Another cut from Interface. Previous mentions include,
- "Zoom in! Zoom in! Zoom in and his career is over!"
- "But every issue, even the smallest, has to be a war"
- Age of Scrutiny
- How does Neal Stephenson describe the novel? It’s very simple straightforward observation of reality in the United States, slight exaggeration and out comes a novel.
"Oh, this is a good one," said the chairman of the Republican National Committee, inspecting a sheet of paper he had just pulled from a file folder marked FREEL. "During a campaign visit to Minot, North Dakota, you ran a school bus off a road, causing thirty-six injuries, ten of them serious. The parents sued you for a hundred million dollars and won."
"Fuck you," Jeremiah Freel said. "Fuck your mother too."
"When we add that to the libel and slander judgements from the last three presidential campaigns -- let me see, those alone add up to almost another hundred million dollars, which you owe to a dozen and a half different people, including, by the way, myself. You owe me four million."
"Eat my shit," Jeremiah Freel said.
Several other distinguished-looking and well-dressed men were sitting around the conference table. They were in a suite in a very private hotel a few blocks north of the White House. Jeremiah Freel was sitting in a luxurious padded leather chair in the middle of a table. Standing behind him were two men with a combined weight of six hundred pounds, wearing latex gloves and clear plastic face shields.
The other men sitting around the table were all glaring coldly at Freel. One by one, they began to raise their hands and speak up.
"You owe me three million plus legal fees," said the chairman of the Democratic National Committee.
"One point five," said another man, holding up his hand.
"Eight hundred thousand," barked another man.
"Half a mil and a printed apology in the Miami Herald."
"What the hell is this, a fucking star chamber?" Jeremiah Freel said. "Why don't you just tell me what the hell you're after?"
"We're after Cozzano," the GOP chairman said.
"Fine. You got him. He's a dead man," Freel said. "By the time I'm finished with that wop son of a bitch, he'll curse his mother for ever having given birth to him. He won't be able to cash a check north of the Equator. Children will spit on his knees. His dog will climb onto his bed in the middle of the night and try to tear his face off and he'll beg for it to happen."
There was an awed silence in the room.
"Don't you want to hear what we are prepared to offer you in exchange for your services?" the Democratic chairman said uncertainly.
"Fuck that," Freel said. "You guys have no imagination. You think I do this shit to make money. But that's not true. I been sitting down there in Rio waiting for something like this. I do it for the pure joy of a job well done. Now, did you assemble my A-Team, or not?"
"All the ones who aren't dead, in prison, or running other campaigns," said the Republican chairman.
Soon after, a fake reporter announces from the crowd that Cozzano's daughter was just killed. After learning everything is ok, Cozzano agrees to continue with the interview.
"Would you like to delay--" the host said, as the sound man was fixing Cozzano's microphone.
"No," Cozzano said. "Let's continue as planned."
"Are you sure? You must be very upset."
"I'm fine," Cozzano said. "Why should I be upset?"
The headline of the next day's edition of the New York Post read,
"WHY SHOULD I BE UPSET?" COZZANO NOT BOTHERED BY "MURDER" OF HIS OWN DAUGHTER.
The President, delivering off-the-cuff remarks in the aisle of Air Force One, said that he was shocked and disgusted by the imposter who had delivered the fake news to Cozzano.
At the same time, though, he could not help but find it strange, and just a bit disturbing, that a man who, to all appearances, had just lost his own daughter, would agree to continue with what was, after all, nothing more than a campaign event, the sole purpose of which was to scrape up more votes. Surely, he said, there were limits that should be observed, for the sake of decency.
- A group of physicians distributes a videotape that "shows" Cozzano was still suffering from "severe neurological deficits" and was not fit to be president.
- A well respected sportscaster claims he has proof Cozzano threw a football game when he played for the Chicago Bears and a mob figure claims he made twenty million off the game.
- Claims Cozzano's father stabbed someone in a knife fight.
- An old Vietnamese woman attacks Cozzano, a Vietnam vet, screaming "You killed my baby! You killed my baby! You are an evil man!"
And much, much more. Even though the Cozzano campaign can refute everything, he drops precipitously in the polls.