Posted July 28, 2012

Legacy

A Naptown Tales Sequel by Altimexis

Chapter 19 - Newsworthy - Bruce Warren

I was as much in the dark as anyone. The President had kept the purpose of his news conference close to his chest. He’d held a news conference just yesterday evening at which he announced a shakeup in his cabinet to fill the vacancy left by the assassination of Karen Richards. Altaf El Tahari was the new Secretary of State, his husband, Randy Bernstein, was the new Secretary of Health and Kevin Williams was the new Surgeon General.

There were rumors that tonight’s news conference was to announce his selection for vice-president but that was pure conjecture on all our parts. For all we knew, there could be some news on the investigation into the assassination of David Reynolds, or information on terrorist involvement. Who knew?

I didn’t envy my counterparts in Washington. My assignment was relatively easy by comparison. I was on a train headed East, carrying David Reynolds’ remains to the Capitol. I was traveling with a large contingent of the press and with the family of the deceased president.

I was near the front of the train, in a lounge car shared with fellow members of the press. This was one of two such lounge cars. My son, who was traveling with me, was spending most of his time with Governor Reynolds son, Chris, who, like my son, is gay. It was pretty obvious their interest in each other extended beyond mere friendship. I warned my son to take things slowly. After all, Chris Reynolds already had a boyfriend and the last thing my Harry needed was to get involved in a fated love triangle.

The holovision in the lounge car was tuned to CNN and we were all waiting for the President to speak. Like something out of a bad dream, however, we were first greeted with the distinctive tune of Hail to the Chief. I had thought that went out of style in my grandparents’ day with the resignation of Richard Nixon.

Finally, the President stepped up to the podium and began to speak. Standing next to him at an adjacent podium was President Reynolds’ widower, Jeremy Kimball, who was flanked by his two teenaged children. Seeing Kimball, I immediately wondered if there was some news on the assassination of the President, but then why would the kids be there? Could it be?… No, that thought was too impossible to even think about.

“My fellow Americans,” President Schroeder began and I could not help thinking how trite it was to open a speech that way.

So much has been happening in recent days, it is almost with trepidation that we get up in the morning wondering what’s next. In a short span of time, we’ve witnessed the assassinations of the President, the Vice-President and the Secretary of State. The Israeli Prime Minister and members of his cabinet have been assassinated, and there have been suicide bombings in the Holy Land. Unfortunately, we are no closer to discovering who is behind these atrocities than we were the last time I spoke to you, although there are some promising leads.

What a crock - there are always promising leads!

It is at times of national crisis such as this that we are most in need of people in key positions in the Administration,” the President continued. “It is people that make this country great, and great leaders that make it a shining star to the world. We cannot afford to have major positions remain vacant, even if for only a short time. This is particularly true for the vice-presidency. The world needs to be assured that, in the event that I am unable to continue as president, a competent, able leader will be there to take over.

Holy shit! Schroeder was naming Jeremy Kimball as his V.P.!

Now when the Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution,” Schroeder went on, “they did not conceive of the two-party system, nor that the President and Vice-President would have much of anything to do with each other. They thought it would be perfectly acceptable to throw all the presidential and vice-presidential candidates into the Electoral College and award the V.P. spot to the person with the second largest number of votes. Needless to say, that just didn’t work out.

Right away there was trouble. No sooner had George Washington finished his two terms than we ended up with John Adams as president and Thomas Jefferson as vice-president. If you’ve read any history, you’ll know they were from different parties, were very outspoken and had very different views on things. In many respects they were polar opposites and did not get along very well. This, along with a tie vote in the Electoral College in the following election, led quickly to passage of the twelfth amendment, giving us the system we have today in which the presidential candidates each choose their own running mate, and the two are elected together.

Of course the idea that the President and Vice-President would be of the same philosophy even then has not always been the case…

Geez, could the guy be more boring? Where were his speechwriters?

