"The Has-Been" - By Jane Genova
After 12 years working for the same guy and liking the routine, it was obvious that she had to look for another job. I would have to search for another deep-pocket of a client. “Son of a bitch,” I muttered. I had assumed the account would carry me into retirement.
That force field of narcissism, who was once featured on Gawker.com as the enemy of enlightened thought, was now without influence. He had been his network. That had collapsed.
One thought leader with big Wall Street contacts was in prison for fraud.
Another, at least judging by his tweets, had lost his marbles.
A higher up in the Catholic Church had been murdered by his mistress.
Worst of all, his only real friend, whose wife was wealthy, had offed himself in the Roman way.
Not that I was going to be left with nothing. Observing him had taught me plenty. Sure, he expected intelligence, fresh ideas and hard work from those who served him. But he thought little and did less. All that was needed for success in the big time, I learned, was creating the illusion among the movers and shakers that they needed him. I tried that a few times. And, damn, it worked. The executives I sold on my unique mighty mind and communications voodoo paid me handsomely. They were also loyal. Human beings crave certainty of outcomes.
“Oh, Rebecca,” his voice boomed. Before I sat down, his phone rang, as usual. The arrangement with his COS was to ring him up as soon as anyone, even a nobody like myself, entered his gilded cave. Would the imaginary person on the other end be Henry Kissinger, Rupert Murdoch, George H.W. Bush or Nancy Reagan? All Republicans, of course.
“Do you want me to wait outside?” I asked.
“Oh, no, Jeb Bush just has one question.”
Like Stephen Hawking, he used his eyebrows to punctuate sentences in this faux dialogue.
I pretended to read a white paper.
When we focused on the draft of the speech I had written for him, he did something atypical. He requested opening humor.
“What kind?” I asked. The concept of humor is as huge as the ocean.
“Jeb wants me to show the absurdity of liberalism. That will be a meme for his acceptance speech if he runs and is nominated. Who knows, you may be writing that for him.”
He loved to dangle bait in front of folks like myself from working class backgrounds. He delighted in playing with our hunger. Of course, he didn’t come through with any of that. Maybe Peggy Olson from “Mad Men” could have shaken some of those goodies out of him.
A week later, he read the opening humor over the phone to Jeb. Both loved it. That was the last time I met with him. The COS was wrong: He did know. There was no big splash in the media about his suicide.