Shadow Traffic
By Eric Suhem

“Fran, I need you to go to the gas station and fill up the minivan, can you manage to do that without screwing it up?” her husband asked derisively.

“Yes of course, said Fran, observing the words coming out of her mouth, numbed by now to his constant criticism. As he stalked out the door to work, he just looked like a puppet fading into the fog.

Fran pulled into her favorite nearby service station, and was greeted by the attendant. “Fill it up, please, Dave,” said Fran, staring dreamily as unleaded gas was pumped into the minivan.

Through a cloud, Fran saw the shadow woman pull a car into the service station on a desolate desert highway, noticing the sign, which read ‘All Services Permitted’. The shadow woman pulled up to the first pump, labeled ‘Evil’, proceeded to pump evil into the car’s gas tank, and then gave the cashier her credit card, his eyes gleaming brightly as he ran the credit card through the machine, which emitted strange noises. The shadow woman’s credit card activity statement would just show the word ‘Evil’ in the credit column for that transaction, which would end up requiring a number of phone calls to the credit card institution to get things straightened out. As the shadow woman left the service station, the cashier happily plunked the black key on the cash register with his index finger, the sign ‘Another Sale’ ringing up.

Fran drove to the community center and cheerfully added her input to the town discussion on traffic solutions. “I think there should be a few more ‘Stop’ and ‘Yield’ signs set up to protect our citizens,” she suggested.

Staring into the grey nylon carpeting of the community center, Fran saw the shadow woman think about the city traffic patterns and respond, “Well I think that the legs should be cut off the bodies in the morgue, and that little wheels should be attached to the bottoms of their feet.” The shadow woman continued, “A television set should be attached to the top of the legs in the space previously occupied by the torso. The entire contraption should then be spray painted sky-blue. After that, road maintenance should get involved. Every road should have an electric trolley groove embedded in it. Then we place the wheels of the sky-blue tv-legs into the groove and have them slide up and down the streets day and night. The televisions would provide information and entertainment to traffic and pedestrians, and the legs would provide a humanistic touch. Also, this device could be painted a different color if the sky-blue doesn’t blend in well with the particular locale.”

As Fran saw the dark apparition slowly disappear into the community center carpeting, she received approval for her suggestion of more ‘Stop’ and ‘Yield’ signs. She got back into the minivan and drove home.

“Well, did you accomplish the tasks I assigned to you?” demanded her husband at dinner.

“Yes dear,” said Fran, staring at her husband’s torso while slicing roast beef and imagining new traffic solutions. Tomorrow she would have to clear up some odd entries on her credit card, and figure out why there were blue mannequin legs in the back of the minivan.

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Eric Suhem lives in California and enjoys the qualities of his vegetable juicer.
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