“Secure the Sinkhole” Raises Millions

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This is a short story in a compilation of fiction short stories, all loosely based on current events.

REAL life bent to the world-wide stage of the politicos, actors and TV talking heads.
“Secure the Sinkhole” Raises Millions

I’ll never forget how happy the words of the above title made me the day I saw them in the local yokel bird cage liner.

Oh yeah, this is a fiction story, wink, wink, I am fiction, any places mentioned do not exist. Wink, wink. The events I describe have not happened and are not happening. I cannot predict the future.

Let me stipulate that I am not a political person, such as political tidbits floating in the air around me tend to end up on my mind for the self-interest that might be involved. I was attuned to the Monica Lewinsky thing, for example, because the discussions and scandal interested me. I’m a typical guy pretty much, maybe not obsessed with a sexual appetite but certainly with a passing interest.

I don’t even remember the elder Bush and the younger Bush, all I know is they called him “Dubya”. Just last week I was astounded that we had both a father and son as President and so close together. Well I guess they couldn’t be too far apart but still…

So my lachrymose interest in the Clinton scandals gave me a passing acquaintance with Al Gore and Al Gore wrote “Earth in the Balance”, a book about the phenomena called man made global warming.

Now if I have half a percentile interest in politics, my interest in all things science is one millionth of that. So global warming wasn’t much on my mind except I happened to be taking a meteorology course the year that Al Gore wrote his book. I chose my one and only science course requirement for my degree to meteorology cause way I figured, weather predictors are the only people who can be wrong so often and still keep their job.

In a great confluence of events in my life I came to get more involved in the study of global warming than anyone ought to be. Know now that I had no opinion one way or the other about the subject, I needed to write a term paper to finish a science course to get a degree and I knew Al Gore.

I never became any kind of expert on global warming sadly. I did learn, however, how to make a lot of money, how to do it easily and legally and how to be admired by the very people you are fleecing.

It’s great work if you can get it.

With all my education I landed a job as the town business manager for Selby, Delaware. Selby is a small burg, friendly, populated by half year round and the other half in the summers only-residents. The folks in town hail mostly from nearby states. It’s not a particularly close citizenry but they like it that way.

I’d been out of college for a couple of years by than but still global warming was a topic of current events. I kept up with it; I was intrigued. I wanted to know the truth.

“Come on, Roy, the weather’s been changing for millions of years. It’s normal and it ain’t man-made.” Walter Smart, whose last name did not suit him, was manager of the town’s two trash trucks. Actually he owned both of the trucks and his sons-in law drove them and Walter charged the town.

“Look here, Walt,” I said, determined to overwhelm Walt with a little truth. I turned my laptop monitor his way and showed him the famous “hockey stick” graph targeted by world famous science teams backed by money from many governments. Walter came over and peered at the screen.

“Looks like a man with a hard on,” Walt said with a sniff. I had to laugh. All of the world called the huge spike up in a graph of the average temperatures in recent years as being a “hockey stick” but old Walt saw as an erection.

I wasn’t any Einstein but it seemed to me that a graph of average temperatures over a span of decades was going along just fine…a small rise up here, 20 years later a dip. All of a sudden the average temperature kept by various thermometers in diverse parts of the planet spikes upward until it resembles the famous hockey stick.

There by perfectly depicting global warming on a graph I could make on an Excel spreadsheet.

“I been filling that landfill by the graveyard for going on 15 years now Roy. You know the Anderson car dealership was built over part of that landfill?”

I did not know that Selby’s only car dealership was built atop a landfill but I didn’t much care.

“And the trash melts down, Roy, it becomes part of the soil, it’s what I do, I know how it works.” Of course I had to ask Walt how trash had anything to do with global warming.

“Roy, it’s about nature,” Walt said, putting his hands on his elder hips and leaning back for a stretch. “Human beings do not have the power to overturn Mother Nature no matter what the politicians say.”

I told Walt a nuclear bomb could do a lot of damage; it is essentially nature run amok, albeit in a controlled and sealed environment inside a concrete-covered reactor. Oh year, I typed up a guy’s term paper on 3 Mile Island and learned all about this.

“You seen any pics of Hiroshima lately Roy.” With that Roy bent over my laptop and with a dexterity I didn’t think he possessed he punched some keys and like that, a picture of Hiroshima came up on the computer.

It was rather a surprise, bright neon lights, a countryside of electric lights, tall buildings, manufacturing plants. People moving about, some road stands…busy, bustling, vibrant. It did seem that even a nuclear bomb didn’t destroy nature or life within.

“I remember some elite college rep telling us we should only have a kid to replace ourselves. I remember , hell, I remember hearing how the planet was turning cold, Roy. Then there was a period when some babe lectured us about fragile eggs on the birds so they banned DDT….a waste of time, Roy, a waste of time.”

I couldn’t mentally place a lot of Walt’s references but I noted his words and would research later. “Are you telling me that humans have NO effect on their environment, Walt? Surely you don’t believe that.”

I wondered how a guy whose whole life was trash would believe humans don’t, at the least, produce a lot of trash.

“Temporary, Roy,. Temporary. Humans can burn a lot of fires and make the air smoky. Humans sure do produce a lot of trash but humans also make new property out of it! Lookit, you’re the guy with all the education. I’m just a trash collector.”

Roy rubbed his head a bit to clear the cob webs and bid me farewell.

I sat right down and did some searches on those topics Walt mentioned and I was quite surprised.

