“I’m just saying,” Lucille Wolf said, for the fourth time since the meeting had convened an hour and a half before. “As chairman of the Democratic Central Committee for Haden County I am responsible for establishing how the deliberations and the interviews will be conducted to replace former-Council President Wolf. Of course after that anyone who wishes to be considered for the seat will have to remove themselves from the deliberations.”
Lucille Wolf, for what seemed the hundredth time scoped the table, meeting the eyes of each member before moving on to the next; member to member to member, counting the votes over and over, returning always from where she’d begun, with Carlene Deluccio.
“Everyone,” she emphasized into Carlene’s eyes, “who wants to run will have to announce their intention and then everyone in the running will excuse themselves. But first we better have a method in place to fairly assess the candidates on their merits and experience. Don’t you think, Carlene?”
The women smiled with hatred as symbiotic as were their different affections for their very different husbands. Particularly different now that one was dead.
The committee members waited for the two women to settle whatever needed settling. They waited and if so asked would perform tasks, primarily out of courtesy to Lucille. Lucille had put in her time, stuffed envelopes, knocked on doors, married William Wolf who had been tapped by the governor. She deserved courtesy. But regardless of how long they waited or how many tasks came to be demanded of them, Lucille would not be handed her husband's seat.
So Lucille grew more frenzied and Carlene grew smug. The room grew thick with their inability to stop Lucille and let the inevitable transpire. They, after all, could only wait so long, before they needed to turn their deference to Carlene.
“Is she crazy?”
“Stranger things have happened,” Stanley Thorne replied to Irene Hanley when the committee finally took a lunch break. It had been Irene, of course, who ultimately cut into Lucille's filibustering and demanded a break.
“Well don’t you be a part of it,” Irene snapped back at Thorne.
As longed for but nevertheless thoroughly unanticipated, lunch provoked Lucille into submission. Lucille expected such a thing least of all. She had hurried to the bank, determined to get Al Plover to make Henry Warren put her name forward for Bill’s seat. But a chance passing of Matt Grosen’s wife shocked her into recognizing the futility of her pursuit.
Patsy Grosen saw Lucille, head down, roaring toward her and was preparing herself for their traditional faux friendly greeting offered on behalf of their children. When Lucille looked up it registered with Patsy just where Lucille had been and the strain in Lucille’s face was clear. Both women realized the instant their eyes met that Patsy pitied Lucille.
It would be hard put to determine which woman was more shocked.
Lucille turned without gaining the bank, her business unfinished. No greeting passed between them.
The unanimous vote came within a quarter hour of reconvening. Carlene Deluccio’s name was sent to the governor and five of the seven members of the committee confided to Lucille afterwards that she was the best choice, but that the circumstances wouldn’t permit it. They each concluded with the assurance that they knew she understood.
But she didn’t. She wouldn’t. She couldn’t.
“Fucking bitches. Fucking seventh grade girl bitches,” Lucille said.
“Lucille,” Shelby’s step-father reprimanded.
“Shut-up,” Lucille replied. “I didn’t see you do a goddamn thing to help me. Not lift a finger. I have done nothing but help you from day one. You wouldn’t even stand up for me.”
“How in the hell could I have done that?”William Wolf asked.
“Behind the scenes. For god’s sakes, you’re behind the scenes all the time anymore. Drumming up more votes for Paulie than for yourself. You better be careful,” Lucille said, “that governor’s gonna play you for a sucker you don’t take care of your own self. And that means me, too, buddy.”
“In a few weeks you’ll see it was impossible,” William Wolf said and packed his suitcase and said he’d be in Springfield for the next week.
The waters were smoothed when he returned. Lucille had made a few dozen calls on his behalf and brought in some money, not a lot, but the campaign could pay down the bill to the TV station now, enough to cut the second spot.
Lucille had also organized a dinner meeting of the full campaign committee to serve a buffet with beer and some wine punch, get everybody excited again, see if they could gin up some more worker bees for Bill. There was still a long way to go.