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New Fiction


by Brian Conlon

      There were two problems in Cambridge, Massachusetts: 1) the people were quite upset that their cars were being ticketed for parking in spaces reserved for those with square specific permits; and 2) the Mayor had an attractive wife, a tandem bicycle and three less attractive mistresses. The people of Cambridge were of two minds as to whether problem number two was simply one problem or whether the problem was irreducible and really consisted of at least six independent problems, namely the Mayor, the wife, each mistress and the bike. Those in favor of the one problem approach, namely psychotherapists and the faculty of the Kennedy School of Government, pointed to the fact that if one were to eliminate the Mayor or the wife, there would no longer be mistresses, only women, perhaps loose, perhaps not, but surely no longer a problem. Those in favor of the irreducibility theory of Cambridge city politics, namely pedestrians and the faculty at the Sloan School of Business, pointed out that the bike is not dependent on the existence of any of the aforementioned live beings and that one cannot simply eliminate wives, mayors, mistresses and bicycles on a whim. This type of thing, and possibly substantive issues as well, were to be hashed out by the Cambridge City Council.
      The Cambridge City Council consisted of nine members, each chosen in a fair and equitable election in which twenty percent of the population was ineligible to vote. The students of Harvard and MIT were generally estranged from the goings-on of the local Cambridge government. The students did not take the time to register to vote in the city which they spent most of their time, penned up in pretty brick buildings, in the case of Harvard, or modern monstrosities in the case of MIT, studying why one would think a brick building is pretty, in the case of Harvard, or why each jutted edge protruding out onto the sidewalk, nearly tripping an elderly pedestrian and his long-tongued dog, staring downward, enamored by the hopscotch one rebellious MIT student with horn-rimmed glasses and an overweening sense of irony drew two days previous, makes for optimum use of lighting or minimizes the distatasteful smells emanating from certain computer labs, in the case of MIT.
      The young disenfranchised intelligentsia of the two schools took no notice of the rules and regulations of their fine city, knowing that anything terribly important would be brought to their attention via email by whatever Dean of Students happened to represent their interests in their entirety. The respective Deans did not understand what power they had and assumed, correctly, that their emails largely went unread and would have been used as kindling for the proposed grease fires in Central Square had they been printed out. The grease fires were proposed by a disgruntled Wendy’s employee whose sensitive skin became irritated when the chain began to use sea salt on their french fries. The proposition did not get as far as the employee might have hoped and was voted down by a count of 6-2 with one abstention at the last meeting of the Cambridge City Council.
      There was one topic, however, which the Deans had no intention of addressing, but students truly cared about: parking. Until last year, students, and, incidentally, all other people, who wanted to park in Cambridge were required to register their cars in Massachusetts using their Cambridge address and paying a nominal fee of $20. This was always an unpopular policy with MIT students who insisted, “But, I’m from California, California!” and Harvard students, who said “It’s not even my car!” While the residency and registration rules were generally reviled, not just by students, but visitors and some high school teachers who chose to commute from Somerville principally to avoid the student-infested Cambridge night life, no one was upset enough to participate in local government or knock over “Cambridge Permit Only” signs with axes or broad swords.
      This all changed, or at least intensified immeasurably, when at the behest of one Harvard Law School professor, a certain Dr. Krup, whose Ph. D was in interior design and whose career had benefited from the advent of over-the-counter teeth whitening systems, the Cambridge City Council ratified a proposal to make all parking permits “square specific.” Now, instead of one general parking permit for the entire Cambridge metropolitan area, one could only obtain a parking permit for the square in which one lived.
      Dr. Krup said, “This will encourage walking.”
      Dr. Krup said, “This will encourage biking.”
      Dr. Krup said, “This will eliminate obesity.”
      Dr Krup said, “This will foster a sense of tight-knit community.”
      Dr. Krup said, “Diversity.”
      Dr. Krup said, “This will discourage drunk-driving.”
      Dr. Krup said, “This will increase attendance at your church.”
      Dr. Krup said, “This will keep the police busy.”
      Dr. Krup said, “And fire trucks can still park wherever they wish.”
      Dr. Krup said, “This worked in Venice, really, it did!”
      Dr. Krup said, “America was built without cars, originalism, originalism, originalism!”
      Dr. Krup said, “This will encourage horse ownership.”
      Dr. Krup said, “Insofar as it does not encourage horse ownership, is that a bad thing?”
      Dr. Krup said, “Some say we should protect our borders. Those that say that have to agree that the first border in need of protecting must be the one closest to one’s home. So those that say that should support this parking scheme. I don’t really agree with those who say that.”
      Dr. Krup said, “And if it fails, there’s plenty of parking in Somerville.”
      The Cambridge City Council listened carefully to everything the esteemed professor told them and wondered amongst themselves whether or not his teeth were the most perfect or the second most perfect shade of white (second only to the white on the tip of the stenographer’s fingernails) they had ever seen. Shannon O’Kelly, the councilwoman from East Cambridge who changed her name from Samantha Kanton because several nights a week she had dreams of becoming a real player in Boston city politics, objected to the proposal.
      She said, “East Cambridge is not a square, where can we park?”
      “Somerville,” said Dr. Krup.
      “No, thanks,” said Shannon.
      “You can get a permit for the closest square then, but it must be a square permit, that’s important,” said Dr. Krup.
      “But it might be Inman, what if it’s Inman? We don’t want East Cambridge people parking in Inman. It’ll clog up the scene,” said Eric Deathnell, the Council’s lone Inman Square resident and self-proclaimed protector of exclusive eclecticism.
      “We don’t want to park in Inman anyways, might catch some sort of disease,” said Shannon.
      “There’s no East Cambridge Square, so you’ll just have to live with it. Bureaucrats and poof, there goes the genius,” said Dr. Krup, thinking he was quoting someone (Jefferson, Dostoevsky, Mussolini?).
      Dr. Krup’s square specific plan passed by a vote of 7-2. Shannon and Denny of Dorchester, an especially well-spoken product of the Dorchester political machine, who had recently moved to Cambridge to take care of his ailing grandparents and, more importantly, escape Dorchester, were the only two dissenting votes. Denny of Dorchester was actually in favor of the plan, but owed Shannon O’Kelly a favor after she had thrown her support behind him in the special election to replace the recently deceased City Councilman Robert Stanley (the name on his tombstone), who sat for thirty-seven years on the Cambridge City Counsel and was best known for his unyielding support of the successful “Keep The Charles Blueish” campaign of the late 1970s.
      “We’re even now,” said Denny of Dorchester after the meeting.
      “I win you a seat and the best you can do is vote when I have no hope of winning,” said Shannon.
      “East Cambridge gratitude,” said Denny.
      “I have to park in Inman now, Inman!” she said.
      “Your proclivity for ingratitude is only surpassed by the shimmer of your eye lashes,” said Denny.
      Shannon blushed, took off her dark-framed glasses, opened a bottle of Chardonnay and invited Denny to sit on her porch as long as he wished.
      “In East Cambridge? Where will I park?” asked Denny.

