No. 9 Park. One of Boston’s most luxurious, high-end restaurants. Just down the street from Boston Public Garden, this French restaurant had the highest expense ratings on all search engines. Of course, a politician would come here to eat lunch.
The fancy-schmancy place was split into three areas. The first area was the bright bar room that had several tables as well as the actual bar. This was where the customers went while their table was prepared. Then, there were two different dining rooms—one with all the windows and great views of Boston, and the other was cozier and meant for limited banquettes. And the gate-keeper to it all was a suited seating host with a pencil-thin mustache.
The moment the host laid eyes on Melissa and me, I could tell his instinct was to call the police. Clearly, we didn’t belong there, and we needed to be removed before we did any damage to the restaurant’s reputation. “May I…help you?” he asked with disgusted hesitancy. I was sure the only reason he was asking was that the police had warned him not to waste their time on middle-class people who weren’t committing any crimes.
A sheepish “We—” was all Melissa could get out before I stepped forward and took the lead.
“Yes,” I said, adopting a valley-girl accent as I put my hands on my hips. “We’re looking for Warren Davids?” Melissa gave me a confused look, as I knew she would. Why would I say that I’m looking for the housing developer who has been unsuccessfully investigated for his attempts to gentrify the lower-income parts of Boston?
The seating host scoffed. “Mr. Davids is already dining with the one guest he was expecting.”
“Oh, we know. But my cousin and I have to talk to him. It’s very, very important.”
With a sigh and a mouth shrug, the maître d’ said, “If your message is that important, surely you can call.”
“Oh, out of the question!” I said with indignity. “This is hardly something that can be told over the phone.”
“Very well,” the maître d’ said with an eye roll. “Give me the message, and I will make sure Mr. Davids gets it.”
I gave my own impatient sigh and said, “Well, if that’s how it has to be. Tell Warren that Britney and Felicia just went to their OB-GYNs. He’s got three little bundles of joy on the way, and we were just wondering when he could start the divorce proceedings with his wife. After all, we want to be a big happy family by the time Tammy, Thomas, and Troy come along.” To emphasize my point, I started rubbing my stomach gently with the sweetest smile on my face that I could possibly muster.
From the corner of my eye, I could see Melissa’s jaw drop. As for the maître d’, his eyes were wide, and his cheeks went red, just as I knew they would. “Um, I,” he coughed, rustling the papers with all of his reservations. “I-I-I really think you should tell him that yourselves.”
I looked at my cousin before saying, “You know what? You’re right. Where’s his table?”
“Smaller dining room in the corner,” the maître d’ said quickly, wanting this exchange to be over with as soon as possible.”
“Thank yooooou,” I cooed, sticking my chest out one last time to make him uncomfortable. “Come on, Felicia. Let’s go tell baby daddy the good news.” I grabbed Melissa’s hand and started skipping deeper into the restaurant.
“Sh!” I cut Melissa off. “Play along until we get to the bathroom.”
“I thought we were trying to find Representative Abbot’s table. You said you found pictures of her eating here on the dark web.” Best lie I had told. I couldn’t really tell her that I was, by mortal standards, psychic. That was the only way to explain my Hunter’s Mark ability that allows me to find anyone anywhere in the world, so long as they were going to remain in that spot for a time. That’s why I put my Mark on Representative Abbot at the start of the lunch hour. I knew she’d be sitting still long enough for us to get to her.
“You really want to confront her in front of Warren Davids? Be my guest.”
Melissa stopped in her tracks. “Wait. You were serious?”
“About Warren Davids being here?”
I nodded. “Yeah, he’s meeting with the rep.”
“How do you know this?!” Melissa said, bringing a lot of attention from all the rich yuppies who were eating their pitiful salads.
