ONLY REDD FENSTINYARD WOULD have the audacity to barge in on the President of the United States five minutes before delivering his first inaugural address – but then, you don’t become the owner of the Atlantic Ocean by being shy. Redd had bankrolled most of Boyd Lamm’s campaign. In fact, he wrote the first check Boyd pocketed. Generous soul that he was, he only signed his name and date, leaving the amount up to Boyd, who unabashedly made the most of the opportunity.
“You gonna give it to ‘em straight, Boyd?” shouted Redd, his ruddy complexion resembling five pounds of ground chuck. At six-foot-six and three hundred pounds, Fenstinyard was incapable of acting like anything other than a charging buffalo. Wearing his trademark plaid suit and Conus Granulatus cufflinks (one of the Atlantic’s rarest seashells), Redd lumbered up to Lamm’s desk, leaned over, outstretched his blubbery arms, grabbed the corners and gave the thing a good thump. The aroma of twenty five-year-old scotch mixed with ocean water was unmistakable to the president.
President Lamm barely glanced up from his tablet. He had just returned from taking the oath of office in the fallout shelter beneath the Capitol Building, and was now reading the final version of his inaugural address, sent to him by his head speech writer.
A lanky man of medium height with receding, sandy hair and a wispy goatee, last-second cramming was one of Lamm’s more modest personality flaws, on a long list of shortcomings. Even that one had been successfully concealed from the public during the entire campaign, by the compulsive efforts of his fanatically dedicated staff.
Disgusted, Lamm puffed and returned his attention to the tablet’s screen. “You have any idea what the word sanguine means, Redd?”
Ain’t that some kind of I-talian spaghetti?” Redd loosened his grip on the furniture, looked up at the coffered ceiling and scratched his scalp as best he could, through a mane of slicked-back white hair. “I’ve always been a man of few and simple words, so askin’ me—”
“Typically one syllable and starting with an f,” interjected Lamm, quietly, his weary, narrow eyes rapidly scanned the remainder of the speech. “I sincerely doubt a two hundred thousand dollar per year, Yale-educated speech writer would deem my inaugural address the appropriate occasion to mention ‘some kind of I-talian spaghetti,’ Redd.” Lamm slammed down the tablet, sending parts flying, while the screen cracked and shot to black. A faint hum was momentarily heard by both men, followed by silence and a puff of grey-green smoke.
The twelve foot high, polished mahogany door to this small, ornate Capitol Building office opened silently and the chubby, prematurely balding head of Chris Lamm, the president’s twenty seven year-old son, cautiously peered in. Ordinarily the rest of his corpulent self would have followed suit, but to open the door fully would have allowed in the flood of additional agitated bodies that Chris was barely blocking.
Chris straightened his wire rim glasses and gulped down the last bite of a salami sandwich. “Hello? Dad? Mr. Fenstinyard, nice to see you. Uh, you’re already five minutes late and it’s starting to get ugly out there, and I don’t just mean weather-wise. Mom’s fuming.”
“She’s always fuming. Shit, I’m just going to have to wing it!” shouted Lamm as he rose to his feet and stormed towards the door.
“Atta boy!” shouted Fenstinyard, pumping his fist in the air. “Give it to ‘em straight!”