Editor's Column: A story fit for the whole island

The Whidbey Reads program, in which everyone reads the same book, is looking for a book that the entire island would be interested in reading.

This is a departure from the past where Whidbey Reads groups from different ends of the island chose different books. This made sense because the island is so philosophically diverse. Islanders may look mostly middle-aged and white, but in their brains they might as well be from different planets.

Frankly, we can’t think of a book that would appeal to all islanders. So we’ll offer up this summary that someone might want to expand into a book in time for the 2008 Whidbey Reads undertaking:

The night was clear, the moon was full, and the ancient cedar that Kevin was hugging was warm and fuzzy, as if designed to keep his naked body warm. He worshipped this tree but eventually thought to himself, “I can sell this knot-free cedar to any number of island woodcarvers for a bundle.” He lifted his chainsaw and stood there in a moonbeam, cutting through the cedar as if it were the world’s largest tofu stick. When its bulk finally crashed to the forest floor Kevin blessed its body and all the money it would bring him. Maybe he could finally build that dream home on the bluff, once he cut down some more cedars that were blocking the view. A Tibetan gong would fit perfectly where the big cedar had stood just minutes ago.

Kevin wiped his brow and went right to work on the other cedars, but finally the neighbors awakened.

“You’re cutting in a wetland,” one cried.

“The tree spirits will get you,” another lamented.

“Can you cut my trees when you’re done?” another chimed in.

Kevin eventually had to pay off the county because of the wetland damage, but it was a minor sum compared to his profits from the cedars. He easily acquired a DNR permit for his neighbor’s property, and laughed at the thought of tree spirits haunting his soul. Eventually, all the neighbors sold out to Kevin whose upscale housing development, The Cedars on the Bluff, attracted hundreds of out-of-state buyers to the area, even though, technically speaking, there weren’t any cedars on the bluff.

But there was something strange about these out-of-staters. They wore different clothing, spoke a different language, and listened to a different prophet. Word soon got around that Cedars on the Bluff was a terrorist haven, as President Obama and General Oprah had boldly chased them out of Wizeristan.

High over Whidbey Island Naval Air Station, Capt. Lance “Skip” “Buster” “Ace” Smith pointed his Prowler south, thinking how convenient it was that his target was located on South Whidbey Island. He didn’t even need an aircraft carrier to get there. His squadron could level Cedars on the Bluff in a few minutes and be home for lunch. The Prowlers weren’t outfitted for bombing, but Capt. Smith had no doubt that the deadly AGM-88 HARM missiles would get the job done. Homing in on the transmitter of the development’s own radio station (Al Jazeera-Langley), he gently pushed the launch button. Just for fun, he jammed all the incoming FM signals and forced all the other South Whidbey residents to listen to AM talk radio.

When the mud finally settled, Kevin knew he was lucky to be alive. He had been on the mainland, picking up his Tibetan gong, when the Prowlers struck. There was nothing left of Cedars on the Bluff except a few smoldering panels of particle board. Looking out across the waters, he could see a handful of surviving terrorists swimming to Camano Island. Too bad, he thought. They never missed a payment.

Kevin was broke, his development was gone, Capt. Smith was enjoying lunch at Flyers, and somewhere, the tree spirits were laughing.

The end.

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