The suits were expensive; the food and wine equally so. The hotel room was expensive, and the three men were used to the trappings of wealth. Ted Jefferson was a successful, long-term politician, and was a Senator of fourteen years. He was very familiar with the benefits of money. Money had gotten him where he was, and he figured money would keep him there for many more years. He didn’t want to move further upward in political circles. Upward just meant more politics. Where he was now meant power, and lots of it. He was content, but only with his position, not with what he could do with it. His activities on behalf of The Plan afforded him almost unlimited outside funds to make things happen and he knew the money and power would only increase as The Plan moved forward.
Tom Anderson was the behind-the-scenes leader of the most powerful union locals around the East Coast, and he also knew what power was. He had thousands of working people who would drop their tools and pick up signs when he gave the word, and who were able to be educated into contributing to the vaults which kept him on top year after year. He had been picked from a powerful family to move into this job, and hadn’t had to fight particularly hard to get here. He had lots of people fighting hard to keep him here, though. He, too, thoroughly enjoyed his wealth, and the power that came with it.
Mark France, however, was a different kind of person. He had grown up on the proverbial wrong side of the tracks, and had to fight hard to even stay alive. He was from a tough family and a tough neighborhood and he was no stranger to the violent side of life. People had died because of him. People had lost jobs and money because of him, and other people had gained jobs and money through his efforts. He was the up and coming head of one of the mobs that had grown more powerful over the years and he had grown up learning how to control people and get what he needed from them. He had learned to figure out what it was people wanted and needed and how to get it for them—and then how to capitalize on those favors for his own gain. And gain he did. He was rich and powerful. He was also greedy and ruthless. Enough was simply not enough. More was always better, and there were always ways to get more.
Dinner had been excellent and was now cleared away. The three men had been discussing the overall plans for several hours and were down to the last few items.
“So, what’s the status on the vote now? The guys are starting to get a little restless with all the waiting. Any time frame yet, Ted?”
“I know they’re restless, Tom, but you’ve got to hold them in check some more. These votes simply take time. You can’t rush them. There’s some opposition to this one that we haven’t been able to get around yet. We’re still trying to find out why the president has come out against it, but so far, no luck. He’s not talking, just saying it isn’t a good bill.”
“Ted, you know I’ve got people on the waterfront and in cabs and trucks all over this coast who will tie his highness up with twist ties if I say the word. Do we need some of that to get him off the stick? I thought when he went in there that he was supposed to be on our side, anyway. What’s changed his mind?”
“I don’t know that he’s changed, Tom. There were some things about him we just couldn’t get a handle on when we helped him get up there. You know that. And we still don’t have a handle on them. He’s a different kind of person. Keeps to himself, runs his own show, you know. And he can’t be pushed. He…”
“I can get him pushed, if that’s what’s needed,” said Mark. “Is that what’s needed?”
“No, I don’t think so. He hasn’t been here that long yet, and he still doesn’t know his way around. I’ve been having fun in this city for a lot of years now, and I know sometimes it takes time to get someone adjusted to his position and what he’s supposed to be doing. We’ve managed with most of the rest. Reagan was about the only recent one we couldn’t crack, and Bush, to a degree. Had to go around them on some things. But the others have all come around, for the most part. I think if we just keep patient, give him and some others a little time, they’ll come around.”
“Ted, you need to keep in mind that the people this is important to, the workers, and the guys like us who are riding on this, don’t want to wait much longer. This law will make it possible for the regular guy to not have to worry about his future anymore. He’ll know they can’t do away with his job without paying him off and setting his family up for life. He’s going to have an equal chance at the profits that fly all over the place into the rich pockets now. The tax on the businesses will allow the little guys and small developers to borrow to keep themselves going. They won’t have to fail for lack of funding.”
“Tom, I know…”
“No, just hear me out. We’ve been working for this law for years, and the regular guys know that. The word keeps coming up the line that they want this to happen—now! They’ve waited long enough, and they want what’s owed to them. Most of these guys have worked hard all their lives to get what they have, and a lot of them still don’t have much. They feel the country owes them for their efforts, and they want some payoff. Now! So what do I go back and tell them? Wait a couple more lifetimes, guys. Maybe some year you’ll get what’s coming to you. Maybe?”
“Tom, believe me I know what you’re saying. And I know what the guys want. And I know what we want. We’ll have the funding in our control, and the government training programs, and all of it. It’s going to bring us things that we’ve dreamed about for years. I’ve been working for this for years, also, don’t forget. But, still, you have to be patient. If…”
“Patient?” shouted Mark. “You want patience?” France had real anger in his voice, and someone talking about being patient was one of the things that set him off quick. “If this guy doesn’t want to work with us and pay out what we want, there are ways…”
“Hold it,” Jefferson jumped in. “I don’t want any talk like where this is heading. We agreed to stay away from that. There’re better ways to make this happen than violence. You’ve got to back off on this. Tom, you know. Tell him.”
“Mark, you know he’s right. We don’t want to upset this after all this time.”
“But, that’s just the point. After all this time. So we wait, and wait, and wait. In the meantime, the little guys have to keep working and worrying about their jobs; the fat cats are still living in luxury and driving the little guys to their graves by not giving them what they deserve. And the politicians,” with a glance at Jefferson, “still keep saying for them to wait. Be patient! It isn’t right. The little guys still have to work to get anything, and the fat cats still control it all. Waiting is just about over.”
“Okay, guys. I think we’ve about beaten this to death again. Mark, I’ve got to get back over to the Senate now and talk to some of the powers about moving this. Are you going to be able to spread some cheer around to your people and keep them pushing on this, but carefully and quietly?”
“Yeah, my people will do what I say. But, we’re not going to wait forever. You better remember that, or there’s going to be some big time trouble.
“And what about you?” he asked back. “Are you still able to get a certain judge to rule on that case so it hurts? We’ve got to have that ruling, remember?”
“Don’t worry. Switser’s still in our pocket. We bailed him out of that deal a couple of years ago, and he’s ours. He’ll rule—probably next week. What about the unions, Tom? Are you going to be able to hold them for some more time?”
Tom Anderson knew what he could do and replied, “The slush fund is starting to run a little low, so you need to see about filling it again. But, yeah, the guys will hold still for a while more as long as the cheer keeps flowing. But, keep in mind what Mark said. Waiting is just about over, and there better not be any screw-ups.”
“I know. And we’ll be there soon.” Ted put his jacket on to leave. “You leave the man in the big house to me. He’ll come around soon, and then we’ll be where we’ve been heading for all these years. We’re almost there, fellows. Don’t rush it now and screw things up, okay?”