General Washington’s emotional ride to DC, sees the cesspool it has become

In Chapter 10 of The New Founders George Washington is given an emotional history lesson of the last 200 plus years of our amazing country.  George immediately understands the cesspool the city named for him has become when he enters a men’s room in Maryland’s Chesapeake House

First a brief excerpt and then all of Chapter 10 of The New Founders…

“Ok George, you can stand here or sit down. Depends on what you need to do.”

“I will stand.”

“Thank God,” replied Jenson.

“Just one question, gentlemen.”

“Yes?” answered Anders, warily.

“Where does it all go?”

Unable to contain himself with the madness of the situation, Anders replied, “I think General, it may go to Washington DC.”

“I see. Just as I feared.”

Jenson could not help but laugh to himself at the absurd exchange taking place between Anders and Mr. Washington. He and Anders looked at each other as if to ask what they were doing here. Jenson whispered that he had not been in a stall with another man since he was four, reiterating that the whole scene was too weird for him. So, he exited the stall with Anders in tow. Both men needed to take care of business themselves and were confident that the first president could handle the rest himself.

Chapter 10.

Two open suitcases sat on the Faulk’s bed, with newly purchased clothing, neatly folded. Shirts, pants, socks and underwear were all arranged in an orderly fashion. Next to the suitcases was a pair of loafers, a pair of Nike sneakers, and shiny black dress shoes, all size twelve. Mr. Washington and Faulk stood bed side, examining the new clothes and wondered if they were missing anything.

The General was fidgety as he got used to the clothes he adorned; a pair of blue Dockers pants, a white button-down dress shirt with blue stripes, and a blazer that fit his large frame very well. He pushed the red ribbon down into his right front pants pocket, no longer needing it (thanks to Mrs. Faulk’s handiwork), but vowing to keep Providence with him in this strange new world. Mr. Washington looked as though he had just dressed for dinner at the country club.

Faulk commended the team on the clothing choices, noting that he would have chosen the same attire had he been instructed to shop. “I’ll tell you what Mr. Washington, you look great. With the new clothes and new hairstyle, I don’t think Martha would recognize you.” Faulk noticed the mention of Martha caused a sad expression to pass quickly through Mr. Washington’s eyes. Faulk leaned forward to zip the suitcases shut and motioned toward the open closet door from which Mr. Washington’s new Armani suit hung in a garment bag. The first president strode to the door and unhooked the bag. He looked at the full-length mirror and studied his reflection from the bottom of his feet to the top of his newly cut hair. A look of satisfaction came over him.

As he turned back toward the bed, Faulk sized up the situation. “The boys dropped the clothes off while you were washing up and went back to get their things and check out of their hotels. Wait till they get a look at you, they may not know who you are… I think I hear Anders downstairs.”

Mr. Washington looked around and asked if his host had packed a bag.

“Let’s just say Deb and I had a bit of a talk while you were trying on your new clothes. It looks like I won’t be leaving with you today.”

The first president grinned with a familiar twinkle in his eye, noting that he fully understood the situation.

“Tomorrow is another day.”

Faulk, smiling broadly, extended his hand to Mr. Washington, who shook it appreciatively.

“I have Anders’ and Jenson’s contact info, so don’t be surprised if you see me again… and soon.”

Both men descended the staircase. Mr. Washington stepped cautiously, his new suit draped over his arm. Faulk followed, lugging a suitcase filled with the rest of Mr. Washington’s new clothes and toiletries. They placed the luggage on the floor in the vestibule and entered the living room to the sound of Anders’ voice. With his cell phone still glued to his ear, Anders froze for a second as he faced the men. He took in the sight of the father of our country, looking as if he should be holding a golf club in his hand.

“You have all the details? Are we good? Okay, send them to me in an email and I’ll pick everything up in the limo. Thanks for everything hon, I don’t know what I would do without you… well yes, and without a paddle. Take care.”

Anders hung up his mobile phone and examined the transformed General before him. As he did, Jenson, Murray, and Hahn walked into the house, also stopping to stare at the makeover in front of them.

