This work of short fiction deals with a fictional attempt by the residents of Techumseh, Indiana, to explain the cause of a recent power outage. In typical Tecumseh fashion, nobody can agree.
Wednesday afternoon the south side of Tecumseh went dark. The instant the power outage occurred the air conditioners stopped running, the stereos and televisions went silent, the computers crashed, and the traffic lights didn’t flash red, green, or yellow.
The power outage created havoc from the center of town all the way to Shawnee and Potawatomi counties. The official story released to the Tecumseh Times stated a suicidal squirrel jumped into a transformer, ending his miserable tree climbing life.
The citizens of Tecumseh aren’t buying the official report. Conspiracy theories ran rampant throughout town on Thursday.
The guys at the Liar’s Table
The old guys sitting at the liar’s table over at the Cup & Spoon believe the mayor’s nephew, Albert, pressed the wrong button on the control panel over at the utility company. Everybody knows Albert’s color blind.
He wouldn’t see the difference between a red button and a green button if his life depended on it. The men are taking bets on how long it takes the mayor to appoint him dog catcher.
The Cup & Spoon
There’s another school of thought that exists over at the Cup & Spoon. It’s believed A terrorist group tried to blow the entire city to smithereens, but only managed to knock out a transformer.
According to Deloris McGrady, a group of middle-eastern men dressed in sheets was seen parked outside the power company Monday afternoon. They were checking out the transformer with a pair of binoculars.
The two different opinions are causing a stir at the Cup & Spoon. The old guys at the Liar’s Table argue everybody knows Deloris has poor eyesight. The Arab men were probably there to pay their light bill. The folks siding with Deloris maintain Albert would never push the wrong button and risk losing his pension.
Besides, there are so many safety measures built into the electrical grid even Albert couldn’t plunge the south side into darkness.
Another popular theory floating around is one computer got together with another computer and decided the entire south side forgot to pay their electric bill. The fix to the problem was to switch off the lights.
Either that or the circuits got overloaded. Wednesday was a hot day with high humidity. The thermometer read one hundred. The excess in power usage caused the blackout. The people favoring this line of reasoning work over in the IT department at the college. They have a lot of experience with computer glitches.
A third explanation developed at the Abundant Life Full-Gospel Mission, during Wednesday night prayer meeting. Sister Grace Piatt said she had a dream Tuesday the blackout was the first of twelve plagues God was sending in the direction of Tecumseh.
Sodom and Gomorrah
If the city didn’t repent from their wicked ways, what was about to happen would make Sodom and Gomorrah would look like Disneyland during spring break. Members of the Full-Gospel Mission are contemplating leaving town. Sister Grace’ is famous for the accuracy of her prophetic predictions.
The Hen House ladies
The Hen House ladies over at the flower shop have differing opinions regarding the power outage. It has been the main conversation point since the lights went out. They seldom agree about anything, so there is no surprise they wouldn’t see eye to eye about why half the city went dark.
Elba Mae agrees with the computer geeks over at the college, but she has a little twist on their theory about the power outage. She knows for a fact those rich folks over on the south side have been hoarding power ever since the heatwave started. The heat caused them to go plum out of their head. Every last one of them cranked their air conditioners up to high at about the same time.
That’s when the transformer blew. Now they’re all sitting around in the dark. It serves them right for being so greedy.
Colleen says she doesn’t care if the south side is hoarding power as long as the lights don’t go out at The Hen House. They have to get all the flowers ready for the wedding on Saturday. If the shop went dark, they couldn’t see to finish the flower arrangements for the event.
Naomi doesn’t want to believe Elba Mae’s theory about the power outage. Her house is located on the outskirts of Tecumseh. The one thing she knows for sure is she’s been without power for twenty-four hours. If the electricity doesn’t come on soon, she’ll lose all the meat in her freezer. The experience has left her in a surly mood. The suicidal squirrel explanation sounds right to her. Those tree rats were famous for stirring up trouble. There had to be someone to blame for all the chaos.
The power came back on
The power came back on Thursday afternoon. The people of Tecumseh went back to their daily lives once the excitement was over. The only folks still interest in the blackout are the old guys sitting at the liar’s table over at the Cup &Spoon. The men sitting at the liar’s table bet Albert will be demoted to head dog catcher by the end of the month.
Molly Shea is an accomplished fictional short story writer from Indiana, who writes short stories and novels about a fictional town called Tecumseh. To read more of her short stories and adventures click here.
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