September-October 1998 Edition

Officer Harold cleared of charges
by senior correspondent John Tiddleson

After months of litigious prolepsis and bullyragging, the honorable justice Beatrice Baubles has thrown out the case against Officer Harold, the man accused of setting the fire which burned the west wing of the Leonard Marx mansion.

The dramatic turn of events shocked courtroom onlookers at the end of an overall dismaying trial. Upon hearing strong defense evidence that county prosecutor Babs Mayfield was secretly in love with the defendant, the judge declared the entire proceedings a "bad joke" and dismissed the case.

Officer Harold, having taken on his own defense, testified that Miss Mayfield had called him many times "with an offer of some sort," which apparently involved getting together for a cherry cola and other suggested shenanigans. Though flattered, Harold publicly demurred, and at that point Mayfield broke into sobs.

Further evidence that Harold had love letters disguised as shared prosecution documents aroused astonished gasps in the courtroom. Baubles demanded order and immediately declared a mistrial.

The 12 jury members, long shanghaied and held prisoner by their civic duty, were already convinced of Officer Harold's innocence, but apparently had planned to convict him anyway. "We wanted to punish him for keeping us here so long," said juror Sydney Lumet. "I missed six months of 'Oprah,' and my VCR is broken."

A vainglorious Officer Harold left the courthouse boasting of his legal bravura and shaking his fist at reporters. His mother followed behind him, blowing kisses to the men in the crowd and waving cheerfully at TV cameras. Babs Mayfield reportedly snuck out the back window and later made some fuss over a broken heel.

Having no further suspects, the Crooked Corners Police Department has chalked the fire at the haunted mansion to "an act of supernature."

Local woman reported missing
by Liza Rowls, beat reporter

Millicent Wicker, a 52-year-old Crooked Corners woman, failed to return to work yesterday and has not been seen since she left in the early afternoon.

Her employer, renowned socialite Monica Monet, contacted the police when Miss Wicker, the Monets' housemaid, did not come back from running errands. "She went out to do her usual afternoon business," Mrs. Monet told the Gazette, "and she seems to have simply disappeared."

Mrs. Monet continued, "She left an ungodly mess in the laundry room. I had to fold a pair of stockings myself."

Police searched Miss Wicker's bedroom at the Monet estate for any evidence of wrongdoing or plans to leave town, but found no clues as to the maid's whereabouts.

Officers did, however, locate the Monet servant car parked behind Valley Value, a discount liquor store. "She may have been purchasing my husband's sherry," Mrs. Monet stated. "He finds a particular brand agreeable after intimacy."

The clerk at Valley Value does not recall seeing Miss Wicker, however, and police found no evidence near the vehicle indicating a struggle or the purchase of spirits. The car has been towed to Police Headquarters for further investigation.

Panoland leadership waist-deep in scandal
by world reporter Rockefeller Stone

A new tide of trouble in Panoland has many members of the United Nations throwing up their arms and exclaiming, "Enough already!"

In seclusion for the last several months, the powerful Sarkissian family is embroiled in yet another controversy that will surely set back the flow of liberal thinking which terrorist Agu Nagu and his ilk rally against. Once hoped the Kennedys of Panoland, the Sarkissians now seem more akin to Jehovah's Witnesses.

Yes, amongst the Panoland higher-ups, things are all topsy-turvy. Crack is a word meaning fissure, not cocaine. Pot is something you cook in. Dope is an idiot. And the Sarkissians, who held promise here in the U.S. as strongholds of corporate-owned, media-driven, gloriously vacuous culture, appear to have floundered on conservative shores. Permanent Interim President Trent Sarkissian's daughter Kathy has decided to be wed.

Not to be outdone, her boyfriend John is also getting married, and both have decided to hold their respective ceremonies on the same day.

"It's obvious what's going on here," one Panolandian pundit proffered. "And it's sick. This kind of behavior will hold back the leftist tide like some kind of right-wing retaining wall."

Agu Nagu has been quiet about the situation. His wait-and-see attitude toward many of the Sarkissians' doings has proven beneficial in the past. Last year, for example, Nagu withheld comment after President Sarkissian announced a ban on alternative music to avoid an anti-R.E.M. riot. When the sold-out concert played without incident, the terrorist's silence on the matter clearly helped avoid making him look silly.

For now, citizens are mortified at the notion of a religious ceremony binding two people together, as if this were an acceptable thing to do. "Maybe in the past" is a phrase heard bandied about in local burger joints (joints meaning places of business), "but not in this day and age."

More from Panoland in my next report.

Proposition 14J overturned in court
by Sinclair Growden

Proposition 14J, the enigmatic measure, has been put on hold, at least for now. Judge Joey Joe Meyer called it the "silliest attempt at a law this side of jaywalking and that side of matricide."

Proponents of the new law, who had been elated and disappointed when election results proved mixed (the law was reported both passed and defeated), promise an appeal, though at this point few people know what the proposition is all about. Opponents seem satisfied for now, though also appear downright confused.

Notorious Marx mansion resumes tours
by Henrietta Potstocker, garrulous old biddy

After months of reconstruction, the monument to the man we all hated so dearly has reopened its doors.

Virtually destroyed by fire earlier this year, the haunted mansion of Leonard Marx promises visitors a "more interesting" tour now that the history of the museum involves the mysterious flames of February, which were doused by an equally baffling rainstorm.

Curator Ashton Bucheger proudly announced the reopening in a ceremony held on August 13. "We welcome both old visitors and new," he said, "to study and reflect and enjoy the fascinating home of our posthumous mayor."

An online tour has been designed for those unable to afford what some call the "steep" ticket price, a whopping $34 per person, with $6 off for southern Crooked Corners residents able to show a valid I.D. Mr. Bucheger had his own advice: "Cancel your subscription to the Internet and buy a season pass."