Belfry natives are grumpier than usual this summer, probably because the July tsunami of tourists arrived on the same wind as a withering heat wave. Tempers followed the mercury. Now, even with the weather more seasonable, there is a grouchy hangover all around the village, especially along the quarter mile of crowded Main Street.
My friend Nibber, always a leading indicator of Belfry moods, might be the crabbiest of all. He was on the floor in the lobby of the Belfry Post Office this morning, rummaging through the wastebasket in search of food coupons while carrying on a noisy argument with the game warden, Hannah Dimble. Behind the boxes, Postmaster Hummer cranked Rush Limbaugh full volume on the radio, but Nibber and Hannah screamed louder. The heated discussion was about which state had the worst drivers, Massachusetts or New York. Nibber insisted it was Massachusetts; Hannah leaned toward New York. Hummer muffled Limbaugh and managed to negotiate a tie. All three finally agreed New Yorkers were the most reckless and the honking Massachusetts drivers were the most annoying.
That settled, Nibber rose up. "Look there," he said to Hannah, pointing with a fistful of coupons out the front window toward the street, "they're parked double. Why don’t you earn your keep and do something about it?"
Hannah made a face. "'Cause, you damn fool, I'm a game warden." Then she nodded out the back window toward the stream where tourists were colliding in rental boats and screaming kids were crawling like geckos over the gunnels. "If you took the trouble to look," she said, "you could see I got plenty of my own work to do."
Hummer interrupted Limbaugh once more and shouted over the boxes. "Neither of you would have a lick of work if it weren't for the flatlanders," he said. "Hannah would have to settle for chasing the same local poachers, and Nibber, you’d give up all those tax free dollars that come from schlepping docks and mowing lawns."
That shut them both up. Hannah went out back to count life jackets and Nibber headed toward Knights Store. I laughed when I saw him bow and smile as he let a lady in a straw hat with three leashed poodles cross the road in front of him.