*Disclaimer: This work is controversial. It may include triggers for some readers. This fictional piece will discuss the actions of a politician which negatively affect a teenager. If you may find this content uncomfortable it is no recommended that you read it.
As a politician on his way out of office, I’ve found that I am less inhibited by the social norms of not only being in the spotlight but of being an “upper class” gentleman. When the voters started complaining about my frequent inability to pass laws, I fired at them that I would work harder. When there was a scandal involving my leading political ally, I assured my constituents that I was unaware of the wrongdoing and would disassociate myself with any politicians of the like. Unfortunately, the lies were easier than the job. I would never suggest that I made for a great governor. I wasn’t even a good governor. Regardless of my quality of work, however, I have found a way to ensure that I will never be forgotten. I will, at the very least, be an infamous governor.
“Good afternoon! My studio has demanded me to listen to your proposal. I am going to give you five minutes to tell me a story that will capture my attention. Consider this the first five minutes of your movie.” Henley Bridget has always been a brash sort of man, from what I’ve read, where his work ethic is concerned. Everyone is to work as long as hard as him. Not a single moment can be spent on meaningless things; “Your time starts now.”
And that damn man actually has a stopwatch.
Thankfully for him – and I do mean for him – I am a seasoned politician. I can speak on a whim about anything regardless of my level of knowledge. So with a smile on my face, I pick the story that I know has never been heard. I will share my own story – a scandal that will surely get me put in prison. Or at least put someone in prison.
“In one of my more recent elections I was becoming desperate. My republican counterpart was gaining a lot of momentum. Everyone on my campaign team was urging me to take action. They didn’t care how, but I needed to do it immediately. I was flustered because they needed me to do something big. Something that would completely defame my opponent!” I pause for a moment, drinking water to prove that I’m not intimidated by his time limit. There’s nothing about this that scares me anymore than the idea of future politicians continuing this sick game of cheating, lying, and blackmailing in order to achieve success.
Of course, there’s something even worse than simply cheating and lying and blackmailing… There’s full on sabotage. It is worse than cheating in the sense that you’re not just taking advantage of something and swaying the vote in your favor. Sabotage is the full and intentional wrongdoing that will absolutely end someone’s campaign dead in its tracks.
“The thing is – sabotage ruins a career for life. In the end, this is exactly what I would need to do to keep my career alive instead. Days passed and there was no questioning of my game plan or my intentions. I wasn’t even asked if I wanted assistance in finding a way to get the deed done. It was so hushed that I almost convinced myself that the conversation never happened!” Henley is scrolling through his phone now and lifting a Bluetooth piece to his ear. As passively as I present my idea for a documentary I want him to direct called “The Darker Side of Politics,” he is just as casual and disinterested as one might expect.
So that is my cue to drop my bomb, “After a night of seeing my polls drop almost ten percent, on a pharmacy television, luck fell upon me. I saw my opponent’s daughter dropping off a prescription. I pay close attention and realize that it’s birth control. This is scandalous information but not enough to derail a campaign. I decide in that moment, having known the pharmacist on duty for many years, that I have the power to ruin a career.”
Henley doesn’t seem to move but his eyes dart up and hone in on the topic. I’ve given him a reason to be listening now. After flashing a nervous smile, I realize that I’ve never admitted aloud to anyone ever about what I did to this girl. Guilt and self-loathing pump through my veins, but it motivates me to prove that politicians are disgusting; “So I waited for her to step over to her security guard and ask him to grab some snacks, preferably chocolate. He walks away but not far enough to lose sight of her. With both of them distracted, I sneak into the back – greeted hesitantly by my friend. No, I wasn’t supposed to go back there, but I pulled out my phone and drafted a message. On the screen it reads – ‘Switch her birth control out with a placebo.’ My friend shakes his head. He can’t, I know he’s trying to say that he just can’t do it. So beneath that message I type a number.” Henley is fully enthralled now. His earpiece is in his pocket along with his phone; and his feet are crossed and propped on a chair. This is a man that is ready to take on a project – I can see it in his face.
All I have to do is seal the deal.
“After he smiles, because affirming this deal verbally was too direct. We share a brief hug and he escorts me to a private bathroom. In there I review the best ways to get this money out without raising eyebrows. This is an intelligent man I’m working with, so I know he won’t expect a lump sump. Politicians have to be coy if they want to sabotage careers, after all. The act itself is risky enough, why make the finances suspicious too?” I break it up for another quick drink, but I don’t linger too long; “So he changes the birth control to a placebo. It is nearly identical to the pills she already gets so when he slides them into a blue plastic case, nobody is any wiser to the swap. And the placebo’s presence doesn’t prove fruitful right away, but in my greatest hour of need – the announcement comes. Headlines everywhere are calling out my opponent for being a hypocrite.”
Henley is laughing, probably predicting what is going to be said next. The story itself becomes obvious once birth control is mentioned. This horrifying story is predictable a best but no less horrifying. All that is left for me to finish saying it out loud to this director so that he can confirm that he’s interested in yet another groundbreaking documentary that will move the people to address issues in our country that are still left unnoticed.
“Churches and pro-life clinics had been financially carrying my opponent. All of his children wore purity rings. The girls even sometimes did advertisements discussing the value of abstinence. This was a politician campaigning for a local government, and a state government, that rallied for the families. When his middle daughter stepped down as a spokesperson and representative for abstinence, eyebrows were raised – but they screamed ‘S.A.T.s!’ and “FINALS!” as though school was becoming too stressful. Then there were whispers that she stopped teaching Sunday school, and that her purity ring was gone. The announcement finally had to be made that she was pregnant.”
There’s a moment of silence between us. I barely even notice him turning the stopwatch off. I have convinced him that this is a lucrative project. Not just now in revealing that the young girl was pregnant, but in general proving that attending this ‘mandatory’ meeting was valuable to him. If this is how low I was willing to stoop just to remain in office – what had other politicians done? Bigger politicians? There are nastier stories than this to be exposed.
Henley seems to know this so he pulls out a stenopad from a briefcase that I didn’t pay any attention to when he arrived. He starts scribbling in it, asking me only one question after focusing intention on his pages; “Did you remain in office after this act of sabotage, governor?”
A smile that must speak volumes about the things wrong with me curls my lips. Isn’t the answer obvious? I didn’t come here because I lost. I came here because I won and I didn’t deserve my seat leading my home state. I didn’t deserve any of the success I obtained.
But he needs to hear it from me. He needs to know that I’ll speak up and be the voice leading this project forward. Henley is requiring me to prove that I won’t shy away when this project takes a turn for the cringe-worthy. So I just keep grinning at him and drop my chin deep into my chest; “I wouldn’t be a proper politician if I didn’t, now would I? Of course I won. And I won because I was willing the pay the price with someone else’s head.”