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The Instigator


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My friend loves my tales. They're funnier when you know the people involved. That's when it appears like a dysfunctional family. I had to tell her the latest gossip and politics from my small town. Gossip and politics go hand in hand in a small community as one inexorably leads to another. Especially when 200 out of the 250 residents work for the town in any capacity.

Without any additional preamble, grab that java, sit back and let me lull you to sleep.

One of the more prominent citizens in my town is a guy who owns considerable amount of commercial property. He has a lot of clout and wields it heavily. We've crossed swords once and, livid, he stated for all to hear, "Should you step foot in my restaurant, I'll have you arrested for trespassing."

I said to everyone in town, "Why should I step foot in that deathtrap? I'm not suicidal!" From that day on, I called his restaurant, "The Deathtrap" instead of "Madam Butterfly," its original name.

"Why do you call Madam B that?" asked one of my local friends.

"Well, you got three ways to kill yourself should you've the misfortune of not being arrested for trespassing the moment you step foot on the premises," I informed her. "First, by the food. Second, by the poor electrical wiring that's not up to code And lastly, by the illegal extension of the outdoor deck. Too many people on that will topple the damn restaurant down the ravine which it overlooks."

I peered at my local friend. "I won't ever eat there because I don't have suicidal impulses."

Since then, everyone calls Madam Butterfly restaurant: The Deathtrap. Mission accomplished.

A year later, the guy who I named, "M Butterfly" in homage to his restaurant came up to me. "We're friends, right?"

I smiled. "Sure we are," while thinking how I'll never set foot into The Deathtrap ever ever again.

For some strange reason, I missed all the shenanigans he perpetrated the prior week. That doesn't impede the locals in town. I believe they appreciate the fact that I'm so caught up in the misery of my own life, I've no inclination to get involved in others'. Until they sit me down and tell me.

Which happened the other day.

A nice woman with whom I had several fun interactions hailed me. I confided in Cheryl part of the former on-going saga with the former boyfriend. To my surprise, she thought it was a plot for a book. At any rate, I returned from my 10 mile mountain bike ride and rode right up to her, in the center of my village after she waved me over.

Patting the seat next to her, she invited me to sit. I, still sweating, wearing helmet, bikers' gloves and attire, sat down. "What's up?"

She pointed to the town, lined up and down the street with cars. It's summer peak season, the time when all the local businesses make money to last them the remaining 10 months of the year. "You see that?" she said pointing to the two local cops ticketing cars up and down the street.

"Yeah, why are they doing that?"

She then pointed at a huge sign in front of The Deathtrap: Do NOT park on the streets unless you want a $100 ticket. Come inside and we'll tell you where to park.

"That sign doesn't make any sense. Most people will park on the streets to go inside to ask where not to park."

Cheryl nodded.

"Why are they ticketing these people?"

"Because they parked over the white line."

"But if they park within the white line, they'll be parked on the sidewalk."

Cheryl smiled a knowing glance. "Precisely."

"Why are the cops doing this now? They never did before!"

Cheryl let loose. She was still peeved at what M Butterfly pulled on her and her husband two weeks earlier. M Butterfly managed to create a wedge in their marriage which had survived over 20 years without any known difficulties.

Cheryl's husband, Bob, is well known for his integrity. As such, M Butterfly asked him to appear as a mediator (non-paying, as a FAVOR) during negotiations with a commercial renter. M Butterfly was jealous of his commercial tenant because that business was more successful than Madam Butterfly which is funny because it's a clothing boutique.

Bob took time off from his company to join M Butterfly and the commercial tenant at a pre-arranged location 1 hour away. {Don't even ask why!}.  At the last minute, Cheryl phoned Bob, hysterical crying.

"Bob, come home quick! The doctor doesn't like some of my test results and I have to go for an MRI at the hospital."

"Cheryl, I can't. I made this commitment to M Butterfly."

The former happily married couple had an argument that nearly ended in divorce.

