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Insatallment 6, Chapter 5, of my new novel MOONSHINE. This is unedited material.

 

Chapter 5

 

America cried on a cold November day in 1963 when little John Kennedy Jr. saluted the casket of his fallen father, President John F. Kennedy, as it was carried by military honor guard down the steps of the Capitol and onto a horse drawn caisson for burial at Arlington National Cemetery. Almost 56 years later, it cried again when the body of President Stephanie Roosevelt-Hill left the Capitol building and rolled down Constitution Avenue in Washington D.C.

 

From the first ceremony at the New York State Capitol building in Albany, New York, until burial at a private family cemetery in upstate New York near the Finger Lakes, the funeral took eight agonizing days. As with Kennedy, Roosevelt-Hill’s body was carried to the Capitol Rotunda, where her body laid in state for three days. Roosevelt-Hill’s body was to lay in state for only two days, but the lines of mourners were so long, President Wyckoff ordered the extra day and made sure the Capitol building stayed open 24 hours a day the last two days to accommodate the public outcry of grief. After the public viewing at the Capitol, there were stops and memorial services at the U.S. Capitol and the National Cathedral. During the eight days, her body was carried from New York to Washington and back to New York on a train. On the trip south from Albany, the train made stops in Springfield and Boston, Providence, Hartford, New York City, Philadelphia, Dover and Baltimore before it arrived in Washington. Hundreds of thousands of mourners crowded each stop to get a glimpse of the dead President’s train. It was estimated that more than 10 million mourners in all crowded rural railroad beds and the downtown train tracks along the way.

 

As the new head of state, President William Wyckoff gave eulogies at each memorial service. To the American public, he was the stoic leader everyone expected him to be. Like a granite rock, he gave eulogies without blinking an eye or showing any emotion. He was almost robot-like in a time when television cameras captured tears on everyone’s face but his.

 

But behind closed doors, Wyckoff was anything but calm.

 

“That’s all I can tell you now,” Dee Walker said to a senior member of the presidential press corps. “The President has decided to let due course of law decide the fate of Abdul-Ahad Assahd. If you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to meet with President Wyckoff right now. He is expecting me in a few minutes. We can talk when we get back to D.C.,” Walker ended the conversation. He then got out of a seat on Air Force One and headed toward the President’s State Room. Walker, Wyckoff, the press corps and the usual presidential travel entourage were flying back to Washington from Ithaca, New York after the final service. Stephanie Roosevelt-Hill was born and raised in Ithaca, and earlier that day she was buried there beside her husband, mother and father. Her father was a millionaire farmer, having made most of the family’s money in real estate. He had purchased huge parcels of land around the Finger Lakes before he married and started to raise children. The small family cemetery, overlooking the waters of Lake Cayuga, was the interment site. The cemetery sat is the back of the old family home place, which was a magnificent white colonial house, patterned after Mount Vernon, George Washington’s home on the Potomac.

 

The final service, combined with the frigid upstate New York winter, had taken a toll on everyone associated with the event – everyone except William Wyckoff.

 

Walker slowly made his way through the room filled with reporters toward the front of the plane to see the President. He stopped in one of the bathrooms on the way to splash some water on his face. His eyes were red and he was tired, but tired was not part of his job description. “God, I need a cigarette, he told his reflection in the mirror.”

 

At the door to the state room, he knocked three times, almost timidly.

 

“Enter,” was shouted back through the closed door.

 

As Walker entered, President Wyckoff was pacing back and forth, like a wild dog in a cage, across the width of the small room.

 

“Sir, you must be exhausted . . .” Dee started before the president cut him off at the knees.

 

“Tired?” Wyckoff shouted and sent a searing look at Walker. “Yes I’m tired. I’m tired of waiting for the goddamned justice system to do something to that son-of-a-bitch murderer. The public wants something done. I want something done, and I want it by-God right now.”

 

“Sir,” Walker interjected, having never seen the ex-general and bear of a man wound up as tight as he was now, not even in the heat of combat when things were unraveling around him. “We can’t go vigilante with Assahd. We must give the impression that our system will work with his trial and prosecution. Sir, you are the leader of the free world, whether you like it or not, you must give that impression. Any rash decision you make on this matter might have grave consequences later. You know how fragile the Middle East is right now. There’s no telling what the extremists might do after such a barbaric act. We’ve got to go about the business of getting that son-of-a-bitch Assahd prosecuted for what he did. We can’t afford  . . .”

