“His state has elected him senator where he has served 18 concurrent years. His passion for the people has aided the citizens of Virginia to help fight hunger, homelessness, and job loss for as long as he could talk. He has brought Virginia veterans the care and help they deserve. As a volunteer and all around good guy, John Humbledon can bring the same ideas and hard work he has brought Virginia since he was a child. Humbledon will be the next great President. Hi, I’m John Humbledon and I approve this message.”
As the television goes black, the room remains quiet waiting on a reply from this great man John. All eyes are on him with hopefulness and faith. Twenty seconds have passed and all remains still. Finally John replies, “You don’t think this makes me look like a douche.”
“Senator Humbledon that is not really proper language for the future President of the United States,” came a strong voice behind the crowd.
April Glass is a political writer turned head campaign manager. She has been with John since he started Soup’s on Us at the age of 18 in the small town of Jonesville, Virginia, where he was born and raised. John’s campaign to raise money to help all the hungry, homeless, and veterans in the outlying areas of Jonesville made national news. Never before had an 18 year old began a business that helped so many others and enlisted the help of so many celebrities, politicians, and upper elite to promote such a great cause.
April met him the day of the grand opening of his second Soup’s on Us outside of Manassas, Virginia. She was not the only press interested. She was surrounded by the New York Times, Good Morning America, and even Johnny Carson from The Tonight Show was there. Celebrities like Bono, who can still be seen at all the activist events, was in good company with people like the current President of the United States Ronald Regan. This was no small time event, and John was no ordinary citizen. He had spark in his eyes, hard working hands, and charisma that no one could ignore.
April was not one to be ignored either. She was a feisty 20 something reporter with something to prove. Fresh out of college and still holding to the belief that she could make a difference, John and April were a lot alike. At least she thought so, now she had to convince him to give her a one-on-one interview, but John was not the only one with charisma.
“John,” she raised her hand in the sea of reporters there to get their story on the young, handsome do-gooder. “John, why do you serve carrot soup? Don’t you think there are more appetizing soups to serve even to the needy population?”
Thus April and John’s relationship was born. April got her exclusive, and it made her career. After that she was always there for John’s accomplishments, not only because it was her job, but April and John became friends. They believed in what the other stood for, so it was natural that when John decided to run for president 2013, she’d be there to help the campaign. Besides who knew about the media better than a successful reporter, and April would not have been anywhere but helping John to succeed. They knew each other so well. April even introduced John to his wife Maggie. John trusted April with his political career. He knew that she had his best interest at heart, and who better to run his campaign than someone he knew he could trust that way.
John smiled toward April as she continued, “But it does make you a little douchie.”
“Let’s try an ad that is honest, but doesn’t make me sound like I’m a saint. No one would believe that was actually true about anyone even if it is,” John’s grin widening.
Everyone began to scatter out of the office leaving John and April alone. “Well I say we wrap it up for the night. Do you want to grab a bite before heading home,” John asked April. “Maggie had a campaign ball with the ladies of the D.A.R. tonight and won’t be home yet.”
“I can’t tonight John. I have some more business to do before going home. You won’t become President if I slack off as your campaign manager now.”
“April you have been working so hard. Let me get you some more help. My presidency doesn’t have to come before your own life. You’re my friend and I want you to be happy.”
“I am happy. Like you said, we’re friends and I want to help you make this happen. Don’t worry about me. Go home and get some rest. You can’t look tired for your speech tomorrow in Florida. You have to look handsome, so you can get the lady vote.” She smiled at her friend, letting him know she was ok.
John sighed. “Ok fine, but at least order yourself some take-out. You need to take care of yourself too.”
As John left the office, he didn’t question April’s motives for declining dinner. She had a lot on her plate lately and she did her job well. As he pushed the button in the elevator, he looked at the offices he was populating for the campaign. Everyone was gone for the evening and the area was dark, all except the corner office where April was stationed. Her light was aglow, and he could see the shadows on the walls. April was on the phone again, highly animated with gestures. As the elevator doors closed, he could only imagine she was trying to get more air time for his campaign ads. He really didn’t know what he would do without her. He didn’t know that he was about to find out.
As John slowly roused from sleep, he realized the ring tone from his cell phone had broken the silence of the room. Clumsily he clawed for his phone on his bed side. Finally in his grasp, he pressed “talk.”
“Yeah,” he groggily said.
As Maggie sat up to see the reason for the intrusion, she saw the look on John’s face. His mouth had dropped open and his face had turned very pale. As he hung up she turned to him with concern. “What’s wrong?”
