I am leveraging the M-W word of the day as a writing prompt. I may never come back to these, but want to push out at least 500 words. Feel free to add on. The first WotD is Inveigh.
It was not easy being mayor. Not even in this sleepy town at the edge of the Midwest. Whoever said that all politics were local politics hit the nail on the head.
He thumbed through the pile of unopened mail on his desk, then circled back to the coat rack to hang up his scarf and coat. The office still smelled of cigars, or maybe pipes—he could not be certain which. Although it was patently illegal to smoke in any government building, it was clear the prior mayor had rebelled against that particular state-wide edict. Apparently his staff had also looked the other way. Maybe he paid them to.
He had to admit that it was almost a comforting smell. While he was never a smoker himself, there was something in the lingering scent of burnt tobacco that lent an air of authority to the room. Like the smell of aging parchment in an old library, at least for him, the smell of pipes and tobacco always conjured up images of spirited arguments between lawyers in years long gone. He could almost imagine them gesturing wildly, clutching their pipes in one hand as they inveighed against some finer point of law.
Authority was something the room sorely lacked. When he was campaigning, he had always imagined that the mayor’s office would be a large musty room walled with books, dimly lit, with lots of old ornate woodwork; perhaps decorated with a few oil-paintings.
Instead, this smallish, square, brightly-lit room with its relatively new, industrial furniture seemed more like something you might find in an insurance company. It was too functional for its own good.
He pulled the chair away from the desk and sat down heavily. He might as well go through the mail.
The first letter was from a senior citizen over on Elmwood lane who felt the need to weigh in on the current funding problems with the library revitalization effort. This was a popular topic, but one that he really could not be held accountable for.
The prior mayor had embezzled almost a quarter million dollars out of library project before he disappeared. He wondered how much of it was used to purchase cigars. Perhaps the only thing left of the library fund was the persistent scent that lent the room some illusion of authority.
He folded the letter back into the envelope and added it to the pile of letters that needed replies.
The second letter had no return address. The paper looked yellowed and brittle. He flipped it over and noticed that the stamps seemed unusual, perhaps even foreign. It looked to have been addressed in ink, perhaps by a woman if the flowing curls on each cursive letter were any indication, but rather than an exact address, it simply read, ‘Mister Mayor’.