(I initially wrote this for an online satirical website, but it was turned down, so I rewrote it for my site. Beach Hill is a fictitious beach town along the California coast and the events in this piece are also fictitious, but like all satire it’s based on real events.)
Despite the recent increase in COVID-19 cases up and down California, one coastal town is refusing to heed Gov. Gavin Newsom’s orders and is opening up its beaches to the public. The bucolic, isolated community of Beach Hill had initially restricted beach access in accordance with the state mandate, but local and outside pressure has proven to be too much for the local government.
“Of course we want to keep people safe from infection,” said city council member Jerry Lucas, “but the people have spoken, and apparently they just don’t care.” When asked about the council’s responsibility to keep the citizens of our coastal county and its visitors safe, Lucas broke into laughter. “You poor, naive fool. You actually think the old rules still apply,” he said, then continued laughing manically until he was ushered away by security.
Echoing Lucas’ sentiments is Beach Hill mayor Marv Hasford. “People want to go to the beach, tourism boosts our economy, so who are we to stop them.” When reminded of of his official obligations, Mayor Hasford was dismissive. “Look, I’m just the mayor here, I don’t have any real power. It’s not like I can follow everyone around and tell them to put their masks on like I’m their mother.” When reminded how some of the more concerned citizens compared him to the reckless mayor in the movie Jaws, he said he saw nothing see wrong with that. “He was looking out for the economy of his little seaside town, he knew how to sport a seersucker suit, and if a few people got eaten by sharks, hey, sharks have to eat too! Circle of life.”
One person who is welcoming the opening of the beaches is chamber of commerce spokesperson Clair Coughlin. “The health of the public is deeply important to me,” stressed Coughlin, “but the business of Beach Hill…is business.” When asked to elaborate, Coughlin became hyperbolic. “Freedom! That’s what I’m talking about! Freedom to assemble! Freedom to pursue happiness! And most importantly, the freedom to come here and spend tourist dollars!”
Other members of the local government wanted to be more cautious but felt it best to give in to public demands for reopening. “We’ve been threatened with a lawsuit,” said city council member Zelda Foley in reference to an ad hoc group that’s calling themselves Reopen Beach Hill. The Reopen Beach Hill Facebook webpage states, “What the dictatorial, jackbooted thugs who run Beach Hill is doing is unconstitutional! It is our right as American citizens to do what we want, when want, and how we want, and no public body of government that was elected through the democratic process can tell us otherwise! We will overthrow our autocratic city council that was chosen in a free and fair election if they don’t give in to our demands! And if a handful of pantywaists can’t handle a little virus, too bad!” No real person from Reopen Beach Hill could be found for comment.
When questioned further why the city council relented so easily, Foley was quick to explain. “First of all, there’s a petition to open the beaches that’s been going around, it’s already been signed by over five thousand citizens with more on the way, and we don’t want a mob storming the council chambers.” After Foley was asked to explain the impotence of the local government, she became prickly. “We only get a small stipend for being on the council. Which means we all have to work day jobs, and we sure as hell don’t get paid enough to put up with this dumbassery!”
As more and more people gathered at the beaches this weekend, very few of them were wearing masks. “Masks are for losers!” said Scott Jensen, a beach goer from out of town. “This is what freedom of the individual is all about! The right to breathe the same air as your fellow citizens!” He then took a deep breath, and started coughing hoarsely as he fell into a lengthy wracking spasm of expectoration before finally recovering. “It’s nothing, I’ll be fine. Now if you’ll excuse me I have a bright, summer day to enjoy!” Jensen then ran into a pool of water on the beach that was full of mostly children and the elderly and started splashing around.
©2020 Robert Kirkendall