 

“What we can’t afford, Dee, is to let those Arab bastards think they can control what we do just because of goddamned oil.”

 

“You’re right sir,” Walker continued. “We can’t let the Arabs tell us what to do, but we still get 40 percent of our oil from them and the rest of the OPEC countries. Any stoppage in the supply of oil could cripple us.”

 

“By God, Dee, I’m gonna change that if it’s the last thing I do.”

 

. . .

 

Palace of the King, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

 

“Do we have our defense team in place?” the King Al Fiad Akman Assahd asked a question to his team of legal advisors.

 

“Highness,” answered Jubair Abdilla, the senior member of the King’s legal team charged with getting Abdul-Ahad Assahd acquitted. “We have our best three legal minds in the United States now – one of whom is your nephew, Abdul-Jalil . . .”

 

“Abdul-Jalil?” the King echoed his lawyer’s words, with a look of confusion on his face. “Ah yes. Abdul-Jalil,” the King said, stroking the goatee on his chin. He had a hard time remembering the names of all his own children, much less the names of his 13 brothers’ children. “Continue.”

 

“As you know, they have been counseling His Highness Abdul-Ahad since the day after the attack. We also have personnel from our embassies in New York, Washington and Los Angeles in contact with the brightest legal minds in America.”

 

“What brilliant minds might those be?” the King sarcastically asked as if he did not think there were any brilliant minds in America. It was no secret in the inner circle of the monarchy that the King did not like, or trust Americans.

 

“Your Highness,” the aid continued, almost getting excited talking about some of the American lawyers he believed bordered on genius. “We have contacted F. Lee Bailey . . .”

 

“F. Lee Bailey,” the King retorted, incredulous in his demeanor. “Isn’t he older than the Red Sea?”

 

“Yes, Highness, he might be old, but wisdom comes with age. He is still a lawyer of great political clout in America. Remember what he did in the famous O.J. Simpson case? He helped to get Simpson, the American footballer and sports icon acquitted when the evidence was overwhelmingly against his client.”

 

“And this Bailey, will work with us on this case?”

 

“Yes, Highness. He commands a spectacular fee, but he said he would represent “‘Satan himself in a court of angels, if the fee could be arranged,’” Jubair used Bailey’s own words to emphasize the point.

 

“Do all of the Americans drop their principles this quickly under the weight of 40 pieces of silver?” the King asked.

 

“Many do not have principles at all, while money is the only principle for others. It seems that most of the notorious American attorneys all have a price – although it is fairly substantial.”

 

“How much does this Bailey want?” the King continued.

 

“He wants $20 million up front, plus $25,000 per day expense money from the day he starts working on the case until the end of the trial. And if he wins the case, he wants a $10 million bonus.”

 

“What about other counsel?” the King spoke again, not even blinking at the amount of the payment.

 

“We have contacted the famous constitutional and appellate lawyer, Alan Dershowitz.”

 

“A Jew?” the King shouted and stood up behind his 12-foot long mahogany desk. “You are trying to hire a Jew to represent a blood family member of the House of Assahd? Are you mad, man?”

 

“Your highness, hiring Dershowitz may be the stroke of genius that wins this case for us. Although he is a Jew, he has a history of criticizing the Israeli leadership for how it handles relationships with Arab nations. He has denounced the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands and the endless war efforts the Israelis make against our fellow Muslims.”

 

“But can this man be trusted?” The King was concerned that an association with a Jewish lawyer would be a perfect setup for a double-cross.

 

“Sir, Dershowitz was extremely excited to get a crack at the case. In his own words, and I quote,” the aide said looking down at his legal pad, “‘This would be the perfect forum to show the world that Muslims and Jews can co-exist peacefully, and work for a common goal.’”

 

“So the Jew has an agenda?”

 

“Highness, I mean no disrespect, but may I point out that we all have an agenda here – to get Abdul-Ahad Assahd free from the American justice system, and at any cost.”

 

“Are you willing to wager your life on this Jew? For there will be no failures here. I have made myself perfectly clear on that,” the King said sternly, pointing the forefinger on his right hand at his top lawyer”

 

“Certainly, Your Highness, you have been crystal clear, and that is why I recommend Dershowitz. Not only does he come highly recommended, but he is an appellate law expert as well. He will provide us with an automatic backup plan, if for some unforeseen reason the trial goes badly. He is a genius at finding any legal missteps made by the prosecutors, police force or the judge during the arrest and the trial process. We can use his knowledge in making motions for a possible mistrial.”

