Once upon a time, a man named Monty Banks came to the town of Brottwurst-am-Rhein. He stood in the middle of the town square and blew a horn until all the townspeople had gathered round him.
“I am a full member of the Universal College of Alchemists,” he declared. “As you all know, the members of the College are the wisest men in all the world. Look, here is my diploma.
“I am here to warn you that, unless you follow the measures I advise, your town will be overwhelmed by a plague of vampire rats and everyone will die. Do not argue with me! The whole matter has already been fully debated and settled by the College.”
“But there are no vampire rats in Germany,” muttered a little tailor in the crowd.
“Denier! Ingrate!” cried Monty Banks. “You would pit your puny wits against the greatest minds in Europe?”
“Officers, throw that man in jail,” said the mayor. “Never mind him, O learned doctor. What is your advice?”
“You are to give me all your money,” said the alchemist, “and do everything I tell you from now on. Otherwise the rats will come and kill you.”
“But who will see that everyone obeys you?” asked the mayor.
“Why, my dear mayor! Who but the mayor and councilors of Brottwurst should execute my policies? Who but yourselves?”
“Oho! That’s different!” said the mayor.
And so the councilors voted to give themselves and the mayor absolute power to carry out Monty Banks’ orders, and took charge of every red cent the townspeople had. Upon the alchemist’s advice, they forced the people to tear down their houses and live in huts, get rid of their draft animals and pull their carts with their own hands, and throw away all their fine clothes and dress themselves in rags. Very soon the entire town was utterly impoverished–except, of course, for the mayor and council.
And from his jail cell, the little tailor muttered, “There are no vampire rats. No one has ever seen one.” This got around, and soon many people were repeating it. So Monty Banks called a meeting of the whole town.
“You fools!” he said. “Of course you see no vampire rats! That’s because my measures have succeeded! My new laws have protected you from them!”
The mayor and the councilors sagely nodded their heads, and all agreed that Monty Banks had indeed saved Brottwurst.
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.