This week's challenge was to start our story with a salad, and then combine ideas from the Ides of March and St. Patrick's Day. I used my character Shameless O'Dea again, along with an aspiring politician and a shady corporation. Possibly with hints of Ottawa politics.Limit was 1000words, I have about 920.
Luck of the Irish
"This is good, Shameless," I said. "A nice Caesar salad. But why on special today?"
"Julius, really? A big politician, and with your name, really? Today is the Ides of March."
I smiled at my Irish friend. "I forgot, too much on the go. And not a big politician yet, I’m working on it. But I’ll keep my back to the wall today, just in case. And another pint, please."
I was a regular at Shameless O’Dea’s Irish Pub, and not just for the cold beer. The owner, red-haired, four foot tall if he stretched, was a good sounding board for my policies. I was trying to grow my own brand, as local councillor Julius Trudell, in the long shadow of my late father’s image. But politics was expensive, and there were many new checks and balances to limit corporate backing.
Of course, there were always workarounds to the rules. My advisor Gerry had one in mind, an unofficial partnership that would boost our campaign war chest in return for only a few "special considerations".
Shameless set the pint down. "Any new plans, my friend?"
"Thanks. No, I appreciate your feedback yesterday, but I’m still going to look into a deal with SMC. I can help with some infrastructure programs they’ve been having problems with. In return, they have deep pockets and promise to stay at arm's length."
He just shook his head. "It’s a slippery slope you’re on, my friend. But your choice. Don’t forget to drop by in two days, St. Patrick’s Day we’ll be packed."
That night I asked Gerry to set up his devious links with SMC, and by morning the wheels were turning. The corporation was extremely generous, and only suggested a few minor tweaks in the upcoming legislation—changes I was sure many of my supporters would be fine with. We got our new spin on SMC’s projects out quickly, showing them as a winning solution for everyone. The proposals had caused some friction, but with our official backing the protesters would likely move on to other complaints. We even made the evening papers, although some articles were critical of our initiative. No matter, I was front page news now.
On St. Patrick’s Day I made sure to get to Shameless’s place, with my new SMC security detail in tow. The tiny place was standing room only, packed with wanna-be Irish. Of course, as a regular, as soon as I got within arm’s length of the bar Shameless placed a cold pint in my hand.
He frowned and beckoned me closer. "Pardon my yelling—what a great crowd. Listen, I’m not hearing good things about you, or your policies. There’s several month’s worth of anger that has now found a target. You."
I yelled back. "This will all blow over. I made it past your Ides of March, right? And I even have some security now."
"Oh, I saw them," he said. "Couple of goons in dark glasses and suits. Beware of who their master is."
"No worries", I said. "I’m okay."
"I’m not so sure," he said. "I hear one of those projects goes right through here, by this summer. Apparently we’re in the way of a new bridge. A 'triumph of engineering and a boost for the economy' they say. Lots of push-back on that one, and SMC is saying you were the one pushing for it, that they are only a reluctant partner. I’d say watch your back."
I frowned. "Those bastards. They promised me that was off the list." I picked up my beer. "Thanks for the heads up. I’ll fix this."
I managed to find a corner to myself and fired off a terse email to SMC. While I appreciated their support, I insisted that they announce it was just a mis-communication, the bridge would connect elsewhere. They refused to even consider it, adding a few veiled threats. Within a few email exchanges, things had escalated to the point where I was cancelling our agreement, and vowing to oppose them.
Shortly after that the fight started. When I was shoved against the wall, I looked around for my two minders. They were gone. I felt a sharp pain in my back, then in my shoulder, then in a leg. I turned just in time to catch a fist to the jaw, and fell back.
When I awoke, flat on my back, with machines beeping all around me, the first face I saw was Shameless.
I tried to sit up, and winced. "What happened?"
"Your corporation happened," he said. "Three days ago. Not sure what you said, but your new two friends headed out the door just before the fight started. There were a lot of people there I didn’t recognize, and you seemed to be the target. Looks like somebody got carried away. The doctors counted 23 different stab wounds."
"Twenty-three?" I said. "How did I survive that?"
Shameless smiled. "Just lucky, I guess. You know what they say about my people and luck."
"Well, my little friend, I really owe you. And SMC?"
"No worries," he said. "We got everything on the security cameras. And some of your attackers were unlucky enough to drop ID’s and cell phones. The police will have no problem implicating your former partners." He paused. "They are former, right?"
"Good to hear," he said. "Gerry seems to think you’ll emerge fairly clean on this, with a boost in street cred and good local support. Probably even some donations." He paused. "Don’t screw it up."