|The Pied Piper of Hamelin, the PC version
written and copyrighted by James Finn Garner.
You don't think I am this clever, do you?
He reserves all rights. Duh.
|The picturesque little town of Hamelin had everything a community could wish for -- non- polluting industries, effective mass transit, and a well-
balanced ethno-religious diversity. In fact, the town leaders had managed to legislate or intimidate away every element that could keep the
citizens from living a good and sensitive life. Every element, that is, except the trailer park.
The trailer park on the edge of Hamelin was a civic embarrassment. Not only was it a terrible eyesore, with its rusted pickup trucks and trash
heaps in every backyard. Within it dwelled some of the most unregenerate and irredeemable people you could ever imagine -- murderers of
nondomestic animals, former clients of the correctional system, and offroad bikers. With their plastic daisy pinwheels, loud music, and
drunken weekend brawls, they sent a shudder through every respectable person in town.
One day, after a particularly riotous road rally through the trailer park, the town leaders had a meeting. After heated debate, they decided that somehow they had to eradicate
the trailer park. But they were at a loss as to how to do it without ignoring or infringing upon the rights of the people who lived there. Finally, after even more oratory, they
decided to let that be someone else's worry, since they were already so burdened with more important concerns, such as declining property values. So the town leaders
decided to advertise for someone to solve their problems.
Soon after the advertisement was sent out, a man appeared in town. He was very vertically gifted and of lower-than-average
weight for his size. His clothes were worn in combinations never before seen or imagined, and his mannerisms and high-pitched
voice were certainly unique. Although he looked like he came from some world other than (but certainly not unequal to) our own,
he gained the trust of the desperate town leaders.
"I will be able to rid your town of the trailer-park dwellers," said the man of enhanced strangeness, "but you must promise to pay
me 100 pieces of gold!"
The town leaders wanted this whole unpleasant business finished as soon as possible, so they readily assented. The sooner the
trailer park was eliminated, the sooner they could all revert to their open-minded, progressive selves.
So the man of enhanced strangeness got down to work. He reached into his tattered knapsack and pulled out a sophisticated,
compact recording machine. The people around him looked on with interest as he inserted a few tapes, set some knobs, and
checked the sound levels. Then he began mumbling into the built-in microphone. No one could hear exactly what he was saying,
but the man seemed to be lacking in coherence. Abruptly, he stopped mumbling, stood up, and told the town leaders that he needed a truck with a public-address system.
The authorities scrambled after this strange request. They managed to find such a truck at the Department of Public Biodiversity and handed over the keys to the man of
enhanced strangeness. He climbed in and drove off, popping the cassette he had made into the sound system. Everyone followed the truck as it headed toward the trailer park.
Soon music began to emerge from the slowly moving truck -- generally country music but also occasional classics like "The Ballad of the Green
Berets" and "Ghost Riders in the Sky." The town leaders were puzzled by this, until they noticed people emerging from their trailers, tool sheds,
and taverns. The people had a certain glassy expression and talked to themselves as they stumbled along.
"I'm gonna go git me a job," said one. "I hear the carny is hirin'."
"I think I"ll join the professional tractor-pull circuit," said another.
"Do you think I could make a livin' by signin' up for medical experiments?" asked a third.
The denizens of the trailer park followed the truck as it drove slowly toward the edge of town. Soon both they and it disappeared over the horizon,
and the town leaders lifted a cheer.
About an hour later the truck returned, minus its entourage. "I led them all to the highway," said the man of enhanced strangeness as he alighted
from the truck. "They're out thumbing rides for anyplace but Hamelin. Now the trailer park is free for you to use in whatever way you want."
"Marvelous!" said one of the authorities, who was serving as a spokesperson. "Now that they're gone, we can commence with our plans for a Third-World Refugee
Reorientation Center. Thank you, thank you."
"Now, if you will kindly pay me the 100 pieces of gold you promised, I'll be on my way."
"Well, er .... Hamelin is striving to establish an economy that is based on human capital and not the mere exploitation of physical resources. And so, to this end, we'd like to
offer to you such services in Hamelin as free massages and seminars on releasing your inner child."
The man of enhanced strangeness squinted his eyes. "You promised me 100 pieces of gold," he said, growing visibly angry. "Now pay up
or suffer the consequences."
"If you wish to abandon your responsibility for making the world a more equitable place," clucked the spokesperson, "so be it. We will have
to give you the official Hamelin IOU, which can be redeemed for a significant portion of its face value at many of the currency exchanges
and liquor stores in the surrounding towns."
The man of enhanced strangeness paused, then chuckled eerily and climbed back into the truck. Before anyone could stop him, he began
to drive through all the neighborhoods of Hamelin. As he went, the truck played a weird, high-pitched music that no one could recognize. Soon, the children of Hamelin
emerged from their houses and streamed from their playgrounds. With glazed looks, they milled about in the streets. The town leaders could hear the children talking earnestly
to each other:
"Free markets are the only sure way to give people the personal incentive to build a better society," said one child.
"We must respect the rights of citizens to preserve the ethnic purity of their neighborhoods," said another.
"Our only obligation as a society is to make sure everyone has a level playing field," said a third.
As their children began to form tax protest groups and gun clubs, the town leaders sadly realized that all their years of careful social
planning would soon come to nothing. The next day, they found the public address truck on the outskirts of town, but there was no sign of
the mysterious man whom they had tried to swindle.