Excerpt from “Campaign”

Just wanted to tease all y’all with this excerpt from my novel-in-progress. The scene is the Portland office of Representative Matthew Candleman, Democratic Congressman from Oregon’s Third District.

“I am not debating him. He’s not a serious candidate! He’s… he’s just doing this for lapdances and booze! It’s a fuckin’ game to him.” Candleman didn’t even look at his aide as he pawed through the papers on his desk, looking for the memo he needed for the meeting.

His aide stood there near the door, hands held in front of her, her face placid and sympathetic, her body still, her manner calm. “Matt… He got the AFSCME endorsement.”

Candleman stopped and looked at her. “What? What did you just say?”

“The county union gave your opponent their endorsement. It was in that newspaper,” she pointed across the room to the local Oregonian, tossed on top of other papers on the overstuffed burgundy leather couch, along with the Congressman’s briefcase and suit jacket, “this morning.”

Candleman sputtered, “But they’ve always endorsed me! It’s a done deal! Their endorsement was what got me elected in the first place!”

“Matt,” she replied, cutting him off in mid-rant, “that was almost 20 years ago.”

Candleman’s mouth puckered up, his eyes narrowed down. Jaw jutting forward, teeth clenched together, he growled out, “Fine. I’ll debate him.” He turned to look out the window and squared his broad shoulders. “But let’s make sure and pick a proper venue. I’m not sitting in some smoke-filled bar full of strippers and punks. See if the ballroom at the Hilton downtown is available.” Over his shoulder he snapped, “Make it happen, but take control of the frame. We debate him on our terms, not his.”

Sensing the conversation was done, she turned and left.

Candleman muttered, “Fucker. Fuck him and his hoochie campaign.”