Nifty Disclaimer - This story is a work of fiction and contains scenes including sexual relations between people of the same gender. If this isn't your cup of tea, or is illegal where you live, please do not read. Any relation between fictional characters and real people is purely coincidental. All work is copyrighted to Dan Kirk © 2004
Nearly four hours of sleep helped me tremendously, almost as much as waking next to Brian one more time. Of all the things I was facing, that was my biggest worry now; that Brian would be taken away from me. I loved him so much, and facing life without him in it was not something I was even able to imagine without feeling totally lost.
A nameless Secret Service agent woke us a little after eight in the morning, and we decided to shower together, taking the time to touch each other, gently reassuring each other that we were still there. When we finished drying each other off and doing each other's hair, we went back into the fancy bedroom and dug some clothes out of our bags.
Whether it had been conscious or not, last night in our rush, I'd packed jeans, t-shirts, shorts, sweats, socks, and underwear while Brian had packed several pairs of slacks, dress shirts, and a few ties. We didn't have our suits, but mindful of the early morning trip into the White House, and the promise of returning there soon, I eagerly dressed in the slacks and dress shirt, along with a tie. They were slightly wrinkled, but they'd do for now. Brian chose to dress similarly, wearing a dark blue skinny tie instead of the wider light blue, more traditional tie that I wore. We were just giving each other another reassuring kiss when there was a knock at the door and Mr. Rush poked his head inside.
"Good, you boys are ready." He said with a smile. "Brandon, Trevor and I are staying here this morning. Mr. Meadows and some people are coming to talk with the boys, and then we'll be able to go and visit the Smithsonian. I want to see that while we are here. Brian, you've been invited to the White House with Davey so you will go with him."
"It sounds like we're not prisoners here." Brian said with a hint of hope in his voice. Dyadya smiled and stepped into the room, coming a little closer before speaking again.
"We are being given special treatment." He explained. "If they do not like what Davey has to say, or if Davey does not cooperate, it will change, but for now they treat us like they treat me and mama when we defect. They will watch everything we do, listen to everything we say, but they will not treat us badly. This is America, not the Soviet Union, remember that."
"I will." I assured him as Brian nodded.
"So, I get to go to the White House?" Brian asked with a smile.
"Da, that is what they tell me." Mr. Rush said, slipping in a bit of Russian. He must be nervous still, because normally he never mixed up his languages like that. "Mr. Meadows is waiting in foyer downstairs for you both. Are you ready?"
"We're ready." I said and we pretty much were. We both had our wallets sitting on the dresser and grabbed them before following Mr. Rush downstairs.
"Ah, you both look like you got some good sleep." Mr. Meadows said as we joined him in the foyer. He looked like he hadn't slept at all.
"Enough, and it was nice having Brian there." I said, and Mr. Meadows nodded.
"Your Mr. Rush was quite insistent that you two always share a bedroom when you're in the same house."
"Yeah, we do, although we don't usually stay over except on weekends." I said as he opened the main door. It was a bit chilly outside, but the cherry blossoms Washington was so famous for were out in full force. It was Saturday morning, and even then the traffic near the center of town was already jammed. We walked in silence for a block and entered the Treasury building. Mr. Meadows stopped at the security desk and handed us each a badge with our names, pictures that bore a striking resemblance to the ones on our school identifications, and a whole bunch of numbers and letters that didn't mean anything to me.
"These are your passes." He told us after we'd passed the building's security counters. He was walking rapidly through several corridors and stairwells, and we eventually reached the famous, but little known at this time, tunnel. "Don't lose the passes. There's a four digit code on the back of them. Some of the places you go you will be required to run the black stripe on the back through a scanner and then you will be required to enter the four digit code. You should memorize that code and remove the sticky paper. Give me the sticky paper when you are sure you have it memorized. These passes have magnetic strips, they're brand new technology that "
"I know what magnetic strips are." I told him with a smirk. "Every driver's license has them in a decade or so."
"Oh, how interesting." Mr. Meadows said with a sarcastic smile. "Anyway, I am to warn you that any information about Davey's...memories, or the existence of real time travel has been classified top secret. A preliminary background check has been completed on you two, your two friends, and you've been given a preliminary security clearance at the Top Secret level. Your case, Davey is code-named Quandary. A person must be cleared for Top Secret and Quandary access before you can discuss anything to do with your knowledge of future events. You two should be proud, you're the youngest, and only homosexual persons to ever receive such a high clearance level."
