- Don Wirth
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The usual motley crew of bass nuts filled the back room of the Dew Drop Inn to dine on chicken fried mystery meat prior to the monthly meeting of the Swamp Gas Corners Bass Club. Just as me 'n' my bassin' buddy Harry had finished dinner, the club's semi-beloved president, Crusty Popodopolous, stepped to the podium. "Order! This here meetin' will come to order!" Crusty commanded with a brisk whack of the official presidential gavel. "Now before we hear any committee reports, discuss any new bidness or entertain any miscellaneous motions from the floor, I have an important announcement to make!"
"He's probably gonna announce that the food in this dive has been declared an environmental hazard by the EPA!" Harry guffawed.
"As you long-time bass clubbers know, I have served this esteemed group as your president for many years!"
"Too many if you ask me!" Harry whispered.
"After considerable thought 'n' deliberation, I have decided not to run for president again in the upcoming election of officers," Crusty continued. "It's time for new blood to take over the leadership of this club, and I'm gonna start the transition process right now by nominating my trusty tournament partner Wilbur Wangle as your next president!"
"What?!?! " Harry sputtered in disbelief. "That doofus Wilbur is as dumb as a rock! How's he gonna run a highly complicated organization like the bass club?!" Wilbur was Harry's archenemy the two had gone at it head-to-toe for decades.
The room fell into a hush as Wilbur stood and solemnly read a prepared statement. "Mr. President, fellow bass clubbers, I humbly accept the nomination. If elected, I promise to boldly go where no man has gone before, because I have a dream! And, in conclusion ask not what your bass club can do for you ask what you can do for your bass club!"
Wilbur sat down to a smattering of applause. Crusty asked, "Do I hear any other nominations for the office of president?"
"Heck, yeah!" Timmy Tipp spoke up. "I hereby nominate Harry! Both him 'n' Wilbur is equally unqualified to hold office, but think how entertaining it'll be to watch the two of 'em duke it out on the campaign trail!"
"Thank you for that vote of confidence! I also accept the nomination!" Harry said proudly, pumpin' his fist like Tiger Woods.
"Are you sure you really want to be president?" I asked. "Tryin' to corral this unruly mob is a big job!"
"Aww, fiddlesticks!" Harry scoffed. "There ain't nothin' to it! All Crusty does is bang that gavel of his and shoot his mouth off, both of which I can do just as well!"
"Well, let me remind you, them lunker basses is crawlin' all over the shallows of Belly Button Bayou and bitin' like crazy, but you won't have time to go catch 'em when you're busy runnin' for office!"
"Sure I will, 'cause I'm officially designating you as my campaign manager!" Harry replied. "What say we cut out of this meeting early and head back to my place for a high-level strategy meeting?" That sounded like a good plan to me, especially since the speaker Crusty had lined up was a dull-as-toast biologist from the state fisheries department whose lecture topic was "Plankton: Nature's Buffet."
Fueled by a bag of cheese puffs and some sweet tea, it didn't take long for us to come up with some swell election ideas, including a clever campaign slogan for Harry. The next afternoon found us at the local quickie print shop, pickin' up campaign buttons, yard signs and such. "Harry for Bass Club President!" Harry said, admiring his new yard sign. "I like it!"
"It's simple just like you!" I explained. "I read where name recognition is the most important key to gettin' votes, next to outright bribery!"
"C'mon, let's hit the campaign trail!" Harry said eagerly, brushin' the lint off his new red, white 'n' blue campaign blazer. "The election is next week, so there's no time to lose!"
"What the " I gasped as we left the print shop to find the Lunker Express plastered with bumper stickers that said Wilbur's The One !
"That no-good weasel!" Harry seethed as we ripped the stickers off the truck. "The campaign's only a few hours old and he's already pullin' dirty tricks! This calls for retaliation!"
Two hours and $995 later, we pulled out of Boomer's Custom Audio with a 40,000-watt speaker horn mounted on the roof of the truck, then headed straight for Wilbur's service station. "This is gonna be spectacular!" Harry said eagerly as I parked in front of the grimy gas station. "OK, cue up the music and hand me the microphone!"
