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The Smoke-Filled Room - Chapter 1

by cmtomao

Warning: This work has been rated 18+ for language.


“Boston - Lawmakers today have made history passing one of the most controversial bills Massachusetts has ever seen. Raising the age to run for political office has been a topic of the state legislation for years but it had been a difficult push for democrats to even have the issue heard. Governor Madisen has been urging Republicans to listen to this new idea his entire time in office, which will end this January.

The bill will allow any Massachusetts resident over the age of 25 to run for virtually any political office in the state, excluding President of the United States. With upcoming elections for the Senate and House of Representatives, as well as governor, this seems to be a contentious election. The “Millennial” movement is considered politically radical and has swept the country up by storm after President Trump’s rise and fall in office. They have demanded equal treatment in the political process and now a majority of state legislature seats are held by those under 35.

This radical switch has not come without opposition. Many of those in the “baby boomer” age group have fiercely fought back, a movement characterized by this quote from republican senate majority leader Harry Waterstone: “I will not let this irrational and emotion-based movement take America’s political system and turn it upside down. Experience comes with age. Ideas come with birth. These millennials need to take a seat and wait until they have learned to write a check and pay bills before they think they can make decisions for our country.”

This comment led to a large public and political battle between the leader of the Millennial movement, 26 year old Jack Evans, Jr. and Majority Leader Waterstone. Evans, the son of beloved Massachusetts senator John Evans, Sr., who was killed last year by a heart attack, has been the most outspoken and at times brash critic of the current political age range in both the house and the senate. The following quote was said outside of Evans’ home when being asked about what seemed to be an off-hand tweet that the Globe cannot publish in its papers: “Mr. Waterstone needs to understand that his condescending and baseless comments cannot stop a movement that is already happening everywhere in this country. We want free choice, we want gay marriage, we want refugees to have a safe place to live in America, we want compassion. We’re already here, Mr. Waterstone, so I suggest you retire on a yacht in Florida somewhere and let the young guns take over.”

The Millennial Law will be effective immediately, and will be in play for the coming elections.

Follow the Boston Globe for complete political coverage of all elections.”

Mickey finished reading the article out loud and cast an uneasy look at Jack, who was sitting on the edge of the armchair, his knee bouncing up and down anxiously. His gaze was fixed on a spot behind Mickey’s head.

“You could do it, Jack,” Frank Evans said. This shifted Jack’s laser focused attention to his younger brother sitting behind him.

The small hotel room was freezing, as everyone had gathered there in haste and no one had time to turn on the heat.

“If I don’t win I’d kill it before it becomes anything,” he said, glancing at Mickey again. Mickey nodded.

“If you lose, especially to anyone over the age of fifty, it’d be dead in the water. Waterstone would obliterate you all over the papers.”

“But what if you win?” Oliver said from his chair behind Mickey. “Can you imagine if Massachusetts had a twenty-six year old senator ? Can you fucking imagine?”

“Who else is running?” Jack asked suddenly, twisting around to look at Larry. Larry wasn’t as young as the rest of the group, but he was young enough, and an executive counselor to the senator .

He quickly took out his laptop scrolled.

“I know Camden is, but he’s a fucker, I don’t care about him,” Jack mumbled.

“Um...yeah Camden, Forrest, Hinden-”

“Forrest? Forrest who?” Jack interrupted.

“Glenn Forrest.”

Jack leaned back and ran a hand through his messy hair.

“He’s republican. He’s sixty-two. Campaigned for Waterstone. Was considered for VP for McCain in 2012,” Larry rattled off.

“What does he do now?”

“Director at Sweeney and Edmund. Law firm on Boylston.”

“Sounds like typical traditionalist. Sounds like the whole damn thing is going to be bitch,” Jack said.

“So what?” Oliver said. “I can’t believe you’re even doubting this right now.”

“I want to. I want this. But at the same time, if this bill didn’t come out and I’d always been able to run, I have to this strategically-”

“The entire state went nuts over your dad,” Mickey said. “He was the JFK of the twenty-first century. He was so respected and so well liked. He had the highest popularity of any governor in history. Republicans voted for him and the first thing he did was fully fund Planned Parenthood - I mean c’mon. Jack. Your name is everywhere. You just got hired at the best law firm in town. Everyone knows you have it, so shut the fuck up and do it.”

