Saturday, September 3, 2016

Spotlight on Molly Malone from DEADLY POLITICS

by Maggie Sefton

Spotlighting Molly Malone from DEADLY POLITICS----      

Last month I Spotlighted my suspense mystery, DEADLY POLITICS, so for this month I figured Readers should meet the heroine/sleuth Molly Malone.  Molly can definitely speak for herself---

Jed Molinoff, Congressman Jackson’s chief of staff, gestured me inside the dark-paneled room, rich woods gleaming in furniture and floor-to-ceiling bookshelves.  I could smell the lemon oil.  The entire library was straight out of a Dickens novel.  I chose a burgundy velvet armchair while Brewster settled in comfortably behind a polished walnut desk.
            Unable to restrain my curiosity, I had to pry.  “You have a file on me, Mr. Brewster?”
            He grinned boyishly over the open folder.  “Everyone has a file, Ms. Malone.  And please call me Peter.”  He lifted the folder.  “Thanks to Google, we can run but we can’t hide.  May I call you Molly?”
            I nodded, still processing.  “That’s seriously scary.”
            “Isn’t it, though?”  He tossed the file on  the desk.  “You’re welcome to take a look if you like.”
            I shook my head.  “Not on an empty stomach.”  I knew what was there.  I didn’t need to see blurry copies of newspaper headlines again.  Those black-and-white images were already burned into my brain.
            Brewster leaned back into the leather chair.  “You surprise me.  Most people would grab that folder.”
            “I already know what’s there.  I’ve had my fifteen minutes of fame, and then some.  I have no need to relive those days.”
            He studied me, his boyish smile faded.  “Karen says you blamed Washington for your husband’s suicide.  Is that why you haven’t been back all these years?”
            Boy, Karen really did tell this guy everything.  I’d have to speak to her.  “Actually, I do return to the area.  I just fly into Dulles.  After all, my elderly mother lives in a retirement home in Northern Virginia, and I have other family here in addition to Karen.”  I deliberately dodged the rest of his question.  “Actually, yesterday was the first time I’ve flown into National in over twenty years.”
            He smiled at me.  “How was it?”
            “Wrenching.  And heartbreakingly beautiful.”
            “You still blame Washington for what happened?  That’s a long time to hold a grudge, Molly.”
            This guy was like a laser, and I was clearly the target.  I could feel the red dot warming my forehead.  Sensing that subtle subterfuge and evasion wouldn’t work with Brewster, I decided on total honesty.  What the hell?  I didn’t want this job anyway.  I may need it, but I sure didn’t want it.
            I glanced over his shoulder to the tall windows behind, draped in burgundy velvet.  I spotted a garden outside.  “I don’t blame the city anymore,” I confessed.  “It’s what it does to people.  To politicians or anyone who works within smelling distance of Capitol Hill.  The lust for power consumes them after a while.  And they’ll do anything to keep that power.  Destroy anything or anyone that’s in their way.”  My voice had hardened as I spoke.  Old habits. 
            Brewster pointed to the folder.  “It sounds like your husband wasn’t consumed by it.  Apparently he helped pass some significant legislation.  Environmental protection.  Education.”
            “You’re right.  Dave accomplished a lot in his six short years.”  I was surprised at the pride I still felt saying that.
            “It must have been heady in those days.  You two were the young couple to watch.  The Golden Pair.  The brash young congressman from the West, cutting through Washington red tape, carving a path.  A rising star, the clippings say.”
            Resigning myself to this stroll down memory lane, I nodded.  “He was all that and more.”
            “And there you were, right beside him,” Brewster grinned.  “Senator Malone’s beautiful politically savvy daughter, who cut her teeth on Washington politics, orchestrating every move in her talented young husband’s career.”
            Whoa.  I met Brewster’s steady gaze.  “That’s flattering, but it’s a gross overstatement.  I simply helped Dave. . .live up to his potential, that’s all.”
            “The word back in Colorado is you were the force behind David Grayson, Molly.  You can feign modesty and deny it, but everyone I talked to in Denver agrees.  You were the politically savvy one, not your husband.”
            That dart grazed my shoulder as it passed.  This guy was one hell of an interviewer.  His comments were getting way too close.  And dredging up way too many ghosts.  Deciding righteous indignation would deflect his aim, I lifted my chin and replied, “Wrong, Mr. Brewster.  David Grayson was a charismatic and caring congressman.  His strength came from his ability to relate to people, not from me.  That’s why he was so effective.  He genuinely cared about the people he represented.”
            Brewster sat silent, watching me, so I continued.  “Unfortunately those same qualities were seen as threatening to some other people.  Powerful people.  He was in their way.”  I clamped my mouth shut so I wouldn’t say any more. 
            “Then why did he kill himself?  Why didn’t he stay and fight the good fight?”
            Bullseye.     Long-suppressed emotions rushed out, engulfing me for a moment.  I fixed Brewster with a wry smile. 
            “You are something else, Peter, you know that?  In all these years, no one has had the nerve to ask me that.  Did you come up with that question all by yourself, or is the senator behind this interrogation?”
            His deceptively boyish grin returned.  “The senator is way too polite to be so insulting.  That’s my job.”
            “To insult people?  You’re doing great so far.  I’m going to need therapy after this session.  You must have been a psych major, that’s why you’re attracted to politicians.  They’re all crazy.”
            “After grad school I started working on some California state campaigns, then graduated to congressmen.  I discovered I had a knack for helping a candidate stay on message and get elected.  I’ll give you my resume, if you like, but let’s get back to you.”
            I shook my head in grudging admiration.  “Damn, you’re relentless.  What else do you want to know?  Go on, Brewster.  Bring it.”
            This time he laughed loudly, clearly enjoying my abject surrender.  “Enough of the past.  Let’s get up to speed.  Why didn’t you get involved in the last Colorado election?  The party could have used your support. “
            I threw up my hands.  “Now, with the guilt, he starts.  Don’t even go there, Peter.  My absence was insignificant.  Those candidates lost that election all by themselves.  They cut their own throats with that name-calling and mudslinging.  I almost had to force myself to vote.  Besides, your guy is an Independent.  So all their mudslinging  helped get him elected.”
            “Point taken.  But you didn’t come to any candidate’s events.  Not even the senator’s.  And my sources told me you personally supported his candidacy, even though he ran as an Independent.”
            Now it was my turn to relax in my chair.  I was beginning to enjoy this banter.  Getting my chops back, I guess.  “Tell your sources they can chase themselves.  I sent a check.”

                           (This conversation continues in DEADLY POLITICS. ) 

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