The Christmas Pundit (Laurel Holidays #2) - V.L. Locey

Chapter One

“…said to him that there was no way he clumb all the way up to my property just to track no deer! You know what he said to me then, Mayor?”

“I’m assuming that he explained in a polite manner that he had indeed climbed up to your property to track the doe?” I replied, looking from one old farmer to the other, both men nearly indistinguishable from the other save for the wear and tear of their Carhartt work coats. Looked like Berger Mason had bought a new one in the past year whereas Carson Oats had worn his for years. Into the cow barn if the smell of manure wafting off him was any indication. Of course, the poop could be on their mucky boots as well. Seemed neither of the dairy farmers deemed a trip to city hall was worth changing out of their chore clothes. Mara, my executive assistant, was sitting beside me taking notes of the impromptu meeting with a hankie over her nose. I had said during my first speech on the night the results had come in that my office door would always be open to the good citizens of Cedarburg. I’d just assumed they’d scrape the cow shit off their boots before coming to the courthouse…

“That’s right, Mr. Mayor, I said exactly that,” Berger replied, his big nose red with frustration. It tended to glow like a certain famous reindeer whenever he was upset. “I told him that my arrow nicked a branch and the shot was low. Then the doe bounded over the fence, and I asked real politely like if I could track her. He got all belligerent and told me to haul my fat ass back down the ridge where it belonged. Then he called me an encroacher and a defiler of his scarecrow! Which is pure horseshit! I didn’t never touch that stupid scarecrow!”

“Yes, you did. I know you dressed it up to look like my wife. Even give it a big squash nose!” Carson shouted.

“Okay, let’s settle down.” I lifted my hands while speaking up over the din. I was a politician, so I was good at speaking loudly. “Now is this the scarecrow incident of ’92 that you’re referring to, Carson?”

“Yes, sir, it is,” both men replied at once before slipping back to silent glowering.

I had assumed so. I tossed Mara a pleading look. She deftly shook her head and hid behind her lilac-scented hanky. I suspected the older woman was sniggering into the folds of silk over her nose and mouth.

“Right, okay, well, I remember that incident well. I was ten. Didn’t Officer Blakeman deduct that it was local kids who dressed up your scarecrow like Dolores?” I pointedly asked Carson, who had the good grace to at least look a little contrite. He bobbed his head but continued to mutter to himself. This feud between the Mason and Oats clans had been raging since the fifties when old Booger Oats had taken up with Marlene Mason. It had been a torrid affair, at least by fifties standards. Booger had run off to Canada leaving Marlene in a delicate condition. The child of that scandalous liaison had been breastfed on the stories of how dastardly the whole Oats clan was and he then carried the nonsense on, passing the hatred along to the next generation like an heirloom pocket watch.

“I did stop and ask, Mayor, truly I did. Then he got all up on his face and—”

“In your face. He got in your face, Berger.” That made me smile just a little. Bless the older generations. They were trying. Well, some of them were. Others not so much. “Here’s what we’ll do. I’ll call WCO Carlota over in Silverwood and ask him to come over to escort Berger onto your land to fetch his deer. If they can track the doe and find her, then you two will split the venison fifty-fifty. How does that sound?”

Both old codgers grumbled and hemmed but in the end they nodded briskly.

“I’ll go call the game commission now,” Mara said into her square of silk then rose and hurried out of my cramped office. If it weren’t a blustery October day I’d open the window to let some of the manure smell out. But it was too dank and chilly in the hills of Pennsylvania on this early October day to crack the window let alone open it. This old courthouse was damp enough as it was even on a Copyright 2016 - 2024