Chadwick Worthington III left his downtown office obnoxiously early for the most important meeting of his life. He circled several blocks for thirty minutes before exasperatingly settling on a parking garage. Usually lucky with parking spots, today was ruined by these cheap-ass Neons and Cavaliers and Escorts cluttering every street he drove down. Why was living so difficult sometimes? Yeah, yeah, he understood that there were people in Asia who didn’t have a place to sleep, or food to eat, or nice clothes to wear, but they didn’t have the constant worry of protecting a new Escalade either. Life was hard everywhere; just a different kind of hard.
And he didn’t like this parking garage attendant.
“Dude, be careful with my ride, man,” he said. “This machine costs more in a month than your family back in Ubangi, or wherever the hell they are, makes in a year.” He saw no harm in speaking to these guys this way, seeing as how they didn’t understand the language, anyway. The only reaction they ever had was to nod and smile so what was the point in making nice. Let the illegal fuckers know up front who they were dealing with. “Get a real job,” he wanted to say.
The chill in the air caused his mind to unwisely drift away for a moment to the bar-b-que he hosted last weekend, the first warm day of the new spring. An event filled with America’s top big shots, just like him. His house was the biggest in the neighborhood, with the most garage doors; his grill was built into the patio (no rollaway crap for him); his Pink shirt proved that he could afford to wear such expensive designer luxury even to a cookout; and his wife’s tits were perkier than all the others, her jeans tighter, and her adoring looks toward him incomparable. And no covered dish or “bring-your-own meat” parties at his house. Chadwick Worthington covered the whole tab. He could bankroll them all.
“Chadwick,” his wife called out. “Put Cheney away. He’s bothering some of our guests.”
Cheney, their Golden Retriever, whose weekly grooming, recreation, and spa visit cost more than the Ubangi garage attendant’s whole wardrobe, did have the habit of burying his nose in the ladies’ crotches. Chad got a kick out of it, watching them all delicately press their hands to Cheney’s hairy snout and gently nudge it away. Then Chad would spout out a joke causing the husbands to laugh, even the husband whose wife was feeling the golden nose. “Yep, ol’ Cheney knows where the good eatin’ is;” or “I bet Cyndi (or Juli, or Tiffany, or Mareesa, or Candi, or whomever was Cheney’s target) wishes your tongue was as long as Cheney’s, huh, Curt (or Bradley, or Chandler, or Fife);” or “I’ll send ol’ Cheney over to your house, Walker ol’ boy, and let him teach you exactly how Marci (or Libby, or Lesley, or Mary Claire, or Shari) likes it.” Occasionally, a couple would decline future invitations, but he didn’t care. Some other adoring and willing neighborhood sweetie would step up and let Cheney have his way with her. What was a little nose in the crotch if that’s all it took to get invited to one of his parties?
But what was he thinking? He couldn’t afford to reminisce about that now. He had this meeting. “The most important of my life,” he kept saying under his breath. It was hard to describe to the layman exactly what it was he did at work, but what it meant was he made a lot of money for himself and his company, people had to kiss his ass, and he drove an Escalade, owned houses in Jackson Hole and Duck, and played golf whenever he wanted with men who had their pictures in national magazines. Today’s meeting was a mere formality, but he still planned to razzle-dazzle. Can’t take anything for granted at this level.
He walked along the sidewalk and glanced several blocks ahead, eyeing the Seventeenth Century style architecture of the gray office building where he had been many times before and would soon be again. It was time for wheeling and dealing. Time for working his magic. There was a reason he was known as the best closer in the game.
“Excuse me. Sir? You got forty-five cents so I can get some McDonald’s or something?”
He looked down into the sunken stoop leading to the basement of a large, multi-storied townhouse structure. The building was the home of some “not-for-profit,” (yeah, sure), do-gooder organization that tried to convince the world they gave a shit about people but were really just milking a bunch of soft-hearted pansies out of piles of money. There, wadded up, he saw a pile of rags, some gray hair, and dirty brown shoes with holes in the soles.
“What?” he answered. Chadwick never ignored these ne’er-do-wells, who truly were “never-do-wells” or more accurately wastes of skin, sucking the rest of us dry. He always challenged them. Nobody should get a free ride, not even a worthless beggar. Everybody should have to answer for what they chose to do. This sorry assflip chose to wallow in a doorway and bother everybody. Chad was appalled by such affronts to the dignity and decency of hard-working, purposeful people like himself (he liked it when he thought in such elegant phrases) and, as usual, he engaged the piss ant.
“Where the hell you going to get anything for forty-five cents? You can’t get anything at McDonald’s for forty-five cents. If you’re going to beg, why don’t you at least beg like someone who is competent? Hell, man, you’re not even any good at begging,” Chadwick said.
“Sir, I’m trying to get a little something to eat. Can’t you help me out, please?”
“You lazy sack of…”
“Never mind, man. Sorry I asked. God bless you.”
