Leonard Crabbe jabbed a finger on the start button of his computer and cursed the slow speed of his connection. “Add that to the list,” he said to himself and scrawled a note on a thick pad he kept by his keyboard. Ire rose like a noxious weed rooted in his heart and fairly popped out his eyeballs when he saw the headline news track across his monitor. “Idiots!” He slammed his fist down on the big oak desk. It was going to be a good day.
Leonard clicked first on one of his favorite community forums. “About time that lazy editor posted my letter,” he told the unblinking screen. He scrolled through his artfully crafted rant against his homeowners association which had the gall to propose repairs to the community pool that he didn’t use, cared nothing about and would undoubtedly raise the already outrageous dues he had to pay for the privilege of living behind a gate. He shot back scathing replies to the clueless few who challenged him.
Next, Leonard took to task the county board of supervisors for approving a recreation center west of Teapot. It would require a stoplight – his tax dollars. It included a skate park. Why not just hand out cans of spray paint to the hoodlums who will flock here from neighboring cities? Leonard thundered on in 11 point Calibri type protesting expensive maintenance projects, new development and eroding services. He got up only once to go to the bathroom and pound down a jigger of pink stuff to settle his acid reflux. “Stomach feels like it’s on fire,” he grumbled as he returned to his chair.
Around noon the front door flew open and his granddaughter burst in, backlit by sun streaming so brightly it made his eyes ooze. The girl was a storm of noise and activity. She had the fresh smell of rainclouds about to shed buckets. Did his daughter know she doomed this child to a life of dramatic exaggeration when she named her Tempest?
“Grandpa, I can’t find a job; no one’s hiring. “ Tempest fell hard into Leonard’s Lazy Boy, pushed it back into reclining position and stared at him.
“What about the pool? You have your lifeguard certificate.”
“Pool’s closed for the summer. The filter system is shot.”
“What about the library? You made good money shelving books there last summer. Didn’t you run the summer reading program?”
“The library bond measure didn’t pass, remember? They use volunteers for that stuff now. Hey, maybe you could put in a good word for me with the city planner – he’s advertising a paid internship.”
Not after all the names I called him at the last city council meeting, Leonard thought. Just then, Grace Crabbe walked through the living room over to the front window and pulled open the drapes.
“It’s so dark in here! Leonard, would you and Tempest go to the minimart for me and pick up a few things for dinner?” Grace handed Tempest five dollars. “Honey, you must be running low on some stuff you need. Spend this wisely.”
After they left, Grace sat down at the desk and looked through Leonard’s list of grievances. She pulled out her checkbook and began to write checks, including one to the association for the back dues they owed with some extra designated for pool repair and a sizeable donation to the library to fund the summer reading program. Then she picked up the phone.
“City Planning department please. Stan? It’s Grace. I want to tell you what a great job I think you are doing on the west end of town. Stan, I have a favor to ask.”
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