Authors: D.W. Ulsterman
By: D.W. Ulsterman
IN THE FRANK BENNINGTON P.I. SERIES:
THE SECOND OLDEST PROFESSION
LUST. POWER. POLITICS.
Colin O'Shea is a young, talented newcomer to the Washington D.C. corridors of power. Soon after his arrival in the nation's capital, he finds himself desperate to protect a young woman endangered by the jealous rage of an emotionally corrupt congressman intent on becoming President of the United States. It is a fast paced, tense and taught romantic thriller crafted by bestselling author, D.W. Ulsterman.
I’m old, tired, and way too damn stubborn to just lie down and die. I like a stiff drink, a warm woman, and a good song, usually in that order. My name’s Frank Bennington.
Washington D.C. is my town.
It’s a dirty, filthy, backstabbing, and utterly corrupt place. Some people call that a problem.
I call it job security.
Seven months ago, I worked inside of a place folks around here simply call “The Hill.” As in Capitol Hill, Washington D.C. Yeah, that place. The one with all the bug eyed politicians with the too big for their mouth, shiny white teeth, always smiling and making promises they never intend to keep. It’s just a big game to them up there - lie just enough to get re-elected, but not so much that you fuck it all up.
I know that game well because I played it for a lot of years. Most my life in fact. Ever hear that song that says something along the lines of wishing you knew then what you know now? Well, I guess I’d put myself in that category. Yeah, that pretty much sums me up pretty good. A lot of years wasted inside that big building with the big white dome, all those corridors, the shitty parking, the hallways, the stairs, the rodent problem in the basement, and the ever-present wheeler dealers. Most call them lobbyists. I just called them land sharks. Always swimming, always hungry, all teeth, and no brains. They’d push their own mother down a flight of stairs to make a buck.
That was my life, but it ain’t no more.
The guy I used to work for was a longtime congressman from Ohio. He’s dead now. Not sure if he was the one who pulled the trigger, or the Russians. Who cares, right? Dead is dead. Once you’re gone, well…you know.
But I’m still here. Frank fuckin’ Bennington, former politico extraordinaire.
Around the time the congressman died, I had what my mother would have called an “episode”. With her, didn’t matter if it was a splinter, or cancer, it was all just another “episode”. That must have been her more polite, Midwestern upbringing, not wanting to call attention to one self for your own misfortunes. So growing up, when a family member died, Mom would just say something along the lines of “Well, your Aunt May had an episode. Funeral is next week.”
Now Mom meant well, but I do recall a very acute sense of impending doom when she brought me into the doctor after I fell out of a tree and broke my arm and she told him I’d had an “episode” and hurt myself.
Christ, I thought I was a goner for sure.
Congressman Latner, the former boss I was just telling you about, well, like I said, he didn’t have no episode. His brains were blown out of his head. Left a nice little note, making it all real tidy for the rest of us who were around at the time, which kept the cops off our ass and life just kept on rolling.
Except that I just about up and died - again.
Now before I get too far ahead of myself, I have to let you know right now that I’m what some folks might point out as being “no good.” I don’t live right, at least not by the more conventional terms of right. Then again, if you’re anything like me, aren’t you just sick and tired of people telling you what’s right, and not right when it comes to your own damn body?
You know what I’m talking about - those do-gooders. They’re everywhere man. Sure as hell are crawling all over Washington D.C., that pus filled boil on the ass of the world, always pushing laws to protect us from ourselves, convince us it’s all for the “greater good”, whatever the hell that means. How about you just give me greater freedom, and we all call that good?
Which brings me to something else I need to explain to you. That congressman I worked for all those years, well, he was a Democrat, so most folks around here assumed I was too. Fact is, down deep, as deep as you want to get with me anyways, I could give a shit about any of that. Politics was a paycheck, period. An ends to a means, which in my case, was the always present necessities of booze, broads, pills, and whatever happened to be around that I could snort up my nose.
Now that kind of lifestyle just ain’t conducive to a long life. At least that’s what I was told. Funny thing is, some of the ones who did that telling, well guess what?
dead, and I’m still here.
Don’t think God has one twisted up sense of humor? Just look at me.
So getting back to that almost up and dying thing I started to tell you about. It’s true, I was down and out. There was no white light, floating above myself, none of that crock of shit. Just lights out, man. BOOM, and down I went. Heart stopped. Thing had been missing the beat for a long time. Congenital defect apparently. Should have killed me long ago – that’s what the cardiologist said.
Plus, all the coke, pecker pills, alcohol, sleepless nights, and constant ass probably exacerbated the condition, though between you and me, I contest that possibility.
I see it like this – my appreciation of life, women, wine and song, is what kept my heart going all these years. If I’d been some poor sap getting up every day for a 9 to 5 I hated, and tied down to a woman whose only seeming purpose in life was to constantly remind me of how inadequate I was, then I’m pretty damn sure my heart would have checked out a long time ago, and I wouldn’t be here right now among the living talking to you like I am.
