BOSTON—Some kind of raving psychopath apparently gnawed through his restraints and burrowed out of the Massachusetts Center For The Criminally Insane to design the invoice for the Keystone Gas Company, 36-year-old Michael Beasley reported Monday.
"What animal did this?" said Beasley, paging through a bill for the pay period ending June 2. "Whoever he is, he's spread an invoice for less than $15 over nine pages."
The new bill divides Beasley's balance into 15 columns with such headings as "meter degree" and "date expenditure." The columns are annotated with footnotes, bar graphs, windows, explanations, and "hints," many of which are printed in colors that were obviously selected by a deranged person.
"I just want to know what I owe!" Beasley said. "Fuel cost adjustment, adjustment to minimum bill, read days, repair range... 'Helping you to understand your repair range'? Is this some kind of sick joke?"
Beasley pointed to a section of the bill that detailed payments by mail.
"Residential Monthly Billing Customer Acct. ID B0498-8194-330000-MICHAEL-BEASLEY," the bill read. "Affix DEGREE DATE/Meter-ACT-4 stamp (Window 11-B) to Monthly BILLING ID Box (located on Window 15 on outside of Payment Envelope provided by RMBRC packet (See Intro)). RMB Customers using their own envelope see Using Your Own Envelope (Section F)."
"There's actually a section on how to use your own envelope," Beasley said. "With rules."
Beasley added: "This isn't a gas bill—it's a cry for help. Authored by someone with a disease."
Gale Snow, Keystone Gas public relations director, encouraged customers who are confused by the new bill to refer to the "Understanding Your New Gas Bill" brochure.
"This thing?" said Beasley, holding up a copy of the 28-page brochure. "This madhouse? This 24-Hour Polka Marathon at Titicut Follies? Look at it, man. It's a 28-page annotation of a gas bill. The notes to my copy of 'The Waste Land' aren't this arcane."
"Maybe it was written by someone the gas-bill designer befriended at the asylum," Beasley added.
The designer of the new gas bill—and possibly the author of its accompanying brochure—was unavailable for comment, probably because he's curled up naked in the crawlspace between floors three and four of Children's Hospital Boston, subsisting on vending-machine candy and doodling with his own feces.