When Bob Williams, a handsome insurance broker, is elected to the Illinois state legislature as a Democrat from the Chicago suburbs, he finds a whole new world full of flawed characters clashing over ideas, policies, and money at the state capitol. He must learn the ropes and learn to play the politics within the politics.
As his wife, Cindy, descends into madness and is committed to a mental institution, he is drawn to two beautiful Hispanic women legislators-Cynthia Rodriguez and Roberta Gonzales-who compete for him. Having risen from poverty, both are accomplished. One is a brilliant, compassionate, high-energy powerhouse, while the other is an enormously talented singer. But the one Williams ultimately chooses not only struggles with the conflicts in her nature, but faces Mathew Remington, a powerful billionaire who hatches a plan to destroy her and the cause so important to her and the nation. She's rebuffed Remington's advances, and he plans to get his revenge.
Both humorous and tragic, The Legislative Dance provides a fictional inside look at the elected officials-foibles and all-charged with the task of deciding some of life's most important issues.
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The Legislative Dance
By Malcolm Chester
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2011 Malcolm Chester
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThe Inside Club
Forty one year old Mathew Remington sat comfortably in the smoking room of the Inside Club. Still attractive even heading into middle age, he had made his fortune by the time he was thirty two trading high risk derivatives on Wall Street. Although he had no formal title to denote his position, the other seven acknowledged Mathew as leader of the Inside Club, a group of eight very conservative and ruthless billionaires. Mathew often took the lead on their policy projects, which sought to put their reactionary stamp on social and economic policy issues. Defeat of the Equal Rights Amendment, ERA, was their latest project. From the Club's point of view, the supporters of the ERA were trying to turn women into men and in doing so would cost them and their businesses a great deal of money in equalized pay.
In addition to the club's political projects, Mathew conducted personal projects which he called the harlot projects. Mathew began his harlot projects with his former wife. While he was working sixteen-hour days making his fortune, his wife Trudy, a beautiful brunette, was sleeping with other guys and spending his money. When his private detective showed him pictures of his wife having sex with a blond body builder, Mathew decided to divorce her and fight her for every cent she would seek as common property or alimony.
The fight was nasty and prolonged. Mathew and Trudy had a son early in their marriage, Trevor, but Mathew had a difficult time relating to him. His son did not look like him and proved to be whinny and unpleasant. Mathew became convinced that the boy was fathered by one of his wife's lovers and not by him. From then on, he referred to the boy as Trudy's son. By contesting custody of his son almost to the last moment, he was able to give up custody of him in return for a large reduction in their divorce settlement. Trudy ended up with only thirty million dollars.
After the divorce, Mathew decided to ruin Trudy and her son by whatever means he could employ. Trudy was a bit of a party girl, so Mathew hired Rutger, the best looking, cruelest and most morally bankrupt blonde guy he could find to seduce her. She loved fit blond guys. Rutger easily seduced Trudy. He then introduced her to heroin and cocaine at Mathew's direction. Within a matter of weeks, Trudy turned into an addict.
With Trudy high, Rutger persuaded her to invest in a number of speculative ventures. Mathew provided the information on the ventures to Rutger and showed him how to skim some of the investment for himself. As Mathew expected, the ventures collapsed, leaving Trudy virtually penniless. Rutger also abused her son at Mathew's direction. When Trudy complained, Rutger merely increased her drug doses. Rutger then left Trudy just as the bank foreclosed on her condominium. To survive, she had to turn to prostitution. Eventually, she ended up in the streets. Her son, sent to foster care, soon turned to crime. Several years later, Trudy died of an overdose in a filthy hotel and her son was shot and killed trying to rob a convenience store.
Mathew found that he derived great pleasure from ruining his wife and her son. So he started looking for other women to ruin. He developed criteria for selecting these women. They had to be beautiful. He had to be attracted to them. The women had to be very successful in their own right. They had to have a husband and children.