Jack closed his eyes and sighed.

“I’ll need a fucking hell of a team-”

“We already have people in mind,” Larry said quietly. “We were hoping you’d say yes and jumped the gun.”

“Good people?” Jack asked.

“Amazing people, Jack. Amazing young democrats who will make you win.”

Jack sighed again, but grinned. “I’m running for senate. Fuck Waterstone.”

Alicia’s Lean Cuisine was burning in the microwave. She was not the meltdown type of girl but this was the last straw at this point in the day. She considered walking back to her apartment, her mind perking up at the thought of the fresh spring air in her lungs. The city had been beautiful this month. Not that she had any time to experience it, as she had been working almost sixty hours a week.

She had spent the day on the phone with a client who was not happy with the young associate. He’d called the law firm to confirm they had filed his lawsuit, but was extremely unhappy to find out Alicia was still working on his formal complaint. She had never taken shit from any man in her entire life and now this random Bank Guy was screaming at her over speaker phone insisting she file it today because he wanted to taunt his defendant with the impending suit. The phone allowed her to roll her eyes, but it also prevented her from getting two words in while he screamed, noting her age as a key factor in her laziness and unprofessional composure. She ended the call with a curt: “Well Mr. Parkinson, I apologize. Would you like to make an appointment with my assistant?”

Click. Relief.

That was when she had decided it was time for lunch, which she would have to work through. The “microwave time” was the only time she just stood or just sat and didn’t have anything to do. But this time she had just sat for too long and now her Lean Cuisine was burnt. At this, she threw it on the office kitchen table and sat down and ate it there, ignoring the phone she could clearly hear ringing from her office.

Larry bumbled in at this point, dropping a jar of peanut butter on the floor.

“Hi Alicia,” he said cheerfully. She rolled her eyes as his back was turned.

“How are you, Larry?” she asked in the most fake voice she could muster.

“I’m great, the grocery store wasn’t too busy today, I could make all of the shopping quick,” he said. Alicia often envied Larry’s job - an office manager. All he did was make deliveries, stock the office supply closet, fix the copier, and bought snacks for the firm. How lovely would that be? Minimal responsibility. 9am-5pm every day. Weekends off-

“And you know what else? I think we should go to lunch today, Alicia. I want to talk to you about something.”

Alicia had been dreaming about being paid by the hour when she heard this and snapped to attention, her mouth full of burnt chicken. She did not know Larry well at all beyond the usual mind-numbing office small talk. She couldn’t even remember what his last name was.

“Larry, I -” she stuttered, holding her hand over her mouth as she chewed vigorously to make sure she could deny him in time before he insisted.

“Don’t worry, not a date. My boyfriend wouldn’t appreciate that,” he said with a smile. She relaxed slightly.

“What do you have to talk about? We could go in my office-” she said, her mind scrambling.

“It should be out of the office,” he said, glancing at the door.


“A way for you and I to get out of this firm.”

She paused, then got up, threw her freezer meal in the trash and said, “Your car or mine?”

Larry had picked Starbucks, of all places. She was no longer hungry and just ordered a coffee, which she anxiously sipped as she watched him eat a salad silently.

“So let's cut to the chase, Larry,” she said impatiently.

He laughed. “You litigators. Okay,” he wiped his mouth.

“You know the Millennial Bill that was passed last week?”

She nodded. “It’s brilliant.”

“And you were a political science major at St. Hart’s weren’t you?”

“I was,” she said slowly.

“I think you’re an incredibly intelligent person, Alicia. And I think you’re better than this job. I’ve been working with someone your age that wants to run for senate, and we need a kick-ass campaign manager, and he wants you.”

“Me? I haven’t been politically active since Clinton lost, Larry, how the hell would he know me? Who?”

He glanced around as if they were speaking about nuclear codes and it irritated her greatly.

“Who?” she pressed more firmly.

He sighed. “I want you to just to meet him. I don’t want the name to influence you.”

