A juice stand in the middle of a suburban mall might seem like a funny place to plan an assassination, but goddamn if the place didn’t have smoothies to die for.
Plus, talking about the dirty business of planting pipe bombs and cutting brake lines over a couple of frosty orange sherbet blasts makes the whole thing seem more like a backyard game of tag than high stakes political intrigue.
But we both knew that Carl was serious. Deadly serious.
Carl leaned in close. There was a gleam in his eye and a smattering of sherbet on his lips. When he spoke, his breath was cool and tinged with citrus.
“Look,” he said. “There’s just no other way around it. The presidency is too important to leave to a vote. There’s just too much at stake.”
I took a long suck out of my straw and coughed when the shake hit the sweet spot at the back of my throat. Unable to speak, I waved at him to continue.
“I’d love to sit here and tell you that I trust the people,'” he hissed. “That they’ll see through Dave’s–uh…my opponent’s–campaign of bullshit and misinformation. But we can’t take that chance. Not after what happened four years ago. And not with what’s at stake at the national level.”
“So what do we do?” I finally croaked.
Carl took a sideways glance at the hapless adolescent boy manning the smoothie stand.
The boy was barely able to stand under the weight of his own teen awkwardness, let alone worry about what we were up to.
“We’ve got to get rid of Dave,” he said.
“But…murder?” I shrugged. “There’s got to be a better way. Blackmail? Sabotage? Can’t we plant some drugs in his car, or sign him up for a man-boy love association or something?”
Carl slammed his fist on the table, sending smooth ripples across the surface of my smoothie.
I glared at him.
Rubbing somebody out was one thing, but messing with another man’s frozen drink was going a step too far.
(To be continued…)