Posted November 17, 2012

Legacy

A Naptown Tales Sequel by Altimexis

Chapter 51 - Request of a Dying Man - Jeremy Kimball

Friday, May 6, 2061
Eighteen years after the assassination

I had already buried one husband and watching my beloved Sammy lying in his hospital bed, separated from me by a protective plastic barrier, was almost more than I could take. We’d had seventeen wonderful years together as husbands and I knew I should have been grateful for the time we’d had, but it was difficult not to be bitter that he was being taken from me prematurely. He was just 65 years old at a time when life expectancy was over ninety. We should have had another thirty years together!

Yet, Sammy had been given a reprieve. He’d been HIV positive and had been cured of his disease at a time when the cure rate was much, much lower than a hundred percent. He could have easily died of AIDS long before we were married. He could have died in his teens, just like my brother had. So why was I feeling so ungrateful?

Sadly, the HIV cure of his time was far from perfect and there were often complications. He developed one of them as his entire immune system collapsed shortly after his sixty-third birthday. His bone marrow died, leaving him unable to produce even the red blood cells needed to carry life-giving oxygen throughout his body. With no viable bone marrow left to harvest and grow in culture, with no living relatives who could provide a tissue match, our only hope was a bone marrow transplant from an unrelated, perfectly matched donor. But there were no exact matches available and Sammy couldn't wait any longer.

Caught between a rock and a hard place, we elected to try a bone marrow transplant from a partially matched donor - a stranger who shared three out of the four genetic markers. It seemed to work for a time but Sammy was plagued by bouts of diarrhea, and then his skin started to slough. He was suffering from what they called Graft versus Host Disease. Sammy wasn’t rejecting the bone marrow. Sammy had no viable immune cells with which to reject the bone marrow. Instead it was the circulating immune cells from the bone marrow transplant that were the problem. The donor cells were rejecting him.

For two years we put up a valiant fight. Whenever his doctors tried to increase the transplant drugs, his immunity would decline and he’d suffer from bouts of pneumonia. Decrease the transplant drugs and the Graft versus Host Disease would reassert itself. We’d tried every known strategy and when nothing seemed to work, we decided to give it one more try. Using powerful drugs and radiation therapy, his doctors destroyed what was left of the transplanted cells, paving the way for a new, experimental treatment.

Whereas synthetic organs grown in tissue culture were commonplace, attempts to grow synthetic stem cells had proven to be far more difficult. The development of immune cells that occurred in the days following birth was still not well understood. As it was explained to us, our immune cells learn to recognize internal from foreign substances, not through gene regulation but by gene alteration. In other words, our immune cells learned to alter their own DNA so as to produce the antibodies critical to protecting ourselves from foreign invaders. How they did that, scientists didn’t have a clue.

The experimental treatment was a partial solution, designed to buy time until a definitive cure could be found at some time in the future. Rather than trying to solve the mystery of immune cell development, immune cells were synthesized that would protect against pathogens known to cause the vast majority of human diseases. Where the approach fell short was in protecting against certain kinds of cancer. For that Sammy would have to undergo twice-yearly whole body scans… if the treatment worked at all.

We knew before starting the synthetic stem cell therapy that he was in a weakened state and might not survive the transplant. Even if he did survive, there was a good chance the synthetic transplanted cells wouldn’t take and, if that happened, he would have to live out his life in a bubble. He would spend the rest of his life in isolation and be dependent on frequent blood transfusions for his survival. Never again would he feel the sunshine on his face or the wind in his hair. Never again would he smell the scent of flowers in spring or the autumn leaves in fall. Never again would he touch another human being nor kiss the man he loved. Sammy didn’t want to live like that. It was a crapshoot at best with a one in five chance of him coming out of the synthetic transplant OK, but it was our only hope.

I prayed like I’d never prayed before but we were not so lucky. Few of the transplanted cells survived and so Sammy was left no better off than he had been when his own bone marrow died. He could be kept alive for a time with blood transfusions but, unless he was kept in complete isolation indefinitely, he would ultimately succumb to a minor infection. Most likely a simple cold would turn into pneumonia, and that would be the end of him.

Once it became clear that the experimental therapy had failed, he came to a decision. “Jeremy,” Sammy called out to me, his voice barely audible, “I want you to search for David. He’s alive. I know he is. I want you to find David and I want to see him one more time before I die.”

