AC: Bush43 Week Five

Jason Kenney jasonkenney at
Tue Jul 4 12:23:33 PDT 2006

Artifice Comics -

Happy 4th of July!  And what better way to spend America's birthday
than enjoying a story about a guy who wears the President's face while
beating up bad guys?

This issue is also home to my favorite scene of the series.  Not sure
why, I just dig it.



BUSH43 #41
By Jason S. Kenney


They made a big show of quickly seating us, despite our not having
reservations, oh how gracious of them, but one look at the dining room
told me that getting a walk-in table was no problem at all on a Monday

I recognized a few of the diners, people I had met or seen Saturday
night, and they seemed to recognize me.  Them and many other people,
many glancing up, seeing me, looking away, a few staring, as Cassandra
and I were led to our table.

"Mister Carter!"  A man was out of his seat, as we walked by, grabbing
my hand, stopping me.  "I am so glad to see you are doing well," he
said with a huge grin.  "After that horrible incident Saturday night,
we weren't sure how you'd be."

He glanced to the lady seated with him, and her I remembered: Katherine
Longerbeam; her husband was Theodore and was on the board for First
Pacific City Bank And Trust.

"It wasn't as bad as it looked, Mister Longerbeam," I said, giving him
a smile, looking to his wife.  "Missus Longerbeam, it is good to see
you again."

"You as well, Mister Carter," she said, holding out her hand for me to
take, which I did, the back of it kissed.  God, I hated the

"Allow me to introduce a couple of gentlemen who are on the board with
me," Theodore Longerbeam said, hand on my back, turning me toward the

I glanced to Cassandra who just followed the host, shaking her head,
leaving me all alone among these people.


"This is Clyde Roberts," he said, gesturing to a man with a really bad
hair piece who rose and shook my hand. "And Robert Saunders," gesturing
to the other gentleman who stood and shook my hand as well.

"A pleasure to meet you, Mister Carter," he said, his voice almost as
strong as his grip.

"How opportune for you to be here," said Theodore.  "We were just
discussing the aspects of doing business here in Pacific City."

I tried to say something, tried to break off, but Clyde Roberts was
quick to speak.

"Ever since Saturday night's event, well, there's been a lot of
discussion about doing business here," he said.  "Many people are
afraid of what these people could do to business."

"Understandably," I said.

"So, we were just discussing what could be done to help promote people
staying," said Theodore. "And what City Hall was looking at doing.
Clyde was mentioning that he had heard talk of tax incentives."

"Which would be very smart," said Clyde.  "If the cost of doing
business here was low enough..."

"I'm afraid I'm not in the loop on such talk, gentlemen," I said.
"And, to be quite honest, I don't know if there is a loop."

"It's certainly something that could be considered, though," said
Theodore. "Were the administration truly concerned about what the
businesses are doing."

"The Mayor is concerned," I said. "But, at the moment, his number one
priority is reacting to the Ferguson tragedy first."

"You can't afford to ignore the business problem," said Clyde.

"We also can not afford to cut city revenues on the concern that
businesses might leave the city," I said. "A move that would certainly
cost them more than it is worth, if you ask me."

"Mister Carter," said Clyde. "We understand that this is not your area
of expertise, so..."

"You're right, Mister Roberts," I said. "So, certainly anything I say
should be taken with a grain of salt, but, with the Australian
government failing to step up and assist us in taking care of those
effected by this weekend's tragedy, it is becoming quite apparent that
this city may have to be financially self sufficient.  To voluntarily
cut into our budget because businesses want to blackmail the city into
keeping them here--" Clyde balked, but I continued. "--would hurt our
ability to help the people.  Especially if, in order to make up that
loss of funds, the responsibility was put onto their backs.

"But, like you said, economics is not my area of expertise.  My job,
and the job of the Mayor and all of City Hall, is to meet the needs of
the people first and the businesses second.  We will deal with the
problems businesses have in due time, but, please, allow some time for
the people harmed by the Ferguson attack to get the attention they

"Of course, Mister Carter," said Robert Saunders with a grin.  "But, we
would appreciate it if the Mayor would take some time to address the
needs of the business community, so we can also help the people."

"I'm sure the Mayor would be more than happy to do what he can to help
make doing business here in Pacific City worthwhile.  How he would do
that is in his hands, though."

"Perhaps if we could meet with the Mayor to discuss what options are
available to him..."

"That is probably a good idea, Mister Saunders.  Unfortunately, I do
not handle the Mayor's appointments, but, if you called his office, I'm
sure one could be set up.  And, if you have any problems there," I
said, reaching into my inside coat pocket and pulling out a business
card, handing it to him. "Speak with my secretary, Miss Meyers, and she
will do what she can to help you.

"Well, I'll let you gentlemen and lady get back to your meals," I said,
patting Theodore on the shoulder, giving them all a big grin.
"Gentlemen, it was a pleasure meeting you," I nodded towards Clyde and
Robert.  "Missus Longerbeam, always a pleasure." She smiled and
returned my nod, seeming almost oblivious to the whole conversation
that just happened.  "Good to see you again, Mister Longerbeam."

None of them said anything to me, as I walked away and left them to
sulk or whatever they chose to do once I was gone.

