“You know, you’re supposed to call before you just show up at someone’s door.” A.S. was irritated with her, but Kit Kat let the shrill voice run off her. “Is that so? Doesn’t seem to be the protocol when people visit ME,” she replied. “Can I come in and see Tort?”
A.S. rolled her eyes. “You can come in, but he’s really tired today. I don’t think you can talk to him, but I’ll ask.” She pointed at the couch and Kit Kat sat down and waited for her. She looked around the living room. It was a perfect room with no sign of the children who lived there. She suspected that the kids weren’t even allowed into that room and it was only used when people visited Tortimer and when the visiting home teachers came.
Her mother would have called it a frou frou room, even though it wasn’t frilly or fancy. She remembered the frou frou room in her parents’ house in Emigration. The fainting couch had been the focus of the room. Where was the fainting couch now? Was it one of the things that went to Ricky? She couldn’t remember and the thought of it made her sad. For a brief moment, she wondered what that ranger guy had done with the frou frou room. Even now, that thought of entering that room made her nervous as if her mother would come to her as a ghost and swat her behind for entering it.
The soft voices coming from Tortimer’s bedroom were unintelligible. A.S. left the room alone, shutting the door softly behind her. She whispered when she came back into the living room, “Sorry. He’s really not feeling well.”
Kit Kat sighed. In actuality, she wanted to talk to A.S., but had asked for Tortimer out of respect. “Well, that’s alright. I guess I’ll talk to him next week.” How could she approach the subject without offending A.S.? She laughed to herself. There’s no way NOT to offend A.S. No matter what she said, the woman would find some way to find offense. The thought was strangely liberating.
“Did you know that there is a secret cabal meeting every month at Mount Zen Cafe?” A.S. perked up at the knowledge. “Cable meeting? What, about Comcast? Man, they suck!” Kit Kat laughed. “No, CABAL…” She was going to define the word, but decided against it. “They were originally meeting because the Bowen House is weird and I crashed their party, so now they’re all embarrassed.”
A.S. smiled, secretively. “Well, they can’t talk about you behind your back, now, can they?” It was the exact response Kit Kat wanted. “No, now all they do is complain about you. I thought you’d want to join me next time they meet.” A.S. huffed. “Complain about me or about the mayor?”
Kit Kat shook her head and tried to commiserate, “That’s my problem exactly. No matter how often I remind them that YOU’RE not the mayor, they pretty much expect you to pick up the slack.” A.S. replied, “I do a shit load of paperwork for this town and I don’t even get paid for it.” Kit Kat nodded, trying to stay on A.S.’s good side. “I know, I know.”
She felt stuck. She didn’t know how to bring up the subject without hurting A.S.’s feelings. She tried to ease into it. “Maybe it’s time…” She couldn’t finish the sentence. A.S. folded her arms, eyes squinting at Kit Kat and waiting for the rest of her thought. Kit Kat continued, “Maybe he should step down.”
A.S. stood up and walked to the door. “Out of the question.” She opened the door and motioned to Kit Kat to leave, but she refused to get off the couch. “Come back here and talk to me. If you’re not willing to let them take away his mayoral title, then you’ve got to step up in a real way. You HAVE to be the mayor that Merriton needs if you want your dad to keep his dignity.” She could smell the rush of spring flood the house and she hoped her words weren’t skipping out the door into the wilds of Mount Zen.
A.S. stood with one hand on the door knob. “Time to go, Kit Kat.”