“We’ve discussed this before, Sam,” I countered. “Yes, they found a cure for Shy Drager Syndrome. Yes, they found a way to reverse the damage done by the disease. Unfortunately the cure did not even exist until two years after he should have died from the disease, and it did not enter actual clinical trials until a year after that. David was gone long before the cure became available to the public at large. There’s no way he could still be alive.”

“But he is, Jer,” Sammy argued, “I can feel it. He was never buried in Arlington Cemetery.”

“Just because I wasn’t notified doesn’t mean it didn’t happen,” I pointed out.

“But it didn’t happen,” Sammy replied. “We checked, many times. There is no record of David’s tomb ever being entered since his burial eighteen years ago.”

“Even if he wasn’t buried there, that still doesn’t mean he isn’t dead. He himself said it might be some time before he is buried there.”

“But eighteen years?” Sammy asked. “I find that hard to believe.

“Look,” he continued, “Just do it for me if nothing else. You wouldn’t ignore the wish of a dying man, would you? Give it an honest effort. If you cannot locate him after trying for a full two weeks, we’ll admit defeat, I’ll leave my bubble and you can get on with your life.

“But if you do find any evidence that he’s alive, I’ll wait until you pursue it. I’ll wait until you either find him or don’t. I want a chance to say goodbye to him, one last time, and then I’ll leave my bubble.”

“Even if by some miracle David is still alive, even if I succeed in finding him, there’s no guarantee we’ll still love each other. Maybe he’s found someone else. It’s been eighteen years, after all.”

“I didn’t say you should marry him. You can never reclaim the past, but that doesn’t mean you don’t still need each other. What you and David do after I’m gone is up to you, my love,” Sammy said with a wan smile. “You’ll never know unless you try.”

As I exited Sammy’s hospital room having promised to search for my first husband, I could not help but remember the day Sammy and I were married…

 

Sunday, November 13, 2044,
Twenty months after the assassination

Today was a bittersweet day as I married for the second time in my life. When I married David, I’d assumed it would be forever, but his life was cut short by an assassin, or so we thought. Then six months later I found he was still alive, but he was dying from an incurable, neurologic disease. The thing was that David knew Sammy and I were right for each other, but that we’d probably not pursue a relationship because of feelings of guilt. I’d come close to cheating on David once before with Sammy, and I just couldn’t get past the feeling that making love to him would be cheating once again. David forced us to see what we were doing to each other and gave us his permission and his blessing to marry. He even made me promise I wouldn’t wait until I knew for certain he had died, and so now I was marrying Sam.

Truthfully, Sam and I had been dating ever since David’s supposed assassination. Sammy liked to cook and I liked to eat, and we both enjoyed each other’s company. We deluded each other into thinking we were just consoling each other, but it was evidently more than that. We were falling in love even as we mourned David’s passing. Once we had David’s blessing, the brakes came off and we went from dating to making out and, eventually, to making love. At first we felt a little guilty about it, but not guilty enough to stop! Besides which, we knew that we were honoring David’s wishes.

It didn’t take long for me to prove to Sammy, once and for all, that we could enjoy a physical relationship, even with his violent tendencies. Thanks to his having been abused by Gary when he was twelve-years-old, Sammy was a sadest, but he was not sadistic. That was an important distinction. He derived sexual pleasure from inflicting pain, but he did not wish to hurt anyone. Sammy quickly discovered that, with me, he had nothing to worry about. When he started to get too rough, I simply grabbed his hands, pulled them to the side and kissed him deeply.

I showed him how he could channel his violent tendencies into aggressiveness and derive just as much pleasure. For my part, I found I liked his aggressiveness - a lot. It was such a contrast to David’s gentleness, which was probably a good thing. I’d never pictured myself as getting into rough sex but, with Sammy, it was perfect.

At first Josh and Sandy had trouble accepting a relationship between their Uncle Sammy and me, particularly Josh, but then Josh was busy with his own boyfriend and a relationship that was becoming increasingly more serious, and an unexpected career in music was taking up more and more of his life. By the time we announced our engagement, Sandy and Josh were fully on board. They’d always loved their Uncle Sammy and they saw just how much we meant to each other. I think it also helped that I sat down with each of them, one-on-one, and explained that Sammy would never replace their Pop.

The big question was when to marry. We didn’t want to do so before the anniversary of David’s assassination, as we did not want to diminish David’s passing in any way. On top of that it was an election year and there really would not be an opportunity until after the election. We therefore decided to announce our engagement in April, just after the unveiling of David’s memorial in Arlington National Cemetery, with the wedding to follow in November after the election was behind us, win or lose.

