Perry Quinnion, like most everyone else in Silt Ridge, is a part-time employee. In order to supplement his income, Mayor Quinnion creates and hawks pseudo-inspirational posters at the main intersection of town. Morris looks down his nose at this self-serving venture, viewing the posters as kitschy, gauche and overly simplistic. But the people of Silt Ridge seem to like them just fine. Morris doesn’t know where they get the shekels to buy the pricey items, but he’s not here to ask questions or cast aspersions. To each his own. On this particular dark, snowy and windswept afternoon, Morris pulls to a stop at City Hall, where the Mayor’s striped sales tent glows with the intensity of halogen lights. Morris thinks Mayor Quinnion is going to put the squeeze on him, but Hizzhoner totally turns the tables, and engages in a game of one-upmanship that really rankles Morris . . .

The Mayor of Silt Ridge

A Proud Tradition of Corrupt Incompetence

There’s a bit of a traffic jam at City Hall on the corner of Fifth and Main. The building is an imposing deco-inspired granite-faced edifice rising twenty-four stories into the slate sky. The building was rumored to have been used in the title sequence of the black and white version of the infamous “Crater-eating Cockroach” series . . . you know, “crunching crime beneath the weight of a two-ton pest . . .” but I was never able to figure out that meant. Was the enormous water bug on a pogo stick hopping around from one skyscraper to the next? The visuals made absolutely no sense. Well, there’s no mistaking one aspect: our current Mayor, Perry Quinnion, is definitely not a swashbuckling crime fighter; the part about the pogo stick might apply though.

Always Hawking His Wares

At the foot of the sweeping brass-inlaid entryway with a curved marble stairway is a red-and-white-striped tent. It is tall and narrow, much like a portable cabana one would find on the beach. From within the tent emanates the soft glow of an LED spotlight.

I have a little problem with traction at the stoplight and am glad I’m able to brake without incident. The remnant of rush hour on this snowy evening seems to have coalesced at this precise intersection.

No wonder there’s a tie-up. I gaze at the tall hunched over figure in the bedraggled topcoat. The mayor is hawking his wares again.

Much like everything else in Silt Ridge, the mayoral position is a part-time gig. Perry Quinnion supplements his income by printing and selling inspirational office posters that trade on animals behaving badly.

Making Every Sale Count

I chide myself for driving through this part of town. The Mayor may be inept, but he is a master of sales. He never settles for my line about not having the cash on me. He doesn’t deal in credit, which for a mayor is, probably commendable.

As General Manager of the sole TV station in town, I have an obligation to keep good relationship with local politicians. But does that mean becoming a patron for the mayor’s side venture?  Forget the fact that his posters are downright stupid.

The mayor smiles disjointedly as he holds up his latest creation to passing motorists: a ram slams headfirst into the side panel of a bronze-colored Mercedes-Benz. The caption reads: “If you don’t see it coming you’ll be better prepared for failure.” Mayor Quinnion reads the caption out loud just to be sure people get the gist of the message. Hizzhoner is one to talk about failure. He promised to bring an IMAX to center city but so far hasn’t even been able to land so much as a dollar store.

Feeling Helpless in the Land of Failure

I’m stuck. The light turns red and I’m forced to stop in front of the tent. Looking straight ahead, I tap my fingers on the steering wheel.

The tent light goes out. Exiting the striped confines, the angular mayor dusts the sleeves of his topcoat, adjusts his ratty stovepipe hat, and whisks past the hood of my car like I’m not even there. He hustles up the stairs toward his office with unsold posters neatly rolled up under his arm. I feel cheated when he doesn’t stop to sell me a poster.

The last time he hit me up, we had a conversation about him auditioning for co-host on my nightly talk show, Anthracite Tonite.

But like everything else, it always comes down to the central question: “Are you any good at handling venomous snakes?”