"You know," Marvin practically snarled into his microphone, "I’m a patient man. Wouldn’t you agree, Raymond?"
Raymond grinned as he spoke into his microphone in the studio of 880 AM Radio, "I certainly would, Marvin. You are a living saint among men."
Marvin continued, "But I’m here to tell you, my patience has just about run out!"
Raymond interrupted to speak to his friend, Farley Puckett, who was manning the phone in the front part of the radio station.
"Do we have any callers, Farley?"
"The phone has been lighting up like a Christmas tree," answered Puckett.
It was a curious thing to say, seeing there were only two small lights on the phone, representing two incoming lines. And they were both white.
Ever calm, Raymond spoke gently into his microphone, "Let’s give Marvin a moment to calm down while we take a call from one of our good listeners. Who do we have on the line, Farley?"
"Our first caller is Essie Kennemer," Puckett answered back.
Raymond greeted Mrs. Kennemer as if she were an old friend, though they’d only met in person a few times. "What’s on your mind, Essie?"
"I’ve got something to say and I’m going to say it!" Essie shouted into her phone. "Ever since you were cheated out of the mayor’s seat in that last election, nothing has been right in this town!"
Raymond loved being the center of attention and Essie was giving him the ego boost he desired. He puffed up his chest, but kept his voice low so that listeners wouldn’t suspect his pride.
"Well, I’m not sure we are allowed to use such language on the radio, Essie," Cooper responded, "but I understand your anxiety. Far be it from me, however, to be a sore loser. Fair or not, Silver Tongue . . . I mean, Mayor Bland, was named winner of the elec-tion."
"Winner, Shminner!" Kennemer shot back. "Him and that woman stole that election!"
Any listener would have understood Essie was referring to Juliette Stoughton, who ran against Cooper in the mayor’s race.
"I understand how you feel, Essie," Raymond answered calmly. "It was mighty peculiar that a so-called ‘newcomer’ to our town created such a strong alliance with the most powerful official in The Valley in such a short time. Far be it from me to throw stones, though. I’m just a simple servant of the people."
"You were robbed, pure and simple!" Marvin shouted from his seat to Raymond’s left. Apparently, the calming down period wasn’t working so well, or the vindictiveness of Kennemer’s tone was contagious.
"Who is our next caller, Farley?" Raymond smiled as he asked.
"It’s Earl Goodman, Raymond," Puckett replied.
"Well, let’s put Earl on the air," Cooper continued. "Earl, what’s on the mind of our town’s most illustrious federal servant?" referring to Goodman’s role as Valley postal carrier.
"I want to know what is on the alleged ‘mind’ of our so-called ‘newspaper editor’?" Goodman shouted.
It seemed to be a shouting kind of day.
"First, she makes that Stoughton woman out to be some kind of hero on page one," referring to Iris Long’s story about Juliette’s public display at First Baptist Church. "Then," Earl continued, "she besmirches the name of one of our town’s finest citizens by calling him a friend of the Devil!"
"Well, I’m sure she had her reasons," Raymond interrupted, again taking reign in his role as town peacemaker, while hoping to continue stirring the emotions to keep his callers fired up.
Marvin Walsh had stayed quiet about as long as he could stand.
"I’m going to tell you something, Raymond," Walsh shouted. "I don’t know what she’s up to, but that Iris Long is putting her nose where it doesn’t belong. The Devil had been on my back for days, trying to keep me away from church on Sunday, and here in print, she up and calls me a liar! Look there, she called me a friend of the Devil!"
"It must have been a trying moment when you saw that headline the first time," Raymond replied. "I can see why you’d be upset."
"Essie Kennemer is right," Marvin growled. "Nothing has been right around here since Bland stole the election."
Walsh took a deep breath before continuing. The pause did not settle him down any.
"And I’ll tell you this. Who does that Stoughton woman think she is? Does she really think anybody is going to show up for her breakfast? What do you think, Earl? I know your wife will be cooking breakfast for the men on Turkey Shoot Saturday, won’t she?"
Farley spoke into his microphone, "There seems to be a problem with the phone. Earl’s line just died."
"It’s probably a conspiracy!" Walsh shouted, veins starting to stick out at his temples. "She’s even got the phone company against us!"
"Lennox Valley: The Book" is now available at Amazon.com and other booksellers everywhere. Visit LennoxValley.com for more information.