A story of a strange visitor to a strange town
|Welcome to Everville said the sign. Population: 56 |
The sign was old and careworn as if nobody had bothered to repaint it or in anyway update it for quite some time. Dr. Carlini looked at the sign and clicked his tongue. "I don't know how places like this come to be," he said to his cart horse, Matilda. Matilda didn't seem to know either, or if she did, she wasn't willing to share the information. So Dr. Carlini proceeded with his cart and his horse into town where a few villagers glanced at him.
"Ladies and Gentlemen. Allow me to introduce myself. I am the one and only Dr. Marlo Carlini, JD., MD, Mec., etcetera, etcetera, etcetera! I bring with me the most miraculous substance available. My own patented recipe for anti-adhesive elixir. Just twenty cents a bottle!"
"What's anti-adhesive elixir?" asked a small voice. It came from a little freckled boy who was watching Dr. Carlini attentively.
"Do you know what adhesive is?" Dr. Carlini asked the boy
"I do." This time it was a little girl. "And I can spell adhesive. A-d-h-e-s-i-v-e."
"Very good," said Dr. Carlini.
"I'm the best speller in my class."
"I'm glad to hear that," said Dr. Carlini, trying to remain patient, "But what does the word mean?"
"Oh. It means that it sticks to things like glue."
"Hey, is that what you're selling?" asked the little boy. "Glue?"
"No," said Dr. Carlini. "If you'll remember. I said that it's an anti-adhesive. That means that it's for when something gets glued together by mistake and you want to unstick it."
The boy seemed to think about that for a minute. "You know, I don't think we have anything that's glued together by accident."
"Oh are you sure?" Dr. Carlini paused and looked at the boy. "How long have you lived here?"
"Forever." said the little boy.
"Forever?" Dr. Carlini raised an eyebrow.
"Well, all my life, and ain't that the same thing as forever?"
"In your case, I guess it is." He turned to the little girl. "What about you? Have you always been the best speller in your class?"
"Always" The girl was quite certain of that.
"What about before you started school? Who was the best speller then?"
"What do you mean?"
"I was afraid you'd say that. So, you've just always been going to school and learning. Have you always had the same teacher?"
"Sure, Miss Darby."
"And doesn't she ever run out of things to teach you?"
"I don't understand?"
Dr. Carlini sighed. "I think each of you should take a bottle of this. If you can't afford to pay me now, I'll let you owe it to me. You should each take a tablespoonful before bed."
"All right," said the boy.
That made Dr. Carlini sigh even louder.
After the boy and girl had left, Dr. Carlini said to himself, "I don't know how places like this come to be."
He was still pondering it when an old man in a black suit and white collar came up to him and said, "Now see here, you. Just what is your business?"
Dr. Carlini smiled. "A man of the cloth, I see. Is this place your parish?"
"Indeed, and I'd like to know what you think you're doing selling strange things to the children of this town. Are you trying to corrupt our lambs?"
Now Dr. Carlini actually laughed. "My good Reverend, Isn't that the ultimate purpose of lambs? To be corrupted into mutton?"
"Of all the. . .What kind of sick man are you?"
"Forgive me if I offended you, my good Reverend. But perhaps you could tell me more about this town. I assume you've been its pastor for quite some time."
"Of course. Many years."
"And," Dr. Carlini went on, "in all those years, how many weddings have you performed?"
The Reverend's factor seemed to fade and was replaced by a puzzled expression. "Well, none that I can remember. I guess around here, most people are already married. At least the ones that want to be."
"Hmm.. .And how many funerals have you performed?"
The Reverend was silent.
"At the happier end of the spectrum, how many babies have you baptized? I imagine the answer to that is zero. After all, if such a thing ever did happen in this town, someone would have to repaint the sign."
"Look," said the Reverend, "I don't know what you're trying to insinuate."
"I'm trying to insinuate that this town needs a dose of anti-adhesive." He held out a bottle to the Reverend. "Why don't you set an example for your flock by trying some."
The Reverend was a little uncertain, but he shrugged and took the bottle.
Dr. Carlini turned back to Matilda. "I don't know how towns like this come to be," he said.
* * *
The next day there was quite a ruckus in the town as a large mob appeared led by the parents of the two children Dr. Carlini had sold anti-adhesive to. "Are you responsible for this?" the boy's mother accused. She pointed to her son, and everyone saw that the boy had grown a beard several inches long.
"Madam," said Dr. Carlini in a calm voice, "it may have been partially, but I don't think you're the one with the worst problems."
"He's got that right," said a voice which belonged to the girl's mother. "Look at what you did to my daughter. She's got two huge melons growing out of her chest."
"Madam, I would not be so alarmed by that," said Dr. Carlini. "After all, those melons, as you describe them, are not much bigger than your own."
The mother's jaw dropped open with embarrassment, but she did not speak.
"Actually," Dr. Carlini went on, "if you don't mind my saying so, the person that you should really be concerned about is your Reverend."
Confusion rippled through the mob. Nobody had seen the Reverend that day. A few citizens were dispatched to go to the church and look for him.
A few minutes later, those citizens came running back from the church screaming. "The Reverend! He's. . .He's. . .He was in the church but he died. There's nothing left of him, but a an corpse that looks like it's been decaying for several days."
"Oh dear," said Dr. Carlini. "You must accept my apologies for that. I was afraid that he would take too much of the anti-adhesive, and it seems I was right." He turned back to the children. "Look, I think I can take care of these two, if you'll just let me."
He took the boy and the girl away from the mob to a quiet place behind a barn. "What are you going to do us?" asked the girl.
"Something very wise, I'm sure." Dr. Carlini looked at the girl. "First, you need to take off your top."
"In front of a boy?" said the girl with disgust.
"Besides," said the boy, "I don't want to look at those gross things on her chest."
Carlini sighed and took out a bottle. "You each need to take a little more of the anti-adhesive." He gave them each another spoonful.
Immediately, the girl took off her top and the boy looked at her with wonder. "They're not gross anymore, are they?" asked Dr. Carlini.
"No," admitted the boy, "they're pretty." He touched the girl's chest.
Then the two kissed. Then they were rolling on the ground ripping each other's clothes off.
Dr. Carlini tried not to watch this part too carefully, but when it was over. He strode back to the girl. "How do you feel?"
"Good, I guess."
"Take a little more of the elixir." She swallowed a spoonful. Immediately, she became a bit fatter.
"Yes," said Dr. Carlini. "I want you both to keep taking the elixir, but you," he pointed to the girl, "especially. You're going to be getting unstuck for two now."
[center}* * *
That night, Dr. Carlini left the town. "You know," he said to Matilda, "I don't know how such places come to be, but I guess it's my job to fix them."