On the Road to the Real Thing - 9

***

It's cold. I keep my hands in my pockets as I walk down the promenade. There's a crowd gathering near the stage. Not bad. This isn't a major stop on the tour, but there must be a few hundred people waiting to hear him speak.

I stand at a distance, sit down on a bench. I'm waiting, too. He's scheduled to speak in about ten minutes.

It's cold. Colder than D.C. this time of year, colder than New York. But the sun is out, and so is the crowd, and the air is clear and light.

I press my back against the bench, pull my collar up. The bench feels cold, a little damp. It must have rained not too long ago.

Maybe it rained while we were in the air. Maybe it rained when we were driving to the hotel this morning. Maybe it rained while I was lying to the Vice-President. Or maybe it rained while I was lying to Josh and Toby.

I don't know. I don't remember it raining today. It was clear outside, after I spoke with the Vice-President. It was clear when Toby called. It was clear when I was watching the bus being loaded from my hotel room window. I think it was still clear when Josh called.

And it's clear now.

But the bench is damp, and the air is cold, very cold. So it must have rained sometime. It must have.

A few more minutes. I wonder if I have time to... No. I can't. But I'm hungry. There's a hot dog vendor about thirty feet away. No. Can't do it. I can't eat. If I get up, if I move from this bench, it's very likely that Carl DiMarcato will see me. Worse yet, Hoynes might see me.

What are you doing here, Seaborn? Jesus H. Christ, don't you have a goddamned job to do? I want that drop-in ready by tomorrow afternoon. What part of 'ready' do you not understand, goddamnit? Goddamnit, Seaborn, goddamnit, goddamnit, goddamnit...

Goddamnit.

I'm hungry, but I'm not that hungry. I can wait. I'll watch the speech. I'll wait.

I don't why I'm waiting. I don't even know what I'm doing here. I shouldn't be here. I should get up. I should get up, and I should go back to the bus, instead of sitting here. Josh would laugh at me if he saw me here. He'd laugh.

He told me. Three, almost four years ago, I asked, and he told me, and now I'm sitting here, waiting to see what he saw in Hoynes. Waiting to see what he saw in Hoynes three, almost four years ago. I just want to know.

I want to know what Josh saw – no, what he didn't see. Whatever it was, he didn't see it. And I want to know what the difference is, what the difference is between Hoynes and the real thing, between Hoynes and Bartlet.

Because I don't know what I'm doing anymore. Because I'm not so sure anymore. Because I'm not so sure if there is a difference.

And there should be. There should be a difference.

More people have arrived now, a large crowd. The mayor is speaking, welcoming the Vice-President, the people. The mayor's voice is thick and gravelly, hard to understand, and his chin pouches over his too-tight collar as he speaks.

"...John Hoynes, the Vice-President of the United States!..."

They're all cheering. Good. Good job. DiMarcato must have arranged for some well-trained ringers. Excellent cheering. Really excellent.

They might mean it, though. In fact, they probably do. Hoynes won Michigan in the primary. They loved him. President Bartlet came in a distant second. But we didn't really try. We knew Hoynes would win, and we were too busy focusing on the next state. We wanted to get an edge.

We got an edge. We won, didn't we?

Oh, here he comes. Shoulders back. Head straight. Steps even. Wave, wave. Grin, wave. Keep on smiling. Big smile. Yeah, show the teeth, John. Let 'em know you care.

I take a breath and hold it before blowing it out in a smokey puff.

Still grinning. Good grinning, John. Your teeth are nice and white. A little crooked, but still. Show those teeth! Look lively! Yeah, let 'em know you care, goddamnit. 'Atta boy.

"...Thank you! I am so happy to be here!..."

They're cheering quite loudly now. The crowd is big, very big.

"...we've fought a lot of battles together...and we're still fighting..."

Three, almost four years ago, I shouldn't have opened my mouth. I shouldn't have asked Josh about Hoynes. I shouldn't have asked if there was a difference, if he was the real thing. I should have just kept my mouth shut, been happy in my own little world. I should never have asked, and I should never have expected anything. I should never have hoped for anything.

"...the rights of the worker cannot be ignored! I won't let them be ignored!..."

His fist is up in the air, and the crowd is going wild. They're on their feet. They believe him. They believe every word he's saying. They love him.

He's speaking to them. For them. With them.

Josh would laugh at me...because I believe what he's saying, too.

"...I'm gonna fight for you..."

I wish we had tried harder. We should have tried harder.

