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June 2, 2009 | by  | in Books Features |
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The Wild Goat Chase

I wouldn’t call myself paranoid, yet I see conspiracies everywhere. I never really believed what the experts told me, and I always had the sneaking suspicion that science was just metaphysics dressed in elegant drag. Lately I had become convinced swine flu was just sensational propaganda promoted by the pharmaceuticals. But it didn’t stop there, the pharmaceutical companies were just part of a much larger cabal involving the World Health Organisation, the Mexican Beef Lobby and City’s Sanitation Division—all hell bent on controlling our credit cards and bodily fluids. In search of answers I went to Ivonna the magical spinning gypsy wench of the Aro Street chip store. I put my 5 cents in and tapped the box impatiently—What number would I get? Would my suspicions be confirmed? The needle finally stopped on number 4, my answer? “NO !” I had vested all my hopes in this mechanical fortune teller and all I got was a lousy “NO !” Something was amiss here. Had they gotten to Ivonna too, was there hush money involved? How much does it even cost to pay off a mechanical box?

Sensing a dead end I turned to my next source of information—astrology. I checked my star sign obsessively in the hope that my goat would personally communicate with me. Most of the times I felt like he was only giving me general advice. Just once I would like him to say directly to me, “Everything you know is a lie,” “Follow the money trail,” “Eat that 5-day-old egg salad in the fridge—it’s still good!” Something I can use, sink my teeth into, something to take away the everyday speculation in my life. Yet there was something grand about the unashamed generality of it all. In any event it was a damn sight better than Ivonna’s “NO !”. But then just last week the Mountain Goat said to me:

“Don’t let others take the lead on a pending question. It’s a new beginning, and an opportunity will present itself.”

My entire life flashed before my eyes and all my suspicions were vindicated. I was on to something and they were desperately trying a cover-up. That night I had a vivid dream of being eaten by my star sign. Suddenly and out of nowhere came stampeding a ravenous P-crazed shit goat hell bent on eating me alive, he had a crazed look in his eye and foamed at the mouth. An agent of the beef lobby. It’s the sound that hits you first when you’re being eaten alive, the pain comes thick and fast but before long you feel nothing. The sound of your cracking bones comes from within and takes over all your thoughts, your mind is clouded by a deafening white noise. By the time I was fully digested I felt nothing. What little was left of my vision was half‑distorted by the white smokey cloud of tobacco‑chewing ex-convicts. Contrary to popular opinion the anti‑smoking programs in prisons achieved success rates even the free market would envy. Free-marketeers were outraged and every private contractor was called to an emergency town-hall meeting. The Mayor soon got word through:

Citizens and Contributors: My Advisers suggest we imprison the entire town, the boost in productivity will in a few short years pay off the municipal debts.

Standing by the newsstand I read the headline: Mayor accumulates city’s debts in months of unchecked, reckless gambling… Out of the corner of my eye I see a moustached man in a trench-coat surrounded by cigarette smoke—Mexican! I chase him down a dark alley. Halfway I get the fear, panic, turn around, and run back to the street. The newsstand now read: Mayor found dead in trawling net wearing concrete shoes. The coroner reported it a self-inflicted death. I smelt something fishy and I was damn sure it wasn’t the fish. Who was that smoking Mexican man? Who wanted the Mayor out of the picture?

Had the professionals let me down? I needed to get to the bottom of this so I rushed back to Aro Street to ask Ivonna. 5 cents later I got my answer—Number 22: “Beware Rogues Are About.” Vindication! I needed no more proof; all that was left to do was burn down the Mexican Embassy—if I could just silence this agent of miscommunication people could see reality for what it truly was. The Pentagon denied it but I could read through their non-denial denials—someone was pulling the strings here.I was no child and this puppet show couldn’t divert me for long. I remembered the smoking man at the newsstand; the patch on his coat bore the insignia of the Sanitation Division and he carried a medical bag. All of a sudden it made sense: the Mexicans, the Pharmacologists, the Sanitarians. This conspiracy was being run straight out of the City’s Sanitation Division right under our noses, the cover was perfect—reporters never had the stomach to get below the filth and retrieve the facts.

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