"We're the only known homosexuals to receive such clearance." I countered and he smiled slightly.
"I stand corrected." He conceded. "The people who already know all have clearance already. That includes the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the elected or appointed leaders who were present when you met the President last night. Anyone else will have to be introduced to you and confirmed by someone who you know has clearance."
"So what's going on now?" Brian asked, something I wouldn't have dared to at this point. "Is there any chance of getting some breakfast?"
"You two are going to have breakfast with the President and First Lady in the residence." Mr. Meadows said, giving me a small surprise. Breakfast with the President! "She has been cleared for this by order of the President. After breakfast, Davey and the President will be meeting with the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the President's foreign policy advisors for a three-hour meeting. I don't know what they have planned for you, Brian, but don't expect too much right now. After the meeting you will have lunch at the White House and we'll see where we go from there."
"Okay." Brian said, his hand snaking out and grabbing mine as we reached the end of the tunnel. There was another uniformed guard here who took our passes and ran them through a scanner before allowing us to pass. I took the opportunity to look at the four numbers on the back of the pass and memorized them before handing the sticky paper to Mr. Meadows.
"You're sure you're not going to forget?" He asked me and I just nodded. He put the sticky paper in his pocket, and Brian handed his over a moment later. We both had pretty good memories.
Two Secret Service agents met us at the top of the stairs from the basement and led us up into the residence section, leaving Mr. Meadows behind. The famous circular window shone morning light onto a well-appointed room that had a small table already set for breakfast. I was surprised at my first sight of Mrs. Reagan. She was shorter, and petite as I expected, but like her husband looked taller than I had expected. She was smiling as the agent let us into the room, and stood on the inside of the door after he closed it.
"Honey, this is the young man I've told you about, Davey Jones." President Reagan said, introducing me as we joined them near the table.
"It's nice to meet you, young man." Nancy Reagan said in a voice that was younger, and firmer than the last time I'd seen her on television.
"Ma'am, it's an honor and a privilege to meet you." I said, taking her hand gently. She blinked at my words, and the near-reverential tone of them. "Mr. President, Mrs. Reagan, I'd like to introduce you to my partner, Brian Breckenridge."
"It's an honor, sir, ma'am." Brian said as he moved forward and shook both their hands.
"I think this is the first time I've ever been introduced to someone's partner." President Reagan said with that half-smile of his that was so famous. "Why don't we sit down?"
I ended up across from Mr. Reagan while Brian sat opposite Mrs. Reagan at the small table. An usher appeared as soon as we were seated and quietly asked for my preferences on food and drinks, and then did the same with Brian. He reappeared from a small alcove a moment later, pouring coffee for the President, Brian and I, and setting orange juice at all four places.
"You both seem so young to be in a relationship like you are." Mrs. Reagan chatted with a friendly smile. "I understand you've been together more than two years?"
"Yes, ma'am." Brian said as I sipped my coffee carefully. Yep, the stories were right, White House coffee was damn good. "I managed to catch Davey before anyone else could and I'm not going to be letting him go anytime soon."
"I must be honest, I've never understood homosexuals." President Reagan said with a slight frown and I wondered what the hell had happened to make this the topic of the conversation over breakfast. Still, it was an opportunity that the gay activist inside of me just could not pass up. When he paused after that statement, looking slightly abashed and spoke next, I knew just what to say. "Oh dear, I hope I haven't offended you boys before the food's even arrived."
"No worries, Mr. President." I said with a wide smile. "I've never really understood heterosexuals myself so I can understand your difficulties."
"Oh my." He said politely, coughing a bit on the coffee he'd just swallowed as both he and Nancy chuckled.
"You seem to have a good humor about that." Nancy noted with a wide smile.
"It's necessary." I said with a shrug. "If we cannot laugh at our differences, there's very little hope for ever living together peacefully. That's something both sides of the issue in the here and now need to realize. Even in 2004, the year I participated in the experiment that put me back in this present time, the question of why some people are homosexual is not completely answered. Some evidence points to it being caused by genetics, some to chemical interaction with key gene sequences during pregnancy, and a few other factors."
