Conference Room B at Crane, Poole & Schmidt was packed with lawyers, food, and alcohol. Always an exciting mix, but tonight Alan Shore sensed a little danger in the air. Shirley Schmidt had been a Hillary Clinton supporter from the start of the 2016 election and had put together the party for twenty of the firm’s finest to watch the first female president of the United States get elected. It was a night to make history.
Except when the poll numbers started to come in.
While the others ate, drank and debated politics, Alan kept an eye on their host, who seemed to withering with every number Trump gained. While Denny Crane called himself a conservative, almost everyone at the firm swang liberal and considered basic rights and freedoms one of the most important part of being America. And the last few weeks had been full of troubling news for just about everyone who was not a straight, white, Protestant cisgendered male.
“It’s like a horse race,” Denny reassured Shirley. “There’s always a little suspense…”
“Actually,” Jerry Espensen spoke up softly, hands clutching his thighs nervously. “American Pharoah has been considered one of the greatest American race horses of all time and he would hold the lead from start to finish.”
Denny shot a withering glance at the younger man. Jerry retreated to join Katie and Clarence by the cupcake tree. Alan normally would have nudged Denny for being hard on his friend, but he was too caught up in the numbers. One more big state and it was done. It felt like any second the worst nightmare could happen...or a moment of great American history.
He was entirely too sober to face this moment.
“Do any of you watch the news?” Shirley snapped mostly at Denny. “If that walking Cheeto gets elected, it’ll be the end of American freedoms as we know it. Almost everyone in here has something to lose but Denny!”
“So, if he gets elected you can all live with me at Crane Manor.” Denny shrugged. “If we have to, we’ll fix up the basement nice…”
“This is not the time of those types of jokes!” She shouted back.
“Ouch,” Clarence muttered by the cupcakes, putting a consoling hand on Jerry’s arm.
“Wait...we’re getting news that another state is about to be called….” Anderson Cooper spoke up on the television screen, throwing the room in anxious silence instead of chaos.
The results flickered across the screen and for a moment everyone was silent, then Katie let out a gasp. Slowly it was beginning to dawn on Alan that the numbers shown made it almost impossible for Hillary Clinton to win.
“No…” Shirley shook her head. “There has to be a mistake…”
“I’m not sure there is one, sweetheart.” Carl Sack spoke soothingly, resting a hand on Shirley’s shoulder. It was immediately shrugged off. “All of the big states are done...there’s not enough votes yet to call it in Trump’s favor, but there’s not enough for Hillary to tie it up even if she gets everything else left.”
“How...how can be so stupid? Didn’t they hear the things he and that Bible-thumping caveman that’s running with him said? How could anyone with half a brain vote for either one of them, let alone them together as the terrible two?!”
“Well, to be fair, not a lot of Americans have half a brain…” Denny stated as if it was the most reasonable answer in the world.
“Denny,” Alan nudged his friend this time. “Be quiet.”
Shirley picking up the bowl full of veggie dip had unsettled him. There was no reason for her to be picking it up, unless……
The normally elegant female attorney flung the bowl with all of her might at the conference room wall. It exploded into a cloud of ranch dressing, broken glass and shattered hopes. Katie and Jerry both gasped and grabbed onto each other. Clarence let out a little squeal of fear. But Alan held his ground. And Denny’s arm, in case his best friend got any ideas to say or do something that might result in a knife being thrown next.
Shirley stomped out of the conference room. Carl looked at the rest of the party goers, then followed his distraught girlfriend out of the room. There was complete silence in the room as the group slowly filed out after the couple. The party was done and it was best to go before things got even worse.
If that was possible tonight.
Twenty minutes later, Alan and Denny were sitting on the balcony, their usual place of both respite and celebration. They stayed quiet until Denny had poured the whiskey, the strongest blend he could find in his in-office bar.
“Well, that ended with a bang.”
Alan made a face. “That was a bad pun, Denny. You should be ashamed of yourself. But given what America did tonight, I’ll let you off the hook this once.”
“This is hardly the first time America has done something stupid. It’s practically our way of life.” Denny took a sip of his whiskey. “I don’t see why this time is going to be the end of the whole shebang.”
“It’s less about the stupidity of this country and more about the potential loss of freedoms and rights. If you read the ideology of the people Trump has around him...it’s shocking.” He gave a slight shake of his head. “No wonder Shirley is upset.”
“Maybe if Hillary hadn’t tried to steal the show from Bernie Sanders this wouldn’t have happened.”
He nearly choked on his whiskey. “How long have you holding that bit of wisdom back, Denny? I hardly pegged you for a Sanders supporter.”
“Because I happen to like my testicals where they’re currently located.” The older man countered. “Which is where they would NOT be if Shirley heard me say that.”
“Well, we all know what the real ticket should have been.” Denny glanced over at Alan, a smirk lighting his features. “Crane and Shore, 2016. We could make America great again.”
“Us?” Alan couldn’t help but laugh. “I’m not so sure we’d even make it past the first primary.”
“Oh posh..” His friend snorted. “With my charisma and your...your...smarts. We would make it all the way to the White House. And you know we’d have the female vote.”
“That’s exactly what I’m afraid of. Our antics would get us impeached in a way that would make Clinton blush.”
“They have to catch you first.” Denny swallowed a mouthful of the whiskey. “Who cares what a man does with his private time as long as the country is doing well?”
Alan contemplated his own whiskey, watching the lights from the skyscrapers across the road twinkle on the amber surface. “That’s why I’ve never desired a political career. There’s eyes constantly on you. Everyone constantly scrutinizing even the tiniest gesture or word for meaning. It doesn’t work when I desire so many other things. Like women...and good alcohol…”
“...cigars?” Denny interrupted the reverie, jabbing one of Cuba’s finest exports at Alan.
“Cigars.” Alan accepted with a smirk, rolling it between his fingers. “I have this strange feeling it’s going to be a hell of a four years, Denny.”
He leaned into accept a light from the older attorney. For several long minutes, the two friends sat in companionable silence. Alan’s heart was full of trepidations for the future, but the warmth of alcohol in his veins and the knowledge he had friends that would always be in his corner was comforting. Not to mention Crane, Poole & Schmidt would continue to fight the good fight in Boston courtrooms. There was little doubt they would be taking cases of anyone affected by making America great again pro-bono if necessary. Principle was an American value, like inclusion and freedom, that didn’t go away because of whoever got to sit in the White House.
“My concern is…” Denny broke the silence, giving Alan a sideways glance. “How long before Shirley calms down?”
“Shirley is a reasonable woman,” Alan turned to look Denny in the face, trying to sound confident. “She had to have known there was a chance things would turn out this way.”
“I don’t know, Alan, remember the dip. I’ve never seen her throw something quite that heavy before. A plate is one thing, but that...that could have given someone a concussion!”
There was a glint of fear in Denny’s eyes, and Alan was sure the same was reflected in his own.
“You know, I was thinking,” Denny cut in, trying to sound casual. “It’s been awhile since we took a vacation. Might be good to...to get that over before the holidays.”
A smile quirked over Alan’s face. “Fishing wasn’t so bad. It could be very relaxing. Take a break from technology…”
“And Shirley’s wrath.” His friend grinned and held his glass aflot. “I’ll have the jet ready in the morning.”
Glasses clinked high above the city streets. It was nice to know the more things changed, the more some things stayed the same. Like Denny Crane.