 

“Forgive my petulance in this matter. I trust you judgment, Jubair. You have never led me astray before. That’s why you are my chief counsel. Continue.”

 

“My third choice is a lesser known fellow named Morris Dees.”

 

“Dees, Dees,” the King pondered the name. “I have read of Dees in cases defending the American Black against insurmountable odds, and winning.” This choice was an instant hit with the King. “I like this Dees. Will he work with us?”

 

“Yes Highness. We have already made an arrangement with him.”

 

“Excellent, excellent. I assume their fees are as exorbitant as Baileys?” the King asked, while getting out of his chair.

 

“Actually no, Your Highness. Both of their fees combined are lower than what Bailey wants.”

 

The King started to pace back and forth behind his disk. He liked to walk while he thought. He stopped suddenly and looked at the attorneys.

 

“Employ them. Employ them all,” he said with the wave of an arm as he walked away from the group. “But I want to meet with them all. Bring them to me immediately.”

 

“We should be able to have them all here within the week, Your Highness,” Jubair Abdilla said. “Also your Highness, can I have a word with you in private?”

 

The King turned back toward Jubair and motioned with the wave of his hand for everyone to leave the room, which had as much floor space as a basketball court. Waiting for the aids and legal team to all exit the lavishly furnished meeting room irritated the King. He leaned onto desk top, placing both of his arms on the table and thumped his thumbs during the 20 seconds it took. He was worried that his legal team, although it be a great one, would not be able to prevail against what he thought would be a stacked deck. The anti-Arab sentiment in America was rising like the ocean tide, and the television coverage the assassination generated was not favorable for the Muslim world.

 

“Your Highness, I need to speak frankly with you,” Jubair Abdilla started the conversation.

 

“Go ahead Jubair.”

 

“Sir, in order for us to have a better chance in the American court, we must all appear to be appalled by your brother’s actions. We must show a unified front and that we have complete confidence that the U.S. Justice department will do the right thing and follow the law to the letter. The world will be watching and any pro-Muslim, anit-American rhetoric will work against us getting your bother acquitted.”

 

“What do you have in mind, Jubair?” the King asked.

 

“You must make a public statement condemning your brother’s actions as those of a madman. You must say that your brother acted alone in these matters and that no one in your administration had any knowledge of his plans or actions until we witnessed it on T.V.”

 

“I am sure that no one knew of my brother’s actions,” the King lied to Jubair. “I had no knowledge of his plans. I will have my staff start on a public statement that we can release on Al Jazeera.”

 

“I think you should also give the new President – William Wyckoff – a personal call and express you sorrow over the whole matter.”

 

“You know I can’t tolerate that pampas bastard,” the King sneered. “I can still remember him standing tall on the American army tanks as they rolled into Bagdad when they crushed Hussein. He acted like he was George Patton, or God Almighty the way he took off his helmet so the cameras could get a better picture of him.”

 

“Your Highness, I understand your disdain for the new American leader, but you must appear shameful for your brother’s act. You have to let this Wyckoff know that Abdul-Ahad Assahd’s actions do not in any way represent the views of your administration.”

 

“You know there is nothing I enjoy more than watching Americans suffer,” the King interjected.

 

“And they are suffering now Highness,” Jubair continued, “But our first and only concern here is to get your brother out of their custody and back on Saudi soil.”

 

“You are right as always Jubair. That is why you are my chief counsel.”

 

With that Jubair excused himself and left the room.

 

“Tell my aids to wait five minutes before they re-enter the room,” the King told Jubair before he turned and walked out of the room.

 

As soon as Jubair exited and closed the door, the King took a cell phone from a pocket under his robe and made a call.

 

“Zaim,” the King spoke a name into the phone. “Do you know my personal aid Kaseem Al-Karachi?”

 

“Yes your Highness, I know Kaseem,” the person on the other end of the call said to the King.

 

“He knows things that no one else knows. We must make him disappear,” the King continued.

 

“I will follow him from the Palace today when he leaves and take care of it.”

 

“Try to make it look like an accident,” the King calmly spoke.

 

“Yes your Highness.”

 

The King ended the call and placed the phone back into his robe and waited for his aides to return.

 

“With Kaseem out of the way, my brother’s plan against Roosevelt-Hill will remain a secret,” the King softly said with a smile.