The Perils of Louella:

Chapter 186: Louella Puts Hat in Ring

by A.C. Cherbonnier
     LOUELLA’s father wiped the sheen from his forehead. “Whew! If it ain’t hot!”
     “Sure is!” agreed Louella, joining him on the marble stoop of the family’s rowhouse overlooking Patterson Park. She handed him his beer and he popped the top and guzzled.
     “Still want to be the Mayor?”
     “Well, I guess so, but you know, I don’t know if I can handle it. I mean, I don’t have the contacts and all. You have to know how to pull strings, know where the bodies are buried.”
     Her father laughed until he wheezed. “Got that right! I mean, who you got could donate to your campaign? The papers won’t take you seriously ’cause you don’t have the money.”
      “But that’s sort of why I thought I’d run this time, Dad! With all the other people running I could win by accident, even if I don’t have much money!”
     “Yep! That’s how that there Hitler got in, as I recall.”
     “But anyway, when I was down there to register, at the last minute I almost changed my mind. I almost didn’t do it. And then I thought about all those other people running and I figured, why not?”
     Her father shifted a little away from her. “May I ask what name you used?”
     Wow! Sometimes I forget he can talk right when he wants to! marveled Louella. “Well, I thought about that too. I mean, it’s a lot easier for people to say ‘Eleanor Preston’ than “Louella Pryzbylewski, ‘ don’t you think?”
     “Well, that’s your name, ain’t it? You don’t want to be ashamed of your name! Remember that fella Gary Hart? He caught it good when they found out he’d made his name shorter! People don’t like that. Makes you look shifty somehow.”
     “Well, I’ve got to admit it was tempting to go with ‘Preston.’ It’s got a solid sound to it, and it’s an old Baltimore name. People might vote for me just because of it, like ‘Bush’ or ‘Kennedy.’ I thought that, yeah, I’ve got to admit it. But then I figured I might as well just go ahead and be me and make the reporters spell it back to me every time.”
     “Not to mention everybody will know where you came from.”
     “You mean they’ll know I’m white, Dad? Is that what you’re saying?” Louella challenged.
     “I know that don’t sit well with you, Lou, but you gotta face facts in this town. You can’t win nothin’ now if you’re not black.”
     “Oh, that’s silly and you know it! Everybody in city government isn’t black.”
     “Well, it’s not for lack of trying.”
     “You know, Dad, it’s hard sometimes to know your father is kind of a racist.”
     “Me? I ain’t no racist! I fought in wars with ’em, worked with ’em at Esskay, and hell, I even live next to ’em, thanks to you, I may add! So don’t lay that ‘racist’ thing on me. I’m just making observations based on how I see it. You’re a fine one to talk to me about race, what with your fancy condo in that there Guilford. How’re you gonna explain that to your voters, huh?”
     “I thought about that, too, Dad, and so I have to tell you I used your address. It sounds like I’m more part of the people, you know?”
     “Well, I guess it worked all right for Mikulski, so why not you?”
     “So when can I move back?”


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This story was published on June 30, 1999.