And I wish that three, almost four years ago, I had never said a word.

***

American Auto Workers Union

Detroit Chapter

Revised and Final Instructions and Schedule for 3/1/01 Rally:

6:00am – Set-up crews arrive. Bleachers, tables, booths, stage, podium, ropes, barriers, chairs, benches.

8:00am – Secret Service arrives; security check. Patrick Farlow (Secret Service, Detroit Site Chief), contact number: 622-849-3859

9:00am – Audio check; main P.A. and mikes.

9:30am – Press arrives. Set up press line on east side of lawn.

10:00am – Catering arrives. Melinda's Home-Style Catering. Melinda Krysolszek, contact number 622-495-3952. (Ribs, barbecue chicken wings, potato salad, cole slaw, brownies, cookies, beer, soda.)

*Note: Vice-President requests no alcohol be served to himself or his staff. See DiMarcato memo #28 (2/15/01)

10:15pm – Union chapters arrive – all must go through security checkpoint. No exceptions allowed.

10:30 am – Vice-President arrives. Carl DiMarcato, Chief of Staff for the Vice-President. Contact number: 242-535-1358.

*Pictures/Press line/Autographs at Booth 1.

10:45am – Final security check. Nathan Buxton (Secret Service, Agent-in-charge, Vice-President's detail), contact number 242-535-1349

11:00am – Opening address. Tom Chafey, President, National AAWU.

11:15am – Vice-President's Address, "We are all Labor."

...

***

It's dark, and I don't know what I'm doing. It's dark on the bus, and it's dark outside, and I don't know what I'm doing.

Yes. Yes, I do. I know what I'm doing. I know exactly what I'm doing.

I'm opening up my laptop. I'm turning it on. I'm waiting for it to load up. And then...

I don't know what I'm doing.

The screen flashes. Pale blue. Dim.

I can't turn on the overhead light. It would wake someone up, and I need to be alone. I need to be alone while I do this.

While I do...what? While I don what it is that I don't know I'm doing?

But I do know. I do know what I'm doing, and I know I'm going to do it, and that...

I don't know what I'm doing. But I have to do it.

(Start)

(Programs)

(Word)

(Document 1)

I need to do this. This is the right thing to do. It's the right thing for me to do.

=

Samuel Seaborn

Deputy Director of Communications

Office of Communications

White House

February 27

=

No, wait. It's not the 27th anymore, is it? It's almost two am. It's the 28th now.

(Backspace)

=

February 28, 2001.

=

(Enter. Enter.)

=

Josiah Bartlet, President of the United States

White House

=

(Enter. Enter.)

=

To whom it may concern:

=

No. I know who it concerns. It concerns me, and it concerns him, and it concerns them.

What am I doing? I don't know what I'm doing.

No, I know what I'm doing. I know what I'm doing, I know, I know, I know what I'm doing.

I know.

(Backspace, backspace, backspace...)

=

Josiah Bartlet, President of the United States

White House

Cc: Leo McGarry, Joshua Lyman, Toby Ziegler

=

(Enter. Enter.)

=

Dear Sir,

=

Okay. Yes. Excellent start. Excellent. Traditional - always good - and to the point. Really excellent.

Now what?

Think.

=

Dear Sir,

I quit. Bye!

-Sam

=

Hah! Wouldn't that be funny? I could send just send it to him, and to them, and –

No.

(Backspace, backspace, backspace...)

Think.

=

Dear Sir,

In recent months, and through no one's fault but my own

=

And it isn't anyone's fault but my own. I'm the one who can't handle it, I'm the one who's having the problems with the political machinations and strategies and –

Shut up, just shut up.

(Think!)

=

Dear Sir,

In recent months, and through no one's fault but my own, I have found myself increasingly unable to complete my duties as Deputy Communications Director. Because of this, I hereby

=

Resign? Quit? Terminate my employment?

=

Dear Sir,

In recent months, and through no one's fault but my own, I have found myself increasingly unable to complete my duties as Deputy Communications Director. Because of this, I hereby resign, effective immediately.

=

Something more. It doesn't have to be long. Just something more, something to wrap it up.

=

Dear Sir,

In recent months, and through no one's fault but my own, I have found myself increasingly unable to complete my duties as Deputy Communications Director. Because of this, I hereby resign, effective immediately.

I am grateful for the opportunity to have served you and my country.

Sincerely,

Samuel Seaborn

=

There.

There, I'm done.

