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Fiction Stories from Kathryn Lang

Exposed – the True Inspirations for Satire Fiction

My husband and I watched in utter amazement. Our cable feed came from the west coast and our shows were often disrupted for the live feed of the most recent car chase. This one stood out and he and I immediately started creating our own dialogue to go along with what we were seeing on the screen.

It was a car-jacking that had turned into a pursuit. We had seen many of these play out, but this one was unique. The man had stolen a GEO Metro. Those of you familiar with the GEO Metro get why I didn’t say it was a “high speed” pursuit.

The more I thought about that moment, the more I knew I would have to share my own understanding of what actually took place. I began watching for more moments that held a similar fascination for me. It turns out the world is abounding in them.

There are way too many times I hear (or think) “you can’t make this stuff up.”

Out of Line

a Not-at-all-true Story About How It All Got Messed Up

– Chapter One –
The Perfect Drive Goes Completely Wrong

It was a perfectly nice day. I had put down the top to my Metro convertible. I choose the car not because of its excellent gas mileage – although it was incredible. It seems that if you power a car with gerbils then you don’t have to fill up the gas tank as often. It is a bit slow going when you have to go up a hill though.

The Metro convertible was the first car bought for me and by me. It was not the least expensive car that I could find but it was the least expensive convertible that I could find. The insurance cost was still outrageous and there were months when I thought I might have to take a second job to pay it. The insurance company insisted on classifying the Metro convertible as a sports car. I laughed every time I was passed by the bicyclers going down the road – and it happened more often than you might image.

Still, it was a nice enough car and I enjoyed having the top down. The sky was crystal blue and the temperature was perfect. It was hard to imagine that the next ice age was just around the corner – or maybe it was the next melting down age. I always got my climate change directives mixed up.

“Get out of the car.”

I had stopped at the four-way stop and I paid little attention to the voice.

“I said get out of the car, man.”

I looked up and the man was holding a pocket covered gun in my general direction. I use the term man loosely because he was young and his hair was long and his clothes were baggy. If his voice had gone up another octave I would have been even less certain of who it was demanding that I remove myself from my car.

“My name is Stan.” It was a true statement and I hoped it would throw him off enough that I could go on through the intersection.

His look turned to confusion and then his brow wrinkled in a way that told me my distraction had not worked. “Whatever, STAN – get out of the car.”

I put the metro into park and got out. The man giggled – which gave me another reason to suspect that I was dealing with something different from what my eyes wanted me to believe. He put the car into drive and then squealed away from the intersection. “We must protect the environment.”

I looked at the Metro moving away from where I had been left and laughed out loud. “How on earth” I asked (get it . . . on earth) “is taking my Metro supposed to protect the environment?”

I had gotten over the shock and jogged up next to the Metro. I think I’ve already mentioned that the power under the hood is not that great.

“Huh?”

I surprised my car-jacker and he pulled his “gun” from his pocket – which turned out to be the finger I suspected it was. He hit the door a few times from the shock. It took him three tries before he found the manual lever and began rolling up the window. All his attention was focused on blocking me out and not on speeding away. It allowed me to slow my pace from a jog to a fast walk.

“Seriously dude, you know that this car only goes from zero to thirty in five minutes flat. I think I can keep up.”

“I can’t hear you through the raised window.” He turned his attention to the road. At the speeds he was going, who could blame him?

“Um, you get that the roof is also missing.”

“La, la, la, la, la.”

“I’ll quit talking if you tell me why you took my car.”

He turned his attention to me once again and eyed me with all the suspicion that my dog eyes my toddler – the cat long ago learned that high places were his friend. I think he laughs when he sees the toddler going for the dog.

“You promise.”

“Sure.” Sure, I promise and I most definitely meant every word – or almost every word – or some of the words. I had my fingers crossed so it didn’t really matter.

“Man.” He started to explain.

“Still Stan.”

He looked confused again but only for a moment and then he continued his explanation. “Stan, man, the world is coming to an end. Don’t you get it? We have to save the planet. We have to save the world. I’m saving the environment one car at a time.”

