The meeting with veterans turned out to be at Arlington National Cemetery. I thought it was a grim place, but it had strong symbolism, so I focused on that. The veterans had been mostly really old guys, and even though I’d anticipated some attitude from them, I’d gotten none. They’d been very nice to me, most of them asking me about school, or about hockey once they asked me if I played sports. It was just like David Banister had said: to them, family seemed to outweigh my gayness.
We were riding around in a hulking Suburban limousine, with my father and me sitting in the back facing David and Hadshaw. “The initial results coming back from exit polls look very good,” Hadshaw said.
“Let’s see the data,” my father ordered. I almost laughed at that, since I’d have done the same damn thing. I moved closer to him and looked over his shoulder, reading the polling results.
“Most of the results seem to be coming from rural areas,” I noted.
“And that’s not good for us,” he said. He could be really moody on election day. It was one of the few times he let his true feelings out, so I was anticipating a roller coaster today. “I usually poll well in the country.”
“These numbers are from Norfolk, though,” I pointed out. “The military men and women must like you.”
“Let’s hope so,” he said. “What’s the news in the rest of the country?”
It was still too early to get a feel for that, but they tried to give us a reasonable update. It was useless, in my opinion. The Suburban pulled up to Marymount and we got out and went into the Lee Center, where my father gave a short speech to the students. He made a point of introducing me, and talking about my academic experiences. They were canned and created blurbs. After that, he made his way out slowly, to give the students a chance to ask him questions.
“I’m Alex Ball,” a guy said, shoving his hand at me. He was wearing makeup that was done in a garish way, and had very effeminate mannerisms. He reminded me a bit of this guy named Jerry, who had run against me for president of our GLBT club. I forced myself not to let that negative association impact my impression of him.
“Wade Danfield,” I said in a friendly way.
“I’m the president of our GLBT club here on campus,” he said. “We’ve been very active here, what with the election and everything.”
“I suspect that being this close to DC, you have a chance to impact the national agenda,” I said.
“We try,” he said. “It’s a lot of work, and it’s hard to get our voice heard.”
“Our focus is different,” I told him. “We generally try to aim our efforts at the campus and the local community.”
“So you just assume the national groups will do all the work for you at that level?” he asked in a relatively nasty way.
“I think that it’s more about changing what you can, and about focusing on where you can be the most effective.” Now I was having strategy debates with him just like I’d had with Jerry.
“Or maybe you guys are just putting your head in the sand?”
“Or maybe we’ve created an environment where it’s safer for students to come out, and maybe that’s one of the keys to changing the way people think about homosexuals,” I said.
“Are you ready?” David asked me.
“It was nice to meet you Alex,” I said, shaking his hand again. I followed David over to my father, and together we vanished into the limousine.
“That looked intense,” David said.
“That was Alex, the president of the Marymount GLBT club. He wanted to give me crap for not having our group do enough on the national stage. It’s an old argument.”
“I don’t understand,” my father said.
“My strategy with our club has been to focus on the campus, on making that safer and more tolerant. Alex thinks that clubs like ours should be a hotbed of activism, targeting state and national issues.”
“I hope you didn’t piss him off too badly,” Hadshaw said.
“You’re not going to get the vote of that guy,” I noted. “You have to go after the repressed closet cases, or the rich gay guys who are more worried about their own wallets.” That made them laugh, even though I wasn’t sure if it was really a joke.
“We’re near that church,” Hadshaw said nervously, “and we’re ahead of schedule.”
“Church?” I asked.
“There’s an African American church that asked us to stop by,” my father said. “They were hoping we’d make it around 11:00.”
“Do we have time to make it?” I asked.
“We do,” he said.
“Dad, there are going to be a whole bunch of people waiting there, hoping you show up. If you don’t, they’ll take it badly.”
“They aren’t likely to vote for you,” Hadshaw said.
I gave him a nasty look and then looked at Dad as I countered, “You are still a US Senator from Virginia. They are your constituents until at least January.”
“Wade’s right,” my father said. “Let’s go.”