"But can't people like you be cured?" Nancy asked and I had to smile slightly at that question. "Ronnie, didn't we read that article by, oh, what's his name, Dr. Cameron, that's it, and how he's successfully curing homosexuals?"
"I think that was it." The President said cautiously as the food arrived. I had an omelet that was nice and hot, and took a bite while I ordered my thoughts.
"This is delicious." I said after swallowing and received polite nods in response. "Dr. Paul Cameron is the person whose article you probably read. I don't know if it's happened yet, but he does get kicked out of the American Psychological Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics, in part because of his use of electro-shock to attempt to cure homosexuals of something those organizations do not believe needs to be cured. His methods include the attachment of electrodes to a patient's private parts and shocking them with high electrical current when they show responses to pictures of other guys."
"Oh my." Nancy said with a look of disgust. "That's awful!"
"Yes, and it really doesn't 'cure' the patient either." I continued. "The patient is still homosexual, it's just that whenever they feel attracted to someone of the same sex, or think about such things, they remember the pain of the electrical shock and try to avert those thoughts. It's sad really, instead of learning to accept themselves for who they are, they often hate themselves and everything to do with their lives. Many commit suicide, and many live miserable lives, not because they are gay, but because they hate that they are gay and have been taught to do that."
"But the bible is clear on homosexuality." President Reagan said firmly.
"The bible is clear on a lot of things, Mr. President." I countered with a smile. "In the same section of Leviticus where homosexual acts are condemned, so is the eating of shellfish or the wearing of clothes made from more than one type of cloth. In the new testament, Jesus does not speak on the issue even once. The passages that do address it are written by an Apostle who never met Jesus, never traveled or studied with him directly. This was the same Apostle who advised churches to make women wear head scarves or hats, and not allow them to speak in service. That passage is one that many denominations dispute, saying it was only for the church he was writing to in Corinth. It's argued that they'd written him asking for advice on what to do about priestesses of a rival religion who were entering their church and leading people astray. I'm not a bible scholar Mr. President, and I can't fully answer the religious questions. The Metropolitan Community Church I know widely accepts gay clergy and gay members, and would be much more capable of answering bible questions on this issue."
"You don't seem to do too badly." President Reagan said with a slight smile. "I might disagree with certain of your points, but we'll have to save that for a future time. Maybe I'll have you and your partner join Nancy and I when we next vacation at the ranch."
"I'd be honored." I said, hoping that was a sign of things to come.
"One thing the bible does address directly, and Jesus, is the idea that promiscuity is wrong." President Reagan said after I'd taken a few bites and I guess he didn't want to wait for a future date. "Most of the homosexuals I've known, like my poor friend Rock, were nothing if not promiscuous. I think even beyond the bible issues, that's something most Americans have a hard time accepting about your kind."
"I have a hard time accepting that." Brian said, speaking up for the first time. I took the opportunity to eat my delicious omelet before it got cold while he spoke. "When my dad sat me down to talk about the birds and the bees, we talked about a lot of things. My parents are much more open-minded than a lot of parents, in part because my uncle Rich was gay."
"Was gay?" Nancy interrupted.
"Yes, he died from AIDS in 1981." Brian said and she frowned.
"I'm so sorry." She said softly.
"Thank you, he was a good man." Brian said. "When dad had his talk with me, he told me he'd love me if I was with a guy or a girl, but he'd prefer a girl. He said the gender of who I was with wasn't important to him. What was important was that I loved whoever I did eventually get intimate with, that when we got intimate I was prepared to spend the rest of my life with that person. He told me that love was important, but even more important was that it be someone that I was friends with. Friendship was important because I'd be spending the rest of my life with that person and love can only take a relationship so far, that friendship was necessary when love failed to solve problems. It should be someone I could be partners with in life, share the good things and the bad things with. I got lucky because I met Davey and knew he was the person I wanted and shared those desires. He even made sure we talked about them before we even kissed, as soon as he knew I was attracted to him. I was trying to seduce him and he sat me on my head and made me talk things through. That's when I fell completely in love with him and knew I'd never want anyone else."