Hahn approached Mr. Washington and tilted his body to one side as he circled the president, who at once stood at attention.

“Nice, real nice! You look like some of my friends’ fathers. All you need is a pair of Ray-Bans and you’re ready for the yacht!”

Mr. Washington, again confused by the young man’s compliment, turned to Faulk. Faulk added that Ray-Bans were sunglasses, shades to protect your eyes from the glare of the sun.

“Ray-Bans sound like something you may have invented Mr. Faulk,” replied Mr. Washington.

“Well it looks like we’re all set to go. I must insist General Washington ride in the limo with me,” Anders proclaimed as the group planned their ride to Washington. “We can relax in comfort and Mr. Washington can enjoy the scenery as we get him up to speed on two hundred and thirteen years of America.”

Jenson mentioned that the luxury van had more than enough room and suggested that Mr. Washington would be more comfortable with them. He thought the president would like the accoutrements it afforded. But after a few minutes of haggling, Jenson realized arguing with Josh Anders was pointless. Anders was a great debater and famously stubborn.

Jenson’s famous Virginia statehouse saying was that he had never seen one of two disputants convince the other by arguments. Besides, he knew he would get ample face time with Mr. Washington upon arrival in DC. The king of talk radio agreed to connect the limo and van for the duration of the trip over the internet through Skype. Everybody was pleased to know that they would be part of the discussion down to the nation’s capital.

As the men exited the Faulk home, they were met on the sidewalk by Mrs. Murray, Todd, and Skip Keaton. While the van idled in front of the Faulk home, Jack Murray introduced his family to Washington. Dorothy Murray giggled as she shook Mr. Washington’s hand. As always, Mr. Washington bowed in the presence of a lady and kissed her hand, observing that Dottie Murray’s charm was reminiscent of Mrs. Madison who he cared for very much.

Following the conversation inside the house, the General felt he needed to assure both parties.

“I will entertain Mr. Anders’ offer and travel in his coach. I only require that Mr. Hahn join with me on the first leg of the journey. Certainly there will be adequate opportunity tonight as we rest. And on tomorrow’s leg, I will visit with Mr. Murray and Mr. Jenson. And please refer to me by the familiar form of my name which I observe is the current custom. Please call me George.”

As the whole group stood in awe of Mr. Washington, the young Todd Murray laughed out loud before righting himself. He reminded the tall man that the trip would only take three hours.

“We’ll be down there before the sun sets.”

Mr. Washington laughed and ruffled Todd’s hair, noting that it took a young man of clear mind to alert him to the expediency of the trip.

He was about to approach the red van at the curb when, to Mr. Washington’s surprise, Anders’ white limo pulled up. Anthony Hahn stepped forward and swung the rear passenger door open for the General. After a brief examination of the long car, President George Washington hesitatingly slid into the back seat.

Hahn threw his overnight bag in the trunk of the limo and followed Mr. Washington into the car. Anders watched as the rest of the group filed into the van and shut the door. Keaton stayed with Anders on the sidewalk as they finalized directions for their trip south. When Anders was satisfied that Keaton understood the route, he turned and entered the limousine, closing the door behind him. As each excited group settled in for the ride, Mr. Washington looked above and around his head as the car lurched forward. A million questions swam in the president’s head.

“Gentlemen, please excuse the inquiry, as I have so many, but in what kind of coach are we riding?”

Josh Anders asked that George not apologize for any question. “We understand. We have about three hours on our ride to Washington. Hahn and I will try to answer all your questions and bring you up to date on world history since 1799. And there is a lot to talk about, as you can imagine.”

Both men took turns describing how automobiles come in different shapes and sizes and how they’re commonly referred to as cars. Hahn defined the term limousine, explaining that it is a larger car that carries many people in luxury. George observed its spaciousness and noted that it was obviously a different breed of limousine than the limousin cattle herded in Europe.

“Yes, sir,” Hahn said, smiling. “Though I understand the origin of both words came from the same region of France.”

Mr. Washington saw cars everywhere he looked. He said aloud to himself that it was evident these autos were the preferred choice of transportation for twenty-first century Americans. He asked if they were made in Philadelphia.

