It was a February morning in my office and I was thinking. Everything was going well. Costs were down, three members of staff had left, but happily, one retired and two in new and better jobs in Bigtown. Just Dingeldei, Mrs Basefeld, Mrs Broom and myself left.
And I did not have enough to do, perhaps I could work part-time, perhaps we could cut or even refund the property taxes; the rainy-day fund had not been touched. Karl Dingeldei had given up trying to get me to sign payments for things I did not understand.
I was lost in my happy thoughts – a snappy-dressed man burst into my room.
“Hello, hello, I'm the repo man. Nothing can stop the repo man...”
“Good morning, I'm the Mayor of Brasslans.”
He was very certain of himself. “Just the man I wanted to meet. I'm gonna repo your car.”
“What, my rusty old pick-up truck, you want to repossess that, it's almost twenty years old...”
“Nah, you've got a ten-month-old Schwinn Flying Karnage, it's leased and you haven't kept up with the monthly payments; you must know this, the office sent you a warning letter, perhaps two.”
“No? I've seen no letters and certainly no such car, a Schwinn Flying Karnage you say, they're pretty classy and pretty expensive, aren't they?”
“Too right! And I'm taking it back.”
A Schwinn Flying Karnage? Where had I last seen one? Who insisted on driving me to Old Joe's leaving party and to the Mayor's Xmas party in Bigtown in his flashy car?
“Is it a black one with pink leather seats?”
“Yeah, right on.”
“Then try looking in Nickel Avenue, but don't tell anyone I sent you.” Karl Dingeldei lived in Nickel Avenue.
Two days later he burst into my room and threw a letter on to my desk. “It's all your doing. You must really hate me. You made me resign.”
“No, Karl, what have I done? If you're resigning it's not because I pushed for it.”
He shouted something that I fortunately did not understand and slammed the door on the way out.
Four people gone, I had not asked them to leave, three were left. No one was complaining about being overworked.
John Cairns, the Financial Officer in Bigtown, phoned: “I got him this time. Westchester and Dingeldei up to no good, a real scam, the Mayor leases a big car for official business using public funds and his relative and Financial Officer uses it as his own car. I threatened Dingeldei: resign or face the police. Surprise, surprise, he resigned. You know, it was a Schwinn Flying Karnage with pink leather seats.”
“The money situation is very good, I've decided to work part-time and to cancel the next quarterly property tax payment, that will please everybody in Brasslans.”
“The main work of the Town Hall is the Citizens' Bureaux, giving advice, issuing licences and permits and ID-cards and so on, lots of form-filling. That's your work, Barbara and Bessy, it's very important. And I do my representation...”
“You call that work, Yudi. You go to parties, award prizes and things, and then you go to more parties.” Said Bessy Broom.
“The golden chain that the Mayor has to wear is very heavy, you know.” I laughed. “But seriously, couldn't the Citizens' Bureaux open for the whole of Thursday every week, instead of just mornings. Or perhaps two days a week...”
“Why not? Why not four days every week? We could use our Tourist Information Office, it's a much nicer room, it's been unused since September.” Said Barbara Basefeld.
“If you, Yudi, can work part-time, then so can I.” chimed in Bessy Broom. “And the chain is not that heavy, it's only made of brass.”
On the day before Ash Wednesday I hired a minibus and took Deirdre, Barbara, Bessy, Old Joe, Young Joe, the doctor, Peter and Jean Lans, and several bottles to Bigtown to watch the carnival procession.