This column originally was published in the local ‘Bama newspaper on October 8, 2009.
“CC, I just don’t get it. Why are we having a pay raise at three in the morning on a Sunday?”
Councilman Cappuccino glared at the ventriloquist dummy seated next to him on the riding lawnmower. He had other bologna to barbecue at the moment.
Like: Where were all the little people?
And: Where was the Citizens Faux Accountability float?
He’d been promised a million taxpayer turnout, and now here it was, crunch time, and nothing – well, nothing except that strange woman dressed up like a male college professor, waving her (his?) “NO” sign at the drunkard sleeping on the sidewalk outside the deserted Luddite Bar and Grill and babbling about teabags.
“It’s a PARADE, not a pay raise. It’s a wonder I get anything undone around here.”
“Li’l Stevie, I already told you. Them people wouldn’t let us in their high-falutin’ parade last Saturday. True, the application was late, but the Englandites, the parade committee, the Democrats, the Republicans, them pergessives – they’re all against us, every single one of ‘em.”
“But CC, I thought we were Democrats, too. Isn’t that what it says on my yard signs? What are we, anyway? Are we Yeller Dogs?”
Cappuccino felt the clinch of his inner copperhead. “That’s BLUE Dogs, not yeller. Durn it, we’re more Democrat than all them people are. We’re so Democrat, we’re actually Republican.”
“Is that why we’re against everything, CC?”
Hmm, thought Cappuccino as he fondled his ceremonial toilet key. Maybe that IS it, after all.
“Let’s get this protest march … I mean, this parade … on the road.”
Cappuccino clambered up on the seat of the riding lawnmower. Pawing his antique plastic Captain Marvel bullhorn, he turned to address the throng gathered behind him.
“Remember, we’re mad as heck. All them people getting the breaks, and us not getting the right information, and then they want to come and take the EDIT subsidy off the sewer bills – don’t they know that this year’s parade theme is Gloom, Despair and Agony on All of Us, Each and Every One?”
A lone stray mutt sprawled in the gravel moaned. Was this crazy human going to feed him, or not?
“All right, let’s go!”
Sputtering and coughing, the Regress Express eased onto Spring Street and headed west.
“Watch out, CC,” exclaimed Li’l Stevie. “You’re in the bike lane, boss. It’s illegal to mow the bike lane.”
I wouldn’t worry about that,” replied Cappuccino through clenched teeth. “We’re against ordinance enforcement, remember?”
“I thought that was just because of my rental properties. Look, CC, there’s one over there. It’s that quadplex cardboard box. I can’t believe they were throwing that one away. We’re hurtin’, don’t you know?
The pitch black autumn night sky gradually laced with streaks of light as Cappuccino’s convoy neared the historic business district. Li’l Stevie picked up his banjo and began rendering.
C’mon people now
Smile on your brother
If it just would’ve been $4.8 million and not a mere 870 g’s
We could’ve shut this mother down, right now
“Look at what you went and made me do,” bellowed a red-faced Cappuccino. “I missed the turn on Bank Street! Now what?”
“Heck, I wanted to see the patio the ratepayers built,” said Li’l Stevie, “but that’s okay. Take a left on Pearl, and we’ll double back and close down Hewie’s.”
As Cappuccino gently guided the festive lawnmower left onto Pearl, a grandly costumed figure suddenly leaped into his path. What remained of the transmission was disengaged, and Li’l Stevie went crashing into the moon tea jug.
“Halt, interlopers. You shall not pass!”
Standing before them was a fully armored Roman centurion, complete with diamond-studded breastplate and 24-carat plumed helmet.
(“It’s one of them revenuers, CC,” whispered Li’l Stevie. “Hide the pull tabs, fast, and call the VFW.”)
There was much clanking and clanging of iron and steel as the man lowered his Latinate scroll.
“It is I – Tiberius Severus Octavian Elagabalus Septimius Augustus Claudius Hadrian, the Protector of Pearl, Deliverer of all Downtown Datedness, Master of the Mercantile, and Guardian of the Gates. I have embarked on a valiant campaign against invading barbarian parade watchers, for which the city shall be eternally grateful. We will meet them on the plains, and in the forests, and in the streets, and out behind the floodwall … ”
“Wait a minute,” said Li’l Stevie, who’d climbed back on Cappuccino’s knee. “Who do you think you are to stand in the way of progress downtown? This is MY council district to kneecap – right, CC?”
Cappuccino grimaced. “It’s just Councilman CeeSaw.”
CeeSaw struck an appropriately dramatic pose.
“Indeed! Festive parades bring people, and people are a grave threat to walk-up sales. We can’t afford to lose even half of 1/365th of a day of business to a mere event that makes the community happy, even for only half of 1/365th of a day.”
“For heaven’s sake, CeeSaw,” countered Cappuccino. “It’s Sunday morning. Your shop isn’t even open.”
“But what if it was? There’d be all kinds of people down here, and then what would we do? Obviously, you don’t understand retail.”
Distractedly tuning his dobro, Li’l Stevie observed, “CC, this guy makes even less sense than you do.”
“Who do you think you are, Dan Quixote?”
Their squabbling voices rose with the sun, and a council meeting broke out right there, in the empty downtown street.