A perfect example of that was when John Fitzgerald Kennedy ran with Lyndon Baines Johnson… the two couldn’t have been more different, but Kennedy needed the South to win the election. Even so, Johnson did an admirable job of carrying forth with Kennedy’s program after his tragic assassination. Ironically, Kennedy could probably have never done for Civil Rights what Johnson managed to pull off.

So too, do I intend to continue the policies of David Reynolds. I know that the American People elected him as their president and not me. I know that his policies are very popular and I would probably be lynched if I tried to change them. It is for that reason I have chosen someone to be my vice-president who can advise me and keep me on track. Who better to do so than President Reynolds’ widower, who himself is a five-term Congressman?

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you my candidate for vice-president, Congressman Jeremy William Kimball.

After a smattering of applause, Jeremy Kimball began to speak.

Good evening,” Jeremy began. “It is with a humble heart that I accept the nomination for vice-president, subject of course to confirmation by Congress.”

When President Schroeder approached me, I was incredibly surprised that he would consider someone from ‘across the aisle’. That he is willing to think outside of convention says a world about the kind of leader he is. Although I do not agree with many of the things he did as Speaker of the House, I have to respect the man for what he is trying to do in filling my husband’s shoes.

We spoke quite frankly about our intentions and expectations. The President assured me of the sincerity of his intent to continue the course charted by David Reynolds and I agreed that, as his vice-president, if necessary I would fight with him tooth and nail to ensure that my husband’s legacy continues. However, once a decision has been made, I will support the President one hundred percent. The administration must speak with a single voice.

In times such as these, nothing is more important than continuity. I have tremendous respect for President Schroeder in making a commitment to stay the course set by President Reynolds. He is an honorable man… someone in whom all Americans can place their trust.

Thank you.

Trust my ass. On the other hand, Kimball’s strategy was brilliant. He was setting Schroeder up in such a way that he’d look bad if he so much as breathed a word about straying from Reynolds’ agenda.

Schroeder then asked for questions and the first one, from Dan Alston, a well-known anchor on one of the cable news networks, was a doozy.

“Mr. President,” the anchor began, “there is a rumor that you first offered the vice-presidency to Sammy Austin. Is there any truth to the rumor?” I couldn’t help but think of what an interesting choice Congressman Austin would have been. A republican moderate, he would undoubtedly have been more to President Schroeder’s liking, yet he had firm and longstanding ties to the Reynolds Administration.

I really think this sort of speculation serves no purpose,” Schroeder began. “I’m not sure where the rumor started or how it spread. Of course there were multiple names on my short list, and I did indeed speak with Congressman Austin just as I did with Congressman Kimball. It’s not important who may or may not have been under consideration or who may or may not have been offered the job. I’m just not going to comment on that. What’s important is who was selected in the end. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Jeremy Kimball is the best man for the job. That is the bottom line.

That was a really good answer!

“Congressman Kimball,” Jerry Grimes, a reporter for the New York Times began, “Are you telling us that, even if President Schroeder deviates significantly from the original vision set forth by your husband, you’ll still support him?”

Let me be clear on this, I have every confidence Marvin Schroeder will keep the vision of my late husband alive. He has expressed his commitment to the task to me. I would not have accepted the nomination had he not done so. Of course we all know circumstances can change and situations may arise where the President has to make a difficult choice between honoring his pledge and doing what he feels is right. When that happens… and I say ‘when’ and not ‘if’… I will be fighting with everything I’ve got to advocate for an outcome consistent with President Reynolds’ and my vision. Whatever President Schroeder chooses to do, however, I will stand by his decision fully, no matter what my personal feelings may be.

Man, I couldn’t imagine having to support a policy that was counter to my core beliefs but I guess that’s the difference between a politician and us mere mortals.

“Mr. President,” a woman I didn’t know spoke up, “do you see Mr. Kimball’s role as being that of a close advisor or someone to provide you cover when making the changes you feel are necessary?” What a loaded question!

