This multipart story is primarily about romance and relationships between men. Any reference to actual persons, living or dead, is only to enhance the fictional nature of the story and does not suggest a particular sexual orientation. If you are offended by graphic descriptions of homosexual sex, what the hell are you doing here? Bye, bye.
Special acknowledgements to Drew and Brad for providing diligent proofing and editing of the story.
If you have any comments or suggestions for the author, feel free to write me at email@example.com. I love feedback and communication with readers. Support Nifty!
Chapter 5, HAIL TO THE SUPER CHIEF
Mac opened one eye to verify that the warm, furry body next to him was not a dream. The new morning cast a dim light in the bedroom and he noticed the red digital numbers on his clock radio read 5:38. 'Man,' he thought, 'Phil was really something last night. I wonder if a second visit is in the cards?'
He snuggled in a little closer. With an arm draped around the slow-breathing body, Mac scooted to park his morning wood into the hot crevice of Phil's backside. The movement brought a response of Phil backing in further to Mac's chest and crotch. Slowly, Mac took his fingers and started circling Phil's nipples.
"Hmm," Phil said hoarsely, "that's a nice wakeup call. It's a shame that we've got to waste the opportunity for me to take care of your obvious horniness." He chuckled, rolled around to face Mac and pressed his equally excited member into Mac's crotch.
"Damn, what a loss." Mac rotated his mid-section into Phil. "But I guess both our jobs call for early office hours? The Vice President wants us there by 7:30 a.m. in case the President is restless." Mac smiled and lightly stroked Phil's arm.
"Someone's got to read the morning papers to the President. Might as well be your boss," Phil replied with a laugh.
"Asshole. Always the partisan." Mac punched Phil's arm and moved out of reach in the process.
"But who reads the funny papers to him on weekends?" Phil replied with a chortle.
"Funny up yours. Listen, I do have to pull myself together and get over to the Executive Office building. Umm, do you want to get together sometime? I mean, for a Dem you're not too bad." Mac got out of bed and playfully stuck out his tongue.
"Watch it, buddy. I know exactly where that tongue was last night." Phil eased out of bed and grabbed his boxers. "Seriously, I'd love to invite you out to dinner this weekend and then come over to my place. Maybe Saturday night and a leisurely Sunday morning?"
"I should play hard to get but the point is I'd like to see you again." Mac walked over to Phil and kissed him on the cheek. "I always have a rule of no kissing on the mouth until I'm fresh. Let's plan on Saturday night and I'll contact you tomorrow for some details." He watched as Phil pulled on his pants and sweater.
"Here's my card with all the contact numbers and email address." Phil took his wallet out and retrieved a business card. He handed it to Mac and held his hand a little longer than normal. "I really look forward to Saturday and the chance to know you better. Just for the record, this isn't some BS line I toss out." Phil found his socks and sat down to put them on.
"Here's my contact stuff." Mac got a card from his desk and gave it to Phil. "To add to the record, I think I'm going to enjoy getting to know you. If ya want, I can drive you back to your car?"
"Naw, the walk will be good for me. I need to get to the office early, too." Phil pulled Mac into a hug and kissed him on the ear. "Thanks for a great evening...and maybe more." He looked into Mac's eyes and smiled. "Bye." Phil turned and walked out of the bedroom.
Mac heard the front door open and close. 'Wow,' he decided, 'that is a primo guy.'
For the next 45 minutes, Mac went through his morning routine and by 7:00 a.m. was out the door and on his way to the Eisenhower Executive Office Building - the EOB to Washingtonians - and the Vice President's staff offices. After finding an open parking space in the garage, he dashed across the street, showed his security clearance badge to the Capital police and went upstairs to the warren of offices that housed the Vice President's staff. It was 7:23 a.m.
"Morning, Mac," the pool secretary said, looking up from her PC.
"Hey, Trish, how's the day going to shape up? Am I still on the schedule?"
"Your briefing for the boss is at 8:30 a.m. He's over with the President having breakfast."
