Wodehouse Revisited

Submitted into Contest #116 in response to: Write a story that centers around a parking permit.... view prompt

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Funny Happy Romance






“Oh, hells’ nah,” breathed Mary, who, having weaved her way near enough to her faded Buick to see the windshield, could spy a telltale slip of pink paper tucked- she could not help but feel maliciously- beneath the meek wiper blade. Leaning across the fender, and, as a matter of course, the faded yellow hydrant in front of which it was parked- it was more than her life was worth to attempt to do so from the street side- she niggled it free.  

It was a parking ticket. Of course it was a parking ticket; Mary could have told as much from the stolid heft of the paper. Taxpayer money meant nothing to the sort which printed parking tickets, nor sodomy nor Sunday travel, but Mary cared naught for that. She would have traversed any given month of Sundays- though perhaps drawn the line at dirt road diddling- to not be holding that particular piece of Hallmark hate mail, with its iniquitous demands upon her meager capital. 

“We’ll see ‘bout this in a minute,” said Mary, who repeated catch phrases ironically until she accidentally adopted them and couldn’t stop herself.  

She had left her car windows down so they would not need to be broken maliciously, should the street burst into flames and the forlorn hydrants services be required…. She knew this constituted something along the lines of malice of forethought but thoughts were not actionable, though deeds were… apparently.

Sighing, Mary sank down onto the dusty, yellow miscreant, the existence of which had occasioned all her troubles. Its inch and a quarter opening nut gave her a prolonged goose, a deviant rush like pulling a long hair out of one's underpants in a crowded elevator. Surely, the parking spot would still have been available, even had the city not chosen to work off its excess budget by planting fire hydrants here, there and everywhere.

“Maybe I just won't pay you,” said Mary, glancing first at the ticket in her hand, then involuntarily up and down the street, in case the revolutionary sentiment had been overheard and her anti-citation cabal derailed before it had even begun.  

But, no one was on the street, no one walking, and they were the only ones which counted to Mary. Once a person entered into a vehicle they became a car. There were cars on the street, cars parked and cars driving; cars living their best car-ie lives and more power to them. Mary was nothing but an enthusiastic supporter of any pro-car credo. She had rather been looking forward to becoming a car herself, losing that individualism conferred upon one by a sojourn across the burning bricks in exchange for the blissful oasis of anonymity which was the interior of an automobile.

Well... she still could. They would never have booted her poor misplaced Encore, not in front of a hydrant.

Of course she would pay….

She looked up the street again. She looked down.

“Or they will...” she cackled dementedly. “They’re gonna’ pay; they’re all gonna’ pay!”

A man's head she did not know- it was a whole city full of heads with whom Mary had not become acquainted- popped out from behind a bush and she snarked into her sleeve, pretending to wipe her nose on her wrist. The man looked up and down the street as well.

“I say; did you hear something?” he said.

“What?”

“I said, ‘Did you hear something?’”

“Me?”

“Yes you.”

“When?”

“Just now.”

“You say, something?”

“Yes, something.”

“What did it sound like?”

“Well, I don’t exactly know what, just... a something.”

“I remember hearing a something once, when I was little, it was terrifying. What was your something like?”

“Like someone cackling.”

“Oh, a cackler?”

“Yes a cackler.”

“I think I’ve got the picture now; you heard a cackling and you thought it was a something.”

The man slewed out slightly and Mary saw that he was sitting on a packing crate, drinking a cup of coffee

“I say,” she said, because he had done and she had always wanted to.   

“I say,” she repeated. “Why are you sitting on a coffee cup drinking a packing crate?”

The man just looked at her.

“You know, I’m rather not... you know,” he said at last.

“But, you are,” said Mary. “It’s useless to deny it. You’re sitting right there, on that packing crate, drinking a cup of coffee. It’s been a long, irksome morning and I may kill someone soon, so you had best not try to confuse the issue.”

“Yes, but, leaving homicidal tendencies to one side-”

“You feel that would be best?”

“Yes, I really do. And I’m not just saying that. Leaving homicidal leanings to one side, as I say, you didn’t ask me if I were sitting on a packing crate, drinking a cup of coffee-”

“I know I didn’t. Why would I ask if you were sitting on a packing crate drinking a cup of coffee? I can see that you are sitting on a packing crate drinking a cup of coffee.”

“Yes, but my point is, the rub is, you asked, why am I, which is to say you, why are you, meaning me, why are you sitting on a cup of coffee, drinking a packing crate.”

“Did I?”

“Yes you did.’

“Are you sure?”

“Rather. I always pay close attention to whatever a smashing girl has to say.”

“You think I’m a smashing girl?”

