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Liberty and Gas For All

My neighbor Filch Reedweaver showed up at my door the other day in an advanced state of excitement.

A celebration is in order!
"Davy boy - you gonna come to the block party?" he yelled. He waved a fluorescent green sheet of paper in my face as he spoke.

"Party? What party?" I asked as I tried to read the flyer clutched in his hand.

"The party celebrating the downward trend in gas prices - what-da-ya think! Everyone will be there!"

"Downward trend? What are you talking about? A few cents isn't a down - " but he was gone.

I had heard about this sort of thing: big business pushing up the price of a commodity to the point where people couldn't afford it and then pulling back to a level that was high but within reach. The goal was to make folks think that they were getting a deal on something when in reality the price was much higher than what they had been paying before the price surge in the first place. It appeared that Filch had been bamboozled by big business.

I stooped to pick up the flyer that Filch had left on my doorstep. "BLOCK PARTY IN FRONT OF THE REEDWEAVER'S HOUSE TO CELEBRATE THE NATURAL RIGHT OF MAN TO HAVE GAS" it read. "BRING YOUR FAVORITE DISH AND DRINK: WE'RE GONNA CELEBRATE!" It seemed pretty stupid to me. I turned on my heel and stepped back into the house.

"Hon, do you think you could whip up some of that cheese and broccoli stuff I like" I called as I made my way to the frig to check on the beer supply.

I have to admit the party was fun. Everyone was there - not because they were excited about the price of fuel; it's just that natural curiosity takes over when a weirdo shows up at your front door with an invitation.

Unfortunately I had missed the part about it being a costume party. The Hazelbrunts showed up dressed as a family of gasoline cans. Mr. and Mrs. Turnspittle arrived garbed as corn cobs, neatly pealed to reveal kernels that spelled out ETHANOL.

"As if anybody wouldn't know" Hon said to me sotto voice when the Turnspittles walked by.

I felt uncomfortable in my neatly pressed blue-jeans and casual button-up shirt open at the neck to reveal a dark green tee. I considered dashing home to throw together a costume - maybe an offshore drilling rig assembled from the scrap in the garage, or a major gas card attached to my nose with a clothespin - but Hon said no.

Once the festivities were underway Filch got a little crazy; he jumped up on a table and began a Czechoslovakian jig. All of the sudden he grabbed a five gallon gas can and started drinking the contents. At that point he fell forward and did a face plant in Mrs. Dimbody's macaroni salad. His impolite behavior upset Mrs. Dimbody and she smacked Filch in the back of the head with a heavy metal serving spoon.

Later at the hospital I sat and paged through an August 2002 issue of National Geographic until Filch came to.

"What happened, where am I?" he croaked. It was hard to understand him with the feeding tube in place.

"Hospital. Things got a little out of hand at the party." It suddenly occurred to me that Mrs. Dimbody's most recent two husbands had died from blunt force trauma to the head. I shuddered as I pictured her swinging the big spoon at Filch with a two-hand overhead stroke. "Hey, Filch" I began, "do you remember anything about Mrs. Dimbody's last two -"

"You know, that gas can was empty - it was a joke." He shifted in the bed and winced as a bolt of pain shot through him. "Must have been fumes - really had a wallop."

He sighed deeply. Clearly it required superhuman effort on his part to speak. I decided not to bring up Mrs. Dimbody again. After a few more minutes I slipped out and made my way home.

A week later Filch showed up at my door with a bandaged head and in an advanced state of excitement.

"Davy boy - you gonna come to the block party?" he yelled. He waved a fluorescent green sheet of paper in my face as he spoke.

"Party? What now Filch?"

"Milk jugs - they're making 'em energy efficient these days! I tell you, that deserves a party - "

I closed and locked the door.

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