waking them up to check logs and licenses.
Marcy and Lorrie envisioned big, like the ones on the major interstates out west and down south.
JBG was a truck dealer for three major brands for the utility leases and the chassis were dropped shipped to the body builders. There were so many complete units delivered that needed an address instead of the final end user. She wanted a place to establish a dealership for them.
The current setup for the heavy trucks was through a dealer in Georgia and he was getting greedy and lazy. The last order of chassis missed the deadline by the body installer because the dealer was a month late processing the order on the chassis. Marcy was pissed; the Georgia dealer was not going to get a second chance to do that. Marcy absolutely hated to apologize for other people’s mistakes.
Either way the properties were going into Lorrie’s real estate division. The accountants would be happy; they were always fussing about needing more deductions.
I was going to stay quiet and wait to see when they were going to tell me.
I called Bobbie into my office and closed the door. I pulled the sticky note off the letters she had typed and held it up. “Talk to me,” I said.
We had a good talk – open, frank and to the point – it lasted an hour. I learned a lot about Bobbie and her aspirations. I invited her and her husband to come to Saturday dinner with me and the girls.
I was closing down to meet the men taking me home when my phone rang.
“I do not want to play poker with you. Ever!”
Edit by Alfmeister
Proof read by Bob W.