Running Mate(3)

By: Katie Ashley

But, in my heart of hearts, I knew I could never trust him again, so I broke up with him. What I would soon learn is when I broke up with Walt Jr., I also broke up with his father. I was unceremoniously let go the very next day—and by unceremoniously, I mean a security guard met me at the door with a box containing the contents of my desk and told me I didn’t work there anymore. Bad news obviously traveled from son to father quickly. Bastards.

In the span of a few days, I found myself jobless and homeless. I could have tucked my tail between my legs and gone home to my parents in North Carolina, but I was far too independent for that. My strength of character was both a blessing and a curse for my parents. They were the ones who raised me to be resilient and stand on my own two feet. During their time as missionaries in Central America, my sister, brother, and I had learned to be scrappy and resourceful, but I think now they wished I was a little less independent and self-reliant so I could take a nice job close to home and marry some youth minister at their church like my older sister, Amy, had.

Instead, I stayed with my older brother at his apartment in Arlington, Virginia, until I got the job with the Callahan campaign. After a few months with a steady paycheck, I moved into an overpriced yet extremely shitty one-bedroom apartment in the city—the very one I’d been running around in like a maniac when I woke up late that morning.

With a few free moments, I dug the super glue out of my desk drawer. As I lay the materials out on my desk, it felt like I was scrubbing up to go into surgery. Saving a beloved and necessary shoe was serious business. “Work with me, Choo. You still got life in you, bud,” I cajoled. Laying my hand on the toe of the shoe, I pinched my eyes shut and channeled my best televangelist impression as I cried dramatically, “Heal your heel, Choo!”

“Miss Monroe?”

My eyes snapped open as I jerked my gaze from my shoe into the eyes of Bernard George, the head of the campaign. My boss. The big cheese.

After swallowing hard, I squeaked, “Yes sir?”

“Might I have a word?”

Oh, fuckity, fuck, fuuuuck! No one had ever had just a word with Mr. George. You had to get through three staffers just to wave at him. His palatial office with a view of the Potomac appeared to have more guards around it than one of the security checkpoints at the airport. This was soooo bad.

I forced a bright smile to my face. “Yes sir, of course.”

After sliding on my gimpy shoe, I then proceeded to hobble off-kilter after Mr. George. The broken Choo seemed to fit what I could only anticipate was my break with the campaign, and my chin trembled as I dealt with the impending doom. You didn’t come back from being fired from a campaign—political staffers had a long memory when it came to people who fucked up. Four years down the road, there might be a new candidate, but you would forever have the word loser on your forehead like a biblical mark of the beast.

Instead of ushering me into his office, Mr. George held the glass exit door open for me. I bit down on my lip to keep from crying. I wasn’t even going to get a courteous brushoff in his office. Someone was probably emptying my desk drawer right now. It would be just like my demise at Representative Gregson’s office. Considering I’d been kicking ass and taking names at my job, I couldn’t help but wonder what I had done that had so offended Mr. George.

He gave me a tight smile as we got onto the elevator, and we spent the ride down in awkward silence. Once we reached the ground floor, he didn’t head to the front of the building. Instead, he started toward the back exit. Jesus, talk about a walk of shame. Instead of dissolving into hysterics, I threw my shoulders back and held my head high. There would be time for falling to pieces later. For the moment, I had to save face.

When I got outside, the sunlight momentarily blinded me, but after my eyes adjusted, I did a double take at the sight of Mr. George standing in front of a stretch limo.

“Wow, you guys really fire in style, don’t you?” I mused.

Mr. George’s salt and pepper brows knitted together. “Excuse me?”

“You’re firing me, right?”

He chuckled. “Of course not. You’re one of the best volunteer coordinators I’ve ever seen in all my years of running campaigns.”

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