The Accidental Congressman
The true story of the stars aligning to elect an average citizen and the corruption that ensued to destroy this American Hero
By: Ken Crow
What You think you See is Not Always what you Really Saw
The front door to the apartment building swung open as a well-dressed gentleman stepped into the morning sunshine. Kerry enjoyed his half-mile walk to work on days when the weather was cooperating. The Eastern Seaboard can provide a variety of weather in June. Some days will leave you wearing a sweater as you can get a left-over and unwanted cool snap. Other days, it can be blistering hot without a breeze and leave you wanting to lay under an air conditioner and drink iced beverages all day. But today was not one of those days. Today, the weatherman said low 80’s, clear skies and a beautiful late spring day.
At 5’11” tall and weighing just under 200-pounds, for a sixty-something-year-old United States Congressman, Kerry Bentivolio was doing his part to keep both the doctor happy as well as stay in decent shape. His dark blue suit, white dress shirt, and red striped tie seem to sit well on this distinguished gentleman from the State of Michigan’s 11th Congressional District.
If you were to look up ‘United States Congressman’ in Webster’s Dictionary, you would most likely find Kerry’s photo beside the definition. With greying wavy hair, piercing blue eyes, and an infectious smile, Kerry is the epitome of how a Congressman should appear.
Kerry Bentivolio had arrived in Washington, D. C. much like a child on Christmas morning. His eyes were wide open in awe when he viewed the historical monuments to America’s legends and gods of the past. He was once a homebuilder and appreciated the architecture of many of the homes and buildings within the Beltway.
Kerry found it less expensive to walk rather than lease a vehicle while in D. C. The cost of leasing a vehicle, insurance, fuel, parking fees and using a staffer to drive him was not something he wanted to expense in his congressional budget. Without a vehicle, Kerry spent quite a bit of time trekking around D. C. to attend meetings. In the process, he would occasionally stop and admire many of the grand old homes as well as the diversity between 18th and 19th-century construction styles and modern-day building techniques.
The Congressman left his Capitol Yards studio apartment on I-Street and walked up to the corner to New Jersey Avenue. Turning left, he headed North. Walking briskly, as he usually did, on the sidewalk facing oncoming traffic, he proceeded under the I-695 overpass.
Washington, D. C. is well known for being a tourist mecca. It is not uncommon to see visitors from around the world. The city is also known globally for having horrible traffic issues and almost zero public parking availability – most visitors will usually come to the city on tour buses. Today was no different than any other day.
After clearing the underpass at I-695, as always, the tourist buses, one behind the other, were lined up on the opposite side of the street. As with most travelers, nearly all had their cell-phones to click photographs, or they had expensive camera’s strapped around their necks and would snap photos of the Capitol landmarks.
Kerry walked past the tour buses on the opposite side of the street noticing parked in front of the first bus in the row was a gentleman snapping photographs like the average tourist would do standing in front of a landmark. Except here there were no landmarks nearby worth taking a picture. Instead, there were the typical DC row townhouses and the man in the car wasn’t snapping pictures of the townhouses either; he was clicking off pictures of him as he walked to work. The photographer wasn’t discreet about it. He was hanging out the window with a telephoto lens on what appeared to be a very expensive camera.
As if straight out of a Tom Clancy thriller, the Congressman’s alarm bells were sounding in his brain, what the heck was this guy doing, and furthermore who was he? Kerry stopped for a moment at Virginia Avenue then crossed the street when traffic cleared. Glancing back to see what the blue Chevy was doing, he noticed the car moving toward the corner and guy looked at him as the vehicle turned and sped away.
Continuing his morning stroll to work, Kerry passed by the ornate townhouses and office buildings and turned right on E-Street, then left onto 1st. Passing by the small Mom and Pop grocery store, then the Tortilla Coast Restaurant, great food by the way, then he walked past the South Metro Station. This is the city’s underground commuter train service, which is across the street from the Republican National Committee’s Headquarters where the Parties leadership offices.
He arrived at the Cannon Office Building entering through the vehicle garage door where he would take the stairs to his office instead of the elevator. He would sit behind his desk to mentally prepare for another day of voting, talking with constituents and anyone else his staff had scheduled a meeting.
The Cannon building is one of the more historical office complexes on Capitol Hill. Along with the Senate Russell building, and the Longworth House Office Building, the buildings were all completed at the beginning of the 20th Century and most of the materiel to construct them is marble.