"I wonder who's giving marching orders to whom," Mac replied with a chuckle.
"Not quite politically correct, Mr. Price." The secretary smiled to signal her understanding and agreement. "I've set up your PowerPoint presentation in the conference room."
"How much time do I have?" Mac was concerned that his position paper on energy would be relegated to a polite review before it hit the dustbin.
"Actually your presentation is the only item on the agenda before he has to go over to the other office. You've got his ears and the entire senior staff's for 23 minutes."
Other office was the code word for a private suite in the G.O.P. party offices on K Street. The Vice President was frequently over at that location for fund-raising telephone calls and meetings. After the Clinton years, the current administration was circumspect not to use government real estate or telephones when soliciting or stroking donors.
"Hey, I'd be pleased if it was only ten minutes." Mac nodded and walked with a spring to his steps into his small office. 'Can I convince the big dogs that ethanol and ethanol hybrids with a higher ethanol content - a minimum 50% - are the way to go for the president's immediate energy policy...rather than waiting for hydrogen research?' he wondered. From the steady stream of oil company executives who were constantly meeting with the Vice President, he concluded, 'Maybe so. As long as their precious black gold is used.'
Phil had a bounce to his walk when he entered the reception area to the congresswoman's offices. He greeted the receptionist and continued into the office area.
"Morning, Kyle, got a minute?" Phil asked as he passed Kyle's cubicle. Without waiting for a reply, he continued to his office.
"Looks like the cat ate the canary...or you got laid last night," Kyle said after he entered the office and closed the office door.
"You look pretty relaxed, yourself. To answer your question, the plumbing got cleaned out last night. 'Bout time, too. I was worried that the parts wouldn't be working due to non-use." Phil took off his jacket, hung it on his antique coat rack and flopped into the desk chair. He put his hands behind his head and reclined back.
"Wanna tell me about your conquest?" Kyle sat down in an armchair in front of the desk.
"Not really a conquest...just got lucky meeting a nice guy. And you know him."
"Something tells me that you've been sleeping with the enemy," Kyle said with a chuckle.
"Yep. Mr. MacDonald Price. And we're only enemies on political principle. I took your advice, went over to Cobalt last night and there he was. Ta, ta ta."
"You move fast, buddy. I'm impressed."
"Mac's a solid man, but you know that. Turns out that we are really turned on to each other an' I gotta date this weekend." Phil cranked up a smile that radiated throughout the office.
"If both our new guys are still around in a couple of weeks, maybe we could do something together?"
"Still around? Do I see dark clouds on the horizon with Dex and you?"
"No, just coming to terms with a heavy duty conversation we had. He's, um, going to find a new job. Dex isn't comfortable with his current situation. But I think that we both want to explore the next level."
"Let's be optimistic. Something tells me that we're both onto the real thing. Why don't we pencil in drinks and dinner over at my place in two weeks from today. Wednesday is usually pretty harmless."
"I'll be talking with Dex tonight and will let you know tomorrow. By the way, what's on the docket for today?"
"Let me get in and see Mandy as soon as we're finished. I'm flying out to Chicago with her tomorrow morning for the Economic Club luncheon speech and the fundraiser dinner at the Hyatt. I'm sure her sound bites on the news last night will stir up a lot of local interest with the Trib and Sun-Times. She'll probably want me to set up a Q and A with the press after the luncheon. She's staying in Chicago for the weekend and I'm coming back tomorrow night on the redeye."
"Okay, boss. I'll wait for my marching orders." Kyle rose from the chair and departed as the telephone rang.
Phil noticed that it was his personal line as he reached for the phone. "Tortello."
~~~ "Phil, how's my number one congressional flack?"
"George, you slippery fuck. Pretty good. How's my fav political commentator-bullshit artist?" Phil said as he leaned back in his chair. George Stephanopoulos and he had been friends since Clinton's 1992 campaign.
