Publish Novellas 16 October 2022
EPISODE 1 – RELINQUISH
This idyllic town includes both exciting activities and strict rules for residents. How much would you be willing to give up for an opportunity to live within Agassi, among duplicitous neighbors?
Fads come and go, while some trends last decades. Two examples of enduring trends are rap music and tattoos. A large population does not consider rap to be music. In many cases the lyrics are spoken rhymes accompanying a rhythmic beat. It is not uncommon for popular songs to include lyrical profanity and hatred.
Tattooing is a worldwide practice going back millenniums. It was popular among sailors and prison inmates before becoming identifying marks of street gang members. After idolized athletes embraced the trend, the general population became obsessed with ink. Some people prefer discreet tats while others cover large sections of their bodies.
Tattoos can cause problems during certain radiology procedures, such as an MRI. They are also a Biblical priestly prohibition at Leviticus 21:5. Some companies do not feel that tattoos align with their brand. So they use personnel without visible markings to interface with the public.
A predominantly rural community named Agassi is gaining appeal among citizens opposed to rap music. Though the town is ethnically diverse, such music is banned from local radio airways. Any audio device that authorities discover playing such music is subject to confiscation. Devices include vehicles, stereo systems, and smartphones.
The display of rap music posters, T-shirts, or memorabilia is also subject to confiscation and fines. There is a zero tolerance policy for multiple offenders. Upon the second infraction, the individual or family is allowed 48 hours to pack up belongings and vacate the community.
Visitors who bring rebellious music are asked to leave and may receive a police escort out of the city. Multiple infractions can ban future entry.
Outlawing Body Art
Similar strict mandates apply to tattoos, regardless of the size. There are no parlors, and people with visible tattoos can’t obtain housing. Initially, rebellious teenagers were the leading cause of evictions. Later, families impressed by the low crime rates began flocking to the community.
Water-soluble face painting, cosmetics, spray tans, and temporary tattoos that may be washed off are allowable. Those who love ink have difficulty complying. Some people used to wear sheer T-shirts and blouses with prints resembling tattoos. The hassle of a roadside body exam to demonstrate to security officers that the tattoos are fake, led to their ban.
Guests with tattoos must cover themselves and wear a visitor’s badge. Depending on the extent of the tattoos, this may require donning a burka or niqab, even when the wearer has no Muslim or Hindu affiliation.
The attraction among residents is not just the outlawing of distasteful trends; the town is pioneering its own brand of pop and country music. Mapping high notes to cool colors and bass notes to warm colors produces a vibrant rainbow light show at concerts and festivals. The audiovisual intensity is strong enough to supplant the desire for rap music.
A high number of culinary school attendees elevates both elegant healthy cooking and decadent baking. So residents have their senses of sight, taste, and hearing satisfied. The community enjoys a robust dating scene with pleasurable family activities, fresh air, and beautiful surroundings.
Because of strict policies for residency, consideration of new applicants requires a referral with favorable recommendation. But this does not deter curious tourists. Approval process includes a full-body examination by a local dermatologist.
New residents must include front and back swimming trunk or bikini photos prior to dermatology exam. Reviewing photos increases the work of local dermatologists.
Many of the images are tattoo fails or are petitions to relax the rules as applicants point out small tattoo dimensions or artistic quality. Residents must also sign an affidavit of compliance with an agreement for annual full-body examination of possible tattoos.
The town slogan on prominent signage is, “Abstinence from ink is the new sexy.” This emphasizes another local attitude—chastity. Monogamous marriage is everyone’s goal. They frown upon premarital sexual relations.
For the growth of the community, the mayor is spearheading the promotion of employment opportunities. Favorable skills include music production, culinary arts, architectural construction, and dermatology with an emphasis on tattoo removal.
Some people who have been denied admittance and those evicted for non-compliance have filed and lost lawsuits. Appellate courts side with the argument that freedom of choice is not being violated. This is because people have the choice to decide where they live.
Those filing claims have a right to reside in a neighborhood where objectionable music and body art are common. Their desire to move into an area where such is restricted, only to impose the objectionable element on others who don’t desire it, can’t be enforced by the court.
The small town, surrounded by majestic lavender mountains that clutch cumulus from cyan skies, has a population of just over 5,000. Most live in modern townhomes. Longtime residents, have free-standing houses in more rural areas.
Mayor Bill (William) Agassi is the brainchild of the city concept. His great-grandfather owned the entire area that was originally all for agriculture. Bill’s father began selling off parcels of land before Bill incorporated the city with its current legislation. The city collects taxes and association dues from townhome owners to monitor and maintain the buildings, music, and tattoo compliance.
Bill’s son, Jackson, is the 30-year-old police chief. There are 120 officers patrolling Agassi. Bill also has an estranged twenty-something daughter named Jillian that does not live within the town of Agassi, presently.