In the news business there are people that epitomize their job description. Jack Allen was exactly this example. As Chief Editor of Political News Weekly, it was his job to search out and produce interesting news articles and stories that were thought-provocative as well as newsworthy. He was an expert at it. No matter the story large or small, Jack had a way of finding it. This came by no way of luck; it was hard work to compete for the stories of the day and he was willing to do the things he had to do to get them. Ethics and morals? Secondary.
Known to be a left-leaning political rag, the PNW was owned by entrepreneur Bill Casey. Now here was a man who loved to exploit the right and would stop at nothing to get his hands on a story that could even be hinted to have implications that could be manipulated, true or not, into a way to get to his competitor’s credibility. The truth, well, it was inconvenient when it couldn’t be obtained, but, that by no means meant there was not a story in it.
“You know we need that guy, the truck driver to give us an interview don’t you?” said Casey.
“You bet your ass, boss. I’m on it already. I got a lead from my contact at ANN that they are trying to get him on Thursday night. I think we could really do something with that. In the meantime, I found out that he is Long Beach, California. He is loading his truck…” Both men busted out in consistent laughter. “He is…” Laughing harder, he could barely speak. “The frigging guy is…”
Neither man could speak for several seconds. Even as they did continue talking each had a stain of the previous moment’s entertainment in their voice. “He is a fucking truck driver…Oh God help us…” Hahahahaha. The laughter continued.
“He thinks an average guy could be president? Please let me get my hands on this fucking guy…” Allen began to laugh again. Bill Casey had not stopped.
Deborah Lester was not one much for the newspaper. She liked to watch The Evening News for a few minutes to catch the headlines, but she found it hard to sit through an entire news program on most days. Besides, she got her news from the internet, having like many that lose their spouses early become a surfer by day and night to occupy her time.
It was not so much that she didn’t care for what was going on, but, like many in the world had given up on any hope that government really had anything to do with actually performing any functional service to the average citizen other than collecting taxes. As a millionaire widow, she certainly understood taxes; maybe not as well as her husband had, but, she could work a calculator and knew that she was paying an exorbitant amount of them. Even though this was the case, Deborah Lester, maiden name Canfield, kept a promise to herself that she would see that her money was not wasted. That is why she was thankful for Brian Davidson, the young man who her husband had hired to do the family’s accounting. Of course as an accountant, Brian felt she could make better use of it than giving it away to worthy causes.
Deborah liked Brian and felt attached to him and his family. He had been a child prodigy, graduating from college at twenty-one and receiving a Masters at twenty-three. It had been in her husband’s will that Brian would always handle the millionaire’s finances so long as Deborah chose to live alone. He had been so confident in him in fact that he had left him five-million dollars also; a move generated to remove any doubt that the young man would need anything and be subject to temptation. Essentially, he had been paid a lifetime’s wages in advance to handle the finances of his widow. Brian had proven his worth again and again. In his Will and Testament, Dan Lester had referred to the young man as one of the most brilliant financial minds he had ever seen.
Dan Lester had provided the financial means for Brian to receive his education. Brian’s father, Dan’s best childhood friend had been killed in a train accident. It had left the boy devastated as a teenager, as well as Dan minus his best friend.
Deborah usually spent her days at home with horses or doing local volunteer work. With the resources to take on just about any project she wished, due to her financial means, it presented a unique problem for someone wishing to keep a low profile. It’d been the philosophy of both her and her husband to not display their wealth openly, neither in the way they dressed, the cars they drove or the home they lived in. While they did own a ranch, it was built around a modest four bedroom home with a two car solid door garage. The property did have a considerably sized stable, two barns, and an apartment building style bunkhouse for a crew of five that assured things would run smoothly. There was also a greenhouse located at the northern end of the property that unless someone knew, was the end of a three acre complex. The ranch was actually eight-thousand acres.
It had been a long afternoon spent training a new jumper. Deborah had decided around four-o’clock to call it a day and make a visit to the greenhouse to check her climate control system. Just as she had entered the door of the building she heard the wall phone ringing, answering it immediately.
“Hello mama,” she said. “I’m glad you called. I just finished playing with that little mare I bought and she is a great horse. I think Terri will love her; her reference being to that of her niece, her brother’s daughter.
“That is nice, honey. I’m calling about something else though,” Mrs. Canfield declared.
“Oh….really? Is there something wrong, mama? Are you all right?”
“I’m fine, you silly girl…just fine. No…I’m calling about that man you said you met the other day,” she said.
Deborah paused to digest what her mother had asked. It wasn’t typical of her to remember names very well; she knew that so it struck her as funny when she was suddenly asking this question. “You mean Les Moore, Mama?”
“That is him! You said he was a truck driver, didn’t you?” her mother asked.
“Yes…yes I did. Why?”
“Because, an article he wrote is on the front page of the National News Daily, sweetheart. Unless, of course, there are two Les Moores who drive trucks. I mean….I guess there could be,” she explained. “I remembered the name Les Moore,” she chuckled. “You have to admit it would take a moron to forget the name.”
“Mama! You said moron! Don’t you talk like that!” Both ladies giggled. “Where did you learn that word?”
“I have been around since long before you were thought up, girly, what do you think…your mama has been shut up in this big house for her whole life?”
