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Sensible Cars for Santa Ynez, beamed his best snake oil
grin and spoke to her in a low, gravelly voice, barely
moving his lips. “Smile for the cameras, Sandy.”
Despite herself, Sandy almost laughed, and for a
moment her grin felt genuine. But it gave way to something
more wooden when she recognized the first photographer
to approach, a greasy, disheveled man from the local
weekly paper whose developer owner would love nothing
Sensible Cars for Santa Ynez more than to plaster the front page with full-color photos of
the two founders of SCSY – the rag referred to it as
by Bronwyn Mauldin “Scuzzy” – cheeks streaked with tears or lips and chins
distended with rage. She and Eddie wouldn’t give them the
satisfaction. As cameras flashed, Sandy peered around the
room looking for any of the L.A. Times reporters she knew.
At least they’d covered the story fairly and objectively,
which is all she had ever wanted.
“Councilman Hargrove, how do you vote?” “Sushi?” she asked Eddie through clenched, smiling
“No.” teeth, but her eyes were suddenly blinded by the light from
And with that the Santa Ynez City Council pounded a KTLA cameraman.
the final nail into the coffin containing the past three years “How do you feel about the vote?” the cameraman
of Sandy Weaver’s life. Three years of meetings, petitions, shouted. “Were you surprised at how it came out?” As she
letters to the editor, fundraisers and public hearings. Three always did, Sandy instinctively took a half step back to let
years of analyzing, explaining, debating, downright Eddie take the question. She’d never been comfortable with
cajoling and wheedling when the situation called for it. And being on the front lines – she’d rather be in back getting the
for what? Four to three against when the final votes were work done. And the fact was, Sandy had known how the
tallied. vote would go, if she’d just been honest with herself. A
Someone behind her patted Sandy’s shoulder as she week ago, everything had been different. The count had
stood up and murmured consoling words about next year. been four to three in favor and the City of Santa Ynez was
Next year? No, Sandy heard a voice inside her head say. about to ban itself from buying sports utility vehicles for
No more years. Not like this one. Not like the last three. On the city fleet. But a week is a long time in the world of
her left, Eddie Contreras, immediate past president of local politics.

Sandy thought belong to us. conservative Orange County. and he insisted excited. family of the deposed Shah. and the third vote had been secured from a The two of them continued their conversation over conservative Democrat on the council. hailing originally from Sensible Cars for Santa Ynez. In year two SCSY modified its proposed ordinance. for Cesar Chavez’s grape boycott. Three Republican incidents on campus. the owner of a local GMC dealership. suggested establishing a community group to push for an As the day approached when the council would vote on their proposal. long after the faculty decided that Then. “Well. environmental argument about SUVs. the citizens. Then the parent of a student whose home. the next several weeks. with Eddie be buying those things. and an Hummer had been towed for taking up more than one space Iranian-American attorney rumored to have ties to the in the overcrowded student lot called. I mean. support in East L. The score was tied. the City of Santa Ynez shouldn’t Less than one month from election day. Two of the seven city council members – faculty meeting almost four years ago where teachers were Democrats who were also involved in the local Green Party discussing what to do about the recent rash of SUV-related – signed on in support immediately. earlier this year. Santa the SCSY proposal. Eddie was a nearly-retired In the first year. SUVs. Republican Hargrove. Three collisions in a single month in council members were definite no votes – the aging trust the student lot suggested that high school students with fund baby of a fabulously wealthy family who kept two fresh drivers’ licenses did not have the skills to handle the Cadillac Escalades and a Ford Excursion at his Santa Ynez enormous vehicles. SCSY could “count to four. and Sandy and Eddie allowing the city to buy electric or gas-electric hybrid were among the most vocal on the anti-SUV side. at the very least. The faculty discussion devolved into a politico.. changing his position to support payroll and for other drivers on the streets. “You’re right!” Eddie had answered.A.Mauldin / 3 Mauldin / 4 Sandy was a forty-something algebra and calculus ordinance.” as Sandy . An hour later. the councilman made and they’re dangerous for both the drivers on the city a surprise announcement. threatening a lawsuit. plus a couple thousand who signed their petition in support Sandy and Eddie had been nod-and-smile colleagues until a of the ordinance. and Eddie dropped out of the race. they had a name for the group: teacher at Santa Ynez High school.” Eddie’s decision imprudent.A. growing He had years of political experience on her. but she kept her mouth shut. with strong support from SCSY. During one of Eddie had run for the council seat held by the moderate their more spirited discussions Sandy heard herself say. the safest course of action was none at all. Eddie organized a formidable social sciences teacher who’d gotten his start organizing group of some hundred and fifty hard core SCSY members. They’re bad for the environment. “That’s our tax dollars in their tanks. polling neck and neck with Hargrove. Then he made a quiet call late one Ynez might just be a little suburb of L. but these streets night.” Then he Hargrove could be trusted to keep his word.

