A cadre of government officials plotting to secure unimagined wealth and power; an innocent woman’s death, and a grieving journalist who soon finds himself a nation’s only hope to avert unimagined political catastrophe.
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I’m pleased to offer you another excerpt from my eBook entitled:
THE TRETIAK AGENDA
Thursday, March 17
For the first time since his frightful car accident, John Delaney found himself energized by a long-dormant enthusiasm. In seventy-two hours, he would resume hosting duties for his nationally-broadcast Sunday morning program: Politics From The Street. Fueling his anticipation was the primary focus of the show: an exclusive interview to be carried live from the White House with President Mark Neely.
Rumors had been circulating for more than two weeks that for health reasons, the popular first-term Democrat might be obliged to end his campaign for re-election. There had been hints of medical problems earlier in the year also, but the story never gained traction.
Now fully-recovered from his own injuries and the debilitating headaches which plagued him for nearly twelve weeks after the crash, Delaney was eager to resume his post as one of the nation’s leading political commentators. He had begun discussing the rumors about the President’s health earlier in the month on his popular website. Returning to television was a significant step, a message most importantly to himself that he was ready to move on at last.
After the passing of the First Lady from cancer the prior spring—a battle she finally succumbed to after a nearly four-year battle—most felt that if the speculations about Mark Neely were true, a sympathetic nation would reluctantly support a decision by the President to retire at the end of his current term, if not sooner.
President Neely was well aware of the concerns playing out daily in virtually every media outlet. He knew that he could not allow such a distraction to persist. Some of his advisors were urging a national address rather than appearing on Delaney’s show. John’s popularity and the respect he engendered throughout the nation’s Capitol—combined with the fact that he was at last resuming his moderator’s duty on Politics From The Street—readily convinced the occasionally unorthodox President that announcing his intentions would find few better forums than on that show—the highest-rated news program in the nation for five consecutive years.
While Delaney could not shake the feelings of sadness and despair which still clung to him like an unwelcome shroud, a call from the White House to confirm the President’s appearance finally reawakened hopes that life might soon turn brighter than the dark existence he’d known since the accident.
Christa’s death was still fresh—a wound sliced open anew at the slightest provocation. Seeing couples together, or a young mother with her child, or just a fleeting remembrance from their life together all conspired in random order to hammer guilt and sorrow deep into John’s soul. Whatever strength he could summon in recent months was expended solely for the benefit of his five-year-old daughter, Alannah. Her unbridled affection for him, and the responsibilities to her which he had always prioritized above all else save his marriage, had—in a word—saved him.
At the urging of his closest friends, he finally sought counseling for his grief and anger. It turned out to be a welcome bridge between the denial and anguish which had now run their course, and acceptance of what was with hopes for what might still be.
John at last believed that he was ready. Getting the President to announce a major decision on my first show back is one hell of a way to get back to “normal”!
A heartfelt smile accompanied the thought.
He wandered along the southern portion of the National Mall in the direction of the National Air and Space Museum. It was a walk he and Christa would make at least once a week together. That he was now doing so again served as another important affirmation. It was not an entirely easy step forward, but one he knew should be undertaken. If not now, when?
As John approached 7th Street, he was distracted by shouts off to his left.
“John! Hey, John! Delaney!”
Turning abruptly, the journalist broke into a smile. Several people nearby stopped to look. Discomfited by the attention drawn to him, John good-naturedly chided his friend. “JJ, why don’t you try using a megaphone next time! I’m not sure that everyone on the Mall heard my name.”
“Damn it! I keep forgetting to bring it with me.” Aware of his best friend’s reluctance to draw attention to himself, Jerome “JJ” St. Jacques nevertheless sought every opportunity to tease him for the very thing John Delaney disliked the most about being a public figure.
St. Jacques was a trim, self-assured African-American a year older than John. Their friendship dated back almost twenty years.
Like John, St. Jacques had achieved noteworthy success at an early age. He had been an All-American third baseman at Boston College—a teammate of Delaney’s—and was a Rhodes Scholar. St. Jacques then parlayed a brief professional career with the Philadelphia Phillies—cut short by a knee injury which on occasion still caused him to limp—into a lucrative career as a political and business consultant. He was a millionaire several times over by the time he turned thirty.
An invitation from another college classmate to help on a re-election campaign for United States Senator Daniel Rose of Massachusetts quickly evolved into much more than the year-long commitment St. Jacques originally planned. After the election, Senator Rose insisted that St. Jacques remain on his staff, and with no other immediate prospects of sufficient interest, JJ reluctantly agreed. The lure of increased national standing and influence—and a rumored net worth from prudent investments and the sale of business interests valued in excess of twenty million dollars—made the decision that much easier. Six months after Rose was sworn in for his second term and following the resignation of his predecessor, Jerome St. Jacques became Chief of Staff for a man understood to be on a steady climb to the Oval Office. JJ had now served in that role for nearly eight years.
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NOTE: Excerpts will be posted weekly throughout the summer
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* I invite you to enjoy this political fiction thriller [here]