SCENE EIGHT : TIM & DEBBY
“What else?” Asked Tim, showing a genuine interest in the meeting with the collective the next day.
“Well, the day you were closeted up with Debby, the collective had a rather long chat with Warren.”
“I am not getting it wrong this time. I am sure we have a lot of differences to clear out. Have you heard from Warren about what the collective spoke with him?”
“Warren has a knack for staying discreet. He was expecting you to be a part of the meeting, and that’s as open as the meeting was supposed to get. The collective too wanted to talk directly to you rather than through me.”
“The collective is not interested in doing business with me yet. They will try putting their best foot forward with me, but they have other options if talks fail between us. The dems can continue enjoying the patronage of the collective, and so can the other contenders from the Republican.”
It seemed strange to Tim that, for the first time, there was still no announcement of a rival contender from within his own party.
Tim was still young by the standards of a Republican presidential candidate. He owed his rise to Warren’s patronage. He had mentored the young boy ever since he came back from the army in the late 90’s after serving in the Gulf. Within ten years, Tim had managed to get elected twice as senator, and now in 2016, he was a rising star in the Republican Party. His dependence on Warren meant that he was unaware of who Warren’s choice of candidate would be. After all, Warren was the party’s patriarch and it was absolutely essential for a politician to have the old man’s support for a chance to be in the White House.
The rousing welcome Tim received across the states was responsible for carrying the party’s flag forward, and to Warren this meant a re-energized Republican party. Warren was an old hand at party politics and knew well when to call the shot. While many in the party felt Warren’s choice of candidate was Tim, Warren himself was just enjoying the way Tim was breathing new life into the party and thus making the run up to the elections interesting. He was aware of Tim’s dependence on him, and wanted the young leader to come up the hard way without a helping hand from him, if at all he were to win the party’s nomination.
“Tim, the wait cannot go on endlessly like this. You have done enough to prove how serious you are about running for presidency. Everybody is eager to hear from Warren what he thinks about it. However, Warren seems to be in no hurry oblige. We do not want for a third wheel to come riding on your popularity. You are only 39. The party has a strong case to treat you like a Star who carries the burden of the party, only to hand over the mantle to a senior pro. It could be anybody’s guess who this might be. Warren owes his position in the party to the old guard which is keeping silent, perhaps because of an unspoken understanding between the two”, said Theodore.
“Uncle, Warren will come on board when he has to. In any case, there isn’t another contender at the moment, perhaps because everyone expects me to go unchallenged. Also, going by the viewer ratings online and the rousing welcome Tim Arnold is getting, I doubt if the republicans have a better soldier than me. My age will be played up over and over again, and this is because the world is so used to listening to leaders wearing bifocals with grey hair above.”
Theodore stood looking out of the window.
“Politics is sometimes ugly and can turn the best of us into nasty devils. Your old man has played this game too long to know what is on your mind and what the stakes are for you in this”, he said pulling the blinds down.
“The collective has met him and extracted a number of promises form him. These might be in direct opposition to some of the things you have been saying in your speeches. It will be essential for you to hear them out and understand what they sound most urgent about. If they think you are the presidential candidate, they would like to acquaint you with all their concerns, just so you know what the price for taking their support would be like”, Theodore continued.
“They all indulge in murky deals back home. The third world is a fertile ground for that. That guy, Ravi Agarwal, is busy exploiting the most eco-sensitive zones in his country, and even uses his contacts in the government to make activists agitating against his massive land grab disappear mysteriously. Then there is Jackson, the seed giant, who is worried about these patent regimes changing. The Romonovs want to control the gun trade in America”, Theodore said taking a seat close to Tim.
“Uncle, we need their money and we need to do business with them. These are the same people who control governments back home and influence policies. So, having their support now would mean doing business with them later. If we don’t step up and assume this role, someone else will, and we know how in this power struggle there are people within this party and outside who stand to gain by my follies. The world can’t change in isolation. It can do so only if we go out and engage with the many forces that make up this vast and complicated place.”
Just then the bell rang. It was Debby waiting to be let in. Theodore chose to take leave. He placed a hand on Tim’s shoulder.
“Take it easy”, he said. Then he opened the door, greeted Debby and left.
The silence between Debby and Theodore reflected the long-standing grudge she has held against Uncle Theodore. She always held Uncle Theodore responsible for keeping Tim away from her.
Debby was dressed in a short black skirt and a white satin blouse. When she entered, she brought with her the aromas that were breathing through her skin. She sat on the couch which until then was where Uncle Theodor was seated. Tim, who had left the room to relieve himself just as Uncle Theodore was leaving, took a few minutes to be back from the loo. He moved towards Debby to give her a hug. She pushed him away in the usual way that she greeted him, with distaste.
