Shucks, Tom, it’s Huck!

“Tom, how are you doing, this fine day?”

“Not bad, Huck.  Not bad ‘tall.  Haven’t seen you in a cat’s nine lives.  Where are you living now?”

“Why do you ask?”

“No reason, reason ‘tall.  I’ve been solving mysteries of all-seeing eyes for many years, though, I can tell you.”

“Private inspecturating, are you?”

“Private investigator!”

“Private eye is what you are.”

“And you…what are you going about?”

“Me?  Well, haven’t you heard?  I’m a politician’s politician.  Head of the City Council.  They want me to run for governor.”

“Are the you Sean Finnegan what’s holding up headlines?”

“The very same, I am.  Yes, indeed.”

“The one with an honest wife and three little ones?”

“So the Good Lord has made it out for me in His own sweet time, yes.”

“Lord a’mighty.  Who woulda thunk it, you and I, two successful businessmen.”

“Busy is the word for it, Tom.  Do you think our tales are any better with age?”

“Maybe.  Maybe not.  But they sure pay a lot more per word than they used to, don’t they?”

“Paid…or stolen?”  Huck winked at Tom and nudged his shoulder with an outstretched hand.  “Would you be interested in joining my campaign.  I could use a good man on the team, one who knows his way with the ladies, especially the little old ladies like your aunt.  They say I’m a shoo-in if I can nab the elderly vote.”

Tom motioned Huck over to a bench next to the entrance of the corner druggist’s shop.

“Huck, I’m not the man you once knew.”

“Aww, don’t be modest.  Your reputation is as good as gold, assuming we can keep a gold standard in this wonderful country of ours.”

Tom dropped his elbows on his knees and lowered his head, his shiny boots reflecting the passing carriages.

“Tom, it’s not like you to be silent.  What gives?”

“Huck, have you ever heard of Edgar Allan Poe or Victor Hugo?”

“Of course.”

“Do their stories appear as anything other than a child’s tale?”

“No, of course not.  These are troubled men, men in whom the light of God’s love is distorted, good for scaring kids and twisting an old morality tale into troubled plots, but they are not stories meant for good, law-abiding adult citizens.  Certainly not a decent voter like you or I!”

Tom wiped the back of his hand across his forehead, wiping off a day’s worth of worry written in sweat and road dust.

“Huck, in my job…well…there’s more than conspiracies in what we see.  The rawness, the open wounds, the lies…”

“Tom, Tom, it’s all in a day’s work for an elected official like myself.  I completely understand where you’re coming from.  Have you been backed into a corner and forced to take a bribe to look the other way before a certain someone in a prominent position will let you loose?”

“That I have, yes, but…”

“Well, there you have it.  Nothing to worry about.  A job’s a job and you’re the man for it.  If you weren’t yourself, I wouldn’t be offering you this job, now, would I?”

Tom pushed himself to his feet.  “Huck, what say we find a saloon and talk this out some more?”

“You sayin’ you’re thirsty?”

“Yes.”

“Why didn’t you say so?”

They agreed to meet a few hours later after they both finished business for the day, joining each other at the Red Lion Inn, an old hotel famous for its saloon that sold ‘genuwyne’ moonshine in bottles labeled “Grandma’s Secret Recipe Cough Medicine.”

TO BE CONTINUED…

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