not Santa Eye-nez. Sandy looked down. coffee shop or bookstore. Sandy had taught Trevor a few years ago when he’d The overflow crowd that had filled the hearing repeated Algebra I. “The facts have not changed.” towns and cities across the country were beginning to The reporter thanked Eddie perfunctorily and turned introduce similar ordinances of their own.A. It seemed to symbolize something looking to drown the sorrow of their failure. but it was as good dollars on SUVs that generate so much smog and are such a as the count would get. A used car their ordinary citizens in just a hint of hardship. her favorite Japanese restaurant. Hargrove would switch his with SCSY supporters.” Eddie because it was one of those rare places in southern answered. North Carolina. shaking hands and sharing condolences seen the writing on the wall. She’d learned optimism. sushi and bowls of edamame awaiting them at Taiko’s. Contreras. about America or California for them. As she and Eddie made their called her to tell her about Trevor’s new job. Sandy thought of the platters of vote. they’d both way to the doors. Sandy booked a room for the victory party a of dust from their suits. Sandy loved Santa Ynez “We still want sensible cars for Santa Ynez.” As much as anything. She was in a week ago at Taiko’s.” he affirmed. Only a thin majority. Or her favorite Thai restaurant. and took her arm reporters. When Eddie room was thinning rapidly. she shooting and cataloguing photos for the company website. Sandy had lost count “Sushi?” she said to Eddie once more. she The question came in a clipped British accent that Sandy thought ruefully. It’s pronounced Santa companionably. correspondent for The Guardian in expected – the finger-to-the-wind types would be London. We still insist that California where a person could walk from city hall to her the City of Santa Ynez has no business wasting our tax favorite sushi bar. suit too.Mauldin / 5 Mauldin / 6 had learned to say. With sentiment slapping each others’ backs and flicking imaginary motes running high. The L. or a dogged unwillingness to face the truth that over the past three years that elected officials preferred prevented her from canceling the reservation two days ago their business interests to appear in tailored opulence and when she heard the news about Hargrove. and the SCSY ordinance would fail. its gray wool shiny at the She wasn’t sure now whether it was sunny elbows and a little too long in the sleeves. though. A suburb of the great Los . The crowd tonight would be smaller than recognized. Citizen groups in half a dozen other danger on the road. The kid wasn’t bright. The international press had taken special interest celebrating at the Chamber party – but they would be in the SCSY ordinance. from Berkeley to to the victors from the Chamber of Commerce who were Cambridge to Raleigh. thought. Off the rack. At “Mr. pizza joint. what are you going to do now?” least they’d had the sense to go with a no-host bar. of the times she’d heard Eddie patiently explain to “Sushi. Perhaps for dealership had offered Hargrove’s son Trevor a summer job ease of identification in the harried halls of power. Eee-nez. “No.

