Jeremy Wharton (R) was with Donald Keith (D) and Josh Alice (R) in the hotel lobby for breakfast. He was folding his itinerary repeatedly while Donald watched the high school girls pass by in professional attire. Josh was playing on his phone with his feet propped up on the table. His shoelace had dipped into the strawberry jam.
“A waste of a weekend,” Josh said.
Jeremy set his itinerary on the table and was now folding the corners of his nametag.
“Not a complete waste,” Donald said. “There’s the dance tonight. I won’t mind rubbing against some of these skirts.”
“Don’t expect to see me there. It’s all a load of crap. I don’t want some chaperone breathing down my neck.”
The sessions started at 9:00 sharp. Jeremy and Donald were late because they couldn’t find Conference Room C, and when they did the door was locked. He knocked, embarrassed, and Amanda Cruth (D) opened the door. “You have to pull the handle down all the way,” she said. “I did,” he said. Policymaking was underway. He sat in a plaid cushioned chair and leaned his head on a fist. His elbow felt in his pocket the lump of a pill he hadn’t wanted to take in front of Donald and Josh for fear of questioning.
“And Route 11 becomes a truck route, and, we might avoid traffic on more crucial, sections of the interstate,” Alex Mathison (D) was saying in gulps, “but what happens when, one of those trucks smashes into a school bus and kills, seventeen children?” The moderator was kneading his lower lip. Kids were looking at each other and smirking.
They all had wigs and spoke with long vowels. John Fagan (F) vaulted over the front row brandishing a cane while Mathison (D-R) shouted insults. The room was in uproar when Fagan struck him upon the crown. Donald Keith (D-R) was already out the door in search of the law. More than a few representatives held their chairs threateningly above their heads.
You’re supposed to get kicked out if they catch you grinding, but the chaperones don’t really care. Besides, says Amber Campbell (R), how else are we supposed to dance? The room is loud and smells like sweat. Jeremy smiles at her but he looks mostly sick. He catches a thumbs-up from Donald across the room.
Up in their room, Josh was lying on top of the covers watching TV and he’d packed the Book of Mormon from the nightstand in his duffel. “I was the one who found it,” Jeremy said. “But it’s whatever.” For some reason Josh raised his middle finger.
He left the room and headed back down the elevator. The tiny lump throbbed in his pocket. He was woozy from a feeling of heritage. He saw himself in the dull reflection of the doors and straightened his tie. If it meant shining a flashlight into the writhing tangle of representatives, he would find Amber Campbell. She could rub against him, it would be connection enough. He would take it all: the shame, the boldness, the questions of love. He didn’t want to have to think how he wanted to be wanted. All he could think was that time was of the essence because he could already feel himself becoming sad.
Aaron Larson lives in Nashville, far away from any shameful memories, or as far as he can manage.