Suddenly The Stars and Stripes Forever blared out of the speaker at the threshold of pain and Harry's campaign announcement shook plaster off the walls of Wilbur's gas station: "Attention, fellow members of the Swamp Gas Corners Bass Club! Do you want a president you can trust? Then don't vote for Wilbur Wangle! He's sneaky, low-down and connivin', and what he knows about bass fishin' could fit on the head of a pin! And speaking of pinheads, he's ugly, too! So don't vote for Wilbur – VOTE FOR HARRY INSTEAD! He's a good ole boy just like you, only smarter! You say you want progress? Then let Harry take the bass club into the 20th century! Remember, a vote for Harry is a vote for better bass fishin' and common decency! PaidforbythecampaigntoelectHarry,Charlie,treasurer. "
"Shut that dang noise off! " Wilbur yelled as he emerged from his gas station wavin' a wrench threateningly.
Harry turned the march music up even louder! "WHAT'S THAT? " he yelled back over the loudspeaker. "YOU'LL HAFTA SPEAK UP! I CAN'T HEAR YOU! " Wilbur stormed toward us and I sped away, peelin' rubber. "Hoo boy, that was fun!" Harry giggled. "Did you see the look on his face?"
"You need to quit foolin' around and start drummin' up some votes!" I complained. "It's 5 p.m. let's run over to Zonker's Tavern! The bass clubbers will be headin' there after work, and you can glad-hand 'em all in one place!"
Harry marched into the beer joint and immediately started workin' the room: "Mouse, great to see ya remember to vote for me! Lefty, my man! Vote for Harry for president! Timmy, how's the family? I'd sure appreciate your vote!" etc., etc., etc. I had to hand it to him as a politician, Harry was even slimier than John Edwards!
I seized the opportunity and banged a spoon against my beer bottle. "Fellers, Harry would like to thank y'all for your support! Now if you'll listen up, he wants to make a brief campaign speech. So without further ado, I'd like to present your next bass club president Harry!"
Ol' Harry climbed up on the bar and commenced to slingin' mud. "Fellow bass clubbers, it is with a humble heart that I ask for your vote in the upcoming presidential election! If elected, I promise to end the graft 'n' corruption that has permeated the highest office in our club for decades!"
The bass clubbers looked confused. "What graft 'n' corruption?" Mouse wondered.
"I have long suspected that Crusty and his ne'er-do-well sidekick Wilbur was gettin' a sizable kickback from the Dew Drop Inn in return for havin' our dinner meetings there!" Harry said grimly. "And as it turns out, I was right! After the last meeting, I spied both partners in crime totin' mysterious boxes as they left the restaurant! That proves they is on the take!"
"What in tarnation is you talkin' about?!" Wilbur sputtered. He'd just walked into the tavern and heard Harry's scurrilous allegations.
"I'm talkin' about you 'n' Crusty takin' bribes from the Dew Drop Inn, that's what!" Harry retorted. "C'mon, Wilbur, it's time to fess up what manner of ill-gotten gain was in them boxes? Cash? Expensive jewelry for your old ladies? Imported Japanese swimbaits?"
"Day-old fried pies , that's what!" Wilbur blurted. "Me 'n' Crusty was helpin' the cook carry stuff out to the dumpster like we always does after the meeting! That's one of the duties of the president, in case you didn't realize it!" He shook his fist and growled, "It's time somebody knocked some sense into that thick head of yours, and that somebody's gonna be me!" KER-SOCK! Wilbur hauled off 'n' cold-cocked Harry with an uppercut to the jaw! Then the next thing we knew, the two presidential hopefuls was rasslin' on the floor like a couple of alley cats! That's when Old Man Zonker called the cops!
* * *
"So who won the election?" Harry wondered a week later. I'd dropped by the cell he was sharing with Wilbur in the county jail to bring 'em both some burgers 'n' shakes from the Dairy Whip.
"What election?" I laughed. "When Crusty heard you was both in the slammer on disorderly conduct charges, he agreed to step in and serve another term! So tell me, is you two felons gettin' along any better now that you're cellmates?"
"We patched things up between us about the election, but that's as far as it goes," Wilbur grumbled. "Harry snores so bad I can't get no sleep!"
"So what's the big deal about my snoring?" Harry retorted. "Wilbur cheats at Go Fish!"
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