"Tell us a story," says Buddy on a cold February night.
"OK," says Uncle Chet, in the rocker by the wood stove, ready to feed it another log. "I'll tell you a story, something I've been thinking about for weeks."
"Good," the 7-year-old snuggles under a blanket. We're arrayed around the room, warmed by the fire. I stretch out on the couch to listen.
"Well, this a story about a state legislator from Illinois, a lawyer who stands up for ordinary people."
"I know who it is," says Buddy. "Obama."
"He soars into national consciousness on his extraordinary speeches. They come from the heart and a keen mind, connecting actions and consequences in a way no one has before him. When people hear the truth so distilled and so eloquent, it's a revelation, confirming what they've always known inside. It gives them courage."
"Definitely Obama," says the little miscreant, our teenager. "I've seen him on YouTube."
"Word of this spellbinder spreads and crowds gather to see him. He has arrived at a critical time in his country's history. People are thirsting for change, for justice and wisdom in their lives and in their government," says Uncle Chet.
"The nation is divided. Washington is paralyzed, riven by corruption, unwilling to resolve the biggest issues of the day. Our man is persuaded to run for president of the United States, to see if he can unite us," the storyteller says as he rocks slowly and flames dance inside the glass door.
"Now our lawyer, for all his brilliance, is given little chance, at first. He's opposed by a more experienced candidate, a U.S. senator, known throughout the land. The campaign is intense, sometimes ugly. Racism colors much, but is never debated by that name. Of course, the power structure backs the conventional candidate, but people are pining to turn a new page in our history. They sense we're at the edge and need a real leader.