Chapter 10

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That evening, the whole family was present, even Jazmine, who looked like she’d rather be miles away. Her face mirrored that of her father and mother, but they all greeted Peter cordially when he arrived at seven thirty sharp.

“Don’t worry,” Jazmine whispered to Maude as they sat down in the dining room. “I’ve hatched up a plan that will get us out of here in about an hour and a half.”

Maude rolled her eyes at Jazmine muttering under her breath, “You are such a drama queen, Jazmine Rachel Baldwin.” 

Jazmine giggled. “You’ll see, Maude Laurent.”

Peter Longarm was a short, nineteen-year-old Harvard student and had always been first in everything. He knew everything better than everyone and always held his head a little higher than everyone else’s. He never wore anything else than his dark unicolor suits with a white tie around his neck that contrasted with his brown skin and wore shoes with heels because he wanted to appear taller than he actually was. His face was quite ordinary, but he somehow thought it was quite the opposite, and succeeded in making girls believe he was attractive.

The Longarm family was a very wealthy African-American family whose founder Terence Longarm had invented a special kind of cotton candy in the 1950s. While Ray Charles was busy making a hit of his song “Mess Around,” Terence Longarm was busy working on a formula to create a form of cotton candy that didn’t melt right away and which rapidly became a favorite among kids looking for ways to make their candy last longer.

At any rate, it made Terence Longarm’s wealth last longer. The Longarm family forgot their humble origins as quickly as cotton candy normally melts on one’s tongue and learned to hold their heads a little higher than everyone else’s. The only field they hadn’t entered yet was politics. That was about to change.

During a lull in the dinner conversation, while James and Victoria were desperately racking their brains wondering what to talk of next after having exhausted the subject of that day’s weather, Peter cleared his throat.

“I am glad that we are all gathered here because I have an announcement to make.”

James and Victoria looked at each other, thinking the same terrible idea.

“Oh gosh! Are you and Cynthia getting married?” asked Ben, who at eleven, had the natural knack of saying aloud what everyone was thinking.

Peter looked at Ben, annoyed, as if he were ruining his moment.

“No, Benjamin.” 

 “Phew!” Ben said wiping his forehead as if he had just narrowly escaped impending death.

“Ben!” his mother warned, hiding a faint smile with difficulty.

“The news I have to announce is very important and directly concerns all of you in this present room,” he said pompously, his gaze passing from one family member to another, and finally falling on Maude.

“I have decided to enter the arena, sacrifice my well being, and bravely do what is best for our country. I have decided to enter politics.”

Peter looked around the room, expecting cheers and receiving instead a series of blank expressions, including from Cynthia.

Jazmine cleared her throat, and was first to break the silence.

“I think everyone is as astounded as I am. You see, Peter, we don’t really understand why you say that this will directly affect us.”

“Isn’t it obvious?”

“Actually, no. Would you care to explain?” asked a baffled Victoria. Peter never ceased to astound her, and it never was in a good way. 

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