Written by Mark Mathabane
Sunday, 01 October 2000
Prologue and Chapter One from the political thriller "The Last Liberal"
THE RESTAURANT ATOP
the Upper East side skyscraper revolved, giving Alison Ramsey and Myron
Pearson a breathtaking 360-degree view of the dazzling lights of
Manhattan, from Harlem to the World Trade Center, and from the Hudson to
the East River. A pianist in a tuxedo played "As Time Goes By" on a
Steinway grand piano. Lush potted palms separated the round candlelit
glass tables from each other, affording privacy and giving the
restaurant an intimate, tropical atmosphere.
conversation about One Nation, Myron's newly published book on
the state of race relations in America, was interrupted by a young
female waitress with a long neck, prominent collar bones and the erect
posture of a dancer. She walked with her toes pointed outward and her
back perfectly straight. She poured the Columbia Crest Merlot they had
ordered into fluted crystal wineglasses. As soon as she'd left to
fetch their main course Alison raised her glass.
us," she toasted.
us," Myron echoed.
have to tell her soon,
Myron thought distractedly, before this romantic evening progresses
to the point of no return. Myron had made up his mind during the cab
ride after picking Alison from Laguardia Airport that he shouldn't lead
her on. He would be honest, brutally honest if need be, in telling her
the reasons why their wedding should be called off.
I was just thinking about us. About our future."
Alison said with a smile. "I was thinking about that too."
Myron, I have terrific news," she said warmly, her marine-blue eyes
shining in the mellow candlelight. "I've been holding it back, waiting
for the perfect moment - like now - to tell you."
was at a loss for words. He was rescued by the arrival of the waitress
with their steaming food. Alison, a vegetarian, had ordered
lentil-stuffed zucchini with Spanish rice and Myron, who was also a
vegetarian but not a strict one, had ordered broiled Norwegian salmon
with minty new potatoes and asparagus. The waitress served them,
refilled their wineglasses, and then left.
miracle has occurred, my love," Alison said as they began eating.
listening," Myron said feebly. He reached for his wineglass.
dad finally came around. He's agreed to give us his blessing."
almost choked on the wine. "Are you serious?" he said after a brief
coughing spell, searching Alison's face.
serious." Alison proceeded to explain the talk she had had with her
father before flying to New York.
I've Uncle Reggie to thank for dad changing his mind. After I walked in
and heard dad say all those terrible things against our getting married,
I had lunch with Uncle Reggie the very next day, to give him my side of
the story. I told him what you meant to me, and that you and I belonged
together. He told me not to worry, that he'd talk to dad. That same
evening my dad and I had dinner together at the Salem Tavern and he gave
me his blessings. And here I am."
stammered. "I don't know what to say."
you know what Uncle Reggie plans to give us for a wedding present?"
all-expenses paid two weeks vacation to Switzerland, so you and I can
finally realize our dream of hiking in the Alps. He says we can stay at
his chalet overlooking the Lake of Lucerne. It's gorgeous. He showed me
she spoke Alison was so ebullient, so joyful, that Myron, without
thinking, reached across the table, and, caressing her left cheek, said
tenderly, "That's wonderful, honey."
gently pulled his hand from her cheek, and held it in both of hers. "I
love you so much, Myron. So very much. I'm glad I don't have to choose.
Like I told you before, had I been forced to choose, I definitely
would've chosen you over my father. But it would've been so painful. Now
I don't have to give up either of you."
relished the happy expression on her face, the warm pressure of her soft
hands, the deeply moving words she'd just uttered. "We've been through
a lot together," Myron heard himself say. "I guess we just made it
over another hurdle. I'm sure more lie ahead."
cross them when we come to them, darling."
never regret marrying me?"
you sure you're strong enough to handle the stares, the insults, even
can bear it knowing that we truly love each other."
by the sincerity of her emotions, and the radiance of her smiling face,
Myron pushed all thoughts of breaking up with her out of his mind and
focused on the beauty of the moment. Perhaps they could stay together
after all. The tension that had built up within him since his talk with
his grandmother two days ago - brought on by the conflict between
knowing he had to end the relationship and feeling a desperate longing
and deep love for Alison - finally faded away. He relaxed. He was sure
of his feelings for her, and of hers for him. Now, for the first time in
days, he believed the bond between them was so strong, so unbreakable,
that together they could take on the world.
