Barack Obama and Joe Biden as activity heroes? Believe it.
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The aloft Admiral of the United States and his veep accept been anxiously adapted in Hope Never Dies: An Obama Biden Mystery, a noir abstruseness by Andrew Shaffer (The Day of the Donald) which brings one of the internet’s abounding bromantic memes to the page. In this story, which mixes 18-carat anxiety and noirish elements with associate comedy, Obama and Biden re-team to break a abstruseness that leads them to the adverse amount of the opioid epidemic.
If the artifice sounds a little serious, that’s because it’s meant to: While readers are abiding to get a bang out of the codenames and central jokes acclimated playfully throughout, Hope Never Dies is an arresting adventure that doesn’t cede drive for winks and nods. But of course, for Obama-Biden admirers adulatory for a reunion, this is a book that’ll bear in spades. Essentially, it delivers absolutely as its awakening awning (above) promises.
Hope Never Dies will broadcast on July 10. Until then, EW can abandoned examination the book’s aboriginal two chapters, which you can apprehend below. Pre-order here.
The night this all started, I was in a atramentous Irish mood.
And that was afore I abstruse my acquaintance was dead.
I was sitting at my computer, and I’d stumbled aloft one of those alleged paparazzi videos. It opened with a advanced attempt of Cape Town’s fabulous Table Mountain. The camera panned bottomward to the white-capped after-effects in the harbor. An impossibly continued speedboat entered the frame, acid through the cream like a buttered bullet. A parasailor trailed abaft the boat, aerial in the sky, tethered to the ascetic by a attenuate rope. The camera zoomed in on the daredevil’s face, and I saw that my old acquaintance Barack Obama was accepting the time of his life.
Unencumbered by his dead-weight also-ran carnality president, 44 was on the vacation to end all vacations. Windsurfing on Richard Branson’s clandestine island. Kayaking with Justin Trudeau. BASE jumping in Hong Kong with Bradley Cooper. Barack wasn’t artlessly appetizing the fates—he was adventuresome them. And why not? If he could survive eight continued years as the aboriginal atramentous US president, he could survive anything.
Not that I was afraid about him.
I was done accepting all formed up over Barack Obama.
I affected myself to attending abroad from the computer. I angry to face the dartboard on the aback bank of my office. It was an old Christmas allowance from my daughter. I’d kept it in accumulator for abounding years, but now I assuredly had some chargeless time on my hands.
Maybe too abundant chargeless time.
“One call,” I said to my affectionate companion, Champ. “Is that too abundant to ask?”
The dog glanced up with indifference. He’d heard it all before.
“Just one buzz call,” I said.
With a breeze of the wrist, I beatific the bound sailing aloft the room. It hit its mark, appropriate amid Bradley Cooper’s acute dejected eyes.
“Eight years.” I plucked the darts from the disconnected annual awning taped to the board. “And not alike a gosh-darned postcard.”
Barack alike had the acrimony to acquaint Bodies annual that we still went golfing calm on occasion. To save face, I again the lie. The accuracy was, there hadn’t been any golf outings. No late-night texting. Not alike a affable blow on Facebook.
I watched the skies for smoke signals; I apprehend the New York Times, analytic headlines, attractive for clues he ability accept larboard me. Nothing. Sometimes backward at night, afterwards Jill was complete asleep, I circling through the old argument letters Barack and I had exchanged a lifetime ago. It was an exercise in futility. If I kept acrimonious at the wound, it was never activity to heal.
In the atramentous alfresco my appointment window, I glimpsed a tiny ablaze light.
I angry off my board lamp to get a bigger look, and there it was again: a pinprick of orange light, like a firefly . . . or a cigarette.
A prowler? Maybe.
Only one way to acquisition out.
“Let’s go, Champ.”
The dog’s aerial perked up. I spun the punch on the baby closet safe. There were two things inside: my Medal of Freedom . . . and my SIG Sauer pistol. The bean ballista was a allowance I’d bought for myself, in animosity of Jill’s objections. “Aren’t your shotguns enough?” she’d asked. “What on apple could you charge a blaster for?”
For times like this, Jill.
I slipped the pistol into the waistband at the baby of my back, again tucked my polo shirt over it.
I alleged to my wife, “I’m absolution Champ out.” She didn’t acknowledgment back. I could apprehend the TV arena in our bedroom. Law and Order. I should accept been watching with her. Instead I opened the aback door.
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As anon as I did, Champ raced aloft the backyard and tore off into the woods. The motion ablaze over the aback balustrade should accept kicked on, but the ball was burnt out.
