The next afternoon, Barkus gave his presentation to the Council. And while he spoke, Barkus watched the Council with an experienced eye. He noticed which ones were making notes, which ones were comparing Sheryl's design to current pictures of the square and which ones had sat back with arms crossed and were watching him. Annie spent as much time watching the faces of the Council as she did the presentation. Barkus watched the reactions and modulated his talk as he went, emphasising cost-effectiveness here, convenience there, the beauty of nature here and public concerts there. He needed them to get on board with this so he could build the damn thing and get the hell out. Get back to his normal life.
'In short, ladies and gentlemen I present to you a design which is a prudent investment into the future of your town,' he finished. Annie leaned forward.
'Thank you Mr. Barkus for that interesting presentation,' she said, then turned to look down the table. 'Questions for Mr. Barkus?'
'I want to know what Paul's opinion of this is,' said a red-faced man sullenly, Richard, Barkus remembered. 'Has anyone asked him?'
'He's not back for another week,' a woman with a butterfly scarf said coldly, Barkus thought she was called Brenda. 'Are you proposing we put this off until he gets back? That mess his truck left.' Brenda motioned irritably at Barkus. 'Is right in front of my shop. It looks awful, I dont want to leave the decision for another week, I want it fixed.'
'I agree with Dick,' said a sharp-faced woman. Alice possibly? Barkus hazarded. Or Miriam? 'I think we should wait and see what Paul thinks, he's the one with experience.'
Barkus looked at Annie as the hubbub rose between the camps. She nodded, very slightly.
'I would like to know exactly who this Paul is and just what his "experience" is,' Barkus said clearly. Not shouting but in a tone and with a depth that had cut through building sites. The arguing councillors subsided and turned back to him. 'If he's the one with experience here.' Richard frowned.