Running Mate(5)

By: Katie Ashley


“Doesn’t seem like a very relaxing job to me.”

“It keeps my mind active, which is what I wanted, and I still get time off between election years.” Mr. George turned in his seat to face me directly. “Enough about me. Tell me, how familiar are you with James Callahan?”

A smirk crept across my lips. “I could probably recite his stances on foreign and domestic policies in my sleep, not to mention his voting history in the Senate.”

Mr. George nodded. “I imagined as much. I’m more interested in what you know about him personally.”

It was an odd inquiry, but while I rarely concerned myself with Senator Callahan’s private life when I was working with volunteers, it didn’t mean I was unprepared. If there was one thing I prided myself on, it was being over-prepared for any given situation. “Before interviewing for the job with the Callahan campaign, I did extensive research on his background.”

Stroking his chin, Mr. George questioned, “And what did you learn?”

I furrowed my brows in confusion. “You want me to tell you what I know?”

“Yes.”

Okay then, ask and you shall receive. After sucking in a breath, I began reciting what felt like a class report. “James Thornton Callahan III was born in Alexandria, Virginia, in 1943. He attended military prep schools before graduating from West Point and was decorated for his service in Vietnam. After leading two tours as an Army Major, he returned home to work at The Callahan Corporation, the company his self-made grandfather had built from the ground up. His first wife, Celia, died of cancer just two years after they married. Like John F. Kennedy, he was elected to his first term in the senate as a bachelor. A decade after losing Celia, he wed his second wife, Jane Barrett, a distant cousin of the famous Vanderbilt family, and they had three children, James Thornton IV, or Thorn as he is called, Barrett, and Caroline.”

When I finally paused to take another breath, Mr. George smiled at me. “Very impressive, Miss Monroe.”

“Thank you, sir.”

Mr. George shook his head. “Please don’t call me sir. It’s Bernie.”

“Okay, Bernie.”

As the limo came to a stop, I peered out the window to see we had arrived at the ultra-posh Jefferson Hotel. I’d only been once, when I attended a fundraiser reception for Representative Gregson there. The driver opened the door and Bernie and I stepped out. At my continued hobbling, Bernie glanced down at my broken Choo. At his puzzled look, I quickly blurted out, “It happened on the way in this morning. I was trying to fix it when you called for me.”

“That’s quite all right, Miss Monroe. Once we get to James’s suite, you can leave the shoe with one of his staffers to repair.”

“Oh, no. That won’t be necessary,” I argued as we stepped into the elevator.

Bernie smiled at me. “I insist.”

I decided it was useless to argue anymore. Instead, I said, “Thank you. I appreciate it very much.” My Choo will live to see another day!

After Bernie used a special key card, the elevator started climbing up to the penthouse. When the doors opened to the white and black marbled floors and sparkling chandeliers, I fought hard to keep my jaw from dropping. I couldn’t imagine what it was like living with this sort of opulence on a daily basis. I mean, it was just a basecamp for the moment, but considering the wealth Senator Callahan came from, I could only imagine what his house looked like. Most likely it was more of a mansion than a house.

Although most presidential candidates set up their campaign headquarters in their hometown or home state, Senator Callahan had decided on DC for his since his home in Alexandria wasn’t that far from the capital. So far, he’d only been to the headquarters twice, and I’d missed him both times because I was out of the office working events. This was the first time I was meeting him, and I couldn’t help feeling like a nervous wreck.

Two men who appeared to be in their late twenties were seated in the sitting room to the left of the foyer. They briefly peered up from the laptops they were hunkered over, and with a flick of his hand, Bernie had them both shooting to their feet. “Could one of you gentlemen take Miss Monroe’s shoe to have it repaired?”

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