YOU GOTTA BE KIDDING
by Michael A. Kechula
I opened the letter from Nifty Swifty Credit Corporation. Sonovabitch! A bill for twenty-nine bucks. Damn jerks made a mistake. I always paid my credit card bills in full, every month.
“Late Penalty,” it said. “One dollar charge for each day payment is late.”
“You gotta be kidding!” I yelled. They were fining me more than the full amount of the bill I’d already paid. Yeah, I sent the payment late, but it wasn’t my fault. The damn bill got lost in the mail before it reached me.
I dialed the number for Nifty Swifty. Their main office was right here in Santa Buffoona.
A shrill, highly accented, recorded voice answered. “Thank you for calling Nifty Swifty Credit Corporation. Please note the following important information. The City Council of Santa Buffoona, California has passed a law making the English language illegal. Kofufu, a dialect of Esperanto, will replace English as the official language of the City of Santa Buffoona. This law will take effect at noon on April fifteenth, two-oh-oh-eight.”
“You gotta be kidding,” I said, noting it was ten minutes to noon, and today was April 15th.
The voice continued. “One minute past noon, and thereafter, anyone dialing this number will hear our message in Kofufu. To repeat this message, press 998877, or press one of the following:
For Chinese, press 1.
For Latin, press 2.
For Aramaic, press 3.
For Transylvanian, press 4.
For South Vietnamese, press 5.
For North Vietnamese, press 6.
For East Vietnamese, press 7.
For West Vietnamese, press 8.
For Ebonics, press 9.
For all other languages, press 10.”
I pressed 10.
A voice said, “The following menu provides access to three hundred languages, except English. If you wish to hear directions in English until the April seventh cutoff, dial the Amalgamated Nations English-to-Kofufu Translation Department. That number is...that number is...that number is....”
Click. Dial Tone.
Damn. Only five minutes left to get someone in Customer Service who speaks English.
I redialed Nifty Swifty. Had to listen to the whole damn mishmash before it would let me press 10. This time I got an 800 number for the Amalgamated Nations.
“Amalgamated Nations Headquarters. How may I direct your call?”
“Are you real?" I asked. "I mean, is this a real human voice?”
“Certainly, Sir. I am a real live human bean. Homo Say-pee-unz. Of the male persuasion. From whence are you calling?”
“Santa Buffoona, California.”
“Wonderfully progressive city. The Secretary General just approved Santa Buffoona’s request to join the AN as a sovereign anarchistic republic. We’re thrilled.”
“Quick! Connect me with the English-to-Kofufu Translation Department.”
“You can dial that directly, Sir.”
“I’m running out of time. This an emergency.”
“Sir, The Amalgamated Nations does not consider your emergency to be a fluega montegra desonato.”
Damn. The clock had struck noon! Kofufu was now in effect.
“YGBK,” I yelled.
“Eh? YGBK? Shatasa puba?”
“It means you gotta be kidding, you jerk.”
“Same to you, pal.”
I’d fix Nifty Swifty’s ass. Then I’d do something about the stupid city council.
I went to a bank in the next town, where they still spoke something akin to near-Pidgin English. Got a money order for twenty-nine dollars worth of Eskimo shekels. “Choke on this, Nifty Swifty Credit!” I said, dropping it into an envelope.
On the back of the envelope in huge letters, I wrote in Pig Latin, “REW-SCAY OU-YAY.”
I took a white bath towel, and sprayed JUKING FERKS in large black letters. Attached it to the TV antenna on the roof for all to see. Then I called every number in the city directory, yelling the same two words to everyone who answered.
The next day, I was arrested. Was it because of the Pig Latin I'd written on the Nifty Swifty return envelope? Had that too become an illegal language? Was it the financial transaction I'd made in Eskimo shekels? Or was it the English spoonerism on my towel-flag?
Never found out.
The charges were read in Kofufu. I was tried in that language after swearing in with my erect middle finger touching the AN flag. Not sure what I swore to. Just repeated what the big guy with the flamethrower said.
Then I was sentenced by a judge in guttural Kofufu.
“You gotta be kidding!” I screamed when he sentenced me to rafletella years in the pokey, with chance for early parole after bragliozile years. Unfortunately, early release depended on my being a good wamalaki.
If you think I ain’t gonna be the best wamalaki in the universe, you gotta be kidding.
Michael A. Kechula is a retired technical writer. His flash and micro-fiction tales have won first place in seven contests and runner up in four others. His stories have appeared in ninety-four online and print magazines and anthologies in Australia, Canada, England, and US. He’s authored a book of flash and micro-fiction stories: “A Full Deck of Zombies--61 Speculative Fiction Tales.” eBook available at Books for a Buck and Fiction Wise. Paperback available at Amazon.