A Dumb Blonde as MayorbyEgmont Grigor©
Control of the town of Pike's Point midway up Charlotte Inlet towards its terminal at the industrial city of Mornington had been in the grip of the of the James family for thirty-two years.
This was the sixth election that the Pike's Point Progressive Association had failed to attract a candidate to stand against the next-in-line James male. Currently ending his 3-year term was James Ivan James. He was handing the 'throne' to his surly son James Jake James, known as Jake and at 220lbs was better known as Wide Jake.
The city of 26,300 people elected its seven councilors representing seven wards for a three year term and concurrently a separate election was conducted to elect an independent mayor, a system that had survived for almost 140 years when timber logging led to the establishment of a permanent town.
The pugnacious president of the association, Percy Coleman, had stood unsuccessfully in three distant elections. On each occasion prior to the election campaign commencing, he'd been beaten up, had his car tires slashed and each time his dog mysteriously disappeared, never to be seen again.
Sighing when again looking at the empty nominations box, Mr Coleman told the forty-four people attending, "Again I say this is a sad day for Pike's Point."
"I'm prepared to stand."
"Who said what?" Percy asked, momentarily confused because he'd thought he'd heard a woman's voice.
"Concentrate Mr Coleman. I said I'm prepared to be nominated."
"You're the temporary teacher."
"Oh how perceptive of you. Since you are my headmaster I cannot say you are astute in identifying me, although not by name."
"You are not a resident."
"I have resided here for fifteen months. The minimum qualifying period is 12 months' residency."
"You're not a property-owner."
"I'm sure by the time nominations close some good citizen will have donated me a piece of wasteland."
"You've a woman."
"Again that is you being perceptive. I'm sure no one here will dispute that. There is no barrier, apart from prejudice, to a female standing for election. Mr Coleman, I'm wondering if I'll find it more difficult to win nomination than to seize the office of mayor from the fiendish hands of the arrogant males of the James family."
"How dare you."
"Stop the theatrics and have me proposed and seconded as a candidate Mr Coleman and then put my name forward to this meeting to be approved as the association's official candidate. I'd hate to stand as an independent and get run over by the rush of other people whishing to lodge their candidacy."
"What's that you say?"
"Get your lobotomy reversed darling."
"I heard that."
"Oh I'm delighted Mr Coleman. What I just said was a hearing test."
Miss Finn sat down and was politely applauded for providing one of the most interesting meetings in the association's 138-year history, although no one present was old enough to verify that as fact.
The motion was put that the duly proposed and seconded Miss Andrea Olga Finn of 3a Schoolhouse Lane (a shed at the rear of Mr Coleman's home) be elected as the association's candidate was declared passed unanimously. Andrea was politely applauded.
Rancher Tim Robbins said, "I have a home on a half-acre at 37 Main Street, the title of which I'll instruct my attorney to have transferred to you for the payment of one dollar Andrea on the understanding you'll transfer the property back to me within two weeks following the election."
Andrea thanked the rancher. She called, "Witness this everyone" and handed Tim one dollar.
People began calling, "Speech, speech."
Percy rose smiling. "Thank you everyone. Well it has given me great pleasure over the years..."
"Not you Percy. We want to hear from Andrea."
"Oh... oh really? Miss Finn, on this occasion I do believe there is a preference to hear you speak in lieu of me."
"Thank you Mr Chairman. Well, here we are ready for municipal business. I was on a cycling vacation fifteen months ago when I rode into Pike's Point near dark and Elsie Young invited me to her home for dinner and to stay for as long as I liked, During dinner I learned Elsie and Don's youngest child was at school with a near-deaf retired teacher in charge of them because the school had been unable to attract a currently certificated teacher for that grade. I told the Youngs I was a certificated teacher and as they say, the rest in history."
"This is a pleasant small town and I love living here except for two things – I miss having romance, although offers from married men come almost daily – and the thing that really annoys me is the arrogant aggression of the James' family. I see the editor of our local newssheet Mrs Strong, from Strong's Bookshop, is here recording. So my message is: Prepare to lose the race to become mayor Mr James and have your family revert to being ordinary citizens like the rest of us. Thank you."
Mrs Strong later interviewed Andrea.
* * *
The James family sat around the table almost peeing themselves as Mayor James erupted into belly laughs as he read the lead story in Pike's Point Newssheet headed, 'Move Over James Clan says Feisty Blonde'.
