40 Miles On The Almanianian Canal
Date: July 17, 2015 Time: 9:30 a.m. Location: Port Kotuva, Northwest Almaniania
~Viola Castillon, President of the United States of Almaniania~
"Now you're ready to sail for the Horn, Way, ay, roll an' go! Our boots an' our clothes boys are all in the pawn, Timme rollickin' randy dandy O!
Heave a pawl, oh, heave away, Way, ay, roll an' go! The anchor's on board an' the cable's all stored, Timme rollickin' randy dandy O!" A quick twirl and a clink of my mug against theirs. It's my turn to sing now.
"Soon we'll be warping her out through the locks, Way, ay, roll an' go! Where the pretty young girls all come down in their frocks, Timme rollickin' randy dandy O!
Heave a pawl, oh, heave away, Way, ay, roll an' go! The anchor's on board an' the cable's all stored, Timme rollickin' randy dandy O!" One of the men shouts a cheer and now it's my husband's turn.
"Come breast the bars, bullies, heave her away, Way, ay, roll an' go! Soon we'll be rollin' her down through the Bay, Timme rollickin' randy dandy O!
Heave a pawl, oh, heave away, Way, ay, roll an' go! The anchor's on board an' the cable's all stored, Timme rollickin' randy dandy O!" All the mugs clink against one another as the song ends and we burst into cheers. I down the beer, not taking a moment to stop for a breath while the staff around me encourages me forward with my quest to reach the bottom of the mug. It's symbolic I suppose; after all, this is the end of a decade long journey to make economic history. Now that the declaration of its opening has been concluded and the official celebrations have died down, I can finally say the Almanianian Canal is fully open for business.
"And we've reached the end!" I declare in jest as I slam my mug on the table. The staff bursts into laughter and applause as I take a bow. I sit back down and look at the clock. Ah, it's almost time for our guests to arrive. I clear my throat and stand up again, with far more formality this time. The staff and crew around me quiets down as everyone in the lounge looks at me. Shushes run through the crowd for the stragglers; I wait for those too to disappear before speaking again with a more formal tone.
"Alright. First off, I want to thank everyone in here for your work. Thank you to my staff and my Cabinet who have pushed the finishing touches on the canal after all this time. I also want to thank my Vice President and my Secretary of State for their phenomenal work in ensuring no further complications with the canal's opening." Applause runs through the room as both stand up and take their bows, before sitting back down to let me continue speaking. "I now want to thank the crew on board for your service. For the next few nights we will be entertaining world leaders and ambassadors. Everything must go well. Do not stress yourself for perfection, for flaws are a part of this great nation. Frankly, if they can't deal with our flaws, they can kiss our collective asses!" Laughter and shouts of agreement give me the validation to smirk at my jeering of the world leaders, but something in the back of my head gives me reason to pause.
Frankly, perfection's going to be impossible. Unbeknownst to the crew... many world leaders have a tendency to do some borderline crazy things. I've heard rumors, and as such I've warned my staff and my crew that if they feel uncomfortable with their actions that they can speak to their assigned manager or directly to me if it's a severe emergency. I've had blank looks, but they will soon understand that the art of diplomacy is less of an art and more... spreading shit on a canvas. Still, we need to put on a good show since I would like to broach the topic of the free port for future expansion of the United States on an economic scale.
For now though, I need to put the finishing touches on things. I clear my throat and put on a smile.
"Now then. I want the crew to be prepared one in hour exactly. All the rooms are to go through final checks to be made ready for our guests. Staff members, prepare yourselves mentally for any scenarios you may face. Review your handbooks once more if need be. Cabinet members, you know what to do. Now then, let's get ready for a great trip!" Another round of cheers and the room starts clearing out. I turn to my husband and daughter with a gleam in my eye. Alwin steps forward with a coy smile, arms crossed, in his best suit.
"And what about us?" I chuckle and lean against the table as he speaks softly. "Is there anything special you need from me Madame President?"
"Ew. Can you two not do this while I'm here?" We grin at each other and then at our daughter who's trying to look down at her... whatever game console that is. I roll my eyes and she looks up at me with annoyance. "Well!? It's weird watching your parents like this!"
