Out in the road, the town fathers were engaged in an intense deviation from parliamentary procedure.
“You ignorant jackanape!” the Mayor bellowed as he removed his hat and slapped Merrick with it over and over again. “Do you realize what you’ve done?”
“Stop it, E.B.!” Merrick cried as he put his arms up to block the onslaught of blows. “This is abuse of the press!”
The Reverend had already excused himself to return to his street ministry. “Repent sinners! Repent!”
“I told you not to offer him that job!” the Mayor said.
“You’re not the boss of me,” Merrick said.
“That’s right,” the Mayor said. “None of us are the boss of anything. Did it ever occur to you that Al might have something to say about this?”
Merrick removed his eyeshade and scratched his head. “Shoot.”
“Yeah,” the Mayor said. “Shoot. Shoot all of us most likely. God damn it, Al’s going to shit a ten carat solid gold brick when he hears about what you’ve done.”
Merrick stood up straight and in a display of bravado, poked his chin high in the air. “Then let him. As a town council member I must appoint the best man for every job and no one in town is more qualified to be the sheriff than Bullock.”
The Mayor raised his hat up in the air. Merrick put his arms up over his face to block again. Upon seeing Merrick in such a pitiful state, the Mayor relented and put his hat back on his head.
“If there’s any wrath to be suffered on this, it’s all on you,” the Mayor said. “Don’t expect me to stand up for you.”
“Since when have you stood up for anything?” Merrick asked.
The Mayor’s face turned red. He gritted his teeth then forced himself to walk away rather than start slapping the newsman around again.
As usual, Doctor McGillicuddy was minding his own business.
“Doctor,” Merrick said. “Surely, you know I’m right.”
The doctor leaned on his cane. “All I know is that you have killed that man.”