SHELLY REUBEN: Parking Space: A Love Story! - Chapter 31

By Shelly Reuben
SHELLY REUBEN:  Parking Space: A Love Story! - Chapter 31

Shelly Reuben’s new novel is about … well, we’ll let you find out for yourself as we weekly serialize the chapters. If you miss one, get back up to speed with our article archive. Now, welcome to:

Chapter 31 - Misdirection


Tallahassee Dan was gone. Cadogan McClure was gone. And Chestnut Avenue was a disaster.

Broken bottles, torn posters, and scorched newspapers littered the street. A silver Ford Focus, charred from the fire that Cadogan’s disciples had set, partially blocked the sidewalk. They had also thrown rocks, but no store windows were broken. Nor had protesters yet reached the 84th Street intersection, which meant that everyone inside Rocco’s Bistro, including Burgess’s favorite waitress, were still safe.

But, the mouse-face voice-actor wondered with dread, for how long?

He looked across the street at the rectangle of pavement in front of the building where he lived. A parking space only Lilly Snow could enter, but that did not repel things. Now it was littered with burnt firecracker casings, blackened smoke sticks, singed ground bloom explosives, rock fragments, and broken bottles.

He turned away from the mess to survey the human chaos that Cadogan McClure had left behind. Now leaderless, they moved listlessly, and reminded him of zombie extras in a remake of Dawn of the Dead.

Burgess hid behind Cadogan McClure’s production van, raised the megaphone to his lips, and in a voice indistinguishable from that of the agitator cum filmmaker, boomed, “Attention, Protesters. Attention. Change of plans!”

The mob shifted, en masse, toward the van.

Continuing in Cadogan’s voice, Burgess bellowed, “Drop your posters and signs. Now!”

Nobody dropped anything.

“NOW!” He shouted again, his voice fierce, nasal, and imperious.

They dropped their signs.

“Drop your incendiary devices.”

One or two items were scooped out of pockets and fell to the street.

“ALL OF THEM!” The Cadogan-voice grew more ferocious.

More hands reached into more pockets and more small explosives tumbled to the snow.

Burgess bellowed again.

“Leave this location IMMEDIATELY and proceed to Riverhead Park. Assemble outside the ticket booth for the ferry, and wait for me there. We will…”

From not too far away, Burgess heard the shrill shriek of sirens.

With the megaphone still pressed against his lips, Burgess boomed, “We do not, I repeat, we do not want a confrontation with police. Proceed immediately to Riverhead Park. Run.”

Nobody moved.

So in his unmistakable baso profundo voice, and not caring if he did or did not sound like Caogan McClure, Burgess Meekly thundered, “NOW!”

The living dead returned to life.

They ran.


Copyright © Shelly Reuben, 2021. Originally published in The Evening Sun, Norwich, NY - Shelly Reuben’s books have been nominated for Edgar, Prometheus, and Falcon awards. For more about her books, visit