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The Hedge Man and the Three Goats - a story by Dena Spohn

Once upon a time in a once prosperous land devastated by global warming, world war, economic recession, and a budget deficit that defied description, there lived three goats, Millie Goat Meek, Willie Goat Tired, and Drilly Goat Smug.

One day, the three goats were forced by road construction to make a detour over a certain bridge. Unfortunately, a horrible ogre named Hedge lived under this bridge. Hedge had big ears, a bigger mouth, and a temper twice as ugly as the rest of him. When Millie Goat Meek came trip trip tripping across the bridge, Hedge suddenly leapt out from underneath it and shouted, "Who's that trip trip tripping across my bridge? I'm going to have you arrested for trespassing!"

Millie Goat Meek trembled before him and begged. "Oh, please Mr. Ogre, let me cross your bridge. I am very poor and very hungry and I heard that there might be a soup kitchen on the other side of the bridge."

Hedge grinned toothily and said, "Well, Ma'am, this is your lucky day. Thanks to the passage of the Faith Based Only Assistance to the Poor Law you can be helped. However, to be eligible, you must first sign this form making you a lifetime member of The 144,000 and Counting Club."

Poor Millie, what could she do? She could either starve or sign away her Constitutional right to religious freedom. She signed, went on her way, and was saved, praise the Lord!

Soon afterward, Willie Goat Tired came trap trap trapping along on his way to one of the three part-time service industry jobs he held while trying to make ends meet, following the disappearance of his union job to some Indonesian island he couldn't even pronounce the name of. Hedge jumped up on the bridge and screamed, "Who's that trap trap trapping on my bridge?"

"Just me, Willie Goat Tired."

"Well, you're under arrest for trespassing on my bridge."

"That's ridiculous and you're making me late to work," said Willie. "Let me by!"

"I will if you'll sign this form promising not to protest if your children are drafted to fight in unnecessary and unjustified wars in foreign places."

"I will not!" said Willie Goat Tired. " I know my rights."

" What rights?" sneered Hedge before calling his personal assistants, D.C. and C.R. to drag Willie away to jail.

"Wait! Wait! Don't do this!" begged Willie Goat Tired. "My wife and kids will starve."

"Not if they join The 144,000 and Counting Club." laughed Hedge. So Willie went to prison uncharged, with no legal counsel, and was tortured by having to research the life and times of Jessica Simpson for two long years, eventually resulting in a permanent and debilitating case of perpetual boredom.

That brings us to our third and final commuter, Drilly Goat Smug, who came tromp tromp tromping down the bridge whistling a happy tune causing Hedge to bounce joyously up onto the bridge, grinning in "good ol' boy" camaraderie.

"How de pardner?" he chortled as usual. "What's up? Profits, I hope. Come on down under the bridge and I'll get the help to rustle up some steaks to eat while we talk over all the good times we've had exploiting the poor and polluting the planet, and, by golly, figure out how to do it all over again!"

Author's note: Was there a happy ending for the first two goats? Were the tables ever turned on Hedge and Drilly Goat Smug? I'll leave that ending up to you. Think about it on your way to the polls In November.

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