Book excerpt: Killer Politics

Norman Brewer was a reporter and editor for the Des Moines Tribune from 1965 to 1978, then joined Gannett News Service in Washington, D.C. He also worked in The Des Moines Register bureau there and was director of employee communications at the Transportation Security Administration. -promoted by Laura Belin

In Norman Brewer’s novel Killer Politics: A Satirical Tale of Homegrown Terrorism, a Trump-like president inspires a white supremacist and his terrorist cell to attack civilians in a bid for civil war or martial law.

Excerpts from the novel, available on Amazon, follow.

Note: A hacker takes over the computer controls of a dam in North Dakota during heavy rains. It bursts, killing people living downstream. We go to the Oval Office.

“What do you mean you’ve got no leads?!” President Tower demanded. “You are the f*cking Federal Bureau of Investigation. By definition you have to have leads. That’s what investigators do. They do leads!”

“Yes, sir.” FBI Director Cobert James studied his shoes. He assumed the president was right but couldn’t be sure. Before Tower named him to head the FBI, James was in his third term as a senator from West Virginia. Before that he was a Pentecostal minister. “The FBI, like this whole damn town, needs fresh thinking,” the president had declared.

“I mean, director,” continued the president, fighting to lower his voice as his jowls quivered, “there are well north of two hundred dead people below Dirty Dollar Dam. More than two hundred South Dakotans who turned out to vote for me. When you have more than two hundred dead voters you have to have leads.”

“Yes, sir,” Director James said. Then, gently correcting the president, he added, “The deaths of more than two hundred North Dakotans below Dirty Penny Dam is a tragedy. We tracked the hacker to a motel room on the edge of Indianapolis, sir. Unfortunately, the woman who checked into that room used a phony driver’s license and put down a phony license plate number.”

“I know all that, dammit. Don’t you think I watch Fox?”

“Excuse me, Mr. President,” said one of the many aides ringing the Oval Office. “The president of Ukraine is calling. Do you want to talk to him?”

“God no.”

“And,” the aide pressed nervously, “the secretary of Homeland Security just arrived. Shall I have her join the meeting?”

“Hell no. What could she add?”

“We also picked up six sets of fingerprints in the motel room, Mr. President,” James continued, regaining some of his confidence. “We tracked down four of them – two maids and two people who were guests earlier. No match on the other two prints.”

“Maybe the maid did it. Did you think of that?”

James managed to match the president’s squinty glare. “Yes, sir. No evidence the maids were involved, but that piece of the investigation is ongoing.”

“Good. Good. Now, where did the bad woman say she was from?”

“Both the driver’s license and the license plate numbers supposedly came from Pennsylvania, sir.”

“Pennsylvania, my god. That’s where you caught up with those most wanted guys a while back. Terrorists, weren’t they? Blew one to hell but let the other one get away, right?”

“The one you say got away, sir, it’s just that we haven’t been able to find his DNA in the body parts.”

“Get an APB out for him!”

James wasn’t sure the FBI way was to issue an all-points bulletin purely on presidential speculation. “He’s still the most wanted person in the country, sir. We’re doing everything we can on that score.”

“No dammit, I said a fresh APB. See here, director, you aren’t doing everything you can. You haven’t put out a fresh APB. I want to get all Americans and especially the Americans of Pennsylvania looking for that bastard. It was the fine people in Pennsylvania, along with tens and tens of millions of others of course, who all elected me. They have to know I’m protecting them.”

“Yes, sir. A fresh APB.”

“And get her on it, too! The bad woman from Pennsylvania. Didn’t she use a false ID or something from Pennsylvania?”

“False driver’s license. She was driving a car with Pennsylvania plates, but used a phony number when she registered. But we haven’t got her identified, sir, and aren’t sure she’s from Pennsylvania.”

“I’m sure she’s from Pennsylvania, dammit, until I see a phony ID and license number from some other place. Get her on the APB!”

“Yes, sir.”

Director James was looking at his shoes again. And he was getting an erection. That often happened when he was under stress. He hoped the president didn’t abruptly end the meeting.

“What else are you doing?”