they left the restaurant they were so eager to be in each other's arms
they skipped the Broadway show and went straight back to his apartment,
a renovated ivy-covered brownstone in Morningside Heights, overlooking
Riverside Park and the Hudson River. A narrow stairwell from the
apartment led to a private entrance onto the roof, which was sectioned
off and bounded on all sides by a high cement wall. Myron, an avid
gardener, had planted flowers and exotic shrubs, creating quite a lush,
sylvan nook. He and Alison went up there often to share intimate moments
under the stars, to read poetry, or to sun themselves. It was quiet,
and Alison stepped onto the roof and breathed deeply the warm August
night air, and the fragrance of the red and yellow roses. The stars
shone brilliantly, as did the lights across the Palisades. The moon
reflected on the Hudson in silver ripples. Myron spread out a Ralph
Lauren comforter and placed two down pillows side by side. Alison had
finished putting a Marvin Gaye's greatest hits CD inside the boombox.
The two lay side by side.
you hear that helicopter?" Myron said as he tenderly stroked
Alison's face and shoulder-length dark hair. "I wonder what it's
looking for. It's been flying up and down the Hudson for the past ten
don't care about helicopters." Alison smiled seductively.
smiled back and kissed her lightly on the lips.
think I saw a shooting star," Alison said softly, her head nestled
beside his on the pillows.
lay there in silence for a while, gazing up at the bejeweled sky.
sweet the moonlight sleeps upon this bank," Myron said softly. "Here
will we sit, and let the sounds of music creep in our ears: soft
stillness and the night..."
the touches of sweet harmony," Alison finished the quote from
Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice.
could feel her warm breath on his face. He kissed her.
looked into his soft brown eyes, inches from her own. "Myron, I'm
scared," she said suddenly.
feel so much in love I'm afraid it won't last. I've been having this
dream lately, that you and I were little wrens confined in separate
cages. We longed to be together, so we frantically beat our tiny wings
against the cage. To no avail. Finally, one of us dropped dead. I don't
know who it was."
tear rolled down her right cheek. Myron could taste the briny dampness
as he continued kissing her tenderly on the cheek, neck and the erect
nipples of her ripened breasts.
can keep us apart," he whispered.
threw her arms around him and pressed her body tight against his. He ran
his hands over her shapely hip under her dress, then along her torso.
They peeled off their clothes in a whisper of zips, then tenderly
reached for each other. Alison suddenly remembered that she hadn't
inserted her diaphragm. But it would spoil the precious moment to go
back into the apartment, get it from her purse and put it on. She and
Myron were going to be married in two weeks, so why not, if fate wanted
it, conceive his baby on the happiest night of her life. She let go.
overhead they must have looked stunning, a man and a woman embracing,
naked, one black, one white, moving together slowly, gently,
rhythmically to the sensual voice of Marvin Gaye's Sexual Healing.
Relaxed and euphoric, they lay on the comforter, staring lovingly into
each other's eyes, kissing softly, relishing the true love they'd just
Myron thought blissfully.
fell asleep wrapped around each other on the roof.
awoke after twenty minutes.
he thought as he gathered Alison in his arms and carried her down the
narrow stairwell to his bedroom. Both were still naked. She smiled up at
him sleepily. Pushing the heap of books on the double bed to one side,
he lay her on top and pulled the blankets from around her. As it was a
warm humid night, he covered her with only a white cotton sheet, then
snuggled in besides her, entwining his body around hers. His face was
nuzzled against her neck. By her slow, steady breathing, Myron could
tell Alison was fast asleep. He noticed her eyes move under her closed
eyelids as if watching a dream.
hour passed. Then another. He couldn't sleep. His conversation with his
grandmother played through his mind like a broken record. He had
promised her he'd break up their wedding plans. But how could he, when
they were so much in love, and he was so sure of that love.