Standing next to him was Juana. Sandy’s husband. crowd of SCSY supporters could muster. donations. When the applause died down. All of us.” Eddie began. for putting your heart and soul into this work. I enveloped Sandy in a warm. for your hanging in the restaurant doorway when they arrived. dusty vineyards of central California paused dramatically. right hand in acknowledgement and straightened his body. she not tonight. defeat. Anything they might say to each other right now would be making himself a little taller. to harden our hearts and grow cynical back room to as much cheering and applause as the small about the democratic process. tonight. lead Peter into a far corner of the room. twenty-first century. Peter You make me proud to live in Santa Ynez.” It was a warning. and we have set an to break down. If not this cause. Peter. She told herself to put the anger and trimmings on public buildings. after Peter and Juana trailing just behind them. It was old enough to was directing her mental daggers at SCSY members. un aplauso for all the people in this being spent. He sounded like a victor. that Juana must have been a formidable together. They entered the what we have seen. but with all the amenities disappointment aside for now. an anesthesiologist at Santa “Thank you. Sandy took the opportunity to either empty sloganeering or maudlin self-pity.” Thank God they had Eddie. Then he know there is a brighter future for all of us and for the next shook Eddie’s hand while Juana said sharply. room and for those who are not with us tonight. But tonight is just one night. If you’re going corner of California a better place. and working together we will create a brighter day. “It would be easy. It was mostly a and this vote is only one vote. wanted to see how their donated money was another cause. Santa Ynez stretched north from the Sandy suddenly felt a pang of guilt to realize she glow of the Aliso Canyon Oil Field. then on supposed. people who are depending on you. Eddie continued. all within a five mile radius. Thanks to you. Eddie’s wife. working the first time. Please. a great . Eddie raised his Sandy and Eddie walked the six blocks in silence. We started out three years ago to make our little already started arriving. “I want to Ynez Hospital. not for We have much to be proud of tonight. Nannies would see to their little angels tonight. A few of their wealthier supporters who. worked alongside the people of Santa Ynez and I have Students from the community college who had put in long learned that we live in a world filled with people of good hours canvassing door to door and now wanted a free meal will. not inside. “Folks have generation. Sandy thought as he organizer in the dry. Sandy thought. was standing under the blue cotton noren thank you so very much for your long hours. If in return.Mauldin / 7 Mauldin / 8 Angeles megalopolis. everyone. tender embrace. She would deal with them required to meet the needs of modern urban life in the later. do it out here. These have genuine early 1900s faux Spanish architecture and tile were her people. in front of the example that other cities across the country have taken up. then on a future night. Sandy and Eddie walked through the restaurant. For three years I have younger crowd that didn’t have children to put to bed. even in where she and Eddie first met.

and the owners were big hope from the pit of her stomach and turned on the smile SCSY supporters. looks great. In fact. the world?” he said. but he just smiled faces. As Taiko returned to the kitchen. next stop. the room. I would have gone to my decided to quietly pay the difference. “everything Sandy saw more than a few pairs of moist eyes in the room. This little discount ATM and put the cash in a brown paper sack!” The two would go a long way. once the group had outgrown Taiko smiled. . as always.Mauldin / 9 Mauldin / 10 round of applause for everything you have done. so Sandy had I’d known he’d come so cheap.” the minister Taiko. “Taiko!” Sandy said.” whose basement Fellowship Hall had been home to “No! We can’t accept.” Sandy answered. but the place had a homey. we did. Anyway. “I really have to Not that there would be any more SCSY victory thank you for all your support for SCSY over the past three parties. Sandy looked at him sharply. we’ve decided to Barbara Donner of Santa Ynez United Church of Christ. The first Taiko gave Sandy a quick hug and said. Knots of people clustered like barnacles at the “Plotting the next stage of the revolution. Reverend Donner them. ladies? First stop.” she said. sides of tables holding intent conversations. This is just the warm-up. SCSY had passed the hat at the last meeting to pay said. She took one of the beers. give you a fifteen percent discount for tonight.” Taiko’s didn’t offer the Eddie was already working the crowd. shaking classiest sushi in Santa Ynez.” But she wasn’t going to put up much of an argument with “I still care about this issue deeply. Sandy thought. glasses in the other. If for this celebration and came up short.A. Times had finally shown declined the other. plates in one Santa Ynez. talented students for the third and fourth time. she saw. Taiko. “Oh. It would have been a great place to run a she used when explaining the quadratic equation to her less victory lap. Sandy dug up a few nuggets of comfortable feeling about it. eyes shining with feigned shock. The reporter from the L. She recognized most of the drinks. We couldn’t have done it without you. party. cropped hair approached. “and I am mad as a hornet about Hargrove’s vote. This way we make Sandy’s living room. explaining that she had an early start the up. and was talking to Eddie in the opposite next morning. Sandy surveyed Peter approached with a glass of beer in each hand. So sorry about the vote. the discount is Reverend Donner took her hand and shook it. Then she left.” “Yes. “We only on the food. hands and thanking people. and could probably put names to at least half of back amiably. offering the hand. a tall Asian woman with short earned it!” The cheers that followed sounded heartfelt. “Thanks. At least not any organized by her.” drinks. Everyone still has to pay full price for did what we could.” countless SCSY meetings. years. person who moved into her line of sight was Reverend Sandy. You have When she did. sure you come back to us when it’s time for the real victory “Barbara!” Sandy said and held out her hand. “Sure you can. women chuckled. Thanks.

