"Senator Torsen! Senator Torsen over here!"
I turned towards a barrage of camera flashes and questions. Having dealt with the onslaught of publicity over the years, I knew it was best to smile and wave as I walked by the crowd of journalists and reporters. So that's what I did, smiled and waved. Made sure they got the best side of my three-piece suit, tailored by Louis Vuitton's best designers, not to brag. I continued my walk to the house of congress and waited patiently for the session to start.
I chattered politely with my colleagues, the usual small talk of "how was your vacation to France?" or "How's your grandson doing at duke?" I was too young for a grandson, being the fourth youngest senator on the board at the ripe young age of 37.
This continued, of course, until the joint session began. Bills hit the floor, we took our votes, and as usual, very few bills made it through the process; the most excitement was when a bill for increasing Medicaid got through with a vote of 52-48. Then, out of the corner of my eyes, I watched as my secretary entered the room and made his way over to me.
He looked distraught like something had been gnawing at him all morning. "Mr.Torsen." He said in a hush, "Can I speak with you privately, please."
Peterson, my secretary, was 27 years old and bright young talent from yale. I met him during my first campaign for senator at one of my rallies, where he expressed his political ideas and views that I agreed with. After keeping in contact with him for a few years, I finally convinced him to work under me, get his name out in the world and work on becoming a political powerhouse in his own right. He certainly had the charm for it, standing at 6'4 with a chiseled body that oozed hard work.
I signaled that I was stepping out and walked with Peterson to my office. The entire walk, he seemed paranoid and erratic. Once we reached the office, he swiftly shut the door behind us and sighed relief. I Took to my chair, and he sat across from me on the other side of my desk. Not wanting to waste too much time, I immediately pressed on the subject at hand.
"Peter, what's troubling you?"
"You know what it is, sir."
I bit my cheek.
"Peter, I don't see the need to discuss-"
"Don't toy with me."
Peter pulled out documents underneath his coat and thrust them onto my desk. They scattered everywhere, but there was no need to look. I already knew what they were.
Among those documents were evidence of a crime and proof of guilt. For several years, I, among many other members of the Senate, had been working with a drug cartel to smuggle product over the Mexican-American border. Naturally, the people in my committee were accomplices to the crime, and naturally, if word got out of what I had been doing, they would be brought down with me.
The documents Peterson just threw down were documents that could do just that. Bring everyone down.
"How did they get access to this?"
Peter's voice was icy. He wasn't asking a question; he already had the answer in his head. He just needed me to admit it. But that's not what I plan to give him. In his current state, he's desperate and not thinking clearly. Vulnerable. I can use this.
"I don't know what you're talking about."
"DON'T LIE TO ME, TORSEN"
He swept my desk clear of everything on it. Paper flew in the air, and my laptop smashed against the wall.
"I've been getting press calls all morning. They want me to make statements about the border wall breaches, and I'm not the only one getting the finger pointed at. There's no way you wouldn't have heard about something like this, so how do they know about the documents?"
So he'd put two and two together, but like a rookie came crying to me to say he found four.
"Of course, they wouldn't call me? Do you think they give anyone a heads up when they're about to do a rug pull?!? Get a grip, Peterson; now is not the time to lose your cool."
"Lose my cool? Lose my COOL?!? I'm about to lose EVERY thing here, years of my life, and you're telling me not to lose my cool?!?"
I had him right where I wanted him.
"If they called you to make statements, they're not certain what the documents prove. They only know that there's something there. That's why they wouldn't call me but try to talk to you, no one would suspect you you're just a secretary the worst you'd get is questioned on how you didn't notice anything going on with me. But if they made calls for statements this morning, that means whatever case they're looking to publish hasn't been finished yet-"
"So what if they haven't published anything yet?"
"So we have time, Pete."
I began picking up documents from the floor and flushing them across the table.
"Look, they don't have all the pieces to the puzzle. So if we give them those pieces..."
I opened a drawer from my desk and shuffled through a few documents, pretending to search. Once finding what I was 'looking' for, I slipped it out and slammed it in front of Peterson.
"They'll only see whatever picture we want them to."
"What is this?" He asked as he picked it up, glancing over it quizzically.
"It's proof of account transfers of money. This is concrete evidence that they would need to really pin people down."
"And how exactly would this help us?"
"That's the thing, Pete; it's accounts. We can tell them we had a mole in our committee, someone on the inside leeching from us."
"You want to put this all on Jefferson?"
"Exactly. He's an accountant, and he has family from Mexico. It makes him a prime scapegoat for us. We use the accounting document and the documents that we know they already have to paint a story of Jefferson and a few other committees about their corruption in the capital. We'll avoid blame for the border breaches and knock out a few opposing party members while we're at it. Of course, we'll have to hit a few members of our own party to avoid suspicion, but I've already selected a few names from Senators in states where we'd win anyways if someone else had to run there."
"It sounds like you planned for this."
"Don't they teach you in driver's ed always look for an escape in case of a crash? That's all this is, an escape from a crash."
I could see in his eyes he was buying everything that I had sold him. Every lie that left my mouth was another pill for him to swallow, and he did so gladly. I feel bad for Peterson; I really do. He's so young and full of potential. But he hasn't seen the cruelties of this political world. But as I continued to calm him down and put his doubts to rest, the more I saw how much he needed this. I remember my first time being backstabbed like it was yesterday, and I'm a better man for it. Of course, not everything I told him was a lie.
What really happened was that months ago, I could tell that the CIA was getting onto our scent. They could see the smoke in the room, so I called them about the fire. I told them of my sneaking suspicion, showed them the same accounting documents I had just given Peterson, and sent them down a rabbit hole of my own making. Peterson would be safe, for the most part. No jail time, but he'd be disgraced, and I'd have to fire him for it. Of course, he won't be able to make a case against me; the evidence against him and the others would be too hard, and I've managed to scrub the books of anything that could point towards me. As for the mafia we'd work with, I also let them know ahead of time. We made a handshake over the phone and went our separate ways a few weeks ago.
All that was left was for Peterson to approach the press just like I told him to, get defaced for attempting to cover himself up and throw Jefferson under the bus when they were both guilty, and it would all be over. I could ride this out until the primaries and then move from there.
The joint session finished shortly after my talk with Peterson, and I made my way back to the car. As I made my way out, I again flashed a smile to the crowd and waved to the journalist. Part of me felt terrible; it really did. But at the end of the day, these people were just as bad as I am. So who cares if they take the fall? As for now, all I need to do is smile and wave.