Anyways, my ticker put me on notice seven months ago. The doctor had me hooked up to all kinds of shit. Little beeping boxes, wires, stuck that damn plastic tube up my pisser, and then in went the pacemaker. Man, I felt great after the hospital got my heart beat sorted out. Tappity-tap-tap-tap these days.
Now remember how I told you about God having that twisted up sense of humor? Well, wouldn’t you know it, a few weeks later and I’m sitting in a little bar near the Foggy Bottom neighborhood, and my chest is locking up on me, and I’m thinking the pacemaker has shorted out or something. Down I went. No graceful landing for me either, I just toppled right off the bar stool and hit the floor with the side of my face.
Next thing I know, I’m back in a hospital bed looking at the same damn Vietnamese cardiologist who fixed me up a few weeks earlier. He tells me I had a blockage in my main this or that artery. The pacemaker had been working double time keeping my heart pumping. Without that, I’d a been a dead man.
At least that’s what the doctor said. I still think I would have found my way back, pacemaker or not, but doctors, they got to think they’re God right? If but for the grace of them and their science go us, or something like that.
He also said the blockage caused a serious heart attack. Now that’s all well and good, but have any of you ever had someone tell you they had a less serious heart attack? Not me. A heart attack is a heart attack, and those bastards HURT man. Hurt like hell.
So they did a bypass, which left me about as sore and tired as I’ve ever been. Took me a good week before I felt like I could get up and walk, and another week before I started to believe I would be getting back to something approaching normal. Thing is, during that time, I was dropping some serious weight. I didn’t feel much like eating, and I couldn’t drink, so after a month of taking it easy, I lost about twenty pounds. I might still be carrying a touch more than I should be, but thing is, it took a heart attack for me to get back to looking like I did twenty years ago.
An older, more gray-haired version of twenty years ago, but you get the idea, right?
I look pretty damn good, all things considered. Maybe even a bit like that long ago actor Lee Marvin. Not as tall, or as tough, but if you were to squint your eyes a bit, or close them entirely, yeah, you might see what I mean.
Now when I was working up on the Hill, the paychecks were coming big and on time. I also had a couple books out there that did ok, and the occasional request to speak to some adoring, self important audience about politics, and how it all works, and all that crap. What I’m getting at here, is that for a long time, money wasn’t an issue for me.
Well, that was then, and this is now.
Won’t say I’m flat broke, but I’m leaning that way, and between you and me, it’s got me a little worried. Last month I moved out of the apartment that had been my home for over ten years. My new place is a little studio about a mile north of Union Station. It’s a shit neighborhood, but the rent is almost reasonable. I’ve made some attempts to get on with other congressional offices, some campaign teams, but it seems my reputation, as they say, most certainly precedes me.
Nobody, and I mean nobody, seems interested in hiring a hard drinking, skirt chasing, occasional recreational drug using, sixty four year old political operative with a pacemaker and a penchant for falling face first off of bar stools.
Apparently my estimation of my own greatness in this town was slightly exaggerated. One well meaning two term congressman from Indiana actually looked right back at me after I introduced myself and remarked with more than a touch of sincere shock, “I had no idea you were still alive.”
Well fuck you too you little snot nosed bastard.
That episode left me feeling pretty low, and when I get like that, I turn to a young and beautiful woman named Silia. Society calls her a whore, or prostitute, or the gentler term of “call girl”, but for me, she’s as much a friend as a sometimes much needed sexual release.
She’s from Brazil, and man do I love to listen to her voice, and look at those dark brown eyes, and run my hand along that so-soft and smooth, light mocha colored skin. She’s a beautiful woman, inside and out. Now don’t go thinking I feel we’re simpatico beyond our arrangement of money for companionship, because we’re not. But I like her, and even without the money involved, she likes me, and in this life, it can get a whole lot worse than that.
“Go ask your friend Ivanka what to do. She might have work for you.”
That’s what Silia suggested, and frankly, it wasn’t such a bad idea.
I knew Ivanka because she runs one of the most popular high priced call girl services in D.C. Back when I could afford her rates, I’m pretty sure I was among her best clients. She had some of the most attractive, sensual girls money could buy. One of those girls, a young Russian beauty named Kat, became involved with a guy I thought might be my political protégé, a real bright college kid from Ohio, the home state of Congressman Latner. As fate would have it, and thank God for that, Colin and Kat moved out of Washington D.C. to make their own way in this world.
Man, I hope they make it.
This ain’t Kat and Colin’s story though – it’s MY story, and just one of many to come.
So let me get back to Ivanka.
She’s Russian, not yet sixty, and about the toughest broad you will ever come across. I’m talking Old World seen some shit, tough. That’s her. Not a lady anyone would, or should, mess with.