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I can’t help but dwell on the meeting I’ve just left as I head east into the big town. No matter what its good intentions, government is a bully. The collateral damage nearly always disproportionate to its benefits. But something happens to people after they get elected to office. In reality, there are no good guys. Maybe at some point in the past there were, but not anymore.

The closest thing to a good guy is me.
 And what is it that I do?
I’m Mason Dixon—really. I’m the District Manager for House District 100. Nobody knows what I do, and that’s the beauty of it. Nobody sees me coming. And what do I do? If you’ve got a problem with a government agency and can’t get anywhere…if you’re tied up in red tape…maybe I can help. It doesn’t matter if you are having trouble renewing your driver’s license or a family wants to see a loved one, one last time before they die in prison. I will go to bat for you. It isn’t political—far from it. Some English author once said, “Heroism begins where politics ends.” that’s me. Nobody knows what I do. I can help anyone, anyone but me that is.

Back at the apartment, I shed my slacks for shorts, my golf shirt for a wife beater, and my cowboy boots for flip-flops. The A/C is inadequate everywhere I go at this point. This apartment being an all bills paid complex, it means they skimp. The place is pretty barren, as most of my furniture is still at the cabin in the country.

I open the refrigerator and savor the cool, crisp air. I rub a chilled bottle of beer over my sweaty forehead. But I don’t dare open it.

The cat makes her appearance. She hops up on the counter and looks at me in her enigmatic peculiar fashion. It’s like she’s studying me. Clarissa is her name. She was my wife’s cat. We never really took to each other, but lately the two of us seem to be growing on one another. I open a can of pungent Fancy Feast and she gobbles it up. I now think we might have a special relationship. Growing up, I never had cats, only dogs. After my wife was gone, my boss said I should get rid of her. I just couldn’t. So when I split the country, I brought her with me to the apartment. I think we’re helping each other adjust.

I’m ready to chill. Even though I don’t have anyone to spend it with, I’m on the cusp of a three-day weekend. I pour some Jack over a few ice cubes. I light up a smoke after I plop down on one of the only pieces of furniture I brought from the country. Clarissa is perched on the leather arm, her nostrils flaring and contracting in disapproval.

I’m flipping channels when I realize I left my wallet up at the District Office, which is some thirty minutes away. What if I need more Jack? I wonder. I start to worry when I realize I’m only four fingers full. I’ve got to go retrieve it.

The traffic outbound is awful. I sit behind a propane truck, my mind wandering. I start thinking about Brenna. An interesting observation I’ve made: since Ann departed, women seem to be everywhere—checking me out. I’m anything but the lone, hungry wolf. It’s an odd paradox, because since Ann left, public officials, other than my boss, want nothing to do with me.

 

Read more of The District Manager by Matt Minor!