Read Chapter 1 Chapter 2
He’d originally stopped at Pub 99 for some takeout, but after looking at the crowd, Flynn decided to take his ribs at the bar instead. It was a good looking group – flushed cheeks, holiday smiles, hearty laughter – a great place to soak up the constituency.
And it had certainly proven to be a fruitful afternoon.
He’d heard from the owner of a bus company, a selectman from Middleboro, and a couple of union guys. And,because of his publicly pro-stance on slots, he’d gotten free drinks all day long. From the bus guy for future business opportunities, from the selectman for helping to nudge his impulsively signed agreement with the casino folks closer to reality, and from the union dudes by promising them a couple years of work (never fails).
His own cheeks were flushed as he wrapped his scarf once again around his neck, full of ribs, good company and more than ready for home and a warm bed.
Until those two do-gooders bushwhacked him on the way out.
“Mr. Flynn?” Said the lady bushwhacker.
“My name is Louise. This is my friend Paul. It’s nice to meet you.”
“Well… folks, it’s my pleasure,” And he shook their hands.
“Mr. Flynn,” continued Louise, “I hope you don’t mind… we heard you talking today about the casino…”
Wonderful thought Flynn, more love… more votes...
“Yes!" He cheered, "The casino – lots of jobs, business, all that… you’ve got my word on that!”
“Well, actually Mr. Flynn, Paul and I work in the medical and mental health fields, and we think there are some pretty important things you should know about casinos before your big meeting this week. Could we have a moment of your time?”
Flynn’s good mood took a nose dive. Nothing worse than a meeting up with a do-gooding bushwhacker on your way out the door. But he wasn’t a political animal for nothing. He leaned back against the bar, wearing one of his most rehearsed facial expressions - abject concern - as Louise and Paul both lobbed depressing statistics at him for over five minutes.
In reality though, Flynn was far, far away from the world of Louise and Paul, and the issue of casino gambling had been already been decided upon as far as he was concerned, and they weren't going to change it. No, while the two bushwhackers made their case, Flynn was privately ruminating on more pressing matters - such as which brand of cigars The Donald smoked, and who he’d like to see on the next season of Dancing with the Stars.
It was a cross between Ann Margaret and Angie Dickenson when somehow the lady bushwhacker managed to penetrate his thoughts with an emotional plea.
“…and only a small percentage of these compulsive gamblers, just a minisule percentage of them, will ever even seek treatment,” She was saying.
Then the gentleman bushwhacker jumped in. “And no one sees the damage the compulsive gambler does to his or her family. They’re ultimately the victims of casino gambling.”
Oh brother, thought Flynn. For the bushwhackers, however, he smiled. “Not to worry, folks – you won’t see a casino over there in Middleboro for at least 11 years…” This was the standard line he used to diffuse the anti-casino people. The response was always the same – a confused expression – which was just enough of a break in the action to let him get away.
“Goodnight, folks. And happy holidays!” And with that, Flynn walked out of the 99 and into the crisp air of a glorious winter evening. It just was starting to snow.
Oh for the love of … she was chasing him. What was her name? Flynn turned around.
“Don’t worry Louise!” he responded while unlocking his car door. “Governor Patrick’s plan gives plenty of money to help the gambling addicts! Don’t you worry!”
“But like I was saying, Mr. Flynn – only a very very small percentage of addicted gamblers ever even seek treatment…”
But he didn't hear her. He'd shut the Town Car door in the nick of time and, while Louise and Paul looked on, drove off down the snow covered street, cursing do-gooders and bushwhackers alike for turning a delectable order of ribs and an afternoon of comlimentary drinks into a utter case of indigestion.
Finally home, he let himself into the kitchen door and found no one home to greet him. That's when he remembered that he had the house to himself for the week. Ah… some peace and quiet and a stiff drink before bed. Wake up tomorrow ready to fight once more for slots, The Donald and The American Way.
Flynn lit a fire in the fireplace and sat back in his easy chair, contemplating the flames through the liquid amber in his whiskey glass. He was about to take a sip when a knock came at the front door.
“Damn bushwhackers!” They’d followed him home!
Flynn swung open the front door, brimming with indignation (but naturally masked with his trademark expression of concern) to find – nothing. Nothing but fresh snow on the stoop. No footprints to indicate kids or grownup bushwhackers knocking on the door.
“Must be getting hard of hearing.” Flynn assured himself. He closed the door. CRASH! The sound came from the kitchen. He ran there expecting to find a brick on the floor by the sound of it – but instead he found nothing. Not so much as a broken whiskey glass as far as he could tell.
Then, the doorbell rang.
“Damn kids… “ Because he was now convinced that this immaturity was being perpetrated by future and not current constituents, Flynn ran to the door to catch whoever it was in the act. But once again, there was no one there, and the stoop and front lawn were still covered with a pristine cover of snow.
He stepped outside, looked around the bushes, shook his head and decided it’d been a long day. Too long. Time for bed.
He shut the door, locked it, and headed for the stairs.
“Good evening, Flynn!”
To successfully survive over forty years in Massachusetts politics, one must necessarily ready oneself for almost anything. And therefore, Flynn did not flinch, cry out or even wet his pants, like a lesser man might do. No, instead he turned, slowly – slowly - slowly - to face the spot where the voice had come from. The living room.
And while forty years in politics may have readied Flynn for a voice coming from his living room, it surely had not readied him for what he found sitting in his chair and holding onto the same whisky glass of Dewers that he had himself been holding only minutes before.
It couldn’t be – but it was! A ghost in what used to be one of those orange prison outfits. He had a long gray ponytail and was inexplicably wrapped in a giant chain. And somehow – he looked a little bit familiar.
“Don’t I know you?”
“No – nobody really knows the real me. You probably saw me in the newspaper or on TV.”
“Yeah – that’s right,” said Flynn with dawning recognition, “you’re that Wampanoag guy – that chief who wants to put a casino in Middleboro.”
The chief chuckled. “Yup! That’s me!”
“But you’re not dead!”
“Tell that to my PR company. And no, I’m not dead, but my spirit lives on in Middleboro and all over this state for that matter.
“That doesn't explain what you're doing in my house!”
“I’m here on a mission.”
“Yes. To save you from your own stupidity.”
“Bah! Save yourself!”
“Ha! Too late for me, old boy, but you – you still have a chance.”
“What the hell are you talking about?!”
“You see this chain?”
“Well – yes…”
The Ghost stood. “This is the chain I forged in life. Lie by lie. Misstep by bitter misstep.”
“But why bother me! That was all your business!”
“Mankind should have been my business!” shouted the Ghost - so forcefully that it caused Flynn to cower on the carpet.
“Now, let’s get this dog and pony show over with – this chain is heavy and I’m getting tired.”
“Please don’t hurt me!”
“Oh, I won’t hurt you – I have people for that. No - this evening you will be visited by three more ghosts. The Ghost of Casinos Past, the Ghost of Casinos Present and the Ghost of Casinos Yet to Come.”
“I can’t be taking visitors in the middle of the night – I’ve got a big day tomorrow!”
But the Ghost was fading – disappearing slowly into nothingness – and the whiskey glass in his hand dropped to the hearth, where it shattered into a thousand pieces. At the same time, the Dewar’s spilled into the fireplace igniting dying flames, which detonated momentary into a fireball, or, it seemed to Flynn, like a torch, delivered to his living room straight from the bowels of hell.
And that’s when Flynn ran to his bedroom, jumped into bed, pulled the covers up over his head, and told himself over and over that it was just a case of indigestion, probably brought on by bad ribs or do-gooders, until he fell asleep.