From Robert Parker’s window on the eighteenth floor of the K Street office building, he had a clear view of the White House. Not that he was particularly interested in the White House. His interests lay with Congress, and with the clients that he represented before members of that body.
When Dara showed the young woman into his office, he was surprised to see how young she was. The people who came to see him were usually older, high-ranking executives at large corporations. They might have interns or mistresses as young as this woman, but the guests themselves would be much older.
“I apologize, Ms. Jayne, but I had completely forgotten our appointment. You’ll have to remind me who it is that you work for,” he said, as Lucy took a chair across the desk from him.
“That’s quite all right, Mr. Parker,” Lucy said. “I know you’re very busy. I don’t represent a company that you would be familiar with, Mr. Parker, but I represent a great many of the same interests that you represent.”
“I see,” Parker said, puzzled.
“You represent companies that do not want to see any climate-change legislation passed in this country,” she said. “I represent interests who are also extremely opposed to such an outcome.”
“Certainly we have clients that are opposed to such legislation,” he said, still trying to figure out where the conversation was going.
“I have some information for you that may be helpful to your clients,” she said, and she crossed her legs in such a way that she obviously intended for him to notice.
“Information is always helpful,” he said, seemingly paying no attention to the beautiful legs displayed before him. “What we do is present our client’s wishes to various members of Congress. We don’t do anything illegal or unethical.” That wasn’t completely true, but they were very careful if they deviated from the legal guidelines. He wanted to find out more about this “information” before he showed any obvious interest.
“You are aware, I'm sure, of the conference in Manaus, Brazil, next week,” she said.
“Yes,” Parker said. “We don't worry much about such events. There have been many conferences and they never amount to anything.”
“This conference may be different, Mr. Parker,” she said. “There are forces involved who may be able to exert unusual pressures on the participants. This will be the most significant attempt you have ever witnessed.” The lack of emotion in her voice and the calm look in her eyes didn’t seem to match up with the statement she had just made.
“OK,” he said. “I’m curious. Why is this meeting so different?”
“This man,” Lucy said as she took some items from the Gucci bag at her side. She handed him a photograph of Alex Clark and a one-page bio.
“Tell me about him,” Parker said. He was reading the bio as he spoke.
“He is a left-wing blogger based in Tampa, Florida,” Lucy told him. “But that’s not the important thing. The important thing is that he has connections to some very powerful forces. Those forces are very determined to see this conference succeed.”
“Curious,” Parker said. “Based on his bio, no one would expect this guy to have much influence.”
“Perhaps that is the reason he was chosen,” Lucy said.
“I wonder, Ms. Jayne, what it is that you think I should do with this information.”
“You should share it with your clients,” she said. “And any others that you think would wisely use the information.”
“That’s all?” he said.
“No,” Lucy said. “There is one other thing. I want you to raise a substantial amount of money in a 501c organization. You could call it ‘Habitat Protection for America’ or something like that. You should raise about three million dollars. The money will be used to promote our cause heavily on Marshall White's radio program.”
“I know Marshall White,” Parker said. “He’s not that expensive.”
“This is a difficult issue to keep the politicians focused on, Mr. Parker,” Lucy Jayne said. “They can’t seem to keep up their anger for very long. Mr. White will keep them stirred up.”
“I suppose you would want to control this money,” Parker said.
“Not at all,” Lucy said. “You will designate who controls the funds. However, as long as Mr. White keeps his end of the bargain, the money should continue to flow to him. Don’t give him the money all at once, of course; he would lose interest.”
“Thank you for this information, Ms. Jayne,” he said. “I’m sure it will be very helpful. As to the funds, I’ll have to think about that. I’ll contact you in a day or two.” He wasn’t at all sure that the information would be of any use to his clients.
After the young woman left, Parker sat and stared at the photograph and bio for a few seconds. This man certainly didn’t seem to be a threat to his clients, but you could never be too careful. At the very least, he knew he should have this man followed, but it wasn’t something he needed to handle through normal business channels. He picked up the telephone and punched in a number from memory.
“Edgar, I have a job for you,” Parker said when a man answered.
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