Love and Death at the Town Manager’s House


“Honey, I’m home!”

“Yeah? Fine.”

“Frank! What’s wrong?”

“ Oh, sure. Act like you don’t know.”

“My gosh, Frank. Did you drink all these bottles of wine? What in the world is wrong?”

“I saw the news.”

“What news?”

“Your new contract. Thank you very much.”

“My new contract! I thought you’d be pleased! Three more years, and a pay raise.”

“Yeah, nice.”

“Frank, please. What — will you please stop drinking from the bottle?”

“Ten days! That’s what’s wrong!”

“Ten days? What are you talking about?”

“You get ten days off — with full pay — when I die!”

“So what?”

“You negotiated for my death!?

“That’s a standard clause, honey.”

“Ten days! You get 15 days to be sick — but only 10 if I croak! I married you, Robin! I pledged you my life!

“Frank, please.”

“I bought a boat for you! I took dancing lessons for you!”

“Actually, the boat was for you.”

“Whatever! The Town of Ipswich is reimbursing you $2,500 for health insurance costs — while you count down the days till I keel over.”

“That’s not how it is, sweetie.”

“Don’t ‘sweetie’ me. I can read the fine print just as well as anybody. You get 25 vacation days a year — and they carry over. Three personal days — but they don’t carry over. What about those 10 bereavement days after you stick my cold, dead body in the ground? If you remarry by the end of the year, do they carry over?

“Frank, you’re hysterical. It’s just a contract.”

“I think I’m having chest pain.”

“Frank, come on.”

“My vision is getting blurry!”

“Stop it, Frank.”

“I’s comin’ home, Jesus! I’s comin’ home!”

“Frank, get a grip. You’re Catholic.”

“What’s a marriage worth these days? Ten days, apparently.”

“Frank! Chill! Aren’t you happy about the pay raise?”

“Oh! A pay raise! I hadn’t noticed. Was there a pay raise?”

“Yes. And they’ll adjust it every year for cost of living, just like other Town employees. The selectmen are also going to review my pay every year to see how it lines up with managers in other towns like ours.”

“Oh, good. I’m glad. You should do quite well. I hear the guy in charge of Saugus gets a bonus if his wife dies quickly and painlessly.”

“Frank, that’s not funny.”

“You realize, if you carry this year’s vacation days into next year, you could bump me off, speed through the funeral, take your 10 days, plus 25 vacation days from the year before, and 25 from the current year, then your three personal days — then call in sick 15 days in a row — 78 days off! At full pay! You could take the boat to Florida in that amount of time!”

“That’s enough, Frank.”

“Don’t even think about me, darling. I’ll be in a better place. Besides, you’ll probably meet someone nice in Fort Lauderdale. Some rich Protestant, maybe — someone worth negotiating 20 bereavement days for next time!”

“OK, Frank, I love you, but you’ve got to stop now. I mean it. Stop right now. Or else.”

“Or else what?”

“Or else I’m going to kill you.”


“Shut up. Come here. Gimme a hug.”


“Nobody’s going to die, baby.”

“You sure?”

“Not to get ten lousy days, that’s for sure.”

“Robin, I love you.”

“Atta boy.”

Doug Brendel operates the Town Manager Fan Club from his home on outer Linebrook. Get all his columns by following this blog.


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