Disclaimer: blah, blah, not mine, blah, blah
Tuesday, 5:30 a.m., Leo McGarry’s office, The White House
I’ve tried to be tough. Heaven knows I’m the only one that can be. The President and Josh are at the hospital. Abbey and Zoey are pretty shaken. CJ is barely coherent. Sam, Toby, Donna, and Charlie are all too young to know how to deal with this. I’ve had practice with suffering -- my father’s suicide, a war, my own personal hell -- so I’m used to being tough.
Yeah, right. Then why am I shaking?
Stupid question. I can’t remember the last time I slept -- and now I’m sure that it will be even longer -- but I’ve got to keep going because there is a country to run. I’m trying to tell myself that it’s just the shock and too much coffee, but I know better.
They call it PTSD. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. A little gift from all that fun I had 30 years ago.
I’ve controlled this for so long . . . gone 6 years without any help from Vallium or alcohol . . . but that was six years without people shooting. It had to be guns . . . that sound . . . and the chaos, screams, and blood that always accompany it.
Stop it. I don’t need this. I’ve got to find my control.
Jed knew it before he went in for surgery. He could see in my eyes that despite my tough exterior, I was loosing it inside my head. His touch and words centered me for long enough to comfort my agitated friends and subordinates; long enough to settle down the jumpy Vice President and avert a possible crisis.
Don’t mess with us tonight.
Don’t mess with ME tonight, ‘cause I’m this close to the edge.
It took them about 30 seconds to get me off the ground and into a car. It felt like 30 years, but the Secret Service is good. I could feel myself going into battle mode in the car, and I was grateful for it. It kept me focused.
Then I saw a long, black limousine fly past my car, and it was going the wrong way. I felt my heart drop. The agent in the car just stared at me for a second and then said one word.
The President of the United States had been shot. My friend.
And I thought the 30 seconds between when the shots started and they got me into the car were long. The 2 minutes between that one word and when I crashed through the doors of the emergency room were pure torture.
But he’s going to be OK. And Josh . . . well, we’ll see.
And me? Well, it’s 5:30 in the morning and I’m sitting here in my office talking to myself. I’ve got a report to read, paperwork to do, a nightmare to untangle. I’m sure Margaret will come marching in sooner or later with some inane piece of something-or-other.
So I’m going to shut up, and do my job, and deal with the rest of this during the darkness of the long, sleepless nights that I know are ahead of me.
Am I OK? I will be, eventually. Until then, though, I’ll just be tough.