Chapter 5

Ferris continued down the hall to his bedroom and gently pushed open the door. The room was dark and full of shadows, masking the simple oak furniture in a grotesque half-light. The walls, pale blue in color, stared blankly back at him. Separate dressers stood opposite each other, paired with distinctly separate ends of the sliding-door wall closet. The only touches of personalization in the room were framed photographs of the children, which perched atop the dressers in a scattered, homey way. The white bed sitting with its headboard against the far wall was already unmade, and Sloane's prone form was visible from underneath the sheets on her side.

Ferris slowly set Patty's model horses down on his dresser top and closed the bedroom door. The only light visible in the room was a soft, light blue glow that emanated from the curtained windows. He gazed at Sloane for a second, then walked over and climbed in on his side. As he got himself situated, he pulled nearly all the sheets over on his side. Ferris was a blanket hog. It was one of his many habits that Sloane absolutely hated. Sure enough, not two seconds went by before she was angrily jerking them back over on her side.

"I had a feeling you weren't asleep yet." Ferris grinned.

"How can I sleep?" She murmured in reply.

He rolled over and gently touched her shoulder. "I thought you'd be tired after a day like this."

"I am tired." She closed her eyes, sighing deeply. "So very, very tired…"

Ferris frowned when he saw the fleeting traces of a scowl cross her once pretty countenance. He tentatively reached out and smoothed her hair. "Darling, what's wrong?"

"Everything." She turned her head toward the window to avoid her husband's gaze. Her thin shoulders, clothed in one of Ferris's t-shirts, shuddered unsteadily before becoming set once more.

A minute passed. The ticking of the wall clock and the gentle sound of rain pattering on the roof were the only sounds to break up the silence. Finally, Sloane spoke. "You remember our honeymoon?"

Ferris sighed happily and smiled. He folded his arms behind his head and stared up at the ceiling. "It was the spring of '87. You were four weeks away from graduating and I was home on spring break from Chicago State. After the wedding, we hitchhiked our way west until we ended up in a remote trucker's diner in the middle of Kansas. We stayed the night there, just you and me, in our own special little corner…"

"The barman thought I was a call girl," Sloane murmured, smiling.

"We got to Abilene and spent the whole day in the Eisenhower Library…" Ferris slowly let his voice trail off, full of emotion.

"I never thought someplace like that could be so much fun." Sloane shook her head. "That poor family we got to take our picture in front of his statue…they must have thought we were crazy."

"We certainly looked like we were." Ferris laughed. "Thank God we found that Beerman's on the edge of town. We were able to get clean again."

"And we got all gussied up for that charity bazaar the governor was hosting on the top floor of the big hotel. We snuck in through the fire escape in the back. We ate so much paté that the governor was giving us funny looks."

Ferris shrugged. "Hey, at least we did it stylishly. Remember how I won the five hundred dollars in the raffle?"

"You snuck your name in the hat when no one was looking. I couldn't believe it when it was actually drawn!"

"Just lucky, I guess. And you know what I did with it?"

"You bought two first-class air tickets and two gate admissions to Sea World." Sloane's eyes misted over as she stared out the window at the darkening clouds. "The most amazing part of the whole trip was actually getting to swim with Shamu in front of a live audience." She glanced over her shoulder at Ferris. "I'll never know how you managed to get those wet suits and sneak us past security."

"Then we walked to the closest rest stop and got on a bus to get home." Ferris smiled. "We just happened to pick a bus that was carrying a touring Baptist church choir. We got up on the seats and stomped and clapped with them all the way back to Chicago."

"I sang hymns till I was hoarse." Sloane smiled. "When we got back, I told you I never wanted to hear another piece of Gospel music again."

"Yeah." Ferris chuckled. "It was pretty cool, wasn't it?"

"That's the way I thought our life was going to be," Sloane murmured, close to tears. "All the way...all the way up until I found out I was pregnant the morning of graduation."

She got up out of bed and padded over to the window, hugging herself tightly. Ferris's t-shirt, too large for her misshapen torso, sagged and billowed out around it. "It's 1995. Now look where we are." She covered her face with one of her hands and softly began to cry, leaning her forehead against the window pane.

