Authors: Beth Klein
All rights reserved.
A Welcome Change, Or Just
Senator William Goulding walked purposefully through the
office. Although he was deeply engrossed in the latest report that John, his
campaign manager, had given him ten minutes earlier every one of his ten strong
campaign team bent low over their desks. They were desperate not to invite
attention to themselves.
Goulding had many wonderful attributes: he was handsome,
charismatic, photogenic and an incredible orator. Unfortunately, for those that
knew him well, Bill Goulding was also a hot-headed asshole! He was often
irrational, unfair, unreasonable,
to temper and
slow to calm down. As the election drew ever closer he was getting worse.
Even though they had been expecting it, the office jumped as
one when the explosion finally came.
“John…..JOHN! What the fuck is this shit?” roared Goulding.
“You can’t be serious? Five more schools, thee more YMCA rallies and a bloody
and greet with the Evangelical Christians…..how many
snotty kids and bible thumpers do I have to kiss to win this election?”
John Lyndsey sighed, removed his small round glasses and
cleaned them with the end of his cheap nylon tie before looking up at Goulding
and responding in a slow, measured voice.
“You know why Bill. It’s a popular vote winner and winning
votes gets you a seat in the White House. You’re the bloody Republican
candidate, lose the Evangelist vote and you lose this election.”
John Lyndsey and Bill Goulding couldn’t have been more
different if they’d tried, although in many ways they served as the perfect
foil for each other’s individual talents and abilities. Lyndsey was short,
myopic and balding. He also had appalling dress sense, questionable personal
hygiene and an unhealthy obsession with John Lennon.
This was not to be confused with a love of the Beatles,
however. Many highly influential politicians had found themselves in a heated
debate regarding the merits of Lennon’s solo career when compared to his time
with those ‘Liverpudlian Layabouts’ who had never done anything except hold him
back. Most had no idea how they ended-up arguing about 60’s Brit Pop when they
had visited the diminutive campaign manager with the intention of discussing
schedules and strategy, but all had left dazed, confused and in full agreement
with whatever it was the Lyndsey had told them!
Apart from a scary devotion to all things
, Lyndsey had another impressive talent and that was the
ability to organize a long-term campaign and make the most of every situation,
individual, organization and location. He saw opportunities that everyone else
barely registered and knew exactly what angle to adopt in order to maximize the
potential return for the campaign.
In the thirteen months since Goulding had brought him on-board,
he had transformed an eleven-point deficit in the ratings into an eight-point
lead. Goulding had certainly gone out on a limb in the face of substantial
criticism, but a nineteen-point swing in just thirteen months spoke for itself
and both men’s abilities were now widely acknowledged and appreciated by
Democrats and Republicans alike.
Goulding on the other hand was tall, muscular, handsome and
charismatic. His chiseled features held mass appeal to all manner of potential
voters. With Lyndsey’s guidance, he had used them to full effect. Young women
lusted after him, older woman saw strength and solidity in his features and men
of all ages admired and respected him. His military background had served him
well and had remained one of the only aspects of his life that Lyndsey had not
needed to massage and enhance in order to reap the maximum return.
At nineteen, Goulding had already been a soldier earmarked for
great things and taking the advice of his father, a Two-Star General of some
note, he had enrolled with the Ranger Training Brigade at Fort Benning. The
sixty-one day program remained the hardest thing he had ever had to do, but he
persevered and eventually finished third in his class. Completing the program
was a huge accomplishment in itself and it had cemented in him a desire to
succeed in all aspects of his life, no matter what they might be.
Although the accomplishment had been satisfying, it was the
award of the Rangers Tab that had meant so much to him. It had also brought him
closer than ever before to his father and after a lifetime of failing to live
up to his ludicrously high standards, Goulding finally felt like his father was
proud of him.
He had joined the 75
Ranger Regiment of the United
States Army Rangers; a division of the army with a fierce reputation and a
proud history. There, he had flourished within its ordered structure and
disciplined routine. In 2001, after nine years with the Rangers, his regiment
had played an important part in Operation Enduring Freedom and the fight
against terrorism. It was during this conflict that his ambition and youthful
exuberance had finally been tempered by the harsh realities of war and
The atrocities that he witnessed had instilled in him a
maturity far exceeding his twenty-eight years and this was lost on his
commanding officers. In 2002, he had been promoted to the rank of Captain and
again, the success of his achievements had galvanized his ambition to achieve
even higher accolades. Unfortunately, it wasn’t long before he had been forced
to re-evaluate not only his career aspirations, but also his personal
Aged just thirty, he lead his men in maneuvers that played a
critical part in the 2003 rescue of the infamous prisoner of war, Private First
Class, Jessica Lynch. The mission had been a resounding success, but as they
retreated to the pre-determined extraction point, they encountered heavier than
expected resistance. Goulding had lead by example and kept the enemy pinned
down with a barrage of covering fire until his unit had reached a place of
What happened next had been described as a ‘rogue salvo’, ‘bad
luck’ and a ‘one in a million chance’; but as he ran to rejoin his men,
Goulding had been shot through the shoulder and back by a retreating Afghani
soldier. The rounds had been fired by a rifle carelessly swung over the
soldier’s shoulder, and although the soldier had been intent on his own escape
and hadn’t even been aiming at Goulding, the rounds hit home nonetheless.
