Somewhere in a small town


Bob: All right, quiet down everyone. This meeting of the Pinellas Pines Town Council is now called to order. Madam Vice President, let’s skip the reading of last week’s minutes.

Carol: No prob, Bob.

Bob: (sighs) Please don’t do that. OK, our only item on the agenda is the crisis at hand, and that is the sinkhole that appeared at the intersection of Winston and Seventh last night.

Ken: Appeared? You’re downplaying this, Mr. Mayor. It didn’t just appear, it swallowed Winston and Seventh, and I demand to know what you’re going to do about it.

Bob (bangs his gavel): Order! Order! You demand? You demand, Ken? I literally just brought this up this very minute, so don’t give me demands.

Ken: And what are you going to do about it?

Bob: Why don’t you let me finish my statement instead of opening your stupid, fat mouth?

Ken: Why don’t you take some action instead of making one of your asinine political speeches?

Bob (pounds his gavel): One more remark like that, and I’ll have Lester toss you in jail. Now, as I was saying, the sinkhole opened up overnight, so no one was actually hurt. But we lost Fred’s Antiques, Rainbow Residences realty office, and half of Grace’s insurance office. Also, the stoplight is just sort of leaning over the hole, but it’s still blinking.

Questionable Dave: It’s a portal to the underworld that the devil has opened up so he can harvest our souls.

Carol: I did hear no one’s seen the Schneider kid since this morning. Do you think he fell in?

Gretchen: That kid’s a monster. Last month, he threw snowballs at my window. Let the devil take him where he belongs.

Bob: It’s not the devil, Gretchen. He’s over there demanding I fix the sinkhole.

Ken: You son of a—

Bob (bangs his gavel): Sit down, Ken. Jeez, learn to take a joke.

Ken (sits down muttering under his breath). We’ll see who’s a joke on Election Day.

Carol: Do we know what caused the sinkhole in the first place?

Bob: Well, we had some engineers in from the state this morning. They told me over lunch that they think it’s underground springs. Then they stuck me with the bill at the Lotus and Pearl.

Earl: It was the liberals that caused the sinkhole, what with their drag queen readings and mask mandates.

Carol: Earl, don’t be an idiot. How is a drag queen reading going to cause a 30-foot sinkhole to open up? We don’t even have drag queens in town.

Earl: It’s on the Internet.

Carol: It’s basic science, Earl! Sinkholes are caused by underground streams or a leaking water pipe, not by drag queens.

Earl: Fake news!

Carol: Earl Clayton Carruthers, stop with that fake news nonsense, sit down, and shut up, or you’ll sleep on the couch tonight.

Bob: Er, thank you, Carol. Earl, listen to your wife: this has not been caused by anything other than an underground spring.

Questionable Dave: I tell you, it’s a portal to the underworld!

Bob: It’s not a portal to the underworld, Dave, it’s a problem with underground water. The state engineers said as much. By the way, Bill, I need to submit a receipt for their lunch. Can you believe they ordered two desserts? Each!

Questionable Dave: *leaps to his feet* Don’t be so sure, unbelievers! The powers of Heaven and Hell are far beyond our mortal understanding. This portal — nay, this very town — may become the epicenter for the final battle of Good versus Evil!

Bob (under his breath): More like the epicenter of the looney bin.

Carol: Sorry, I missed that, Bob. What did you say?

Bob: Uh, I was just reminding myself to, uh, pick up some gin.

Carol: Whatever. Just remember, I need to put everything we say into the minutes.

Ken: Mr. Mayor, now may I demand that you take action—?

Bob (bangs his gavel): No! I know you’re running for city council, Ken, but I won’t let you take advantage of this crisis just so you can posture for the media.

Ken: But what about the missing Schneider boy?

Lester: He ain’t missing. He and his folks went to visit his grandparents in Boca Raton.

Bob: The state engineers said they’ll have a final report for me tomorrow morning and they’ll tell us how to fix it. They wanted to meet at Le Petit Bistro Buffet tomorrow to go over their—dammit, they’re gonna stick me with the bill again, aren’t they?

Questionable Dave: Do you see, unbelievers? Already the struggle has begun. Our mighty mayor will take up arms against the powers of bureaucratic darkness as they attempt to drain our financial lifeblood from the city coffers!

Bob: I’ll say I forgot my wallet. Anyway, they went back into the hole this afternoon, and they’ll review the findings tonight.

Carol: They didn’t try to stick you with dinner then?

Bob: They tried, but Brenda’s making meatloaf tonight and I wouldn’t miss that for anything.

Ken: My sister can do wonderful things with meatloaf.

Bob: That’s something we can agree on, Ken. I’ll see you at the house. Meeting adjourned everyone.