In a small town in the deep south is an old house with a porch. Live oaks, asalias, and magnolias grow all along the fence near the road. A man in camouflage coveralls is walking by. He gazes through the leaves to see a man on the porch, rocking in a rocking chair, and eating an egg.
“Hey, Bob! Afternoon,” he says, sticking a hand over his head.
“Afternoon,” Bob says.
“You eatin’ an egg?” he says. He approaches the little gate that stands only a few feet from the porch.
“Yessir. Got myself a boiled egg,” Bob says. He takes a bite.
“You running for mayor, huh?”
“What’s your platform?” he asks, somehow on the verge of tears.
Bob doesn’t notice or pretends to not. “Well, Clarence, I plan on balancing the budget. Less taxes for all of us and all that…”
“Oh, dang, Bob. I really like that shit, you know?” he says, emotion very clear in his wavering voice. “I really like it. I just wish I could vote for you.”
“Alright,” Bob says, mouthful of egg. “Vote your conscious.”
“I’m sorry, Bob!” he cuts in. “I know we been friends for a long time. I just wish I could pull that lever for you, Bob…”
“It’s alright, buddy. You gotta vote the way you gotta vote. And you don’t have to even tell me. In fact, it would be better if you did not even tell me. There are a few thousand in this town and I would not know the difference.”
“Oh, you’re a good man!” Clarence says, doubling over. Bob looks to see if anyone can see him. “Just makes me want to vote for you even more! Dammit! “
“Hey, what you boys talking about?” says a new voice.
“OH! Hey Mark!” Clarence practically falls in the gravel. “We was just talking! Bob’s got a boiled egg!”
“Well, we was also talking about the race,” says Bob. Clarence looks at him pleadingly.
“I know I got Clarence’s vote here, ’cause we just talked, ain’t that right?” Mark says, clearly not very serious. He’s got on a sweaty button up shirt, worn-out shoes, and a canvas bag full of his campaign flyers. They say, “Go on, Hit the Mark!”
“Yeah,” Clarence says, pained. “You got my vote, Mark….”
“You alright, Clarence?” Bob asks.
“Yeah, I’m alright…” He puts his hands on his knees.
“You ain’t making him vote for you, are you Mark?” Bob asks, wanting it to sound more like a joke than it did.
“No!” Mark says. “I just came over to his house about an hour ago and we talked. I told him I’d raise taxes on businesses so we could pay to fix that road thats banging up all our cars.” He shrugs. “He said that he ‘Really liked that shit.’”
“Yeah, yeah!” Clarence says. “Finders keepers, you know? He came to me first, Bob. And I can’t vote for you.” He wipes tears from his eyes.
“Well, if you really want to vote for Bob, vote for Bob!” Mark says.
“Oh!” Clarence says. “Mark! You angelic, God-man! You mean I can vote for Bob if I wanna?”
“Yeah! You can vote for whoever you want to!” Mark says. “I just came over to encourage you to vote for me, if you want to… Based on my platform.”
“God Damn!” he says, slapping his forehead with both hands. “You two are just too much right now! You two are too much! I’m gonna fucking cry!”
“Well, don’t cry. This was always available to you,” Mark says. “We’re just… telling you.”
“Damn! You guys are just humble as shit! No wonder one of you gets to be mayor! God damn you guys are humble!” He reels. “I don’t even know who to vote for anymore!”
“Whoever you want,” Bob says. He’s finished his egg.
“Alright, I’ll vote for Mark, then.”
“What?” Bob says, catching himself before he gets too upset. “Alright…”
Originally published at https://www.tumblr.com on January 6, 2020.