'PP Progressive Association last night elected temporary school teacher, the pretty blonde 26-year-old Miss Andrea Finn as it's candidate to fight Wide James to become mayor. Miss Finn claims the town under James' rule has gone backwards because of inertia and self-serving interest. She'll stand for election on the planks that she'll clean up the town, return it to being a place where cordial relations and friendly smiles are commonplace, force the harbor authority to replace the town wharf and if the defeated James' don't like it they can leave town and take their taint with them."
"I sue the bitch," roared Mayor James, causing his brood to laugh hysterically.
"Who's calling me wide?" asked James Jake James.
"Andrea Finn," chorused the clan (actually Mrs Strong had inserted 'Wide' instead of Jake).
Angry Jake said, "I'll sue the bitch."
His father congratulated him for being aggressive and defiant.
* * *
At school next day Headmaster Coleman told Andrea she'd have to resign forthwith because she was running for election.
"Mr Coleman, please don't over-react. I'll stand down without pay on the day nominations close when I lodge my nomination. I'll resign if elected on the day I'm sworn in as mayor."
"Young lady that is not satisfactory to me."
"Then tough. Complain to a higher authority. I know my rights."
"You'll regret your defiance."
"You puzzle me Mr Coleman. I thought you wanted a candidate to stand against the James clan?"
"Yes, but not a woman."
"I'll pretend I didn't hear that. What you have just said is a violation of this school's charter and an offence against the Human Rights Act."
"What was that?"
"I said sexually discriminate against me again and I'll nail your balls to the school gates."
"I heard that."
"It was a hearing test Mr Coleman. Run along."
* * *
The association's treasurer called Andrea and they had a lovely chat and then old Mrs Trotter said, "There is a campaign fund at your disposal to use for hoardings and leaflets and to recover other authorized election expenses to a limit of $2000."
"Oh that's excellent Mrs Trotter. How much is in the fund?"
"Eight dollars and forty cents."
"Well that's what I was calling you about. We are holding a cake stall for you on Main Street on Saturday morning. We'd like you to be present just to say hello if anyone wants to talk to you?"
"Oh yes, but I can't wear ribbons or a name badge as that would be tantamount to electioneering and I haven't had my nomination accepted yet. How many ladies will be manning stalls?"
"Mrs Smith, Mrs Wells and me. Just the one stall."
Andrea joined the ladies at the stall at 9:30 and sales were poor.
"Oh this is so disappointing," she said, and the three women agreed.
"Yes we should have spent forty bucks on advertising and on a couple of posters," said Mrs Smith. "That would have made a bit of a splash, motivating people."
"How much do you expect to take if you sell everything?"
Andrea sighed. A Jeep Wrangler drew up nearby. She looked up and a handsome guy in a scruffy Stetson caught her eye and winked. God, he wasn't even thirty. From where had he escaped? She winked back and his lips parted to show solid clean enamel.
The ground seemed to shake and clomp, clomp an overweight guy only 5ft 6in tall, or six inches shorter than Andrea, stopped on the sidewalk. "Get this junk out of my way and if you old hags attempt to stop me I'll send you off the sidewalk along with your cakes."
Andrea jumped in front of the menace. "How dare you talk to ladies like that and how dare you use threatening language. We are here legitimately. This area is zoned for stalls on Saturday for fund-raising purposes."
"Well hello Blondie with big tits. You are my rival."
"Back off Mr James otherwise I effect a citizen's arrest."
"What, you and whose army?"
The sound of a rifle bolt being drawn resulted in Wide James freezing.
"Right Fatso, " said the guy from the Jeep. "On your belly on the sidewalk clear of the stall."
"You can't do this to me; I'm the mayor's son."
"Down on your belly until the cops come."
"No way and I..."
The click of the bolt completing its action that would inject a bullet into the chamber resulted in a thump as Mr James hit the pavement, belly down.
Townspeople began calling, "A fight, mayor's son is down" and people began rushing towards the cake stall.
"Quickly, double your prices," Andrea said to the three ladies. "People will need a reason to avoid a police charge of loitering so will buy cakes to legitimize congregating here."
The ladies required no further prompting.
The siren could be heard in the distance and more townspeople began running to the stall. Before the patrol car slid to a stop the cake stall was bare.
