Day 878: 5 Minute Freewrite CONTINUATION: Monday - Prompt: a bitter remedy

in Freewriters4 years ago (edited)



“Help me understand, sir … why do you have to do this for these people?”

This was Mayor Garner's aide, Mr. Charles Block, who looked up to the mayor and had watched his cheerful boss turn into a grim, rapidly aging man under the stress of the previous two months.

The two men were in an official car being driven to the site of the Ridgeline Fire so the mayor could recognize the memorial being held there by the Black and Latino communities for their family members who had initially not been counted by the city.

From Mr. Block's perspective, that had been a mistake, tragic, but understandable: the Ridgeline Fire hadn't left easily recognizable remains, and the mayor had a million other things to manage beside that. He couldn't help it that a whole police precinct had let him down, and it had taken the coroner six weeks to figure things out.

From Mr. Block's perspective, the mayor had been humiliated and mistreated by everyone from his soon-to-be-ex-wife to the Black and Latino communities to the big wigs in town, ever since, and the mayor was a good man who didn't deserve that.

Mr. Block could stand it until he looked over and saw the mayor's reflection in the car window … that kind, fatherly face, with a tear rolling down it.

All Mr. Block wanted was a way for the mayor to avoid what he felt would be the supreme humiliation of his career.

Mayor Garner looked over at his question, and remembered the story of a great-great-great-uncle on his mother's side, who, on the most humiliating day of his entire life – April 9, 1865 – had to talk with a younger general who wanted him to avoid that last humiliation for himself and all those he served.

Mayor Garner considered … to a lot of people in Lofton County and perhaps across the South, this had been a sort of Appomattox, a surrender to the forces that wished to destroy their entire society. And, like Uncle General, he was going to have to give an explanation much on the same lines to his aide.

“Who said I was doing it for those who you call 'those people,' Mr. Block?” the mayor said.


Mayor Garner thought for a moment.

“As a man with the responsibility of an entire city, Mr. Block, I have to do what is necessary for all of us. We cannot continue to have 42 percent of the city, and the county for which we are the county seat, feeling disrespected and as if they are not a vital part of all that has happened in the past and in the future to come. They have let us know that they will withdraw if they are not respected – and the other 58 percent of us can't make this city work alone. You know how the last three weeks have been.

“Secondly, Mr. Block, but more importantly, we did a great wrong to the Black and Latino communities, and it cannot be righted without all the fruits of repentance. Since I refused initially to recognize the deaths, it cannot be that I refuse to recognize the memorial service.

“Thirdly, Mr. Block, if we are going to rebuild the city's neighborhoods and its economy and reputation, we have to give everyone a stake in it. We have to take every step with that in mind.”

Mr. Block considered this, and then settled back in his seat, his respect and admiration for the mayor increased.

“I understand now, sir. It is an honor to be doing what we are doing.”

“Exactly – we have had hard times and the bitter remedy of humiliation to prepare us, but with your help today, a new chance for all of us can be obtained.”

Photo by Artur Rutkowski on Unsplash

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