I stopped talking to him at that point. It was clear that he was not in his right mind – he had to be in his left mind for any of it to make sense. I don’t go to my left mind if I can avoid it.

I called the police to report the theft. It was easy to give the location of the stolen car because I was still walking beside it. We were going uphill, so I was a little winded during the call, but the police were able to meet us at the top.

They had to pull the guy from my car, which was made all that easier because he had to come to a complete stop at the stop sign at the top of the hill. Starting on an incline was always tough for the gerbils and the hesitation gave the police the perfect opening.

They let me take possession of my car immediately, even though it was evidence of a crime. The officers on the scene felt that his presence in the car would be enough evidence for convicting him. I suspected his ranting would make the case an open and shut one.

“I had to take the car man.”

“Stan.”

That confused look was not going to get old any time soon.

“Stan. I had to take the car. I have to take all the cars. I have to save the world.”

The officer shoved the man in the patrol car. I was still almost certain that it was a man. He was still ranting about the end of the world and how taking my car would fix it all but the officer had closed the window so there was no way I could hear the rest. I suspected I would have more chances.

I was right. I followed the officers to the precinct to file the report. I could hear him ranting in the interview room even from the desk where they had sent me.

“Why are you here today?” The officer – or maybe he was a detective – on the other side of the desk asked me.

The ranting continued and I smiled. “Well, he carjacked my 1989 Geo Metro to save the environment and save the world.” I was beginning to think that the rhetoric THEY had been spewing had finally caused him to snap but I thought it might be better to not add that to my report.

“We’ll call you when the court day has been set.”

My name is Stan Bevill – and I have witnessed many things in my short life – from the turn of century to the turn of a country. The more things change, the crazier people seem to become. The crazier they become the more I seem to wind up in the middle of their crazy.

I thought it was bad luck or ill-timed coincidences – but it turns out that crazy is everywhere. Once I recognized the truth – that is when the real fun began. I started seeing crazy in the bank, on the street, and without fail on the nightly news.

The incident with my car was the straw that broke the back of the tired horse. I have to tell you about the crazy. I have to expose the crazy before they become the norm.

Now I sound like that guy that hijacked my car – maybe I will be ranting like this when they finally take me and lock me up.

No matter – the truth is the truth and I have to share – mainly so that I have another witness to back me up in court.

It was a full week before anyone contacted me about court. The defendant was a man and his name was Leroy. I didn’t know a Leroy and I liked the name, but I tried not to let that distract me. “Mr. Bevill?”

Apparently my attempts had not worked. “Yes?”

“I said, will you be able to attend?”

“Sure, can you send me an email to confirm the time and date?” I had no idea what I was agreeing to attend, but I didn’t want to admit that to the person on the other end of the line. I would just have to figure out how to juggle my hectic schedule to make it work.

The email notification came through almost as soon as we ended the conversation. She must have been multi-tasking. Women were good at multi-tasking. It’s a good thing that the email didn’t self-destruct after a certain amount of time because I had managed to distract myself yet again.

The District Attorney – or more likely one of the underlings that worked for the District Attorney because I didn’t see this case making a career boost for anyone – but whoever wanted me to come in to give my account of the events.

I felt like the statement to the police summed it all up nicely, but if he needed me to come in and wrap it in a bow then I would make the trip.

I did not expect the dozen people around the table when I was ushered into the room. It was the District Attorney – with his special tie and spiffy suit. I had opted to stay in my work clothes as well – as a freelance landscaper it was not a pretty contrast.

The introductions went around the table and included the defense attorney and her entourage. I counted five in all. I should have known when they outnumbered me so that this was not going to be a pleasant experience.

“Do you realize the stress you have caused Mr. Leroy?”

“Mr. Leroy? I thought your first name was Leroy.” I eyed the car-jacker.

“It is.” Came his quit retort.

“Your name is Leroy Leroy?”

“Yes it is. In my family we often take the first name of our fathers to be our legal last names.”

“And your parents liked your dad’s first name so much that they thought you should carry it around twice.”

