Senator Bill 'Big Bill' Borer smacked his gavel on the table. "This Investigative Committee for Performance Enhancing Drugs will reconvene."
The audience quieted and a few lowly aides scurried to their seats. The television cameras focused on Big Bill. He hoped his tan shirt and red tie looked better than the tight necked white shirt and blue bow tie he wore yesterday. This morning one of the hacks on the radio said his head looked like an overripe tomato that had just won first prize at the state fair. Big Bill fired the aide who had selected the outfit.
"Let's call our next witness. Mr. Jay Smits?"
Mr. Smits was wearing a new suit, which was obvious because the tag dangled out of the arm pit when he raised his hand to be sworn in. Even without the tag Big Bill could tell Smits was not a man used to wearing a suit. His tie was a decade out of style and his socks were mismatched. Smits sat down at the witness table and took a sip from the water glass that had been placed there.
"Mr. Smits, would you state your occupation?"
"I am a lead engineer at ComTech Inc."
"Thank you sir. As I'm sure you're aware, we are investigating the reports of rampant abuse of Performance Enhancing Drugs in the software industry. So, let's get straight to the point. Do you use Performance Enhancing Drugs?"
"No sir, never."
"You understand you're under oath, right Mr. Smits?"
"Mr. Smits, we have witnesses that testify that you personally programmed 10,000 lines of code in a weekend. They say that you developed a social software platform that allows for the integration between individual's cars and houses, allowing whole towns and cities to become, 'socialized' I believe is how you describe it."
Smits nodded, "That is correct."
"How exactly did you do that?" asked Big Bill.
"I typed fast," Smits replied. There was laughter from the gallery and Smits waved to his fans. Big Bill's eyes narrowed. You did not make a fool of Big Bill.
"We also have signed affidavits that in all those lines of code there wasn't a single bug or mistake, that the system is eminently scalable, and that the user interface is so intuitive a drunken chimp could use it. There are industry experts that have testified that this is impossible. How do you explain it?"
"I code very well." More laughter.
The woman wearing a red suit jacket and pearl necklace who sat next to Big Bill leaned toward her microphone. "Senator, if I may ask a question?"
Big Bill sighed inwardly. There was probably some procedural rule he could throw out to keep the spotlight on himself, but Jane would make him pay for it later on in one of the subcommittees they shared. "Certainly Senator Hayward."
"Thank you," Jane flashed him a I-know-you-hate-this-and-I-don't-care smile. "Mr. Smits, have you ever heard of a drug called Supranext?"
Smits shifted in his chair. "I've heard about it on the news. It's illegal. Some sort of caffeine, Ritalin, Adderall, combination with a little bit of No-doze thrown in for good measure."
Jane smiled. "Quite right. Are you aware that its use is epidemic throughout the software industry?"
More uncomfortable shifting on the part of Smits. "That's what I heard on the news."
"Have you ever taken Supranext?" Jane asked.
Smits shook his head. "Of course not, that would be illegal, as I mentioned earlier."
Big Bill decided enough was enough, he wasn't going to let Jane be the one to pin this moth and snatch the soundbite. "Mr. Smits, are you aware that one of the side effects to Supranext is that the abuser's ears shrink?"
"I'm sorry Senator, what did you say?" The gallery laughed, but Big Bill saw the twitch in Smits's eye. He also spotted Jane's you're-going-to-pay-for-stealing-my-limelight glance. He would smooth her ruffled feathers later.
"Let me be clear. Based on past photos, your ears are distinctly smaller. Also, the fact you have taken to wearing a sports band for your glasses, I presume to keep them from falling off your face, says to me that you are taking Supranext. I believe you have lied to this panel, which means you have committed perjury. You will be tested. We will indeed see whether you 'code well' or if you had some unnatural assistance. The witness is dismissed." Big Bill banged his gavel and smiled inwardly. That should be worth thirty seconds on the news channels and a round on the weekend talk shows.
Smits didn't move, but instead said, "What business is it of Congress what we happens in the computer industry?"
"We are not the ones who need to answer questions here. You have been dismissed, Mr. Smits," Big Bill replied.
"You outlawed the drugs which, by the way, only give consumers better products that they want to use. Why are you even bothering to investigate? Don't you have bigger issues to muck around in? Let the law handle the offenders."
Big Bill signaled for the police to remove Smits, but Jane pounced while he was distracted.
Jane said, "It is the business of Congress because the public needs to be made aware that they are benefiting from a tainted product. The drugs are outlawed because of their negative impact to the health of individuals. If young people believe the only way to succeed is to take the drugs, you will be dragging down our society as a whole. Congress's job is to protect the public, even if that means protecting them from themselves."
Smits shouted response was lost as the police dragged him away.
Big Bill fumed as he banged his gavel. Jane covered her mouth, trying to hide her smile, but her blue eyes flickered at him, 'I-win.'
Big Bill nodded slightly to Jane, a competitor acknowledging a worthy opponent's victory. But his eyes sent back their own message 'you're-going-to-pay-for-this-in-subcommittee.'
Copyright 2013 John Lance