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Chapter 1.

Julia held her breath as she reached across her sleeping husband to grab the chirping phone. It was 5 a.m. on a cold March Saturday morning, and Julia had hoped for at least one more hour of peaceful sleep before waking, showering and dressing for work. Unfortunately, as she read the less-than 140 characters her boss had sent, she knew she’d be lucky to find time for the shower or for a nice outfit to wear, much less toast or coffee. The “tweet” was not directed to her, but it was a direct summons none the less.

 

“Ah, shit!” she exclaimed, loud enough to wake her husband, Johnny.

“Wha--what is it?” Johnny answered, turning to face his wife. Concerned now, he turned and sat upright, swinging his legs to the side of the bed. “Is it work again?” Johnny was mad now, an emotion he rarely showed. Work had kept Julia at the office until late last night, and work always seemed to interfere with anything this Washington “power couple” ever had planned. The fact that Julia hadn’t seen any one of her three young children awake in the past month certainly didn’t help. “Why can’t he run things himself? Or better still, delegate some of the work to someone else on his staff…are you the only one he trusts?” Johnny knew the answer to that question before Julia had time to respond. A Harvard-trained attorney, Johnny always knew the answer to his questions before any respondent had time to answer. He bit his tongue before asking another question. “I really don’t want to know the answer…” he lisped silently.

“That’s good, honey, because I can’t tell you anymore. I’ve just got to get up and go. Could you call “Dave” while I shower?” Julia ran into the bathroom, throwing her pajamas and underwear on the chair by her bed. Looking at the pile guiltily, she bit her lip and slipped into the shower. The water hissed as Johnny called “Dave,” a signal to call her Secret Service detail to get her car ready to take her to work. When he finished the call, Johnny reached for his leg braces. A childhood accident had rendered him disabled; it was an unspecified, damaged nerve disease that was responsible for his handicap now. But no physical barrier could stop him from carrying out all of his duties as husband, father and family breadwinner. Julia’s current job may be important, Johnny mused, but his job paid far more. He stood shakily; he walked uneasily down to the kitchen to fix Julia some coffee.

 

“Here ya go, Sis,” Johnny murmured as he handed Julia her travel mug of steaming black coffee. “One lump or two?” Johnny knew she’d demur; she always took her coffee black, even when times were not so tense. It was an old joke with them. To some people, fifteen years of marriage is a long time; to them, it seemed like a mere snap of the fingers.

 

“You know I never put sugar in my coffee, Steve. I just put my lips together and…” Julia laughed nervously as she recited, unfinished, her old joke in response. Today would be different. “Kiss the kids for me, Johnny,” she pleaded, her eyes asking more from him than her words. “Kiss them and tell them I’ll call them right after school, OK?”

 

“OK, right after school. They’ll hold you to it! Remember!” Johnny remonstrated. “Remember!” he repeated, as she turned and followed her detail out through the garage and into her waiting car. Johnny leaned against the frame of the slightly opened door, watching as the black SUV left the driveway of their new Washington home. “Remember…” he whispered, “…remember!” Closing the door quietly now, he went to the counter and poured himself a cup of coffee, sweetening it with a dash of Splenda, whitening it with some Half and half.

 

Johnny headed back upstairs, only to spot his oldest daughter, Elizabeth, seated at the head of the stairs. “What are you doing up, sweetheart?” Johnny whispered. “You don’t need to be up for at least another hour, do you? 6:30, isn’t that what time you want me to wake you? 6:30?” He smoothed back her hair as he approached her, noticing she was upset. “What is it, honey? Mommy leaving for work? You know she has this new job. You know we all talked about this, right? That she wouldn’t be around much, right? That sometimes she would have to leave early and stay late? You remember, right?” His lawyerly instincts seemed to vibrate with the word, “Remember…” Hadn’t he just said that to his wife Julia? “Remember…” Smoothing back her hair again, Johnny became the protective father. Elizabeth’s arms tightened around him as he knelt beside her.