Josh asked if he and Alan could get married in a double ceremony with Sammy and me, but at that I drew the line. David and I might have only been seventeen when we got married, just as Josh and Alan would be on our wedding day, but we had been together for three years and we were already starting college. Josh and Alan had been together half as long and they still had a year of high school to go.

Thanks to his performance at David’s funeral, Josh was now a bona-fide teen idol with a recording contract! His voice had only improved in the twenty months since the funeral and he was being compared to Sinatra from a century before. Truthfully, he was more like Justin Bieber from my own youth, but with a Hell of a lot more talent.

His first record album would be released in time for Christmas and, after the inauguration, he and his boyfriend would begin their first tour, much to the horror of the Secret Service, which would have to provide for their security. David and I had absolutely no musical talent, so how did we end up producing the ‘next Frank Sinatra’? Then there was Debbie, who supplied the egg and carried Josh for nine months, but Debbie couldn’t carry a tune to save her life.

With two dads who were musicians, on the other hand, Josh’s boyfriend Alan had been playing keyboards since before he could walk and it turned out he had a decent singing voice too. The two boys were partial to the music of the 1970s and they collaborated in writing some unique songs in the style of that era. They really sounded good together - extraordinarily so.

In the meantime, Josh and Alan had the opportunity to perform in front of the public as they traveled with us on the campaign trail and were probably instrumental in bringing in the youth vote. Perhaps they would end up being nothing more than a flash in the pan, but I was very proud of them both. As I observed them together over the summer, my resolve began to weaken. Finally in mid-September, I asked Sammy what he thought.

“They’re soul mates, Jer,” he replied. “You’re blind if you can’t see it. If they want to share their wedding with us, why shouldn’t we let them?”

“It’s not just up to us,” I pointed out.

“Do you really think Kevin and Zach will object?” Sam countered. “They already let Alan travel on the campaign trail with us, and he’ll be in concert with Josh all next year. Hell, the two boys essentially live together already. You’d have a war on your hands if you ever tried to pry them apart.”

Of course Sammy was right and so today Sammy and I, Joshy and Alan, were married in the East Room of the White House in a beautiful joint ceremony under the traditional Jewish chupah, or canopy. The wedding was co-officiated by Kurt and Brandon, with elements from both religions intermingled seamlessly. Trevor was my best man and of course Paul was Sammy’s. Josh broke with tradition and chose his sister, Sandy, as his, and Alan chose his brother, Adam. His other brother, Aaron, was the ring bearer.

Seeing Joshy and Alan standing next to us, I couldn’t help but think of my first wedding so many years before. They were the same age that David and I had been. At the time we felt so grown up, but Josh and Alan were mere boys. Yet Josh was poised to bring in more money than I ever could.

Although it was a sunny day, the reception was held under a tent on the south lawn. Winter was fast approaching and there was already a chill in the air. The food was outstanding and we danced the afternoon and evening away.

I was surprised when I saw Josh and Alan make their way to the bandstand. Josh picked up a guitar and Alan slid behind one of the keyboards. With a nod to the band, Alan began playing the opening notes of the old wedding standard made popular by the Carpenters, We’ve Only Just Begun. They’d obviously planned this. As I listened to them sing, it dawned on me just how professional they sounded. This was the first time I’d heard them with the full backup of a band. They sounded amazing - as good as any group of the day.

After finishing the song, Josh spoke into the mike. “Good evening,” he began in a voice that was deeper, richer and more mature sounding than I had remembered. “I want to thank everyone for coming to our weddings and I hope you are having a good time. We have much to celebrate! Not only did I just marry the man of my dreams… not only did my Dad and my ‘Uncle Sammy’ get married, but Dad just won the election and is gonna be president for four more years!

“My husband… God, I like the sound of that… My husband, Alan, and I like to write songs together. Today, in honor of this special occasion, we’d like to play our latest song for you. It’s called ‘Not in a Million Years’.”

As soon as my son started to play the first chords on the guitar and as his husband and the rest of the band joined in, I felt as if I’d been transported to another place. The melody wasn’t just hauntingly beautiful, it was transcendent. The lyrics were poignant. I’d never heard anything like it. When they finished, there was a moment of silence, followed by thunderous applause and a standing ovation. That was my son up there - perhaps David’s and my greatest legacy of all!

With the news media coverage for the weddings, I had no doubt that there would be few people on earth who hadn’t heard the song by this time tomorrow. I had a feeling that Not in a Million Years was destined to top the charts for weeks to come. It did.

