The Perils of Louella:

Chapter 187: Louella Gets Snubbed

by A.C. Cherbonnier
     LOUELLA sat at the far end of a very long row of candidates for Mayor. Why do they always arrange us by alphabet? she fumed, cursing her father for the name Pryzbylewski. She tried to refrain from wagging her foot up and down, for fear the audience would notice and interpret the movement for the boredom it signified.
       If this is democracy, it sure stinks, she thought. Imagine all these yahoos blabbing away for their two-minutes-a-question just because they could pay the filing fee! At least I have something to say! But I guess all of these people think they have something important to say. The insight troubled her.
       The man beside her began speaking into the microphone. “What we need is more po-leese!” he bellowed. “I say, no more crime! We’ve had enough! Elect me, and I’ll get rid of drugs on the street and make sure this city is a safe place for everyone!”
       He rambled on until stopped in mid-sentence by the moderator. Then it was Louella’s turn. She flashed her orthodontically enhanced smile at the audience arrayed in the darkness of the auditorium, thankful for the modeling classes she took in high school. “Hello, everyone,” she said, projecting a confidence she didn’t feel. Her heart was racing. I can’t believe I’m doing this! “Like you, my family and I have been touched by crime, and I’d say almost all of it was due to drugs. The other candidates are acting like drug addicts have a choice about whether they have to get high, but that addiction is a powerful thing, and can push people to do things they otherwise would never do to get a fix.
       “So my anti-crime program would be based on reality. And that reality is, we have to take the profits out of drugs.”
       “Hey, that’s my line!” wisecracked candidate A. Robert Kaufman, to audience laughter.
       Louella ignored him. “The way to do this is to get addicts into treatment and keep them there until they don’t crave drugs any more. We would pay the addicts a living wage while they’re in treatment, and make sure they have a way to support themselves legally once they leave treatment. We would pay for this with proceeds from a special Lottery fund.”
       “Time’s up!” barked the moderator. There was a scattering of applause. Better than for my response on education, thought Louella. They didn’t seem to like my idea of closing all the schools for six months to retool them. But I mean, the kids aren’t improving, so why bother sending them to school?
       Three more candidates put in their two minutes’ worth. Finally the ordeal was over--four hours on the stage with no bathroom breaks, all to answer five questions for two minutes apiece.
       Louella rose to go. Another candidate tapped her shoulder. “Are you going to be at the forum tomorrow night?”
       “What forum?”
       “The one at that big Baptist church, you know the one--”
       “I wasn’t invited,” snapped Louella. “Nobody told me anything about it. Thanks for the tip! I’ll be sure to show up. They can’t pull this kind of stunt on me!”
       “But suppose you’re not wanted, you know what I mean?”
       “I’ll make them want me.”


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This story was published on August 4, 1999.