Latoya Unger called former mayor Marvin Haye at 5:45 am, because the kitchen faucet wouldn’t turn off, the drain was clogged, and she was afraid of flooding the house.
Marvin sighed. She hadn’t disturbed his sleep; he’d been restless and was standing at the door to his bedroom closet, separating his shirts into two piles.
“When can you come over?” Latoya asked.
“Even if it were a civic issue,” Marvin said, “I’m no longer mayor.”
“And if I was calling as a friend?”
“Who did you vote for, Miss Unger?”
There was pause enough for Marvin to realize Latoya Unger was probably blushing in some small demonstration of shame. “I’ll call Bill,” he told her, and quietly hung up the phone.
He checked his Rolodex for Bill’s Plumbing, Heating, Jams and Jellies. William Blatt, besides being a town counsellor and plumber, had a small orchard on his property and liked to make preserves.
“Pipes or jelly!” Bill answered cheerfully. “Sweet or savoury!”
“Latoya Unger’s pipes again, Bill, could you go over as soon as you can?”
“Oh damn, can’t you go?”
“I’m not mayor,” said Marvin.
“Of course you are,” said Bill. “It’s just a joke.”
“It’s not funny,” said Marvin. “It wasn’t funny when everyone made fun of my combover, either.”
“But you stopped doing it!”
Marvin ran his palm over his neatly trimmed pate. “And it wasn’t funny when everyone made fun of me for wearing a belt and suspenders,” he said.
“Well you don’t need both,” said Bill.
“It wasn’t funny when everyone made fun of my Rolodex.”
“Where did you even find that?”
“And it wasn’t funny when everyone made fun of me for wearing a Hawaiian shirt on a Tuesday.”
“It wasn’t the Tuesday,” said Bill. “It was the shirt.”
Marvin was staring at the shirt now, wondering which pile to put it in. It was turquoise with a pattern of streaming green seaweed. On the pockets were female figures presumably dancing the hula, and there was actual fabric fringe from their grass skirts. He’d paid over forty dollars for it, second hand.
Its original owner had been reluctant to part with it, and Marvin suspected a wife had laid down the law. Marvin’s wife was gone, and the shirt had spoken to him just as it had with its doe-eyed owner. But now the magic was gone. He cradled the telephone receiver between his neck and shoulder, took the shirt off its hanger, folded it carefully, and placed it in the Goodwill pile.
“I’m leaving,” said Marvin. “Packing up and going to Richmond to stay with my daughter.”
“You have work to do as mayor!” said Bill.
“I’m not mayor,” said Marvin again. “I did not get the majority of votes. I was there for the final tally last night. Congratulations on your reelection to council, by the way. I guess the people have spoken. They chose a mixed breed dog to be mayor of Bartlett instead of the incumbent. Hope you enjoy it.”
“For heaven’s sake, Marvin, where’s your sense of humour?”
Marvin was looking at a raspberry red golf shirt emblazoned with the crest of Foothill Golf Center Mayors’ Tournament. Sacramento, California had hosted a conference for mayors which Marvin had attended at town expense, and where he’d played in a foursome with the mayors of Billings, Montana, Hanover, Michigan, and Red Deer, Alberta. He also learned quite a bit about private police forces, universal wi-fi pros and cons, and how to tax environment-negative businesses. He still called and chatted with the mayor of Red Deer, who’d been so sympathetic when Helen died.
He folded the shirt carefully and put it in the “keep” pile.
“Can you drop off some of your sweet pepper-plum jelly? My daughter loves it,” said Marvin. “Because I’m going to Richmond, Latoya Unger has a clogged pipe, I’m not mayor, Gloria is your mayor, I hope everyone had a good laugh, and I’m wearing a belt and suspenders at the same time, right now.”
He hung up the phone ever so quietly, and finished sorting and packing. He was not wearing both a belt and suspenders. That was a joke.
—>Gloria, a story by Fluffy Pool.