It was Paul Ehrlich who warned the populace to only have one child each, that the planet would soon be over-run with too many humans and too little food. It would turn out that, by his own admission, Ehrlich “over-stated” the problem.

As for those birds’ eggs Walt referred to, well it was Rachel Carson who wrote “Silent Spring” and Walt was right, she asserted that the eggs of certain raptors were getting too thin to bear the weight of incubation due to the large human use of DDT. DDT was banned. The heartache was that in places like Africa, DDT virtually eliminated malaria. Once it was banned malaria became again a huge problem. From raptors’ eggs to human beings, it would turn out.

Of course I began to research global warming and guess what?

Lookit, I won’t call it a hoax but I’d put it right up there with alleged fragile bird eggs and too many kids. Could be but probably not.

Walt retired a month after our interesting discussion and I then began a campaign that would save Selby from a fate more horrible than endless heat from global warming, from fragile eggshells raining down upon them, from the sight of small children dying from hunger for their parents’ endless reproducing.

We have a small community college here in Selby, serves the whole of Middlesex county but it’s mostly attended by local folk.

I put my plan into action.

I called one of my teacher buddies at the community college and got the names of a couple of students wanting a career in geology. I hired a photographer friend and began the action needed.

There had been a bevy of sinkhole episodes making the news wires during that period. In one case a man sharing a home with his brother and his wife was swallowed up by a sinkhole. His brother could hear him screaming from somewhere below ground. They never did find his body.

Selby, indeed all of Delaware, was basically a swamp. So far as I knew there were no sinkholes but you never know, there could have been.

More important, whether there were sinkholes or not, people would BELIEVE that sinkholes exist in a state as swampy as Delaware.

As for the two students, I told them that the school would be awarded two major grants for those two to research the matter. I also informed my professor friend that the college would get the funds. It was small matter for me to get Councilman Downs to approve the money from his discretionary funds.

After having the students and professor on board for doing a study on sinkholes in the area, I took them all out to the landfill.

We all walked around the landfill as I pointed out fractures and fissures that so concerned me. It stretched my job description as town business manager to be involved in local geology but hey, we were a small town and sometimes we had to wear two hats. I directed the team over to the Anderson car dealership and explained that this was the first property likely to be affected by what I considered to be a huge sinkhole just waiting to implode.

Jim Anderson, son of Jeff and heir to the town’s only car dealership agreed to contribute to the sinkhole fund as the last thing he wanted was his cars and business property disappearing into the bowels of the earth, never to be seen again.

I followed the formula and it seemed to work.

You need a fear to build on. I’d decided on the fear of being buried alive as my impetus.

You need a level of believability. It was certainly quite believable that Delaware would have sinkholes. There is a geological dynamic that causes sinkholes, something about lime and fine dirt, so the community college kids told me. For sure Delaware had a high water table and lime deposits were ever prevalent in the green-stained toilets of Delawareans.

It was but one day strolling the town landfill to find some fissures and cracks that well, if you looked at them kind of close and squinted your eyes, could look like the beginning of a bunch of ground about to be swallowed up. I got a high grade photographer to take some convincing pics, all on the town’s taxpayer dime mind you.

You need a pool of people to benefit. In my case I had the community college with a big grant from the town, something which never happened before, two students desperate to show how smart they are in their chosen field, how they saved the town through their investigation. The community college certainly encourages those students to return a report that….well that further investigation would be needed in regards to the sinkhole problem.

You need somewhere to get money to stop the tragedy about to happen. In the case of the impending sinkhole, the citizens of Selby would be very willing to pay higher taxes to keep from being swallowed into the ground, much less keep their property values up. The county kicked in some money, then the state, then the feds.

Of course there was needed a foundation to handle all this money flow. I created one, I am a business manager after all, and named myself president. I made my two kids directors on the foundation’s board and my wife was the operating officer.

You don’t really outright “steal” the money from the foundation. I pay myself a salary, a handsome one, but not absurd. My wife gets a salary, much less. My two kids get stipends for their attendance at the Board of Directors meetings.

Over a four year period Selby led the world in the discovery and prevention of sinkholes. I did, of course, hire a construction company which “shored” up all the fissures and cracks I’d found plus a few more found by the geology students. The college had a zesty change in study topics to Geology and in time students poured in from the entire Delmarva region. All to study sinkholes, to prevent sinkholes, to make the world a better place.

I published a thesis on sinkholes, something I paid somebody to write. It did a good sale in the sandy areas across America . I collected handsome royalties.

Like many fake causes, the balloon soon bursts. People had lots of babies after Ehrlich declared mass famine for wanton reproduction. Raptors continue to live though DDT is still sprayed across the America during heavy mosquito season because fake causes are one thing, malaria is another.

Global warming….heh….well Al Gore had a TV network he sold to Al Jazeera, he got caught making inappropriate advances to a masseuse and called for a “chakra”. Some people made some bucks on global warming. The UN is still using it, President Obama mentions it during every State of the Union address.

Fake causes eventually do NOT become true.

Selby Delaware never sunk into the ground and over a five year span the citizens became restless. They began to think the sinkhole thing to be a big fake-why else did no one else in Delaware have the threatening sinkhole Selby had?

My family now lives a happy and wealthy life somewhere in the country. It’s no mind my name, none of your business. Selby is still looking for me but they are low-key about it. The don’t want the embarrassment of it getting out how fooled they were.

Both of my sons want to grow up to be Geologists.

I’m tempted to teach them the art of the scam.


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