The Peculiar Inhabitants of Chestertown 

There was a hot air balloon in the sky over the mall. Every year the town held a festival where people made hamster size hot air balloons out of tissue paper and balsa, and with the help of some pretty high tech fans and wind cutters, tried to launch them over the giant model of the town which was used by the mayor until he upgraded. All year long townsfolk spend most of their free time gathering materials and designing. The hobby store is doing great. But the bowling alley went out of business. People get pretty damn serious about this festival. Just last year they found a body of a woman who the police suspect had been stealing her husbands balloon plans and running off to the old abandoned power station to design. They found remnants of what could have become a rudimentary model of the town, along with the plans. Cartons of orange juice and milk were found stuffed in trash bags, which might have been used for buildings. But maybe she was on her way to diabetes. Someone said once that she was trying to give her husband a gift by showing his balloon plans to an aeronautics engineer who worked for Boeing, and had chosen the power station as a rendezvous she knew nobody would ever suspect. Her husband, who always came in second place in the festival for balloon design, didn’t think too highly of himself, and she thought this might boost his self-esteem and redirect his narrow if ambitious expectations. I saw her once at the only convenience store left standing in town. She seemed like an honest girl, not someone who’d ever try to sabotage her own husband. “How’s it going, Berta? How’s Ronny? How’s that new bed of his working out? I said. “It’s great, but I don’t think it fits him. We may have to knock out a wall for this one,” she said. “Timmy had to do that for his wife two years ago. Something about needing the room to get around it.” I said. “We take our models pretty seriously around here,” she said. “What’s not working for him exactly?” I said. “The colors don’t work out quite right. And my husband has a theory concerning how color effects wind flow and loft. It’s like Feng Shui, dollhouse style.” She said. “Like accommodating for miniature obesity,” I said. Then she did the thriller dance for me in aisle three in front of the q-tips. I had no idea what was happening. How was I supposed to know she had been self-medicating with her Xanax and suffering from dystonia? I thought she was trying to tell me something about her husband’s theory. “How do we ever know anything? Just last week, Stephanie Blake’s cousin Peter had a truck fall on him,” Officer John said. “Was it a tornado?” I said. “No, somebody actually picked it up and dropped it on him. Apparently, Stephanie’s ex-fiancé operates a crane at a construction site beside a music store where they were displaying a piano out on front on the street, and out of jealousy, he picked it up with the crane and dropped it on Peter while he was coming out of Starbuck’s, which is just across the street,” Officer Jon said. “Was it planned from the beginning or was it spontaneous?” I said. “Nobody knows for sure.” Officer John said. He did something with his eyebrows. Later, the coroner couldn’t get them to stay down.

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