“That was lovely,” said a sour-faced Mayor Dick, as he pushed the plate of half-eaten food toward the center of the table. The bite of food still in his mouth he deposited into a napkin.
“Oh, I hope you don't get salmonella,” responded his wife, Senator Jane.
“No, really, it was fine. Never had better,” Mayor Dick said with a weak smile.
“This place has gone downhill, dear. Perhaps we should frequent another place? Better lighting, maybe. I swear I'm going to go blind trying to read the menu in this cave.”
“Whatever you want, dear. Whatever you want, I want.” Mayor Dick said dismissively.
The couple finished their drinks, paid the bill, left a measly tip and headed out to the dark of night. Mayor Dick suggested a refreshing walk through the park outside the restaurant. What he did not say was that he was dreading going home. A long evening at home with his wife was not something he enjoyed.
“But dear, I only have a wrap, and what if there are thugs in the park?” Senator Jane queried.
“Oh, dear, please don't worry. I ordered the police to make this park completely safe. There were those unsolved murders last month, but there is nothing to fear now. Nothing at all.”
“Still, let's not go in too far.”
“Yes, dear,” said Mayor Dick as he led her down a path into the heart of the park.
They strolled together. Whenever they slightly brushed up against each other, unlike lovers, they would reestablish a gap between themselves. The park became darker, more wooded. The light from the lamps barely penetrated their surroundings.
“Where are we heading?” asked Senator Jane with concern in her voice, although she knew this park well.
“Just strolling, dear,” responded Mayor Dick.
“Aren't you afraid?” asked Senator Jane.
“Not really,” said Mayor Dick peering over his shoulder at a particularly dark shape behind a bush that seemed to be quivering.
The couple walked a bit further and then sat on a bench.
“Darling,” said Mayor Dick. “I have a question for you.”
“Please, darling,” protested Senator Jane, “it's not going to be a difficult one, is it?”
“I think Gerald is a fine man,” he said, followed by a very long pause.
A bit bewildered, Senator Jane asked “Is Gerald okay? He didn't have a heart attack or a stroke, did he?”
“He never asks me for favors... and I must say that I have never given him any advantage or played favorites with him or his companies. I never do that with anyone,” said Mayor Dick. He paused.
“And?” asked Senator Jane waiting for some awful news.
“I don't think I should influence the city council in his favor, even if he were to ask me to. Do you?”
“Oh, darling. Would it avert a catastrophe or create one? I mean, you have to do what you have to do to protect people from all the horrible things in this world. They would hate you if you didn't, and they wouldn't re-elect you. If they didn't re-elect you, what would happen to our finances. Oh darling, you're not thinking of doing something rash, are you?” asked Senator Jane as she clutched her small fur occasion purse.
“Well, it's not as if I even could influence anyone on the council, certainly not half the council. Gerald would be better off approaching them on his own. I am sure he would treat all of them with the utmost respect. Especially, Councilmember Lovett. I am sure nothing would get in his way of attending the council session. He has such a great kneed to serve his constituents.
A rustling was heard in the bushes behind the bench and it sounded as if someone was running away from the area.
“What was that?!” shrieked a startled Senator Jane.
“I'm sure it was nothing,” replied Mayor Dick.
After a few moments of Senator Jane peering into the darkness like a worried hen, Mayor Dick announced, “Dear, you have been most helpful. I shall not influence the council in favor of Gerald. I will call some of the council members tomorrow just to let them know that they should allow this...garden... to stay where it is.”
“A garden?!” exclaimed Senator Jane. “Oh, gardens are the worst. People could die. Yes, dear, it is best to keep level heads during these kinds of crisis. Just think of all that dirty food - all the germs it would spread. It could wipe out the city. Oh dear, you should think about influencing the council to end this garden,” added Senator Jane feeling a bit peckish about the meal she had just eaten.
As Senator Jane pulled on her wrap, she heard a sound behind her and screamed thinking that some bear was going to eat her. But there was no bear, it was just a small pug humping up and down on the back leg of the bench. The pug's eyes seemed to say “I can't help it, old habits die hard.”
“Oh, that's disgusting!” decried Senator Jane.
“Quite,” said Mayor Dick.
“Really, dogs shouldn't be allowed to do that in public. Can't you create a law against dogs humping things, dear? Oh, that image will forever be in my mind, now. Maybe I should write a bill to make this illegal? But this seems like more of a municipal issue than a state issue. Still, something must be done. Think of the children!”
Mayor Dick strolled down the path with his wife, Senator Jane, at his side. She murmured about the pug and its immoral habits until they were well out of the park. Mayor Dick said nothing.
When they arrived home, Mayor Dick said he wanted to watch the news. Senator Jane agreed and sat down in front of the television while Mayor Dick got ready for bed. In his robe and slippers he announced he was going to read something in bed while she finished watching the news. He slipped into his bed, pulled the covers back up under his chin and turned out the lights. When his wife finally came to bed, she wanted to tell him about all the horrible things she saw on the news.
Mayor Dick simply kissed her and said, “I love you, dear,” and fell asleep.
Written by Mark Granlund
Illustrated by Martha Iserman
Written by Mark Granlund
Illustrated by Martha Iserman