I’m not even going to dignify that with a response,” the President challenged. “I think it should be more than clear from everything that has been said here this evening just what my intentions are.

Although his rebuke of the questioner seemed to be genuine, I couldn’t help but wonder if the President’s anger was the real reason he chose not to answer the question directly. What would have been the harm in simply saying that he chose Kimball to be his close advisor, unless he was deliberately covering up what would have been a lie? For some reason I had a gut feeling that it was the latter. Perhaps it came from my knowing Schroeder’s past behavior all too well.

“Mr. President!” Scott Burlington, a reporter with the Associated Press, shouted out. “Is there any more information on the assassination of David Reynolds? You said there are some promising leads…”

I said exactly all there is to tell you at the moment. Anything more would be pure speculation.”

“Congressman Kimball,” Janet Howard of the LA Times asked, “as the vice-president, are you concerned that the people who assassinated your husband may try to assassinate you?”

Putting his arms around his children and pulling them tight against him, Jeremy Kimball answered the question.

I’ve discussed this at length with my children, as they worried what might happen if I ran for president. First of all, I assured them that the DNC probably would seek someone with much more experience than I to run in David’s place. Needless to say, they disagreed with me… they’re my children, after all, and they’re proud of their dad just as they were their pop.

Assuming that I am confirmed by Congress, as vice-president I will certainly face more risks. That was true even before David’s assassination. The bottom line is that we are doing everything we can to get to the bottom of who did this and they will be brought to justice. Two of my oldest and dearest friends are working on the case. They are Trevor Austin, the National Security Advisor, and Debbie McLaughlin, the Attorney General. I have every confidence that they, along with everyone working under them and for the associated agencies, will persevere.

Regardless, every possible precaution is being taken to protect the leaders of the United States. The entire government is in sequestration at the moment and we will remain protected until the nature of those who attacked us has been elucidated. I am confident that by the time of my husband’s funeral, we will know enough about what happened to end the sequestration. Regardless, extreme security measures will be taken to ensure everyone’s safety.

In summary, I am no more concerned for my safety than I was before David’s assassination.

Are you saying you might have to skip your husband’s funeral if his assassins cannot be found?” Janet asked in follow-up.

Nothing could make me skip his funeral. I’m sure we will be able to rule-in or rule-out terrorism by then. Regardless, every necessary precaution will be taken to ensure the safety of everyone in attendance. This may cause some inconvenience for our guests, but I doubt that anyone will object to the measures taken to protect them.

“Congressman Kimball,” Sandra Weiss of ABC asked, “now that you are going to be the vice-president, will you run for president in the next election?” Was she kidding? Of course he’d run!

I hate to speculate on where things will be in another year. Should President Schroeder choose to run for reelection, it could place me in a very awkward position to be running against him. In that case the Democrats might be better off choosing someone else. As I already mentioned, there are plenty of people far more seasoned than I.

“But if the chairman of the DNC asked you to run, would you?” she followed-up.

It’s difficult to say. It would be very difficult to support the President publicly and then campaign against him on those same issues. Even if he is not the Republican candidate, I could face the same problem. We did discuss the possibility and he assured me we could work out a way to separate the campaign rhetoric from my support of his policy.

If the Democratic leadership feels that I am the best-qualified candidate to take on the Republicans in the upcoming election, I will consider it, but that’s all I’m going to say for now.

There were a few questions about the confirmation process - how quickly it would occur and how it would be handled with Congress in sequestration. One reporter noted that Jeremy would be the first gay vice-president as well as the first Jewish one but Jeremy pointed out that he was only half-Jewish and explained he was of mixed faiths, accepting the best of both Judaism and Christianity into his heart. Shortly after that, Lance Cohen, the President’s Press Secretary, brought the news conference to an end.

“That’s sure an interesting development!” said Joel McAllister, a news anchor with National Public Media.

“You got that right,” I replied.

“I give that marriage six months at the most,” Joel joked and I couldn’t help but laugh.