"Even with years of experience from my memories it was hard to resist the urge to rush into things." I added as Brian finished. "I tried to tell him he was too young, that we were too young. It's kind of hard to describe, I have these memories of being an adult, I have those experiences, but I'm really the age I am physically. Like right now, I may be mature for a fifteen year old, but I'm fifteen, not thirty-nine. I look at things mostly like I'm fifteen. I prefer playing sports and hanging out with friends over the idea of playing politics or working, or any of the adult things."
"Like having breakfast in the White House and advising the President on important national matters?" President Reagan asked with humor.
"Yeah, like that." I admitted with a smile. Nancy laughed at that. "There's plenty of times when I have to function as an adult, like now, but there's others where I don't, and won't want to as well. Sometimes I get resentful over being told when to go to bed, or to take out the garbage, especially a few years ago when I first woke up as a kid again, but then what kid doesn't get resentful at times? I think it's that I realized I was a kid again and that I couldn't be expected to function always as an adult, so I didn't expect to and let myself adjust to being this young again. As I'm getting older, I'm relearning the adult things, like discipline and time management, and fulfilling responsibilities, but I'm also letting myself learn like you're supposed to as a kid. It's a paradox at times, and I don't really know how to explain it properly."
"I think I understand." President Reagan said as he finished his own omelet and sat back in his chair, eyeing me studiously. "As we've talked here I've seen you act like an adult with a lot of years behind you, and I've seen you behave much like my own sons when they were teenagers. I like to know the people who are giving me advice, and I'm glad I had you here for breakfast. It's given me a better idea of where you're coming from. I also appreciate our conversation about your sexuality. It's given me something to think about, but that's neither here nor there. Right now we have a crisis and I need you to be as adult as you can be."
"Yes, Mr. President." I said, and as he stood I also rose. He motioned for Nancy and Brian to remain at the table.
"David and I have business to attend to right now." He said to them, and I think the use of my formal name instead of the more common form I used was intentional. "Brian, I'd normally say that we'd let the wives discuss womanly things, but I don't know if that quite fits."
"Well, I wouldn't describe myself as very 'wifely'." Brian said with good humor. "But I do think I understand what you mean, sir."
"Good, then, David, shall we head downstairs?" He asked, motioning with an arm. When I moved forward, and reached his side, he put his arm around me in a fatherly gesture that relaxed me quickly. I hadn't even known I'd gotten tensed up like that.
"Brian, how would you like a tour of the Residence?" Was the last thing I heard Nancy saying as we exited the room. I guess she was going to entertain Brian. Hopefully he wouldn't be too bored.
As we walked to the Situation Room, accompanied by a phalanx of Secret Service agents, he carefully outlined what he expected from me over the next few days, what kinds of input he wanted, and what he expected me to accomplish. It was heavy-duty stuff, and when we entered the Situation Room, a junior officer showed me to a small table where the first task was waiting.
Fourteen huge, thick files sat on the table along with red and black pens. A desk light provided reading light in the dim room and I sat down to get to work. The files contained reams of intelligence data on the Soviet Union. I knew most of what they contained was highly classified, but I also recognized several from internet surfing I'd done when I was bored at work a few times in the now-gone future. My task, while the President discussed military matters with the JCS was to go through it, mark out in red what I knew to be incorrect or misleading information and to make notes in black of important things that I thought should be followed up on. I'd only gone through two of them when I reflected at least in all the confusion my headgear for the braces had been left behind and I wouldn't have to wear them for a while.
As if on cue, a junior officer showed up at my side with a lopsided smile and my headgear in his hand, along with a note from Mr. Rush. Dyadya told me in no uncertain terms that just because I was in the White House, I would not be excused from wearing the headgear. I felt foolish after putting them on, but I was not about to cross that man. He had a temper when someone didn't do what they were supposed to, and thought braces were a wonderful invention.
A wonderful invention for torture maybe.