"My apologies daughter dearest. Is there anything else we can do for you Princess Julia?" I snicker as Julia rolls her eyes at her father. He sits back on the stool and straightens out his tie one last time before giving me a kiss on the cheek, adding, "This is nice. Just the three of us. You, me, and our lovely daughter."
"Wow." I blink and crane my head to the left to identify the source of the word. As my eyes finally reach their intended target, they suddenly widen at the realization of who's standing next to that feminine voice. As my husband sucks his teeth awkwardly looking away, I watch as my son stares at the young lady beside him out of irritation. A knot curls up in my stomach as he sighs and shakes his head. Either it's out of irritation for her or disgust for Alwin's rather awkward commentary. I feel a small rush of air as Julia walks by me to close a bit of distance between her and Alvino.
"So you made it," She remarks dryly. He stares at her for a long moment before switching his focus to me. I raise an eyebrow as I try to read his state of mind. Unfortunately, he's gotten much better at hiding his contempt for me. I can't even call him out on it. It's just an icy stare of lifelessness; as if emotion is completely foreign to him. This is what I've become rather used to actually. There's not much we can do for him though. We all have far too much to take on to give him our undivided attention. We can give him whatever he wants, but certain things are just a bit more important... if only he understood that, maybe he wouldn't seem so devoid of life and-
"Course I did sis. Free vacation? Uh, yes please!"
...Well that's new. So's his... clothes? As the young lady moves out of the way, I realize he has on a brand new hoodie with our family's seal on it. At this point, a double take is completely unavoidable. When the Hell did he get this and why the Hell would he wear this?
"Alvino," Alwin begins sternly. "This is not a vacation. This is a-"
"A foreign party thing yeah yeah. I know. I just don't um, what's the phrase Eva?" He looks at the young girl and suddenly I recognize her. That's Eva Holtzer. She's a famous Champion and last I heard was rivaling Alvino. Wait, why the Hell is she here then? What the Hell happened to my son the past few days? Last I saw him he was furious for missing out on that vile sport to go open the canal. He was so venomous towards us that I was actually considering calling a psychologist or an anger management counselor to help even if it does get out in public. Now he's here after vowing to not come on this trip and brought along his rival in a snazzy new hoodie? And she's looking at him like they're actually friends!
What the absolute fuck is going on!?
"I think it's uh, 'don't give a fuck' Al," She replies with a smile. Wait, she can call him Al!? He doesn't let me do that! He doesn't let anyone do that! What the fuck is happening here!?
"Right right," He says with a grin. "I don't give a fuck dad. Frankly, Eva and I need a break from the press and if we have to act in front of some foreign dignitaries so be it. Besides, who the Hell's gonna talk to the black sheep, right?" I'm almost ready to scream at him now and from the look on my husband's face, I can say he's bordering there as well. As Julia cleans her glasses to make sure she's not imagining this unbelievable sight, I rub my forehead in aggravation. Do I really want to discipline him right now? Maybe I should just kick him off the ship. But no, someone would find out and ugh! My family life needs to remain somewhat in order. So whatever, I'll just let him stay on the trip for now.
"I can't deal with this right now Alvino. Don't mess things up and don't make me look bad. Otherwise my chances of reelection next year will go up in flames." Instantly I regret my choice of words as I watch as Eva gasp with a look of horror and disgust on her face. But that's not the worst aspect. No, it's the fact that I stand here watching my son's mood instantly darken, his mocking smile now turning into a look of obvious hatred. I reconsider my decision and slowly reach to call security, when he scoffs in disgust and turns away. After ten long seconds however, he turns around again with the dulled expression I've become used to.
"Whatever," He says calmly. "If that's your focus so be it." I nod curtly and turn around to walk away, but stop dead in my tracks as he opens his mouth again and says something that makes me freeze entirely. The moment the words leave his mouth, the moment that outrageous statement is made, the last of my respect and my patience peels away. The horror of such a statement just inflames my ever growing contempt for his behavior. I've finally reached my wit's end; I will not deal with his disrespect anymore.
