He could find enough dirt to derail any political campaign. Divine Fury. Chapter 31

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Chapter 31

IF HIS EFFORT to stop Andrew Harper from becoming California’s next governor was akin to a holy war, Brent Daggart was under no illusions about the actions he had coordinated so far to upset  Harper’s campaign.  They were little more than petty sabotage – small-scale disruption designed to distract the campaign, demoralize its leadership and slow its momentum.  The fact that it was giving the campaign a public image of ineptitude was a bonus.

But Daggart had made clear to the Terminator that the seven-figure payment they had discussed was contingent on him living up to his nickname.  The earlier actions were just the appetizers served up while the main course was prepared.  The call this morning was to learn exactly what weapons the Terminator had in his arsenal that might put an end to Harper’s candidacy once and for all.  Daggart was hoping for something nuclear.

Daggart dialed yet another new telephone number with a different area code for the Terminator.  He never knew whether the man was a block away or four time zones.  But he knew enough not to ask.

“Yeah,” answered the Terminator.

“It’s me,” said Daggart.  “You know you missed with the Jefferson River thing.  They were nowhere near there when the washout occurred.  A wasted effort.”

“This isn’t a perfect science,” said the Terminator.  “They changed the time.  Or made a mistake themselves.  I don’t know which.  It’s not worth trying to find out.  You don’t hit the bull’s eye with every arrow, you know.  You just make sure you’ve always got another one ready in the quiver.”

“Speaking of which…” said Daggart.

“Right.  That’s the purpose of this call,” said the Terminator.  “Well, I’ve got two things going that might…uh…be called possibly ‘terminal’ issues for Harper.”

“The first involves one of his clients, a real estate developer,”  he continued.  “It’s called Santiago Partners.  They have projects in Mexico, somewhere near Puerto Vallarta.  Vacation homes and condo developments.  Their main clientele is in the states – a lot of people in California but other places as well.  People in the west just tend to look at Mexico for vacation homes more than on the East Coast where it’s more Florida or the Caribbean.”

“Okay,” said Daggart.  “And how does Harper fit in?  Is he just their lawyer or what?”

“First of all,” said the Terminator.  “Santiago Partners is getting sued a lot right now.  American customers aren’t happy.  Inflated lot prices.  Misleading sales pitches.  You name it.  The state attorney general’s office has opened an investigation.”

“I’m still looking into this,” he continued.  “But Harper’s fingerprints seem to be on this more than normal.  I mean he didn’t just review a contract or draft a set of bylaws, collect his fee and send them out the door.  His name appears in city applications when Santiago set up their offices in Los Angeles.  They needed some city planning approvals.  And, he was named in a lawsuit involving the dismissal of a salesman who later sued for back commissions.”

“Hmmm.  Interesting,” said Daggart.  “Okay.  And, what else is there?”

“Best for last,” said the Terminator.  “I’ve got a guy who was a high school basketball player.  This was…what…16 or 17 years ago.  Played for Glendale High School in Southern California.”

“Anyway, he was in a basketball camp, one of those summer deals, where Harper was an instructor,” he continued.  “This was after Harper had graduated from UCLA.  He must have come back from law school for the summer or something.  Anyway, this guy says he and Harper were involved and I don’t mean just holding hands at a movie.”

“How old was he at the time?” asked Daggart.

“Fifteen,” said the Terminator.  “Just fifteen.

“Wow!” said Daggart.  “This could be the one.  This could do it.”

“Yeah.  I knew you’d like this one,” said the Terminator.

“This just proves everything we’ve been saying about Harper…and all the gays for that matter,” said Daggart.  “How can you ignore the perversion?  The sickness?  How can you?  This could really be it!”

“Before you get too excited, there is some more you should know,” said the Terminator.  “The bad news is that this guy is not Mr. Clean.  He’s a recovering – quote-unquote – meth addict.  He’s been busted a few times for drugs.  And he wants money.  It cost a thousand just to have the first conversation.  It will take a lot more to get him to go public.”

“The good news,” he continued, “is that he’s got email.  He exchanged a couple of  emails with Harper two years ago.  I got a peek.  They talk about the camp…their relationship.  It confirms they were…uh…intimate.  And…you’ll like this…Harper gives the guy $3,000.  He says it was to keep him quiet.”

Daggart was silent for a few seconds while he thought.

“Pay him,” he finally said.  “And I don’t want you to stop your other efforts.  Keep the pressure on.  If this works out, though, it could end Harper’s run.  He could go down in flames.  It’s too bad that this guy is a bit of a…uh…scumbag.  But what can you expect?”

“Well,” said the Terminator.  “I guess we’re all scumbags in this biz aren’t we?  What we’re doing ain’t for the squeaky clean.”

Afterward, Daggart’s elation was tempered by what the Terminator had said.  A scumbag?  Him?  As he often did when trying to decide the proper course to take, Daggart tried to frame his actions in a biblical context.  What would God say about what he was doing?

His thoughts turned to the Old Testament.  God had used disease and pestilence against the Egyptians to free the Israelites.  He had put to death the sinners of Sodom and Gomorrah, turning some into pillars of salt.

Daggart recalled the Ecclesiastes verse:  “A time to love, and a time to hate; A time for war, and a time for peace.”

For each one, there is a season.

Chapters of the serial are published Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.

You can learn more about Divine Fury on Amazon.

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