“I don’t know,” I countered. “Knowing Jeremy Kimball as well as I do, he’s far more likely to get his way with Schroeder than Schroeder against Kimball.”

“An interesting possibility,” Joel responded. “I guess we’ll just have to see what happens.”

Joel and I had sort of bonded in our short time on the train when we found out we shared something in common - we both have gay teenage sons. We’d spoken with each other at length about the trials and tribulations that still existed for gay youth, even in the era of a gay president. That both our sons had taken David’s assassination so hard was understandable.

As if he were reading my mind, Joel went on to say, “With his views on homosexuality, it’s hard to imagine Marvin Schroeder picking a gay man for his vice president.”

“But that’s the beauty of his selection,” I pointed out. “By selecting Jeremy Kimball, he hopes to divert attention from his homophobic past.”

“And maybe his homophobic present,” Joel added.

“I fear you're right on the money on that count,” I agreed.

“At least the public is much more accepting of gays today than they were in our day,” Joel said with a sigh.

“How well I remember those days,” I replied. “At least it was safe for guys like David Reynolds and Jeremy Kimball, for them to be out, unlike in our parents’ day, but being out came with its own set of problems. You certainly remember the so-called prostitution scandal.”

“How could I forget?” Joel replied. “At least today no one would dare to accuse a kid of something like that.”

“It would be political suicide,” I agreed. “When you think about it, Brad Reynolds had a lot to do with changing people’s attitudes. I mean having gay athletic teens with charisma like Reynolds and Kimball did a lot to change perceptions, but the way a straight kid like Brad got so many of us to ride all the way to Washington in support of his gay brother and friends, showed the world that the younger generation was much more accepting than previous ones.”

“You went with Brad Reynolds to Washington?” Joel asked. “What was he like as a kid?”

“Actually, although I went on the trip to Washington,” I explained, “you have to keep in mind there were fifteen buses with some six hundred kids. I never even saw him except from a distance. I did, however, have a chance to meet him that fall at a gay Halloween ball he organized as a fundraiser for the Gay Youth Council he founded.”

“So you were an advocate for gay rights even before you had a gay son?” Joel asked.

“Very much so,” I replied. “It started with my dad, who was a reporter for The Star and ran a series of articles on gay youth. I was only twelve when he started but his comments at the dinner table had a huge impact on my developing sense of justice. Later on, when I was thirteen, I actually met David Reynolds and Jeremy Kimball. I couldn’t help but notice how they interacted with each other. They were like any other couple I’d ever met, except that they were both guys. I liked them right away.

“Two years later, when my dad was covering their wedding and that of their friends, Trevor Austin and Kurt DeWitt, I met them again and David actually remembered my name. Little did I know at the time I’d be covering David Reynolds’ political career as a reporter myself, and even riding on a train taking his remains back to Washington.”

“Funny how life works out,” Joel commented. “You said you did meet Brad Reynolds as well?” he asked again.

“Yeah I did,” I replied. “I got to know him quite well during my high school years even though we were in different school districts.”

“Did you know Sammy Austin back then as well?” Joel asked.

“Actually, I met him at the same time I met Brad, at that Halloween Ball in 2009,” I replied. “It was quite an event, with a lot of guys dressed in drag, including Sammy,” I added with a laugh.

“Really!” Joel exclaimed. “I know he’s always been a supporter of gay rights, and his brother’s gay, but he seems so straight. I just can’t picture him in drag.”

“Actually, I danced with him… I didn’t realize he was a guy when I asked him to dance, but I ended up having a lot of fun with him and ended up dancing several dances with him in a row. Truthfully, I’ve never been all that convinced he’s as straight as he makes himself out to be, but his sexuality really isn’t important to me in any case.” Laughing as I recalled the evening, I added, “Yup, that was some evening…”

 

Sunday, October 31, 2009
Thirty-four Years Earlier

“Is this some kind of joke?” my date Loraine asked as my dad let us out in front of the State Historical Society building downtown.

