Jax hikes up to Wifi rock. And checks his emails. He sees that Simon has sent him a Youtube link. It’s a music video of footage shot from inside the presidential campaign. It starts with Bettina driving Senator Johns SUV into the morning sun in Iowa. And getting pulled over for speeding by Highway Patrol. The officer comes up to the window and asks for Bettina’s license and registration. She hands them to him, then motions for him to wait, and pulls a business card from her cell phone case. The cop looks at it and bursts out laughing, and hands them back to her and waves them to keep going. One of the staffers shows the camera the card:
Bettina Andrews Presidential Campaign Junior Advisor For the Honorable Senator Johns, Louisiana "Please Don’t Call Me”
Jax laughs hard at Bettina’s daring prank. The clip then cuts to the candidate speaking with his sleeves rolled up to a lunch crowd gathered in a diner, with Bettina taking notes and Tim standing nearby, looking just like a Secret Service agent in plainclothes. Then it quickly cuts to Lana standing outside, watching the parked vehicle caravan, talking with local law enforcement. She’s wearing an earbud and sunglasses.
Then the clip shows Bettina smiling happily as she drives, the speedometer of the SUV pegged at 90mph. The camera pans up and shows the police escort ahead of them, blue lights flashing, as they fly past cars and semis on the freeway to a rally. There’s footage of Bettina just inside the auditorium doors, shaking hands and welcoming entrants to a town hall style meeting. Lana, wearing an open jean jacket and a long grey slitted skirt that shows a hint of leg as she moves, walks up to Bettina and whispers in her ear, and Bettina leaves to head up to the podium, and Lana goes to greeting the entrants in her place. There’s a large placard
AMERICA FIRST PEACE & SAFETY
on the podium from where Bettina introduces the Senator to the crowd. And him speaking and the crowd rising to give him a standing ovation.
Then there’s sidewalk footage of Lana walking by the cameraman and turning her head suddenly to give the camera a quick smile with her head down as she moves away. She looks behind her again with a big smile upon her face. Jax repeats this scene over and over.
He sees the Youtube UpNext playlist: Magic of Rahan. Demon eyes prank 3. A dark skinned Indian approaches Bettina at an event and she greets him warmly with a smile and offers him her hand. He suddenly brings his hand to his nose and sneezes, and then looks at her with demon eyes contacts. She shrieks, and Lana suddenly produces a snub nosed revolver from behind her jean jacket and points it at him. ON THE FLOOR, NOW. Lana commands. Don’t shoot. It’s just a prank for my Youtube channel. They’re just contacts, he yells, as his friend films the scene with his Gopro. Take them out, NOW. Lana commands. He does. Lana puts her gun away and steps toward him, but Bettina rushes in between them. LANA, NO. And hugs her. Viewers see Lana’s clenched fists shake at her side as she trembles with rage as Bettina holds her tightly. I’m sorry, he tells Bettina as he gets up off the floor and backs away. She ignores him and rubs Lana’s back in small circles as she hugs her. Deep breaths, Lana, she says softly. Stand down. Viewers see the tension ebb out of Lana, and her head slump down. The Senator makes his way through the onlookers, Tim right behind him. Bettina starts to let go of Lana, who suddenly wraps her arms around Bettina and hugs her tightly. Thank you, the camera catches her whisper. Bettina gives the Senator a curt nod that everything is alright.
The prank gone wrong is the most watched video on Youtube the next day. Jax looks at the comments. She could stare down Mike Tyson is the one with the most likes. And people flock to attend the rallies to see the girls in person, and get their pictures taken with Bettina and glance nervously over at Lana.
Town hall meeting.
What do you think about abortion? No federal funding for Planned Barrenhood. Does that answer your question? Not really. Let me put a question to the audience, the Senator responds, for you to think over on your way home. What is actionable, what is achievable in our system of divided government with its checks and balances? Next question.
