This is Part 1 of 4.
Eric Gambino paced his office. He hated the office.
“This is why I’m getting fat,” he thought to himself, looking down at a flabby paunch he knew would have never dared an intrusion ten years ago.
“What am I supposed to do? I’ve got all of twelve feet to do my walking. It’s ridiculous.” He scowled and tried to pace faster.
It was Friday morning, and he was supposed to be reviewing the four district supervisor summaries from the week. The summaries detailed the major events of every division’s patrols – arrests, interventions, and medical assistance. But it was too early to be staring at reports.
He longed to be out walking the streets. He had still been able to do that a lot, even when he became district supervisor. The more transport tech improved, the more committed Gambino was to walking. There’s a reason why humans can’t move faster than a run, he figured. Walking was the speed of thought. He believed firmly that a good Public Watch officer needed to spend at least half his shift walking his streets.
“I’ll never get back in shape now, not like I was before,” Gambino rolled his eyes as he leaned on the wall to look out at the Fresca skyline. Virtually the whole downtown had been granted historic preservation status, so his window, ten stories up in the Civic Center, was one of the highest points around.
“It’s the Peter Principle,” he chuckled to himself. You get promoted just far enough to lose all the things you ever liked about the job.”
There was a knock at the door. Gambino whipped around, unsure whether to feel relieved at the interruption, or irritated. It was Boston, the East district Medical Supervisor (MS), fresh from a 12 hour shift. Boston had not waited for a response, and was already closing the office door behind him.
He eased himself into one of the awkward, hard-angled, black chairs Gambino had inherited from the previous Head of Public Watch, Carlton. The chairs were an imposing mix of metal and cushions, sleek and streamlined, while still making a gesture at comfort. They had a very 4550s look to them. They heralded one of those designs that was meant to be very modern and forward looking in its time, but which fell flat immediately after the first round of sales.
Boston clasped his hands behind his head and sighed.
“Finally, a whole weekend off. 60 hours straight. That’s a beautiful thing.”
Gambino sniffed enviously. That explained the carefreeness. Gabmino decided he could forgive him – that was a good feeling. Boston was a short, stocky, blonde-haired man in his mid fifties, who had the build and swagger of someone who used to be quite athletic. He carried the air of someone who still felt owed the respect that freely flowed to him at a younger age. He’d been East district MS for over five years, but was always a little wistful he hadn’t gone into the Security Department of the Public Watch. It would have been a better personality fit.
“Have you heard about Anthony?” Boston raised his eyebrows inquisitively.
“No, what about him?”
“Anthony’s one of the guys on my patrol.”
“I know who he is,” Gambino waved impatiently.
“Let’s walk outside,” Gambino cut him off. There was no reason to stay in his office cage if he was just going to talk.
It was a brisk spring morning, and green was popping up in teeny patches all around downtown Fresca.
“Anthony’s going to run for district representative,” Boston launched in as soon as they got outside, pulling his jacket close.
“Really?” Gambino felt like he should care more than he did, so he tried to sound interested.
“Yeah. Wouldn’t shut up about it, all last night.” Boston continued. “Enlisted almost the whole patrol to campaign for him,” he laughed. “His dad’s a county magistrate in the West district, so he’s got some clout.”
“It’s hard for me to imagine Anthony pulling in the votes on the East side. He’s not really their type.”
“No, no,” Boston shook his head. “Anthony’s part of the East district patrol, but he lives in South district. Specifically Southwest,” Boston gave a meaningful grimace. “So he’d be running as a South district representative. Says the district needs help bad, that they’re neglected. People are suffering, and no one cares.”
“If he cares so much about the South district, why isn’t he on patrol over there?”
“Well, it is his home, but…you know how it is down there. No one wants to run patrol South side. It’ll burn you out. Plus, he says, the problems are too deep. You know, systemic. Needs fixing all the way at the top level. Needs a whole new way of organizing, of listening to the people, of letting them have a say. He wants to get people involved, at a grassroots level. He was really fired up. I was ready to vote for him right there. That is,” Boston added with a laugh, “if I lived South side… and if I ever voted.”
“Who’s district rep over there right now?”
“I don’t know,” Boston shrugged. “Some guy named Robert Wilson. He’s been representative there for close to twenty-five years. But Anthony said he never gets anything done. Nothing ever changes. He says he’s this entrenched, disconnected, entitled elite, who just looks out for himself.”
“Sounds like a politician,” Gambino quipped wryly.
“Yeah. Anthony says Wilson’s part of the whole messed up power system that’s got to be brought down. He says it’s keeping people trapped. They’re stuck there, and they’ve got no options, and it’s people like Wilson who just keep scraping off the top for themselves, and never lift a finger. For what it’s worth, he’s probably right.”
“Sure,” Gambino acknowledged. “So Anthony’s definitely going to run?”
“Already filed and entered. And he’s got a good shot. He’s a pretty likable guy, and he’s all about getting back to traditional values, and right living, taking a stand against all this moral degeneration. So I think he’s got some messages that’ll resonate there.”
“Yeah, but twenty-five years,” Gambino scratched his chin pensively. “He won’t go out easy.”