When I left home at 5:00 a.m., I didn’t see a vehicle on the road as I meandered the neighborhood and the main road arteries to get to the bypass. A bypass, by definition, shouldn’t have traffic lights, especially ones that aren’t synchronized. To have them interrupts the flow of traffic. The glaring red light functions like a clot in the bloodstream. I did not mind stopping, being the obedient, law-abiding citizen I’ve been, but I’ll admit that I cursed several times and even flipped off the camera.
There were three other traffic lights between the first one and where I exited the bypass to get to my office, and at each one, I had to stop and wait on absolutely nothing. By the time I got to work, I got involved with finding keys to unlock the building, the office complex, and finally my own office, and forgot all about the traffic lights until the next morning when all three of the bypass lights were green and stayed green the entire trip to my office, but on Wednesday, the third work day, I encountered all red traffic lights again.
When I got to my office, I waited until the city offices were open, and I called the traffic control office and got voice mail. I decided to go to the office, share with them that one day the lights are synchronized and one day they aren’t. I figured they would appreciate my concerned citizen report, and I fantasized I might even get some sort of commendation from the Mayor. I found the office in the basement of City Hall, went in, and saw a fellow watching a control board with several monitors.
“May I help you? This office isn’t open to the public.”
“I’m sorry, but the door was open.”
“The custodian probably left it open. They don’t clean any better than they keep doors locked around here.”
“Well, I wanted to share a problem I’ve encountered with the traffic lights on the bypass.”
“Who does that go to?”
“Well, technically, it comes to me, and if I don’t address it, I send it up to the mayor’s office and they pass to who it needs to go to.”
“I see. I’ll be glad to send an email but let me at least tell you the problem while I’m here. You see, some mornings on my way into the city via the bypass, the lights are synchronized, and I get all green ones, like Tuesday, but other days, they aren’t, and there’s no traffic. So, as you can see, there’s no reason they shouldn’t be all green.”
“What do you drive?”
“Did you flip me off and mouth curse words on Monday to the camera?”
“Yes, I did. How do you know that? What does that matter?”
“It matters. I saw you as I was refilling my coffee.”
“Well, I realize I shouldn’t have probably done that, but I didn’t know anyone was watching.”
“I’m off on Tuesday, so I wasn’t watching yesterday.”
“They were all green yesterday!”
“Yes, I know they were. They’ve never filled the part time position in this office, so when I’m off, no one is monitoring the lights.”
“This is crazy.”
“Sir, I’m going to have to ask you to step in here.”
“I’m not stepping in there. I need to get back to work, but when I do, I’m going to report you to the Mayor and the police. I think you’re crazy.”
“I’m sorry. I’ll have to ask you to step in here, again.” He pulled a gun from his pants’ pocket, aimed it at the visitor’s head.
“Why? Put that gun down. You have no idea who you are dealing with.”
“I’m sorry it has come to this, but you have too much information. Honestly, you won’t feel a thing when you step into this closet. I’ll shoot you, and then, you’ll fall into a drain that will take you directly to the sewer. The rats will take care of all the evidence.”
“What about my car outside? They’ll know I was here.”
“No, they won’t. Your car will be towed, and they don’t keep records. You’ll also get a ticket in the mail for running the first light on the bypass, but your wife will come in to pay it, and I may ask her out once a little time has passed. I’ve seen her in the Infiniti convertible, putting on lipstick, flashing her teeth, and checking her eye make-up. She’s pretty.”
“Please, I’m begging you. Don’t point that gun at me. This is nuts.”
The gun went off, and the traffic controller said, “That’ll teach you.” After the splash in the sewer, the traffic controller went back to his cameras and said to the convertible Infiniti at the first light on the bypass. “Well, hello there. See you in a couple of weeks.”
Niles Reddick is author of a novel Drifting too far from the Shore, two collections Reading the Coffee Grounds and Road Kill Art and Other Oddities, and a novella Lead Me Home. His work has been featured in seventeen anthologies, twenty-one countries, and in over three hundred publications including The Saturday Evening Post, PIF, New Reader Magazine, Forth Magazine, Citron Review, and The Boston Literary Magazine.