” were settling up the bill. then Taiko had insisted on a few shots of sake at 6. “Anyway.” Sandy said. always had for three years. I think you are. on the quiet residential streets. while Sandy and Peter “Okay. the IRS gives tax breaks to people who buy from downtown to their neighborhood and were walking SUVs that weigh more than 6. What does that sign say?” Sandy Sandy couldn’t identify the voice.” Sandy said. God bless America. “could you get me another home. “It’s a no parking sign.Mauldin / 11 Mauldin / 12 corner. Sure. again. The neighbors.” she said. it’s time for stars were visible above the black silhouette of the nearby bed. laughing. “Well?” she asked impatiently. Then she hiccupped once. slow roast him like the pig he is in a blanket of hot coals!” “Hey.” of tomato soup at lunch time. The next day at school was rather less painful than “Yes. eyes bright with an telephone pole. but she sympathized pointed up to a series of municipal street signs bolted to a with it.’ I can do the math in my head because I to keep her from falling. The one above it.” home from the last stop. “…take that Hargrove and turned the corner.000 pounds. She’d had one beer too many am a certified math teacher.” He decibel or two. . Sandy froze. Peter. if a fine upstanding American citizen like me word for her. When it did.” Santa Susana mountains. With the picture of a “Whoops!” Sandy said as she tripped against a truck behind a big red circle with a slash through it? It says misaligned chunk of sidewalk. Then sprawl of Los Angeles and the southern California desert. Suddenly the sound in the room suddenly dropped a “Shhh. hangover eased off after she fed it potato chips and a bowl sweetie.” Peter said. honey. as he “My goddamned home sweet home.” Peter said. a few others were more pitying. Good. Let’s go “Hey. “That’s right. Pete. Peter caught her by the arm ‘Over three tons. The night sky was clear and the “Maybe we should get one. moon hadn’t risen yet. “I don’t think so. Here on the cusp between the urban Sandy laughed.” beer?” “No. Pete. the sound of a young man’s guided her onto Cielo Avenue where they lived. self-righteous angles. “It’s late. “I think I may be drunk. As they voice boomed out over the rest. They had caught the city bus “Well. Only a can’t get a little loaded on a night like tonight. A few of the other teachers had a friendly “Well. emotion she couldn’t quite name. her voice loud “Well what?” Peter asked. Even the thrum of her Peter took her hand and squeezed it. That means no trucks over tonight. He would say all the right things.” Sandy expected. what is this couple of them looked at her with their chins turned up at democracy of ours coming to anyway?” jaunty. C’mon.000 pounds. She turned to her husband.” the bar after everyone was gone.” she said.

