Brendon Carter sat at his desk studying his certification in law issued by the University of Pennsylvania. It bought back memories of the hard slog he’d gone through to earn that degree and countless hours spent in a library and intense activity in the various vacation assignments with New York legal practices or following someone in Congress to get a feel for a possible future career in politics. In the process he’d met some interesting characters and learned a little of what goes on behind the scenes most of his country’s citizens were blissfully unaware of. It had given him pause for thought as he tried to harmonize the ideals of the constitution and the realities of what life was all about.
He’d observed the dynamics of the power structure and compromises lawmakers had to make to get a consensus and move forward with programs ensured to gain voter support. Politics was not as straight forward as he’d imagined it to be in his idealism when choosing an academic journey through law studies. While vacations on assignment with law firms had introduced him to the tensions involved from a distance not being privy to the inner workings of law case preparations it was enough to reveal that sometimes in defending a case results did not always lean in favour of what was right but rather which lawyer had appropriate skills to use arguments defeating the spirit of the law. Laws and fairness had their limitations.
Brendon had also noted the power of lobbyists who were well bankrolled by powerful interests in society, particularly the giant corporations with axes to grind not necessarily in the interests of citizens lawmakers were supposed to represent. Their focus was on the maximization of profits and keeping shareholders happy so top administrators could survive the battle for continuing power at the top. This again gave Brendon pause to rethink the career he’d chosen.
Brendon was well connected having come from a powerful landowner and developer family in the south. He’d lacked nothing in his bringing up years and enjoyed all the luxuries of his family status in society with their exclusive clubs and political clout at state level. So, it was natural as Brendon grew his orientation was to continue with that lifestyle. His thoughts went beyond state influence in favour of a possible career where national decisions were made. His family had pulled strings to get him into his choice of academic institutions University of Pennsylvania and propel him on the way.
In his ambition he put aside temptations of a high energy party life as was common among students as a counterbalance to the stress of intensive work and study. That would come later he thought when he was established in his career of choice. Instead of partying he spent free time learning the French language. He began to dream of a posting abroad in the diplomatic service to give him experience.
When he’d honed his international exposure, he’d return to the US to look for opportunities in national politics eventually. As a high academic achiever with some strings pulled through family contacts, he was rewarded with a posting to Brussels at the elementary level of embassy staffing. There was a lot of competition for diplomatic posting overseas and some families more powerful than his would naturally receive the best opportunities. But Brendon was quite satisfied being confident hard work and excellent academic qualifications would eventually get him to his desired goals.
Part of the work of embassy staff along with considerable office duties was to mingle with diplomats from other nations as part of experience and there were many reasons to do that. Of course, there was the obvious need to project prestige and power and to assess opportunities for influence over other nations decisions. Even staff in a limited way would be part of that.
Having put aside partying during his strenuous academic years Brendon was ready for action and loved interactions with those representing other nations in Brussels. It was all a game having been orientated to how to deal with subtle ways of foreigners to extract from him information that may benefit their nation, and how he in turn might be able to extract information possibly in his nation’s interests. There were strict boundaries and Brendon knew his every move would be watched by his own to determine how much trust could be placed in him. If he failed in any way, it would be a quick return home and a cloud over him which could put to rest progress toward his goal in politics.
He learned his first lesson when a friendly relationship developed with a woman from one of the governments of the European Union, so they took a vacation together in her home country enjoying a skying holiday and hiking mountain trails. He was becoming romantically attached to this woman by this time. Slowly and tentatively, she explored opportunities to access information which appeared to be innocent, but Brendon was guarded in his responses as trained to do. Then one evening after more drinks than he should have had Jana made her move and even in his weakened condition Brendon understood the game and went to his room, packed bags, and left without any further word to his travel companion.