~~~ "Better, since I caught you in the office. My staff has had zero luck booking Mandy so I decided to give you a call."
"The reason we never connect is because your staff always waits too long to call. The producer acts like my boss is important only if someone else is not available. Doesn't make for good relations."
~~~ "Thanks for the heads up. I'll take care of that personally. But what I want to do today, Phil, is see if Mandy could appear on Sunday's show on a one-on-one to discuss the state of the Democrat party and where she sees it going...and where she's going to lead it."
"Lead it? Pretty strong idea, buddy."
~~~ "Word on The Hill is that, number one, the troops haven't much confidence in their minority leader, and, number two, they think that your boss is showing some real brass balls in this whole crisis. My sources tell me that she'll be asked to take the minority leader job as early as next week."
"George, this is all news to me. That's some heavy stuff to digest."
~~~ "I have confidence in my sources. Point is, I want to lock up Mandy for an exclusive 23 minutes at the top of my show on Sunday. This could have terrific impact for 2008."
"You mean 2006, don't you?"
~~~ "Fuck that...she's a shoo-in '06. I'm talking about the distinct possibility that Congresswoman Amanda Burns could be the Democrat candidate for president. Carville and I think that she might be the right person at the right time."
"Wow, I'm floored. What about Hillary whatshername?" Phil said with a chuckle.
~~~ "Maybe too much baggage? Carville is pushing for Hillary in public but that's another discussion. So how about it, big guy? Can I tell my tactless producer that Mandy is this week's featured guest?"
"I'm going in to see her now and I'll do everything I can to convince her. One rub; she's in Chicago for the weekend."
~~~ "I don't see that as a problem other than the split screen."
"Split screen really looses the spontaneity," Phil replied.
~~~ "Yeah, you're right, but I've got an idea. Here's what I'm going to suggest to my producer. I could fly out to Chicago and use the local ABC studios for the interview. It's really past due that we have a wrap-up on politics in the Midwest. In fact, I might throw in the Iowa Caucus as part of the bigger picture."
"Let me get right back to you. You got my ear and I think what you just suggested will work for us."
~~~ "It's a win-win situation, Phil. Good ratings for me and great exposure for Mandy. Take care, buddy."
"Later." Phil hung up the phone, got out of his seat and walked rapidly out of the office to Mandy's chief of staff's office. He knocked on the doorjamb to get Joyce Goldstein's attention. She looked up and waved him to come forward.
"Joyce, you got a minute? Something really big has come up for Mandy we need to discuss."
"Opportunity knocks," Phil replied. For the next 10 minutes they discussed the interview, strategy and philosophy. 2008 had always been on the backburner in a slow simmer.
Phil and Joyce went into Mandy's office and got permission to book the show. Phil volunteered to work through the day with Joyce and Kyle to create position briefing notes that Mandy could review prior to the show. He knew that George would be a friendly interviewer. However, Phil was also aware that George liked to ask blunt questions without varnish to deflect criticism of not being 'fair and balanced.'
"Well, Kyle, the marching orders have arrived," Phil said as he stopped by Kyle's cubicle. "Joyce, you and I are going to have a busy day knocking out foreign and domestic policy position papers. Mandy's going to be the featured guest on 'Stephanopoulos' this Sunday. Could be the kickoff to you-know-what in 2008."
"Midnight oil, I suspect. Does this mean you're not coming back from Chicago early?"
"No, I'm good with the original schedule. Joyce will be there and anything that stirs up from George's interview will be handled back here on Monday. I guess we both get a little lovin' this weekend." Phil winked and added, "See ya in Joyce's office in ten minutes."
In rapid succession, Phil called George back to confirm the booking and returned phone calls he considered important. Other callbacks would be relegated to his secretary with a standard apology that he would be out of contact until Friday.
Phil opened his email window and clicked on addresses. He pulled out Mac's card and typed in all the information. On an impulse after hitting 'save' he highlighted Mac's name and wrote a short message:
Last night's meeting went well. Loved dessert! Look forward to further conversations this weekend.