Each office complex is connected to the United States Capital via underground tunnels. The Cannon building’s underground corridor is constructed out of dull gray concrete. The walls are lined with paintings and drawings from a contest held by Congress for school children.
Kerry’s day usually began with grabbing a cup of coffee, then smoking a cigarette by the window and today was no different except he had beat his staff to work and had to make this morning’s coffee. While his coffee was brewing, and his computer was warming up. He stared out his open window into the sky while smoking his cigarette.
He deeply inhaled the smoke from the cigarette reminiscing his first day in his new office. On that cold January day, he puttered around his office situating photographs of his district in Michigan, a few photographs of Ronald Reagan and John F. Kennedy were strategically placed on his office wall, and of course, situating photographs of his family on his desk. Over the large mirror were a set of antlers dropped by his bull reindeer the previous winter. Needing a smoke break he made the rather long trek down to the courtyard on the ground level, he walked out into the cold damp air with his heavy winter long gray coat and white scarf and lit a cigarette.
As is usually the case, smokers tend to congregate near the cigarette disposal receptacle. One of the aides for another congressman recognized him and inquired as to what he was doing down there with the other staffers and the maintenance office workers? Kerry, of course, answered, “having a cigarette.” All six of the employees standing nearby chuckled and asked: “why here?” Kerry’s response was, “because it’s against the law to smoke in a government building.”
As they all broke out in a burst of respectful laughter, the Freshman Congressman looked at them with a very puzzled look on his face, then one of the staffers chimed in with; “who’s going to fire you?” It was then he decided to purchase a battery operated smoke eater and stand by the open window in his office when he needed a smoke.
As he began checking his emails and drinking coffee, Kerry noticed that his Scheduler Lindsey Duvall had not yet arrived with his “Palm Cards” yet. These palm cards are filled in with all his daily appointments; the time and location for each meeting, of which there are usually many. It turns out that the only thing he had to do early that morning was rush over to the Capitol Building to vote on renaming a Post Office. This vote was a “no-brainer” as the Congressman so eloquently stated. Yes, that last statement was tongue in cheek.
Upon returning through the half-mile underground corridor from his “big Post Office” vote, the Congressman met with Tim Witt, Kerry’s Legislative Director, and Lindsey Duvall who had finally made it to work, to get his schedule for the day.
After the rather strange encounter with the fellow in the blue Chevrolet during his brisk walk to his office, Bentivolio decided that this day was getting weird. The weirdness became even more apparent when Lindsey and Tim both informed him that he had absolutely nothing to do for the rest of the day.
It was then that Matt Chisholm, the Communications Staffer for Congressman Bentivolio, popped into his office and confirmed that Kerry had nothing on the schedule for the day.
One thing you need to understand about this retired Army Sergeant First Class is; he does have a sense of humor somewhere beneath that take-charge steely bravado. It was then he remembered a scene from a movie he loved. “Charlie Wilson’s War.” In the movie, Congressman Wilson, played by the actor Tom Hanks, is in a hot tub with some very pretty women. While in the tub, Hanks was drinking Bourbon and snorting cocaine with the pretty young lasses. Kerry posed the idea and informed his staff he would be back at his apartment snorting cocaine, drinking Bourbon, and consorting with some young women.
Kerry Bentivolio, being Kerry, who is about as straight-laced as they come, elicited chuckles from around the room with his line of humor. “No-seriously Congressman, what would you like to do today,” inquired Matt? It was then that Matt suggested he catch the new movie ‘Lincoln’ with Daniel Day-Lewis and Sally Field. The movie’s director was none other than Steven Spielberg and was rapidly becoming another Spielberg blockbuster. Matt informed him that it was playing not far away at the Regal Theater in China Town.
Checking the time of the next showing on his phone, Kerry called for an Uber to take him to the Regal Theater in Chinatown. He took off his suit jacket and tie and headed down the hall for the main door to Pennsylvania Avenue fighting an inner turmoil. This was the best paying position he had ever held, time spent doing something else made him feel uneasy as if he was cheating his employer from time better spent working. Usually, Wednesday’s was his busiest day of the week with voting and meetings. and the day usually lasted well into the evenings. It was only by an effort that he shook off the vague feeling of guilt by justifying that watching the movie would be a sort of history lesson to improve his job performance. In reality, he had not had a day off since January.
