Busted Axle Road
Chapter 22

Copyright© 1993, 2001, 2010

Half a continent away from Athens and Spearfish Lake, Harris Harper looked out of the office window of the Los Angeles highrise at the brown LA smog. Pretty bad, he thought. He remembered when it had been worse, but it still had been pretty bad. When the smog was gone, it was a pretty nice view, but not today. He shook his head; there was work to be done. He went back to going through the mail.

It had been pretty carefully screened before the mail got to him, of course. The Washington office had gone through it for obvious checks; there was no point in losing money in interest while the mail was being forwarded across the country. Then Mollie had gone through it, sorted out the time wasters and obviously routine stuff, as well as the odd check that had missed the efficient people at the E Street office.

Still, there were a couple dozen pieces that Harper had to go through each day -- some magazines and newsletters, the rest business items that demanded the attention of the Defenders of Gaea.

It took a while to get through the stack; the letters and newsletters and magazines that got this far had to be scanned carefully, in case inspiration were to strike. Some of their greatest successes had come from finding the right item in the pages of some Xeroxed newsletter, but there wasn't anything here that struck him too forcefully. He reached for his coffee cup, and found it nearly empty and too cool to drink. Easily solved; he buzzed Mollie three times, the signal for another cup.

A few seconds later, the door opened -- not Mollie, but Dale McMullen, the president of the Defenders, carrying two cups of coffee. "I was coming this way, anyway," Dale said, allowing the door to close behind him. He set a cup of coffee down on Harper's mail-cluttered desk, then found a seat on the couch by the window. "Got some good news," he said.

"A nice big donor, I hope?" Harper said.

"Next best thing," McMullen replied. "Fred Knox, Jenny Easton's agent, thinks he can get Jenny to do an endorsement for us. Hell, we can build a whole fund drive around that."

That was good news indeed. That was part of the reason that while the Defenders had their official national office in Washington, it was mostly a mail drop and a place for their lobbyists to hang their hats. The real national office of the Defenders of Gaea was right here, in LA, for good reason. There were a lot of bubble-headed, undereducated people with more money than they knew what to do with running around this town, especially around Hollywood, and they needed favorable publicity whenever possible. You go hunting where the ducks are, Harper had realized long ago. Besides, LA was a heck of a lot better place to be than DC, anyway. "How'd you get to this Knox character?" he asked.

"Sent Heather over to him, and she got his attention."

"You know," Harper mused, "We ought to send her after Willie Nelson for a donation some time. He once said he was looking for a woman that could suck the chrome off of a trailer hitch."

"Heather could do it," McMullen laughed. "That woman has got a mouth on her like nobody's business."

"Sure does," Harper agreed. He knew that from personal experience, and knew that McMullen did, too. "How big a fund drive are you thinking?"

"Big one," McMullen said. "Couple of the slick newsmagazines, some TV. Let's see if we can get past the little old ladies in tennis shoes this time. Jenny Easton, that's a name that will carry."

"It's going to cost," Harper said. McMullen's main job was to be the high-profile boss that could make the big hits; Harper mostly dealt with the nuts and bolts of the organization. It was a partnership that had been tried and proven over the years; both were comfortable with their roles. "I don't want to say money is tight right now, but a big campaign is going to be reaching a bit." He paused, then laughed, "But, I have no doubt that the board will approve."

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