Late on a Sunday afternoon, Brick Autry was one of a handful of NSC staffers catching up on paperwork or preparing for the tasks at hand in the upcoming workweek. The Eisenhower Office Building was quiet and nearly empty, and that allowed Autry to work from his desk while keeping one eye on a television tuned to an NFL play-off between the New York Giants and the San Francisco 49ers. Earlier in the day, Brick had attended church with Briana Little before the couple ate brunch at a favorite bistro in Georgetown. After leaving Briana, he made his way to the White House just in time to see Marine One making a landing on the south lawn, delivering the president from a Christmas holiday in California. Reagan was returning to Washington by himself; the First Lady was spending a few days with friends in Los Angeles before joining her husband for a New Year’s Eve party that would be held in the family quarters of the executive mansion.
Brick divided his attention between the classified documents he was reading and the Giant’s effort to extend their lead in the game. He heard footsteps coming down the hall and was surprised when a Secret Service agent from the president’s personal detail stuck her head into his office. “Well, I’m glad to find you here, Colonel Autry; it saves me the hassle of hunting you down somewhere in the District.”
“Hey, what’s up?” asked Brick.
“Rawhide wants to see you. Follow me.”
The agent led Brick across the parking area that separated the White House from the Eisenhower EOB, and they entered the West Wing. They walked down the colonnade into the main section of the building and then climbed three sets of stairs to the third floor where they found the president slouched down on a sofa, watching the same game Brick had been following in his office. “Brick, how’s it going? Have a seat and watch the game with me.”
Autry sat in an overstuffed chair next to the president and accepted a beer and a sandwich delivered by a butler. “Looks like the Giants have this one wrapped up, Mr. President.”
“Yeah, they’ve played well, but I still think the Redskins would have made the play-offs if Theismann hadn’t had his leg broken—boy, that was a horrible injury to see, wasn’t it?”
The two men watched the football game until it concluded with a New York Giants win. They ate sandwiches, drank beer, and enjoyed spending time together talking about things other than government business. What a solid guy the president is, thought Brick. He’s just a regular person when he isn’t doing his job.
Unfortunately, the end of the game brought the necessity to return to affairs related to the defense of the country.
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