“I think you have a strong predilection for smashing, yes, and I make it a point to pay close attention in just such a case. It helps one enormously in the ducking and weaving line.”

“Oh, I thought you meant beautiful.”

“Well, I really couldn’t say about that.”

“Couldn’t say? You mean, you don’t know if I’m beautiful or not?”

“Exactly.”

“You mean to say, you don’t know if I am beautiful, or, you don’t know if you find me beautiful, or, you don’t dare tell me that I’m as far removed from beautiful as a packing crate is from a cup of coffee because you’re afraid I’ll smash something?”

“The, uh, the first one. And I do wish you’d leave packing crates out of the issue.”

“What issue?”

“Any issue; they never help.”

“Well, they certainly haven’t clarified this. So, I’m not beautiful?”

“I don’t know, that’s the rub. You’re way over there, subjugating that innocent fire hydrant, and I’m over here, don’t you see, sitting on a cold packing crate and trying to decide if I should buy this place and make it into a coffee house.”

“Can you afford it? It must be a deuce of a lot of money, even with hydrant related parking issues.”

“You seem to have solved the hydrant parking issues.”

“I meant for cars, silly.”

“Oh, I see. Well, the thing is, I’m sure it is a lot of money, and all that, but my great aunt Snithingsfurther has just popped off and it seems I was her something-or-other a certain number of times removed; so I thought I’d come into the city and just, look about myself, as it were.”

“Can one really have a great aunt Snithingsfurther?”

“Well, not anymore one can’t.”

“Because she’s….”

“Yes, she’s… Rather puts a damper on the ol’ give and take.”

“You don’t seem to be all chewed up about it. But to get back to my beauty; why can’t you tell if I am one? Is it this delightful mist, not to say fog, or are you of two minds.”

“No, I’m rarely even of half a mind, but the thing is, when I popped out from around this bush… you did notice the popping?”

“I did, it was quite alarming.”

“Were you alarmed?”

“No, not really.”

“I say, when I popped out from around this bush to investigate some lunatic cackling I saw you sitting there-”

“Potentially smashing.”

“A Rembrandt in embryo in the smashing department. Sitting there on that fire hydrant and pretending to wipe your nose as you snarked up your sleeve-”

“A great smasher can’t snark up her sleeve?”

“I don’t know if one can or not.’

“Why don’t you know?”

“Because you’ve still got the sleeve in front of your face.”

“Do I?”

“I hate to press the point, but you rather do, I’m afraid.”

“What will you do if I am a great smasher?”

“Run and hide, I expect.”

“Behind your packing crates?”

“Leave the packing crates out of this.”

“Why don’t you offer me a cup of coffee? We’re going to be rich, you know, and I have to learn the business from the ground up first.”

“First what?”

“First before.”

“Before what?”

“Before you marry me.”

“Marry a smasher?”

“You’d be crazy not to.”

“Lunacy would definitely enter into it. Do you like coffee?”

“Adore it.”

“As much as that fire hydrant you’re molesting?”

“Even more vigorously.”

“Well, I suppose you had better have one.”

“One what?”

“A packing crate.”

“Are those what great aunt SW left you?”

“The inestimable SW left me seventy-three dollars and fifty-six cents, so you can set your mind to rest on that score.”

“What score?”

“Any score you like.”

“Are you asking me to the theater?”

“Are you going to carry on with that Bela Lugosi impersonation?”

“Can’t be helped, the arm has cramped up from lack of caffeine.”

“Well, you’d better come sit on a crate with me and have some, only, there isn’t anywhere to set the cups down...”

“I’ve got it,” cried Mary, leaping to her feet as the well roundedness of the story’s loop swooped up at her. She dashed- it was only fifteen feet- around the bush to the pile of packing crates and slapped down the thick parking ticket; an alarming slash of pink.

“We’ll set’em on that!” she cried.

“Smashing,” breathed the man, gazing up at her.







October 17, 2021 23:40

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3 comments

Keya Jadav
15:45 Oct 21, 2021

That is a very well written story, Ben! I really liked the flow of the dialogues, going so smoothly in its own way. The descriptions are amazing. The threads well twisted. Nice story!

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Ben Rounds
01:10 Oct 22, 2021

Aww, thanks ;) Actually, I can't take credit, I've been listening to PG Wodehouse audiobooks like a chain smoker and my brain is just running in that cadence. If you like that dialog, read The Adventures of Sally, my favorite, or any of the Jeves short story collections from Wodehouse (if you haven't already) and experience the master. If you do, and check back, I'll share an amusing anecdote about his writing technique. I haven't had a chance to read your stuff yet, but I will, Cheers, Ben

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Keya Jadav
09:03 Oct 22, 2021

Ay, thanks for the recommendation. I'll definitely check it out. Cheers!

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