Ferris shrugged, thinking over their situation. "We just made the last mortgage payment on the house. We've got a car that's held up well, considering it's got 67,000 miles on it. We have a color TV set that gets 12 different channels. The neighbors are decent, and our folks live close by. We've got five terrific kids." He shook his head. "Junior worries me, though. Patty used to, but not anymore. She's strange but she's smart, she's really smart. You've been the perfect mother, staying home to raise them, cooking the meals, keeping the house clean..." he sighed bleakly, his eyes tracing an invisible pattern on the ceiling. "And I'm something called an insurance adjustor."

"Oh, Ferris," she gasped, dabbing at her blotchy red eyes. "How did we ever become so ordinary?"

"Hey..." Ferris slowly got up and walked over to Sloane. He stood behind her, resting his hands lightly on her arms.

She quickly turned and wriggled out of his grasp. "No!" She stormed back over to the bed and crawled in on her side.

Ferris followed her helplessly, for once at a loss as to what to say. He knelt down beside her head and opened his mouth, but she turned away from him. He sighed heavily and got back in bed on his side.

He lay there for a while, quietly mulling things over in his mind. "I haven't thought about it much, Sloane," he finally murmured, "I've just...done the best I could to...I guess I sort of forgot about myself...and all this time, life's been passing me by...and I haven't really gotten to...sit down and enjoy it." He grimaced suddenly and sucked in a sharp breath through his teeth. "I'm twenty-seven...thirty will be knocking on my door before I know it...then I'll be an old man..."

"It isn't so bad for me," Sloane ventured tremulously, her head still turned away from Ferris. She reached up and brushed away her gently flowing tears. "I have the kids. I've lost everything else, but at least I've got the kids. What about you? What have you got?"

Ferris shrugged. "Job that pays forty thousand a year..."

"A job that takes all your time, a job that makes you worry about climbing the corporate ladder because the money doesn't stretch far enough, a job that's taking all the fun out of you, a job that'll have you wasting what's left of your life on appraising equities in life insurance policies!"

Ferris slowly turned toward her, a woeful expression on his face. "You're not happy, are you?"

She furiously shook her head, still facing the window.

"You want a divorce?"

She tugged more of the sheets on her side and pulled them around her, ignoring the question.

He turned back on his side and stared bleakly at the wall. After thinking for a few minutes, he said aloud, "You could have had the best man in town..."

"You were the best man in town."

"Not anymore, though." He closed his eyes wearily, a deep sense of failure overtaking him. "You know, I've been thinking about leaving the firm for some time..."

Sloane sat up in surprise. "You have?"

He nodded. "Yeah. Been thinking about going into politics."

Sloane stared at him for a second, then laughed and shook her head in disbelief. "Ferris, you can't seriously think you could run for mayor..."

"Who said anything about running for mayor? I was talking about the House of Representatives."

"The House! In Washington?" Sloane's eyes widened incredulously.

He shrugged. "Sure. It's the first step to putting one foot in the White House."

Sloane felt the wind rush out of her in astonishment. For a second, she couldn't breathe. Slowly, she reached out and touched his arm. When he turned over and smiled up at her, she slowly began shaking her head. "You're really serious about this, aren't you?"

He laughed and nodded.

"Ferris Bueller, what makes you think you could ever be President of the United States?"

"Well, why not? I'd do as well as anybody. And it's not like it'd be the first time an Illinois statesman is elected President." He nodded toward a penny sitting face up on the nightstand.

"You were very popular with everyone you met once, I'll grant you that." Sloane lay back down, but remained facing him.

"What are you talking about? I still am! Meadowbrook wouldn't have the business it does today if my face weren't on the ads they have plastered on every billboard and city bus downtown!"

Sloane smiled. "Excuse me, Mr. Claims You Can Count On."

"Never mind," he mumbled. "You can go ahead and laugh at me now. But I've got it all worked out."

"Who said I was laughing?" She shook her head, letting her hair fall around her face, and gave him a coy look.

He raised a finger at her. "Now, I'm serious. An attitude like that won't get me a county seat, let alone President."

"Chill out, Ferris. I'm going to vote for you." She nestled her head against his and stared up at the ceiling, trying to find the spot her husband was staring so intensely at. "What party would you be? Republican or Democrat?"

"Neither. I'd start my own party."

"What?"

"Yeah, my own party. The cool party. The Ferris Bueller party."

"Ferris...no third party candidate has ever been President."

"No third party candidate has had my widespread appeal. And like I told you, I've got it all worked out...you know how many electoral votes it takes to become President?"

"Too many for you to win."

