Posted October 3, 2012

Legacy

A Naptown Tales Sequel by Altimexis

Chapter 38 - Immigration Reform - Brad Reynolds

“Ladies and Gentlemen, the President of the United States!” echoed from the holovision in our private quarters. We were on board the train that was ferrying my brother’s body back to Washington. The President’s news conference, already delayed from the originally scheduled time of 10 AM, was finally getting started.

Joining me in watching the news conference were my wife, Kayla, and my best friend, Bruce Warren, himself a reporter for one of the largest news organizations in the world. The train we were riding on had finally left New York early that morning but, with so many well-wishers lining the route, the going was slow and we were still barely outside the environs of Newark, within sight of Manhattan. At this rate we’d just about reach Trenton by nightfall, putting us even further behind schedule.

Kayla, Bruce and I were having a late lunch in our quarters as the news conference got underway. We already knew what the conference was about, however. Kayla and I had been woken up early in the morning by my Secret Service Agent to let us know we were under an even higher state of alert. Altaf El Tahari, the Secretary of State and a close personal friend of my brother, had been kidnapped shortly after his arrival in Israel. The Secret Service wasn’t taking any chances in protecting the brother of the recently-assassinated president.

“My friends,” President Schroeder began, “In this time of great national tragedy, so much has happened during the past week that it seems we scarcely have begun to deal with one crisis when something of equally great import comes along. It is with a heavy heart that I must report to you that Secretary of State Altaf El Tahari was kidnapped shortly after his arrival in Israel early this morning. Our hearts go out to his family… his loving husband, Secretary of Health Randall Bernstein, their many foster children, Dr. El Tahari’s sister and his mother…”

It was at that moment that the door to our private compartment, which occupied the entire upper half of a car on the train, opened wide and my Secret Service agent stepped inside. “Mr. Governor,” the agent began, “I have the Vice-President on a secure line for you.”

It seemed odd that Jeremy would be calling me during the news conference, so I knew immediately that something important was up. My concern was confirmed an instant later when the agent added, “He asked me to activate the sound scrambler.” That meant this was a very private call, for my ears only.

“We’ll wait for you downstairs,” Kayla replied without me even asking the question, and then she and Bruce left me alone to talk with my brother-in-law.

I’d never used a sound scrambler before and so I was totally unprepared for the feeling of nausea it induced. It was as if I’d suddenly gone deaf and couldn’t hear a thing as all stray sounds, including my voice, were canceled out by finely tuned electronic circuitry. If there were any bugs planted in our quarters, they would be useless with the sound scrambler turned on.

Lifting the receiver on the secure telephone in our quarters, I answered, “This is Brad Reynolds.”

“One moment for the Vice-President,” a voice at the other end replied. Again, it was an eerie feeling to be able to hear the voice on the phone so clearly when the room was otherwise completely silent. Not even the sound of the train’s wheels could be heard.

“Brad?” Jeremy’s voice boomed from the receiver.

“Hey Bro,” I replied. Even after all these years, I still called him ‘Bro’.

“Brad, there’s a lot I need to tell you, particularly with all the shit that could happen if word of what happened this morning gets out…”

“You mean about Altaf being kidnapped?” I asked.

“No, not at all,” Jeremy replied, “although the information we got from Altaf and from Paul Manning had a lot to do with what happened this morning.”

“So Paul really is alive,” I exclaimed with joy in my heart. I’d been careful not to get my hopes up too much when I’d been asked about the message received with the description of the tie Kurt used to distract Sammy during our ruse in Washington, but now they apparently had confirmation he was alive.

“He and Altaf are both being held at a facility in southern Turkey. They are both safe and being held for their own protection. By the way, you are alone, aren’t you?”

“Kayla and Bruce both left after they heard that we’d be using a sound scrambler,” I replied. “By the way, this is my first time and it feels… weird.”

“It takes some getting used to,” Jeremy said with a laugh, then getting more serious, told me, “What we’re about to discuss can’t be told to anyone… not Kayla and particularly not to Bruce.”

“It sounds pretty serious,” I replied.

“It couldn’t be more serious, Bro,” Jeremy responded. “This morning, based on information obtained from Paul and Altaf and augmented by data Trevor put together, I elected to exercise Section Four of the Twenty-Fifth Amendment.”

“HOLY FUCK!” I shouted, although the sound of my shout didn’t reach any further than the mouthpiece of the telephone receiver in my hand. “But you failed,” I suddenly realized, “’cause Schroeder’s still the president.”

