FICTION: Parking Space: A Love Story!

Updated 11 weeks ago By Shelly Reuben
FICTION:  Parking Space: A Love Story!

Chapter 28 - The Plot Thickens: Part 1

 

At 4:30 p.m. on that chaotic Friday, Lucian McBride, police commissioner of The Big City, called Mayor Chiquita Bamberger in her office at City Hall to alert her that a protest on Chestnut Avenue had gotten out of control.

“What are they protesting about?” The mayor asked.

“A parking space.”

She raised an eyebrow, asked Commissioner McBride a few questions about the situation, and told him to send patrol cars to the scene.

“Already on their way.”

“Thank you, Lucian,” Mayor Bamberger said. “Keep me posted.”

“Will do.”

And she disconnected the call.

Her thoughts drifted to parking disputes that had occurred just the weeks before.

A popular television actor who was also an advocate for unlimited immigration had been standing in an empty space and “holding” it for his fifth wife. When Miguel Zapatero, a ten year legal resident and new citizen of the United States, began to pull in, the actor stood his ground. Miguel tapped his horn gently to alert the man that he should move aside. The actor (nominated three times for Emmy Awards), airily waved the driver away. Knowing that the law was on his side, Miguel continued to inch his car forward, at which point the actor jerked the driver’s side

door open, dragged Miguel out, hurled a string of startlingly insulting ethnic epithets at his prone body, and proceeded to beat him up.

All recorded by at least seven pedestrians using cell phone cameras.

The TV star was arrested.

The TV star was fined.

The TV star was vilified in the Spanish-speaking press.

And en masse, the next time he was nominated for an award, the film community, ever-eager to support whatever it is that they support, gave him his long awaited Emmy Award.

Two weeks before that, an overwrought Scout leader driving a minivan filled with daisies, brownies, and senior Girl Scouts, was pulling into a large space on East 79th Street, just as Veronika Bobrinsky, wife of a Russian oligarch, spotted the very same space. Veronika raced past the minivan in her black Mercedes Concept S-Class Coupe ($2 million retail), made a sharp U-turn at the corner, drove on the sidewalk toward the space into which the Girl Scout leader was pulling her van, and made another sharp turn into it. Then she braked and shut off her engine, with the Mercedes half in the street and half on the sidewalk, effectively blocking the minivan’s entry.

A man on the third floor of an apartment overlooking the street caught it all on his cell phone camera, but instead of trying to sell it to a TV news station, he contacted City Hall and offered it to the mayor.

An off-duty detective arrested the oligarch’s wife.

Veronika Bobrinsky called her husband.

He called the Russian Embassy.

The Russian embassy threatened an International Incident.

And the State Department telephoned Mayor Chiquita Bamberger.

Infinitely polite to all State Department officials about all State Department requests, Mayor Bamberger, agreed to nothing and then promptly (and secretly) met with her favorite journalist (they had dated briefly when both were dancers and before he had changed careers) and gave him a copy of the witness’s video.

The following morning, two photographs extrapolated from that video made international headlines. The first was of the $2 million dollar Mercedes blocking the minivan. The second was of the harried Girl Scout leader standing like a mother duck protecting her ducklings in front of her vehicle while a lunatic in a Prada suit screamed obscenities in a Mistress-of-the-Universe kind of way.

After the entire three-minutes-and-forty-second video was posted on Facebook (it received 23 million views) even the State Department backed down. The Oligarch’s wife was fined—an enormous fine—and, presumably of her own free will, donated a five figure amount to the Girl Scouts of America.

Long before Chiquita Bamberger had become mayor, incidents such as these were common. After Monday’s blizzard, though, the city became quiet, quiet, quiet, as if a benevolent genii had sprinkled soporifics over every highway, byway, street, and avenue.

And…“all was calm; all was bright.”

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