The glorious celebration of the Christmas tree lighting in Washington always presents a challenge to Jack and Bob: how to find a bar away from the tourists. The Old Ebbitt might be crowded later on, but right now, they have Grant’s bar all to themselves:
Jack looked concerned: “Bob, where did you go? We were starting to get worried.”
“The weather turned. I got cold and went south.” Bob signaled the bartender to bring another round.
“Are you crazy? You’ve been gone almost a month. You’ve missed so much, you will never catch up. Those lunatics in your association are going to can you if they find out.”
“Relax. I didn’t miss anything. Nothing happened. After the election, they drag the carcasses of the defeated off the battlefield and bury the dead. Then we have a protracted period in which the winners gloat and the losers show remorse, consider mutiny, then begin to eat their young. If you think it amounts to anything, you can exhaust yourself trying to keep up. But this isn’t my first rodeo.”
“So, leave town?” Jack leaned in. “What about all the maneuvering to change jobs? When you can help push someone up the ladder with a well timed phone call or email—make them a friend forever? You pass on that?” He shook his head. “What did you do down there?”
“Rest. Get in shape.” Bob eyed Jack as he drained the last of his drink. “Listen, I know I missed the hors d’oeuvres. But there is going to be a legislative buffet for the next year or so that will take care of my outstanding bar bill and maybe even put something in my 401k.”
“A buffet? What are you talking about?” Jack picked a peanut out of the snack bowl and ate it.
Evan came into the bar, climbed on a stool and pointed at the Bass Ale tap while Bob was talking. The bartender nodded back.
“…Tax law changes, spending bills. Fiscal cliff hysteria. I’m thinking a Superstorm Sandy Emergency Supplemental Appropriations bill.”
“Wait a second.” Evan shook his head. “I don’t know where the hell you’ve been, and I know I’ve missed something, but what does Superstorm Sandy have to do with your group?”
“Not a blessed thing.”
Evan frowned. “That’s a legitimate emergency, you know. Those people are really hurting. Even Jack couldn’t spin a connection with your group.”
The bartender placed napkins in front of them and lined up their drinks.
“Of course people are hurting.” Bob scowled back at Evan. “And that means there will be large pockets in the legislation that we can stuff with complicated goodies for the rest of us. Of course, that emergency bill may be months away. Right now, we have this fiscal cliff.” He paused, unable to suppress a smile. “Don’t you love it?”
“Ok. I get it.” Jack nodded. “Tax hikes, spending cuts, all in the form of a convoluted Christmas tree. Lots of goodies. Little provisions we can hang on it. But I don’t exactly see how that can that help that group of criminals you represent.”
“Putting aside that it is really none of your business, let’s say, hypothetically, we have a little problem with the agency that regulates us. They are somewhat confused on a couple of things and tend to misinterpret—you get the idea. A sentence or two is all we need. We slip it in the bill, which only a handful of staffers will read–”
Evan put down his beer mid sip. “No way.”
“Yes way.” Bob nodded, smiling broadly now.
“It must be over. Here they come.” He looked over Evan’s head to see shivering, rosy cheeked tourists streaming through the tall brass doors in the front of the Old Ebbitt. “I’ll get the check”
*For more adventures of Jack, Bob and Evan, check out my novel Spin Doctor. Spin Doctor makes an excellent Christmas gift for the political junkie! Available in paperback and Kindle at Amazon.