Thrill Me

By: Susan Mallery


MAYA FARLOW TOLD herself there was a perfectly good explanation for the mayor of Fool’s Gold to have a picture of a man’s naked butt on her computer screen. At least she really hoped there was. She’d always liked Mayor Marsha and didn’t want to find out something more than a little icky about the woman who was now her boss.

Mayor Marsha sighed heavily and pointed to the screen. “You’re not going to believe this,” she said, and tapped a key. The picture moved as the video played and the audio started up.

“The contest closes on Friday at noon. Text your guess to this number.”

Maya stared at the computer. When the picture stopped again, she studied the phone number on-screen, the seventy-something female host frozen midgesture and the picture of the naked butt behind her. The naked, male butt, Maya corrected mentally, not sure the gender mattered as much as the nakedness.

“Okay,” Maya said slowly, knowing that she would be expected to say something else. Possibly something, you know, intelligent. But honestly, she couldn’t think of what that could be. How on earth was she supposed to make an old lady in a tracksuit talking about a naked butt contest make sense? Of course, that was a much happier concern than finding out Mayor Marsha watched porn.

Mayor Marsha pushed a couple of buttons on her computer and the image disappeared. “You can see the problem we’re having with Eddie and Gladys’s cable access show.”

“Too many naked butts?” Maya asked before she could help herself. Stating the obvious was never helpful, but what on earth else was there to say?

Mayor Marsha Tilson was California’s longest serving mayor. She looked exactly as she had twelve years ago when Maya had been a nervous sixteen-year-old, moving to a strange little town and hoping to fit in. The mayor still wore classically tailored suits and elegant pearls. Her white hair had been swept up in a tidy chignon. As a teenager, Maya hadn’t known what to make of the mayor. Today, she thought the other woman was someone to be admired. Mayor Marsha ran her town with a firm but fair hand. Even more important to Maya, the mayor had offered her a job right when Maya had known she had to make a change in her life.

So here she was, the shiny new communications director for Fool’s Gold, California. And the old lady with the naked butt contest was apparently now her problem.

“Eddie and Gladys have always been colorful,” Mayor Marsha said with a sigh. “I admire their zest for life.”

“And interest in younger men,” Maya murmured.

“You have no idea. Their cable access show is extremely popular with locals and tourists alike, but we’ve been getting some emails and phone calls about some of the content.”

“You need me to rein them in.”

“I’m not sure if that’s possible, but yes. We don’t want to have to deal with the FCC. I know two of the commissioners and I don’t want to be fielding calls from friends in high places, so to speak.” The older woman shuddered. “Or explain what on earth is going on in this town.”

After seeing a clip of the show, Maya would have guessed there was nothing anyone could say for the rest of the day that would surprise her more than a woman pushing eighty showing a naked butt on television and inviting viewers to text in their guess on which famous local celebrity it might be. Maya would have been wrong. Mayor Marsha personally knowing an FCC commissioner or two beat naked butts hands down.

So to speak.

She made a few more notes on her tablet. “Okay. I’ll talk to Eddie and Gladys and explain about the indecency restrictions for broadcast shows.”

She had a good idea what the requirements were but would have to look up the specifics. She had a feeling the TV duo were not the types to be intimidated by vague rumblings of FCC rules. She would have to go into the discussion armed.