ABBY AND SONNY TALK IT OUT
Illustration by Carlos Uribe
After the show at the Open Gate was over, Abby and Sonny walked through a hard rain back to the shanty. As Abby dried off Sonny put water on to boil.
“Some mint tea? Lemon balm, peppermint, spearmint?”
“I’ll go for the peppermint,” Abby told him, taking a seat at the small kitchen table. “Quite a day!” she said. “You, my parents, Amy somebody -- a friend of Sara’s -- then your show… it’s a lot to take in.”
Sonny sliced an apple and slid the plate in front of Abby, and then gave her a long look.
“What’s that look about?” she asked, staring back at him.
“Amy somebody? That’s all you know?”
“Hey, nobody tells my anything. Should I know her?”
“Yes, you should. We’ve got more to talk about than I thought.”
“Well, who is she?”
“That’s Amy Zhi, daughter of the State Parks Commissioner. She’s our line of communication with her father. It’s a delicate matter. Very important to all of us, and very fragile. It takes some careful management.”
“Ah,” Abby replied. “Mmm… I see.”
“I know we’re both tired, and I’m not sure where to begin. You start us off.”
“Okay… I’ve been thinking…” Abby looked up at Sonny with a frown on her lips and frustration in her eyes. “The thing is… you’ll ask me a bunch of questions when you already know the answers. Let’s say I ask you why Amy comes to me with news about the Energy Project, and the United Nations, no less! And then schedules a meeting with me, Sara, and her to talk about what her professor should be allowed to reveal in his presentation to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change… Or maybe I ask you why I should be the one to hide and protect the mapstick. You know the answers. You sent Amy to me. But you won’t just tell me, you’ll turn it all around as if I know the answers.”
Sonny put two mugs of steaming tea on the table and took a seat. The room was warm, but Abby shivered with wet feet and exhaustion.
Sonny smiled, the light dancing in his eyes. “I was going to say the same thing to you! Because you do know most of the answers already. Well, maybe that’s not quite true. We do need this talk, all joking aside. I promise to be as frank and straight with you as I can.”
“Okay! Here we go. Did you send Amy to me?”
“Think about my options. I can’t send her to someone who only knows Rivergate, and has no role in the outside world. But obviously I can’t recommend anyone who doesn’t know Rivergate either. And this crucial job demands being in regular communication with a core group of people, because this project will grow and change rapidly, and will have to be micromanaged. Can I do that? Who can do that?”
“I’ll bet you let Sara make a recording of your interview, and said she could let Freddy Baez print it in the Evansville Record, with some minor modifications.”
“I not only said she could, I asked her to get it done right away.”
“Okay, so I meet with Sara and Amy in a couple of days. They want me to discuss what can be said publicly about the Energy Project. But you already gave permission for all this publicity.”
“Good observation. But remember, she only has my permission to print my recorded words and her questions. You should notice one important thing. Did I mention fuel? She asked me about it, but did I answer? How did I treat the question about why the governor is pushing this so called ‘relocation’ plan? Think carefully about what I said, and didn’t say.”
Abby took a few swallows of warm tea. “Mmm… Maybe you’re right about that.”
“I know I’m right about that.”
“Okay, but you’re still acting like I’m in charge of something here, a leader of… what Tuck calls our enterprise. I’m not the leader.”
“Well, you adults. You and Wendy and Chi Chi and their father and Tuck, people like that.”
“Are they familiar with both Rivergate and you young people, like Sara Williams? Are they going to reach out to hundreds, maybe thousands of young people? And who created that public relations masterpiece last weekend? Don’t tell me that occurred all by itself.”
Abby laughed. “Okay, you got me. But on my level Phoebe is more important than me. She’s running the Youth Council. Sara’s got the job at the newspaper. Amy has the connection to the climate change panel. The band will develop fans.”
“All these people are important. But who will guide them? Do they talk often with me? Or any of these adults you named? You’re young, but you’re learning fast.”