The Eternal Mayor - Part III

Judge Griffin stood motionless for several long seconds. "I'll see you at the Council meeting," he whispered to Fred. He shuffled over to the door, unlocked it, and let himself out.

When the meeting night came, Roy sat quietly, his hands trembling noticeably. It was a typical meeting with a long list of items Battling Bob wanted action on. Fred Appleton also informed Council that yet another small factory wanted to move to town, bringing nearly one hundred new jobs with it. Through it all, Roy Griffin remained silent. When he died, nearly six years later, he took his secret with him.

Over the years, Battling Bob has remained in office. Most of the old-timers in town have passed away, but the possibility of Bob lives on. His history changes…now he's a hero of the Korean War. One day, perhaps, he'll be hero of one of the Gulf Wars. It seems America will always have a war we can hang Bob's legend over. Little Jim Clancy is on the Council these days, and he's got a fine boy who's a big football hero, just like his dad. I hear the boy looks quite menacing in a trench coat. ...Oh, heavens…look at the time!"

My new friend motioned to a large Chicago Bears wall clock above the bar and quickly drained off his beer, his story at its end.

He called the bartender over and paid both our tabs, despite my objections.

"It's the least I can do for making you listen to my prattling," he chuckled.

"That's quite a tale," I said, shaking my head. "Quite a tale, indeed."

"It's not often I get to tell it," he replied in his sand-papery voice. He left the bartender's tip under his empty mug, and stretched his hand out towards me.

"Fred Appleton's my name, but I suspect you've guessed that already."

I nodded and reached out to shake his ancient, leathery hand as the first boarding call was announced for my flight. Fred climbed off his stool, tipped his hat, and walked out to the busy concourse. I followed a few moments later, and began heading toward my gate. I chanced a look back, and saw the old man walking in the opposite direction. He faded gently into the crowd, vanishing forever among the packs of scurrying businessmen, vacationing families and college students, no doubt making his way home to Walnutwood with its pristine streets, booming economy, and the ever-present possibility of Bob.

Battling Bob

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