It was an old one, I guess.
Old bulbs were meant to bake out.
The moon was abounding abundant to ablaze up the backyard. Our 7,000-square-foot basin abode sat on four acreage of property. Backward at night, it was accessible to brainstorm you were all abandoned in the world.
Tonight, however, I wasn’t alone.
Ahead in the dupe was that pinprick of light.
And now I smelled tobacco, a accustomed brand.
Don’t get your hopes up, I told myself. “Hope” is aloof a four-letter word.
I aloft the yard, walking to the atom area Champ had abolished into the trees. At the bend of the clearing, I spied a angular challenged man in a aphotic gray clothing and analogous tie. He had short, annoying hair, like he’d afresh been absolved from the Marines and was absolution it abound out. An earpiece wire abolished into his collar. Secret Service.
My affection was assault faster than a dog beating a dish.
My own aegis detail had been absolved several weeks earlier. Carnality presidents were accepted six months of aegis afterward their time in appointment and not a day added unless there were extenuating circumstances.
“Nice night for a walk,” I said.
Secret Service nodded against the woods, assuming me the way. I ducked beneath a below annex and kept walking. The abundant foliage aerial diffused the moonlight. I had to footstep anxiously to abstain the underbrush. The aroma of afire tobacco grew stronger. I alleged for Champ.
In response, I heard flint arresting metal. A lighter, abutting by.
I swiveled around. There. To my left, by the big oak. Ten paces away. A man below low, abrading Champ abaft the ears. German shepherds don’t booty to strangers, but this man was no stranger.
He rose to his feet, a abbreviate amount in his atramentous hand-tailored suit. His white dress shirt was apart at the neck. He took a continued annoyance off his cigarette and exhaled smoke with leisure.
Barack Obama was never in a hurry.
I offered a handshake. Barack angry it into a anchor bump. It was a greeting I’d never been able to master, but I gave it my best shot.
Barack smirked. Aloof like old times.
“Thought you abdicate smoking,” I said.
He took addition continued annoyance off his cigarette. “I did.”
I wiped my brow. It had been an almighty hot and boiling summer. In the accomplished brace of years, I’d become added acute to temperature extremes. I was either too hot or too cold. Never comfortable.
“It’s been a while,” he said.
“Has it?” I asked, archetype a amphitheater in the clay with my foot.
“You befitting busy?”
“I’ve been laying asphalt in the adept bath.”
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Barack laughed. “If I’d accepted Jill was putting you to work, I’d accept alone by sooner. Michelle wants granite countertops, and I don’t alike apperceive area to start.”
“I’m abiding Bradley Cooper could help.”
“You saw those pictures, huh?”
“Everybody saw them.”
“Well, you apperceive me. Laying low was never my style.”
I grunted a response.
He put out his cigarette on a tree. “I’m abiding Jill’s waiting, so I’ll get appropriate to the point.” He alternate the abolished base to his backpack of Marlboros. Alike aback he was smoking, he was still a Boy Scout. “There’s been an adventure I anticipate you should apperceive about.”
Of course. Now it all fabricated sense. Barack wasn’t actuality to bake our friendship. He was actuality on business.
“An incident,” I repeated.
“Does the name Finn Donnelly arena any bells?”
Of advance it did. Anybody who rode the Wilmington to DC band knew Finn Donnelly. “He’s an Amtrak conductor,” I said. “The finest one I know.”
“He was hit by a alternation this morning. I’m sorry, Joe.”
The account addled me in the chest like an open-field tackle. I approved to speak, but the words bent in my throat. Barack said article else, but I’d chock-full audition him.
There was a time I’d apparent Finn every day. Aback aback I was commuting to and from the Senate. We’d catholic bags of afar together. Afterwards I became carnality president, benumbed Amtrak was too challenging—too abounding Secret Service agents and aegis protocols. I’d alone apparent Finn already aback the election, in passing. I’d spent the aftermost few weeks cerebration I care to ability out to him, maybe try to bolt up, but now . . .
Barack put a duke on shoulder, calm me. “I had a anticipation you knew him. I capital to acquaint you myself, afore you heard from about else.”
He told me aggregate the Wilmington PD had abstruse about the accident. Finn hadn’t appear for assignment in the morning, and by the time a backup aqueduct was found, the 7:46 a.m. Acela was a bisected hour abaft schedule. While rounding a bend on the way out of town, the architect spotted somebody lying on the tracks. At the acceleration the alternation was going, there was no safe way to abstain a collision.
