The Rot Spreads
By Patrick F. Cannon
By now, we’re all used to the attack ads that make our political campaigns so amusing. But until recently, I hadn’t realized that our sophisticated techniques had reached into the most remote areas of our great land.
Although not widely known, I was born into modest circumstances in the coal mining community of Dismal Seepage, West Virginia. As a young lad of 12, toiling in the mines taught me the value of hard work. The town itself is so far back in the hills that its current Congressman, the Honorable Rufus T. Firefly, has as yet been unable to find it. At one time, most of its citizens, like me, worked in the mines. Now, most are on welfare. The women spend most of their time gossiping at the Baptist church hall, while the men hang out at the general store, coughing and wheezing.
It’s also the county seat for Despond County, one of the least populated in all of these United States. One of the county elected offices is the Dogcatcher. Now, you may think this is a joke, but I assure you that no office is more critical to the health and well being of Despond’s residents, particularly those who live in Dismal Seepage. While most of the people in the county live in the town, there are some folks who live in even more remote areas, some as far as the Slough of Despond or even the Valley of Despair. They are rarely seen in town, coming in only for Mason jars and rifle ammunition.
Here’s the problem. In their mountain fastnesses, they knew nothing of spaying or neutering. Their mangy barnyard curs reproduce with abandon, but only the strongest survive to battle for table scraps and the odd critter that stumbles into their domain. The rest have to leave to fend for themselves in the woods and hollows. Many, inevitably, end up in Dismal Seepage, where they often confuse the local citizen’s legs for the game they’re used to eating. The mayor disclaimed responsibility for controlling them, claiming that the voracious doggies had come to town from the county. Reluctantly, the county commissioners – all staunch Democrats – decided to act. By unanimous vote, they decided to create the elected job of Despond County Dogcatcher. They also gave themselves the power – considering the urgency of the situation – to appoint an incumbent until the next election should occur.
Only one name recommended itself – Frank Dassisi, known to many of the “dog whisperer.” Himself the owner of the only purebred dog in town, a big black Poodle, Frank had a way with animals of all kinds, and was the only person in town who had not been bitten by one of the wandering curs. Frank was also the only Republican in town, and agreed to take the job only if he could run in the next election with that label. Desperate, and besieged by scarred and irate citizens, the commissioners reluctantly agreed.
As soon as he was sworn in, Frank began luring the strays into his back yard. He fed and cleaned them and – as if by magic – they became as docile as little lambs. When sufficient numbers were gathered, he loaded them into a county truck and took them to a shelter in Charleston, whence they were shipped as “West Virginia Mountain Hounds” to unwary liberals in Chicago and New York.
The good citizens of Dismal Seepage were finally able to stroll unmolested around town; more importantly, they stopped complaining to the county commissioners. Unbeknownst to the peaceable kingdom, however, trouble was on the horizon. When the next election season rolled around, it seems the chairman of the State Democrat Party, state senator Claghorn, was reviewing the list of candidates in the various counties and noted, with astonishment, that a Republican was running unopposed for Dogcatcher in Despond County. No Republican had ever run for office in that county, much less run unopposed by a candidate from the party of Thomas Jefferson, Jefferson Davis and Rod Blagojevich.
He was soon on the phone (land line, for no cells reached Dismal Seepage), berating County Commissioner Denver for permitting such an outrage! “Is that shiftless son on yours – John is it – still sponging off you?”
“Well, he is between jobs.”
“Put him on the ballot! He won’t need to sponge on you anymore, and we’ll handle the whole campaign.”
Faced with dire consequences if they refused, the rest of the commissioners agreed to put young John Denver on the ballot. Now, as it happens, although Dismal Seepage has a general store, folks actually have to go up the road to the metropolis of Logan (pop. 1800) to get more than milk, bread and Coca Cola. On their way back, they couldn’t help but notice that a long unused billboard had come to life. On it was a picture of Frank Dassisi being hugged by a beaming Donald Trump, with this bold message: Trump and Dassisi will tax your welfare check to build lavish puppy palace! Vote for Denver to stop their grab!
Coincidently, full color mailers turned up in everyone’s mail box. On the cover, there was a picture of Dassisi with his Poodle Fifi, with the caption: How can dogcatcher Dassisi afford a fancy foreign dog? And is Fifi more than just a pet? And are the strays he picks up actually going to good homes, or direct to the Chicago stockyards? What do you think is in those famous Chicago dogs?
Dassisi of course got a mailer himself, and heard about the billboard, which he inspected with disbelief. When he called Commissioner Denver to complain, that wily politician pointed out that he and his fellows had nothing to do with it, were in fact shocked, but were powerless to stop the onslaught. He claimed it was some shadowy group “up in the capital.” Indeed, the small print at the bottom of the billboard and mailer read: Paid for by the West Virginia Animal Protection Political Action Committee, which is solely responsible for its content. Not authorized by any candidate.
Dassisi, suddenly shunned by his neighbors, knew when he was licked and dropped out of the race. Unmarried and retired from the State Highway Department, he took his fat pension and Poodle and moved south to Ashville, North Carolina, where exotic dogs were not unknown.
Young Denver was duly elected Dogcatcher, and as could have been predicted, Dismal Seepage soon went to the dogs.
Copyright 2018, Patrick F. Cannon