“Rural Cooperative Development Grants (RCDG),” Tank read the title of the application out loud. Everything he read sounded like pure confusion to him:
“NOTICE: This template is provided to assist you with developing a fiscal year (FY) 2013 application and is not intended to relieve you from your responsibility for reading the Rural Cooperative Development Grant Program regulations (7 CFR Part 4284, subparts A&F) and the FY 2013 Notice of Funding Availability. Regardless of whether you use this template, you are responsible for submitting a complete application. The bold text in the template provides guidance on the requirement and should be deleted prior to submitting your application.”
Suddenly, busting his butt coding at Berkeley sounded easy. At least when he had trouble, he could go to his professor or other students for help. At school he had a book telling him how to code. Try as he might, he couldn’t find a book on how to be a mayor at the county library in Emigration. And why doesn’t Merriton have its own library?!
He heard a loud knock on the door and for a second, he thought it came from his nana’s television, but his grandma immediately turned off the TV and yelled to Tank, “Can you get the door, Wilford?” Tank jumped up from the kitchen table and ran to the living room. “Probably just Elvis here to get another scolding from ya, Nana.” She pulled her robe closed and shook her head. “Don’t let ‘im in. I ain’t decent.” She rocked back and forth, trying to get the momentum to get out of the chair. Tank helped her up and while she hobbled to the back room, he answered the door.
“Hello?” A gorgeous blond in a pin skirt and heavy duty ski jacket was at the door. “Hi, I’m Isabelle.” She held out her hand and Tank shook it, trying to figure out what this beautiful woman was doing on his front porch. Not an LDS missionary. No name tag and she was alone. Must be selling something. Before he could tell her he wasn’t interested, she walked right into his house.
“Um…” Tank tried to think of what to say and the door was still wide open, letting the cold air rush in. He closed it and turned back to, what was her name? Isabelle? She had already taken off her coat and her mustard yellow sweater fit her body tightly. She had a prim, red bow at the collar of the white oxford shirt underneath. She was a vision of loveliness. “Can I take your coat?” She handed it to him and he hung it up on the coat rack. He could smell her cologne lingering on the coat.
“It’s not quite as cold as they warned me it would be. Don’t they ever plow the roads here?” Tank wiped his hands on his t-shirt, feeling self-conscious about his clothing. “They used to, but then they stopped doing it. We just drive over the snow until it’s packed down. Not too slippery.” The lady looked at him expectantly. They probably would have kept on staring at each other for long and inexplicable minutes, but Tank’s phone rang.
He answered it. “Hello?” It was Random’s number. “Hey, Tank! Just a heads up. Congrats on winning the election. Samson told me about it and I’ve done something a little crazy. I hired a recent Poli-Sci graduate from Stanford. She’s a bit of a go-getter.” Tank looked up at the blond. “Yeah, she’s standing in front of me right now.” Random sounded confused, “She is? I just hired her on…” Tank could hear Random pull away from the phone. “When did we hire Isabelle, Sierra?” There was a delay and Tank could hear the muffled voice of Sierra answering Random, but he couldn’t make out her words. Random came back, “Monday! Just the day before yesterday! Wow!” Tank didn’t know what to say, so he just repeated after Random, “Wow.”
Random continued, “I am paying her salary for one year. In that time, she is to make Merriton run so efficiently that she can find a salary for YOU and herself. I told her that you were to be making $40K a year, which sounds like nothing to me, but Sierra assures me that’s about average for what mayors make.” Tank’s mind reeled. Forty thousand dollars a year sounded like a literal FORTUNE to him. “She is being paid $22k a year right now. I want you to make sure she makes at least that much once she gets Merriton up and running.”
Tank felt dizzy and sat on the arm of his grandmother’s chair, but he felt the wood underneath him give a little, and he stood up quickly. “Now, listen, Tank. You’re in charge. Isabelle is there to help you and teach you how to run a town, but you are the mayor. Don’t let her bully you into doing something you don’t want to do.” All Tank could do was answer politely, “Yes, sir.”
“Congratulations, Tank! Merriton has been needing a good mayor ever since Tortimer got sick. I’m proud of you!” Random handed the phone to Sierra who told him a bunch of legal stuff about how Isabelle is technically an employee of theirs for the next year, but Tank’s mind was literally too full to accept any further information. They said their pleasantries and hung up.
“Hi, Mayor James. Is there something I can help you with?” Tank nearly ran to the kitchen table to hold up the confusing grant paperwork.