The Big Boss
That surprised not only me, but all those around me. I stood up, I had no lessons in protocol, but it only made sense. And as the others rose as well, it appeared to be the correct decision. The older man with the President walked over to Mac and shook his hand, greeted him by name and then the President did as well. Pleasantries were exchanged and then Mac brought them both over to where I stood. The President, cordial and polite, first greeted the group. "I just wanted to thank all of you for helping the Service protect not only me, my family, and all of us. I know it's getting close to the primaries and when those are over, your workloads will increase. So thanks again. I'm sure we'll be seeing each other over the next few months, and I'm quite certain, for another four years after."
There were acclimations of support, 'We're with you Mr. President.' 'Another four sir.' and the like from each. I said nothing. I didn't know the man, and realistically never followed politics. I was homeless up until five weeks ago. He used to raise peanuts was about all I knew.
Extending his hand to me, I shook it. I didn't try to garner anything more than normal from him, didn't want to shock the man as I had done to his Vice President. A firm grip, and I let his being melt into mine naturally. "I've been hearing many interesting things about you Mr. Mennachio. Mac here has reported incredible things. I had to come see what he’s recruited in you.”
Kindness, sorrow and a sense of just being overwhelmed. The President was a complex man. However his position was one of incredible responsibilities. Only a complex man could do what he does. “Thank you Mr. President. I’m not sure what you’ve been told, but I’ve learned more about myself in the last couple days than I’ve known all my life.”
“Yes, from what I’ve heard, Mac does that with all of you.” He said with his soft southern accent. His kindness was infectious and I began to feel the honesty and appreciation he truly felt.
I turned around to look at my new friends, and all were silently nodding acclimation to his statement. I had found a home. “Thank you again Mr. President. This opportunity has been a tremendous awakening for me. And given me a sense of purpose. Thanks.”
“You’re very welcome. We need what you bring to the irregulars. Our world isn’t so forgiving anymore and there are many out there with ideals and concepts that are far outside those that we can begin to understand. Mac and Doctor Peters are working to understand how it is that all of you are so different from the rest of the general population. And I fully back all of their research.”
Doctor Peters? Oh, yeah. Happy. “What would you like to see?”
The President looked behind him at the row of regulars, then over at Mac. “I think I was most impressed with the lock on the door. Can I see that for myself?”
“Of course.” And I looked over at Mac, who nodded assent. I then walked over to the double doors and pushed, just to ensure that they were locked. Then I stood next to the keypad and waved my hand over it. Then the same a second time. Nothing. I placed my hand on the keypad itself and did that same thing I previously did. I emptied my mind, stopped all thoughts, became the keypad, the door lock, the computer mainframe that controlled the system. There was an audible click and I moved over and pushed the left door. It opened.
Looking back toward the line of regulars, everyone was no longer stone-faced and serious. Each had that look of incredulity, mouths open, I could feel their bewilderment. Shock. Again, for me, it was a simple process. For those not accustomed, it was magic.
Looking now toward the President, I asked him. “Was that what you came to see?”
The man looked at me as though I was from outer space. “Yeah, I had heard it. But Mr. Mennacio,..”
And here I interrupted him, “Please Mr. President, call me Dennis. Mr. Mennacio was my father.”
Nodding his head, he smiled at me. “Yeah, I understand. It’s taken years for me to get used to everyone calling me Mr. President. I’ve always been Jimmy. Now…” Sadness.
Taking the step over to the man, I felt the line of regulars stiffen as I came near. Reaching out, I grasped his hand, and now, he was nearly petrified. I drew what I could from him. And gave him feelings of gratitude, and completeness. The President smiled at me. For him, my test was over.
It wasn’t for Maplefield. And as I remembered the groan from my compatriots at hearing he was here, the man then told me what he wanted. “That’s great Mr. Mennacio. But what we want is something more concrete and usable to our task at hand.”
With that he then grabbed my arm and dragged me over to stand in front of the line of regulars that had accompanied him. Here he then asked me. “Some of these men are carrying a weapon, tell me which ones.”
Prepared. I was not the first that he asked this of. The difference, I knew how to respond. I understood the man asking. His hatred of me, those that help him, was obvious. Men of power feared what they couldn’t understand. He was aware I couldn’t do what he asked.
Take the offensive. “How am I supposed to do that? None of them want to kill me. I could tell you that. But they carry guns every day. They don’t feel anything different from normal. Tell them to kill me. Tell them that I’m their enemy and I am the greatest threat to humanity there ever was. If they believe you, then I’ll feel it.”
Standing, staring at me. I was certain that it had been years since anyone had stood up to the man. I knew my new friends hadn’t. A glance toward them showed the awe and shock at what I had just said to the man they dealt with. Daily. I didn’t know.
Flustered, he had no answer. I seized the moment. “Mr. Assistant Director, wanting me, all of us, to do what we are unable to do isn’t realistic. You know, you know, that we can only feel emotions, what those around us feel. What they feel. At that moment. We can’t determine the status of ordinary things. I can tell you that you’re shocked, upset that I’ve told this to you. The indignation is palpable. We all feel it. But to ask me something there is no possible way to determine, well, sorry, that’s just ridiculous.”
Looking behind me, the entire group had lowered their heads, their gaze was anywhere but the present. They all wished they were me.
Now the Assistant Director stared at me. Lost. He knew he was not the victor. Saving face was now his objective. “If you can’t tell who has a gun and who doesn’t, what good are you to me?”
