Rum7. Fearful of another wave of knocking, he cautiously opened the door. Daylight stabbed through his swollen eyelids, aggravating his headache even further. Satisfied that the sun had cleared away the winged demons, Euphonious swung the door fully open. Bernie puffed out his chest and gave Euphonious a crisp salute. He was wearing the same uniform as the previous day, except the initials on his hat now read S.Z.B. “Good morning, sir! Bernard P. Russell, Inspector First-Class of the Seawater Zoning Board.”8 “I don’t know why I was expecting anyone else,” said Euphonious. He returned the salute and whimpered when he accidentally touched his tender forehead. “I suppose they’ve sent you to close off the property.” “Initially, yes,” said Bernie. “However, I’ve been issued a new directive from the Mayor’s Office.” He reached into his pocket and read from a folded piece of paper. “To the attention of—are you alright, sir?” “Hm? Yes, what’s the matter?” said Euphonious. “Sir, you’ve been scratching your arm so much you appear to be drawing blood.” Euphonious stared at his bloodied fingernails. “Oh, um, just a little itchy. Carry on.” Bernie obliged and returned to the message. “To the attention of Mr. Euphonious Smith. In light of recent developments, the Seawater Public Appropriations Committee has voted unanimously to restore funding for the position of Lighthouse Keeper. This arrangement is contingent upon one condition: that every night, without fail, the lighthouse is to be illuminated so as to attract the violent swarms of mosquitos away from town, thus eliminating the need for the inconvenient Mosquito Curfew. Failure to comply will result in termination of your employment and immediate eviction from the premises. Cordially, Mayor Collier T. Wax.” Bernie looked up and beamed at Euphonious. “Congratulations sir! Looks like you’ll be staying here after all!” Unfazed by the look of horror on Euphonious’ face, Bernie snapped off another salute, climbed back onto his bicycle, and began the long journey back to town. 7 Mayor Wax’s second wedding is still regarded today as the rowdiest party in the history of Seawater, a drunken spectacle that damaged countless reputations and over $3,000 of public property. Two days later, when the chaplain finally sobered up, it was revealed that Mayor Wax had passed out in the bathroom before the vows could even be administered. A private ceremony was held later that week. 8 A detailed analysis of the Seawater public records system reveals that Bernard Russell held no less than fourteen civic titles during his teenage years. The more exotic among them include: Chief of the Seawater Dewey Decimal Society, Honorary Town Bamboozler (there is no record of what this means), and Personal Poison Tester to the Mayor.
Collin Van Son is an undergraduate student at Penn State University where he is majoring in physics.
164 Wind/Mill Prizes
The Hofstra Journal of Literature and Art