Tim, knowing there was so much groundwork to do before he could bring Debby around, pulled out a Cartier he had remembered to purchased when he landed in Washington. The gift brought a smile on her face. All the anger dissipated in one moment and she lunged at her lover, kissing and hugging him. Tim allows her to pull him down over her. The comfort of love is addictive to some, a distraction to some others and strength to many others. Debby was a distraction, for he went weak in the knees the moment he saw her. He knew the debilitating effect this girl had on him, yet he allowed himself to be swayed by the mesmerizing touch and love she bestowed on him.
“Darling, I have missed you so much. The last couple of weeks had been just so busy”, he said between her passionate kisses.
“Tell me a time when you aren’t busy, Tim. I am quite fed up with hearing this excuse each time we meet”, she said accusingly.
Tim knew Debby was more relaxed now. He gave in completely to her and planted some soft kisses on her fore head.
Tim moved over on top of her, snuggled into her neck and was about to whisper his plans for the day. Just then she pushed him away.
“Timmy darling, I Love you so much. How about snuggling up and watching a movie? Let’s order in food and leave after the weekend.”
Tim’s passion gave way to anxiety. He was aware of his meeting with the collective. He had to let Debby know about it. She would have to understand.
He withdrew from her after a few more kisses. He sat up by her side. She tugged at his shirt and came back on top, rubbing her cheeks against his chin.
“Deb, tomorrow I must get to a meeting. It’s with this big lobby group that can change the destiny of the republicans this election.”
Debby’s body became rigid. She hadn’t expected Tim to bring up his politics this weekend which she had wished he would devote for her. There was a frown on her face and Tim clearly understood that it meant trouble.
She pushed him away and rose from her side of the bed. She turned her back to him just so that her tears were hidden from him. She had waited too long for this and wanted every fiber in Tim’s body. Now, all that she had was despair and another failed rendezvous.
Tim knew he had disappointed Debby once again. He felt sorry for her. He tried to pacify her with his palm on her shoulder which she pushed away gently.
A few tense moments followed before Debby spoke, her voice evidently heavy with the pain she felt at being let down.
“Timmy, I have loved you and I have tried to let you with your work as much as I could. You have time and again let me down and made me weak. I wish I understood, but I can’t and I don’t want to. I am not leaving this room until the weekend. I am doing this for our relationship, something you have abused for far too long. If I mean anything to you, you will stay with me right here in this room until the weekend. No meeting should be as important as the one you are having right now with me”, she looked at him menacingly.
“I’m sorry Deb. I wish I had been able to spend more time with you. I wish you could accompany me on all my visits and be with me all the time. To the world you are like my sister. We are caught in this weird situation of love, power and ambition, and this makes it hard on us to appear to the world as a normal couple. I want you to understand my predicament.
“You stupid fuck, what did you just say? You think you are the only one who has an important job? I’ll show you how important you are, Timothy Arnold.”
Tim was yet to fully learn how unpredictable and mad this girl could be. She walked over to the fruit basket and pulled out a knife.
“I must let you know that I know how to use this, Timmy. Do you want to have some fun?”
Tim knew this was heading in the wrong direction, and that an outburst from him would escalate the situation further. He knew that Debby could go to any extent to have her way. She could either injure herself or even attack him. Tim went down on his knees with folded hands.
“Deb, put that down, please.”
Tim saw Debby tightening her grip on the knife. He felt pity for himself. At the same time, he felt sorry for this girl whom he had made fall madly in love with him. He wished she would be a little more reasonable. Only if they could extricate themselves from the yoke of having to keep their love secret! If only this adamant girl behaved more responsibly! Tim loved her. He knew it was her love for him and the cocaine which made her behave like this. He felt sorry for her. His eyes welled up with tears. He wondered if he would ever be the President.
“All right. I’ll call things off for tomorrow.”
In an instance, she dropped the knife.
“Why do I have to threaten to kill myself for you to understand what I am going through? Why? Why? Why?”
Tim rose and moved towards her. He hugged her tightly.
Tim could feel Debby’s muscles loosening up. She pressed herself hard against his body.
“I thought you were about to kill me”, Tim chided.
Debby tried to wriggle out of his grip which he tightened further.
He kissed her on the left of her neck.
“I love you”, he said into her ears.
Tim and Debby spent the rest of the day in bed. Tim had decided not to bother about his phone. The phone in the meanwhile kept ringing. Theodor, his uncle, wanted to ensure all was well with Tim and Debby. When all his calls went unanswered, he decided he would have to disturb them.
Debby had fallen into a deep sleep, her arm resting firmly on Tim. He carefully moved her hand and got out of the bed. He was pacing up and down the room trying to understand how best to deal with the situation when the doorbell rang. Tim stopped in his walk. He wondered who it could be. When the bell rang again, he walked to the door and gently opened it. His uncle was standing in the corridor. Tim got out of the room onto the corridor and closed the door behind him gently.