 

“Will Mom be home for dinner tonight?” The young girl asked, looking intently at her father. “Do you think she’ll be able to? Not just for me. Bridget and Anna miss her, too. They’re both asleep right now, but I’m sure they’ll ask me if I was able to even see her this morning. What should I tell them?” Elizabeth was searching for an answer, a direct answer. But Johnny knew he’d have to “slice-and-dice” this one.

 

“Of course you can tell them you saw her this morning. Didn’t you just see me make her a cup of coffee and kiss her good-bye?” It was a gentle lie, he knew; he knew she hadn’t seen her mother this morning. If she had, she would have come downstairs to speak with her. It was a gentle lie, given in good faith. He hoped she’d take it in good faith and spread the cheer to her two lonely, younger sisters. He knew his daughters needed their mother’s presence. In fact, he had been very worried that this would happen, that his daughters would feel their pangs of loneliness and abandonment even more than he did. He knew that this would happen. He felt her tremble slightly as he released her grip. “Go back to bed, sweetie. I’ll wake you and the girls up after I shower, OK?”

 

“OK, Dad. I love you!” she whispered as she returned to her room. “I love you, Dad.” Johnny repeated the phrase to himself as she disappeared quietly back into her room. “I love you, Dad.” Why did it sound so empty and unfulfilled? Johnny knew his daughters loved him. He knew they loved Julia, too; for he’d heard them tell him, “We love you, Dad” many times each day. When was the last time he’d heard them say, “We love you, Mommy! We love you, Mom!”? He couldn’t remember. There was that damn word again, “…Remember!”

Chapter 2.

Julia’s phone chirped again. Same message, but this time all in caps. She dialed her boss’s number; he answered quickly, “Where are you?” She gave him her location. “They are moving in the Baltics and in Crimea. I can’t tell you any more than that until you’re here. Please have your detail hurry up!” With that, the president disconnected, and Julia was left to ponder her fate. Is this what she had mapped out for herself and her family? Four years of missed school pageants, late nights, early mornings and tense confrontation? She found it hard to swallow her coffee. She noticed that she was taking deep breaths but unable to catch her breath. Her hands were shaking. Was it her job to clean up a mess of this magnitude? “Christ knew…” she’d signed on for this, but had she truly realized how hard it was to become? Her personal phone buzzed; Johnny was on the other line. She picked up her phone gingerly. “Hi Johnny. What’s up? I can’t talk for long…he’s bound to call right back. Kids OK?”

 

“Yeah, they’re OK. Well, I don’t know…maybe they just need a small bit of your time. Can I schedule dinner tonight? You can go back to work if you must, but…” Johnny’s voice trailed off; he couldn’t think of anything else to say. “Are you there, honey? Are you still on the line?”

 

Julia held her breath and waited a beat. “Yes, dear, I’m still here. I don’t know yet if I’ll be home for dinner tonight or not. I will call you as soon as I know, OK?” She knew she hadn’t the time to spend talking about the children, as much as she wanted to discuss the subject in depth with him. “I’m sorry, honey. I’ll try and call later, OK? I’ll call, I promise!” She had to go now; her work phone chirped. Caps again, “WHERE ARE YOU?” Julia dialed her boss’s number; she felt better talking directly to him. He picked up her call and waited, “Yes? Where are you?” Everyone, it seemed, wanted her presence today. She gave her location, “I’m entering through the West Wing. Are you in the Situation Room?”

 

“I can’t tell you where I am. Your detail leader will brief you before you get out of the car. Prepare for a hardened location. I’ll speak to you when you get here.” Julia now felt a real frisson of fear. She knew her work was tough; she’d even felt her fear before, but this was different. This was like the descriptions of fear she had read in The New Yorker and Vanity Fair: “A frisson of fear…”It wasn’t a personal fear so much as a real concern for her family, for her country, for the world. It was certainly more global than a personal fear. And it wasn’t her fault! At least not yet, anyway.

