The cab stopped and a man in a topcoat got in. With the snow falling the way it was, I didn’t mind- I was grateful just to get a cab; I only hoped he was going in the same general direction as I.
Then I did a double-take. “Mr. Pres..?”
He held up a hand. “Don’t say it.” After I gulped and nodded, he asked, “Where are you headed?”
“Arlington. North Arlington.”
“Across the river. Good.” He settled a slim black briefcase at his feet, and then buckled up.
The driver, oblivious, muttered something that sounded like a question, and I told him to keep going. I snuck a look at my fellow passenger. It was him- wearier than he ever looked under the lights, but unmistakable.
“I didn’t vote for you,” I blurted, and felt like a fool.
He smiled faintly. “Not a problem. There were a lot of people who didn’t.” After a pause, he added, “It makes things easier, actually.”
“It makes what easier?”
“I can’t tell you.” He turned away, looked out the window.
“What about the Sec.. the people who watch over you? Won’t they be frantic?”
“They don’t know everything.” He didn’t turn back to me, and I let it drop.
It took a long time to get across the river, and I didn’t trouble him again. I stared out the window instead, watching the fall and swirl of the storm.. It was getting worse, building to a true blizzard. He seemed grateful for my silence, relaxing into it, breaking his own to only give a series of terse directions.
When he told the driver to stop, I realized we were at a semi-famous intersection- North Vermont, North Vermont, and North Vernon. He squinted out at the sign and chuckled. “Perfect.” He handed the driver some money and got out. I did the same. The driver grunted at both of us before I closed the door, then the cab churned off, leaving us standing at the intersection.
He shot me a look, and I shrugged. “It’s only a few blocks from home, honestly.” Not much of a lie- I had about a mile to walk, but at least I was wearing boots and a warm hat.
He sighed, and turned his back to me, bending down. It looked like he put something on the ground, but a gust of wind blew flakes into my eyes and I missed the details. He still had the briefcase in his hand when he straightened up, and I didn’t see anything in the snow at his feet.
He looked up the street. “Perfect timing.” A black SUV with government plates was making its way toward us. “Need a ride?”
“No, thanks. Like I said, this is close to home.”
“OK, then. Take care. Stay warm.”
I wanted to say something witty, memorable, anything. “You, too,” was all I managed. As much as I wanted to hang around and check that spot on the ground, there was something menacing about the oncoming vehicle. I walked away, hearing it stop, doors opening and then closing again, the engine racing as it took off. When I looked back, there were only tail-lights fading into the veil of snow.