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I Hope They Drive Into a Cul-de-sac

Today on the flat screens in the cafeteria, MSNBC showed “breaking news” of police chasing a white van. I flashed back to a similar situation–you probably know the one I’m talking about. A friend at my table said the cops should blow out the tires. I said they were going too fast so it might cause a wreck. Someone else at the table said something similar as I spoke, and soon the conversation we’d been having shifted to this so-called news. We puzzled over why this was news and if it involved anyone important, like, say, a former athlete.

The van cut across lanes of traffic, bumped over a median, and kept going. Students throughout the cafeteria cheered, and I heard a few voices saying, “Go!” and other such encouraging words. Most everyone at my table looked around the caf and realized that almost everyone was watching the TVs. People in the area outside the caf were staring at the TVs through the glass wall. My tablemates and I laughed at the foolish watchers of this non-news without moving our eyes from the screens.

Someone said, “I hope they drive into a cul-de-sac.” We agreed that would be maybe funny, maybe exciting. Shortly thereafter, the van stopped. I noticed there were a lot of palm trees. A helicopter flew through the scene. I thought of Apolcalypse Now but didn’t think of napalm.

A man jumped from the van and ran between houses. I thought of someone being at home but unaware of what was going on. Maybe the sound of helicopters would arouse curiosity, but if you were really into what you were doing, you might not realize that the helicopters you sort of hear on TV are really overhead. You might not hear the footsteps that make your dog bark.

When the police nabbed the portly, white fugitive, there were cheers throughout the caf. We watched as the police cuffed him and led him away. The coverage cut back to the anchor. “That’s it?” someone asked. We couldn’t hear what the anchor was saying and were too far away to read the scrolling closed-caption transcription that slightly covered her chin.

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