then send them the attention died out quickly. his voice her street every day? She began keeping a list on the last pitched with almost equal terror. but give the big picture. As Sandy stared at the changed. apply to SUVs? Like the ones she saw driving up and down “Mommy. for the first time in three years. her telephone handset. the boy stood up slowly and turned his elbows Life for Sandy. Sandy cooked its front end pressed up hard against the crumpled trunk of dinner five nights in a row. calmed down. By now a crowd had formed. fell to her knees in front of the boy. Several feet behind that was see an episode twice if it was especially good. A Porsche Cayenne Turbo. The only thing that nagged at her now and then was Finally unfrozen. Sandy was just inserting an basketball team was doing unexpectedly well this season electronic copy of one of their better flyers into the and interest on campus quickly moved from vote counts to document when she heard the squeal of brakes and the free throw averages. The running woman Cooled off. upward to inspect the bloody scrapes. Up the street a woman screamed and actions planned. there were no meetings or houses flying open. but she’d let them know if anything began running toward the accident.Mauldin / 13 Mauldin / 14 Eddie reported a few dirty looks from some of their cities. for God’s sake!” the woman cried out. Sandy could hear the doors of other ends she would tell them that no. When she received the her next door neighbor George Fleming’s brand new occasional call or e-mail from a SCSY member at loose yellow Honda Civic. Sandy saw. I fell page of her grade book. after three years. the conceptual view. “He didn’t hit me. clean out the closets in their two story pink stucco house. in other words. picked up her grade book and looked up the Porsche SUV Sandy found herself sitting on their living room sofa. A tow-headed boy lay splay-legged. Did it also “Yes. She On a gray. She and Eddie were still getting calls about it.000 pounds were prohibited on her street. even mountain bike flat on its side. scene. Several neighbors for activists initiating SUV purchasing bans in their own and a police officer were gathered around the boy and his . so she abandoned her search. He’d more libertarian colleagues over the next few weeks. gloomy Sunday afternoon in April. “Do you need that sign three blocks away announcing that trucks over an ambulance?” 6. sound of metal crashing into glass. March. Sandy jumped up from As basketball season wore on. on her list. typing out a “how-to” guide could help. She researched Sandy heard sirens approaching before could find and recorded the gross vehicle weight rating of each one. Normalized. Then she went back outside to see how she notebook computer in her lap. Finally. One week in a shiny silver SUV.” models of SUVs she saw on Cielo Avenue. marking down the brands and down. His mother. face down in She could grade homework and tests in the evenings and the middle of the street beside a dark blue child-sized still have time to catch the latest hit series on HBO. Sandy found time to the sofa and ran to the front door. Sandy called out. The Santa Ynez High School on to her for the details. I’m okay!” the boy answered.

to you as soon as possible. so Sandy called city Sandy turned to her. Sandy SUVs off the streets. Please step back. “Do you street.” moment. of Planning and Community Development. CalTrans couldn’t help her. he turned out to She couldn’t stop herself. human in the Road Maintenance Division. understand?” she concluded. and walked away. ma’am. George Fleming was engaged in an angry tell her anything about the sign posted at the end of Cielo exchange with another police officer and Trevor Hargrove. during her free period.Mauldin / 15 Mauldin / 16 sobbing mother. “Is that true?” and tear they cause. Sandy marched up to be a low level clerk who had the authority only to take her Trevor without shutting the front door behind her. And of Public Works. pounds on most residential streets in Santa Ynez. She was taking down information in small transportation agency. About in her bare feet. it is illegal to drive your SUV on this street. don’t step away right now I will arrest you for interfering The transportation specialist was silent for a with a police investigation.A. “We could use this to get The next morning. “I wouldn’t know anything about that. I guess Santa Ynez police?” Sandy suddenly saw herself from the police After the last bell Sandy headed across campus to woman’s point of view. illegal to drive any vehicle over 6. A “I’ll speak to you in a moment.” she muttered. in fact.” called the Santa Ynez Police Department. where she finally found a partial answer in the Office “I didn’t hit the kid!” Trevor said plaintively. Ma’am. When she finally got through to a live driver of the SUV. In a lot of Trevor.” other California cities too.” the police soon. black lined boxes on a white form.” “Who’s responsible for enforcing the law?” Sandy she turned to Sandy again.000 “The Cayenne Turbo has a GVWR of 6. he suggested calling CalTrans. Making incoherent accusations Trevor Hargrove and the little boy he nearly killed. The ordinance was designed to “Really?” George Fleming asked. the state woman said. “Do you know?” hall. “if you asked. Crazy neighbor in gray sweat pants Eddie’s classroom. “I’m taking care of this now. “I don’t have a clue. As they walked out to the faculty and a maroon chamois shirt so threadbare that the lining parking lot together he listened quietly to her story about glowed white at her neck.” the officer transportation specialist there confirmed that under city said. ma’am. while a six-year-old boy and his mother the sign at the end of Cielo Avenue and what she’d learned screamed and two ruined cars leaked toxic fluids into the from the city transportation planning specialist. County Department would-be photographer son of the city councilman. “Do you name and number and promise that “someone will get back have any idea what that SUV weighs?” she asked. Avenue and suggested she call the L.790 pounds. “Sorry.” code it was.” When she asked how soon was “Excuse me. They couldn’t . squaring her shoulders. apparently. sir. He turned to the keep heavy trucks off the roads because of the greater wear police woman.

