Levels of Power: The Chairman

Levels of Power: The Chairman

by Mike Gilmore

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781496928368
Publisher: AuthorHouse
Publication date: 07/28/2014
Pages: 412
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.92(d)

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Levels of Power

The Chairman


By Mike Gilmore

AuthorHouse LLC

Copyright © 2014 Mike Gilmore
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4969-2836-8


CHAPTER 1

Washington, DC

Saturday, April 4, 2015

8:30 a.m. EST


Arnold Allen Lansdale was eighty-eight years old. He stood in front of the full-length mirror in his bedroom in a prestigious area of Georgetown. His personal valet was using a small soft-bristle clothes brush to remove any suspected lint or hair from Arnold's dark-blue pinstriped suit coat. Everything must be perfect today, as it was every day for Arnold Allan Lansdale.

His reflection in the mirror told Arnold he was ready for his last big event in his career. His head of snow-white hair, swept back along the sides of his head, was still full for a man of his age. His blue eyes shone brightly, without glasses or contacts. His body weight was within ten pounds of when he'd graduated from Harvard Law School so many years ago.

That his physical strength was not equal to the demands of his mind was a carefully guarded secret. For years, he had used a walking cane when he was entering or leaving his place of work or at public events. It had been a gift from his late wife, Margaret, on one of their many wedding anniversaries years ago, a smooth, polished wooden stick with a narrow bottom tip and a round ball with a flat top at the handle end. A piece of pewter, embedded into the handle, displayed the emblem of the federal body he supervised.

It became a personal trademark, similar to that used by an English gentleman walking along any street in London. He once had moved with grace and speed and carried the cane for show, but over the years, he had needed to rely more on the beautifully carved walking stick.

His body's slow physical deterioration remained a carefully guarded secret by his most trusted aides. Beginning almost ten years before, he had needed the help of over-the-counter pain pills with ibuprofen. Later, under the direction of his personal physician, stronger medication was required to stop the pain from the crippling arthritis that was claiming his body. First, it had been isolated pain in the joints of his left shoulder and hips. Then it moved into his back and neck. Now it seemed to affect nearly his entire body, and with the increasing pain came the need for stronger medication.

When he was at home, he used a wheelchair to move about his town house. Construction crews built access ramps where needed, and a wheelchair glide rail was installed into the stairway wall to allow him to access the second floor of his home. He had not been up to the third floor for many years.

All this remained a secret from the public and his fellow coworkers. At home, William, his valet, and Helen, his house cleaner-cook, tended to his every need, as they had for many years, first for himself and Margaret but after her passing only for him.

He'd had to make physical adjustments to his work environment. Access to his building was by way of an underground parking garage, and access ramps to enter and leave the building were already in place, as required by federal law. He had needed to use a wheelchair to move from his office to the conference room or other parts of the building.

As his physical condition continued to deteriorate, his fellow coworkers played the game and pretended to not notice. Nobody mentioned that the senior person in the building needed extra time and assistance to move about the huge facility. No mention of his physical condition ever reached the members of the press who reported on the activities of Arnold's branch of the federal government. It was a secret contained inside his home and within the walls of his workplace; when the public saw Arnold Allen Lansdale, he walked the few required steps with his personal signature walking cane. The public never knew about his worsening physical condition.

He was willing to accept the physical deterioration of his body and the pain and the growing needs for legal painkillers, as long as his mind remained clear and his decision-making process was unfettered by the painkillers. When people spoke about him, the topic was his brilliant mind and the work he had completed over a period of nearly four decades. No other person had occupied his position for the same length of time. He was a national institution within a national institution. His word was law, and when he spoke, the decision was final.

However, time was working against Arnold Allen Lansdale, just as every other mortal being on God's good earth. His body had started to fail many years ago, but now his mind was slipping. He was positive that he was the only person aware of the changes to his mental acuity, but his own knowledge was enough. He knew he needed to step down from his position before his coworkers noticed his condition; they would be watching for any sign that he was not the same man as when he first came to national attention many years ago. He did not want to wait until it became obvious to the public and the whispers that maybe he needed to retire or was past his prime began. He decided he would end his career on his own terms when he knew the time was correct.

