Once an immense green fungus, Campaignaria greenbackae, spread across the land. The destructive effects of this advancing freak of nature were visible from space but had somehow escaped detection by those on the ground with responsibility for safeguarding the public against the thing’s spread in all directions from the fetid, foggy-bottom marshes of its origin. In its relentless advance, the green fungus overwhelmed whatever might stand in its way and destroyed it over time. Yet even this clear evidence of the lethal strength and extent of the threat was apparently not considered a cause for worry until the dire consequences of such complacent inattention could no longer be ignored. By the time alarms finally began to sound, the fungus had morphed into an infinitely adaptable and opportunistic menace. It had quite literally developed the ability to attack everything, even (and this would surpass belief, were the grim evidence not staring everybody in the face) the very foundations of the nation’s oldest and most sacred institutions by insinuating itself into their smallest fissures, weakening them little by little over time, and even cracking some wide open with what came to be known among an increasingly disgusted, demoralized citizenry simply as “that damn curse of the green stuff.” No inch of the public domain was safe from assault as countless historical monuments and heritage sites also began to sag as the fungus ate away at their underpinnings. Emergency measures had to be taken to shore up one crumbling civic façade after another in front of which smiling, upbeat public relations personnel were sent out with assurances that rumors of widespread collapse were premature. There was no need for panic, they all blithely declared, since a nationwide campaign to raise donations from the private sector to help prop up everything at risk of collapse was already under discussion in highly respected circles. An appeal to free-market know-how quickly had corporate sponsors lining up to take the lead with offers to go to any lengths necessary to get the job done. Taking official action against the creeping menace of Campaignaria greenbackae, however, and finally stemming its ability to undermine the most hallowed monuments of the nation would probably have to await the appointment of some blue-ribbon bipartisan commission of retired bureaucrats, political leaders, business tycoons and oft-interviewed opinion leaders entrusted with taking “the long view.” Until then, it was announced, contributions in any denomination could be placed directly into boxcar-sized green bins conveniently set up outside governmental buildings everywhere.
Copyright © 2020 by Geoffrey Grosshans