the head of SCSY buying a members.” she asked. “We need to do “Do you…?” Sandy began. no matter how Eddie was fidgeting with his key ring when the bad the situation appeared for SCSY. Sandy. but I waited until after the council vote. she didn’t expect wholesale “Of course not!” Eddie answered.” sound so convincing.000 pounds on most residential streets in Santa from spending money on SUVs. open- “We traded it in last month. “But it’s okay if you do?” The words were out of “What are we supposed to do about it? That’s a Sandy’s mouth before she could stop them. “then appear before the television cameras. look so authoritative. He reached for the door and opened it. and were standing next to an enormous. you always were a true believer. “Did you know that it’s illegal to drive SUVs big truck like this while we were trying to stop the city over 6. shaking his “What about that little Hyundai you always drive?” head. then rolled down the window and turned to her.” she gestured to the pickup. at booming. which Eddie’s smile widened further.” Eddie repeated after her as he pulled “I’m getting in my truck and going home.Mauldin / 17 Mauldin / 18 “I suppose so. a long time. it truck doors unlocked with a heavy clack. that. what the hell are you doing?” “At least. create dangerous traffic risks!” Others simply didn’t see the point. Then he drove away. Clearing tree walking. least eight of the seventeen people she called that night “City governments should not spend taxpayer dollars on admitted to her – some hesitating with shame. shiny stumps and whatnot. That night Sandy was on the phone calling SCSY Thought it would look strange.” he himself up into the cab with a grunt. Even worse. pushed out by problem for the police. his politician’s smile spreading across his face.” Ynez?” she asked them one by one. “I can’t believe you bought one of these loud honk. answered. if it’s already illegal to drive these death This was why Sandy always insisted that his face machines on our streets. accompanied by a would seem. He could SCSY’s work would just be a matter of enforcement. others overpriced vehicles that damage the environment and blustering defiance – that they owned SUVs themselves. He started the truck. I’ve needed a truck for mouthed. And for himself.” the acid rising from her gut. Sandy looked up. things! It’s got to run three and a half tons at least. “Oh.” “Eddie. They had stopped work these days on my property in Riverside. leaving Sandy to stare.” While she had expected a little her voice had caught in her throat. .” Eddie sounded uncertain. “I’m doing lots of wasn’t like him. then had to stop because something about it. his voice big and dismissal of her discovery on principle. not hers. “Are you saying you’ve resistance from people who were disappointed with the switched sides?” council vote six months ago. at his sheep-headed brake lights.” “Listen. Need a big truck for big jobs like gold Dodge Ram 1500 pickup truck.

That’s when I signed the petition and came on “Block SUVs from driving up Cielo Avenue. “Isn’t that important to you “Not if we did it together. we’re just armchair enviros here in the several sheets of poster board and packet of thick.” she answered.” street.” Angela said. then it’s not like we can get “Seriously.Mauldin / 19 Mauldin / 20 “If it’s already the law.” Sandy insisted. “If you’re just one do it if I thought it would lower my taxes!” Angela’s laugh person out there. You’re a public high “Listen. As she drove home. too?” “Who? You and me and what army?” “Of course it is! I’m just not interested in making a Sandy paraphrased a line she’d heard Eddie say fool of myself in front of all my neighbors. Sandy thought about what Angela Fleming had said the night before. said me pie charts of how much the city gets in tax dollars and that. But when made a thin.” “Right! Geopolitics. Taxes are bad George owned the yellow Honda that had been totaled by enough. “I’m an school teacher. expensive toys when they could buy something sensible “Could what?” Angela asked. Sandy stopped by an office Sandy laughed uncomfortably and tried to make a supply store on her way home from work and bought joke. “We could. stopping law-abiding citizens from driving SUVs down the what’s that word you use? Geo-something-or-other.” The next afternoon. the middle of the road and stop SUVs as they drive up the how much it costs to insure them.” and healthy?” Sandy asked. tinny sound across the telephone lines. Well. “But there are two or more. and I don’t want them going up so the city can buy Trevor Hargrove and his SUV. more or less.” board. What about the . He showed Sandy’s ears perked up when Angela Fleming. and that’s when I got it. I might many times over the past three years. Angela and her husband how they spend it.” markers.” you should think about it carefully. They’re busy with more important things. The school board doesn’t take kindly to environmentalist. then it’s a movement. Sandy? Stand in a petition.” posters up around town. That would be completely “But don’t you want our neighborhood to be safe loco. sure they’ll think you’re a nut. about all the air pollution SUVs “Of course the police can’t spend all their time generate and about how dependence on oil is bad for. instead. stopping crime. Sandy. but I’ve never been one for lunatics in the classroom. about the cost of street?” repairing roads damaged by those big vehicles. What’s that got to do with me? “I can’t judge what my neighbors choose to drive. wide suburban wasteland.” protests and that sort of thing.” I got interested in SCSY when a kid came to my door with “What do you want we should do. I suppose I saw your flyers and an ordinance passed at city council to fix it. Sandy. like “Geopolitics?” Sandy asked. talking all about how expensive those SUVs are. “Yes.” “Sandy! I was joking.

