The population the of the rural village of Salubrious Valley, generally does not exceed approximately, 600 residents, [such total, to be enlarged, following the expected birth of a baby, to Jim and Anna Flaxis, in three weeks]. The name, Salubrious Valley, was officially adopted, by unanimous vote of its Village Council, slightly more than, seventy ago, to supersede its former name, Corona Hollow. The change of name was enacted, and has been maintained, by reason of the truly miraculous fact, that not one of its residents, has ever suffered from illness, of any kind. It is, generally, believed that such unusual phenomenon, has been the successful result, of each inhabitant’s faithful compliance, with the mandatory rules of its Village Charter. The factual miracle is the attributable explanation, for the uniform refusal of its successive residents to relocate elsewhere. Any villager, wishing to return home, after an officially approved, brief sojourn outside the village, has to submit to a period of three weeks of monitored quarantine, to prevent entry of disease causing, germs.
The current members of the Salubrious Valley Village Council, are Mrs. Anna Flaxis, Sr., President, Ms. Bella Donna, Vice President, Mr. Sal Hepatica, Treasurer, Rev. Bram O. Seltzer, Executive Secretary, and Mr. Sid Jitalis, recording Secretary. The Council, convenes, regularly, every other Thursday evening at 8 P.M., and enjoys the organizationally, rare privilege, of brief meetings, the reason for which, is the perpetual absence of issues, or contention.
The authoritative, “Charter” of Salubrious Valley Village, commences with an historic and explanatory preamble, consisting of the recounting of its unique and “miraculous” history, and furnishes the rationale, for its all-encompassing, mandatory, provisions, regulating the life, and actions, of its resident members. Included, are, such matters as, appropriate dress, private and interactive behavior, cleanliness, dietary restrictions, and evening curfew. The official document provides for mandatory, universal, observance of its provisions, on pain of ex- parte, summary dispossess. There has been no known circumstance of non-compliance, and, accordingly, no reported event of dispossess.
The requirement for universal compliance, with the Village Charter, to an outsider, may well seem, especially draconian and remarkable, considering that the Charter, includes, the following excerpted, restrictions and mandated behavior:
- Handshaking, and all other risky, third party touching, inclusive of, children and other members of the family, relatives and friends, are strictly prohibited. Hands must be thoroughly washed, no less than 8 times, per diem.
- Well laundered gloves, and sanitary surgical masks, are to be worn, outside the home. On return, gloves, and protective masks, are, to be immediately, burned.
- Hot showers or baths, lasting no less than thirty minutes, and utilizing anti-bacterial soap, must be taken 4 times per day, or more often, as felt necessary.
- All unavoidable coughing, or sneezing, must be directed into the bent elbow and inside an empty, closed closet.
- Uniform compliance, with the age appropriate, schedule of hours for sleep, as provided in the Village bulletin, are to be strictly
- Visits by resident, non-family members are limited to one or two persons (simultaneously) three times per week; and two times, daily, as to related family members; to be followed, in all cases, by the washing and changing of clothes.
- All, necessary deliveries of mail or packages, are to be handled with clean gloves and read or examined quickly, immediately followed by the precautionary washing of hands, and, disinfection of the desk, or table top, if used.
- Family meals are to be taken, either, one person at a time, or, if desired, together, with the use of loose, easily manageable, face masks.
- The practice of kissing or embracing is hazardous, and is to be curtailed, or more preferably, completely eliminated.
- There is to be limited holding and personal nurturance of (previously sanitized or bathed) family pets, which should be assigned, weekly, to one responsible person
- All switches, drawer handles and doorknobs must be fully sanitized no less than four times per diem. Identical procedures apply to all ground and cell phones.
- Romantic interludes, beyond # “9”, above, when unavoidable, should be conducted with surgical masks and gloves; osculation should be limited, as possible.
- Bathrooms, including personal facilities, must be completely scoured and sanitized after every use, including, visits for hair combing and brushing teeth.
- Clothes are to be changed twice daily and cleaned or laundered, immediately.
- Washing machines, dryers and dishwashers, are to be thoroughly scoured, with an anti-bacterial agent, before, and after each use,
Successive, contagion-free, generations of villagers, have, historically, engaged in compliance with the plethora of mandates in the Charter, proudly and happily, attributing their perfect health histories, and perfect record of non-miscreant behavior, to such full time and energetic dedication. There has been, no illness, or sneezing and coughing, no sickrooms or sickbeds, no need for medical assistance, no lost time from work or school, little injury and a universal and perpetual absence of concern, regarding the subject of infectious disease. Disability attendant upon aging, was however, necessarily recognized as inevitable and not proscribed.
Willa Profolaxis, the orphaned, 17 tear old, maternal grand-niece, of the childless, Board President, Anna Flaxis, was adopted, by Anna and her husband, Jim, approximately six years ago, and happily, and (of course,) healthily, resided with her adoptive parents. She has been universally admired, for her intelligence and cheerful disposition, and, in common with all village residents, fully compliant with all of stringent requirements of the Salubrious Village Charter.