                                                                                                 * * *

      The Kendall Square pass was green, the Central Square pass was black, the Harvard Square pass was crimson, the Porter Square pass was yellow, the Inman Square pass was confusingly also green, and the Lechmere Square pass was the orange cover of a coupon book which included some pretty favorable deals from the Auntie Anne’s Pretzel’s at the Cambridgeside Mall. The greenness of both the Kendall and Inman passes were compromise measures to appease Eric Deathnell and former MIT astrophysics professor, turned Cambridge City Council representative, Argo Stearns, who simultaneously called out “Dibs on green,” when the issue of colors was first addressed.
      As it turned out, the color of the respective passes was of little consequence. The new program was wildly unpopular with virtually all Cambridge residents, especially those with cars.
      In Cambridgeport, a resident with a Central Square permit parked her car three spots away from where she usually parked and was ticketed for parking in a Kendall Square permit only spot. The next day, after posting the following status on Facebook: “Ticketed for parking at MY OWN HOUSE, not amused Cambridge!!!!” she parked six spots away from where she was parked the previous day and was ticketed for not having a Harvard Square permit. She then proceeded to park her car in the middle of the intersection of Putnam and Western Avenue and circle the car topless, save for the two tickets taped to her breasts, screaming, “And this is Central, I’m in Central, Central, Central only, Central parking, Central.” One passerby noted, “the Honk! Festival has changed somewhat from last year; I think I get it now. You see we’re all Central, sometimes you just have to break out.” Eventually, the Cambridge Police Department arrived and let the woman pet their horse until the soft mane calmed her down. “Good boy, good boy,” she said.
      On a day when parking was scarce on the MIT campus, Dr. Day, a professor of Writing and Humanistic Studies at MIT, was forced to park near Cambridge Street in East Cambridge, in a location reserved for Lechmere Square residents. Upon viewing the orange ticket on his yellow Smart Car, he took out a freshman student’s research paper entitled “The Nature of Nurture: What Our Parents Say and Why We Don’t Listen,” unstapled it, and placed each page on the windshield so as to completely cover the front of the car. Dr. Day then called over a police officer who had been waiting for the line at Frollotto’s Gelatos to die down, and claimed, “My car has been vandalized; there are vandals in East Cambridge.”
      The police officer wanted to say, “Vandals you say, not in East Cambridge!” but instead muttered, “And they carefully placed paper on your windshield…”
      “Yes, and and . . . oh drat, I thought I’d written myself out of this,” said Dr. Day.
      “’Fraid not, I can still see the orange under that paper. I listened to my parents,” said the police officer, twirling his moustache hairs.
      Dr. Day dropped his blue and gray portfolio and started to run. He ran three steps before a student of his, who happened to be a lineman on the even-more-terrible-than-you’d-think MIT football team, grabbed his arm tightly, “Dr. Day, you dropped something,” he said.
      “What was the plan there?” asked the police officer as Dr. Day stopped and reached down to pick up his belongings.
      “I hadn’t, you know, thought it through entirely, sometimes you just start and something good happens,” said Dr. Day.
      “Not to me,” said the policeman, looking over his shoulder to see if the line had died down. It had not.
      “Do you need some help with that?” asked the football player.
      “Chocolate with those nuts, what nuts do they use?” said the policeman.
      “I’ve got it. Do you know a Jacob Chen? This is his paper,” said Dr. Day, clearing off his windshield, “tell him he got an A-.”
      “No,” said the football player.
      “You’re going to have to pay that ticket you know, it’s a Lechmere one,” said the police officer.
      “Beware of non sequiturs, I don’t mean now, just generally, almost never useful,” said Dr. Day, handing the loose pages to the lineman, “You’ll give this to Jacob, won’t you?”
      “Almonds!” said the policeman.
      “The University will pay for it, maybe,” said the football player.
      “I prefer to call it The Institute. The University is over there somewhere,” said Dr. Day, pointing towards Harvard and getting inside his car.
      “This is it? Now you’re just gonna have to pay it?” said the policeman.
      “Prose only allows so many outs. Why do you think my car is yellow? The other colors that exist just didn’t work. I tried, but, you know, this is one way,” said Dr. Day.
      “Turn around then,” said the football player, moving his index finger in a circle.
      “And the gelato is walnut,” said Dr. Day.
      “That’s right, that’s right,” said the police officer as he walked towards Frollotto’s.
      The following week, Dr. Day asked his students to write about a time they tried to be literary and failed. Jacob Chen scrawled something about trying to catch his cat mid-jump and the football player wrote about the time he hit on a soft 18 against the dealer’s 7. Dr. Day read everyone’s assignment aloud and then mailed the ticket in with all the assignments.
       “And the claws, bad idea really,” said the Cambridge City Treasurer.
      But the incidents that really identified the new parking program as one of the two problems in Cambridge, Massachusetts (remember, there are at least two!) were even more harrowing. A young Somerville resident, Storp Loaden, had borrowed his friends’ Harvard Square permit (and car) to take a first date, Haverly Tantels, a lovely red-headed school teacher with Braintree roots and Brookline class, who he had been enchanted by for two years. Loaden, a librarian at Ms. Tantels’ school, had finally gotten up the nerve to ask her: “And have you ever tried Bartley’s, right in the square?”
      “Which square?” asked Ms. Tantels.
      “Harvard, you know, Bartley’s Burgers, it’s been on the Travel Channel. We have a book with it here somewhere. . . .”
      “I believe you. No, I haven’t,” she said smiling at him, ignoring one of her students, who had been raising her hand to go to the bathroom.
      “Well, you should, you . . .”
      “You’re right Mr. Loaden. I should, someday maybe,” she continued to smile, as the student squirmed in her chair.
      “We should, I mean . . . do you want to go with me sometime?” asked Mr. Loaden, a drop of sweat falling from his brow onto the book he had opened casually, An Illustrated History of Textile Manufacturing.
      “That’d be nice, yes, I like burgers and that type of thing.”
      “I know.”
      “Well, some time . . .”
      “Wait, how stupid, I mean how about Friday for dinner?”
      “I’m not Catholic, so yeah, yeah that sounds nice,” said Ms. Tantels glancing over her shoulder, seeing Emily Germane with both her hands between her legs. “Here’s my number, text, poor Emily.”
      “I’m sorry,” he said.
      Storp picked up Haverly and inexplicably, perhaps due to some type of gene developed in his Father in the 1950’s that told him that he must always drive on the first date, decided to drive into Harvard Square and not take the cheap and readily accessible public transportation. As one might guess, the parking situation near Bartley’s was not ideal. After circling the Square three times, almost grazing a pedestrian, Storp nearly cursed. Haverly reassured him, “It’s alright, we can walk some. It’s a nice night.” Calmed, Storp found a spot about a half mile away towards Porter Square. The two enjoyed, what most people would call “a lovely evening,” walking slowly to and from Bartley’s, enjoying their burgers slightly more than they would have if they had eaten them in front of their respective televisions watching The Daft Lunatic in the case of Storp or Eleven People, One House in the case of Haverly, and even shared an order of onion rings (always a good sign). Haverly did decline, however, Storp’s post-meal milkshake offer, honestly insisting, “The dairy would be overwhelming.” The two were discussing the possibility of getting less fattening drinks nearby when they happened upon a Cambridge police officer writing a ticket on Storp’s friend’s car.
      “Sir, wait, sir, no, we were . . . just about to,” said Storp.
      “Sorry, rules is rules,” said the police officer, not the same one, clean-shaven, young, with a concave forehead.
      “But, he has a permit, see,” said Haverly pointing to the crimson Harvard Square pass on the dashboard.
      “Right, yeah, there’s you’re problem. This here is a Porter permit area,” said the police officer, his love for westerns showing through.
      “It’s not even my car, we’re, sir, have some,” said Storp.
      “You see, it’s our first date and all, and it’d just you know, put a damper on things to get a ticket like this and to see you in action,” said Haverly.
      “Many women would fork over cold silver to see me in action. I used to do parties and stuff like that. They’d pay me a hundred a go,” said the police officer.
      “Sir, let’s be reasonable here, you’re not going to lose . . . I mean it’s one ticket, have a heart,” said Haverly.
      “The time for hearts is over. Done lost mine quite some time ago,” said the police officer.
      A man without a home and several blankets overheard all this and became quite irritated. He got up from under an adjacent overhang and started to scream at the cop.
      “You see these two having a lovely evening and all that . . . and you break it up on some technicality. You pigs are all the same. Oink, oink, oink! Just groveling over the mud, trying to drag these two down with you, I won’t have it, not in my fair city.”
      “No, it’s okay, calm down, we’ll pay it,” said Storp, as Haverly stepped just behind him.
      “No you won’t, no you won’t. Over my dead body!” said the man and returned to his assortment of blankets, pulling out a short-handled axe. “What says, what says you have the right to harass this lovely couple?” said the man.
      “Well, I mean, I wouldn’t say we’re a couple, you know, it’s . . . unless,” said Storp looking at Haverly, who was not really interested in the semantics of their relationship at the moment.
      “That sign, right there, that sign, over yonder,” said the police officer pointing to the neon yellow “Porter Permit Parking Principally” sign a few feet away from the car, still scrawling out something on the ticket and not paying the axe-swinging vagrant much notice.
      “That’s it then, that’s it, is it? Time to take this town back,” said the man and started swinging the axe at the sign. He toppled it in just sixteen blows. Haverly and Storp, now in each other’s arms, looked on in awe, and the police officer spat at the ground and reached for his gun.
      “Mighty fine axe-swinging,” said the police officer.
      “Is that all? Will you let these people go now and enjoy each other’s company? So few moments,” he said, catching his breath and dropping the axe alongside the fallen sign, “So few moments are like this one for them, for us, and you, the sign, let them be.”
      “I reckon I ought to call this in, but I ain’t ‘bout to. You two scram,” said the police officer to Storp and Haverly, confusing his movie genres temporarily.
      “Thank you officer, thank you sir,” said Haverly, entering the passenger side of Storp’s friend’s car.
      “I’m no fan of this new parking anyways,” said the officer. “Get lost buddy.”
      “I already am, could use a warm cot, any room at the inn?” said the man with the blankets.
      “I suppose there might be. You’re under arrest for destruction of public property if you like,” said the officer.
      “I’d like that very much,” said the man, as Storp and Haverly drove away, a second date assured.
      News spread quickly of this act of active resistance to the new parking permit program. Copy-cats from Inman to Fresh Pond began cutting down permit parking signs with axes, broad swords, sledge hammers, very sharp kitchen knives, and throwing stars. One ambitious Harvard Medieval Studies major even had a prolonged and unsuccessful go at a Kendall Square sign with a mace.
      This was, so to speak, one of the two problems in Cambridge, Massachusetts.


