Like a lioness lying in wait as she stalked a gazelle, he waited patiently, eyes never leaving his prey. From his vantage point behind the flower box, he could see the white Mazda SUV was still there, glistening in the sun. He checked his watch again: 3:27. Nearly there.
“Three minutes, dearie,” he thought with a grin. “Three minutes and then I’ve got you.” His heart raced as he fingered the wireless ticket generator hooked to his belt. Soon enough he would be acting out the thrilling routine: unhooking the device and withdrawing it like a laser gun from its holster. Deftly typing the license plate number and seeing the screen flicker as it registered his prey’s VIN number. Then, the delicious whir as the paper emerged from the device. He loved how the ticket number and fee were burned so boldly into its surface, a condemning record of automotive sins. Soon enough he would be strolling across the street, tearing the paper from the device and placing it with a flourish underneath the windshield wiper, exacting sweet justice —
Across Prospect, he heard a squeak as the door of Zabler Jewelers opened and a woman walked out. Eyeing her new bracelet lovingly, she didn’t seem to notice him as she reached into her purse, withdrew her keys, and — oh no — walked toward the white Mazda.
“Oh no — no, not yet!” he thought as she held her hand before her and pressed the button. The Mazda’s lights blinked and the car’s doors unlocked. He checked his watch: 3:29. “Not yet! No!””
Gripping one of the flowers in the flower box in rage, he watched as his white gazelle opened its door, roared to life … and drove away.
The Tickenator had been foiled again.
He stood to full height and his hand relaxed its grip, blue petals falling lifelessly to the ground. That was the third car this morning. How did they all know? These lazy days of summer had always evoked a sense of non-urgency … a meandering, carefree attitude that made people forget their watches and enjoy the friendly streets of the town. That blissful Clarendon Hills attitude had always suited him and his ticket generator well; it swept them right into his open hands. Easy pickings.
But not today. Today, even McCurry seemed to be on his game. Twice today the Tickenator had seen the local Realtor emerge from his office to move his car. The stripe of chalk on his tire moved again. Lately, McCurry seemed to have a preternatural knowledge of exactly when the two-hour time limit of his parking space was up.
And yet …
He checked his records. He checked his watch. 3:31. McCurry’s Cadillac Escalade truck was due to expire in one minute!
Oh, how he hated that Caddy! It always brought him right back to that terrible day. He had been just a kid then, anxiously waiting for his father to come home from work so they could head downtown to his very first Cubs game. He had been sitting by the window and watching for his dad’s return from the train station when he saw a long, gold-colored Cadillac roll to a stop … directly in front of his driveway!
The driver had gotten out, locked the door … and strolled away! Just like that! The Tickenator had banged on the window, but the man had paid no attention and was just turning the corner to the north when his father emerged from the south, rushing up the sidewalk with a spring in his step. But as he neared the house, the spring vanished. His father eyed the car with wide eyes as the reality of the situation set in. They’d never be able to get the car out now! Not without driving over his mother’s prized blue flowers, anyway. And that would never do. It appeared that the Cubs game would go on without them.
He awoke from his terrible memory to find his hand hurting. He had been squeezing it. Relaxing his grip, he opened his fingers and watched another flurry of petals fall to the ground. Seeing the blue only strengthened his resolve.
He would get that golden Caddy. It would be sweet retribution for that fateful day that had set him on course to be a parking enforcement officer. That golden Cadillac was his very purpose as the Tickenator.
He checked his watch: 3:32. Perfect, McCurry’s time was up. He writes another parking ticket, the fourth so far this year for the Realtor – got him! It feels good but it never seems to be enough to get him to that Cubs game after all.
Mike is a Clarendon Hills
resident; husband; Indian Princes; Indian Guide Dad; a Coach; an “old” football player and a real estate broker. Mike’s columns are usually crafted about the buzz in and around the area. It sometimes has a spin on real estate or cultural information, highlight a new business or announce school happenings. He might include a “get-to-know” about some of our interesting residents and even a little about history
. Whatever it is, it is sure to be about the “Talk of the Town”.