New writer gets sent on assignment to a tiny mountain town.
Prompt: In your community, elections are coming up. You are a journalist, seeking for a good story.
Who do you interview, and what is the story you are going to publish?
Buddy and Sally Run For Mayor
by Leah Jennings
"You want a writing assignment that bad, eh? Okay, kid, go on up to Guffey and interview the mayoral candidates. Write it up, and have it in my inbox by Monday morning." The editor turned and walked off.
Mayoral candidates! Well, that was something, wasn't it? I wasn't big into politics, but surely everyone knew about the basic issues, infrastructure, tourism, schools, police...um, I was sure there would be others, but I felt I could keep up.
I tried to call and make appointments to talk to the candidates, but got nowhere. Finally, a lady with a two-pack-a-day Marlboro voice said, " Just come up here and drop into the Rolling Thunder Cloud. You'll find them there."
I plugged the Rolling Thunder Cloud into my car's GPS and headed out. I was new to Colorado and was still finding my way around. I found myself heading west, right towards the Rocky Mountains. The GPS then sent me up Ute Pass. The road curved back and forth. There were huge red rock cliffs right along the side of the road with boulders that looked ready to come bouncing down onto the road at any moment.
I arrived at the Rolling Thunder Cloud in one piece. It was a beautiful day, sunny and cool. I was glad I chose a suit with slacks instead of a skirt today. When I walked in, it was clear I was an outsider. The people at the bar just glanced at me and turned away. The bartender gave me a civil nod. I stood there for a minute, unsure. I didn't see anyone I could visually identify as a mayoral candidate.
"You that writer from the paper?" said the two-pack-a-day Marlboro voice lady, whose name tag said she was "Sandy".
"Yes, Leah Jensen from the Colorado Springs Star"
"And you want to interview the candidates for mayor." She said this as a statement, but one that needed confirmation.
"Yes, that is the assignment I was given."
"Okay, then, come with me. They are on the patio since they aren't allowed in the restaurant area."
Sandy walked away before I could clarify what she had said. She went through a side door and I followed. The patio was a huge wooden deck with lots of patio tables with umbrellas. "Have a seat. Do you want something to drink?"
"I'll have a diet Coke, please."
A beautiful Golden Retriever was heading my way, plumed tail waving, mouth open in a friendly grin.
Sandy indicated the dog. "I'll get that drink for you, and you can get started with the first candidate in the meantime." She headed back in to get my drink.
I am sure I had a look of confusion on my face. Maybe this is the candidate's dog, and he or she will be along momentarily. Yes, that has to be it. The Golden's head was on my lap now, and his beautiful brown eyes were looking up at me like I was his new best friend. I stroked the dog's silky coat, and the dog scooted closer. He's going to be on my lap here in a moment! I love dogs, but I'm not sure that is the "professional writer" image I wanted to project.
My hand caught what felt like a large tag hanging from the dog's collar. I was curious about the dog's name, so I bent down to read it.
Hi! My name is Buddy
I am running for Mayor
Vote for me!
Sandy returned with my diet Coke. "Hey, Sandy, what is this I read on Buddy's collar?"
She beamed. "Yes! Buddy is one of our challengers from the Repuplican party. Lots of folks think he's got a good chance to win because he's got those blond good looks and because he's so friendly. His detractors say he's easily distracted and doesn't concentrate on the matters at hand, so he would be a poor choice for mayor. He also isn't fixed and has a wandering eye..."
I took a big hit off my diet Coke. It gave me a minute to process this information.
Sandy whispered behind her hand, "There have been some rumors of sexual misconduct, too."
"Sexual misconduct? From an un-neutered Golden Retriever? What are the odds?" I mumbled.
"Exactly! I think you need to meet the other challenger." To the Golden, she said, " Buddy! Off you go."
A few minutes later, Sandy came back with another dog. A tiny female Chihuahua with huge ears, one eye, and the tip of her tongue sticking out. She fixed her remaining eye on me, staring straight at me. She didn't look particularly friendly.
"Sally here was rescued from a puppy mill. She's got lots of life experience, and she don't put up with no crap from no one. She's a tough old broad, and some say that's what is needed in the mayor's office. Her detractors are basically afraid of her."
I was a little nervous myself, but Sandy was handing her to me so I put my arms out to receive her. I looked her back in her one eye. Sally might not be pretty, but there was so much to this dog, I could see it. "I'd vote for you," I whispered into one of her sensitive ears.
"Do people vote?" I asked.
"We get a pretty good turn out, especially when the race is this close and we offer two-for-one draft beers. "
Before I left, I met Monster, the incumbent from the democat party. She was a beautiful dark tortoiseshell cat. She looked like she was very settled into being mayor and that made me think it might be time for a change.
I realized I had been punked by my editor, but I wasn't going to let it stop me. I wrote up a story about the three mayoral candidates in Guffey, Colorado, and had it in his inbox by Monday morning.
Author's note: This is a work of fiction based on real life. The town of Guffey, Colorado is a real place. They have a population of somewhere between 68 and 98 residents. They really do elect a dog or cat as their mayor.
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