Illustration by Thad Tichenor
Story by Thad Tichenor and Ethan Johnson
The towns of Hefferton, which raised cows, and Cluckinburg, which raised chickens, didn't like each other one bit. Hefferton would do just about anything to ruffle Cluckinburg's feathers, and Cluckinburg knew just how to tan Hefferton's hide.
You see, Hefferton and Cluckinburg had been rivals for years. Whether it was high school football games, spelling bees, or 4-H shows, the two towns’ mayors never turned down a chance to outdo each other. Which brings us to the topic of Burt Winkles and Marigold the cow.
Burt Winkles lived in Hefferton, and one day he decided to paint his barn. So he got himself a fancy high-powered paint sprayer, and everything was going just fine until he lost his balance and fell from his ladder. That was when Burt’s paint sprayer went wild. It flapped around like a bucking bronco, and by the time Burt finally got hold of it, the gadget had sprayed everything purple, even Marigold the cow.
Naturally, when the mayor of Hefferton learned about Marigold, he was delighted, and he made sure that his town’s purple polka-dotted cow was on the front page of The Hefferton Herald and The Cluckinburg Times. Everyone in Hefferton was as pleased as could be. But there was one person who was not happy about it. That person, of course, was the mayor of Cluckinburg.
“Those dang Heffertoners have got themselves a purple polka-dotted cow,” the mayor of Cluckinburg said, shaking his fist. “This calls for a town meetin’.” The people of Cluckinburg gathered in the town square and thought long and hard about how to outdo Hefferton’s spotted cow.
Finally a chicken farmer spoke up. “How about a bike-ridin’ chicken?” Everyone, including the mayor of Cluckinburg, thought that was a fine idea.
Right away the folks in Cluckinburg got to work teaching chickens to ride bicycles. Before long they succeeded, and everyone celebrated—everyone, that is, except the mayor of Hefferton.
“Gosh darn those Cluckinburgers,” the mayor of Hefferton said. “This calls for a double-emergency town meetin’.”
The people of Hefferton got together and tried to think of a way to outdo Cluckinburg’s bike-riding chickens. It wasn’t an easy task, but eventually they came up with an idea.
A cattle rancher pulled a piece of lint out of a pocket in his overalls and said, “Why don’t we create a giant lint ball?”
Everyone agreed that this was a nifty notion and immediately got to work collecting lint. The mayor of Hefferton found enough lint in his pockets and under his bed to make a lint ball the size of a grapefruit. A week later, when everyone in town put their lint together, Hefferton’s lint ball was bigger than a stretch limousine. And everyone was happy about it. Everyone, that is, except the mayor of Cluckinburg.
“This calls for a triple-dipple-emergency town meeting,” he said, slamming his fist down on the table. Just when the folks in Cluckinburg thought they would never come up with something better than a giant ball of lint, Granny Duncan stopped rocking in her chair and said, “Why don’t we sew up a giant wooly windsock and fly in from a flagpole.”
The next thing you knew, the Cluckinburgers were sheering sheep, spinning wool into yarn, and sewing as fast as they could. Before the sun went down, the largest windsock anyone had ever seen flapped in the breeze above the town square. And boy, did that old windsock upset the mayor of Hefferton.
Hot coffee sprayed out of his mouth when he saw it flapping away in the breeze. “This calls for a quadruple-doople-emergency town meetin’,” he said.
So once again the people of Hefferton put their heads together and tried to outdo Cluckinburg and their big stinkin’ windsock.
“We need something really big, like the Statue of Liberty,” suggested a little kid named Marvin.
A farmer laughed and patted the boy's head. “What are we gonna build it out of, potatoes?”
The people of Hefferton instantly recognized the genius of this idea and got to work digging, washing, peeling, and mashing every potato in town. The potato sculpting lasted until well after dark, and when they finished, the people of Hefferton had reason to celebrate. The only person who wasn’t happy about it was the mayor of Cluckinburg.
He called a five-alarm-emergency town meeting. At first the townspeople couldn’t think of anything that would beat a mashed-potato Statue of Liberty. But then Duane the fry cook held up his spatula and said, “How about a Leaning Tower of Pancakes?”
The mayor liked the idea so much he hopped around like a Cluckinburg chicken.
So the folks of Cluckinburg set to work creating the biggest stack of hotcakes the world has ever seen. It took every bit of wheat in town and every last egg from their henhouses. In the end, their Leaning Tower of Pancakes stood more than 200 feet high, and they topped it off with syrup and a dollop of butter that was as big as a TV set.
The sight of that pancake tower delighted everyone. Everyone, that is, except the mayor of Hefferton.
So he called a six-alarm hurry-up-emergency town meeting. He got the people of Hefferton worked up into a real tizzy coming up with a way to outdo their neighboring town. Finally an idea came to them. They called it their Grand Finale, and it was really something to see. In addition to their Statue of Liberty and their giant lint ball, Hefferton created a colossal cow pyramid, using every last cow in town, with a purple polka-dotted cow on top.
This did not please the mayor of Cluckinburg.
He told everyone in Cluckinburg to gather up their chickens. Before long chickens were balancing on top of chickens, on top of a bike-ridin’ chicken. The two towns went on this way for hours. And finally, both towns stood back in awe and both mayors grinned from ear to ear. The colossal cow pyramid and the rolling chicken tower were tremendous sights to see.
That is, until something terrible happened.
The bike-ridin’ chicken crashed into the Leaning Tower of Pancakes, causing a heap of chickens and pancakes to fall, which created a buttery avalanche of sticky feathers. The Leaning Tower of Pancakes fell right onto the colossal cow pyramid, which knocked over the mashed-potato Statue of Liberty. Cows flew through the air, and mashed potatoes blanketed houses and streets. People screamed and ran for their lives.
The mayor of Cluckinburg got splashed by syrup, which made the chicken feathers stick all over him. And buried under a mountain of mashed potatoes, the mayor of Hefferton looked like a snowman.
When it was all over, both towns were in sad shape and the mayors declared a truce. It took months to clean up the mess. But eventually, the people in Cluckinburg went back to raising chickens, and the folks in Hefferton went back to raising cows.
Everything was going along just fine until the day the mayors saw something in their town's newspapers.
It turns out that another neighboring town, by the name of Billy Goat’s Bluff, had a bubble-gum chewing, bubble-blowing goat. The sight of it nearly drove the mayors of Hefferton and Cluckinburg crazy. They called each other on the phone and set up a two-town-emergency meeting to begin thinking of ways to outdo Billy Goat’s Bluff.
And so it all started again, only this time the two towns of Hefferton and Cluckinburg worked together. That’s about the only good thing that came out of this whole mess. Unless, of course, you'd be impressed by a hang-gliding goat.