Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Chapter 2.14- It'll All Be Over

          Early morning the day before Election Day saw Layla in front of her brother’s house. As early as she had arrived he should have a little bit of time to spare for her before he had to be at Ned’s Campaign Headquarters downtown. And Layla wanted every moment he could offer her. She had questions.

          “It’s a little early for you to stop by,” he greeted her warmly. “But Phedra and George have already left. You missed them.”

          “That’s fine, it’s you I wanted to see,” she said. “Can I come in?”

          “Yeah! Yeah! Come on in, looks like it’s about to rain.”

          “So, what's up? Wanna read Corinne a book before she goes to school?”

          “Maybe another day, I have some questions about Ned’s campaign,” Layla was afraid that if she wasted time on small talk he’d have to leave before she learned what she needed to know.

          “Oh? And you didn’t want to ask him?”

          “He’s told me before that it’s going very well. But I’ve heard rumors that that isn’t the case. What’s going on? Really going on.”

          “Ned is going to lose tomorrow,” Cyrus said bluntly. “And it isn’t going to be narrow.”

          “Is there anything that can be done?”

          Looking at her closely, Cyrus waited a moment before answering her. The pause made her uneasy.

          “How much do you really get out in town, Laydee? Like, really get out and get to know the people in town.”

          “I don’t.”

          “Alright, then this might be difficult for you to understand.”

          “Try me.”

          “This town is a very tightly knit, small farming community,” he said. “They live their lives together from birth to death. Outsiders are suspect, newcomers are strange and people they don’t know they secretly fear. And these people don’t know Ned. They didn’t see him grow up, they didn’t know his father well, and they pitied his mother in private. His wealth doesn’t help him win their affections either.”

          “Wow, you’ve haven’t been here as long as I have and you seem to know the town very well.”

          “It’s part of my job, Laydee.”

          “So there’s no hope at all then?”

          “Not unless you can get the entire town to change their habits and minds overnight,” Cyrus told her sadly.

          “Habits?” she asked.

          “Yes, their habits too. They all stick together like glue, for one. They’re used to Mayor Martingale. And they like to infuse almost all situations with a little drama. This is a fantastic tragi-comedy for half the gossiping citizens of Appaloosa Plains. The stuck-up wealthy son of the marriage for money versus the small town farmer who overcame his father’s infamous behavior to run the town is how they see this election.”

          “But Ned isn’t stuck-up at all!”

          “I know that,” Cyrus answered in a soothing tone. “I know that and you know that, but Ned hasn’t gone out of his way to do anything for the town since his return. They just don’t know him and so they assume.”

          “But that’s not fair!” Layla nearly shouted.

          “It’s not fair,” Cyrus answered, trying to shush his sister before she upset his kids. “But it’s the way things are. And there is nothing we can do to fight that.”

          “Have Ned go out and meet the people!”

          “He’s done that. They smile politely and turn their backs.”

          “Have him donate to local charities!”

          “His entire family has done that for generations.”

          “Have him-”

          “-Layla? There is nothing more that can be done. It would take something monumental happening to make the town look at Ned in a favorable light. And it would have to happen now.”

          Her head drooping with her shoulders, she’d never felt so defeated.

          “Wow,” Cyrus breathed. “You really like this guy don’t you?”

          She didn’t answer. She didn’t want to tell a half truth.

          “You know,” he continued. “You know when I first came to town I kind of thought you and Ignacio had a thing going, but I can see I was wrong. Ned’s a good guy Layla. He’ll be good to you.”

          A new thought struck Layla suddenly and her blood ran cold.

          “What happens to you and Olivia and the girls if Ned loses?”

          He smiled at her ruefully.

          “With both of us working and getting paid well we’ve been saving up. When the campaign is over one of us will travel somewhere larger and will look for work. With any luck, we’ll get something quickly and we’ll just relocate again.”

          “But what about Henry?”

          “Fay and George are going to be sending us a little each month to make sure we can take care of him. We’ll be fine Layla. We’ve done this before.”

          “Hey,” he smiled at her. “Hey, there’s no need to look so sad. At least we’ve had this little bit together, and you’ve got to meet the girls. We’ll keep in touch now, too.”