For most Congressmen, another little-known fact is; they don’t get much time to themselves. Monday mornings they arrive at their D.C. offices. Work at least 12-hour days and many evenings are spent at events either fundraising for someone or being forced to put in appearances. Friday afternoon or evening, they fly back to their districts. Saturday mornings they have meetings with constituents in their district offices and Saturday evenings are usually spent making an appearance at some function or fundraising within their districts.
For Kerry, it was Sunday morning and afternoon with the family; then it was back to D.C. on a late flight out of Detroit Metropolitan Airport.
During the short drive to the theater, Kerry looked forward to a big tub of buttery popcorn, a large Coke and enjoy every minute of this movie as Abraham Lincoln had been one of his heroes since childhood.
He arrived at the ticket counter only to learn that his movie would not start for another 3-hours. He glanced at his phone again and realized he read the wrong movie schedule. He purchased his 4:00 PM ticket, turned and walked away.
He was hit with another round of guilt. He thought to himself, a Congressman can’t wait around for three hours doing nothing. Refusing to be deterred from an afternoon of unproductivity he checked his phone app to locate a nearby bookstore. There was a Barnes and Noble three and a half blocks away near the corner of G and 13th Street, well within walking distance. Kerry left the Regal theater and began the walk down the street to the mammoth bookstore in search of a copy of the Federalist Papers, a large hardcopy edition so he could write in the margin. Personally speaking, I can think of a lot of books which would be more entertaining than reading the Federalist Papers. Then again, I’m not a United States Congressman with a degree in both history and education.
Kerry left the theater to begin his trek; as he walked, he was constantly looking down at his navigator phone app to ascertain proper directions.
One of the reasons Kerry Bentivolio is so lean and in relatively good shape for an early 60-something-year-old Congressman is that he is constant motion. He is one of those guys that must be moving all the time and is usually doing so at a faster rate than most other people. Somethings never die once learned. For Kerry Bentivolio, walking is not walking as most of us do all the time. For Kerry, walking is more along the lines of marching as he had done for over 30-years in the Army. He walks fast; he does not meander along; this guy walks as if he has a purpose.
He proceeded down the alley, past the kiosks selling fast food and Washington, D. C. souvenirs to 7th street. Checking his navigation app on his cell phone again he stopped to check the traffic before crossing the street when the traffic cleared, he hurriedly crossed the street to the front of the Legal Sea Food Restaurant. Turning left and reading his phone, someone should tell Kerry that reading your phone while walking is every bit as dangerous as doing it while driving, he made a fast right turn onto G street near the Chinatown Metro station and slammed into a lady coming from the opposite direction. The contents of her purse fell to the sidewalk; a high heel shoe fell from her foot in the collision throwing her off balance and against the side of the building. As this poor lady was sliding downside of the building to the pavement, she was desperately trying to regain her footing. Her dress was simply to tight and it was restricting her legs from doing what they needed to do to maintain balance. In the end, she was sitting on the ground embarrassed and frustrated.
Kerry had gone from a man on a mission to a humiliated fellow trying to rescue the lady and himself from a very awkward situation. Embarrassed, he profusely apologized to his female victim while haphazardly helping her up.
Helping her to her feet, he crawled around on the ground quickly retrieving items from her purse which were strewn across the sidewalk. He found her high heel shoe, handing it to her in an effort to end this little disaster as quickly as possible, he gazed into her eyes and realized that he knew this lady. The big clue to her identity wasn’t the way she put her shoe back on, but it was the way she was checking and readjusting her wig which had been askew in the human collision too. She was scrambling to get the fake hair back on her head and while doing so, put it on cockeyed.
Kerry noticed a resemblance to someone he knew or met recently, a sister of someone perhaps? No, it was something more than a similitude. He peered into her eyes as his mind raced to find further clues. The lady had a likeness to someone, his mind raced, searching through the catalog of people he met recently. A place perhaps where he met the person? Perhaps a relative of someone? His mind searched frantically for a thread to connect the mental dots…
Then he saw the Adam’s Apple, and his mouth dropped open and his eyes went from narrow inquisitive scrutinizing to wide-eyed astonishment when he realized she was a he. Kerry knew her from Capitol Hill. He slowly gulped before his throat gathered the courage to reluctantly ask, “Congressman is that you?”
