Tuesday, May 23, 2006

"William! William! Get your hands...

off my cash!" Tom cried.

"You'll have to pry it from my cold, dead fingers, Delay. This money's mine and I'm going to put it, uh, in my freezer," William shouted back, never once diverting his gaze from the former exterminator's black, devious eyes.

But William Jefferson felt a pang of fear run down his spine. Delay was "The Man." He ran The System. He knew how to cause pain, how to get Homeland Security on your ass, how to humiliate you, how to put you on life support and piously, mockingly pray for you on TV. Delay was a monster and a machine.

Finally, swallowing hard and hoping that Delay hadn't noticed the expression of doubt that had crept across his face, William spoke again:

"No way, man. I'm not giving you a dime. You never let me in on your game, why should I give you a cut? No. No fucking way. Look at you. Your wife, your kid--they've earned 500K just from working for your PACs. You can walk into Citronelle, smoking a Cuban, and a free table just appears. You see, I don't have friends named Bush, Cheney, Abramoff, Scanlon, Ralph Reed or Terry Schiavo--I'm just one man."

Delay looked down at the William's briefcase. His nostrils flared as the scent of money filled the room, then a look of calm came over the man from Sugarland's pock-marked countenance as he spoke:

"That's right, William. You're just one man, and that's why you'll go down in flames. That's the number one rule of America: failure, like success, is only individual. Do you think the news programs are going to take the time to explain a system? Does anybody remember the Keating Five and John McCain? How about Neil Bush and the S&L scandal? Nope. Question the individual, not the racket... "

"Sir!" an aide said, busting in, "there's a vote in five minutes."

Delay turned around and headed out the door. Pausing a moment, he turned to William and said:

"Too bad, William, you could have been a Republican."

Little did he know, but Delay was right. You never question the system and you never operate outside of it. Furthermore, you never--never--go into public life with any combination of the names "William" and "Jefferson."

Excerpts from "Conversations Overheard in a Capitol Hill Restroom."