By what I’m able to gather, this meeting has something to do with sex trafficking in the county. Seeping in from the city, just due east, this is a growing enterprise that has finally caught the attention of public servants.
As pretentious as this collection might be, as they banter around the table, all talk is loaded with good intentions. The only problem is that these good intentions mean suspending civil liberties.Th e worst is the local congresswoman. She even suggests spying on one’s neighbors. Yes, the helicopter mentality spins in mysterious ways. If a child scrapes their knee on the sidewalk, then the abrasiveness of concrete must be regulated, or at least investigated. If those diabolical shoelaces were complicit in the fall, then…something must be done about that as well! Followed to its logical conclusion, said child will never be allowed to leave the playpen, that too bereft of playthings—too dangerous.
When this meeting mercifully ends, I’m left with the impression that given another fifteen minutes someone was going to suggest a law banning men—any man—from coming into contact with children under thirty. To his credit, my boss has said very little.
Brenna has vanished.
The Rep. and I make conversation as we filter out into the blazing heat.
“So how do you like living in an apartment?” he asks, shielding himself from the offensive elements with this hand.
“It’s taking time…getting adjusted. At first it was so claustrophobic, having lived in the country for so long.”
“Are you gonna sell the place?” he asks, tugging on his clothes as if he’s on fire. The boss is huge, not fat but tall and big boned. If he weren’t so uncoordinated he might have played basketball.
“I don’t know. The taxes will go up without the homestead. I don’t know what I’m going to do with it.”
“Well, Wagoneer County will miss you if you pull up stakes for good.”
This is so obviously a false claim that it is diffcult for me to pretend otherwise. “Yeah, maybe.” I shrug, squinting my eyes. I’ve left my sunglasses in the car.
“How long has it been?” This question is even more awkward, exacerbated by his twitching under the sun.
“You mean since Ann…?”
“Coming up on a year.”
Before parting, we are interrupted by the congresswoman from the meeting. She still fails to acknowledge me, although I have met her probably seven-hundred times. It doesn’t matter, I’m ready to go. Though this is a Thursday, tomorrow is the Fourth. Besides, she’s had so much plastic surgery at this point she looks like a freak and I don’t feel like faking it.