The council chambers were packed, the room stifling hot.
You would think they’d cancel the meeting when the air conditioning unit broke down after lunch, but I guess torturing city hall employees wasn’t enough, now they were trying to kill the rest of us.
And if the man at the podium didn’t hurry the hell up, I was going to melt. I was here about the leash law, and this idiot had already overrun his three minutes, been told to step aside, and was still arguing his point about the recycling bins.
Councilman Warren was obviously reaching his limit.
“Mr. Stewart, the council appreciates your concern, but the recycle bins are provided by the City for a functional purpose. Changing the color to make them more eye-pleasing isn’t a concern.”
“Councilman, you don’t understand–”
“Your time is up, Mr. Stewart. Step aside.”
“I have every right–”
“Yes, a right you’ve exercised over these people for–” he glanced at the clock, “over six minutes. You’re done. Sit down.”
The old fogey slammed his notebook shut, and a remote fell from the podium, the back popping free and batteries scattering across the floor. Mr. Stewart looked around the room and walked away, not even bothering to pick up the mess he’d made. Some of the other residents whispered behind me when he dropped into his seat near the back.
I turned my attention to my binder, only half-listening as I reviewed my notes. I could hear Councilman Warren calling, “Mr. Dugan?”
There was a lull, and then someone was standing in front of me. I glanced up, and a tall, quite attractive guy was looking at me. He smiled oddly, and held up a battery. “Excuse me, ma’am–one of these rolled under your chair.”
I blushed, standing and moving out of his way. “Sorry–here.” He got his battery and reassembled the remote, then returned to the other side of the room. I stole a few glances, but he didn’t look over.
There were two other presenters before I was granted my turn to speak. I kept it brief, focusing on my own personal experiences with pets allowed to roam freely (complete with photographs of damage to my property and documented losses of songbirds around my feeders), and made certain to keep it under my allotted time. No one wanted another Mr. Stewart. Councilman Warren thanked me, and I resumed my seat.
It was easier, then, to keep a surreptitious eye on the pretty-boy working tech support for the meeting. I couldn’t see his hands, so I couldn’t peg him as married or single (not that lack of a ring was sure-fire on status), but I definitely was hoping for the latter. He wasn’t my usual type–tall, thin, and wiry–but my type hadn’t done me any favors so far, so why not try something new? There might be something behind the big and brawny look.
The council, to my annoyance, decided to postpone their vote on the leash law. That’d be another Monday evening spent sitting here. I grabbed my things and made for the door, only to be waylaid by a sharp “excuse me” when I stepped into the hall. It was Battery Man.
He smiled at me, extending a hand in greeting. “Jim Dugan.”
I took his hand, giving it a well-practiced shake. “Ellie Spencer.”