That other travelers take?
November, not April, is the cruelest month. At least, it is in Washington, D.C., in an election year.
This year, 1994, was especially cruel for Democrats. The Republicans had won control of both houses of Congress, and now the halls of the Capitol and the federal government were quaking. You couldn't turn on the TV without seeing the pudgy, self-satisfied face of Mitch Conroy, newly elected speaker of the house, promising to shake things up. His nasal Texas twang filled the airwaves. Big government was in retreat. Heads were about to roll. You could hear the reverberations even on the fifth floor of the Department of Justice where I worked.
It was one of those late Novembers, just after Thanksgiving, when the rain is pouring down outside your window and it's getting dark and the office becomes more and more stuffy until you feel your eyelids drooping and you catch yourself reading the same phrase three times without taking it in. I was looking forward to hitting the treadmill at the health club and cleaning out the cobwebs.
It had been a typical day punctuated by at least five cups of coffee. Nine o'clock staff meeting, ten o'clock budget meeting, noon briefing with lawyers, twelve thirty homemade sandwich at my desk (tuna with lettuce and tomato) and then two hours reviewing files for a deposition the following week. My mouth tasted like the inside of a coffee pot. I was thinking of going for a sixth cup.
There was a knock on the door. A middle-aged woman poked her head in. She wore a tattered rain coat and carried a sopping umbrella in one hand and a large, battered old pocket book bulging at the seams in the other.
"Is this the Office of Special Investigations?" she asked in a heavy German accent.