“No, we did not fail,” Jeremy countered. “The vote wasn’t even close. There were sixteen votes in favor of the resolution, not counting my own vote, two votes against and two abstentions.”

“Out of curiosity, who voted against the resolution? Who were the abstentions?” I asked, wondering who our enemies might be.

“Surprisingly, one of the no votes was from Debbie McLaughlin…” Jeremy started to answer.

“You’re kidding!” I interrupted.

“As she pointed out, our case was largely circumstantial and she believed it didn’t meet the threshold for burden of proof,” Jeremy answered. “Of course, technically, she was on the money but Schroeder cannot be allowed to get off on a mere technicality. The stakes are far too high and, besides which, the Twenty-Fifth isn’t about guilt or innocence… it’s about a president being unfit for office.

“The data we presented completely undermined President Schroeder’s credibility. We tried to get him to resign but he was steadfast until near the very end. Once the information comes out, he will be unable to serve as president.”

“What is this information?” I asked. “How is it that Schroeder is still the President?”

“One thing at a time, Bro,” Jeremy responded. “To finish answering your last question, the other ‘no’ vote was from the Director of the Office of Management and Budget. Needless to say, we’ll be looking into whether or not he has any ties to Schroeder’s associates that could have compromised his objectivity. We can’t afford any cabinet or deputy cabinet-level officials who’ve been compromised.

“The two abstentions were from the absent cabinet members. Obviously, Altaf wasn’t there and the Deputy Secretary of State didn’t feel comfortable making the decision himself, even though he realized his abstention was the equivalent of a ‘no’ vote.

“The Secretary of Education, likewise, was absent as she is still in Minnesota and her deputy didn't feel comfortable making the decision. As you may be aware, the Secretary’s husband has advanced pancreatic cancer and was undergoing treatment at the Mayo Clinic at the time of David’s assassination. Of course we asked the Secretary to return immediately when we learned of David’s death, for her own safety, but she declined for obvious reasons. Although not yet made public, she tendered her resignation last week.”

“You can’t let Schroeder make the appointment to replace her,” I interrupted.

“Don’t worry, Bro,” Jeremy replied, “Schroeder won’t be making any appointments… not to replace the Secretary of Education… nor to replace Roberts, who has submitted notice of his intent to retire at the end of the current session. Obviously he hoped to sneak another conservative into the Chief Justice position.”

“Wow!” I exclaimed. “But how is it that Schroeder is still the president?” I again asked.

“He’s essentially the president in name only,” Jeremy explained, “but before I can explain it, I need to summarize the information Trevor presented to the Cabinet that resulted in the motion to remove Schroeder in the first place.”

And so Jeremy did. The thought that Schroeder might have been involved in David’s assassination, even indirectly, left me seething with rage. “HOW COULD YOU LEAVE THAT BASTARD IN POWER?” I lashed out.

“Because we need him for now,” Jeremy explained. “If Schroeder were to be forced out of office in disgrace, those who plotted and planned David’s murder would vanish into the shadows or, even worse, take further measures to destabilize our government. Men and women like these would have no compunction against striking at the very foundations of our democracy.”

“I understand that,” I replied, “but, under the circumstances, how can you leave that scumbag in office? How can you leave someone like that as ‘Commander in Chief’? How can you allow someone like that to have his finger on the button?”

“He’ll remain in office only so long as we allow him to do so,” Jeremy explained, “and he no longer has possession of ‘the football’,” as the tablet was called that gave the president access to America’s nuclear arsenal. “The Joint Chiefs were present when the vote was taken and will answer only to me.

“In the end,” Jeremy continued, “once it became obvious that he would lose, and lose badly, Schroeder offered to tender his resignation rather than suffer the indignity of being removed from office. However, I refused to accept it. I felt it was important, first of all, to complete the vote. Secondly, I have other plans for Schroeder.”

“Other plans?” I asked.

“We need him to remain in office until we’ve completed our investigation and are ready to move against those behind the assassinations and the terrorism. When that moment arrives, unless the investigation exonerates the President, he will resign and I will take his place. In the meantime, he knows that if he doesn’t step down or if he tries anything stupid, I need only deliver notice of the vote to the President Pro Tempore of the Senate and to the acting Speaker of the House. His hands are tied for the time being and, for all intents and purposes, I’m already the President.”

“As well you should be,” I interjected.

“It’s not something I wanted, Brad,” Jeremy replied. “Unlike Schroeder, I’m not hung up on a power trip.”

