2010-08-18: Whistle Stop



Guest Starring:

Dennis and Tipper Crane

Date: August 18, 2010


Toot! Toot!

"Whistle Stop"

Mama's Pizza

t's not an upscale restaurant but everyone who knows Dennis Crane knows that he is a Man of the People. It's Mama's Pizza on the corner of 5th and Lexington, a popular spot for all the utility, construction workers, policemen, and those just in a hurry to stop and grab a slice. If there's people, there's Denny, handing out booster pins, shaking hands, kissing ugly babies, anything to get the vote.

"Remember folks, get aboard that Crane Train!" He smiles, his sparkling smile is a winner with all the ladies, especially his number one woman, Tipper. Always by his side, he waves toward the cameras calling them over for the perfect photo op. Happy family, the Cranes. Wrapping his arm around her waist, Denny plants a kiss directly on the cheek of his lady love.

Just as the flashes begin, a few children (maybe they were paid to be there, maybe they weren't) call out "Toot toot!" and pump their arms in the air. It's the campaign slogan and it's a winner!

A girlish giggle escapes Tipper's lips as she's issued the kiss on the cheek as she leans into her husband. "That's right, kids! Toot! Toot!" she pumps her arm in the air, pulling that fake train whistle with her ever-present smile — a beauty pageant smile, former Miss Texas.

A lock of blonde hair is tucked behind her ear as she draws a single hand to her chest and over her heart. "Remember, dear people we care about you," her words drip with that Southern drawl she's so known for as she takes a step away from her husband. "We just want you to remember that we're here to listen to you — that's what the Crane-train is all about."

"A vote for Crane is a vote for integrity. Remember Denny's opponent was with that drug addict prostitute we always see on the tube? Well, I guarantee all of you I've never use a drug a day in my life. Not even Percocet! I'm naturally perky~"

One reporter on the scene isn't there to cover the story- she's Charla Keble, and politics isn't her department. She's finished her work for the day and is accompanying one of her colleagues as she covers the campaign, and maybe getting a bit to eat afterwards. Honestly, Charla's never been that interested in politics, though she usually pays some attention when politicians discuss businesses, since Will and Jo Keble own a furniture store. She watches from the side, thinking this is a bit ridiculous. So much mudslinging…

"And if the election were between you and her—" another all-too-familiar voice cuts in, not missing a beat. The implied but it isn't is left unspoken, but a fair number of onlookers quickly catch on, judging from the low murmur that follows in its wake.

George hadn't expected today's lunch trip to be a big deal - just a chance to touch base with some FDNY supporters - but surprises are nothing new for him. "Get me a slice of pepperoni? I need to catch up with an old friend— Hi, Tipper!" Yes, her. "Haven't had a chance to catch up since Michelle's last game, I think it was. Dennis, good to see you, of course," he adds, offering his rival a cordial handshake.

Of course Dennis takes the opportunity to be the big man and grasps George hand the very second it's offered. He also puts an arm around his shoulders in a sideways manhug while smiling for the cameras. Poor George, he was a little too surprised to look pleased for the photos. Right after the flashes stop, Dennis lets go and places his fists on his hips like a superhero. "Congressman George Dawson! Well it's certainly an honor and a pleasure to see you here!"

Dennis is a little too perky, much like his wife. If the two weren't so well known as anti-everything-bad-for-you you'd guess they were snorting lines of coke off the same toilet tank as George's ex-girlfriend! "What are you doing in this part of town George ol' boy? I thought you were down in D.C. working on tax reforms!" Then as a side to all the reporters, Dennis leans and says in a much more subdued tone, "Remember, Dennis Crane is all about lower taxes. Keep the money in the pockets of the people!"

"My, my, my Congressman, look at you all fancy~" Tipper sings with that happy tone she's so known for — in fact, if this was a Disney cartoon little coloured birds would be flying all around her helping her finish various chores around the pizza house. "And how is Michelle?" Her smile brightens even further at the mention of George's sister, two very prominent dimples crater into her cheeks.

A side glance is given to Dennis before a reporter raises her hand to get the former beauty queen's attention, "Mrs. Crane! Rebecca Schmidt from E-talk daily — " her tone is bright until she adds under her breath, " — online. Our readers are tweeting and would like to know who you're wearing today!"

"Oh!" Tipper's nose wrinkles as she waves a single hand as if to say it's nothing. "Oh that tweeting! It's ingenious! Such an easy way to stay in touch with other people! Well it's an Oscar de la Renta skirt suit! None too fancy for an afternoon out with my favourite fella." She giggles again, always aiming to win for the cameras. "Denny dear, can we get on the Twitter? We could tweet about that protest at the clinic…"

Well, that was certainly a turnaround in their way of talking. Charla supposes that's the sort of thing you have to be able to do when you're in politics. Hmm, perhaps they need more shapeshifters, she thinks with a grin to herself. She's reminded by the talk that she'd probably rather be at home checking her e-mail than here. Of course, a lot of annoying people seem interested in what *she* wears… so there's not much difference really.

