Saturday, November 14, 2009
Cloverdale Receives the H1N1 "Swine Flu" Vaccine
The Cloverdale Shire Health Department announces the delivery of the much anticipated H1N1 vaccine. The special shipment arrived yesterday evening on the Coastal Express. A crowd of eleven was on hand protesting the delay in the vaccine’s delivery. Morse Clubbard spoke on behalf of the protesters.
“We have people sick with the swine flu right now. People didn’t need to get the disease, but they did because we didn’t have the vaccine.” A general grunt of agreement washed over the crowd. Morse smiled at this sudden interest everyone was talking in his speech. Under normal conditions Morse would hardly be noticed at all.
Morse continued, “I blame the Swiss and Americans. The Swiss are to blame for being in bed with the Americans. The Americans are to blame for hogging all the swine vaccine,” Morse paused momentarily as he waited for his pun to take effect. After several seconds into an awkward pause, Morse continued. “What’s a Dunce to do? After giving this a great deal of thought, I’ve settled on a course of action. We boycott Swiss chocolate. That will get their attention.”
Morse raised his finger to silent an already silent gathering. Once he regained the attention he never lost, Morse pulled out a rather nicely packaged Toblerone Swiss Chocolate bar. He held it overhead.
“Today, we tell the Swiss to shove it. We don’t need their vaccines and we definitely don’t need their chocolate!”
Morse broke the bar in half. The crowd continued in silence, except for the barely audible gasps from the two elderly Milduw Spinsters. They were at the station’s package claim window waiting for a parcel of nicely sewn doilies that arrived on the same train as the vaccine. The sisters clutched each other’s arms in fear of being caught in a crowd showing such a disregard for civility. They collected their package and quickly moved to the back of the station’s waiting room and then out the door onto Station Street. Both sisters were so shaken by the experience they stopped at the Kicking Donkey on their way home for a pint of Cloverdale’s famous Scampy Ale to calm their nerves.
“The Swiss are Swindlers!” Morse shouted over and over again, hoping the crowd would pick up the chant. Some did but quickly became tongue tied. The chant died out as quickly as it started. Morse saw he was loosing the crowd’s attention. It was time to take the demonstration to the next level. He remembered watching Cloverdale Weekend Television's Special on the Anniversary of the American Embassy siege in Iran. An idea sprang from that memory.
“Those greedy Americans have all the vaccine. Look!” Morse pointed to Cloverdale’s two constables who were removing a small package from the train. One held the package while the other stood with a baton in hand to deal with unpleasantness.
Morse continued, “We have thirty doses. Thirty doses for all of us in this village. Who’s going to get it? Who will make that decision? It’s the Shire Health Department. America put us in this mess. America is responsible for all our problems. I’ve only one thing to say. Death to America! Death to America!”
The chant traveled from Morse’s lips and into the crowd of eleven where it was picked up by five year old Molly Muse, recently diagnosed with ADD. The rest of the crowd followed Molly’s example. Soon all eleven were shouting in unison “Death to America”.
Constable Willard became alarmed. In addition to his baton, he produced a can of pepper spray and threatened to use it on anyone that ‘got out of control’. The two constables exited the station and walked toward the village offices. The crowd followed them down Station Street shouting “Death to America”.
Demonstrations in Cloverdale are rare. A demonstration against America was unheard of. Everyone in the Confederacy of Dunces knew that America held a larger population of Dunces that the Confederacy itself. Chanting “Death of America” was like cussing out your own kin.
Half way down Station Street another crowd formed. This counter demonstration was composed of people exiting the pubs and restaurants, most still carrying their beverage of choice. These people were shouting “We Love America. We love the Beatles. We love rock and roll”. Their enthusiasm may have been caused by a bit too much too drink. The situation quickly spiraled out of control. The two constables were sandwiched between two competing forces. Constable Willard panicked and released several shots of pepper spray. Unfortunately he directed the spray into the Anti American group, which was upwind from his position. The spray blew back into the constable's faces. Their reaction to the pepper spray was immediate. Constable Jones dropped the package of vaccine.
The street fell silent except for the groans of those recovering from the pepper spray. Everyone stood staring at the package carrying the precious vials of H1N1 vaccine. Then, someone from the anti American crowd made a move for the vaccine and all heck broke loose. Everyone rushed to get their hands on the vials. Fists flew, hair was pulled, noses bloodied. The Constables sprang into action and emptied their cans of pepper spray to no affect. For awhile it seemed Cloverdale was doomed to descend into the abyss of chaos and anarchy. Many onlookers thought it was the end of civilization as they had known it.
The sound of a playground whistle rang over the assembly. The fighting slowed to a stop. Everyone in the gathering recognized that sound. It sent chills up their spines. Mrs. Tulla Trish, Confederacy Elementary's 83 year old former school headmistress, descended the steps of her modest two bedroom bungalow. She was blowing the very same whistle used to get her student's attention throughout her fifty years of teaching the children of Cloverdale, many of whom were present in the crowd.
“Shame on you all. Shame!” she shouted at the top of her 83 year old lungs. She hobbled her way into the street and pushed everyone back with the end of her cane. The crowd opened, freeing the disheveled constables.
“Move along, move along,” she warned. The constables picked up what was left of the package and ran for the village office. Mrs. Trish stayed behind with cane held high threatening to thump anyone that followed.
The demonstration was over. The vaccine was delivered. The following day it was administered to the children of Cloverdale at school. Mrs. Tulla Trish was honored as a hero by the parents of Cloverdale and vilified as a villain by the children on the receiving end of the needle. It appeared old Dr. Plopman’s hands aren’t as steady as they once were.