The Oval Office still seemed too small.
Although he had visited before for discussions with his late predecessor he had, at that time, been awed by its grandeur and position as the chamber of global influence. The previous incumbent had always talked down to him like some small state senator who was only kept aboard for a flickering light on the election night map. It was not the same now. Yes, Mr. President. No, Mr. President.
He had special agents whose purpose was to protect him and take a bullet if need be. The thought that apparent strangers would die for him, that his life was more important than theirs was, was something that he found staggering. His life was no longer just one of many, his life was now one of a special few. It was too easy, though, to bask in that feeling of being affirmed. Self-control was essential – God has his demands. He came here with purpose. Blood had dried on the path that had brought him here; he wanted no more on the path ahead.
He sensed that the men and women who worked for him loved him because they believed in him. People who had not voted for years had started to vote again because he was truly free. Although the media had tried several times, at the secret behest of industry, to hobble his campaign, they had failed. He had no agenda except to save America from itself. He had nothing to hide but everything to tell. This was the first time he felt genuine, sustained respect from the people beyond the end of a successful campaign.
At the start of a campaign, everything was unrealised hopes and dreams – but the liberal media soon got its teeth into that. That was not the worst of it. Contrary to reason, the worst case scenario for people’s hope was victory, because their would-be saviours were then revealed as Halloween pumpkins that look the part but are nothing but hollowed-out husks. The people lost the will to vote as the years of political unreality wore them down.
It was not the same now.
He had been concerned during the three-week civil war that his attempt to excise the cancer of depravity and corruption from America had killed the patient. That was a year ago and now the patient was fitter than ever. He would sometimes ask his driver to take him down the streets of a poorer neighbourhood just to gauge the mood. He saw more optimism in their expressions than before and it told him that he was on the right path. He was building up momentum and confidence to make bigger changes.
So far, all he done was to introduce some stringent requirements for corporate governance. He had managed to almost entirely divorce the political machine from the business engine that put food in people’s mouths and toys under the tree. There were signs of economic danger, though, he had been warned by the advisor. Some larger conglomerates had lost business to foreign competitors who were not bound by the same regulations. So then he made it illegal to do business with foreign entities that did not adhere to the same rules of play. Both Europe and China had threatened action over his “protectionism” and there were signs that Australia would be soon to follow.
Cheap imports were still causing problems and he was preparing to extend the Fair Play Act to cover them, although his team had indicated that it would be impossible to enforce; a couple of surrogate companies would easily mask the unethical practices. He had put together a rough proposal for an Ethical Signature system that meant that all transactions could be traced back to an American-registered Ethical Source. There was even more resistance after he unveiled his grand idea, and it was said that they would probably never be able to import anything. An empty threat, naturally, which did not bother him as he believed America should be self-sufficient and independent. Congress was getting unruly.
More change was necessary. America was being undermined by the shocking, sinful behaviour of its international “partners”. He was not particularly xenophobic, but he felt tempted to shut out the rest of the world that he now recognised as a malignant influence on his plans to heal his wounded country. Day by day, resentment grew and he felt as if his throat was choked with unspoken, profane bile.
On the monitor, there was a documentary about the First Lady. He sat enthralled. She had supported him through everything. He could go home every night and be the one and only man that could spend time with her. Who else could be entertained by her conversation? He thumped his fist on the desk and felt euphoria at what had come to pass. He picked up the phone to call her, without concern that his private conversation would be recorded. Perhaps a President’s love should become history, part of the legend.
As he began dialling the number, he noticed Elvis skulking beside the Stars and Stripes.
A tidal wave of raw, unbridled fear engulfed the President drowning a scream before it could escape his lips, leaving the sound stillborn and unformed on his tongue. Blood evacuated his face and he dropped the receiver in horror.