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The Last Straw

by The Cranky Media Guy

Al Gore was restless. He hadn't slept for days. Pregnant chads, hanging chads, vampirish secretaries of state all had taken their toll on him. Publicly he kept up the illusion of a man in control; internally he was in turmoil. His world was spinning out of control.

His entire life had lead up to this, what should be his moment of triumph. He was bred for leadership, his every conscious action was intended to convey an image of a man in control. He could never let his guard down in public, he could never let anyone see past the carefully constructed facade he had erected. If he appeared stiff and wooden, it was because he tried to be aware of literally every motion, lest a stray gesture betray a man out of control, a man not fit to lead a nation.

Being in control every moment of every day was incredibly stressful. No one understood that, no one. It was even harder to have to play second fiddle to a man like Bill Clinton, who seemed to follow his impulses without giving the slightest thought to how that might be perceived by the public. No one understood the real Al Gore, certainly not that buffoon, that Id Monster, Clinton.

Prep school, living in a hotel room in D.C., the tour in Vietnam--nothing normal about any of it and all of it leading inexorably to his moment in the sun as the president of the United States. It would happen, it must happen. It would happen.

Al Gore sat on the edge of his bed. A glass of Stoli was on the nearby table, half-empty. Only an hour ago, the public Gore had made a formal statement about the ongoing election situation, something about no voter being disenfranchised and the will of the people, blah blah blah. Oh, he was perfectly composed while delivering it, as always. No one could tell what he was feeling, as always. The confident, slightly smug smile was in place, as always. Leaving the podium, Gore had gone straight to his private quarters, closing the door behind him.

Tipper was elsewhere, serving soup to her homeless friends or playing the drums or some damn thing. She wasn't there, at the Naval Observatory, that was for sure. Not that Al Gore wanted her there. If she was, she'd want him to "share". He'd faked it countless times, of course, as any spouse has to, but that took more energy than he had at the moment. Lifting the glass, Al Gore tossed back half of the contents.

"How?" he asked out loud. "How could that inbred half-wit shitkicker be challenging me? Me, Al Gore!" Loose chads, whatever the fuck they were, swirled in his mind, taunting him. Chads!

There was a soft knock at the door. "Mr. Vice-president?" came a voice. It was Henley, the Secret Service agent assigned to the private quarters.

Al Gore had a sudden flash. Everything crystallized in his mind in a moment of perfect clarity. "Come in," he said in a strong voice.

Henley entered. "Is everything all right, sir?" he asked, concern lining his face.

Al Gore appeared confident, as he had practiced doing all his adult life. "Sure, everything's fine. Hey, would you do me a favor, Agent?"

"Of course, sir. What can I do for you?"

"Would you mind getting me a glass of milk from the kitchen? I think I have a little bit of a stomach ache," Al Gore said, his face the usual blank mask.

"Of course, sir," said Henley. Technically, agents weren't supposed to be gophers, but it was hardly unusual for one to be asked to run a small errand. He headed off toward the stairs.

Al Gore smiled to himself. As he expected, the agent had left his suit jacket hanging on the chair he had been sitting on. He had to move fast, the agent would be his usual efficient self, returning soon. Quickly, Al Gore felt underneath the jacket. As he suspected, Henley's holster was underneath the jacket. Al Gore removed the pistol within and quickly headed toward the back stairs of the mansion.

Undetected, he went down and out the back door. With catlike motions, he went from tree to shrub, taking care not to be seen by the agents on the roof of the house. In short order, he was next to the big fence that ran the length of the property along Massachusetts Avenue.

Al Gore squatted down so that his head barely stuck up over the concrete base of the fence. He could see the traffic passing by on the busy avenue. He chuckled softly to himself.

"I'll show them. I'll show them all!" Al Gore said in an oddly calm voice. Raising the gun so that the barrel rested on the top of the concrete base, he squinted through the site. A yellow Volkswagen Beetle passed by, a secretary from the Department of Energy at the wheel. She was humming along to a Duran Duran song on the radio.

Al Gore pulled the trigger. The VW careened out of control, crashing into a light pole. The hood crumpled and steam shot out of the radiator. A Mercedes heading the other way stopped. The driver got out to help the secretary out of the Volkswagen. Al Gore drew a bead and pulled the trigger again. The Mercedes driver fell to the ground, a neat hole in his forehead.

Clutching the pistol, Al Gore fell to the ground, cackling uncontrollably. "There's your hanging chad, you bastards!" he yelled at the sky. He felt calmer than he could ever remember feeling before; he closed his eyes and clamped the pistol to his chest. On Massachusetts Avenue, chaos reigned. Only yards away, behind the fence of the Observatory property, Al Gore slipped away into a quiet place, a perfect place. He felt he was truly himself, the real Al Gore, for the first time in his entire life.

 

 

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