The front of the Missouri State Capitol Building is very 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. And 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 people and clearly built decades later, but 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 lunch 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 light breeze providing a light hiss to the peaceful soundscape.
The two benches in the opening were both populated. On one bench sat two men in business suits, both with briefcases tucked nicely on the ground on either side of the bench, eating sandwiches from tinfoil wrappings, presumably prepared by each man’s wife prior to his morning departure; the other bench held one man, leaning motionlessly onto the right armrest of the dark iron park bench, also in a suit, his dark gray trench coat buttoned to the top. His right hand draped limply over the right side, hovering over the grass next to the bench — every few seconds, a fresh drop of blood dripped from his right index finger, creating no puddle as the blood soaked into the deep dark green grass, absorbing the dying man’s essence like the circle of life. He wasn’t dead yet, but he would 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, he looked up and read the large stone engraving he’d seen hundreds of times as he entered that tunnel 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 — and he felt no fear.
He simply closed his eyes and waited to die.
Two close friends, Mitch Bradley and Ray Doyle, 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 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, their ideals, and their friendship, they are challenged by conflicts new and old, small and large, personal and public.