The crawl was in full force by the time I had arrived. The huddled masses, freshly off a bus from the big city, were clearly yearning for drink and Swedish meatballs, plotzing from one bar and grill to the next. One almost wouldn’t notice the fierce protest on the steps of the Rafferty Falls Town Hall and Bar and Grill occurring concurrently with  the Crawl. The crowds moved in three distinct groups : the anti-test protestors (anti-animal testing tourist-activists), the pro-test protesters (puppy mill employees fighting for their livelihood), and the Rafferty Crawlers. Crawling was a serious business in Rafferty Falls, prime time for social activism.

 The anti-testers were out in full force. A woman holding a controversial “puppies are better alive” sign showed me a gruesome dead puppy corpse she had tattooed on her upper thigh. When asked about her motive and placement, she replied gravely, “so I never ever forget what they put the puppies through…” Then she cocked her head, “and it’s kind of sexy, don’t ya think.” 

On the other side of the picket line, stood the pro-testing protesters, the perfect picture of the blue-collar worker you use as anecdotes but never actually exist in real life. They all looked tired, really tired, but also really angry.  All were employees of O’Halloran’s Puppery, ranging from the janitors to insemination staff. The protestors all held buckets, like the ones toddlers fight over at the beach. When asked if they were planning on challenging the anti-testers to a sandcastle contest, they all cackled. 

The mood changed when Mayor O’Connor strode onto the scene. “Enough, let’s take this down a notch fellas.” He waved his arms around. But before he could get another word out, the protesters catapulted their little buckets in his direction, drenching the mayor. The woman with the tattoo spat out: “If you want the river so bad, you can have it!” The protesters set down their buckets and dispersed from the scene, leaving the mayor sputtering. Some water ricocheted onto the shoe of Detective Astrid.

I handed him my tweed handkerchief before asking for a quote. But he just sputtered and joined the Crawlers on their way to the Crime Scene Bar and Grill.


—O. Goldberg