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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Transgression

There came a time in ancient Callidar when that great southwestern city was rocked by a terrible wave of primal criminality. The people were puzzled, for was not life in Callidar rich and good, and every day full of new pleasures? Was not every belly filled with food, every child protected and educated, every soul sheltered? And yet crime ran rampant, despite the best efforts of the courts, clergy, judge, jury and constable.

At the height of the crime wave the streets became unsafe. Drivers crept along thoroughfares, eyes darting back and forth, searching for the lawbreakers who might leap into their path at any moment. Pedestrians eyed each other suspiciously, wondering who among them had broken the laws that kept everyone safe.

One day Constable Sorbonne caught a criminal in the act - an innocuous young man with fine blonde hair and a ruddy complexion reddened by the blistering sun of Callidar. Constable Sorbonne followed kept his hands clasped behind his back as he followed the young man, putting on an air of carefree innocence, never giving any hint of his suspicious. The blonde had that look of incipient chaos about him.

And at last, as they passed a bustling Labanno's ripe with the scent of steamed gizzle and fluir, the blonde stepped toward the curb, casting his eyes left and right down the street. There was a controlled intersection only meters away, and yet - and yet! - the man stepped boldly into the street.

"Stop right there!" bellowed Constable Sorbonne, and the young man shot bolt upright, hopping back to the sidewalk, his face flushed with shame, head hanging low.

"What were you thinking?" said the constable as he place a firm hand on the youth's trembling shoulder. "You could have caused an accident, or been injured!"

"But the crossing is all the way over - " the youth began, pointing. But Constable Sorbonne would have none of it.

"The good books teach us that civilization works when we act in harmony and with consideration at all instants," the constable misquoted (though not badly). "How many seconds would you have saved crossing here, even had you avoided disaster?"

"Perhaps five or six," the youth admitted, his purple eyes troubled.

The Constable nodded. "Lad, how much police time do you think jaywalkers such as you have cost the community this year alone? Time that could have been better spent helping elders with their groceries or guiding lost children home?"

"I don't know," moaned the youth miserably.

"Four full days," intoned the constable, quoting, absolutely correctly this time, the latest statistics.

"I'm sorry," mumbled the young man.

Sensing the ineffable air of true remorse, Constable Sorbonne allowed a soft grunt of begrudging approval to puff past his thin lips.

"Very well, then, a warning it is," decreed the constable, and the small crowd of onlookers that had gathered released their held breath as one organism, a sigh of communal relief. "Next time and all other times, use the crosswalks. They're for your protection."

"Yes sir!" beamed the young man, bouncing off to the corner and making a show of pressing the pedestrian walk signal.

Constable Sorbonne tipped his hat to the youth and resumed his patrol, whistling happily once more. The crime wave wasn't over, but he'd made a substantial contribution today.

So it was in ancient Callidar, its peace disturbed for long weeks before serenity returned.

1 comment:

"The Jeff Phase" said...

Ooo, crime and punishment! Where's Superman when you really need him?