Fiction By Mike Cahill
I had just left the General Committee Meeting and was walking down Dickson towards Water Street. It was just about 10 pm as I arrived at the entrance to my club. Coming out, I happened to see Jim Hillis, and James Haggerty. Arm in arm, and laughing like schoolboys they mounted a tandem bicycle and rode off. I found this deeply disturbing.
I went immediately to the reading room and rang for Reinhardt, the concierge. I was in a deep funk and needed advice badly. In no time, good old Reinhardt was at my shoulder with a double Bushmills. “Have a seat old chap,” I said, “we need to talk.” “Indeed sir.” He replied.
“Now look here old sock,” I said, “I’ve been on council for a year now and I think things are going just fine. Mayor Ben Tucci is doing a bang up job, he is great to work with, and the city’s debt will be retired 3 years early.” Reinhardt looked pensive. “And you must admit,” I continued, “that getting a piece of public art installed on the sidewalk of Main Street was rather a feather in my cap.” Reinhardt remained unimpressed.
“Well dash it all man,” I cried, “please elucidate, illustrate, and explain your concerns.” “As you say sir.” He replied.
“I would suggest sir,” he stated, “that your immediate success has gone to your head. No one could have predicted that the advance of the Cambridge Citizen to number one daily newspaper (after the closing of the Times by the CRTC) would have occurred in our lifetime. The scandal that brought down Metroland Media was a complete shock to many. As was your election to council sir.” “I say Reinhardt, steady on,” I said, “I won by a fairly large margin.”
“aIndeed sir,” he replied, “but there are many vexatious issues that, at various times voters have voiced most vigorously.” “Well spell them out old chum.” I said.
“First the LRT proposal.” He asserted. “Well, ‘hell’s bells’ Reinhardt how could anyone have known that the Region of Waterloo was being run like a Ponzi scheme and the GRT was, in reality, 2 guys, a card table, and one phone? The Region is a defacto suburb of the GTA. The LRT, GO Transit, VIA Rail and the rest should be coordinated by the province, let the Provincial Minister Atinuke Bankole sort it out.”
“What about the ongoing threat of Seniorism?” he countered. “We’ve been through this already,” I huffed, “a large, central senior’s complex is only in the interest of the wealthy, and self entitled who want social services for free. At the same time, we are not, so I’m told, allowed to surround senior’s centers with electrified fencing and issue tasers to the support staff. In addition, we are on the hook for the cost of recharging an estimated 487 electric scooter batteries every day!” “If I may suggest sir,” he said, “churches are closing all over the city as the congregations cannot afford the operating costs. The facilities have fully inspected kitchens, and halls that could be rented out, and the congregations could pay to use them one day a week. Why doesn’t the city buy them at ten cents on the dollar and turn them into community centers? The seniors will stay where they are, we make money on the rentals, and back charge the scooter charging to the province!” “Good one Reinhardt,” I said, “what’s next?”
“The traffic problem at King Street where it meets Fountain.” He responded. “Well thundering gherkins old man, that’s simple!” I said. “You’d have to be a really thick weed not to see this one! The Preston Springs building is a rotten shell. Oh, sure looks fancy on the outside but the mechanical systems are shot. The boiler died in the eighties, the electrical is a disaster, and there are not enough millions to bring it up to the fire code. I say we buy a tunnel-boring machine off of the City of Toronto at next month’s bankruptcy sale and drive it right through the front doors of the Preston Springs! Then we go right under the 401 and come up right on Sportsworld Drive. Problem solved I say.”
“Very good sir,” replied Reinhardt. “Is that it then Reinhardt?” I asked.
“Indeed sir.” he answered. “How about another double then old chap?” I asked.
“Very good sir.”