          Nodding, Layla tried to talk of the weather for the few remaining minutes before he had to leave. She couldn’t imagine having Cyrus move away again, she’d barely gotten used to having him nearby.

          With her thoughts still in a whirl she left to let Cyrus and Olivia leave for work.

          To her surprise she saw Aunt Estella leaving Skeet and Rosemary’s house across the street and assumed she had been visiting Rosemary and the new baby. At first she didn’t really want to stop, she wanted to get to Ned’s before he left for work to hear his opinion, but then something struck her. Who better to know how the town really thought of Ned than Estella. After all, Sally hadn't got her gossipy streak from Trigger.

          “Aunt Estella!” She yelled, running across the street. “Aunt Estella!”

          “I hear ya Honey Girl! There is no need ta shout,” the older woman chuckled.

          “Aunt Estella what do you think of Ned Hale?”

          Estella’s face went blank and she stared long and hard at Layla.

          “I think yer a lucky woman to have caught ‘is fancy,” she said guardedly.

          Layla shook her head in exasperation.

          “No,” she said. “No, what do you think about Ned personally? Honestly.”

          “Honestly? I think the boy needs some more time to grow up afore ‘e runs the town.”

          “But what about his platform?”

          “What about it? As far as I know 'e doesn’t have any experience playin' politics and so I’m sure he’d have no idea how to implement his platform even if ‘e did win.”

          “Now, Laydee,” Estella cutoff the hasty words Layla had been forming. “We all know that he’s yer special friend, but really. He’s jus’ not cut out to be Mayor here. And no one really knows ‘im very well. But I’m sure once the two o’ya settle down together you’ll be able to get ‘im to mix more with the townfolk ‘stead of just paying off the church alms box. That might go a long way toward getting’ ‘im a seat on the council one day, too.”

          There was nothing Layla could say to express her righteous indignation at such a speech. Did the town’s gossiping old biddies do this just to Ned? Had they labeled her in such a way too? Had they done it to Cyrus? Sally? Ignacio?

          “Now, then,” Estella continued. “I’ve got ta run back ‘ome. I just wanted ta see if Rosemary needed me today. Ya know how new babies make their Mama’s. It were good to see ya and talk to ya Honey Girl. I’m sure you’ll be awfully busy the rest o’today and tomorra with your young man, so I doubt we’ll see you afore it's all over.”

          She patted Layla’s cheek and left.

          Standing on the sidewalk alone Layla saw the carefully constructed safe world she had around her crumbling. She couldn’t just stand by. Maybe it wasn’t too late to get Ned to do something to eke out a win.

          On the way the clouds above parted and the sun warmed the air. It did nothing for the chill Layla felt though.

          “Well this is a pleasant surprise,” Ned greeted her at the door to the cottage in the backyard. The maid had informed her of his whereabouts when she rang the front bell. "Won’t you come in?”

          Layla nodded her acceptance of his invitation and stepped after him into the cool little building.

          “To what do I owe the pleasure of seeing you this early in the morning?”

          Suddenly uncertain of how to proceed, Layla hesitated.

          “Will you come to headquarters tomorrow evening to be with me while we await the results?” Ned broke into her thoughts. “I’m sorry to interrupt your thoughts, but I’m so excited and I’d like nothing more than to have you with me as the vote counts come in.”

          Taken aback, Layla’s eyes widened.

          “About that Ned, how is your campaign going?” Layla was nearly breathless with all she’d heard that day. “I-I mean, have you gotten an indication of how the vote will fall?”

          “Ah,” Ned beamed at her. “Of course. But right now we’ve only got preliminary polls and guesses. According to those figures things might be a little slim, but I have no doubt that when the voters actually go to the polls that I’ll come out on top in the end.”

          Her shoulders fell, there was no response she could give. She hadn’t wanted to believe Ignacio’s grim outlook and so had gone to other sources she believed to be reliable. All seemed to confirm that there was nearly no way Ned would win. Was this simply bravado for her sake?

          “You look startled,” Ned went on, still smiling confidently. “But I understand how these things work. I majored in politics and I know how this will all end. Now then, will you be with me?”

