Scarecrow foils an attempt to change the vote count
Wilfred Herpin, sheriff of Black Hollow, was unhappy. Unofficial results of yesterday’s election showed him losing his job of 23 years by only 315 votes. The ballots had been counted several times, and now sat on a table in a secure room on the second floor of City Hall, awaiting transport to the county seat for certification.
To speed certification counting, the ballots were sorted by candidate and packed in boxes of 500, with one for each candidate holding the odd number. Certification required inspecting each ballot, but the tally sheet provided by the Mayor of Black Hollow could be verified in a minute — number of boxes times 500 plus the number of ballots in the odd box. About as good as you could get for a small farming town in Indiana.
The local print shop owner owed Wilfred a favor thus had no problem printing an extra bundle of 500 ballots at the sheriff’s request.
Sheriff Herpin was into his second container of black coffee on the patio at Billy's Burgers when Guelfo Orrico and Paxton Scenza joined him. Scenza pushed aside the box lying on the concrete bench as he sat down.
Paxton ‘Hulk’ Scenza, true to his name, was huge. At 300+ pounds, with little of that between his ears, Paxton had trouble walking and was always short of breath. Low in moral fiber, he readily accepted the opportunity offered by Herpin.
Guelfo ‘Midget’ Orrico was as small as Scenza was big. Barely five feet tall and hardly 120 pounds soaking wet, Orrico needed money and felt safe with the idea of shady dealings protected by the sheriff.
Herpin’s plan was simple: replace one box of the opponent’s ballots with this extra box of his. The result would be a net change of 1,000 votes, easily explainable as one box placed in the wrong stack.
Orrico and Scenza took the envelopes pushed across the table, and Scenza felt the nudge of the box against his thigh. No one paid any mind to the crow pecking at food scraps under the table.
People driving by often laughed at the incongruity of crows perched on the shoulders of a scarecrow. One who took time to study the scene would see it differently. Above the cornfield, on the telephone wire running alongside the road about 50 yards from the scarecrow, perched a row of crows with more arriving all the time. They all faced the scarecrow. After a few minutes, the crows on the scarecrow flew off, not returning to the wire, and one or two others flew down from the wire to the scarecrow. This process continued until the wire was empty, and it repeated daily.
This murder of crows belongs to Scarecrow. They are his eyes and ears about town, his intelligence, his messengers, his hitmen; they report in daily. Today it was Inkblot that brought the news of the Herpin, Scenza, Orrico meeting. Scarecrow didn’t like Herpin; he wanted a less aggressive sheriff.
Just after 1 AM, Orrico and Scenza arrived at the back stairwell at City Hall. The light above the second-floor landing was out, so 400 pounds of criminal intent climbed the concrete and steel stairs in total darkness. Scenza needed both handrails for support and puffed like a steam locomotive with every step. Orrico followed close behind, carrying the box of ballots.
At the top step, Scenza flicked on his flashlight, and stood face to face with Scarecrow. The horrific moment that followed happened faster than a shutter click. Scenza screamed loud enough to be heard in the next county, turned and flew down the stairs, hardly touching a single one, with a form an Olympic long jumper would envy, then out the door into the night. Orrico saw none of it.
Identification of the deceased as Guelfo Orrico had been difficult. Found at the bottom of the stairwell amidst a mass of scattered ballots, he was trampled ‘as if by a herd of elephants.' Unexplained patches of straw littered the second-floor landing. The sheriff, outraged at the attempted voter fraud, is supporting the District Attorney’s investigation, reported the local newspaper.
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