“But you’ll be an outstanding president, Jer,” I interrupted. “I think you’ll be every bit as good a president as my brother was.”

“Thanks for your vote of confidence, Bro,” Jeremy responded. “Of course I’ll need to nominate a new Secretary of Education and a new Chief Justice of the Supreme Court but, much more importantly, I need to find someone to take my place as vice-president… someone I can trust… someone who has the political savvy, the intelligence and the charisma to hold things together in the Senate… someone who will stay the course set by your brother… and maybe become the next president after me.”

As I started to mull over in my mind just who might make a good V.P., Jeremy shocked the hell out of me by saying, “I want you to be my vice-president, Brad. There’s no one on Earth better qualified for the job… no one I trust more than I trust you.

“You’re a two-term governor and a seasoned politician. Hell, you were testifying before Congress when you were only thirteen and you re-wrote the book on U.S. immigration policy when you were just sixteen. It’s time for you to play on a bigger stage, Bro.”

“CHRIST!” I exclaimed. It hit me that, in all likelihood, I would be the Vice-President of the United States of America. Holy fuck!

“Brad, are you still there?” I vaguely heard from the telephone, but my mind was elsewhere. I couldn’t help but remember another time I’d been thrust into the national spotlight, when I ‘re-wrote the book’ on immigration policy.

 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012, 8:27 AM
Thirty-one Years Earlier

I groaned at the sound of my alarm clock as I prepared to start another school year. Where did the summer go? Actually, it had been an incredible summer. I’d signed on to Obama’s re-election campaign the moment the President announced his intent to run and, even though I’d be too young to vote in the election, I was put in charge of the Young Democrats faction of the campaign for the entire state. Except for attending the Summer Olympics in London and watching my brother-in-law bring home the gold, I spent the whole summer organizing youth rallies in support of the President. Together with Kayla, I drove from the shores of Lake Michigan to the banks of the Ohio River and everywhere in-between.

Confidence in Obama was at an all-time low and many young Democrats who’d enthusiastically supported him in 2008 were totally disaffected by his tilt to the right. Many of us, myself included, were furious at his stance on Afghanistan and at his willingness to slash critical programs at the behest of the Republicans. In spite of all that, he needed our support more than ever. I shuddered to think what kind of world our children would inherit if Romney were to become the president. Were the Republicans to take the Senate and hold onto the House and if they won the White House, there’d be nothing stopping them from dismantling what little was left of the social safety net. God forbid the billionaires might have to pay a few more pennies in taxes.

As disappointed as we all might be in Obama, he was still our best defense against those who would turn America into a Third World land of the very wealthy and the very poor. The Tea Partiers might paint themselves as populists, but their agenda was nothing less than an attack on the middle class. No, we could not afford to sit this one out. Obama needed the Young Democrats and, for better or worse, we needed Obama.

I had an amazing time as I met with kids from all over the state, some of them the sons and daughters of the most powerful politicians in the Midwest. There I was, a sixteen-year-old novice telling young adults what to do! But you know what? They all respected me because of the way I’d supported my brother a few years before. I guess they all figured that if I could organize fifteen busloads of kids on a trip to Washington when I was only thirteen, I could handle running Obama’s reelection campaign at the age of sixteen. The one thing I had going for me was that, at six feet, six inches in height, I certainly stood out in a crowd.

The best thing about traveling the state was spending time with my wonderful girlfriend, Kayla. Yeah, we organized and attended rallies by day and made love by night. And boy, did we make love! Kayla and I had already talked about getting married after graduation. We both knew we wanted to spend our lives together.

“Brad!” I heard my mom call out. “Isn’t it time for you to get up?”

“Yeah, yeah,” I called back in return. ”I’m up! OK?”

Grabbing a clean pair of boxers, I plodded into the bathroom and, as I stepped into the shower, I couldn’t help but shed a tear as I remembered how Cliff Kimball had been by my side when I started high school. Had it already been two years since he died of AIDS? Cliff was as much my brother as any flesh and blood. There would never be another friend like Cliff.

Stepping out of the shower, I quickly shaved and threw on the clothes I’d selected to wear the night before. In the kitchen, Mom already had a pot of coffee brewing and a vegetarian fritatta on the table waiting for me. Mom believed we should all have a hearty breakfast, and that was especially true now that I was a vegetarian like my brother. Crazy as it seemed, now that my brother was out of the house and I could eat whatever I wanted, the thought of eating meat was actually repulsive to me.

