ErbCane

In a Galaxy Very, Very Nearby...

Aboard the "Litigation Star," flagship of the Sniveling Reactionary and Dilettante Committee (SRDC), Darth Eugster stood before his underlings, hands clasped behind his back. Those gathered cowered in his presence.

"The election was a success," said Prince Herold. "Now that we have infiltrated the mainstream, Spokane will be ours, my Lord."

Lord Eugster turned slowly to stare at the speaker. "Don't be cocky, Prince Herold," he admonished." We have taken a big step, but Doug Clark is still not under our control. The Farce is strong in young Clark. We must be careful not to underestimate him."

Meanwhile, on the planet Earth, Doug Clark sat at his desk at the Spokesman-Review, considered one of the top five daily newspapers in Spokane County. Doug was upset with his Uncle Chris, who refuses to let young Doug go to writing school.

"You promised, Uncle Chris," sighed Doug.

"I know I did," said Uncle Chris. "But I need you here for a few more seasons. If you go to writing school now, you'll never come back. I can't afford to hire anyone who will work as cheap as you do.

Doug stared at his bowl of gruel, a new perk offered by the frugal Baron Cowles. The gruel idea had been suggested to the Baron by Madame Kuhr because workers had been dying on the job from lack of food. It wasn't even real gruel, but shredded newspapers that had not sold the previous day. The baron added a little water, and before you could say Charles Hurwitz, the gruel was ready. Baron Cowles figured if this took off, he could start charging employees $2.00 a bowl, thereby turning a major loss into a significant profit center.

Doug walked away from Uncle Chris. Whenever he was depressed, he wandered down the hall to visit grizzled Obi John Blanchette. Doug could always count on Obi John to heal his troubled mind.

Obi John saw Doug in the doorway. "What troubles you today, Doug?"

"Uncle Chris won't let me go to writing school. I can't stay here forever. I want to travel. I want to see Ellensburg."

"Patience, young Doug," Obi John advised. "I was once a Jedi Knight. I visited Ellensburg. It's not all it's cracked up to be."

Doug stared at his friend in disbelief. "You were a Jedi Knight?"

Yes," replied Obi John. "I know my crummy clothes and cheesy columns don't show me at my best, but I once served the Republic using the Power of the Farce."

Doug stared in awe at the bedraggled figure before him.

"The Power of the Farce is strong in you, Doug. I will train you in the ways of the Farce. If nothing else, it will improve your columns."

While Obi John was plotting Doug's future, an apparition appeared in the corner of the cluttered office. It was Lord Eugster.

"Come with me, Doug," said the apparition. "Join me on the dark side of the Farce. Together, we can rule Spokane."

With a quickness that shocked Doug, Obi John leaped out of his chair and landed feet first on his desktop, a light saber in hand. "Don't do it, Doug! The dark side is evil; Kate McCaslin lives there."

Lord Eugster looked at Doug. "I am your father, Doug. You must come with me."

Doug stared at the shimmering likeness of Darth Eugster. The meaning of the Dark Lord's words sank into the murky depths of his mind. With a voice that came from deep within his gelatin-like torso, Doug let out a chilling cry of despair. "Noooooooooo!"

The Dark Lord pressed his case. "You know it's true, Doug. You can feel it in your mind. Come with me now. We'll go to Wolffy's and eat a burger. I'll buy."

Doug considered the offer. The baron's gruel wasn't cutting it. Sitting in Wolffy's with a masked fiend could turn into a good column. He was ready to tell the Dark Lord he'd go when the shrill voice of Obe John cut through the silence.

"Don't do it, Doug. Darth Eugster got thrown out of Wolffy's two years ago for shooting mustard across the restaurant. He filed suit based on religious freedom, it's still pending."

Obe John's remarks brought Doug back to the thin sliver of reality he claimed as his own. For a brief moment Doug tried to recall a religion that held mustard shooting sacred. He failed, and with the Dark Lord's words echoing in his head, fled the room.

Doug made it back to the relative comfort of his desk. Uncle Chris had left to torment someone else. Clark opened the desk drawer and removed his mechanical pen and pencil set from the confines of the dark cavity. Uncle Chris had purchased Mork (the pen) and Mindy (the pencil) from a wandering vendor of used equipment.

This was another Baron Cowles enterprise. When an employee quit, retired, or otherwise left his employ, all property on company premises reverted back to Baron Cowles. The baron's minions sorted through the accumulated trash and salvaged usable items to sell throughout his vast empire.

Once again, the baron had struck gold. Some items had been sold as many as ten different times. To speed the turnover of inventory he'd initiated certain personnel policies designed to discourage employees from staying very long. People could come and go, he was fond of saying, but inventory was here to stay!

Doug set Mork and Mindy on his desk. Whenever he was lonely, which was quite often, he'd sit in his chair and share his dream of seeing Ellensburg with his two friends. It was another reason people studiously avoided him.

Doug had meticulously refurbished the set into pristine condition. He was always very careful when he handled them. Distracted by recent events, Doug accidentally knocked Mindy off his desk and onto the floor. As he reached down to pick it up, he was startled to see a hologram rise from the pencil.

A woman appeared. She was attired in the ceremonial robes of the Spokane City Council. When the figure turned toward him, Doug recognized Princess Greene, a member of the High Council.

Princess Greene glanced furtively left and right, then began to speak. "Doug, I need your help. With the change in the make-up of the High Council, I fear Talbott the Hutt will try to overthrow the council," she said.

Her image disappeared and was replaced by a blue oval with white lettering that spelled out the word Ford. A voice began speaking. "This program is brought to you by Empire Ford, where the customer is held in the highest regard as long as it takes to sell them a car. We now return you to your regularly scheduled program."

The Ford logo disappeared and Princess Greene returned. "Doug, you stood tall before the election with your columns denouncing Darth Eugster. Even now, Talbott the Hutt and the Dark Lord are scheming. They intend to push forward an agenda, which could result in more power for King Sandifur from the planet Metropolitan Securities. This is our darkest hour, Doug." The transmission ended.

Doug picked up the pencil and laid it gently on his desk next to Mork. His future had been made clear. He had a mission. He must learn to use the power of the Farce to combat evil in Spokane. Ellensburg would have to wait.