(not quite) a literary journal


The Anonymous Op-Ed Writer(s) Revealed, by Meryl Baer

The men and women huddled around the kitchen table clutching mugs of coffee and tea. They hunched forward and talked nervously in muffled whispers, afraid hostile ears lurked nearby.

But the walls could hear, “Are we the only sane ones left? Are we in the midst of a covert attack, maybe via a virus or chemical agent, a substance released into the air that turns people bonkers? Are we victims of a mass mob blindly succumbing to a con artist, the crowd boasting fealty to a false savior? And more important, what are we going to do about it?”

From these not-so-humble surroundings in the basement of the White House workers – maids, butlers, cooks – chowed down, relaxed on breaks, shared gossip. A plan to let the American public know that all was not lost advanced. They – a group diverse in age, ethnic and cultural background, political views - would protect the people as best they could. These modestly paid, semi-skilled laborers were in a unique position to observe Administration goings-on and had an extraordinary opportunity to do something. They formulated a strategy to thwart some of the President’s worst inclinations. They would broadcast a message to the world:

Adults have their back.

Who would ever suspect the cleaning team that wandered into the Oval Office late at night when everyone else was sleeping fitfully in family quarters and homes scattered around town? It was the uniformed White House employees’ job to ensure no speck of dust marred the austere atmosphere. If one of these workers happened to observe papers on the massive Presidential desk, eyes might inadvertently scan the contents. Should the results of the document prove detrimental to the country, the employees would panic.

How can He do this?

And so one day a maid hastily thrust a piece of paper in her apron.

The following day no one noticed the missing document. Nothing happened.

A cleaning team member repeated the stealth. And again no one noticed anything amiss. 

The team felt emboldened. They were careful not to abscond with documents every day. Occasionally the desk appeared barren of correspondence and files. Sometimes a newspaper, a note to a family member, a Presidential doodle were the only items observed. The crafty, cautious crew left many critical papers untouched. Too many documents taken would send off warning signals.

A friend of one of the employee’s sons, actually someone the boy once dated, happened to have a close friend who worked at the New York Times. 

The second part of the plot began to take shape.

And one day an anonymous editorial appeared in the New York Times alerting the world to the fact that someone – perhaps more than one person? – is looking out for the American people. The missive: We see what’s happening, we are operating to protect you and we care. 

What’s next?

Time will tell, as the tale unfolds, whether these gallant clandestine spies helped save America.

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Meryl Baer, fictionSybil Journal