by Gail Farrelly
As we get ready to celebrate our nation’s birthday, here is a fun little mystery/fantasy short story about one of the most patriotic things we do–vote!
She put down the book, packed up her things, and headed out the door.
Finally! The workday finished an hour ago, for Pete’s sake.
I wander out of the closet at the polling place. A nobody left to my own devices, now that all the workers have gone home.
It’s not humility that makes me say I’m a nobody. I actually have no body. It happened a year ago when I was working in a research laboratory on an invisibility serum project. I spilled some of the stuff on me. Poof! Only my spirit remains, free to haunt the world forever. I have some special powers; but my body, for better or for worse, is gone. A lonely but intriguing existence.
I can see and hear everyone around me, but they can’t see or hear me. There are some advantages. I don’t have to listen to boring conversations or other people’s troubles if I don’t want to. I never have to concern myself about which outfit, makeup, or jewelry to wear. I can travel on airplanes for free and not worry about luggage or security clearance. Interesting, because I have the power to move objects. All I have to do is concentrate really, really hard.
Up to this point, I’ve pretty much stayed in my own little world of the spirit. That’s about to change, after I eavesdropped today on a meeting of two election officials right here at my local polling place in Yonkers, New York.
It’s been several weeks since the U.S. presidential election. Still no winner. Lots of voting irregularities in New York State, so a recount was ordered. Something like the Florida recount in the 2000 presidential election. New York recounting results will determine the winner of the national election.
In all the other New York polling places, except for this one, the recounts have been completed. I heard one of the election officials (a chatty bloke with inside information) say that, not including this polling place, it’s a tie. And guess what? I heard the other official say that the result is the same so far at this polling place. A dead heat. But there’s one voting machine, the one in the back of the room in the corner, left to be recounted tomorrow.
So it’s come to this. The candidate who receives the majority of the recounted votes on that one voting machine will be declared the winner of the election.
I go to that machine and use my special powers to do a quick count. Amazing! A tie on that machine too. A tie soon to be broken.
I find, with some effort, my registration record and maneuver the equipment so that I can vote and the vote will look like it was part of the original pack. It takes time but it’s not hard to do.
It’s a little harder to decide whether to vote Republican or Democratic. A Republican administration may be better for the economy. But then there’s what my grandmother always says: “All politicians steal from the people. At least the Democrats give some of it back.”
Hmm. I say a prayer and ponder my decision for a few moments. Then I vote.
I have chosen the next president of the United States. It feels good. Kudos for me.
Now it’s time for this nobody to relax with a good book. I go over to the table and pick up the book the worker left. A book of short stories. The first story, by Frank R. Stockton, is a longtime favorite of mine: The Lady, or the Tiger?