Jackson Kendrick Jr

Jackson Kendrick Jr is one of the main characters in the crime thriller The Mantis Pact

May 9th had been more relaxed than I had expected.  The scheduled meeting to finalise the purchase of a telecoms company in Florida lasted way shorter than expected, the owners caving-in as soon as we showed ‘em that our due-diligence had thrown-up several things they had clearly hoped we were too dumb to spot.  They took our reduced offer in a heartbeat once they recognised nobody else was likely to bid once we hinted our reasons to the press for withdrawing our interest.

Emil, my son-in-law and the Corporation’s lawyer, stayed-on to conclude the main paperwork, so I got the jet to fly me straight to Topeka, where I was to be the guest of honour at a charity bash that evening.  We got into Forbes Field just after four, giving time for a relaxed chat with the Governor at his mansion beforehand.

Cedar Crest is not a big house, in fact it’s the smallest Governor’s residence in the country, but it’s a cosy place sitting on top of the hill overlooking the river, and it has massive grounds – plenty of space to park the ‘copter for the trip home.  It has the look of old-style French architecture, but it was only built in the ‘twenties for some local newspaper magnate.  Not that he made much from newsprint, most of his fortune came once he turned his mind to banking.  Like the proverb says – ’tis money that begets money’.  One of my favourites that one.

He only lived there a few years, then left it to the State in his will.  But they couldn’t have it until his wife joined him on the other side, and she kept ‘em waiting well over twenty years.  She sounds a bit like my Estelle – if I was to do something as daft as that in my will, she would probably make up her mind simply not to die – period!

I really like visiting there and it has to be said that this new Governor is a more relaxed host than his predecessor.  Cold fish that one, although a damned shrewd politician; you wouldn’t get much past him unless you had all your facts right up front – in triplicate.  Way different from my early days.  Some of those good ol’ boys were much more easy to get on with.  I remember one of ‘em, better not name names, all you had to do was pump a decent bourbon in him, although that weren’t cheap – his favourite tipple was Heaven Hill.  Very discerning though; make the mistake of presenting him a case of one of the lesser blends and he would filibuster your problem until it was all gone, which could take some time, especially if your opposition was giving him a bottle or two of one of the choicer vintages – that would guarantee his undivided attention all night.  I think there’s still a few bottles of his favourite in the cellar at home.

The Mansion’s only about a ten minute drive from the Capitol where the evening’s events were taking place.  Now there’s a building to impress your guests as you roll-up to it in the Governor’s limousine, what with that glorious dome outside the new sculpture on the top representing the State motto: ad Astra per Aspera – to the stars with difficulty.  Guess it would be if you can’t afford the rocket.  Then there’s old John Brown raging across the walls upstairs as you walk towards the banqueting hall; still cause all manner of controversy those murals, no wonder the artist never signed ’em, all those bureaucrats trying to work ‘em out.  What’s a politician ever known about creativity?    Art’s art – don’t try and second-guess the guy what makes it, ‘specially if he don’t agree with you!

It was one of the better evenings, despite having to share a table with one or two social climbers, plus that crushing bore Stanton.  But who would have expected it to end with getting that awful news some time after midnight.  I had no idea if my son knew before I did – heck I had no idea where my son was.  In fact, I hadn’t seen him at all for nearly a week, and although we had a place reserved for him on our table, he rarely attended anywhere that I was going to be a speaker these days.

We may have thought we had pulled him back from the brink, but nobody really knew what was going on in that head of his.  Neither could we guess what the news would do to him.

To read how Chris McKinley became involved click here