“Sh!” I hissed before shoving her into the restaurant’s fancy bathroom. There were only three stalls in the darkly tiled washroom. Candle-style lights made the interior as dim as any of the common nightclubs the rest of the Revolt Project housemates had dragged me to. Apparently, the difference between a club and a Micheline star restaurant was water basins that looked like giant transferware bowls, gold faucets, and hot eucalyptus towels. “You have got to calm down. We’ll get thrown out if you don’t.”
“None of this makes any sense! How do you know that Representative Abbot is with Warren Davids right now?”
“The pictures I found had Representative Abbot eating with him in the background. I mean, it makes sense, doesn’t it? You want to talk to her about the low-income neighborhood’s inequality, right?”
“Well, yeah, but—”
“And she’s been avoiding you like the plague, right?”
Melissa’s brows furrowed. “Well, I never put it like that—”
“So doesn’t it make sense that she’s meeting with the guy that you’re positive is trying to displace everyone? And just so he can gentrify every lower-income neighborhood at the cost of every single resident already living in those areas?”
Melissa’s eyes went wide. “Are you saying Representative Abbot is on the take?”
“All I’m saying is that there’s a good chance Warren has her in his back pocket. Whether she’s there of her own will is what we have to figure out.” Melissa kept giving me that look of furrowed eyebrows with an open, unbreathing mouth. “What?”
“I have too many questions.”
“Save them for after we talk to Representative Abbot,” I said as I slipped into the stall at the end of the row.
“Wait, what are you doing?”
“I’m hiding in the stall. You grab the other one at the end and keep any out for some open-toed, brown and gold checked heels.”
“Those are Sarah Abbot’s favorite shoes,” was all I said before closing my stall’s door, locking it into place before sitting on the toilet seat.
I could tell by the delay in Melissa’s movements that she still had a million questions. I think the only reason she did as I told her was that the number of questions she had was starting to overwhelm her.
Still, that didn’t stop her from asking, “Why are we hiding in the bathroom again?”
I whipped out my phone and texted her.
Adrestia: Let’s communicate via text until we leave. It will be less awkward that way. But to answer your question, we’re going to talk to Sarah Abbot here where Warren can’t get to her.
I heard Melissa’s phone receive the message, followed by her typing furiously back.
Melissa: Isn’t it a lil creepy 2 w8 & confront some1 in the b-room? Sounds stalkery.
Adrestia: Yeah, a DIRECT confrontation is creepy. But we’re not going the direct route. Just follow my lead.
Melissa: Ur lead has been really confusing & anxiety inducing!
Adrestia: We’ve made it this far, haven’t we?
Melissa: This is all just based on hunches!
Adrestia: I’ll ask again…you got a better plan?
Melissa was silent after that. We sat in our stalls, checking the shoes every time someone walked in. We didn’t end up seeing those checked heels until almost right before the end of the lunch hour. While Ms. Abbot was doing her business, I texted Melissa.
Adrestia: Flush when you hear me start to wash my hands and wait until I call you.
I waited until Ms. Abbot flushed her toilet, then I walked out of my stall over to the nearest sink. I was in the middle of soaping up my hands when Ms. Abbot walked out. I had never seen the representative in such boring clothing. She was practically an icon for wearing her jewel-toned suits and cat-eye glasses. Apparently, she had traded those for contacts.
As Ms. Abbot started washing her hands, I did a double-take. On the second look, I kept my gaze lingering on the Boston native until she noticed me. Then I snapped my gaze away when she looked at me. I squirmed a little, pretending like I was struggling to play it cool. I could see a little smile on her face from the corner of my eye. Appealing to ego. Check.
“Excuse me?” I finally said when she finished drying her hands on one of the hot towels. “Are you Sarah Abbot? The Representative?”
“Why, yes, I am,” Ms. Abbot said, flashing me a smile with her perfect teeth.
“Oh, my god! I knew it!” I exclaimed. “Melissa! Get out here!”
Following my orders, Melissa came out. I didn’t have to tell her to play along for once. She got the gist from the conversation. “Oh, my God! Sarah Abbot! We’re such big fans!”