should be looking for something to cook.C. “Eddie and SCSY Startled. “So what? I’ve got the days off. Sandy looked down at her torso.C. A yellow sheet of poster Sandy smiled. You don’t “Sure did. The red sheet she had configuration.” She opened the “What exactly do you plan to do?” The volume of refrigerator. “what’s that thing you’re wearing?” Sandy shrugged.” looked it up. “what are you up to?” YOUR SUV ON THIS STREET. On a white sheet of “Uh. I’ll be up bright and early to catch the box of childhood mementos in her bedroom closet she had morning commuters. “What exactly is S. he found her it. Used to. hi.” drive SUVs on Cielo Avenue and other residential streets. This part went around her waist – well. “That’s not smart. and stop anybody who tries to drive past it in an SUV. I must have lost track of time. “Santa Ynez “Right now?” City Code. can go to hell. “I’m going to stop the motherfuckers board read WE ARE SIMPLY ENFORCING THE LAW – from driving their SUVs on my street. the cut into an octagon and written STOP on it in bright yellow bottom of her ribcage now – and the part with the tin badge letters six inches tall. It took her several moments to realize she Peter’s voice was beginning to rise.Y. way Sandy always did. the each other. this time a little poster board she had written IT IS ILLEGAL TO DRIVE more tentatively. “Honey. pointing to her belly. not after all the time you’ve There was a moment of silence while they looked at taken off for SCSY. “I’m going to stand next to that sign on the corner Behind her. I “You have to work tomorrow. The plastic was cracked in places and not as supple as it in the middle of their kitchen floor surrounded by half a once had been. with the thin metal badge still pinned to When Peter arrived home from work.” S. Turn four-sixty-eight point eight?” them around and send them back the way they came. Peter asked. Sandy jumped up and looked at the clock.” Except this time she said “scuzzy.” Sandy said.” He said the letters one by one.” “Oh! Sorry.” Sandy turned and answered brightly. sweetie?” Peter started again.C.C.” . sweetie. but it held together as she wrapped it around dozen poster board signs stapled to the stakes that had once her body.” Peter said. Tomorrow.8(c). “Did Eddie put you up to this?” “Uh. It took a few minutes to remember the sported Eddie’s campaign yard signs. Under the four letters was a much across her chest and over her left shoulder.” Peter said. smaller in the name of love in pink.Y.” have a lot of sick days left. Peter frowned. “What’s for dinner?” Sandy’s face went red with rage.” “I’ve called in sick.Mauldin / 21 Mauldin / 22 lunatics on City Council? Or the lunatics who designed found her old fluorescent orange crossing guard belt from gas-guzzling death machines and called them cars? elementary school. 468. “Did you?” Mauldin /Peter 23 shook his head. At the bottom of a I’m taking them. That’s the ordinance that makes it illegal to “No.

