The polls closed at 6 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 26, 2062.
Mayor Roberto Gonzalez waited nervously at the Indiana Hotel, the traditional site of the Democrats’ post-election gathering. Sometimes it was a celebration; often, it was more like a wake.
Sadie Palmer, the CEO of Kekionga Optics, had posted bail after being charged with felony water theft. But Emilio Vasquez, the mayor’s longtime friend and the Water Utilities worker, was still sitting in the Squadrito Jail, unable to make bail on charges that included fraud and conspiracy to steal water.
Shelby Loredo, the city’s 1 millionth resident, took the arm of Miles Armstrong and walked into the Indiana Hotel, wasting little time before ordering champagne.
Deputy Mayor Angelica Lewis was glued to her Tau, checking precinct-by-precinct voting results. Gonzalez, it was clear, would be re-elected to a sixth term.
Mia Brown, at Republican headquarters in the Shine Building on Main Street, stayed true to her message, insisting the city require work permits before any new resident can take a job – even though a new resident must have a job to get a work permit. But her handlers told her privately she wasn’t going to win, so the atmosphere there was subdued.
Mayor Gonzalez had already written his victory speech, but he was as much melancholy as triumphant. His best friend had betrayed him. The business leader he had most admired was a notorious thief. With Sadie Palmer out of the picture, his public school plans were thrown into disarray, the funding uncertain.
Angelica Lewis was ecstatic. Another four years, and she would be the heir apparent to the mayor’s office. And Wayne Robotics’ CEO Nelson Wills remained quiet about the freebies she accepted.
Lewis approached her boss, telling Mayor Gonzalez it was time to deliver his victory speech.
In a minute, the mayor told her, walking toward Miles Armstrong and Shelby Loredo.
I hear the Kekionga Optics board is going to name you CEO, Gonzalez told Loredo. Congratulations!
I’ll believe it when it happens, Loredo answered, both excited and terrified by the prospect of leading the biggest company in one of the nation’s foremost cities. But should my company stay in a city with such lax water security?
Mayor Gonzalez looked at Loredo, then to Miles Armstrong.
Water security is now the city’s top priority, Gonzalez said. We could launch a national search, but I think there is someone in this room right now who could lead our water security team.
Armstrong smiled. He was enamored with Fort Wayne’s West Central Neighborhood, and he loved the downtown’s dichotomy of modern and historic. Water security in Fort Wayne was so bad, all he had to do was issue some common-sense directives, and everyone would think he was a genius.
Water security will be tough here, he thought, but it won’t be like the water wars around the Great Lakes or the Mediterranean Sea, where he had fought more than one battle.
Well, Mayor Gonzalez, Armstrong said, looking briefly at Gonzalez and then intently at Loredo, If you are offering me a job, I accept.
The mayor nodded as Lewis pulled him toward the stage to give his victory speech. Loredo wanted to stay and listen, but Armstrong walked out of the Indiana Hotel, looking up and down the Jefferson line. Loredo joined him outside, and they began walking, past Parkview Field on the left and the Harvester Museum on the right.
It began to sprinkle, then rain, then pour – but without the lightning and winds that seemed to accompany most rains in 2062. Both Loredo and Armstrong were drenched, so they tucked themselves inside the Todd Harrold Jazz Bar and ordered drinks. The band hadn’t started yet, so recorded music was coming from the nearly invisible speakers around the bar.
I really should go over to the Water Filtration Plant and monitor how much of this rain gets sucked away by personal pipes and wildcatters, Armstrong said.
Don’t be ridiculous, Loredo said. You haven’t officially been hired, you have no security ID, they shouldn’t even let you in the plant. Besides, don’t you want a little jazz education? I bet you don’t even know the name of this song. You should know – it’s by one of your namesakes, Louis Armstrong.
Miles Armstrong raised his glass to toast Shelby Loredo, smiled and sang as the verse came around.
I see trees of green, red roses too. I see ’em bloom for me and for you. And I think to myself, what a wonderful world.