A Political Operative Cleans Up The Mess

Stock illustration from 123rf

Editor’s Note: This is the second part in a serial novella about a political operative working in the rough, tough and sometimes shady world of New York City politics.

“Cinnamon buns,” she muttered to herself while bent over the kitchen sink. Chetna had left work feeling terrible only to come home to a flood. 

She took off her suit jacket, had rolled up a sleeve, and awkwardly tried to dig around in the drain for the culprit. Eventually, she just turned the water off before sinking to the floor in her skirt and blouse. 

Soaked in the puddle forming, she contemplated falling asleep against the cabinets. The day she had had fielding her bosses landmines suddenly hit her hard. She knew in her gut that he’d stolen and likely embezzled millions in storm restoration money. 

The wind howled, sending tiny ripples into the water around her. All of her windows were blocked out to keep as much warmth in as possible from the snows outside. The sole source of light was the uncovered bulb hanging from her kitchen ceiling. 

Chetna stared at it, praying to a God she no longer believed in for a little bit of guidance. She closed her eyes, drifting.

She was confused by the second-hand guilt she felt. She wasn’t a thief. She wasn’t a Mayor. She didn’t have to be here, she thought.

She picked herself up and slowly disrobed in the one-bedroom apartment, dumping all her work clothes into the tub in the bathroom to wring out later. In the mirror, she looked golden brown as usual, though she felt pale from a lack of sun. Her almond eyes checked herself out. Gray hair, check. Hips, check. Still short, check. Bizarrely, her feet felt more naked than anything. 

Her cell phone rang from the table she left it on at the door. It lit up the dark corner like a homing beacon. Bouncing softly on her toes, she crossed to answer. 

“Yeah?” she said, as she eyed the water on the floor across from her.

“The press conference this morning was a disaster. You quitting? Jumping ship?” he laughed. “High tailing it. Bugging out, ha!”

“Nice to see you haven’t lost your sense of humor Carly. No comment by the way,” she said hiding her amusement. She hated journalists, which was weird given she had studied public relations and English literature in undergrad. Carl wasn’t terrible though. He at least knew when to throw in a crude joke and when to check on the house of cards as it went up in flames.

“I didn’t ask for one, but that deny defense is only going to hold for so long. We already know Dacoit’s cousins ran shell charities when they should’ve been using that money to save the city from these freak storms. Tell me you guys in his office didn’t know at least,” said Carl.

“Off the record?”

“Sure.” 

“Carly, I don’t even think he knew himself,” she said. She leaned her back against the metal door enjoying the coolness all the way down to her calves. It helped with the nervousness, the dread. The crazy desire to jump out of the window any minute.

They talked a bit more before hanging up. She looked back to the mess. It was big but nothing she couldn’t handle cleaning up because that was who she was. That was her job and she’d see it through. 

Probably be easier with some clothes on though, and walked to the bedroom for her paint-splattered sweatpants and t-shirt.  

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