The two policemen quickly assessed the situation and cancelled back-up. The sergeant let mayoral candidate Mr James off with a warning after he'd apologized to the three ladies. He posed with the three ladies after Mrs Strong raced up to take a photo for the Newssheet.
The police dispersed everyone. With a big smile Mrs Trotter produced two cream cakes she'd secreted away for the police officers and they went off. The sergeant had recognized Andrea and wished her well when she began her campaign 'to bring down the cancerous oligarchy'.
"Please Mrs Strong, don't quote the sergeant if you overhead what he said; it could cost him his stripes."
"Hear what Andrea?"
They smiled and Mrs Trotter gave Mrs Strong the last cream cake.
The stall raised almost $140. In the rush to serve people the stallholders must have short-changed some customers already being exploited.
As Andrea was about to leave a short skinny guy rushed up. "T heard what you people did to Wide Jake. I'm Ike Shadbolt, Jake's campaign manager. We'll blast your off the surface of this planet in the dirtiest campaign this country has ever seen Blondie you slut."
Andrea stepped forward and ground her heel into the guy's left foot.
"You bitch," he howled. I'm gonna..."
He froze, hearing a rifle bolt slide. "Er, on the other hand it will be the cleanest election ever contested on this planet. Good morning Miss Finn." He hobbled away.
"Oh thank you kind sir. That's two I owe you."
Andrea colored, knowing that although the three elderly ladies wouldn't have a clue what she was talking about, Mrs Strong who was licking cream off her fingers and was slowly turning pink certainly would require no translation.
In panic Andrea swung around to her defender. "Thank you for providing involuntary backup for these ladies and me. But I simply cannot believe you'd be such a mutthead and pull a loaded gun and shoot down two misbehaving men like dogs had they resisted you."
"Don't get your panties in a knot," said the guy, pulling the trigger. There was no explosion of a shot being fired. "I don't carry a loaded gun into town but do have bullets in my pocket. Good day to you Miss Finn. This mutthead is off to try to escape abuse."
Andrea turned brick red and he grinned at her, doffing his hat.
As he drove off she asked, "Whom have I insulted?"
"Rancher Robbins' son Jefferson."
"Oh no," Andrea wailed. "His father has been very generous to me."
"Don't worry dear," Mrs Strong said. Lowering her voice to a whisper she added, "He'll be back to get those panties off you. Have you not noticed there are few young people here? They all go thirty-eight miles to shop in the city rather than come into this town under the oppressive control of the James family. The three James boys frequently drag women off the street to kiss them and fondle them... and even worse."
"But the police?"
"If you are an abused and frightened female who is warned to keep her mouth shut or else, do you fearlessly complain to the police of a town run by the boys' clan?"
"Well said Andrea," Mrs Strong smiled, smoothing her hair in the breeze. "We are so lucky that you, blissfully unaware of the dark side of this town, have committed to clean it up politically. Did it not occur to you to wonder why no one has stood against the James' for six elections?"
"I-I thought it was apathy."
"Oh yeah, right."
"Mrs Strong I thought it would be fun to fight an election and then put things right."
"Darling, you'll have fun all right. More than you can imagine."
"Oh Mrs Strong, what can I do?"
"Leave town or alternatively stay and get Jefferson living with you as soon as possible and insist that he keep his other gun loaded."
"His other gun?"
"Not the one he's using on you. Ohmigod, you are such a sweet young lady."
Two days later rancher Tim Robbins called Andrea during the school lunchtime break. "My attorney will have a letter in tonight's mail saying that the procedures to transfer the property at 37 Main Street to you have commenced."
The property had been vacated and was being cleaned that afternoon and she was free to possess the property from tomorrow, as soon as she completed formalities with the attorney and was handed the keys.
"I am pleased to do this for you, Andrea, if I may call you that?"
"Yes please do."
"We rely on the town for our supply pipeline and for our social connectivity so have been troubled in recent years at the way the economy and vitality of the town has been slowly throttled. We relied on someone like you coming forward, and here you are."
"Oh Mr Robbins, I'm only a tentative blonde without an overly amount between her ears."
Tim laughed. "You sell yourself short Andrea. My thinking is the James' family is all but castrated."
"Oh Andrea. My apologies. I have become over-confident after hearing from a grandson at the school that you threatened to nail Headmaster's balls to the school gates."
