|By Jack Cawthon|
In the early morning hours of April 29 federal and state drug enforcement officers swooped (swope?) down on the isolated farm house of Eugenious Pratlow and confiscated an illicit ramp manufacturing lab producing a street value of drugs worth $1,400,000. Agents have had their sights on the Pratlow premises on the far reaches of Big Puf Crick for quite some time. According to drug enforcement chief Buff Kimmons, they were hesitant to conduct a raid for lack of proof, as "the place stunk like every other place around here in ramp season."
Kimmons told me that Pratlow had discovered a ramp ingredient while stirring up a batch of meth for home consumption. When some ramps accidentally fell into the stew, the fumes had wiped Pratlow out for several days in which he had experienced spectacular visions, one of which involved the state legislature completing its session two days early after balancing the budget, awarding bonuses to unwed mothers, and resolving all ethics violations.
Federal health officials have been concerned about the safety of ramps for years, I was told, and long enough for drug companies to concoct an antitoxin pill, which because of excessive expenditures in research and development will cost $1,500 a dose. When I posed a question with a spokesperson with one of the companies about the ability of low income folks to afford both the medicine and food, he exclaimed "let 'em eat ramps!" Senior citizens are most at risk after having eaten ramps over a lifetime, but AARP is expected to lobby for a Medicare supplement to cover their drug costs.
Kimmons warned area residents not to try duplicating Pratlow's recipe in home kitchens and emphasized that hallucinations involving the legislature could damage the brain. I suggested that there might already be brain damage as shown by the election of delegates, but he reminded me that as a public servant he couldn't discuss politics.
If ramps are toxic for human consumption, I wondered why the public hadn't been warned earlier. I placed a call to a source I have in the public health services (you don't think I make up this stuff, do you?) and was told that the Surgeon General was already working on a warning label to be posted in ramp patches around the state. This, my source told me, would require hundreds, if not thousands, of government workers roaming the state to sniff out ramp growing areas.
All of this general health panic, if seems, was brought to head, albeit by a dope head, who Big Puf sources describe as a quiet sort of person, but looking back, always smelled a little fishy, so to speak. The concern now that many drug enforcement agents have is that others in the hills will pick up the scent to begin their own manufacture of illicit ramp products. So far, agents in low flying helicopters, brought into the search after the Pratlow raid, are unable to determine what constitutes illegal ramp usage with all the ramp dinners springing up in churches and senior centers.
Kimmons confided to me that he would have agents secretly attending all ramp functions to detect the least smell of improper use.
I asked him that if government inspections were imposed and a tax stamp issued, if this might not rein in rampant ramp renegades. He only smiled at this, and told me that in Pratlow's utopian visions he had seen a prominent state legislator proclaim, "read my lips, no new taxes!" If I had not been convinced before, there was no doubt in my mind now that ramps could cause visions harmful to one's mental health.
I must leave you readers to your own conclusions and conscious as to whether to continue ramp consumption until new federal laws can be imposed. As ever the law abiding sort myself, I now feared the mess of ramps I had recently dug might cast a pale of suspicion over me. I hurried home to my secluded niche among the 10,000 or so other secluded niches along Yuppie Lake and quickly tossed my supply into the turbid waters of the lake. Only then, did the thought strike me, that among the affluent residents, our ramps don't stink.
Well, better safe than sorry. In my mail, I had received the annual invitation to a coming ramp dinner sponsored by the Holy Rattlers of Big Puf. I felt I must decline this year for health reasons, but in memory of past dinners I can say truthfully beforehand that a good time was had by all.