On return to Brussels, he was summoned to the Ambassador’s office. The Ambassador smiled. “You did well Brendon. We obviously must take precautions specially with our new recruits. So, we are quite aware of everything that happened on your vacation. You see this woman is a trusted operative with us to use the term loosely. She can be fully trusted so it’s OK for you to continue a relationship with her if you want to. Now we are satisfied you can be trusted it’s time to move you to a position where one has closer proximity to sensitive information. The one managing the position you’ll be moving into is returning to the US and will orient you before he leaves. There is much to learn, and you obviously have the capacity to learn and to use good judgment as a loyal employee of our government. You can contact Jana and let her know we’ve cleared you. I think she’s looking forward to working with you and you’ll be instructed how to do that. There is much to learn and no doubt the government our Jana works for will have noted her interest in an American diplomat. So, they’ll be watching you both now.” The Ambassador chuckled pleasantly as he accompanied him to the inner sanctum of the embassy.
Brendon put all his energies to work learning the trade and found the occasional interactions with Jana very enlightening and pleasurable. Her work for her government kept her busy. The more he got to know her the more he wanted to have her as his lifelong companion. He asked her many times if she’d marry him but each time, she put off giving him an answer. It was apparent she had feelings for him as he did for her but for some reason, he could not persuade her to say yes. Then one day communications between them ceased. He tried to find out why but was unable to find the reason. Eventually he asked the Ambassador but was warned against any further inquiry and not given any reason. Brendon went through a period of depression but continued his work professionally.
Six months passed without any word of Jana and her whereabouts then one day the Ambassador called him to his office. He smiled.
“Brendon are you still interested in the whereabouts of Jana, or have you moved on with someone else?”
Brendon looked at the Ambassador enquiringly but with a little hesitation at the invasion of his privacy. “I’d certainly like to know why she cut off contact. Was it something I did, or does she have someone else she has an interest in?”
“Jana was personal assistant to one of the top political leaders in her country and the person of contact they used to relay information to us sourced from contacts they had in the Eastern Block. We share information we get that deals with our common interests. There has been a change of government there as you know, and our contacts are not as forthcoming as before so that valuable source of information has dried up and we have not been sharing information we receive with them either until the position clarifies, and we understand we are all on the same side when dealing with the East Block.
Unfortunately, with the change of government political points were settled and trumped-up charges brought against previous government officials. Jana was unfortunately caught up in that net. We have made good progress with the new government who now see it is safer to be on the side of the US. We will deal cautiously as we re-establish a close relationship. Anyway, we clarified some of the issues they were fired up over and those past government officers have now been cleared of any wrongdoing and Jana has been released from the arrest warrant issued against her, but governments are fickle.
She has been our guest at the American Embassy there if you understand what I mean, and we are respecting her request for political asylum. Strange she should have to do that from a country we are supposedly on good terms with, but you have to understand when top level government officials make a deal someone has to be found as a scapegoat to satisfy a public who’ve been manipulated into believing the previous government had been up to no good and at the same time protect the current government face in their public’s eye by finding someone else to punish for the trumped up charges.”
Brendon could hardly contain his excitement. “So does that mean I’ll be able to see her here?”
“No unfortunately, we have to help them play the game for the sake of good relations so having Jana remain in Europe would be an irritant to them. With an American passport quietly issued she could of course go to the US and our government has found her to be useful, so they’d likely give her a job in Washington. On the other hand, there is a vacancy in our French speaking diplomatic interests in West Africa and as you have excellent French language skills perhaps you would have an interest in a posting there which would give you a considerable boost up the career path level. I would say having someone as experienced as Jana there with that posting would be a move Washington would be interested in too. How do you feel about that?”
“I’d be very interested in that opportunity Mr Ambassador.”
“Good I’ll set wheels in motion with Washington. You’ve made a wise choice Brendon and we’ll be sorry to see you leave but it would be in your interests as from what you’ve told me you have your eyes on an eventual political career in the US and a few postings around the world will certainly make you attractive for that in future. Oh, and Jana has already indicated an interest in a West Africa posting and asked me to tell you if you are still interested the answer to your question is a definite yes.”
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