Hadshaw got on the phone and called them to let them know we’d be there, while the Suburban and an escort drove through some of the seedier parts of Northern Virginia. When we got there, there was quite a crowd to greet us. We went into the sanctuary where my father briefly talked with a bunch of the members. The minister gave a very animated welcome, the kind that made me suspect he belted out some pretty fire-breathing sermons. My father gave a nice talk, nothing too terribly exciting, and then we went to the fellowship hall to mingle with the church members.
One of the ministers kept scowling at me from afar, while I ignored him and went about talking to people. I was having a great time, really enjoying the people, as we socialized, until suddenly the dour minister was in front of me. “You have a lot of nerve showing yourself in God’s house.”
The people around us gasped, mostly at his bad manners. “Why is that? Aren’t we all God’s children?” I asked.
“You lie with other men, and that’s a sin, an abomination unto the Lord,” he said. I saw Hadshaw and David look at me nervously, but I just smiled.
“I thought that the only one fit to judge us was the Lord himself,” I said. “So either you need to go back to the seminary, or you’re God.” The crowd chuckled, but he didn’t. “I am mindful that African Americans have endured centuries of repression in this country. It would really be a tragedy if people who have endured what you have turned around and inflicted it on others.”
“Mm-hm, that’s right,” said a big black woman. “Nobody needs to be casting rocks at other people.”
“Amen,” said another black woman. That seemed to cow the minister considerably.
I held my hand out to the minister, offering to shake with him, and really putting him on the spot. If he refused, it would be incredibly rude, and his congregation would have something to say about that. If he shook, he’d be welcoming me here, and all but abandoning his radical position. He shook my hand, a strong grip, and smiled.
We left shortly after that, and found ourselves back in the Suburban heading back to the hotel for lunch. “You certainly have been the star this morning,” my father said. “You handled that situation like a master.” Hadshaw and David nodded, which was no surprise. I’ll bet they usually agreed with their boss.
“I had some good training growing up,” I said, smiling at him. The Suburban pulled up to the hotel and my father didn’t get out right away.
“Will you two gentlemen give us a moment?” he asked. Hadshaw and David hopped out, leaving us in the Suburban, alone. “What you said to me this morning, or more to the point, that you trusted me, has made this one of the most special days I’ve ever had, even if I lose.”
I laughed a bit. “We’ve come a long way,” I said. “I’m glad.” He gave me a big hug, and we held it for a while. It was one of the more meaningful hugs I’ve had in my life.
“Now we have to go eat. I’m betting you’re hungry.”
“That’s usually a good bet,” I said, laughing. We went up to his room, which was crowded with senior staffers and campaign personnel, and helped ourselves to a buffet lunch. Most of us were glued to the television, watching the results come in. We were periodically interrupted by more targeted reports from his staff.
“The results look to be good, so far,” my father said to the group of us close to him. “I’m hoping they stay that way, but this one is going to be tight.”
Everything was rolling along smoothly until around 3:00, when a staffer came in and handed my father a piece of paper, making him grimace. My mother had largely been staying in her own orbit, well away from the two of us, but she saw his expression and migrated over to us. The evil look she directed my way made me suspect it had something to do with me.
“Evidently one of the key stories on the 5 o’clock news will be about Riley,” my father told me. “The station has asked us for a comment.”
“Say nothing,” my mother insisted. “It can do us no good at this point.”
I ignored her. “I think you should assemble your campaign staff and ask them what they think.” I saw Hadshaw give me an appreciative look. He’d probably been dominated by my mother for years.
“Well I told you what I think,” she said authoritatively.
“We have some of the brightest political minds in this room,” I said evenly. “I think what they have to say is equally important.”
“Hadshaw, gather your troops in the other room,” Dad said. “The ones you can trust. We don’t need leaks.”
“Yes, Senator,” he said, and began rounding people up.
My mother made to head toward the room but he stopped her. “I would prefer to meet with them alone.”
“Alone?” she asked.
“You may intimidate them. I want their opinions and ideas.”
