By an amazing coincidence, they were the only two people in the Florida International Museum in downtown St. Petersburg that day. When they saw each other the place was filled with awkward silence (that is, more than usual).
"Bill?" said David Fischer.
"David?" said Bill Klein.
"What a coincidence," Fischer said. "What are you doing here?"
"I needed a quiet place to think about this mayor's race," Klein said.
"Me, too," Fischer nodded. "I've been trying to figure out whether I should be worried about you."
Klein snorted. "You, worried? I'm the guy who should be worried. That poll in the newspaper had you up 10 points."
"Don't give me that," Fischer said. "Everybody knows that you've got more support than the poll says. People don't want to say they're for you."
"That's funny," Klein said, "people seem pretty willing to say to ME they're for me. What are you implying?"
"You'd know perfectly well, if you ever stayed in town," Fischer said. Klein glowered. "A lot of the people for you now were for Curtsinger back in "
"There you go again," Klein said. "You just can't wait to call me the C-word, can you?"
"I didn't say you were Curtsinger," Fischer replied mildly. "I just noted that a lot of his supporters are for you."
"You think they were gonna vote for YOU instead?" Klein shot back. "You keep wanting to cast me as the next Dennis McDonald or Curt Curtsinger, like the city's gonna fall in the Gulf if I win."
Fischer chewed his lip and looked down. Klein pretended to study a statue of some Macedonian guy.
After a minute or so Klein asked: "So, how do you think it's going?"
Fischer looked around nervously. "Just between us?"
"Off the record," Klein said.
"Okay. No offense, but I think you're a real upstart. What really gripes me is that I do an all-right job for six years and I don't get credit. Taxes down. Graffiti down. Got baseball. Target store at Gateway. This race ought to be a cakewalk and it isn't."
"Is it possible," Klein retorted, "that the voters simply like me better?"
"No," Fischer said firmly. "It is NOT possible, because they do not know who you are. What I don't get is why they're so willing to throw me over."
"I have an idea why," Klein said. "No offense, but you have the campaign personality of a dishrag. You can cite statistics all day and that isn't what fires people up. They need a leader."
"I am SO sick of hearing that," Fischer whined. "I mean, hath not a Dave eyes? Don't I have a heart? Don't I have feelings? You think I like everybody calling me a weenie?"
"I wouldn't know WHAT you feel," Klein said, "which is exactly my point."
Fischer scowled. "So, how do YOU think it's going?"
"I'm going to win," Klein insisted. "Two-thirds of the people voted against you in the primary. You're weak. Look how divided this city is."
"I disagree," Fischer said. "That divided-city stuff is overblown. You know perfectly well that in at least 30 precincts, you beat me by fewer than 50 votes in the primary. This isn't 1993."
"Maybe not," Klein said, "but there are the Curran votes . . ."
"I get my share of Curran votes after her endorsement," Fischer said. "Her votes aren't the "throw-the-bums-out' crowd, like yours, or like . . ."
"Don't say Curtsinger's," Klein warned. "Okay, here's what I think. I think the only thing that will save your scrawny neck is the turnout in the predominantly black precincts."
"That's a key," Fischer agreed. "I'm ahead 57-16 among black voters. But don't forget the undecideds. They could swing the race . . ."
"Either way?" Klein finished the thought. "Jeez, Dave, are you practicing to be a political reporter?"
Fischer grinned and intoned: "As for the outcome of this election, only time will tell." Even Klein had to laugh.