ASHEVILLE, N.C. — Downtown Asheville has been up in arms of late. Several recent articles here in the Almanak have reported that someone has been leaving bogus parking tickets on numerous vehicles. The police got wind of it when several folks showed up at city hall to pay the $100 fine. Mayor Theodore J. Cleverly was quoted in last month’s paper as saying, “I don’t know if this is someone’s idea of a practical joke or what, but when this story broke, it made the national newswire. That’s not good for our tourist industry.”

With the International Drag Queen Bingo Tournament and the Go Topless Parade coming up, the mayor wants resolution ASAP. He has given the chief of police, Bucko Blankenship, the authority to form a S.M.A.T. team (Special Meter Maid Assault Tactics). A manhunt is underway.

Lifelong Asheville resident, Gladys Shifflet, says she received the shock of her life the other day when she strolled past the Flat Iron. “A small crowd had gathered to watch that statue guy when this woman dressed like Rambo appeared from out of nowhere. She had an Uzi drawn and was sneaking up behind him. She pressed the barrel of the gun into his back and yelled, ‘Freeze!’ Everyone started laughing. I laughed too until I realized that the Rambo woman was the same meter maid who had given me a ticket a few months earlier over on Lexington Avenue. When she began to frisk him, I was glad the statue guy had the good sense to stay in character. The crowd started to fill the street when a squad car pulled up. Then several officers arrived from the station house across the street. Before they could disperse the crowd, the meter maid had arrested the man for the parking-ticket caper. When she cuffed him and started reading him his rights, laughter erupted. Even the police joined in.”

Gladys took a deep breath and continued. “That’s when I saw Sergeant Baxter working his way through the crowd. He approached the ‘act’ and whispered something to each of them. Smiling from ear to ear, he led them to the squad car but not before grabbing the tip tub that was overflowing. The applause was deafening as people littered the street with bills and coins. The other officers gathered up the tips and put them in the trunk. The squad car tweaked its siren and drove away to a lengthy ovation.”

No charges were filed. As a matter of fact, reports of the event going viral on YouTube (In the first forty-eight hours, there were over three hundred thousand hits and twenty-seven thousand thumbs-up.) have led Mayor Cleverly into calling off the manhunt and dismantling the S.M.A.T team. The meter maid has been permanently reassigned to the Flat Iron area and is to remain “in costume.” At the city’s expense, the mayor has purchased a new five-gallon bucket to replace the statue man’s one-gallon tip tub. Everyone seems happy, especially the tourists.

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