“What do you mean?” I asked innocently enough. Of course I knew exactly what she meant - when I’d asked her to go with me to a costume charity ball for Halloween, I’d neglected to tell her the ball was sponsored by the Gay Youth Council, as was now evident thanks to the large sign by the entrance.

“You didn’t tell me it’s a gay ball,” she huffed.

“It’s not a ‘gay ball’,” I countered. “It’s a charity ball sponsored by the Gay Youth Council. Most of the kids here are gonna be straight like we are. We’re just helping to raise money for a good cause while we have a good time.”

“And you think the Gay Youth Council is a ‘good cause’?” she asked with incredulity.

“Look Loraine,” I challenged, “I’m sorry if you feel I deceived you, but would you have come with me if I’d told you the whole truth? There are plenty of straight girls who are members of our school’s Gay-Straight Alliance. I could’ve asked one of them instead, but I wanted to take you to the ball. I guess I really should’ve talked to you about it in advance, but I just assumed you’d be cool with it once we got here.”

“In other words, you were too chicken to mention it?” She asked.

“In a word, yeah,” I confirmed, “but a ball is a ball, and we’ll still have a good time.”

“I just don’t want any girls hitting on me is all,” Loraine complained, “and I’ll be sooo embarrassed if a boy I ask to dance turns out to be gay.”

“But that’s the beauty of it,” I tried to explain. “This is a costume ball, so no one is gonna know who we are. The beautiful girl who asks you to dance may very well turn out to be a handsome straight boy in drag. Everything goes at a dance like this. Gender truly doesn’t matter tonight. It’s a chance to have fun with anyone and everyone without worrying about the traditional labels. We’re all equals tonight.”

“I don’t know… it sounds a bit creepy and perverted,” she complained.

“We only go around once, as they say,” I countered. “Why not give it a try? If you don’t like it, I’ll call my dad to pick us up early.”

“Fair enough,” Loraine replied, and finally we went inside.

Our costumes were unique and bound to garner more than a passing glance. Loraine and I were dressed as a fictional race known as the Na’vi, a blue-skinned, pointy-eared, large-eyed species of humanoids with tails from the mythical moon named Pandora. I figured that in a few months everyone would recognize the costumes but the movie Avatar in which the Na’vi appear, was not slated for release until the holiday movie season in December.

Loraine and I had caught the trailer for Avatar while seeing another movie back in September. Funny, but I couldn’t recall what movie it was we saw if my life depended on it. I wasn’t usually a fan of science fiction but Avatar seemed to have all the makings of being a major blockbuster. I must’ve visited the website about a thousand times since I first saw the trailer. Talking Loraine into going as a couple of Na’vi took some doing but, in the end, she succumbed to the idea of going in a costume no one else would have. It was a lot of fun making our own costumes, too.

No sooner were we inside than I spotted two other couples dressed as Na’vi. Shit, I guess we weren’t the only ones who saw and liked the Avatar trailer! Just like I thought - the movie was gonna be a megahit.

As we made our way into the reception hall, I quickly spotted a young woman carrying a tray with lots of fancy hors d'oeuvres and I steered us in her direction. Hey, teenage boys have their priorities and, contrary to popular belief, sex isn’t at the top of the list. Loraine and I each grabbed a couple of each item on the tray and proceeded to chow down.

“We should prolly try and find a place to sit,” Loraine suggested, “but with everyone in costume, it’s hard to recognize anyone.”

“I sure don’t recognize anyone here that I know,” I agreed. Then spotting a table up near the front with a group of kids who looked to be around our age, I suggested, “Perhaps we could sit up there,” as I pointed to the table I’d spotted. There were ten chairs at the table, seven of which were occupied.

Walking up to the table and standing in front of the two remaining empty chairs that were next to each other, I asked, “Are these seats taken?”

“They are now,” said a girl who was dressed as a passable Jane Pauley, the former Today Show co-host who’d returned to her hometown after leaving national television and become a community activist. Pauley was a major Obama supporter and had campaigned on his behalf throughout the state. It was also rumored that she’d provided financial backing to help Brad Reynolds start the Gay Youth Council.

