The party was a bust. Aaron had no idea how his parents could possibly know so many excruciatingly boring people. The only excitement the evening held for him was the anticipation of how the next person he met would outdo all the others by achieving new heights of monotony.
After enduring an exhausting hour of tedium, he started to search for an avenue of escape. His mother, seeming to sense his desire for flight had posted a vigilant watch over the stairs. Aaron would never be able to sneak by undetected.
His father, on the other hand, had made himself comfortable near the back door leading into the kitchen. Aaron considered it as an option for a moment, but he knew what his father's response would be. "I feel your pain, son. I really do. But if I have to endure it, you sure ain't getting out of it. Besides, you remember the old adage — That which does not kill you only makes you stronger." Aaron didn't know which would be worse, the party or the lecture. At any rate, the back door was not his best exit strategy.
There were the French doors in the sitting room which led out to the veranda, but to get there he'd have to run the gauntlet of senators' wives — all of whom were certain they knew of the perfect eligible young woman for him. Another escape route hardly worth the trouble, sounded like a torture straight out of the pages of one of those Regency novels Mom loved so much.
You know, for such an impressive house, there were surprisingly few exits. The front door was out of the question — his mother had a full view of it from her post by the mahogany staircase. That left only Dad's office. The buffet table was strategically situated next to the entrance. If he acted nonchalant, like he was going for the hors d'oeuvres, Aaron might be able to manage a stealthy spin move and duck in under the radar. He just prayed it wasn't locked.
Yes, he had promised his mother he would be sociable, but he had put in a good hour, and even Bobby, Mr. Social, had disappeared after only twenty minutes. Knowing Bobby, Aaron realized his escape plan had probably been worked out days in advance. After all, Bobby had been to several of Mom’s parties, and all of them more recently than Aaron’s latest subjection. Why hadn’t Bobby warned him to get out quick? Well, that was just Bobby. Not a whole lot mattered if it didn’t affect him directly.
Aaron began his journey to the food table, careful to seem purposeless as he sauntered with his hands loosely in his pockets. He smiled and made casual conversation with a few of the guests as he passed them.
“Enjoying yourself, Senator Abel? – Looks like you need a refill, Judge Williamson. – Secretary Tavish, I didn’t know you were back in town!” His parents’ circle of friends had included politicians and high-ranking officials for so long, Aaron had long since developed his own art of polite and diplomatic avoidance.
Finally he arrived at his destination. He lifted a small plate from the side table and began selecting a few of the more appetizing offerings. If he was going into hiding, he would need provisions. He caught his mother’s glance while he piled his plate with crab-stuffed mushrooms and mini-quiches, so he offered her what he believed to be an irreproachably innocent smile and pretended to inspect the fruit tarts.
When he was satisfied she had stopped watching him, he made a quick scan of the area for surveillance and then made a covert escape into his father’s office. Phew! It was unlocked.
Ah! Sweet freedom, he thought as he made his way through the unlit room to the outside door. Aaron could see through the glass it was only beginning to get dusky outside. He opened a door and stepped out onto the deck.
The evening breeze was a welcome relief in the July humidity. Of course, the climate in D.C. was nothing like his desert post, so he sure wasn’t complaining.
It was a little stuffy in the house – or was that just the guest list? Aaron leaned his forearms on the deck rail and looked over his parents’ grounds.