Saturday, July 27, 2013

Gauntlet - Episode 8.



Episode 8 – The Mayor, Demure

Marshall had barely finished making one complete circuit outside the shop before he noticed the tale-tell signs of a growing layer of fresh dust draped along the walkway. This had to be one of the most infuriating examples of futile functions anyone had ever had the displeasure of having to perform. Even as tedious and trying as it was to his nerves he also had to admit that it could be infinitely worse.

“If you’re quite finished for the time being why don’t bring yourself in here for a moment and see to this list I have for you.” Grandma Grael’s voice carried out from behind a crudely crafted counter to bring with it an air of authority. It was something Marshall had decided he would have to get used to sooner or later. He was accustomed to the booming commands and trumpeted threats of drill sergeants; such a soft spoken superior was somewhat strange still.

Happy to turn to another task Marshall returned inside to see just what manner of duties the merciful merchant had waiting for him now. With him barely through the door good, the clear hum of a purring hover-hauler slid to a halt behind him. The clear hiss of released air as it settled to sit upon the ground snared Marshall easy enough, but something about the grim look it elicited from Grandma made him curious.

Who could, or for that matter would be cruising around town in one of those notoriously needy machines? He would have thought that anybody out here wouldn’t have the foolishness to try and keep something like that maintained. Besides, it wouldn’t take very long for a hover-hauler to leave you completely stranded if you tried to take it very far outside of town. They had never been known for handling rugged terrain or conditions very well.

The first figure to emerge from the quieting contraption was a short and slender girl dressed in feminine fashion in a form fitting suit that was blacker than a moonless night. Matching mirrored shades masked her eyes from view as she immediately took up a position by the door and began patiently patrolling the perimeter by panning her head back and forth. There was almost an eager cat like tension to the woman as if she eagerly awaited a single twitch that might allow her to spring into action.

After a few long moments and a couple of briefly blustering breezes a second woman appeared this one with an almost regal bearing. Every movement held the hallmark of a choreographed and practiced routine. On another world she might have had another life, a high class model perhaps. But Marshall couldn’t see there being much call for a model on Newport. Even as qualified for the job as this lady looked.

She was easily as tall as Marshall, if maybe a hair taller but that could have been helped by the shinning steel tipped heels that accented her feet. Long loose hair hung like a curtain that fell to cascade over her shoulders as it burned brightly in the sunlight. The light of day seemed to add a subtle shade of red where there otherwise might not have been any to her golden hair. Hugging her ample curves was a brilliant dress of royal blue that managed to keep luring Marshall’s eyes back to re-examine it.

By the time she had crossed the distance to the doorway Marshall had only just realized his rudeness and had to quickly remove his hat. But instead of noticing his nearly missed act of etiquette, an icy entrance devoid of introduction brushed past him as if he was some invisible fixture attached to the floor. “Greeting’s ma’am,” Marshall told the silently suited associate as she shadowed behind her fashionable friend. An empty sneer was the only reply he received in return for his remark.

“Official business I am afraid,” the well dressed woman commented coldly as she came to a stop before Grandma Grael. “We’re dealing with a dispute and I thought it might alleviate some animosity by bringing some provisions with me. It is a Mayor’s duty to see after the people of the town after all.”

“Don’t you mean take advantage of any opportunity to secure more loyal voters to your continual campaign?” Grandma Grael’s alternate explanation was met by a brief polite smile that neatly hid a lack of humor found in the statement. “Either way it matters little about motives, you know full well that if folks are in need I will do my part to aid them. Just spare us the sauntering sally routine Demure, we both know you don’t do anything without making sure it benefits you in some manner.”

“I do appreciate how I can always count on you to be of service to this fine community,” Demure declared as she produced a small list to place upon the counter. “Always a pleasure, and do make sure to have that order ready when my secretary returns later for it. I would hate to think anyone might have to suffer even a minute longer when we could relieve their burden.”

“You should just stick to smiling and swaying those hips, leave the caring to those of us who still has a heart,” Grandma Grael advised as she watched the Mayor make her way back out the door.  “Marshall, let me give you some free advice; never trust a two-faced politician. And trust even less a snake like her who barely bothers to hide her scales.”

“Pardon me,” Marshall apologized for his own ignorance. “But do you mean that she is the Mayor?” He might have guessed that she was the Mayor’s wife or even his secretary but never the Mayor herself. And knowing that she was he couldn’t believe that Grandma Grael had just spoken to her like that.

“She has been a spoiled little brat with a pretty face ever since she could toddle about town,” she explained. “As a young lady she was unfortunate enough to catch the eye of some thieves that were passing through the area robbing every establishment they could get into. They decided to take her with them as an insurance policy and lucky enough for her eventually they messed up good enough some lawmen managed to rescue her.

Using the press from her ordeal and the public’s sympathy she decided to run for office and easily enough found herself a spot as the Assistant Mayor. Eventually the Mayor died while in office and Demure there took over for him. Now she runs the town like it’s her personal popularity contest. But as long as she keeps everything running smooth enough to keep the majority happy everybody nobody bothers much about it.”

Grandma slid the list towards Marshall and let a big grin rise on her face. “So it looks like you best be getting busy if you’re going to fill this order right away.” She giggled to herself as she disappeared back into the rear of the store, leaving Marshall alone with the list. Half cursing to himself he then realized he hadn’t any idea where any of this stuff even was in the store. “Better get to it then I guess,” he decided.

As he set himself to seeing to his job Grandma Grael watched from around the corner still smiling. She liked this young man; he had a good feeling about him. But she would have to wait and see how well he handled finding some of the things on that list. Not everyone could make sense of her organizational methods. The thought prompted another hushed giggle before she went about seeing to some other things herself.