The host or maitre'd or whatever fancy name you want to give him was
waiting by the table when I arrived, gesturing to my seat and handing
me a menu as I sat.  He spouted off something about a special, a soup
of the day, said our waitress would be with us shortly, and then he
took off.

"So, are you regretting coming here?" Cassandra asked, as she looked at
the menu, a smirk on her face.

"I'm working on it," I said with a smirk of my own.  "What the hell is
a bank board doing trying to dictate how City Hall deals with

"A few members of that bank board are current or former board members
of some of the largest businesses in Pacific City," said Cassandra,
still looking at her menu, still smirking.

"So, they end up giving themselves loans and breaks and the like?"
Cassandra nodded.  "Huh.  I need to pay a bit more attention to these

"You do," she said, closing her menu and setting it down.  "You also
have to understand that, under Cliff Jerrod's administration, there was
a business advisory council that he created to more or less dictate how
Pacific City treated businesses.  Something Mayor Romanov decided not
to deal with when he came in."

"Ignored it out of existence, probably," I said, looking at my menu.
"So, if Romanov's been ignoring the businesses' needs for the last four
months, how bad has the Pacific City economy been hurt?"

"That'd be good to know, wouldn't it?"

I looked up to her, her smirking, and waiting for her to tell me.

"I don't know the answer to that, Jeffery," she said, as someone
stopped by our table and filled our water glasses.  I thanked him, and
he nodded and left.

"Why this city is still able to function is beyond me," I said,
grabbing my water and taking a sip.

"And, you're not going to be able to fix everything on your own,
Jeffery," said Cassandra, her fingers dancing on the rim of her water
glass.  "A city council or advisors, something to help fill the void
with people who know what they're doing."

"Right," I said, nodding.  "You're right.  Now, how to convince Erlend
of that..."

The waitress stopped at our table and smiled, bottle of wine in hand,
starting to fill our glasses without asking.

"Compliments of Mister Vance," she said, looking in the direction of a
table near one of the far walls.

Another person I'd met Saturday night, another rich and powerful man
with a vested interest in buttering up City Hall, raising his glass a
bit in a toast or salute, as I looked over.  I returned the gesture,
forced a smile.

"Are you all ready to order, or would you like a few more minutes?" she

"Just a few more minutes, please," I said, grabbing my menu again,
looking to Cassandra, as the waitress left.  "Is it proper etiquette to
just sit here, or should I go and thank him personally?"

"He probably wants you to go say hello," Cassandra said.

"We're not going to get to eat tonight, are we?"

"Are you regretting this yet?" she asked, leaning forward, elbows on
the table, resting her chin on the back of her intertwined fingers.

"You're getting a kick out of this, aren't you?"  She smiled, picked up
her wine, and took a sip.  "Next time I mention romantic dinner," I
said, picking up my wine as well, holding it up for a toast, "remind me
to eat in."

We clinked glasses, gave each other smiles, and drank.


"So, what is it that you have to do tonight?" asked Cassandra, as she
looked at herself in her full length mirror, trying to tie my tie onto
herself while wearing only the dress shirt she had taken off of me an
hour before.

"I can't really say," I told her, as I pulled my pants on and started
buckling my belt.

"Oh?"  She looked at me in the mirror, one eyebrow raised.  "Top

"Something like that," I said, as I bent over to pick my undershirt up
off the floor of her bedroom.

"Are you seeing another villainess behind my back, Jeffery Carter?"

I paused for a brief moment, bent over, shirt in hand, and felt my
stomach lurch.  Then, I moved, stood upright with a deep breath, and

"You're the only bad girl in my life."

"Right," she said in a tone that told me she playfully didn't believe
it one bit.  She turned and walked to me, pulled the still undone tie
from around her neck, and brought it around mine.  "I've heard stories
of how smooth this Bush43 can be with the ladies."

"I've heard stories too," I said.  "And, if they were half true, I'd be
a hell of a lot more relaxed."

"James Bond had his Bond Girls; you have your Bush Girls."

"Bond was a lucky bastard."

"Are you saying you're unlucky, Mister Carter?" Cass asked, as she
tugged on the sides of the tie, pulling my face closer to hers, giving
me that mischievous grin.

"I'm just saying I'm no James Bond."

"Yet, you have secret, late-night, clandestine meetings."

"It's not that late," I said.  "And, I don't think clandestine meetings
happen at the Pacific Diner over coffee."

"Is that what you're doing?"


"Are you being purposefully obtuse?"

"I'm being naturally obtuse."

"Well, don't," Cass said, brining her face closer to mine, almost
touching, her lips hovering just off of mine.  "It's not very
becoming," she whispered, her breath cutting across my lips.

I tried to kiss her, but she pulled away.

She smiled at the shocked look I gave her and stepped away from me,
unbuttoning the shirt she wore.

"You'll get that next time I see you," she said, as she took my shirt
off and held it to the side.

"Tease," I said, and she threw my shirt at me.

I laughed, as I let my dress shirt fall to the floor and pulled my
undershirt on, Cass walking past me and toward the bathroom.

"If everything works out like it should," I said, as I grabbed my dress
shirt and started putting it on. "I'll explain everything."

"And, if it doesn't work out like it should?"

I turned to see her standing in the doorway to the bathroom, still
naked, but the look on her face a mix of concern and curiosity.

"You'll probably hear about it then, too," I said.  "Just not from me."

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