by Michael C. Keith
Things have come to a pretty pass when [man] is allowed to invade the sphere of private life.
–– Lord Melbourne
“Somebody hid a micro camera in the President’s bedroom!” whispered White House staffer Scott Piffin to his girlfriend.
“You’re kidding! What did they record? Who did it? Why . . .?” asked Christy Houser, excitedly.
“Whoa! I’ve no idea. I just overheard a couple Secret Service guys talking in the hall of the East Wing when I was on my way to Skipper Larson’s office.”
“Did you tell him what you heard?”
“No, I wasn’t sure what to do, but I think I’ll call him later. Maybe just talk to him tomorrow.”
“You’re going to wait? Shit, this is huge! Call him now,” pleaded Christy, slipping out of bed and putting on her robe.
“Okay, but I have to be careful. You just don’t go repeating something the Secret Service says in confidence.”
Scott swung around and sat on the edge of the bed in his boxers. He hit the speed dial on his iPhone and it rang twice before Skipper Larson answered.
“Hey, Skip. How you doing? Listen, I heard something today that I probably shouldn’t be repeating. But it’s got a lock on my thoughts, and I figured I’d . . . well, tell you what I heard.”
“Okay, shoot, my friend,” said the voice on the other end of the line.
“Sure . . . right. Well, I was heading to your office this afternoon, and I passed a couple of Secret Service guys. I couldn’t help but overhear one say to the other that the President’s bedroom was bugged.”
“Yeah, POTUS’ bedroom was bugged. That’s what I heard.”
“Shit, you got to be kidding! How the hell . . .?”
“No idea. That’s why I had to share it with you. If that’s a fact, then this is monster stuff, right?”
“Fuck . . . no kidding!”
“What should we do. Pretend we know nothing? I mean it really doesn’t concern us, right?”
“Yeah, let the guys in black deal with it. But I’d sure like to know what was recorded and who did it. Whether the bugger is going public with what he recorded. I’ll see if I can find out anything without raising a flag.”
“Would you tell me if you do, Skip?”
“Sure. You let me know, too.”
* * *
Despite the stealthy efforts of both men, no further information about the bugging turned up. But speculation between Scott and Skip about the content of the alleged recordings covered a wide swath.
“Jeez, what if they were having kinky sex? Imagine if that got on You Tube. A quadrillion hits in seconds,” offered Scott.
“Or drugs. What if they were smoking pot or doing lines? Holy crap! That would be the biggest scandal in history,” countered Skip.
“Maybe they were fighting? Cursing each other out?”
“Cross dressing? Watching pornos? No way! Way?“
“Wonder why it hasn’t gotten out? Who the hell made it into the President’s private quarters to bug the bedroom?”
“Got to be an insider. There are surveillance cameras everywhere but in the private quarters, so it may not be easy to nail the culprit.”
“My Secret Service contact denied the bugging. But he blinked. I mean his expression changed for a second, so I’m sure something is going on. This would be the biggest breach in White House security ever.”
“Can you keep pressing him on it, Skip?”
“I’ll let it go for a couple days, and then I’ll approach him again. He lives in the building across from mine, and I see him a lot. I’ll talk to him away from ground zero.”
* * *
At 11 o’clock that Saturday night, Scott received a call that cleared up the mystery.
“My mole let the cat out of the bag, but he said he’d have to kill me if I said anything. So I’m saying the same thing to you.”
“Understood,” replied Scott, his heart rate accelerating.
“They bagged the dude. He was a new junior security guy. Guess the idiot was going to blackmail the Secret Service. Figured they would pay anything to keep from looking so bad. You know, can’t even protect POTUS in the White House. Crap would really hit the fan.”
”Can’t imagine anyone doing such a stupid thing though? As if there was a chance in hell he could get away with it.”
“What about the recording? Did they get it?”
“Yeah, the fool had downloaded it on his laptop. Only about ten minutes’ worth of boudoir activity.”
“Oh my God! What was on it?”
“I don’t think I should say. I shouldn’t be telling you. You damn sure better not repeat this conversation. Shit, we shouldn’t be talking on the phone. See you in the morning at Starbucks.”
Before Scott could say anything else, Skip had hung up.
“So they caught the person who bugged the President?” asked Christy.
“Yeah, but I promised Skip I wouldn’t repeat what he said.”
“Are you kidding? I heard most of the conversation. So . . .?”
Scott reluctantly filled Christy in on the contents of the phone call and made her swear to say nothing about it. He then attempted to go back to sleep, but his mind would not close down, and he spent the night tossing and turning.
* * *
An hour before the alarm went off, Scott finally gave in to his insomnia. By 7:30 he had managed to clear most of the cobwebs from his head, and he made a beeline to the coffee shop. Skip was waiting.
“Hey, man, you don’t look too chipper. Better get a double espresso,” said Skip, sipping his latte.
“Couldn’t sleep. Kept wondering what was recorded on . . .”
“Shh! Keep it down. This is beyond top secret.”
“Sorry, so what was on it?” pressed Scott.
“You know, I think it’s better if I say nothing more.”
“What? You got to be shitting me, Skip.”
“Look, this is very sensitive stuff. We’re the only ones outside of the Service that knows this happened. They’re not going to make any public statements about it. They’re dealing with it internally.”
“You got to tell me what was recorded. I know everything else. Was it sex? Were they getting high? What the hell . . .?”
“I don’t know . . .”
“Just tell me, for God’s sake!”
“Okay . . . okay. But keep it down.”
Skip paused as if hoping something miraculous would intervene and save him from having to reveal the content of the recording.
“Well . . .?” asked Scott impatiently. “It must have been something pretty damning or embarrassing.”
“Yeah, not good. Not good at all,” said Scott, finally speaking
“C’mon, man! What were POTUS and the First Lady doing?”
“They were . . .”
“They were eating . . . McDonalds.”
Category: Fiction, Short Story