BUSH WATCH.........A Mystery Novel
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today's episode

BUSH WATCH: A Mystery Novel-In-Progress
(c) copyright 2005

"It's all fiction, folks !"

by Jerry Politex

One:

I drove my silver Audi down Mesa Drive, the spine of Cat Mountain, hung a left at the cat's tail, drove quickly up the hilly, winding 2222 in low gear, took a right onto Balcones Drive, and came to a stop in the rear parking lot of Che Zee.

Another sunny, warm early spring day in Northwest Austin, Texas. The lunch crowd was pretty much thinned out by now, so I had choices of parking spaces. I got out of the car, the turbines winding down, and stood by the rear entrance to the restaurant, a pretty-good place for not very expensive Southwestern food. I didn't have long to wait.

He came into the parking lot in an old, rattletrap Nissan pickup. Paint worn off in places, rusty, dusty, squeaky. I recognized him from the description the moment he got out. Looked to be in his fifties. Grizzled. Kind of rusty, dusty, and squeaky. A stringbean of a guy with pale white skin, reddish hair, which was short but unkempt. He was wearing a black polo shirt with the tail out. Denim shorts that had shrunk to a tight fit over his bony hips, short enough for the front pockets to stick out of the frayed cuffs. A pair of old, once-white but now gray, paint-spattered tennis sneakers. Austin casual for a yuppie restaurant, ten minutes from the glass buildings of the city's burgeoning silicon gulch , a world of high tech hopes in buildings springing up like overnight mushrooms.

"Name's Wayne," he said with a crooked, good-natured smile, coming across the parking lot with his arm outstreatched like a spear, eager to shake my hand. "Recognized you right away, Politex. Good description."

***

It began with an e-mail...

From: Wayne
To: Politex
Subject: Question

"I'm a humble writer. Who are you?"

I answered back...

"I'm a humble writer, too. What's up?"

He then replied...

"You ever get hungry around lunch? Got a propostion for you."

To which...

"Sure. Where? What proposition?"

And he...

"How about Chez Zee? It's near my house. Any day at, say, 2 p.m. Proposition about Bush Watch."

So I...

"Fine, let's do it tomorrow at Chez Zee at 2 p.m. unless I hear otherwise from you. I'll see you at the back parking lot entrance. I'll be wearing a Hawaiian shirt. Medium height. Black hair."

Finally he...

"You got a deal. I'm just a skinny old guy with kids in college and a big mortgage. That's what I look like."

***

Wayne squeezed my elbow with his left land and placed a long limp fish of a right hand in mine.

We went down a darkened hall past the rest rooms into the light of a modern restaurant. Blond wood tables with circular green shaded lamps hanging from the ceiling, waiters and waitresses in black slacks and white dress shirts, order books tucked behind in the small of their backs. We sat ourselves down in the front corner of the restaurant near a bank of windows that ran along the front of the building. We were on Balcones Road, an upscale strip center across the street. Our dinining companions on one side were a circular table of dressed-for-success laughing women finishing their desert. On the other side were two businessmen having coffee and somberly sharing numbers and writing them down in small notebooks.

"So, Wayne, you have kids in college and a big mortgage?"

"I know what you're thinking, Politex. Politex, what is that Russian? What?"

"Just a name I made up for Bush Watch. You know, Texas politics. "Politex." I'm a private person and would just as soon keep Bush Watch separate from the rest of my life. You can call me Jerry if you want. That's my real first name."

"Well, Jerry, lemmy tell you, I kinda like Politex, so I'll call you that. Anyway, yeh. Seeing me dressed like an Austin hippy, the first thing that comes to mind is not a guy with a mortgage and kids in college. Maybe an old geezer selling dope'd be more like it. This is my day off and I just live a couple of minutes from here, so I came as I was. This ain't Dallas. Yet."

"What do you do when you're not off?"

Wayne leaned in across the table towards me, under the green lamp over the table, elbows on the place setting.

"Marge and I just got back from USC. Youngest kid wants to be a doctor. He's a junior and his grades are pretty good. Little trouble with chemistry, so I don't know. Maybe a pharmacist. Hell, if he decides to be a vet he could go to Aggieland over in Bryant. USC's paying tuition and some of the fees and books, so it could be worse. Living in L.A.'s expensive though. Fun to visit. Marge and I like to stay out in Pasadena in a hotel near the Rose Bowl. Very calming there, long as you stay off the freeways." Other boy, we got two, just started law school down in Houston, and decided to get married. That took up a lot of our time, getting ready for that, not to mention money. It's been a busy spring. So what do you do?"

Wayne leaned back in his chair, a guileless smile on his face, as if to say the ball was in my court, now. A waiter came and took our order. Wayne wanted a hamburger with everything and iced tea. I went for the chicken enchaladas verde with black beans and lime-cilantro rice.

I drank some water.

"I guess you could say I'm between jobs, Wayne. Looking for a second career, maybe. I was lucky enough to sell some software that people wanted, so now I have some time off to look around. So, you're a writer?"

"Correction, Politex, I'm a humble writer."

"What makes you humble?"

"My pay grade."

"Who pays you?"

"I'm tryin' to get between jobs."

"I hear that."

"Well, Politex, I'd like to sell some software, too"

"Oh?"

"Ever hear of the Waller Creek News?"

"Sure, Wayne, who hasn't. You want the down and dirty on Austin state politics, you subscribe to the WCN. The tarrif's a little stiff for me, so I get my information from the Statesman."

"Yeh, two thousand bucks a year for a four-page weekly newsletter is a bit stiff for the man on the street, but we break even on lobbyists, alone. I guess I can still say, "We." Tryin' to sell my half of the little sucker, but gotta stay on at least until the end of the legislative session and Bush goes out on the presidential trail."

