Mayor’s plan goes awry“Pitiful penguins!” moaned Orville Jordan, the retired Soo Line depot agent, as he fought the northwest wind to get the door closed on the
By: Lloyd Omdahl, The Dickinson Press
“Pitiful penguins!” moaned Orville Jordan, the retired Soo Line depot agent, as he fought the northwest wind to get the door closed on the remodeled Bohemian hall where the town Homeland Security Committee was convening.
“Our only hope is earth warming and I say bring it on,” he added as he joined the town’s 12 other qualified electors defrosting around a small kerosene heater on the south side of the warping dance floor.
“There better be a good reason for meeting in subzero weather during the holiday season,” grumbled Einar Torvald as he tugged at the scarf around his neck. “There ain’t no terrorists running around in this weather.”
“Mayor Dorff asked me to call this meeting,” Chairman Ork Dorken announced as he rapped a Coke bottle on the table to get attention. Dropping the mayor’s name did not ease the hostility that pervaded the cavernous hall.
“Yeah!” Old Sievert griped. “If it’s so important, why isn’t he here freezing with the rest of us?”
“Power has its privileges,” added Madeliene Morgan, the Montana feminist who came for her grandfather’s funeral 20 years ago and never went back. She meant it for a joke but nobody laughed.
“There’s a vacancy on the town council since they hauled Johann to the Good Sam,” Ork explained. “The mayor is going to appoint a replacement and he was just wondering what it would be worth to someone to have such an important office.”
“Why would it be worth anything?” Little Jimmy queried. He was always too curious for his own good.
“Well, the back street maintenance portfolio goes with the vacancy,” Ork explained. “The mayor thinks the job could be a great opportunity for the right person, there being construction contracts and stuff.”
“The only contract we ever had on the back street was a load of gravel in 1983 and we got that from Orson Dvorchek for free,” Einar Stamstad noted after a noisy blow into his well-worn red handkerchief.
“If somebody — whose name will not be mentioned — wants a payoff for this crumby job, I’ll donate two dollars if I don’t have to take it,” Orville proposed.
“Two dollars!” Garvey Erfald exclaimed. “I’ll pay five.”
“Great! Let’s pass the hat for the person who takes the office,” suggested Einar. “A reward, sort of.”
“Wait a minute!” Ork cautioned. “The mayor thought he would get in on this deal some way.”
“Not so loud,” whispered Madeliene. “The federal people are looking for weird money deals in local governments and we’re as local as it gets. That makes us sitting ducks…they likely have this place bugged.”
“That noise in the attic may be more than raccoons,” warned Einar, cocking his ear toward the ceiling.
“Pass Garvey’s hat, Little Jimmy. Maybe somebody will come forward by the next meeting,” suggested Orville as he stood up and pulled his earflaps down around his ears to signal the end of the meeting.
The electors took the cue and ran for the door, scarves trailing, as Ork sat with his head in his hands, wondering how he would explain the turn of events to the mayor.