For the month of February, each writer’s post will begin with the same line, which we’ve borrowed from Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five.
All this happened more or less. But more less than more, if that makes sense. If it doesn’t, I don’t really care.
The tickets on the windshield were placed by someone who kicked puppies in his or her spare time and had the beady little eyes of a rat, a miserable human subtype that one could easily confuse with a goblin or a piece of really moldy cheese. It was a cold-ish day, and if the wind could skip, the wind was skipping merrily. The sky was so blue that the bluest of all blue words could barely touch how blue the sky was. Old man Jonson was letting his dog crap in the neighbor’s yard. Old man Jonson’s dog is a Pomeranian piece of Shih Tzu.
The tickets were placed despite the fact that the car had been parked there intermittently for eight years. Eight years is a long time. Eight years is enough time for someone to get two bachelor’s degrees. Eight years is how long Obama has been in office. In eight years, someone could walk around the world… maybe. It depends if you get kidnapped or snag a ride on a camel or lose track of time in Amsterdam, due, of course, to the magnificent architecture—and kind of maybe trying mushrooms that no one told you were hallucinogenic.
All I’m saying is tickets suck, and policemen suck, except when they don’t, which is a lot of the time, though people have different experiences, of course. Someone shot with a Taser might look on Police Officer Butterfinger a little differently. Someone might look at a police officer differently if his name was Butterfinger. Maybe the police don’t suck. All I’m saying is the policemen do or do not suck.
The semi-employed anti-hero of this tragic sob-story did what we all want to do but cannot because of various reasons, mostly time-related. There are appointments to get to, and the laundry’s going to be out in about five minutes, and the cat is sneaking out the front door you left open, and HOLY SHIT theeggshavebeenboilingsinceeightthismorningshitshitshitshit. [Run inside]
Being a semi-employed anti-hero with a fair amount of time to spend, our semi-employed anti-hero looked at the ticket, which said in so many words, “You shouldn’t have parked where you parked, numbskull. Give us our money,” and crushed it with about the force required to crush an orange—if that’s a good frame of reference—and then incinerated it with his mind. Then he considered his next move. The incineration was a good start. He didn’t want to ruin it.
He decided to get in his car and drive himself to whatever godforsaken building he needed to drive to in order to stand in a line in order to talk to Debbie in order to fill out a form contesting the ticket in order to contest the ticket in order to be told he had to pay the twenty-five-dollar fine anyways. Then he decided not to do that.
Instead he flew to that godforsaken building, heretofore known as the Hall of Despair—aka the Municipal Court—because yeah, he can fly, though “flying” might be a deceptive term. Gliding at a fixed pace of ten miles per hour might be more accurate. Our anti-hero, however, was very proud of the fact that he could fly.
Three and a half hours later, he strode into the Hall of Despair with his trusty sword, which they made him check at the door. When he explained his situation without the use of his trusty sword, they assured him his car was parked in the wrong place and that he needed to pay the fine. When he explained his situation after he incinerated the nearest trash bin with his mind, they assured him his car was parked in the right place. And he replied that this was pleasing to him and then incinerated another trash can.
After receiving their hand-written apology and retrieving his trusty sword, he strode out of the Hall of Despair. As he looked over his new-found realm and reveled in glory, a certain Police Officer Butterfinger snuck up behind our anti-hero, un-holstered his Glock, and lined up our anti-hero in his sights. As he put pressure on the trigger, Butterfinger whispered to himself, So, you don’t want to pay your ticket, punk? Not in my town.
Sensing something was amiss, our anti-hero turned to see Officer Butterfinger. It was hard not to see Officer Butterfinger. On the average day, he would eclipse the skyline, making any innocent child scream and lash out in panic if they happened to be caught in his shadow. For this reason and because he constantly waved his government-issued sidearm around to make a point, Officer Butterfinger avoided elementary school grounds and did not have many friends. Instead he was put on traffic violation duty, a sort of probationary role for those police officers whose zeal for the law exceeded their common sense.
“So, this is how it ends, is it?” Our anti-hero said dramatically.
“Well, no, actually not,” Butterfinger responded. “Legally I’m not allowed to shoot you, and scientifically you’re not allowed to incinerate things or hover.”
“First of all, I fly. I don’t hover. Second, I incinerate what I want when I want. Third, I’m not going to pay for my ticket.”
“It’s the law.”
“What if I don’t like the law? What if I leave the country?”
“Our traffic bureau will hunt you down to the farthest ends of the earth,” a dour Butterfinger said while slowly lowering his gun. “You can’t escape this. Pay your twenty-five dollars or face the fullest extent of the United States judicial system.”
Our anti-hero considered this for a moment.
“You said it was twenty-five dollars.”
“Well, that’s not so much then.”
And our anti-hero paid his ticket.
Ben Rietema (’14) lives in Wanaka, New Zealand at the moment. Besides staring at and running in mountains, he makes a wicked hospital corner and can clean a bathroom like Gandhi (if he were a housekeeper) at his job at a local lodge. He also enjoys saying “HOUSEKEEPING” in the highest pitch voice he can muster before entering a room to service it. benrietema.wordpress.com/