“No, most of them are built in Detroit, which is a city in the state of Michigan.”

George went on to mention that he was familiar with Detroit as it played a part in the French and Indian War. He also mentioned that the British surrendered Detroit to the United States through the Jay Treaty of 1796. But he said he was not familiar with the state of Michigan.

Anders was deep in a text message conversation but managed to say that if the British wanted Detroit back, they could have it. Hahn jokingly agreed before taking the floor again.

“Oh, we have 50 states now; three thousand miles across from sea to sea, plus Alaska and Hawaii. Most American-built cars come from Detroit, the center of the American auto-making industry. Sadly, however, many other cars are built in other countries such as Japan and Germany, or as you might have called it, Prussia.”

Mr. Washington seemed astonished.

“Fascinating, just fascinating. I will remain quiet and at your disposal as I digest the marvels I am sure you will describe.”

As the limousine negotiated Philadelphia traffic, Hahn’s cell phone rang. He looked at the phone and realized it was Jack Murray from the van. He told Murray to wait about ten minutes until they reached the highway. Hahn hung up and told Mr. Washington to enjoy the city scenery before they reached the interstate.

Murray was as anxious to connect to the limo as the rest of his travel mates and showed his frustration as he looked at his phone. Dottie slid closer to him and put her hand on his. “It’s a three hour ride, babe. We’re not going to miss anything. Just relax.”

She brought her left hand up and began to massage Murray’s neck and shoulder. Todd looked away, embarrassed at his parents’ sign of public affection. Within an instant, Mr. Murray relaxed. He was always putty in her hands, and this time was no exception. He leaned his head back and nearly forgot where he was as the mobile phone fell to the carpeted floor.

The vehicles moved through the streets of Philadelphia as Mr. Washington continued to look near and far, trying to soak in everything he noticed. The last time he traveled these streets, it had been on a very bumpy carriage ride over a dirt road. He marveled at the way the automobile could move so smoothly at such high speeds. Hahn explained how the invention commonly referred to as the shock absorber allowed for a level and even transport. Upon hearing one of many explanations to come, Mr. Washington returned his nose to the window to take in more sights.

As the limo finally turned onto the entrance ramp leading to interstate 95, Hahn’s phone rang once again. Contemplating not answering the call for a second, he picked up the phone.

“Hi Jack. Oh, I’m sorry. What did you say? Ok, I will get on now. Todd, what password should I use? Ok, thanks. See you in a minute.”

The youthful Hahn leaned over to the keyboard built into the limo’s console and typed in his ID and password. Skype connected the Anders’ limo to Jenson’s van with a crystal clear picture. On the other side of the connection, the men viewed the image of Todd Murray smiling as he adjusted the volume on the van’s personal computer.

“George, you are looking into Mr. Jenson’s automobile. Young Mr. Murray and the others can see and hear you just as we can see and hear them.”

Even though the General was amazed at what he had seen so far, looking into the computer screen dazzled him. For the first time since he appeared, Mr. Washington seemed overwhelmed.

“I only just promised to remain quiet, but for this I cannot keep restraint.

What is this looking glass that allows us to peer across space and privacy? How is it done? Did Mr. Franklin, or your Mr. Faulk create this miracle?”

Jenson’s laugh was audible over the Skype connection while he peered into the camera, providing Mr. Washington the opportunity to see who was addressing him.

“No, I don’t think so, although a former vice-president of the United States claims to have. That is another story for another day.”

Centering himself in front of the camera mounted to the van’s computer,

Todd Murray contributed by describing Skype and the internet.

His father picked up on Todd’s description. “These connections can be made anywhere in the world at any time. One can communicate with limitless numbers of people instantaneously. This internet and the technologies that drive it are extraordinarily powerful devices. Even for us, who have lived through the rise of these technologies, it is miraculous. For young Todd here, it is as mundane as a quill and parchment may have been for you.”

Mr. Washington struggled as he slid down the limo’s leather seat. He examined the computer and leaned forward to look left and right around the device. Perplexed, he tried to figure out how the contraption worked without asking yet another question. It was of no use.

