Terry, the gigantic and rather overweight Persian, purred loudly in his lap.
He had had Terry for just a few months now, and he looked so resplendent in his jewel encrusted collar and cat show medal. Terry was so docile and house trained, unlike that last old moggy, he thought uncharitably. There had been times when he really had wanted to have her put down.
"I have achieved so much, and yet there is still much to do, Terry", the Chief mused, stroking the sleek old tom cat.
Down in the town below the Chief's legacy was everywhere to be seen. The shiny new shopping mall with its expensive boutiques; the new Alabama Fried Chicken All-You-Can-Eat Buffet; Pondos Chicken Wings and the Arkansas Ribshack; the flashing lights of "We Buy Any Gold" over in King Street; the brand-new Hallelujah True Gospel roller skating facility with its smart cocktail bar and casino....
Even at this early hour the town was coming to life. Over in the distance he could see members of Christian Voice protesting against the sins of sodomy and same-sex marriage, while a short distance away queues were already forming outside the Beacon of Hope Foodbank.
What had the Reverend Bonnett said last week? "Business is booming, Chief". And soon work would begin on the Mary-Lou Mercy Center, a branch of Oklahoma Gospel Ventures Inc. How exciting!
The problem was that there were just not enough shoppers to go around all of the retail delights and eateries, as the press office insisted on calling the fast food joints.
The Chief's gaze fell on some distant green fields and trees. Ah, the new Merylville where there would shortly be over a thousand new houses.
Picking up Terry, the Chief walked over to a huge table bearing a scale model of this exciting new development. There were the executive homes in Princess Camilla Place and Duchess of Cambridge Drive. Tucked away in a small corner were even a few homes for poor people in Palmer Avenue.
A discreet cough brought the Chief out of his reveries.
"What is it, Smithers?"
"Security found someone rummaging through the files down in the basement, Sir. Shall I show him in?"
A small man wearing half-moon spectacles and leather patches on his tweed jacket was presently ushered in.
"To what do we owe this honour?" asked the Chief.
"The name is Bond, Basildon Bond", came the reply, "and I am here auditing your accounts".
"Ah, Mr Bond, we have been expecting you", the Chief replied, stroking Terry.
"I regret that I have uncovered evidence of unlawful activity in this organisation", the bean counter continued, "and I have written a report which has already been published".
"Surely not, Mr Bond. Unlawful activity, you say? Smithers, what do you think?"
"I have asked Ms Klebb in the Information Office to draft a press release to deal with Mr Bond's, ahem, allegations, and she will be with us shortly", the ever-efficient factotum replied.
"Very good, Smithers", the Chief continued. "I think Mr Bond would enjoy a swim in our pool after all his hard work, don't you, Smithers?"
"You mean to say you have an undeclared executive swimming pool?" the accountant gasped.
"Indeed we do, Mr Bond, and the water has some positively tropical features", the Chief replied, thinking of Tiddles the gigantic bull shark which had dealt with so many prying busybodies in the past. "Show Mr Bond the way, Smithers, and tell Ms Klebb that I am ready for her."
Minutes later, Rosa Klebb appeared at the door in her starched uniform.
"Ah Rosa, do come in, but please retract those blades in your shoes before you walk on my beautiful Axminster. Now what have you got for me today?"
"Mein Kommandant, I heff prepared zis statement to deal viz ze vile accusations made by zis Bond character".
Did Ms Klebb really come from Llanelli as she claimed, the Chief wondered before picking up the sheet of A4 and reading aloud,
"The running dogs and lickspittles of the Audit Office have joined forces in a conspiracy with the Public Services Ombudsman, certain politicians, elements of the press and scurrilous vebloggers on the Interweb to produce a vile tissue of lies which besmirch our great and glorious name. There is not a scintilla of truth in this poisonous concoction of bile and perverted fantasy."
"Well, well, Ms Klebb, your English has certainly improved, although the wording needs a little refinement. And I believe that the term "vebloggers" is normally spelt with a 'w'."
The Chief read on.
"Laughable accusations have been made that unlawful activity has occurred on these premises. Anyone repeating these lies will find themselves
"In any case, we wish to make it clear that the Chief had no knowledge of these matters, was not present at the time, and has never taken part in any such meetings. Full responsibility for any unlawful activity lies squarely with elected representatives and junior staff, whose interests lie so close to the heart of the Chief."
"Ah Ms Klebb, your thoughts as always echo my own sentiments. Return to my office in half an hour when I have made a few small editorial adjustments."
Rosa Klebb goose stepped out of the Executive Suite, leaving the Chief to reflect that this was just another small crisis which could be ridden out like all the others. Yes, things really were not so bad.
The Chief's thoughts were interrupted by the sounds of a commotion down in the street.
He peered out of the window and saw a familiar red-haired figure brandishing a placard.
It was that bloody woman again, he thought, as he gazed upon the words painted in a garish blood red paint on a tatty piece of cardboard.
"The End is Nigh", he read, snapping the gold-plated biro which had been a generous gift from Camilla between his fingers.
By Sali Mali-Cachu
(With apologies to Sylvie Krin)