I offer every kind of bribe my narrow mind can conjure, but E blocks them all. Once I get Cal to sit and drink, I know I’ve bought time. E tells me to give up. Cindi calls and E affirms where we are and what we’re doing.
“Great, now my little sister is coming to call. You know how to kick a hornet’s nest. You know she’ll bring Stipple, if he’s not to drunk to stand straight.”
Secretly, I hope he’ll stay behind. While we wait for Cindi, I pray that she comes armed with some ideas and E orders room service. We eat, each lost to thought, even after Cindi comes, alone.
“What if,” I finally say, slowly to avoid missteps, “we can drum up media coverage for these senators and put both public and personal pressure on them?”
“What kind of media coverage?” Cindi asks.
“Instead of putting our people in the offices, we could task them to take videos of the senators, their families, and the people they represent. Then they could help the videos go viral. If the problem is that the senators are too far removed from the issue, let’s bring it home.”
Nobody says a word. After several moments of casting about the room hopefully, I return to a half-curled position.
“It might work,” E says at last. We stare at her. “It will take some hustle and very likely more money, but it could work.”
“Yeah,” Cal says, though I’m not sure if he agrees or just wants to keep the option open. “We’d have to hit some key emotions – embarrassing, heartbreaking, damaging.”
“It could backfire,” Cindi says. “If we launch emotionally loaded videos, it could be a boon to the senators. If the senators see it that way, they might think it’s a good thing to keep viral videos coming.”
I feel myself deflating.
“That’s why we have to stage a perfect storm. We need the different emotions but we also need tiers – viral and promised viral.” Cal knocks back his drink.
“Some information leaked that’s embarrassing, heartbreaking, or damaging,” Cindi says.
“And some that we threaten to leak that is even more embarrassing, heartbreaking, or damaging,” E finishes. She sits up, rubs her hand across her face, resting over her mouth as if to keep something back. “Do we have time?”
“There’s always time if you have money and people,” Cindi says, winking. The two sisters laugh at some inside joke.
“Okay. Who has paper?”
I dig in a drawer for hotel paper and a crummy pen. The three give me the emotional vectors and the tiers, and I make a rough table of the senators whose votes we need. Cal takes over the laptop to search for people reasonably connected to the senators and their families.
“We should use constituents’ videos that have already gone viral. That way, we don’t have to find new ones. But we can be ready to spoon feed them to the media after the senators’ own videos go viral.” Cal types faster than he speaks.
“I’ll call the others. Whoever we can get.” Cindi removes her phone from her pocket.
“No. No, I’ll go with you back to the warehouse. We can get people up and figure this out. It’s a much better venue for the strategy anyway.”
“Don’t you have an interview in the morning?” Cindi hasn’t put up her phone.
“I’ll make it, dear sister. I always do.” E rushes toward the bedroom and returns within minutes, bags ready.
E joins the rest of us in the service elevator and Cal drives us from the bustle to the desolate. Cindi texts everyone at the warehouse, getting responses from all but Stipple. By the time we arrive, coffee brews and supplies sit on all available surfaces in the dining hall.