dawn Myron finally drifted off to sleep. He slept soundly for about two
hours before he began dreaming. He was in a labyrinth, running
frantically through the maze of identical passages, searching for a way
out. He saw light at the end of one passage and sprinted toward it. As
he emerged from the labyrinth, the brilliance of the sun nearly blinded
him. When his eyes adjusted to the light he found himself surrounded by
a mob of angry blacks, dressed in the green, gold, and yellow garb of
Afro-Purists. They jeered and hurled stones at him, called him a traitor
to his race. Then a huge white sheriff, in Klan robes, his prodigious
gut squeezed by his buckled holster, pointed a gun at him. The sheriff's
face morphed into that of Lawrence Ramsey, Alison's father. In a slow,
Southern drawl, the sheriff said, "I tol' you, nigga, not to mess with
no white woman."
gun went off.
cried out and sat bolt upright, breathing hard.
wrong?" Alison asked, startled. She was leaning on her elbow, her hair
blinked rapidly, stared at Alison, then around the room. "I had a
nightmare." He was visibly shaken. He took dreams very seriously. They
sometimes revealed hidden truths. He got up, pulled on a brown terry
robe, and went into the kitchen to pour himself a glass of cranberry
juice. Alison donned a long white T-shirt that reached all the way to
her knees and followed him. She found him sitting on a chrome chair at
the kitchen table, looking quite forlorn.
was the nightmare about?" she asked.
sipped his juice. "Something doesn't feel right."
doesn't feel right?"
can't explain it."
honey." Standing behind him, she wrapped her hands reassuringly around
you came I've been meaning to tell you—" He stopped, wondering how
to say what he'd held back for so long, wondering whether to say it.
to tell me what?"
cleared his throat. "I've been meaning to tell you that we shouldn't
go through with the wedding."
just won't work, Alison."
removed her hands from his shoulders as if she'd been electrocuted. She
slumped into a chair across from him. She shook her head slowly, not
comprehending. "What did you just say?"
been thinking a lot the past few days."
know that deep down your father doesn't really want me for a son-in-law.
He made that abundantly clear when he said all those negative things
against interracial marriages. And let's face it, he won't get elected
if we marry."
just stared at him, her lips slightly parted in mute disbelief.
was also thinking about my responsibilities to the black community,"
he went on. "I want them to trust me, to believe in me. Having a white
wife at this point would be a huge handicap, given how separatist blacks
as he spoke he knew his words were insincere, vacuous, at odds with what
was truly in his heart. He was forcing himself to say these things. He
didn't know what possessed him to say them. As soon as he had finished
and saw the tortured look on Alison's face, and the huge tears standing
in her eyes, he immediately wished he could take it all back. But it was
you plan to dump me because I'm white?"
don't mean that."
do you mean?"
didn't quite put it clearly."
Her hurt quickly turned to rage. "Oh, you put it clearly all right. You fucking hypocrite!"
I meant -"
"Don't honey me, you bastard! How dare you make me feel so damn cheap?"
stood up and rushed to the bedroom. She started gathering her belongings
and stuffing them into her suitcase.
followed her, agonizing over what he could say to appease her fury.
for what?" she cried, wheeling to face him.
Myron didn't know what to say. He was too confused to think clearly.
"I said I loved you," Alison said as she continued packing. "You asked
me to marry you. I was prepared to give up a great deal for our love.
And is this what I get in return? How can you be so two-faced?"
I'm not two-faced."
about last night? How do you explain what you said then and what you
just said now? How could you lie there and look me in the eye and tell
me, 'Nothing can keep us apart'? Obviously it was your prick
not true! Please understand, Alison. Not going through with the wedding
doesn't mean I don't love you."
it does," she said, tugging on her suitcase zipper.
think of your father. The hopes of millions in North Carolina are riding
on his candidacy. And the black community needs me."
spun around and faced him. "So what am I?" she cried. "Some lamb
you sacrifice to pacify the political gods for the benefit of my father
and the black community? Jesus Christ, Myron. Grow up. There's more to
life than politics."
rage was making Myron more and more defensive. "Politics are
important. If your father loses blacks in North Carolina will suffer.
And if you don't understand that, you'll never understand me."
so now I don't understand you. It's a black thing, huh? Little honky me
wouldn't understand. Is that it?"
are you dragging race into this?"