Arnold took a final look in the mirror; William looked back into the reflection of Arnold's pale blue eyes. William gave his employer a little nod and smile to indicate the old man was ready for the big event. With William's assistance and his walking stick, Arnold maneuvered back several steps and sat down into his wheelchair. He placed the bottom tip of the walking stick on the right footrest next to his leather shoe. William had polished his best pair to a mirror finish last evening. He reached one more time with his right hand to pat the outside of his left-hand suit coat side, checking for his letter to the president. It was there. He was ready to make one last trip into his beloved Washington, DC.

William pushed the wheelchair through the wide doorway, into the hallway toward the head of the stairway. The pull-down seat attached to the glide rail was already down; he assisted Arnold onto the padded seat and attached the wrap-around seat belt. When situated, Arnold pressed the down button on the glide rail armrest, and the seat begin it slow decent to the first floor. William followed dutifully behind his master.

At the bottom of the stairway, Helen was ready with the main floor wheelchair. Together they helped Arnold with the transition to the lower floor mobile apparatus. William pushed and Helen walked beside the old man.

They walked and rolled together through the hallway into the kitchen area and to the back door. A ramp conveyed the group down into the private garage where Arnold's limousine was waiting, along with his driver and security guard. The older car was not the typical black SUV provided for any other senior federal government employee; the limousine was easier for Arnold to enter and exit. The federal department had provided the automobile many years ago, and it still operated perfectly. Arnold had not seen the need for a replacement.

Once he was strapped in with the seat belt, the driver and security guard quickly entered the limousine. The driver started the car and opened the garage door with the remote control while the security guard used his wrist mike to notify his central command that they were leaving the premises and heading for their final destination in downtown Washington.

Arnold lived on N Street in Georgetown in northwest Washington. The trip today would take about fifteen minutes in the light Saturday morning traffic; most government offices were closed over the weekend, including Arnold's own workplace. He had chosen this day on purpose. Only his personal staff at home and his trusted private secretary of many years had known of his plan; she had made the appointment for today. His fellow associates would learn of his retirement with the rest of the country later that weekend.

As his limousine moved with ease along the beautiful streets of his beloved Georgetown, Arnold was able to watch the other homes. At Wisconsin Avenue, the driver turned right and very soon took the second left onto M Street. They only needed to travel about one-third of a mile before the driver expertly turned onto Pennsylvania Avenue.

With a little over one mile left, they passed through Washington Circle and the many office buildings where professional architects, engineers, publicists, and lobbyists worked every day. On his right was George Washington University, where he had guest-lectured several times. As they passed over Nineteenth Street the World Bank building was on his right and the Edward R. Murrow Park on the left. They finally came to Seventeenth Street NW and made a right turn. Traveling another short distance, the driver then turned left onto E Street NW. Arnold's destination was now in sight. The limousine pulled up to the White House's north gate. The driver pulled to a stop, and a uniformed security guard approached the car carrying a clipboard in his left hand.

The driver informed the guard of the car's main occupant and provided identification for Arnold, his security guard, and the driver himself. Another guard walked around the car with a dog trained to detect explosives while a third guard used a large round convex mirror mounted on a telescoping handle to search under the car for any possible explosive device.

Finally, the car and occupants received approval for entering the enclosed nineteen acres surrounding the White House, home to the president of the United States. As it motored up the semicircular north driveway, Arnold got his last view of the impressive structure. He had never sought any political office and really did not have a lot of respect for most politicians. For years, he had watched as they passed laws and talked about making changes to the legal contract that he guarded with every fiber of his mind and body.

The limousine pulled to a stop at the north entrance to the White House. Arnold waited patiently for the security guard to exit the car and open the door next to him. Carefully he braced his body and mind for the long, painful walk that he must make for this last part of his journey.

Arnold carefully pulled himself up using the window strap and stepped out of the limousine. He painfully worked his shoulders to allow his clothes to settle around his thin frame and then walked to the door held open by the Marine guard. He entered the security entrance to the White House proper and went through the same procedures required for every visitor to the White House except for the president, vice president, or leader of a foreign country.

Once through the security checkpoint, he summoned every ounce of strength and, using his walking stick, walked alongside the Secret Service agent who was acting as his escort. Passing through hallways decorated with some of the country's finest handcrafted pieces of artwork and paintings, Arnold left the main White House structure and walked the covered Colonnade toward the West Wing and the Oval Office.

Inside the West Wing, he did not have to wait in the lounge area. The White House staff was expecting his arrival. The president's personal secretary gave him a warm smile as she welcomed him to the most exclusive office complex in the world.

