Monday, March 1, 2021

Remnant: A Phone Call

Photo credit Grace Grogan

---Obligatory reminder: This is fiction---

Mayor Wagner was at his regular post beneath the clock outside City Hall when his phone rang.

Looking at the number he deduced that it was from a State assigned cell-phone. He took the precaution of turning on an app he had recently added to his phone.

He had never had to multi-task the way he did now. Everybody looked to him no mater how much he tried to delegate. Every little squabble came to him as the tie-breaker.

He just couldn’t keep up. He couldn’t keep the facts and particulars straight especially when the spats were about things so inconsequential. It seemed that the more trivial the stakes of the disagreement, the more unbending the participants were in their respective positions.

Mayor Wagner’s wife suggested that he add a voice recorder to his smart phone. Of course, he always asked their permission before recording.

Not only did it help him keep track but a surprising number of people decided they did NOT want him “helping” when he was capturing a permanent record of their petty beef.

Since the party on the other end was calling him, he decided to not inform them that he was using the memory aid.

“Hello. Eaton Rapids’ Mayor Wagner on the line. How may I help you today?” the Mayor answered his phone.

“Hello Mayor Wagner. My name is ‘Boo’ Steezey and I am an aide to the Michigan Attorney General.” *

The call sounded hollow and echo-y.

“Are you on speaker phone?” Mayor Wagner asked. The Mayor had an instinctive dislike for people, educated-professional-people, who used pet baby-names. He also considered the callers' not announcing that they were on speaker-phone to be a grave faux-pas of phone etiquette.

“Oh, I should have mentioned that. And there is another person in the room with me.” ‘Boo’ said.

“Hello, Mayor. My name is Ben Chode and I work for the Governor” a male voice informed him.

The mayor didn’t ask if there was anybody else in the room. He just assumed there was.

“So, I have a lot on my plate. What do you want?” the mayor asked again.

“Well, Mr. Mayor, you have not been very cooperative at the meetings with the Governor and her plan to bring energy back on-line. We are doing follow-up on that” Mr. Chode said.

“Follow-up? What do you need to know?” Wagner asked. He had to wave away a couple of residents who were approaching him.

“We don’t have any record of the guns that were confiscated and from what houses, nor the addresses where breakers were pulled” ‘Boo’ informed him.

“And you aren’t going to get any” Wagner informed them. “I conferred with our city attorney and he informed me that it was a clear violation of the Second Amendment.”

“That is all well and good” ‘Boo’ said, “but this is an emergency and none of the other mayors or utilities seem to have any issues with it.”

“We pay the city attorney damned good money to give us legal advice. Why wouldn’t I follow it?” Wagner said. “He said that Dearborn Edison and Galloping-Consumption Energy are corporations and not government entities. They are not making laws or ‘infringing’ on the Second Amendment. Our utility IS an organ of the Eaton Rapids City government and the Second Amendment very directly applies to us.”

“I am sure you see...” ‘Boo’ started out.

“Let me interrupt” Wagner said. “I am sure you didn’t cook this call up on your own, right? So you are just the delivery boy-and-girl.”

“Those are not terms I would use...” Chode objected.

“Let's cut to the chase. I either dance to the governor’s tune or else….what?” Wagner asked.

“We will cut off your natural gas supply” ‘Boo’ said.

Wagner gave a short laugh. “Seems like those terrorists are beating you to it.”

“But it will come back on-line a little at a time” ‘Boo’ said. “And we will make sure Eaton Rapids is the VERY last town to come back on-line.”

“Tell you what. Send me an email outlining exactlywhat I need to to make the governor happy and outline the consequences if I don't” Wagner said.

“You know we can’t do that” ‘Boo’ said.

“Why not?” Wagner asked. “You threatened me over the phone. Why not in an email?”

“You know why” Chode said.

“Maybe because using State authority to punish political opponents is illegal? Because threatening to hurt the innocent residents of Eaton Rapids to kick somebody you don’t like in the nuts has poor optics? Or maybe it is both?” Wagner said.

Silence from the other end.

“I don’t hear a denial so I will assume I hit the nail on the head” Wagner said.

“You tell the Governor to get her nose out of my business. I have contracts with the utilities to deliver natural gas. If the line pressure is one pound less than the pressure in Charlotte or Mason, I will take suitable action” Wagner said.

“Good-bye.” and then Wagner hung up on them. He was breathing hard and his heart rate was through the roof.

Twenty miles away, the Attorney General gave ‘Boo’ a pat on the back and said, “Good job. We gave him a chance and he didn’t take it. Now we give it to him hard.”

Actually, they would have stuck it into Wagner and broken it off, even if he had capitulated. The only thing that gave the governor more satisfaction than being vindictive was whipping a cringing dog.

Wagner distractedly walked up to his office. He downloaded the recording to his office computer and listened to it to verify that it captured the entire conversation.

Then he pulled up the State of Michigan Employee directory. He addressed an email to Susan Steezey (the only Steezey on the list) and Benjamin Chode and included their immediate supervisors. After a few seconds thought, he also included a Courtesy Copy to

His daughter Meghan worked for Justice Victoria Davis, scourge of Michigan Progressives.

*A reader of one of my earlier posts asked where I come up with the names of my characters. In the case of Boo and Ben, I recycled Arabic and Hindi arch-characters that capture their personalities. It is a bit of an inside joke as the three-or-four readers who are conversant in Arabic or Hindi/Urdu will get a chuckle.


  1. Not to offend the more sensitive of your readers, but...

    Is "Mr. Chode" something subtle?

    1. References to Ben Chode might be heard on the streets of New Delhi any day of the week.

  2. Mr. Chode calls me all the time about my car's extended warranty....

  3. ER Joe, just wondering if you have this story on book form or an electronic form? As a whole series. I didn't start reading it at first and have been for a month now and kinda want to catch up.

    1. This particular story arc is in progress, he posts a chapter at a time.
      If you search the blog for "Remnant:" you should be able to find all of the chapters.

      He has done a couple of other similar ones, based on an Ebola pandemic, and 2 of those are published books... I think there might have been 3 books in that setting/arc?

    2. Thank you Don, fellow retired nurse myself, started in 1978. I will do search for the starting chapters. I am from Grand Rapids area south of Eaton Rapids.


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