Gary writes “Grit Fiction,” because life isn’t always smooth. His stories are characterized by wit, wordplay, and plot twists that will leave the reader guessing.

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No Tell

NO TELL 

They’re calling me William Tell, which just goes to show how few people know that story.  My story has an apple in it, but beyond that it’s more than a stretch. People are also calling me a hero, an assassin, a saint, a saboteur, a terrorist, even a Floridian. The last one’s a joke. Florida is an easy and a popular target, and I just bet all the bronze retired people on the sandy resorts are crying in their mid-day Manhattans. Speaking of targets, I have become one myself. As far as what else I am, I’m not a hero, nor any of those other things I’m being called. I’m a guy who was in a certain place at a certain time, right or wrong is debatable and I’ll let the trolls do the debating.   

I am a nobody, a nobody who was just minding his own business, I was. Now I’m going to have to be a different nobody in a different town. Hey, if my cat’s happy, I’ll be fine.  

My story begins as the week ends. On my way home, adding my Corolla to the long angry steel serpent on the highway. Friday rush hour traffic. The police who are trying to divert the flow for some event probably should have started yesterday. Now they’re at the mercy of people in a hurry to get to their second or third drink of the afternoon. Added to that are wily ham-and-eggers who ditched work early or called in sick and are headed home from the stadium after the season opener. Infused with overpriced beers and the disappointment of the home team’s defeat, it all adds up to a surly sum. Everyone sees the lights, we all see the cops, but there’s more of us than there are of them, and nobody is yielding or slowing down. Wisely the boys in blue go into self-preservation mode, understanding that these drivers will flatten anything between them and their weekend plans. Fridays are filled with hope. Hope and road rage. It’s all horns and fingers and things being screamed that shouldn’t even be whispered at a construction site. People who should not be allowed to handle sharp objects are out here with four-thousand-pound wheeled weapons of mass destruction. Everyone’s battling for God and country and lane position, and for the sheer joy of being an arse. The timing makes no sense to me. I understand driving like you don’t care if you live or die when you’re headed to work on a Monday morning, but not now. Let’s at least live long enough to enjoy a couple days filled with dubious activities and regrettable choices.   

I’m on this living longer kick lately, which is why I’m driving 70 miles an hour one-handed. In my non-swerving hand, I have a softball-sized Cosmic Crisp. Last week it would have been a Camel. So, an apple instead of a cigarette, that has to add at least a couple years to my life expectancy, right? I’m thinking I might have had too small a dose of apple for any benefits before I threw it all away.  

One bite. That is all I had of my crunchy life-changer, and then I was at the police barricade’s Waterloo, where the officers gave up and moved off to the side. Now they just stand glaring at the uncooperative traffic. Not even pretending to take down license plate numbers. The police have weekend plans, too.  

I changed a lot of people’s plans after I saw the vehicle on the shoulder a half mile past the blue line of defeat. Hazard lights blinking, doors open, a couple outside fighting. Looks a lot like the type of trap they warn you about; Some sucker pulls over to help, and then ends up helping by surrendering keys and wallet at gunpoint. Lesson learned – if you live.  This is a black Cadillac Escalade, though, which would be a new twist to the carjacking trick.  

Nobody believes or nobody cares and nobody stops. I’ve got my foot on the brake and I’m awaiting further instructions from my cricket of a conscience. The man outside the Escalade is wearing an expensive suit, his back is to me, rude man, and I can tell by his gestures and by the woman’s face that he is screaming at her. What kind of man treats his girl like that? A little voice in my head mocks, A man that has a girl. Right, because I don’t. I suppose that’s because I didn’t treat any of them like a world-class boyfriend would, but I never threw King Kong tantrums like this guy. Or shoved a woman. This brute just combined a shove and a punch and now Jiminy Cricket screams inside my head that I ought to do something.  Without considering calling for help or the likelihood of being punched, shot, or ran over, my door is open, and I have no idea what I am doing, besides yelling. Hey!   

The guy turns to me and immediately I have concerns. Is this a trap after all? They’re bound to be disappointed if they’re robbing me, but they don’t know that yet. I am knee deep in something and it doesn’t smell like hoopla. The man is turning to face me and something flashes in his hand.  I’m empty-handed, even the apple is gone now. Evidently my arm decided that yelling wasn’t enough of a distraction, and my arm also forgot that it’s been thirty years since my last decent fastball. Still, that Cosmic Crisp had some heat on it.  

I recognize the man’s face a split second before my apple collides with it. The Governor. And now my eyes confirm that it’s the governor’s wife on the ground, and what did I get myself into? I haven’t even begun to mentally research the penalties for assaulting the chief executive officer of this state that I used to live in before I had to run for my life. This man is both despised and revered. The trouble is that the people that love him are the multi-hyphenated fringe-dwelling gun-brandishing Constitution-bending menaces to society. And I’ve just used their hero’s nose for making applesauce.  

I have a strong ally out here with me today, thankfully. Mrs. Chief Executive Officer slams her leg up into His Honor’s executive branch location and I think that might hurt worse than the Cosmic Crisp concussion. We’ll never know, though, because the entirety of his wounded self was just dragged a half-mile by the tractor trailer he disappeared underneath. There isn’t much room on these shoulders, there really ought to be … wait. There’s the sign, right there. “Caution: Narrow Shoulders.” I remember these signs being the Governor’s idea. Now he’s just so much debris on his own highway beautification effort. Governorsauce.  

I’m sure that I must be horrified and in shock and I certainly don’t take the loss of life lightly, so I know it wasn’t my voice I just heard saying, “That’s no way to keep the doctor away.” It’s all a matter of record, though, many times over. Everyone who couldn’t be bothered to stop to help have managed to have cell phone cameras capturing the entire tragic incident. Tragic it was – that apple, the one bite I had of it, was delicious! What a waste.  

The fallout fell swiftly. I’ve been Mirandized and villainized and I’m pretty sure eulogized, even though that’s a wee bit premature. One report called the event “The apple with the most impact on history since the one that dropped on Sir Isaac Newton.” Now there’s someone who understands their legends.  

Turns out that no crime has been committed, by myself or by the Governor’s wife. We vouched for each other and the viral videos from multiple angles told the story well. I’ve been exonerated of any wrongdoing by the federal authorities, and I’d like to think, absolved by the higher authorities as well. Time will tell. Meanwhile, the angry apologists and adorers of His Late Honor are out for blood. They watched the same videos, but they saw conspiracy and plotting and assassination. They are screaming murder with all their vengeful pious hearts, bless them.  

The newly appointed and widowed Governor pulled some strings, gave me a kiss and her phone number, and had Witness Protection work to erase my previous existence. Now I have a new house and a new job and a new kitty condo. New neighbors are already on my porch.  

They’re calling me William Tell.  

 END