30 September 2013

Ambush in Bartlette: Chapter 25

Maddy watched as the debate broke up and people started glad handing and politely saying nothings to each other. She started to wander out toward her car, waving at her father as she went. Daddy was putting on a brave face, but he was not happy. He had not been happy since the night Bo and Yusif announced their candidacies.

Daddy’s main hobby, for as long as Maddy could remember, was to run the Democratic Party of Bartlette. It was his little club for which he provided well over half of the funding and, as the power behind the Party, Daddy got a certain amount of respect. However, that respect came with something of a caveat. Daddy and his party would be the loyal opposition; they would not buck the status quo too much.

Generally, that meant one or two members of the county board of supervisors would be Democrats and the same number would be on the school board. There was one Democrat on the town council in Mount View and none in Saint Minas. Yared was the only part of the county which was solidly Democratic, which was nothing to brag about since every significant political figure from Yared was now in a federal prison cell.

When election time came, a couple of Daddy’s cronies would run an ineffectual campaign for one or two of the county wide constitutional offices. Usually some sacrificial lamb ran for commonwealth attorney and another for sheriff - a couple times someone even ran for county treasurer or clerk of court. The Democratic candidates would show up at public get togethers and make a nice speech in the debate, but they would never seriously pose a threat to anyone.

When Daddy pulled in Bo Ross to run for sheriff and agreed with Maddy that they would run Yusif Habib for commonwealth attorney it was a huge deal for him. He was pushing past all the boundaries and running candidates who could actually win. At first he was caught up in the excitement. Then, as the reality of a actual political contest hit him he became far less happy. Maddy knew her father was losing friends because of this election. So far, the worst was Paul at the Mount View barber shop. Daddy had been getting his hair cut by Paul every two weeks for more than fifteen years, ever since Emmit retired. A week after “Bo and Joe” announced their candidacies Paul put a sign up on the wall of his shop - right where anyone sitting in the seat would have to stare at it the entire time his hair was being cut.

We don’t cling to guns or religion.
Our constitutional right to bear arms
Our faith in Jesus Christ as Saviour.
We shall not be unarmed slaves.
Godless Democrats

Daddy came back stunned from his next hair cut and it took Maddy days to find out why. When she did, her reaction did not help. She went right down to the barber shop and gave Paul a piece of her mind in front of a shop full of waiting customers. Now, Daddy went over to Wise County when he could find the time and got his hair cut by some stranger.

On top of all the garbage Daddy was going through in the community, Bo and Yusif were not involving him in the campaign. They insisted on setting their own strategy and writing their own speeches. Daddy would have never have agreed to this dual candidate strategy, if for no other reason than that he thought Yusif was dragging Bo down. And he would have never agreed to the type of speech which Yusif gave today.

The two “speeches” by the candidates for commonwealth attorney would have been more appropriate as rants on the internet. Brad Dollerby all but called Yusif a backstabbing Yankee. Yusif came back at him - basically accusing Brad of prosecuting an innocent man for the courthouse murders. Anybody in the county who did not understand why Brad and Yusif went from best friends to political and personal enemies had no doubts after tonight.

Maddy sat in her car until she saw Yusif leave with the Rosses. She had hoped to grab Yusif for a few hours tonight, but after seeing Daddy she decided that was a bad idea. At the moment, she was torn between Yusif and her father. Even if she was able to pry Yusif away from the Rosses she would probably end up nagging him over about how his campaign was affecting her father. Their relationship was not yet strong enough to stand up to much of that.

She still wasn’t sure why Yusif had called her and asked for another date. It really hadn’t mattered. She screwed up the first one by assuming she had him hooked before she did. The second time she made no such assumption. She wore a bright yellow minidress that would show just enough to catch his eye whenever she moved around and she laughed at every stupid joke he made. Most importantly, she made sure she had him committed to a second date when he dropped her off at the end of the night. It took her over a month of working on him and six more dates before she finally got him into the sack. Even then she practically had to club him over the head and drag him into the bedroom. And the sex was terrible. Yusif knew what went where, but he had obviously spent his time at college actually studying rather exploring human anatomy as thoroughly as Maddy had. It also didn’t help that she had to get him, and consequently herself, incredibly drunk in order to get past his inhibitions. Of course, even terrible sex was sex, and Yusif was a guy, so she had him hooked after that night.

Meanwhile, everybody in the county figured out that she and Yusif were a couple. Most of them probably knew before Yusif did. The problem was that now she had him she didn’t know what to do with him. While she was putting so much effort into landing him she never gave a thought to what would happen after. He was cute and smart and the sex was slowly getting better. He was a good catch, probably the best catch she could get in any of the surrounding counties. The only problem was the politics.

Yusif had the bug in a big way. All he wanted to talk about was the campaign and it really wasn’t going well as hoped. Bo was cruising toward an easy victory and Yusif was drafting along behind him. The question was, how far behind? The Dollerbys were a big name in Bartlette County - probably enough to cancel all the good will and support Yusif was getting from the Rosses. Brad Dollerby had the advantages of being an incumbent and a Republican in a heavily Republican County. However, firing Yusif was a stupid move on Brad’s part. Yusif was out in the county almost every day, going door to door and introducing himself to everyone. On the other hand, Brad was stuck at the courthouse, doing all the work for district court, domestic court, and circuit court. As well, Brad was spending a lot of evenings and weekends preparing for the murder trial of Jeff Sanger. Tonight was the first night that anyone had seen Brad at an event outside the courthouse for at least a month.

When she was honest with herself, Maddy knew that it would be better for her if Yusif lost. Yusif would be crushed at first, but she would help him get past that and, once he was set up in private practice, a quick trip down the aisle would be arranged. They could settle into a very comfortable life together.

If Yusif won, she could probably still get him down the aisle, but she had little illusions about being a politician’s wife. The only thing that had its hooks deeper into Yusif than she did at the moment was the political race and if he won she figured he would start looking around for another race to feed his addiction. If Yusif became a state delegate or senator or, God help her, a congressman, Maddy would spend inordinate amounts of time meeting with garden clubs and red hats and whomever else she had to meet with to bolster the cause. Meanwhile, Yusif would be in Richmond or Washington playing politician and having affairs which she would be expected to ignore as long as he was discreet. A couple of Maddy’s sorority sisters from back at Tech were already living that life and Maddy wasn’t so sure she was willing to live as mercenary a life as they were.

About to start her car, she glanced back at the firehouse and saw her father folding up chairs and loading them onto a truck. She sighed. Daddy was so desperate to have something to do in the campaign that he was doing scut work. She put her keys back in her pocket and got out to help him.


Anonymous said...

Mr. Lammers:

I have enjoyed your story very much.

In the second paragraph from the bottom of chapter 25, did you mean to use the word "discrete" [to imply "separate" that is that yusif would only have affairs when away from home] or "discreet" [to imply "careful"]?

Either could be right, I just did not expect to see the word "discrete" there.

This is a very small, hopefully not too nitpicky comment on a good story.

Ken Lammers said...

I meant discreet. Mistakes like that are among the hazards of typing at five in the morning. :-)