"'It's a real shame poverty is so unaffordable', is what she said."
"Did she really say that?" asked Smith, flicking toast crumbs from his shirt.
His wife Jane stood next to the kitchen sink with the paper folded over. She was drinking from a large mug of coffee that said Ibiza!
"There are worse candidates," she said, then flipped the paper over.
"We should get going," said Smith looking at the kitchen clock.
They went through their often practiced, nearly choreographed routine of getting out of the house. She slipped into her shoes and checked her teeth in the hall mirror, he ran back and forth through the hall three times trying to located the wallet and set of keys that were already in his pocket. They put on their jackets, opened the door, and remarked about the weather. Then the car. They both enjoyed the moment when both doors were closed and they were in the sudden muffled silence of the cabin. It required several minutes of non-speaking to appreciably enjoy, but Smith interrupted it this time.
"Who preps her?" he asked.
"I'm not sure," said Jane.
"Hmmm," muttered Smith and they returned to silence.
They drove out of their neighborhood and to the checkpoint. Jane rolled down her window.
"Please lean forward," said a guard with clear plastic over his regular uniform.
Jane leaned out the window while the guard scanned her retina.
"You're new, aren't you?" asked Jane.
"I was here two years ago. Just got back from my mandatory tour." He said the words flatly, without expression. Jane knew not to inquire further. "Carry on. There is light rioting about three blocks to the west, but no major demonstrations are expected."
"Thank you for the forecast," said Smith, leaning over into the driver's side beginning to thrust his hand in front of Jane.
Jane rolled her window back up and drove on.
"You didn't give me a chance to ask him who he's voting for," said Smith.
"Probably not you," said Jane. "He's a vet."
"Oh," said Smith. "I wasn't listening."
They drove through a raised neighborhood with clear lines of sight. Bollards demarcated the edges of the usable road and prevent vehicles from going off track.
"Do you have your speech memorized yet?" asked Jane.
"I'm not an eight-year-old, I can use the prompters."
"Voters have more trust in candidates who seem like they can make collected remarks off-the-cuff."
"Speeches are never off-the-cuff. Not unless you're a Castro or a Stalin."
"That's not what I mean," sighed Jane. "Anyway, it's a minor point. Not worth a fight."
They drove over a patch of rubble where a bomb had gone off sometime in the last month. There were still bits of the car on either side of the road. They bounced and felt their spines.
"What do you think she was trying to get at?" asked Smith. "Cara I mean."
"Representative Linney," said Jane. "Always say her honorific. You don't want to come off too friendly with her. You're a married man and people don't trust when straight married men get too friendly with women."
Smith rolled his eyes.
"As for what she said, she was probably remarking that the cost of living is too high for ninety percent of the people and mixed in too many code words, like 'affordability'. Of course, that fact is incredibly obvious--"
"Should we play it?" asked Smith.
"What? No. No." Jane concentrated on the road but mulled the thought. "No. Definitely not. If the media amplifies it then maybe, but I don't think they will take too much more notice. It's not a scan--"
Jane slammed on the brakes. A dog sped by followed by a group of howling teenagers with hand fashioned nets and sharpened sticks. Jane pumped the horn with an angry face. One of the teens stopped, panting, and lingered in front of the grill. He looked the armored car up and down then laughed grimly and shook his stick in Jane's direction, then flashed her a vulgar gesture. Jane pressed the accelerator and the car pushed the teen down. She rolled over him and didn't look in the rearview mirror as they passed.
"I'm not sure I should have worn this tie," said Smith looking down at it.
"It's fine," said Jane.