“Forgive me if I ask a silly question, but back at the Faulk residence I noticed a number of what you called electronic devices and they were connected to the walls of the house by rubber wires. You explained that an electrical current ran from outside wires connected to the house and that electricity circulated throughout the dwelling, allowing twenty-first century man to power-up their devices. Well, I am looking at this device before me and I see wires protruding from the back into the car panel here, but the automobile is not connected to anything. On the contrary, we are mobile and in motion. So how is it possible that two automotive devices, moving simultaneously at a great speed, can be connected?”

Hahn stated that similar to the cell phone (that seemed to be an extension of Anders’ hand), a computer sends a signal up to a satellite in space, then back down to another phone or computer, creating a link or a connection.  Mr. Washington, listening closely as he continued to study the device, turned to the two gentlemen in the back seat to explain that in his day, the word satellite was used to refer to a follower or attendant to a superior person.

Anders, taking a break from his cellular phone, blurted that if that were the case, the occupants of each car were his satellites.

Murray did not know what to make of Anders’ statement. He looked around the van to find all of its passengers giving Anders the same odd look. He thought that maybe Anders had enough girth and gravitational pull to attract satellite objects, but Jack Murray was not one of them. As far as Murray was concerned, Anders could speak for himself. He may have been paid to talk, but there was no way Anders represented Jack.

Sensing his thoughts, Dottie squeezed his leg and smiled to her husband, causing Jack to bite his tongue. Soon everyone focused again on the computer screen as Mr. Washington cleared his throat.

“These wonders are most astounding and I am quite sure you learned gentleman and the lovely Mrs. Murray will educate me further on their technical origins. However, what I find most astonishing, and I do hope it proves most gratifying about our society, is the mixture of races living among each other.”

Jenson and the Murrays could see on the screen how the first president waved his arm toward the passing cars on the highway and pointed to each person within each car.

“In my very limited observations thus far, Negroes, yellow, white and brown inhabitants of Philadelphia appear as equals. Am I to believe that the question of holding such species as property has been addressed throughout the southern states? Perhaps wiser and braver men than us came together to remove the chains of bondage?”

From the van, Jenson beat the other new founders to the punch. “Mr. President, to your great satisfaction I am sure, the slave trade and ultimately slavery itself was abolished in these United States 150 years ago. We’ll talk about it in more detail during our history discussion.”

Mr. Washington agreed and thanked Tim for the quick answer. He was not prepared for the next question.

“Did you really chop down that cherry tree?”

George laughed at the blunt inquiry posed by Todd Murray. However, the only other sound audible in either car was the hum of the car engines as everybody in hearing distance waited for an answer. Mr. Washington went silent, surprised by the serious tones taken in the limo and van. He thought that these folks could not be serious.

“I hope you all realize that the story about the cherry tree is simply that, a story. I have taken many hatchets to many trees, including cherry trees in my gardens at Mount Vernon. And I had no reason to lie about any of them. In fact, my father would have been proud if I took one of our trees down as it would mean less work for him.”

As Mr. Washington uttered those words, Dorothy Murray let out such a high pitched cackle that the limo driver tapped the brakes. Everybody followed with genuine laughter as they learned the truth about a centuries old legend.

As the laughter subsided, the navigation screen mounted in the dashboard directed the driver to turn on to I-95 South. Mr. Washington, hearing the artificial voice, looked around in every direction before sliding toward the front seat. He stared over the driver’s right shoulder at the small colorful electronic map that moved in synchronization with the car. The curious electronic device continued to talk, directing the driver again and again as a map of the East Coast of the United States appeared on the screen.

“Please indulge me again my friends, to who did that disjoined voice belong? A mechanical navigator?”

Hahn slid down the seat next to the General and answered eagerly. “George, that device is a Global Positioning System, more commonly known as a GPS.” Hahn went on to describe to George in detail how GPS works.

The first president was fascinated. He proudly told the group that he was a trained surveyor in the mid eighteenth century but he never imagined a device such as a GPS. He asked if the GPS was common in most automobiles.

“Yes sir, most cars have them now.”

