The visit turned out to be relatively brief. Al Eddington, aka Warmonger, was the president’s military and intelligence advisor, one of the six full-time advisors on Mark Jerguessen’s full-time Advisory Board. The group worked together to keep the president on top of pretty much everything. The goal of the Board wasn’t to formulate policy – there were plenty of others who did that for him – but to act as a research group that he could turn to that wasn’t as hooked into the politics as most other advisors. Warmonger worked at home, partly because at age 70, he wanted to, and partly because he was a heavy smoker.
Unfortunately, his wife, Caroline, had recently been diagnosed with lung cancer.
“The prognosis isn’t good,” Caroline told Sharon and Karen that evening.
Her head was swathed in a colorful scarf – a sign of the chemotherapy. Thin plastic tubes adorned her nose, since she was also on an oxygen tank.
“How’s Al taking it?” Karen asked.
Caroline took a deep breath. “Total denial, but what do you expect?” She breathed again. “That’s his training.”
Sharon and Karen nodded. The three nattered on for a while longer, then Caroline sent the two others on their way. Warmonger, a tall man with gray hair and the utterly erect posture of a former member of the military, stopped them on the way to Karen’s car.
“I, uh,” he hesitated.
“It’s okay, Al,” said Karen.
“We’d do it for anybody,” said Sharon. “You are more important than just anybody.”
“I’m fine,” Al snarled, then softened. “As long as Caroline is happy. That’s what matters.”
“No kidding,” said Karen.
“Seriously, we are your servants,” Sharon said. “If there’s anything we can do, please let us know.”
“I will,” Al said.
In Karen’s car the two women rolled their eyes.
“You think he’s going to ask?” Sharon asked as Karen navigated their way around the Beltway to Sharon’s Georgetown townhouse.
“Are you crazy?” Karen said. “So not in this guy’s training.”
Sharon sighed. “I was hoping.”
“Nope,” Karen said. “We’re going to have to enlist another White guy. Maybe Eli.”
Eli Weatheral was the Advisory Board member overseeing environmental issues. Though technically a part-timer, Eli was closest to Al in age. The downside was that Eli was about as diametrically opposed to everything Al believed in as one person could get. Still, the two respected each other.
“Maybe,” Sharon said. “I hate feeling this helpless.”
Karen shrugged. “Get used to it. One thing you learn from popular culture is that it while it reflects the larger culture, it’s also constantly changing and leaving the dinosaurs behind. Al is going to be the way he is because that’s what he was taught to do. On the other hand, younger guys are learning to be more open about their feelings.” She sighed. “When they aren’t being taught to be knuckle-scraping Neanderthal frat boys.”