"I DON'T LIKE the sound of those drums, dear," Edgar said. "I think we should go back to the hotel."
Their guide turned to face them. "You be coming with me, kind mister," he said. "You be seeing real voo-doo economics ritual. No touristy stuff. Plenty supplyside." The guide nudged Edgar in the ribs with his elbow, and said in a softer voice, "You be seeing swollen bureaucracy turned into nude federalism, my mister."
"You mean New Federalism," Edgar said.
"Don't quibble, dear," Emily said, gesturing for the guide to continue down the winding dirt path they were following. "You can't just sit in the hotel all day reading John Kenneth Galbraith."
The guide continued toward a thick grove of trees -- gnarled trees of surpassing weirdness, their limbs heavy with ticker tape.
"I simply don't like those drums," Edgar said. "It sounds like someone's beating the hustings. And listen to that chant!"
In the distance, the sound of voices grew louder and louder. "Voo-doo, voo-doo -- trickle, trickle, trickle, trickle," the voices droned in a rhythmic chant. "Voo-doo, voo-doo -- trickle, trickle, trickle, trickle."
"Isn't this all simply fascinating?" Emily said, picking her way around a pile of discarded water and sewer grants. "I hope the ceremony's not too bloody, though. Thelma and Harry said that when they went last year the sorceress just used some leftovers from the hot-lunch program for the grisgris. Some people at their hotel said they heard that she could change two helpings of broccoli into an aircraft carrier."
"Voo-doo, voo-doo -- trickle, trickle, trickle, trickle," the voices chanted. "Voo-doo, voo-doo, -- trickle, trickle, trickle, trickle."
"I don't like it, I tell you," Edgar said. "It gives me the creeps. And why does our guide look so much like an oil company lobbyist?"
The guide turned to face them on the path, his eyes darting from side to side, this lips curled in a slight smile. "You be seeing real stuff, my fine sir," he said. "You be seeing too, my kind young lady. Magic! White magic! Lily White Magic! You be seeing less make more, and machine tools depreciate lightning fast before your eyes, quick-quick."
"But what's that awful smell?" Edgar asked.
The guide began to cackle. "We be cooking the figures, mister," he said, shaking with mirth and rubbing his hands together. "Heh, heh, heh, heh. We de cooking hell out of the figures. Heh, heh, heh, heh, heh."
They had reached a clearing in the grove of trees, and the chant now seemed nearly deafening, "Voo-doo, voo-doo -- trickle, trickle, trickle, trickle. Voo-doo, voo-doo -- trickle, trickle, trickle, trickle."
"You be seeing now, kind mister," the guide said. "You be seeing now poor folk bounce on safety nets. You be seeing rich folk bounce on poor folk. You be seeing this too, my kind young lady."
The chanters had reached the clearing. They were wearing hooded robes of polyester. As they stood at the edge of the clearing, their chant changed: "Two-four-six-eight -- what shall we depreciate?" Then one of the robed figures stepped out from the chorus, slowly walked toward the center of the clearing, violently twisted back in his own tracks at a grotesque angle, and fell, writhing, to the ground -- presumably having displaced a vertebra or perhaps even broken his back. Edgar and Emily watched in horror as one chanter after another followed the bizarre ritual.
"They be walking the Laffer curve, kind young lady," the guide said, apparently noticing the look of distress on Emily's face.
"Those poor men!" Emily cried.
"Not for you being worried, kind miss," the guide said. "They be suffering only short-term displacement."
"I'm not so sure I like this," Emily whispered to Edgar. "Maybe we should just go back to that recreation area at the hotel and try to balance the budget on the backs of some American taxpayers. Thelma says it's not that hard once you get the hang of it, except she kept slipping off the rich ones."
Just then, a new group of chanters entered the clearing, moving in a sort of jazz rhythm. Gyrating in a way that made Emily blush, they shouted, "Trickle down, trickle down -- let's go to town and trickle down!"
"I'd like to go now, Edgar," Emily said, but at that moment the voodoo sorceress appeared.
"There she is!" Edgar said.
"That be her, nice people," the guide said. "Now you be seeing her stick pins into neo-Keynesian dollies, kind missus."
"Why is she wearing an Adolfo gown?" Emily asked.
"You be watching, good people," the guide said. "She be sacrificing chicken and giving back the gizzard to poor folk on strictly volunteer basis."
The chorus now began hauling some sort of idol on wheels into the clearing.
"It's a Trojan horse," Edgar said.
"There be the chicken now, kind mister," the guide said.
"That's no chicken; that's a Trojan horse," Emily said, as the sorceress slit open the belly of the horse and tax breaks for the rich began to pour out.
"Nice fat chicken it be," the guide said. "Lucky poor be getting nice fat gizzard."
"Let's get out of here, Edgar!" Emily said.
"Furthermore," the guide continued, "a deregulated oil and natural-gas industry assures all Americans a dependable energy supply within the framework of traditional American free enterprise."
"Jesus Christ!" Edgar said. "He is an oil company lobbyist!" Edgar grabbed Emily's hand, and they scrambled toward the path.
"It be nice chicken," the guide shouted after them, having quickly fallen back into his role. "Voodoo be bringing chicken in every pot, two cars in every garage."