You're the one who dragged race into this. Do you think you'd be
breaking up with me if I were black?"
not because you're white. It's so your father can win."
makes you think my father can't win if we get married? Why does everyone
think North Carolina is overrun with bigots? I don't think my father is
the issue at all. I think you're just chicken. That's it. You're a
"I am NOT a coward!"
can't hack being in an interracial relationship anymore. It takes guts,
doesn't it? And you haven't got any."
Myron was so furious he wanted to punch a hole in the wall. Instead he smacked
his fist hard against his open palm to let off steam.
gesture stopped Alison in mid-sentence. She stared wide-eyed at him. He
was looming before her, livid and powerful. Suddenly it flashed through
her mind: Could he possibly try and hurt me? What have I gotten myself
into? I've been shooting off my big mouth, making him mad as hell.
recalled the harrowing testimony about spousal abuse during the O.J.
trial, and the words of her aunt Mimie, who was so shocked when Darlene
told her that Alison was dating a black man that she'd called Alison in
New York and warned her, "You'd better not get involved with black
men, my dear. You might end up like Nicole Brown Simpson."
zipped the suitcase shut, slipped on her sandals, and tried to leave.
Myron blocked the door.
leave yet," he said. "Not like this."
you please move?" Alison said firmly.
both calm down and talk about this rationally."
love each other too much to let it end like this."
me out of here or I'll call 911." When he still didn't budge she
added, "I swear I will." She turned toward the phone on wall.
promptly stepped aside. He remembered O.J. and the infamous 911 tape. He
definitely didn't want the cops getting involved. Besides, he could
practically read Alison's mind by the stony expression on her face. It
surprised and hurt him deeply to think that she suspected him of being
capable of ever doing anything to hurt her. He could never ever do that.
on, then," he said, feeling sick at heart.. "Leave. I'm not stopping
slammed the front door behind her as she left. Myron went to the window
and looked down. A few minutes later he saw her emerge onto the
sidewalk. She headed up the street, looking over her shoulder for a cab.
She had to raise her hand just once before one screeched to a halt.
Myron remembered how often he'd watched several empty cabs race by
before one would stop for a black man.
went back into the apartment, slouched on the brown couch, buried his
face in his hands, let out a deep sigh and muttered, "My God, what
have I done? What have I done? I've lost her. I've lost the woman I love
more than anything else in this world."
never felt so empty and so miserable in his life.
LAWRENCE RAMSEY, FLUSH FROM
his narrow victory the night before in the North Carolina Democratic
Gubernatorial primary, sat behind the wheel of a shiny black Lexus LS400
waiting for his wife Darlene. He was humming along to the music from his
favorite CD, Antonio Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons. The Lexus, its
smooth but powerful V8 engine purring, stood in the driveway of the
Ramsey’s sprawling double-story red-brick house in Emerywood, a
prestigious neighborhood in High Point, the furniture capital of the
Darlene, wearing a soft crepe de Chine dress,
locked the mahogany front door, and put the key in her slim black leather
purse. She hurried toward the Lexus, her flat-heeled, low-cut pumps
clattering on the brick walkway. She entered the passenger side of the car
and fastened her seatbelt.
Ramsey shifted the gear from park to drive and
slowly pulled out of the winding driveway lined with magnolia trees
sprouting purple and white spring blossoms. Reaching the end of the
driveway, the Lexus turned left and headed toward Main Street.
“Were you able
to reach Alison, dear?” Ramsey asked, turning down the stereo just as
the Spring Allegro began.
“Yes. She was getting ready to take a nap.
She’s very tired. Her labor lasted twelve hours.”
“My poor girl. How’s the baby?”
“Fine. He’s in the nursery. I told them that we’d
stop by this afternoon.”
“I can’t wait to see my first grandchild.”
“Me too. I only wish Alison were happy in her
marriage to Eliot,” Darlene said with a sigh.
“Don't worry,” Ramsey said. “The baby will bring them closer
“I hope so,” Darlene said doubtfully.
“You don't sound too hopeful.”
“To be honest with you, Lawrence, I'm not.”
