Tuesday, August 17, 2010

8. Trash

It happened this way. I was coming back from my morning walk and had gotten within three blocks of my condo and was enjoying the quietness of an urban side street. Then this high-pitched whine interrupted the calm. The whine changed in scale and volume and I looked down the street to see what was coming.

There, speeding down the street, was the oddest sight. It was a tough-looking hombre that looked a lot like the pro-wrestler Hulk Hogan. He wore wrap-around sunglasses and had a bandana tied around his head. He had chains hanging from every pocket and wore a leather motorcycle club jacket with ID patches sewed up and down each side. From top to bottom, he looked like a badass who was ready to deal—from his blond hair flowing in the breeze to his heavy motorcycle boots. He spelled trouble.

Sure enough, he scowled in my direction as he sped by, letting me know he didn’t brook a lot of nonsense. The whine reached its crescendo as he sped away …

On a Vespa.

It dawned on me just about the time he hit the brakes, slowed, turned around in the street, and motored back to me.

“What are you looking at, buster?” he growled.

You and I need to have a talk, C.W.,” I said.

“About what?”

“Images, for one thing.”


“Yes, how you present yourself.”

“How would you present yourself if you wanted to intimidate people?”

“We’ll talk about that later. Who are you trying to intimidate?”

“I’m on ‘Trash Patrol.’ I’m trying to scare people out of throwing their trash on the street.”

“Is it working?”

“Not very well. I just stopped these three black dudes, man, and chided them for throwing their cigarette butts on the street. They just suggested that I wanakalate++.”

“That you what?”

Wanakalate++, you know, perform a physically impossible act. Like licking a Bakataloran Tree. You see, Falloonians can’t extend their tongues outside their mouths so that would be a physical impossibility, no matter how pleasant it might seem.”

“I think I understand.”

“Good, now tell me why people trash their physical surroundings so much, man.”

“Good question. Does it happen on your planet?”

“We don’t have trash on our planet, man. I’ll tell you about it some day. But for now, why doesn’t your species make it illegal to spread trash?”

“Well, it sort of is, but the law is not really enforced,”

“I see. Like your city’s laws against violating traffic signals? I almost got mammary-gland secretioned over on Sixth Street, man.”

“Perhaps you mean ‘creamed’?”

“Ain’t that what I said, man?”

“Well, not exactly but we’ll let it pass.”

"Man, I'll tell you what: trashing your streets is a stupid man's way of being eloquent."

"True that," I said.

“Later, man,” he said. “I’m off to do the Lord’s work.”

And with a high-pitched whine, he was off.

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