Pale Rider and Hell Following

One day a man from Washington came to town and told us that we consistently elected members of his opposition party to act as our public servants on the federal, state and local level. According to his way of thinking, this was bull headed, generally damnable, and probably criminal. But he had come to set the crooked paths straight and allow us the liberty to send those people to Washington that had our best interests at heart and who were willing to take upon themselves the august burden of making us a free and happy people. Someone asked him who those people were and he said they were the people of the party he represented. Then Marty asked him if he had a warrant and that got the attention of a number of people. He didn’t and as long as we did as he said he wouldn’t need one. Someone else asked him if we weren’t already a free and happy people, all things considered, and that’s when he got up on a wooden crate and expounded the wisdom of his party’s philosophy at great length and with equally great fervor. He said we were steeped in ignorance, and miserable, and oppressed, and he didn’t think much our chances of happiness if we didn’t start voting for his party right away. Mother Jones kept shouting ‘Praise the Lord’ because she was deaf and thought with his good suit and arm waving he was a preacher.

That got me to thinking about politicians and preachers and how if you had one the other was sure to follow. One promised glory in this life and one in the life to come, but both were in the same boat because neither could produce a single person who had seen paradise and returned to tell about it. Lazarus came back from the grave, but the Good Book thoughtfully draws a veil over what he had to say.

He had asked a government agency to conduct extensive research into the voting patterns of our small town, in fact all towns west of Butcher Holler but not so far as Pigeon Forge. After several years and several taxpayer dollars, this agency had come to two conclusions: 1) that they were underfunded, and 2) about 30% of the people in our town voted for one party, 29% for the other party, and 41% were generally too disgusted or drunk to be bothered. The man told us this was where the genius of the federal government would come into play and he was going to outlaw the sale of all alcohol the day of elections and divide our town into two voting districts, one of which would cover most of the town and the other the mayor’s house and all his kin, a sizable group and all of like mind when it came to politics in that they voted as a block against the people who sent us the man from Washington. We asked him if a town with one part-time whore needed two voting districts but he told us he was from Washington and before that college and he was here to either serve us or make our lives hell, we could decide which. Without discussion we unanimously agreed to smile and keep nodding until he was pleased and left.

The man from Washington stayed for dinner and to see what kind of whore worked part time, and when he left we gave him a basket of ham and sourdough bread as a token of our appreciation. We also gave him a mason jar of sweet tea, which was really a Long Island iced tea without the ice but with a few tea bags thrown in for verisimilitude. We told him about the beauty spot along rural Rt. 340 where he could sit at a picnic table, eat and drink to his heart’s content all the while overlooking the lush and verdant tapestry of the valley. It really is a breathtaking sight. After he’d promised to do just that we gave him a half hour then called the state police to tell them some joker with out of state tags was drunk on shine and could be picked up at the 340 beauty spot.

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Later, Bobby Lee Lee drove us over to Pigeon Forge to buy the sugar to make the mash that we’d need for the liquor it was going to take to get the town through election day. The mayor rode shotgun and agreed that it was terrible what had happened and almost seemed sorry for voting for the people he and his kin had which was silly because even if it did bring this man down from Washington, voting the other way would have brought another just like him. We agreed that the best thing to do would be to have an unofficial election the day before so that we could see who we liked, then have Mother Jones fill the ballots out in such a way that reflected the true sentiment of the town and send the results to Washington.

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