      The Mayor of Cambridge was complex and had a few complexes. Mayor Logan Fisher attended Art Tatum High School, an unremarkable public high school just west of Toledo, Ohio. The school was best known, at least until Logan Fisher graduated from there, for having almost been the focus of an episode of America’s Fattest High Schools. The Art Tatum swim team was known throughout the state for being abnormally rotund, but was ultimately bested by the bar-b-que served inside one Lawrence, Texas high school, which had won several state awards for secondary school culinary excellence. Mayor Fisher was the first from Art Tatum High to attend Harvard University, the first to marry someone who attended Harvard University, the first to create and manufacture his own line of street food vending machines by the age of 24, the first to play tambourine at his Grandfather’s funeral, the first to refuse an offer of free homemade sausage from a reputable friend and the first to be a Mayor of anything or anyone. All this is to say, Mayor Logan Fisher was ambitious and motivated in most important things by the thought that he was still just another student at Art Tatum High School, who had to demonstrate to everyone that one can go to Art Tatum High School and still be something in the world. This line of thinking was not always completely straight forward, as Mayor Fisher had to at once place the school in the most favorable light possible and consider the question: “Has any graduate of Art Tatum High School ever done what I am considering doing, and if not, isn’t that reason enough to do it?”
      At age 29, Logan Fisher was the youngest Mayor in the history of Cambridge, Massachusetts, a point which both his supporters and critics emphasized in his election campaign last year. Logan appealed to the Democratic Party nomination committee by calling Cambridge, “A young town, at its heart, younger than most.” He said, “We need to get the students involved. They need to know there is someone who understands them, knows where they are, knows where they’re going and can provide the type of nurturing environment they need to get there.” His lovely wife of five years, Abolene Fisher, stood next to him on the stage and embodied the type of youthful beauty one often finds missing from municipal government. His chief opponent, fellow Democrat, for the party system has all but been abolished in Cambridge, Massachusetts, was a distinguished senior citizen, MIT trained architect and one-time Lieutenant Governor of Connecticut, Randolph Formersworth. Formersworth’s big idea was that Harvard had gotten too big and, despite the convenience of having it there to staff the hospitals and psychiatric wards, it needed to be reigned in by the Cambridge City Council. This reigning was a doubtful proposition to most Cambridge delegates who thought it might just as easily be said that Cambridge needs less rain, so the City Council should try to build a giant umbrella that floods Somerville and parts of Watertown.
      As a consequence of the sheer mass of Formersworth’s big idea, Logan’s youth and eloquence, his wife’s good looks and stage presence, and an unfortunate accumulation of fruit flies on Formersworth’s left shoulder during his speech, Logan Fisher earned the Democratic nomination for Mayor and thus won the election by 73% over the Republican and Green Party candidates, who were, as the sports’ cliché goes, just happy to be there. The runner-up in the Cambridge Mayoral election is traditionally given a certificate of participation and a stainless steel Harvard Business School keychain/bottle opener from the Cambridge Republican Party, even though the runner-up has not been a member of the Republican Party more often than not. The Green Party candidates often immediately recycled the certificate, but always pocket the key chain.
      The new Mayor and his stunning bride were the toast of the town for their first few months in office. They received lunch offers from six Nobel Prize winners, were interviewed on NPR and mentioned in “The Top Thirty Couples Under Thirty on the East Coast and Not Involved in The Entertainment Industry and Excluding Miami in its Entirety” by Abundance Monthly. The young Mayor kept a low profile politically, but was often seen whistling up and down Massachusetts Avenue wearing an overcoat and pointy Italian shoes. On the occasions his wife accompanied him, some residents even recognized him and complimented him on his fashion sense or the shape of some part or other of his wife’s body. He took all compliments in stride, as all good and most bad politicians do, shaking hands, kissing babies and paying heed to every street sign.
      It was, as they say, all well and good for Logan Fisher until the Cambridge City Council announced a new biking campaign which appropriated funds for Mayor Fisher, and hopefully his lovely wife, to ride around Cambridge on a tandem bicycle to demonstrate to the community the City’s dedication to alternative forms of transportation.
      Mayor Fisher was not informed of the City Council’s scheme until after it had been approved, being unable to attend that particular City Council meeting because his wife was asked to throw out the first pitch at a Pawtucket Red Sox game. She threw a strike and the catcher placed the ball in her delicate hand as deftly as his weathered fingers could manage. “Nice arms,” he said.
      The young Mayor did not disapprove of the measure however, and had, as it so happened, been meaning to work on his conditioning, because the municipal government recreational basketball league season was quickly approaching. The tandem bicycle was red, white, and blue with green racing stripes along the side and the words “Cambridge City Council says Say Hi to Mayor Fisher and Abolene” written crudely in yellow masking tape on the frame of the bike. This last feature brought the attention of some Harvard Government and Law School professors who tried to write op-ed pieces for the New York Times using it as a frame to examine the comingling of executive and legislative powers in contemporary city government, only to all be accused of plagiarism in the Yale Daily News and all write independent op-eds about the shoddy research and unsubstantiated accusations of the Yale Daily News. All of the original articles and opinion pieces were printed in the Harvard Crimson and reprinted in a leather bound keepsake given to low-level alumni donors entitled, Tandem Defamation: When New Haven Stooped to a New Low.
      The first couple of rides went swimmingly, the Mayor and Abolene peddling away, occasionally waiving to passersby who admired their spandex and stationary hair discretely, getting out of their way in most instances. After the third day of riding (they traveled each of the three days from Porter Square to the Charles River and back), Abolene complained to her husband, the Mayor.
      “I think I’m through with this tandem bike thing,” she said.
      “Sorry honey, it comes with the territory I’m afraid,” said Mayor Fisher.
      “I can’t stand spandex, really, I want to wear a dress,” she said.
      “That won’t work. No, you have to wear spandex, for the dignity of our great city.”
      “Can’t we cross the bridge then, the Charles, that’s the best part, and then we turn around, back towards those wretched buildings. The buildings are wretched, you must admit.”
      “They are indeed wretched my love, but across the river is no longer Cambridge, we might get ticketed. Boston is a jungle with the occasional ambiguous street sign.”
      “We’ll find our way, you and I. I’ve never been ticketed. Could you ticket me?” she said and smiled so innocently, but not innocently at all, that no one could have ticketed her.
      “The point is to spread the word in Cambridge, not tempt the Boston Police. It’ll only be a couple months and then we can stroll around again, long coats, jewelry even.”
      “No, no, find someone else. I won’t, I just can’t, and those beards in Central Square, not another day of those beards.”
      “They’ll shave, perhaps soon.”
      “I can’t take that chance. You’re the Mayor; hire other people to do it.”
      “I rather like it though. Do you think anyone else from Art Tatum High is riding around Cambridge on a city sponsored tandem bicycle with someone as lovely as yourself.”
      “Possible, save for that last part,” she grinned.

                                                                                                 * * *

      Mayor Fisher was forced to hire attractive young women, although not nearly as attractive as Abolene, to join him on his tandem bike rides spreading the gospel of alternative modes of transportation. The women were solicited to join the tandem cause at the Lesley University cafeteria, known for its unlimited soft drinks and slimy cold cuts (also unlimited). The lunch rush drew a number of potentially qualified candidates, including one second-year Harvard Law School student who was embarrassed for being outed as not a genuine member of the Lesley community. When the Mayor’s representatives pressed her on her claim that her course load would not allow her to bike aimlessly around the city, she said, “Well . . . I don’t really go here. . . . I know, it’s awful. But they charge by the ounce for ice cream at HLS, by the ounce!”
      “All the same, you have a young face, let us know if you’re interested,” said the representative.
      “I will,” she laughed sweetly and filled her bowl to the brim with coffee oreo ice cream.
      Three candidates were ultimately selected: Tope Rosals, a nineteen-year-old sophomore Holistic Psychology major with bright blue eyes and a natural affinity for spandex; Dr. Yun Imbuan, a thirty-two-year-old Environmental Studies professor with three mini-iron man competitions under her fashionable frayed black leather belt; and Shannon O’Kelly, the twenty-six-year-old City Councilwoman from East Cambridge who said she ate at Lesley to escape the spice of the Portuguese and Brazilian neighborhoods she resided near. O’Kelly took the bus to Lesley, knowing the parking situation would not be favorable.
      Tope rode on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, Dr. Imbuan rode on Tuesdays and Sundays and O’Kelly rode every other Saturday. At first Mayor Fisher was annoyed that he could no longer observe his lovely wife peddling in front of him, but soon he became accustomed to seeing Tope’s spandex cling tightly to her shapely thighs churning the pedals quicker than Abolene had ever done. It would have been unbefitting for someone like Abolene to peddle quickly, but it suited Tope perfectly and Fisher was sure to keep up the pace despite occasional jeers of “Where’s Abolene?” from the elderly pedestrians infrequently brandishing their canes. Likewise, Dr. Imbuan’s long dark hair swirling in the summer breeze soon made up for the absence of Abolene’s occasional glance backward and ironic smile when something out of the ordinary would occur. Even the persistent back and forth of City Councilwoman O’Kelly’s shoulder blades brought a certain excitement to the sitting Mayor.
      Meanwhile, Abolene was off cutting ribbons at various hair salons, doing photo shoots for The Improper Bostonian, walking up and down the Charles River Bridge signing autographs and lying on beaches up and down the East Coast with a book on her face. She was occasionally seen at some proper function or other with Mayor Fisher and was always complimented on her dress. It would not be fair to say her and the Mayor had grown apart in the months since the tandem bike program was instituted, but it would be fair to say that the people of Cambridge started to consider them as distinct and separate entities. There was Abolene, the lovely, who looked over their fair city with a benevolent charm, the face and body of Cambridge, with elegance reminiscent of Harvard and precision evocative of MIT. And then there was Mayor Fisher, another goof ball politician who went biking around town with young women (and we all know what that really meant), never seemed to do anything else productive and, after all, was Mayor when that idiotic square parking scheme went into effect.
      How each tandem bike partner became tandem bike partner and mistress is simple enough. Each woman propositioned Mayor Fisher after one or more especially gratifying bike rides. Mayor Fisher thought about each proposition in turn, beginning with that offered by Tope on a Wednesday afternoon.
      “You really want to?” he asked.
      “Yeah, I mean very much so,” she said. “I’m not usually the one who does the asking.”
      “That’s probably right,” he said. “You know my wife, right, Abolene?”
      “Not personally so much, but yeah, who doesn’t? She’s the best.”
      “I know, right? And you still . . .”
      “Yeah, I don’t usually ask you know.”
      “I’ve heard.”
      “Most ask me. I often say no politely.”
      “You know there was a girl like you at Art Tatum High. She wouldn’t look at me.”
      “I’m looking.”
      “Clearly . . . alright, I’m going to check into the Charles, come up in 30 minutes, keep the spandex on.”
      The following Tuesday, Dr. Imbaun took her turn.
      “You too, I mean, really?” asked Mayor Fisher.
      “I like power, and bicyclists. You fit the bill,” said Dr. Imbaun.
      “I, well, thanks. Two though?” he said.
      “Oh, have you with that Tope already . . . hmm . . . no difference, offer still stands.”
      “Yeah, I mean, how’d you guess?”
      “Pretty blonde, 19, three days a week, it was bound to happen. Plus, she told me.”
      “Yun, she told you, anybody else?”
      “Nope, just us chickens.”
      “Two, huh, well that’d be something. A beautiful wife and two mistresses, one a doctor, I wonder if anyone at Art…”
      “Look, if we’re gonna do this thing, you better get on it. I don’t have all day.”
      “Alright, the DoubleTree on the Charles, forty-five minutes.”
      “Where can I park?”
      “Take the T or walk. Oh, don’t put your hair up.”
      The following Saturday.
      “Ever have sex in East Cambridge?” asked Shannon.
      “No, once, no, never,” said the Mayor.
      “Meet me at my apartment in an hour if you want. I have leftover Chardonnay.”
      “Three! No one at Art Tatum could have dreamed . . .”
      “I play jazz piano too if that’s your thing.”
      “I, well,” said the Mayor.
      “One hour, oh, and don’t take off the spandex.”
      Soon the three women began hanging around Mayor Fisher and Abolene’s beautiful house, doing laundry and occasionally asking for rides to the airport. Abolene did not mind so much and just thought of her husband as a man of the people, who his employees could count on for the odd favor. Besides, she occasionally was headed to the airport anyways.
      The Cambridge Chronicle and Daily Cambridgian were not so understanding. Reporters from both local newspapers started to troll around the Mayor’s residence hoping to catch an indelicate moment or two. Speculation ran wild that the Mayor was bedding not one, but all three of his bike partners in addition to his perfect Abolene, whom he was also thought to, rightfully, bed. The Cambridge Chronicle began running photos and captions of the tandem bike pairings. A photo of all four women and the Mayor having a picnic lunch in Harvard Yard ran with the following caption, “Mayor Caligula Goes Yard: Touch ‘em All Mr. Mayor.” A photo of Mayor Fisher shaking hands and smiling with City Councilwoman O’Kelly was accompanied by “Oh Kelly, Did Fisher Catch Another One?” Another photo with Fisher sandwiched between Tope and Dr. Imbaun included, “Ms. Rosals and Dr. Imbaun Share a Moment, Our Mayor.”
      The Daily Cambridgian stayed away from the speculative sensationalist journalism of the Cambridge Chronicle, but was the first to break the story, discovering through a source at the Toledo Pennywhistle Mailer, that, according to Logan Fisher’s mother, Bertha Fisher, Logan Fisher often used the pseudonym AT High when signing up for electronic correspondence with prison inmates in the Ohio correctional system. Arthur Scently, lead beat reporter for the Daily Cambridgian, took this information and ran with it. Having some knowledge of what an affair might be like from daytime television, Scently checked the reservation sheets of many of the hotels in the Cambridge area, including the DoubleTree and the Charles hotels, and discovered AT High had visited both hotels twice in the last two months, checking in in the late afternoon and checking out just before seven.
      Scently then greased the palms of the afternoon hostesses at the two hotels and told them to notify him if AT High checked in. The hostess at the Charles required more greasing than the one at the DoubleTree who asked, “Is this gonna be big? It seems like it might be big.” Scently assured her that size was not terribly important, but that it might be terribly important. “That means it’ll be big,” she said and accepted the forty dollars.
      AT High checked into the DoubleTree Hotel at 3:45 pm on a Tuesday afternoon. The hostess at the DoubleTree phoned Arthur Scently at 4:05 pm. Dr. Imbaun arrived at room 405 of the DoubleTree Hotel at 4:17 pm. Arthur Scently arrived with a camera crew at the DoubleTree hotel at 4:33 pm and was directed to room 405, where he arrived at 4:37 pm, noticed audible ecstatic noises and knocked on the door. The ecstatic noises ceased, followed by barely audible whispering until 4:39 pm, when Mayor Fisher answered the door, fully clothed, his hair slightly and uncharacteristically askew.
      “I’m sorry Mr. Mayor, but I was looking for an AT High. We needed to interview him for a public interest story, you know the Cambridgian, so much fluff,” said Scently.
      “Honest mistake, have a good day,” said Mayor Fisher.
      “Wait, I am curious, I mean I have to ask, journalist and all, why are you in a hotel on a Tuesday afternoon? Is your wife here?” asked Scently. Mayor Fisher went to shut the door, but Scently was able to secure it with his rubbery left forearm.
      “No, there’s a conference. They comped me this room. I’m having a peanut or two and watching HBO,” said the Mayor.
      “No conference Mr. Mayor. This room is checked out to Mr. AT High. Why are you in his room? We heard noises, there’s video,” said Scently.
      “Video . . . video of what?” asked Mayor Fisher.
      “Sound too,” said Scently.
      “Sound, you say,” said the Mayor.
      “HD,” said Scently.
      “How can a newspaper afford? . . . Why would you have?” asked the Mayor.
      “You know us journalism types, not the most practical people. Rest assured Mr. Mayor, this is all on video; the audio is recorded in the highest quality imaginable. Wouldn’t want to misquote anyone. If you want I can read you back the transcript.”
      “Right, well, no that won’t be, so, I’m . . . I’m,” his hair flopped down, he tried to flip it back up three times to no avail. He then grabbed the door, opened it wide and said, “I was sleeping with Dr. Imbaun over there,” he pointed to her, “she’s not the only one and I’m sorry to Abolene, but not you.”
      This was, in sum, the second problem in Cambridge, Massachusetts.


