The mayor called me into her office and pointed a stick of dynamite at me.
‘For years, the town’s fountain has been broken, Raymond,’ she told me. ‘It’s a non-functional eyesore. So your task, as my deputy, is to demolish it. Take this dynamite.’
I backed away.
‘That fountain’s a notable monument,’ I said. ‘And I’m sure that when it worked, it was a glorious sight. Why not give me a chance to repair it?’
The mayor stared at me.
‘A working fountain will attract tourists,’ I continued.
The mayor conceded this point. ‘Fine, but be quick about it. And keep the cost down.’
I started straightaway by connecting the fountain to the town’s water supply. For the first time in decades, the fountain came to life.
‘Success,’ I declared.
But I was premature. I had unknowingly diverted water from the nearby swimming pool. When the pool ran dry, the swimmers picketed the town hall.
This situation forced me to reconsider. I decided to dig a well for the fountain.
Things went well until the borehole severed a sewage pipe. Waste water and excrement swamped the town.
The mayor phoned me. ‘Enough,’ she said. ‘You’ve had your chance.’
The mayor drove to the fountain, placed her stick of dynamite against it, and lit the fuse.
I was standing nearby. ‘Is one stick sufficient?’ I asked. ‘The fountain’s made of granite and iron.’
The explosion drowned the mayor’s response. Despite the noise, though, the dynamite seemed to have little impact, apart from sending the ornamental pelican on top of the fountain hurtling skywards. When it landed, it did so on the mayor’s car.
The mayor clutched her head in vexation. I tried to console her.
‘Let’s leave the fountain alone,’ I suggested. When the mayor didn’t reply, I lifted the pelican from her car’s bonnet and placed it back on the fountain.
As I did so, the fountain gurgled. Moments later, water spurted from its pipes.
‘Mayor,’ I said. ‘You’ve fixed the fountain by trying to blow it up.’
The mayor glared at me but noticed a gathering crowd of townspeople.
‘Best say a few words,’ I whispered across to her.
The mayor forced a smile.
‘This fountain,’ she proclaimed, ‘is a cherished and historical piece of our town’s architectural history. It had lain idle for too long: so I decided to mend it.’
‘Three cheers for the mayor,’ I called out.
The crowd’s response was almost positive. The swimming pool incident and sewage disturbance probably still rankled. Nonetheless, the town now had a burbling fountain as a community centrepiece.