“Our cyber guys, sir, they’re working with their counterparts at Homeland Security to ensure dam security is airtight. And working with the folks at every other agency that touches a dam in any way, particularly Army Corps of Engineers and Interior. And all the states and any local governments that have dams, sir.”

“That’s good, James. What else?”

“Just that I’ve got everyone who can help fully committed to this investigation. Absolutely everyone, sir.”

“No, you haven’t, dammit! Get more,” Tower snapped, complexion darkening and a jowl quivering anew. “You didn’t have me on it until ten minutes ago and now look where you are.”

The director’s unusual condition was taking control, his erection getting bigger. He thought about allowing the spirit to move him, to begin speaking in tongues, but didn’t know if that would fall within Oval Office protocol. Still, he knew where to seek help.

“Mr. President, I wonder if I might offer a brief prayer for the voters who were killed in this cowardly attack?

Note: Hoss, a white supremacist, and his daughter Stella are at a Tower political rally.

Hoss and Stella were surrounded. They felt besieged and happy. They were pressed shoulder to shoulder, back to belly with likeminded believers in their president, Jonathan T. Tower. Cheering, stomping, chanting merged in a cacophony that poured through the walls of the event center.

“I can feel the building shaking,” Stella yelled in her father’s ear. “I swear I can.”

“Me too!”

And the Great One had yet to appear….

The crowd exploded. It roared. “Hail to the Chief” at full volume was barely heard. A man with a trumpet played “Charge!” over and over. Small children, many on their fathers’ shoulders, stuck fingers in their ears. So did Stella. People turned balloons loose and threw hats in the air. An ancient man clinging to a walker shouted “Huzza, huzza!” Tears splattered the cheeks of a man bulging with muscles. A woman wearing a Tower Me Anytime T-shirt hyperventilated and fainted. Responding medics yelled “Clear the way! Clear the Way!” as they struggled to reach her. Hoss bounced on the balls of his feet like a teenage girl, grinning from ear to ear.

The Great One marched out, beaming, throwing his arms high. He worked the front of the stage, back and forth, blowing kisses, clasping his hands in victory. He pointed to a middle-aged couple, as if he knew them. Every few seconds he mouthed “I love you” to the crowd. Then “You love me,” thumping his chest with his fists. He walked a short staircase down to his ecstatic followers, holding the rails to light-foot the steps as best he could. He reached past the wall of Secret Service agents to touch fingers, high-five. A young mother held up her crying baby, and Tower bullishly parted two agents to reach it. Smart phones caught him kissing a tear-stained cheek, photos soon to go viral. Rally programs and autograph books were thrust upon him, and the president grabbed the chance to lower his arms. He signed and signed some more, then moved on. He waved and waved and studiously ignored the meth-clogged woman with a bared breast and undulating belly. Back to the stage, where for five full minutes he didn’t try very hard to quiet the crowd.

By then it had charged him as completely as he had charged it. He began speaking several times, thank you and thank you into the interruptions, finally gaining enough control to heap overflowing praise on a state that had delivered him a shocking victory.

“No voters have ever turned out for an Election Day opportunity like you in this great state of Pennsylvania,” Tower bellowed. “In return I have kept my promises to you – from top to bottom – from taxes to immigration to trade, from health care to jobs to fighting phony climate change.” And, he asserted, he was doing all he could to protect the nation’s blood and treasury from foolish ventures overseas, correcting his wayward predecessors. “Pissant countries can pay their own way or – if they’re rich – pay us full freight,” he bellowed to thunderous applause.

As the tightly scripted litany of complicated issues threatened to dull his followers’ excitement, Tower happily focused his wrath on his enemies. The unfair investigations, led by House committee chairmen who “beat dead horses.” The entrenched “deep state” of an unelected federal bureaucracy. Partisan “Demmy-crats” blocking patriotic measures needed to secure our borders, blocking yet more tax cuts needed to stimulate the economy. Far left presidential opponents threatening to turn America into a green, socialist state. His long-relinquished opponent for the Oval Office whose sins had yet to be prosecuted. A U.S. senator who, until his demise, unfairly blocked policies oh-so badly needed. And, of course, the fake media, “the enemy of the people.”