After four hours of sitting there waiting with the commercial tenant, Bob left the premises. Not only did M Butterfly stand them up, when they finally got through to him on the phone after leaving countless messages, he flippantly said, "Oh, I'm too busy to bother with you."

Enraged, Cheryl phoned M Butterfly who apologized profusely. He had no choice: Cheryl and Bob ate at The Deathtrap weekly, spending significant coin there for a lackluster meal while risking their lives from either dying in an electrical fire and/or toppling over into the ravine of hundreds of feet below from the over-extended deck which wasn't built to code. He didn't want to lose their business. But, he had yet to apologize for wasting Bob's time.

The couple decided NOT to eat at The Deathtrap anymore, stung at the way he cavalierly mistreated them and almost caused a divorce. Except, they ate there once more which will be addressed momentarily.

Cheryl took great pleasure watching the cops ticket anyone who parked on the road to eat at the Deathtrap. Revenge was sweet and it had nothing to do with her.

M Butterfly didn't like that the local cops parked their own cars near his restaurant believing it took parking space from his paying customers. Instead of being a diplomat, he ran out of The Deathtrap and flew off the handle, screaming and threatening the cops. They didn't remove their cars. Instead, they spent their days and nights handing out tickets to hobble M Butterfly's business.

"Serves him right," I said.

Right at that moment, Sally and Keith pulled up into the parking lot across the street. They were good friends of Cheryl and Bob until recently. Sally and Keith wanted to eat at The Deathtrap at their new buffet with a group of friends out on the deck overlooking the ravine. Cheryl and Bob didn't want to eat there and explained what just occurred.

"C'mon, please join us," Sally begged.

Against her better judgment, Cheryl broke down. "Well, if we join you, it won't be at the Buffet," stated Cheryl. For she knew that too much of The Deathtrap's food is equivalent to a colon cleanse for the following several weeks. "How about this - we'll eat inside from the regular menu and join you guys outside thereafter." From past experience, Cheryl knew Sally and Keith would park at the buffet table for several hours.

Sally wasn't thrilled, but said, "Okay."

That night, after Cheryl and Bob finished their meal, ordering cheap salads knowing those wouldn't kill their intestinal tract plus the intention to not reward M Butterfly for his disrespect, they joined Sally and Keith and their friends on the illegally expanded deck. That was short-lived as Sally physically turned her back.

As a result, Cheryl and Bob no longer speak to Sally and Keith. Rather, they grin and say hello, but the love is lost. M Butterfly's quite effective in alienating not only long-married couples, but close friends as well.

While Sally sauntered over to us, Keith hailed the two cops. Keith just happens to be Deputy Mayor of our village. "Hey boys, what're you up to?"

Sally told us, "We're going to eat at The Deathtrap for dinner."

Right at that moment, M Butterfly dashed out of The Deathtrap, ran up to Keith and yelled, "How dare you! You just lost my vote and I intend to not get you re-elected."

Keith whirled around. "What the heck are you talking about?"

The two cops slithered away.

M Butterfly ran back into his restaurant. Keith came over to us. "What's his problem? Why did he threaten me?"

I quietly said, "It may have something to do with you greeting the cops."

"What's wrong with that?" he said. Cheryl and I realized he had no idea the fiasco M Butterfly caused with the cops.

He glared at his wife. "There's no way we're going to eat at The Deathtrap tonight."

Sally pouted. "But, I want to eat there!"

"M Butterfly just threatened me! I will NEVER eat at The Deathtrap ever again. How dare you not support me!"

In front of Cheryl and me, the former happily married couple engaged in full-scale warfare. They left us, still arguing, and went to another restaurant.

It was an interesting fifteen minutes and then I ventured home.

"I can't believe in a week M Butterfly alienated the local cops, two couples, two friendships and four high-paying clients from his restaurant," I stated in conclusion to my friend.

It must've been fatigue, the heat and the drinks, but my girlfriend and I found this story entirely amusing.


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