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by J. McDougald
“I understand you have some concerns but let me assure you, the benefits to our community will far far outweigh any minimal cost. The economic boom alone will mean great things for the residents of our town. Great things!”
Even as she said the words Elizabeth knew they meant nothing to the decrepit old dinosaurs gathered before her. Old people grumbled any time anything changed. When they put the decorative brick islands down the center of main street they complained. New benches and lamp posts in front of Town Hall, they complained. The new county garbage dump site just south of town, more complaining.
The woman fought to smile as she looked out at the elderly malcontents from the small podium that had been set up in the seniors center for her. She was the Mayor for God’s sake, she shouldn’t have to put up with this. Why did they have to fight any kind of progress? Were they that stuck in the past? God, the pack of cigarettes in her pocket seemed to be pulling at her left hand via telekinesis. “It’s not the fifties anymore!” she wanted the scream at them. If she ever got like this she hoped someone would have the decency to smother her in her sleep or let her drown in the tub.
“You’re going to take the most beautiful piece of land we have and let some outsiders come and build a hotel on it?” one of the old men said incredulously.
“Richard I understand your concern-“
“Is that all you can say, that you understand our concern?” Richard asked. “Why even come here Liz? You guys are just gonna do whatever the hell you want anyway.”
Elizabeth sighed. She hated that most of the people here had known her since she was a baby, it was obvious that even though she was forty-two years old they still saw her as a child. “You are a valuable part of the community and we value your input, even yours Richard.” More grumbling, Richard just waved her off with his arms. “Look, I know you don’t like the thought of it, but this town is growing and we need money. If we want to sustain this growth we need to invest it in programs that will continue to draw new residents and tourists.”
“Horseshit Liz,” Paul Baker yelled from the back of the room, “the town has plenty of money in the coffers and with three government grants coming in next year we’re gonna have more than we could possibly spend.”
“Who told you that Paul?” Liz asked. “They were pulling your leg.” How the hell did these old codgers know about those grants? Couldn’t anything be kept secret in this dump of a town? She was going to have a talk with that accountant of theirs and tell him to zip his lips or find a new place to work.
“I’d hate to know what your mom is thinking right now Liz,” Beverly Deary said, “God rest her soul.”
“Fer a hunnerd years that cemetery’s looked out over the Lake-Woods,” Tom Marano said, “and now yer gonna chop ’em down and plunk down a big ugly hotel. I never thought I’d see the day Lizzy, never in hell.”
“We have to look to the future now, not the past. Besides, they’re not going to chop down the whole woods.”
“Yeah,” Paul said, “just enough for the hotel and the parking lot.”
Elizabeth didn’t think this was the right time to tell them about the swimming pool and the mini-golf course, so she didn’t. She knew it was futile, she’d never had a chance at making them see the project for what it was: an opportunity. Liz supposed that was because when you were that ancient your opportunities were limited to Jell-O for desert and maybe a timely bowel movement. They would never understand, they were simply too out of touch with the modern world.
Tom stood and pointed a withered finger at the Mayor. “Someday it’ll be you in one of them graves Liz. You’d do well to remember that.”