Ah, good morning! Good morning, and welcome once again to Sunday Griot! Grab a Danish and some juice and have a seat, and we’ll have a story.

Today’s story is a new twist on an old idea. I do hope you like it. It is inspired by current events, but any resemblance to any actual city — or country — is purely coincidental. Really.

Once upon a time there was a city. It was a very beautiful city and people from all over the kingdom admired it greatly.

One day the people of the city, as people in cities occasionally do, voted on a mayor. This mayor was a college boy who had promised, among other things, that if he were elected mayor he would protect the city. Once he was in office he began to appoint his friends to positions of power and influence within the city, but this was something that people just expected the mayor to do so no one really said anything or thought much about it.

Then suddenly one morning in the late summer, a pack of ravenous wolves attacked a farm on the edge of the city and killed a number of the lambs and chickens. The people were alarmed. “What shall we do?” they asked themselves. “How could this happen?”

“Don’t worry,” the mayor said. “I said I’d protect you, and I will.”

He had the city engineers built a series of watchtowers on the perimeter of the city and hired people to man the towers. They were instructed that if they should ever see wolves coming toward the city, they should cry “WOLF!” as loud as they could and the citizens would come out and fight the wolves before they ever got to the city.

This seemed like a good arrangement, and the people readily agreed. For a while, they felt safer.

Still, as time went on, people began to notice odd things happening. For instance, one of the mayor’s best friends was caught stealing money from the city treasury. There was an outcry and an investigation was promised, but just before the investigation one of the watchmen cried, “WOLF! WOLF! Off in the mountains!” Of course everyone dropped what they were doing and went off to look for the wolf, but none was ever found. They returned to the city only to find that the evidence had disappeared, and nothing was ever said of the theft or the investigation again.

Then there was the time that the mayor tried to get someone supremely unqualified appointed to be on the Board of Weights and Measures. There was a great deal of outcry and public debate, but just as it looked bad for the nominee, the cry was heard — “WOLF! WOLF! Out on the plain!” Of course everyone went to look for the wolves, but they didn’t find them, and when they returned they found that the rest of the board had voted in their absence to install the mayor’s nominee.

One day the citizens gathered together to choose their mayor again. There was quite a bit of heated discussion about the mayor and whether he had protected them like he had promised; but in the end he was re-elected. Then it was discovered that some citizens had voted twice and others had not been allowed to vote at all. Once again there was an outcry, but just as the investigation was beginning they heard the cry of “WOLF! WOLF! Down by the river!!” They went out to find the wolf, but once again they didn’t find them, and nothing ever came of looking into the vote.

People began to notice a pattern. Every time the mayor or one of his friends was in trouble, the cry of WOLF! would go up, everyone would go looking for the wolves, no one would find any, and the distraction would serve as cover for the perpetrator. Soon it began to be a joke. A dark joke to be sure, but a joke. People in other cities began to comment. The city, which had once been greatly admired, wasn’t quite so admired any more.

One night a group of citizens got together and decided to do something about it. The next day, they said, they were going to go hold the mayor accountable for his actions, and not listen to any cries of WOLF! until either the mayor was out of office or an effective guard system was implemented. They went to sleep that night determined to take action.

The next morning the city awoke to an amazing and terrifying sight. Wolves were patrolling the city’s streets, watching everyone with evil yellow eyes and growling at anyone who looked like they were even thinking about causing trouble. The guards were still there in the towers, but now they were watching the city, not the surrounding countryside.

And from his mayoral offices, the mayor looked out over the city and smiled a thin smile. “Wolf,” he said quietly to himself.

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