      The Cambridge City Council meetings were generally held in Sullivan Chamber in the City Hall on Massachusetts Avenue near Central Square. The Sullivan Chamber looked very much as it should, with high-backed chairs, various flags and a definite barrier between those conducting the meeting and those observing the meeting. The tables were made of solid oak, so if you were to pound your fist the sound would resonate and those listening would know you meant business. The paintings on the wall evoked, as they were meant to, no sense whatsoever of artistic achievement but a mere representation of previous City Council members, including City Councilman Robert Stanley, who hung omnipotent and grey-haired just above where Denny of Dorchester now sat. Denny sometimes checked over his shoulder and swore he saw Stanley scrunch his bulbous nose disapprovingly. Unfortunately, despite its grandeur and irrepressible solemnity, the Sullivan Chamber lacked the seating capacity to house such a doubly important City Council meeting and was thus left empty on that third Monday in August, the paintings left to scrunch their noses at no one at all.
       Instead, the Cambridge City Council Meeting was held at the Cambridge Community Center on Callendar Street also near Central Square. The Cambridge Community Center was home to many effective and ineffective after-school programs, including: Under-11 Basketball, Hula and its Origins, Yoga for Young Adults, the Pet-A-Stray program, Interfaith Friday Evening Services, Pest-Control Training for Pre-Teens, Sandwiches, Sandwiches, Sandwiches: Make Your Own Lunch Program, the Mother-Daughter Charity Darts Tournament, Finger Painting and the Nouveau Riche: a Discussion and Exercise in Our Collective Humanity, and the most popular amongst MIT students: Bouncy Castle Badminton Tuesdays. In addition to the assortment of community activities sponsored and hosted by the Cambridge Community Center, the Thursday before the City Council Meeting, in the very same gymnasium which the meeting was to be held, a group of eight fifty and sixty year-olds, some of whom had once been addicted to some drug or other, and one tall second-year Harvard Law School student, played Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag and other R&B songs in front of less than ten community members. The law student played saxophone and took a solo on a far-too-long version of Stormy Monday. A few of the audience members applauded. When one of the wives of the middle-aged musicians discovered the secret origins of the young sax player, word spread quickly through the small crowd.
      “And this too, they need to do this too,” said one audience member.
      “Uncalled for,” said another.
      “I though they’d never find us here,” said a third.
       “I wonder if he does divorces,” said a fourth.
       After a relatively spirited solo on Road of Love, the sax player was booed and heckled, while one painted woman with red hair grabbed at his saxophone, nearly tripping over the guitar player’s effects pedals and falling into the drum kit. “Implied assumption of the risk,” muttered the sax player, and helped the woman to her feet.
      The director of the Community Center, a certain Ambrose Stanhope, Boston University Law School graduate, former associate at Straw & Cutson LLP and cocaine addict, organized the gym so that it could accommodate the expected Cambridge City Council Meeting record crowd. He scrubbed the floors, peeled the stickers off the walls (“Whenever you want to shoot or shoot up, remember what Celtic’s great Rajon Rondo says, ‘Always pass the ball, and on drugs!’”), and arranged the baked goods tables outside of the gym so that the Community Center could take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Stanhope was only able to obtain two oblong plastic tables for the meeting itself, alongside nine matching white plastic chairs. “This will give it a real neighborhood feel,” he sang, when one eleven-year-old community member inquired about the dearth of chairs. “Like an indoor picnic,” he said.
      The crowd started filling the old gymnasium and dance studio at 5:00 pm for the meeting which was to begin at 5:30. The gym filled quickly with people from all walks of Cambridge life curious about the Mayor’s situation or hoping to overturn the repressive parking regime. The elderly man and his dog who were entranced by the MIT hopscotch board arrived early, the dog attempting to mark a spot in the corner before the elderly man jerked him back to avoid the embarrassment. The MIT student arrived later with a pack of friends, including Jacob Chen who had yet to find out about his A-. The old man observed the MIT students staring at their respective smart phones and told his dog, “You’re not distracted by such nonsense. It’s unnatural.” Dr. Day, who was accompanied by just one notebook he had no intention of writing in, teetered through the gymnasium doorway, his tweed jacket brushing against the door. Frollotto of Frollotto’s Gelatos waltzed in, accompanied by his assistant, the lovely Mrs. Frollotto, who handed out buy-one-get-one-half-off coupons. The police officer who apprehended Dr. Day arrived and nonchalantly chased Mrs. Frollotto around the small gymnasium until he acquired two coupons, one for himself and “one for his partner.” The MIT football team trudged through the doorway, dressed in their away uniforms, the coach having decided to stop by on their way to a scrimmage with Nichols College. The woman who was ticketed twice in Cambridgeport arrived, escorted by her new boyfriend who insisted she wear a turtleneck sweater, even though it was 87 degrees outside. She acquiesced. Haverly and Storp strolled in hand-in-hand, deciding to stop in to solidify their connection, before commencing their third date on the other side of the Cambridge/Somerville border. The two Harvard Law School students, the young-faced one and the one who played saxophone just last Thursday, went together, each brimming about their connection to the forthcoming meeting, “And I could have been one of the bike women,” she said, “I played here for nobody on Thursday,” he said. They both smiled. Dr. Krup arrived late and disheveled, recognized the two students, but ignored them. Randolph Formersworth joined the crowd, his chest pounding with the excitement of the impending humiliation of Mayor Fisher. Arthur Scently saw Formersworth, sidled up to him and asked if he brought any popcorn for the meeting and was immediately directed to the bake sale by Ambrose Stanhope. “Carrot cake whoopie pies, tangerine cupcakes, clown cookies…” said Ambrose. The homeless man who started the axing parking permit phenomenon splurged on a thirty-five cent clown cookie before he entered the gym, causing many of the stars of the champion Under-11 Basketball Bobcats to hold their noses and tug at their parents’ arms. The police officer who let him go recognized him and winked in his direction as he entered. The homeless man opened his mouth and some of the cookie that had caked to the roof fell out and was collected by the old man’s dog. Dr. Imbaun and Tope decided to arrive together, in matching peach and purple summer dresses to show solidarity and, unwittingly, as some senior citizens pointed out, “shamelessness.” The various Deans of Students arrived together and started to sit down at the tables which were reserved for the City Council members. Upon being reprimanded by Ambrose Stanhope’s assistant, the white-bearded Mr. Davis, the Deans cloistered themselves directly in front of the MIT football team, hoping for some back-up should another outrageous insult befall them. Mayor Fisher sported a sweater vest with a prominent crest one of his advisors picked out for him, thinking it would ingratiate him with the educated elite of Cambridge, the only people the advisor thought might still be on his side. Abolene, well Abolene was not there. She informed the Council that she had decided to prolong her stay with her Mother’s family in Cape Cod. Word of Abolene’s ensuing absence spread and a group of especially devoted hair dressers, laundromat overseers and seven baristas who had all agreed not to smile until the Mayor resigned in disgrace, built a life-sized cut-out of Abolene in her famous inauguration silk cream and crimson dress, locks of her auburn hair, saved by the owner of Stylin’ hair salon after she had her trim a couple weeks back, deftly attached to the head of the cut-out. They arrived early and placed the cut-out prominently alongside the plastic tables.
      While the crowd filled the gym to capacity, each new arrival inching their way to a spot they thought would allow them to stand untouched, or nearly untouched, for the entirety of the meeting, the members of the Cambridge City Council gathered outside the door, waiting to make their entrance precisely at 5:57, for they all had agreed that this was the most professional time. Led by the Chairman of the Cambridge City Council, Albert Reinfeld, a rotund man of forty-five with thinning hair, drooping jowls and a pair of John Lennon style sunglasses, the Council walked into the Cambridge Community Center and forced their way through the crowd until they were met just before the door by Ambrose Stanhope and his bake sale.
      “Good City Council Members you must buy a cookie to support the youth of our fine city,” said Stanhope.
      “No time,” said Reinfeld.
      “Come on Al, they look pretty good. We should all buy one in the spirit of the Cambridge community,” said Denny of Dorchester.
      “No time,” said Reinfeld.
      “Well I’m buying one,” said Shannon O’Kelly, dressed discretely in a black business suit with loose fitting slacks.
      “All in favor,” said Denny. Five of the members raised their hands.
      “The Ayes have it,” said Shannon.
      “Democracy,” muttered Reinfeld as he reached into his pocket for some change to buy a carrot cake whoopie pie.
      Desserts in hand, the nine members of the Cambridge City Council were escorted into the gym by Mr. Davis. As he led them to their seats the Cambridge City Council rubbed against the throng of Cambridgians, young and old, Harvard, MIT and other, most beginning to sweat on each other as the three rotating fans in the room were woefully insufficient. In addition to Albert Reinfeld, Shannon O’Kelly, Denny of Dorchester, Eric Deathnell and Argo Stearns there was: Councilwoman Regina Sorget, a once promising cello prodigy who became disenchanted at the Berklee College of Music, moved to Cambridge to “escape the scene” and did little more than hang around Harvard Yard for most of her mid-twenties before deciding to run for Cambridge City Council; Councilman Gordon Sedgewick, a Boston real estate mogul who decided to move to expand his operations to Cambridge, and believed the best way to curry favor with the insular and culturally opaque Cambridge community was to befriend Albert Reinfeld, who then convinced him to run for Cambridge City Council; Councilman Dorph LeRue, a Montreal native and Harvard graduate, who saw the Cambridge City Council as a good mid-career stepping stone between investment banking and political consulting; and Councilwoman Ingrid Sabrestock, the elder statesman on the Council whose tenure pre-dated that of City Councilman Robert Stanley and had, at one time, seriously advocated a Cambridge secession from the Commonwealth, but had since tempered and was now beloved for her age and occasional anachronisms.
      No sooner had the Council taken their seats and the Mayor had situated himself in the right front corner of the gym next to the cardboard cut-out of his wife, than the room turned from a series of conversations and “excuse mes” to hushed anticipation. City Council Chairman Reinfeld performed the necessary formalities, including the pledge of allegiance and the verification of the writing of the minutes by the standing stenographer who had her stenograph held by a particularly accommodating pair of environmentalists who came to support the new parking program. Reinfeld then introduced each Councilmember to the crowd. The crowd did not know whether to cheer, boo, clap or remain silent as each Councilmember was announced; the end result being a few bashful claps for Denny of Dorchester, a smattering of boos for Shannon O’Kelly, an MIT-football-team-orchestrated guttural cheer for Ingrid Sabrestock and an awkward near silence for all the other members.
      “I think I speak for the entire Council when I say how pleased I am to see all of you tonight. I hope we will have a fruitful discussion about the important issues that affect us all every day here in Cambridge. The conditions may be cramped and a little steamy,” he dabbed at his brow with the napkin he was given with his carrot cake whoopie pie, the few in the crowd who could actually make out this motion, including the tall sax player, smirked and then tried to explain the Chairman’s pause to their shorter neighbors by mimicking the Chairman’s gesture, “but we’ll do our best to keep our cool and expedite the meeting.”
      “That sounds good,” said Haverly Tantels, looking up at Storp Loaden, thinking of their 7:30 dinner reservations and leaning against Storp momentarily.
