The King is gone

And sometimes Jim Bennett felt like a monarchistic ruler, didn’t he? A bejeweled king reigning over the Kingdom of Lewiston from the Palace at City Hall. His is a name that will be remembered in the annals of local history, not like one of those obscure kings who laid low, closed the dungeons and hardly did any feasting at all.

Bennett changed the landscape of the city, tearing down crumbling tenements and purifying neighborhoods that were once seeped in evil. He blew spiders and bats from the old mills and chased the rats away. He held his friends close and his enemies closer and kept jesters on the payroll. The classic stuff of kings.

My own feelings about his ouster are less political than those of others. For years, Bennett’s ambitions were in direct opposition to my own. I wanted to write about crack dealers and the plague of problems that come with them. He wanted to ease the minds of the minions by keeping them in the dark about villains that walk among them. Crack? What crack? He wanted to bring down tall buildings and let light into the kingdom, I wanted it to remain in shadow.

Is it ironic that the very day after Bennett left the kingdom, one of the city’s most storied buildings went up in flames? Or is it a sign that the true nature of the city will return in his absence?

We were like comic book foes, King Bennett and I. Now I’m here and he’s gone, into transition with a fat buyout settlement while I keep doing the same thing in the same place for the same wage. The Joker without a Batman. Darth Vader without Skywalker. Some skinny guy hanging in the dungeon with no king to pardon him or order up an execution.

You get my meaning. The king is gone and I don’t feel so good myself.

Rev. Doug Taylor versus Evil

Our local Czar of Censorship is back to do battle with Harry Potter and the teachings of witchery. I respect Taylor’s commitment to trashing books he deems dangerous to the minds of our children, but I also live in fear a bit. I live in fear because sooner or later, the good reverend will discover one of my own novels, “The Pink Room,” which is filled with blasphemy of all kinds and which, in a recent promotional strategy, I’ve decided to market directly to 10-year-olds. Do you know what the Doug Taylor treatment of “The Pink Room” could mean for my book? That’s right. The national publicity would be just awful. I pray Taylor doesn’t get wind of it. 

Cowan Mill fire non-suspect at large

There is a local kid named Ernie who has been in his share of small-time trouble in the area. Nice kid, a little on the mischievous side. I saw him less than an hour after the start of the Cowan Mill fire Wednesday afternoon. He was walking a dog and he stopped when he saw me. “Hey, I had nothing to do with this one,” he said with some wonder and delight. “Tell them that for me, would you?”

Dear police: Ernie appeared completely free of ash, soot or other incriminating contaminates in the minutes after the devastating fire. He’s clean, boys. For once, you might be able to scratch our friend Ernie off a list of suspects. 

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