For an hour I skimmed through all fourteen files, not getting bogged down in details. I wrote several notes down on a pad of paper that had been provided. My first time as a kid I'd been fascinated about military stuff. As a teenager I played war simulation games, and played them on a computer as an adult. When the Internet arrived, so did newsgroups talking about military equipment, and I followed them semi-religiously. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the true capabilities of different events, anecdotal stories of how poorly various ships had performed, or flaws that were discovered in equipment but never fixed were all things that became public knowledge, but in 1984 they were total unknowns, except to me. In an hour I'd filled up two pages of the pad and written several long notes in red and black on the files directly. No wonder the CIA never saw the fall of the Soviet Union coming, they were focused on all the wrong areas!
"Here is something the President would like you to look at." A voice said from beside me, a very familiar voice and I looked up to meet the gaze of George H. W. Bush.
"Thank you, sir." I said, taking the file while trying to hide the surprise. He pulled up a chair and looked at my scribbled notes on the pad of paper.
"The critics were right, CIA SIGINT captures none of the data needed to fully analyze the strengths and weaknesses of the Soviet Union." He read with that Texas twang in his voice and I tried not to blush. He'd been the CIA director in the 1970's after all. "That's an interesting speculation there, son."
"SIGINT focuses solely on the military/industrial complex." I said softly. "It doesn't focus on analyzing civilian broadcasting, looking at factory production or similar items. HUMINT does, but most of what you've got here is the same information they're giving their own government."
"So you're saying even their government is getting inaccurate information?" He asked me
"These numbers have to be inflationary." I explained, pulling out the third file I'd looked at. "It wasn't until the 1990's when US and European oil companies were allowed into these regions that these oil reserves were even tapped. I did a report on that for my Russian studies in college because the plant constructions were plagued by problems due to not enough translators. I even did an NSEP grant proposal on studying that and it was approved, but I had to turn down the trip because of a family emergency. Also, these farm reports say their grain is rotting in the fields because of poor transportation planning, but we're shipping grain into them and the grain is getting to where it needs to go. Most of these farms were deserted after the end of the cold war, not just because people couldn't make money off of them, or because there were better jobs in the city. There weren't better jobs, but they left the land because it is bad farmland and most of their stuff won't grow there. That's the kind of stuff you just don't get from SIGINT or HUMINT sources inside the government."
"Very interesting, very interesting indeed." Mr. Bush said and I almost laughed out loud remembering a very funny SNL skit. "What about this note about how we're totally missing the fall of the Berlin wall and the re-unification of Germany?"
"The GDR collapsed long before the Soviet Union fell." I said in a carefully neutral voice, not wanting to piss the man off. "What brought things to a head for them was the most stupid mistake in the world. The government heads decided to allow visa passes into West Berlin on a regular basis. Their people were pushing for them and they thought that allowing them to visit West Berlin would act as a pressure relief valve. Well, someone forgot to tell the gate guards and customs agents that it was happening and when a line formed up on the scheduled day to get their visas, it turned into a mini-riot. The guards were way too outnumbered to stop thousands of people from surging across the gate and into West Germany, and from there the GDR government fell apart. Weeks later, talks of Re-unification began, and once it was worked out how to get Soviet troops out of the country, Germany became one country again, and a pro-western democracy in its entirety. They had a lot of problems at first, and still did fourteen years later, but they were problems that were being dealt with democratically and by a free-market."
"So millions of dollars on defense, millions on spies and intelligence agencies, and it all came down to a clerk not being given clear directions." Mr. Bush stated and I nodded at his look of incredulity.
"Kind of reminds us that dotting the i's and crossing the t's isn't just a game, doesn't it, sir?" I asked as he leaned back and stared at me over his glasses for a long moment.
"That's a good point, young man." He said and then motioned towards the file he'd given me that I was still holding in one hand. "Why don't you read that over and we'll talk about it after you're done."
"Yes sir." I said and opened it up before setting it down on the table. Like all the others it was marked 'Top Secret' and had dire warnings about revealing its contents or doing anything else you weren't supposed to with such materials. Behind us I could hear some raised voices as generals and admirals were arguing, but resisted the urge to try to listen in on their conversation. The file I had was much more interesting and relevant.
"So?" The Vice-President asked as I put it down and leaned back in my chair. I was feeling the lack of sleep and took a moment to get things mentally organized. He waited slightly impatiently as I rubbed the bridge of my nose and realized I must have forgotten my glasses again. No wonder I was getting a headache. Reading without them made my eyes work harder, and gave me headaches faster.