      “As you all know, this meeting is special insofar as we do not ordinarily meet in August, or in the Cambridge Community Center (thanks Mr. Stanhope, excellent whoopie pies available out front), or limit our meetings to discrete topics. But here we are, like it or not, and the discussion will be limited to parking and the recent ah, our Mayor’s recent, as it were . . .” He dabbed at his brow again, the napkin barely holding itself together as a spot of cream transferred onto his forehead, the sax player grinning and miming to his significantly shorter young-faced neighbor, “It must have been used, there’s cream on his forehead now,” whispered the sax player bending his knees and straining his neck so the young-faced student could hear him. She smirked and wondered how large the spot of cream was and whether it would drip in his eyes. “A whoopie pie, I bet,” she said and then laughed louder than she intended, covering her mouth with her hand before the sax player returned to an upright posture, smiling widely and restraining himself from laughing aloud only by forcing himself to look away from her. “ . . . Behavior,” finished the Chairman.
      “This is where we generally open it up to public comment, but I don’t think that will be helpful here. We have two issues, pretty much, I know there are some who think there are more, but at least we can agree there are two sets of issues. So let’s start with parking. The Council would like to hear from Dr. Krup, who, as I understand it, supports retention of the current system. We’ll allot an equal time to someone or some series of someones who oppose the current system.” There was a notable collective eyebrow raise from the crowd and a few observers noted a recent poll that found 93% of Cambridgians opposed square specific parking, while the homeless man with the clown cookie grunted and slapped the back wall with an open palm, crushing the remainder of his cookie, which fell in clumps to the hardwood floor.
      Dr. Krup waded through the crowd from his position near the back of the gymnasium, receiving indignant glances from those who caught his eye. It was well known in the Cambridge community that Dr. Krup was the principle proponent of the square specific parking scheme. He was even heckled at a few lectures by community members who, upon learning that his 1 pm “Intelligent Design: Intellectual Property and the 20th Century American Home” course was in the same room as a free lunch they were attending anyway, decided to hang around. The cordless microphone the Cambridge City Council had purchased for the meeting was tapped on twice by the professor, who held a pile of notes far too thick for the occasion in the hand which did not grip the microphone, there being no podium whatsoever.
      Dr. Krup said, “A podium would have been nice.”
      Dr. Krup said, “Pollution has decreased.”
      Dr. Krup said, “Drunk-driving arrests have decreased.”
      Dr. Krup said, “Participation in local government has increased.”
      Dr. Krup said, “The destruction of public property is not always a bad thing.”
      Dr. Krup said, “We all now have another common enemy to agree upon in small talk.”
      Dr. Krup said, “Nobody has died.”
      Dr. Krup said, “Our community is now more tightly knit. Look how close together we are.”
      Dr. Krup said, “Anger is a relative term, as is outrage. Unfairness has never been properly defined.”
      Dr. Krup said, “Yoga classes are oversubscribed.”
      Dr. Krup said, “There is no racial or gender disparity in incidents of ticketing or arrests.”
      Dr. Krup said, “Horse ownership has been unaffected.”
      Dr. Krup said, “There is something to be said for the status quo.”
      Dr. Krup said, “There’s still parking in Somerville.”
      The crowd was unenthused by Dr. Krup’s defense of the parking scheme, though a few people, including Mayor Fisher, nodded their heads when he mentioned small talk. Shannon O’Kelly rolled her eyes several times at Denny of Dorchester who shrugged his shoulders in response.
      “Thanks Dr. Krup. That’s well said. We’ll be sure to consider that. Now . . . how should we do this? One second . . .” said Chairman Reinfeld, covering the microphone and turning his back to the anxious crowd, many of whom had started to position themselves to make a dash for the microphone, by pushing their shoulders back or their elbows out, or, in some cases, starting to weave their way through the crowd.
      “He only took eight minutes, we can’t give all these people eight minutes, it’d take forever,” said Gordon Sedgewick.
      “No, it’d be eight minutes total, right? That’s what Reinfeld said,” said Dorph LeRue.
      “That’s way too short, we’ll have a riot,” said Denny of Dorchester.
      “We should give the most people possible a chance to talk,” said Shannon O’Kelly.
      “Five would be enough,” said Eric Deathnell.
      “People or minutes?” asked Gordon Sedgewick.
      “Either,” said Eric.
      “Alright, I’ve got it,” said Chairman Reinfeld and turned back towards the crowd. “We’re going to open up the floor for fifteen minutes, so whoever has something to say about parking please line up in front of, or how about, next to the MIT football team and . . .” No sooner had Reinfeld pointed to the football team than did the people of Cambridge begin pushing each other, quickly forming a tight circle around the team and the Deans of Students, while those who did not care to speak drifted towards the opposite corner hoping to avoid their sweat-soaked civic-minded neighbors.
      “Let’s be reasonable people, we’re all Cambridgians,” said Denny of Dorchester trying to control the increasingly concentrated throng. The football team, on instructions from their head coach, shuffled about so that the lineman were on the outermost edge, the linebackers and tight ends inside them, the wide receivers, running backs, and defensive backs inside them, and finally the punters, kickers and quarterbacks all surrounding the coaching staff. The lineman were run into and forced up against some of the Deans of Students who became uneasy and started to dictate an email to Mrs. Frollotto who just happened to be handing out coupons nearby.
      “Alright, alright, everybody gets one sentence maximum. I’ll hold the mic,” said Reinfeld bravely approaching the compressed humanity, dabbing his brow again and removing the cream that had been glistening this whole time. The sax player never noticed, being too distracted by the movement around him, and trying to ensure that his young-faced companion was not jostled unnecessarily. He need not have been concerned, for the young-faced student stuck her elbows out to thwart any would be jostlers. She clipped Frollotto in the gut and nearly knocked the headband off the small forward for the Under-11 Bobcats.
      The crowd showed surprising restraint in awaiting the Chairman, nobody grabbing at the microphone or pushing as violently as they had earlier. Many of those surrounding the football team appeared to be lost in thought, perhaps attempting to formulate a sentence powerful enough to express their distaste for the parking system.
      “It’s so stressful to everyday be constrained and time doesn’t stand still,” said an eager opponent.
      “Sometimes the cars are searching so hard for a spot they block the buses,” said Jacob Chen.
      “Moments are being lost, that’s the thing,” said the homeless man aggressively sticking his mouth against the microphone, exhaling loudly.
      “We have no opinion,” said the Deans of Students.
      “People are using axes to chop down parking signs, isn’t that enough?” said the starting shooting guard on the Under-11 Bobcats.
      “It makes our job needlessly difficult,” said the police officer with the Gelato coupons.
      “An ineffective system is not corrected by magnifying its deficiencies,” said Dr. Day thinking he was quoting someone (Henry Ford, Langston Hughes, Gorbachev?).
      “We can point to symptoms all day, but what this amounts to is more short-sighted leadership and overreaching from the Harvard elites,” said Randolph Formersworth looking at the Mayor and drawing a mild cheer from the audience.
      “Let’s stick to the issue at hand,” said Reinfeld.
      “Cambridge is expensive enough as it is, now we have to pay parking tickets every other day for going to the grocery store three hundred feet away, where’s all the money going anyway?” said a single mother of two who was the chief organizer of the Mother-Daughter Charity Darts Tournament and baker of the clown cookies many Cambridge residents had enjoyed that evening.
      “I’d like to see an accounting,” said one Sloane School of Business professor.
      “I reckon us law dogs are havin’ a real hard time enforcin’ this thing,” said the policeman who wrote Storp a ticket.
      “Violence is the real issue here; this law is making us violent!” said a man wearing a tie-dye t-shirt and cut-off jean shorts.
      “That’s two sentences,” said one of the Deans of Students to the starting left tackle on the MIT football team.
      “Probably,” said the left tackle.
      “I nearly lost my mind over this law and the horse population has not increased as promised,” said the woman who was ticketed twice near her house.
      “It’s just annoying, especially for those of us from outside of Cambridge,” said Haverly
       “Irrelevant,” said Chairman Reinfeld, taking the microphone away from Haverly. “Time’s nearly up anyway.”
      “What do you mean irrelevant? We use this city just like anyone else,” said Haverly, loud enough so the microphone picked it up, though it was being withheld by Reinfeld. Storp squeezed Haverly’s hand to reassure her she was not alone.
      “This is not about, or for, non-residents, this is a Cambridge City Council Meeting. This is about what the residents of Cambridge think,” said Reinfeld.
      “May I?” asked Haverly pointing to the microphone. Reinfeld nodded, and pointed to his watch to indicate time was almost up. “This would not even be an issue if it weren’t for us non-Cambridgians. Storp and I,” she nodded her head in his direction, “we were the ones who, well, we were involved in the first axe incident. The one all the others copied,” said Haverly.
      “A foreign plot, scheme of schemes,” said Dr. Krup.
      “You axed the sign?” asked Regina Sorget.
      “No, well, but we got the ticket and we’re both, you know, Somervillians,” said Storp.
      “More like Somervillains,” said Dr. Krup.
      “You would have gotten a ticket anyway. This is nonsense. Time is up,” said Reinfeld, lifting the microphone above the crowd and turning back towards the Cambridge City Council. The homeless man then began jumping up and down until all those around him cleared a path and he hopped on two feet towards Chairman Reinfeld. Two hops short, he stopped and took two stealthy steps until he was directly behind the Chairman who was still facing the Council and had failed to recognize any disturbance behind him. Denny of Dorchester pointed to the homeless man, now standing silently behind the Chairman. The Chairman turned to face the man and winced from the smell.
      “Yeah, what?” said the Chairman. “You have something to say I suppose, we said one sentence.” The man did not move. “Fine, fine,” said the Chairman and put the microphone in front of his face. The homeless man coughed directly into the microphone and then said, “I was the first to cut down a sign. These two,” he pointed to Haverly and Storp, “they were together and this pig comes over and he just oinks right on their moment and only because this Council gave him the slop and this megaphone of a law. The pigs will always oink, some louder than others, but did you really have to give them a megaphone? They won’t even know how to use it. It’ll screech for a while, months even. Then when they figure it out, you’re only gonna get a louder oink. What else is a pig with a megaphone supposed to do? They’ll oink all over the city, at increased volume, until there is nothing but one loud oink, and couples like this one, who perhaps want to coo (is it so bad to coo now and then?), or god forbid, sing, won’t be heard. And they won’t even hear each other. With no cooing and with singing strictly out of the question, the couples themselves will begin to oink, for they know no other sound. The city soon oinks in unison, and one cannot tell whether the oink is a loud one coming from real authority or just a passive every day oink meant to drown out the very thought of a coo. Let the Somervillians coo, let the Cambridgians coo, let’s all coo! Coo, Coo, Coo!”
      The Chairman snatched the microphone from the homeless man’s hand, sparking a chorus of coos from many in the finally focused crowd. The young-faced law student was one of the first to coo, believing there was something to what the strange man had said, though not being exactly clear on what it was. Alongside her, the sax player, who would never have cooed had he been there without her, and may have, in fact, rolled his eyes at the man and anyone else who might coo, looked at his young-faced companion, smiled brightly and began to coo. Dr. Day grinned from ear to ear, grabbed his notepad, started to write “coo,” realized what he was doing and began actually cooing, wondering to himself whether this coo was not somehow more literary than anything he had ever done or written. Mayor Fisher even let out a barely audible, involuntary coo from the corner of the gym, momentarily forgetting his high position.
      Denny of Dorchester walked up to the Chairman, requested the microphone and played to the crowd by cooing once. The Chairman, displeased, grabbed the microphone back and informed the crowd that it must give the Council a few minutes to decide what to do. “Go coo outside if you like, but we need some quiet debate just amongst ourselves. Grab a snack or a drink and come back in ten,” said Chairman Reinfeld.
      A few brave souls in the crowd oinked and squawked as they slowly filtered out of the gymnasium, some seeking rest rooms, most seeking fresh air. A family of sparrows perched on a power line outside mistook the crowd’s amalgam of coos, oinks and squawks for a giant flock of pigeons and scattered away in fear.

