“Ms. Brookheimer? Are you going to tell us what happened the day of the Families First vote, or are you going to keep turning nouns into verbs?”
Amy Brookheimer scrunched up her nose, and C-SPAN cameras across the room picked up the eye squint that the American public had become so familiar with when she was travelling the country on the Meyer campaign.
Someone personally familiar with Brookheimer could have warned the members of Congress seated across from her that this was the face she made right before she decided to destroy you and everything you stood for. Fortunately, her family would never watch coverage this dull, and Dan Egan was already seated beside her. Mr. Wallace and company didn’t stand a chance.
“You know what? I absolutely can. I’ll take you through my whole day. Should I start from when I woke up and brushed my teeth, or can I skip ahead?” Amy began with a smirk on her face.
Dan, and Jonah on his other side, looked at Amy like she’d lost her entire mind, but she kept her gaze on the panel in front of her.
“You can start with your conversation with Gary Walsh, and I’ll thank you to leave out the attitude,” Mr. Wallace, the chair of the committee responded.
“Just trying to be thorough,” she shot back. “Really, all of you should have talked to me first; I can clear the whole thing up.”
“Gary called me, and I was not particularly happy to hear from him after the last time we’d seen each other.”
She thought back to their hotel suite office at the convention. That was the last time, and the only time in recent memory, when she’d said something she truly meant, and look what had happened. It felt like no time at all before she was back to doing Selina’s dirty work and seeking Selina’s approval. If lobbying hadn’t turned out to be so dull, if lucrative, she’d be seriously smacking herself for how quickly she’d gone running back. As it was, sitting in this hearing room certainly proved that no matter what she did, it always came back to Selina.
“We’re a consulting firm, and the White House enlists a number of them when the need arises. That’s all a matter of public record. Walsh approached us to help out the Meyer administration on the bill. And do you want to know what he offered us? Friendship. He wanted us to do it out of loyalty.”
The look on her face was what really sold this part.
“I mean, the audacity! After everything I’d done for her, and Mike McClintock trashing me from the press room, she was going to ask me to help her?” she finished with a scoff.
“Once Gary actually said that he couldn’t offer us money, the meeting was pretty much over. I can’t even tell you what I was thinking as I walked out of there. The loudest thought in my head was just blaring ‘Selina doesn’t get to have what she wants’ on repeat.”
At this point she glanced at Dan. If her couldn’t hold his poker face, and his poker face was hit or miss depending on the day, then this wouldn’t work. She hadn’t lied so far, and she didn’t intend to. Call it strategic omissions.
“Now, Mr. Egan and I have worked together a while, but I’m still not a mind reader. I can’t tell you what he was thinking in that moment. But as we left that meeting, pissed at the entire administration for asking for our help for no money, he and I both looked at each other and immediately launched into a plan to sink Families First.”
Dan started to crack a smile, before Amy knocked her knee into him to shut him up. If he gave the game away by smiling, she’d cheerfully murder him as soon as they were out of sight of witnesses.
“As we weren’t under contract at the time, we were within our rights to do whatever we wanted with our free time. Including talk to Senators. If you look at the appointment book of every person we talked to, you’ll see that we did not declare ourselves as part of PKM or part of the Meyer team. We simply announced ourselves by our names, American citizens with the right to petition our lawmakers.”
This was getting closer and closer to outright lies. Clark Kent was still Superman everywhere he went, no matter if he said he was with the Justice League or not. And most ‘private citizens’ didn’t have the clout to just walk into a Senator’s office and be seen immediately.
But they really never said that they were representing PKM the day of the vote. Amy had gone over every detail of that day, and she was absolutely certain. She had just lied to Congress without saying anything untrue.
The devil was in the details after all. The key now was to get out of here without any follow-up questions.
When Amy finished her speech, she took a drink of water, and began straightening and closing the folders in front of her.
“Thank you for your time, Congressmen, I hope I’ve allayed all your concerns.” No I don’t. “Have a good afternoon.” She rose from her chair and herded Dan and Jonah from their seats as well.
