A Final Vote ~ [2.6]
When Steve Robertson realized the room was ready to move on without further debate, he continued to the next phase of the proceedings. “As decreed in the rules of our committee, every person gets an individual vote. It’s up or down. No runoffs.”
With the vote finally on the horizon, the room woke up and exhaled.
“Now, we have an issue tonight with one of our members. You may have noticed, the honorable Mr. Haruki Schiento is not here. He is now bedridden. And as you know, our bi-laws dictate that all members get to vote on every principle decision unless or until they are removed by the committee. Tonight certainly qualifies as a principle decision. So, Michael Schiento has provided me with a sealed envelope containing the vote of his father.”
Robertson held up a meticulously hand-folded paper envelope with a wax seal. Imprinted into the turquoise wax was their family symbol.
Steve continued, “Having known Haruki Schiento for many years, I would also submit to the committee that the artistic folding of this note and the wax look the same as letters I’ve received for years– and recently. Others here can probably confirm this. But here’s where we’re at. We need a motion to proxy in this vote for Mr. Schiento.”
Doyle Abineau completes Steve’s thought on this. “Yuni is the only non-voter here, except for our guest. My only guidance would be that Yunipter is the appropriate proxy. And that the note may be authenticated at the request of any committee member.”
Sarra Bennit submits the motion, “I propose a motion to elect Yunipter Robertson as proxy for Mr. Haruki Schiento.”
Abineau presides, “Is there a secondary sponsor to the motion?”
Multiple sounds of “I second the motion” and “second” can be heard around the room. Abineau continued, “There are multiple sponsors to the motion. On a voice vote without prejudice, all who support the motion say ‘aye.’”
It’s loud enough to be definitive.
“All who decline the motion say ‘nay.’”
There are a few quiet voices sticking to contrarian positions. Most of them coming from near the city council group. They assume to know Haruki’s decision inside that paper, and they’re playing politics to suppress it. There seems no need to challenge the note’s authenticity.
“The motion is approved,” says Steve as he passes the sealed note to his daughter.
Robertson and Abineau moved to conduct the official vote on the matter at hand: to approve a secretive special operative raid on the gunkwick camp atop Mars Mountain. It’s an anonymous paper balloting process. Before leaving they will sign their names to the decision.
After three rounds and nine total reviews from three separate tallies, the result remains. A Dead. Excruciating. Tie.
FOURTEEN to FOURTEEN
Daeja Allen submits a motion to break the tie. “I propose a motion to designate Samuel Woodhouse as honorary voter to this proceeding.”
Abineau fills his responsibility with the expected question to the group, “is there a second petitioner to this motion?”
“I second the motion!” Steve said with definition.
The room erupted with controversy. Some city council members are complaining that Steve, as Chairman, doesn’t have the authority to second a motion. Some Ashurst brothers are yelling about his personal relationships and how he should recuse himself on the motion altogether.
The Singana son, Beto, stands up and wrangles the entire crowd with one big, “Que pasa!”
“What are we doing?! How else does anyone here propose we break this tie? Having TJ participate would be worse. He leads the special ops team. You don’t think that’s a conflict of interest?! We need a decision tonight!”
Beto then scowls, crosses his arms and pans the room. “I second the motion.”
The group takes a full roll call vote on the motion itself. Yunipter’s real-time tally shows on the holoscreen.
“The motion to elect Samuel Woodhouse to the committee as honorary voter for tonight’s proceeding is approved,” Steve confirms. “Now, it’s past four in the morning. Unless there’s another point of order on this, we aren’t going through another round of balloting again. So, Sam, give us your thumb. Up or down. What’s your vote here.”
For a moment Samuel Woodhouse convinced himself he wasn’t completely sure. He didn’t think it would be a tie vote. How did this become his responsibility? Mike and Doyle mentioned it weeks ago, joking about it as a remote possibility. But they thought Yuni would be called upon instead.
Nobody in this room had ever commissioned an execution. And now he is the sole executioner. The ‘commissioner.’ Dozens would die for his choice. He wonders how many would die either way. It felt like power. It made him want to puke.
He held out his fist, hesitated, and pointed his thumb to the ceiling.
Steve Robertson knew exactly how this whole night would play out… well before Sam stumbled into city hall looking late.
There will be no official record of this proceeding. All digital captures will be encrypted and stored offweb. After Sam’s vote they printed a document that was read aloud and signed by all members. It was a narrow and long paper with the text authorizing and describing the operation to take place on the subsequent new moon. There was a column of signatures for the yay votes, and a column of nays. After it was signed by everyone, Doyle Abineau retrieved the burning pan from the cabinet under the coffee maker. A few individuals spoke quietly with reflection. He held the paper while Steve Robertson lit an ancient zippo lighter. They touched its flame to a corner.
Watching it burn the room was finally silent, and calm.
After the last flame suffocated, Steve announced, “meeting adjourned.”
When the three Shientos arrived home in the early morning twilight, Mike’s wife Pam and his mother were on either side of him. Walking up from the drive, they split up where the stone path parted from the main way.
“Good night, mother Schiento,” Pam said with sweetness in her heart.
“I’ll help you around, mom,” Mike gave Pam’s hand a squeeze. She nodded back.
He helped his mom navigate the trail around the house to their large guest suite opposite the garage. It’s dark around the side yard. The raised stones could be dangerous at night, especially for someone her age. He meant to stake in some solar ground lights last week. It’s unlike Michael Schiento to not follow through on something like that.
“Mother, the sun is coming up soon. It was a long night. You were strong and wise. Just go to bed now. I’ll look in on dad.”
“Okay Mikey.” She whispered in reply.
“I’ll come back and check on you in a minute.”
He watched his frail mother retreat into her own quarters. When she closed the door to a crack, he walked over to his father’s study. They’d set up a comfortable bedded area on the ground for him in the corner, by his book shelf. It was his particular request to be among his own books and memories. Haruki Schiento was emphatic about being in his own personal space, and how it would bring him as much joy and hope possible while combating so much pain.
Michael took a deep breath and entered.
Three candles painted the room with a warm amber tint. The others had all gone out. Kneeling down beside the bedding, he then pulled the sheet down to uncover his father’s pale and colorless face, to see it once again.
As a tear rolled down his cheek Michael said, quietly broken, “everyone missed you tonight, dad. We’re all going to miss you, for ever.”
He blew out the three remaining candles. With the first one he saw the heavy light become soft. With the second he watched the dancing shadows become slow. With the third, he felt earth’s gravity lift into the darkness.
Mike Schiento left the lifeless room and silently closed the door. He went to wish his mother a good night, but she was already out. She'll sleep past lunch at this point. He’ll wait until late tomorrow to say anything to Pam or his mom. He’ll wait two days before telling anyone on the council.