When Amber got that ticket in the mail, with its photo of her old Firebird and a $50 fine, she crunched it up like her little brother crushed ants, threw it across the room, and fumed, fumed, fumed. Nobody had been in danger. Hell, she'd been on her way out of town, just shy of where the speed limit made its climb from 55 to 65, when the new camera grabbed her. If it'd been Sheriff White, he would've told her daddy but let her go. If it’d been Jake, just five years older than her and still called her Bamber, he would have let her go and not told her daddy either. But that camera didn't think, didn't know her, not for real, just like the town, the damn town, that tacked beer guts and "good old" on to all the boys sooner or later and made last year's beauty queen into next year's new mama, that rotted from the ground up like Old Man Badger's front teeth, that dragged on Amber like a cigarette, and that's what that camera did, dragged on her, wasn't meant to stop nobody from driving fast into town, was facing out of town, 2 miles past the nearest intersection, just daring her to try and get out faster than it wanted to let her, didn't want to let her out at all, and Amber walked across the room and picked up the piece of paper and uncrumpled it and crumpled it and uncrumpled it again like she was maybe going to make one of those origami birds she never learned how to, and she crumpled it up one last time and threw it back down. Damn that ticket and damn this town. She wasn't going to keep paying, no sir.
JeFF Stumpo owns Wonderland Books & Games in Martin, Tennessee, where he has taught classes for the English and Honors programs at the University of Tennessee branch there. His wife is the smart one. His dogs, until recently, numbered four. His daughter is three going on thirteen. He has a website at www.jeffstumpo.com.