BY DOUG HAWLEY
This story first appeared in Literally Stories 4/20/2016. Copyright is held by the author.
CRAZY ED Mahoney went out the back door on Monday to urinate in his garden. He believed, incorrectly, that he was saving on his water bill. His neighbours had given up on changing his ways. After seeing him in the act a few times, they learned not to look in the direction of his backyard at 7am, 1pm and 4pm when Ed would urinate like clockwork. Whatever else was wrong with Ed, he had an excellent prostate.
Before Ed had gone ten feet, he hit something invisible and was knocked out. By the time he regained consciousness, most of Clinton Hills had learned of what became known as the Enclosure, which kept Clinton Hills isolated from the outside world, and the outside world out of Clinton Hills.
It was only by chance that no people or animals were injured by the Enclosure, but the Clitters, as local residents were known, panicked at the thought of running out of oxygen. Professor Higgins from their local community college estimated, based on the volume of the Enclosure, the number of residents and their degree of obesity, that the Clitters would suffocate on Ash Wednesday. When he delivered his calculations to the assembled Clitters, a voice from the audience yelled “Hey, big dome, haven’t you noticed the wind blowing through the walls of the Enclosure?”
Higgins thought “Oh shoot,” but said “I answered the question put to me — how long will we live if deprived of oxygen.” He left for his 3pm class at Clinton CC. The town later learned that not only could oxygen come through the membrane, it kept out pollution and the weather was always fine in the Enclosure.
Clitters were only relieved for a few minutes, but then troubled again. The assembled crowd mumbled for a few minutes, at least no one could tell what anyone else said because of all of the background noise, so you’d have to call it mumbling. Sick of the mumbling, a single voice boomed “Yeah, but what do we eat?”
Amid the lesser background noise, a few voices were heard:
“How the heck should I know?”
“The government will fix it.”
After an ensuing silence of 34 minutes another voice was heard “It just came to me. Obscure Surveys listed Clinton Hills as the number one town in several categories. We have the most complete agricultural mix of any city in the U.S. with under 25,000 people and the largest store of canned food by paranoid survivalists. I’ll bet that we can survive for as long as necessary the way we are set up.”
Voices from the multitude responded:
“You know I think that he’s right.”
“I’ve got the munchies now.”
“I’ve got an oversupply of zucchinis, broccoli and cauliflower.
“With our hops crop and our local micro Exterminator Stout, I’m not worried.”
Local car salesman, dope dealer and mayor Larry Large decided it was time to take over. “With those two worries taken care of, don’t worry about a thing. I’m in charge”
A stranger in town, Carroll Jenkins, listened, but did not speak. He commanded attention merely by his stoic countenance and his insistence that Carroll spelled as it was is a man’s name.
As the crowd dispersed, an attractive woman caught Carroll by the arm and said “You are too good looking to be from here. Who are you?”
“I’m just a man who came to see the world-famous Clinton Tower and happened to kill a man who wanted to steal my billfold while I was sleeping. Name is Carroll, but not spelled like a woman’s name.”
“Hi I’m Teri, spelled T-e-r-i. Did the guy you killed happen to have hair coloured like a skunk and favour Bermuda shorts?”
“It was probably my husband. No loss, he was a dick. Saves me a divorce. But since you cost me a husband, maybe you can do husband things for me.”
“Works for me.”
Many of the Clitters did not like the highhanded way that Larry Large led Clinton Hills after the Enclosure arrived. Larry knew that one thing that couldn’t be produced locally was petrol and he cleverly cornered the market on horses, and charged extravagant prices for them, which resembled the way he did business as a car dealer. His institution of red sock Thursday and banning Taco Tuesday further irritated town folks.
Most of the populace didn’t care because Larry did supply marijuana at reasonable rates and kept beer prices low.
Those that did object to Larry gathered around the handsome stranger Carroll. One thing that Carroll had in his favour was that Carroll started Orgy Wednesday. It was held at Town Hall and not only attracted enthusiastic participants, but the gallery was always full of observers cheering them on. The town physical therapist was kept busy.
The town was on the edge of a showdown between the Carroll and Larry forces when Larry and Carroll, the only owners of walkie-talkies, got a message.
“This is Senator Biggle. I’m happy to announce we have learned how to open the Enclosure. First a little background. The Enclosure idea was a joint effort of the Army, Monsanto and aliens from the planet Alpha Romeo. The trial Enclosure should have been five meters across in your town square, but Exterminator Stout was spilled on the work order and it was read as five kilometres. Our bad. Here is what you do. Mix up some window cleaner and Coca Cola and spray it where you want an exit. We can’t do it out here; it only works from the inside. Keep your walkies on, it is the only way we can contact you.”
Larry and Carroll called a truce to decide what to do. They imagined what it would mean to open the Enclosure.
“Federal, state and local taxes.”
“No more public orgies, or dope smoking in public.”
“Our out of town relatives can visit.”
Larry and Carroll turned off their walkies.