Mayor Farmington paced angrily in his home office. His plan had backfired, making his panicked mind race. I can’t believe they rallied around that dim-witted, pathetic excuse for a cop, he thought bitterly. If those morons had any sense they’d boot him out while we still have the chance. As he mulled over the ramifications of his failed vote of no-confidence, there was a knock at the front door. Knowing his wife Sylvia would handle it; Dale Farmington took a seat behind his stately antique desk and brooded, believing he looked dignified in that pose. Minutes passed but no one was brought to his office, making him wonder what was going on and what his wife might be concealing.
“Sylvia?” He called out, but no one responded. “Sweetheart? Was someone at the door?”
The house was eerily quiet and for reasons he could not explain, Mayor Farmington ‘s heart skipped a beat, forcing a feeling of dread to settle in the pit of his stomach. As he crept out into the hallway, the dim lighting reminded him of a horror movie. Part of him expected a dark limb or tentacle to shoot out at him and drag him off to the beach. Don’t forget demon-bird, he silently scoffed at his own foolishness. Yet, as he rounded the corner, the evil he saw was worse than he’d imagined; only this vile monster had a name that Mayor Farmington knew all too well. Harold Martin, I should have known! He’s worse than a shark; sensing blood in the water and creeping in…smiling that shark-tooth smile. Thinks he can make a mockery of me, does he? Well, we’ll just see about that.
“Sylvia, I…Oh! I’m sorry, honey. I didn’t know you had company,” Dale Farmington lied. “How nice of your cousin to pay us a visit. Is Marge with you, Harold?”
Sylvia glared at her husband, that bug-eye expression she only used when she was truly furious. He knows Marge left Harold last spring and he’s rubbing it in, she thought bitterly. Why must he insist on treating my family like dirt? It wasn’t Harold’s fault that real estate venture went south.
“No, I’m here on my own. Wanted to check in on poor Sylvia. We’d heard there had been some kind of attacks going on here and we worried about our precious cousin’s safety. From the sound of it, at that town meeting, I’d say things here are pretty grim. Dale. Whatcha gonna do about your town?”
“I have things well in hand, don’t you worry about that. When something precious is entrusted to my care, you can be damned sure I protect my investments.”
Yet again, Sylvia was forced to step between her blood and her husband to diffuse the powder keg of emotions that always threatened to explode whenever both sides met. When they finally retired to separate corners, Harold to his hotel room and Dale to the sofa, Sylvia felt completely drained. Still angry, she hurled her husband’s pillow and a blanket downstairs and slammed the bedroom door behind her.
Just a few blocks away, Chief Grady and his wife Sharon were snuggled together sipping at a shared snifter of brandy. The day had been long, and the evening even longer, so the influx of alcohol was as soothing as a warm bubble bath. Sharon kneaded her husband’s tight shoulders as she placed delicate kisses on his knotted neck.
“Aw, baby, your neck is so tense,” she whispered. “Try to relax. The worst of it is over now.”
“Relax?” Grady laughed, pouring more liquor into the glass. “I don’t think I remember what that means anymore. And not to sound like a downer but I don’t think the worst is over…not by a long shot, Shar.”
“But the people, they all support you.”
“For now they do and believe me; I am grateful but I need you to promise me you won’t let it get to you if…make that when….that changes. Dale won’t go down without a fight. He was humiliated and he’ll be looking for vindication. You can’t go spouting off every time someone disagrees with your husband, my dear.”
“But I didn’t,” She tried to argue and dissolved into a fit of laughter. “Okay, okay, I promise. Besides, it was worth being forced to keep my trap shut just to hear everyone else rush to your aid. I was so proud, I thought I’d burst.”
“I’ve got to admit, it really was nice to hear…you know, to be appreciated. Now, I just have to live up to all that praise and figure out how to protect this community. I wish I knew what we’re up against; at least then I’d know where to start. The sooner we clean this mess up, the better our chances that everyone will forget all about it by the summer. I can promise you this; if we take a hit with the summer tourists those same people who loved me today will be calling for my head on platter come July! As it is, the number of For Sale signs has spread like a bad rash. This is serious.”
“Tom, I know it is but burning yourself out isn’t going to help you solve the mystery. Just for tonight, put it out of your mind. Your adoring fans want to show you’re their admiration.”
She giggled seductively and toyed with the buttons on her blouse before pulling her husband to his feet and dragging him toward their bedroom.
“Just for tonight…”