“I know you don't like discussing Myron but -” she stopped
The Lexus was now passing the High Point library, whose board of directors
Darlene was a member. The library had just re-opened after closing for
almost a month for the computerizing of its cataloging system. Its parking
lot was packed, as always, and several patrons, their arms full of books,
were making their way up the brick sidewalk to the entrance.
“Well, I think Alison's still very much in love with him. I
wonder if it was a good idea for you to oppose their getting married.”
“What do you mean I opposed their getting married?” Ramsey
said, stiffening. “Didn't I tell Alison that I'd approve the marriage if
she were sure of Myron's love?”
“Yes. But that was after you'd said all those horrible things
about mixed marriages right in front of Alison.”
“How did you expect me to react? I was shocked by her sudden
“You forget that I agreed to marry you after we'd known each
other only a week, honey. And Myron and Alison had been together over a
“You talk as if you had no objection to the marriage.”
“It's because you were just carried away by the fact that your
daughter turned out to be a non-conformist like you.”
“What should she conform to? Prejudices that say blacks and
whites can never love or marry each other?”
“Stop being idealistic about the whole thing, okay.”
The Lexus came to a stop at a red light.
“Listen to yourself, Lawrence.
You sound just like your father did when you told him you wanted to
marry a Jewish girl from New York.”
“That was different.”
“Being Jewish isn't the same as being black.”
“To some people I've met down here being Jewish is worse than
being black. Don't forget they accuse us of killing Christ.”
“Darlene, why are you always imagining things?
People adore you around here. You were the finest teacher
Wellington Academy ever had. And you now have a fulfilling career in
furniture, an active social life, and lots of friends.”
“I know when people smile in my face and yet despise me because
I'm Jewish, a Northerner, and a feminist.
I know our marriage has hurt your political career and business.”
The signal light turned green. Ramsey waited for an old lady
walking a poodle to finish crossing the street before turning left onto
“Come on, Darlene.. Don't
exaggerate. Yes, a few anti-Semites didn't vote for me in '77, so what?
And as for business, we've made more than enough to live comfortably the
rest of our lives. You can't say that Alison and Myron would've had as
easy a time being married as we've had. Especially with the races getting
more and more polarized. And you forget that I told Alison that I'd be
willing to give my consent if she was sure that Myron wanted the
“I know that.”
“And you know the rest too. She flew up to New York eager to tell
Myron that their wedding was on only to come back with a broken heart.”
"And in her pain and confusion,” Darlene said, “she agreed to a
shotgun marriage to Eliot. Now she’s very unhappy.”
The Lexus was now cruising down Lexington. A jogger in blue shorts,
white Adidas T-shirt and a visor ran passed at a steady pace. He was
sweating profusely but seemed to be enjoying his run. On some of the
manicured lawns alongside the road signs of various candidates for local
and state office were posted. Several of the signs had “Ramsey For
Governor” and “Lynch for Governor” on them.
“I wonder what exactly happened when she flew up to New York to
talk to Myron. She's never told me about it.”
“She did tell her Uncle Reggie.”
“Yes. It was the day after you left to attend your cousin’s
funeral. Alison and Eliot had had a big fight and Alison threatened to
“A big fight over what?”
“The usual. Politics. Anyway, I asked Reggie to go talk with her,
since they'd become rather close after her break-up with Myron. He has a
way of getting her to reveal things about her love life that she never
tells me – or you.”
“Apparently Myron told her that marrying a white woman would hurt
his credibility in the black community.”
“Myron said that?”
“That's what Alison told Reggie. And I must say I'm not
surprised. Myron's an up-and-coming leader in the black community. He’s
written an influential book and is now an advisor to Clinton on the race
initiative. He’s obviously destined for great things. Having a white
wife would've been a big liability. The black community isn’t exactly
thrilled about its leaders getting into mixed marriages, you know.
Especially after the O.J. Simpson verdict.”
“Then why the hell did he propose to our daughter?”
“I wonder about that too.”
A visibly dejected Darlene stared out the window at the cloudy sky.