The two dumbasses were looking at her with sheer awe. It took a lot of balls to basically flee a congressional committee while pretending to say polite goodbyes. If they didn’t pick up the pace, she was liable to castrate both of them.
The panel seated at the front of the room seemed to still be absorbing what they’d heard, and none of them knew what to do with this hasty exit. No one had stormed out of a room with any of them in quite some time.
Cameras from every network followed Amy Brookheimer as she walked out of the room with what could only be described as a swagger. From certain angles, she almost appeared to flip her hair.
*** *** *** *** ***
Across town, the sitting president was updated in real time of Brookheimer’s masterful performance.
“Wow,” Selina Meyer deadpanned. “I make my living in bullshit, and even I’m impressed.” She turned to Ben and Kent, seated across from her.
“Why is she not on my team anymore?” she asked with a raised eyebrow.
“Well, you hired someone ‘sent from the future to destroy her,’ ma’am,” Ben replied. “Then, she vomited up all her feelings, quit, and you had Mike call her unstable on TV.”
“It was the political equivalent of – what's that song I’ve heard on the radio? Ah, yes ‘we are never, ever, ever, ever getting back together,’” Kent added in his dry voice.
Selina gave him a look that could strip paint.
“Well, somehow, that ‘unstable’ ex has just painted a picture where no crimes were committed. So get our shit together to match that story. Now.”
“Yes, ma’am,” Ben and Kent replied together, not quite running for the door, before she got it into her head to start throwing things.
“Ma’am,” Sue leaned in from the outer office, “I’ve got Amy on line 3.”
Selina locked eyes with the nitwits fleeing her office, shooing them on from where they’d frozen halfway to the door.
“Well, put her on. I’d love to hear what Little Miss Wordsmith has to say.”
Sue nodded. A moment later, President Meyer was alone in her office.
There was a moment of silence where neither woman knew quite where to start.
“So, ‘Selina doesn’t get to have what she wants,’ huh?” She’d always thought it best to open with a strong offense.
“Well, I did think it, and I’ve thought it a lot in recent months. You should always tell the truth when you’re under oath.”
“Oh, yeah, honesty is the best fucking policy,” Selina scoffed. “Cut the crap, Ames. What do you want?”
Amy took a deep breath. The things she wanted, she’d begun to realize, were not things she was likely to get.
“What I wanted was for you to listen when you heard good advice. It didn’t even have to be me – you were hiring yes men and not listening to Ben!”
She continued before Selina had a chance to cut her off.
“What I wanted was for you to do some good with your office. I know that sounds naïve.” She swallowed before continuing.
“Even if it doesn’t last, right now you are the most powerful person in the world. And you can’t stick to a plan. If you don’t have an actual idea of how you want to make a better life for Americans, why are you even running for president? In the ten years I worked for you, it was always ‘this will be worth it when I’m in the top office, then I’ll make a difference.’ Well, you’ve made it – now do something with it.”
Amy let go of a breath it felt like she’d been holding for a decade. If nothing else, it was kind of cool that she could talk to the leader of the free world that way. How many people could say that?
On the other side of the call, President Meyer had heard something she didn’t like, which Kent could have told you had a near-certain likelihood of leading to the kind of blowout that would leave a person’s ears bleeding.
But today, something different happened. She’d just seen a woman she’d burned – repeatedly, publicly – stick her neck out for her, tell her that she still believed she could do something good. How long had it been since that was even on the agenda, let alone actually feasible?
It certainly was naïve, but for a woman like Selina, it was also incredibly tempting. She stopped gearing up to yell, and instead spoke with a sincerity that was sorely out of practice.
“Amy, I know you know that’s way too hopeful and starry-eyed,” Selina paused. “But hell if we couldn’t use a little of that around here.”
“Why don’t you come in next week, when this has all died down a little, and we can talk some more?”
Amy broke into a wide grin, closing her eyes and leaning her head back against the seat behind her.
“Ma’am, I serve at the pleasure of the President.”