Kennick:A Volanis Brothers NovelBy: Meg Jackson
Someday, he would see Baba – and Pieter – again. In the meantime, he had an army at his side. They were a small army, it was true. Four siblings made for a small army, indeed. But they were well-armed, well-taught, and well-fought.
Soon, they would strike out for Kingdom, Delaware, where a thirty-year-old tragedy waited for them to clear their family name.
“Kimmy, did I ever tell you that you’re the sweetest, most wonderful assistant on the face of the planet?”
Kim rolled her eyes and smiled. Mayor Gunderson’s big, affable face was cock-eyed, supported on one fist, his elbow on the counter in front of her computer. His million-dollar smile was like a crescent moon, all bright white and too wide to believe.
“Only every day for the past five years,” she said, sliding his day’s itinerary across the marble counter. He ignored it, as usual, lowering his arm and leaning forward slightly to peak over at her desk.
“Ooh, what’s that? From Sid’s?” She could almost see his mouth watering as he admired her breakfast: a spinach and mushroom omelet with rye bread, an unusual choice for Kim but one that she’d made only after promising herself to actually go to the gym that afternoon.
She’d been up late the night before, trying to figure out who might want to act on some of the business proposals the town council had come up with in their last meeting. The council was full of ideas about what businesses would help the little town of Kingdom; it was finding someone with the capital, or credit, to start them that was a problem. She’d felt tired enough that morning to need the extra energy.
“You know it,” she said. “Wouldn’t go anywhere else.”
The mayor leaned back and narrowed his eyes slightly, a devilish twinkle in them.
“Did you have a late night? I know when I’m feeling a bit under the weather, eggs do wonders for me,” he said with a wink.
She knew he wasn’t talking about the kind of late night she’d had. In the years she’d been working for him, she’d come to recognize the telltale signs that he’d been tippling late into the evening: red eyes, mismatched socks, a forced smile, the overpowering smell of mouthwash to hide the leftover booze breath. Sometimes, you could still get a whiff of strong liquor as he walked by. This wasn’t one of those mornings, but there were plenty of them.
Mayor Gunderson liked his drinks strong and plentiful. He told her once that he considered those nights at the bar an important part of his political success, and she had to admit it was true. He was one of the most pleasant drunks she’d ever seen, and held his liquor well enough to usually seem much less drunk than he was.
People liked him because they considered him “one of them”: a local, a good guy, a buddy. He knew their troubles, could sympathize with their plights, because at the end of the day he got drunk same as they did, one drink at a time. And his generosity of spirit was admired, too, by anyone who was lucky enough to be at the bar when he’d slap his fist against it and call a round for everyone in sight, on his dime.
“Well, I was up late working on those proposals…” Kim started to say, knowing before he even did it that he’d dismiss her with a wave of his hand.
“You work too much, Kimmy,” he said. “All work and no play makes Kim a dull girl. Listen, tonight, come on down to Sammy’s and I’ll buy us a pint or two, huh? It’s Friday, after all,” he said, leaning forward once more.
Kim thought of her usual Friday night: dinner for one and a Netflix marathon. Doing something – anything – certainly sounded appealing, although she’d definitely have to go to the gym if she was going to be adding a few beers to her strict diet.
Kim was constantly monitoring her weight; at 5'2, she liked to keep herself at a comfortable 120 pounds. But her metabolism had been stubbornly slowing more and more as she approached 30, and she had been sitting at a steady 125 for months now. With B-cup breasts that were still perky and full, a generously rounded ass, and soft hips, she didn't see herself as the perfectly-curved woman that other people saw. Her mother's constant criticisms made sure of that.
“Alright,” she said with a shrug, ignoring the part of her that tried to say no, “sounds like a plan.”
Mayor Gunderson clapped his hands in delight before finally taking the itinerary and heading into his office. Not that there was much on the itinerary, anyway. He had a meeting with some Girl Scouts and a business lunch with the Knights of Columbus, but beyond that he was free and clear to do what he usually did: nap, solitaire, phone calls to his myriad friends, and general time-wasting.
Kingdom’s bleak financial state didn’t seem to put any fire under his ass to get things done; but then again, with Kim around to do all his dirty work, he didn’t have much incentive. Things got done, of course, or else he wouldn’t have been re-elected. It was just a matter of who was really doing them.
When it came to the day-to-day minutia of running the town, Kim was the real workhorse, the one who got the papers signed and dealt with the angry calls. She dealt with the Town Council, Town Board, and the Town Manager. She put out the press releases and handled the incoming complaints, propositions, petitions, and initiatives.