American Contemporary Crime

Keep the Scam Alive

By Jesse D Lopez

It was an outrage! A mother of three children killed in grocery store parking lot by a criminal who should have been in jail, except the mayor appointed a district attorney that is soft on crime and helped the man get out of jail for attempted rape after one day, this is where the real story begins.

           It’s a small town, less than twenty thousand people, raw untouched nature at the boarders on all sides, it’s usually so quiet and peaceful, one would be forgiven if they even forgot the town existed, as far as the ‘it bleeds it leads’ news organizations.

           When you think rural America you would normally think of white country folk with their horse ranches in the hill sides, but this place is renowned for it’s retirement population, which makes up more than half of the voting base, since young folks tend to move out, old folks are the de facto stewards of the town, they plant their roots here and they make it a city on the grow, younger town goers tend to spend their lives leaving this town for a good time in the big city miles away.

           From a outsiders perspective this town is boring, and for the people who live here it’s comfortable, and that’s how they like it, outsiders are welcome, but only the people who love it here stay, and only the people who care about the town show up to the town meetings.


Now in the town hall with its posh woodwork and wooden seat for the public and polished brass nameplates on the Italian marble tabletop for the politicians, the anger and indignity of the town voices bounce off the walls and echo down the halls at the busiest town meeting in years.

           Old lady Jane is speaking at the podium, “If you people just did your jobs and kept him in jail, then we wouldn’t be seeing our town on the news with another murder this year, that district attorney is solely responsible for- “, her mic is abruptly cut.

           “Thanks, but your time is up, please let someone else speak now.” A city councilmember says.

           “Hasn’t anyone taught these people if you don’t have anything nice to say then just stay home.”, another council member says while trying to cover up his microphone.

           Thomas, a handsome middle aged man, born and raised in town, and best known for selling his stories to big time magazines approaches the microphone, “Frankly, I don’t see why the elected members of the city council feel entitled to only hear good things from us, when you don’t do a good job people should hold you accountable, and the point of these town meetings isn’t for you to ignore the needs of the people, it’s for us to work out matters of the town, I say if you’re not willing to listen to us, then we should start campaigning to recall the members of the city council,”

The room erupts into cheers from the townsfolk, and loud bangs of the gavel as Thomas continues, “We don’t have to sit here and take this from these rich corrupt elites, lets organize and get rid of the real problem, Mayor Dick Chamberlin!”

They cut off his microphone too late, and the fire is lit in the people’s hearts, this town has gotten a long way from boring lately, over the last year, it’s become a dumping ground for the big cities where criminals and the mentally ill homeless are dropped off just outside town, most blame this on the rising crime.


Inside of the nicest restaurant in town with a view of the city from the hilltops, Mayor Dick Chamberlin stands in front of the window ready to give his rehearsed speech in front of the cameras while a young attractive ebony colored news anchor waits for her microphone.

           “Tell me when you’re ready, my five-hundred-dollar plate is getting cold.”, Dick says with a smug chuckle.

           “Is that how much the food costs here?”, the news anchor says.

           “That’s how much I’m charging for my beneficiary ball, people out there are talking recall, I got to pad my numbers to fight back.”

           The news anchor does her best to hide her disgust, “Alright, we ready?”, the news anchor asks holding the microphone.

           “Yeah, let’s make some news.” Dick says putting on his best fake smile.

The news anchor positions herself next to the mayor, “I’m here with mayor Dick Chamberlin at his charity ball where he is ready to address the people.”

“That’s right, I’m standing here today with the leaders of industry and business owners of our lovely town of Bugtussle to show my constituents that we are ready to fight for my position as Mayor of Bugtussle.”, Dick says, smiling into the camera.

“So, you surrounded yourself with the richest people in town, at a restaurant most of us can’t afford to eat in, so you can show your voters why they voted for you?”, the anchor asks in a deadpan tone, “Is that right?”

“We represent the neighborhoods in this community every bit as much as you and your neighbors.”, Dick says looking around nervously.

“Some of the people here own my home, and my neighborhood, and none of us ever see them around our neighborhoods, and speaking of which, isn’t it true you live in the most expensive gated community in the state?”

“I, ah, I don’t know if it’s the most expensive, but I certainly get what I pay for.”, Dick says.

“Which is safety and peace of mind, unlike the rest of us.”

           “Alright, I see someone brought their agenda pants to the ball, you know, this whole thing is just another extremist left right conspiracy, I can’t even anymore, this interview is over, I’m keeping my job, and my home, thanks, bye.”, Dick says waiving over his security to escort out the media.


Meanwhile inside Thomas’s home, the interview with mayor Dick Chamberlin echoes off the Victorian style home with its open parlor where Thomas paces back and forth with frustration over the interview, then he turns off his television and contemplates to himself in the dead silence.

           “It’s not enough to stand together, we need to channel our efforts through a single person, a benefactor.”, he thinks, as his mind reels with the names and faces of worthy men and women who can uphold the values of Bugtussle.


Days later, a news agency more friendly to the “Chamberlin agenda”, are set up next to mayor at a clean and well-run homeless camp, where the occupants show a warm and welcoming demeanor to each other and to the news camera.

           “Hi there.”, the young sharply dressed male news reporter says waiving back, then he looks to the mayor, “Where did you find these people?”

           “There like you, just some stray campaign aids with nothing better to do than give me a boost, how do you like working in the news?”, Dick says.

           “I never wanted to be on TV, but you got me a SAG card and my mom said I shouldn’t waste it since lots of people would kill for one, and you got to have your families back, that’s the real reason I’m here Uncle Dick.” The news reporter says.