                                                                                                 * * *

      As Dr. Krup headed towards the exits with the rest of the Cambridgians, the Chairman caught his eye and motioned that he should stay with the Cambridge City Council and the Abolene cut-out.
      “The problem is not the square specific parking. The problem is the residents’ and non-residents’ reactions to the program. This is a psychological problem, not a legal one,” said Dr. Krup.
      “It’s the law that’s causing people to react,” said Shannon O’Kelly.
      “Yes, sort of, but the law is good that’s what the Doctor is saying,” said Gordon.
      “The law is good, but the consequences of the law are bad, is that what the law professor is saying?” asked Dr. Argo Stearns.
      “More or less,” said Chairman Reinfeld.
      “There is a difference Dr. Stearns. But now is not the time for legal theory. The effect is admittedly a problem and calls for a reasonable solution,” said Dr. Krup.
      “Anything in mind Doctor?” asked Shannon.
      “Yes, as it so happens. I think yes. Here it is. So, the problem is people are getting upset when they see the tickets on the cars. They see the colored ticket with the City emblem or whatever and they know there’s trouble and they get angry, right?”
      “Yeah, and then they cut down signs with broad swords,” said Shannon.
      “But anger and stress, that’s the problem. The anger and stress caused by the tickets,” said Dr. Krup.
      “I suppose,” said Denny.
      “Solution: change the design of the tickets. Put an attractive person doing a relaxing yoga pose on the ticket, like the cow face or the camel, and the people will take their tickets lying down, so to speak,” said Dr. Krup.
      “That’s ridiculous. Why would that work?” said Shannon.
      “They’ve done studies at Yale and Brown and there’s one at Harvard ongoing. But what do they know?” said Dr. Krup.
      “Not so much,” said Dr. Stearns.
      “I like this. But they won’t go for it. We can’t just announce that,” said Chairman Reinfeld.
      “How about this then, how about this, with every ticket you get a free yoga class. So the people think they’re getting something. Go get the guy who runs this place,” said Dorph, but no one moved and Dorph was forced to swallow his pride and go find Ambrose Stanhope himself.
      “That’s really not bad,” said Reinfeld.
      “I’m voting no regardless,” said Eric.
      “The particulars will be decisive,” said Ingrid.
      Dorph came back with Ambrose, who was displeased to have been moved away from the crowd, where he had been urging attendees to buy baked goods with increasing success. The Council explained to Ambrose the potential plan and offered to provide him with mats and instructors if the Cambridge Community Center were willing to house the complimentary parking ticket yoga classes.
      “I’ve always wanted to have a concert series here. You know for the kids and the parents to get together have some pizza, listen to some family appropriate music. We had a band last week, but it didn’t really work out. No kids came. But if the city were to fund some groups and advertizing,” said Ambrose.
      “That sounds great,” said Regina.
      “Six concerts max,” said Dorph.
      “Deal,” said Ambrose.
      “Let’s vote, they’ll be back soon,” said Reinfeld.
      “Are we seriously voting on this and not eliminating this stupid square thing like everybody wants?” asked Denny.
      “Well, if it gets voted down, we’ll look at other options,” said Gordon.
      “All those in favor of the new yoga tickets, free yoga and accompanying Cambridge Community Center City Funded Concert Series Program say aye,” said Chairman Reinfeld.
      “Aye,” said Regina, Dorph, Gordon, Ingrid and Reinfeld, holding their hands in the air.
      “All those opposed?”
      “Nay,” said Eric, Argo, Denny and Shannon.
      “Drat,” said Shannon.
      “Double drat,” said Denny looking at Shannon.
      “Can I love you now?” asked Shannon tapping on Denny’s shoulder.
      “Still no place to park in East Cambridge,” said Denny.


