by Matt Rowan
It was a known fact Mayor Abok was stealing big pieces of pavement from streets downtown. The streets downtown belong to the people. The people wanted greater transparency. They wanted Mayor Abok to be straight and narrow with them. They wanted their streets to be level and safe to drive their vehicles on. They wanted their streets to be useful. Mayor Abok literally wanted their streets, or big pieces of their streets, for purposes no one really understood.
He had his guys stack the pieces of pavement in his kitchen. Then, when that was full, he had them stack them in his living room. This took longer to fill than his kitchen, which was several square feet smaller. He smiled glibly at the stacks of pavement he'd acquired.
There may well have been a good reason for all the mayor's stealing, but the people didn't know it, were unsure of what in the world it could be. And they were mad because where was, at the very least, a street sign warning them of these newly constructed potholes and dips? They deserved that much, even if signs did cost money, right? Didn't they deserve that much? Despite the cost.
The mayor really didn't think so. He thought costs had to be cut. He kept telling them that that was his responsibility, as their elected leader.
The mayor's car was angriest of all the people and things that were angry at the mayor.
His car was animated, exceedingly so for an inanimate object. The mayor ignored its pleading and sarcastic quips after hitting especially big potholes, as he drove it to city hall. “The people are right to be fed up, Mr. Mayor,” said his car, his very own car.
“They'll thank me one day. So please will you shut up shut up shut up shut up?” But his car didn't, and so the mayor started purposely steering into the potholes his men had made. The car howled in pain, asking the mayor how could this be better? How could this be better for anyone? But the mayor just shouted “shut up” again, “for the umpteenth time, shut up.” Then finally, the mayor hit a pothole so big that it freed his car's left front wheel from the axle and the whole vehicle whipped into oncoming traffic, blocking all lanes.
The mayor exited his car, screaming obscenities at it. The people who'd been stopped by his car got out and watched as the mayor really got frenzied, kicking the frame, bashing the windshield, breaking all the glass.
“I was trying to do this all for you, people. Understand the good this would do!” They weren't sure what he was talking about, understandably. They couldn't figure why he was yelling at his car. Most cars do not talk, after all. Theirs didn't. Why should the mayor's, other than for the reason that his was very obviously more expensive?
Nobody really knew what to do with the mayor after that. He'd gone pretty crazy, crazy with anger. He got angriest when people would tell him, after he'd explain to them what his car had said, “Well, maybe you should have listened to your car, Mr. Mayor.”
He'd pulled out so much of his hair, and it wasn't growing back.
All rights reserved.
This story originally appeared in my short story collection, Why God Why (Love Symbol Press, 2013). It may owe its origins to a certain 55th mayor of Chicago best known for his pugnacious arrogance and bull-headed leadership style.