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November 04, Friday

Rafe Dalton had outrun his trainer and security again. He grinned as he leaned against a tree waiting for everybody to catch up. The street was empty except for a man sitting on one of the benches nearby reading a newspaper.
He looked around and frowned at the electronic advertising board behind the bench. Another smartphone model was being released. This one boasted an application that could help one lose weight. There would be no need to exercise as the app could help one curb his or her appetite.
It’s just wrong, he thought. Machines are messing with a person’s body… It was asking for trouble. He would have to start talking to his secretaries about making sure that these new types of technologies were truly safe. His predecessor had been a champion of being high tech so policies may have been lax.
He grimaced as he thought about the new restaurant Clara had talked about that morning. She said she wanted to try it out and had asked if he would go with her. They had agreed to have his staff check out when they can go.
She gushed about how different it was. There were no waiters to take your order as everything was done through a tablet. Each table had one, and you just pick the food you want.
He hadn’t had the heart to tell her that he didn’t find that inviting. He didn’t like the lack of human contact in that type of setting. He enjoyed the interaction involved in placing an order.
He had decided not to say anything as Clara would’ve just laughed and teased him. Every time he told her his concerns with how technology was becoming too advanced, she would laugh and say that he just enjoyed being gawked at.
It was playful banter, but she understood how he felt. He knew that if he had said anything, Clara would decide not to go and he did not exactly relish the thought of trying out the new restaurant without her.
“Sir, Mr. President. Please!” One of his bodyguards pleaded. Rafe had a dangerous habit of leaving his security detail behind.
“It’s not the President’s fault if he’s in better shape than all you lot.” The man reading the paper said.
Rafe chuckled as he saw the familiar face of his head of security. “Keith! I didn’t know you were back.” He greeted the blonde man who had just spoken.
“Hello, Mr. President. You know better than to leave my team behind, sir. I could’ve been anybody.” Keith’s expression shifted from a teasing one to a serious frown. “If things had been different, you could be on the ground dead rather than standing there with a silly grin.”
The other security details were taken aback at how bluntly their team leader spoke with the most powerful man in the country. They weren’t sure what reaction to expect from the great man, and the hearty laugh that came was certainly a surprise.
“And as always you are right. How about running with me the rest of the way, instead of sneaking about?” Rafe took off at a slow jog.
Keith watched Rafe jog away and grimaced. He took out his phone and brought up his exercise app. Might as well get some miles logged for his health program. He held his wrist over the screen of his phone and watched as the app quickly noted his resting heart rate. It would now be able to give him an update of his heart rate while he jogged.
Once he heard the familiar tone that told him the app was activated he nodded at his team and jogged after the President. For a minute, they were quiet, but soon broke into a friendly conversation.
“How were your folks?” Rafe asked the young man, not even sounding out of breath as he continued to jog. “Where they thrilled to have the golden boy home?”
Keith nodded as he matched his pace with the dark-haired President. “Yes. And they are not exactly happy with you for putting my life on the line with all your… escapades.”
“Escapades? That’s a nice old-fashioned word. I have escapades?”
“Yes. That’s what my mother calls your trips into dangerous territories. Like last month’s visit to the Middle East. She told us the boys were just asking for trouble.”
The two men laughed at the thought of Keith’s mother still seeing them as boys. “I believe she thinks the President of this great country is Peter Pan,” Rafe remarked.
“And she keeps track of your adventures. She gets regular news updates on this application she discovered for her phone. I bet she knows you’re out running this morning.” Keith pointed out the group of reporters who were huddled at a distance. They were being held back by a group of the President’s security detail.
“I’m surprised you let them come this close,” Rafe observed.
“Your chief of staff said it would be good for your image to be seen exercising… let the country know they have a young and healthy Commander in Chief,” Rafe explained.
He had been worried when it was originally suggested that reporters be allowed to observe the President’s morning run. But he was able to make sure it was done without compromising security.
He and the Chief of Staff had gone over the list of reporters and cameramen and made sure they’d been fully scanned before being allowed to watch. He knew they would be accused of censoring the press, but it was a necessary precaution. They were already putting too much at risk letting the reporters know where the President would be.
