Roskelley had heard enough. Not only had Harris and McCaslin voted for the Hanson development they had eliminated the possibility that his objections would be part of the record. That was the last straw. Roskelley screamed his anger at the other two county commissioners.
Harris screamed right back, "Why don't we settle this like men," he said, drawing an admiring gaze from McCaslin.
Roskelley kicked his chair out of the way. "That's fine with me," he snarled and raised his fists.
Harris didn't raise his fists he drew a gun from his ample hip. "Isn't that just like a mountain climber," he grinned, "bringing his fists to a gun fight."
"A gun! What are you doing with a gun in here," a startled Roskelley yelled.
"Don't you remember Sterk proposed to deputize us so we could go around armed," Harris smirked.
"That was a proposal you idiot," said Roskelley. "We never passed anything that said we could do it."
"It was close enough for me," grinned Harris.
McCaslin almost fainted with admiration. "Oh Phil, you're so powerful," she cooed.
Roskelley had seen enough. He edged his way to the closest exit, never taking his eyes off Harris and the gun. He squeezed his way through a door and heaved a sigh of relief. Roskelley turned to leave and immediately bumped into someone reaching for the door.
"Don't go in there," he cautioned, "there's an armed man in there that might open fire."
"Is this the Spokane City Council chambers," the stranger asked.
"No," replied Roskelley. "This is the county commissioner's chambers. You're in the wrong building. Who are you?"
"My name is Henry Miggins. I just arrived in Spokane from Portland. A friend of mine said I should just follow the screams and I'd end up in the city council chambers."
"Well your friend got the screaming part right. The city council screams a lot more than we do. What brings you to Spokane," Roskelley asked.
"I'm the new city manager," replied Miggins.
Roskelley stopped in his tracks. "Really?"
Miggins also stopped. "Yeah, really," he smiled.
Roskelley stared at Miggins. He was searching his memory for some clue to this surprising news. Roskelley didn't recall any conversations about city manager interviews. He didn't remember reading any articles in the Spokesman about a city manager search.
"You'll have to excuse my surprise," said Roskelley. "I wasn't aware a search was on for city manager."
"There wasn't a search," Miggins offered helpfully. "A couple of friends called and asked if I could come up here and I said sure."
Roskelley was intrigued. "What were you doing down there?"
"I was director of Animal Control for Multonah County until I was fired a few months ago. Since then I've been waiting for this job to open up."
"You're telling you've known for several months you were coming up here?"
"Well yes," said Miggins, "ever since the election."
"Incredible," said Roskelley. "What do you know about Spokane and the city's government?"
"Then how do you figure you're going to get anything done?" Roskelley asked.
"I'm a team player, I'll just ask my friends what to do," smiled Miggins. "After all, they're paying me almost eight grand a month, the least I can do is take their advice."
"You're telling me you're a puppet for Talbott, Corker, Eugster, Rodgers, and Metropolitan Mortgage," exclaimed Roskelley.
Miggins gave Roskelley a gentle smile. "No, no, I am my own man. I will make my own decisions. If I don't have an answer to an issue, I may decide to call my friends for advice. That's an important difference. If I were a puppet I would simply be making reflex actions to their directions. But deciding to contact them on my own makes it my decision and therefore I am not a puppet." Miggins never lost his smile.
Roskelley wasn't smiling. He was thinking that if Miggins actually believed what he just said he was either dumb or philosophically inept. The press would have a field day with remarks like that, especially Doug Clark, the Spokesman columnist Roskelley considered the best philosophical wit in North America.
"Well good luck Henry. This is where we part company." The men had walked outside the county building. Roskelley pointed a skinny finger across the river. "The building just to the right of the Washington Water Power sign is city hall. Go down two blocks and turn right. You'll cross the Post Street bridge and be at city hall."
Henry thanked Roskelley and went on his way. Two hours later he ambled into city hall and found Mayor Talbott and the council.
"Henry, thank goodness you're here," said Talbott. "You're just in time to help us with a parking crisis."
Henry smiled. "I'm here to help Mayor. The parking garage at Riverpark Square is a difficult situation, but if we pull together as a team I'm sure we can resolve the financial problems that exist there."
Talbott gave Henry a stern glance. "I'm not talking about that parking crisis. I'm talking about my personal parking crisis. Those morons running the Opera House said I couldn't park my car in front of the building for events. I'm the Mayor of the City of Spokane. The city owns that facility. That means I should get to park there anytime I want. It also means I should get two complimentary tickets for any event taking place in the Opera House or any other city owned facility."
"Gosh John, you never brought this up before," giggled Roberta Green. "Are you trying to increase your visibility at taxpayer expense in your run for fall election?"
The Steve Brothers cast a frown at Roberta. "The Mayor has a point," said Steve E. "As principal leaders of the city I think we should all get free parking and free tickets."
"Here, here," chimed in Steve C. "Can I have a sign with my name on it?"
It was Roberta's turn to frown. "Are you all nuts? We've got a parking garage only four blocks away from the Opera House that is set to lose a million and a half dollars this year and you clowns are whining about free parking. I think it's up to us to provide an example for this community. We should all start parking in the new garage and we can walk to the Opera House."
Talbott stared thoughtfully at Roberta. "She's right everyone. We need to set an example for the rest of the community. Where would be a good place in there for us to park free?"
Henry never lost his smile.