This is your Community Bulletin for the week of September 24th, 2016.
After further investigation, The Scoutmaster is no longer a suspect in the “accident” discovered Wednesday morning. That evening, Police Chief Wells walked into Edna’s and called Mr Singh’s cell to update him on the investigation. She was pretty short with him about his not doing enough, and enjoying his nice office in Albany, when he cut her off with a calm, pointed question:
“The muddy tracks you found, how big were they?”
Chief Wells estimated around a men’s size 10 or 11.
“Scoutmaster’s a size 5.” Singh said as he hung up.
Wells looked at her phone angrily, then with confusion, because she could hear the Forest Service head continuing with “Small guy. Jockey. Sit, let me buy you coffee. You look tired.”
Chief Wells looked up to see Mr Singh sitting at the counter talking to Edna and someone else, and she froze. Her face proceeded to cycle through the red of embarrassment and the white of horror so fast that, to the untrained eye, you might think she was keeping her composure.
However, Mr Singh simply gestured her over, and Edna brought Wells her “crime fighter special”: scrambled egg, two toasts, and black coffee.
He was right. It had been a long day. A long week even.
The “someone else” with them was Momma Smith. She had come down out of the hills to visit Amma and thought to bring Edna flowers and some hand-made red twine. Edna always interacts with the hill families and off-grid neighbors so openly and friendly like, that some folks forget their place. It’s like being at the grown-ups table at Thanksgiving. You are being allowed to participate, but forget who you’re dealing with and you’ll be back at the kiddy-table faster than you can say “pass the ham.”
After some polite pleading and coaxing from Edna, Momma Smith started asking the two law enforcement agents some questions that have been bugging her. She asked about new logging happening too close to their camp. She asked about overhead spraying in places that don’t make any sense to spray. She asked about rumblings in the earth where no seismic activity had been recorded. Most importantly, and heartbreakingly, she asked about how to safely lead her family away from here if the pressures of the modern world get too tight in around them.
“I cannot answer the other question. Not right now. I don’t know.” Mr Singh said, his eyes burning. “But you say the word, and you will be wherever you need to go. I promise this.”
Only a few of us were in the diner, and we had all been trying to collectively mind our own business, but after that, there was a lot of sniffling and folks dabbing their eyes with their napkins. I mean, it is allergy season after all.
The prospect of another off-grid family leaving is deeply saddening, but Edna pointed out to nobody in particular, that we have all felt “the crushing, grasping hand of a hungry world at our throat at some point or another. That’s why there are so many people here in Leverite.” She went on to hold Momma Smith’s hand and say “Things will not be Good. Not for a long time, at least, but I suspect that they are going to be OK.”
Sheila touched base from Bella Coola, BC. She says the town is a little bigger than Leverite, colder than Leverite, has active industry, booming tourism, yet still hosts a huge number of Off-Grid families. “They’re doing something right. Something we aren’t.” Sheila said. It makes her happy and angry, because she sees how it could be, but, she really has no idea how we would get there from where we are now. “Figuratively speaking, of course.”
As for the Canadian hill-families, well, I guess they can smell their own, so to speak. Sheilla has been handed off from one holy-man or holy-woman to another with messages to take back south with her. Matriarchs have been asking about the children down this way, and if any are old enough to go a courtin’. She is a bit overwhelmed, but in a good way.
She also met Bella Coola’s “Edna.” In every town she has visited with good neighbors, there’s an “Edna” or “Alice” or “Wanda” who has been there as long as anyone can remember, dishing up greasy Midwestern delicacies with a stern Dame Maggie demeanor. Sheila’s not saying there’s any sort of causation, just that it’s “one hell of a corollary.” She heads south this week, where a sympathetic Mounty will be quietly giving here a ride to the border. She should be back in town by next weekend, though I doubt many of us will see her initially. It sounds like she will have a lot of work ahead of her when she returns.
The Town Council was having a discussion on not only how to improve tourism, but more importantly, how to attract the right kind of tourists. “Safe” tourists. The recent late-summer success of the Museum’s programs suggest there’s a huge, untapped market for “education tourism” but that the term seemed clunky and that someone should look online to see if there was a slicker sounding word for it. “Eco-tourism” was discussed, but several members of the council pointed out that “we need less people running around in the woods, not more.” It was decided that the ideal tourist would come, spend a bunch of money, and never leave their room. Bill Stephenson, who was sitting in on the meeting, laughed, saying that the Council was suggesting we build honeymoon suites and cemeteries. The whole council got quiet and you could see dollar-sign shaped lightbulbs popping up over their heads. Further discussion was tabled until next week.
The Council also ratified the new Leverite Revised Code that Mayor Amundsen proposed last week. News of this traveled to the Capitol so fast that the Governor called this morning to congratulate us for joining the 21st century. This still doesn’t address the jurisdiction issues or the potholes or the raccoon raids, but it’s nice to see that even an old dog like us can learn new tricks.
Brother Louis will be holding a special service Sunday where he will deliver his popular “Jesus Laughed” sermon. It appeared in his first book, that one that got immediately pulped, but it is a favorite with audiences. As with all of his “events,” 100 percent of any money donated will go directly to the county food bank.
This issue of the Community Bulletin is brought to you by Southside Auto, soon to be under new management. Big Paul thanks everybody for their many years of loyal patronage. He looks forward to getting fat, old, and lazy, just like his wife always complained he would.