The van pulled up alongside the Anders limousine. Dottie patted her husband on his back and pointed to Mr. Washington in the window. She knocked on the glass and waved to the other car, expecting them to see her. Murray again shook his head, trying to direct her attention to the computer.

“You can see and talk to them right there. They’re probably wondering what the hell you are doing.”

All eyes in the limo at once looked at the screen, then out the window toward the van. Mr. Washington waved to Mrs. Murray. As he waved, he spoke. “During the next few hours, I am sure you will describe all the wonders of the country over the past couple of centuries. These states must have many problems now, which is why I believe Providence has called us together. But I expect as a nation we have overcome more challenges and achieved more in the last two hundred years than I could ever have imagined.”

Hahn quoted Ronald Reagan, where he reminded everyone that America remained the last great hope on Earth. Anders, noticing the driver’s sudden interest in the conversation, used a remote button on his armrest to close the glass wall between the front seat and the rest of the car.

“Please relax if you can and listen to your legacy. It is truly a fantastic story.”

But before Mr. Washington could settle in, a loud noise came from overhead that shook the car and the eardrums of the passengers. George leaned in toward the window and looked up as an American airlines 757 roared over the highway and landed on the runway beyond the orange landing lights. George was wide-eyed as his gaze followed the plane down the tarmac to a stop. He whipped around to the men with yet another incredulous look.

“What, pray tell, was that? It looked like a giant silver phoenix. It had a long red and blue stripe and writing on it that I could not make out. Are we under attack from the sky?”

The group chortled and looked at each other as if to telepathically explain to each other that they had their work cut out for them.

Hahn explained the history of the airplane and its civilian and military uses.

Jenson picked up the conversation. “That area where it landed is called an airport, a port for air travel as New York was a port for ships in colonial days. Air travel is just one of the many advances we will be discussing over the next twenty-four hours. So, as I said before, please sit back and relax and enjoy yourself as we try our best to enlighten you on the history of this great country.”

Mr. Washington took Jenson’s suggestion to heart. He straightened his body out and faced his companions while staying in sight of the Skype camera. Jenson, Murray, and Anders took the cue from George and commenced a history lesson for the ages.

Not wanting to confuse Mr. Washington, they agreed to do their best to explain American history in chronological order. They began with the Louisiana Purchase as Jenson detailed all the facts and how with one stroke of the pen, the USA doubled in size. Murray took over the conversation by describing the War of 1812 and the crucial battles that saved the country from British rule.

Following Mr. Murray’s account, Anders inserted himself into the conversation and, to the group’s surprise, described the Age of Manifest Destiny between the War of 1812 and the Civil War, when presidents like James Polk and Andrew Jackson focused on the expansion of the country across the North American continent. He went into great detail on the occupation of the Oregon and Texas territories, again to the surprise of everybody listening. The blustery persona that the listeners heard on the radio was meant for ratings, while off the air Anders’ erudition always came to the forefront. He described slavery and the Dred Scott case, but only briefly (to the General’s disappointment).

With Anders’ lesson on expansion and slavery complete, Hahn led the group in a discussion about the Civil War, providing a thirty thousand foot description of the historical points of the battles, speeches, and people associated with the war. They all agreed that the Civil War was a topic of such great importance and had such an impact and lasting effect on the country, that it would be better suited to discuss after they reached their destination in DC. But Jenson couldn’t resist adding his two cents to the conversation. As the cars sped south down I-95 through Delaware and past the Mason Dixon Line, Jenson took a deep breath, righted himself, and took the floor once again.

“Please keep in mind the historical significance of the Civil War. This country was torn apart by an unimaginably bloody war between the northern and southern states to settle, among other things, the slave issue.

Black, White, Asian, Latin, and everyone in between now live as equals in our country.”

He emphasized how the impact of that event led to the first black president in American history.

“And it all started with the Civil War. It took decades for the country to recover, which included the assassination of one of our finest presidents. And believe it or not, even after all we have overcome, sadly race is still a very divisive issue today. The accusation of racism is often perpetuated as a weapon to smear the good names of those in opposition.”