How are you going to pay for all the spending that you’ve got planned? A skeptical older man says into the microphone that Bettina is holding. Great question. I propose that we tax debt fueled personal consumption. Who has a credit card in their wallet or purse? Most everyone right? Here’s how that works. Say you buy $100 in gas from the Speedway down the street to fill up your Tahoe. The merchant gets $98 of that. The bank that issued your credit card gets around $1.50. And the major credit card processors – Mastercard and Visa – get fifteen cents. My tax proposal is that the national gov’t takes ten basis points of every credit card transaction as a consumption tax. In the $100 gas purchase, that’d be an invisible ten cents. Now, this is key – cash purchases wouldn’t get taxed. Yes Lana, your American Express charge card transactions would be taxed. Tim, so would your Discover card. Bettina, so would your bank debit card. This is my barebones proposal to raise revenue, leaving everything else alone.
These abortion questions just won’t go away, the Senator complains the next day as they ride to the next campaign stop. The Planned Barrenhood quip isn’t working, he tells the others. He sighs. I’m not going to win the urban areas in the general if I try to restrict access to abortion; the genie is out of the bottle. Bettina, thoughts? Any doctor who performs an abortion in the third trimester should lose his medical license and be thrown in prison. Abortion on demand is going to lead to euthanasia on demand if we don’t curb it now by banning abortions after twenty weeks. Our nation must respect the sanctity of human life. Tim? Not my issue, he responds curtly. Lana? Off the record? She asks. The Senator nods. I’m Catholic, but I don’t agree with the Church’s teaching on this issue. I believe that a baby is not a living soul until it breathes. What?!? Bettina exclaims, shocked. My Bible says in Genesis Ch. 2 that God breathed life into Adam. I take that to mean that personhood begins when we draw our first breath, not at conception. So miscarriages and abortions are soulless events. Lana Radley! Bettina fumes, what is the Fifth Commandment? Thou shalt not kill, Lana says. ERGO, Bettina entones.
Bettina, if abortion is murder, then I shudder for our nation and the bloodguilt it has incurred since Rowe v. Wade. Even if I’m completely in error, and life does in fact begin at conception, then all those millions of souls who were aborted still went to heaven and now enjoy eternal blessedness. We’ll talk more about this later, Bettina snaps, and glares at the road ahead. No one says anything. Have you talked about this with Raul? Bettina asks a minute later. No. What about your mother? No. Just Rolf, right? Bettina says sarcastically. Can we disagree without being disagreeable? Lana asks in a soft tone. Bettina frowns and adjusts the mirror so she can see Lana. So why are contraceptives wrong then, if life doesn’t begin at conception? Do you see the contradiction in your logic? Tim gives Bettina a weird look from the shotgun seat across from her. Lana doesn’t believe in birth control, Bettina tells him. I’ve got you, Lana, admit it, Bettina says grinning into the mirror. Lana sighs. Because the potential for life begins at conception, she replies. You don’t believe in birth control? the Senator asks her incredulously. Within marriage, Lana says quickly. And I’m not being prescriptive. Let’s talk about something else.
So who is Raul? The Senator asks, now grinning at her. He’s the man I’m seeing. You went out of your way not to say “your boyfriend”, the Senator observes. Do you object to the term? Lana looks over at the Senator. He hasn’t met my parents yet. I thought you were with Rolf Asgaard, the videographer pipes up from the rear seat. Rolf is my partner. That fishing picture… you guys look great together. Tim says, turning around in his seat to grin at Lana. That’s just Simon being Simon, setting a jealousy trap for Raul. Did it work? Tim asks. Yes. He was so furious that he could barely speak. He told me that I looked like a strumpet and hung up on me. Bettina breaks out laughing. What did you do? The Senator asks. I’ve got my guitar, Lana admits. I started working on covering a song. I’d like to hear it, Tim says. What’s it called? No Fear in Love. From my Steffany album? Bettina asks. Yes. Put it on the stereo, Tim says. Do you have it on your phone, Lana? I’d rather not share it, Lana admits. Lana Radley! Bettina exclaims. She signals and pulls over. You drive, Tim. And they switch seats. Bettina goes to Spotify, and plugs her phone into the car stereo. Sing along with me, Lana, she says merrily. Please play her Morning Song instead, Lana requests. Bettina finds it and puts it on. I’m using that for the background of my Youtube campaign clip, the videographer announces five minutes later. You’re a genius, Raj. The Senator pronounces.