"In 1994 I attended a Junior College that offered Russian language courses." I said slowly before meeting his eyes. "The instructor was a Russian national, a recent émigré. Her father works for the KGB right now and is the Kiev station chief."
The man's eyes widened at that statement and I realized that to someone in this age, such a thing would seem all but impossible. In the 1990's, it had been a novelty, yes, but not a strange one. Many Russians sought for new careers as they came to accept that the Soviet Union was really dead.
"The woman, Natasha Shevshenkova, never did accept that the Soviet Union was dead." I continued. "Like many children of the proletariat, she insisted it was only a temporary set-back, and the glory days of the Revolution would come back some day. Her background is similar to, but not the same, as this Alexei. He is a bit younger, only 24 whereas she would be 28 now. Until yesterday, they likely both attended Moscow State University, and were studying in similar fields although she is probably further along.
"Her father was cashiered after the fall of the Soviet Union, becoming a pensioner and she had to work as a teacher in a small college because most universities in this country would not recognize her Soviet degrees. Alexei's father was smart enough to profit when the Soviet Union collapsed, and became very rich from several lucrative deals. In 2004, Alexei's father was the President of the Republic of Georgia and a close ally of the Russian President, Vladimir Putin. More importantly, I remember a figure of a man who was in the room when the experiment was begun, and I can see his face. The man was who I assumed to be the money behind the operation because he watched everything going on, but did not participate in the actual preparations. The scientist even deferred to him at one point. I look at this picture of Alexei Shevrenadze, and I can see the man I saw in that room."
"What does this tell you?" Mr. Bush asked me.
"It tells me that most likely, like Natasha, and thousands of other disenfranchised Russians, he dreams of Russia one day becoming the Soviet Union again." I answered after taking a deep breath and letting it out slowly. "He sees what Russia became, a second-rate power to the United States, with its influence and respect diminishing around the world and wept for the glory days of the Soviet Union. Despite all the evidence to the contrary, he never stopped believing communism was better and he financed a project that however unlikely, ended up giving him the opportunity."
"The scientist who was locked up ranted about this Alexei demanding to be used next after you were sent." The Vice-President told me. "The doctors who observed him said the man was talking about how the world changed around them in the blink of an eye and only the room with the equipment in it had remained. He said Bush was no longer President, that Gore was in office, and that things were different. That's when Alexei Shevrenadze demanded to be sent back and he did that. Then the world around them changed again and he decided he had to go back because obviously his experiment worked differently than he expected. I personally think he was somewhat crazy. I could not be President in 2004 even if I won two terms after President Reagan's two terms. Unless maybe we lose this election and I run again in 1996 and serve two terms."
"It wasn't you who was President in 2004." I said, not really wanting to reveal this bit of political truth, but it was already out there. "It was your son George W. who wins in 2000 over Al Gore."
"My son." Mr. Bush said with a gleam in his eye.
"Don't." I said softly, but trying to smile as he started to ask a question. "I didn't vote for him for several reasons, and I hated him with a passion. And no, if you're going to ask if I hated your Presidency as well, I did not. The election with your son was an odd one and he got into the position by the skin off his chin and the help from very conservative people. Those people called their markers due on him and lots of Americans died in what I considered to be an unnecessary war, and was shaping up to be as bad as Vietnam. Your son, in and of himself, always seemed like a good, honest, caring man. It was sad that in order to get elected he had to sell his soul to some war hawks that really used some nasty opportunities to push their agenda. 2004 isn't all rosy stain glass windows, there's a lot of downsides to it and one of them was that we were more divided as a country than we had ever been before."
"So you're a democrat." He stated in a flat voice.
"Yes, and Ronald Reagan was one of the best Presidents we've had in the 20th Century, and you were a good one as well." I said softly. "You had your own troubles to face and you did well. We went to war under your leadership. I personally fought in that war, and it was justified that we fought, in defense of an ally, not in the pre-emptive invasion of a sovereign nation under pretexts that later proved to be falsified. I don't know if I'll ever meet your son, sir, and when I do, I'll have to remember he's not the same man who has done the things that made me so angry. That was a different life, a different world."
"And what would you tell him if you did meet him?" George Bush, Sr. asked me cautiously.