Arnold had been to the White House many times for business and social functions, though not many in recent years. He would return any RSVP with a polite notice that he was unavailable for the requested event. It had been several months since he had last seen the president, and that event had not been held at the White House but instead in the chamber of the United States Senate, where the new vice president, Jimmy Diamond, had been sworn into office.

The secretary to the president slowly walked with Arnold down the hallway from the lounge area. They passed the Cabinet Room on their left and the Roosevelt Room on their right. Then the hallway took a slight right-angle turn to follow the curved outer wall of the Oval Office.

When they reached the door, the secretary politely and without comment waited for Arnold to catch his breath, carefully adjust his suit coat and tie with his right hand while using his walking stick in his left hand to balance himself.

Arnold Allen Lansdale gave her a small smile and nodded his head. He was ready. She opened the door to the Oval Office and quickly walked in ahead of the old man. As he passed through the large doorway, she announced his entrance.

"Mr. President, the chief justice of the United States Supreme Court."

CHAPTER 2

Washington, DC

Sunday, April 5, 2015

8:30 a.m. EST


United States Senator Randy Fisher was tired of all the interviews. Sixteen days before, he had been instrumental in stopping an escalating war between China and Vietnam over the oil and gas reserves in the South China Sea. Once again, he was in the world's spotlight.

Three and one-half years ago, he'd worked for a national manufacturer of electrical equipment. Completely by accident, he'd walked onto loading dock six of the grandstand building located on the state fairgrounds in his home city of Columbia, South Carolina, and interrupted a terrorist making final preparation for a nuclear bomb. Despite his gunshot wound from the terrorist, Randy had stopped the terrorist and warned the authorities in time to disarm the device. After his recovery, Randy received an appointment by the South Carolina governor to fill the final two years of Senator Robert Moore's term of office. Randy had since won reelection in the fall of 2014 without any Republican challenger.

Last month he'd responded to an invitation by the Philippine and Vietnamese governments to attend, as their guest, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Brunei to hear about China's continued expanding aggression in the South China Sea. While attending the summit meeting of the ten-nation association, war had broken out between China and Vietnam. During the conflict, the Chinese lost three naval vessels, and their only aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, the pride of their PLAN fleet, sustained heavy battle damage. It would be out of commission for many months. The Vietnamese Navy lost one of their newest diesel-electric submarines with all hands aboard.

The other member nations of the ASEAN organization were preparing for full-scale war. India and the United States were preparing to send their fleets into the South China Sea to honor their peacekeeping agreements with Vietnam. With building tensions between China, standing alone, and the United States with India moving their nuclear-powered forces into the contested seas, the prognosis looked bleak. The blue waters of the South China Sea would turn red with the blood of navy seamen.

Randy had been lucky as the only American in the middle of the conflict. At the scene of the first naval battle between China and Vietnam, one of the Chinese survivors pulled from the waters above the sunken wreckage of two Chinese warships was the vice chairman of CNOOC, the China National Offshore Oil Corporation. The two men had developed a friendship and, more importantly, trust between them. Together they discovered the Chinese minister for land and resources had convinced the ailing Chinese general secretary that China could use their navy to muscle the other countries in the area out of the South China Sea and take over all the oil and gas reserves for China.

A new Chinese government took power within the communist country, and Randy negotiated a truce between China and Vietnam with the new general secretary. In addition, he convinced the ASEAN organization to enter into talks with China to allow the country with the largest population in the world to become a voting member. With China a part of ASEAN, Randy convinced the members to develop a joint oil and gas exploration company; all the member nations of the Southeast Asian organization could share proportionally in the wealth under the waters of the South China Sea.

For ten days, Randy had acted as the negotiator between China and the ASEAN organization. Together with his new friend Haung Zhao, appointed as the new Chinese minister of land and resources, they'd commenced a series of shuttle diplomacy trips to hammer out the new peace treaty.

President Harold Miller of the United States had sent in his assistant secretary of state for Southeast Asia, but the leaders of the ten nations making up the ASEAN organization had only wanted to talk with Randy and the Chinese minister. The president's official representative sat quietly at the negotiating tables and let Randy carry the message to all the members.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Levels of Power by Mike Gilmore. Copyright © 2014 Mike Gilmore. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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