Oh, god. I'm done.

Oh, my god...

Oh, shit!

What the hell is he doing up? Can he see this? He's reading it! He's...

Oh, what the hell do I care? Read it, Hoynes. Have a blast. I don't work for you, and I don't work for Bartlet.

At least, I won't soon.

I don't care. I really don't... Well. How unexpected. I almost thought...but no. He's going back to his seat, and not a word. Nothing, nadda. Good. None of his business, anyway.

It's no one's business. Just mine. It has nothing to with him, nothing to do with Bartlet, or Josh, or Toby, or anyone. Just me. I'm the one who can't...I don't what I'm doing.

I can't send this to him. I can't!

(Edit. Select all. Delete.)

I don't know what I'm doing. What'd I do that for? I can't do this anymore.

I can't. I can't keep trying to be like Josh, I can't be what Toby thinks I should be, I can't keep trying to be what I'm not, to see things that aren't really there, to say that I can see what I know isn't really there, to lie, to lie, to lie...and I can't ...I can't...I'm too tired to do it anymore...

Shut up, just shut up. I can do this. I have to do this.

=

Dear Sir,

In recent months, due to personal circumstances, I have found myself increasingly unable to complete my duties as Deputy Communications Director. I hereby resign, effective immediately.

I am grateful for the opportunity to have served you and my country.

Sincerely,

Samuel Seaborn

=

(File. Save.)

There. Done. End of story.

(Start. Shut down.)

Okay. Nothing left to do, so...

So.

I should sleep now.

Big day coming up, and I'll have a lot to do. And it'll be one of the last times that I'll have a lot like this to do, so I should get some rest. Yes. That's what I should do. Sleep.

Just close my eyes, put down the shoulders, focus on the sound of the engine, on the quiet in the bus, just...

Relax.

And sleep.

***

"...okay, we're going to go back to Trisha Talbott now. Trisha is still at the site where the Vice-President's bus skidded off the road early this morning. Trisha, what's going on over there? Any new developments?"

"Well, Gwen, we've received word that there'll be a news conference held in about one hour. It will be held by Leo McGarry, the White House Chief of Staff... The news conference will be held at Ann Arbor Memorial Hospital, so I think we can expect an update on the Vice-President's condition and the condition of the other staff members who were also injured."

"Anything else, Trish?"

"The investigation is continuing here, Gwen. There are still quite a few people out here from the Michigan State Troopers. They've been giving us regular updates, but there's really nothing new to report. As I reported earlier, the accident is being blamed on the bad weather conditions...

"...and Toby Ziegler, the White House Director of Communications, was here for the past few hours, conferring with various members of the investigation and clean-up crew. He left just a short while ago, and though he declined to speak with us, we know that he did retrieve some items from the Vice-President's bus. What those items were, we don't know, but we assume they were probably of some importance since he personally collected them..."

***

I shouldn't be here, I shouldn't be here, I shouldn't... "I...I sh-shouldn't b-b-be here..."

I shouldn't be here, I can't be here anymore, I can't do this anymore, I can't, I have something else to –

"Don't move, Seaborn."

But I've got to go, I've got to go, I shouldn't be here, I've got to go, it's time to go, I've got an appointment, I should have left already, I shouldn't be here...

"...h-have t-t-to g-go...h-have an ap-appoint-ment, I th-think..."

"..no, you don't..."

I don't? Are you sure? I think you're wrong. You're wrong, you're wrong, you're –

"...the appointment's canceled...it's okay."

No, no, how could it have been canceled? I spent weeks trying to set it up. It was for...with...reps from the GDC...need those figures before I can write that speech...

"...you stay right here..."

I can't, I shouldn't be here, I shouldn't –

"...you stay with me..."

With you...I...oh, you. I know you. You weren't who I thought you were. I thought...I almost thought...I thought you were Toby. God, isn't that funny? I can't believe I thought that, I can't believe –

"Jesus."

Where? Wow...wouldn't that be funny...appointment with Jesus. Bet he...He?...wouldn't cancel...wait...I didn't cancel the appointment, did I?

"...it's okay..."

What? Oh, good. Tell Jesus we'll reschedule...it'll be fine. We'll have danish and coffee...hah! Too funny...I should tell Josh...we'd have a good laugh...

"...it's okay...it's okay, Seaborn..."

Good...that's good. Yeah, I should tell Josh...I should tell...wait...wait, no...I don't want him to know about that...