           “Damm right! The Chamberlin family dynasty continues, nephew, make sure you film me from my left side.”, Dick says.

           “Alright, we’re ready!”

           Mayor Dick Chamberlin puts on his best fake smile for another personalized news broadcast, “Good evening Bugtussle, it’s your favorite mayor here, and I just wanted to show you what we have built as a community, and for all of you left right wing conspiracy theorist who think the homeless are a problem, look at this, this is just a typical homeless community provided by the city of Bugtussle.”

           “BUGTUSSLE, or fake news!”, a voice loudly decries from a short distance away.

Across the lot of land, a handsome middle-aged dark-skinned man with a fine tailored suit and a top hat that has a band around it made from matching materials, approaches with a camera crew and briskly walks past the confused people standing around watching this spectacle unfold.

           “You recognize me Mr. Mayor? It’s the tailor of Bugtussle, Harry Briton!”, He says with a clear voice that covers the distance well.

           Harry Briton and his camera crew cover the ground between the mayor and his own camera crew, and then set themselves up in the shot with both men and both cameras, at the focus of both worlds.

           “Isn’t it true that you had city employees set up this facade, with your paid actor friends from downtown?”, Harry Briton sharply asks.

           “No, get out of here, can’t somebody do something?, This is a private residence!”, Dick yells.

           “We have video of city employees setting up this so-called housing community for the disadvantaged, and we have also found that most of the people you have staged here are paid actors, that anyone can look up with a reverse image search, what do you have to say about that?”, Harry says.

In the coming days the video of the confrontation between Mayor Dick Chamberlin and Harry Briton goes viral on the internet putting the quiet town of Bugtussle in the public eye for something other than the towns rising crime.


Now that the recall votes are being collected and the recall of mayor Dick Chamberlin is in full swing, we find ourselves on the campaign trails of the very two different candidates, the career politician Dick Chamberlin versus the self-made public hero Harry Briton otherwise known as the tailor of Bugtussle.

           Both candidates take swipes at each other through the media, expounding the values that they see in their prospective voters from around Bugtussle.

At a local radio talk show hosted at a parking lot in front of a historic hotel with radio personalities Bob and Trisha who welcome Harry Briton into the crowd of working-class people in the heat of the open sun.

           “Here’s a real rags to riches story come to life, the number one employer in our town, and the largest black owned business in our state, ladies and gentlemen, the tailor of Bugtussle, Harry Briton!”, Bob says with a golden voice while Trisha rallies the crowd into cheers.

           “Thank you, more like rags to riches, and then I got rich from rags.”, the crowd laughs, then Harry continues, “I know for some of you this has been a long time coming, but here it is, the way you tell politicians to get out is at the voting booth, so let’s kick out Dick and his friends.”

           While in front of the hotel Thomas meets a rather charming and smartly dressed female journalist covering the recall election for a major news organization, who shares his views as an independent voter.

Meanwhile across town at the local courthouse in a closed floor, Dick Chamberlin hosts a closed meeting session with a select group of participants with pre-screened questions written on the cards they carry.

           “Is it true the legality of the recall has been coming into question lately?”, one trained seal from the audience asks.

           “Yes, we will use every available resource in the cities budget, I mean power to make sure that this recall is fair for both candidates, and we’re going to look through all of Harry Briton’s official records.”, Dick says.


After winning the court case that put the legality of the recall election into question, the people cast their votes, and in the lobby of the historic hotel, Harry Briton nervously waits for the polls to come in with the results.

           While off in the lobby, old lady Jane from the town meeting offers Harry some home-made potato chips and being too polite to turn down the sweet old lady Jane, he took some chips, ate them, and then promptly died choking on the floor, it wasn’t until later that they realized Harry had a peanut allergy and old lady Jane cooks with peanut oil.

 The people who worked for Harry Briton are highly upset and threaten mass civil disobedience demonstrations if Dick Chamberlin is given the win by default.

It is then when the people of Bugtussle where at their lowest, they heard old lady Jane tell them the tale of David Andahl, a candidate who died of illness before the final votes came in, but in the end he still won, where she says their mistake was not writing their history as winners.


Inside of a news studio with a window for the Harry Briton’s adoring public to greet their new favorite son, Thomas does his best to do justice to the memory of his late colleague.

Thomas poses as Harry Briton during the induction ceremony where the townsfolk keep up the ruse and confirm that his appearance on film looks much different in person, and then the clever female journalist from the campaign figures out the scam, recognizing Thomas as the handsome man who chatted her up over politics during the recall, and in the same conversation she confesses her feelings she had for Thomas after meeting him on the campaign trail, where she agrees to maintain her silence as long as he keeps faith with her as well.

           “Now that you have deposed our former career mayor Dick Chamberlin, what’s next on the agenda for you as mayor?”, the news anchor asks.

           “I’m going to put together a new public works system where people are freer to use public services and equipment for same day responses to utilitarian needs from the city, such as home repair and road building, basically, I’m going to empower the people to dress up their own block, like I used to say.”, Thomas says as Harry Briton.

Thomas and his journalist girlfriend get married in secret, and later he grows to dislike the life of his life as mayor, feeling that his public life doesn’t leave enough room for his private life, so he elects to have his friends find the most qualified people around town to work in the sectors that needed the most improvement around town to take care of them independently with government equipment and resources.


In the end, the town runs fine, people have faith in their elected government, and the people in charge line their pockets to contribute to their own private ventures around town, The people say, if the scam works, then keep the scam alive, as they set up for the next election.

August 04, 2022 17:13

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