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Spoofs & Satire

The Fiery Furnaces Visit the Department of Motor Vehicles

The brother-sister duo’s narrative inclinations take over during a license renewal.

CLERK
Can I help the next person in line?

ELEANOR FRIEDBERGER
(approaches, hands clerk a document)
I’m plowing through a stir fry like it’s the last one ever
Tied to my porch with chicken wire and clever
When Vargas dips his fingers into my sticky rice
And up floats a letter from the DMV, very nice
I’d better run down and get my license renewed
Or my cargo line of plastic dolls from Beaconsville is screwed

CLERK
OK, let’s take a look. (pause) Um, is this gentleman with you?

ELEANOR
My brother Matt had my shoes in the cab of his blue truck
He drove out to the bad side of the bluffs with Tony, just my luck
I used the old Fiesta from the parade float to track him down
But some pirates stole the gas so Matt drove me into town
He wouldn’t give my shoes back til I told him my plans
That’s why we’re both here in line getting fluorescent tans

CLERK
Oh.

ELEANOR
I’m on the ball like the trained seal from Svalbard
I brought my ownership, though the caterpillars chewed it hard
My benefactor’s agent paid my car insurance in doubloons
And I signed my organ donor’s card—I’m no poltroon

CLERK
Great. I actually don’t need to see that last one. It’s your personal choice.

ELEANOR
Mm, this process is new to me, new like the sapling tree
The one that always bends, the one struck by my friends

CLERK
Yes. Well, we’re going to require a payment, either by check or—

MATT FRIEDBERGER
Can I take an eyetest?
Can I take an eyetest, Sadie?

CLERK
My name is Barb.

MATT
Can I take an eyetest while I’m here?
Gotta convince the magistrate that I’m clear
Or my leather goods concern goes into arrears
Mine eyes have seen the apex where the beadle scrapped my fears

CLERK
We get that a lot. I could write you a note or something—

ELEANOR
Eek, my checks blew away, into the bay
Oh no, sploosh sploosh, they blew away, whoosh whoosh,
I’m eating baba ganouj, dans la salle de douche—

CLERK
It’s all right, it’s all right. Calm down. Do you have a credit card or debit card?

ELEANOR
(pulls out credit card)
The plastic came from fossils, the numbers from business models
This belonged to the laughing Turk who hoarded morphine bottles

CLERK
Well, it’s got your name on it, so that should be fine. Can you stand in the black box on the floor there? Great.

ELEANOR
A little bird told me my pictures were worthless,
A little bird told me my pictures were smeared,
My mother looked anxious and Callum was laughing
A little bird told me about my beard

(hands over old license)

CLERK
Yikes. Heh, the shadows in here do that sometimes. Your new picture will be better.

ELEANOR
And now I’ll never, never, never, never look like that again—

CLERK
God, it really does look like a beard, y’know? Big bushy thing. And it’s, like, textured or… rippling…

ELEANOR
But I’ll never, never, never—

CLERK
It’s almost grotesque. Why can’t I look away from—

ELEANOR
Take the bloody picture, snap snap

CLERK
Sorry.

(takes picture)

MATT
My tires gonna up and kill me one fine day
Says a pamphlet, says a pamphlet from the NHTSA
I’m reading a jeremiad on tire pressure safety
This trip wasn’t as fun as I thought it would be
Can we hoof it, can we shag it, can we crackle carpetbag it?
Can we strop yliaout aginyoh, can we ersatz Inca rag it?

ELEANOR
Matt, shut your mouth with your amphigories
My hands would like to cut you a grave in the quarry
I need to sign this form on the dot-dot line
Survivor won’t be on until the owl hoots nine

MATT
Rush rush rush, my mind is like a Taiko drum
They’re treating that screaming child behind us like some sort of panjandrum

CLERK
(whispering) I know, totally! Who brings a baby here? (louder) Soon as this prints, you’ll be on your way.

ELEANOR
A salt lick and a star fruit peel are all the kindness I ever knew
But downy, bubbly, tremulous, I have a virgin’s love for you

CLERK
Oh, OK, thanks. S’nice to be appreciated. (pause) This orphan gets no orphery stuck in a sterile phrontistery.

(Silence)

CLERK
Orphery. It’s like this gold trim kinda stuff.

(Silence)

biopic

TMN Contributing Writer Michael Rottman lives like a lord in Toronto. His miscellany has appeared in print in The Fiddlehead, Grain, and Opium, and online at Yankee Pot Roast, Cracked, News Groper, and McSweeney’s. More by Michael Rottman