literature

Vignette: Nat'l Governors Association Smackdown!

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As Carrie left the meeting, she broke into a brisk jog. Two men were having a screaming argument in the middle of the hotel lobby. It sounded bad enough that somebody was going to have to step in and referee it. In this case, “somebody” meant her.

She stepped into the lobby and got a look at the arguers. One of them was Governor Gilbert Swank of Arizona — Carrie recognized him because he looked a lot like her father, huge, fat and red-faced. But her father had mostly been the jolly kind of fat man, and Swank looked the opposite of jolly right now.

The other was the governor of Colorado, a skinny guy who was bald right on top of his head. His name was either LaTour or LaCour. Both of them were screaming over each other to the point where Carrie had a hard time telling what they were arguing about, except that water was involved. A much smaller man was holding Swank’s right arm and trying to talk him down.

As Carrie approached the scene of the kerfuffle, she caught references to some sort of compact, dying golf courses and failing businesses. Then the Colorado governor raised his voice a little higher: “If they need water so bad, why don’t you just tell them to come to Grand Junction?”

That, apparently, was going too far. Swank shoved the third man aside, stepped forward and took a swing. The bald man stepped back to avoid it, tripped over a phone-charging station and landed on his back. Carried got between them, planted the heel of her foot against the station, grabbed Swank by his wrists and pushed against him.

“What — the hell — is wrong — with you?” she shouted. This was the part where Swank was supposed to realize he was acting like a lunatic and get a hold of himself. She hadn’t been planning on getting into a wrestling match with him. Unfortunately, Swank started trying to force her aside at this point.

“Stay out of this, lady!” he shouted. “This doesn’t concern you!” Carrie opened her mouth to respond that it did, actually, but suddenly “vice-chair of the National Governors Association” didn’t seem like the right kind of authority for a job like this. “Bouncer” would have been more appropriate. She could smell his breath. There was a little bit of booze on it, but not enough to account for this.

Carrie weighed two hundred and none of your business pounds, which was a lot more than necessary for most purposes but right now was just slightly less than enough. Despite her best efforts, Swank was shoving her out of the way. Then there was a thump and he let go of her and collapsed on the floor, revealing a slender blond woman in a crisp black suit standing behind him holding a heavy glass ashtray.

Swank rubbed the back of his head, pushed himself up into a sitting position and turned around, just in time for the blonde to kick one of his knees aside and stand between his sprawled legs. The shoe she was aiming at his crotch must have cost as much as Carrie’s whole outfit.

“Stay. Down.” Her voice was clear and firm. There was no anger in it, only command.

There was a long moment when he just sat there, weighing the odds. Then the blonde stepped back, just in time for hotel security to emerge from the crowd.

Carrie turned to the security guards. “He needs somebody to look at him and make sure he’s not hurt,” she said, pointing to the bald man. Then she pointed at Swank and said “And he needs to be turned over to the local police.” It felt wrong to involve the police instead of sorting out the disagreement herself, but she was on camera. (She couldn’t see it, but she knew somebody here had a camera pointed at her.) She couldn’t be seen downplaying an assault just because the perp was a politician.

As the guards were leading the two men away, Carrie turned to the blonde, who she now recognized.

“Thank you, Governor,” she said.

“You’re welcome,” said New York Governor Morgan.
Introducing Holbrooke Morgan. That is all.
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