"Nothing unless he was cleared for the information first." I retorted with a smile and he actually chuckled.
"If he was cleared?" He pressed.
"I really don't know." I admitted. "There are some hard decisions he did have to make, that he did make and were absolutely right. There were others that he didn't have to make, but he did anyway. In 2001 events happened that forever changed how we looked at things as a people, and everything after that is so murky, so fresh it's hard to look on it with a proper historical perspective."
"That's the terrorists attacks you mentioned during your debriefing last night?" He asked me.
"Yes, sir, that was definitely the catalyst." I agreed.
"Well, back to the here and now." He said quickly, changing the subject. "How well prepared do you think this Alexei character is?"
"Better than I am." I admitted with a frown. "He'll know the history of this period like the back of his hand, probably. He'll expect to be able to use the information. He'll know and be ready to use things that are damaging against us."
"Like what?" The Vice-President demanded.
"Like President Reagan's Alzheimer's disease." I started off with. "I know it doesn't affect his ability to be President; that it's low-level until the early 1990's, but this is an election year and how bad will that hurt his chances of getting re-elected?"
"So we're supposed to win this election?" He asked me eagerly and I wondered if I should say so or not.
"Do you want me to tell you and have it ruined because what I said made you overconfident, sir?" I asked him and he looked at me closely. "I will say that Alzheimer's is NOT supposed to be an issue in this election."
"No, you're right." He said. "What else can he hit us with?"
"There's Iran-Contra." I said and he looked at me blankly for a moment.
"Sales of arms to Iran to get hostages returned and then using the money to fund Contra rebels in Central America." I explained and he stared at me long and hard.
"How do you know about that?" He asked me softly, looking around to see if anyone was close enough to hear.
"You told Congress and the American people that you knew nothing about it, sir." I said with a slight grin, feeling a moral victory was won. I jerked my thumb in the direction of the President. "He told people he didn't remember any meetings discussing it at all. Lt. Colonel Oliver North and Mr. Poindexter fell on their swords, figuratively speaking of course."
"Oh." The Vice-President said softly and looked at me hard. "So all this was public knowledge back then?"
"Most of it, yes." I said. "Then there are other issues, like the Navy's defense against sea-skimming missiles. Combat engagements in the late 80's and early 90's proved that our ships couldn't defend effectively against sea-skimming missiles like the Exocet. They can use that militarily against us. There are literally tons of documents from this period that are classified now, but in the 90's were declassified without a Soviet Union in the world that he could have gotten his hands on "
"George, get over here and bring David." President Reagan's voice cut me off and we roses quickly to head towards the table. The same seat I sat in earlier was vacant and I sat there just as the President clicked a phone he was holding onto speaker. "Okay, go ahead, this is the President."
A Navy Commander stood on the other side of President Reagan and translated what he said into Russian, also introducing himself as the translator. A female voice spoke up next in English.
"I am Ludmilla Baragova, translating for Eduard Shevrenadze, Secretary General of the Communist Party and President of the Soviet Socialists Republic. The Secretary General greets you Mr. President and looks forward to working with our American friends in many years to come."
"I greet Mr. Shevrenadze with the hope that the United States and the Russian people will be friends in years to come, but I wonder what has happened to your last Secretary General? I thought the days of having new leaders every time I turned around were gone?" President Reagan said and I had to smile at the man's wording. He hadn't recognized Mr. Shevrenadze as the leader of the Soviet Union, he had not extended the hand of friendship to the communist leaders, but rather to the Russian people, and he had insulted their recent lack of steady leadership all while sounding polite. I smiled as the Navy commander translated his words into Russian, reflecting on how I might have used a different word for 'years to come'. I had once used the same word at Dyadya's house, but Tyatya had corrected me with another word that more closely reflected the full meaning of the English phrase.
[Mr. President, the affairs of the Soviet people is for the Soviet people, not the United States.] Mr. Shevrenadze's voice was well-controlled, showing no signs of anger, and neither did the translator when she put that into English moments later.
