Eager Candidates in the Night


It was a red-eyed hour when most of the campus was asleep. Most of the campus, except for Banner Kotor.

Banner clutched his meager stack of campaign posters tight to his chest as he darted around the SUB’s awkward outdoor fencing. The campaign period had only been open for a few scant hours, but Banner was already high, hopped up on adrenaline, ready to pounce. Waiting for that approval email from the Elections Committee was just a formality — he’d got it quickly, it helped to have friends in high places. Now there was nothing standing between him and the activity he’d waited the whole year for: campaigning.

Most of the buildings with noticeboards were closed, but there were a few inviting spots available for outdoor postering. Banner wanted to mark them. Wanted to coat them with his slick-printed, earnestly smiling face. But he wasn’t smiling tonight. He was gritting his teeth like a wild animal. Hungry.

Hungry for votes, hungry for approval. Hungry for someone to tell him he was the most important person in a student organization hardly anyone had heard of.

It wasn’t long before he reached the small poster board near Henry Angus. It was all but covered with other flyers: Morton’s Salty Surprise Garbage Dance Pants. Meeting times for the I-Didn’t-Get-A-Med-School-Interview Support Group. The upcoming Personal Branding for Lazy Idiots conference. Someone trying to sell a U-Pass (fuckyoufuckyouyoureendangeringthecontractyoumotherfucker!) But there was one small patch of free, supple corkboard left, which seemed to tremble invitingly, waiting for the touch of Banner’s crisp gilcée poster.

Breathlessly, Banner licked his fingertip, pried one poster off of the stack and set the rest on the ground.

Before going to place the poster, he stopped to fantasize about what would happen once he was elected AMS president. He closed his eyes and could almost hear the voice of his nemesis, Harvey Ocean, conceding to him.

“Congratulations,” Harvey would say, “you ran a good campaign.” Banner couldn’t wait for Harvey to speak to him like that: seething with jealousy behind a thin veneer of politeness. “Didn’t expect you to be here,” Harvey would continue… Wait, what?

Banner’s scrunched-shut eyes popped open to see Harvey stride out from behind the poster board. “…but you always have been eager, kuma,” Harvey finished, stretching out his knuckles in front of him. He cut an imposing figure, all slick hair and muscle and frat-boy swagger, a world apart from the nebbishy bow-tied Banner and his soft-shouldered, just generally soft build.

While Banner was still startled, Harvey sprang to work, producing a square of sticky-tack on his finger and wantonly pressing it to the top-left corner of the naked corkboard.

Banner leapt forward instantly, wresting a pushpin from his blazer pocket. He wasn’t going down without a fight. He thrust the pin through the top-right corner of his poster and aimed straight for the appropriate spot on the free corkboard. “You neglect to notice that I arrived here first, party-boy,” Banner spat at the young man beside him.

But Harvey was already matching his pace, his own poster at the ready. He massaged the paper’s upper-left corner onto the sticky-tack square furiously, as if he were trying to set it on fire.

Meanwhile, Banner was struggling to insert the pushpin into the board’s unyielding surface. He pressed in with one finger, gritting his teeth from the effort, and couldn’t quite breach it. He added another finger onto the pushpin’s surprisingly large head, pressed forward, and that was enough for the pin to enter the board halfway. Banner eyed Harvey, whose lower-right-corner sticky-tack square had already been deployed, as he determinedly attacked the pushpin with three fingers. The wonky nerd gasped as the pin finally slid forward to sit flush with the board.

At the same time, Harvey already had his two left corners laid down, and he was moving on to a third. As the frat boy tried to spread out his paper-printed mug, the two posters rubbed together, their friction making a rather surprising thwap sound.

As he continued to stretch his sheet out, Harvey’s fingertips grazed the other man’s poster, and it sent a jolt of electricity coursing through his nerves. Er — wait — nope — that wasn’t electricity, that was a paper cut. The fraternity president yanked his hand back so his blood wouldn’t drip onto that expertly printed close-up of his own face.

Harvey keened with pain as he thrust his bleeding fingertip into his mouth, sucking out the red, metallic liquid from its tip.

This brief delay gave Banner a few moments to catch up. “If you’re this thin-skinned already, I don’t expect you to fare very well during the campaign period, the power hungry android taunted, his dark voice dripping with derision. He went through the same weirdly complicated procedure to anchor his poster’s lower-right corner, and the two aspiring bureaucrats were at an impasse.

Their posters were both half-anchored, and neither egotistical leadership addict had a clear advantage.

While Banner had become flustered, Harvey’s frosty exterior didn’t betray a thing. The kind of mediocre cystic fibrosis fundraiser cocked his head to meet the barely legal lobbydroid’s gaze, his unflinching eyes two recently cooled lumps of pahoehoe lava.

“I am running because I want to make UBC more fun,” Harvey boomed, voice ringing. “I know what students want and how to give it to them. You are doing this just for yourself. You only became 19 yesterday.”

Banner’s cheeks burned. Harvey knew he was getting to him. “Give it up, little nerd. I have the Arts Undergraduate Society behind me, the Inter-Fraternity Council, the international students, thousands of friends. You have no hope to win.”

The saxophone-tooting fan of shitting where he eats was quick to respond. “I’m more qualified for this than you will ever be,” he hissed, his voice sounding much higher-pitched than he liked. “You’re just a puffed-up Sigma Chi who looks pretty in a suit. Your debate skills are terrible and you couldn’t lobby your way out of a wet paper bag.”

“Nobody likes you, you creepy-ass dork.”

“Nobody respects you, you shallow clod.”



“G… you’re sure one to talk.”

Their taunts slapped together over and over in the hazy wee-hours air, insults and barbs rutting as both stood their ground. Harvey’s expertly groomed brows knotted, Banner’s twin icy sapphires tried to bore a hole through the other man’s skull. The bulletin board was all but forgotten now; this wasn’t about 187 square inches of poster space. This was personal.

As their shouts and curses grew louder and more desperate, they almost didn’t notice the two red-jacketed figures creeping closer through the fog. The crackle of nearby radio static jolted the two over-involved narcissists out of their insult-laden reverie.

“Do you two gents want us to walk you ho — OH!”

“MOTHERF — anther,” Banner squeaked, embarrassed by his highly unprofessional conduct being discovered by two Safewalk volunteers. “No, I believewe’rejustfine,” he continued nervously, “justcontinueyourgreatworkforcampussafety, remembertovoteforbanner…”

“Sure,” the ginger-haired woman holding the small radio replied sarcastically. “We’ll leave you two here to sort whatever this was out.”

Their breath was ragged from exhaustion and their cheeks burned with shame. In one glance they agreed without speaking to continue what they’d just started someplace else. Someplace more private. Like a Facebook discussion thread, or maybe GChat.

Harvey swiveled on his actually really pretty nice shoes and strode off south, heading toward the Greek Village. Stunned, Banner stood in place for a moment, already contemplating his revenge.

Until next time, Harvey. 

This is one of a series of posts the Syrup Trap will be writing about the AMS elections at UBC. We are doing this because money — up to $600 — is on the line. Please vote for the Syrup Trap in the VFM contest beginning on January 27 at www.ams.ubc.ca/elections.

Photo via gillicious