Rule number one in Washington was to be very vague writing emails. Phil knew that electronic paper trails needed to have dead ends. He re-read the text and decided to delete 'SS'. 'No reason to create cyber controversy,' he thought. 'Calling Mac 'super stud' in cryptic form might not be appreciated.' Phil smiled, typed in MP and hit 'send'
'Well, that was interesting,' Mac thought when he returned to his office. 'The Vice President seemed to be engaged with my proposals.' He sat down and went through his in-basket. Out of the corner of his eye he saw a 'mail received' icon on his PC toolbar. After clicking on the email button, Mac glanced briefly at his incoming list. He stopped at 'Phil Tortello' and opened the message. 'Like minds,' he considered, as he read the brief message.
A smile crept over his face as he typed a reply:
Yes, further discussions in order. What color wine? I'll call this afternoon.
Mac clicked 'send' and reviewed his other email. Most was inter-staff general, FYI briefing stuff that was part of the daily routine.
"Hi, Mac, good presentation." Toby McGill, senior legal counsel, stood at the door and smiled. "I think that the boss really liked it. Can I come in?"
"Sure. I'm just reviewing emails." Mac watched Toby stroll over to the desk, eased into the government regulation armchair and set a leather-bound folder on the desk. He thought that Toby was the personification of a Washington lawyer: ruddy complexion, medium-cut gray hair, manicured nails and a confident attitude. The handsome, 40-something man always wore an exquisitely tailored, pinstriped suit perfectly draping his 6' 2" frame.
"You made major brownie points this morning. The question is what are you going to do with them?" Toby leaned back and stared into Mac's eyes.
"I'm just the deputy assistant for domestic affairs. That and a buck-twenty five will get you a ride on the Metro."
"Might be some movement next door. There's going to be some shakeup in the President's staff and I want to find out if you'd be interested in moving over to the West Wing."
"Jeez, you don't mess around with preliminaries, ah...this is quite a surprise..."
"The opening was just mentioned to our boss after breakfast. Things happen pretty fast around here and I'm curious about your interest?"
"I like what I'm doing here but, as the saying goes, I serve at the pleasure of the President. I'd be less than honest if I didn't admit that you've made me very curious about what the opportunities might be." Mac sat up and leaned closer to his visitor. 'Whoa,' he thought, 'the West Wing? This sounds intriguing.'
"The job is Special Assistant to the President and Associate Counsel. Fancy title for being part of the President's legal team. You'd be one of three associates and I don't have to tell you that this job is great for the resume." Toby opened the folder he had brought with him and silently read for a few moments before he continued, "UT undergrad, Southern Methodist Law School, a couple of years at one of the best law firms in Dallas, Vice President's office...a golden background. And, you're a Texas boy. Not a bad combination."
"Yes, Sir. Made my folks happy that the hard-earned money they spent on my education didn't go to waste," Mac replied with a chuckle. "And I'm proud of my Longhorn roots."
"They made a good investment that has really shined in this office, Mac. By the way, the Vice President suggested that I feel you out about this job. You would move over in two weeks."
"Our boss said that? Wow, I'm humbled. The experience would be a helluva opportunity and a lot of fun."
"Well, forget the TV show's image and all those Hollywood actors running around in Prada and Armani. Actually your office would be a couple of floors above us and your secretary is left over from the Nixon administration." Toby paused a moment before adding, "Relax, I was only pulling your chain about the secretary."
"At this point, I could care less what you pulled," Mac said with a laugh. 'Oh, fuck,' he considered, 'how did that come out that way?'
"However tempting, that would fall under the area of sexual harassment." Toby paused, again, and looked at Mac with a slight smile.
"Tempting? I didn't mean...um, what do you..."
'Mac, relax. I couldn't resist using this opening to let you know you've got friends in both offices."
"We've got other things in common. I trust what we are going to talk about goes no further than this office?"
"Of course, I understand. But your wife and..."
