“Splinterbit is actually a town with quite a rich history and heritage,” Lucent was explaining to Effete, mostly to keep them both distracted from the heartrending subject of Joy Brighterday, whom they were now on their way to visit at the Grand Oak Hospital. “No, it never really took off and grew, per se; that was left to Grand Oak. However, the town had some leaders with ingenuity and foresight.”
“Oh,” Effete nodded, trying to focus and at least act interested.
“When Grand Oak started growing in and around the lumber industry, Mayor Spivey Sharpe – the first woman elected mayor even before women had the right to vote, no less – had the prophetic foresight to focus on the strengths of Splinterbit. Instead of trying to go toe to toe with the already growing city just 30 miles up the road, she honed in on what Splinterbit uniquely had to offer, namely: the College and beautiful parks and the attendant recreation.”
“Hmmm,” Effete made another short response, trying not to offend her friendly chauffer.
“You see, Splinterbit College is actually one of the oldest in the State, and the third to be officially included on the State Historical Registry. Well, years ago, as now, it was a fine institution. Sharpe really pounded the pulpit for the college and, through both public and private donations, managed an upgrade or, really, an overhaul of the entire complex. After this, she managed an expansion, and then focused on recruiting the highest quality professors and administrators she could lure to Splinterbit.”
“I see,” Effete nodded again. “Very interesting. Sounds like she was quite a woman, indeed … way ahead of her time.”
“Well, yeah, in one sense she was, but in another very important sense, she was just the right person for exactly the right job at precisely the right time. She probably saved Splinterbit, truth be told.” Lucent certainly admired Spivey Sharpe, which was quite evident. “Anyway, one of the attractions to moving to Splinterbit had to be its parks and recreation. What other amenities could the town have offered at that time? Consequently, at the same time she was plowing ahead with the College, she was also focusing intently, and very proactively, upon the parks and recreational services to make Splinterbit all the more attractive.”
“And, point in fact, she was the one who appointed the first Beautification Committee, dedicated solely to an extensive, town-wide clean-up and enhancement program that would be ongoing.”
“To bad that couldn’t have included people,” Effete remarked off-handedly. “Would have been nice if she could have rid the town of people trash…”
“Funny you should mention that … I suppose,” Lucent responded. “You doubtless know that the Rev. Dr. Chase Stoutman Charger founded Ebenezer Bible Church, but it may surprise you to know that his grandfather not only voted for Sharpe, he openly campaigned for her. Upon founding the Beautification Committee, then, when she asked for volunteers to head the program, he was the first to stand ready. Already a capable member of the town council, and well-respected, Sharpe readily appointed him with the unanimous consent of his colleagues.”
“Huh! The grandfather of the independent, fundamentalist, Bible-thumping Pharisee, who birthed the psychological-spiritual prison known as Ebenezer Church actually voted for a woman, and that before women even had the right to vote, and he campaigned for her, and he gladly served, even headed, the committee she founded! Unbelievable!” Now Effete truly was interested.
“Yep, just like the old saying goes, I guess,” Lucent looked over and winked. “Sometimes truth really is stranger than fiction.”
“Oh boy! I’d say!” Effete was floored. “Strange enough that a woman could be elected when women didn’t have the right to vote.”
“Well, I don’t exactly know how that worked out except the town basically said, in effect, to hell with the state and federal government; this is our town, our community, and this is the individual we want leading us. We want Spivey Sharpe at the helm and that’s all there is to it… Damn good thing, too. Like I said, she probably saved Splinterbit. As far as Grandpa Charger goes, he didn’t stop his support with campaigning and serving on a committee; he’d really caught Sharpe’s vision, and he was a dedicated believer. So he took the next logical step and started concentrating on the local elementary and high schools, with Sharpe’s unwavering support, naturally.”
“Well, then … excellent schools, college, beautiful parks, adequate healthy recreation, clean and ship-shape town all around, what more could you ask for?” Effete pondered.
“Right. Exactly.” Lucent agreed. “So it’s not hard to see how Splinterbit, though still small by comparison, eventually became a nice little bedroom community to Grand Oak, Roseville, and Hickory Forge. What we lack in numbers, we make up for in prestige… Well, it was Spivey Sharpe who, during her third term and again with the consent of the council, built the Splinterbit Memorial Hospital. And here again she had the foresight to stop short of trying to compete with the Grand Oak Hospital. No, she just wanted a small, streamlined hospital unit that, on the one hand, would provide immediate, high-quality emergency care, prepping the patient for transfer to Grand Oak, and then on the other would, naturally, capably handle lesser, non-emergency situations right here at home. And it’s worked beautifully ever since.”
“Wow! Quite a woman, indeed!” Effete remarked. “Did she serve more than three terms or move on to something bigger and brighter?”
“Hmmm,” Lucent carefully weighed her answer. “I don’t know about bigger and brighter, but her third term ended up being her last. Many people, from what I understand – hell, probably most people – wanted her to serve at least one more term. She agreed, but…” Lucent hesitated. She didn’t expect the conversation to go quite this far.
“But what?” Effete asked.
“She was shot during one of her campaign speeches,” Lucent answered matter-of-factly. “She survived and recovered rather well … physically, but no one ever caught the culprit. There were plenty of suspicions, and rumors ran wild. For her part, she decided that, perhaps, three terms as mayor was enough after all. Now mind you, she was no coward and she didn’t go into hiding. In fact, she simply switched careers and took a position with the College as professor of political science. While there – she was still fairly young, by the way – she developed the curriculum for the History of Women and co-founded the Department of Women’s Studies.”
“My God! She certainly was no quitter!”
“Oh, no, she definitely was not anything of a defeatist,” Lucent quickly assented. “In fact, during her 20 year tenure at the college she wrote and published three books, each of which sold fairly well … better than any other book coming out of this neck of the woods.” She chuckled. “Perhaps our dear Blue Poorman will break her record.”
“Oh, I do hope so,” Effete genuinely responded. She had grown rather found of Blue and both her boys rather liked him, too. “Although I’d love to read her books. Surely they’re available at the library.”
“Yes, but even better, they’re available at my library. I’ll gladly loan them to you, and you can take your time reading them. No need to worry about due dates. Ha! You have enough on your plate as it is!”
“That’s for sure, but…” Effete’s voice cracked and tears welled up in her eyes. “Right now all that’s on the backburner. It has to be… I’m so worried about Joy…” She couldn’t finish.
“Thankfully – almost miraculously – the bullet barely made it through her ribs and lodged in one of her intercostals before actually penetrating down into the right lung itself,” Lucent explained again in an effort to reassure Effete. “It hurts like hell, and she’s definitely got some recovery time ahead of her, but like good ole Spivey Sharpe, she’s gonna make and make it just fine. I really, truly believe she’s gonna come out of this stronger, even more determined and tenacious!” Both women laughed at the thought because that sounded exactly like Joy Brighterday.
But she got shot because of me, Effete couldn’t help thinking for the umpteenth time. She’s in the hospital now because of me… I’m dangerous for her.