She somehow felt betrayed by Myron. She'd thought very highly of him,
especially for his principled stance against black anti-Semitism. She
remembered the article he'd written for the New York Times op-ed
page, challenging blacks to denounce black anti-Semitism with as much
passion as they denounced white racism. The article had brought him a
great deal of flak from some in the black community, who called him an
Uncle Tom, but it had also earned him the respect of many, including her
father, a retired professor of Urban Planning at NYU. A stalwart of the
civil rights movement who'd been one of Dr. King's close advisors, he’d
said of Myron: “Martin would've been proud of him. What he said in that
article took courage. But it needed to be said if the civil rights cause
is to retain its moral high ground.”
tells me Myron would've made Alison very happy,” Darlene said
reflectively, without looking at Ramsey. “They were so compatible.”
“But we couldn't well force him to marry Alison, could we?
Anyway, let's not rehash the whole business, okay? Alison is now a married
woman. And I have a tough campaign ahead of me.”
The two drove in silence for a while.
“ Do you really believe I'd have won the primary if Alison had
married Myron?” Ramsey asked suddenly, as the Lexus drove past a newly
opened shopping center with several stores displaying “Grand Opening”
and “Sale” signs on their windows and entrances.
“We'll never know, will we?”
“I didn’t tell you this, but Reggie did some private polling
which showed that a mixed marriage would've cost me enough votes to make a
difference in a close election. Yet still I was willing to take the risk.
You know why? Because I care more about Alison's happiness than about some
political office. And yet you keep on insinuating that I have no backbone
simply because I've decided to follow Reggie’s advice to run as a
“Speaking of Reggie. I know he's one of the best political
strategists and your childhood friend, but I don't like the kind of
control you've given him over the campaign. He decides everything.”
Ramsey glared at his wife.
“I told you a long time ago to leave Reggie alone,” he said,
somewhat miffed. “He's the best campaign manager I could ever want. The
people he brought with him are all pros. And don't forget, they've never
worked on a losing campaign.”
“But they're so clannish,” Darlene countered. “I've heard
numerous complaints from volunteers about how they poke their noses into
everything. The other day I met Nelson Wallace at a fund-raiser for the
United Negro College Fund in Winston-Salem. He told me that Reggie keeps
denying him access to you.”
“Reggie doesn't deny anyone access to me,” Ramsey said as the
Lexus took a right on High Point-Wallburg road, and went down a narrow,
two-lane country road. “He's simply trying to streamline my time and
prevent me from being swamped. Do you know what'd happen if I started
granting everyone audience and patiently listening to their latest
treatise about what sort of campaign I should run? I'd be a
“So you only take advice from Reggie?”
“And from you, too, dear,” Ramsey said, reaching over and
kissing her on the cheek. The car had come to a stop at a four-way stop.
There was a huge freshly ploughed tobacco field to their right. Ramsey
“You know why I value Reggie's advice?” Ramsey said as he
completed the turn, just as a rabbit scurried across the road. “I trust
him completely. Not only is he brilliant tactically and strategically, but
he's not afraid to tell me the truth. He's unlike other campaign managers
who only tell their clients what they want to hear. It took guts for him
to say that he couldn't possibly manage my campaign if I ran as a liberal
Democrat. I could've gone with James Carville.”
“Why didn't you? Carville's as good as they come. He did get
Clinton and your friend Wofford elected, remember?”
“Times have changed, Darlene. There's been a conservative
Revolution. And in North Carolina it swept liberals like Sanford out of
office. Besides, that cross burning on our front yard made me realize that
a lot is at stake this election year. Our country is steeped in hate. If I
win I can offer real leadership on the race issue. But to win at a time
when liberals are on the defensive I have to run the kind of unorthodox
campaign Reggie recommended.”
“What about a campaign based on principles rather than polls?”
“Jesus Christ, Darlene. Look across the political landscape. How
many Democrats are advertising themselves as liberals, huh? Even Clinton
is casting himself as another Ronald Reagan. If I'd run openly as a
liberal Austin would've creamed me in the primary. Instead, Reggie's
strategy of having me run as a stealth liberal has paid off. I'm now the
Darlene raised her eyebrows.
“What's a stealth liberal?”