      The crowd reentered the gym, each individual oddly attempting to make their way to the spot they had been standing before the fifteen minute parking free for all. The Cambridgians were in good spirits, some still cooing softly to their neighbor as a new inside joke, while their neighbor laughed or cooed back. Haverly and Storp were not among those who returned to the gym. They decided that their dinner reservations were more important than whatever resolution the Cambridge City Council might come to. They walked arm-in-arm to the Central Square T stop, observed by several Cambridgians who thought nothing of their presence, having no indication of their residency from a sticker on their car or otherwise.
      “Welcome back everyone. Please be quiet. Please. Thank you. The Council has reached a decision on the parking issue,” said Chairman Reinfeld looking out into the hopeful crowd. “The details of which . . . will be announced in the next couple days.”
      The crowd sensed that this indicated there would be no change at all or that there was some innocuous alteration that maintained the square specific system. They began to boo or coo, while the Deans of Students did not understand what the fuss was about.
      “They said they’d announce it at some point,” said one.
      “That should be definite enough,” said another.
      “This is not legislature on demand people. You’ll be happy, just trust us,” shouted Chairman Reinfeld to no avail, the chorus of boos and coos only getting louder. Reinfeld turned back to the Council, seeking help from anyone willing to provide it. Ingrid Sabrestock stood up and Reinfeld handed her the microphone. Those in the crowd who could see clearly noticed their beloved Councilwoman and ceased booing and cooing, motioning for those around them to do the same.
      “Good friends of Cambridge, The Council’s decision is just. You will please yourself with it. There will be no more unrest. We will return to simpler times when the lemonade was cold and the cookies were made with real butter. When you could sit out on your porch and watch your neighbor’s children play kickball and know that the bases were not measured out by the Town Clerk and the ball was not inflated by the President of Harvard College,” said Councilwoman Sabrestock.
      A resounding coo went through the crowd, a coo of approval. For the bright people of Cambridge thought they read between the lines and found hints of deregulation in their Councilwoman’s short speech. Members of the Cambridge City Council looked around uneasily and then contented that they could move on without revealing their likely unpopular scheme.
      “Well said,” said Chairman Reinfeld. “Now to our second order of business, that is our Mayor and the tandem bike scandal. As you all know the Mayor is here today, as are the other members of the tandem bike program.” A chorus of jeers filled the room as people pointed to the Mayor in the far front corner of the gym and searched for Dr. Imbaun and Tope who some recognized from the stories in the Cambridge Chronicle, while Shannon O’Kelly blushed from the glances she got from her fellow Councilmen and the Deans of Students who were no prudes but wanted to set an example for the MIT football team. The sax player nudged the young-faced student, her elbows now safely at her sides, and said, “That could have been you.” “Could have been,” she said and nodded her head.
      The Chairman began to read from a crinkled piece of paper he had drawn from his shirt pocket, “I’d like to say that the Cambridge City Council regrets the entanglement of our environmentally savvy program with any indiscretion on the part of Mayor Fisher, and want to reiterate that our only desire in setting up this program was to demonstrate the virtues of bike riding, Cambridge proudly being one of the most bike-friendly cities in the country. The choice of partners was left to the Mayor and his advisors and no one, well, no one in their official capacity . . .” said Chairman Reinfeld glancing back at Shannon, “ . . . on the City Council, participated in selecting those partners. In fact, the intention of the City Council was for Abolene Fisher, and Abolene Fisher only, to ride in front of our Mayor for the duration of the program. Unfortunately, our dear first lady, whose presence is sorely missed tonight, was unable to continue riding, and replacements were found to keep the program going. Since the break of the scandal, the Council has discontinued the tandem bike program and repossessed the bicycle from the Mayor who is no longer in possession of it. While we regret the end of the program, we think it best to discontinue it indefinitely in light of present circumstances.”
      The crowd listened, hoping for something interesting and perked up when they heard Abolene’s name, only to fall flat again as Chairman Reinfeld continued to explain the least interesting part of the multi-part problem, this is, the tandem bicycle. The collective consciousness of the Cambridge people wanted to shout out, “Alright, enough already with the bike. Who cares?” but instead the Cambridgians looked about themselves, searching for attractive members of the opposite or same sex. “Found one,” thought Eric Deathnell, looking at Tope for the first time. “Not so bad, I can see it,” thought Mrs. Frollotto, catching a glimpse of Mayor Fisher. “Not really,” thought Jacob Chen, glancing past Gordon Sedgewick.
      “I want to remind all of you before we get into this any deeper,” continued Chairman Reinfeld, “the Council has no independent power to remove or appoint any Mayor. However, we may, by city charter, sponsor a ballot initiative to find out whether or not the citizens of Cambridge wish to recall your duly elected Mayor. Also, I want to remind everyone that this is a public meeting and there are children present so please refrain from using any suggestive or obscene language. In particular, I know the Cambridge Under-11 Bobcats are in attendance, my son being a starter in most games.”
      He looked up from his notes and waved at his son. “Hi Dale. Anyway, please keep the language PG-13 at most. Mr. Mayor, I understand you have something to say.”
      The Mayor walked towards the Cambridge City Council, most of the crowd silently watching, the majesty of the office having momentarily overcome the popular indignation in everyone but Arthur Scently who clapped sarcastically as the Mayor approached the Council. Mayor Fisher had prepared a speech in which he praised the Council, underscored his commitment to Cambridge and begged the people to forgive his lapse in judgment, but having the utmost confidence in his political acumen and eloquent tongue, he decided to leave the speech in his pocket.
      “People of Cambridge, I come before you a humble servant of your dear city; a servant who has violated your trust, a servant who has besmirched the very reputation of our fine City Government, in short, a servant who has fallen to the temptations which are the inevitable consequence of a well-run bike program. I speak to you tonight with a heavy heart, the weight of my indiscretions placed upon my chest by the fair press of this fine city. A press that called my very own Mother to ensure every Cambridgian was well-informed of my until-recently merely rumored trespasses. A press that was nowhere to be seen at the ribbon-cutting for the new research lab at MIT that will create over 130 non-MIT affiliated jobs. A press that seems to know where my dear wife Abolene is at all times but is too lazy to make its own jumbles and takes crossword puzzles from less-educated cities. A press that finds room for the occasional article on the cut of my pants, but refuses to mention that Cambridgians won seven Nobel Prizes last year. This institution which called for youth in governance just last November, that asked for new blood in the Mayor’s office, has uncovered that youth and power often create temptation, which, in weak fallible creatures such as ourselves, and myself, no less so than all of you, lead to indiscretions.
      “I will not discuss any details tonight, though I will say they are not as seedy as some would have you believe. I only want to apologize sincerely for my youthful indiscretion and hope that this, the most intelligent and compassionate community in the Commonwealth, can find it in its heart to forgive me and let me be the best servant I can possibly be. Oh, if only Abolene were here. She is the light, and I hope you take her as an example of the good my administration can and will do for Cambridge. I see we have a fine reproduction here in her stead.
      “This is the type of excitement and creativity I want to bring back to Cambridge city politics. I see there are many students here tonight and I am pleased that the very institutions upon which Cambridge is built are finally being given a voice in our governance. Some say Harvard and MIT overshadow our fair city. I say we cannot ignore who we are. We are the most intelligent, highly evolved, unapologetic college town in these United States. A city built upon the principle that learning is itself the greatest industry of all. Students from all over the world come to Cambridge to study with the best and brightest and leave with an admiration not just for their professors, or for their school, but for the mystical city that nurtured their growth. Ladies and gentlemen, this is the city which the enlightened people of other cities of our fine Commonwealth look to for leadership. This is the city of ideas, the city of invention, the city of the new, the important, the environmentally friendly, the inclusive, the most efficient. This is the city, this is your city, and with your help I’d like to keep it that way.”
      The people of Cambridge, having just been informed of how intelligent and forward-thinking they were, felt compelled to applaud their cheating Mayor. A contrary reaction might show them to be as average and closed-minded as the people of Framingham who had recalled their Town Moderator after he was found to be growing marijuana in his backyard. Even the people of Cambridge who did not feel the compulsion to applaud Mayor Fisher, Arthur Scently chief among them, but also including the law students, Dr. Imbaun, Tope, Shannon O’Kelly, the homeless man and Frollotto and Mrs. Frollotto, were unable to fight the majority and simply stood looking at each other if they were in pairs or looking for like-minded non-clappers if they were alone.
      The overall impression on Mayor Fisher was that his speech had been a great success and that he was destined to be the first graduate of Art Tatum High School to squelch a career-ending sex scandal with one well-delivered speech. And the Mayor would have been right, and the meeting would have ended with the citizenry shaking their heads wondering whatever happened to the three mistresses and the tandem bicycle and the more beautiful wife, had not the picture of modern femininity herself, Mrs. Abolene Fisher, walked through the gymnasium door right as Mayor Fisher was handing the microphone back to Chairman Reinfeld. She was alone, in sunglasses and a flowered dress, her flat sandals the only thing between her and the hardwood floor. Her hair was tied back uncharacteristically with a cheap light blue hair tie in a single ponytail. Her expression was ambivalent as she walked through the entrance scanning the room through her sunglasses until finally deciding to take them off and reveal the clear blue eyes the people of Cambridge had come to expect from their darling first lady.
      It did not take long for those near the back of the gym to notice Abolene’s presence and feel a certain sense of regret for the implicit forgiveness they had just given her husband. Those who noticed tapped on all the shoulders within reach to alert their neighbors of the new circumstance. Slowly, like a row of dominos the last of which were too close against the wall to fall down, the people of Cambridge turned away from their Mayor and faced Abolene directly, those in front of her stepping aside until there was a clear path between her and the Mayor. Abolene walked steadily, maintaining an air of royalty as her sandals thwaped against the bare hardwood and her ponytail bobbed slightly from side to side. The Mayor appeared at once terrified and triumphant as his wife approached. His toothy grin was unable to remove the fear from his deep brown eyes. In one eloquent motion Abolene took the microphone from Chairman Reinfeld’s stubby fingers and turned to face the crowd. She smiled toothlessly, causing the entire City of Cambridge to blush crimson.
      “Hi everyone. I don’t know what’s been said here tonight about me or my husband or anything really. I guess there was a parking issue. I hope you all resolved that. My friends have been complaining about axes in the streets. We should probably figure something out there too.” The crowd laughed, disarmed by the simplicity of their beautiful spokeswoman. “I’ve been on vacation for a while, it is August after all. Oh, I see you’ve found a replacement,” she said, noticing for the first time the life-sized cut-out of herself. “So, maybe I put my hair down next time. I don’t really like the heels though, a bit gauche. Not like these,” she lifted her right leg to show her flip-flops to the audience. “No, sorry that’s out of line. It’s very well done. What I want to say to everyone here is that I want you to forgive my husband. He’s only a man, from Toledo you know; he’s actually one of the better ones there. But forgive him as I have and will, for that’s the thing to do, or else, you’ll never get anywhere. Forgive him the first bicyclist because his wife refused to ride. Forgive him his second bicyclist because two is no worse morally than one. And forgive him his third bicyclist because she is a duly elected Councilwoman who all of you chose, so why shouldn’t he? And when you forgive my dear, sweet husband, as I have, you will feel better about yourself and your community and realize that if someone like my very own AT High can lead the smartest city in the country, then why can’t you, or I for that matter? Why can’t I? Yes, I think I will, if you’ll have me. Will you have me good people of Cambridge? Will you?” The crowd burst into an ecstatic cheer, some crying out “We love you Abolene!” while others clapped and strained their voices so that their “Yeah!” could be heard distinctly over their neighbors’, causing Abolene to remember them always. The Mayor’s face turned white as he continued to smile vacantly, hoping this was merely a strange dream. “If nominated, I will run. If not nominated, I will run. If elected, I will serve with my dear, sweet, misunderstood husband by my side, completely forgiven. The first ever Mayor and spouse of a Mayor to come from Art Tatum High School in Toledo, Ohio. Wouldn’t that be something!”
      Abolene beamed and hugged her husband who went limp as the crowd cheered “A-bo-lene, A-bo-lene,” and every member of the Cambridge City Council knew that they would have to sponsor a popular vote on whether the good people of Cambridge desired a recall election. Arthur Scently began scribbling notes for an article on the event, which surely would be worthy of a spot in the Boston Globe, if not the New York Times. Scently began wondering if the Times might be interested in a beat reporter who had the inside scoop on the first ever (presumably) husband vs. wife popular election and concluded that they certainly would be. Dr. Day wondered if Cambridge itself was becoming more literary or if he should have been paying more attention to Cambridge city politics all along. Randolph Formersworth squealed with delight for the first time in his life and grabbed the nearest Dean of Students for a warm embrace. The Dean, having been trained never to refuse such an offering, reciprocated, leaving Formersworth fulfilled if also a little embarrassed.
      Abolene released Mayor Fisher and he staggered backward two steps before leaning up against the table the Cambridge City Council had been sitting at. Abolene turned and faced the crowd, triumphantly dropping the microphone on the same table and posing for a few pictures. She then leaned up against the table beside her husband, placing her arm around him and leaning her head against his shoulder. Mayor Fisher did not move.
      Chairman Reinfeld took the microphone up from the table, faced his fellow Council members, shrugged his shoulders, and said “In favor,” away from the microphone. All but Shannon O’Kelly raised their hands. “Opposed,” O’Kelly stood up and waved both her hands wildly; but was still counted as only one person. Reinfeld turned and faced the crowd, “The Cambridge City Council has decided to sponsor a popular vote on whether or not there should be a recall. Thanks for coming out tonight, buy some cookies if you haven’t yet.”


