This is your Community Bulletin for The week of July 30th, 2016.
Let’s cut right to it: Last night’s council meeting was emotionally brutal for most of those in attendance. Around 7:00 PM, folks gathered on the lawn in the shade of the museum, fanning themselves with copies of the meeting’s now-irrelevant agenda. There were cold sodas and small talk, but no Jackdaw. There were humorous grumbles about the heat, and jokes about barbecue, but no Jackdaw. Then there were discussions about going ahead and calling the meeting to order, which was met with vocal disapproval by the Council of Old Guys. There was talk of just calling this off, which lead to Sheila snarling, bearing her teeth, and growling at the assembled, which caused them to quickly change their attitude on the subject.
Then there was a gentle “Ahem” sound, and all became aware of The Jackdaw, who could have been there the whole time as far as any of us knew.
The Jackdaw, unlike most of our neighbors, speaks pretty good English. He stood before us, naked as Adam but for the white and ochre pattern painted all over his body. His eyes were painted as great red circles with white streaks running down from them.
The crowd was silent.
“Who…” he said, very carefully and deliberately, “Who speaks for you?”
There was a lot of mumbling, and looking at each other before Mayor Amundsen stepped forward.
“Legally speaking. I do.”
The Jackdaw leveled his gaze at the mayor and said, “You do? You can speak for all these people as one?”
The mayor started to answer, then his voice caught in his throat. All kinds of conflicting emotions played across his face before he finally let out sigh that seemed to expel from the depths of his boots.
“I cannot. I am so sorry, but I cannot. At the end of the day, I can only speak for myself. Nothing I say is binding. I…I wish it were.”
Amundsen stepped back a ways, his eyes looking a bit damp, but The Jackdaw seemed to appreciate the Mayor’s frankness.
“Can any of you speak for more then yourself. Do any of you bind others?”
There were a lot of nervous glances before non-committal “no’s” and “nu-uhs” welled from the crowd.
The Jackdaw nodded at this and said, “That is why we must always live apart. My word binds. But tonight, I will not speak for anyone but me.”
He explained that he had come from far to the North after being told about the relationship we had with our neighbors. He came to watch us, test us. He said “These families, they choose to be close to you. This will be their death. It always has been.”
We were all a bit shocked at this. Several folks started to ask questions or protest, but the look Art and Louis gave the crowd could have silenced the North Sea.
“Your kind,” The Jackdaw said, “has always turned on us. When it hasn’t been you, it has been your cousin, and when not your cousin, then your uncle’s kin. Always.”
“These families. They are giving up their lives taking a chance on you. I am here to give up my life for their chance.”
Folks listened on in silence, cheeks a bit wet because of allergies or the dry air.
But there was nothing more to say. The Jackdaw nodded, turned, and vanished up the road toward the North Ridge.
Once he had left, several men and women in the crowd fell to full-on crying as the City Council made weak attempts to fall back onto procedure, but it was no use. Everyone’s sails were slack. Meeting adjourned, see ya next week.
Folks left the museum lawn in groups. Some congregated at Edna’s in the sculpture garden. Others congregated at the Chapel. Many simply wandered the streets, discussing with each other until well after dark.
The light in Mayor Amundsen’s office was still on well after three in the morning, with the heady scent of exotic tobaccos wafting out the window. The mayor hasn’t smoked in years.
This morning, Edna’s was open at 6:00 AM as usual. Edna was her usual cantankerous self, but most folks seemed too tired to engage. Outside of Stumpy’s, the only thing on the bench was a sign reading “Gone Fishing.” Folks that hadn’t been at the meeting were being visited by those who had. It’s all still sinking in, especially for those that were there the night of July 4th. We’ve had this relationship with our off-grid neighbors for over a century. Most of us failed to appreciate the one-sided risks of that relationship.
It is not known which family, if any, The Jackdaw is staying with. Sheila says things may seem awkward the next time any of the Jones’s come to town because of this, but please try not to make an ass of yourselves. “You know the score now,” she said, “you don’t need to go falling all over yourselves in front of them.”
If anyone succeeds at that, let us know.
In other news, a toolbox was found near the river with three to four trout in it. The box had been undisturbed despite its proximity to a badger wallow. In fact, the wallow appears to have been “quickly abandoned.” Fish and Game is looking into this presently.
[Edit:] The Mayor has said he will be consulting with the city attorney again on Monday regarding further options with the quarry bids
This issue of the Community Bulletin is brought to you by heart crushing sorrow, and a desire to apologize profusely for things you can’t fix, and to fix things you would have to reverse hundreds of thousand of years of human evolution to redress.