Robin led the newly arrived farmer to their inherited home. “Well, here we are!”
The amount of overgrowth was staggering. Even more shocking was that someone came out of the house to greet them.
“Hi, I'm Mayor Lewis! You can call me Mayor. Or, Lewis! Or, Mayor Lewis! It really doesn't matter.”
The farmer stared belligerently. “Don't just walk out of my house and invite me in like it's yours.”
“Come on in!” said Lewis-Mayor-Lewis.
After a brief tour of the house they all stood outside again to gaze upon it all.
Robin turned to Farmer. “So your last name is Farmer? Like your grandad?”
“Yeah. Eerily fitting, right?”
“Must be fate,” offered Lewis.
“Must be a family trade.” Farmer sighed. Neither destiny nor blood made the sight less daunting.
“Guess I'll leave you to it, then.” Robin patted Farmer on the back. “Good luck! Oh, and uh, if you need any repairs done, just give me a holler when you've collected enough wood. I'm sure you'll have plenty in no time. Take it easy!” She headed home.
The mayor turned to the farmer. “Even if you can't make it into town on time to sell your goods, you can still put them in this box here and I'll come around at night and haul it away for you.”
“I don't want you snooping around my house at night, you creepy old man.” Farmer wondered if everyone would be like this guy.
“Sounds great. Well, I'll be seeing you!” Mayor Lewis turned and left with a cheerful wave.
Farmer wasn't sure if that was a threat. “Not if I see you first!” They looked on as Lewis disappeared through the wooded path. Still not sure. Oh well.
Farmer turned back to the verdant farm. “Dang.”
A few days later Farmer walked to town to get some seeds. At Pierre's shop there was an unfamiliar villager.
“Hi, I don't think we've met… oh. You again.” The farmer’s smile deflated.
“Good to see you, Farmer!” Mayor Lewis beamed. “How're things going on the farm?”
“Good. Getting seeds now.”
“Don't forget to put anything you harvest into that box by your house. I check it every night.”
The farmer walked away.
After about three weeks of living in the valley the farmer knew pretty much everyone at least a little. One morning, on the way to the library from Marnie's ranch, Farmer spotted Penny sitting under a tree reading a book. They decided to stop by and give her a flower. Poor Penny, they thought. She's so sad.
“Hi, Penny! I brought you a flowe--- woah, what the hell?” Farmer stepped back and tripped on a rock.
It was not Penny.
“I've been mayor for twenty years now…” The wig drooped to the side a little.
“What does that have to do with it?”
“No time for a family.” Lewis just stared off into the middle distance. “Wonder if it was worth it…”
Never mind where he got the wig, did he steal Penny's clothes? If he wanted to wear a dress why didn't he just go get his own? Farmer looked around quickly. Where was Penny anyway?
Lewis’s gaze rested on Farmer sternly. “You should go take Penny that flower, kid. She called in sick today.”
“Yep. Means I've gotta make the rounds for her. Sitting under trees. Following kids around. Those dishes in that trailer aren't going to wash themselves, you know. Pam won't do ’em.” He sighed. “That girl is too industrious. Why can't her routine be more like her mother's? Later today I'm going to have a heart to heart with Maru between the saloon and the graveyard. Busy, busy.”
“I think Maru would understand if you wanted to cancel until Penny recovered. I'm sure it'll be weird for her too.”
“Nope. Can't do that. Gotta keep order in the valley and this is the only way to do it. I told you I had no time for a family. This is why. I love my work.” Lewis thought for a minute. “What do you mean weird?”
“I've gotta go take this flower over to Penny.” Farmer started to leave but stopped and turned back. “Here. Since you're also Penny today, I'll give you one too.” Farmer handed the mayor a daffodil.
“Thanks, this looks nice.” Lewis took it and smiled. “Word of advice: give her a dandelion if you've got one. She likes those more.”
“She likes weeds more than flowers?”
“I'm not a mind reader, kid.”
“Fair enough. See ya ‘round, Mayor.”