The Victim

Chapter Four: Victory

Not provably corrupt

The myriad of faces stretch before us as we swear to uphold the constitution. A large portion of them hate us; some to death. Others are not sure whether we are criminals or victims. Then there’s the small, radical group that knows we’re their messiahs. As the president is sworn in, I think about the irony of the moment. We’re swearing to defend the constitution we intend to disfigure.

But we’ll have to walk over both conservative-infested houses of congress first. For now though, we have to focus on survival. Thanks to the investigation into the president and the discussions about impeachment, our approval ratings are extremely low. We need to rack up support fast. But first things first. We step into our new office, the highest office there is. It’s only her and me for a moment. I breathe in deeply. “Do you smell that?” I ask her. She smiles back at me. She doesn’t have to say it. It’s power.

The first thing she does in office is to sign an executive order to reduce the amount of border control officers and remove barriers for immigrants. This puts the hispanic caucus on our side and makes us look progressive. But we need more support. We order an independent investigation into the deaths of black people at the hands of policemen during the last eight years (the term the last administration lasted.) The president appears in a public conference saying that “… unlike past administrations, we know real lives matter.”

A couple of days later, during the first meeting with a foreign prime minister, the news breaks that she’s under investigation by an impeachment committee. She looks like the fool queen, backstabbed by her greedy court. We accuse the representatives and senators who accuse us of being bad losers. They take over the previous federal investigation into the president and start interviewing new witnesses. Few believe we’ll make it to even the first year. Few know us well enough to judge.

The riots in the streets get out of hand. There are violent protests demanding our resignation, even outside our presidential residence. The date for the beginning of the trial is set, and we intend to fight them. We haven’t gone this far to surrender. We will never surrender, not while we’re together. People don’t want this investigation. The last president was corrupt, we’re not. At least, we’re not provably corrupt.

Finally the day of the trial arrives. This is it. If we run through these burning coals and come out alive, we’ll be untouchable. The prosecution presents their evidence. There are documents signed by her recording large donations to tol. Then they show that the source of most of the money is from ghost companies that all owned businesses which burned down and collected the insurance money.

They also establish motive. The money wasn’t only used to fund tol. A large chunk disappeared in “diets” and “reports” from experts, all legal. But according to them, it went to the pockets of the president, who used it to launch her multi-billion dollar company. She paid several people, including the man known as “the arsonist” to do her dirty work and paid off insurance officers. Too bad none of them is still alive to testify. Most of them died of “heart attacks” and similar afflictions. The prosecution hints that she had them killed, but the defense makes the prosecution take it back.

Then the defense presents an alternative version: uncle conducted the described shady business practices and framed my friend from school for his crimes. Uncle told her the money came from organizations that supported natdec at large, and she believed him. But she never had anything to do with the insurance fraud scheme. After heated arguments and cries of “thief!” “shame!” the senators leave to deliberate.

The senators need a supermajority (more than half) to convict her. I know they don’t have the numbers because we’ve been working to get as many people on our side as possible. The latino caucus and the radical left are our strongest allies. The largest problem we face is consciousness. The conservatives can’t take us down alone, they need help from the liberals. If enough of our own senators really believe she did it, and they are willing to sacrifice control of the executive for it, then we could fall.

That’s why we need the latino caucus and the radicals to keep them in check, to whip their votes. The deliberation debate is a slow process that drags on. My rock, the president and I wait for the result in the president’s office. “This might be it,” says the president. “We may not make it.” “Don’t talk like that,” I say. “We’ve said that before, we’ve given up before. We’ve faced worse odds and still came out on the other side. So don’t despair now.” “I should prepare a concession speech,” she laments, not listening to a word I’ve said.

“Don’t you dare,” I threaten her. I come up to her and make her look at me. “Hey, no. No chance, not now. We’re not guilty, we’ll never concede, is that clear? If we’re evicted from here, we’ll raise hell. We’ll paralyze the country, turn brother against brother.” She hints a smile. “So don’t even think another word about conceding. We won’t lose this.”

She takes my hand and presses it hard. “I don’t know what I would do without you. I wouldn’t survive this place alone,” she sighs. A tear rolls down my face. I think of all I’ve sacrificed to be here, with her. This is the work of my life, it has cost me everything I had. Even my own daughter, who only appears in public with me but who has refused to talk in private. She hates me and always will.

“They have reached a verdict,” announces the president’s secretary after entering the office. It’s like everyone is there to witness the event. After the ceremonial statements, the senators announce they find the president innocent of all charges. She smiles and sighs with relief. I smile too, looking at the faces of the conservative senators who plotted this. They’re all in my list now.

The next days we feel at the top of the world. Being acquitted gives us an aura of innocence, even if only temporarily. We attend ceremonies and events, discuss legislation and receive foreign prime ministers. During the anniversary of the end of the civil war, as we’re watching the fireworks from a small stage, one of our convoy cars blows up. The crowd screams. I panic and look around. A burst of rounds take the bodyguard next to me, his blood covering my face. Another explosion and I’m knocked down.