Shawn, somebody I know, maybe dead, maybe not, enough with the zombies

One summer morning, Valerie the vegetarian awoke to sunlight filtering in past the palm tree which blocked most of her window and through the missing blind. In her dream, she’d seen what she had to do, her mission for the day. In her dream, she’d been involved in another protest, outside the grocery store nearest to her apartment. Groaning, “Got it guys!”, she stretched and stumbled out of the bed and into her flip flops. Showered quickly, pulled back her dark hair, slapped a little lip gloss on and headed out for the nearest Whole Foods. For reasons mysterious to her, but known to the unseen forces at headquarters who communicated with Valerie through her dreams, Eugene’s grocery stores and their inhabitants were a recurring cause for concern.

Standing in front of the Whole Foods now, hands on hips, she surveilled the scene. I’m looking for a car with the window open. From experience, Valerie knew that the outward structure of the car mattered less than its other attributes, after all, dreams were usually symbolic and not literal and therefore it was the open window that mattered rather than the make or model of the car. I can’t tell from here. Guess I’ll just have to head out there. She walked the lanes. Finally found one. The right one? Valerie was careful. She walked around the vehicle, assessing it from all sides. Yes, yes, this was the one the dream referred to. Parked at a slight diagonal angle with back passenger window rolled down.

Taking a deep breath, she braced herself and then rushed at the car, sliding her body through the open window, unable to make it all of the way in. Though slender, the car window had not been rolled down entirely, and this now posed an unforeseen obstacle to her mission – Valerie was stuck – unable to squeeze her way through the rest of the window, nor at this point back out. Arms stretched out on the car seat before her, instinctively her fingers drummed against the stiff fabric. What to do, what to do...

Within moments, the woman whose car Valerie was sandwiched half-way in returned to it.

“Uh, excuse me, what the hell-” a petite blonde in her mid-forties, wearing a skirt suit and holding a paper bag filled with organic fruit and pastries stared at Valerie’s ass hanging out of her car window for reasons she could not begin to fathom.

Awkward silence as Valerie realized that headquarters had neglected to tell her specifically just what it was she was expressly protesting, thanks guys. No matter. She understood the sensitive nature of her position, and that she was expected to operate autonomously much of the time, to exercise her own judgment, which included the ability to wing it on limited information. “Our capitalist system is wrong. Grocery stores perpetuate the capitalist means of production. I demand some accountability, ma’am.”

“I don’t know what your problem is honey but I’ve got to get to back to work-”

“I suppose you’ll have to call the cops, huh? Arrest me?” faint glimmer of excitement growing in Valerie’s chest. She’d demanded to be arrested before, but it hadn’t panned out yet. Here’s to hoping...

“What-” the woman huffed. By now their slight altercation had drawn the attention of the lot’s security guard.

“Problem here?” he asked.

“No problem,” Valerie asserted, “I’m protesting our capitalist means of production by occupying this parking lot.”

“Okay, we can let you sit here, but we need you out of the car...”

“Really?” Thrill suddenly wearing off...

“Yeah, I just want my car back,” the woman said to Valerie, then to the security guard, “Seems like a nice enough kid otherwise... it’s the schools... I don’t know what they’re teaching them these days, I swear! I really don’t...”

“Okay, if you’ll just roll the window down the rest of the way, then I’ll leave you be...”

“Broken,” the woman sighed. “That window’s broken.”

“Can you get out?” the security guard asked.

“No... I’m... pretty sure I’m stuck.”

“I might have some butter in here... guess it could work like when a ring gets stuck on your finger...”

As the duo greased her down and pulled her out of the window, Valerie reflected on what had gotten her into this mess. A law school student and a secret agent, she’d joined out of love and not money or power or recognition. Service was the only viable path she’d found to protecting her best friend and love interest, Robbie, from her mother – ex-agent and deadly as they come. Which basically boiled down to this: Valerie was highly motivated and still... there were good days and there were bad days.

Standing now, wiping the butter off of her stomach, unable to control the urge to lick it, she wondered what headquarters would think of this one. Was it a good day? A bad one? An eh?

Image Eric Magnuson

Ingrid Fine