Canvassing

The door-to-door approach suited him well. He enjoyed parrying with his constituents, showing off his political acumen. The elderly lady let him in, unsmiling. He tried a genuine smile, but it hurt. Those muscles were seldom used, and his skin felt like cracked leather. He whipped out the fake one, supple as an old shoe. The old lady brightened up. “I recognize you, now. I voted for you last time.” “Thank you, thank you.” He sat down to tea and stale cookies, no doubt bought on sale and served to unsuspecting visitors, not worthy of anything homemade. He looked around for a dog. No such luck.

In his mind, he went over the senior list: overpriced lodgings, access to health services, transportation. He had something ready and practiced for all. “What will you do about Sleepy?” He frowned. The question did not appear in any category. “I am not aware of the issue with Sleepy. Could you fill me in?” He was faking interest now. That was one of his good faces, with the smiling-in-awe-at-baby one. Both made beautiful, intense pictures.

“She’s been pooing in my flower bed again. I told those no-good neighbours of mine I would shoot her if I caught her at it. But she comes at night, she does. Her kind always does their business at night, like thieves.” She shook a fist in the general direction of the neighbour’s house. He expected her to spit on the flower-patterned rug. She refrained. Now, she was looking intently at him, waiting for a response that would match her outrage. He could not muster it. “How is your health?” he inquired, after a moment.

She looked at him, disgusted. “Politicians,” she muttered under her breath, as she snatched the cookie plate from the table. She turned to go. He offered, “Did you try calling the city to ask an inspector to come? They could fine the owners.” She grunted, “Phone’s disconnected.” He didn’t want to get involved and risk losing the neighbours’ votes. He put on a concerned look, “Why is your phone disconnected, may I ask?” “May you ask,” she scoffed and sat in sullen silence.

“My party supports full access to municipal counsellors. We have blogs, a website, even a chatline. And of course you can call…” She gave him a stern look. “…or drop by…” he trailed off, miserably. She was still staring, unsmiling. “You’re too young,” she declared. “Four years older than when you last voted for me,” he countered, jubilant. Mistake. Do not contradict the voter. “I was a fool back then, obviously. No doubt seduced by your youthful countenance. Well, off you go. I have a cat to attend to. He terrorizes my birds too. I’ll get her some day.” She shooed him away, with her hands, as you would an unruly child.

He got up, trying to put on a brave face. “Remember my name. Jack Dolan-Brown.” She was waiting for him by the door, surprisingly nimble. “I don’t doubt you will catch Sleepy in the act. Have you tried an infrared camera?” A slow smile crept on her face, distorting her features. “Well, Jack Dolan-Brown, have a great day. And good luck to you.”

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