She gave him a very dirty look. “Fine. I’ll be in my room if you need me.” She huffed out, to the degree that she could.
“Do you think she planted this leak?” I asked him.
He pondered that. “Doesn’t matter. What matters is how we deal with it. Come on.”
“You want me in there?”
“Absolutely,” he said. “It involves you.” We walked into the room, and there were six other people in there, the key members of his campaign staff. “We have a problem.”
Hadshaw took over. “It seems that within two hours, the television news is going to break the story about Senator Danfield’s grandson, Riley.” I thought it was interesting that they all obviously knew about Riley.
“What’s their angle?” a woman asked sharply.
“They’re pointing out that the Senator‘s son had a child with the daughter of a man who tried to blow up the Senate.”
They all began to rant on about damage control, and about how we should emphasize that Tiffany was raised by her grandparents, who were fine, upstanding citizens. And Republicans. It was standard fare, and would cause no damage, but wouldn’t change the situation.
“One of your key messages is change,” I said. Personally, I thought that was hysterical, but they’d developed the strategy, so I went with it. “What Tiffany’s father did was awful, but he was advocating change. Maybe we tap into the frustration people have with government?” It was funny to see most of them show absolutely no reaction at all to what I said. They were so used to going along with what my father (or my mother) wanted; they didn’t really want to go out on a limb. I felt my father preparing to say something, but I put my hand on his arm to stop him. He got my gesture, got what I was saying, and stood there stolidly, waiting for them to respond.
Now they really looked nervous, but the sharp woman finally spoke out first. “It would certainly be a different response than what they would expect.”
“How would we craft it?” Another guy asked.
“I’m going to give you people 45 minutes to come up with an idea on this. If it makes sense, we’ll go with it. If not, we’ll go with our original plan,” my father said. He nodded to me and we walked out of the room. “Good work.”
“I don’t know if it was the best idea.”
“But it was an idea. They’re so used to your mother brow-beating them, they don’t often get to come up with their own ideas. We’ll let them chew on this one for a bit.”
“Whoever leaked this left it pretty late,” I said. “If this would have hit a few days ago, or even last night, it would have been a much bigger problem.”
“Which is why it makes me wonder if the other side leaked it,” he said, pondering it. “My opponent has run a masterful campaign. This doesn’t sound like one of his moves.”
“Why would Mother want you to lose?”
“Well, we don’t know that it was she, and I don’t think she wants me to lose, but I do think she wants me to think she’s important to my campaign. Something like this, coming out now, makes it look like we haven’t done a very good job of keeping the lid on this scandal, if you want to call it that.”
“She’s feeling threatened,” I concluded. “She’s feeling shut out.”
“Yes,” he said, but there was more to it than that.
“That just means she’ll be even more dangerous.”
“Yes,” he agreed.
Another staffer came up and gave my father some more polling data, only this was national information. “It looks like the country is leaning Democrat on this one, sir,” she said.
“We’ll just have to hope that Virginia doesn’t lean that way,” he said, smiling.
When our 45 minutes was up, we went back into the room, and found the campaign staff smiling. “Senator, we have a strategy.”
“Let’s hear it,” he said.
They said they liked my idea, but they thought that at this point, it was better to stick with a conventional approach. I applauded their decision, and I was sincere. All I’d really wanted to do was shake thing up and make them think outside the box. They developed some good talking points and they had a nice blurb about Tiffany, talking about her achievements. “Has her sexuality come up?” I asked.
“It doesn’t seem to be an issue,” one of the team members said. “If it is, we’ll address it in the same way we handle it when questions about you come up.”
“You must all hate me,” I joked, getting a chuckle from them.
“Actually, I think your presence will help us sway some moderates our way,” another staffer said.
“Would you be willing to talk to the press about this?” the sharp lady asked me.
“If you want me to,” I said to my father, “and you all give me good talking points,” I said to the team, “I’ll do it.”
My father nodded. Then I got to see this team bring in the lower level people, and watched this campaign juggernaut really spring into action. The first thing that happened was a wardrobe consultant came in to make sure I looked presentable. He thought it appropriate that I wear a patriotic tie, which I found incredibly tasteless. We compromised by having me wear one of my red, white, and blue ties, and adding an American flag on my lapel.