When Mathew selected a woman for one of his projects, he used his immense wealth to give them whatever they wanted. His careful research on them told him exactly how to do this. He also showered the women with expensive gifts. When they became dependent on his efforts on their behalf, Mathew started to make romantic overtures to them. Mathew learned to be very patient with his targets. No matter how many times they rejected him, he continued his efforts to seduce them. Finally, he would confront the woman and tell her that he wanted her to be his mistress. He made it plain at that time that they could have whatever they wanted as long as they complied with his request but should they reject him, he would withdraw his support.
So far every woman he had pursued in this way agreed to be his mistress. Mathew would enjoy each of his conquests for a while until he was certain their affair had ruined the woman's marriage and alienated her children. Then he would kick the woman out of his life and do his best to destroy her career. In each case so far, the woman's life disintegrated. The second one he ruined even went so far as to commit suicide.
Content with these memories, Mathew drew deeply on his custom made Cuban cigar, smelled its wonderful odor, and sipped a little of his thirty year old malt scotch, already celebrating his future conquests.
Chapter TwoThe First Trip
Representative elect Robert Williams—Bob to friends—kept himself very fit but the long trip to Springfield still tired him. From the suburbs outside Chicago through endless farm fields, the flat landscape held little interest. He saw a couple of oil refineries near a river, some new and environmentally responsible wind farms and two garbage mountains, but otherwise only unremarkable farm houses and barns, grain silos, and some rivers running through it.
The only landmark Bob appreciated was a famous truck stop, often used by politicians running for president. Bob passed it without stopping, not needing gas or food just then. Having never driven to Springfield before, Bob had somehow romanticized the 200 mile journey as a historical trip down old Route 66, somewhat akin to the old TV show with two cool guys driving a corvette convertible. It wasn't anything like that, at least not any more. He realized it would be a boring trek calling for some good CDs. As the miles continued to roll past, Bob's mind wandered back to his legislative victory party, the very recent symbol of why he found himself taking this trip. It was almost as if he was still there.
Some cheap wine stood on a small table along with several bottles of beer and a couple of cases of canned soft drinks. Some campaign signs were tapped to the walls and the podium at the front of the room. Small plates and toothpicks flanked warming trays now mostly emptied of appetizers. Yet, the smell of stale greasy meatballs blended with the heavy perfumes worn by the ladies and the cheap aftershaves worn by the men stood out in his memory more than the food and drink. This mixture of smells made the ordinarily healthy Bob want to vomit. Well, this was part of the reason his stomach was so queasy. The stench of the election and his personal life also contributed. So, instead of seeing a crowd of revelers in front of him, Bob Williams only saw the devastated face of his opponent Bill Wilson and the heavily drugged face of his beautiful wife Cindy.
Bill Wilson had denied the sensational charges leveled against him at the end of the campaign: Bill was a child pornographer. He loved watching young children being sexually abused by fat older men. Bill Wilson screwed his secretary, while his poor overworked wife raised a mentally challenged son. Bill Wilson voted against a bill to help battered women and laughed at a battered woman who asked for his support.
No matter how many times Bill called these rumors lies, the charges kept coming, making Jack the Ripper look like a saint by comparison. Local newspaper political reporter Theodore Rathbone spread the stories in the media. He quoted sources: a Spanish-speaking Panamanian immigrant who claimed to have seen the child pornography pictures on Bill's computer when she cleaned his house; a legislative secretary famous for her very short skirts and thick makeup, who claimed to have slept with Bill at his motel; and a left-wing advocate for battered woman who claimed Bill made the inflammatory comments when she spoke to him.
When the smoke finally cleared, Democrat Bob, beat the very popular Republican Bill Wilson in the most Republican district in the state. Bob was here celebrating his victory while his opponent Bill was full of powerful drugs, rocking in a chair at a psychiatric hospital. Bob shook these images from his mind. He'd had no part in making these charges. Bob worked hard. He'd made his case to the voters. He beat Bill Wilson fair and square. Bob could not be held responsible for the failings of his opponent.
