Pardon Me

Klepto the Klown hated suspense. It made him feel weak and frightened. But as a mildly competent showman, he knew a little cheap suspense was necessary to pique people’s interest. That is why he was always pretending he was about to announce something “very soon” though he never did. Usually because he forgot what he promised.

But on his show, “Celebrity Clown Prince,” there was always a moment, right before the commercial break when he would promise to announce who would be fired. Then when they came back, he’d announce it again. The camera would cut from him to one contestant, then to another, then back to Klepto, then to a contestant, etc. while the music went “Ta-DAH!” Then silence while Klepto said, “Bobby, you’re expired” and the other guy would go nuts.

That’s why Klepto never watched the show. He could not stand the suspense.

He couldn’t stand it now, when the Federal Bureau of Secret Police and two or three or four Congressional committees were trying to decide if he was an agent of the Vlizzard of Oz and had committed a bunch of money laundering deals, obstructed justice and threatened witnesses—all of which Klepto knew he had done. One part of his mind (Harlequin) told him to wait it out. Maybe something would happen like a war or an earthquake and people would forget. Another part of his mind (his ass) told him to get it over with already. So Klepto listened to his ass.

He went live on national television and announced that he was pardoning himself for all crimes he may or may not have committed in the past and in the future.

“That settles that. Now we can all get back to what we were doing. As for me, I’m going to play golf in my favorite course, the Klepto Pro-Put-Put at Club Marmalade in Florida. But if you don’t live in Florida, I invite you to have a great time with your family at a Klepto Pro-Putt-Putt Golf course near you. There’s one in every city. Just look for the hundred foot tall clown with the blinking red nose. Follow the big red tie to the entrance right between his legs. It’s a great value and shows you’re a patriot who loves this country as much as I do.”

When he got off set, the Vice Precedent wished him the best of luck in his retirement.

Klepto said, “I’m not retiring. I’m going on vacation. I know it’s hard to tell the difference, but I’ll be back on Monday.”

“I’m afraid that’s impossible, Klepto,” the Vice said. He had never called Klepto anything but “Your Highness” before. “You see, when you accept a pardon, you’re admitting guilt. In your case to everything anybody every accused you of. No one was surprised, by the way. Anyway, the Congress impeached you by unanimous acclaim while you were pitching your golf courses, and since you’ve admitted to being an agent of a foreign government, I can’t let you into the Pale Home.”

“You mean, I’m expired?” Klepto said.

“Yes, Klepto. I assumed you understood. But I guess when I assume, I make an ass out of you and me. Anyway, I’m Precedent now. Can you believe it?”

“I’m expired?” Klepto whispered.

“Now you’re getting it.”

“I’m expired!” Klepto exclaimed. It was the happiest day of his life.

But when he got home to the Ivory Tower the Tin Woman was gone. (Ironically, she had finally moved into the Pale Home.)

Then the law suits started.

Author: leonardrysdyk

Leonard Rysdyk is the author of more than a dozen novels, stories, articles and poems. His work has appeared in many publications including Snow White, Blood Red, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Aboriginal Magazine and the New York Review of Science Fiction. A professor at Nassau Community College, he teaches literature (including science fiction), cultural history (including the history of science) and is an acknowledged innovator in the field of Computer Aided Instruction (CAI), a subject on which he has lectured and consulted.

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