For The NYC Department of Education…

So, according to this report, the NYC Department of Education has decided that 50 words they have deemed as “offensive” and “unsettling” need to be removed from any standardized tests students might be exposed to. Not profanity, mind you, but everyday words. Because the students might feel “unsettled.”

Good lord.

Anyway, I could harp about the idiocy of this for days (and those of you who know me, know I could keep going like the Energizer Bunny on this) but instead, I decided to do a little bit of public service to both the NYC Department of Education and to those students who now feel shortchanged by the lack of such a variety of words on their ever-thrilling standardized tests. If you click the link above and read the article, you’ll see the fifty words that they want removed. And below, you’ll see a little Lawson snippet I just wrote this morning that uses every one of them. Because, y’know, being the sarcastic prick that I am, this was too good to let pass.

Enjoy!

The Stupid: A Satirical Lawson Vampire Story Snippet
By Jon F. Merz

  “They’re pretty sure it was sexual abuse.”
  I looked up from my drink and eyed Niles. “What-an abusive parent?”
  “No, seems he had a fondness for sheep.”
  “Someone should have made sure he stopped drinking after the tenth beer,” I said. “What happened – birthday boys gone wild?”
  “I wasn’t there,” said Niles. “It’s not typically my scene where any sort of championship belching is a factor.”
  “You’ve got standards. That sort of behavior can spread like a vicious cancer if it goes unchecked.”
  “Exactly why you’re getting the case,” said Niles. “The Council wants this stopped. Yesterday, if Ava had her way.”
  The bar was filling up quickly with the after work crowd. I saw several women dressed in pencil skirts and crisp white blouses that caused a tsunami of hormones to flood my system. Niles must have noticed because he cleared his throat.
  “Lawson, if I could get your attention back to the topic at hand-?”
  “Sorry. Was I staring?”
  “Like someone gawking at Kim Kardashian. Give it a rest already.”
  “At least I won’t have to worry about my kids having to deal with celebrity. What a bitch that must be, huh?”
  Niles sighed. “Try not to go off on a tangent. I swear some day you’re going to make me start smoking again.”
  “I never knew you smoked.”
  “Not many people do,” said Niles. “And it was a long time ago anyway. I kicked them to the curb, but every once in a while.” His voice trailed off. “You know…it was an addiction.”
  “I had that same problem with internet porn.”
  “You did?”
  I shrugged. “Nah, just kidding around. But I knew someone who was hopelessly addicted to collecting stories about serial killers. Had newspaper clippings all over the walls. Scrapbooks. You name it, this guy was nuts for the gore of the stories. Really sick.”
  “Anyway,” said Niles, taking a sip of his Grey Goose and tonic. “Ava wants you on this case right away.”
  “Why is she dying from some horrible disease or something? What’s the rush?”
  “This sort of thing can’t be allowed to continue. You know that.”
  “I’ve tried to divorce myself from getting emotionally wrapped up in this craziness. Used to be it was tolerable, but it’s an epidemic now.”
  “It’s evolved,” said Niles. “And that’s the real problem. It’s not like it simply popped up overnight. And someone was finally paying enough attention to realize that if this isn’t stopped then we’ll all be the worse for it.”
  I leaned back, enjoying the way the luxurious leather chair made me feel like a million bucks as it conformed to my back and hips. “I want a bonus.”
  “A bonus? You’re crazy.”
  “This isn’t my usual job. You know that.”
  Niles sighed. “And what sort of bonus are you asking for?”
  “Monte Carlo. I want to go there. Have the Council set it up. First class air travel, a luxury suite, and fifty thousand dollars to gamble away every last cent. I want to splurge a little.”
  “You want an arm trophy with that? Something in blonde perhaps?”
  “That would work. Just make sure she doesn’t look like some painted tart on Halloween, all right? I like class.”
  “I’ll make sure we don’t grab some homeless bum.”
  “Good.”
  Niles took another sip. “The target lives in Westchester. You familiar with the area?”
  I shrugged. “What’s to know? Wealthy enclave north of Manhattan. More homes with swimming pools per capita than most northeast towns.” I sipped the Bombay Sapphire and tonic. “So, who am I hunting?”
  Niles leveled a finger at me. “You know, you scarf those drinks down like most people eat Doritos. It’s a wonder sometimes you can even shoot straight.”
  “I am a wonder,” I said. “But it takes an awful lot to knock my ass. I just enjoy the taste.”