Still, Bill's fall from grace only rated second place in responsibility for his discomfort. His wife's emotional problems alone would have caused mixed feelings at his success. Tonight she looked fine but the impact of her emotional problems on their sex life kept Bob off balance and expecting trouble. Still, he came home when he could to be with his wife and to spend time with the daughter he adored. With his personal life in chaos, he hardly felt like celebrating. He wished he could enjoy his party more.
Concentrating on the room around him with conscious effort, Bill thanked the whole crowd in general for their help, then specific individuals who actually helped him and, of course, his wife and family. After he'd said thank you almost every way he could, he finished his speech by repeating his platform theme: "I will be a socially responsible but fiscally conservative man of the people."
The speech was uninspired and could have been downloaded from the internet, but Bob felt satisfied with what he had said. He smiled at the crowd of forty revelers crammed into the function room at the local Holiday Inn. They dutifully clapped along with the other attendees when his short speech abruptly ended.
After his short speech, Bob walked from person to person making small talk and thanking them for their help, whether he knew they'd actually helped him or not. Bob wondered how many times he could say thank you to the same people. Several of the ladies in the audience approached him as he circulated. A few came right out and told him he was looking good. The rest commented on what he'd said but their body language implied their real message was how attractive he looked to them.
After greeting everyone there, Bob said something inane to the reporters waiting with their notepads. They seemed to expect the banality of his remarks. None asked very penetrating questions in return. After finishing with the reporters, Bob squared his shoulders to restore his flagging energy, looked into the sole camera, manned by college students from the local community college, and repeated the same trite comments.
Then it suddenly hit him. What would he do with his life now? He looked at his wife with a puzzled expression and she, sensing his attention, looked back at him in the same way. He spoke quietly with more than a little distress to his wife.
"Honey, I am a legislator now. I'm not exactly sure how this is going to affect our lives. Will my insurance business suffer with me being away so much? And, with all your problems, maybe I shouldn't be running off to a place two hundred miles away. I guess I never really thought I would win."
"Love, you have to believe in the future. Whether you are here or not probably won't make any difference in my condition. You need to do what is right for you. As for your insurance business, you will probably attract more clients by being a legislator. Think of it as a form of advertising. You can always hire someone if you fall behind in service to your clients.
"I guess my big worry is Sarah. Despite your new schedule, you will have to make sure you spend quality time with her. Worse case, if it doesn't work out you can always resign. Now stop worrying and enjoy this night. I am proud of you. You should be proud of yourself," Cindy said, looking with love into her husband's beautiful green eyes and wanting to be still his strong other half as she had once been.
"Okay, I will. We can and will face the future together. And don't worry, I will never neglect my daughter," Bob declared, happy that his wife was responding to him in this hour of victory. He had worked hard for this chance. Somehow, he would make it work. He grabbed Cindy's hand and raised it in a victory salute.
Bob entered Springfield after three hours on the road. He saw many signs for Lincoln this or that: grave, house, library, office. Otherwise there was not much to see other than ordinary-looking houses and buildings. Later, he would discover that the city actually had some nice Victorian houses and a state-owned Frank Lloyd Wright house, but today he did not see or know about them.
After drving only a few more minutes, the tall Capitol Building loomed in front of Bob, rising more than 300 feet to the top of the dome. The beautiful building sat on well-manicured grounds with various bronze statutes on it: Abraham Lincoln of course and some firefighters, to name a few. The building, built of limestone and marble, had a silver dome topped by a red light. He later learned that some capitol insiders jokingly called the capitol the "red light district," referring to some of the more soap-opera activities that took place there. Cruising past the capitol, Bob stopped at the small booth marking the entrance of the legislator's lot, which sat next to an ugly annex building behind the capitol. A middle-aged man with a large pot belly and a faded uniform approached his car. As the uniformed man drew near, Bob could almost read the red road map in the officer's eyes and smell the stale odor of liquor and partially digested food on his breath. He motioned to Bob to lower his window.
