The Eternal Mayor - Part III

"But he's dead!"

"Roy, you're repeating yourself."

"But…he's…DEAD!"

Appleton sighed, shaking his head at the aged Judge. "I'm sorry you can't let go of that technicality and see the bigger picture."

Judge Griffin stared hard at Fred for several long seconds, and said: "Enlighten me."

"Do you remember what Walnutwood was like before Battling Bob?" Fred queried.

"It wasn't much," the Judge replied.

"You're too kind, Roy," said Appleton, "It was a rat hole. King coal was gone, and nothing took its place. Walnutwood was fast becoming another dead mining town. Bob changed all that. First he gave us a hero to believe in, then he brought the town back from the brink."

"He was a bully!" the Judge retorted.

"Of course he was, Roy. That was part of his charm. And it motivated folks to turn this town around. But how many people did he beat or terrorize after his first term as Mayor? Now don't go wrinkling up your forehead, Roy, I'll tell you the answer: None. Not one. After a while folks weren't afraid of Bob…they were afraid of the possibility of Bob. That's what kept the wheels turning in this town. The beauty of it was we wanted him to be Mayor, but only at a distance. In fact, we preferred not seeing him at all. But make no mistake, Roy, the possibility of an angry Bob kept people on their toes. That's why he was a shoo-in at every election."

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