 

Julia listened intently as “Dave” briefed her before getting out of the car. They had parked in a location unfamiliar to her. She followed her detail leader as he led her down the tunnel to the first set of hardened doors. This was all new to Julia. She was a counselor to the President. She was trained as a lawyer, a pollster. What did she know of a “hardened location”? She had not been briefed previously on this. This was all new. Was this why a frisson of fear was so apt? Because it was so new, so unknowable? She felt very lost as “Dave” led her first this way and then that. The president seemed surprised when she finally faced him.

“Mr. President,” Julia spoke first, just to let him know she was there. He seemed totally absorbed, reading a map. Two soldiers, unfamiliar generals to Julia’s thinking, stood next to the president, pointing out places on the map. The two generals turned as Julia approached; the president did not. He was fully committed to reading the map before it disappeared from the screen. Julia looked around the room for any familiar face. She saw the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of Homeland Security and several others she recognized, all engaged in their own work. None noticed her, or even bothered to welcome her into what seemed to be a very busy and important work environment. She stood patiently behind the president as two senior political advisors replaced the two generals by his side.

 

“Mr. President,” spoke the first advisor, “if we do nothing there is no way of knowing how the Russians will react. They’ve already moved three divisions of infantry through Crimea into Ukraine. They have artillery and armored brigades lined-up to follow. With the number of warships and warplanes they already have in the region, this could be a logistical nightmare for us, a choke-point, sir,” he finished. The other spoke up, “Mr. President, the Russians have fourteen surface warships and ten nuclear submarines in the Baltic. The Lithuanians and others feel very threatened. Our warships and NATO forces could be overpowered if the Russians move any more forces into that region. It could become a cul-de-sac of death if we are drawn up into that area, sir.” The first advisor added, “Sir, one spark anywhere in the world…a missile launch in North Korea, for instance…harassment of our shipping in the Gulf of Hormuz by Iranian warships…a chemical weapons attack in Syria…anything provocative or threatening could set off a chain of events we do not want to face. We must be very careful, sir.”

 

The president looked at each man in turn. Then he faced Julia. “So glad you could make it, Julia. Here’s what is going on.” The president drew her in to the screen and turned on the map. He very carefully retraced each hot-point on the globe, carefully tying-in the connections of one place to another. In the course of one ten-minute discussion, Julia was briefed on every problem the United States faced around the world. “What do you think, Julia? I need your input now. What would you recommend we do? I’ve heard from the generals and the admirals. I’ve heard from my secretaries, from the Joint Chiefs. I’ve listened to my political advisors. Now I want to hear from you. What would you recommend, counselor?”

Julia’s mind slipped past the president and his challenging question, back to a college classroom and a law professor’s similar question, “What do you think, Julia? If you were this man’s attorney, what would you recommend?” She had hesitated then, too; but she did not long delay her answer. After voicing it in that long-ago classroom, the professor smiled wanly and invited her to sit. “Julia, your answer is well thought out; but not quite adequate for your client’s need. Can anyone else help Julia out here?” The professor had continued his bland expression and demeanor. He quickly found another student ready to answer. “Yes, John. Your answer, please?”

“Julia? Julia, I need an answer, and I need it now. If I do nothing, the Democrats will skewer me politically. If I carry out any sort of military plan, especially if I cannot quickly create a coalition of the willing in force, whether here in this country or with the rest of the world, they may not support me in Congress. What can I do to avoid that?” The president stared intently at Julia now. She began to speak.

 

“Mr. President, there may be a third way to handle this, and it doesn’t necessarily call for kinetic action. Is there any way you can speak to the Russians now? Directly, that is, without appearing weak? I mean, there’s no reason for you to be afraid of direct action first without NATO approval, is there? We don’t have to threaten Mr. Putin by detailing our advantages militarily; I’m sure he knows exactly what we can bring to bear if he makes too provocative a move anywhere in Europe. We should ready ourselves, of course; but we must appear reasonable, don’t you think?” Julia stopped her advice at this point; the president had leaned against the computer desktop, obviously agitated. He began to respond:

 

“No, Julia, no. I don’t know if a reasonable posture at this point would be advantageous. I’m convinced an unpredictable response, a robust and absolutely kinetic show of force somewhere is what is called for. A reasonable posture did not get me or the American people to where we are today. Action is called for, and I am prepared to act immediately. Big time!” At this point the president turned from Julia and spoke, “Ladies…gentlemen?” The men and women in the room gathered again around the president.