“You’re going to have to change your routine, though. You can’t run the same course tomorrow.”
“I like these streets… I run here all the time.” Rafe complained lightly.
“Exactly. Now that the press knows, it’ll be out in the news. It’s now compromised.”
“What have you guys done?” He groaned. “You and Jordan have teamed up to make me miserable.”
Keith laughed at the little boy tone in the President’s voice. That was one of the reasons the people elected him. He knew how to have fun and was never afraid to get his hands dirty. He was… accessible. He also worked as hard as a horse — sometimes even harder.
“Where’s the First Lady? The first couple usually jogged together in the mornings, so Keith had been surprised to see the President alone.
“Busy with the Thanksgiving preparations. She wants our first one here at the Capitol to be perfect of course. Short of actually cooking everything herself, she has been pretty hands-on,” Rafe described. “The boys are coming this afternoon from New York, so she’s going to be in her mother hen mode this entire weekend.”
Keith listened quietly as the President talked about his family. “Cheyenne is expecting to give birth soon, so she won’t be able to travel,” Rafe continued. “She said she would join dinner online. I guess this is one time I’m thankful for all this technology.”
The younger man couldn’t help but laugh at that statement. He knew how much Rafe worried about all the new high-tech stuff being developed. Just the previous week, an improved video conferencing tool had come out. Instead of images just being shown on the screen, people were projected through a hologram. Rafe found it odd.
“So I guess I should be thankful,” Rafe remarked. “It will seem like she’s in the same room. Only we won’t be able to hug her. By the way, I’m sorry you couldn’t take your vacation at Thanksgiving.”
“No worries. My folks understand. There were even no tearful farewells when I left last night.” Keith noticed a car pulling into the White House driveway. He didn’t know about any visitors scheduled that early. He stopped jogging and grabbed the other man’s arm to make him stop as well.
“What’s wrong?” Rafe looked at his companion with a frown. He followed Keith’s gaze and saw the car as well. “It’s too early for that to be the boys.”
Keith’s body tensed as he watched the car door open. He cursed the fact that his team had not been able to keep up with them. Sure, it was hard to jog wearing a suit and leather shoes, but damn it that was their job.
He relaxed a little when he saw Clara, the First Lady, stepping out of the car. “She’d gone out?” he asked the President.
“She said she was picking up a surprise,” Rafe remarked.
To Keith’s surprise, an elderly couple who looked awfully familiar got out of the car as well. He turned to look at Rafe, who was grinning like the Cheshire Cat. “Did you know about this?”
He got no response as the other man had jogged off to where the three new arrivals stood. He watched Rafe embrace his wife and greet the elderly couple. All four of them turned to look at him who still stood rooted to the spot.
“Well, come here man and give your mom a hug” Rafe called out.
He finally moved and broke into a run to welcome his parents. He hadn’t expected to see them so soon. He had just left them in their charming cottage last night.
“Mom! Dad! What are you doing here?” Keith asked as soon as he was close enough.
“We’ve been invited to Thanksgiving dinner,” his mother said excitedly.
“Well introduce us, won’t you?” Rafe teased.
Keith turned to look at the couple who stood with their arms around each other. “Well, sir, these are my folks. John, my dad and my mother, Emily.” He was still shocked at the unexpected surprise. “Mom, Dad… I’d like you to meet the President.”
“Oh please, just call me Rafe.” The President shook the hands of their guests. “And of course, you’ve met my wife, Clara.”
“Yes, yes… such a lovely young woman,” Emily remarked.
“It’s a pleasure, Mr. President… er… Rafe” John had a wide smile plastered on his face.
“How-” Keith began.
“Details…details…” Clara laughed. “We’ll tell you all about it later. I know you boys have a lot to do. I’ll get your parents settled while you two go about your business. We have them booked at the St. Regis.”
Keith’s eyebrow rose when he heard about his parents’ posh accommodations. Emily squealed like an excited little girl.
“Well, I’ll see you guys later then.” With one last hug, Keith left his parents in the First Lady’s care and followed the President inside.