The cross-dressing Republican congressman was obviously embarrassed at Kerry’s discovery. He adjusted his wig as his eyes darted right to left and around Kerry nervously searching the area for witnesses who might also learn his secret.
In a purely accidental chance encounter, Kerry met a transvestite Congressman who in the months to follow would help him in his congressional education. The chance meeting opened a new vision of Washington, D. C. for him. What he once thought to be a place of dignified ladies and gentlemen working diligently representing and leading the country was to become for him, more like a carnival show complete with hucksters, con men, and showman of every type and variety.
Kerry’s mind continued to race glancing around too to see if there were any witnesses. He thought of the Chevrolet and it’s paparazzi photo-bug he seen earlier and searched for the car parked somewhere nearby. He was slightly relieved the paparazzi was nowhere in-sight. He briefly envisioned the worst nightmare, other than the one he was now experiencing, of that of the next day’s headlines in one of the D.C. papers, “U.S. Congressman dates a Transvestite.”
The verbal exchange immediately changed. The cross-dressing Congressman quietly pleaded with Bentivolio to keep his discovery a secret as public knowledge of his extra-curricular activity would destroy his political career.
Crossdressers, Transgenders and such is something that Kerry Bentivolio had never been exposed to, and he was stunned, to say the least. Kerry tried to speak but no words came out of his mouth. He was probably as frightened if not more so than the Congressional drag queen was.
The shattered lady ‘Congressman’ whispered his plea again; “Kerry, please keep this secret, I can help you.” Kerry would have agreed to anything to get out the increasingly embarrassing situation.
The dubious Congressman from a Mid-Western state had better be glad that it was Kerry Bentivolio who knocked him down in that head-on collision. Kerry is the kind of guy that keeps his word as he is a man of extraordinary honor and integrity. He knows how to keep secrets.
Kerry agreed to keep his colleague’s unique lifestyle confidential. He would have agreed to anything to get away. He turned to continue his walk to Barnes and Noble politely extracting himself from the moment.
Kerry crossed the street and walked a block thinking about what had just happened. He searched the surrounding area again for any paparazzi, not simply the one he met earlier in the day during his walk to his congressional office. He saw none. Kerry again felt the guilt of not being in his office and decided to play hooky instead and go see the movie. He laughed at his thinking that while he skirted out of his office to see a movie some members of Congress actually wear a skirt to skirt out for an afternoon of frolicking in nylons.
As it turned out; Barnes and Noble did not have the book the Congressman wanted. He did find a good read, however, and returned to watch his movie Lincoln with amusement. All through the movie, Kerry kept chuckling to himself about the earlier run-in with his cross-dressing colleague.
In a serious movie scene, Kerry remembered someone told him Daniel Day-Lewis was gay and he wondered what the actor would look like playing the part of a woman? Comedian and actor Robin Williams dressed as a maid when the court prevented him from seeing his children in the movie “Mrs. Doubtfire, and Dustin Hoffman played a woman in “Tootsie”. Kerry had some experience acting. As an English teacher, he gave lessons on script writing and occasionally was asked to play bit parts in student movie productions. He once played the part of a medical doctor in a satire on 911 Truthers in the “President Goes to Heaven’. His political “write-in” opponent, Fancy Nancy Cassis, tried to use his acting experience in a movie to persuade stupid voters in campaign ads Kerry was a 911 Truther, which Kerry replied, “if you think the actor is the character he plays, don’t invite Anthony Hopkins to dinner”. He didn’t know if Lewis dressed in drag or not, but it was a bit amusing imagining it, much to the irritation of the theater patrons watching “Lincoln” with him.
Returning to his office the next morning he passed the buses on the other side of the street under the highway bridge. There was the Chevrolet again with the paparazzi with camera in hand hanging out the window parked in front of the buses with police and police dogs searching a bus. Kerry realized the shutterbug’s obviousness was more intentional, more for intimidation purposes than for an actual photograph of him scratching his ass, picking his nose or smoking a cigarette. Kerry smiled at him and waved as he silently thought to himself, “hey asshole, you missed a good photograph.
Hope you enjoyed Chapter One; the Accidental Congressman will have its own website shortly along with a Facebook page. I and the Congressman do hope you will drop by and “LIKE” the page and get your order in early for an autographed copy. Currently, we are looking at a February completion and hopefully a fall publishing. Thank you for your support and I look forward to reading your comments at the bottom of the page. Ken Crow