The Victim

Chapter Three: Ascent

Weathervanes

I set up a war room next to my office. There’s a huge board there with all the state senators and their attitude toward the bill. They can be “for,” “against,” or “weathervane.” The distribution is interesting: 8 confirmed against, 8 confirmed for and 16 weathervanes. I have to make wind blow in my direction. Except there’s a front of backwardness trying to block me, led by a conservative senator.

“Mimimi, this is not a totalitarian regime that regulates free-speech, mimimi…” he complained during a televised debate (though I may be paraphrasing.) “What about child pornography?” I replied. “It’s not protected by free speech. Do you think that’s a totalitarian measure? Or calling on lunatics to bomb schools, yeah, to you that’s probably free speech.”

I can’t help going back over my debates. Maybe it’s because I’m nervous about the vote. I look at the board again, as if expecting the numbers to change. I have to convince more than eight weathervanes and I only have two weeks. The board in my war room also has the committee each of them is on. Economy, transportation, health, education… The four weathervane senators in appropriations see me as a “dangerous squanderer of state budget.” They can’t see past my looks and righteous attitude to realize I only spent so much on social programs because I needed a bargaining chip that I’m now cashing in. After all, what is a governor’s whim compared to the economy?

My agenda for those two weeks is as tight as the vote. Every day I have breakfast, lunch and dinner with some state senator, committee representative or lobbyist. It all boils down to compromise and favours. Promote this, implement this measure, agree to reduce spending by this much. After much effort, I manage to secure the support needed for the vote two days before the actual vote. There will be four abstentions, eight against and the rest all fors. It’s closer than I’d like, though.

The day of the vote, nobody outside our state government gives a damn about it. Social media networks are two orders of magnitude more concerned about a football star leaving his team. I scour the faces of the senators as the votes are cast. When the final tally is announced, I smile and celebrate. There’s only a one-vote difference. You know what this means, right? They broke their promises to me. They tried to undermine my authority and they almost succeeded. But the road to hell is paved with “almosts.”

I look again at the faces of those who have changed their votes. This time I’m not smiling. I will remember this. The conservative senator who almost succeeded in his coup shakes my hand. “Well played,” he says smiling. I leave the senate floor after being congratulated by my staff, party members and senators. Once in my car, I drive back to my office, where I take down the war room’s board. I sit on my chair and write in a piece of paper who are the senators that changed their votes. This will make up my first list, a tradition I don’t intend on losing anytime soon.

I drive to tol’s headquarters. My friend from school basically lives there now. She greets me and congratulates me on my victory. Then I say “Burn that conservative motherf-worder,” referring to the conservative leader that rallied opposition against me. She smiles, surprised. “Already? Isn’t it a little soon?” I shake my head. “I want to show those backstabbing s-words what happens when you f-word with me.” She takes my hand. “Let’s sit down, ok.” I open my mouth to say something, but I sigh and obey.

“Why are you so upset?” she asks me. “The vote,” I say. “I had a wider margin, but a few of them changed their votes. I sat with them to eat, listened to their crap and agreed to help them. Then they stabbed my back. They don’t respect me, they think I’ll disappear election come.” She laughs. “Oh come on, don’t worry about them, they—” “They almost killed me out there,” I interrupt her, showing her how scared I was.

Now she’s more serious. “Ok, here’s what we can do. We have some stuff on him.” I smile. Now we’re talking. “What exactly?” I ask eagerly. “How does having sex with an underaged girl sound?” My eyes are open wide. I did not expect this pleasant surprise. “Is it true?” I ask, excited. “Kind of. He was underaged at the time as well, but still older than she was.” “I can already see it,” I say. “The news will read ‘Senator abused minor.’ Will she come forward?” She nods. “Good, good. You’re right, let’s not rush things. His time will come.”