[The purpose of my call, Mr. President is not to bandy words with you about our leadership, or lack of good leadership until now.] Shevrenadze said as soon as his translator finished. He waited after each sentence for her to turn it into English before saying the next one. [I am calling to inform you, world leader to world leader, of the change in our government and to tell you that it is a good thing for you and for my people. It is so much a good thing, I do believe you will see because I would like to offer to begin high-level discussions between our countries. We stand ready to make great concessions on the number of nuclear rocket forces that face each other. It is time to stand back from the edge of destruction and let our people beat swords into plowshares, do you not think?]
"That is a wonderful offer, Mr. Secretary, and the United States is always ready to sit down and talk about such goals." President Reagan said quickly. "It is an election year though, and I hesitate to appear to be grandstanding just to achieve my re-election. Would you be willing to hold these talks in November, after our election?"
[Mr. President I would dare to hope that you would not put off such an important matter because of simple elections.] The response came quickly. [I would shudder to think what the American people would think of such a thing. They might wonder if their leader forgets them as he is prone to forget other things.]
"My memory works just fine for the next few years, as we both well know." President Reagan responded testily at the jab. It was an unsubtle threat at the best, and a sloppy bribe at worst. "How is your son, Alexei? I hope he is feeling no ill side effects of his recent long trip."
[Alexei is fine.] Shevrenadze's voice was guarded now. [He sends his regard. He is a fine young boy, very intelligent and knowledgeable on many, many subjects. I will introduce you to him sometime. He tells me he once knew an American boy, a David Jones. Sad boy that one, lost in a haze of drugs and alcohol, very unreliable.]
"Mr. Shevrenadze, let us speak clearly, without fancy allusions or side-stepping." President Reagan said, barely pausing for the translator. "Messing around with the future, as it is set out, is very dangerous business for leaders who do not have the resources you do, or I might have. Even for those with the resources newly come to our disposal, it is an even riskier proposition. A fine young man I have recently come to know has had two years of experience at playing with the hands of fate and he has found it to be a risky proposition at best. Do you and I, with the forces at our disposal really wish to toy with the future as it was laid out for us by the Almighty?"
[We of the Soviet Union are not plagued by primitive superstitions.] Shevrenadze retorted with a hint of anger in his voice. [Nor would we listen to drunkards with wild stories about the future. Mr. President, let us be reasonable. I know you seek to keep your place in history as the man who defeated the Soviet Union, but that will not happen now. Come to the table and we will make the world a safer place for us both. Your people will honor you enough for that.]
"Have your ambassador meet with my Secretary of State and we will discuss these arms negotiations." President Reagan said before clicking of the speaker phone. I expected the generals, admirals, and politicians to erupt in loud chatter, shouting out advice like they did in the movies, but the room was completely silent as all of the men in it stared at the man who was President. I stared at him too, and could see his thoughts flickering through his eyes. Many people had said the man was not as smart as his supporters made him out to be, but I highly doubted those critics right now.
"David, what is it you think he is trying to accomplish?" President Reagan asked me first, and I jumped a little in surprise. Now all the eyes in the room were on me and I had to do some quick thinking.
"Mr. President, he's trying to do a few things." I said after a moment of thought. "First, the arms negotiations are the most pressing matter for him. Your arms race bankrupted his country and while it put us in great debt as well, our strong economy was able to support that debt, which the Soviet Union's was not able to do. He will try to cut back expenditures while not making the economic freedoms Gorbachev attempted, and which eventually led to a desire among his people for more western freedoms and products. I think he will also purge the ranks of the Soviet Union leadership that helped lead that country down that road, replacing them with communist hardliners. I don't know who they were, I never paid much attention to that, so I can't tell you specific names there, but expect massive changes in the satellite states. The Eastern European ones opened up their borders first, and led the way towards democracy and free market economies. He will stop that from happening."
"He is also trying to discredit anything you might tell us." The Vice-President said from the opposite end of the table from the President. "He called you a drunkard and a drug-user."
"I did spend too many years drinking after the death of my parents." I admitted cautiously. "I won't deny the truth in that part, but I assure you I do not do the same now, in my second chance at a regular life."
"David, I highly doubt you will have a regular life from this time on." President Reagan said with a fond chuckle, reaching over to ruffle my hair in a fatherly way. I noticed a few of the generals and admirals smiling or nodding at that, and just let myself accept the truth of that statement.
Mom had always said she thought I'd do great things when I grew up.
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