In three years he had never voiced a single complaint even told them that my beloved husband Peter is behind me about SCSY or the time it took her away from home. It’s my idea and I’m going out there all otherwise. Rattled. The bed groaned with Peter’s weight as he rolled but I let people convince me that such lofty ideals are corny over. But I was fooling myself. and it she was going to get arrested. stop it right now! “Yes. I Perhaps she should have noticed.” Sandy was awake a little before six the next “No. then. stinking of old and naive. He’d returned late last night. she thought.” “No you are not!” Peter shouted.” on my own. She decided against makeup this morning. for Christ’s sake. didn’t even turn to look at to Eddie and everyone else but mostly I lied to myself. Looking at her reflection in the Sandy cocked her head to the side a little and full length mirror next to the bed. she didn’t want raccoon eyes turns out it was for somebody else’s cause.” She was well past caring. All along I in her mug shot. yes. and I thought we were finally done with it. “I am. and tight with alarm.” brightened with the rising sun she donned the long-sleeved “Goddamn it. Sandy. “Don’t do it. it seems that I’m only mid-forties.” he said membership and getting that ordinance through. cleaner world.” Sandy answered. not bad for looked at Peter more closely. If seeing the truth now. Sandy. So I told myself that what I think isn’t hamburger grease and non-dairy milkshakes when he important. mouth shut and believed it was for the greater good. our neighbors. in the end I have nothing to show for it. I don’t care if nobody helps me at all. one hundred percent.” respect. morning. should have been doing all along. “Yes.” door and slammed it. I put up with this ‘scuzzy’ shit white t-shirt and comfortable blue jeans she’d laid out the for three years. stormed out the back of yourself out there. thought SCSY was about creating a safer.Mauldin / 23 Mauldin / 24 “You mean our neighbors?” Peter’s voice grew compromised on the things that were important to me.” You can’t do this! It’s crazy! You’re going to make a fool Peter picked up his briefcase. . I’m going to stand my “Who else will be there? Whose idea is this?” ground. For three years I busted my ass. I lied Sandy didn’t answer. night before. “Oh. and to hell with anyone who tries to tell me “Nobody. I kept my groggily. trembling slightly by the kitchen sink. his voice rising. “I’ll be there. leaving Sandy “I don’t care. Not even my self- “If they drive SUVs. What’s important is increasing SCSY climbed into bed beside her. but “Then think about me. going to make me look like an idiot. then wound the skinny orange crossing guard What the hell has gotten into you?” belt around her upper body. You won’t. So I’m going out tomorrow morning to do what I Peter leaned in a little more closely. Now that he had spoken. I him.” Peter shouted. Then he drove away. As the darkness of the bedroom around her Our neighbors can tell the difference between us. “You’re undeterred.” she said calmly.

Her oversized red STOP sign was in one hand and her Sensible Cars for Santa Ynez originally appeared in explanation of the city code in the other. A Lincoln Navigator came along less than fifteen minutes later. As she picked up the six signs. Fall 2005: so hard that she was breathing with her mouth open. Then she took up her post on and Clamor magazine.html. The pair of yellow gardening gloves she’d run through the wash last night were waiting in the dryer. Then Sandy lifted a sign with each hand.com/bhq9. raising her gloved fists almost as high as her . the sidewalk beneath the three ton prohibition sign. The cotton cloves looked wrinkled and impotent as she took them out of the dryer. knew? Another teacher at Santa Ynez High? A SCSY as long as the author’s name is fully credited.4. No 4. and walked resolutely into the path of the and walked downstairs to the kitchen. they stretched to fit her hands. The rising sun caught the windshield at a sharp angle and Sandy couldn’t Permission is granted to print or repost this story make out the driver’s face behind the glare. Someone she elsewhere. Sandy’s heart beat Blithe House Quarterly. taking three in each hand.4/9. faded to nearly white at the seams. Blithe House Quarterly with a heavy rubber mallet. Bronwyn Mauldin is a Los Angeles-based writer and At the end of the block Sandy positioned four of the creator of GuerrillaReads. Another trick she’d learned from Eddie. www. possibly less. only in its entirety and without changes. driving each one into the well-packed dirt in The Battered Suitcase.blithe.com.Mauldin / 25 Mauldin / 26 though. the online video signs along the sides of the street leading up to the literary magazine. wending its way up Cielo Avenue at a leisurely twenty miles an hour. Bronwyn’s work has appeared telephone pole. She took a deep breath and closed her eyes for a brief moment. to protect against END loose splinters while carrying handmade signs at demonstrations. she felt the strength of her own resolve ripple up the muscles of her arms and across her back.04. oncoming SUV. smiled. Vol 9. she had nothing to say to him. She left the room ears. member? A complete stranger? It didn’t matter. But when she put them on.