"An arrangement, we're friends and I provide her with a nice lifestyle and she gave me two daughters. You and I are a generation apart. You're what, 28?"
"29. Just turned."
"I'm approaching 50 this fall. It was a little different when I was growing up in Wyoming and going to school out there in the Wild West. 'When men were men, and boys were...stupid.' It didn't play well to be gay even in law school at Yale. I took a convenient, and maybe cowardly, path. Now I've got a good family, great job, security and several years left to enjoy what I created. What I don't have is the freedom to be who I am. I'm only 'out' to a select group."
"Gee, Toby, I guess I'm not too far behind in hiding who I am professionally. By the way, I'm curious on how you seem to know a lot about my personal life. Could I ask how you figured out my deal?" Mac looked at this distinguished man and tried to mentally put all the pieces together.
"You've been observed by a private security agency that I use when I want to get facts away from the main pipeline."
"Private?" 'What the hell was going on?' Mac wondered.
"Our group sometimes needs information where using the usual government sources would be counter-productive."
"Group? Toby, honestly, my head is swimming with fragments of new information." Mac looked into Toby's eyes with a questioning look. "Two and two aren't adding up."
"I can tell you this much. Our group is an organization of gay men and lesbians that was originally formed over 100 years ago. Then, it was only used as a way to live in a subculture while working in the government. Slowly, it became a network of government officials that used the combined power to change the positions and laws where gay and lesbian issues were at stake. I've been a member for over ten years."
"Gays and lesbians in the government? Does this include appointments, civil service, um..."
"Plus some congressmen and other influential politicians who are 'out'. However, there are a couple of closet queens who won't admit their orientation and therefore will never be members...but we keep watch over them. In fact, there's a Republican congressman from Florida who tries to keep his sexuality secret...although everyone figured it out several years ago. We've just heard rumors about his being a little too friendly with underage male ex-pages via emails. Goes under the category of 'where there's smoke there's fire...but, ah, let's just say we're checking out the story."
"What does this have to do with me?" Mac asked with a raised eyebrow.
"You, Mr. Price, are being invited to be a member of our organization."
"I'm being invited, umm, to be part of this group?" Mac was thoroughly fascinated. "Does it have a name?"
"Very simply, Alpha. Alpha, in the investment community, is a word meaning to take a selective risk. And, yes, you have been chosen to become a member. In your present position, you almost qualified. Moving over to the President's staff makes it official."
"But I haven't been interviewed, yet."
"Mac, you're a bright guy. What the hell do you think we've been doing? You told me you'd like the job and I'm now telling you that officially you'll be moving up in two weeks. Are you ready?" Toby sat back and smiled at Mac with a satisfied expression.
"Ah, Christ, I'm flabbergasted. Yes, yes, I accept the job. Wow, it's just that...well, this Alpha organization isn't something that you are confronted with very often."
"I know. Had the same feeling when I was approached in '96. First, let me give you a little rundown of what's going to happen your appointment. Monday, your boss will make the announcement of the new job. It will be coordinated with the White House. We'll do a press release mid-week."
"My head is swimming. You move fast."
"In this town, you gotta. Now, let's go to issue number two. Do you accept our invitation to become a member of Alpha?"
"Toby, I'm going to rely on you to be an advisor in this. It does sound like something that I should accept. Um, yes, I'd like to become a member." Mac paused and reflected, 'This is some pretty heady stuff. But, if I can help affect change...'
"Excellent. By the way, keep the following weekend open. We're going to have an Alpha cookout at a farm in Fairfax. It'll be a way to introduce you around. After that gathering, we'll have small dinner meetings to discuss agenda and strategy."
"I've got plans this weekend but nothing for the following week."
"Would it be a good guess that you and Phil Tortello are getting together again?" Toby asked with a smug look.
"Phil, I, um...how did you..."
"The security agency we use - AOI - was very thorough. AOI is a company wholly-owned by Alpha."
"Hmm, I am impressed. AOI has a huge international presence."
