The Saint (Notorious #3) - Molly O'Keefe

1

CARTER

There were two kinds of people in the world. Logical people who saw reason and agreed with me about the Jimmie Simpson Community Center. Then there were the others. The others, who wanted my blood. Who wanted to string me up by my neck and shove bamboo under my fingernails, just to hear me scream.

Right now, I was surrounded by the others.

Looking out at the mob of seniors and single moms, all I saw was bloodlust in their eyes. Even the toddlers were sharpening their incisors on their teething rings.

But no one looked more furious than Tootie Vogler, who showed up at every single informational meeting, with her Sunday hat and her white gloves and so much anger in her eighty-year-old body she nearly levitated.

“Mrs. Vogler,” I said with as much calm as I could muster. “As I’ve explained, the activities and services that are currently offered here will be held in the new building.”

“But,” she said, standing in the front row of the small gathering being held in the decaying belly of the Jimmie Simpson Community Center, “what happens while you’re building that new building?”

“Yeah,” one of the mothers said, jiggling a baby in her arms while her toddler ran amuck in the corner, grabbing the cookies we’d laid out. Seriously, she needed to be watching that kid instead of asking the same damn questions I’d heard—and answered—a thousand times already. “How long is it going to take?”

“Once we tear down the existing building it will take a year—”

“A year!” Another one of the mothers cried as if I’d just said I wanted to eat her kid for lunch.

“Well,” Mrs. Vogler said, “that’s what you say now, but what about what happened over at the Glenview Community Center?”

There were rumbles of agreement, and frankly, the others weren’t wrong. The Glenview sat, half-built, a total waste of time and money. There was simply no way the city could finish that project with the limited tax money they had while the existing community centers were in such terrible shape. Never mind the fact that Jimmie Simpson was in low-income Beauregard Town where the programs offered by the center were at capacity and Glenview was over in up-and-coming Spanish Town, where there wasn’t nearly the demand for day care and after-school programs.

I’d tried to explain this, but the message was never received and frankly, I was feeling like a broken record. A broken record speaking German.

The Glenview Community Center was this administration’s albatross. And, since I wanted to be voted in when the current mayor’s term was up next year, it was my giant hole-in-the-ground cross to bear. “As I’ve explained numerous times,” I said, “that project was spearheaded by a previous administration. And while it’s not currently a priority, we are looking into ways to complete the job.”

What I couldn’t say, though everyone knew it to some degree, was that the previous administration had been so dirty, so backhanded and money hungry, that I still spent half my days trying to make right the terrible wrongs that the former mayor and his staff had perpetrated on this city. But I couldn’t say that. Nope, diplomacy was my task.

“Well, why doesn’t your administration go fix that mess and leave this community center be?” Mrs. Vogler said, rallying the troops behind her.

“Mrs. Vogler—may I call you Tootie?”

“No.”

“Fine. Mrs. Vogler, we can’t leave this community center alone because this community center is falling down,” I cried, pointing to the chipped paint and flickering lightbulbs.

“So,” Tootie said. “Fix what’s wrong. We’re not arguing that nothing needs to be done around here, but why are you tearing