"Oh. So, what is this, an interview about Bush Watch for the Waller Creek News?"

"Huh? Oh, Lordy, no, Politex."

***

"Hot plate!"

Startled, I looked up and leaned back as the swift waiter slid a colorful mix of Tex-Mex food under my nose. Wayne got the less festive burger, but the thick slice of red onion next to the tomato slice and pickle chips looked like it could do some damage to the taste buds.

"Wow, that was fast, Wayne."

Wayne didn't seem to look down at his food. Instead, he hastily added some spoonfuls of mustard and mayonnaise to his giant burger and vegatable stack, pressed the top of the whole wheat bun down on it, and brought the whole mess up to his mouth as he continued to talk.

"Politex, I wanted to talk to you about Bush."

"I guess you know him from doing your newsletter."

"No, actually, been friends for over twenty years, ever since my father covered his uncle for the Houston Chronicle when old man Adams was Vice-President. Where do you know Bush from?"

"I never met the man."

"Mrrrf." Wayne's burger was beginning to sag in his hands as he tried to nuzzle it into submission. Finally, he put it down and wiped his hands on the cloth napkin.

"Well, I gotta say, Politex, that comes as a bit of a surprise. You write in Bush Watch as though you know him and his faimly. All those personal details and comments about his personality. You makin' all that stuff up?"

"Not really. I just observe and do my homework. I'm sure you do the same."

"Yeh, but I know him personally. If you don't, I don't know where you get some of the stuff you write."

"No secret, Wayne. After all Bush is the Governor. He's on TV. Folks write about him. He gets interviewed. I...."

"I bet you have a little birdie, don't you?" Wayne pushed his plate towards the center of the table and leaned in towards me, both elbows now on the table. "Little birdies are fine, I got 'em myself. Got to in this business."

"No birdies, Wayne. No rabbits up my short sleeves. Anyway, Bush Watch is just a hobby between jobs, something to amuse Texans and a few hundred political junkies around the country who're just marking time, waiting for the presidential primaries to begin next fall."

"Maybe. Let me tell you something about Bush Adams...."

Two:

"And what did he tell you?" Christine asked.

We were sitting at a table out on the deck of our Cat Mountain home, one of a number of mid-century modern houses from the Sixties that perch on the tops of canyons off the cat's spine, spreading out like fingers toward the hill country to the west. From our vantage point on the deck, fluttering Buddhist prayer flags overhead, we could see cars on the Loop 360 highway off in the distance down below, crossing the Colorada River and shimmering in the sun. They were moving up the hill on the other side of the river, past the entrance to Michael Dell's upscale neighborhood of MacMansions in the dry, craggy hills off in the distance. The houses there were newly planted with live oak, palm trees next to swimming pools, and drought tolerant Buffalo grass in the large front yards behind high, wrought iron fences with big gates.

Christine, who teaches Buddhism at the University of Texas and runs a small press devoted to reproductions of rare oriental texts, was in her usual at-home uniform: an aerobics costume, bare feet. Today it was tight-fitting maroon with gold touches, which looked good against her long, dark hair. She was born in Delhi, India, the adopted daughter of an oil-rich Dallas family, and a very lucky accident in my life. We've been living together for nearly ten years, ever since we met at a local think-tank meeting of computer software engineers and small press publishers.

"Hey! What did he tell you?" Christine repeated, louder than before, getting up and placing her hands on the deck railing, legs apart, and bending from the waist.

"Uh...sorry. My mind was drifting. He told me he used to hang out with Bush Adams when Bush worked in the White House when his uncle was Vice-President and Wayne's father was the White House reporter for the Houston Chronicle."

"And..."

"And he said that Bush was a good guy and I should cut him some slack on Bush Watch."

"A good guy?"

"Yeh, a good guy. Wayne said Bush was funny and down to earth. That he's not a Washington insider, that he had just been killing time in D.C. until his father got him another business deal in Texas."

"We know how that deal made him a millionaire. If he wasn't a Washington insider, he sure was a Texas insider. So what did Bush and Wayne do in D.C.?"

"The way Wayne tells it, they were drinking buddies. Got in the usual scrapes with booze and broads. He was just cautioning me not to believe everything I hear."

"What have you heard?" Christine placed the heel of her right foot on the railing and straightened her leg.

"Nothing, really, nothing that I haven't heard about the other candidates in the presidential primaries. But I'm curious that Wayne was pumping me to find out what I knew about Bush and where I got it from. Maybe that Internet gossip story I posted about Bush hiring a private dick to see if he could dredge up dirt on him wasn't off the mark"

"Do you think there's something there?"

"I doubt it, the gossip columnist said the dick didn't find anything. It's probably just small-town paranoia. But then, if there wasn't anything there, why did Bush pay good money to learn the obvious? Maybe he is trying to hide something."

"Or maybe," Christine replied, "Wayne is on the outside looking in and he's trying to score points with the Bush insiders by finding something to report."

"Given Wayne, that makes sense."

"Did he ever get to his "proposition" for Bush Watch?"

...continued next Monday


Bush Watch is a daily political internet magazine based in Austin, Texas, paid for and edited by Politex, a non-affiliated U.S. citizen. Contents, including "Bush Watch" and "Politex," (c) 1998-2005 Politex. The views expressed herein and the views in stories that you are linked to are the writers' own and do not necessarily reflect those of Bush Watch. Permission of author required for reprinting original material, and only requests for reprinting a specific item are considered. The duration of the working links is not under our control. Bush Watch has not reviewed all of the sites linked to our site and is not responsible for the content of any off-site pages or any other sites linked to our site. Your linking to any other off-site pages or other sites from our site is at your own risk. Send all e-mail to Politex.