Claire was received by the men in a stately manner, she was only a few minutes late. “Well, Claire. You’re looking fresh, how do you do it?” Clancy stood, and gestured for her to sit in one of his living-room style chairs.
She sat and looked at the four scoundrels, “Gentlemen? Good to see you made it back in one piece.”
Clancy didn’t waste time getting to the point with her, “Claire, I was disappointed to hear that your mind is not yet decided for the bill. Very disappointed indeed. I thought we had an understanding.”
“Well, Senator. I didn’t realize my interviews warranted your scrutiny, but I guess I have become somewhat of a valuable asset to you, now haven’t I?” She smiled at the men.
“Claire, you mock me.” Clancy looked at the others and snorted, prompting them to laugh in return. “What are your intentions? I need to know now, and before you say anything,” he held up a file folder, “I’m ready to release the news of your sexual activities.”
“Senator, I’m leaning toward the vote you want from me, but I need a little more time to think it through. Say, until tomorrow?”
Clancy smiled, took a deep sigh, and nodded in approval. “I thought we could come to an arrangement. Tomorrow works just fine.” Then to the men, “Do we have the other votes wrapped up?”
Dirk spoke up, “Yes, Sir. Claire is the only stray cat amongst us.” He smiled at her, taking a peek at her chest at every opportunity.
“Well good. Let’s have a drink. It is after noon, isn’t it? I want you all to handle this with strict, but gentle scrutiny. Keep an ear open just in case anyone has a change of heart. And send me a list of the line-up for those being interviewed.” He winked at Claire. “As you know, Dear. We have a document full of the catchy phrases the news media will enjoy. We all need to stick together and keep on track with our message.” He poured liquid into five tumblers. “Now come and let’s toast to our new constitutional rights.”
Claire took a taste of his whiskey, and put her glass down. The four men were on to the topic of sports with their conversation, she was ready to leave.
Then Bill did something that got her attention.
“Speaking of baseball, you have got to see what I found at an old pawn shop.” He removed from his pocket a crumpled up wad of newspaper. Carefully he unwrapped it, letting the paper fall to the floor, exposing the prize baseball he had acquired. “Just look at this beauty. The old man didn’t have a clue what he was sitting on, I got it for almost nothing.” He turned the ball over in his hand, excited to hear the delighted sounds coming from his colleagues.
Claire picked up the wrinkled paper from the floor, her head aching from stabbing rushes. Tony, what the hell has he done to Tony? God, you didn’t show last night! Why didn’t I check in on you before this?
She picked up her purse, and without saying a word, hastened out of the office. She had to get to Tony, find out why Bill had Eve’s newspaper. She ran down the hall to get her coat. She put on some flats, she needed to be better prepared for the hordes in the streets this time. She called Tony, no answer. It didn’t matter, she needed to get there, find out what had happened.
In Clancy’s office, the Franchise Four stared at each other, “What the hell was that? I tell ya, that woman is weird.” Bill laughed, then noticed the newspaper missing from where he’d let it fall. “Hey, what the hell? She took my wrapping.” The others laughed in agreement about the evaluation of the Senator, but also admitted that she was a looker.
Bill snickered too, but something bothered him. And he was figuring it out. She knew. That had to be it. They say a killer often returns to the scene of the crime. I guess that’s true, who knew? The idea of returning to that man’s flat didn’t sound good to him, but of course, if she was there as he anticipated, it might be fun.
Bill slipped the baseball into his pocket and said, “I think things are progressing fine now. So if you gentlemen will excuse me, I have work to do.” He left them, with a sickening storm developing inside his stomach.
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