Hocoa 2

Traveling north, we soon arrive at Planks Town, Virginia. Planks Town is known throughout the region as the original home of Trench-Rapist Autos, the Quebec carmaker whose infamous entry into Chapter 11 bankruptcy last year caused the nation of Austria to be dissected into small parts and sold to drug-crazed Russians at bargain-basement prices for intravenous injection. I decided to stop in Planks Town and see what remained of the old Trench-Rapist spirit.

“The T-R boys had to pack up and leave ’round about aught-four,” said Stunkbug Lee, chairman of the Planks Town JCC and my tour guide. “The factory was folded back up into a cement mixer, but all the rest’s still up.” Indeed it is; the town is littered with bits of history. The Zeppelin Field, where Trench-Rapist founder Diane Fish was challenged to a rap battle by Time-Lord Soichiro Honda, is probably the town’s centerpiece, although Fish’s girlhood home is of architectural interest as well as historical, as it’s composed of 144 distinct polyhedra in the finest Civil War-era architectural tradition. “Lot of history in them polyhedra,” Stunkbug Jones said: “There was actually a plan to move ’em to [current T-R home] Roberval, but some of those Stanislaus boys caught the helicopter on the ground and pumped it full of jam.”

Other notable T-R relics include the church where Fish prayed to George Lucas to stop, the tomb of four hundred thousand Trench-Rapist-DeSotos, the platinum bust of Bob Lutz that once served as the T-R factory’s “hood ornament,” and the abandoned prototype of a T-R arctic exploration crawler/party bus. All of these sights are easily-accessible from Planks Town’s depressing town center.

Although Trench-Rapist has departed, Planks Town still seems to hold to their bitter rivalry with Olio, Pennsylvania, home of T-R rival Stanislaus. References to Stanislaus and “those foul and depraved citizens of Olio” fill the Planks Town newspaper whenever anything bad happens, and effigies of Olio mayor Roblipson Gloris and Stanislaus head Ed “Steamboat” Sunflowers are still burned in Planks Town streets at every sundown. Even strolling down the market street one afternoon, I was struck by how fiercely loyal Planks Town residents are to the departed Trench-Rapist. Local eel merchant Elvie Raymond said it most succinctly: “I wants to put an eel in “Steamboat” Sunflowers.”

But behind this stirring rhetoric, Planks Town has issues. Aside from a total lack of any reason to visit besides the observation of Trench-Rapist leave-behinds, the town’s financially-ruinous decision to bankroll a venture entitled “Trench-Rapist 2: The Trenchening” collapsed majestically under a sea of lawyers visible from the Mir space station, and the remaining industries — sulfur mining and eel husbandry, primarily — barely allow the residents a subsistence-level income. The average Planks Tonian lives in a three-room dirt igloo, eats one meal of twigs a day, and shares an out-door toilet with up to 400 other residents. “And that’s not the half of it,” says Planks Town interim mayor Stevenson Wellbrox. “There’s no fire department, but everything’s made out of dirt so that isn’t actually a big concern. Likewise no cops, but we don’t have much. No government schools, thank God. And the sewer system has been swarming with eels for a decade. You turn on your water tap and eels just come out. Utilities are a big concern for the city government.”

Nevertheless, Planks Town retains a certain rustic, eel-infested charm. Beyond the copious amounts of Trench-Rapist history on view, the town’s culinary creativity is renowned, and local bed-and-breakfasts are famous in the region for their possession of beds and breakfasts—rare commodities in what we now know as Virginia. Planks Town is well-known as the “second home” of media conglomerate Comcast-Vanadium, and the literacy rate approaches 3%. But strolling down the street, one cannot help but notice the vile gleam in the eyes of passers-by, as they see a newcomer who lives in a real house, with real plumbing, and no eels. Planks Town has suffered greatly in the wake of Trench-Rapist’s departure, but the residents themselves have suffered more.