“April,” he said quietly. “She’s dead.”
John was at the office within thirty minutes of the phone call demanding to know the details. Immediately he saw the Chief of Police Bob Johnson and walked over to him.
“John,” Bob said very nonchalant. “What can I do ya’ for?”
“What the hell Bob,” John exclaimed. “My people tell me you think she committed suicide. April would never do that.”
“Let’s go somewhere where we can talk in private,” Bob responded.
John led them over to a little office off to the side of the reception area of his campaign office. Susan, his receptionist, brought them both a cup of coffee. “I thought you could use this,” she said looking sadly at John’s facial expression.
“John, has April seemed different to you lately,” Bob began as Susan shut the door behind her as she left. “Has she seemed depressed or stressed out lately?”
“No!” John immediately belted out, but then he remembered the night before and her decline of his dinner invitation. “I mean she is working hard, but she is always working hard. It is really nothing unusual for her. When I left last night around 8 o’clock she was still on the phone.”
“Do you know who she was talking to?” Bob asked.
“No, but it looked like business to me,” John said a little annoyed. “What the hell happened here?”
“The cleaning lady found April this morning still in her chair. When she went to go rouse her, she found a gun beside the chair, and April had been shot in the head. The wound was close range and the CSI’s found GSR on April’s hand and blood spatter on the wall. It appears that April shot herself.” Bob paused and looked up. “I’m really sorry John.”
John moved from his chair pacing the office from corner to corner. How could this have happened he thought? He would have known if something was going on with her and she would have told him if she was in trouble. “April would not have killed herself. She was a very strong person.”
“Sometimes these things happen,” Bob began again calmly. “Typically in suicides even those close to the victim don’t realize there is something terribly wrong. You can’t blame yourself for not seeing it. She didn’t want to burden others. Suicide victims often feel alone thinking they have no one to talk to. I’m sorry; this is an open-shut case.”
John felt himself get angry. Who did he think he was acting like he knew April? He didn’t know her at all. She isn’t a “victim.” She’s his friend. He knew she wouldn’t commit suicide, but he didn’t know how to persuade the Chief of this. After all he already had his mind made up. He wasn’t going to look in on it at all.
John stormed out of the office slamming the door behind him. He continued out the building and down the street. His thoughts never once stopping for him to gather his mind, his emotions. What was he going to do? Suddenly, once again, the ring tone of his phone brings him back to reality.
“Yeah,” he replies into the phone. He sighs. “Ok I’ll be right there.”
Back at his office, John was getting drilled with what he should say to the media to keep this as quiet as possible. This wouldn’t be good for his campaign for presidency, at least that is what everyone was telling him, but he couldn’t think about that. How could he care about the presidency when his dear friend was dead? Her life meant something. As he stared forward he heard Tom, his manager of volunteers, repeating his name. Recognizing that John was preoccupied, Tom dismissed the others from the office.
“I am truly sorry John,” Tom interjected, “but we have to continue with the campaign. There is so much to do, and now without April…” He paused. “She would want you to get the job done. She wanted you to be President.”
John looked up at Tom and focused. With a determined look on his face he said to Tom, “Find me a private investigator.”
As John sat sipping his coffee in a small coffee shop, he began to become anxious. Suddenly he saw a tall, middle aged, dark skinned man approach him. “Senator Humbledon,” the man said, “I’m Frank Burkehart. Your office contacted me asking me to meet with you.”
“Yes,” John replied. “Please sit down. Would you like some coffee?” The man shook his head, so John continued. “I need your help. Someone close to me has recently passed. The police believe it’s a suicide, but I refuse to believe it. I need help proving otherwise.”
“Right. April Glassman,” Frank said. “It’s been all over the news. The media is stating that it is a cut and dry case. I don’t know if I can be of much assistance sir.”
“Please,” John interjected. “There is no way she would have committed suicide, but beside having no skill in solving murders, my staff will not allow me to air the idea of a murder to the press. I need this to be solved not only for my sake, but for her reputation.”
Frank looks at him. John’s hair is tussled and he is glistening from sweat. Frank believes him, believes he is telling the truth, but how can it be? Everything he had seen on the death pointed to suicide. “Do you have anything that makes you believe her death was a suicide besides sheer gut instinct?” he asked John.
“No,” John replied.
Frank thought it would be hard to prove otherwise, but what the hell? After all, what did he have to lose? It wasn’t his reputation on the line. “Ok then,” he said to John. “We have a lot of background to cover then.”
