A memorial service for a lost local news legend became the news when it spurred a riot, fire, stampede, fist-fights and emergency child birth.
“Don Johnson Michaels always used to say ‘You know news is probably nearby if you hear sirens or smell tear gas,'” Thomas Steven John, a Coma News reporter, said about his late editor. “So I think he would really have enjoyed how his service turned out.”
Michaels was missing and presumed dead after riding off on a horse owned by his employer and landlord, Davis Montgomery III in mid-January.
The memorial service at the Bear’s Biker Bar started out on a somber note as residents dressed in costumes for the Show and Tell-themed remembrance re-enacted the favorite Michaels-related memories.
Trouble started when intoxicated mourners from the Scottish-Rite Wake down the street showed up and began to hurl jokes at the costumed speakers. Shouting matches grew especially heated when Town Councilwoman Natalie Peters arrived with a variety of farm animals from the barn where the late Michaels was living.
“Those drunken animals had zero respect for the right of these animals to express their grief at the passing of their roommate,” Peters said.
The taunting by Robert McGuiness and other friends of Michaels eventually became too much for Peters who unleashed pepper spray from the stage as fist fights broke out among audience members.
Terrified and blinded farm animals trampled a collection of delicate straw-and-candle figures depicting great moments in local journalism, which were contributed by local artists. The resulting fire–together with the pepper spray and a tear gas canister hurled by an intoxicated Sheriff Paul T. Frostnib–drove the remaining mourners from the bar.
The stress of the event sent Claudia Smith-Smith, wife of former Councilman Bob Smith-Smith, into early labor. After the child was born in front of Bear’s Biker Bar with several large bikers serving as make-shift midwives, mother and child were safely transported to Coma Hospital.
“I think it’s best that we just try to forget this night and all of the dark ugliness it spawned,” Coma Mayor Dave Anderson, said in an interview beside a burning trash can in front of Bear’s Biker Bar.