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The Toenail Ridge Shortline
Chapter 36 in the Saga
Written September 2007
Uploaded September 29, 2007
Politics....the Sequel

  It has been mentioned in these epistles on occasion that the Valley of the Toenail Ridge Shortline does not always seem to obey the usual laws of Chance & that one in a million chances come off nine times out of ten.
Thus it was that as the returns came in from the Electoral Office after the State election at which New Jersey Jack Lazyacre had presented himself to the populace (or at least the voters amongst them, can't be going counting women, blacks, Mexicans, Irish or non-land owners among that esteemed group....), with everyone knowing that Jack was guaranteed a place in the State Legislature with an overwhelming majority, the numbers began to look bleak.
In fact more than bleak.
In actual fact, dismal.
Now the problem with voters knowing that a particular candidate is going to win a particular position gives the individual voter a special power. It means that, since his candidate is going to win anyway, he can cast his ballot in good faith for that poor long-shot also-ran who hasn't got a hope but at least one vote for him means his feelings won't be so hurt at the inevitable outcome.
And this theory works fine, so long as most folks still vote for the feller who's going to win.
But if enough of those voting folks also feel sorry for the no-hoper alternate candidate......
....and thus it came about that the Returning Officer stood to his feet in the Main Chamber of the Capitol building in Portland, cleared his throat importantly, shook the papers he held in his hand and, with a final adjustment to the rake of his half-moon glasses perched on the end of his nose, he intoned "Gentlemen! For the Senate seat of the county of Portland, duly elected......Judge David Goodson! For the Senate seat of the county of Westfairland, duly elected....... John Tanner! For the Senate seat of the county of the Valley of the Toenail Ridge, duly elected...... Jack Lazyacre!...."
Hurriedly his assistant leapt to the podium & whispered frantically in his ear.......
The Returning Officer looked down at the papers in his hand, looked at his assistant, looked back again at his papers, and with a tremor in his voice announced "Folks, belay that last call.....seems I misread the result, err...... for the Senate seat of the county of the Valley of the Toenail Ridge, duly elected...... Fr. Fred Miltz!"
The Toenail Ridge Examiner (editor Warren Stirling) was the only local outlet for news in the Valley of the Toenail Ridge. Its esteemed editor received the stunning election result news via the Western Union telegraph in Joe Dempsey's railway station, and immediately he set to reblocking the type face for the front page of the next edition, using the largest font that he had, the font usually reserved for declarations of war or deaths of Presidents.

