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The Invisible Man by Michael A. Kechula

“Step right up, ladies and gentlemen,” yelled the Mayor of Santa Buffoona, “and see the greatest show on Earth. The one, the only, Invisible Man! Get your tickets now to see the only Invisible Man in captivity.”

“Where do you keep him?” asked a woman pushing a baby carriage.

“In the court house right behind me. He’s locked in a gorilla cage.”

“Why do I have to pay to see him? Wasn’t he caught by our police department’s Monster Catcher Squad? Don’t my taxes pay their salaries?”

“Yes, but it costs a bundle to feed this character. He has a huge appetite. Staying invisible burns lots of calories. Besides the cost of upkeep, we paid a fortune for the oversize gorilla cage he occupies.”

The woman gave the mayor a dollar and went inside. A heavily armed policeman took her ticket and said, “You have three minutes. When your time’s up, you’ll hear a buzzer.”

Entering the room, she saw the gorilla cage. Above it huge sign proclaimed, PLEASE DO NOT FEED THE INVISIBLE MAN. A bed, chair, table, and TV were inside the cage. The table was covered with candy wrappers, beer bottles, and empty soup cans. The TV was tuned to a baseball game. Standing next to the cage was a member of the Santa Buffoona SWAT team, brandishing an assault rifle.

“I can’t see The Invisible Man,” she said, scanning the cage. “Is this the time of day when he becomes invisible?”

“He’s always invisible, Ma’am.”

“Oh. Is there any way to tell where he is right now?”

“He usually sits at the table and watches TV when he’s awake. Once in a while he lifts a beer bottle to take a swig. That’s when things get spooky. The bottle seems to move through the air on its own. Then beer comes out and floats in mid-air as it moves down his invisible throat into his invisible gut.”

“How fascinating. When does he usually drink beer?”

“Hard to say. Nobody can predict when he’ll get thirsty.”

“Do you think he’ll eat something in the next few minutes? I’d love to see chicken noodle soup floating in the air.”

“He had lunch right before you came,” the guard said.

“How come I don’t see any soup floating in his invisible stomach right now?”

“He must be in bed under the covers. He usually takes a nap after lunch.”

“Can I put my ear next to the bars to see if I can hear him snoring?”

“Sorry. It’s against the law to go beyond the yellow line in front of the cage. This guy’s very dangerous. If you get too close, he might grab your head and tear it off.”

“Oh my. I certainly don’t want that to happen. Can I say something to him?”

“Sure. But he won’t answer. He’s deaf.”

She called out anyway. “Hey, Mr. Invisible Man. How you doing in there?”

The buzzer sounded. “Time to leave, Ma’am,” the guard said.

The woman was so intrigued, she went back a dozen more times that week. However, she never got there at the right time to see The Invisible Man drink beer or eat soup.

Thousands of citizens visited the cage. Soon the city’s coffers were overflowing.

An investigative journalist secretly bugged the room. A week later, somebody tipped the mayor that the District Attorney planned to raid the courthouse the next day and prove the Invisible Man wasn’t living in a gorilla cage.

The night before the raid, the mayor announced on CNN, Fox News, and BBC that the Invisible Man had escaped. He assured viewers around the world that Santa Buffoona’s Finest were hot on the culprit’s trail. They expected to capture him within twenty-four hours.

Two years later, The Invisible Man was still at large. Meanwhile, tens of millions from every corner of the globe traveled to Santa Buffoona and paid $25 to see the cage in which he’d been held prisoner. For an additional $2, visitors were allowed to sit in the Invisible Man’s chair for a few seconds.

372,164 women found themselves irresistibly drawn to the bed in which he’d slept and paid an extra $3 to lay on it for ten seconds. One claimed in the Weekly Confidential Tattler she’d become pregnant by doing so. Pictures of her invisible twin babies were published in the same magazine when they were born.

That year, millions of visitors paid $5 to have their pictures taken with the mayor inside the Invisible Man’s cage. Millions paid $15 each for invisible souvenirs.

Tens of thousands swore that when they held their photographs at a certain angle, they could see the Invisible Man standing in the background and waving at the camera.

When the first year’s income from the tourist attraction topped a billion dollars, Jones was appointed mayor for life. In fact, the city fathers were so happy with the incredible annual income generated by the Invisible Man, they didn’t care if the entire citizenry defaulted on their mortgages and failed to pay homeowner taxes.

Soon, Santa Buffoona will announce the capture of the Invisible Loch Ness Monster. A huge lake is under construction within city limits. So are gigantic hotels to house the millions of expected visitors.

Michael A. Kechula is a retired tech writer. His stories have been published by 133 magazines and 40 anthologies. He’s won first place in 11 contests and placed in 8 others. He’s authored three books of flash fiction, micro-fiction, and short stories: The Area 51 Option and 70 More Speculative Fiction Tales; A Full Deck of Zombies–61 Speculative Fiction Tales; I Never Kissed Judy Garland and Other Tales of Romance. eBook versions available at http://www.BooksForABuck.com and http://www.fictionwise.com Paperbacks available at http://www.amazon.com.

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