Tea for Three
"I hope he isn't a dumb."
Nora, the Senator's wife, my 'new' stepmother, was talking about me to Sally as if I wasn't in the room. We were 'taking tea' in the dining room of the main house of the Clarkson compound. It was really an inspection of the goods. I felt as if I was livestock.
"Nora, he's gone through a lot in the last few days. When he's settled in I'm sure you'll find him to be quite capable. How are you feeling now Billy?"
In fact I was feeling disgusted with myself. Nora was the kind of woman to whom I took an immediate dislike, yet I was compelled to smile pleasantly and make chit-chat about the flight and the house and the election. I never took politics seriously and after seeing Billy's report on the Senator's activities my disinterest had turned into revulsion.
"I'm doing better, thank you. Once I get my inner clock reset I should be as good I ever was." Once I got my life reset, perhaps.
"William, and I will call you William, that Billy nickname is absolutely juvenile, tomorrow night is the big rally in Richmond. It will be the first time in the campaign that the whole family will appear with the Senator. It's a big thing." Nora's hand had a slight tremor as she held her cup and saucer. "The clothes in your closet should fit you: wear the dark blue suit, a white shirt and a red tie. Those shoes you're wearing will do. I'll send Herbert down to help you dress."
"Thank you Mrs. Clarkson." The wing-tips! As if! I hoped that Herbert had better taste than Nora.
"Be ready by 4. We'll have a reception at a donor's house before the rally- remember: smile, agree, don't comment. They're our people, act as if you belonged."
"I will do my best."
"Damn right you will. We are the best. Don't forget it, not even for a second."
Nora looked at me through a frown of distaste.
"And William, there will be young women there. Don't encourage them. They don't want to help you, they only want to use you."