With as simplistic a voice as I could muster. I spoke to him. “Anyone can have a gun Mr. Assistant Director, the second amendment guarantees that right to Americans. Determining what they want to do with that gun is where we are qualitied to assist in the protection of the President, and his family. And now as I hear, the candidates as well. Having the ability that we have, we, all of us, accept our gifts as few of you that know of us, yet can’t understand us, do. I can’t read your, or anyone else’s mind. I can tell you what you’re feeling. And that, is the most important thing for what we, any of us, do.”
Defeat. He knew it, the test was over. I felt the acceptance of my conquest in the man. He turned toward Mac and said to him. “I suppose he’s right about this. I just think it would be so much easier if we knew beforehand who was armed and who wasn’t. That said, we know of course we can't arrest those that carry a weapon. So Mac, your team. Well." And he stopped. There was that hesitancy, that knowing he needed me, all of us, and not wanting to admit it. He then asked the President. "Anything else Mr. President?"
"No, I'm satisfied. I have many things to do this evening, we should leave." He then turned toward us all. "Thank you all again. I just want you to know how much I appreciate what you do for us."
The President turned and as the four in track suits and seven men in suits filed out with him, I saw the assistant director look toward me. I gave him a finger, number one. Then five fingers, and then with both hands, all five on one hand and three fingers on the other for the number eight. I thought he would faint. The men were all out the door, the President he knew was waiting, this tidbit of unexpected information would also have to wait. Turning to leave, his back toward me, I called out to him, “It was nice to have met you Mr. Assistant Director.’ And then he left, the door closed behind him.
Mac then looked at me, shaking his head slowly. “You shouldn’t have embarrassed the man Dennis, he controls this facility. And then to tell him which men were carrying, that can be a problem down the road. He’s going to want you to do that all the time. If we’re still here tomorrow.”
Once again, Andre spoke up, “Man I see dat too. How you does dat man. No way I knows who has gun. You be right too, you see the Man face. He be shocked.”
“I had no idea which ones were carrying Dennis. How did you know?” Stevey asked.
The group then all gave similar comments, all at once. I could tell they had no idea, never thought such a thing possible. Even they, the men who lived lives outside the normal reality of mankind, couldn’t fathom how such a thing was done. I stood there, unsure if giving them the direction they needed to follow was appropriate. A little mystery might not be a bad idea. Well, a little more mystery. I already did things they couldn’t comprehend. But then again, I could barely grasp the enormity of my own gifts. I knew about them, but never thought much about what they were, could become, or exactly how rare it was to be me.
Moments passed, Mac then asked me. “Dennis, how did you know.”
Then again, Mac asked me to reveal it. These were my chosen compatriots. “You guys are all thinking one dimensionally. You thought about feeling a man holding a gun. I said those things to the Director to get his men to relax. When they did, I felt that. They all had been briefed to not think, to clear their minds and make the test harder. At least I’m sure that was what they were told. They were all pretty tense. Those three were the ones that relaxed about the test more so than the others. I guessed. I think I was right. Think about that, the answer was pretty simple from that perspective.”
“Damn, dat be easy. I not looking at dat. Man Dennis, you be genius man.”
Chuckles all around. A hero to my peers.
The mood changed instantly as Mac looked at us all, with his stern look. One I had not seen before. They all knew, even as did I, that something was up. Beginning with a ritual clearing of his throat, “Well it’s all well and good that we find this amusing, but Maplefield isn’t one to take public embarrassment lightly. We could be in for retribution. However, that explanation from Dennis, is a great way to temper his anger. And I’m sure you all felt how angry he was with what he was told.”
Nods of assenting realization all around as I glanced over my shoulder at them all. The vocal one, Andre voiced what the others felt. “Yeah man, he be pissed. An’ Denny shot da man the fingers, I tink he peed his pants. Not be good fo us man. An’ really not be good fo Denny man.”
Sitting back down in the chair in front, I was not sure how to proceed. “I apologize for anything that happens because of what I did. I’m a newcomer. My method of determining what he asked probably wasn’t the best method I could have used. Sorry.”
Now Happy spoke up. “Dennis, I wouldn’t worry about it. We’ll still be here. I don’t know what you did to the President, but I think that you have firmly entrenched yourself with him. And we’ve proven ourselves to be a necessary part of the protection detail. The world is a lot different now than it has been in the past. What we do, what all of us do, is just one more extra step of protection. The crazies of the world are an unknown factor in today’s world. The regulars may not like, hell, they may indeed hate us. But they know they need us.”
Then Mac took over. “I think the crazies have always been with us. Those that believe something outside the normal parameters of what is generally considered as within the accepted confines of society, have always existed. Booth shot Lincoln, and on the day he put into law the funding for the agency to protect him. Booth believed, certainly it was political, but his actions were outside those parameters of standards. You don’t shoot someone to express your viewpoint. At least the majority of people feel that way.”
Andre then added. “Yeah man, an tanks to God dat most not tink like dat man, yeah.”
Stevey now injected his feelings. “We feel lots of the crazies, but yeah, thankfully they’re just crazy. So far, not so many have been murderous. That Dennis, is the hard part of the job.”
“But necessary.” I added.
“Indeed.” Mac summarized.
We all sat in silence now. Thoughts about ourselves, and our place in the world. Even I was silent, new to this life. Little did I know the enormity of these decisions I had made would soon overtake every facet of my existence.