Today, I’m featuring a scene from my book Counterfeit Honor. Enjoy.
Counterfeit Honor The Brown Palace Hotel, Downtown Denver
Monday, October 15, 1956, 9:45 a.m.
Newspaper reporters and flashing cameras filled the lobby of the grand old hotel where Arthur Crawford waited, trying not to look suspicious. Thick carpet cushioned the steps of the reporters milling about, thrusting microphones in the face of any passerby who looked like they might know something. With so many people crowded into the area, the odors of stale cologne, hair oil, and anticipation contrasted with the pristine gilt and upscale quality of the interior.
Crawford hitched his index finger inside the neck of his bellboy jacket. The woolen uniform itched. He should have chosen something cooler. The stolen uniform helped him blend in, yet he had been careful not to spend too much time in the employees’ locker room.
He didn’t need anyone asking questions. What he needed was the elevator doors to open and reveal Thomas Waterman stepping out into the glow of his adoring public. Crawford smiled. Not everyone loved the Democratic Party’s choice for president. Waterman chased women to whom he wasn’t married, and his family had connections that screamed for an explanation. The White House couldn’t afford another scandal. Any hint of impropriety would mean a Republican win for sure.
No, the only chance the Democrats had of winning the election in November rested in someone else taking Waterman’s place. Crawford’s stomach took a queasy turn as he considered the solution. Perhaps Harriman wasn’t the right man for the job. There were those rumors about being in tight with the Germans during the war. Maybe that fellow Johnson from Texas was a better choice.
Sensing an increasing tension among the reporters in the lobby, Crawford followed the direction of their gaze toward the elevator. The brass hand on the dial above the door crept from right to left, indicating the car’s descent. Crawford slipped his hand behind his back to where the fitted jacket bulged. Clammy fingers touched the metal. Reassured, he swiped the back of his hand across his forehead to stem the flow of perspiration.
The elevator bell dinged as the car reached the lobby. The crowd surged forward, pressing tighter as they struggled to reach the candidate. Two tall men dressed in dark suits stepped out of the car before the doors completely opened. One man on each side of the candidate shielded him with one arm and used the other to press the crowd back.
Crawford resisted the urge to push forward. He had too much time and thought invested in this plan to take foolish chances now, and the plan was to wait until Waterman came to him.