DEEP CITY in Times Roman

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Straying from the Trail, Maybe

After the Secretary’s receptionist helped Yunu clean her clothes and shoes, she sat in the politician’s office and sipped hot Chai tea. She smiled and nodded as he apologized for her mishap.

“I shoul’’ve sent my car for you.” The gray-haired man shook his head. “These streets are no place for a lady.”

Yunu smiled. “Usually, I enjoy the walk, Mr. Secretary. There was no security issue. My heel caught in the sidewalk.” She shivered. “But it is most important for you to see this. We would be honored if you accept the position.” She handed him a manila folder that contained the charter of Yung’s Global Economic Action Institute, a group of world economists that Yung had founded with Uni money. She had added a position for the Secretary: Chairman. She was sure Yung wouldn’t mind, especially considering the situation. And if he objected, she was sure she could persuade him to see the rationale in her actions.

Nevertheless, she wanted this transaction to go smoothly and closely watched the Secretary’s face while he opened the folder and read the plans.

When he leaned back in his chair and smiled, she was sure he’d accept the position. “Thank you most kindly, Mrs. Ghunne.” The Secretary cleared his throat. “And how is Mr. Ghuune doing?”

Yunu frowned and shook her head. ”Not well. He’s taking this badly. We had so hoped that among his many friends, we would—”

The Secretary smiled. ”And I bet you wonder why I’ve done nothing.”

“Well, we . . . we would not want to impose—”

He set the folder on the table and leaned over the desk. “Mrs. Ghuune, I have the greatest respect for your husband. And his plight has not escaped my attention.” The man stopped and tapped his fingers on top of the folder. “I am just not certain I’m in a position to be of much help.”

Yunu blinked. “But you are so powerful—”

“Washington is often fickle.” He shook his head and frowned. “But let me get on the horn and see what I can do.” He pressed buttons on his phone. “Ms. Gypsum. Get the House Chief of Staff on the line.”

Indeed, the Secretary did his best. He phoned not only the House Chief of Staff, but appealed to the Attorney General for leniency in Yung’s tax case. Nonetheless, his best was not good enough. And even though during the previous June, Yung had tried to build his case by informing the Senate Judiciary Committee of the Universality Church’s patriotism by pleading, “Several hundred million dollars have been poured into American, primarily from overseas,” the Senate ignored both Yung’s and the Secretary’s words. In fact, it confined Yung to prison for thirteen months.

At least, Yung’s stay in the American prison was far more comfortable than his experience in Korean concentration camps. With his large-screen television, maid and secretarial service, golf and polo lessons, and snooker group, the experience became tantamount to an extended stay in the Hilton Inn, except, of course, Yung wasn’t free to leave the grounds. Nevertheless, he managed to carry on business during his incarceration. Working through the Secretary and Willy Richson, once the New Right’s top man on Capitol Hill, Yung was able to buy-off some of his most adamant enemies: Evangelical Christians and Baptists. And for a mere $775,000, the Secretary purchased Johnny Coleman for the Unies. Coleman had founded the 300,000-member National Conservative Political Action Coalition, and the man’s political expertise made Machiavelli seem as meek as an embarrassed rabbit. Besides, Yung could influence President Raglund through The Lines. Plus, CIA Director Warren Lacy and Oscar South from the White House worked with the Unis to create a private foundation—the Nicaraguan Freedom Fund, Inc. That foundation built a $14 million fund for the Contras. Yes, despite Yung’s imprisonment, the Unis grew faster than steroid-fed cattle.

But Yung’s greatest harvest was Robbie Goodman, a former vice president of Harry Fairwell’s Moral Majority. When Yung went to prison, Goodman had recently badmouthed a fellow Christian Fundamentalist who’d accepted a donation from Yung. “It strikes me as peculiar,” Goodman had maliciously accused his friend, “that he should accept financial support from a church whose founder believes he’s divine.”

Eighteen months later, Goodman joined The Washington Lines staff as senior vice president, and the public and other Evangelicals didn’t raise an eyebrow. Indeed, not even the Pope noticed Robbie’s conversion. And it was good, because Yung had used other means, along with the strong U.S. Dollar, to build his following. Not even Yunu knew about his techniques. But while Yung sat in prison, it worried him that Oshi To did. So he allowed Oshi To to date the nun, just so and Yung and Yunu’s followers knew nothing about the liaison.

In fact, not until November 1987, after Yung was out of prison, did he say a word to Oshi To about the romance. Then, Yung yelled, slapped a fist on his desk, and squinted. “You CANNOT marry her—not in the Catholic Church! Have you lost your mind?”

Oshi To leaned against the door frame, his hair nearly touching the lintel. He wiped his nose with the back of a sleeve and spat into a wastebasket. “She refuses to let you marry us. And she refuses to drink your blood, either. She says it’s a Satanic ritual.” He crossed his arms and squinted back at his father. “Where did you come up with that ghoulish ceremony anyway?”

Yung pursed his lips, his cheeks swelled then pulsed. His words became an exploding volcano. “You marry her—and that’s it!” He crossed his arms. “No more dough.” He pounded a fist on the desk again. “You’re out of the will, too!”

“You can’t buy me like you do your other cronies.” Oshi To glared, whirled away from his father, stomped out the door, then turned back and glared at his father again. He squinted his eyes into tiny slits, until he looked somewhat like a lizard. “And I’m contacting The Post about your ‘influential’ techniques.” With that, he spat into the basket again, stomped out, and slammed the door behind him.

The volcano bubbling beneath Yung’s face finally cooled. With deflated cheeks, he shook his head and tried to sort out the situation. Surely, Oshi To wouldn’t go to The Post, he first thought, then afterwards considered that perhaps he would. Yung didn’t know what to do. Although he was furious with his eldest son, the aging Korean didn’t have a heart black enough to hire “buddies” to “take care” of him. He stared for a long time at the slammed door, then leaned back in his stuffed leather seat and twirled it around to stare through the huge glass window at the city below. The Monument stood triumphant, a giant column piercing the winter air. Yung liked to stare at the Washington Monument: It resembled a geometric sculpture of a snake. When Yung first saw the memorial, he’d thought its windows were eyes—they’d twinkled, then they seemed to stare at him, as if their beady, gold lights were X-raying his chest. And today, those eyes gleamed cold and hard as diamonds glimmering in the bright sunlight.

Yung sipped his tea, inhaled the sweet Chai smell, and finally, he looked from the snaky memorial to his Princess Charlotte tie covering his throbbing navel.

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