Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of “A Bird in the Hand is Worth Two in the Bush” (without using the actual phrase or literal example). (01/10/08)
TITLE: Vanity Plate
By Noreen Ophoff
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He listed the costly residential and commercial properties all over the urban and suburban areas. If a low-cost property came his way, he referred it to his cousin, JJ, who rented an office above a shoe store in an older section of town. Roger’s office was in the stunning blue high rise on the lake.
When the city’s large newspaper, The Herald, did a puff piece on Jacobac in 2003, a former client described him as “shrewd, detailed, and a little arrogant.” The reporter, Simon Kent, pushed for more information, and was told, Jacobac was pushy, callous, and underhanded in the way he didn’t want to deal with minority people. That information was omitted from the article, but the reporter decided to keep a watchful eye on the real estate mogul.
Mr. Jacobac, as his office staff was required to address him, drove a 2007 black SUV with a vanity license plate RDHG2U. His colleagues in the land game, kidded him about it, but knew it described him well – it translated to ROAD HOG TO YOU.
His Nemesis was an incident that occurred seventeen years’ prior. His wife didn’t even know about May 19, 1991, when his mint condition 1980 Pontiac Charger was sideswiped by a young black man, Carl Knight, hurrying to the hospital to see his newborn son. Roger was livid, hurling profanity and accusations at the twenty-year-old. Police arrived, asked questions, measured skid marks, took information, and they believed Mr. Knight, that the red car had drifted into his lane, crowding him next to a delivery truck so he had no choice but to bump into the car. Roger was given a ticket for operating a vehicle while impaired, because the officer could smell liquor on his breath.
On November 8, 2007, a sheriff deputy, walked into Roger’s plush office on the 12th floor of the building full of lawyers and accountants. He served Roger with a lawsuit from a tenant who described ceilings falling from rain damage from a bad roof, hordes of mice, and no smoke detectors, which are required by state law for landlords to provide. The flat was rented by a Hispanic family, Peter and Rosa Cisco, and their three children. A Court date was scheduled for Appearance.
Fuming with rage, Roger left his office, peeled out of the parking lot and headed down Division Street toward his favorite hangout, the darkened bar called Treaters. Driving along he thought about the side swipe and how he never did get even with that guy for claiming he pushed the little jerk over. He thought about the lawsuit for that property he had tried to unload so many times, but it needed expensive renovations just to bring it up to code. How could he get back at “those people”; people who were not as good as he. People who didn’t have money, and didn’t know how to make money.
Roger ran a red light because he didn’t even see it. Horns honked, people yelled at him but he kept on going. Then he saw a black man walking on the sidewalk in the next block. His mania engulfed him. It didn’t matter to him that it wasn’t Carl Knight, and it wasn’t Peter Cisco, it was someone on whom he could avenge his anger. He drove up on the sidewalk running the man down. Other pedestrians screamed and scattered into store doorways. Roger drove on, swerving sharply so the victim was thrown onto the curb and into the busy street. Roger drove straight home and into his garage, closing the door. Pouring himself scotch, he sat in the den watching an old western on TV.
An ambulance arrived to take the crumpled victim to a near hospital. He had grill marks on his chest and stomach from the impact, both legs were broken as well as four ribs and the man’s jaw. His right eye was hanging out of the socket. He didn’t know what had happened, but he was alive, and there were plenty of detail oriented witnesses.
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