For years, Cannatown residents have asked, when, when it would come time to open the floodgates up on Fortune Hill. The precipice outside town overlooks a vast, dry land needing irrigation to expand Cannatown’s crop thricefold. To open them would usher in a long-awaited age of prosperity and safety. For although the floodgates were never meant to become a permanent dam, their prolonged closure has become a symbol of impediment.
That possibility suddenly came into reach late last week when a new rambler passing through, by the name of Bankin’ Bill, let mention that he was a dam operator from out east with experience in “river banks, sand banks and levees too.” Fresh off the train, it wasn't long before Mr. Bill had thrown Cannatown into an uproar. The town bells rang and the word spread like wildfire. Every monogram, telegram, bulletin, soapbox and radio announced his arrival, a message told round and round, estimated in the millions, until no living soul in the county was unaware.
People were excited beyond physical control. “Rfwarw RoarBluraghr!” exclaimed an excited old Mr. Cheevers down by the docks, as he violently slobbered on all those in his vicinity. “Ya hear that Matilda? This means we don’t need to sell the back 40 acres!” Onlookers poured out of their houses trying to get a glimpse, while vendors sold novelty key-shaped dab nails and “Open the Gates” t-shirts.
The revived hope among cityfolk was palpable. Finally, an expert well-versed in the intricacies of dam engineering! Would he accept the job? What would become of his arrival?
Of course, there was no guarantee. So from the community came an unprecedented effort to woo Mr. Bill into staying. He was bestowed with complimentary gifts wherever he went -- free coffee, free dabs and bananas. A spontaneous Dixieland parade--featuring 76 trombongs--appointed him Grand Marshall, and he was driven through street after street of festive well-wishers. Before ushering him off to his presidential suite at the Green Palace hotel, Mayor Van Cannaby himself awarded Banks with the key to the city.
"By Jiminy, let's hope this gracious saint sticks around," he told the crowd.
The inaugural issue of Bankin' Bill Weekly was scheduled to print, and live coverage of Bill’s day-to-day activities started airing on SpaceCadet TV. Stocks went up a billion percent, and every flag and signpost donned his name, and the cheers grew through the end of the day, as the sunlight faded and just the glow of the townsquare remained. Up, up from the ashes the song arose, until you could hear it far out of Cannatown, at the vast corners of the globe, “Bankin' Bill, Bankin' Bill, he will lead us up Fortune Hill!”
A sad townsfolk awoke the next morning to find the suite empty. The note on the pillow explained in Bill’s own hand:
“I love Cannatown--but it won’t be long before my arch nemesis, Major Smitch, tracks me down with the intent to run me out and keep me away. I will return some day when the time is right.”
The nearby gazebo band, thrown off by the shock, played a sad waltz as crowds dispersed from outside his hotel balcony.
It's clear in the public silence that has followed since, that people are once again soul-searching, asking a variation of the same old question. “When, when will it be time for Bankin’ Bill to return?” The hurt was perhaps no more raw than that of floodgate watchmen Levi Pincenez, who has worked up on Fortune Hill nearly his whole life, with retirement right around the corner. “I've been waitin’ a long time to see these gates open,” he waxed poetically, his heartbreak scarcely hidden. “I guess I can wait just a little longer."