Wolfing down my breakfast and gulping my coffee as I skimmed the front section of The Star, I returned to my bathroom to brush my teeth, grabbed my book bag, kissed my mom on the cheek and headed out the door.

Convincing my parents I needed a car had been the crowning accomplishment of my teenage life, particularly when David still didn’t have a car of his own. Mom and Dad strongly felt I should earn the money myself for a car and for its upkeep. As close as we lived to the high school, there was no reason I couldn’t ride my bike there, walk or, God forbid, take the school bus. However, as class president, president of the Gay Youth Alliance and a key member of the varsity football team, I was constantly on the move.

I desperately needed my own set of wheels so, when I started talking seriously about buying a motorcycle, my parents finally relented and bought me a car - but they made it clear it was an advanced graduation present and not to expect anything when I actually graduated high school. Fair enough. I needed a car now even more than I would when away at college.

Thank God they asked me what I wanted. I might not have looked a gift horse in the mouth, but I’d have been royally pissed if they’d bought me a gas-guzzling SUV. Instead, I drove a 2009 Prius.

The trip to the high school should have only taken about five minutes, since our neighborhood was one of the closest in the district, but I wasn’t about to let my girlfriend ride alone. Kayla went to the same middle school that I did but she lived in the opposite direction, way over by Spring Mill Road. Stopping to pick up Kayla added another twenty minutes to my commute, not counting the time we spent making out.

Kayla looked stunning today on this, the first day of our junior year. She was dressed in a pair of tight-fitting white shorts and a light blue top that really brought out the color of her eyes. She jumped into the passenger seat before I’d even come to a full stop. We leaned over and our lips met in the middle.

“Oh man, I’ve really missed that,” I commented with what I know was a grin on my face as we both came up for air.

“Can’t help it that my parents wanted me to go with them on a summer vacation before the start of the school year,” Kayla replied.

“It’s OK, Honey,” I responded. “It was right of you to go with your parents while you still can. Your brother’s already away at college, after all. And look how much time we spent together over the summer!” I pointed out. “How many parents would let their sixteen-year-old daughter spend nearly the whole summer, traveling the state unsupervised with her boyfriend?

“And for that I’m grateful,” she admitted, “but Brad, we’re gonna be late if we don’t get going!”

“Good point,” I agreed as I backed the car out of Kayla’s driveway and drove us to school. Parking in the student parking lot, I barely had time to open my car door when our good friends, Scott Clemmons and his boyfriend, Simon Henry, greeted us. Scott was the president of the GSA and the treasurer of the Junior Class. Simon was no slouch either, being the captain of the chess team and a member of the debating team. He was one of the major reasons we’d placed first at the state level in both competitions last year.

“Hey guys,” I said as I pulled my six-and-a-half foot frame out of the low-slung car. I was nearly a foot taller than Simon - and Kayla, for that matter - and at least six inches taller than Scott.

“Another year, another step closer to freedom,” Scott replied. We talked about our experiences over the summer as we headed inside the school and made our way to our respective first classes.

Because our school operated in shifts, homeroom occurred during the first period when all students were supposed to be present - the third period of the day, which was ten minutes longer than our other classes. Since we weren’t dependent on the school buses for our transportation, Kayla and I elected to start our day with second period, which began at 7:35. It sucked getting up so early, but the consolation was that we finished our school day shortly after lunch. If we’d been willing to start with first period, at 6:40 in the fucking morning, we could have finished our day and gone home at lunchtime. Some things just aren’t worth it, you know?

Simon, Kayla and I shared the same second period class but, by virtue of the classes we were taking, Scott and I shared homeroom while Simon and Kayla were in different ones. Not long after the start of homeroom, the Principal’s face appeared on the large flat-panel TV in the front of the room, giving his usual welcome speech to kick off another school year. He then introduced the Senior Class President, who read the general announcements. Assuming I was re-elected and, if Kayla and I didn’t end up taking early graduation the way my brother and his husband did, I’d be the one doing announcements next year.

After that, the homeroom teacher went around the room and had everyone introduce themselves, much like the homeroom teacher did in my freshman year. With close to a thousand kids in the Junior Class, there was no way any of us could have known everyone and, besides, there were always a few new faces in the crowd.

There was one kid in particular who got my attention. Perhaps it was because of the way the teacher thoroughly mangled his name, or perhaps there was something about his personality that struck a chord. Regardless, I instantly knew he’d be my friend.