“Thanks,” I said as Loraine and I took our seats. “I’m Bruce,” I announced as we sat down, and this is my date, Loraine.”

“Nice to meet you guys,” the Pauley look-alike said. “I’m Kayla, and my boyfriend, Brad, is off somewhere hobnobbing with our supporters,” she added as she motioned to the empty chair next to her.

“Your boyfriend is Brad Reynolds?” I asked, somewhat astonished.

“One and the same,” Kayla answered with a smile.

“Are you sure it’s OK for us to sit here?” I asked.

“Don’t be silly, of course it is,” she admonished us. “It would be a crime for those seats to go vacant all evening. Besides which, life would be pretty boring were it not for meeting new people.”

“Thanks a lot,” the girl sitting next to Kayla said. At least I think she was a girl - she was dressed as Sarah Palin, as were quite a few of the girls in the room. “By the way, my name’s Linda,” she said, “and this lug sitting next to me is my boyfriend and Brad’s best friend, Cliff.”

“Hey,” the boy, who was dressed as John McCain, said.

Seated between Cliff and Loraine was an African American couple - a very beefy boy who was dressed as President Obama and introduced himself as Billy, and his dainty-looking boyfriend Rick, who was dressed up in drag as Michelle Obama. Right next to me was a bombshell of a girl who was dressed up as Sarah Jessica Parker and introduced herself as Sam, which I assumed was short for Samantha, and her date Paul, a boy with Downs Syndrome who was dressed up as a Japanese Samurai.

We all started chatting with each other and I couldn’t help but find myself talking mostly with Sam. Not only was she drop-dead gorgeous, but she had an intriguing personality. She was obviously very intelligent but not at all stuck-up or shy as so many geeky girls tend to be. She was funny, witty and absolutely charming. I was surprised to find out she was only in middle school - she was in the eighth grade at Northview along with everyone else at the table except Billy and Rick, who were freshmen at North Central. Her speech was sophisticated and had I not known better, I would have figured she was a sophomore at least.

The music was totally awesome - they had a live band by the name of Benny’s Benders - and when people started getting up to dance, much as I hated to leave Sam, I figured I’d better dance the first dance with Loraine since I’d invited her to the ball as my date. As we got up, so did Sam and Paul, and Billy and Rick, and we all made our way to the dance floor. I think Cliff and Linda stayed behind to keep Kayla company, since Brad was still nowhere to be found.

We ended up dancing a few songs in a row before returning to our table. By then Brad was seated there, and I proceeded to introduce myself and Loraine to him.

“I like your costumes,” he said. “I think I’ve visited the website about a hundred times at least!” he added.

“Loraine and I saw the trailer last month and I’ve visited the website at least that many times,” I replied. “I thought we’d be the only ones dressed as Na’vi,” I lamented, “but I guess a lot of people have seen the trailer.”

“Prolly half the city by now,” Brad agreed. “I bet the movie’s gonna be awesome. Maybe break all the box office records.”

“I agree it’ll be a megahit,” I countered, “but it would hafta sell a hell of a lot of tickets to beat Titanic.”

“A hell of a lot indeed,” Brad replied, “but it’s the same director, and everyone says he outdid himself on this one.”

“But will people go for sci-fi over historical fiction?” I challenged.

“It’s all about special effects,” Brad pointed out, “and Avatar’s gonna have the best special effects ever.”

“You’re prolly right there,” I agreed.

Just then the band started back up and Brad turned to his girlfriend and said, “You wanna dance, honey?”

“I’d love to,” she answered as she took his hand and they made their way to the dance floor.

“Those two are sooo obviously in love,” I noted.

“Yeah, just like my brother and his fiancĂ©,” Sam chimed in.

“If your brother’s anything like you, she’s a lucky girl,” I added.

“A lucky boy,” she corrected me.