I didn't know...what I was doing...I just...I wasn't sure...and I was tired...please, you have to help me, please, because they're not going to understand...I don't even understand...please...

"...d-don't t-tell J-josh..."

Hey, hey, didn't you hear me? "...d-don't tell J-j-josh..."

Please, don't tell them, don't let them find it, I don't want them to think...I don't know what I was doing, but I can't let them think that I...if they found out, then they'd know I was lying...I just can't let them think I'd do that, and –

"...about what?..."

Don't do that! You know about what, you know, you know, you know...it, you know about it, you know about...

"...th-th-the le-letter..."

"...what letter?..."

Please, don't play games, I'm tired...I'm tired, oh, god, I'm so tired...you know what I'm talking about, you know, you know, don't do this...you know what I'm talking about...

"...res-resig-nation..."

"...don't know what you're talking about –"

Yes, you do! Stop lying, I saw you, don't lie to me, stop it, just stop it, please...

"...on th-the b-bus...in the sc-screen..."

I saw you, you were right there, and you know –

"...guess I got my whole goddamned arm stuck in the cookie jar this time..."

Funny, real funny...I bet Josh would laugh...oh, god, Josh would laugh at me if he could see...Josh would laugh at me, he'd never believe that...he just wouldn't understand, he never would, and Toby wouldn't either, so please...

"...d-d-don't t-tell J-j-josh or T-t-toby..."

"...change your mind or something?..."

I don't know...I don't know what I'm doing, I don't know why I'm doing anything, and I thought there'd be a difference, I tried looking for one...and I couldn't find it...and I thought...

"...I...I th-th-thought it'd b-be diff-different..."

"...what'd you think would be different?..."

I don't know...that was the problem...I don't know what I thought would be different...

"...j-job..."

Should have been different...thought something would be different...I wouldn't have to lie...wouldn't be like Gage Whitney...would be something honest and real...it's not, it never was...Josh and Toby don't understand...maybe it was me who didn't understand...I don't know –

"...so did I. My job, I mean..."

Shouldn't have said anything...that time when Josh came over to...when was that?...long time ago...Josh said that you weren't...I wish I hadn't asked...I don't know now...don't see much difference between you and...maybe that doesn't mean...what I thought it meant...maybe we're all... I don't know...I'm sorry I lied, and...I should tell you...

"...I l-lied...b-before...I l-lied to y-you..."

Cause you should know, I don't want you to think that I –

"...I know...that's okay...part of the job..."

I'm sorry...I never should have...cause you're really not so different, or we're not so...I just thought we'd be different...that it would be different...Josh would laugh at me...Josh would really laugh at me, but –

"...you know...you can't always be honest. Not in this job, not in any job...sometimes...sometimes, we just can't, we shouldn't..."

But I didn't just lie to you...I lied to them, too...and they're supposed to be...

"...wh-what ab-about wi-with fr-friends?..."

Please...don't know why I did that...should have said something...should have opened my mouth...should have said that it was all wrong...should have tried harder to see a difference –

"...no...no, you don't have to...not always..."

Should have tried harder...they're my friends...and I...

"...I...l-lied to th-them...to J-j-josh and T-toby..."

And I shouldn't have...I don't know why I did...thought there'd be a difference...they should have told me...someone should have told me...

"...but th-they l-lied to m-me t-too..."

"...sometimes friends have to lie to each other, Seaborn...sometimes...sometimes, that's just what what we have to do..."

Yeah...okay...wait...no...maybe that's why I lied to them...I just didn't want them to know, because I couldn't see...and I was tired...I'm still tired...

And...

And...maybe you're right...I'm too tired...you must be right...

"...when are they getting here?...we called almost fifteen minutes ago!...when are they getting here?...fucking freezing out here!"

Fucking freezing, fucking freezing, fucking freezing...it's cold...

"I'll take care of it."

Somebody go take care of it...I'll go, I should go...should already have gone...supposed to take care of it...my job...

"...I don't care!...where are they?...when are we getting out of here?..."

Here, here, here...shouldn't be here...have an appointment...hey, Toby, I set up the appointment...just wait a minute...tired...we'd better go...so tired...just wait...

"Brody."

Wait...no...canceled, so...let me lie down...one minute...and then...try harder next time...just tired...wait...just...close my eyes...wait...

"Yes, sir."

One...more...minute...Josh...because...I asked...so...relax...big day...some rest...relax...sleep...bus...quiet...bus...quiet...

...

 

Part 10

 

 

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