[If you have not already done so, you must
read the Introduction
001 002 Prologue 001-002 003 004 005 Chap 1 003-005
Chap 2 006 007 008 Chap 3 007-008 009 010 Chap 4 009-010 011 012 013 Chap 5 011-013 014 015 016 017
Chap 6 014-017 018 019 Chap 7 018-019 020 021 022 023 Chap 8 020-023 024 025 026 027 Chapter 9 024-027 028 029 030 031 Chapter 10 028-031 032 033 034 035 036 037
Revenge Should Have No Bounds 038
Chapter 11 (7 of 10): The Mayor
“Pantucci is the best. Believe me. I’ve worked with him before. They guy knows what he’s doing, and for the money you’re paying him it’s suicide not to listen to what his numbers say. Actually, except for the Rae thing, you’re polling exceptionally high. It helps of course that you’re an unopposed incumbent, but we should be grateful nonetheless. My spies tell me the other party will run a take-no-prisoners campaign. But numbers like Pantucci’s have a way of becoming self-fulfilling prophecies: just the perception you’re a winner translates that way in the minds of the voters, and everybody wants to vote for a winner. The polls are like the oracles of Zeus.”
Roy smiled. “You know, Bob, I took one of those freshman civ courses right here at this university God knows how many years ago, and I remember this old codger in the Classics department droning on in a lecture about oracles in the ancient world. Yeah, they gave the right answers, but people often misinterpreted them because they heard only what they wanted to hear. I’ve never forgotten an example that professor gave: The oracle told this Cronus, the king of Lydia, that if he attacked the Persians he would destroy a great empire. Great, thought Cronus, let’s go for it. Too bad he misread the oracle, because the empire he destroyed was his own. He heard it his way, if you see what I mean.” He waved a fork gently at Bob.
“I see what you mean, my friend. I’ve heard the story before. And for the record, it was Croesus who went to oracle, not Cronus. Cronus was the schmuck who got the shit kicked out of him. By his own kid, if you can believe it.”
“Yeah, whatever,” Roy said with resentful irritation. Bob’s foraging mind with its vice-like grip on facts sometimes frightened him. “Cronus, Croesus. Who gives a flying fuck, Bob? It’s the god-damn point that counts.” He shook his head. “Jeeezus!”
“Right, Roy, right,” Bob soothed. “Not a problem!” He busied himself shuffling papers and notes. “Not to worry. No way we’re gonna croesus this baby here. But we have to listen to what Pantucci says, and we have to factor it into our strategy.”
“You’re right. On all counts. My point is simply I don’t want us to be hearing these polls only the way we want to.”
“I’ve got it covered. That’s what you pay me for.”
Rany was uncomfortably silent. He jutted his chin out and tugged nervously at his collar. Bob, sensitive like a hungry shark to nano-drippings of blood in the campaign waters, went for the jugular.
“No secrets from each other, Roy. Remember?”
“I’m just thinking how we could work Rae into the campaign. I mean, there must be something she can do, isn’t there?”
“Absolutely. I’ve been brain-storming with Peggy — you remember her, right, my right hand?”
Rany nodded. “Sure. Peggy.”
“Anyway, all morning we’ve been at it about this. We think Rae’s just the ticket for the over-sixty crowd. They’re important to us. They vote in larger proportion than other groups, so it will help a lot if we start off by having the two of you visit some retirement homes together. You’ll introduce her as your sister. Old people like to see older people making a difference. It will identify her in the eyes of an important demographic and give her a specific rôle – I’m talking metaphor here. Then she can run with it by herself. That way people won’t be worrying about who she is. No more uncertainty.”
The waitress came to take their orders.
“I saw you on TV last night, Mayor,” she said. A thousand-watt smile in a pretty face.
“Thank you,” Roy read her name tag, “Priscilla. We hope it stays that way. Mayor, that is. Are you voting age?”
“Yes, sir,” she beamed. “First time this year.”
“Well, I’ll sure appreciate your vote for me if you can see your way clear to it.”
“I’ve already decided to vote for you, Mr. Rany.”
“What are the other people who work here saying?” Bob inserted.
“They’re all real excited,” Priscilla said. “They think Mr. Rany is the kind of person you can trust in city hall.”
Unlike the clowns there now?
Bob zeroed in on what she was implying and winked at Roy.
“You can put that in the bank, honey” he said.
She laughed. “So what can I get you gentlemen?”
Roy had been doing a quick scan of the menu. “I think I’m going to have …”
“… slice of cantaloupe, dry toast, one poached egg no butter, and black coffee. I’ll have the same.” Bob collected both menus and handed them to the waitress. She looked uncertainly at Rany. He nodded approval.
“Thank you. I’ll be right back with the coffee and fruit.”
“What was all that about?” Roy asked a bit querulously after she had swished off.
“Listen, Roy. This is as good a time as any. Peggy and I also spent time this morning going over the out-takes from the news programs last night and this morning. State and national. The camera is cruel, no doubt about it. We’ve decided you’ve got to lose about ten pounds, and you might as well start today, right now. It’s got to be salads, fish, poached and boiled eggs, fruits, veggies, that kind of thing. Peggy’s working with a dietician putting together a list of no-nos and yes-yeses.”
“Am I that fat?”
“No, you’re not, Roy. You look great sitting here in front of me. But 99% of the people who vote won’t have seen you in person. They’ll know you from TV and news photos. It may not be fair, but you have to look lean on TV. Sure, people will tell you they’re not biased, fat is fine, character counts. The truth in the booth? Fat equals failure, slim equals success. When you run you can’t afford a few extra pounds. Not now. I’m dead serious about this. We’re also starting you on a regular exercise routine, which we’ll do in public as much as possible. Jogging, walking, that kind of thing. Maybe even some skiing,” he said, and then changed course. “Though that could have the potential of putting an elitist spin on you it if it’s overdone. In general, though, people eat up wholesomeness, in particular if they don’t have to come up with it themselves but can observe it in the man they’re thinking of sending back to city hall”
“If you say so,” Roy said sheepishly. He had a pretty good idea what was coming but volunteered nothing.
“Which brings up another thing, Roy,” Bob said with an upbeat smile. The man was in flow now. “I wanted to cover this between the two of us, mano-a-mano, so to speak. No need to involve the rest of the team.” He scraped phantom crumbs off the white damask, hesitated briefly, plunged in. “Last night after the official celebrations were done with? What in the fuck were you up to?”
“I don’t know,” he said honestly. “Did I do anything,” he cleared his throat, “like, crazy or something like that?”
“No, you didn’t. But you sure as Sherlock didn’t act like the person voters want to make their mayor. They would never put up with this shit.”
Rany sighed with relief.
Bob smelled fresh blood pumping into the water and circled.
TO BE CONTINUED