 

I approached the mountain retreat with trepidation. It seemed to me that the best place to start my search was the last place I had seen David alive. Of course I’d already inquired about the Idaho retreat many times in the past and had been told it was vacant. The facility remained secret to this day, and it was guarded by a small contingent of Secret Service.

Even though I was a former president, I still needed to make arrangements to see it and I had to get the permission of the current President, who’d taken office just four months before. Although it might well be vacant, I needed to see that it was with my own eyes. Even if it were vacant, perhaps David left behind some clues as to what had happened to him.

To get here, I flew west from our home in New York on a commercial flight to Seattle. We bought out the entire first class cabin, as was standard procedure, and no one was permitted to board the plane once we had boarded, nor could they leave before we had. Rather than walking down the Jetway, we were escorted to and from a limo on the Tarmac via a flight of stairs.

From Seattle we took a rapid train to Spokane, where we were greeted by a Secret Service contingent, and from there we were driven by limo directly to the retreat. From the moment we entered it was evident the place had been closed up for some time. Although it had obviously been kept clean, everything was covered in tarps and the whole place had a musty smell. The computers were antiques and I couldn’t even get them to boot up. If I found nothing else, I’d have Trevor recover and analyze data from the so-called hard drives they probably still had.

In the meantime, I attempted a systematic and comprehensive search. I looked in all the drawers, then I removed the drawers and looked behind them. I used a pocket metal detector to look for hidden compartments. I even looked under the bed but to no avail. If David had left anything behind, it had long ago been removed and quite possibly thrown away.

I would head back to New York and regroup before continuing my search. As I flew back East, I remembered when Sammy and I made our move to the Big Apple, when Brad appointed him as the ambassador to the U.N.

 

Friday, February 14, 2053
Ten Years after the Assassination

“Wow, would you look at this!” Josh exclaimed as the four of us and our real estate agent exited the elevator, directly into the unfinished penthouse. The view was simply stunning. We’d been looking at apartments for the better part of a week now and, although this particular building was convenient to the U.N., it wasn’t exactly in the best of neighborhoods.

Thirty years before, one of the worst riots in New York history took place on this very spot. Several blocks of high-density public housing burned as tempers flared following a police shooting on Avenue D. For years the burned out shells of ugly, 20 story brick buildings remained as a blight on the Lower East Side before they were finally torn down. For two decades politicians argued about what to do with the mammoth, city-owned parcel of land. In the hands of developers, it was worth billions. A majority of the members on the city council, however, felt that the land should be used to build new public housing. The problem was that these high-density projects had housed large numbers of the chronically unemployed and had become a haven for drug dealers. Private developers argued that luxury housing was the best way to bring the neighborhood back.

Finally a deal was reached involving a public-private partnership in which half the property would be developed as low density subsidized housing and the other half would be developed as market rate housing and a shopping center. As part of the deal a provision was made that all future building projects larger than a certain size would be required to include ten percent subsidized housing, regardless of the affluence of the neighborhood.

The apartment we were now touring was huge, with 25-foot ceilings, floor-to-ceiling windows and eight thousand square feet of floor space with an additional two thousand square feet in a wrap-around outdoor terrace. As large as that sounded, we’d need all of that and then some, as provisions had to be included to house the Secret Service and to provide space for security facilities. In addition to living quarters for ourselves, we would need housing for guests and an office where I could work on writing my memoirs, among other things, and an office for Sammy. I would also need a separate office in a commercial building, where I could receive visitors and for the many support staff needed to attend to the daily operations of a past president’s endeavors.

“You said the first five floors of this building are commercial?” I asked the agent.

“Yes, and I can get you anywhere from five to twenty thousand square feet of it, depending on your needs.”

“It would certainly be convenient to have your office in the same building as our condo,” Sammy pointed out and I agreed.

“I love the view, but it’s a bit small for what we need,” I stated as I thought aloud.

“The terraces are staggered,” the realtor pointed out, “so the floor below this one has an additional thousand square feet inside and 250 on the terrace, and the one below that has even more space. Or if you really have your heart set on this floor, the ceilings are high enough that you could put in a loft,” the realtor noted.

“That might work,” I responded as I nodded my head. “We could put the guest rooms in the loft, giving us more privacy,”

“Or we could have our offices in the loft, overlooking the common living area,” Sam suggested.

“And by building out the Secret Service quarters and security areas in two or even three stories, we would gain yet more space,” I realized as I stated so aloud.

