Silver Bullets, Tarnished Excuses

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AP
The other day, I drove down to Fantasyville, the town where that big news story happened. (By the way, in Fantasyville, there is no traffic, and gas costs 75 cents a gallon). Anyway, as you probably know, what happened in Fantasyville was that an angry Mr. Jones purposely drove his Buick into Mr. Smith's living room.

Mr. Jones has been a danger to Mr. Smith for many years. He even shot holes in Smith's canoe back in the days of the previous mayor.

The first person I spoke to there was Connie Wheat, Assistant to the Mayor. The following is a transcript of the interview:

ME: It's a beautiful day, isn't it?

CONNIE: I wouldn't know about that. Weather's not my area. You could check with...

ME: That's okay, Dr. Wheat. Do you believe this attack could have been prevented?

CONNIE: There was no silver bullet that would have prevented the Buick from driving through that picture window. We would have just been swatting flies and shaking the trees since we didn't have any actionable intelligence due to the structural impediments which have existed historically.

ME: What does that mean?

CONNIE: I'm sorry, that's classified. Let's just say it didn't help that the city police department hasn't talked to the county sheriff's office since before Lincoln grew his beard.

ME: Mr. Smith says that he received a threatening letter that he turned over to the authorities.

CONNIE: That document was not a threatening letter.

ME: Could you please tell me the title of the document?

CONNIE: The title was, "Threatening Letter Regarding Driving a Buick into Mr. Smith's Living Room."

ME: And you didn't consider that a threatening letter?

CONNIE: No. There was no "who," no "when," and no "why," so when it came to acting on it, "no way."

Next, I went to talk to the mayor and the vice mayor.

ME: Mr. Mayor, I appreciate your talking to me, especially since you've already had your annual press conference.

MAYOR: You can ask me any questions you want. Just don't expect me to answer them.

ME: Do you always do interviews together?

VICE MAYOR: I'm sorry, but that's classified.

ME: Many of my readers wonder if you insisted on being together because you wanted to keep your stories straight. Some even speculated that you might signal each other.

(THE VICE MAYOR SIGNALS TO THE MAYOR THAT HE SHOULD RESPOND.)

MAYOR: That is nonsense. There's no reason for signals. I've rehearsed my part so many times I know it by heart.

(THE VICE MAYOR SHAKES HIS HEAD "NO" TO THE MAYOR.)

VICE MAYOR: Uh, what the mayor means is that since we are both going to speak the truth, there would be no reason for us to collaborate on our stories. Besides, most of the information is classified. Or will be after you ask about it.

ME: Everybody knew that Mr. Jones was a danger to...

VICE MAYOR: Look, we can't stop every 1987 taxicab yellow Buick going 90 miles an hour with a shotgun-toting nut-job at the wheel. What if we had stopped him and he had just been rushing to get his pregnant wife to the hospital?

ME: Your former chief of police, Richard Cluck, has apologized for not doing more to get people like Mr. Jones off the street. What would be the harm if your administration and the previous administration just said you're sorry that it happened, everyone should've done more, and you're going to do your best to make sure nothing like this ever happens again?

MAYOR: That would set a dangerous precedent. If my predecessor and I apologized, then people would expect politicians to apologize every time we make a tragic mistake.

(THE VICE MAYOR NODS HIS HEAD, APPROVINGLY.)

Somewhat discouraged, I sought out the smartest man in town — 93-year-old Solomon Wiseman.

ME: You've seen so much in your lifetime, what's your take on how the administration has dealt with this tragedy?

WISEMAN: They probably dealt with it the same way any administration would have.

ME: So, you're a pessimist?

WISEMAN: "Pessimist?" Are you kidding? I'm 93 years old and just bought a car on time.

ME: But it sounds like you don't believe there's a chance in the future for something like this to be handled in a better way.

WISEMAN: Oh, there's a chance. All we have to do is get people involved who will cooperate with each other rather than compete, take some initiative rather than cover their butts, and accept responsibility for their actions rather than point fingers at everybody else.

ME: And where are we going to find people like that?

WISEMAN: I'm sorry, that's classified.

ME: I'm sorry, too. Very sorry.



Lloyd Garver has written for many television shows, ranging from "Sesame Street" to "Family Ties" to "Frasier." He has also read many books, some of them in hardcover.

By Lloyd Garver