"'Maybe I'll vote for your opponent. They'd better understand the disappointment at letting what grandpa sacrificed everything for fade from our society.' So that's what you think? You think you can just invoke your grandfather's name just because he's a fucking Champion!?" I turn around, no longer hiding my growing hatred of his lifestyle. "Let me tell you something boy. Your grandfather was part of an archaic concept of disgusting nationalistic and ethnocentric bullshit. Your grandfather prolonged a dying system that was eternally integrated into our culture that led to the very Purge that destroyed our people. I know what your grandfather sacrificed everything for. It was for racism. It was for militarism. It was for moral superiority and sexism. It was all for a bunch of bullshit and failure in changing the fundamental flaws of our society! It was all one disappointment!"
And then I blurt out exactly what my exhaustion and fury-addled mind is thinking. And then I recognize I crossed the line. And then... I realize that what I just said I can never take back.
He stood there, stunned into silence by that sentence. I lower my eyes towards the blade attached to his belt wondering how sharp that thing actually is. A single drop on the floor makes me realize this is an instant mistake and my eyes dart back up to the uncovered one. Too late though. He saw me stare. I know he did and that probably just put the final nail in my coffin. I take a deep breath knowing security is right there, prepared to take him down if need be. However, he'll probably reach me in time-
"Al? Wait. Wait hold on!" I blink and realize he's gone. Eva looks ready to run after him, but stops a moment to look at me, betrayal in her eyes. I take a step back, preparing to defend myself but it seems I can't bring myself to speak as tears well up in her eyes.
"Now I get why he can't stand it. I get why he wished you lost now. And here I looked up to you, but I guess he's right. When it comes to us, it's nothing but hatred from you for trying to find some use for ourselves." She wipes her tears and folds her arms, looking away. "I can't even spit in your general direction. You know, I always felt bad for myself. My family doesn't even talk to me because I'm a Champion. But now? Now I see it as a blessing. I'd rather hear nothing from them than be told I'm their greatest disappointment. In their career."
As she storms out yelling for him, I find those last three words sting brutally. It's bad enough I called him my greatest disappointment. But, now she made me realize how worse it sounds with those three little words. Suddenly, he's not the black sheep of my family. Instead, I just treated him as an extension of my job, my public relations, and my career. It's as if he doesn't even deserve to be called my biological son.
I pick up the list of guests that are to be arriving soon, knowing full well that if I do go after him to try and talk to him not only will it likely not work but it might lead to further complications for not meeting with the guests. But what's more important? Some dignitaries that I may never see again in my time as office, but might change things between Almaniania and the world? Or my own son? I look at small postcard he sent a few days ago and slowly flip it over. As I read it, I find guilt ravishes my weakened mind. The worst part about this isn't the fact this is our usual communication lines. The worst part isn't even that he's wishing me well and hoping for good luck in my speech. No, the worst part is that I had the audacity to never call him back. Or even write a fucking email.
Is my career and my disdain for the "Champion's Way" that important? Is it so important that my own child's happiness and needs for even the slightest bit of praise are eclipsed entirely? No. And no. Because the last person I know who answered yes to the second one received the same amount of hatred as I'm receiving now.
"Take the guest list," I say to both Julia and Alwin. "I'm going to go talk to him. And make sure the correspondences are all there please!" I run out of the room to go find him, while I leave the rest of the family to review the RSVPs...
(OOC: So below's the application. Fill it out and post your arrival to Terminal 3 of the Port Kotuva Port Authority. If there's any questions feel free to ask me via Skype.
**Nation:** **Main Representative:** <Head of State, Secretary of State/Foreign Affairs, Ambassador, etc.> **Secondary Representative:** **Other Guests of Note:** <Up to eight other guests. More guests may be allowed but please speak to me first.> **Secret Service Personnel:** <Number of personnel. Max 20.> **Declaration of Weapons:** <Number of weapons of any type on any persons. Small arms only. No grenades and nothing over the top please> **Special Requests:** <Room with a view, allergies, etc.>