          “Uh, yeah, sure. Sure I’ll be there,” Layla stuttered. He was bluffing for her sake, and that made it so much worse.

          Reaching for her, Ned pulled her into a tender embrace.

          “I’m so sorry I haven’t been around nearly as much as you deserve,” he whispered in her ear. “And as soon as it’s all over I’ll make it up to you. I promise.”

          Not trusting her voice, Layla nodded into his shoulder feeling her stomach churn.

          She pulled away first, unable to keep herself that near him any longer without flinching.

          “Tomorrow night then,” he said. “By tomorrow night it’ll all be over.”

-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --

Dun da DUN! Yeah. This should be fun.

Oh, I mentioned Angelo Martingale's infamous father above. He's a son of Kanoa Parrot. One of the mob of them around town that popped up before I disabled Kanoa's ability to sire children. However, he's good looking so he didn't get killed in the Master Controller Killing Spree I had before moving the Sixkillers over to AP. Just FYI.


  1. Oh dear, Layla's finally started to wake up and look at the world and she's not enjoying it...

    1. Yup! About time, too. Maybe if she'd done more than peek in on things she'd have known this a long time ago. Butbutbut. At least she knows now.

  2. Lol! Master controller killing spree :p

    I want to cry for Ned, I really do :( He's going to lose this election badly, he has no friends (except Ignacio, but I'm not sure if he's more of a PA than a friend), and Layla doesn't return his affections.
    Plus, he looks about ten years old.
    Oh, Ned.... *hugs* I'll vote for you!

    Looks like Layla may have had a little reality-check. She's just found out how much the townsfolk (lol, always wanted to use that word!) gossip, and has possibly realised how she might look in their eyes, which isn't very good at the moment. I hope she can change that, at least.

    Oh! Ned! :( Why are you so mean to such a sweet guy? *hugs Ned so tight he's more than uncomfortable and just wants to die*

    1. I do those occasionally when the town gets too big for my settings to handle without lag.

      Hmmm. Ned considers Ignacio to be a friend but he seems to treat him more as a PA. Ignacio really does consider Ned a friend. But he's really in for it with Layla. You're probably both scared the poor boy to death and made him love you forever at the same time. O_o.

      Yes. Layla has finally looked around at the town and saw herself for a very brief moment in their eyes. We'll see if she can change that or not.

      Ned thinks girls are cute. He's just scared of them most of the time. So he likes the hugs, he's just frightened that you might want more than hugs. Ha!

    2. *winks at Ned* LOL! Bet he's all flustered now :p
      I definately had something to say... But I've completely forgotton O.o

    3. He's hiding under his bed with his teddy bear right now and wondering if you have an eye twitch. Surely a girl didn't just wink at little ole him? Give him a few days and he'll be at your door with roses and his sweater on ready to love you back. He just has to acclimate to the idea first. Ha! That's ok. I forget stuff All.The.Time. Like all the stuff I have planned for here for Saturday that I kind of forgot to get ready to go until Yesterday. Yeah, like that.

  3. Oh, poor Ned, next you'll be declaring yourself the King of Wieners.
    And while it is sad that townsfolk have stuck an unfair label on him, I think Ned was a bit hasty in running for office before he got to know people and got a better feel for the town. He does look a bit like a carpetbagger, even if his family are locals.
    It's sweet that Layla seemed to genuinely want to help him out. Listening to Estella's advice might be the best plan. Well, for Ned. But he wasn't in on this conversation. =P
    I worry about Cyrus, now. I;d hate to see him leave AP, we just got him back!

    You castrated Kanoa!!!!!! 0_o

    1. But he'll never match Suresh at grilling his subjects! Ha!

      He absolutely does. He really thinks he's just a regular guy, but he just doesn't act like one.

      Estella is the one who would know best, too. After all, she's both the Queen of Gossip in AP and the mother of the Princess of Gossip. And you know, I just don't think Layla will tell Ned that bit of info.

      Yeah, this all really sucks for Cyrus and co. They're just getting settled, and they've got a house, and good jobs, and family nearby and it's all about to be snatched away from him again.

      Snip Snip! Lol. I had to. He was up to something like 8 kids by 7 different women.

