Turning from the smiling barista she just tipped with fifty cents tossed into the plastic cube–none of that Hillary “Tipgate” shadowing her, by gosh–Congresswoman Kang’s cell chimed. She placed her chai latte on the edge of a table, causing a K Street-type in suspenders to frown at this as he sat on the other side of that table seriously perusing the Wall Street Journal.
She ignored his presumptive displeasure and answered her phone. It was good to make self-important Beltway insiders discomforted–on matters big and small.
“I know you haven’t seen the news because I’m calling you and it’s not the other way around,” Chet Kimbrough said over the line.
Lead bottomed out in her stomach. “What’s happened?”
“It’s Grish, CK. They found him dead at his condo in Santa Monica. Bullet hole to the head.”
Very aware of standing in a public space, Kang moved toward the door. The indignant stare of the K Streeter upon her back. Maybe he was worried the ignored coffee cup had a listening device in it and would tape him while he too received a cell phone call from this or that worried public servant client. She exited.
“So it’s suicide. Over this impending charge against him.”
Kimbrough let a beat stretch between them. “There’s a Vince Foster stink already rising from this as well.”
“Shit,” Kang swore softly. “And still Lacy Mills never retuned my call. Why is Foster being invoked over this?”
He didn’t answer her directly. “And of course your name has surfaced.”
“It was bound to.” As she walked along Independence, she noted a few looks her way. A certain degree of percolating paranoia was basic to survival in DC, Grish Waller had more than once reminded her.
“You coming to the office?”
“Meaning there’s news camped out there.”
“Yeah. Let’s meet at McGoohan’s first.” This was a restaurant that Kimbrough had a financial interest in, located near the Adams Morgan area of town.
Kang disliked playing politics in the political arena. She preferred to take a problem straight on, but also knew that being strategic was necessary. She hailed a cab and rode to the closed eatery. Kimbrough let her in through a side entrance and they went into the manager’s office, which had no windows.
“Who found the body?” Kang asked as they sat.
He made a face. “This is about getting our spin down, CK.”
“I’m concerned for him, Chet. Or rather his family.”
“I know,” he said, moderating his tone. “But there’s time for that.”
“So what aren’t you telling me? You’re not saying that some of those conservative assholes are bringing up that May-December crap again?”
When Kang first ran for her seat in Southern California, the right-wing echo chamber machinery had a fiesta. The opening salvo they lobbed was a rumor she’d been the much older Grish Waller’s lover. Then a certain blowhard popular on cable and radio questioned Kang’s citizenship. Kimbrough handled the matter adroitly by advising her not to immediately answer these lies. He even planted more incendiary items, feeding these tidbits through back channels. Then when this clown’s xenophobic, racism-tinged diatribes reached their apex, CK went on MSNBC to trot out pictures taken when she was a Girl Scout on an outing to Disneyland, along with her high school yearbook photos.