“God bless me?” Chadwick had stopped walking and was standing over the man in the stoop, wagging his finger. “What the hell do you know about God? I bet you haven’t had that worthless, sin-ridden soul of yours in a church in ten years. Hey, you gonna tithe ten percent of this forty-five cents I’m not going to give you? You don’t even know what I’m talking about do you. Can you spell ‘tithe?’ God bless me. Ha!”
“Oh, go on, dude,” and the man looked away and lowered his head.
You would think the damn city could clean these streets up. He couldn’t believe that he was three blocks from the most prestigious real estate in the world and he had to deal with some donkey fucker lying crumbled up in a doorway whose only purpose was to harass productive taxpayers. Get a job.
He approached the iron bars that surrounded the huge gray building and looked at the security guard. Damn Mexicans everywhere. Then he remembered he was supposed to be nice to these “Hispanics.”
“Hola, mi amigo,” Chad called out. “I’m Chadwick Worthington the third, and I have a meeting with the DACOS.” He pronounced DACOS like the acronym that it was, or at least that it was to the people who mattered.
The guard looked at Chadwick Worthington the third over the rim of his sunglasses. “The DACOS?” he asked, repeating the word just as Chadwick had used it.
“Yes, the Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff!” What a moron this guy was. Typical. The people in power obviously must not have real authority over hiring the help. They would never have hired this guy, even if he was a Mexican. No way would they put up with this kind of incompetence if they were allowed to screen the low-level underlings without some pinko, Mafia-upped union getting involved. This guy was probably straight up from some South American drug cartel and the union pitched a fit when he couldn’t get a job. Now here he was, harassing people whose tie cost more than this guy’s car.
“Sir, I don’t see you on the list,” the guard said to Chadwick Worthington the third. Chad caught the glance and smirk that Poncho gave to the other guard and instantly recognized the game.
“Well, I suggest you check again, or maybe I’ll just have to take out my cell and call the C-O-S,” spelling this one out for the illiterate greaseball, “and let him know that you are not allowing me in for my meeting with the DACOS.”
“Sir, you can call whomever you chose, but the C-O-S, as you say, has no authority over the security of these facilities; whatsoever. So, until I see your name on the list and you successfully pass through the security checkpoints, you are not meeting with anyone. Is that clear, sir?”
Chadwick merely stared at the guard. This macho-acting shit weasel was probably some closet sissy faggot. Probably married to some other homo and would lose his job for sure when it was discovered. Once ol’ Chaddy boy got on the inside, he would take care of this supercilious prick. This immigrant turkey would be gone in two weeks; wading back across the river so fast he wouldn’t even know what had hit him. He didn’t care if he was supposed to be nice to these people.
“Officer, let me start again. I have a meeting scheduled with the Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff. My name is Chad Worthington. Could you please check the admittance registry to determine if I am listed? I would certainly appreciate it.”
“Certainly, Mr. Huffingham,” the guard said.
“Excuse me, but it’s Worthington. Chad Worthington.”
Finally Chico said, “Yes, sir. Here you are, right here, Mr. Worthington. I regret the confusion. If you would kindly step forward we can clear you through to the next security booth.”
The electronic bolts of the iron gate were released and it swung inward. Chad walked through the gate, refusing to look at the Keystone-Car 54-Police Academy cocksucker, and said thank you as he continued toward the receiving building several yards ahead where he could see a bank of X-Ray machines and imposing metal detectors. He heard the gate close and bolt behind him.
The guard at the X-Ray machine looked somewhat more reasonable, maybe even a man Chad could deal with. So he was once again stunned when this wadwipe forced him to empty all of his pockets, remove his belt, and take off his shoes. How could one machine make so many annoying, ear-piercing screams? The snake dicks must have turned it way up when they saw him coming, just to annoy him. He should have been writing down all of their names, and not so that he could pray for them come this Sunday when he and his wife were sitting in church, directly across the aisle from the Secretary of, well, it didn’t matter. These security guys obviously didn’t know anything about Chadwick Worthington, but he could guarantee that they soon would find out. After this meeting, the whole place would be different toward him. Give him a couple of months and he’d be closing deals all over the entire world.
Finally Chad finished with security, received his admittance credentials, and began walking down the hall to the DACOS’s office, escorted by a pretty blonde girl who had met Chad on the other side of the X-Ray machine. He looked at everyone’s badge, noticing the codes, and figured it would only be a matter of days before his would bear a big, bright red, capital “A.”
“I’m Brooke, Mr. Worthington, the Deputy’s secretary,” the babe said, extending her hand. “Is this your first time in the O-E-O-B?” she asked. Chad couldn’t help but notice her fine ass. And, she was quite talented at highlighting it. No chick would ever wear a dress like that unless she knew that every man in the room was watching her leave.
“Oh no, honey. I’ve been here many times. Most times I’m over in the Wing, though.”