You’d have thought that with a student population that’s nearly a quarter Hispanic, the teacher should have had no trouble pronouncing a common name like Julio Jimenez. Instead of pronouncing it as HOO-lee-oh HIM-men-ez, however, she pronounced it, Joo-LIE-oh jim-MIN-ez, which got a laugh from the whole class. Julio took it all in his stride, however.

Hi everyone, My name is Julio Jimenez, I'm sixteen years old and I’m from Chicago. My parents immigrated to the United States from Mexico along with me, my older brother, Juan, and my sisters, Theresa and Maria, when I was just two years old. I don't really remember anything about living in Mexico, ’cause I was so young at the time, and we’ve not been back since.

My Poppie was a police officer in Mexico but, with the growing influence of the drug cartels, he and my Momma didn't feel it was safe for us there anymore. They came to America in hope of finding a better life for us children. My parents started out as migrant workers in California and then in Southern Illinois and Indiana, saving our money so they could eventually start a business of their own.

When I was ten, we moved up to Chicago and my Poppie bought a small convenience store in a really bad neighborhood. Because he was fair, however, most people respected him and my Momma and treated them well. Still, they got held up four times at gunpoint in just two years and so, when I was twelve, they sold the store and bought a gas station with a convenience store in Oak Park, just outside of Chicago.

I really liked Oak Park. It has some really big and beautiful houses designed by the world-famous architect, Frank Lloyd Wright. We lived in a large apartment in a high-rise with a fantastic view of downtown Chicago and of Lake Michigan. I made many friends in Oak Park and was on the soccer and wrestling teams.

Toward the end of the last school year, my parents decided to sell their gas station in Oak Park and move down here, where they bought the Speedway gas station and convenience store at 86th Street and Ditch Road. Right now we’re living in a townhouse on Harcourt Road, near St. Vincent’s hospital, while we wait to move into a house we bought in Greenbriar.

I tried out for soccer and just found out I made varsity, and I plan to try out for the wrestling team later this year.

After Julio sat down, the teacher went on to the next student but I kept fixating on Julio. I wondered why they left Chicago and moved here, and I also wondered how Julio’s family managed to emigrate from Mexico so easily, given that his father was a police officer. Sadly, most of our school’s Hispanic population was second, third or even fourth generation and tended to look down on new immigrants, regardless of their status.

Later in the day as I exited the lunch line and scanned the cafeteria for Kayla, I noticed Julio sitting off by himself. Still not seeing Kayla, I made my way to his table and asked, “Buenas tardes, Julio. ¿Puedo sentarme aquí?” With three years of Spanish under my belt and another I was taking this year, I slipped into the language with ease.

“Your Spanish is excellent,” Julio replied in unaccented English, “Prolly better than mine.

“Your name is Brad, right?” Julio then asked, “And as I remember, you’re the class president.”

“Right on both accounts," I replied.

“So why are you sitting with me?” Julio asked.

“Why wouldn’t I sit with you?" I countered. “You’re new to the school and I thought you could maybe use some friends.”

“Because popular kids like you usually like to sit with other popular kids,” he replied, “and besides which, I’m Hispanic.”

“I didn’t become popular by ignoring my fellow students,” I explained, “and in case you didn’t notice, nearly a quarter of the students are Hispanic. Almost as many are African American, for that matter. I don’t choose my friends based on race or ethnic background,” I added, “and certainly not based on their popularity.

“Actually, that brings up a kinda funny story. The first girl I tried to… you know… take to bed with me, was African American. The fact that she was black never even entered into my mind at the time. I was thirteen and she seemed like a really nice girl. Anyway, while we were making out in my bedroom, my brother and his boyfriend came home.” Julio’s eyes went wide when I mentioned the word, ‘boyfriend’. “Sadly, it turned out the girl was blatantly homophobic and couldn’t date a boy with a gay brother, let alone go to bed with him.”

Sighing, I continued, “I was way too young to be ‘going all the way’ back then… and I was sooo naïve. That was the first time I encountered prejudice first-hand. I’ve always looked at race and ethnicity the same way I’ve looked at my brother being gay. Race, ethnicity and sexual orientation aren’t exactly things you can change, so there really isn’t any point in treating people differently because of it. I just couldn’t conceive of anyone seeing things otherwise.”

Just then, Kayla joined us and, after I introduced her and Julio to each other, Julio asked me quietly, “Does Kayla know about your brother?”

