Fiction by Jeff Guenther
“The Vestibewl Thermopile”
Friends, it is with heavy heart that I send this letter. Yes, by the time you receive this, I, Benwick J. Vestibewl, PhD, will be no more.
First, I must apologize for my apparent sudden departure that night of the banquet when we celebrated your successful raising of fifty thousand dollars for development of the Vestibewl Crystal Quantum Vibration Thermopile. I truly wished to give notice of my impending absence and the reasons therefor, but time was of the essence, and so I must belatedly disclose what happened:
During the evening, I observed a suspicious character lurking in the back of the auditorium. As I concluded my speech, I caught a good look at him and my worst fears were realized. The interloper was none other than Milhouse W. Bushcoke, an evil minion of Really Big Oil, who have been trying for these many years to prevent the development of the Thermopile, which will make all fossil fuels obsolete in one fell swoop, practically overnight.
Thus it was that I rapidly wrapped up my speech and, just after your mayor, P. Pewsey Prattwarble, handed me the check, I signalled Carlotta, my lovely wife, who sends her regards, by the way, and we made an informal exit by way of a restroom window.
I can’t disclose our new location, lest Really Big Oil discover where we are hiding and destroy all our equipment and records, putting an end to the possibility of affordable, sustainable power forever. Carlotta and our son, Treblo, will continue my work. Every penny you raised will go towards further development of the Thermopile, and I assure you that when the money and Nobel prizes start pouring in, your little village will not be unforgotten.
I want you to know that I shall never forget the happy times I spent in your charming little town of Shady Hollow, and I shall forever, or in the little time allotted to me, be filled with gratitude for your many hours of physical and, yes, monetary, assistance towards completion of the Vestibewl Thermopile. Although our collective efforts have yet to reach commercial success, we have recently made substantial progress, and in my heart of hearts, I’m certain that the years to come will see a veritable forest of my Thermopiles from coast to coast and beyond.
Very truly (for once) yours,
Benwick J Vestibewl, PhD, more or less
PS: Dear peepel of whatever-ville. Dont count on ever gettin a dime from me or any one else. You probaly figurd out a long timeago that the Thermapial was a scam, and your right. To get more suckers, six munths ago we told Treblo to whip together somethin that lookd like it was a little nucular power plant. Well, the ijjit hooked up some junk he got from the thrif store and the effin thing worked. I dont know how. It zapped Benny with some kinda particules—Treblo sed it was grandma radyashun or somethin—thin it blew up when Treblo tride to run it later wearin a lead aprun. I wasnt hurt I was down shopin at Wallmart. So addyos mofoo to you poor sukcers—your dum gennerousity kilt two of the three peepel I love. [signed] Mrs. Carlotta Vestibewl Bushcoke.