“I’m just not used to hearing you say stuff like that,” Deborah exclaimed. “It shocked me.”
“I’m getting old you know,” she chuckled again. “I can get away with it.” They both laughed again.
“So where did you say you saw that article? I’m at my computer.”
“The National News Daily,” answered her mother. “It’s right there on the front page. It says truck driver believes average citizen would make good president or something like that. I think he is right, too. I think he is a Libertarian like your father, Deborah. He doesn’t seem to think the president should be a member of either political party. Your father would love that!”
Deborah was already reading the article. Sure enough, there it was. It had to be Les. Lester Moore, the man she had breakfast with, right there on the front page. Well, his article was. That’s right, she remembered, he had been researching ex-presidents. He must have run a search on the search engine and it returned a local survey questionnaire or something. She smiled. He was learning how to use the computer all right.
Les knew to make Dallas by Thursday at noon he would have to keep the hammer down. Gliding along at seventy-two miles-per-hour was no big task for the Kenworth though. It continued to churn out the throaty response Les liked to hear. Phoenix had been relatively calm on this evening, Les’ having hit it slightly after traffic hours had been perfect. Following a brief pit stop for dinner at Eloy, Arizona he could put her in the wind and get to Las Cruces where he could take a power nap.
There was but one problem with his current travel plans, however, the need to make a nature call. As he observed the airport on his right, just south of Chandler, Arizona, Les decided that he could swing off of I-10 at a motel he sometimes stayed at when he would be ahead of schedule going west. He knew the owners of the establishment and was certain he could use their bathroom. The thought occurred to him as well, that he might need to change his usual activity during the next day or two so as to circumvent any attempt by the local media of trapping him for interviews and so forth. There was no telling what all was going on in an effort to discover who he was and where he might travel.
“Damn this celebrity stuff,” he said aloud. There had been no shortage of those who recognized him already today. Several of his own company drivers had been advised by headquarters to avoid broadcasting over the radio when they would encounter him traveling in the opposite direction. His cell phone had been ringing all day. He had been forced to stop answering it way back in California. The one thing he had not noticed was the shadow agents that were supposedly following him. Those guys knew what they were doing!
Upon exiting the freeway, Les made the right turn necessary to enter the motel parking lot, checking his rear-view mirror out of curiosity to see if he could spot his tail. There were no cars following. Parking along the eastern most area of the lot adjacent to the motel, Les jumped out and went inside. Ahmad Patel, the cheery faced and always pleasant owner of the Economy Inn was happy to see his old friend. He was aware of the news regarding Les, yet made less of it than anyone thus far for the day. The big truck driver appreciated it and acknowledged it in a quick conversation that the two men had.
Having completed his nature call and saying thank you to his friend, he pushed open the glass door and proceeded to leave the motel. Just as walked out of the door he noticed an elderly woman in the breezeway. At the end it opened up and provided guests with a large outdoor lounging zone that surrounded the swimming pool. He made the observation that the cement area where the old lady was walking was wet from an obvious cleaning. Someone had recently mopped the clay style floor, making it slick. The old woman had entered the area unaware of the condition of the floor and was now stuck, not able to move.
Les immediately changed direction to assist the elderly woman. She greeted him congenially as he approached. “Hello there, young man,” she said.
“May I please help you, ma’am?” Les asked. “I see someone has mopped here and there isn’t a sign up to warn people about it. I almost slipped myself.”
The lady, at least in her eighties, smiled at him and stopped briefly. “Well thank you, young man, I appreciate that. It is slippery but I was just being careful.”
“Yes ma’am, well…two heads are better than one they always say,” he joked, smiling at the woman as he raised his arm, planting his hand on his hip and creating an arched elbow for her to grip. With his free hand he took up her walker and held it away from him on the opposite side so to allow plenty of room for her to walk.
“My…you are certainly a strong fellow,” she said. “You have big muscles.”
Les couldn’t hold back his smile. “Yes ma’am.” Gesturing down with his eyes in the direction of his belly he added, “And I have some other parts that are a bit big too.”
The old woman turned slightly and padded him on the stomach as they walked slowly. “Yes I see that,” she said as she chuckled softly. “Well…that’s good, at least I know the wind isn’t going to blow us away then.”
They both laughed again. “Okay…now it’s pretty wet here so be careful now,” Les instructed, observing a place where the water seemed to have collected.
“I see it,” she answered. “I feel so special to have a big strong man to help me. My children are here at the motel but they are out at the pool. I didn’t want to bother them with my coke fetish.”
Les smiled at her again. “So…you are just going to the coke machine?” As he spoke, he was distracted by a movement from near the vending area. A young man, wielding a camera had stepped out from behind the machines. Aiming the device directly at Les, it flashed. He had just had his picture taken.
Les and the elderly lady stopped. “Could I ask you what you are doing?”
“You are Les Moore, aren’t you?”
“Excuse me?” Les replied.
“You are Les Moore…the truck driver that pulled in here in that truck,” the young man said, turning and pointing to his truck.
The old woman looked startled but seemed to catch on quickly. She glanced up at Les with a bewildered look on her face. “Are you famous?”
“No ma’am…I’m not famous, but for some reason there are a few who think I am today,” he replied quietly.
“Has anyone else shot you today?” asked the photographer. “Am I the first to get you?” He appeared excited.