Chapter XX, Death Of A Grasshopper

When Nancy Barakat Vaughan arrived at her home it was as if the entire city had been told about what was going on before she had been called. Police were directing traffic on Cone Boulevard as reporters, bloggers and hundreds of people came to see what had been found at the Mayor's house. As the Mayor and her police escort made their way through traffic she thought about how the local bloggers had deemed her the "Grasshopper" and wondered why they hated her so. She just couldn't understand, she tried so hard to please everyone.

Still, she had to remain in charge. Greensboro had been failing since long before she came to power, it couldn't be her fault, she didn't even live in Greensboro when the textile mills and tobacco industry upon which the city was built began to crumble-- how could people blame her? Besides, between her time as Mayor, city councilwoman and her seat on the airport board she had resided over more economic development money than anyone ever in Greensboro politics-- was it her fault that none of it seemed to trickle down to the bottom? All she ever wanted to do was keep things in control.

When they finally got to her home she looked to see a familiar old Dodge pick-up truck parked across the street. On its side was painted the following:

“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” John F Kennedy"

"Get him out of here," Nancy ordered. "Get him out of here right now."

"Yes Ma'am," the officer replied. "Right away, Ma'am."

As officers went to carry out her orders Greensboro Police Chief  Wayne Scott met the Mayor and escorted her to the back yard. All the while reporters, photographers, bloggers and bystanders stood in the distance snapping photographs. "What's going on?" the mayor asked.

"We've found the source of the water poisoning," Chief Scott answered.

"In my back yard?" Nancy asked.

"Under your house," the Chief said pointing to the open crawl space.

As onlookers watched and photographed the entire event police and workers from water resources removed a pump and a tank filled with poison that had been hidden under the mayor's house and plumbed into her water lines. When turned on it operated at high enough pressures to pump its contents into the water mains and on down the street where it would be distributed throughout much of New Irving Park making the water there unsafe to drink.

As the Mayor had been living in a hotel for months she never knew the pump was there. It could even have been refilled and she would have never known about it.

Other pump and tank assemblies had been found in properties belonging to other city council members and prominent Greensboro citizens and because so many houses were now abandoned there was really no way of knowing how many more there might be that might not yet be put to use. "How can we stop this?" Mayor Vaughan asked.

"We can spend the rest of our lives tracking these things down," Chief Scott said, "or we can order the immediate disconnection of every empty home and building connected to city water."

"What will that take?" the Mayor asked.

"Well I talked to water resources and the only way to make it foolproof is to dig up every water meter on every abandoned property." The Chief replied.

"What will it cost?" Nancy asked.

"The city doesn't have that much money," Chief Scott complained, "nowhere near that much money."

"So I guess Greensboro isn't a city anymore," Nancy said.

"And you're not a mayor," Scott said.

Nancy Vaughan looked at her smart phone. Already all over Facebook, Twitter and the local blogs people were accusing her and the City Council of having poisoned Greensboro's finest neighborhoods. Even her most loyal supporters were angry. The war was over for Greensboro and Greensboro had lost. But what had started here was still spreading throughout the rest of the nation because leaders everywhere refused to listen while there was still time to make a difference.