July 20, 2006

Paragon’s Prologue (5 of 10)

Thread: Paragon

The starters were laid out before the three of them. The senator had gazpacho soup, his wife had chosen bruschetta and the advisor had Caesar salad. The food had been sitting there for ten minutes and no one had started to eat. The Caesar salad was already wilting, but the gazpacho soup was still gazpacho soup, cold and unyielding. The waiter occasionally drifted towards the table but always veered away at the last moment, deciding not to interrupt the tense discussion that was in progress.

The advisor warned the senator, “The President is not a happy man. He is not a very happy man at all. He is confused as to why one of his own has turned Judas.”

“You are a good man,” the senator replied. “I want you to know that.”

“God, man,” the advisor said in exasperation, “why burn every damn bridge you have? You made him look bad. Very bad.”

“I may have belonged to the same party as this man, but it does not mean I call him my buddy. Our culture, our country, our spirits have been devalued by home-grown American avarice. I respect the flag, I respect this country, but I cannot respect a man, no matter what his standing, who considers the dollar to be the moral compass. The companies of this fair country might like to think of themselves as Mom-and-Pop stores on the street corner, but this is a poisonous bait-and-switch of a pleasant image for the salient, inconvenient facts.”

The senator explained, “Jim Jeffords turned independent over twenty years ago. Handing control of the Senate over to the democrats demonstrated conviction but led him to abandon many bridges. He survived that and so will I.”

“Jeffords was a black belt in taekwondo if I recall,” commented the advisor with a wry grin. “Besides, an independent will never win the Presidency. The electorate understand nothing other than left and right,” the advisor fired back.

“I think we can thank the media for that,” the senator retorted, still calm. He looked away from the advisor for a moment, observing the other diners who were making excellent progress with their meals. “All these people are eating and not saying a thing to each other. It’s all about consuming. Even the waiter is nervous because we haven’t started eating yet. There is a problem with the culture.”

The advisor was becoming more and more agitated with every exchange, which contrasted with the senator’s unnatural composure. He was either profoundly confident or under sedation. The senator’s wife sat beside him, her intense, piercing gaze following the conversation as a crowd follows a tennis match. He found the pair of them unnerving, particularly the evangelical undercurrent. But even more unnerving were the feelings that the senator had unearthed deep within him. He kept battening down the hatches, but the feelings were now tearing their way out en masse.

“You talk a very good talk,” the advisor said, “and I have to commend you for that, and you’re pulling in a serious crowd. But you don’t have a head for this level of the business. No one is going to support you. Your sole achievement will be putting the democrats in the White House. Congratulations. Is that what you really want?”

The senator’s wife smiled at the advisor to put him at ease, which did nothing but put him at unease. He had often thought of the senator and his wife as escaped mental patients, detached from reality and joyful in the bliss of the fall, the roaring wind in their hair, the ground looming. The wife leaned forward and said, “We’re the ones who called you here for this conversation. Don’t you know why you’re here? My husband has told you that you are a good man. Don’t you know why you are here?”

Posted by: The Harbour Master @ 2134

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