Mr. Washington stared blankly into the computer screen, apparently overwhelmed by the information he was still digesting. He pulled himself together and replied, “I see, Mr. Jenson. How horrific that our generation left the next with such an insurmountable problem. We knew the injustice of slavery but could not abolish it in our time without tearing our infant nation apart. We established a time when the trade would end and believed it would result in the eventual demise of slavery itself. I even wrote in my own will that upon my death, slaves under my direction must be set free. Please assure me they were.”

Shaken, Mr. Washington turned to Anders. “We did. Did we not? We believed slavery would fade away once the trade was removed. How shameful that we failed, but you must understand we were of a just mind.”

For one of a handful of times in his life, Anders was at a loss for words as he stared at the first president. The others remained silent while the father of our country endured a sudden moral crisis right before their eyes. After a minute of solemn silence, a choked up Mr. Washington cleared his throat and spoke.

“Mr. Jefferson—pardon me—Mr. Jenson, you spoke of the president during this terrible war who would be assassinated. Please gentlemen, tell me about this extraordinary man.”

Murray, the historian, sipped his bottled water and moved toward the microphone. The Civil War discussion couldn’t wait.

“Abraham Lincoln was the sixteenth president of the United States. He was born to a poor family in the state of Kentucky, became a lawyer and was eventually elected president of the United States in 1860 as the Civil War loomed. We can fill in more details and get you materials to read when we get to DC.”

Mr. Washington responded that the man was indeed interesting.

“Benjamin Lincoln was a good man, was my second in command. He accepted the surrender of British Forces. Could they have been related?”

Murray answered that no one was quite sure but they likely were distant relations going back to Norfolk England through Massachusetts.

George peered in the sunken eyes and deep lines of the face on the five dollar bill, which Hahn had quietly handed him.

Murray reiterated that like the founders, Lincoln had been torn between abolishing slavery and the threat of the country being destroyed by war; ultimately, Lincoln knew that the country could not survive divided.

Murray felt his throat tighten and voice quiver. As he spoke, he thought about the horrors of slavery and the thousands of young men who were killed defending and opposing the terrible institution. He looked over at Todd sitting innocently next to his mother and momentarily felt a twinge of resentment that the problem of slavery, like so many today, was “kicked” to another generation to solve.

Murray regained his voice and sounded like the history teacher he was.

“After several failed attempts at compromise on the slavery and states’ rights issues, the south seceded from the Union in 1861. Lincoln would not allow the nation to break up, so when a southern force attacked the Union base at Fort Sumter, South Carolina in April 1861, the war began. Richmond was the capital of the Confederacy, and our Virginia was the site of many major battles during the war. Over half a million Americans died on both sides. Families were ripped apart and, like Tim said, it took decades for us to recover. But ultimately, the war solidified America as a nation.”

“My Lord. And what of Mr. Lincoln?” asked Mr. Washington.

Hahn spoke almost in a whisper. “Lincoln suffered terribly during those four long years. He did what he had to do to deliver the equality promised in the Declaration of Independence. That included committing thousands of young lives to a barbaric war. He preserved the Union and has been recognized with you and one or two others as the greatest of our forty-four presidents.

Vocalizing what he already deduced, he asked if President Lincoln was in fact assassinated.

It was young Todd Murray’s turn to enter the discussion and teach history. “Yes. Right after the war ended, he was shot while watching a play at Ford’s Theater in Washington DC. The assassin was named John Wilkes Booth. He agreed with the confederates.”

“I see,” responded Mr. Washington. “Thank you, Master Murray. Obviously, Mr. Lincoln is remembered and revered to the degree that he is still the subject of lessons in schools?”

“You got it,” replied Dottie.

“Washington, DC, has so many monuments and memorials to great Americans and events. There is a Washington Monument in the center of the city that I think is the tallest building in the city. There’s a Lincoln Memorial with a huge statue of Abe sitting in obvious contemplation. We need to bring you to these memorials so you can get a look for yourself!”

