The Genious Of H.S.T
Collect Telegram From A Mad Dog
We rang for the editor but the switchboard clamped him off. Get a lawyer, I said. These swine have gone far enough. But the lawyers were all in bed. Finally we found one, limp from an orgy and too much sleep Eating cheese blintzes with sour cream and ginon a redwood balcony with afine exposure. Get your ass up, I said. It’s Sunday and the folks are in church. Now is the time to lay a writ on them, Cease and Desist Specifically Luboff and the big mongers, the slumfeeders, the perverts and the pious.
The legal man agreed We had a case and indeed a duty to right these wrongs, as it wereThe Price would be four thousand in front and ten for the nut. I wrote him a check on the Sawtooth National Bank, but he hooted at it While rubbing a special oil on his palms To keep the chancres from itching beyond endurance On this Sabbath. McConn broke his face with a running Cambodian chop, then wedrank his gin, ate his blintzes But failed to find anyone to rape and went back to the Mariners’ Tavern to drink in the sun. Later, from jail I sent a brace of telegrams to the right people explaining my position.
John Mitchell’s Last Peaceful Night In Washington
Consider John Mitchell, for instance — a millionaire Wall Street lawyer and close friend of the president, an arrogant, triple-chinned Roman who was Nixon’s campaign manager in ’68 and attorney general of the United States for four years until his old buddy put him in charge of the Committee to Re-elect the President in 1972. . . Here was a 61-year-old man with more money than he could count and so much power that he saw nothing unusual in treating the FBI, the Secret Service and every federal judge in the country like serfs in his private police force. . . who could summon limousines, helicopters or even Air Force One to take him anywhere he wanted to go by merely touching a buzzer on his desk. . .
And suddenly, at the very pinnacle of his power, he casually puts his initials on a memo proposing one of at least a dozen or so routine election-year bits of “undercover work” — and several months later while having breakfast in the Polo Lounge of the Beverly Hills Hotel, he gets a phone call from some yo-yo named Liddy, whom he barely knows, saying that four Cubans he’s never even met have just been caught in the act of burglarizing the office of the Democratic National Committee located in an office building about 200 yards across the plaza below his own balcony in the Watergate apartments. . .
Which seems like a bad joke, at first, but when he gets back to Washington and drops by the White House to see his old buddy, he senses that something is wrong. Both Haldeman and Ehrlichman are in the Oval Office with Nixon; the president greets him with a nervous smile but the other two say nothing. The air reeks of tension. What the hell is going on here? Mitchell starts to sit down on the couch and call for a drink but Nixon cuts him off: “We’re working on something, John. I’ll call you at home later on, from a pay phone.”
Mitchell stares at him, then picks up his briefcase and quickly says goodbye. Jesus Christ! What is this? On the way out to the limousine in the White House driveway, he sees Steve Bull’s secretary reading a late edition of The Washington Star-News and idly snatches it out of her hands as he walks by. . . Moments later, as the big Cadillac rolls out into traffic on Pennsylvania Avenue, he glances at the front page and is startled by a large photo of his wife; she is packing a suitcase in the bedroom of their Watergate apartment. And next to the photo is a headline saying something like “Martha on the Rampage Again, Denounces ‘Dirty Business’ at White House.”
“Good God!” he mutters. The Secret Service man in the front seat glances back at him for a moment, then looks away. Mitchell scans the story on Martha: She has freaked out again. Where does she keep getting that goddamn speed? he wonders; her eyes in the photo are the size of marbles. According to the story, she called UPI reporter Helen Thomas at four in the morning, cursing incoherently about “Mister President” and saying she has to get out of Washington at once, go back to the apartment in New York for a few days of rest.
Wonderful, Mitchell thinks. The last thing I need right now is to have her screaming around the apartment all night with a head full of booze and speed. Mitchell hates speed. In the good old days, Martha would just drink herself into a stupor and pass out. . . But when they moved down to Washington she began gobbling a pill here and there, just to stay awake at parties, and that’s when the trouble started. . .
Then his eyes shift up to the lead story and he suddenly feels his balls contract violently, crawling straight up into his belly. “ WATERGATE BURGLARY CONNECTED TO WHITE HOUSE ,” says the headline, and in the first graph of the story he sees the name of E. Howard Hunt, which he recognizes instantly — and a few graphs lower, goddamnit, is Gordon Liddy’s name.
No need to read any further. Suddenly it all makes sense. He hears himself moan and sees the agent glance back at him again, saying nothing. He pulls the paper up in front of his face, but he is no longer reading. His finely tuned lawyer’s mind is already racing, flashing back over all the connections: phone calls to Hunt, arguments with Liddy, secret meetings in Key Biscayne, Larry O’Brien, Cuban burglars with CIA connections, Howard Hughes. . .
He is fucked. It has taken less than 30 seconds for his brain to connect all the details. . . And yes, of course, that’s what Nixon was talking about with those bastards, Haldeman and Ehrlichman. They knew. The president knew. Hunt and Liddy knew. . . Who else? Dean, Magruder? LaRue? How many others?
The limousine slows down, making the turn off Virginia Avenue and into the Watergate driveway. Instinctively, he glances up at the fifth floor of the office building and sees that all the lights are still on in O’Brien’s office. That was where it had happened, right here in his own goddamn fortress. . .
His mind is still racing when the agent opens the door. “Here we are, sir. Your luggage is in the trunk; we’ll bring it right up.”
John Mitchell crawls out of the bright black Cadillac limousine and walks like a zombie through the lobby and into the elevator. Dick will be calling soon, he thinks. We’ll have to act fast on this goddamn thing, isolate those dumb bastards and make sure they stay isolated.
The elevator stops and they walk down the soft, red-carpeted hall to his door. The agent goes in first to check all the rooms. Mitchell glances down the hall and sees another Secret Service man by the door to the fire exit. He smiles hello and the agent nods his head. Jesus Christ! What the hell am I worried about? We’ll have this thing wrapped up and buried by ten o’clock tomorrow morning. They can’t touch me, goddamnit. They wouldn’t dare!
The agent inside the apartment is giving him the all-clear sign. “I put your briefcase on the coffee table, sir, and your luggage is on the way up. We’ll be outside by the elevator if you need anything.”
“Thanks,” Mitchell says. “I’ll be fine.” The agent leaves, closing the door softly behind him. John Mitchell walks over to the TV console and flips on the evening news, then pours himself a tall glass of scotch on the rocks and stretches out on the sofa, watching the tube, and waits for Nixon to call — from a pay phone. He knows what that means and it has nothing to do with dimes.
That was John Mitchell’s last peaceful night in Washington.