Laughing, I replied, “That's how we met. I was trying to establish gay-straight alliances in all our middle schools and Kayla wanted to help, ’cause she has a gay brother, too”

“Not only did Brad succeed in starting GSAs in all the middle schools in the district,” Kayla added, “but he founded the Gay Youth Alliance, which is a city-wide organization for gay kids. A lot of kids probably think Brad’s gay because of all he’s done, but we’ve been a couple for more than three years now.” Taking my hand, she continued, “We plan to get married after we graduate.”

“I can’t believe you both have gay brothers,” Julio responded and then, getting a distant look in his eyes, continued, “I guess that makes three of us with gay brothers at this table. It’s the reason we left Chicago. Juan kept coming home with black eyes and the school didn’t do anything about it. The Hispanic kids were the worst, calling him a ‘maricón’.

“When things really started to get bad for him, he finally broke down and told us what had been going on… and why. My parents don’t really understand it, but they love their children and they decided enough was enough. We read about a boy who organized a caravan of school buses to Washington in support of his gay brother, so we figured it must be safe here.”

I could feel my face burning furiously as Kayla said, “That was Brad.”

“No shit!” Julio exclaimed. “That was you?

“My brother, his boyfriend and their friends were being bullied by Congress, just ’cause they were gay,” I explained. “I couldn’t stand by and not do something about it.”

“And that’s one of the reasons I love him so much,” Kayla added.

“Actually, it was Kayla who inspired me to act,” I interjected. “If it hadn’t been for her, I might never have thought to do something about it.”

“All I did was wonder why no one was coming to their defense,” Kayla responded. “It was Brad who actually did something about it. How many thirteen-year-olds do you know who could pull it off?”

“Hardly any,” Julio replied. “That took cojones, man. You’re a natural leader.”

“He is at that,” Kayla agreed, making my face burn as I was sure I turned fire engine red.

“So you’re on the varsity soccer team,” I stated, trying to change the subject.

“And you’re on the varsity football team,” Julio responded. “I guess that means we’re both jocks then.”

“Brad’s one of the best wide receivers in the state,” Kayla stated, and then added, “but that doesn’t make him any less smart. He’s a straight-A student, and that’s in all AP classes, too.”

“You’re no slouch either, Julio,” I countered. “You’re in my AP calculus class, and that’s a senior level class.”

“Julio’s in my AP Spanish Lit class too,” Kayla added.

“Damn, I really wanted to take that class,” I responded, “but it conflicted with American History Lit Review.” Kayla was in the standard AP American History course, but I thought the Lit Review course would be more valuable to me, as it was a survey of the writings of some of the best political minds of the times. With my interest in politics, I thought the poly-sci perspective would do me well, and I could still sit for the AP exam at the end of the year.

The three of us discussed a lot of things during lunch. We talked about the upcoming election and our shared concerns for the future of America… and the world. It was evident that Julio was a kindred spirit. He was a kid with a lot of potential - someone I would want to know as I engaged the future.

Julio joined Kayla and me, along with several of our friends in eating lunch with us every day for the next several weeks. It turned out he had a wicked sense of humor and added a lot to our lunchtime banter. I also had a chance to meet his brother, who was a senior, and I tried to talk him into attending a GSA meeting. I told him things were different at our school, thanks to the legacy of my brother, his husband and their friends. However, after what had happened in Chicago, Juan was fearful of being outed at school, much less coming out on his own, and I respected that.

By Halloween, Julio was one of my very best friends. In fact, it was Julio who first commented that something was off with Kayla - that she was getting sick most mornings. At first I scoffed but then Kayla worriedly admitted that she was nearly a month late for her period. There was no way in hell I was ready to be a father; however Kayla was adamantly opposed to having an abortion even as she vehemently supported a woman’s right to choose.

Scott and Simon helped convince me not to resign as class president or pull back from my work on the Gay Youth Alliance, but it was Julio who helped me understand how Kayla felt. It was one thing to be pro-choice, but choosing to put an end to the life that was growing inside of her - a life that represented the love she and I shared - was not something she could do. Prepared or not, I was about to become a father.

As the Thanksgiving holiday approached, I suggested to Julio that he and Juan come over and spend time with us. David and Jeremy would be home for the extended weekend and I thought Juan would benefit from spending time with a married gay couple. Perhaps my brother and his husband could convince him to join the GSA. Julio seemed excited by the idea and promised to bring it up with his brother.

Strangely, Julio wasn’t in school the Friday before Thanksgiving, nor the following Monday, nor the rest of the week leading up to the holiday. My phone calls to his house and his cell phone went unanswered, as did my e-mails and text messages. I tried contacting him throughout the holiday weekend but to no avail.