Then I was coached by the team on what to say, what to avoid, and how to answer pointed questions. They addressed the sexuality issue, and told me how to handle that as well. There was a separate room in the hotel, set up just for press conferences and the like, so I didn’t even have to travel to a television station. The crews came to me. I noticed that my mother was nowhere to be seen, which told me just how involved in the leak she’d been.
Two campaign staffers led me to the podium and left me with my notes, trying to be helpful, but I found their assistance to be annoying. I wasn’t afraid, or even uncomfortable. I’d spent my entire life surrounded by events like this, and I’d been in the public eye for most of it. But these people didn’t know me, and they’d never seen me speak publicly, so they were justifiably nervous. I humored them.
“On September 14, 2000, an event occurred that has so far been the most meaningful and important in my life,” I read. “My son, Riley van den Boss Danfield, was born, a healthy baby, and pretty handsome, if I do say so myself.” I saw the reporters smile back at me. “Riley’s mother is a close friend of mine, a woman who has impressed me with her intelligence and integrity. While we are not married, we have resolved to raise Riley together, to make sure he is nurtured in an environment surrounded by loving parents.”
“Mr. Danfield,” one of the reporters called out. “Isn’t it true that Ms van den Boss’s father was jailed for planting a bomb in the senate, the very institution that your father is a member of?” That question sounded just like the argument my mother had made.
“That is true. Tiffany was raised by her grandparents, who are fine, upstanding people. Tiffany has no memory of her father; he’s been a non-entity in her life.”
“But his bomb caused significant damage,” the reporter prodded.
“It did cause some damage, and frightened poor Senator Byrd, but then again, he is from West Virginia, and we Virginians are used to frightening our western brothers.” That got a chuckle.
“You have identified as a gay man, yet you fathered a child.”
“Yes,” I responded.
“How did you do that?”
“That’s a bit crass, don’t you think?” I asked calmly. I wasn’t about to talk about the amazingly hot threesome Matt, Tiffany, and I had that ended up in her pregnancy.
“You had a child out of wedlock,” another probed. “Your father has been a strong advocate of the sanctity of marriage.”
“Just because my father advocates that a child should be raised in a family united by marriage doesn’t mean that he condemns those who don’t. That’s not his way, and it’s not the Christian way. I’m sure that we’ll do what so many single parents or unmarried parents do. We’ll try to provide Riley with a loving and supportive environment, and do our best to help him become a son we can be proud of.”
“Aren’t you worried about having a father-in-law who’s a known terrorist?”
I rolled my eyes. “No, I’m happy that my son has an amazing mother, and I’m grateful to her grandparents, who did such a good job raising her.”
The whole thing seemed anti-climactic. There just wasn’t enough juice in this story to justify a big deal, and besides, most people had voted, or were on their way to the polling station, so the impact would be minimal. We ended the press conference and I retired to my room to call Tiffany.
“Welcome back,” I said cheerfully.
“I’m still sleeping.”
“Wake up and turn on the news. You may be on it.”
“What?” she asked. I had her attention now. “Did Jeanine do something stupid?”
“No, someone leaked the story about Riley to the press. I had to do an interview to lie and tell them you’re not the spawn of Satan, but the granddaughter of some really nice people.” She giggled at that.
“I’m sorry that got out, Wade. I didn’t have anything to do with it, and I’m pretty sure that Jeanine didn’t either.”
“I know that,” I said, reassuring her. “It’s alright. It’s out, it will make a small wave, and then it will be over.”
“Thanks for sticking up for me.”
“Always,” I said. “Go get your rest.” I hung up the phone and called Matt.
“Hey baby. How are you doing?” I rolled my eyes, like I always did, when he called me baby.
“Pretty good.” I told him about Riley’s birth being leaked, and the press conference I’d done.
“You having fun?”
“I actually am. I’ve had a nice day with my father. I feel like I’m getting back to a good place with him.”