With the enemy threat neutralized, Goulding’s unit had dragged
their commanding officer to safety and stemmed the flow of blood. His shoulder
had been shattered and the head of the humerus was neatly parted from the main
body of the bone. He had suffered a punctured lung and extensive blood loss,
but he survived and over the course of the next ten months steadily recovered.
In recognition of his extreme bravery in the heat of battle, he
was awarded the Silver Star and the Purple Heart. His pleasure at the
recognition was tinged with intense disappointment when it became obvious that
his injuries would mean that he would never be able to return to his former
life as an Army Ranger.
The army was all Goulding had ever known and without its
familiar embrace he felt alone and directionless for the first time in his
life. He fell into a deep depression; drinking too much, picking fights with
complete strangers and drifting aimlessly from one day to another without focus
Finally, it had come to a head with a tearful confrontation
with his father and realizations that had rocked his life. His father loved him
and was proud of him—had always been proud of him and would continue to be
proud of him regardless of what he did or how he did it. A life spent in the
army and a misguided belief that a father should be strong and hard on his son
so that he would grow up with the same strength and values, had left Goulding
believing that his father was aloof and constantly disappointed. In truth, he
was the most important thing in his father’s life. His greatest ever
achievement and he was terrified that he would lose his son forever as he
struggled to find a new path in the world.
* * *
They talked for hours, until the sun began to show through the
un-shuttered windows and a new day announced itself to the world.
“Why did you join the army?” his father had asked.
“I’m not sure…..to…..to…..no, it sounds ridiculous.”
“Please Bill, go on,” he had coaxed.
“I joined the army to feel like I was protecting people,
protecting America…..protecting the world.”
“And you did Bill; with dedication, commitment and passion.
Without you, hundreds if not thousands of people would be dead or imprisoned.
You should be very proud of that.”
“And now I’m useless…..broken, battered and useless. I feel
impotent, as if I’m no longer of any use to anyone.”
The older man had sighed and thought for a minute while Goulding
felt fresh tears well in the corners of his eyes.
“Bill,” he said quietly. “You still have a part to play, you
always did. You’re a remarkable man and you served your country with great
distinction for more than eleven years. But that chapter of your life is over
now. It’s time for a new chapter to open and for you to work out what else you
have to offer.”
“I don’t follow you Dad?” replied Goulding wiping his eyes.
“You joined the army to serve your country…..What’s better than
I, I…..I’m not sure?”
The elder Goulding smiled at his son.
“Change,” he had said. “You served to enforce the orders of
your senior commanders and they in turn endorsed the orders of their seniors.
All of you were led by men without uniform, men without decoration—men with
more power than you could possibly imagine.”
Goulding had said
unconvinced, but already a warm seed of possibility had been growing deep
“Politics,” agreed his father. “Become a politician son and you
won’t need to protect a few thousand, you can change the world and make it a
better place for millions.”
“Politics,” Goulding said again and although his tone could
have suggested anything, the faint trace of a smile at the corners of his mouth
had told his father all he needed to know.
* * *
With a new focus, Goulding had thrown himself into a career in
politics with a passion and zeal that was both impressive and terrifying to
behold. In a matter of months, he had been elected into local office and had
set about getting himself recognized by everyone who was anyone. His military
career, commitment and undeniable good looks quickly made him the natural
choice for State Representative and in due course, he won it by a landslide
majority in the largest ever voter turnout since records began. With nothing
and no one able to stand in his way, he followed this up just as quickly with
another landslide victory that saw him elected as State Senator.
People started to sit up and take note of Bill Goulding, the
handsome army boy from Arkansas, but his local celebrity still had a long way
to go before it became a national realization. To his intense frustration, his
meteoric rise stalled somewhat. His enthusiasm and drive never faltered, but it
was increasingly hard to get himself recognized and to get his message heard by
the people that mattered.
Finally, when he was wondering if he would ever find a way of
continue his rise up the ladder; a group of local businessmen announced
themselves to be keen supporters of his and schooled him in the mysteries of
public relations, advertising and self-promotion. With their influence and
financial backing, he had become a household name and in just three years, he
had gone from State Senator to US Senator and a shining light in the Republican
Even then, he was not satisfied and after an intense campaign
to highlight his credentials, he had risen up to be the natural choice as the
Republican candidate for the 2012 Presidential elections. Now at just
thirty-nine he stood on the brink of becoming the most powerful man in the free
world. He also stood to smash some pretty impressive records if he was elected
to the post, and the smart money on him was doing just that. In six weeks, if
everything went according to plan he would be the youngest president the
country had ever seen, beating Theodore Roosevelt’s forty-two by nearly three
whole years. He would also become the first single president in one hundred and
sixty one years, since James Buchanan left office in 1861.
Part of him thirsted for the power and accolades, but another
part of him wondered whether he would finally be content with securing a term
in the White House, or whether he would continue to search for his next great
challenge. He guessed that only time would tell. Besides, what on earth could
trump being President of the United States of America?
He had masterminded a career that was unprecedented in its
rapidity and success and best of all he had done it almost single-handed, with
only his own passion and commitment to call upon. True, the businessmen had
played their part, but they were ancient history and as much as he would thank
them and remain the consummate professional, he wouldn’t let ancient history
hold back his rise to power. They could piss and moan all they liked. He was
William Goulding and he no longer needed help from anyone to get where he was
Goulding sighed. Yet again the men from his past had aggravated
him to the point of losing his temper and try as he might, he couldn’t rise
above their continued demand for recognition and redress.