An hour before interns would arrive to answer the phone and sort the weekend mail, the staff at Congressman del Gato’s Washington D.C. office were gathering in the conference room for a routine Monday briefing.
In the next room with the door closed were two men. Standing behind his desk was Carter Clifford, the lanky chief of staff, and seated on the leather couch was an older gentleman who still had his hat on. Carter was talking.
“What do we tell them? They all know the Congressman was looking at his options.” He paused. “And they probably figured out why you had come around.” The seated man nodded gravely but said nothing.
The older man was known simply as Erwin. An éminence grise, the bachelor had a ponderous face, with a few gray hairs growing out of the top of his ruddy nose. He had been called to vet the Congressman, to investigate his past and find the proverbial skeletons in the closet before deciding whether to launch a campaign for the Senate. Carter had been the only one in the room when Erwin delivered his report on Friday directly to the Congressman. Since then, nobody had seen him.
Carter continued. “The Congressman has been holed up in that apartment all weekend. He’s not answering the phone. Obviously, his wife and kids stayed back in the district. I had to cancel two appearances Saturday.” Erwin nodded again. “I’m getting worried.”
Everything Erwin had unearthed about Tomaso del Gato was manageable, with one devastating exception. The Congressman had no idea his wife had been cheating on him. The news had fallen especially hard. Erwin had spared no details – about the other man, the rendezvous, the lies. Carter and Erwin then left him at his D.C. apartment, waiting to hear what he had decided. So far, nothing.