  4. Oh Cy. He talks about people making assumptions about Ned, and then turns around and does some assuming himself about Ned and Layla. He really is going to be blind-sided by what happens next. On the other hand, he seemed to understand what drives a small town like that politically. Shame he isn't in politics himself. And dear Aunt Estella is going to be in for quite a shock *giggle* Am I mean for looking forward to that?

    Is Ned really bluffing, or does he actually think he'll win? I think he thinks he'll win, otherwise why would he want Layla there to see his defeat? But wouldn't his team have counseled him on what to expect?

    Oh yes, Ned, by tomorrow night it will all be over.

    1. To be fair, he'd also assumed about her and Ignacio. So he's just never stopped assuming. And she had a chance to set him right and didn't. That might come back to bite her too. Like getting hit by a train blindsided. Silly! He is in politics! As an aide, but isn't that just a jumping off point?

      Yup. Aunt Estella needs a little more curl in her hair. Ha!

      Ned is bluffing, I hinted to that in the line "It'll all be over" and when he says he'll have more time to spend with her after the election. If he were mayor elect he'd really be much busier after the election and he ought to know that. He's just trying to look tough. Sad isn't it?

  5. Aye, a bit sad, since he doesn't know what all he's about to lose. Maybe someday he'll have a chance, but for now I don't think he's fiery enough for Layla =)

    1. *sigh. Nope. Poor Dear. God, no. Layla needs someone who can match her bullheadedness! Could you imagine Layla as Ned's right hand? Dear god what a disaster that would be! She'd make a fool of herself and him too with her antics cause he'd let her get away with whatever she wanted. Yikes. Scary thought.

  6. Oh, Layla. You're so silly and naive. But poor Ned. This was a rough chapter to stomach.

    1. Yup! Not much happy here. And Ned is in for the worst of it.

  7. Cyrus leaving? What?! But, but, he just got there!

    I'm expecting the title of your next chapter to be something like "The Agony of Defeat" lol, but I guess I'll find out, though it seems a foregone conclusion that Ned is going to lose. He probably should have gotten to know the townspeople before running for mayor, but hopefully he'll do so after the election. Many people have run for office and lost several times before they actually won. That is also part of the politics game. =)

    I'm glad that Layla actually got a glimpse of how things are instead of how she wants them to be, and it is encouraging that she wanted to help change things. Hopefully she keeps that attitude after the election!

    1. Hang on for the ride Nirar! I'm no where near done with this one! lol. You know how it took 6 chapters for me to say "Heck, Cyrus ran away!" We'll hear the results of the election in 2.17 most likely.

      Oh yes, running, even if you lose, is still a great way for the public to get to know you en masse. They also think you're a fighter and might fight for them if you just don't give up.

      Layla needed to wake up and smell the coffee. She's purposely shut her eyes just because it was the easier thing to do for too long. But no longer. She's got a tough decision to make coming up soon.

  8. "MC killing spree" LOLOLOLOL!
    Another thing: What is with the bricks? It's like some kind of bending space and time thing going on in the background. Sorry if you answered this in an earlier comment. I admit to skipping them this time because I wanna get to the next chapter.

    Wondering if he's really thinking he's gonna win or if he's playing it up for Layla's sake. Somehow, I think the first.

    1. Hey, gotta get rid of the fug and the lag somehow. Lol

      LOL! No, no one else asked. Haha. Uhm, I believe a lot of that lot was made with CFE enabled, so some of the walls follow the slope of the floor. That lot had a ton of routing errors, too. It's pretty but nearly unusable. It's still in town, but I believe it's uninhabited and needs to be switched out with something else. Oh well.

      He really is thinking he's going to win. For whatever reason he had it in his head that the town secretly liked him and would vote for him in private rather than admit publicly they wanted change.

  9. Uh oh, Ned is in for some disappointment! Even in a less rural towm that Appaloosa Plains it would be difficult to run for mayor at his age.

    Cyrus' life sounds tough... it's sad that he'll have to relocate again so soon! And you better keep in touch, mister!

    1. Exactly! Age makes a big difference when you want to be the one in charge. We've all heard of the super small towns where 18 year olds end up as mayor when no one else runs, but those examples are quite rare.

      Cyrus has had a rough go of it, for sure!