My Most Happy Life Autobiography of a Climbing Tree Chapter 28

Updated 5 weeks ago By Shelly Reuben
My Most Happy Life Autobiography of a Climbing Tree Chapter 28

Chapter 28 Political Machinations

First and foremost, Jarvis Larchmont was a politician.

Or, first and foremost, Jarvis Larchmont was a nasty man who had chosen politics as his path to power.  As such, it was he who instituted the policies that almost got us killed.

Do I think the horrific consequences of his actions were intentional?  

Yes and no.

Self-aggrandizement at our expense?  

Yes.

Resentment translated into malice in order to satisfy a childhood grudge?

Yes, again.

But premeditated murder?  

No. Not really.

I don’t know every detail about how Jarvis managed to accumulate so much power, but what I’ve gleaned by eavesdropping suggests it began when our very popular mayor, Chrysanthos Angelopoulos – known to all who voted for and love him as Chris Angel – was diagnosed with severely clogged arteries and scheduled for a triple bypass operation three days hence.

Mayor Angel had a full head of curly black hair and always needed a haircut. He had a jowly chin, a short fat body, a laugh that could make everyone else laugh, and a false air of inefficiency. False, because he ran the city like an all-star World Series baseball manager who had never lost a game.

My Most Happy Life Autobiography of a Climbing Tree Chapter 28

Before his first term in office, Chris Angel campaigned against three candidates, and almost lost. His second and third terms, he ran unopposed.

He was as competent as he was popular, and the only protesters against his administration were a playful group of nurses who called themselves The Cardiac Coalition. Their political platform was “Put Chris Angel on a Diet,” and their bumper stickers read: “Eat a salad. Save a life.”

The night before Mayor Angel received his diagnosis, Gloria Burnside, his Deputy Mayor, was arrested for driving the wrong way at 70 miles per hour on a 30 mph one-way street. She was also charged with drunk driving and assaulting a police officer. It probably got even uglier than that, but I was not privy to more information.

When the mayor learned about Gloria’s arrest, he demanded and received her resignation. He then asked his best friend, Michael Moses Hurwitz, to fill her position.

Mike was as tall and muscular as Chrysanthos Angelopoulos was short and plump. He had a high forehead, a rectangular face, and a deep clef in the chin of his sledge hammer-like jaw. His hair was thick and black, his eyebrows were heavy and dark, and he had piercing hazel eyes. When not laughing or smiling, his mouth was an impenetrable line – almost not a mouth at all – more like a long, narrow slot. He was the strong, silent type as they were portrayed in old cowboy movies, except when he was at home with his wife and five children or when he was visiting with Chris Angel, his old friend.

Then and only then, he was warm, humorous, and relaxed.

 Mike Hurwitz was a better cook than his wife, a better raconteur than the mayor, and when he was playing with his children, his laughter was so loud that it could make loose plaster shake off the ceiling.

He was the great nephew of a Canadian war hero, and he was born in a suburb of Montreal. His family moved to the United States when he was two years old. He and the future mayor lived on the same block, played baseball on the same street, and sparred in the same boxing ring at the same youth center to qualify for the Golden Gloves. Chris Angel quit after his nose was broken in his second match. Mike continued to box all the way to a junior championship at age fifteen.

Then he stopped competing.

Immediately after graduating from high school, Mike stunned his family and friends by going straight to an agricultural college in the Midwest. He’d had two great secrets when he was growing up, and he shared them with no one. Not even Chris Angel. One was his great love of plants. He had a passion for flowers, shrubs, and trees on a par with that of Samuel Swerling.

The other was…well, I’ll tell you about that later.

After Mike received his master’s degree in park management, he returned to our city and worked his way up from assistant-to-the-assistant groundskeeper at the Municipal Botanical Garden to his present position.

Of the two childhood friends, one now ran City Hall and the other ran the Department of Parks. But with the mayor about to enter the hospital, and Mike temporarily assuming his friend’s responsibilities, the position of parks commissioner would be wide open.

Chrysanthos Angelopoulos asked his best friend, “I don’t suppose that you’d like to keep being deputy mayor after I’m back on the job?”

Michael Hurwitz laughed.

The mayor grinned apologetically. “I get it.  I get it. Stupid question.”  He rubbed his jaw. “I need a shave.” Then he added, “So who do you want to do your job while you’re doing mine?”

Mike shrugged. “Last week, I had two qualified park department employees, either one of whom could have done it, but one left Friday to take a teaching job at the University of Wyoming, and the other is out on maternity leave. All I have left are inexperienced kids, and none of them can balance a checkbook, let alone manage twenty-one city parks.”

The mayor began to shuffle through the papers on his desk.

“Chart…chart…” he muttered. “Where’s my government organization chart?”

 A few seconds later, he found an oversized sheet bearing the names of city officials which were sprawled across the page like a family tree. He aligned the chart in front of his body, closed his eyes, and then jabbed his forefinger at a name. He opened his eyes, glanced down, and said, “Looks like City Councilman Jarvis Larchmont is going to be your temporary replacement at the Department of Parks. Do you know him, Mike?”

“Never met the guy.”

 “Me neither. But he can play in your sandbox until I’m back at my desk. In the meantime, this Larchmont fellow, whoever he is, is getting the career boost of a lifetime.”

Mike Hurwitz shrugged. “You’re the boss.”

Mayor Angel shook his head, thumped the left side of his chest, and said ruefully, “This is the boss.” Then he, too, shrugged. “Don’t look so glum, Mikey my boy. Even if the guy is a complete idiot, how much damage can he do?   It’s only for three weeks.” 

 

Copyright © 2017, Shelly Reuben

Reuben’s books have been nominated for Edgar, Prometheus, and Falcon awards. For more about her work, visit www.shellyreuben.com

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