Elgin Reed heard Vice President Palin stride down the hallway, her heels clicking sharply on the polished linoleum. She entered the reception area of her office and paused to say “Hey, everybody,” and acknowledge them all with a glance and a smile. Her entourage of five men and women hovered around her, vying for her attention. Their somber suits contrasted with Palin’s, which was custom made by Armani couture, and was deep red to match her lipstick. Both her lustrous hair (in the trademark bun) and her glowing skin showed the benefits of what Elgin knew was an unprecedented 24 hour staff of hair stylist, cosmetologist, and esthetician.
Elgin smiled at the Vice President as she walked through. His smile ended when she disappeared into her office, as he couldn’t bring himself to fake it for longer than that. He wore the expected attire of a White House Intern: a gray wool suit, ID badge around the neck, and Blackberry on his belt. He’d been surprised to learn he had to wear a pager, of all things, but the higher-ups found it the most efficient way to summon their staff, since most cellular signals were blocked for security purposes.
“So what’s next for you after this year, Elgin?” asked one of the assistants, a middle-aged brunette with curly hair “Law school, right?”
“Actually, I’ve already been to law school. Georgetown,” replied Elgin “I took the bar last June. I’m still deciding what area of law interests me the most.” He grinned and leaned in to confide, “I had hoped to work in the Office of the White House Counsel, to be honest.” Not the Office of Scheduling for the Vice President, he thought. Top five percent in his class, and he spent his time contacting hotels to confirm what kind of pillows Her Highness will sleep on.
He handed the assistant a sheaf of papers and said, “Here are the background checks and resumes of the Ritz Carlton Denver staff. The kitchen employs no undocumented workers, and the chef trained in Florence.” He turned to report back to his supervisor for another tedious assignment, when he noticed everyone straightening up and turning toward the Vice President’s door.
Palin stood in the doorway. “Elgin, can you come in here a moment?” she asked. She waved off her aides who automatically tried to enter before Elgin. “Oh, this doesn’t require you guys.” She ushered Elgin in and closed the door behind him. “I’m trying to get to know my interns a bit before they’re gone. Time just goes by so quickly here, I decided to make more of an effort to know the people who work for me.”
“Yes, ma’am,” said Elgin, standing with his hands behind his back.
“Oh, you look like you’re in the Army! Relax, I won’t bite,” Palin kidded him, and sat in one of two cushy leather armchairs, gesturing for him to do likewise “So, tell me about yourself. What do you like to do? What kind of sports do you watch?” Elgin thought she seemed genuinely curious.
“Well, I watch all sports, really, except car racing. I play mostly golf and basketball. Oh, and sometimes raquetball.” He wondered if he should ask what sports she liked.
“It’s amazing that you find time to play basketball, with your schedule,” said Palin. “It shows, though. I don’t mind telling you, you have more muscles than most of the pasty faced Poindexters in this place, that’s for sure.” She reached out and playfully squeezed his bicep. “What about movies?”
“Um, action movies, some science fiction. And the classics, like the Godfather 1 & 2,” said Elgin.
“Oh, I love the classics!” Palin agreed, clasping her hands together. “John Wayne. Charlton Heston. Back before everything out of Hollywood was some kind of liberal propaganda, don’t you know?” She jumped out of the chair and said “For heaven’s sakes! Where are my manners? I forgot to offer you a drink!” She went to her liquor cabinet and poured a generous serving of vodka for both of them, then sat back down, handing Elgin his glass. “You know what movie I particularly like? The Graduate, with Dustin Hoffman. It’s about a young guy like yourself trying to figure out what to do after law school.”
Elgin gulped down his drink so quickly his throat burned. He turned red as he started coughing, and yanked at his tie in an effort to get more air into his lungs. His glass slipped from his hands and crashed to the floor. The door burst open and a Secret Service agent rushed in, placing himself between Elgin and the Vice President.
“Ma’am! Are you all right?” the agent barked, putting his left sleeve to his mouth and muttering “Code 17, all clear.” He never took his eyes off Elgin. Without waiting for an answer from the Vice President, he grabbed Eglin roughly and escorted him out of the office. “You’re coming with me.” He marched Eglin down the hallway and pushed him into a small briefing room.
“I just dropped a glass, that’s all,” began Elgin, wondering if he was about to be spirited away to Guantanamo.
“Chill out, kid,” said the agent. “We all know the deal. Just be glad I got there when I did. You’ll have to transfer to a different office, though.”
“You know what?” said Elgin. “I think I’m done being a White House Intern. I’ll vacate my spot so somebody else can have the opportunity.”