"This here is reserved for legislators; no members of the public and lobbyists allowed," the officer said in his most important and strongest voice, spitting a little as he talked through teeth stained brown by years of coffee and cigarettes.
"I am Representative elect Bob Williams, nice to meet you," responded Bob extending his hand.
The parking lot guard refused to take Bob's hand. He eyed Bob suspiciously. "You ain't got no legislator's plate," the officer finally replied. "You sure you're a legislator?"
"Yep, here are my orientation badge and instructions they sent me on where to park. I'm just one of the new kids on the block. New members don't have legislator's plates yet."
The man studied the papers Bob had given him. "Well, I guess it's all right. Still, you ought to have something on your car saying you're a legislator." He quickly surveyed his lot, peering intently at the spaces he had long since memorized. Suddenly, his face lit up. "You can park over there next to the fence." He pointed to a tiny space, which even a professional car jockey would find a difficult fit for Bob's Crown Victoria.
"Isn't that a little small?" Bob replied, irritation creeping into his voice.
"Can't be helped. That's all there is." The guard sounded smug. "If you want another space, ask the speaker's office to call me up and tell me where to put you."
Bob planned his approach to the tiny space with the deliberation of a jet pilot. After a few muttered curses meant for the confines of his car and five minutes of maneuvering, he finally put his car in park. The fence prevented him from opening the door all the way so he had to squeeze himself out of the driver's seat. As he locked the car and began walking toward the entrance of the lot, a huge white Cadillac slid up next to the parking booth. The parking lot guard ran over to greet the big florid man with white shoes who exited the car. The driver placed one arm around the guard's shoulders. After a few minutes of quiet conversation, the man in the white shoes opened his trunk and pulled out a paper bag. The officer grabbed the bag and quickly put it into his guard shack. He then pointed to a big spot near the entrance. The man in the white shoes quickly drove into the spot. After he emerged from the car with his briefcase in tow, he came bounding over to Bob.
"Hey, you must be Bob Williams, just elected in the 15th. I am Sherwood Bollard, lobbyist for the Hospitals. Nice to meet you." Sherwood smelled a little of Aqua Velva Aftershave and spoke with great enthusiasm as he pumped Bob's hand.
Excerpted from The Legislative Dance by Malcolm Chester Copyright © 2011 by Malcolm Chester. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
ContentsChapter 1-The Inside Club....................1
Chapter 2-The First Trip....................4
Chapter 4-The Speaker's World....................19
Chapter 5-First Week as a Legislator....................24
Chapter 6-The Dinner Party....................42
Chapter 7-The Next Day....................50
Chapter 8-Next to the Last Day of the Week....................72
Chapter 9-The Last Day of the First Week....................87
Chapter 10-The Weekend....................91
Chapter 11-The Next Month....................105
Chapter 12-The Red Jacket....................107
Chapter 13-The Carnival....................112
Chapter 14-The Breakup....................122
Chapter 15-The Day After....................134
Chapter 16-The Next Several Days....................136
Chapter 17-The Tryout....................140
Chapter 18-The Week after Diva....................147
Chapter 19-The Birthday Party....................151
Chapter 20-Tail Gate....................159
Chapter 21-God on the Floor....................167
Chapter 22-The Proposal....................172
Chapter 23-Opposition Research....................174
Chapter 24-The Lobbyists....................179
Chapter 25-The ERA....................186
Chapter 26-The Announcement....................218
Chapter 27-Two Years Later....................223
Chapter 28-A Year Later....................227
Chapter 29-Mathew's Plan....................230
Chapter 30-The Speaker....................232
Chapter 31-Washington Ways....................241
Chapter 32-The Seduction....................248
Chapter 34-Mathew's Anger....................279
Epilogue-One Year Later....................280