Mindy pointed to the television. “Daddy, I could do that.” The President was talking into a microphone.
“Do what, honey? He’s just talking.”
Daddy knew all about politics. It was his job to monitor elections for the city of Cedar Hills. Mindy was surprised how creative Daddy could be in a job that sounded so boring.
“I can talk. I could be President.”
“I think you’ll need to work on looking Presidential.”
“Like anything else. You start at the bottom and work your way up to the top,because any other direction just isn’t the way to go.”
A few years later, high school diploma in hand, Mindy dressed in her sunny yellow cashmere suit with low alligator pumps. She was on her way out the door to search for the bottom of Cedar Hills when inspiration hit. On her computer, she searched for soup kitchens.
“Excellent,” she said aloud in the empty condo. “Down by the harbor.”
Last year, Daddy had died, one of the first victims of Cedar Hill’s failing infrastructure. His death had put a face on the increasing number of dilapidated roads and bridges in town.
After months of lawyers and judges and front page newspaper articles, Mindy had finally received a generous settlement from the City. And she had also gained something else more valuable than that, name recognition.
Mindy spent a month writing down everything that Daddy had ever told her about politics. Hopefully, he was up in heaven watching her now. She smiled her best smile at her reflection in the mirror and gave herself a little wave.
When she pulled her yellow Mini convertible up to the Cedar Hills Rescue Mission, Mindy knew she had definitely arrived. At the bottom.
Inside, Father Bob asked, “How can I help you?”
“I’m running for Mayor. I’m collecting signatures to get my name on the ballot.”
“At the homeless shelter?”
“Yes.” She looked around warily, then pasted a smile on her face.
“Homeless people can’t vote,” said Father Bob.
Mindy gasped. “Why not?” she asked.
“How old are you?” Father Bob asked.
“How old are you?” Mindy asked. She wasn’t going to let this gray-hair bring her down.
“What has that got to do with it?” Father Bob asked.
“Exactly!” Mindy said. Checkmate, she mouthed.
“I can read lips,” Father Bob said.
“Great, read this.” Mindy mouthed, We the People of the United States, in Order to. . . as Father Bob led her into the dining area. Mindy greeted each person. “Hi, I’m Mindy Miller and I’m running for Mayor of Cedar Hills.”
“I don’t have an address. I’m homeless,” Milton said.
“You’re here, you’re alive. Put the shelter as your address.”
“We can do that?” Milton asked.
“This is America,” Mindy proclaimed. “We can do anything!”
“Might not be here tomorrow,” Milton said, writing his name on the form.
“Put in a change of address tomorrow.” She turned to Father Bob. “Boy, I need coffee.”
“This way,” he led her over to a large metal vat.
Mindy wrinkled her nose. “So how far is Starbucks?” she asked.
She returned with a carload of Starbucks coffee and a latte. She began serving those waiting outside.
“Sign my petition?” Mindy asked an old man in a raincoat.
“Can’t vote, I’m a felon,” he said.
“Are you sorry?”
“I believe you. Sign here and have some coffee.”
Mindy moved down the line to a woman with three toddlers. “Hi,” she said to the youngest. “Do you know how to draw an X?”
At the end of the day, Mindy had collected 542 signatures. On the way home, she stopped at a tattoo parlor and insisted on a painted Harley bike across her chest. Tomorrow she planned to visit drug and alcohol clinics but she had no intention of letting an entire night go to waste.
At home, she dressed in a low-cut black leather jumpsuit and chains, exposing her new fake tattoo. A quick computer search for ‘biker bars’ found The Roadhouse out on Highway 24. At this rate, she’d have enough signatures before the week was out.
On her first day in office, Mayor Mindy was disappointed to find there was no money in the city budget to spend on infrastructure.
“There’s too much spending in this town,” she said, reviewing the employee roster. “Why does a library need more than one librarian?”
“How many people have you already fired?” Dan asked.
Mindy had invited Dan to be City Manager that night at The Roadhouse after he’drealized her Harley tattoo was a paint job.
“Counting is your job, Dan,” she said. “Keep the solid waste worker, cause –ewww – and the budget manager. Maybe an engineer - what do they do anyway? And a playground monitor, that’s important. Hey, can I fire the city council? I think they might be trouble.”
“I’ll look into it,” Dan said.
“Tell them ‘Less government is good government.’ I should appreciate that.”
In the afternoon, Mindy took the limo to the Soup Kitchen.
“Welcome back, Mayor,” Father Bob said.
“I hear you’re looking for a job, Bob. Hey that rhymes.” Mindy giggled.
“I’m shutting you down, Bob.”
“Well, I fixed the budget this morning so I thought I’d solve the homeless problem this afternoon.”
Father Bob pointed at the hungry crowd. “Doesn’t look solved to me, Mayor.”
Mindy pointed to the buses pulling up outside the building. “There’s the solution,” she said. “But, hey, I accidentally fired the Rosarian this morning. The job is yours, if you want it.”
That evening, Mayor Mindy held her first press conference in the Cedar Hills Rose Garden. She stepped up to the microphone. A policeman in back held up a sign that read: Give me back my job!
Mindy watched as Dan nodded to a man in a “Security” hat and a Hells Angels vest. The sign disappeared.
“Tonight I am announcing construction of the Miller Memorial Bridge in honor of my late father, Mark Miller,” Mindy said into the microphone.
Dan and Father Bob applauded along with the gathered crowd.
“I love you, Daddy,” she said. She stepped back from the podium, to give the photographers a better shot. Mindy raised her hand and flashed her brightest smile, giving her most Presidential wave to the small crowd.
When she isn't writing stories like Mindy in the Rose Garden, Carolyn is on a quest to visit all of the U.S. National Parks in an RV with her husband and beagle.