Frank has exhausted all the leads that the senator had given him, and talked to everyone he thought she had contact with in a little over a day. The senator didn’t give him much to go off of, and everything still leads to suicide, or at least nothing points to murder. Frank didn’t know where to start next. The only thing he could think of is to watch the campaign building and see if anyone going in and out of the building was someone he didn’t talk to. May be they have a connection to April.
So the boring part started. Three hours had gone by, and he was contemplating calling it quits not only for the day, but completely. Call John up and explain to him that it really was a suicide and there was no other alternative. Then he spotted her. She was a middle-aged, attractive red head, who looked very out of place in her surroundings. He had never seen her before. He took a quick picture on his cell phone. He immediately sent the picture to the senator with the message “Recognize her?”
Within seconds, Frank’s cell phone chirped. Opening it up, he viewed the reply message from the senator. “That’s Cindy Shell… I have a restraining order out on her.” Bingo, Frank thought.
Frank got out of his car and walked calmly over to Cindy. She had positioned herself on a fountain wall, trying to look busy with her phone. Frank walked up and sat down beside her. Carefully, he tried to make small talk with her.
“Nice day out today, huh,” he began. Trying to ignore him, she continued fiddling with her phone, so he continued. “I can’t believe the presidential candidate works here. I would love to work in an office in a beautiful area like this.” Still no reply, so he tried one last ditch effort. “Hi, I’m Frank,” reaching out his hand for her. Finally she looks up at him and extends her hand, probably out of sheer politeness. Although may be she didn’t know another way to get out of it.
“Cindy,” she replied shaking his hand.
“Do you work for Senator Humbledon?” he asked probing for her answer to why she was there.
“No I just like having my lunch here,” she responded before she realized she didn’t have any food with her.
Trying to act like he didn’t notice, Frank replied, “Sure is a nice place for lunch. The place must be interesting to people watch being campaign central and all.” She simply nodded, so he proceeded. “Did you hear about the awful death of the campaign manager April Glass?”
Suddenly Cindy’s facial expression changed. Frank could see the fear in her eyes, but there was something else he couldn’t figure out. Sadness may be? No, it was pain, but why. She got up to leave, so he followed. “Cindy,” Frank called from behind, “What really happened two nights ago?”
Frank was finishing his report to the Senator. He was summing up his conversation with Cindy and the events that passed after she had been arrested for the murder of April Glass. John had been completely unaware that April had been in a relationship with Cindy. One of those fluke things that happened, when April had been trying to get her to leave an event the senator had attended. At first it was merely a friendship, but it soon blossomed. They really had so much in common. Cindy explained that the restraining order was just a misunderstanding. She would never have harmed the senator. She was somewhat of an amateur writer and wanted to write a story about his race to the candidacy.
April understood Cindy’s drive. After all, she was once the same way. They truly had a lot in common, but more than that, they fit together. The last night the senator saw April on the phone, she had been on the phone with Cindy. April was trying to explain that introducing her to John as her girlfriend was difficult, and wasn’t going to look good for him in the presidency. Cindy became angry. April always had put him first. Cindy was tired of it, so she came down to visit her hoping he would still be there with April. Finally the truth could come out once and for all, but when she got there, April was the only one left. She became enraged at Cindy for risking everything.
April told Cindy if she couldn’t respect her wishes they were through. Cindy became angry again, and this time she remembered the revolver April kept in her desk drawer for her late nights alone in the building. She reached for it. April realizing what she was doing also dove for the gun. Struggling the gun went off. Cindy didn’t know what happened at first. April had gone limp and the fighting had ceased. Then she realized, scared of what would happen, she ran.
Cindy never thought they would think the death a suicide. She became torn between the truth and her life. Frank recalled the pain in her eyes when he first asked about April. Now he knew the whole reason.
Day 5 and on
John knew that April would never have committed suicide, but somehow his determination to find the truth had affected him in the presidency. He had acted with care and proceeded with caution and had found the truth, but the media had flipped everything on its head, like always. Suddenly his campaign was involved with a murder scandal and homosexuality. Never once did they report on the fact that he had done what was right and that he had helped put a murderer away for his crimes. In politics, these labels were the death of a career. In John’s case it was the death of a great man. John went from someone people could trust to do the right thing to a plague, and on top of that, he had to deal with everything he had learned about April’s death. He wished he had been there for her. He wished she had confided everything in him. May be things would be different now.