      The referendum on whether or not to hold a recall election was held two Tuesdays after the City Council Meeting. This gave the Deans of Students ample time to send out emails which provided the students of Harvard and MIT with detailed, if largely unread, instructions on how to register to vote before the upcoming election. The MIT football team was instrumental in spreading word of the importance of the referendum and potential recall to the MIT student body. The team even held a pep rally in which Abolene made a surprise appearance and set up a table outside the crepe station in McCormick Hall for students to sign up to vote.
      About a mile up Massachusetts Avenue, the Harvard campus was abuzz with the prospect of the unprecedented special elections. The Kennedy School of Government and the Law School held joint and separate forums and free lunches to ensure that their students understood the magnitude of this unusual development in Cambridge city government. The Dean of Students of the Law School, having seen the two of them at the crucial City Council meeting, asked the young-faced student and the sax-playing student to speak at one such lunch. The young-faced student agreed, while the sax player declined. He insisted that whatever he had to say would be better said by the young-faced student. This was not altogether accurate, as his true feelings about the meeting had absolutely nothing to do with Cambridge City politics and could, he thought, best be expressed by playing The Nearness of You on tenor saxophone. However, he thought it doubtful that the Dean would allow him to express himself as such, and did not think a free lunch to be the proper occasion in any case. The lunch ended up being a great success; the young-faced student regaling her classmates with tales of sweaty chairmen, cheating Mayors, charming wives, and prophetic homeless men, while the sax player sat in the back, hanging on every word and eating pad thai. Dr. Krup protested to the Dean of the Law School that these meetings and lunches were missing what was really important, namely, “the revolution in parking permits taking place in our great city.” The Dean of Harvard Law School had an assistant write down what Dr. Krup said, and ensured him that revolution was not the word he was looking for.
      Professors at Harvard College were interviewed by local and national newspapers, including the New York Times, but not by Arthur Scently, to get their impression of Mayor Fisher as an undergrad. “Ambitious,” “Benign,” “Unremarkable,” “Well-spoken” and “Well-dressed,” were the adjectives most often used. A few professors who had both Abolene and Mayor Fisher were asked to compare the two. Abolene was most-often dubbed “Quieter,” “Brighter,” “More attractive,” and “Compatible with him, but probably everyone else too.” The students in the government classes at Harvard College were encouraged to register to vote by their professors who promised a minimum of an A- to anyone who registered.
      In Somerville, each morning Storp and Haverly searched the Daily Cambridgian fruitlessly seeking some information about the parking situation. Haverly and Storp gave a presentation at a special assembly describing their experience of the Cambridge City Council Meeting for the students of their elementary school. The students later reduced the hour-long presentation into a playground game called, “Oink, Oink, Coo!” Haverly and Storp watched the children play and considered independently whether or not they would have children together and, if so, how many and of what gender. Then looking each other up and down, what height, intelligence and athletic abilities they might have. Haverly thought two would be sufficient so long as one was a girl and Storp concluded that whatever Haverly wanted would be fine.
      At the Mayor’s house, Abolene and Mayor Fisher were getting along surprisingly well. Mayor Fisher seldom left the premises, but showed great affection for Abolene when she happened to stop by between public appearances and photo shoots. The Mayor had started to prepare himself for the life of the spouse of the Mayor, buying increasingly expensive suits and walking a new golden retriever puppy from one side of his lawn to the other. Those who happened to see the well-dressed Mayor with his adorable companion suddenly reconsidered their affection for Abolene, until they flipped through the Daily Cambridgian and saw her picture. Occasionally, Abolene would return from a day out in Cambridge with a black raspberry gelato from Frollotto’s Gelatos for Mayor Fisher and the puppy to share. She smiled and kissed Mayor Fisher on the lips on these occasions, reminded him, “You and I, we’re still together,” and placed her index finger on his nose. He would smile in return, take her hand and kiss it. Moments like these were not infrequent, though they were underreported in the Daily Cambridgian.

                                                                                                 * * *

      The results of the recall referendum were: 96% in favor of a recall vote and 4% opposed, with Shannon O’Kelly, Dr. Imbaun, and Tope the only Cambridgians one could point to with absolute certainty and know they did not vote in favor of the proposition. The turnout for the referendum far outstripped that of the Mayoral election or any election of the Cambridge City Council, as lines of students outside several of the voting locations waited patiently as the elderly supervisors had trouble finding their names in the new directories.
      The recall election itself took place a month later with Abolene running without a political party and receiving 79% of the vote and the former Mayor Fisher receiving 14%. The Republican candidate, Derek Houston, a homely Sloan School of Business graduate who ran on a platform of eliminating square specific parking, received 4% of the vote, and Randolph Formersworth, who decided, once again, to throw his hat in the ring, received 2%.
      On the day Abolene was sworn in as Mayor of Cambridge, the City Council organized a parade which shut down traffic on Massachusetts Avenue from Central Square all the way to Harvard. Mayor Fisher and Logan Fisher road on a float with the Cambridge City Council, reminding the citizens of Cambridge of the importance of forgiveness, the virtues of humility and the beauty of their new Mayor. Arthur Scently walked alongside the float the entire way, hoping to hand Logan Fisher a copy of the Daily Cambridgian which featured a full page picture of Abolene on the cover, and the headline, “Mayor Fisher is Dead, Long Live Mayor Fisher!” Logan Fisher took no notice of the pesky reporter and gazed at his wife and the crowd lining the sidewalks of Massachusetts Avenue, thinking of how he would become known throughout the nation as the once and former Mayor Fisher whose brilliant political career was put on hold, but merely on hold mind you, by his lovely wife who turned his indiscretion into her own political springboard. But, it was his springboard too. Now that Abolene had won her place as his political equal, there was nothing stopping him from riding the Fisher political juggernaut all the way to becoming the first congressman, the first senator, the first governor or even the first president to come from Art Tatum High School in Toledo, Ohio.
      Hoping to ensure the success of the amended, and as yet unannounced, yoga square specific parking program, the Cambridge City Council had a favor to ask of the new Mayor. Chairman Reinfeld approached the Mayor, just as they passed The People’s Republik, a cramped and vaguely communist themed bar north of Central Square.
      “Mayor Fisher, the City Council would like to ask a favor of you,” he said.
      “Why yes,” said Mayor Fisher continuing to smile and look out at the crowd.
      “Would you be willing to pose for us?”
      “Probably, what do you mean?”
      “Well, maybe your husband told you that we’re going to start putting yoga poses on the parking tickets and give free yoga classes to those ticketed,” said Chairman Reinfeld.
      “Never mentioned it. I don’t think that’ll work,” said Mayor Fisher.
      “Yes, oh it will, we have experts from Brown and elsewhere, and with you posing, it can’t miss,” said the Chairman.
      Abolene looked at the Chairman and scrunched her nose.
       “Yes Mayor Fisher, the people will love it,” said the Chairman.
      “If I jumped off a bridge, would Cambridge follow?”
      “If you took their hand sweetly and jumped with them,” he said.
      “A thought,” she said, and turned back towards the crowd, waving until the teeth of the smiling onlookers reflected the sun back into her eyes, forcing her to squint and look away.


      There are no longer any problems in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Brian Conlon is a short story writer from Spencerport, NY. He holds a J.D. from Harvard Law School (’11) in, you know, law, a B.A. from the University of Rochester (’08) in History and Comparative Literature and a high school diploma from Spencerport High School (’04). He fears that all this holding may lead to early-onset carpel tunnel. His work has recently appeared in The Greenbag, Prime Numbers, The Montreal Review and Blue Lake Review. He currently resides in St. Louis where he earns a living writing much shorter and less interesting things.

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