February 12, 2015 – Bright and early Tuesday morning, Sawyer and I hopped in the truck and made the short drive to town. With a shaky wing, I declared my intention to run for the open position of Library Trustee. I wasn’t twitching from nerves. A thunderous pile of snow slid off the old slate roof of the Town Hall just as I was adding my name to the book entitled: Town Election Records – Volume III – Intent to Run. The shock caused my signature to fly across the entirety of the page like a lightning bolt.
“Look how big my name is!” I said in horror, knowing that a redo was impossible in this situation.
“Don’t worry about it,” Sawyer said calmly, peeking over my shoulder. She winced at the sight of my name sprawled in grandeur as if in homage to John Hancock. “It shows them that you are a serious contender.”
“Or seriously demented!” I argued.
The woman behind the glass window asked if I was done. I closed the book and slid it back to her through the opening, hoping to stall humiliation until I was out the door. I almost made it.
“Oh, Happy?” she called after me.
Drat! I was so close to freedom.
“Yes…” I replied sweetly, then turning slowly to face her.
“Before you go, I want to let you know that there is one other person running against you. In fact, you missed bumping into her by five minutes. Funniest thing. First, no one wanted the job, and now we have two candidates sign up within seconds of each other. This might be a real horse race after all!”
I wasn’t sure if I should be offended by the equine reference, but decided that the honorable thing to do as a potential public official was to bite my tongue.
“Someone else is running?” Sawyer asked incredulously. In her mind, she was already baking cakes and cookies for my celebration party.
“Oh, yes!” replied the clerk, seeming to take great pleasure in breaking the news. “Best of all,” she continued, leaning out her window, “your opponent is challenging anyone running against her to a debate. The date is already set for next Tuesday, here in the meeting room. We’re filming it for local cable. Seven o’clock sharp! Though you’ll want to be here by 6:30 for lighting and makeup.”
WHAT?! The dream was unraveling before my eyes. I would do anything for my beloved library, but this? I respect the election process. I longed for the right to vote. But I hadn’t counted on stepping into the murky, sometimes sinister waters of small town politics.
“Debate, you say?” Sawyer repeated stepping forward. “My candidate is open for that. Put us down for next Tuesday. We’ll be there, and Happy will show the citizens of this town why she, and she alone, is best equipped to assume the role of Library Trustee!”
“Wonderful!” replied the clerk, clasping her hands together as if she were a real estate agent sealing the deal on a new listing.
“Wait a minute!” I objected. “Don’t I get to know who my opponent is first?”
“Of course,” the woman responded cheerfully. “Being a long time patron of the library, I’m sure you already know her. It’s Eunice. Eunice the librarian… er, former librarian. Terrible breakdown, she suffered, wasn’t it? I heard she left the country but missed home so much that she turned straight around and came back.”
I opened my beak to comment, but Sawyer pulled me back abruptly.
“She didn’t decide to come back,” I hissed in Sawyer’s ear. “She was kicked out of Paraguay for her unsightly behavior on the plane ride over there!”
“I know!” Sawyer whispered pulling me out of earshot. “But we’re going to save that little nugget for the debate! It shows that she is not good under pressure.”
Doubts about running for Library Trustee coursed through my mind as Sawyer ushered me from the building. I was about to voice my concerns when we were interrupted by a throng of joyous supporters standing just below the rough stone steps.
“CONGRATULATIONS, HAP!! WE’RE SO PROUD OF YOU!! YOU’RE GOING TO BE A SUPER LIBRARY TRUSTEE!! STICKING UP FOR THE LITTLE GUYS, THAT’S YOU!! YOU HAVE OUR VOTE!!
Homemade signs were hoisted into the air among the cheers and hoopla. Addie and Charlotte with their pocketbooks and pearls, Wilma in her knowing smirk; Tim in a dapper red, white and blue bow tie. Every member of my flock was there, including the ducks, the dogs, Holly the kitten… even the other feline, Sugar, though she was sulking in the front seat of Mom’s van, refusing to look my way. And there was Mom, leaning against the car with a huge smile on her face. How could I let them down? How could I not go forward with my best self? How could I not be this town’s next elected Library Trustee?
It’s on Eunice. It’s most definitely on!