Sunday, November 22, 2054

Chapter Thirty-Five

The rest of the press conference was…noisy. I explained that, of course there would be exceptions to the gun ownership law, but that most people would have had basic weapons training as part of their service. After they finished their active duty service, they’d be expected to have their weapon in serviceable order and available on short notice as members of the inactive reserve. Furthermore, I’d told them, I was looking into whether or not I could enact a law requiring all inactive reservist to carry their sidearm at all times. Openly.

I think too few people get irony. In the next two days, I received 172 more death threats. Almost 70% said something along the lines of ‘I’ll kill you before I let you force me to carry a weapon.’ Needless to say, our search for a security firm went into high gear. There were, after all, throngs of unarmed assassins lurking.

On Thursday I came into the office early. I like getting in when things are quiet and there aren’t any distractions. Even if I just use the time to organize what I’ll be doing that day, it feels like time well spent. Unfortunately, Darrell does the same thing. We’d given up trying to beat each other in, and usually just ignored each other until the rest of the staff started showing up. On this particular morning, there were gales of childish laughter coming from Darrell’s office when I got there. I looked in to find two small, very sticky children looking up at me from the floor. They were surrounded by what had been a box of assorted doughnuts.

Darrell rounded the corner with a roll of paper towels and a damp sponge. “Yours, I take it?” I said.

“Yeah,” Darrell replied, “This morning, I’m thinking of trading them in for a dog, though.” He went on to introduce me to his daughter Glennis, 3, and Darrell, Jr., 5, while starting to clean up the kids and his office.

I said that I didn’t even know he was married. He told me about how his wife had been killed in a car accident 2 years earlier. His mother and mother-in-law usually took turns caring for the kids during the day, but something had come up and he’d decided to just bring the kids to work with him that day. I made a mental note to have Nicki find out how many of the staff had kids in day care and to look into setting up one nearby if it seemed like there was a need. I’ve found that parents who get to see their kids every now and then, tend to be happier employees.

Darrell reminded me I was supposed to meet with a possible security firm later that morning. While looking at various companies, he’d discovered that someone he’d known in the Marines had retired a year earlier and was now heading up a company called HSLD Security Associates that had an excellent reputation in personal security. I told him it was on my agenda and made my way to the break room for a cup of coffee.

I settled into my office and did busywork for about 45 minutes and then started marking up a speech I was scheduled to give the following night. This one was going to be at a Jewish Community Center in Chicago and Adelaide, of course, wanted me to work Israel into the speech. I’m a big supporter of Israel, but I think they’ve missed a few opportunities in the past. I was trying to figure out how to not completely piss off every fellow Jew in the country while saying that Israel, too, might need to make some sacrifices if the violence there was ever going to come to an end. Adelaide wasn’t going to be happy if the first Jewish candidate for President came out and lost the Jewish vote this early in the campaign.

At 9:30, with the office in full swing, Darrell knocked on my door. He came in and was followed by a fairly small wiry man he introduced as Chief Warrant Officer Gil Shefflin, (ret.). Shefflin looked like he’d just forgotten to put his uniform on that morning as opposed to really being retired. He still had the regular Marine issue buzz cut and piercing brown eyes. He wore a crisp suit that was not off-the-rack. We shook hands and took seats around the coffee table.

I hadn’t been putting much thought into the whole idea of requiring protection. I guess I’d avoided thinking about it. Guess I couldn’t do that any more. Hey, we all live with the possibility of random violence happening anywhere or anytime. But that’s random. You can’t do anything about it. You can’t predict it. All you can do is try to pay attention to your surroundings more often than walking around with your head in the clouds. But, now, there were people out there who had a personal beef with me. This was not a happy thought.

At first, Shefflin tried to hand me a brochure and his resume, but I asked him to just tell me about himself for a start. He related his military history. 28 years in the Marine Corps, 15 as a Chief Warrant. He’d been spotted for a number of specialties, but had spent his last few years as an expert in Embassy Security. He was tapped 5 times to go in and deal with Embassies that for one reason or another, were suddenly high profile and high risk. He spent his last year on active duty as an instructor at the Marine Corps Embassy Security Group.

He went on to tell me, “We’ve assembled a fine team of operatives and we can tailor your teams to your needs once they’ve been determined. Most of our operatives are ex-military with some out of other government agencies. There’s not a man or woman at HSLD who hasn’t had extensive weapons training and frontline experience. Most have counterterrorism training and experience. In some job slots, we’ve got Intel specialists. Every person working for me has had, at one time or another a ‘Secret’ clearance and most had higher levels of clearance. And I’d be personally heading up your teams.”

I tried to digest this for a moment and I noticed that although Shefflin kept eye contact, there was something that he wasn’t saying.

I said, “You don’t like me very much, do you Mr. Shefflin?”

Darrell winced. Shefflin smiled for the first time since walking in the door. “No sir, I don’t. Frankly, I think you might be the most dangerous man in the country at the moment.”

I laughed and said, “Well, at least you don’t mince words.”

Shefflin’s expression grew serious again. “Warrants aren’t paid to talk nice. They’re paid to get things done. Do you have much first hand familiarity with the military?”

“Practically none,” I said.

“Well, let me tell you a little about what a Warrant is. When you’re on a ship, everyone on the ship will go through the chain of command to the XO before they ever disturb the Captain. And even then, that person had better get to the point and have a good reason. When a Warrant has reason to talk to the Captain at 4:00 a.m. he knocks on the Captain’s door and the Captain says, ‘what can I do for you, Warrant?’ They’re not outside of the chain of command, but operate kind off to the side of it most of the time.”

He continued, “When you see a regular Officer leading an outfit, its because that outfit will be facing a normal situation, the type they all train for. When you see a unit being led by a Warrant, I can garuan-damn-tee you that you’re looking at a unit heading into shit. That’s what Warrants are trained for. They’re paid to solve problems. If they can do that by the book, fine. If not, the result is what matters. So when the Marine Corps looks for people to groom for Warrants, they look for people who thrive on the sharp end of the stick. They’re not looking for go-along-to-get-along-types.”

“So, why do you want to put all that experience to work for my benefit if you think I’m so dangerous?” I asked.

“First, its what I do. Nobody ever asked me whether or not I liked any of my superiors; they just told me to follow orders. I don’t have to like you to keep you alive and take lots of your money for doing it. Second, I don’t think you’ve got a chance in hell of getting elected, so there’s really no downside to keeping you alive.”

I laughed so hard I thought I’d choke. “Darrell, hire Warrant Shefflin and I’ll expect both of you to brief me on the arrangements once their made.” I figured Shefflin was going to do as well, if not better than anyone else could. He’d sure as hell keep me from getting too full of myself.


kimberly-ann said...

Well worth the wait...I had a visual in my head as you were describing the W.O.
Having spent a small amount of time in the military, I instantly recognized one of my own Warrants.

(although you would never see WO No-neck as we liked to call him in a suit.)

You earned the cookies....
Now...for chapter 36????

Jim Wright said...

I like this guy, I do.

kimby said...

So, once again, just checking in to see if Chapter 36 had arrived.
Sadly, it appears it has not.

Kisintin said...

Are you quoting from Jim W.?

M. J. Anderson said...

Aaargh! You haven't posted a new chapter since March 2008?
Guess I'll just have to sit back and wait like everybody else.
I get the feeling that the wait will be worth my while.

Nathan said...

Holy crap. I'm glad you enjoyed it (to this point).

I keep threatening to finish.

One of these days.

mike webber said...

NOOOOO! Back to the desk NOW!