Tower’s audience cheered and clapped after each attack line, thrusting placards in the air. Their commitment left a deep impression on Hoss. He could imagine every person in the arena – and tens and tens of millions across the country – soon rounding up relatives and friends and lockstep marching to the polls.

That vision of unleashing another term for history’s greatest president was interrupted by shouting of a different sort, near the stage where TV cameras were set up and reporters were supposed to be confined. An NBC News cameraman had edged a couple steps beyond the rope barrier, trying to frame an energized president between a man holding his toddler aloft and a woman waving a sign, “Democrats Are Baby Killers.” The man with the trumpet stepped up, objecting to Mr. NBC leaving his assigned space, delivering the instrument’s bell squarely to the cameraman’s nose. Blood flowed and a gray-haired woman jumped in, hitting Mr. NBC with her NRA placard. “Commie press! Commie press!” she shouted. A security guard stepped up, taking only a couple placard whacks before getting the bleeding newsman behind the rope barrier.

“Be calm, be calm,” Tower told the audience, presidentially. “It’s all over now. Everything is fine. But that shows what’s wrong with the press in this country. They don’t know their place. If they would just do their jobs and report what I say, they wouldn’t get in these tough spots. But no, they’re always going off the reservation – now, media folks, don’t suggest I was making a reference to Pocahontas or running down Native Americans, who I love – and poking their noses where they don’t belong. DON’T belong.”

The faithful cheered as he continued: “These people that are roped in are not like your mothers and fathers. Maybe they didn’t have mothers and fathers like yours. Maybe that’s why they are roped in. Ever think of that? In fact, that’s something very few people can think of. No, your mothers and fathers loved apple pie ala mode and Christmas and the American way. And that’s what made America great.”…

Note: Hoss, Stella and Stickman, a wanted terrorist, have their armed drones in the air, poised to attack a rock concert at Alamo Stadium in San Antonio. They are in Brackenridge Park, across a freeway from the stadium.

…Movement caught the corner of Stickman’s eye. He glanced right, seeing a Hispanic couple and three children. They had left their SUV and were edging closer.

“Company,” he said, getting Hoss and Stella’s attention.

Then a black Toyota Solara convertible pulled off North St. Mary’s Street, attracted by the drones, the red and white lightning bolts setting off their large ominous wings. The drones’ circular patterns were setting up an attack formation, with Hoss’s bird noticeably higher than the other two, Stickman’s trailing.

“We have to get this done,” Stickman said. “Someone’s going to call the cops.”

“Right,” said Hoss. “Remember, maintain this speed. As soon as the FPV brings in the stadium, angle down. When you’re nearly on it, dive.”

Buildings, houses, greenery moved through the first-person view on Stickman’s control monitor as he continued the loop, anxiety building. As Hoss finished his reminder, he immediately pulled out of the loop, heading for Alamo Stadium, leading Stella slightly as she followed. Her drone pitched precariously to the right before she leveled it out, losing altitude but still in a good position. Stickman remained a few seconds behind, which was fine with him. He wanted to watch Hoss go in but forced himself to focus on his FPV. The stadium came into view, coming up fast even at a slow speed. He nearly panicked, uncertain if he could catch the right moment.

He heard Hoss spit out “Now!” and knew the first drone was in its merciless dive. Stickman thought he heard screams a moment before the explosion, then another blast. Stella’s drone. The stadium crowd came into view. What could have been dust rolled into the right side of his screen. He could hear shouts or wails, a collective barrage of panicked anguish as the crowd filled his FPV. He engaged his left stick, glanced up to see the Darkwing hurtling down. Quickly returned to the monitor as people momentarily came into focus, some pointing in alarm, a woman hunching protectively over a child, a blur of bodies scrambling in all directions.

The nightmarish scene disappeared in a blink, his screen going black as the third explosion rumbled across the freeway. Stickman looked up to see debris – or something – mixing briefly with the dust from his attack, merging with the brown drift from Hoss and Stella’s attacks. Voices could be heard, no longer the cacophony of fear, more individual now, punctuated by anger or pain, a tragedy now struggling to be heard over the rhythmic hum of traffic. Stickman was mesmerized as he imagined the destruction, the confusion and panic and gore, the death that had been inflicted. This mission has succeeded, he thought.

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