 

At this point, Julia felt marginalized; very much the way she had felt in that college lecture hall when her law professor had so blandly dismissed her answer, calling on another student to help her out. She backed away from the group of advisors that had now encircled the president, keeping on their verge. Their voices were hushed and respectful, each speaking in turn. No one asked for her counsel or advice. The president, however, turned and spoke before she had a chance to leave, “Don’t go anywhere, Julia. I want to speak with you further…alone. Be patient.” Julia clasped her hands together, covered her mouth and waited.

Chapter 3.

Returning quietly downstairs to the kitchen, Johnny stared at the door to the garage and smiled thinly. He couldn’t draw up enough courage yet to smile fully; he’d heard enough and knew enough about his wife’s work to realize he may not see her again for some time. It wasn’t about himself that he worried; it was about his daughters that he cared, and he cared deeply. He knew there would be questions. Those he could answer in a lawyerly fashion. It was the truth he was worried about. Julia had said to him that she couldn’t tell him “any more” about the president’s tweet. This president was in the habit of contacting millions of people, including his staff, via early morning tweets. But a tweet that early in the morning (…and on a Saturday!) meant that something serious was happening, or worse yet, about to happen. Checking his watch nervously, Johnny returned to the counter and poured himself another cup of coffee. Shifting his weight, he reached over to turn on his radio.

 

The news was indeed disturbing. The Russians, it seemed, had moved troops up and out of Crimea and into Ukraine. That much the administration was willing to admit. It was the saber-rattling that the U.S. president had sent via tweet early this a.m. that worried the media. Johnny was worried, too. He glanced nervously toward the stairway leading up to his girls on the second-floor sleeping soundly even as their mother was deep in a hardened location somewhere with the president and his advisors. Did this mean war? A real war with an evenly-matched adversary? Johnny realized he was perspiring; his face and palms were moist and sweaty. Gulping down his coffee, he headed back to his room upstairs to shower and prepare for work. His job at the Justice Department would certainly be needed today.

 

Dressed for work now, Johnny walked down the hallway to his daughters’ rooms. He stood still for one moment in front of Elizabeth’s door before tapping quietly and opening it slightly. “Elizabeth,” he recited in a cheerful sing-song voice, “It’s 6:30…are you up, honey? Surprised slightly, he noticed that Elizabeth was not in bed. Her bathroom door stood open, but there was no sound of any activity there. He opened the adjoining door to Bridget and Anna’s room. There, fully dressed, sat Elizabeth, silently petting Bridget’s back as she slept. Anna was still sleeping as well. “Lizzy…Lizzy, honey,” Johnny whispered, “Will you wake the girls for me? I’ll be downstairs making breakfast, alright?” Elizabeth looked up and smiled.

 

“Yes, Daddy…OK. We’ll be right down as soon as we dress.” She gently nudged her sleeping sister and woke her. Anna yawned and stretched in her bed across the room. “Come on ladies! Time to get up!” Elizabeth stood and smiled as her younger sisters stirred before getting out of bed. “Come on!” she rallied them, “Let’s get a move on!” Elizabeth clapped her hands softly and shooed the girls into the bathroom they shared with her. She turned back to their room and began to lay out their clothes for the day. She wanted everything to appear as normal as possible for her two sisters.

 

Elizabeth could hear the sound of her father’s radio on the kitchen counter as she came down-stairs. She wasn’t sure what she’d heard, but she did hear her father quite clearly as he turned off the radio. She’d have to guard against TV this morning. But did it really matter? If the news was that important, that disturbing, the girls would surely not be sent to school…would they? “Will there be school today, Dad?” she asked her father. “You know I have Saturday soccer practice, right?” Johnny smiled strangely. Elizabeth felt a slight shiver of fear along her back. It wasn’t a physical fear exactly. She was definitely frightened on her sisters’ accounts. Both were very young, five and seven; and both could not fully understand what she didn’t understand. She didn’t want to frighten them unduly.