Right as Melissa reached her hand out for a shake, Ms. Abbot pulled back. “I’m sorry. Could you just…” she trailed off, pointing to the sink. “I’m a little bit of a germaphobe.”
“Oh! Of course!” Melissa hastily washed her hands, and I dried mine with an equal amount of haste. Once we both had clean hands, Ms. Abbot obliged us with those handshakes. She was surprisingly cordial and kind. Sarah was the only person in the whole restaurant who hadn’t given Melissa and I dirty looks for clearly being out of place. She just seemed happy that we were such big fans of her.
We took a moment to take some selfies before I started infusing, awakening my Voice of the Revolution. “Um, Representative Abbot. Could I ask you for some advice?”
“Of course!” she said enthusiastically. “I would love to provide guidance to such an intelligent young woman.”
“It’s really personal and kind of out there…” Melissa was giving me that look of what the hell are you doing, which I ignored. I needed to stay in the moment. This plan required concentration and subtlety.
“Nothing is too personal or too out there. If I can help, I will.”
“I’ve been…” I hesitated, looking down at the ground to feign shame. “I’ve been seeing this older man. He’s been really good to me. I wouldn’t be able to go to college without him. He’s paid for everything, and I genuinely think he loves me. He says he wants to give me the future I always wanted.”
“There’s nothing wrong with dating an older man, dear. You’re a grown woman. You’re allowed to do whatever you want. So long as it’s consensual, there’s nothing wrong with what you’re doing.”
“Well…” Another downcast look of shame. “He’s married.” The moment the words left my mouth, Melissa looked like she was going to have a heart attack, and Ms. Abbot looked like she saw a ghost. “He’s said that he’ll leave his wife for me when the time is right, but he still hasn’t done it. And when I get frustrated with how long he’s taken, he threatens to leave me and cut me off. I can’t afford to lose him. Without him, I will fail.”
Ms. Abbot paused, taking in my tale before asking, “Why are you telling me this? What do you think I can do?”
“Well, you’re such a strong, independent woman. You’ve made your own way without bowing down to the will of a man to succeed. What would you do if you were me?”
“I…” was all Ms. Abbot managed to say before she rushed out of the bathroom without another word.
“Okay,” I turned to Melissa, stepping out of my Voice of the Revolution and character simultaneously. “Let’s go.”
Melissa spent the next week criticizing me and the weird, messed-up lie that sabotaged any chance of a conversation with the Representative. In fact, she didn’t get off my case until Representative Abbot held an impromptu press conference.
Broadcast on live TV:
I come before the city of Boston, the state of Massachusetts, and the entire nation to sincerely apologize. For the last five years, I have been having an affair with housing developer Warren Davids. As many of you know, there have been several accusations made against Mr. Davids, suggesting he has a goal of driving out families in lower-income neighborhoods to achieve gentrification. I can confirm that these accusations have merit and are true. Mr. Davids has secretly funded my entire campaign ever since I set my sights on Congress. In exchange for his support and what I perceived as his love, I would vote in ways that would favor him and serve his goals.
So why am I admitting to this now? I realized that I sacrificed myself and my morals for a man who has no respect for me, his wife, or people in general. There are young women in this country who look to me to be a role model. What kind of role model would I be if I told them to remain strong and firm in their beliefs when I allowed mine to be so easily swayed, manipulated, and controlled?
I don’t expect any of you to forgive me; I would not even forgive myself for how I have let you all down. The shame I feel is so great that I nearly came to the conference to announce my resignation. The only reason I have chosen not to resign is because I know that I can make a difference in this country, now that I am not allowing myself to be puppeteered. If Congress sees fit to remove me, so be it. If you, the voters, see fit to remove me, so be it. If you see fit to vote for another Representative who has not abused your trust, so be it. But if Congress, the state of Massachusetts, and the country will give me a chance, I will make this right. I will be worthy of your votes.