“That’s amazing,” he said supportively. “He’s sure a different person from the guy I first met.”
“He is. I’ll tell him you said that.”
“Do that. You coming home tomorrow?”
“I am. As soon as I can.”
“Awesome,” he said. We hung up, and I went back up to my father’s suite. I was disappointed that Beau couldn’t make it in, but I was also relieved to see that Mary Ellen wasn’t around. I guess that was a decent trade off.
After dinner, I went down to the ballroom and mingled with my father’s supporters, as well as some of my relatives. I ended up hanging out mostly with Trevor, just because he was so much fun. He really was the life of the party. I was enjoying myself immensely, but looked at the clock and saw that it was 8:00pm, and noted that I’d been gone for over an hour.
I went back up to the suite, passing easily by the guards, and found the mood to be decidedly more festive. “Wade!” my father said enthusiastically, and pulled me into a sideways hug. “I think we’re going to win this one.”
“That’s great, Dad!” I said.
“Senator,” an aide said. “You have a phone call.” He smiled at me, both of us knowing what that meant. He led me along with him, just the two of us, as we went into his bedroom. He picked up the phone and I watched him graciously accept the congratulations of his opponent, as he conceded defeat. My father said all the right things, telling him how he’d run an honorable campaign (even though he hadn’t) and how he was hoping they could make common cause on issues that related to Virginia. Finally he hung up the phone and smiled at me, then got up and gave me a huge hug.
“I’m proud of you,” I said. “You really had some obstacles to overcome on this one.”
“Yes, we did. And by the way, that press conference you held today was just terrific!”
“You had a good team to coach me through it,” I said. We were both ebullient, but then we got ourselves under control. “Time to thank the people who made this happen.”
“Don’t I know it.” He walked out into the main area, and everyone was quiet, even though the excitement was palpable. They saw our grins. “I just received a call from my honorable opponent, congratulating me on winning another term in the Senate!” They all broke into massive cheers, which lasted for a few minutes.
My mother chose that moment to appear, and painted on her plastic smile, as we walked toward the elevator and made our way down to the ballroom. “Congratulations, Jeff,” she said to him coolly.
“Thank you, Elizabeth,” he said, and I was surprised at how frosty his tone was. All that was put aside as the elevator doors opened. Now we had our plastic smiles on, as we walked into the ballroom to loud cheers.
I went up on stage with him, standing to his right while my mother was on his left, and he gave his victory speech. It took forever, thanks to all the cheering, and he ended it to the customary release of hundreds of balloons. Now that the campaign was over, and victory was ours, we started to really celebrate. It ended up being quite the party.
November 8, 2000
I woke up, completely disoriented. There were strong arms wrapped around me, and a hard dick was lodged in my ass crack. I slowly started to piece the night together, and remembered partying mostly with Trevor. My ass felt lubed, so I must have gotten laid, but I had absolutely no idea who was behind me. I looked at his arms, and tried to get an impression based on that, but it was to no avail. In the end, I felt my stomach rebelling, reminding me of the penance for drinking too much alcohol. I tore myself away from my bedmate and rushed to the bathroom, pausing for just a second to glance back and see who it was. I wretched into the toilet, emptying my guts, then peed, brushed my teeth, and walked back out to the bed.
“Good morning,” David Banister said to me, with a big smile.
“Good morning to you,” I said, even as I got back into bed and lay on top of him.
“It just got better,” he said. He pulled me in and kissed me deeply. It wasn’t as magical as a kiss from Trevor, but it was still pretty awesome. His dick was rubbing up and down my ass, sending shockwaves through my body. He went to line his dick up and fuck me, but I stopped him.
“I had one with me, but I used it last night,” he said.
“I’m prepared,” I said, smiling, as I pulled one out of my pants pocket. I slipped it on him, slipped him inside me, and took him on a pretty nice ride. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. I’d never really gotten into sex with people I didn’t know all that well, but I really enjoyed it with him.
“That was great,” he said when we were done.
“I thought so,” I said. “So how did we end up here last night?”
