Parabola (par-ab’-o-la): The explicit drawing of a parallel between two essentially dissimilar things, especially with a moral or didactic purpose. A parable.
It was like I was a big tuna headed to the can—free one minute, mixed with mayonnaise, chopped onions, and pickle relish, smeared on two slices of white bread with lettuce and sliced in half. I am netted. I am canned. I am eaten. My death keeps somebody else alive, a fleet of fishing boats profitable, and maybe, the sandwich reputation of the corner deli “Sawdust.” I’m not really a tuna. I don’t even eat tuna. I just like to think of the entwinement of good and bad—how there’s nothing perfectly good or perfectly evil. It’s probably an old and boring riff on life’s complexities, but it weighs heavily on equity’s place in framing a level life with, perhaps, no gut-wrenching dips or destructive potholes, or, at least, fewer of both.
“The merciful consideration of circumstances.” This quality of judgment is usually affected, or called to be affected, in judicial cases. Like somebody steals a loaf of bread to feed his starving family. He is caught, arrested, tried and sentenced 19 years in prison. Where’s the equity here? This case makes most people angry (and even sick) to read.
Between 24 and 28, I “took care” of people for a living. I came from a good background: a loving family, hefty allowance and a degree from UPENN in Continental Philosophy—I studied all the philosophic bad boys. I also met this guy, Bobby Dollar. We made friends. He was filthy rich. He could buy whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted it. One weekend, we went to New Jersey and he bought an apartment complex in Newark. He paid cash out of the briefcase he always carried. Then, he would go door-to-door and evict people he “didn’t like the looks of.” After all that, about two months later, he would have apartment complex reappraised at a crazy-high value, reinsure it, and hire a mob torch man to burn it down. He was lucky that nobody got killed. He certainly didn’t need the money. He could’ve bought Newark if he wanted it badly enough. He was evil.
After we graduated, Bobby hired me to manage his properties. He called them his “zoos” because they hosted a few species of rat (including escaped white lab rats), many, many mice, all varieties of cockroach, fleas, and inch-long centipedes. Occasionally, an escaped pet snake would pop up in somebody’s shower, rearing it’s head out of the drain. The ramps he had built for wheelchair access were so steep that it took two people to push a wheelchair bound person up it. Bobby had the building inspector on his “alternate” payroll, reserved also for judges, police, and public officials.
My primary job responsibility was to “take care” of people prepared to take legal action against Bobby. First, I tried to talk them out of it. Then, I’d threaten them, in some cases with blackmail, and other cases, bodily harm—you know—take off a finger, smash a kneecap, pluck an eye, amputate a foot, take off an ear, etc. I can’t tell how much blood I spilled working for Bobby. At least 5 gallons. I had to get rid of him. My life was a horror show. He was evil.
If I turned Bobby in, I would be whacked. So, I opted for a DYI murder. It was simple. I invited him over to my condo. We went up on the roof to smoke some weed, and I pushed him over the railing. I waved to him as he fell screaming toward the pavement. It was ten stories down, but I still heard him thud when he hit the sidewalk. Bobby was pretty big.
I called the police, turned myself in, and was convicted of involuntary manslaughter: that I had patted Bobby on the back too hard when I was congratulating him on his 7th marriage, and he had lost his balance and went over the rail. In exchange for ratting on Bobby, I was given immunity from prosecution for every crime I may have committed in my life. As a token of appreciation, the police gave me Bobby’s credit card and a season ticket to the Yankees that he had had in his wallet. I was sentenced to one month in jail. Killing a fiend did a service to the community. Lying about how it happened got me off the hook. Too bad about guy who got 19 years for stealing a loaf of bread and telling the truth. If he had been “connected” like me, they probably would’ve let him go. But Justice is justice—according to Justice—the blindfolded lady holding the sword and scales—he got what was coming to him. Stealing vs. starving. He made the wrong choice, according to justice.
Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu).
Buy a print edition of The Daily Trope! The print edition is entitled The Book of Tropes and is available on Amazon for $9.99.