black box

“There is science, logic, reason; there is thought verified by experience. And
then there is California.”
Edward Abbey

The nightmares actually do come to the house of dreams last night. Not the wake-up-screaming variety that Sara says she had the night before, but more the mundane breed. I dream of emotional situations I just do NOT want to be in. I wake up tired. I drag myself through a morning routine, plug some breakbeat into my head and trip out the door to vote.

My polling place is at the fire station on Gardner. I walk in past the lounging firemen–er, firepeople–and show my ID to the first of several eager poll workers. I sign the book. The next woman, who’s tripping on my blue fingernails hands me a practice ballot to show me how the doohickey works (I voted for Abraham Lincoln) and the last woman hands me the real McCoy.

When a polling booth opens up I do the thing. I’ve researched the initiatives. I’ve done my homework. I’ve learned what I need to know, but the process still requires concentration. I realize, as I push that little dot-maker into the various holes, just how easy it would be to make a mistake. So when a noisy, affable New Yorker drops in to cast his vote, I find myself distracted.

“What’s your name, Baby?” he asks one of the women.

“Katy,” she replies.

“KatyKatyKatyKatyKatyKatyKatyKatyKatyKatyKaty,” he says. “Katy, do you have water? I need some water. Stat.” Then he adds, “You know what stat means? It means yesterday.”

I have to plug the breakbeat back in. He goes off to find the water he craves. When I finish making my little dots, I drop the ballot into a black box. I’m sure it’s one black box among millions across the country. And I wonder if the black boxes are indestructible. That is, when the crash comes, will they remain intact? Will someone be able to look through them and figure out what caused the plane to go down?

The man next to the black box is small and Russian. He holds out a sticker. “Is okay?” he asks.

“Of course.”

He sticks it to my shirt. I voted.

I leave the polling place. The women at the tables are discussing the etymology of “stat.” I’m off to find that donut.

About the author: will

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