 

“I think so, honey. But if not, I’ll be here with you. You don’t have to worry, OK?” Elizabeth relaxed slightly. Johnny placed a bowl of corn flakes in front of his eldest daughter. “Do you want any orange juice?” he asked. She nodded her head. Johnny turned and slid the container out of the fridge. Opening the cupboard door, he grabbed a small juice glass down and filled it for her. She smiled up at him as she drank. He could tell from her face that he had forgotten to shake the orange juice container. “Oh, gee…I’m sorry, honey. Here, give me your glass. I’ll shake up the pulp for you. I’m so sorry,” he laughed slightly. He knew that Elizabeth loved pulp in her orange juice. It was the two little ones who did not. He heard them both tumble down the stairs without a care in the world.

 

“Hi Dad!” they squealed in unison. “I want honey-nut!” little Anna demanded. “Me, too!” Bridget agreed. Johnny smiled. Elizabeth was like a little mother hen. She worried even more than he did. He could tell she was trying so hard to appear normal, to make sure that things appeared normal, for him and for her younger siblings, that her face seemed fixed as stone. But he knew she wasn’t made of stone. He stood behind her, his hands on her shoulders as he listed their schedule for the day. He could feel some of the tension releasing from her body. “I think we should go now, Daddy,” she reminded her father. “We don’t want to be late, now, do we?” She slipped off the stool and scooped up both her sisters, gently shepherding them into the garage to enter the family car. Johnny’s phone rang.

 

“Hello. Yes. Yes, of course. OK.” It was his detail leader. A Secret Service car was coming to take all three children and Johnny to school and work. An agent would be at school with each child; and an agent would be with Johnny. It would not be much different from any ordinary day; but it would be like no other day that they had ever experienced before. Johnny turned off his phone. No word yet from Julia. He’d have to ask “Dave” if there would be any word…or text…or tweet. Perhaps he’d have the time or opportunity to check his facebook account. Maybe Julia could still communicate with him that way. His phone began to chirp; a tweet, at last. As soon as he read it, he knew that Julia had composed it. No one could condense so much in only 140 characters. It is a talent or skill that very few truly possess; Julia possesses it.

Chapter 4.

As promised, the president turned and began to speak very softly to Julia. As he touched her elbow, he gently guided her away, out of earshot of anyone else in the room. “Julia…” the president cleared his throat, looking directly at her and no one else, “…Julia, my earlier tweet today was meant only for my most immediate staff…you, Rex, Jim, Steve, Jared…several others…you know. This situation is very serious. I wanted only to speak with my closest advisors. It’s gotten way out of hand now. The networks and the papers are hounding us just as we need full cooperation and a sense of patriotism…a silence, if you will, some support as we navigate this tricky diplomatic terrain.” Here the president paused. Julia felt like her shoes were being stapled to the floor. One push, one touch and she would tip right over. “I need you to compose a tweet I can purposefully send out to satisfy the press right now. Big time! I must request this immediately. Share it with me before you release it.” Finished, the president turned away and gathered with his military advisors again.

 

Julia realized she was not breathing. The president’s touch had been magnetic. Almost like a lover’s touch, an attraction of love seemed to pour over her, but not quite; he had momentarily altered her body chemistry and had kept her full attention by doing so. Awakened to her senses now, she caught her breath and looked for a quiet place to sit and compose this most important tweet. She realized that she still felt mechanically attached to the floor! Staples or glue, perhaps, applied quickly by an invisible presidential aide while she had been standing hapless and hopeless before the president. No…she could move now, and she did so. But what would she write? What could she write? Something that would pull back the earlier tweet, yet somehow describe briefly the president’s thinking now at this time of national crisis? What could she say to nullify that earlier tweet and answer the media’s questions at the same time? Her mind raced through stock phrases, empty words meant to tamp down fear and answer questions in advance. As she quietly iterated and reiterated these words, an actual presidential aide did finally appear by her side. But he did not seem to appear ready to staple her down to the floor nor did he carry any glue. He had a folder in his grasp, and he spoke to her nervously.

