April Fools Edition
This is an article from the future. The Dade Planet has been pleased to deliver its readers blockbusting local stories well before its competitors sniffed them out; now it is delighted to dish them up before they in fact happen.
How does The Planet do this? Like most denizens of this temporally confused tri-state area, where Eastern Standard abuts Central Standard and never the twain shall meet, The Planet has become an adept time traveler. It’s simple: Travel from Georgia to Alabama, go back an hour; travel deeper into Alabama, go back 100 years. In any case, the dateline of this story is April 1, 2018, well after completion of Trenton’s proposed roundabout.
Monks from Nepal arrived in Dade County today to seek enlightenment at Trenton’s by-now world-famous roundabout at the junction of highways 11 and 136. “It is written in the prophecies that the path to nirvana is circular,” said Lama Asmelah Raht.
Raht, granting a rare interview to The Planet, explained that he and his brother monks had left Arwehthairyeti, a tiny monastery tucked into the lofty Himalayas where they spend their days chanting and meditating, after receiving certain signs and portents that Dade County is the exact center of the universe and its central roundabout the confluence of all human consciousness.
The holy man pulled a pair of round-framed wire spectacles from the folds of his saffron-colored robe, put them on, and peered beatifically from the CVS parking lot out at the afternoon traffic swirling around the controversial road feature.
“Consider the ceaseless motion,” he said. “Vehicles flow outward to west and east, south and north, one after another, ten upon ten—yet inside the sacred ring, the stream continues undiminished.”
“Yes, master, it is so” said the monks, beginning to intone, arms raised eastward toward the Kangaroo station.
“I bet the prophecies don’t say much about the Kangaroo station,” prompted The Planet.
“On the contrary,” replied the lama. He delved once again into the folds of his saffron-colored robe and this time drew forth a scroll which he consulted silently before proclaiming: “The prophecies mention both a kangaroo and a rabbit. Also—what is this word? Marlboros?” He shook his shaven head. “The words of the prophecies are sometimes shrouded in mist.”
They were not that damn misty to The Planet. Somehow, the Nepalese holy writings had predicted the First Miracle of the Roundabout.
At least to locals, the Kangaroo station incident was the first indication of the Sacred Roundabout’s special powers. Shortly after the Georgia Department of Transportation had completed the feature, which replaced a badly engineered traffic-light-controlled intersection, folding lawn chairs began appearing overnight on the sidewalk of the busy self-service gas station on the east side of Highway 11, one of them bearing a stenciled representation of Bugs Bunny.
Trentonians eyed them with wonder, saying among themselves, “Lo, can it be? The Chairs are back!”
Now, there are very few reasons that modern English speakers use the archaic term “lo.” One is to react to miracles and another to refer to days of yore. In this case, it was a matter of both; and to explain this phenomenon The Planet must itself hark back to yore briefly, to wit:
In the earlier days of Dade, men would gather of a morning outside the gas station in question to sip their coffee, smoke their Marlboros, and opine sagaciously about the great matters of the world as they watched the traffic go by. Each sipped, smoked, opined and watched from the comfort of his individual folding chair, one of which was emblazoned with a portrait of the famous animated hare as a tribute to its lagomorphically named occupant.
This pleasant tradition endured throughout the untold ages until, a few years back, a new store management, whether from disapproval of tobacco, folding chairs or wascally wabbits, banished the chairs and their owners from the gas station sidewalk. In Dade, an era had ended!
But now, in the New Age of the Roundabout, the chairs having returned as if of themselves, men began, timidly at first, to sit in them again, to drink coffee and to light Marlboros as they watched the hypnotic circling of cars in the intersection; and some in the quiet country town began to whisper (with many a “lo”) that balance had returned to the universe.
Fast-forward to the CVS parking lot, where The Planet asked Lama Asmela to translate the holy prophecies as they relate to the Trenton Roundabout. The holy man reached once more into the folds of his saffron-colored robe—just how many folds, The Planet began to wonder, can one saffron-colored robe contain?—and drew out a Nepalese-English dictionary.
“When,” he pronounced after much shuffling of pages, “semis circle counterclockwise around the center of the universe, then shall Rabbit return to Kangaroo and men light Marlboros. Glad songs will be sung and mighty miracles happen, for the prophecies are at hand and enlightenment will dawn at last.”
And in fact, as has now been chronicled not only in The Dade Planet but at the national level as well, by hard-hitting New York Times journalists and whispery-voiced female New Dimensions commentators alike, the return of Rabbit and the Chairs was not the only miracle that ensued after the Trenton Roundabout was opened. Here are some of the mightier:
A local man drove into the roundabout in a battered pickup truck with Confederate flags flying from both door mirrors, mudflap girl decals in front of the outsized tires and one of Calvin peeing on something on the beer window, country music blaring from the radio, a loaded rifle rack and a “Keep it flying” bumper sticker. He emerged three days later driving a Prius, asked the Kangaroo clerk how to get to Massachusetts and is currently studying philosophy at Harvard. His wife proclaimed it genuinely supernatural as he had never previously asked directions.
Three Trenton restaurants began serving salads made with lettuces other than iceberg; two removed big-screen televisions from their walls and replaced them with tasteful if food-based murals; and one left the television blaring but anyway changed the channel to something besides Fox News.
Calvary Baptist exhibited the rainbow flag proudly on its marquee.
“All this is pretty unusual,” The Planet admitted to Lama Asmelah. “But I come from a secular background and it’s hard for me to believe in miracles, even now that peace has been declared in the Middle East. What else you got?”
“The Dade County Board of Education this morning resumed its rightful share of funding the Dade Public Library,” said the holy man.
The Planet crumpled to the pavement, dumbstruck. Stars fell from the heavens. Angels sang. Men began to live in peace like brothers.
“Lo,” said The Planet.
The lama and his monks walked into the Roundabout and became creatures of pure light.