“Oh…” I replied. “I guess that explains how you got interested in the Gay Youth Council.”

“You could say that,” she answered, and then went on to say, “but I’m also good friends with Brad Reynolds and his brother and his brother’s fiancĂ©, so I couldn’t not be involved in something like this. It’s just too bad I was in summer school and couldn’t go with Brad to Washington.”

“I went,” I enthused.

“Sweet,” Sam replied.

“Sooo, would you be interested in dancing with me?” I asked.

“I’d love to,” she answered, and we made our way to the dance floor.

We ended up dancing several dances together in a row before returning to our table. There was something unsettling about dancing with Sam, however, and I just couldn’t put my finger on what it was. She just didn’t dance the way I was used to girls dancing. On the other hand, her looks and personality more than made up for it.

As we made our way back to the table, I noticed a familiar figure already sitting in my seat. Shit, my dad must’ve taken the assignment to cover the ball for The Star and not told me about it. It wasn’t the first time this sort of thing had happened - I once backed out of attending an event when I found out he’d be reporting on it, and he’d made it a point not to tell me about these things ever since.

As we approached the table, Sam’s whole face seemed to light up and she said, “Mr. Warren! It’s so nice to see you again.”

“Sam, you know my father?” I asked.

“Oh, we know each other very well,” Sam answered. “He interviewed me at length the summer before last.”

“Sammy Franklin?” my father exclaimed and then he backtracked and asked, “or is it Sam Austin now?”

“Soon, I hope,” Sam answered. “My parents haven’t told me anything, but I know they’re trying to adopt me.”

“I can’t believe your costume,” my dad added. “Not many straight boys would dress in drag, but you make an incredibly convincing girl… I just can’t get over it.”

My jaw just about dropped open as I realized that Sam wasn’t ‘Samantha’. Now I realized exactly who he was - he was one of the victims of the church camp scandal and was currently the foster brother of Trevor Austin, the president of the North Central GSA. Fuck!

Grinning at me, Sam said, “I’m sorry Bruce, but you never asked me if I was really a girl and at this ball… well, anything goes.”

“I can hardly complain,” I replied. “When we came here, I told Loraine that the great thing about this ball is that gender truly doesn’t matter here. I guess we just proved my point,” I laughed, and so did Sam.

“I’ve really enjoyed the evening, Sam,” I added. “If I were at all gay, I could really fall for you.”

“Same here, Bruce,” Sam replied, “but since neither of us is, we’ll just have to find ourselves some girlfriends.”

“Speaking of girlfriends,” Loraine spoke up from her seat on the other side of my dad, “you never have asked me to be yours.”

“Well ah…” I started to speak, but she interrupted me.

“It’s OK, Bruce,” Loraine replied. “I really enjoyed myself tonight, but it’s pretty obvious the chemistry just isn’t there. Your going gaga over Sam just exemplifies that. I really like you and I've had a great time going out on dates with you, but I don’t think either of us is really ready for a steady relationship.”

“Love is not a race,” my dad chimed in. “There’s plenty of time to get to know different people. If you’re like most, you won’t find ‘the one’ until college, or even beyond.”

“Thanks for talking to me again, Harold,” Brad interrupted, “but I really need to get up and make some remarks now.”

Brad, who was dressed up as our city’s mayor, was so self-confident speaking to the crowded room full of kids. He had a natural charisma, just like his brother. I had a feeling we’d all be seeing a lot more of him in the future…

The author gratefully acknowledges the invaluable assistance of David of Hope in editing, Low Flyer in proofreading and Ed in beta reading my stories, as well as Gay Authors, Awesome Dude and Nifty for hosting them.

DISCLAIMER: This is a fictional account of the assassination of the first openly gay president of the United States. Except as noted, all characters are fictitious and the reader is cautioned against attributing anything from the story to real individuals. There are occasional descriptions of consensual sex between underage boys and it is the reader’s responsibility to ensure the legality of reading this material. The author retains full copyright.