TITLE: First Tuesday
Why win an election when you can steal it?
When John Garner grabs the wrong piece of paper, he discovers our nation is under siege from within - and that his number one task isn’t getting to the bottom of the conspiracy before Tuesday’s presidential election. It’s staying alive.
“Hey, buddy! You.”
John Garner turned at the tap on his shoulder, stopping amid the hustle of Amsterdam Avenue. The man who’d accosted him was tall, a good four inches longer than John’s own 5’10” frame, with dirty blond hair that rested uneasily on the collar of his olive-drab pseudo-Army-surplus jacket. Or maybe the jacket was the real thing, though John was sure – almost sure – the Army had ditched olive-drab for desert camouflage fifteen years ago.
“Weren’t you just in that coffee shop?”
The man’s words sketched a question in form only – no upturned voice at the end, no doubt, more imperious accusation than query. Two sentences, and already the man reminded him of his second-year torts professor, a frustrated courtroom-wannabe who treated his students as hostile witnesses.
The man assumed the answer – correctly, as it happened – and kept speaking. “Did you pick up a piece of paper there?” Again, it sounded like “Where were you on the night you murdered your wife?”
John felt like shouting, “Objection!” Instead, he took a deep breath, refusing to let the man, a total stranger, spoil one of those unexpectedly warm fall afternoons that made even smart people believe winter would never beset New York. He decided that if the man were going to act like a litigator, he’d play dumb witness. “Piece of paper?” he asked, trying to sound artless, trying as well to avoid wrinkling his nose at the cigarette odor clinging to the man’s jacket.
“Yeah, paper. Like, you know….” The man gestured with open palms....