“I’m late.” The words echoed off the mahogany paneling of his office, mingling with and agitating the latent cigar smoke molecules and the dark secrets stored within the wood fibers. He was relieved that the swirl of his transgressions was visible only to him, a figment of his tortured imagination, but grounded in the harsh reality of his many errant choices. He struggled to appear nonplussed, a placid demeanor the foundation of his duplicitous life. This was not the first time that he had heard these words, not the first time that they had been spoken by someone other than his wife.
He pushed the button on the intercom that would summon his chief of staff, that protégé, confidant, and conspirator whose ambition had long subsumed any remorse over the deeds to which he had been party. The buzzer was static electricity to her brain and she stiffened, an intuitive response signaling far more than any words he would ever use to try to mollify her. That the fixer was called before he even took the time to respond to her declaration was all that she needed to know about where this was headed. She was at once unsurprised and completely devastated.
“It’s not mine.” The public relations offensive was already in full swing, an instinct ingrained through years of political machinations, of hypocrisies, of purposefully malevolent actions. They both knew that his statement was untrue; he had sent his goons to tail her to make sure that she understood that his threats as to her necessary loyalty were not trifling. Once, when she had dared look a second too long at the gorgeous waiter, she had been unable to show her face in public for three weeks while her bruises healed.
She had no inclination to argue with him and a rapidly diminishing desire to push the agenda with which she had arrived. The stars that she once had in her eyes had long ago fizzled; she did not want to keep this child, but it had occurred to her that she may have leverage. The brusque arrival of the fixer quashed any designs she had in that regard. Now she was trying to figure out how to extricate herself from her conundrum, limited as she was by the laws of her land and the distaste of bringing this devil’s spawn into the world, whether to be raised by her or by another.
“How could you be so careless?” This too was a fantastical projection, seeing as how he had connivingly convinced her that contraception was not only not necessary, but an embarrassment, a compromise of the covenant that they had with each other and with God. The serpentine logic of his moral circumlocutions was impressively dastardly. Yet, here he was, towering above her, surrounded by the illusions of his piety and benevolence: the portraits of his family, the gilded Bible, the new picture of him with the Governor after he had helped push through the most restrictive abortion law in the nation.
Three days prior, he had stood in front of the bank of microphones and ranted about the moral failings of those who would require an abortion in the first place, those lesser beings that he claimed stained the virtuous fabric of the great nation. Fueled by the righteous indignation of the sociopathic, he mocked those who fought for a woman’s right to choose the course of her life. This was the only consistent part of his message, as he fully intended to abrogate any right of his mistress to do anything other than continue to serve his interests by terminating the life of the fetus that grew inside her.
“This is over.” His tone, his posture, the narrowing of his eyes signaled that she had no choice but to accept this outcome. There was no other place that she could go, no other person to whom she could turn, that would ensure that this nightmare would be over, or at least over in her waking mind. In mere moments, she was ushered unceremoniously into a black car that whisked her out of town and over the state border, to a facility that had been paid well enough to keep this confidence of his, not the only one. It was a damning indictment of the state of the law and of the fever of contemporary politics that she considered herself lucky. Incredibly, she was right.