#7 - Ochlocracy


      The town piled into the elementary school gymnasium, stomping their snowy boots on the mats at the door. The first town meeting in fifteen years.

      We hadn't gathered here like this since little Billy Harden had fallen in the well, and a vote was presented to the town to save him, yay or nay. The vote had gone 243 for getting him out, 1 against, and 1 spoiled vote. Billy's drunken father delighted in the whole ordeal, and was pleased as punch that his son was in the well. When he raised his arm for the negative he stuck out like a missed dandelion on a freshly mowed lawn. The spoiled vote went to Charlie.

      "Order, order."

      The mayor was standing on the stage at the end of the gym that was used two weeks earlier for the elementary school Christmas play. It was a rousing performance of the Christmas story, complete with Jesus, Mary, the manger, a crying Wiseman, a sheep that peed its pants, and the sheep’s mother, hurrying down the side aisle to the backstage.

      We sat in the rows of blue plastic chairs. The mayor tapped his microphone and waited until everyone was seated.

      "Ladies and gentlemen, as most of you know we've been presented with an irrevocable dilemma."

      Murmurs and sarcastic whispers rang throughout the crowd, talk about an understatement. Kevin Dunlop, who worked in the local sports store, stood.

      "We want answers mayor; these kinds of things can't go unanswered."

      His announcement was met with a mild level of approval, and he looked out over the crowd obviously pleased.

      Little Terry McDonald, a local farmer, stood. "Damn, right, I haven't slept in a week, and my family can barely sit down at the table to eat with this hanging over our heads."

      More approval.

      The mayor raised his hands, "Yes gentlemen, yes We've all been affected by this, let's just stay calm, and orderly, and tackle this problem head on like civilized human beings, shall we?"

      Both men sat. There was a silence. Overhead, the florescent lights hummed a single solitary note. I looked at the gym floor, I was sitting on the 3 point line.

      "Now, getting down to business" the mayor began, "Three days ago at the Johnson household, little Maggie Johnson, put forth the proposal to her mother, to.." the mayor paused, "to pass the beans."

      Whispers rippled throughout the crowd, like a rock hitting water. The Johnson's sat in the front row. Mrs. Johnson looked nervously at the people around her.

The mayor looked solemn, and stern, "Order guys, let's keep it together here. No need to delay any further, a vote then. Simple enough. All those in fav..."

      Old man McDermott was standing, "In my day, we never asked such ridiculous things!" He sat immediately, finished.

      The mayor continued, "All those in favour of the beans being passed, raise your hands."

      243 arms inside winter jackets went up, the sound was like a 7 year old sliding down a hill on a piece of vinyl siding.

      "Against," bellowed the mayor, immediately, and unnecessarily.

      The seven year old slid uphill, quickly, and one single arm shot up, Old man McDermott’s of course.

      Charlie, the local narcoleptic, remained asleep.

      "How does he even get to these meetings?" The woman in front of me whispered. Her husband shrugged.

      "Then it is settled, and your minds can be at ease folks, the beans will be passed. Now, if there's no other busin..."

      "Were they green beans?" Someone yelled.

      Silence.

      "What?" said the mayor, curtly.

      "These beans," came a voice from that back, "Were they green beans? Cause hell I love me some green beans."

      The mayor looked annoyed. He looked down at Mrs. Johnson, she nodded quickly, quietly. He looked back out to the mystery voice, "Let the record show, that Mrs. Johnson has indeed confirmed that the, to-be-passed beans, were indeed, green."

      "Hot damn," the voice declared, “that’s.. that's really great."

      Satisfied, we stood and went back out into the stormy night. All of us except Charlie.




©2009 Broken Chair