lj idol season nine | week 14 | 773 words
Confession From The Chair
You might think being a small-town mayor is an easy job, but let me tell you, there's no end of aggravation. It isn't all ribbon-cutting and pie-judging and kissing babies. There's also paperwork, campaigning for re-election, and City Council meetings.
God, those damned meetings.
Maybe the town just isn't small enough. I'll bet those puny little one-stoplight places let the mayor run everything, without having to listen to the same old gripes from the same old people. Those mayors can probably make laws on their own, instead of having to put things up for committee vote.
Being the mayor, I'm also chairman of the City Council. Every second and fourth Tuesday, we meet up in the council hall and see what's what. Most times, one of the "whats" is Edgar Probart. Eddie is what you'd call a gun nut, one of those survivalist types. Half the time, he thinks he's a valued companion to law enforcement, and the other half he's plumb certain the town police and all their friends in black helicopters are coming to take away his property. Eddie likes to go on about the 'gummint' and secret Presidential plots, and having to listen to that crap really wears a guy down. Citizens are given five minutes to speak at the council meetings, and they get their five minutes—no matter how crazy they are or how many times you've heard their particular rant.
If it was just me, in my own office? I would lock the door whenever Eddie came around, and not have to suffer through his paranoid imaginings. But we have the council and our by-laws, so we're stuck with him, one Tuesday night after another.
Eddie isn't our only regular visitor. Pamela Horvath's on a mission to reshape the town's image, and she trots out her preposterous ideas at least once a month. Last meeting, she had a notion to add fake paneling and flowerboxes onto everything, to make it look like an old English village. Aside from the cost and effort involved… we're in Arizona, for crying out loud! Another time, it was costumed cactus mascots to greet visitors in the historic part of downtown. Then she wanted the police decked out in cowboy hats and sixguns, because apparently nothing says 'modern thinking' like being stuck in the wrong century.
Edna Marsh just wants to ban half the books in the library.
Most of the council members themselves aren't too bad. Missy Hines is our resident hippie, and can talk your ear off about crystals and aligning energy. Tillie Higbottom is the Sheriff's Department secretary, and Bill Latrell owns a couple of local businesses. Thomas Wattle ranches cattle, and things have been sort of awkward since he ran against me in the last election. Still, it could be worse.
It's Tuesday night again now, and it's almost six o'clock. I don’t want to be late, so I turn the store over to Delwin (being the Mayor doesn't pay you enough to live on. I don't suppose it ever will). The council hall is just across the street, and Bill and Tillie and Missy are already there when I come through the door.
"How's everyone this evening?" I ask. "D'you suppose this'll be a quick one?"
Bill laughs like some kind of maniac, and Tillie just rolls her eyes and wanders away. I look at Missy to see if she has something useful to say.
"Nancy Zahn thinks the town's name has negative connotations, and she's drawn up a proposal to change it."
"'Buzzard Flat' is negative? No, really?" I snort. This is just par for the course. "She does realize it's a historic name, doesn't she?"
"Yes, but she says she doesn't care."
My stomach growls. Dinner won't be coming anytime soon. Pamela arrives with a set of display boards (some new harebrained scheme, I'll bet on it), and Eddie's over in the corner wearing camouflage and mumbling over a stack of papers that probably constitutes his latest manifesto.
It isn't a dull job, I'll say that for it. But there are times I think retirement sounds pretty damned good.
Maybe I'll hang up my hat the next time around, or just let Tom win the election. There'd be a certain satisfaction in that, with him thinking he'd won some big prize or other. Days like this, it'd be a whole lot closer to eating a grenade.
But if I'm being honest with myself, along about the middle of next week I'll be thinking that this is a good town with good people, and somehow the whole crazy mess is worth it. Eventually, I always do.
(This week's voting is for fellow contestants only)...