In a garish courthouse office stinking of cigar smoke and loaded with cheap golf trophies, Republican Trump confidant and Lackawanna County President Judge Stanley “Stash” Dombroski opened former Scranton Mayor Harry Davies’ letter.
The judge quickly read the contents then nervously picked up the phone.
A woman answered.
White House switchboard, how may I help you?
Over in the Hill Section of Scranton, Casey Weatherhogg sat stoned on the couch beside his mother, Mabel. They watched CNN in silence as pro-Trump rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.
Casey stood and did some impromptu yoga postures before heading to the kitchen for some carrot sticks.
Want your medical marijuana, Ma?
And two beers, honey, Mabel said.
In West Side, Earl Schmidt, self-proclaimed pastor of the new Cathedral of the Eternal Donald, brandished a loaded AR-15 and pointed the rifle at the TV. A man wearing a blood red flag emblazoned with the name TRUMP and tied around his neck rappelled down the side of the U.S. Senate press gallery. He landed on a 200-year-old mahogany desk with a thud.
We got your back, brother, Schmidt said.
About 71 miles south on Interstate 81, behind the gate of a penitentiary near Frackville, former Scranton Mayor Harry Davies went to work at the prison carwash. With two clean wipe-down rags stuck in his back pockets of his matching khaki pants and shirt, he stood waiting for other inmates to do the soap and water wash before stepping forward to help dry the car. Strictly against the rules, of course, inmates washed the cars of certain VIP guards and other prison officers for free.
A black 1985 Cadillac with a “Scranton (heart) Biden” bumper sticker immediately caught the mayor’s eye. Harry Davies didn’t know who owned the car but nobody other than a full-blown Scranton yahoo would put a Biden bumper sticker on his car and drive it to work at a prison where you’d be asking for trouble because most staff and inmates hated Biden.
Strange as it sounds, the guards simply turned over employees’ car keys to the inmate cleaning crew. The inmates returned the keys when they finished because inmates usually obey the law in prison. Harry Davies used the Caddy’s key to pop the trunk, inserted the key back in the ignition, crawled inside and pulled the lid closed behind him. After pushing aside two cases of Keystone beer and a 12-pack of beef jerky, the mayor settled in for his ride to freedom.
Ten minutes later he felt the car move, then stop, parked in an adjacent lot to wait for the vehicle owner’s shift to end as he or she heads back home, presumably to Scranton. After a nap, Mayor Davies awakened to the sound of the driver gunning the engine. At first he thought he’d suffocate from the thick fumes swirling around his head burning his eyes, choking and gagging him. Then he realized he wasn’t inhaling most of the noxious exhaust because the toxic vapor was getting sucked out the rust holes in the big boat’s undercarriage. Mayor Davies popped his first beer and stretched out to enjoy the ride.
Looking forward to two days off, Gino wanted nothing more than peace. At about 4 p.m. on the second day, Gino headed to the Caddy’s trunk for more beer. Screaming before the lid fully opened, Gino jumped back, assuming a fighting stance like in the Kung Fu movies. Whatever wild beast found its way into the trunk now found its way out. Reeking of stale beer and strong urine, the creature struggled to sling one leg over the fender and roll out, knocking over empty beer cans and spilling pale yellow liquid on the garage floor. Gamey, with spicy dried meat on his breath, Harry Davies rose slowly in a living version of the evolutionary chart showing man’s upward climb to civilization.
Screaming now in recognition, Gino tried not to pass out.
You’re him, you’re him, you’re the mayor.
Harry Davies looked worse than the beef jerky.
I’m calling the cops, Gino said.
I wouldn’t if I was you, the mayor said.
Gino lowered his voice.
What do you want?
I beg your pardon.
I said what do you have in mind?
Exasperated, Gino raised his voice.
No, no, said the mayor, stop repeating yourself. I’m talking about a real pardon, a presidential pardon.
Stunned, Gino stood trembling with his heart pounding like a Led Zeppelin song in his throat.
Give me your phone, Mayor Davies said.
Who you calling?
Judge Dombroski, the mayor said.
Trump’s golfing buddy?
A grizzled Harry Davies snickered.
They’ll love me at Mar-a-Lago, he said.