 

“Ma’am…excuse me ma’am. Are you prepared to send this message?” He was much younger than she, not as self-composed certainly; anxious and a bit afraid of her. Julia sensed all this without knowing who this young man was. This was not how she normally tweeted the president’s messages out. Looking at the aide knowingly, but not really being able to answer his request, Julia bit her lip and spoke:

 

“Yes…yes, I’m ready. You don’t want me to write it down for you, do you?”

 

“No, ma’am. Just recite it to me, and I’ll send it on my iphone. I have a secure line and I am able to access the president’s account. You can start any time you are ready, ma’am.” The young aide held his iphone in one hand, his folder in the other, waiting for her to begin. Julia began slowly. As she spoke, she was aware of the aide’s attention to his job tweeting out the president’s latest message, as written by Julia.

 

When she finished, the aide returned to stand by the president. Julia now felt ill. Looking about, she located the ladies room and headed directly into it. Opening a stall quickly, she began to vomit violently. Disgusted, Julia felt all concern and care flying into the toilet. Wiping her face with the back of her hand she tried to stand back up. Teetering, she leaned against the stall wall. Her vision began to improve, however; she was grateful she had been able to find a decent place to get sick. So many times before she had just been able to swallow her shame before moving on. She felt no shame now. All she really wanted to do was return to her home, her husband and her three girls. “Oh, God!” she heard herself say, “Oh, God! If only I could hug my children right now.”

Washing her face at the vanity, Julia could hear someone calling for her in the hallway outside. It was the young aide. “Ma’am…ma’am, are you alright?” she heard him repeat, “Are you Ok, ma’am? Are you Ok?”

 

“Yes…yes, I’m Ok. Please tell the president I’ll be right out. Just a slight case of nerves, that’s all. I’ll be fine.” Julia listened as the young aide stepped away from the ladies room entry. She knew he was waiting for her just outside. She was sure he had orders to bring her right back to the president. She walked into the hallway; there he was. She followed him back into the “situation-room.” The president was waiting for her next to the large computer, map displays filling the screen. She hesitated slightly, and after thanking the young aide for his discretion, she addressed the president, “Yes, sir…sorry for the delay. Do you need to discuss the message?”

“Yes, Julia...yes, we need to discuss the message, we need to discuss the tweet.” Even as he spoke, Julia realized he was tapping out a message of some kind on his own iphone. She knew she’d have much more work to do before she would be released to return home any time soon.

Chapter 5.

Johnny kissed each one of his daughters gently as they scrambled out of the big black SUV, watching alertly as each one headed into their private school, closely followed by one of his detail’s Secret Service agents. He knew that the agents would remain inconspicuous, alert and on guard; but he worried, for very good reason, about the dangers his children faced when out in the world. He and his wife had become used to the accompanying details of security; both had worked in post-911 government before with the heightened attention felt concerning terrorism and partisan divide. Neither had felt this concern so powerfully before, however…and never with regard to their children’s safety. Johnny held his driver up for one more moment…just to watch his girls, each skipping alongside a burly man in dark glasses, black suit, left hand grasping his lapel to cover a pistol, right hand poised to shoot. With a loving father’s worry, Johnny dropped his head as each child stepped up to enter the building. He raised his head to see all three wave, smiling and blowing kisses to him. “Ok, “Dave,” let’s go,” he spoke. His detail’s leader nodded to the driver to move ahead. A smiling local cop outside waved the important black car on. Johnny glanced down at his buzzing blackberry.

 

The insistent instrument was his government-issued unit, his personal iphone still in his pocket. This message was a text from one of his colleagues at work. He would answer that one presently. Swapping phones, he read the tweet again that he had received before driving the girls to school. Julia would not be home for dinner…and “…don’t b scared I can’t talk now…will send post…check ur fb…ily,j…”“…don’t b scared…”?!? What did that mean?

 

“Hey, “Dave,” what’s up with security? Can you fill me in?” Johnny looked at his detail chief quizzically. The look on the man’s face said it all.

