Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Overton Window: Chapter Sixteen

Part Two, here we are. Wasn't Part One thrilling? Not so sure? Let me recap:

There was lots of walking. In the rain. Down hallways. We were treated to no less than four speeches. There was a cab ride. Someone was murdered. (And never mentioned again.) There was a Powerpoint. There was a Toby Keith reference. Blackwater thugs walked the streets of New York City. Cops raid the Stars 'n Stripes pub. There's a lawyer, then a limo ride. And chicken and waffles. And "total horndog" Elliot Spitzer. Noah warns Molly "don't tease the panther."

If anything could be described as thrilling, maybe it's Noah's run-in with Blackwater. Or maybe the raid on the bar. And quite possibly, in the hands of a competent author, these events would have been. Unfortunately, our ghostwriter is not a very good one.

In no one's hands would Darthur's speech be compelling reading. Nor Beverly's. Nor Danny's. Nor Noah's. There is nothing inherently thrilling about the Federal Reserve. Or Social Security. Or Carrol Quigley. Or home schooling.

The story thus far is this: PR whiz Darthur Gardner is about to implement his plan to replace the U.S. government with a "new structure". His son, Noah, also a PR whiz, has fallen for a teabagger named Molly. That's it, more or less.

Molly, Molly's mother, Noah, and about 300 teabaggers are arrested on trumped up charges then released. Überteabagger Danny goes missing. Molly and Noah go home together, but not in that way.

That's Part One.

In Part Two, chapter sixteen, Beck and company get back to basics: Nothing much happens. We do get a new character. Yay for new characters!

Federal agent Stuart Kearns shows up at The Tombs to interrogate Danny Bailey. Yes, I know I said he was dead. Turns out he's not. He was just whisked away (is that an expression? whisked away?) to a "a cage full of the worst serial offenders this venue had to offer" instead of the holding tank with all the other teabaggers.

Kearns arrives at the jail and sits around waiting for Bailey to be brought in. This gives the author an opportunity to share Kearns' backstory and describe the furniture and lament bureaucracy for several pages.

While waiting, Kearns pulls out Bailey's rap sheet (do they still call them rap sheets?) and we get Danny's backstory as well. Good times.

This was an abridged version of the FBI file for the young man he was about to see. The guy was a marshmallow, he'd been assured, and by a covert order he'd just spent a long hard night in a cage full of the worst serial offenders this venue had to offer, so he would certainly be softened up even more by this morning. With luck, once a deal was on the table there wouldn't be too much time wasted in negotiation.

At this point, we're not supposed to know who Kearns is waiting to see. It's clearly meant to be a surprise when it's finally revealed. Danny's name isn't mentioned for quite some time, but, jebus, on the page prior Molly was saying Danny had gone missing. So who in the hell else would this be? Or were we to have forgotten all about him like Molly thought Noah might have?

Here's the big reveal:

Three corrections officers approached the open door with a heavily shackled prisoner in their charge. He could barely walk on his own, either from the effects of heavy fatigue, the abuse he'd obviously taken from his cellmates overnight, or both.

They brought him in, sat him down across the desk, cuffed him to the chair. The guy's head was hanging, chin to his chest. Without the arms of the chair holding him upright he'd probably have slumped right to the floor.

"Daniel Carroll Bailey?"

Insert music sting here. Bum-bah!

Oh, yes, gentle reader, look on, with shock and horror, how cocky young Mr. Bailey has been brought low by his night in The Tombs.

Okay, back to Bailey's rap sheet. Some coke busts. Tax problems. Caught with "a modest grow operation and a trash bag full of premium bud." (Premium bud! HA!) He rolled over on someone in that one, and Kearns hope to use Bailey's snitchy tendencies against him.

The latest entries concerned evidence gathered through recent home and business surveillance warrants, highlighted transcripts of a monitored ham-radio show, and a list of some videos he'd produced that were now circulating through the Patriot culture on the Internet. Hate speech/counterterrorism was the box that was checked on his first wiretap request, but the latest such authorization had been requisitioned by three cooperating divisions, as abbreviated in the margin: DC-JTTF, NM-DTWG, NM-WMDWG.

The Joint Terrorism Task Force, the Domestic Terrorism Working Group, and the Weapons of Mass Destruction Working Group. The last two offices were based in New Mexico.

Uh oh. Remember those missing nukes from the prologue? This thing is finally starting to tie all the pieces together. It looks like Danny's involved in that missing bomb business.

Or... maybe not!:

Based on this file and, more important, based on Stuart Kearns's own long experience in the field, this little guy didn't seem like he'd ever been much for the government to worry about. It was almost as though they decided years ago that they were going to get him, but they hadn't yet known exactly how. He didn't seem dangerous, only outspoken and troublesome.

Damn! I knew it! Danny's a troublemaker and a patriot! The government is out to get him! Like all patriots! The government hates patriots! Or something.

Okay, I need to tell you something. I have a headache. And I think this chapter is making it worse. So I am just going to wrap this thing up post-haste.

Danny has been roughed up in jail. He wants his lawyer. Kearns says that's cool. You can have your lawyer but...

If you decide to go that route I want to warn you. This is from a high authority, the highest; in fact with your past record, your charges from last night, and especially"—he patted the folder in front of him—"the evidence from an ongoing federal investigation, the best any lawyer's going to get you is fifteen to twenty years in a place much worse than this. That's a fact.

Kearns assures Danny that he is the only one that can help him.

Oy. So, what do you think? Will Danny squeal on his teabagger friends? Or will Danny fake squeal and pull a total double-cross on the Feds? I'm voting the latter.

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