The Memoirs

May 21, 2008
By Aldis Inde, Edina, MN

I first realized I could do anything when I became the starting quarterback of our high school football team. Perfect. The publisher would love this hook. Just American enough, but it also speaks to everyone. Benjamin Alexander III thought it ironic that he was striving to appeal to an American audience while writing in London. He smiled his flawlessly white, straight teeth as he gazed out the window at the quiet London suburb. One of the classic, old cars that people liked to collect there, rolled by. It fit right in with the scenery.

This car prompted a memory of many years gone by. He was racing towards one of those football games, way back in the 1992-93 season. His dad was driving their new, flaming red convertible. One that Ben still kept in his collection. Ben usually enjoyed riding with the roof down, and the wind tousling his blonde, already disheveled hair, but not this time. This time, his dad was attempting to discuss important life lessons with him. This would be an apt discussion to put in his book; it was full of those American values. His dad had told him to follow his own instinct, not to “go with the flow.” Benjamin III took this to heart; he always tried to be mindful of his dad’s advice. He would also mention he won the game with a last minute Hail Mary. After writing the chapter of his memoirs on his high school years, he needed a break.

TO organize his thoughts, he took a brisk walk through the park near his house. His mind wandered back to his college years. He would devote a section of his memoirs to these noteworthy times. After all, it was in that era of his life when he chose politics to be his profession. He spent much of it discussing these plans with his best friend, Jason Crone, but there were few other congenial memories of Jason. Ben particularly remembered the exact day when he really truly decided his future occupation. He was in an Intro to Political Science class with Jason, of course. On a particularly hot stuffy day in the classroom, he neglected his professor and instead thought of his dad and the talk they had a few years ago. Ever since that very discussion, Ben realized he wanted to hold an influential position, so he could rise above corruption. As he pondered this, it hit him.

“Jason, pssst. This may, well… it will sound crazy, but I know what we should do for the rest of our lives.”

“What on earth are you talking about?”

“You know how we’ve wanted to change all the screwed up stuff in this world? Well, I think… well… I want to run for Senate, and… I want you to be with me helping the whole way.”

For the rest of their college years they plotted and planned, they schemed and designed, and they knew exactly what they were going to do every step of the way after college. They said they weren’t going to give in on any of their beliefs, they wouldn’t be driven by self-interest, and most of all, they would be honest.

Their quest began nobly. They both got internships with a candidate they believed in, and started working their way up the ranks. Far too soon however, things took a turn for the worse. Jason had always been the harder worker, and he was able to climb up a little faster. In all of their plans, because they had been Ben’s plans, it was Ben who was the political star, and Jason was just the campaign manager. Benjamin Alexander III was a proud man however, and was not going to lose sight of his dreams.

Ben stopped walking. He was not going to put this part of his history in his memoirs. He tried to stop his recollections, but to no avail. The political world was a sinister place full of sinister people, including, though Ben would never admit it, Samuel Dixon. Sam had connections, connection Ben needed. It was Sam that insinuated it, but Ben would always blame himself for the idea. Either way, the cumulatively came to the decision that Sam should exploit his connections to get Jason fired and Ben put in his place. These types of shake-ups occurred often, so it was not significant until Jason realized it was Ben who was taking his place. This caused a violent estrangement of the two friends, and their plans were never accomplished, together anyways. Still, there were worse things in the world that had been done, and Ben still wanted to achieve his dreams, so he continued his relationship with Samuel.

All these memories became so dreadful for Ben, that he returned home and started a small fire in the hearth. Even there, recollections lurked in the shadows.

He remembered his triumphant election day. It was the most joyous day of his life, but it was somewhat tainted. Sam has assured him, the only way to get elected was to get as much money as possible. This meant calling on some shady characters who Ben did not want to get involved with. But Sam assured him. Now, however, he was elected, and he was going to go back to his original promises to himself.

First though, Sam advised, he had to construct a respectable voice. This entailed relinquishing his beliefs on issue after issue that Ben felt strongly about, but it was necessary to gain standing with his allies, to be respected by the masses. His biggest accomplishment, according to the media, was passing an important transportation bill, but it was a bill he promised he would oppose before the election. Still, he was becoming more in touch with the working class, the majority, the mainstream. He won his reelection campaign comfortably. Yet the worst deeds were still to come.

Ben’s youthful self would have been ashamed, but times change and people change. As usual, Sam first proponed it. They would be able to make a lot more money for the elections and maybe even enough for a small retirement fund if they dealt a little on the side. It started with small things like building permits mysteriously getting signed without a glance at the blue prints. Before it got much worse, Ben had to get out of there. He served only three terms in office before retiring to travel the world.

This last memory brought Ben to the brink of sanity. It seemed as if he had never seen his transgressions laid out like this before him. A final vision was enough to put him over the edge.

His father had remained blissfully unaware of all his misdoings. Unfortunately, he grew terribly ill, and Ben visited him on his death bed.

“I’m proud of you son,” Benjamin Alexander II said weakly. “You never gave up on your beliefs. Your dreams. You stayed strong when it was so easy to become corrupted. I cannot say enough times how proud I am of you.”

Ben violently threw the memoirs in the fire. He wept as they crackled and burned. He took a fresh piece of paper and addressed it to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Dear Jason,

I’m sorry.

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