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An Unfair Amount of Fair
by Wanda Morrow-Clevenger

"It's time we tell Maureen how this is going to pan out." Donald pulled a Zippo from his breast pocket. Carol tapped a cigarette from her pack and leaned forward for a light. "If we don't reign her in she's going to make an unfortunate mistake."

Funnel cakes sweetened the air, sweat beads rolled off lemon shake-ups, corn dogs called. Swoops of screams filled the night; The Octopus rode the sky. A menthol stream joined the July humidity. "She's over there right now conducting prelims." Carol gestured toward the exhibition buildings, the glowing end of her Virginia Slim a laser pointer.

"It'll take some finesse," Donald said. "She was breastfed on fair competitions. Won those thirty blue ribbons in 2002 -- a whopping county record that one "unprecedented" year -- and got herself crowned Head Judge."

"Finesse is my middle name." Carol puffed, flicked, ran a red fingernail across the tip of her tongue, spit daintily, puffed, flicked. The lipstick-rimmed butt sizzled its last against the side of a Rotarian trash barrel. "Breastfed, huh?"

Donald wiped a linen handkerchief across his brow. The right corner of his mouth rose in a crooked smile. "Like a pile of pink piglets suckling a prize sow."

"Looney little towns breed fanatics."

"Competition is thrill of the chase. Elation of the kill. Confetti shower exuberance," Donald said.

"It's a fifty-cent silk strip edged with pinking shears, Donald."

"And ten dollar award. Don't forget the ten-spot." Both corners of his mouth rose this time and a chuckle escaped.

Carol popped a mint and freshened her lipstick, and with eyes averted they navigated the huckster gauntlet, hopping nests of electrical cables snaked between concessions and games.

"Lasso a bowl, win your pretty lady a goldfish," called. Donald waved off a greasy carney in a Deadhead t-shirt and the duo quickened their pace. Jangling music and littered grass gave way to gravel paths.

Livestock eau de toilette wafted into the Fine Arts Building. Maureen sneered at an oil portrait, lips puckered tighter than the root end of an eggplant.

"Speaks of Picasso," Donald said.

Maureen startled. "There is no admittance during judging."

"First prize winner for sure," Carol said. "Fluid demonstration of unadulterated skill."

Maureen bristled, motioning wildly with her official clipboard. "This monstrosity win?"

Donald and Carol sandwiched Maureen. A trio of tots trailing Mylar balloons giggled past the opened doorway.

"That's Senator Walker's granddaughter's signature, isn't it?" Donald squinted at the canvas corner.

"By golly, you're right." Carol squinted at Maureen.

Maureen stepped backwards until cornered amid the watercolors, confusion shifting to comprehension in her eyes. "No. I can't." The clipboard clattered onto the concrete floor. "It's not right . . . not fair."

"All's fair in an election year. Isn't that so, Maureen?" Carol gripped Maureen's fleshy arms and pulled her nose to nose. "We know exactly what went down in 2002."