The front of the Missouri State Capitol Building is regal and majestic, not unlike the United States Capitol; they carry many similarities. However, what most people seem to ignore is the back and sides of the Capitol Building in Jefferson City, which features an equal amount of architectural splendor as the well-known front of the structure.
On the southwest side, ten towering stone pillars create the backdrop for a long stone walkway, book-ended by two mirroring stone staircases which lead down to the sidewalk behind this gargantuan edifice of masonry. At the center of the building’s base, bisecting the two mirrored staircases, is an ominous tunnel leading into the bowels of the Capitol Building; a large stone engraving above the tunnel reads portentously, “BE JUST AND FEAR NOT.”
This tunnel — this opening to the underbelly of this seemingly ancient structure — is guarded by a small octagonal security booth, perhaps large enough for two or three people (but typically only manned by one). It was clearly built decades later but was designed in an attempt to match the Capitol’s structural motif, though not entirely successfully.
A quaint access road, West Capitol Avenue, runs behind the Capitol building providing access to the tunnel, but on the other side of this access road is a small and serene grouping of aging trees, casting shade upon a small opening and a small statue. Three sidewalks divide this opening into uneven thirds, all leading to a small statue at the center of this out-of-place orchard in the midst of the city’s hustle-and-bustle. These three sidewalks meet at a miniaturized replica monument of the Statue of Liberty.
It was the morning rush hour on an unusually-mild autumn day. The trees were still green and the flowers still in-bloom. The orchard was populated by tourists and legislators and birds and squirrels. The air seemed smooth and soothing, the slight breeze providing a light hiss to the peaceful soundscape.
The two benches in the opening were both populated. On one bench sat two men, one in a business suit and the other in khaki pants and a polo shirt, talking casually as the early morning breeze hissed calmly through the trees; the other bench held one man, leaning motionlessly onto the right armrest of the dark iron park bench, also in a suit, his tie loosened, and his top button undone. His right hand draped limply over the right side of the bench, hovering over the grass next to him, and his left hand lay limp by his side — every few seconds, a fresh drop of blood dripped from the left side of his body, falling between the gap in the iron bench seat. As the blood dripped onto the concrete below the bench, the puddle of blood gradually widened, reaching for the green grass which surrounded the bench’s concrete foundation. Once the blood reached the edge of the concrete, it delicately dripped into the deep dark green grass, absorbing the dying man’s essence like the circle of life.
He wasn’t dead yet, but he could be soon. He knew, as he felt his consciousness fade away, if he somehow managed to find help for the knife wound in his back, they would just finish the job later. So rather than fight the inevitable, he simply decided to sit on the bench, surrounded by nature and beauty, just letting himself slip away — to die in peace.
With a glance of finality, the man looked up and read the large stone engraving he’d seen countless times in recent years; “BE JUST AND FEAR NOT.” He managed to muster a small grin at the irony. The knife wound in his back was certainly justice — he could not deny that, considering what he’d done — considering his betrayal — and he felt no fear.
He simply closed his eyes and waited to die.
In his mind’s eye, he could see the beautiful faces of the women he’d loved, the child he’d raised, and the life he’d ruined. The deep darkness behind his eyelids provided a cinematic highlight reel of his life — happy and sad — and in the back of his memories, he could hear the sounds of his shattered family, laughing in the yesteryears of joyfulness and contentment.
He shifted his body slightly; the sting from the knife wound ripped him back into reality as he opened his eyes and grimaced. Another few drops of blood dripped onto the grass.
The two men on the other bench stood from their seated positions, both looking over their shoulders and making direct eye-contact with the dying man on the other bench. One of the standing men checked his watch.
“He’s still alive,” one of them said.
“Not for long,” the other replied.
“Do we stay and wait?” the man asked.
“No,” the other replied, “as deep as I shoved that blade, there’s no way he’ll survive that.”
“Forget him,” the other man said. “Let him bleed out.”
And with that, the men dropped the trash from their foil-wrapped sandwiches into a nearby park trash can and walked away.
The dying man on the bench could, surprisingly, hear this entire conversation between the two men. The flippant way they discussed his own sentence of death for the sins he committed against one person enraged him. And although he was already in deep and excruciating pain, the man on the bench made a decision: he would not die today.
He remained motionless until the men disappeared on foot, walking into the tunnel below the large stone engraving.
The man on the bench felt pain, but he felt no fear.
He simply closed his eyes and waited to die.
“BE JUST AND FEAR NOT.”
Political Science 101 is a 115,000(+) word novel about two best friends embarking on two different (yet identical) personal and professional journeys.
Two close friends, Mitch and Ray, best friends since childhood, embark together (but somewhat secretly) into the world of politics. Mitch, a popular (but troubled) Political Science professor and Ray, an ambitious (but naive) civil rights attorney, decide to team-up and make Ray the ideal politician. But along the way, they find out the hard way what Mitch has known for years and what Ray refuses to believe: The way politics actually works.
This novel explores the deep hidden underbelly of the political process, the shattering of ideals, personal sacrifice, personal delusion, and the battle within all people of deciding between what is necessary and what is right…
…and what is neither, and what is both.
As both men struggle to maintain their morals, their principles, and their friendship, they are challenged by conflicts new and old, small and large, personal and public.
As the novel progresses, the deep underbelly of the American political process continues to show its dark side as each man now faces the deepest demons of their lives — the demons of Ray’s professional life and the demons of Mitch’s personal life.
Everything begins to fall apart when all the secrets, the lies, the deceptions, and misconceptions become intertwined in a cacophony of half-truths, alternative facts, and preferred perceptions.
“Sometimes in life, truth and reality are negotiable.”