Jack Winter was in his London flat cuddling a bottle of twelve year old malt and watching the Ten O’clock news. They were showing footage of The Prime Minister’s return from his surprise visit to Afghanistan. The reporter asked him about the forthcoming cabinet re-shuffle.
“Prime Minister, can you give us any clues about the re-shuffle? Will there be any surprises?”
“This is Politics young man, there are always surprises.”
Jack grinned as he watched the PM give a wink and a confident smile to the reporter. He had to admit it. The man had style.
It was four days since he’d been given the news about his promotion. In that time he had spoken to the PM, or Strider, as some of his cabinet members called him, twice. Both times he stressed to Jack the importance of keeping the information secret until the day of the re-shuffle. Jack gave his word that he wouldn’t tell a soul.
That was complete bollocks of course. In politics. “Giving your word” meant nothing. It was just another way of saying “I’ll be careful and won’t get caught.”
The announcement was just three days away and so far Jack had said nothing. He hadn’t even celebrated. Yes, he’d drunk too much whisky, snorted too much coke and generally whored himself to the point of exhaustion, but he hadn’t REALLY celebrated. He needed to get his timing right and he figured that now was the time. There were brownie points to score and a good deal of money to be made.
He needed to make three phone calls.
He called his old school friend Shaun Roberts at the Daily Mail. The phone rang and was answered quickly.
“Hi Jack, what can I do for you?”
“I’ve got something for you Sean, something pretty big.”
“Well you can’t be talking about your cock Jack cos I’ve seen that a few times and let me tell you it isn’t big and it certainly isn’t pretty!”
They both laughed. Jack continued.
“You still want to write for one of the broadsheets, The Times or The Telegraph?”
“Stop fucking about Jack. You know I do. But they don’t want me. They don’t think I’m a SERIOUS journalist, so I suppose I’m stuck with the tabloid shit. Why?”
“If you went to the Editors of those two papers and told them that you could get an exclusive interview with a VERY senior member of the new cabinet. An interview that every paper would want but only YOU could get and that from now on you would be privy to exclusive inside political information before anyone else, they’d listen right?”
“They would……… So you know someone who’s getting a senior position in the re-shuffle Jack?”
“Let me put it this way Sean, I’m VERY close to this person and YES it’s a very SENIOR position.”
The phone went silent again while Sean took all this in.
“Fuck me Jack are you really saying what I think your saying?”
“I’m saying no more, just go away and get that fucking job. I’m gonna need someone from the serious press to give me good coverage in the next few weeks.”
Jack hung up. One down two to go. He smiled as he dialled the next number. He was going to enjoy this call. The phone was answered by a female voice.
“Hello Shirley, it’s Jack. Remember me? I’m your ex-husband.”
“Remember you? How could I ever forget you? You were and probably still are the most evil, loathsome bastard that god ever put on this earth. I had a fucking breakdown because of you and your fucking lies, thought I was going mad at one point. You’re a fucking disgrace of a man Jack Winter. A fucking disgrace.”
Jack tried hard to contain his laughter but didn’t succeed.
“Oh come on Shirley, it wasn’t all bad. Well not for me anyway.”
“You are such a smug bastard Jack. Just tell me why you’re calling and then fuck off.”
Jack stopped laughing and spoke slowly and clearly.
“Okay. In a few days’ time I’ll be getting a promotion. My name is likely to be in a lot of newspapers and journalists will be asking people to comment on me. They’ll ask you about me Shirley and I’m hoping you’ll say nice things.”
Now it was Shirley’s turn to erupt into laughter.
“Are you for fucking real? If anyone asks me about you I’ll tell them the truth Jack. I’ll tell them about the pills and the booze and the coke. I’ll tell them about the whores and the mood swings and the violence. Oh yes Jack I’ll tell them the lot and then let’s see how long your promotion lasts!”
“No you won’t Shirley. Want to know why?”
“Okay wanker. Tell me why.”
“Remember that night at my London flat. Not long after we first met. The night you came over with your mate Cheryl. We all got very drunk and very high. Remember that night Shirley?”
Shirley didn’t answer. Jack could imagine the look on her face.
“Things got a little wild that night didn’t they Shirley. I can remember you and Cheryl getting up to all sorts of mischief. Didn’t we all end up naked?”
“What’s your fucking point Jack?”
“You see Shirley that night just didn’t randomly happen. I made it happen. I always wanted to shag Cheryl and the thought of you and Cheryl together was just too tempting. So I spiked your drinks with a little something and with a little encouragement from me and a bit of porn on the tele you were soon tearing each other’s clothes off. Of course I wanted to save everything and that’s why I set up four cameras in the flat before you came round. Got every sordid minute of it on tape. It’s fabulous viewing Shirley, you’d love it. So if you want to see it along with everyone else, including your new husband, then say what you like to the papers. But if you want me to keep it safe for you then tell the papers what a nice guy I am. Understand?”
Shirley hung up. He thought he heard her say the word “cunt” before she did. But he couldn’t be sure.
He dialled again.
“Be discreet but find out what price the bookies will give you on me being the next Deputy Prime Minister. Then call me back. I think it’s time me and you made a shed load of money.”