Chapters 21 & 22

The camera crews swarm the front steps of Placerville High School, jostling for the best position. Governor Eidenberger and Begman are off to one side, while at the other are Principal Johnson, Vinet, and Borgarine. Standing at the podium in the center is the board of elections supervisor. He reads from a prepared statement,”We are here to ascertain the results of an independent United Nations effort to validate the pending petition, namely for the City of Placerville to secede from the union.” He turns to Vinet and Borgarine. “Messieurs, do you have the results of your review for us?”

Governor Eidenberger and Begman glance at each other.

“We have the results,” replies Vinet.

“And do you find the petitions valid?” asked the supervisor. The crowd falls silent.

“Mr. Supervisor,” says Vinet, “we have been unable to verify the signatures as required, and thus we cannot validate the petition.”

The crowd erupts with chatter and more than a few boos. The newscasters turn their backs on the gathering so the governor is in the background when they film their breathless summaries of the morning’s events.

Begman nudges the Governor and directs his attention to a small dispirited crowd including Jeremy, Steve, Mrs. Anton and Will Ingersoll. They gather around Jeremy and attempt to console him. The Governor walks over and says “Jeremy Anton? Good to meet you, young man,” as he reaches out to shake hands. “I understand you’re graduating in a few years. I’d like to offer you a job in my administration. We can always use sharp minds like yours.”

“I, um, plan to go to college when I graduate, but thank you,” said Jeremy, shaking Eidenberger’s hand with a sigh. “All I wanted to do was drive.”

“You know, we might be able to work something out, just temporarily,” said Begman, stepping into the group. He realized he needed to divert attention from Eidenberger offering a job down the road when in fact he might not win re-election.

———————

Chapter 22

“It’s a beautiful night for a ride!” yelled Trish as she pulled her evening jacket closer for more warmth. Underneath the jacket she wore a deep purple cocktail length dress and strappy black sandals. “It’s messing up my hair, though!”

“You look great!” yelled Jeremy. He was wearing a maroon suit inherited from his grandfather, which had very baggy pants and huge lapels.  He honked the horn and waved as they drove past Candace and her date exiting an SUV.

“Hands on the wheel, Jeremy!” screeched Trish as they turned a corner to the high school gymnasium. Jeremy was in the midst of steering with his elbows when the flatbed truck that was transporting the red Mustang with them as passengers came to a stop and turned off the engine. The truck driver climbed down from his perch and brought a stepstool to the side of the flatbed so first Trish, then Jeremy, could safely disembark.

“Real sweet ride you got there, kid,” said the truck driver.

“Thanks,” said Jeremy, wondering if the guy meant the car or Trish. “I hope you don’t mind the Governor making you work tonight. “

“Nah, it’s a nice change of pace from driving him to political dinners and fundraisers.  You two go have fun, and I’ll be waiting here when you’re done.”

“Thanks again,” said Jeremy, as he took Trish’s arm and walked her in to the homecoming dance.

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