“The apartment below this one is exactly the same?” Alan asked the agent.

“Except for being a bit larger,” confirmed the agent.

“Including the 25-foot ceilings?” Josh asked.

“Including the 25-foot ceilings,” she confirmed.

When we first told Josh that Brad was going to nominate Sammy to be the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., he and Alan were ecstatic for us. When we told them we planned to buy a place in New York and move there permanently, they were shocked. Other than for short periods, we’d almost never lived apart from Trevor and Kurt. Truthfully the separation would be tough on all of us, but Brad wanted Trevor to stay on as his National Security Advisor and Kurt had been offered the Deanship at the National Cathedral - a position he’d held once before.

Commuting from Washington to New York wasn’t really a viable option and, besides which, Sammy absolutely loved New York. And sadly, things just weren’t the same without David. New York was a great base of operations for a past president; hence, the move was an attractive one.

Once they got over the initial shock, Josh asked us if we’d consider having them as neighbors. He and Alan already had a lovely home on the west coast as well as their own recording studio, and they were often on tour, which meant we hardly ever saw them. They were now 25 and 26 years old and had given birth to their son, David, just eleven months before. They were giving serious thought to having a second child using the latest variation of the Watenabe Procedure but didn’t want to be absentee parents or to have their kids raised by nannies. They also wanted their children to be close to their extended families.

By living on the next floor, they would have built-in baby sitters whenever they wanted. Sammy and I were delighted with the prospect. Furthermore the high ceilings meant there was plenty of room for the acoustic insulation needed for their recording studio.

“Is there any chance the developer would be willing to give us a deal,” I asked the realtor, “if we were to take the top two floors and, say, thirteen thousand square feet of office space?”

“The asking price for a penthouse, unfinished, is $25 million,” the realtor noted. It was an amount that made my head spin. “Believe it or not, he considers the top five floors to all be penthouses, although we all know there really is only one. I doubt that he’ll let the top floor go for any less than the full amount, but we might be able to negotiate a lower price for the next floor down, and for the office space.”

“How much is the asking price on the office space?” I asked.

“He won’t sell it,” she replied, “and the asking rent is eighty per square foot per month.”

“That’s more than a million per month!” Sammy practically shouted.

“Which isn’t bad for New York,” the realtor pointed out.

“And all of this is for raw space,” I noted. “We’d end up spending millions out of pocket on drywall, plumbing, lighting and furniture.”

“Don’t sweat it, Jer,” Sam admonished me. “We can afford it. You forget that we’re both rich in our own right. “We can pay cash up front for the condo and, between the two of us and the allowance we’ll be getting from the Feds, we can afford the cost of the renovations… and the rent. Besides which, not that we want it to happen, but your mother is approaching a hundred and you stand to inherit millions when she passes away.”

“I suppose you’re right,” I agreed, “It just seems like an outlandish amount of money.”

“Welcome to New York, Jer,” Sammy said with a laugh. Then placing his arm around my shoulders, he added, “Just imagine what it would be like to wake up to this view, every day.”

Sighing, I admitted, “It would be incredible.” Indeed, the view was incredible. With the entire floor to ourselves, we would have a 360 degree view that included all of Manhattan, the East River, the Williamsburg, Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges, the Statue of Liberty, the World Trade Center, the Empire State Building, the U.N. and more.

“But can you guys afford it?” I asked my son.

“Dad, you’ve got to be kidding,” Josh said with a laugh. “Alan and I are billionaires. We could afford to buy the whole building… and just might!” Now it was my turn to be shocked. I knew that Josh and Alan had an endless string of Grammy awards to their names and had invested heavily in green technology startup companies. I just never realized they were worth that kind of money.

“Just don’t become Republicans,” I chided my sons.

“If it’s good enough for Uncle Brad…” came Josh’s smiling retort.

“Don’t remind me,” I replied. It still was a bit of a sore point that Brad had switched parties, but I could easily understand why he did. When we were growing up, the pendulum had swung far to the right and even the Democrats were fairly conservative for my taste. Now things had swung to the left, largely in response to David’s and my programs.

Over the course of twelve years, we’d managed to cut the size of the Federal bureaucracy by two-thirds. With the reduction in the size of the government came substantial cost savings and nearly every politician had ideas for how to spend the newfound money. Of course David and I did too and we did spend a small portion of the money, using it to reinvigorate the space program, to double the budget for medical research and to make targeted investments in infrastructure in areas where private industry was unwilling to invest. Even so, there was a lot left over to use to pay down the debt.