“And we will, Mrs. Murray,” interjected Anders through the computer screen as Jack gave his excited wife a wink and a thumbs up. In his mind, Anders had yielded to his counterparts long enough. “That is one of the purposes of this trip, to show General Washington the city and its monuments that bear his name. But we went off on a tangent there and we should get back to the timeline. We are through with the Civil War for now, is that correct?”

Mr. Washington wanted to hear more about Lincoln but stayed silent, respecting what the men were doing for him. It was not every day that one was asked to provide the history of the United States in a three hour drive. Plus, these gentlemen had rearranged their lives for him. So George made many mental notes, promising himself to come back to each topic once they were settled from their journey. He knew something that his companions did not; that time was not going to be an immediate restraint in pursuit of their ultimate goal.

The Industrial Revolution and Spanish American War were the next two topics touched upon. Hahn described the rise of the industrial infrastructure modeled on that of England, and followed with a very detailed description of the Spanish-American War and the legend of Teddy Roosevelt, which made Mr. Washington smile.

The whole group talked over each other in their description of the events of World War I and the rise of Communism. Small arguments arose over the facts. Murray noted that Mr. Washington, for the first time, demonstrated his authority and requested silence. “Gentlemen, I am forever in your debt for the information that continues to nourish my brain. But I ask that you respect each other and take turns speaking. I cannot comprehend everything if one is shouting over the other. Thank you.”

The group agreed and responded with an awkward silence.

“It appears from the sound emanating from your GPS device that we will not be at our destination for at least thirty minutes,” Mr. Washington said. “Please forgive my vulgarity Mrs. Murray, but might this limo contain an outhouse? Or perhaps there would be one at an eatery or tavern along the highway that might suffice?”

Todd Murray jumped in, “Yeah ma, I gotta pee.”

As Mr. Washington let out a hearty laugh, Anders and Jenson asked their drivers to stop at the next rest stop, Chesapeake House, which was only four miles ahead.

As the limo and van stopped in front of the Roy Rogers sign at the Chesapeake House rest stop, Anders and Jenson jumped out first to talk. They walked around to the far side of the van in hope of not being noticed by curious travelers as Jack tended to his family.

“This may be a bit tricky,” Anders began. “It’s bad enough when I, the Head Honcho of Talk Radio, have to pee in crowds like this. But bringing a three hundred year old ex-president, whose face is on every dollar bill in the place, to a urinal may be complicated. Here’s what we gotta do.”

Anders mapped out a strategy as if he was preparing for battle. He suggested that the group break up into smaller separate groups as to not draw attention. Anders would put on his big Navy baseball cap and sunglasses and walk alone into the rest stop and directly to the men’s room. He explained that by going solo, if he were to be recognized, it would turn focus toward him and away from the president. He could then secure a stall and wait for George. He asked that Hahn and Jenson escort Mr. Washington straight to the bathroom while the rest of the group goes about their business.

Dottie volunteered the Murrays to get lunch for the group and bring it back to the cars. Then, Anders made sure everybody was ready.  “I wasn’t even thinking about that but now that you’ve said it, I’m pretty hungry myself. Okay, this is what we do. Get the kid’s Villanova hat and make sure Mr. Big wears it in. You ready? Let’s roll.”

Both men went into their respective vehicles and shared the game plan with the team. Anders jumped out of the limousine with cap and glasses in place and started toward the door under the Roy Rogers sign. Tim walked to the limo and handed the hat to Mr. Washington, instructing him to place it on his head with the brim adjusted just above his eyes. The Murrays started toward the food court as Anders disappeared into the building, undetected.

As the others approached the door, Hahn and Jenson escorted Mr. Washington out of the car and started their walk to the men’s room.

Murray was a bit concerned about his expense on this “all expense paid” weekend in Philly. Though Hahn paid for the Armani, Jack had already put several hundred dollars on his credit card for Mr. Washington’s clothes. Now, he, Dottie, and Todd had offered to buy lunch for this group of strangers. Murray wasn’t cheap but he was no currency trader or famous talk show host. He was a high school teacher and Dottie was a stay-at-home mom who loved to spend money on entertaining friends.

