By David Kaplan
By the time the third whiskey sour arrived, Ryan realized that meeting Andrea for a drink wasn’t the best idea. The sound of the glass base of the coupe scraping across the bar provided a welcome distraction. He dabbed the dripping egg white foam with a black cocktail napkin and half-returned his attention to her soliloquy.
“If you have a desire to kill whole populations, you should just die, okay? I mean, how could anyone vote for that?” Andrea’s denim jacket was covered with political buttons.
They had met in the waiting room at the dentist office. He was reading a dog-eared copy of Sen.Morris “Morrie” Russo’s campaign autobiography. Ryan worked for the digital marketing agency that deals exclusively for left-of-center political candidates. He was making notes in the margins and she leaned over and said, “I can never write in a book. Books are sacred to me. Anyway, I love Morrie. He’s the reason I got involved in politics. He’s the only real independent. The others are fucking lobbyist assholes.”
He couldn’t tell if she was flirting or simply being overbearing or just wanted to see if he could introduce her to her political hero. When he asked her if she wanted to get a drink, he thought he was brushing her off. But she immediately said yes and said to meet at the Carraway Bar downtown at 7pm.
“Fucking centrist Democrats are the worst. Wait, you’re not a Republican, are you? I know you’re working on Morrie’s campaign, but you could be a spy. I fucking hate fucking Republicans and if you’re spying against Morrie, I’ll get up right now and—”
“Should we order some food? I really want a burger. I think I need a burger right now. You?”
“Yeah, sure,” Andrea said, and slid the laminated one-page menu to him. He ordered a burger rare and slid the menu back over. “Anyway, my family is the worst. They’re all neo-liberals I can’t go home for the holidays without screaming my lungs out.”
Ryan looked at his phone. He got a message from the campaign’s software manager. The site was down again. Ryan was the senior UI/UX. His studio apartment, his office, even his dentist was within a three block radius of this bar. That was the main appeal when Andrea invited him. She worked as a “licensed beauty advisor” for a retail cosmetics chain when she wasn’t at home yelling at Rachel Maddow for not being “progressive” enough.
“Hey Ryan, are you even listening to me? This is important! They just want to give tax breaks to the 1 percent! Who are you texting?”
“Sorry, it’s work,” Ryan said not looking up.
“Well, this sucks,” she said under her breath and looked up at the TV above the bar as she downed her drink in one gulp.
“Sorry, the site’s functionality is a screwed, and I know you don’t want the campaign to lose momentum. The streaming video is key and the campaign is preparing a live announcement in 15 minutes. So I have to fix it before —”
Andrea was looking at her phone now and engrossed in a Politico article about a scandal involving payments the Morrie campaign allegedly made to a contractor who did work on the senator’s vacation house.
“They’re just out to destroy him. Why aren’t you doing anything about this? Hey! Hey! Are you listening to me?”
Ryan cast a dull glance in her direction and downed his drink as the burger was placed in front of him.
“It’s not that I’m not listening to you. It’s because fumes of the whiskey were going up my nose and I have an urgent thing to take care of. But please, keep talking.”
He cut the burger in half and watched as the juice flooded his plate, soaking the fries and raw red onion on the side. In the corner of his eye, he saw Andrea walk towards the exit, her heavy steps echoing out on the pavement. He took bite of his burger and thought he would have to find a new dentist. Hopefully, there would be one closer to his apartment. He would keep his earbuds in next time.