Come Thanksgiving, David and Jeremy couldn’t have been more excited at the prospect of becoming uncles and they really helped ease my nervousness about what was happening. For my part, I was walking around in a daze and I was sure they just assumed it was because of Kayla being pregnant and not because I was worried about Julio.

Upon my return to school the next Monday, however, Julio was still nowhere to be found.  That afternoon when I tried calling his house, I got a message that the number was no longer in service. A call to his cell phone yielded the same result. I was beside myself. Nearly in a panic, I drove over to his house only to find a ‘For Sale’ sign on the front lawn, with the word ‘Foreclosure’ emblazoned on top. What the fuck had happened?

I’d always wondered about Julio’s story of their escape from Mexico and wondered if his family had entered the country illegally. The suddenness of their disappearance only lent credence to the idea but, if true, had they left town suddenly so as to avoid being discovered, or had they already been picked up by the Immigration and Naturalization Service and maybe even deported? That thought literally made my heart sink.

Rather than contact INS myself and possibly only make things worse, I decided I’d first talk to Tom Kimball, my brother-in-law’s father. Their housekeeper, Carlotta, had originally entered the U.S. illegally but, thanks to the Kimballs and their political connections, she was ultimately able to get a legitimate visa and a 'Green Card'. She was now an American citizen - a fact of which she was very proud.

I knew that Mr. Kimball was a very busy man and I feared it could be days before I could speak to him but he called me back the very same night. After I briefly outlined what had happened to Julio and his family, he promised me he’d get back to me by the end of the week. It was just a few days later that he showed up at our doorstep, on Thursday evening after dinner.

As we sat down together in the family room, he began by saying, “Brad, I talked to my contacts at INS and even sent an investigator to track down what happened with the Jimenez family…”

“You didn’t need to do that,” I interrupted, but he held up his hand, indicating I should let him finish.

“Your story touched me, Brad,” he continued. “Here was a family that was following the American dream. They’d worked very hard and bought their own businesses. Their children were already making a contribution to society. They may have entered the country illegally in desperation, but they were an asset to America and deserved to stay.

“Unfortunately, your homeroom teacher didn’t see it that way…”

“That fucking bitch!” I practically shouted.

“Now Brad, you need to watch your language, even if she is a fucking bitch,” he replied as he winked at me, and then he continued. “Our ridiculous state immigration law may have been struck down as unconstitutional, but your homeroom teacher decided to take action anyway. She reported that she suspected the Jimenezes were illegals, leaving INS little choice but to investigate.”

Placing his arm around my shoulder, he continued, “Brad, the Jimenezes were arrested two weeks ago after a lengthy investigation by the INS. They’d covered their tracks well but, ultimately, their documentation couldn’t be authenticated. They were sent to a detention camp run by a private contractor…”

“But I thought that Obama put an end to deporting kids,” I interrupted.

“He would have liked to have done just that,” Mr. Kimball explained. “That was the essence of the Dream Act. What he had to settle for was deferring deportations of kids, and only if they have a means of support. Even if Julio and his brother had struck out on their own and maybe taken over their parents’ business, how would they have done that and gone to school? What about their sisters? Would they have been willing to take on the responsibility of raising them too?

“Besides which, they would have had to have applied for the deferment, which in all likelihood would have meant turning themselves, their parents and their sisters in. Although they could have applied for the deferment after they’d been arrested, by then it was too late. Their fate had already been determined and there just wasn’t enough time.”

Taking a deep breath, Mr. Kimball continued, “There have been a lot of problems at these privately-run detention camps but, with funds so tight these days, private contractors can do the job for a lot less money than the INS can, and no one gives a shit about illegal immigrants anyway. The problem is that the private contractors save money by cutting corners and by hiring untrained, non-union employees.

“Because Mr. Jimenez was a former police officer, he was targeted by one of the drug lords he’d crossed back in Mexico. The cartels have strong ties to street gangs in the United States and, not surprisingly, the gangs have infiltrated the detention camps. Mr. Jimenez was stabbed on Sunday morning while attending a church service with his family. Julio came to the aid of his father and was stabbed too.”

With panic in my voice, I asked, “Are they all right? Are they going to be all right?”

Shaking his head, Mr. Kimball replied, “Julio is dead and his father is in critical condition and probably won’t make it.”

