Warren Murphy: Missing Link

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    Missing Link
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Beer for breakfast, that's how the brother-in-law of the President of the United States starts his day. Beer is his food, his fuel, and his future, if not his finale. His sudsy philosophy immersed him in a continuing controversy, embarrassing the White House, and making him a media personality. It is also giving him some very lucrative consulting jobs for foreign governments. Like the Libyans. They want his help in obtaining plutonium . . . For peaceful purposes, of course . . . a Holy War against Israel being the furthest thing from their minds. Suddenly good old Bobby Jack is missing. And the list of suspects seems endless. America's number-one beer drinker is finally muzzled. But by whom? The Bad Guys or the Good Guys? Terrorists or patriots? The Libyans or the Israelis? The Secret Service or the Mafia? The Destroyer?

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Warren Murphy


Bobby Jack Billings had gone to bed deciding that the next day he would change his drinking habits. Not that drinking was a problem. Beer drinkers never had real drinking problems. He had read that in the Hills Gazette or someplace. Beer drinkers never got falling-down drunk, running their cars over school kids, stealing and cheating to get enough money to support their habit. No. That was whiskey drinkers. Bobby Jack was a beer drinker and didn't have that kind of problem.

That thought gave him enough solace to fall asleep, so he drained the last few drops from his can of beer and dropped the empty on the floor next to the bed. As he was nodding off, he carefully devised his drinking schedule for the next day. He would not have a beer before breakfast. In fact, he would not have any beer before lunchtime. Maybe after work in the afternoon he might have a couple, and maybe one or two with supper, and perhaps one, late at night, just to relieve the day's tensions. But that was all.

When he woke up he had a throbbing headache.

His mouth tasted like a testing center for Q Tips. The back of his throat burned hot enough to ignite the cotton. He had trouble finding his eyeglasses.

He splashed water on his face and then tried to open his eyes wide. It made the day seem a little more bearable, but the headache persisted. He remembered having lain in bed the night before, making some major decision, but in the iron light of morning he couldn't remember what the decision was. Perhaps he could remember it after he had a beer.

He padded barefoot out to the kitchen, a soft-bodied man with a soft face, and pulled a can from the refrigerator. The can began to sweat in his hand immediately, because of the great difference in temperature between the kitchen in the hot American South and the refrigerator, which he kept turned to its lowest cooling leveL This was murderous on iceberg lettuce, filling its watery bulk with ice crystals that turned the lettuce to mush when it thawed, but he liked his beer cold and he didn't eat all that much lettuce anyway, so it was a small price to pay.

He popped off the easy-open top and cut his right index finger. He poured beer over it. Another good thing about beer. It was a natural antiseptic.

He drank the can in two large rollicking swallows. He still could not remember what he had been thinking about the night before but, praise be heaven, the headache was going away, and maybe just another dose of the same medicine. . . .

He drank the second can more slowly and halfway through the pains in his head vanished, and he remembered he had been thinking about cutting

down on his beer drinking. It seemed like a very good idea, but it was too late to worry about today. He would start his new program of restraint tomorrow.

He finished the second can and went to the bathroom. His eyes worked better now and he examined his face and decided there really wasn't any need to shave. He had shaved yesterday and anyway everybody in the family was blessed with light beards. You could hardly notice any stubble. His father had sometimes gone three or four days without shaving and no one ever complained. He used his fingers as a comb to push his sandy hair back from his round face. He bent his head down toward his right armpit and when he survived the tentative inhalation, he decided he could get through the day without a shower. Or at least the morning. He would probably take a shower in the afternoon, but that was something to think about later.

He emptied his bladder. He remembered telling reporters once that nobody buys beer, they only rent it, and they had all printed it and no one had seemed to notice that he had stolen the Une from Archie Bunker on television. That was a long time ago, though, when the reporters weren't always getting on him about something. But what could you expect from a liberal Jewish conspiracy? Thousands of reporters, all liberals, all Jews, and not one of them drank beer. They drank brandy, for crying out loud. Or cream sherry. Fag drinkers. A fag, liberal, Jewish conspiracy.

Back in the kitchen, he took out another beer

and, on a whim, looked to see if there was any food.

There was a Slim Jim smoked sausage in a cellophane wrapper and there was an egg on the rack. Good. A hard-boiled egg and a sausage. A man's breakfast

He cracked the egg on the edge of the counter. The gooey yolk and slimy white ran onto the counter.

"Craps," he hissed. Bobby Jack jumped back so that the egg didn't drip on his bare feet. He thought it had been hard-boiled. He remembered boiling some eggs just a day or so ago. Or maybe it was a week.

He held the Slim Jim in hisjrther hand. Well, tomorrow he would eat that because you couldn't eat a saloon sausage without an egg and there were no more eggs in the house.

He took out another beer and counted the remaining cans. Only a dozen. He'd have more delivered. He slammed the refrigerator door shut. He opened the can and took a swallow. As he leaned forward to toss the pop-top toward the garbage can, he stepped into the raw egg which had slimed its way to the floor.

"Craps," he said. He could see it was going to be another one of those days.

He walked toward the front door with the beer can in his hand. The New York Times was just inside the front door. He should read it, he knew. At least glance at its editorial page. But who cared? He knew what it would say. It would criticize him, criticize the Arabs, criticize his brother-in-law, praise the Jews and come out for abortion and

against capital punishment, and frankly the New York Times was getting to be a pain in the ass. What could you expect from a newspaper that was a tool of the international Zionist conspiracy?

He kicked the paper aside, then wiped his eggy foot on it. He opened the door and walked out onto the front porch. The two regular Secret Service men were sitting there.

"Hi, boys," he said. "Want a beer?" He waved the can at the two men in business suits. They shook their heads. ,

On the dirt walkway leading up to the porch were three people carrying pads and ball-point pens. One of them yelled to him.

"Mr. Billings, last night, the National Jewish Alliance voted to censure you for your statements. What do you think of that?"

"They can kiss my ass," he yelled back. Who the hell was the National Jewish Alliance? He would have said more but the two Secret Service men had risen from their wooden chairs and were standing in front of him.

"What's the matter?" he said.

"Bobby Jack," said the older of the two. "You'd better go put on your pants before you hold a press conference."

Bobby Jack Billings looked down. He was wearing only his skivvies and a stained tee shirt. He chuckled and took a sip of his beer.

"Guess you're right, boy," he said. "Wouldn't do for the First Brother-in-law to parade around the streets in his BVDs, would it?"

"No, sir," the man said. He wasn't smiling. They never smiled. That's what Bobby Jack hated most


about the Secret Service. They never smiled. And they wouldn't have a beer with him, which was strange, because they didn't look like members of the international fag, liberal, Jewish conspiracy.

He sat on his bed with a sigh, pulled a pair of blue jeans from the floor and started to put them on.

What the hell had that reporter said about him and the National Jewish Alliance? Censured him? For what? He hadn't done a goddamn thing. He knew what it was. They were just trying to get at the president through him. If Bobby Jack had been president instead of being the president's brother-in-law, he would do something about the National Jewish Alliance and that New York Times and that guy on the editorial page who had it in for Bobby Jack. He wouldn't take it lying down. That's why he knew he'd never be any good in politics. He wasn't about to kiss anyone's ass just because they controlled banks and radio and television and newspapers and half the United States Senate. Someday he'd tell them that. Tell them just what he thought.

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