“We got drunk, and you told me I couldn’t drive home, and made me stay in your room.”
“I thought you had a room here?”
“I do. But there was no way I was missing a chance to nail you.” I laughed at that.
“And we were safe?”
“We were,” he said.
“Thanks,” I said, to reinforce how much I appreciated that. “I didn’t even know you were into guys.”
“I’m mostly straight, but sometimes I cut loose,” he said.
“I’m glad you do.” I looked over at the clock and got kind of freaked out. “I have breakfast with my father in 30 minutes!”
He got out of bed, leaning in to kiss me again, and then walked over to get his clothes. He had such a nice body, but the crowning feature was his cute little ass. “I’ll let you shower in peace.”
“I’ll see you later on,” I told him. He gave me his cell phone number, and then carefully snuck out the door. I went through my morning routine, cutting a full five minutes off my time, just enough to pack up my things and take my bag up to my father’s room.
“Good morning!” he said to me pleasantly. “It was quite a night last night!”
“I don’t remember most of it,” I groused.
“Did Trevor take care of you?”
“I’m sure someone did,” I said, not wanting to implicate David. “So how did Florida turn out?” The election for President was close, and we’d all been waiting for Florida to declare a winner. Oregon and New Mexico had been too close to call, but they weren’t big enough to push either Bush or Gore over the required number of electoral votes.
“It’s still not clear,” he said.
“They haven’t finished counting?”
“Bush was leading by a landslide in Florida, but then they started counting the Southern Counties. That dropped his lead down considerably. Gore even conceded the election to Bush, but now that it looks like there’s less than 2000 votes separating them, there’s going to be a re-count.”
“Wow. And I was passed out through most of this,” I mused. I was in a good mood, even though it was unsettling that we didn’t have a president elected. “What about the Senate?”
“That’s going to be strange. Looks like we lost seats, so my win in Virginia was a pleasant victory. It was one of the few contested races we won.” It was interesting that he said ‘we’ when I was not an avowed Republican. I supported my father because he was my father. “So in the end, it looks like the Senate will be split with 50 GOP senators, and 50 Democratic senators.”
“You may lose some of your committee assignments,” I observed.
“Well, that all depends on who gets elected president. If it’s Bush, then Cheney will be the deciding vote, and that will give us control. If it’s Gore, the Dems will have it.”
“You’ll have an interesting year,” I said. “I have to get back to California. I’m sorry to leave so quickly.”
“I understand. Thanks for being here. You really made it special. I’ll come out and see you soon.”
“I’ll look forward to it,” I said. I gave him a big hug, grabbed my bag, and got in the car for the ride to the airport. I’d just settled down to get a handle on my hangover when my phone rang. The ringtone of “Red” told me it was Sean.
“Good morning,” I said. “You’re up early.”
“I saw that your father won. Congrats!”
“Thanks. I don’t remember much about last night. It was a wicked party.”
He chuckled. “I have some news for you on another front. Your buddy, Will Schluter, called me.”
“He wanted a referral for a family law attorney in LA. I told him I’d help him out, but I’d have to tell you.”
“Why did he want a family law attorney?”
“He says he’s planning to divorce his parents.”
Shit. “Has he told them yet?”
“No. I told him that I’d have to tell you, and he made me promise to pass on a message asking you to talk to him before you talked to anyone else about it.”
“Did you tell him I would?”
“No, I told him that all I could do was pass on the message. It was actually pretty sweet. He said that you were the most honorable guy that he knew, and that if he couldn’t trust you, he was basically fucked. Those weren’t his exact words.”
“They could have been,” I joked. “Thanks for the heads-up. I haven’t talked to him since Norway, but I gathered things were ugly there.”
“No problem. If he calls me again, you want me to help him out?”
“Sure. Keep me informed. I appreciate it. Let’s keep this to ourselves. I’m not telling anyone, except maybe JP.”
“You got it.”
I hung up the phone as I got to the airport, and pondered that for the first time in a long time, I was dreading what was awaiting me in California more than I was dreading what I was leaving behind in Virginia.