The following is part of a novel I started and abandoned years ago, but recent events brought the events described therein to mind, so here is a portion of my squandered youth:
Murphy returned and asked, does anyone want their picture taken with
Frank? The Phoenix is doing a meet the candidate
feature and their guy wants some pictures of the voters meeting Frank.
Jack, the man’s been the councilman
for this ward for the past thirty years, Nunan said. Who hasn’t met him already?
A good point, Sean, but the guy
still wants pictures of Frank meeting his constituents.
I’m from the Seventh Ward, Nunan
Ditto, Amy said. And I’m not going
anywhere near that guy from the paper.
How about you, Mickey, Murphy said.
I’m not from the city, Mike said.
What difference does it make, Murphy
said. They just need some pictures.
Hang on there, Jack, the lad has a
point, Nunan said. I don’t think your
man there will want a picture of himself soliciting the vote of someone who
doesn’t live in the city in the newspaper, not after the stink the reform clubs
made about Martin Meehan last year.
Reminding the public of your sins is not good politics.
Yeah, I suppose you’re right, Murphy
said, just thought I’d ask. He turned
and went back to the candidate, who was having his picture taken with
Bridie. Bill O’Hara stood off to one
side with a drink in one hand, speaking to Tommy Raferty.
Who’s Martin Meehan, Mike asked.
Martin Meehan was the most loyal
Democrat in municipal history, Michael, Nunan said, a Democrat so true blue
that he kept voting for the party’s candidates for years after his death.
When did he die, Mike asked.
1931, Nunan said, and apparently
he’d voted in every election since then.
The reform Democrats became suspicious last year when their man lost the
mayoral primary in the Third Ward by slightly more votes than there were people
living in the ward, if you believe the Census Bureau. The reform clubs looked into the matter and,
lo and behold, not only were there more votes than people, but that a good
number of the registered voters resided, if you can call it residing, in St.
Jude’s Cemetery up on Keaton Avenue. Mr.
Martin Meehan was the most famous of these civic-minded citizens, a man with a
perfect voting record even though the state sent him to the electric chair for
murdering a grocer on Jackson
Avenue during the Christmas holidays. Young Martin—he was only
twenty-two at the time, and him with a father a lieutenant in the fire department
and a brother a priest—killed the man for seventeen dollars and some
change. He ran out of the grocery after
shooting the poor bastard in the head; at the trial he couldn’t explain why
he’d shot the man at all—the grocer didn’t have a gun, so it must’ve been pure
fright; and then, as his luck would have it, or wouldn’t have it in this case,
he ran right into the cop on the beat, who’d heard the shot and come a-running
with his pistol drawn. Martin took a shot
at the policeman and then the policeman took a shot at Martin.
Well, Martin missed and the policeman didn’t;
he hit Martin in the chest, I think.
Even with the bullet in him, Martin still tried to escape; he got
halfway down the block before he collapsed from loss of blood. The city sent him to the prison ward at
County General to recover, and then, after a fair and speedy trial, the state
shipped him off to Sargenton, where they plunked the poor boy down in the
electric chair after a last meal of a buttered scone and a cup of tea, strapped
him in, and swiftly dispatched him into eternity. And then, having gone to meet
his Maker, Martin Meehan entered politics, an altogether more lucrative and
much safer form of crime.
Stop being gruesome, Amy said.
I’m just giving the lad the facts,
No one asked you for the details,
for Christ’s sake, Amy said, and what difference does it make how they
died? The dead vote in this city and the
dead all vote the straight Democratic ticket.
That’s what’s important, not the particulars of how this one or that one
The particulars are always
important, Nunan said. Isn’t that so,
God is in the details, Mike said.
Oh my, my, my, clichés served on
silver platitudes, Amy said. Whatever
will I have for dessert?
Labels: Democrats, Politics, Roberta Vasquez, writing