She reaches in her purse for a small book of Sudoku puzzles and a pencil and gets to work on one of the tougher ones while she waits for this… thing to be over.

"Oh, she's fine —" George starts, but the personal catch-up will have to wait till later; Tipper's been shanghaied by the fashion fluff beat, while George still has that jibe from Dennis to answer. "That was last week, actually, we should be rolling out a new proposal in time for Labor Day." Let him try for his talking points all he wants — it's been one of George's since the last election, distancing himself from the throw-money-at-the-problem stereotype.

The fire crew returns at that point, most of them taking the opportunity to mug for the cameras, though one older guy in cargo shorts is more worried about collecting everyone's money (including George's) to cover the lunch tab. And some more reporters are moving in, lobbing their best fastballs. "Where do you stand on the mosque near ground zero?" "Oh, c'mon, Steve, that's a boondoggle and you know it— what about the weather damage in Pakistan?" Answers are lobbed back just about as quickly, from both sides. And George tries to get a little ahead of the wave, even: "The one in the back?" he calls out, pointing toward Charla. "Didn't you have something a minute ago?" He's seen her as part of a press team before, her crew must have gotten separated in the bustle is all.

Buh? "Oh… um…" Charla looks up from her puzzle. She supposes she'd have to weigh in on this, since she was asked after all… Some sort of an entertainment perspective… Hm. "What would you say is the best movie you've seen recently?" She shrugs. Not much relevance to politics, but sometimes you can get someone's measure by their taste in movies… At least, someone said that to her once. Besides, she doesn't want to ask anything that her coworker might have wanted to ask. Professional courtesy and all that.

"Of course we can!" The up and comer grins to the former beauty queen. Turning toward the press again, Crane lifts up a jPhone and presses a few buttons in full view of the cameras (his screen image is a lovely picture of his wife in a pretty pink outfit). "What is it that they do on Twitter, the follow me game? Well I'd like to invite everyone to get on board the Crane Train and let's ride the Twitter rails!"

While George is answering the questions thrown at him by the press, Dennis is actually taking the time to reach into his pocket and pull out enough bills (plus generous tip) to cover the lunch of the politico and his FDNY lunch partners. Again, there's a few flashes before one of the reporters shoves a microphone into his face. "Mister Crane! What do you think is going on with the empty Senate seat? Do you really think the position is cursed?"

Laughing, Denny pushes the microphone away just a little and shakes his head. "No, what's your name— ? Artie? Well Artie, I don't think it's cursed, I think politics is a rough game and sometimes bad things happen to good people. It's a tough job being a senator… And a congressman." He tips a nod toward George before adding, "Sometimes people just make bad choices and go down the wrong road. There's a lot of things that you and I could do that spells suicide in politics."

"My favourite movie?" Tipper asks — even if Charla isn't speaking to her, the former beauty queen will answer this question, it's one that she can field easily. "Why the Little Mermaid of course! But the one by Disney only. In the others it gets very sad." Her smile fades just a tinge at the notion of other versions of the Little Mermaid.

She turns to George and then back to Denny. "And this is why… America needs to band together and pray for our leaders. It's really important that we do. It's such a hard job. Isn't it Geor— Congressman?"

"I haven't had a chance to see Scott Pilgrim yet," George adds, nodding t o Charla, "but I hear good things." Sure, it's not one of the big issues, but they can always use the variety; it's a public relations stunt, not a college class.

Returning his attention to Tipp— Mrs. Crane, he inclines his head. "Prayers, good thoughts, what have you. Certainly couldn't hurt. But don't sell yourself short, it's not exactly easy for their families either."

As it happens, The Little Mermaid is Charla's favorite childhood movie- in her former life as Emmitt she'd been somewhat ashamed of it but is now a bit more open with this fact. He doesn't know what the original Charla's favorite movie as a child was but it must have been something similar. "Oh, I love that movie," Charla says in reply to Tipper with a smile. Then George answers. "Ooh, going for the youth vote I see," she comments. She scribbles some things jokingly in her Sudoku book. Mr. Crane apparently didn't feel like answering that question, which is fine with Charla as she's not here in official capacity really.

"Dennis? Tipper?" the man's aid gets their attention, "We have a speech across town in less than an hour, you really need to call it and head out for now."

"Well landsakes, you should've said so earlier, Jimmy!" Tipper's eyes sparkle brightly as Dennis helps her out of her seat with a gentle raise of his hand. She grins brightly for the cameras one last time, issuing them a waggle of fingers signalling she's heading out.

And while Dennis exits relatively quickly, she lingers a moment to turn towards George Dawson. "Ge-Congressman? We should really lunch sometime. Even if we are on different campaign trails, I'd like to catch up." Her smile turns dimpled as she blows the remaining individuals a kiss and then another pump in the air.

"Toot! Toot!"

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