 

“I can tell you now, sir. I didn’t want to frighten your children needlessly,” the agent spoke. Johnny nodded; so “Dave” went on, “The president has gone to DefCon-4, sir. I can take you to your office building, but I’ll have to suggest you enter a secure room there. I’ll station one man there with you, sir; and, of course, I’ll maintain security on your girls…but I don’t know what we’ll have to do next.” The agent kept his eyes on Johnny as he paused. He then continued, “I’m waiting for orders right now, sir; but if you have different plans you’d like to enforce, I’ll follow through on them right now…at your direction, of course, sir.” His detail chief’s obsequious behavior was new for Johnny. “Dave” usually told him what to do; he didn’t ask for Johnny’s advice! “DefCon-4” changed things greatly.

 

“Let me think for a moment,” Johnny replied. “Just let me think.” Johnny’s job at the Justice Department was a sedate sort of position; he spent most of his time at his desk handling contracts, reading and reviewing sheaves of documents. He kept his head down literally for hours at a time. Now he was being told to decide how to act in a most challenging way. Could he take control and order his detail in a decisive manner? He really didn’t know what was happening. Did his Secret Service detail believe that Johnny knew more about the situation because of his relationship with his wife? She hadn’t told him anything. He knew absolutely nothing about anything happening anywhere in the world outside this SUV. Wasn’t his detail tied-in to a supervisor? What did he know? Johnny reached over to a panel and screen built into the seat in front of him. He had checked his e-mail and facebook posts on the computer screen before; now, he turned on the TV. He had never even glanced at it before. It was already tuned in to Fox News. “Roll up the screen, will you please?” Johnny realized he was too polite even as he gave his first order to the Secret Service. “Dave” glanced back and nodded affirmatively. The glass rolled up immediately. Johnny felt a quick thrill at the power his order had commanded. A big guy in a dark suit carrying a powerful hand-gun had obeyed his order without question. Johnny turned his attention to the TV screen. Small as it was, the information given was extensive.

 

The announcer, a young blonde woman with a sweet chirping voice, was delivering an important message. Her eyebrows were drawn down as she read from papers held securely in both hands before her. As concerned as she tried to look, and she was definitely concerned, her sweet beauty and soft lilting voice began to take away the very importance her message meant to convey.

“Fox News has confirmed from sources close to the president that Russian Army movements in the Baltic region of Northern Europe have forced a kinetic NATO response. Several divisions of Russian infantry and artillery have been spotted moving near the borders of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. Although no air force or naval fire has been noted directly, the parallel movement of two Russian nuclear submarines has forced the NATO response. It is not clear at this time what that response is other than information received through diplomatic channels.

“It has been noted that all of the Russian elements spotted moving were not on training missions, but, rather, were armed with conventional and nuclear warheads, ready for instantaneous delivery upon any order from the Kremlin. The Prime Minister of Great Britain, as well as the President of France and the German Chancellor have communicated directly with Russian President Putin, and have asked that the Russian Army units all stand down.


AUTHOR Q&A

About me

Mr. Nelson, a recent graduate of Columbia University in the City of New York, has spent a lifetime thinking and writing about American history, political science and contemporary culture. He is married with four grown children and two grand-children. His greatest achievement resides in his children's creativity. His greatest ally has been, and is his wife Gloria. When others abandoned all hope of success, Gloria pressed on and did not give up.

Q. What is the inspiration for the story?
A.
The inspiration for this story came to me in a dream. I wondered: so many fantastical things happen everyday, will people believe in this story?
Q. Why do you write?
A.
I write because, as a handicapped person, I am unable to "twist a nut" or pound a nail and build anything useful. I must squeeze out the thoughts I carry around in my head and try and form words, sentences and paragraphs into stories.
Q. When did you decide to become a writer?
A.
I guess I first considered becoming a writer when my sixth-grade teacher Mrs. Lurvey told me that a story I wrote for an English assignment "engrossed her." I thought she hated it! When she explained her critique, I became interested in writing.

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