State Senator Gus Vibreaux hated hot. Dry hot, humid hot, spicy hot. He hated all hot. When the thirty-ton Addison cooling unit finally kicked the bucket after the power surge on that steamy July 17th in the office on the corner of Tennessee and Dutton, the security guards, aides, and intern threw open the windows and the hot air came in and sidled up next to Vibreaux like a fat man sitting next to him in the coach section of an airplane. Mr. Senator usually flew first class, so this upset him.
Vibreaux said this: "Milliken." Milliken was the intern. "Milliken, for God's sake, find a fan."
Realize the office on Tennessee and Dutton was old, the kind of building with ornate wood trim bordering doors, floors, and windows. But that very woodwork was painted over with cheap, white latex paint, slopped on by the historically-insensitive owners. It was a whitewashed version of the past with unsubstantial present-day conveniences bolted to its sides. Nestled amongst these modern amenities were the galvanized steel plumbing (only slightly more clogged and narrow than the kind Senator's arteries), the phone-activated entry system, and, of course that 30-ton Addison. Dig as Milliken may, no fans were included in the list of the aforementioned modernity.
Another item of realization for you, dear reader: "modern" and "modernity" are being employed liberally and with with much exaggeration and sarcasm. Housing these words in quotes a few lines earlier may have been considered "helpful," but do you notice how annoying this kind of "help" can be? Inferring sarcasm in multiple regions of this text is encouraged.
Milliken's brain thought, My name's not Milliken, but the guy not-really-named-Milliken's body just smiled and nodded.
This not-Milliken guy didn't have much in the guts department. Most adults average a small intestine that's about twenty feet long, but not-Milliken's body housed just shy of twelve feet of combined small and large intestine. The intestines, or guts perform two major duties: digestion and courage-mustering. Not-Milliken's congenital lack of guts made him a skinny, diarrhetic coward with a fast metabolism. His brain planned to overcome these problems by pursuing a career in politics at the state level.
Not-Milliken disappeared from the office of Senator Vibreaux and reappeared in the hallway closet where he stared at boxes and pretended to search for a fan.
Vibreaux had been in the midst of some very important constituent-pleasing State Senator work before the bangs, clanks, and heat respectively crept out of his office's state-of-the art wall vent. Terrorism was the word of the day, no the year, heck, possibly the decade. A politco's duty was to ride the hot topic of the day all the way to the finish line and Mr. Senator knew the name of that horse was terror. He had seen it appear often in the Newspaper, after all. Vibreaux was just minutes away from getting his name attached to one of the state's biggest events and one of the nation's greatest terror targets: the 2006 Base-Jumping and Extreme Sports Jamboree. Thousands of wiry, bleached-blonde "dudes" sporting soul patches and wrap-around shades aimed to descend upon the nearby small mountain town of St. Pierre and make it awesome for a weekend. Vibreaux knew as well as anyone that terrorists were just waiting in the wings, extra-long bungee cords and cyanide-laced Monster energy beverages in hand, waiting, just waiting to see the skulls of some shaved-bald white guys get smashed while the neo-cowboys in wife beaters and long shorts barfed out their innards. Vibreaux's plan was simple: secure the hell out of it. He was talking cops, EMTs, off-duty security guards, firefighters, volunteer firefighters, and even those weird guys who want to be volunteer firefighters, but for some reason, work at the supermarket and spend weekends with their moms' friends instead. He had it all mapped out in his mind, coordinated with timetables and parking scenarios which guaranteed that those enlisted in the security effort had easy access to their vehicles just in case the need arose for coffee, cigarettes, or a healthy muffin baked at the local doughnut shop. It was all in his head, he just needed to make it work. Getting that initial phone call out of the way would be his first step on the path on the glory road called reelection. After all, securing the brave men of extreme sports and their caffeine-fueled fans meant votes, and, unintentionally, probably another sequel to the movie XXX (which the Senator surprisingly liked).
The plastic phone receiver usually didn't bother Vibreaux, but the heat made his hand hesitate. He imagined the handle oscillating in his sweaty palm while he talked, slipping between his moist, fat fingers. It made him itch all over. Where the hell was Milliken (he still didn't know that Milliken was actually not Milliken, so Milliken is still being used here)? The heat was intensifying. The floor warmed like a hot plate and the air got thick with evaporated water. The senator wondered about the heat index in the room. What was the actual temperature and what was the "feels-like" temperature? Weather Channel's Kristina Abernathy, where are you when the men of state politics need you? Wet, dark-blue blotches grew out of Vibreaux's armpits and spread across his light-blue shirt. His giant, bushy eyebrows sponged the sweat off of his forehead.
Where's Milliken? though Vibreaux. He couldn't work in these conditions, these annoyingly dreadful, hot conditions. He needed to get out. Angelo's Diner served cool drinks in air-conditioned comfort and the senator had a Blackberry communication device, but could only operate it with the help of Milliken. Power Lunch at Angelo's with Milliken and the Blackberry. Decision made. The Senator began to stand when something very undesirable became apparent: the soggy rear-end portion of his pants had drooped and adhered to the wooden chair that he sat in. As he rose, the sound of wet cloth separating from the antique wood echoed in his ears. Time, as it often does at critical moments, slowed down to enhance the dramatic effect. The microscopic fabrics of his pants slowly let go of the dampened seat, causing the back portion of the senatorial trousers to slap his senatorial buttocks like the flaccid hand of nervous wimp. Hey, kinda like Milliken, he thought. It was the pinnacle of summer-time discomfort. It was swamp ass.
Vibreaux walked down the hall with a bow-legged gait to avoid the sweaty annoyance residing like a parasite between his legs. He spotted Milliken, or not-Milliken, standing at the end of the hall, staring, captivated by the television, a television conveniently placed in the hallway for the sake of this story (thanks to Theresa Simkins in the law office of Peters and Thompson on the third floor for the A/V assistance). On the television, tuned to channel 29 (your news first, now!), flashed the words "Breaking News."
And that's when State Senator Vibreaux found out that he'd been beaten by what 74.32% of the voters in his district had decided was his arch-nemesis: terror. To paraphrase the local newscast, terrorists, in a highly choreographed, well-plotted effort, rendered ineffective every air-conditioning unit in every office building belonging to every state senator. In a bold change of tactics, the terrorists decided to focus less on deadly spectacles and more on great inconveniences to shake fear into the hearts of Americans. They knew that hitting the entire legislative branch of one state with swamp ass was hitting America where it counted.
As unimportant as it had seemed at the time, something immediately struck not-Milliken. The air-conditioning maintenance guy who walked into the office shaking, asking for a roof key in a foreign accent wore a mask. He claimed it was a safety mask and not-Milliken just shrugged, said, "Cool," and handed the man the roof access key. If only not-Milliken could have grown about eight extra feet of guts just for that moment, he could have thwarted a terrorist plot. Not-Milliken would have been praised as a hero. But not-Milliken's body contained no genetic material capable of spontaneous organ lengthening, so not-Milliken remained a shamed and sheepish not-hero.
In press conferences called shortly thereafter, politicians called for backup air conditioning units and greater air conditioning security. The great lawmakers of this great land could tolerate many things, but soggy bottoms could cause chaffing and foul odor. What lobbyist could take an itchy, smelly elected official seriously? How could any hardworking politician be expected to come up with vague, roundabout responses to clear questions in conditions like these? In effect, to make these men of the state very, very hot and uncomfortable extended the possibility of a covert attack on other conveniences like drive-through banking and pay-at-the-pump.
78.46% of the constituents polled were very unhappy about the prospects of that.