  “Your target used to play with the Jets. Does that alter how you’ll handle the situation?”
  “Should it?”
  Niles shook his head. “He had more sacks in his rookie year than anyone else in the league. I’d say that means he’s pretty formidable.”
  I sniffed. “He doesn’t play anymore, does he?”
  “Tore his ACL and had to retire young. Or he was fired. I forget which.”
  I nodded. “My point. He won’t be as mobile as he once was.”
  “You’ve made bad assumptions before.”
  “Niles, I don’t really think I need to bring in a lot of firepower here. No sense using a nuclear missile when a simple knife will do the trick.”
  “If I had to peer into my crystal ball, I’d say you won’t be using a knife. That’s not your style.”
  “True. It’ll be a pistol.”
  “Just make sure your target doesn’t get wind of it ahead of time. The last thing I need to explain to the Council is how your mark developed clairvoyance or something just prior to the hit.”
  “Like the Council would really care as long as it gets done.” I finished my drink. “They’re too busy arguing politics and who is going to get to be in charge next. It’s disgusting.”
  “I realize it might not hold the same allure as say, pornography-“
  “Who said anything about porn?”
  Niles frowned. “The blonde arm trophy will probably fit the bill.”
  “I said I wanted her to be classy.”
  Niles sighed. “Regardless.”
  “Seriously, if she looks like she’s from the projects, I’m not going to be happy.”
  “Lawson, forget your quest to become the new Jay-Z for a moment, would you?”
  I smiled. “Beyonce’. Now that would be something. Booty bootylicious.”
  “Forget it,” said Niles. “She’s not even a vampire.”
  “Then she’s perfect.”
  “Sex is your religion, isn’t it? I mean, you seriously worship it in ways I don’t think other people do.”
  I leaned forward. “Niles, I’ll let you in on a secret: while the Council might think I was put on earth to be a Fixer, I’ve always believed my real role is to be an awesome lover to as many beautiful women as possible. To me, there’s nothing quite like the rush I feel when I transport a woman to another time and place through the use of sex. It’s like straddling time and space.”
  “Straddling being the operative word,” said Niles. “You ever think about fasting for a while?”
  “I wouldn’t do well with a strict fast. But maybe something like Ramadan. You know, you only fast during the daylight hours. Once the sun goes down, it’s all good.”
  “You should have been a rock star. Tommy Lee could take notes on how you handle women.”
  “Let’s get back to business,” I said. “What if this guy smells me coming. What’s the likelihood he’ll run away?”
  “Zero. He’s a fighter. Plus, he’ll want to protect his merchandise.”
  I frowned. “I knew slavery was problem for other countries, but I didn’t expect it be so prevalent here.”
  “And given the recent events that show our kind are involved, I’d say it’s only going to become more of a problem. Hence the Council’s desire that you take immediate action to contain this. We’ve also gotten reports that the slave trade is funneling money off to a variety of terrorist groups – specifically Shining Path and Abu Sayaf.”
  “Wonderful. This mission gets better sounding by the minute. You make sure that bonus is in place, will you? By the time this is over, I’m going to look like I just overdosed on a marathon of Jersey Shore episodes.”
  “Do the job, Lawson. I’ll keep my end of the bargain.”
  “See if Ava’s available.”
  Niles looked at me like I had five heads. “You aren’t serious.”
  I smirked. “Why not? She looks like she could use a vacation. Plus, she’s kind of hot.”
  Niles leaned back. “Are you feeling all right? You can’t stand Ava.”
  “Doesn’t mean I wouldn’t sleep with her.”
  Niles shook his head. “You need a companion, Lawson. Ever think about getting a dog? A cat? I can recommend a good shelter. A buddy of mine works in a no-kill place. Good animals. They could do wonders for you.”
  “I’m fine,” I said. “So, is this supposed to look messy?”
  “Like how?”
  “Like I bash his brains in with a hammer and let the roaches and rats feats on his remains?”
  Niles pursed his lips. “I think your usual method will suffice.”
  I chewed an ice cube and then set my glass down. “All right then. I’ll be off.”
  “Just like that?”
  “Just like that.”
  “Well, you’re not some sort of wizard, Lawson.” He slid a picture across the table. “Even you need to know what your target looks like.”
  I glanced at the photo and slid it back. “Text me his address.”
  “Anything else?”
  I thought for a moment. “Yeah, make sure the airline to Monte Carlo stocks Bombay Sapphire and limes.”

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