“Is everything ok?” Asked Theodor. He knew from Tim’s looks that all was not well. Tim had lost himself in tears it seemed and here he was talking meekly. The confidence of Timothy Arnold was missing.
“Uncle, I am skipping the meeting with the collective and you are going to attend it on my behalf”, Tim said.
Theodore was aware that he was losing Tim to the worst vices. He affectionately hugged him. He knew he had to be firm, or else his nephew would succumb to the pressure exerted by a stupid girl.
“You are attending the meeting Tim, and you will shake off whatever spell you are under right now”, said Theodore looking hard into Tim’s eyes.
“I’ve promised her that I won’t be attending the meeting tomorrow. She will be up any time now and then there will be no getting away from this”, Tim stammered.
Tim always felt reassured in the presence of his uncle. He heavily relied on his uncle’s wisdom whenever he had been in dilemma. Today, he wished his uncle would understand how terribly deep in the sea he was. He wished for a miracle to take place. Both Theodore and Tim were aware of the consequences of the situation that Tim had got himself into. The meeting with the Collective could not be given a go just because Debby wants, because it mattered a lot to Tim’s presidential aspirations. Theodore knew he had to take a call. Things were going to get out of hand. Theodore always believed his nephew had it in him to make it to the highest office in the country. He also knew that Tim was vulnerable on one front. This girl was holding Tim to ransom. The chink in the armor had to be fixed.
“You must leave right now”, Theodore said sternly. The finality in his uncle’s voice was unfamiliar to Tim.
“I can’t. How can I go away with Debby sleeping in my room? I can’t run away like a thief”, Tim protested.
“You don’t have to leave like a thief. But, leave you must. You have a far greater frontier to take care of. Leave this one to me. I can handle it. Pack your things and get out of here before she wakes up. If you don’t do it now, you will have to ask for a miracle bigger than the one Moses performed on the Red Sea to be the President of the United States.”
Tim knew his uncle wouldn’t relent. He also knew that Theodore always wanted the wellbeing of his nephew. Tim slowly walked towards the room. Then he stopped, turned to his uncle who was right behind him.
“Hope, I won’t get to see CNN flashing the news that an ex-president’s daughter was found dead in Timothy Arnold’s room.”
“No, you won’t”, Theodore said.
“Thank you”, said Tim while turning the door knob.
As soon as Tim was out of sight, Theodore dialed Warren’s number. There was a delay at the other end. Theodore imagined that Warren must be staring at the caller’s identity and wondering why on earth had this man found it necessary to telephone his sister’s lover. Then a measured ‘hello’ was heard as though coming from across the Atlantic.
“I have something very important for you to attend to, if you could come down to Tim’s room. This is very important for the future of the United States of America.”
“You could serve the country better if you practice some straight talk. You tend to speak like a ghost”, Warren’s husky voice said.
“Well, I need your help to exorcise a ghost. Will you please care to oblige?”
“Sure, I think I owe you that much”, Warren said.
“Thank you”, Theodore said hanging up.
Around the same time, Debby searched for Tim on the bed, her eyes still closed. Then she called out his name. When she received no reply, she raised her voice. Tim was definitely not in the room. There was no sound coming from the washroom too. She tried to imagine where he could have gone. She looked at the clock. She had slept for four hours. Tim must have gone to meet his uncle, she thought. She opened her eyes and stared at the ceiling. Life is good, she mused. Then she sat up on the bed and placed the pillow in her lap. She glanced around the room. Her muscles tightened. Tim’s belongings were gone. She clutched at the pillow furiously. This was outrageous. Tim had thought it proper to slip out of the room while she was still sleeping. He had not trusted her to understand his responsibilities. She had only wanted Tim to prove that he cared for her. She wouldn’t have stopped him from attending the meeting he considered so important. He had thought her to be stubborn and demanding. He had thought her to be unreasonable. Debby found the trust violated. She knew she was seen as a burden by Tim. She knew she had been betrayed. Tears rolled down her cheeks. She wished the ceiling would come down on her. Then she saw the knife.
When Warren knocked and entered, he found Debby in the far corner of the room with a knife in her hand. She had been crying. The wild look in her eyes informed Warren that his daughter was in trouble. He had known her eccentricities. When she would be in one of her crazy moods, she could become the most difficult person to handle. The larynx that had ordered many a covert and overt military operations in different parts of the world struggled for the right words. Finally, he went down on his knees.
“Debby darling, will you give your father a chance?” He begged.
Debby ran towards him and knelt down in front of him. They both rose holding on to each other. She threw her hands around his neck and cried bitterly.