WAITING FOR THE ATM
Cruising down Main Street at 6 pm, Mayor Charlotte Cliff
makes a mental note to tell her mother, Carlotta, the Chairperson of the
Board of the Cliffton Savings & Loan (even now, following the merger
with LasVegas Bank) that she really ought to put more ATM's outside the
main branch. The line of people waiting for a turn stretches around the
corner. She slows down to say "hi" to several of her constituents.
She would have thought twice about working the crowd, though, had she realized
that among those waiting patiently was the never-patient Dick Francis.
Cliff College's Chief of Security (an odd job, Charlotte
thinks, for such an insecure man) confronts her with his usual lack of social
grace, "Well, Charlotte, have you and your family figured out how to
cover-up the potential scandal, yet?"
"Which scandal are you referring to, Dick?"
Charlotte replies, making light of the issue (whatever it is he means) as
she realizes that several of Cliff's citizens are eavesdropping intently.
"My mother embezzling that three hundred million dollars and running
away to the Bahamas or my nephew knocking up Madonna?"
Charlotte's foolish response elicits smiles followed
by disinterest from everyone except Francis who puganciously persists.
"I won't even deal with the deal your family struck with some mysterious
mobster from Vegas to make this bank merger..."
Charlotte corrects him, "A legitimate Nevada businessman
whose credentials more than satisfied the several State and Federal bureaucrats
who had to sign off on the deal..."
"Yeah, right. Well, too bad for the good name you
share with your precious College that there's at least one incorruptible
investigator who'll be examining the stains on this new piece of Cliff dirty
"What are you talking about?"
"Murder and mayhem, Madam Mayor. That's what.
And I'm on the case to stay. No matter how unpleasant the truth, I'll see
to it that it doesn't get buried under a pile of Cliff b.s. This is one
mountain you and your family aren't going to be able to turn into a molehill
with your money and power."
"Don't be such a dick, Dick. We have nothing to
cover-up. For god's sake, no one even knows whose corpse that is, yet!"
Thoroughly annoyed, Charlotte puts her car into gear and slowly drives
around the corner where she spots Anais Grace at the end of the line. The
sight of the young woman cheers the mayor immediately. She pulls over to
the curb to speak to her, "Anais! I was going to send you email when I got
Anais smiles at Charlotte, one of the Sayers Gangsters
who has been involved in the girl's life since she was a foundling. She
communicates a warm greeting with gestures. Charlotte tells her, "I
found a beautiful print of a Renoir dancer who looks just like you. I want
you to come and pick it up for your room."
Anais' getures now convey her reluctance to accept such
a gift from one who has already been so generous to her throughout her life.
But Charlotte assures the young woman, "No, no-- it's just a reproduction.
And it was very inexpensive. Really." Anais is convinced and agrees
to come visit the Cliffs for dinner and to receive her "small gift"
in a few days.
Charlotte heads home, now, well-pleased with herself for the honorable
lie she has just told. In fact, the Renoir is authentic and cost a small
fortune, but she knows that Anais will value it just as highly for being
a thoughtful gift as if she knew its true worth.