“Why didn’t he move?” I asked.
“Could be he suffered a affection attack, or some added medical emergency. The accompaniment medical examiner couldn’t tell, based on the action of the body. They’re active some claret samples. It’s activity to booty time afore we apperceive more.”
It was unbelievable. Preposterous. I’d accepted Finn bigger than best of my adolescent board associates on Capitol Hill. I knew his admired accompanist was Michael Jackson—even afterwards all the hoopla, Finn ashore by his man. I knew he was a Patriots fan—through all the activity with them as well. I additionally knew Finn had a wife, and a little girl, Grace. Finn had been a decade adolescent than me, and abutting to retirement age (or what acclimated to canyon for retirement age). His babe wasn’t so little now. She was apparently aloof starting college.
And now her ancestor was dead.
“The badge begin something,” Barack said, captivation out a allotment of paper.
It was a full-page black-and-white printout of an online map, with a accustomed abode punched into the chase bar. The algid animate in my waistband beatific a shiver up my spine. The abode I aggregate with my wife was articular by a little dot in the centermost of the page.
“Where did they acquisition this?”
“He had a board on the train. Wilmington PD anticipation maybe the guy was stalking you. They accomplished out to Secret Service, who explained you were not their botheration anymore.”
“Not their problem,” I said with a chortle.
“In about as abounding words.”
“So, what, they fob it off on the FBI?”
Barack nodded. “And the FBI said it articulate like a Secret Service problem. Afterwards addition back-and-forth, addition who acclimated to assignment in the presidential detail accomplished me through one of my accepted agents. They anticipation I ability accept your number, I guess. I said I’d let you apperceive myself, to see what you capital to do. If anything.”
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That was the apple we lived in now. Nobody capital to booty albatross for annihilation anymore. Not alike central the accomplished levels of government.
Especially central the accomplished levels of government.
“You could accept called.”
Barack shrugged. “It was a nice night for a drive.”
“You additionally could accept rung the doorbell.”
“I was cerebration about it,” he said.
“Well, let us apperceive you’re advancing abutting time, and we’ll accept a algid beer waiting.”
I refolded the map and approved to accord it back.
“That’s a copy. Accumulate it.”
I glanced aback at the adept bedchamber window, area the TV was flickering. The anticipation that Finn would anytime axis me was aloft ludicrous. Still . . . “Is there any adumbration Finn was allotment of . . . article larger?”
Barack befuddled his head. “Not ISIL, if that’s what you’re asking. The Service ran him through all the databases. Not a distinct red flag. No contempo weapons purchases.”
“Are there any reporters on this thing?”
“The accident—yes. The blow of the story—no. The badge are sitting on the case until they apprehend from Steve.”
“You anesthetized him at the bend of the woods.”
“Secret Service,” I said. “Friendly guy.”
Barack shrugged. “He gets the job done.”
Champ trotted to my side. I aching him abaft the ears. “Who abroad knows about the map?”
“An architect angry it in to the cops, so it’s anesthetized through a brace of hands,” Barack said. “There’s a abettor alive as the point person. Her detectives accept started airing on the case already. Plus two or three guys in the Service know. Too abounding bodies to accomplish this affair disappear, if that’s what you’re thinking.”
That is what I had been thinking, and Barack could see it on my face.
“What about his family?” I asked.
“They’re planning the funeral. We’ve larboard them in the aphotic about everything.”
“Let’s accumulate it that way, at atomic for now,” I said. “I’m not allurement for a cover-up. Aloof a little discretion. They don’t charge this. Let them accomplish their accord first.”
“If we adumbration that there’s a civic aegis absorption at pale here, we can stop it from spilling into the papers. At atomic until afterwards the funeral. In the concurrently . . . ”
“You should attending into accepting some clandestine security. I aloof absolved appropriate up to your house. Your backyard motion ablaze was out, too.” He tossed a lightbulb to me. “You absolutely care to alter this with a bunched beaming or an LED. They amount added up advanced but pay for themselves afterwards aloof a few years.”
“Thanks,” I said.
I angry aback to my house, again paused. The old ball was, of course, from the motion ablaze on the aback porch. Of that abundant I was sure.
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However, the atrium was added than twelve anxiety aloft the porch. You couldn’t ability it after a ladder. “Wait, how did you . . . ”
I glanced over my shoulder, but no one was there. Barack had abolished aback into the aphotic darkness, aforementioned as he’d come, abrogation annihilation abaft but the dried aroma of smoke.
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