I lifted the remote off my desk, and pressed the back button and then play. An interview with Senator Thomas Wharton replayed for the tenth time on my TV screen.
“Have you decided whether you’ll run for president next year?” the blonde with too much makeup and a condescending smile asked.
“I don’t think I’ll be able to say yes or no to that question before the end of the year,” Senator Wharton answered. His bright white veneers shined like he was on a shoot for a toothpaste commercial instead of sitting down for a Monday morning television interview.
“So three months? Why the delay?” the woman said, pressing for information when anybody with ten brain cells knew he’d never give her the real answer. Politicians offered platitudes, not truths, and that reality was especially true of Senator Wharton.
“Right now, I’m going to focus on midterm elections, writing legislation that helps the middle-class, and celebrating the holidays with my beautiful family. Then, when the New Year rolls around, I intend to take the pulse of the country, my constituents, and my family, and make a final decision.”
I pressed the pause button, staring at the flickering image of the man I had hated since I turned five years old.
“It’s time to act. There’s no way that man will occupy the Oval Office while I still have breath in my lungs,” I said, turning to my best friend and half-brother, Knox.
We grew up in the same shitty trailer on a desolate bluff in Arizona plagued by monsoon winds. We endured a childhood under the nonexistent supervision of the same alcoholic mom with self-destructive tendencies miles long. We attended the same underprivileged and underfunded schools with torn books and battle-weary teachers. I clawed my way into Harvard, and he secured a place at the Naval Academy through a combination of hard work and letters to Senator Wharton that reeked of blackmail. When I started my company, Knox was the first person I hired, because he was the only person I would ever trust.
Knox glared at me through his black hipster glasses both of us knew he didn’t need. At thirty years old, Knox was two years younger than me. With his blond hair and blue eyes, he was the light to my dark, and not just physically. Somehow, Knox made it through our childhood house of horrors and six-plus years of military service without tainting his soul. I hadn’t even seen half the shit he had, and I couldn’t say the same thing about myself.
“Are you sure you want to do this?” Knox plopped down into the deep cushioned, camel leather couch that stretched along the back wall of my office.
“More than anything.” I reached into my desk drawer, snagging two Cuban cigars from my rosewood humidor. I clipped the ends of both cigars and held one out to him. “This calls for a celebration, don’t you think?”
“No thanks. You know I can’t stand the things.” “I know.” I lit my cigar, took a couple puffs, and exhaled two perfect concentric rings.
“Don’t you think you should let the past go?” Knox finally said, his voice low and reflective.
“You have millions of dollars in the bank, homes in at least four different cities, you date beautiful women, and you have the best brother in the world.” He chuckled at his attempt at making a joke. “What more could you want?”
As I slid the red and gold paper band off my cigar, I looked back at Senator Wharton’s frozen image on the screen. I hated everything about that man, from his carefully groomed hair to his penchant for Ferragamo loafers, and his trademark fake smile. Pacing around my desk, I surveyed every detail of the office I considered more of a home than the place I slept at night. Large antique walnut desk. Wood paneled walls. Looped tan carpet. Floor to ceiling windows. My corner office occupied at least five hundred prime square feet of real estate overlooking the Potomac River. I’d come a long way from a run-down trailer in the middle of the desert. Knox was right. I had more money than I could spend in five lifetimes. I had power, influence, name recognition, and every material thing imaginable at my fingertips, but I hadn’t achieved the one thing that had fueled my desire for success over the last twenty-seven years.
“Revenge. I want revenge,” I pointed at the TV screen, “that ends with the complete and utter destruction of that man and every person in his life.”
“Are you sure you want to do this? It will change everything.”
“I’ve never been more certain of anything in my life.” It was the absolute truth. Every decision in my life had been made with this moment in mind.
Knox sighed and propped his gray chukka clad feet on the circular glass coffee table. “I don’t understand it, but if it’s what you want, I’m all in. I’ll help any way I can.”