Mayor Nathaniel Malech assumed his chair at the head of long and ostentatiously appointed hall. Mock chandeliers gave the room a warm yellowish glow. The who’s-who of Moose Flats were sprawled around the hall, chatting of this and that. He perched his posterior on the tip of his chair and cracked his knuckles. Everyone was talking. Into the hum of babelogue he said, “Committee is about to be in session. None of us is quite so stupid as all of us put together. We will begin dumming down to the weakest link.” Scanning the room, he said, “I believe that would be you, Duncan.” Duncan Mackie gave him a lazy middle finger. Malech smiled in response, then looked at his watch. “Dumming down in four, three, two, one – we are all stupid, and committee is now in session.”
“Ladies,” he paused to draw a weary breath, “ladies and gentlemen, four score and twenty years ago brave and strong men settled here, our forefathers. They built a modest settlement into a town, and a modest town into a great municipality – Moose Flats. I have been your mayor for eighteen years. Prior to that, my father endured the burdens of this office for an even greater tenure, and I tell you honestly and with profound gravity that our fair city has never faced a challenge more threatening in all that time than the one with which it must grapple today.