Ramsey grinned conspiratorially. “A stealth liberal is someone
who's a conservative on the outside and a liberal on the inside,” he
said. “And as a stealth liberal I'll be able to evade enemy radar until
I'm safely ensconced in the Governor's mansion. Then bang, I can be as
liberal as I want to be.”
“So you're running as a fraud, is that it?” Darlene said,
scarcely hiding her disgust. “No wonder you barely won the primary. By
abandoning your core principles you demoralized your supporters, Lawrence.
Many of them stayed away from the polls because the only choice they had
was between two Republicans masquerading as Democrats.”
Ramsey's pale face flushed crimson.
“I'm not a Republican, dammit. I had to do what it takes to win.
Every politician does that.”
“Are you a politician or a leader?”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, my dad used to say that a politician will do or say
anything to get elected. A leader welcomes defeat, if winning means
prostituting his principles.”
“That's idealistic. We aren't living in Plato's Republic,”
Ramsey said dismissively, suddenly recalling the lively discussions he
used to have with students when he'd taught philosophy at Guilford College
in the '60s. “I'd be naive not to play the political game according to
its rules. And it's a fact that the Democratic Party has to moderate its
liberalism. Else it risks political oblivion.”
“No wonder it's in trouble,” Darlene said. “Its leaders are
trying mightily to out-Republican Republicans, instead of standing up for
what they believe. But I'm sure of one thing. Had you run as a liberal our
only child would've married the man she loved, and she'd be happier than
“She'll be happier as soon as she, Eliot and the baby take a
vacation. Reggie has offered them his chalet in Switzerland for as long as
“I wish him luck,” Darlene said skeptically. “Eliot won’t
go. He’s a workaholic, just like his father.”
“But he listens to Reggie.”
“Eliot listens more to Theodore than he does to anyone,”
Darlene said. “And Theodore has been trying to form that boy in his own
image ever since Laura died. That's why our daughter is so miserable.
Remember how open-minded Eliot used to be? Now Alison tells me that all he
does is parrot Rush Limbaugh.”
“It's just a phase he's going through. Don’t forget he’s only
Ramsey came to a stop in front of a gigantic ante-bellum mansion
massive pillars and a lawn like the greens of the nearby Willow Creek golf
course. Stately magnolia and oak trees draped in Spanish moss surrounded
the 30-room house. A profusion of tulips, freesias, azaleas, African
daisies, violets, forget-me-nots, pansies and gladiolas lined the brick
path leading to the front door.
“Enjoy your book-club meeting,” Ramsey said. “When should I pick you
Darlene glanced at her watch. “Three o’clock. I told Alison that
we’d stop by around four and see the baby before you leave for East
"Okay. Reggie should be back by then.”
“Where has he gone anyway? I haven't seen him since last night. And I'm still waiting for my schedule of activities for next week.”
“He left for Boone early this morning for a meeting with Richard Kessler.” Ramsey looked at his watch. “He should be on his way back by now. He told me he left your schedule with Jeb.”
“Meeting with Kessler? What for?”
“He's been trying to persuade the reclusive billionaire to host a major fund-raiser for me. I hope he succeeds. I’ll need a lot of money for the general election. I’m told that Lynch already has more than ten million dollars in his war-chest.”
“Are you going to headquarters after you drop me off?”
“No. I have a noon TV interview and then a one-thirty speech at High Point University.”
“Don't forget to stop by the office. Caldwell has been swamped with orders from market. He wants to talk to you about hiring more drivers. Apparently that Buck Maguire is proving quite unreliable. He still hasn't returned from California.”
“I will. Bye honey.” Ramsey lightly kissed Darlene on the cheek. “And don't worry about Alison. She'll be all right.”
“I hope so. Bye.”
What a dear friend and partner, Ramsey thought with a smile as he watched Darlene walk briskly to the front door. He turned and drove away to the News-8 TV studios just off Interstate 85.
Mark Mathabane touched the hearts of millions with his sensational autobiography, Kaffir Boy. Telling the true story of his coming of age under apartheid in South Africa, the book made the New York Times and Washington Post bestseller lists and was translated into several languages. Today, the book is used in classrooms across the U.S.
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Last Updated ( Wednesday, 26 October 2005 )