Saturday, March 29, 2008

jack and the magic bean bus

chapter 25 – back, and to the left

Jack had absolutely no doubt about it. The mysterious character striding across the movie screen was . . .

. . . none other than Randy Dickson. Mr. Karras spoke as he removed the film reel from the projector. “He seems to be a missing link, but not the missing link I need to unravel this conspiracy.”
When the second film reel had been threaded through the projector, Mr. Karras spoke again. “This next film was also taken on this year’s Ragbray.” Once again, the clackety-clackety noise of the projector filled the dark room and cast a bright picture on the movie screen while the winter storm outside continued to howl.
Jack sat in the darkness of Mr. Karras’ study and watched the scene unfold. It was a bright and sunny day in a small Iowa town somewhere on the Ragbrai route.

Hundreds of people lined the streets as cyclists made a left-hand turn into the downtown area. A beer garden in a city park across the street was still empty, except for a few people strolling across the grass.
As Jack watched,

a golf cart appeared and carefully rounded the left-hand turn,
. . . with a second golf cart right behind it. They were easing their way past the crowd on either side of the street. Mr. Karras’ voice cut across the noise of the projector. “The president of the Dallas Center Ragbray Committee and his wife are riding in the back of the first cart. The mayor and his driver are in the front seat.”
Flags fluttered in the breeze and people in the crowd clapped as the golf cart motorcade slowly made its way toward the entrance of the beer garden. A road sign temporarily blocked the view, and for a few moments the lead golf cart was hidden from the camera.
When the lead golf cart emerged from behind the sign, Jack could see the committee president clutching his drenched shirt as his wife leaned toward him. Mr. Karras narrated. “It seems that the president was hit in the neck with a water balloon while the golf cart was behind the road sign.”
Mr. Karras continued, “The next water balloon will score a direct hit.” Suddenly, Jack saw a watery explosion on the committee president’s head. His wife climbed toward the back of the cart and reached out to help a beer garden volunteer jump onto the back bumper of the golf cart as it sped out of sight.
Mr. Karras stopped the projector and turned on the lights. “As you can see, something happened there that changed Ragbray in a very deep and profound way, from that day forward.”
“What are you talking about?” asked Jack. “A guy got hit by a couple of water balloons. Somebody with a water balloon launcher . . .
. . . behind the crowd probably just made a few lucky shots.”
“That’s what they would want you to believe,” said Mr. Karras as he stood and began pacing back and forth across the study like it was a courtroom. “They would have you believe that the water balloon struck the committee president in the right temple. According to official reports, the water from the balloon then proceeded to ricochet off the right temple, striking the mayor between the third and the fourth rib. The splash then came off the ribs, made a right turn, hitting the mayor in the right wrist, causing him to drop his baseball cap.

The splash then bounced off the wrist, paused, in mid-air mind you, made a left turn, and landed on the mayors left thigh. That,” Mr. Karras paused here for dramatic effect, “is one magic water balloon.”
“Well, it looks like that’s the way it happened,” said Jack resignedly.
Mr. Karras pressed his point further. “What happened to the president’s head when he got hit?”
“His head went back and to the left,” answered Jack.
“Say that again!” prompted Mr. Karras.

“Back and to the left,” Replied Jack.

“Back and to the left,” repeated Mr. Karras.

“Back and to the left.”
“So, what are you saying?” asked Jack.
“I’m saying that the second water balloon could not have come from behind the crowd, that there had to have been a second water balloon launcher in front of the cart, beyond the beer garden, on the grassy hill. If the water balloon launcher was behind them, as you claimed, that would have caused the mayor’s head to pitch forward. The sad thing is that we may never know the real truth.”
At that moment, the winter storm outside burst against the house with renewed force, shaking the windows and causing the walls to shudder. The lights flickered and went out, leaving Mr. Karras and Jack in the dark.
to be continued...
[a serial by little orphan dbax]

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