Prompt donated by Dennis Lehane,
Author of Mystic River and Shutter Island

Donnie was a meter maid who moonlighted as a comedian three nights a week on the North Shore. This was working out pretty good until the guy he ticketed most in April started showing up to heckle him.

“Excuse me, but in general, do meter maids know everybody hates them?”

“Of course we know it, that’s why I’m trying to get out of the field, but it is so lucrative, where else can I make so much money simply walking around? The uniform makes life easier, too—no fumbling in the dark to find the silk blouse to go with my new shoes- just blue polyester day after day. I do find myself glancing at the items on the back seats, and if I see a seat with toys and empty juice cartons, I’m inclined to keep walking. During snowstorms it is very hard to see disability placards and I have to explain how to ‘fix’ this. No one ever asks if we’re broken, though. No one ever asks me how my day is going. I choose to ignore unkind thoughts; it makes me much happier. A kind word goes a long way.”

Carl thought about this for a moment, and then exploded with anger, venting at Donnie abusively when he realized this would be his 15th ticket in the month of April alone.

“If I knew I’d be ticketed this much, I’d have bought it in red!!”

Carl hadn’t planned ahead. He hadn’t worn a mask or black gloves. Somehow, though, he had remembered to bring a weapon. It was a nickel-plated .45 automatic. And it was loaded.

Contributors: Charlie Montana, Somerville; Rebecca Miller, Georgetown; Holly Leach, Boston; Jim Stephens, Boston; Jennifer B., Detroit; Lori Grant, Littleton; Laurel Clark, Dorchester; Nia and Ashley, Somerville; Brian C, Beverly; John Hechinser, Brookline.