Shocked to the core, I burst into tears. Tom Kimball pulled me into him, hugging me tightly as I cried my heart out. I hadn’t cried so much since my best friend, Cliff Kimball, had passed away two years before.

Finally pulling away, I stated flatly, “This isn’t right.”

“No, it’s not,” Mr. Kimball agreed. “People complain about the illegals taking jobs away from Americans. The states complain about the burden of providing services to the illegals… services for which there is no reimbursement. Mexicans and others from Central and South America stream across the border, taking jobs 'under the table' that most Americans are unwilling to take. The cheap labor they provide is what’s keeping many cash-strapped communities afloat. The only reason they’re a burden is because there’s no legitimate way for them to pay taxes, and the people that hire them 'off the books' avoid paying payroll taxes and Social Security.

“In the meantime, there are thousands of American corporations that are more than happy to ship jobs overseas where labor costs are cheaper, thanks in part to lax regulation and a virtual lack of environmental protections. How does that differ from hiring illegals under the table? Do I detect a double standard somewhere?

“On the other hand, most Western countries have extensive guest worker programs… not that they’re perfect by any means… but the Republicans are so focused on their own brand of populist protectionism that they’ve been able to block immigration reform with scarcely any opposition from the Democrats at all. That they killed the Dream Act is unforgivable. The Jimenezes should have been granted asylum. After all, it is we who expect the Mexican police to do our dirty work when it comes to controlling the cartels. But even still, why should kids like Julio… kids who'd lived here all their lives… be held responsible for the illegal immigration of their parents? Why shouldn’t they be given a chance to become legitimate American Citizens if they agree to join the military or attend college.”

With renewed resolve, I said, “I’ve gotta do something about this. I’m gonna go to Obama.”

Chuckling, Mr. Kimball responded, “You may have an ‘in’ with the President, but you have to keep in mind that this is a lame duck Congress and Christmas is just a couple weeks away. The election’s over, our elected officials will soon be heading home for the holidays and nothing of substance is going to happen.”

“But that’s just it!” I exclaimed. “With the election over and the next one being two years away at least, they can act now without fear of what the voters might think. It's the perfect opportunity.”

“I admire your enthusiasm, Brad,” Mr. Kimball replied. “If you do decide to go through with this, I’ll be more than happy to use my own contacts in any way that I can, including with the White House.”

“Thanks, Mr. Kimball. I appreciate it,” I responded as he got up to leave.

Tragically, an opportunity to take my case to the public presented itself that very weekend during the state football championship - a game in which I was a participant. At halftime, a gay kid whose parents couldn’t accept him, shot two of my teammates and took our quarterback, Billy Mathews, hostage before blowing his own brains out. Thank God my friends all survived!

Those closest to the shooting - Billy Mathews, Bret Andrews and Larry Peters, were off-limits to the press, and poor Trevor Austin, who'd tried to talk the kid down, was a basket case. As a participant in the game who already had name recognition, I received several requests from news organizations that wanted to interview me. That was how I came to find myself on the set of the Today Show a couple of weeks before Christmas, this time without my brothers and friends. Matt Lauer didn't know what hit him when I segued seamlessly from talking about the tragedy on the football field to the tragedy of the Jimenez family.

Public reaction was swift and overwhelming. All of the major news services picked up the story and I ended up spending my entire winter break in front of TV cameras. With Congress in recess, nothing could happen until after the inauguration but, afterwards, there was no shortage of representatives and senators on both sides of the aisle who wished to sponsor an immigration reform bill. I was stunned when I was invited to the White House in late March to witness the signing of the Julio Jimenez Immigration Act into law.

 

“Brad! Brad, are you there?” I heard Jeremy calling out into the telephone.

Finally, my mind kicked back into gear and I responded. “Sorry, Jer, I guess I just zoned out there for a second. I just wasn’t expecting it is all.” It was 30 years to the day since the signing of the Julio Jimenez Immigration Act.

I then answered, “Yes, Bro, it would be my honor to serve as your vice-president.”

The author gratefully acknowledges the invaluable assistance of David of Hope in editing, Low Flyer in proofreading and Ed in beta reading my stories, as well as Gay Authors, Awesome Dude and Nifty for hosting them.

DISCLAIMER: This is a fictional account of the assassination of the first openly gay president of the United States. Except as noted, all characters are fictitious and the reader is cautioned against attributing anything from the story to real individuals. There are occasional descriptions of consensual sex between underage boys and it is the reader’s responsibility to ensure the legality of reading this material. The author retains full copyright.