Sheriff Ardern rolled up the sleeves of her $725 dress crafted in a luxe viscose silk dobby and adorned with a striking signature print that her team of highly paid deputies said would relate to the ordinary folks, and stared out from her office window on to the main street of Dodge.
She loved Dodge. And the good people of Dodge loved her right back – but things were changing. It was as though a different mood rolled through the frontier town like the tumbleweeds rolling down the empty main street. She could sense it. It wasn’t anything she could put her finger on or give a name to but it was there.
A crowd gathered beneath her window and waved at her. She smiled back, and opened her window.
“Git,” they yelled at her. “Go on, git. Git outta town. You ain’t nothing but bad news.”
She closed her window. Something seemed to be bothering them, she thought, but who could say what it was?
The sound of mooing cows woke Sheriff Ardern from a pleasant dream where she walked next to God and blessed the poor with cost-of-living payments.
The mooing brought her back to her childhood in the flatlands. It was good farming country, where fog rolled down the river and salts of the earth ran beef and lamb.
But the planet had warmed, and cattle polluted the air with methane. There was only one thing that would put it to rights: a tax.
She opened her window and spoke to a delegation of farmers who had brought their herds to Dodge. “I have good news!” she said, with a merry laugh. “No other country in the world has yet developed a system for pricing and reducing agricultural emissions, so you farmers are set to benefit from being first movers!”
It was hard to tell what the salts of the earth said to her in response - the mooing was very loud, there was a lot of shouting - but it probably wasn’t a particularly important message. She closed the window.
“Bring me,” Sheriff Ardern told her highly paid posse of deputies, consultants, strategists, quislings, auxiliaries, advisors, aides, adjutants and acolytes, “the head of Gaurav Sharma!”
Much to her surprise, Sharma walked into her office and took off his own head.
“I don’t make much use of it,” he explained, and then walked out into main street of Dodge and fell over, twitching.
Sheriff Ardern heard word that Big Bad Baldy Luxon and his cronies were holding a town meeting in the saloon.
Baldy was running for the Sheriff’s office. Word was he had a pretty good chance of winning. She couldn’t for the life of her understand his appeal. Baldy had no fresh ideas to offer. His cronies were miscreants.
She disguised herself and slipped into the saloon to see for herself.
“Glass of rotgut,” she said to the barman.
“It’s on the house,” he said.
“Oh,” she smiled, “did you recognise me?”
“What? Baldy’s shouting everyone,” he said.
Baldy caught her eye. She raised her glass. “Damn,” she thought. “He’s good. He’s really good.”
“I need to be seen someplace,” Sheriff Ardern instructed her posse of highly paid deputies, spin-doctors, policy-makers, tacticians, schemers, plotters, grifters, bag-men, middle-men, yes-men, connivers, cabalists and co-conspirators, “that ordinary folks can relate to.”
They booked her a flight to Antarctica.