I performed my weekly routine, checking in by phone with the individual council members. Somehow, in the course of the conversation, the councilman commented that he always checks his rearview mirror and never goes home exactly the same way: “Can’t be too careful, you know.”

I remembered that a couple of his council colleagues had quietly passed the word and boycotted him out of his modest, post-retirement business after he started challenging how things worked in the class-divided community.

Given the local politics, he advised me to be cautious, to always slightly change driving routes to work. His advice unsettled me because he was a strong, outspoken supporter of mine, and he had been a former military officer–no nervous nellie. There was no intent to make me nervous, just a helpful hint.

Talking to another member of council the same afternoon, another City Manager supporter, I mentioned the advice I had received, still slightly disbelieving.

She not only endorsed his advice but elaborated. She counseled that the going rate for a contract on someone was ten thousand dollars around there and that I should be careful. Because of our geographical location, that activity was not unheard of.

I was unnerved. Although I didn’t feel immediate danger, I did call my brother-in-law back in Washington and told him what was going on. He had past connections with the Justice Department and other folks.

I didn’t want to be dramatic. I tried to make light of it but said that if something did happen to me, to have it checked out — for the sake of my wife and two small daughters.

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