Fr Fred Miltz had kept a fairly low profile since his abdication to Selbyville.
He enjoyed the occasional meal with New Jersey Jack Lazyacre, he periodically made an appearance at Chuck Parker's saloon, he even presented himself at Rev. Jeremiah Little's church on the odd Sunday, but mostly he kept his himself to himself, although it must be admitted that he thoroughly enjoyed the regular company of the former seamstresses of the Valley & had even hied himself, now & again, up into the hills to pay his respects to that fine looking widow woman, Angelina Lawson.
And one thing that a man learns when he makes himself generally affable to the community at large is that fairly soon everyone has a pretty good opinion of him, and they're prepared to listen to his comments & even to go so far as to ask his opinion and advice. So it had come to pass that Fr Fred had gained the admiration of a goodly portion of the denizens of Selbyville and had even made an impression on those folks who lived further afield when he had visited the small whistle-stop of Fenster and dropped in to where a handful of hopeful, skinny miners still clung to the remnants of the old silver mines.
With the result that, as New Jersey Jack Lazyacre loomed large in the polls to the point of virtually brooking no opposition to his candidacy for the State Senate, Fr Fred went around smiling and chatting to folks and supporting Jack and giving considered opinions on State politics and farm prices and iniquitous taxes and the cost of gasoline and the frequency of passenger services on the Toenail Ridge Shortline and what a mess that damned Mount St. Helluvamess had made with it's ash spewed all over the Valley, and....... in fact, he became the consumate agree-er. To the point that a lot of good folks reckoned that this Fr Fred feller was one of the best things going for the Valley of the Toenail Ridge (apart from New Jersey Jack Lazyacre, of course).
And so someone put his name in the ring.
Well actually, it took more than that. To nominate for a Senate position in the Sovereign State of Oregon requires a number of specific steps and a couple of Douglas Fir trees worth of paper, plus the neccessary furlong or so of red tape to tie it all together.
But nominate him, they did. They didn't expect him to win, heavens NO! But it'd show a mark of respect to this fine feller if he just got a handful of votes against New Jersey Jack Lazyacre and it'd show the State in general that the Valley of the Toenail Ridge was capable of offering more than one worthy candidate for high office.
They told him, of course.
Hard to keep from a man that he's been nominated to run for State Senate, especially as he'd had to countersign the nomination papers. But he took it in good humor, realizing that the election outcome was a fait accompli but happy to smile for the newspaper photographer and to give the odd interview to the junior reporter sent from far-away Portland by his editor to get a human interest story on the alternate candidate.
New Jersey Jack Lazyacre also took the nomination in good humor. He appreciated that Fr Fred Miltz was a friend to himself and to the community, he enjoyed his company, his conversation, his broad experience ('broad' here is used in its 'wide' sense... Fr Fred also had considerable experience with the other kind but was a discreet man.......) and his wit. Plus of course, he knew he had nothing to lose as the State Senate was his, as everyone in the Valley knew.
Well, once the word spread around town that Jack had lost the election, some pretty long faces were evidenced as folks realized just what they had done. They had all wanted Lazyacre to hold their Senate seat and they had all wanted to make Fr Fred feel good that he'd at least garnered a few votes. Now they were faced with the situation that the feller who owned 90% of the town, all of the mortgages, most of the rental properties, and who knew where a hell of a lot of bodies were buried, had just been snubbed by the very folks who had most wanted him to win.
And of course, one of the most gob-smacked at the election outcome was none other than Fr Fred Miltz himself.
You may recall that he had had a long and close relationship with the Hon. Derek Molecan, Governor of the Sovereign State of Oregon, so he knew what lay ahead of him following his election.
And he wanted none of it!
"Jack," he said, after hieing himself down to the hotel on receiving the news " No way on God's green Earth do I wanna be in government! I ain't the right man for the job, I only stood 'cos folks thought they was bein' nice to me!"
"Understand, Fred, replied Jack. "Dunno what we can do about it though, seems to me that you been elected good and proper and unless you drop dead right now I reckon you're pretty well stuck with it."
In the fullness of time Miltz and Lazyacre boarded the Toenail Ridge Shortline passenger train from Selbyville to Rowell, where they changed to the Portland and Great Eastern for the journey to the Capitol. They were greeted by New Jersey Jack Lazyacre's good friend the Hon. Derek Molecan, Governor of the Sovereign State of Oregon, who shook his head at the way the election had come out, not only because his bosom buddy Jack wasn't going to be a Senator, but more particularly because his former employee was, said former employee knowing considerable amounts of information regarding the Governor that, while alright in the possession of his staff, was certainly not alright in the hands of a fellow politician and power wielder.
As the newly elected, and returning members filed into the Capitol's Senate chamber, Jack took a seat in the public gallery, there to rest his hands on the top of his cane, his chin on his hands, and watch as Fr Fred Miltz was sworn in as a Senator for the State of Oregon.
"Fr Fred Miltz! Do you swear to uphold the laws, the traditions and the requirements demanded of you as a Senator of the State of Oregon and as a citizen of the United States of America, so help you God?"
"Mr Miltz! Did you hear me, sir? Do you so swear?"
"Umm........Mr Speaker, I am afraid that I cannot comply with your request. Sir, I would do all in my power to fulfill the office but...... I was born and raised in Canada, sir, and as such, am not a citizen of this great land. Frankly, I never even thought about it."
Well, there was a bit of an uproar following this declaration, in particular issuing from the mouth of the Governor himself, who, while he may have come across as a bit of bumpkin on occasion, had an acute legal mind. He leapt to his feet "Mr Speaker! Under the Constitution of this fine State this man is not qualified to serve State office! Which makes his election null and void! Which means that New Jersey Jack Lazyacre is the truly elected candidate for the county of the Valley of the Toenail Ridge! Let the records be ammended to reflect so!"
New Jersey Jack Lazyacre took to the Senate like a duck to water (ie. maintaining a smooth outer visage while below the surface the machinery was going like the clappers)
He used his position of power and influence to better the lot of the denizens of his county and his Valley (and it was HIS Valley....), he made many more friends, few enemies and some canny investments, so that with the passage of time he finally attained that position of nabobbery to which he always aspired.

Fr Fred Miltz returned to the Valley of the Toenail Ridge where he resumed his former quiet life, although he frequently was called upon by Jack to give advice or act as a sounding board, and since sounding boards work both ways it wasn't too many years before he found himself rather well-to-do as well, having taken aboard information regarding stocks, mergers, opportunites and the names of men who were partial to a little leaning on. He built himself a fine house overlooking the pristine waters of Lake Wallace, furnished it with the best that Portland had to offer, and then, having spent considerable and enjoyable time in the company of the various retired seamstresses in Selbyville, he decided to make one of them an honest woman.
New Jersey Jack Lazyacre stood at his side as best man as Rev Jeremiah Little joined Fr Fred Miltz and Miss Florence Golightly in holy wedlock.
And they all lived happily ever after.

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