Let me take you back to yesterday morning, Citizens.
There I am, sitting in the plush leather seat of my station wagon, enjoying some LKTR on the car stereo and admiring my town – The humble small town where I’ve literally spent my entire life (save for a hectic drive to Durham Hospital on a cold windy night on the 3rd of December 1994). I drove past each and every cog in the machine of Little Knee, from the Snert Diner which many of us frequent for the famous thick Dutch pea soup within, to the Little Knee Boweling Alley, which stubbornly refuses to correct the unfortunate typo out front (only the first of several issues).
It was much to my horror, citizens, that when I turned left at the corner of Whippet Lane and Mexico Street, that the road ahead of me was distinctly lacking something. Something which, like many of you I’m sure, is extremely dear to my heart. I screeched to a halt and rubbed my eyes, hoping that instead of the cruel truth before me, my sight had been cursed by the Ancient King. But alas, my vision was as sharp as ever. Ladies and gentlemen, I’m sure you already know by now, but I write this letter to confirm it: the bronze statue of Hyong Li is gone.
For those who may have forgotten, and in particular for he/she/it who was monster enough to commit so heinous a crime, let me remind you who exactly Hyong Li was.
Now let me take you back even further, to February the 27th, 1942.
Chinese Air Force Captain Hyong Li, while attempting to return to base after retreating from Rangoon, makes a wrong turn. When, where or how this wrong turn was made is unclear, but the severity of this accidental diversion was such that Hyong Li’s plane headed much further East than intended. How much further? Try America further. Somehow, the aircraft made it not only over the thrashing Pacific Ocean, but came far enough inland without being detected, that when Hyong Li was finally forced to eject his plane as it gulped it’s last sip of fuel, that he descended over Blackheart Forest, and onto the borders of Little Knee.
Barely able to walk, Hyong Li stumbled into town, where the contestants of a small horseshow throwing competition spotted him and ran to his aid. He was bruised, bloody and exhausted, but above all he was polite and friendly. After helping him into the horseshoe clubhouse, our kind residents, all of whom are now dead, of course, fed him pastries and Snert, and gave him glass after glass of refreshing lemonade. If there’s one thing Hyong Li loved, it was Little Knee lemonade. The townspeople took an instant liking to him, helping him build a house in the centre out town, in place of the bakery that his falling plane had unfortunately levelled.
And so it was. Hyong Li was a part of Little Knee. He told our people tales of the war, most significantly, that there was a war going on. Little Knee, much like today, was a secluded and introverted little town, and rarely had any correspondence with outsiders. This only made Hyong Li more fascinating, and his war stories were bested only by the new culture he brought to Little Knee. He is the reason that Little Knee’s second language is Chinese, and why we celebrate Chinese New Year in place of the previous, outdated New Year that the rest of the country seems intent on sticking with.
Hyong Li was one of the most influential citizens this town has ever seen. I truly believe, that were it not for the events of November 1st 1953, that Hyong Li would have become mayor – maybe even president. You see, friends, having not been aware of the (apparently second) World War, Little Knee did not have any soldiers of its own, but dropped right into out laps was this wonderful gift, and thus this amicable Chinese pilot became Little Knee’s very own war hero.
On that fateful November night, however, we lost that hero. For a few years previous, those on the edge of town – lumberjacks and weirdos – had been plagued by the presence of a creature known as Savage Jack. A grizzly bear reported to have stood, on his hind quarters, at a height of over eleven feet, with claws as sharp as hunting knives and teeth that could pierce steel, the ursine beast served as a looming threat to our citizens. On that night, Savage Jack took a step to far, venturing deeper into Little Knee than ever before, and devouring, reports say, up to six naughty children.
But Savage Jack had made a grave mistake coming into Little Knee, as he learned when Hyong Li arrived, wielding a bag full of horseshoes. He had been headed out to the clubhouse for a horseshoeing nightcap when he had seen the trail of body parts and taken it upon himself to defend us all. Horseshoe after horseshoe he threw, each striking the bear and, they say, knocking out his razor-sharp teeth. This unwelcome dentistry enraged the ursine aggressor, and he flew at Hyong Li with all five hundred and fifty pounds of his devilish mass.
People from all over town gathered around, watching the two struggle until finally Hyong Li blinded Jack with a horseshoe and broke his neck. His victory was short-lived, however, for our hero had not managed to entirely evade injury, and it became apparent that most of his organs were no longer where they should be. Rather, they were scattered around the street, or jammed in the toothless jaw of Savage Jack’s hulking corpse.
Moved by his sacrifice, the people of Little Knee decided to show Hyong Li the ultimate mark of respect, and had him bronzed. Rather than create a cheap imitation statue that would simply mimic the greatness of our saviour, they decided that keeping the heart of Hyong Li (the only salvageable organ, as luck would have it) was the best way to honour him.
And so that monument has sat, for over sixty years, on the front lawn of our town hall – until yesterday.
I don’t know which of you decided that removing Hyong Li’s statue from its podium was acceptable, but let me tell you without an ounce of doubt, that it is not. More than a crime, it is a sin against this township, and only by returning the statue immediately will you have any hope of saving yourself from what I expect with be an angry mob of hundreds. Obviously I cannot condone such a thing, but I wouldn’t be able to blame the citizens if they were to organise some sort of angry mob, say, tomorrow night around 8pm, for example.
If you’re going to steal anything from this town how about that big box of crystal skulls that’s floating a foot above the ground and slowly rotating on the front lawn of the station, or some of those garish lawn ornaments on Avery Drive. But you do not touch our precious war hero’s statue. That, you do not do. If anyone has any information on the statue’s whereabouts, it would be wise to come to the station and speak to me. I like to think I am approachable, and have a coffee maker in my office. The sooner Hyong Li’s statue is returned, the sooner we can go back to being a peaceful and respectful community under the shiny bronze gaze of our very own Chinese war hero.