He didn’t say anything to Dottie, especially in front of Todd, but Jack started to feel like a fool as if these guys were taking advantage of him. Intellectually, he thought he knew better but he was not sure of anything anymore.

As they returned to the cars with hamburgers, fries, coffee and cokes, Jack saw the excitement in Dottie’s eyes. Ironically, she was having a great time. She seemed comfortable in the situation, gregariously talking with Tim and George as if they were neighbors. But that was always her way. Her cheery disposition was sometimes mistaken for flirtation. Even Todd felt important, having been part of the discussion himself.

Murray thought to himself that it was he who was having the reservations. To avoid conflict, he kept quiet, jumped back in the van with the food and waited for the others to return.

Mr. Washington’s gait fell in line with the other two men as they found themselves breezing past strangers as they entered the restroom. Still in disguise, Anders drew a few stares from the men in the bathroom as he waved his colleagues to the far stall. Jenson mentioned under his breath that it was a good thing Josh had chosen a handicapped stall. Jenson and Mr. Washington entered the oversized stall as Hahn stood guard at the urinal closest to the stall door. Anders turned to the two men in an uncomfortably close proximity and asked a question that he never imagined he would be asking twenty four hours earlier.

“Ok George, you can stand here or sit down. Depends on what you need to do.”

“I will stand.”

“Thank God,” replied Jenson.

“Just one question, gentlemen.”

“Yes?” answered Anders, warily.

“Where does it all go?”

Unable to contain himself with the madness of the situation, Anders replied, “I think General, it may go to Washington DC.”

“I see. Just as I feared.”

Jenson could not help but laugh to himself at the absurd exchange taking place between Anders and Mr. Washington. He and Anders looked at each other as if to ask what they were doing here. Jenson whispered that he had not been in a stall with another man since he was four, reiterating that the whole scene was too weird for him. So, he exited the stall with Anders in tow. Both men needed to take care of business themselves and were confident that the first president could handle the rest himself.

Fortunately, Mr. Washington completed his business as a proper eighteenth century gentleman would. He exited the stall and Anders lead him to the sink to wash his hands.

Mr. Washington and his men were pleased at the sight of the late lunch as they got back to the cars. They reached for the burgers as Mrs. Murray waited on the first president.

Mr. Washington climbed into one of the captain’s chairs in the back of the van, keeping his promise to spend time with all, even if the last leg of the trip would last only another thirty minutes. He quickly got the hang of eating without proper silverware and even savored the newly found finger food. Much to Jack’s amusement, he promptly downed the burgers and fries. Mr. Washington did not have a taste for the soda but thoroughly enjoyed the steaming hot black coffee that Murray suggested they buy.

Keaton gave a wave to his counterpart in the limousine, and both vehicles turned out of the parking lot to finish the last thirty miles of their trip.

Even though connected by internet through the Skype satellite connection, the occupants of both vehicles were unusually quiet, as if they had exhausted all of their energy during the three hour historical synopsis. After fifteen minutes, Mr. Washington, taking another sip of his coffee, broke the silence.

“Please forgive my self-absorption and selfishness, but I never asked you about yourselves. I would ask that you tell me a little about your backgrounds and who you are, including the Murray family. I have an idea of the makeup of each of you but I would like to hear from you, in your own words. You individuals have been so generous with your valuable time, fine people who have welcomed me into their homes and automobiles. Mr. Jenson, why don’t you begin?”

Jenson was humbled as Mr. Washington listened intently to him describe his upbringing which, like Mr. Washington, took place in rural Virginia. He began his account in Albemarle County, a pastoral area in which young Tim lived in a fantasy world of books and daydreams. He portrayed a community where friends, neighbors, and family provided a great support network and encouraged a young boy to chase his dreams. He was about to continue when interrupted by a loud shriek.

“There it is. There’s the Washington Monument!” Todd Murray’s outburst resulted in attention being directed away from Jenson and toward the right side of the car. All eyes in both the van and limousine were now affixed upward in a southwest direction. Jack Murray managed a smile and glanced at Mr. Washington. “Fitting, wouldn’t you say, Mr. President?”

Mr. Washington looked in his direction and responded with a nod and a wide grin.