Shelly Reuben’s new novel is about … well, we’ll let you find out for yourself as we weekly serialize the chapters. If you miss one, get back up to speed with our article archive. Now, welcome to:
Chapter 43 - Oh What a Beautiful Morning!
Saturday had been gray, overcast, and bitterly cold. Its frigid temperatures were an appropriate accompaniment to the hectic pace and hostile environment in which the mayor’s rapidly assembled team had to operate.
The day ended with temperatures in the low twenties.
Forecasts for Sunday changed every few seconds, and none of them were good.
CNN predicted more snow and temperatures in the teens.
FOX News said no snow, with a high of 20° F.
And the Weather Channel caused goose bumps with its prediction, computing in the wind chill factor, of only five degrees.
They were all wrong.
For Sunday morning, January 14, dawned clear, sunny, blue-skied, and warm.
Well…warm for winter.
The thermometer read 30° F by 7:00 a.m.
It was 40° F by 9:30 a.m.
And the high, a perky weather girl on CBS News reported, “Will be 60° by noon!”
The mayor was jubilant.
“Perfect weather under a perfect blue sky after a perfectly horrible week in which to celebrate having survived the worst blizzard in The Big City’s history in Primrose Park with Frosty the Snowman Day!”
Chiquita Bamberger woke up at 5:00 a.m.
She put on a pair of emerald green silk lounging pajamas, slipped on a pair of movie star slippers (they had little spiked heels with furry green pompoms on each toe), and grabbed her Rolodex off her desk.
She settled on an overstuffed reading chair in the living room, lifted an old, handset telephone onto her lap, and as her husband Gus kept her supplied with coffee and bagels, she began, one after the other, to call all of the radio station talk show hosts with programs scheduled for Sunday morning.
Every single one, even those who had not voted for her, was delighted to receive her call. After all, Mayor Bamberger was a movie star!
Mayor Bamberger had won an Emmy!
Mayor Bamberger was fun to talk to!
Mayor Bamberger was…the mayor!
And Mayor Bamberger was news!
For some of the shows, the interviews were live.
For some, they were taped.
She accepted call-in questions on the live shows, and tried to anticipate answers to hypothetical questions on the others.
But for all of them, from “A Minute with Dr. Joe” to “Trucking with Truckers,” Chiquita Bamberger’s message was essentially the same:
• The City wants to thank its citizens for bravely weathering the storm.
• We want to celebrate a beautiful sunny Sunday.
• We want children, grownups, parents, grandparents, and everyone in between to come to the Carousel in Primrose Park today at 2:00 p.m.
• We’re holding a Best Snowman Competition. There will be carrots for noses, coal and buttons for eyes, hats, scarves, and every accoutrement you can think of to make your snowman a thing of beauty…at least until it melts!
• Everyone can enter. Even city employees.
• The competition will be judged by Susan Chung, President of the Phillip Hellinger School of Design.
• There will be prizes.
• And most important of all, hot chocolate will be served to all who ask, compliments of Rocco’s Bistro, free of charge!
Chiquita Bamberger gave her last radio interview and took her last bite of bagel at a little after 11:00 a.m. Then she returned to her bedroom closet, donned a pair of black velvet slacks and the brightest red turtleneck sweater she had, dabbed her favorite summer perfume behind her ears, affixed her flashiest earrings – big, chunky, expensive, and impossible to describe – and drew her fingers through her hair to give it a few last staccato spikes. Then she threw on her windbreaker (it was too warm for a winter coat), and left for her office.
Where she would meet up with her nephew Amos Goode and his best friend Noah Pitt for a few last-minute preparations prior to leaving for Primrose Park.
Copyright © Shelly Reuben, 2021. Shelly Reuben’s books have been nominated for Edgar, Prometheus, and Falcon awards. For more about her writing, visit www.shellyreuben.com