"Yes, we have a broad reach." Toby paused before he continued, "I approve, by the way, of Tortello. He's one sharp cookie with scruples and a killer instinct. If Congresswoman Burns becomes the minority leader, he will become an obvious choice to be a member of Alpha."
"You think that Mandy Burns has a chance for the job?"
"Oh, yeah, definitely. The Dems on The Hill are thoroughly disgusted with their leadership in both houses. And the party chairman's indiscretions with illegal cash are a bonus. It's good for our party. It almost camouflages the President's fuck ups and poor choice of agenda," Toby replied with a chuckle.
"Fuck ups?" Mac felt like he was Alice in a new, strange political Wonderland.
"Here we are with this shitty war, oil prices are going through the roof, Iran and North Korea pushing our buttons, Israel is going ballistic...and what does the President do? Our esteemed leader wants an amendment to ban same-sex marriage just to appease the right wing extremists. Alpha worked overtime to squash that one."
"I'm getting the picture. What about his stem cell veto?"
"We couldn't save that one. He was on his white horse, forging ahead." Toby shrugged and sighed. "It's a shame. The President is really a nice guy but he's getting bum advice and exists in some sort of self-imposed bubble."
"So what is my role to be?" Mac's eyes widened and contemplated that he was moving into unchartered territory.
"Just keep your eyes and ears open and work with us. Let me assure you that this is nothing that would be considered subversive or disloyal. Alpha believes in justice, equality and a level playing field. It's unfortunate that in this new century there are still people out there who grab on to their Christian cross before they yell 'kill the queers'. Our job is to defuse these assholes and your assignments will come from a 'brother' with whom you'll work closely. Rather clandestine but necessary. Mac, are you with us?"
"Toby, I don't have a choice but to sign up for several reasons." Mac stood up and offered his hand to his new mentor. "However, after this upcoming White House experience is history, I think I'll be ready to be a little more visible about my orientation."
Toby stood and grabbed Mac's hand. "Mr. Price, we'll help you get to that point in a couple of years. But for the present I'm off to get everything under way. If you feel that you can trust Phil Tortello with this confidential news about your new job, you have my blessings to tell him."
"Thanks, Sir. I feel I can trust him."
"So do I. But absolutely not a word about Alpha."
"Scouts honor," Mac said, saluting with three fingers.
"Scouts, indeed. We've got enough potential problems with underage congressional pages." Seriously, Mac, congratulations for the promotion and welcome to Alpha." Toby waved goodbye, left the office and closed the door behind him.
Mac sat back down, loosened his tie and contemplated the life-changing meeting. Although flattered at being asked to be a member of Alpha, he weighed the seriousness of the responsibility associated with this group. 'These guys are obviously playing for keeps,' he considered. He looked at his watch and noted that it was only 10:30 a.m. Although he said in the email that he wouldn't call Phil until the afternoon, he had to hear his new friend's voice...even if it was only a message.
Mac found the business card and dialed the cell phone number. It rang three times before it was answered.
~~~ "Hey, a pleasant surprise. Good morning. Did you get my email?"
"Yep. But obviously you haven't gotten mine"
~~~ "We are on warp speed here on a special project. I guess I didn't tell you I'm going to Chicago tomorrow morning for a day of Mandy's schmoozing the Midwest. I'm returning on the redeye."
"Then I won't keep you. You can answer my email when you get a chance. Just wanted to let you know I really look forward to being with you again. And I've got some big news to share when we see each other."
~~~ "Hold that thought until Saturday. Ditto on what you said. It's hard to be too intimate on a phone in a conference room with other people."
"Say no more. Have a safe trip with the future minority leader and I'll see ya Saturday," Mac said with a chuckle.
~~~ "Hmm, we'll talk about that also. Bye, buddy."
"Bye." Mac felt very excited and content at the same time. 'Christ, and it's only Wednesday,' he thought. 'What else could happen in the next couple of days?'
TO BE CONTINUED