“The name-” she stopped and shook her head, laughing. “It’s Evans, isn’t it?”

He shushed her. “It’s not out yet, please don’t say it again-”

“Listen to me, Larry, we don’t really know each other. And while I might dislike my job more than anything in my life I would rather jump off the Prudential Tower than work for that disgusting asshole. Have you met him?”

“I knew his father for a while, he has matured with age-”

“He hasn’t matured. He’s an arrogant prick and I’m not working with him. He made my life hell in college. He took everything that was rightfully mine because he was a man and thought he could do it better. He minimized me and condescended me and didn’t study for anything. I’m not working for Jack. He told you that he wants me?”

“No, not exactly-”

“Then how about you tell me exactly.”

Larry sighed and put his palms flat on the table.

“He just decided to run the other day. And he said he wanted the strongest team I can find. The smartest, most experienced people. And I’ve decided that no one can do it better than you. I know you know each other. I know it’s not a good relationship. But you were an up-and-coming democrat. You were going to be great, and then you took this job. Please just consider it. We’d match your pay. He’s a democrat, it’s not like you have to change any of your views. Do you or do you not support the millennial movement?”

She stirred her coffee as a way of pouting. “Of course I support it. I hate him but he isn’t hurting anyone by speaking out against Waterstone and all those crusty baby boomers that can’t get their heads out of their asses. But I don’t think you know Jack well enough if you think he should run for senate.”

“Do you think I’m stupid? I’m intelligent enough to know who should represent Massachusetts.”

“I don’t think you’re stupid-”

“Then meet him.”

She took a slow deep breath, her mind racing. No law firm job. But working with the devil incarnate. But no law firm job.

“Does he know you’re talking to me?”


“And he approves?”

Larry hesitated. “He just wants to formally interview you.”

“Interview me? He’s fucking lucky if I say yes-”

“Okay so say yes. Can you imagine the good he’ll do as senator ?”

“Okay, number one...sure. And number two don’t act like he’s the new Jesus Christ, he’s just a pothead with a narcissistic complex and I hate him.”

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User avatar
235 Reviews

Points: 2200
Reviews: 235

Sun Feb 26, 2017 3:33 am
inktopus wrote a review...

Greetings, cmtomao! Storm's here to do a review, so let's jump right into it!

Raising the age to run for political office has been a topic of the state legislation for years but it had been a difficult push for democrats to even have the issue heard.

You need to capitalize Democrat. You do capitalize party names sometimes, but not all the time. They need to be capitalized all the time

“I’ll need a fucking hell of a team-”

I have zero problems with using swears in your dialogue, but this doesn't even make sense. Don't just put swearing into dialogue with no context. Considering that these people are politicians I'm assuming that they at least know how to use curse words properly.

He minimized me and condescended me and didn’t study for anything.

As far as I know, condescended is not a word.

Okay, so as negative as I sounded while writing those few comments I had, this wasn't bad. In fact, it was quite good. Your characters were on point. For the most part, you wrote believable dialogue and your premise has a ton of potential. I'm impressed. The one thing I have to say about your characters is that it seems like only Alicia and Jack got any development. At least make your side characters a little more three dimensional, otherwise it's just not believable. All in all, great job. If you have any questions feel free to ask in a reply or pm.


User avatar
25 Reviews

Points: 2338
Reviews: 25

Fri Feb 17, 2017 6:39 am
voiceofdragons wrote a review...

***** YES.

Okay. This. Lovely. The flow of your writing I love a lot! There's a clear voice here and that's pretty damn awesome. I don't see any glaring errors aside from some extra spaces in between punctuation so that's cool.

The first half of the chapter you had me a little confused with all the new names and slight lack of explanation and introduction but I imagine that that would be taken care of in later chapters. The sudden jump between character point of view and setting jarred me, too. Maybe add a line break?

Alicia already seems kick ***. **** **** up, girl, get 'em. I love that she zones out and is just stuffing her face while someone's trying to get her attention--that seems pretty realistic. The dialogue is A+. I wasn't ever confused as to who was speaking what which was also cool.

I'm looking forwards to getting to know your characters better. Kudos!

Man is by nature a political animal.
— Aristotle