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Rove put on the heavy coat he’d brought and put the recorder into his left coat pocket. He checked his calls and email, and then put his smart phone and BlackBerry into his briefcase. He got out, walked around his rental car, and put his briefcase in the trunk. He leaned against the car and checked his watch. It was a few minutes after three o’clock. Roemer was late.
Buddy Roemer watched for Rove from the bleachers of the Rock Creek Park Tennis Center. He looked through binoculars as a car drove past the tennis center and parked in the far southwest section of the lot. The season was well past and the amphitheater parking lot was deserted. He saw Rove get out of the car and put his briefcase in the trunk. When he was sure no one was with Rove or following behind him, he walked down to his car. He opened the door and put the binoculars under the seat. He took a digital recorder and an audio jammer from his glove compartment. He put the jammer in the left pocket of his trench coat, and the recorder in the right pocket. Then drove over to where Rove was waiting.
The sky was overcast and a cold wind blew across the lot gathering leaves in a series of small whirlwinds. Rove hunched his shoulders and shoved his hands deep in his coat pockets. He watched as Roemer parked and walked over.
Rove stuck out his right hand and switched on his recorder with his left. Roemer stuck out his right hand and switched on his jammer with his left. The two men shook hands.
“Let’s take a walk,” Roemer said.
“Fine,” Rove said, and they started down the trail towards the amphitheater. The trail was bordered by dense foliage that protected the men from the chill wind, but made the trail seem dark and the area somewhat threatening. Good place to off someone, thought Rove.
“It’s a beautiful spot in the fall, Karl, but this time of year, not so much.”
“Well it’s too damned cold out here to beat around the bush, so let me get right to the point. I can offer you significant financial support for a third party run, and should we see a Republican elected president, a cabinet position,” Rove said.
“Which?” Roemer asked.
“Health and Human Services, HUD, or Labor,” Rove said. “Depends on who gets the nod and who owes what to whom,” he added.
“How much?” Roemer said.
“How much what?” Rove said.
“How much financial support will I get and when will I get it?” Roemer said.
“Well, you know that Republicans with deep pockets contributed to Ralph Nader’s campaign in 2004, and they are willing to do that again for you,” Rove said.
Roemer opened his mouth to say something, but Rove held up his index finger and hurried on. “In addition, we will help you raise the required matching funds in at least 20 states so that you qualify for matching public funds.”
“And how do you propose to do that?” Roemer said.
“Hell, Buddy, we have PACs, Super PACs, grassroots support groups...you name it. Raising the money’s no problem. Laundering it is the problem.”
“I’ll need one million up front to get off the ground,” Roemer said.
“One million?! What are you getting off the ground in, a Lear Jet?” Rove said, with a guffaw.
Roemer just looked at Rove.
“Okay, we can manage that. You’ll want to look as if you have some substance,” Rove said.
You crass son of a bitch, Roemer thought.
Rove went on to outline the next steps in moving the dishevelled mob that was Occupy Wall Street towards the formation of a third party. "Look, Buddy, we're not trying to get these bozos to come to a consensus or anything like that. For Christ sake, they can't agree on what they're protesting. We're just gonna insert a few people in the mix, get them some attention, and then have you announce your third party candidacy and have these people endorse it," Rove said.
"And what are the real Occupiers going to say about that?" Roemer said.
"Who gives a shit," Rove said. "First of all, they don't speak with a single voice, and second, by the time they realize what's happened, absentee ballots will be in the mail."
"So you have no intention of really trying to coalesce the Occupy Wall Street movement into a coherent political party? Roemer said.
"Hell no!" Rove said. "I'm not a fucking magician."
Both men were quiet as they made their way back to their cars, shoulders hunched and hands shoved deep in the pockets of their coats, as each mulled over what had just transpired.
DC was a hotbed of rumors and it didn't take much to get one started. Rove had purchased a couple of anonymous prepaid cell phones, activating them from a phony address. He'd given one to Roemer, and told him how to buy another when the activation expired. Mostly, they'd coordinate their activities by phone.
When they reached their cars, Roemer shut off his jammer and switched on his recorder. Rove shut off his recorder and stuck out his right hand, "Nice doing business with you, Buddy," Rove said as the two men shook hands.
As they turned to their cars, Roemer said, "Hey Rove, one more time. Just so I have this straight. Quick run down on the plan."
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination, or are used fictitiously, and any similarity to actual persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.