He sat up a little straighter in his chair. “Yes they did.”

The lawyers in the room were not as impressed. “Could we get back to the question?” The lady sitting at the end of the table kept checking her phone, but still managed to get the meeting moving back in the direction she wanted.

“What was the question?”

“Could you read back the question please?” The lady with the phone never missed a beat.

I had not noticed the woman in the corner with the strange type writer adding machine combo. She lifted up the adding machine paper and repeated the question the lawyer had asked me.

The truth is that I remembered the question but the question was so ridiculous that I wanted them to have to ask it more than once. How could I, the victim in the crime, be responsible for the stress that anyone might be going through? Maybe reading through it a second time would help them realize just how crazy it was to be asking me anything except the facts of the incident.

“Do you realize the stress you have caused Mr. Leroy?” She dropped her copy paper and positioned her fingers on her strange little adding machine typewriter – I couldn’t decide which.

“Do I need a lawyer?”

That seemed to get the attention of the lady with the phone. She looked up. “Are you confessing your wrong doing?”

I looked around the room expecting someone to step in. I was a witness – no, I was the victim. I told them just as much. “The only thing that I have to confess is that I am the victim here. I was called to give my eye witness account of the crime.”

“You are the crime.” She pounded her hand on the table and the lawyers around her nodded. Leroy Leroy was smiling and settled back a little in his chair.

In the movie that played out in my head, I made a dramatic speech before storming out of the room. I was met down on the sidewalk by a gaggle of reporters eager to hear my replay of the injustice being served in the halls of the justice center.

My actually word response was not as dynamic. “Huh?”

The lady at the end of the table must have been the one in charge. She nodded and another lawyer slid a stack of papers across the table in my direction.

It was the second lawyer that explained. “We contend that it was you that caused the whole situation. If you had not been driving in your pollution creating machine then Mr. Leroy would not have felt the need to take the actions he took.”

“You mean stealing my pollution creating machine?”

“We further contend that Mr. Leroy did not steal anything. He merely commandeered the pollution creating machine in order to remove the dangers that it was spreading.”

“You mean he stole my car?” I asked another way.

“We further content that you are indeed the responsible party.”

“For letting him steal my car?”

“Did you tell him no?”

My dramatic movie returned . . . to my head. “Huh?” Was the only response I seemed to be able to find.

“We have more.” The lady at the end of the table turned her attention from me to the District Attorney.

The District Attorney looked at me and shook his head. “I think I’ve heard enough.”

I half expected him to announce to the man next to him, “Book him, Dano.” It seemed like the most appropriate response for the moment. Instead he continued to flip through the papers that the lawyer at the end of the table had been kind enough to slide his direction and then shaking his head. I believe I heard a “tsk” or two as well.

Mr. Leroy, the lady lawyer with the phone, and the entourage stood up and left the room.

I stood up as well, but I wasn’t sure if I should leave or stay or turn myself in. “What now?”

“Now you need to go home and think this over.”

I have thought it over. I have gone over it in my head more times then I care to admit. I had my car stolen and somehow I provoked the incident so it is all my fault – oh, and stealing my car is not really stealing my car because I forgot to tell the mad man with the make believe gun that I didn’t want him to steal my car.

At least I wasn’t in jail. That was something positive for me to try and focus on.

It’s hard to focus on the positive things when it seems the world around you is going mad – or maybe just a little madder. It becomes even more of a challenge when the madness falls at your doorstep.

I needed a break. I needed to get away. I thought about driving my car up into the mountains, but it was not a good thing to spring such a burdensome trip on the gerbils. They really needed time to train and practice for something as intense as a mountain trip. I thought about flying cross country to the beach, but I was certain that if my car was considered a pollution creator than a plane would probably get me a free ride to the big house.

A train ride seemed like the next best option.

# # #

Visit here each month for the continuing saga of Stan’s encounters with crazy. And be sure to leave a comment sharing your thoughts on his journey.



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Out of Line will be released before the holiday season of 2017. Be the first to receive your signed copy.





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