Time to Care

Norton Fiction - Spring 2011, Emotions are running high over the campaign to override Proposition 2 1/2. The opposing forces can't seem to figure out how to coexist let alone compromise.

Hank Gresham waited as the slew of cars proceeded up Main Street. Taking a left turn in Norton had increasingly become an adventure over the years. His very old Ford pickup did not like the demand for rapid acceleration just to make a simple left turn in his supposedly small town. The alternative however was the risk of being broadsided by what Hank liked to call "caffeine hyped, speed crazed yuppie moms" in foreign SUVs.

As if on cue, Madilyn Baxter zoomed up her Lexus to close the gap between her and the car in front of her, making it impossible for Hank to make his left turn. Then, at the last second she threw on her right blinker, turned into the Town Hall parking lot and grabbed the best space, right by the door.

Madilyn easily could have let Hank go ahead of her but frankly she didn't have time to care. In fact, with the two big "VOTE NO" stickers on his front bumper she was glad to cut him off. She didn't have much tolerance for the "old Townies" who she believed refused to invest in Norton's future. She was very active in the committee seeking funding for capital improvements in the Norton schools by way of increased property taxes.

Hank remained waiting in the middle of the road stranded for another cycle of traffic to pass by. As he waited, Madilyn began the clumsy task of getting the stroller out of the hatch and loading little Joshua from the car seat to the stroller.

When Hank finally got to make his turn he had to settle for the furthest spot in the Town Hall parking lot. His bad knee would not appreciate the distance but he
remained too proud to apply for handicapped parking plates.

With Joshua finally settled in the stroller,  Madilyn flung her baby bag over her shoulder and pushed a button on her key ring while pointing at the Lexus. All at once the doors locked, the lights flashed, a horn quickly chirped twice  and the tailgate closed. At exactly the same moment in the furthest space from her, Hank closed the door of his pickup. For kicks he pointed his key chain at his pickup truck and pressed down on his old Ford key. As he expected, precisely nothing

Madilyn briskly headed to the door of the Town Hall. She had lots to do.  Hank put his cane down, took a step and slowly made his way to the door. He didn't have lots to do.

After waiting for what seemed like an eternity, the elevator door rattled open for Madilyn. She pushed the stroller through the door, stepped inside and pushed 2. She could hear footsteps but opted to push the Close Door button. She knew it was the guy in the pickup. She would enjoy sticking it to a "NO voting townie" twice in three minutes.

Just as the doors were about to merge together a black rubber tip followed by about 3 inches of rounded lacquered mahogany halted the doors in their tracks, it was the end of Hank's cane. The doors reopened to reveal  an outwardly grouchy  but inwardly delighted old man in suspenders. 

Hank was going to savor the painfully silent elevator ride. It would be a sweet little taste of revenge for the parking incident and a blow against the caffeine junkie speed demons who were infiltrating his town. Most of all he detested how the newcomers, like Lady Lexus here, had this self righteous attitude about mandating property tax increases. Apparently, before little Joshua could enter the schools in Norton he would need air conditioning, new computer labs, and new whiteboards, whatever those were. Hank lived in Norton his whole life. When he went to school, they made due with what they had.

Hank stepped in to the elevator. Madilyn refused to acknowledge what occurred or make eye contact. The doors tried to close again and this time they were successful. The barely sufficient elevator began to creep up to the second floor of the Town Hall.

Madilyn needed to have plans reviewed for her expansive new outdoor living space. Hank needed to ask a question at one of the town offices.

A little less than halfway between floors, the elevator shook with a lurch. The lights flickered. Little Joshua shrieked and Hank grabbed the railing. Then the elevator stopped in its tracks. For the first time Madilyn and Hank looked at each other. They were stuck. Together.

To be continued.

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Tanya Willow March 27, 2012 at 11:37 AM
This is written really, really well. Fiction sometimes makes a political point in ways facts never can.
Megan March 27, 2012 at 01:40 PM
Nice piece. Would love to see the to be continued.
Kevin M. April 01, 2012 at 12:25 PM
Thanks for the nice feedback. The story is just about done and the conclusion will be posted on Monday or Tuesday.


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