Brownie Terwilliger looks at his opportunity to run for mayor of Philadelphia as a chance to right the wrongs of a city. He hopes to oust Milton Streezo, the incumbent, but Streezo does not take kindly to this challenge and concocts a plan to destroy Brownie, even hiring Lunky Ledbetter, famed perpetrator of dirty political tricks. Can Brownie withstand the onslaught? Will he have the opportunity to do some good in the world? Don’t bet on it.
Brownie’s heart leapt into his throat when his receptionist announced Ivan Puma. He rose from his desk and waited. When the office door opened, he walked around his desk, hand extended, to offer Ivan a hearty greeting. Ivan stopped his approach with a frigid glare.
"Sit back down," Ivan said.
Brownie had to think back to elementary school to recall being the target of such mind shattering and abrupt dismissal. He went back behind his desk and sat. Ivan moved into a chair facing Brownie.
"The first rule of politics…politics among allies…is: No Surprises. I see you have a website."
"I didn’t put it there. I don’t know who did. I saw it. It was a surprise to me."
"When did you see it?"
"What day is today?"
“Did this week have a Monday in it?"
"Why didn’t you use it to let me know what was going on?"
"Well, well. I…I didn’t know what was going on myself."
"There’s a Facebook page, too. You see that?"
Ivan spread his hands. “Same questions. The mayor knows about the sites. I just came from his office where he tore me a new one. He accused me of betrayal, disloyalty, and god knows what. You heard about Julius Caesar and Brutus in all those college degrees you got?"
"So’s the mayor. Which one of those two guys you think he called me?"
"Yeah, probably. I’ve never been talked to like that; never been accused like he accused me."
Ivan’s tirade shredded Brownie’s stomach. The pain, the discomfort, the agita, would never go away. Never. The look on Ivan’s face was like a knife going through him. Ivan got out of his chair and paced. Brownie’s eyes followed him back and forth. Ivan stopped abruptly and faced Brownie.
"You got any other surprises you might want to let me know about?"
"Uh, well…maybe one.” Brownie described his previous night’s meeting in detail. He concluded, “I think it’s worth the compromise. And they are the right people, aren’t they?"
Ivan played his part and walked the floor again. Finally, he said, “You really think you can run successfully in ’19 and knock that son-of-a-bitch off?"
Brownie sensed forgiveness. “I can if I have your help. I’ll need you every step of the way and for the eight years afterward. Right by my side. A seat at the table."
"I see." Ivan paced some more. At last, he sat back down. “You’ll have to do everything I tell you. I don’t want to get into this thing and do it half way. We’re in, we’re all the way in. You know the saying. You can’t wound the king, you gotta kill him. And no more surprises. I gotta know everything."
"Absolutely. I promise."
Ivan rose and extended his hand across the desk. Brownie jumped up and grasped it.