The marching band plods down the street in some semblance of order, tooting out a mournful version of "Talkin' Back." The rain is still falling—lighter now, but steadily drenching the white-clad band members and the few spectators who have strayed outside their dry dwellings to show support for their town. Last night's fireworks and concerts, an excuse for the entire population to get completely smashed, are still fresh in everyone's mind—the annual fireworks are one of the few "activities" the town ever has.

Along the streets, little kids scream for candy and stomp away when they realize that the musicians have no sweets to offer—only the occasional off-pitch note. The four wobbly lines of high school musicians weave across the parade route in a drunken tapestry, trying not to step in the small rivers of water the rain has created in the cracks on the pavement, occasionally tripping in an effort to step in time with the cadences.

Behind them, the Dairy Princesses wave at the spectators from under a dry umbrella, their smiles stretched tight across their faces due to the weather and the thought that this is all meaningless. In front of them, the parade marches on past houses where tired-looking women sit in lawn chairs next to their husbands, who are already half-drunk at ten o'clock in the morning. In front of them, more children sit, eagerly holding out Wal-Mart sacks in hopes of some tootsie rolls.

In the sky, the clouds are rolling angrily—more storms are coming. For now, the band runs to the safety of the high school, thankful that another year's celebration is over.