Political movements in Deerton had a way of being triggered by the oddest occurrences. There was the time Angus McPherson took his S-10 through the Deerton Wash & Wax without removing his rod and tackle from the bed, for example. The gear had been plucked out by the washer arm and tangled in it, so the next three cars through the wash were scratched and pummeled by whirling hooks and sticks. The Wash & Wax’s owner refused to pay damages, and her husband was the mayor; before long the entire administration was swept out of office.

The turmoil of ’05 began when a ram escaped from Casey Winterburn’s goat farm on US 313 and made its way into the Mountaintop and Pinewood apartment complexes. Both were cul-de-sacs surrounded by drainage ditches, leaving the animal with no way out, and were peopled by commuter students from Osborn University. Most of the students were out-of-staters or from one of the big east state cities–not the sort to take meeting a ram in social settings well.

At the time, Tecumseh County Animal Control was run by Mayor Routon’s brother-in-law. They received dozens of calls from Mountaintop and Pinewood, some from panicked big-city folk who’d barricaded themselves inside, but took their sweet time responding. TCAC claimed overwork at the time; scuttlebutt later had it that the truck was being used to move furniture between houses and wasn’t dispatched until that task was done. Even then, the situation was handled in a way guaranteed to provoke the complex residents: rather than using a tranquilizer (which would have cost $10 per shot), the TCAC used a .22 caliber rifle and took three shots to down the ram. Residents emerging afterward found bullet marks in the wood exteriors of their buildings.

The mayor refused to force TCAC to issue an apology, despite the fact that Casey Winterburn had made the rounds the next day doing just that. And the stage was set for confrontation.

The new mayor was a godsend for Grimes: heavily freckled, red hair fading to white, ears that stuck out just a bit, and the beginnings of jowls at his cheeks. Nobody could argue that Mayor Grayling wasn’t a handsome man, but in the eye of a seasoned caricaturist, those features were ripe to be pushed out of whack.

Grimes doodled at his easel while looking at an 8×10 glossy of the man. He began with the shape of the head: a Nixonesque pear was perfect, and was added in light pencil. He fleshed out the cheeks next, bloating the slight flabbiness of Grayling’s jaws into jowls of epic proportions that wouldn’t be out of place on a mastiff. The mayor’s ears were stretched into outrageous satellite dishes ready to receive broadcasts from the Viking landers on Mars. Brisk charcoal strokes placed the mayor’s modest hairdo atop the pear and turned it into a grizzled and crosshatched mop. A dash of red from a Copic would be added later for the full color Sunday edition.

But it was those freckles which really interested Grimes. He drew a group of outlines next to the main sketch, testing different patterns and colors of freckles. It was a delicate balance: too many and too large meant Grayling looked like a spotted Martian; too few and too small meant there was nothing funny about it. Soon Grimes hit on a good balance, but one of his freckle studies intrigued him: in it, he’d used the freckles to spell out the phrase “politics as usual,” an inversion of Grayling’s campaign slogan.

“That’s a keeper,” Grimes chuckled. He added the freckle-slogan to the main caricature and leaned back, admiring his handiwork.