"It's 270. 270 out of 538 electoral votes. Usually, when the race is between two guys, it's not so hard for one of them to get that majority. But what if an extremely popular third candidate throws his hat in the ring? When it all works out the way I see it, nobody will have 270 votes. See, that's the point; I'm there to make sure nobody gets the magic number. So then the election is taken to the body that votes in the event that the electoral college is deadlocked." He raised his eyebrows at her, grinning.

"The House of Representatives," Sloane breathed in awe.

"See? I told you. I got it all worked out." Ferris folded his arms behind his head and turned to look back up at the ceiling. "That's why I've got to go to the House first. Besides, I'm already old enough to be a Rep."

"Who's going to be your campaign manager?"

Ferris shrugged. "Cameron could. He went to some trade school in D.C., didn't he?"

"I thought he went into real estate. Somebody at school said he was training to be an agent." Sloane laughed, remembering their awkward high school friend. "Where is he now, anyway?"

"West Virginia, I think. To be close to his mother-in-law." Ferris was silent for a minute, mulling it all over. "The FBI headquarters are in West Virginia," he murmured absently. Half a second passed. Suddenly, he realized the implication of what he'd just said. His eyes widened incredulously. "Do you think...?"

They turned to look at each other, shocked expressions on their faces. Then they smiled and shook their heads. "Nah."

"You'll love the campaign trail, Sloane." Ferris turned so he was on his back once more. "We'll be traveling the country, getting treated like VIPs. We'd go to all sorts of parties and events, standing up on stages and getting to meet all sorts of people..."

"But Ferris," Sloane frowned. "If politics mean that we'll have to go out and make appearances everywhere...what will the kids do?"

"Jeannie could watch hasn't been a time yet when I couldn't get her to sit with the kids when I needed her."

"Oh," she said softly, her hopes dashed. She tried to contain her apprehensions for another minute before they suddenly burst forth. "Ferris, I don't know if I can do it. I...I couldn't just stand up in front of people everywhere, and pose for pictures and smile and wave like...like I'm happily married."

He looked over at her, his face expressionless. "Aren't you happily married?"

She stammered helplessly. "I...I don't...I guess...it depends on whether you love me or not...do you love me?"

"Of course," he replied automatically. "Do you love me?"

She paused. "Sure," she finally replied evenly, her eyes trained on the pinstripes running down her pillow.

"Well...now that that's settled...I guess we'll be okay, then."

Sloane looked up to see him smiling. It was the boyish smile he wore whenever he knew things were going according to his plan. She laughed and shook her head. "You mean, now that that's settled, we're ready to actually go through with this...President...thing."

"Hey, we've got to be ready for 2004." He reached out and laid a hand on her shoulder. "You won't regret this, Sloane. This is going to be the greatest adventure of our lives. We'll have more fun than you've ever imagined. It'll be just like it used to be, only we'll have the kids with us this time."

Sloane laughed. "Can you imagine our kids in the White House?"

He grinned. "Yeah. Emily will love it. I can see Cam playing soccer right out on the lawn. We'd finally have the space to give Patty her own horse. Paper and plastic ones are only going to keep her happy so long before she wants the real thing, anyway."

"There's so many people, places and events wrapped up in a place like Washington." Sloane smiled widely. "Oh, Ferris, it'll be wonderful!"

"When I'm old enough. That means you're going to have to hold out another eight years." Ferris held out his hand, smiling tentatively. "So, will you wait for me?"

She stared at the hand for a moment, a sly smile spreading across her face. "I can do better than that."

She clutched the collar of his t-shirt and bridged the gap between them, placing her mouth on his. Ferris put his arms around her and gently began kissing her back. He slowly let it grow deeper, giving more only when she asked for it. When they finally did pull away, Ferris gazed down at her and found her face perfectly radiant, almost as if she was still in the bloom of her youth. He reached up to lay his hand against her cheek. "I've missed you, Sloane."

She shook her head, her eyes misting up as she gazed at him. The light had returned to Ferris's eyes. He looked more like the man she had married instead of the tired, broken-down businessman she'd been living with. She threw her arms around him, pressing herself close. "Oh, Ferris! You're back! You're back!"

"We'll start going after that House seat first thing tomorrow morning. I'm going to need you to help me." He looked down and kissed the top of her head. "Good night, darling."

She closed her eyes and nestled deeper against him, smiling. "Good night, Mr. President."