Nick Prospect is a thirty-year-old financial analyst who lives with his girlfriend, Kate Simmons, on the upper West Side of Manhattan at approximately the present time. He owns a beat-up 1968 Volvo for the sole purpose of leaving the City of New York periodically.
The Volvo is ticketed for being parked too close to a hydrant. Nick disputes this, pleading innocent by mail. The administrative judge, a grotesque bureaucrat, cannot understand the relatively simple case and rules against Nick. Nick pays the fine and appeals.
Alex Camarov, a Parking Violations Bureau official, and a PVB computer programmer have modified the PVB computer to process 35 percent of the summonses outside of the system and steal the money collected from these tickets. The programmer wants a bigger share of the spoils. The two argue and the programmer is killed. Art Rosen, an NYPD detective, investigates. The Mayor, Camarov and Dr. Plimpton, the Medical Examiner, cover up the killing.
Nick starts to receive notices from the PVB that he owes them the money for his parking ticket. A bug in the program that Camarov added causes the system to send Nick twice as many notices each day as the day before - 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, 256, 512, 1024, 2048, 4096, 8192, 16384 - swamping Nick with mail, dunning him for millions of dollars.
Nick cannot get the PVB off his back. He writes letters, he makes telephone calls and he goes to the PVB in person. They are completely unresponsive. Nick becomes the most wanted scofflaw in the City. The City attaches his salary. He loses his job.
Camarov is unable to stop the program. He puts more and more programmers on the job, trying to locate the program and correct it. The cost of postage has triggered an investigation and a further cover up. Camarov is concerned that Nick will come forward with his story and expose the stealing. He considers more and more extreme measures. Finally, Camarov and the Mayor decide to have Nick killed. They enlist a group of renegade traffic officers to form a hit squad.
Nick's car is towed. He goes down to the impound lot to get his car. The police try to arrest him for his outstanding tickets. The hit squad opens fire, killing a police officer. Nick escapes.
The police launch a massive manhunt, calling Nick, "The Killer Scofflaw." Art Rosen is put on the case. He starts to figure out the connection between the programmer and Nick. The hit squad is still chasing Nick. Nick and Kate try to escape. They are spotted at the Triborough toll plaza. The TBTA police machine gun the car, killing Kate. Nick runs back down the ramp into Harlem. The police chase him, hundreds converging on him. They machine gun an elderly black man, nearly disintegrating him as Nick and Art Rosen watch, horrified. Dr. Plimpton shows up, identifies the bullet riddled corpse as Nick's. Nick and Rosen walk away.
The Mayor goes on television to tell the story of Nick Prospect, outlaw and scofflaw, and to warn the citizenry about ignoring their tickets. Afterward, he discusses with Camarov how to make up for the graft shortfall. Camarov tells the Mayor that they solved the problem of the summonses.
Airplanes and trucks converge on a small post office in a rural area and drop off the notices, millions of them, making a stack higher than the building itself.
The same administrative judge botches another hearing, starting the whole thing rolling again.
Copyright © 2005 Matthew Lederman. All rights reserved