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“Look at them! Like monkeys let out of a cage.” Mrs. Scruggs dried the final cup
and hung it on the nail under the kitchen cabinet. The sun had finally come out
after three solid weeks of rain. Since school vacation began every boy and girl
in Hamelin had been housebound.
Mrs. Scruggs, the Town Councilman’s wife, explained the miraculous event that
occurred in Hamelin today by beginning, “Do you know what it’s like havin’ three
kids trackin’ in mud all day? It’s ‘Gee Ma, there’s nuthin’ t’do, or, we’re
bored Ma, kin we go to the movies?’ I tell you, Me and my hubby prayed every
night fer that rain t’stop, or if not, that the school would leastways open up
again and take the kids back.”
After the third week, somebody remarked that the town clown, Dan Piper, could
make the rain stop. The Town Council authorized Barney Scruggs to locate him and
Barney found him late this afternoon drinking in the Hamelin Manor Saloon. Dan
Piper, was always dressed like a clown in red overalls and a yellow hat. He was
sitting quietly by himself looking outside at the rain running down the dirty
window with a knowing smile on his weather-beaten face.
“Thought I’d find y’here, Dan.” Barney Scruggs said.
“Yep, ain’t much else t’do in Hamelin when it rains.”
Scruggs signaled to the bartender to bring Dan another drink, then he measured
his words slowly and carefully, “Dan, is there any truth to the rumor that you
have a way with the weather?”
“Oh, I can’t make tornados or hailstones much bigger’n a golf ball, but they’s
some things I kin do.” He raised his newly filled glass to Councilman Scruggs
and said quietly, “I kin make this rain go away, fr’instance – jest like that.”
“How kin y’do somethin’ like that?”
Dan Piper drained his glass and winked knowingly. “That’d be tellin’ Scruggs,
and I’m not tellin’.”
By now the entire Town Council had gathered around the two men. The Assistant
Treasurer nudged Barney and said, “Ask him. Ask him.”
“How much would’ja charge fer doin’ somethin’ like that?” Barney asked. “I mean
if the whole town chipped in, could’ja give us a special price?”
Dan put his empty glass on the counter and stared at the ceiling. He hooked his
thumbs in the straps of his red suspenders and pursed his lips. “Reckon I could
do it fer a thousand bucks, Seein’ as how I’m purty sick of the rain myself.”
The Assistant Treasurer nodded in agreement, and to demonstrate the Council’s
good faith, wrote out a check for Dan in the amount of $500 as a down payment
right there in the Hamelin Manor Saloon.
Dan examined the check carefully, slipped it in his pocket and slid himself off
the stool. He set his yellow hat firmly on his head and stepped out into the
driving rain. He reached into the back pocket of his baggy clown’s overalls and
withdrew a small flute. He got no further than the chorus of “I’m Singin’ in the
Rain” when the sun broke through the clouds and the rain stopped as suddenly as
though someone had turned off a faucet.
Before you could say “Jack Robinson,” Mill Street was crawling with children.
The women appeared in their doorways with broad smiles on their faces for the
first time since school vacation began.
Dan put his flute away and strolled back to the bar, looking to collect the $500
still due him. The Assistant Treasurer, the town elders and Barney Scruggs
however had beaten a hasty retreat, figuring that $500 was enough money to stop
the rain. “Where’d everybody go?” Dan asked the bartender.
“Took off,” the bartender said. “Soon’s the sun come out, went out the back
“Dan’s face went black with rage,” the bartender later remarked. ”He turned on
his heel and walked back out into the street. He took flute out again and
commenced to play.”
The bartender half expected the rain to begin again. “But no – instead, the
children of the town all gathered about him and together, like a small army,
marched off down the road.”
The bartender polished a brandy glass and held it up to the light. “School’s
beginnin’ next week. We ‘spect they’ll be back by then.”
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