“Oh, I would so much love to work over there. But I just love my job here, too. It’s so exciting and I get to meet so many interesting people,” she said.
“Well, doll, stick with me,” Chad said, “and you never know. You might find a way over there before you know it.”
“Really, Mr. Worthington. You’re going to come work for us?”
“Well, we’ll see.”
The DACOS was leaning in his doorway when Chad and the hot piece walked into her outer office.
“Hey, Chad. Great to see you again,” he said, doing nothing to hide his oil country twang.
“Hello, Chief,” Chad answered.
“Well, not yet. Still just Deputy now, but you never know. Come on in and plant yourself. We’ve got some things to talk over. I spoke with The Man just this morning. You know He loves the job you did last fall. How much did you end up raisin’?”
“Just over three hundred. Shoot, if we could have put the dance off until December, I could have raised close to half a big one.”
“Yeah,” the DACOS said, “you even got a nickname didn’t you?”
“The Big Wick!” Chadwick Worthington the third said with a smile.
“You know as good as me that The Man don’t give out those nicknames to just anybody.”
“That’s right,” The Big Wick answered.
“Well, like I said, Chad, I talked with Him briefly this morning and I think there had been some discussion of you coming on to help us with some political stuff. Everybody around here marvels at your political skills, you know.”
“Well, I’ve been lucky at figuring out people, I guess. You know, I’ve already been working on some ideas that I am confident can give this place a good jump start into the next cycle.”
“Bottom line is, Chad old buddy, The Man doesn’t want us to move in that direction just now. He wants to concentrate more on substance this time around and not so much on the politics, at least not from within the complex here. That’s why we think it’s better if you stay on the outside and keep raising that money for us and be our eyes and ears on the outside. Keep working the community, you know.”
There was a long pause. “You mean you’re not going to offer me a position, you’re not hiring me?”
“We’re keeping you right where you are. You don’t know how important you are to Him out there. Not everybody can handle the outside like you can, Chad. It’s hard work out there and we need special folks doing the job.”
“Did He decide this or was it some jealous son-of-a-bitch running around here kissing ass?”
“No, no, Chad. You’ve got it all wrong. We’re not bringing you on here because we need you out on the street. You got street smarts that don’t do us any good if you’re sittin’ at a desk in here.”
Chad could only sit there. He could not think of another single word to say.
Finally, little Miss Ass came in and told the DACOS that he had a call on his personal line. “It’s the Chief of Staff,” she said.
“Excuse me, Chad, but I need to take this one. Brooke will show you out. Hey, appreciate you coming down to chat. I’ve got some ideas I want to run by you in a couple of weeks. I’ll call you to set up a lunch or something. Adios, partner.” He waved as he picked up the phone.
Chad got up and numbly walked toward the door and the smiling Brooke.
“I’ll walk you down to the entrance, Mr. Worthington. It sounds like I’ll be talking to you again soon to set up some meetings.” The twinkle never left her eyes.
The hallway to the exit was blank to Chad. He saw nothing on the walls or between them. He might have heard a few people pass by and greet him, but he couldn’t be sure. Brooke released him at the security desk and retrieved his badge, making sure it was returned, and leaving The Big Wick with no credentials. He passed by the X-Ray machine and then by the guard and was outside, outside the iron gate, never having heard the bolt open or close.
Everything had been so fast. One minute he was sitting there talking of how brilliant his work in the fall had been, and the next he was being ushered out the door.
There was nothing left to do but walk back to the parking garage. He thought of calling someone, someone in the West Wing, someone who would tell him that there had been a huge mistake. But this crowd didn’t make huge mistakes. Shoot, they didn’t even think they made little ones. This bunch took no prisoners. He was out and they didn’t want him in.
He crossed the street, holding his head down against the cold, early spring wind that had started to blow.
At the huge townhouse, his eyes were diverted to the stoop below the stairs where the beggar had been curled into a mass of dirty blankets. The man was no longer there, no longer huddling against the cold that was ripping around the corner of each building in the city.
Chadwick looked closely at the space, this man’s house, and saw several cardboard boxes obviously used as a mattress or maybe shelter when snow or rain fell. Chad searched for the man but there was no sign of him, only the signs left in his home that showed what he was, who he was, and how he was.
Chad looked up and down the street. When he saw no one else he reached into the breast pocket of his Armani suit jacket and felt his billfold, thick with credit cards and pictures of his wife, and even Cheney. He slowly walked down the steps and picked up a piece of broken brick lying next to the mattress of pasteboard. He looked at the bills inside his wallet. One had Ulysses Grant’s picture, another Andrew Jackson’s. One Republican, one Democrat. Choosing one, he folded it in half with the picture showing, and placed it under the brick. He walked up to the sidewalk, looked back at the Old Executive Office Building with its Deputy Assistants and its Gucci shoes and its Rolex watches and its blonde haired Brookes, and turned toward the parking garage, wondering what he should say to the attendant.