Below is a very short story by Jay Magidson. All characters are fictional and are not intended to represent anyone living or dead. Enjoy.
Clean Slate by Jay Magidson
“Damn it Senator Whitehall, it’s Spiner again, you’ve got to call me back. I’ve left you six messages on your cell, and six at your office. Where the hell are you?”
Spiner releases a long sigh.
“OK, Senator, it can’t wait any longer. I hate to do this, but I’m going to give you my findings on your voicemail. You’ve blown it, you’ve all blown it. You hire me to read the bill, then you don’t listen to me. I just pray to god you get this message before you vote on the stupid thing.
“OK, here it is. HR-236 is a time bomb. Whoever wrote it is a genius. I read the thing six times and never saw it. It looks so perfect. Immigrants are treated fairly, citizen rights protected and the criminals punished, blah, blah, blah. Perfect, right? You’d be a fool not to vote for it.
“That’s what made me suspicious. I’ve been working up here too long, twenty-three years and counting, and nobody does anything without an agenda. There is always something hidden in the bill, something that lines somebody’s pockets, helps somebody’s friends, shifts taxes here, greases somebody’s palm there. Always. You pay me to find out who gets what. But this one didn’t have any of that. Just common sense reform. Everyone wins. The immigrants, the citizens, the country.
“So I dug and I dug. I was on the seventh read when I found it. There it was, right there in the penalty section. I laughed out loud. It’s so brilliant. It’s carved like the great pyramids, the stones so tight you can’t shove a piece of paper between them. Shift one sentence, one paragraph and the thing evaporates. Oh it’s beautiful. So subtle and perfect, I read it a dozen times, just marveling at the craftsmanship. And it’s also foolproof, airtight. If you pass this thing, there’s no fixing it, no going back. Not even the Supreme Court can contest it. No one can. It changes the country, forever.
“Damn it Senator, answer the phone!”
Spiner releases another sigh.
“OK. You want it on voicemail? I’ll give it to you on voicemail. If you sign this thing, you’ve cooked your own goose. Fired yourself. Don’t believe me? Read the damn bill, Senator. Oh don’t worry about the immigrants or the average citizen, they’ll be just peachy. The bill deports certain…
“Hang on a sec, Senator, I’ve got Charlene here giving me an update.”
There is the sound of mumbled conversation.
“I’m back. No wonder you didn’t pick up the phone. You fools. You passed the damn thing without reading it like you always do. Wait, what’s that? Hang on. Something’s coming on the news. Let me put the phone up to the speaker so you can get it too.”
Newscaster speaking: “If you’re just joining us, we have breaking news. About an hour ago, the president signed House Bill HR-236 into law, better known as ‘The Clean Slate Act.’ Incredibly, a provision in the bill requires the mandatory deportation of all federally elected officials. Yes ladies and gentlemen, you heard me correctly. All, senators, house representatives and even the president are being deported to Mexico. Right now the National Guard is rounding up…”
Spiner interrupts the newscast with a guttural laugh. “I guess I need to find a new job. Hey Senator, I forgot to ask, how’s your Spanish?”
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Bill Caldwell said:
If only it was that easy!
Jay Magidson said:
Everything’s easy in my mind.