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Chapter 5 Lies on the Radio

We lost the primary election in Maine, and we lost in South Dakota. We hoped to do better in Colorado, but Lawrence Harris did some wonderful television shows in that state and he won. It seemed that Harris was going to win everywhere.

“What are we going to do about Harris?” asked Richard Jemmons. “What are we going to do?”

We went to Florida without any answers. In Florida, Freddy Picker joined Harris’s campaign. Twenty years earlier Picker had been the Governor of Florida. He had been a very popular governor and many people wanted him to run for President, but in 1978 he had quit politics. Nobody knew why. Now he was back.

I watched Harris and Picker together on television. „I am very proud,” said Harris, “that Fred Picker has joined my campaign.”

Freddy Picker stood up and looked at the journalists. He said, “You guys are still ugly.”

“Governor,” asked a blonde woman who was not ugly. “Why have you decided to return to politics?”

“Well,” said Picker. “I think we need to get serious about this campaign. I think that Senator Harris is the only serious politician running for President.”

“What about Jack Stanton?” asked another reporter. “Is he a serious politician?”

“Well,” said Picker, “he has serious hair.” The journalists laughed.

“Look,” continued Picker, “I’m sure that Jack Stanton is a good man. It’s just that Lawrence Harris is a wonderful man.” My pocket telephone rang.

“Henry?” It was Daisy. “We have a new problem.” “What problem is that, Daisy?”

“People love Freddy Picker.”

Stanton knew that he had a new problem and he began to campaign harder in Florida. One afternoon, Stanton was talking to a local radio station on his telephone while we were riding in the van. I had a small radio next to my ear and could hear him telling the interviewer about Momma’s favorite movie. Suddenly, the interviewer said, “Governor, you won’t believe this. We have Senator Harris on the telephone. Senator Harris, does your mother have a favorite movie?”

“My mother is dead,” said Harris coldly.

“Oh, I’m sorry . . .”

“I just called because I think Jack Stanton should be ashamed of the way he’s lying to the people here in Florida.” “What do you mean?” said Stanton.

“I mean, why don’t you tell the truth? You say you weren’t arrested in Chicago. You say you didn’t know Cashmere McLeod.

You just lie and lie and lie! Why don’t you . . . ah.” He coughed.

“Ah . . . excuse me.”

He didn’t say anything else.

When the radio interview was over Stanton asked, “Did you hear? I wonder what happened to Harris. Do you think he’s okay?” He wasn’t okay. We were back in Mammoth Falls when we learned that Lawrence Harris had become very sick while he was talking to Stanton on the radio. Something was wrong with his heart, and he was in the hospital. The doctors thought that he might die.

I went to see Stanton with Richard Jemmons. We were walking up the steps to Stanton’s office when Susan Stanton walked out of the door with her arm around a woman—Fat Willie’s wife. I could tell that both women had been crying. When Susan saw me, her eyes turned angry and cold. I was so shocked that I couldn’t speak. I just watched them walk by.

“Who was that?” asked Richard.

“I don’t know.”

“You’re lying, Henry,” he said. “You’re getting like Stanton. Is there another scandal that I don’t know about?” “Of course not, Richard,” I said, but he knew it was a lie.

When we went into Stanton’s office, Stanton looked very unhappy. “Harris is in the hospital because of me,” he said.

“When I was talking on that radio show, I made Harris so angry that it hurt his heart. I’m going to stop the campaign.” “We can’t stop the campaign,” said Richard.

“Just for a few days.”

Late that night I was talking to Daisy on the telephone.

“I wish I was there with you, Henry,” she said.

“I wish you were here too.”

There was a knock at my door.

“Somebody’s here. I’ll call you later.” “If it’s Jack Stanton, it’ll be a lot later” she said.

But it wasn’t Jack; it was Susan.

“Aren’t you going to invite me in?” she said.

She stepped inside and hit me across the face like I had seen her do to her husband.

“How could you do that?” she said. “How could you go with Howard Ferguson to try to frighten Fat Willie like that?” Suddenly she started to cry. She put her arms around me, then turned her face toward mine and kissed me. Oh no, I thought, then I returned her kiss.

She got dressed and left before the sun came up. She didn’t say anything at all.

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