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Once he was back to his semi-major Midwestern metropolis of Middleburg (actual name changed for legal reasons) Enzo’s investment readily achieved fruition, for the quiet pace that was the bane of dirigibles for long-distance trips proved to be its strength for intra-urban transit, where one had only to be faster than the speed of traffic. It excelled at bypassing bottlenecks, because it of course floated gently over them. One of Bessie’s appeals was that she allowed passengers to nurse a cocktail and look down through glass windows and outright laughed at the hapless commuters snarled on their nightly white-knuckled journey back to the suburbs. If they chose, passengers could descend to points in between downtown and the blimp’s suburban terminus via tethers. The younger professionals, and those who liked to think they were still young (you could tell because they had goatees), actually liked that. In hindsight Enzo saw that he could have charged extra for the service.

In any case Enzo made a mint until some city planners with deep pockets got their collective panties in a wad because he was making their massively more expensive and mismanaged light rail transit plan (funded by federal dollars) look like the boondoggle it was. Five years, a billion dollars in funding, endless eminent domain disputes and a quarter mile of crooked track later, they had nothing but widespread bad will to show for it. The blimp made them look like chumps. Their pain was compounded by the fact that they could not outright forbid Enzo’s safe and easy form of air travel for legal reasons succinctly summarized by a rusting sign teetering at the edge of town that read “Middleburg: A Zeppelin-Friendly Community.” Way back in the early 1930’s, in an effort to attract the booming airship industry, Middleburg had written several generous perks for airship manufacturers and operators in iron-clad language into their town charter. To violate them within 1000 years of their enactment would incur penalties that, in today’s dollars, would bankrupt them. Everyone else had forgotten this, but not Enzo. He still drove the back road into town where the rusting sign resided. It had helped fuel his childhood passion. It had a picture of a 1930’s airship on it and happy passengers (with men in hats) and everything.

And so, unable to forbid his operations legally, the town elders took to a public relations assault to kill them. They compared his blimp to the Hindenburg. The showed pictures of explosions scorching homes, children, puppies. They worked the airwaves relentlessly to instill fear in the residents of every neighborhood it lofted over (Enzo was not the best pilot - he always got from A to B though not without a wandering course). And in time they succeeded in painting his happily floating grey war surplus dirigible as a menace, and the once-celebrated vehicle, whose broad span had been a favorite place for local businesses to place their advertisements, became anathema - except among those who enjoyed its initial purpose - getting from the suburbs to work and back without an embolism. But they did not have enough pull. Once a person got the “townies” riled up there was no hope - they could throw themselves into holy crusades on the most frivolous issues with preternatural gusto and an unquenchable sense of self-righteousness. Last year it had been banning goats as pets, this year it was airships. They proved too much for Enzo, who hung up his hat and put old Bessie in mothballs because he did not need that kind of grief.

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