Most politicians on both sides of the aisle, however, wanted to use the money to support their own pet projects, usually so they could bring home the bacon to their home districts. Curiously, no one was calling for cuts in taxes but, otherwise, it was the old politics all over again.

Brad felt as strongly as we did that we needed to keep a lid on spending, targeting it where it was needed most rather than for political expediency. Unfortunately there were several potential candidates in the Democratic Party who were ready to challenge Brad for the nomination, forcing him further to the left than he wished to go.

The Republican Party, on the other hand, was a shambles. Marginalized by twelve years of Reynolds-Kimball policies that essentially co-opted their core message, the radical right was only drawing them further away from the mainstream. The leadership was attempting to distance the party from its more extremist elements and to project a more moderate image. In truth, the Republican Party had the potential to become the true centrist party for a change and Brad was more than happy to lead the charge. He easily won the Republican nomination and then trounced his Democratic challenger in the general election.

It wasn’t that Brad had wanted to take on the challenge of re-making the Republican Party - he’d done what he felt he needed to do for his own political expediency. I’d had to do something similar when I ran for reelection with Brad as my running mate. Because the Constitution specifically prohibited the Electoral College from choosing a president and vice-president from the same state, I’d been forced to pull a Dick Cheney and change my legal state of residence. It was fortuitous that David, Trevor, Kurt and I had held onto the condo in Massachusetts we’d lived in when we went to college.

“So what do you think?” Sammy asked.

“I say we make an offer,” I replied, and Josh and Alan agreed.

In the end the developer was unwilling to budge on the price, so Alan and Josh did buy the building out from under him as well as the rights for future development of the rest of the property. We spent a small fortune on the renovations, hiring one of the top architects in the world. Josh and Alan wasted little time when it came to having their second child. Young David and Celeste became the light of our lives.

 

It felt strange to be back in the city of my birth - the place where I grew up. So much had changed since David first became a U.S. Congressman, I could hardly recognize the city. Lukas Oil Stadium used to dominate the skyline and, now, it was dwarfed by an explosion of development on the south side of town. The small edge city that used to straddle the border between the city and Carmel was now like a second downtown. Although we no longer owned it, the house where I grew up was still there and the surrounding neighborhood was prosperous. The neighborhood where David grew up had not fared as well. His house had been preserved as an historic landmark and the area around it had been spruced up for visitors, but the rest of the neighborhood was a slum and nearby Nora shopping center was entirely boarded up. However, I was not visiting to explore old haunts.

I had returned home to spend time at the Kimball-Reynolds Presidential Library. Built on a parcel of land that had once been industrial and included a sanitation plant, it was actually a picturesque site, nestled in a bend in Fall Creek at a point where it intersected the Central Canal.

The library actually consisted of two interconnected buildings representing David’s library and mine. Construction was well underway on a third building that would encompass the library for Brad’s recently completed two terms as president. Together the three buildings would represent twenty years of American history - five four-year terms. I cringed when people spoke of the Kimball-Reynolds political dynasty, but I could hardly argue with the concept. Together we represented twenty years of continuous policy - an amount not seen before or since. Not even Franklin Roosevelt could boast as much.

A lot had changed in the years since I completed my second term, but the U.S. economy remained sound and, thanks to Sammy, war was increasingly becoming a rarity. More importantly, the U.N. was being reorganized under Sammy’s stewardship to become a respected, fair arbitrator of international affairs. With firm agreements in place, the illegal arms trade had nearly dried up and with it, most terrorism. The world was truly at peace, largely thanks to the vision of Secretary General Samuel Franklin Austin, my beloved husband, who lay on his deathbed.

From my office at the library I could look over the entire complex. Indeed, the large windows gave me a breathtaking view of the entire city. The complex was intended to look like a series of low rise structures that harmonized with the park-like setting but, in reality, the presidential offices were on top of an eight story structure.

With trepidation, I submitted my access codes and underwent a retina scan and a DNA scan. For the first time I was accessing the memoirs David wrote after his supposed assassination - records that would not be available to the general public for another 82 years. Navigating through the maze of the virtual display that served to organize David’s material, I was astonished when I came upon something that was not written by David!

Among his memoirs was a book written by Pulitzer Prize-winning author and friend Bruce Warren, titled David Reynolds - His Years After the Assassination. I’d always wondered if Bruce had somehow gained access to David’s memoirs, given the richness of the content of his writings, and now I had my proof! With that, my search took on an entirely new direction.

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.