Willa was always, an avid reader, and an especial admirer of English Victorian literature. She has read every Jane Austin, Charles Dickens, and William Thackeray novel, in the small village library. In her spare time, from employment as a piano teacher. She has always deeply yearned to experience, more of the period’s authors such as, George Eliot, Anthony Trollope, and H.G. Wells; writers whose works, unfortunately, were not available, in the small village library. Willa was aware of the difficult procedure to leave the village, and the unpleasant requirement following her return, but, in order to pursue her literary interests, was willing to, endure the procedure for permission to leave and the loneliness of the subsequent solitary period of isolated quarantine procedure, to pursue her passionate literary interests.
After earnestly indicating her wishes, and willingness to undergo the isolation period, she easily succeeded in passing her stringent oral examination and required interviews, seeking the necessary permission, (her application, certainly not adversely affected, by the fact that her foster mother was Board President) which was granted. Her revealed plan, which consisted a visit to a nearby College library, and supervised residence, in a room in the College’s female dormitory premises, for three days. was officially approved.
She left the following Monday evening, by the village small, private bus, for the nearby college town of Belle Airs, intending to return the following Thursday, as authorized. In addition to a new notebook, she packed a few changes of clothes and undergarments, and a dozen pairs of gloves and medical masks. Upon leaving Salubrious Village, she dutifully donned her protective mask and put on her gloves. The village bus driver, also gloved and masked, drove Willa to the nearby college town, and left her at the college entrance. The college’s Dean of Women, had been expecting her, and, privately surprised at noting her mask, showed her to her assigned room; it was past 10:P.M. and she wished her a good night, after indicating the route to the library, and the dining room, and left.
After an excited, and restless. night and quick breakfast, (which she had brought, from home) she dressed, and walked to the College Library, and entered, to the surprise of the librarian, and others, (at her mask and gloves) and was directed, as she requested, to the section dedicated to Victorian Literature. Willa was very excited, as she took down a volume of Anthony Trollop, “The Warden,” slipped off her gloves and excitedly, began reading.
After approximately one hour of contented reading, a very handsome young college student, entered the library and began to read. He selected a novel by H.G. Wells, “The War of the Worlds,” and, sat at an adjoining window table, and began to read. He was so engrossed at finishing the novel (which he had frustratedly, come close to accomplishing, the previous evening, when the library closed.)
The handsome, young college student noticed the absorbed, Willa nearby, and despite his anxiety, regarding the outcome of his book, approached her and inquired after the gloves and face mask. Willa, having little experience with young men, naively, explained the complete history and description of her village of Salubrious, emphasizing the lifestyle of its residents, and the complete absence of germs. The young student, whose name was Ian Hardy, smiled, and on the way back to his table, thinking of the rosy picture painted, so naively and honestly, by Willa, had a pang of conscience, as he stifled a couple of soft, involuntary coughs.
The next morning, saw both young people, sitting and reading, at their previous tables. Young Hardy, was excitedly finishing his novel by H.G. Wells, and Willa was half way through with “The Warden,” when the young man, jumped up and quickly approached the reading young lady. He exclaimed, “I remember your description of your village, and their absolute dread of germs.” Willa, still masked, asked for an explanation of his sudden statement. The handsome young college student, explained that in Well’s novel, the Earth was near certain destruction from superior and, invincible forces of Martians who suddenly, collapsed, due to their Martian lack of immunity, for Earthly germs. He then expressed great fear and respect for earthly germs, and acquired more insight into the facts revealed, yesterday, by Willa. He the invited Willa to lunch at the College Restaurant, in the adjoining building, and Willa, flattered and charmed, by the young man, accepted.
At lunch the two diners, discussed the subject of the danger of germs, a subject of especial interest to Willa, who had a uniquely exciting and rarely experienced sense of sudden attachment to young Hardy. He, on the other hand, was fascinated her strange personality, noticing, each time she lifted her face mask to eat, that she had an exotic and very beautiful face. They met at the library and for lunch, each of the remaining days of Willa’s permitted sojourn.
On the third and final day, on one occasion, when Willa lifted her mask to eat, the young man, on impulse, and, apparently motivated by an uncontrolled passion, kissed Willa on the lips. A novel and completely unexperienced pleasure, coursed through Willa’s body, at this new experience, and she, in panicked response, left her lunch, half eaten, and retreated to her dorm room, to start packing her clothes for return to Salubrious Village the next morning. She attempted to forget about the one event, the Charter specifically prohibited, the kiss, and with remorse and inconsistent pleasure, she perseverated about the experience, through the night.
The next morning, Willa was met by the small, white village bus and transported home, to welcoming expressions and her anticipated period of isolated quarantine. During the seemingly, interminable three weeks of quarantine, she dreamed about the young man, the kiss, the bucolic characters of Trollope, the earth being saved from invading Martians, by its germs, in H.G. Wells’ novel, and somewhat later on, her normal life at Salubrious Village and music instruction.
After the termination of the three- week quarantine period, Willa was overjoyed to rejoin her step parents, Jim and Anna Flaxis, and return to the germ-free life of the village, resuming her piano instruction and controlled interaction of residents, as directed by the authoritative Charter. From time to time, she recalled the impulsive kiss on the lips and her, responsive, pleasant bodily response.
About two weeks later, walking to residence of her next pupil, she thought that she heard the unfamiliar sound of a soft cough, emanating from…..
Somewhere, in that part of heaven, where the literary greats are enjoying their eternal leisure, Victorian Section, of course, a heavily bearded chubby vested, H.G.Wells, is shaking his head and ironically smiling.