And all parts of me that didn’t give a damn what became of Hopeless Bay were boiled down that day. I deposited my $90 thousand, lifted my chin up level and bought the thickest slice of bologna I could find in the fridge.
“This ain’t going to be easy kid, but this town is in your hands now. Don’t drop it.”
Trapped in my ears for years, those words.
The Society of Outport Revivalists had been watching me, and would continue to watch me. “We don’t want you to think you’re some sort of puppet,” they said. “But you’re going to get tangled and we can’t afford failure.”
“Consider this a push in the right direction,” they said, as they gave details of what was to become my first big job.
“We’ve seen a hundred towns go down, if only because they didn’t have a proper leader with eyes that shot forward — somebody with some fight in ’em, who ain’t got nothing to lose. Somebody who’s gonna live long enough to see us through.”
Bring Down Council
With the municipal elections only a season away, “the society has nominated you, Daniel, to run for mayor, against Bramwell Crewe.”
My heart started beating like a chased cat’s. I had no idea what to say. Old Bramwell had no idea he was about to be betrayed.
“You might think you’re working for the mayor,” they said, “but no, you’re working for us and all of outport Newfoundland. Sure, Bramwell’s got good intentions, but his time has come and gone in Hopeless Bay.”
Part of me wished I was a puppet, rather than do such a suicidal thing on my own two legs.
I left the roundtable and climbed out of the secret cellar like a ghost fresh out of the ground. Couldn’t shake the fear that people were going to see right through me. Who the hell was I to be running for mayor? I’d never been to a council meeting in my life for Christ sakes.
No matter how absurd, it wasn’t going to stop me. There was no going back now — they already had my name on the ballot.
Campaign in the brain
They say no one has ever run against Bramwell Crewe in his thirty years as mayor of Hopeless Bay. And I would be the first.
That fact alone started making this all make sense. How can one person rule a disappearing town for so long, without ever having to race for it? Surely he’d see the good in a challenger, to make him fight for his place… put the fear of being a regular citizen back in him.
And surely people would welcome a second option on the ballot for the first time in thirty years.
I mean, the state of things around here wasn’t all his fault, but if he really cared about this town he’d want to give someone else a fair go at fixing things, right?
Grandfather was digging out the well when I came home that day.
“I’m running for mayor, pop!”
And the spade slipped out of his hands like a wet fish, deep into the water hole.