History was made on the night the supervisors of Duncan Township voted to build the highest high dive in Dayton County, and in so doing finally stick it to the supervisors and residents of Smithfield Township, who thought they were so great. The vote was 6-1. To pay for the high dive, they voted to close the library and sell the fire department’s lone fire truck. Volunteers, using their own trucks and their own hoses, would fight any future fires. The residents of Duncan were thrilled.
The high dive was supposed to be forty-five feet high. That’s high! But after the fire truck brought in less money than expected, the plans were scaled back to thirty-five. Still high! It was completed in time for summer, and a driver driving along Route 77 could see it poke above the pool house. The whole county was talking about it, and people from as far away as Ricksburg came for the grand opening.
The high school marching band played, a veteran of a foreign war spoke, and then Robert Drinkwalter climbed the ladder and walked to the edge of the board. Robert was chosen for the inaugural leap because he was retarded and therefore inspirational. He jumped from the board, smacked the water, and sank like a stone. The quarterback of the football team, Jeremy Burrows, swam him to safety and the gathered citizens applauded politely as Robert twitched and coughed near the gutter. The local priest, Father Michael Thyme, offered a closing prayer before dismissing the crowd. Even the few residents of Smithfield Township who had come to cast a wary eye on the proceedings had to admit it was something.
In fact, Smithfield Township had no choice but to come up with its own plan for a higher high dive, paid for by eliminating all parks, all schools, all libraries and any and all public safety providers. It was unveiled at a ceremony in which returning vets executed an accused pornographer and the official first jump was made by Tammy Henderson, a child so disabled that she had to be raised up in a basket and thrown from the board by her sister, Tabitha. Pastor Steven Cash, a Baptist with a lovely wife and two darling boys delivered the closing prayer. Grown men wept, mothers kissed their daughters on their foreheads.
Years from now, the occasional tourist will stop to see the high dives that they read about on billboard after billboard after billboard. These tourists might pull their cars or vans over and get out and get their picture taken. Or not. They might buy a snow globe or some postcards. Who knows? Some may choose to have a drink at the High Dive Bar and Grill where the beer will be cheap and they might meet Quarterback Jeremy Burrows. He will drink there most days. Whatever they do, these tourists will all remark, to themselves or out loud, not so much about the high dives in Duncan or Smithfield, but about the dazzling sunsets, the result, some will say, of all the large fires that burn across Dayton County.