Monday, November 19, 2012
And what the eff was all that scat in his office?
“Ignore the papers,” Paul said in response to the sight of the roomy room’s tornadoesque appearance. “Ex-Mayor Link blew through here pretty extensively before we were able to stop him. We confiscated most of it back. Plus I’m the one who backed up all the computer files. I think you’ll find everything in order.”
Gil looked around. “What’s with all the baskets?”
Paul shrugged. “Outpourings of good will from an adoring public?”
“My ass,” Gil growled. Along with scattered papers and open file drawers, the room was packed with wicker baskets, bowls and boxes, all overflowing with nuts. Salted, unsalted, dry roasted, honey roasted, in the shell, out of the shell, double-dipped in chocolate. Walnuts dominated, followed by peanuts and almonds and cashews and moving down from there to the more exotic varieties.
Gil sidled into the room. “Doesn’t this count as bribery?” he said. “Undue influence or something?”
“It would if any of the doners had identified themselves. Pretty much all the baskets came without cards. The people just like you. Accept it, Mr. Mayor.”
“It smells like bananas in here.”
“Your predecessor had different tastes. We’ll have a cleaning crew go over the place.” In the meantime, Paul threw open a window to admit a crisp November breeze.
Gil shivered, not from the cold. This was all happening too fast.
He sat behind the huge mahogany desk. It was bigger than his kitchen table. The matching chair swallowed him up. It would have fit Louie so much better. He’d had the sense to keep his name off that stupid poll at Rattigan’s. Briefly, Gil wondered what would have happened if the town really had elected Justin Bieber.
“What am I supposed to do?” he said to the desk.
“Run Talbot’s Peak,” Paul answered. “It’s an easy job. Leave people alone and don’t raise taxes. Wave at parades. Oh, and you’re now in charge of the police department. You can outlaw squirrel-chasing by the local canines. Hey, does you being mayor mean they can finally stop showing Planet of the Apes over at the Astoria?”
Gil opened a desk drawer and pulled out a shriveled, spotted banana peel. He dumped it into the waste basket beside the desk and wiped his fingertips on his pants.
“What do you do around here?” he asked Paul suddenly. Suspiciously.
“I keep the wheels greased for you so everything runs smoothly.”
“I’ll just bet. You’re a rat shifter, aren’t you?”
Paul looked cagey. “I prefer to keep those matters private.”
“I’ll bet you keep a lot of stuff private. I know you hang around with that Lamar. So you’re good at keeping secrets. Like everybody doesn’t know already.”
“The perils of living in a community where half the population are hunters and the other half likes to root around.”
“Uh-huh. Well, I like to climb trees, and you can see quite a bit from up there. Okay. First order of business, pack up all these nuts.”
“And do what with them?”
“Donate ’em. Elly’s diner, the bakery, the candy shop. Rattigan’s gets first choice. All peanuts go to the bars. Anything left over—do we have a food bank?”
“The church handles that. Pastor Tim’s in charge. We provided a ton of banana bread under Mr. Link.”
“He’s Jim Gordon’s brother, isn’t he? Yeah, they’re twins. I’ll have to have a chat with Officer Gordon. I hear he’s got connections. Wayne connections.” Paul didn’t say anything. “That reminds me. It probably wouldn’t hurt to set up a meet with Dante Hancock.”
“I see Mr. Mayor is well-versed on current events.”
“Hey, I hang out with a rat. You pick up on stuff. That reminds me.” Gil leaned across the desk and pointed a stiff finger at Paul. “Don’t ever schedule a meeting or appearance for me during a full moon. This town’s chock full of predators. I don’t need to be perched on a podium with a gavel bigger than I am and a whole damn wolf pack licking their chops at me.”
“Consider those three days off your calendar, sir.”
“Okay.” Gil leaned back. The chair felt more comfortable the longer he sat in it. A guy could get used to this. Maybe even do some good.
“One other thing,” he said. “I need air freshener in here. Pine-scented.”
“Right away, Mr. Mayor.”