Pain and foolishness lead to great bliss and complete knowledge, for Eternal Wisdom created nothing under the sun in vain ~ Kahlil Gibran (1/6/1883 to 4/10/1931) a Lebanese American artist, poet, and writer chiefly known in the English speaking world for his 1923 book "The Prophet", an early example of inspirational fiction including a series of philosophical essays written in poetic English prose.
The head of the Progressive Ideology Foundation Laura Fawkes smiled and embraced me. "Welcome back Dervish", she said warmly. "We were genuinely worried about you when you disappeared and it appeared to be foul play". "Actually", I said, "I've been back at work for more than four months now. Although, according to what I've heard, nobody really cared that I'd disappeared or that foul play may have been involved. My research assistant Janeane told me that the tip line our security man Rusty Farber set up received zero calls. And I heard that you alerted the news media but they declined to cover the story".
"We suspected the two officers from Tannis Protection who have been hanging around here were responsible, but when we called their office they denied it", Laura responded. "It was Smurf Jones and Tony Hawkins, acting under the direction of Emergency Financial Manager Reginald Kingston who kidnapped me, held me for several days, and then released me".
"Thank goodness they released you", Laura Fawkes interjected. "Actually, I don't feel that lucky", I replied. "They beat me savagely... and caused me to miss my appointment with the representative of George Soros. An appointment I had hoped would allow me to obtain additional funding for my blog. I tried to set up another appointment but the representative said all the money that Mr. Soros had set aside to support Liberal bloggers had been allocated for the year".
I saw a look of genuine concern cross Laura's face when I mentioned my failure to secure the funding from George Soros. That had, in fact, been the reason why the Tannis goons had nabbed me. They wanted me to miss the meeting and lose the Soros funding. Also, after I returned from my three days of imprisonment and torture I found that the entirety of my investigative staff - almost a dozen people, had been reassigned to other, more successful bloggers.
Budget cuts at the Foundation were why I sought the funding from Soros to begin with. Laura told me awhile ago that the Liberal think tank (also known as "PIF" or informally as "Liberal Headquarters") could no longer pay for my investigative staff. My Senior Fellow position with PIF was safe, as was Janeane's (since she had been assigned to be my research assistant in my pre-blogging days), but the Foundation would no longer subsidize work on my blog.
As a Senior Fellow I was a success, but as a blogger I was a failure. I considered shuttering the blog, but decided to keep it open and update it only occasionally, on my own time. So, "Sleeping with the Devil" was not going to become successful like "The Daily Kos" or "The Huffington Post". My plans were initially that it would, but clearly that was now out of the question. Unless I could obtain funding from another source. But perhaps it was for the best. I probably wouldn't have been approved for the Soros funding even if I had kept that meeting... which made me wonder, why were Jones and Hawkins so keen to keep me from it?
"In any case, I'm glad to hear you've decided to refocus your energies on your research here at the Foundation", Laura Fawks said, interrupting my train of thought. "Yes, I won't be wasting any more of my time here at work with that foolishness" I fibbed.
What I did on my own time didn't concern the division chief. Clearly she didn't read my blog anyway, or pay attention to the expense reports I submitted. Janeane wasn't supposed to attend the conference in DC with me back in May, but when I submitted my request for reimbursement for two plane tickets and two rooms at the Capitol Hill Suites, her office approved it.
"Great! That's all I wanted to talk to you about... I just wanted to be sure the blogging issue was settled", Laura said, dismissing me. I left, shutting the door to her office behind me. Out in the hall I spotted Barry. He was standing there, apparently waiting for me. In his hands he held a small wrapped package topped with a bow. When he saw me Barry smiled and said, "So, Dervish, I'm guessing Laura lowered the hammer?". "Barry, I have no idea what you're talking about" I answered; then I started down the hall at a brisk pace, not wanting to know what Barry was talking about.
"Wait up", Barry said, trotting after me. "This is for you", he said, handing me the package. "It's a parting gift; something to say, sorry to see you go, if you will". "Barry, I'm not going anywhere, except away from you", I said, swatting the package away. "What the hell?", Barry exclaimed. "I know you've never liked me Dervish, but I like you. And I'm genuinely sad you got canned".
But Barry didn't look sad; in fact he was still grinning. What Barry didn't know was, being a Senior Fellow, I couldn't be fired except by the board of directors. Laura Fawkes wasn't on the board, and thus had no power to terminate my employment. But I didn't tell Barry that. I grabbed his present and walked away. Finally I lost Barry when I sprinted up a flight of stairs on my way to my office on the second floor. But shortly after I closed and locked my door I heard Barry knocking. I ignored the thumping and tossed Barry's unopened gift in the trash.