47

Betrayal

Once upon a time in the sparkling heartland of democracy, our hero—or shall we say anti-hero, Dan Dastardly awoke with a thunderous boil on his democracy-loving hump. With the taste of defeat lingering from the last night’s local elections, Dan declared dramatically in his velvety villainous voice, “I have been betrayed!”

Dastardly, had lost the election for town dog-catcher by a margin wider than his mustache. His friends, like any good friends handpicked from the drama club, immediately took to sobbing and moaning as if their favorite reality show just got canceled. “Oh, Dan!” they cried. “Who could betray you in such a dastardly way?” The irony seemed lost on them.

The thing to know about Dan was that he had this Pollyanna sort of belief that everything should always go his way, or, as the kids say, ‘be woke’. But inevitably, when it didn’t, he waved around the flag of betrayal with all the subtlety and grace of an over caffeinated kindergarten class playing hot potato.

He ranted, “My election was stolen! I felt the betrayal sting me sharper than a hornet in spandex!” His friends, including this one chap Steve whose main qualification for friendship was a shared love for extra crispy fries and conspiracy theories, stared at him blankly.

“But Dan,” Steve said, scratching his duo-tone beard, “you lost by about, um… a hundred votes. To an actual dog. Which, uh, makes sense since it’s, um… for the role of town-dog catcher, and all.”

Dan blinked as though he’d just discovered that water was, in fact, wet. However, instead of absorbing the truth like a normal human being, or even a semi-reasonable cartoon villain, he launched into a tirade against the cunning canine that stole his destiny.

“So, you think it’s perfectly reasonable for a four-legged creature to run our city’s dog-catching business?!” Dan exclaimed, his mustache bristling with indigence. “What’s next? Cats running the milk industry? Penguins in charge of ice distribution? Beavers commanding the wood-cutting companies?”

The room fell silent. Steve’s mouth worked, but he seemed to be choking on the sheer ridiculousness of Dan’s statement, or maybe he was just regretting the extra crispy fries. I mean, who could tell these days?

“Dan,” Steve sighed once he’d swallowed his regrets, “you do remember you ran on the platform of outsourcing dog-catching to cats, right? Because you thought it’d be..uh, innovative.”

Betrayed by his fondness for bizarre platforms and his woefully misplaced entitlement, poor Dan sat in stupor, as though Steve had personally served him a betrayal sandwich with a side of reality soup.

And thus, Dan sat there, wedged between hypocrisy and reality, fumbling with the crumbs of his betrayal sandwich. But you see, faithful readers, the thing about betrayal sandwiches is…they’re often self-served. But we’ll save that nugget for another tale, preferably with less chest-thumping drama and more actual dogs.

Now, I’m just spitballing here, but here’s an idea for Dan’s next venture: A reality show, something like, ‘Who Wants to Catch a Million Dogs?’ How thrilling! A new twist in every episode—extra crispy fry-eating contests, medical drama as contestants try to cure Dan’s chronic obliviousness, the understated rivalry between the dog and Dan.

And if I’m not mistaken, that sounds like the clawing sound of our dear audience, clawing their way back to see how our protagonist Dan Dastardly spins his next wild yarn! Oh, the sweet sweet sound of an engaged audience! No betrayal here, folks!

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