“It looks like a pipe organ.” Dave poked the blueprint.
Roderick Byre smiled weakly, wiping his brow. Then he spoke with renewed enthusiasm.
“The herculean form draws the eye, yes? The scale invests the proceedings with a gravitas a hatbox cannot muster.”
Dave looked up with a playful glint. “Now now, Roderick. It’s not the size of the ballot box that counts. It’s how you use it.”
Roderick coughed past the innuendo. “Indeed. It’s how this device operates that gives the election strength. This election begins a new Gomorra, born not just from strength of will, but from strength of community. Community needs trust. Trust needs accuracy. Why, there was a scandal not three months ago where fraudulent paper bought illegitimate power.”
Dave nodded. “Up in Goodwill. Fella named Chad. Heard they hung him.”
“Justice for those who deceive the people,” Roderick replied gravely. He pointed to his blueprint. “This cannot lie. It brings the clarity of science to politics.” He waved a flourish at the street. “Imagine! Each citizen receives a numbered token. They approach the machine and deposit it. Both buttons bear a candidate’s name. They make their choice. A bell rings, sounding another step toward Utopia. The display clearly shows the people’s choice. No smoke-filled rooms, no hidden deals. The coppery smell is not filthy lucre. It is science bent to human will!”
Dave looked across the street. He tried to imagine the majestic scene. He only saw that more horse traffic demanded more street cleaning. But still – this pipe organ might silence catcalls of cheating. Dave turned to Byre.
“A lot to build. Election’s not that far away.”
Byre smiled widely, seeing the home stretch.
“Most parts are already assembled. I await only your approval to begin final construction. Temporary laborers will ensure that the machine is complete before election day.”
Dave’s eyebrows raised. “Parts? Workers? You a millionaire, Mister Byre?”
Roderick put a hand up in modest denial. “I would not dream of taking the profits of science for myself. I have great dreams, but modest means. The laborers were hired by Mr. Hamid. And with… persuading,” and Byre absently scratched his head, “I convinced fellow scientists to contribute materials in trade for engraving their names on the device or contributory credit in scientific journals. Good people want to help. The right frame of mind lifts spiritual hopes above material needs.”
Dave wondered if the street was the only place where horse apples were piling up. Dave had known many scientists. Those birds eventually came calling with their real prices. But this machine did promise a clean election – and the mayor would have far worse problems than the open palms of a few inventors.
Dave reached for Roderick’s hand. Byre accepted gratefully. “Your device has the support of the Sheriff’s Office, Mr. Byre. I cannot officially endorse you, of course. I’ll cast my vote just like everyone else.”
Byre nodded. “Of course, Sheriff.”
One victory at a time.