"Oh Mr Robbins!"
"Keep calm dear. I told Robin to keep his mouth shut. He was placed outside his classroom for misbehavior and heard you dealing with our pugnacious Percy Coleman."
"Thank you for being so understanding. I suppose you have heard I have met your son. He acted twice decisively to save us from predicaments at the cake stall and I had the gall to call him a mutthead."
Tim chuckled and said he'd gone to school with Elsie Strong from the bookshop.
"She brought me up to date. When I mentioned to Jefferson had he allegedly had a couple of stand-offs in town Jefferson told me there had been three incidents. There had been one involving fat-ass James the bully, the gangster Ike Shadbolt fortunately wasn't carrying a weapon but then Jefferson had you to handle and you were highly aggressive and he had to back off. He said you thought he was just spoiling to shoot someone."
Andrea burst into tears. Tim said, "Oh sorry Andrea, have we gotten that wrong?"
"Oh yes," she sobbed. "I', not at all negative about him. He's... he's.... "Thank you for being so kind and supportive of me. Goodbye Mr Robbins."
But the connection was cut.
* * *
Tim picked up his CB radio and made a call.
"Son, where are you?"
"About twenty-two miles from home, moving the bulls with Snow and Lenny, with about two miles to go. Anything wrong dad?"
"Yes, you were wrong about Blondie. I've just been talking to her. When I mentioned you think she regards you as someone spoiling for a fight she choked up and said she had no negative thoughts about you and then choked up and cut the call."
"What does that mean?"
"How would I know? I'm only your father. Get into town and sort it out. I reckon she'd be the perfect lover to spend your life with."
Jefferson sounded confused. "Is that what I'm looking for dad?"
"Yes Jefferson. "In effect it's nothing to do with what you think; it's programmed into you."
"Like it's embedded into my DNA?"
"Exactly boy. Get into town and sort it out with her before you blow your one chance."
It was almost 10:00 that evening when the scrubbed up Jefferson in clean underwear, a fresh shirt and his trusted jeans drove into Schoolhouse Lane just in time to see a murky figure hurl a bottle firebomb on to the roof of the shed at the rear of the property, the dwelling where he'd been told Andrea lived.
As he drove into the driveway lights in the house to his right came on and the lights of an accelerating vehicle came straight at him from the direction of the burning dwelling.
"You bastard, you're the bomber," Jefferson yelled. He had bars on the front of his Jeep designed to push stalled vehicles and bulls that don't want to be moved. He accelerated and drove straight into the now braking approaching vehicle.
There was a huge crash and the smaller vehicle crumpled. The driver left the vehicle, staggering. Jefferson went up to him and laid him out with a single blow. He saw it was the snake Ike Shadbolt. Mrs Coleman the school principal's wife yelled, "What's going on?"
"I'm Jefferson Robbins Mrs Coleman. I've just flattened the asshole arsonist whose threatening the life of..."
"Fire! Fire!" screamed Angela, running from the burning building.
"Grab a garden shovel or something and ding this skunk if he comes around Mrs Coleman. Angela, you're okay, I'm here."
"Who are you?" she screamed.
"Why are you setting me alight?" she called sleepily, but Jefferson ignored her confusion and ran straight around her. He scaled the water tank against the building and leaped from that on to the roof and then tipped over the water header tank, the sheet of water and within seconds had extinguished the blazing bitumen-coated membrane waterproofing the roof.
Back on the ground he grabbed the sobbing Angela and hugged her. He could feel she had nothing on under the sheet she'd wrapped around her.
They heard a 'boing' as Mrs Coleman clobbered Ike. "I hit the arsonist just in case he was thinking of waking up."
Mr Coleman had appeared and found out what was going on. He complained his wife had just committed criminal assault on a defenseless victim.
She yelled, "Shut up you moron otherwise you'll be paddled around the head."
A police car followed by two fire engines roared up, sirens wailing, waking up the neighborhood. It was almost as noisy as the end of the normal school day.
The police sergeant sniffed the hands and arms of the Coleman's – with Mrs Coleman enquiring was it a mating ritual – and the sergeant sniffed the arms of Jefferson and Angela and then the unconscious villain. He then pointed to the villain and declared, "There is our petrol bomber; he's the only one with the smell of petrol on his hands and arms. Now, who has collaborating evidence?"