I got stuck with booth babe duty at the conference.
Me. A fat, lazy introverted slob.
A booth babe.
So, I put a jellybean in a clear bottle and asked people to guess the number of jellybeans in the bottle.
People thought it was a trick question.
“One?” some asked.
“Absolutely,” I said, putting down the bottle. “We provide tools and interfaces that take the guesswork out of webhosting and reselling. No tricks, just simple and straightforward menus and wizards to make your job simple and easy.”
My partner gives a thumbs up and smiles.
Another wallet stolen! Sweet!
My mother is not well. She is dying.
She doesn’t want to see me.
And my father agrees with her.
My brother, his wife, and their daughter won’t go.
They live far away, not that they’d go if they lived in the same city.
Or next door, not that they would do that.
My aunt, the parasite, won’t go.
She stole everything she could from their mother, my grandmother, and there’s some things she just don’t do.
And then there’s me.
Sitting here. Trying not to think about it.
Or them. Or me.
Or what I’ve done.
And I wait.
I love West Coast cities.
San Francisco, Portland, and Seattle all have walkable places to find a quick bite to eat, or enjoy the good weather, or just lay back and let the day go by.
The problem with these places is that they’re hilly, with lots of steep inclines and declines.
I find it hard to maintain my balance going up or down.
Which is why it was so strange when I stepped wrong on First Street in Seattle, a totally flat sidewalk.
I earned the red badges of courage, every scrape and bruise from my fall proudly displayed.
I miss you.
I see that in the corner of my screen, where the messenger window peeks out from behind the mail client.
I drag my fingers across the trackpad and tap.
It’s just the message I last sent to her.
And she hasn’t responded.
For days, weeks, months she doesn’t respond.
And then, maybe a hi. Or hello. Or a how are you.
I try to respond, and I say all the things, and ask her…
How are you?
But she doesn’t respond.
And we’re back to silence. And the pain.
And the long, sad wait for something more.
Bobby Smith and his brother Buddy listened to the radio as the draft official called out the lottery numbers.
They were twins, born ten minutes apart. Couldn’t tell one from the other.
Bobby born five minutes before midnight, Buddy five minutes after.
September 14th came first. Then, April 24th.
Buddy’s number, April 25th, didn’t come up until near the end.
Buddy offered to take Bobby’s place, but Bobby refused.
Buddy showed up at the indoctrination anyway, and he volunteered.
They trained together, they got shipped out together.
Buddy came home… or was it Bobby?
The war didn’t care.
Snow White woke up naked, sticky and sore under a pile of snoring dwarves.
Thank God I’m on the pill, she thought. Even if these little perverts spent more time in each other than me.
She crawled out of bed, showered, and tried on a robe.
Too small, she thought. So she wrapped herself in the drapes and washed her clothes.
Get dressed, grab some food, fill a bag with the gems they brought back from the mine, and hit the road before…
“Good morning,” mumbled a voice from the bed.
She’d try to wake up earlier tomorrow.
When Quadrillionaires get bored, you get The Grand Maze of Titan.
Terraforming robots turned the entire moon into a mind-bogglingly complex global maze.
And not just on the surface. The entire moon was permeated with tunnels and passages.
For years, brave adventurers would compete to solve the maze.
But a moon-sized maze is simply impossible for a human to solve. Not enough water, food, oxygen, energy, and time.
Drones and robots now swarm through the passages, mapping their routes and trying to work out a solution.
They rest on the surface, charging themselves before another dive into the twisted darkness.
Just as space travel opened up the asteroid belt for mining operations, faster-than-light travel opened up the galaxy.
Hundreds of billions of worlds out there, waiting.
The inhabitable ones became colonies.
The uninhabitable ones could be harvested for resources.
Or used for massive, bizarre art projects.
Release enough Von Neumann self-replicating robots, and you can make anything on a planetary scale.
Some purists call it cheating, because robots make the art, but others said they’re as much a tool as a paintbrush or a hammer and chisel.
Nothing’s worse than a critic who drops a meteor on your canvas.
The owner of the company told the executives that there needed to be more fun in the office.
“How much fun?” the executives asked.
“More,” said the owner.
So, the executives told the managers that there needed to be more fun.
They worked up a set of forms to track the fun, and metrics to measure whether individual and departmental fun goals were being met.
Every floor had a Fun Enforcement Officer, who went around shouting at staff to have more fun.
The staff responded by putting fun designs on their cardboard boxes as they packed their shit and left.
The Metric System is evil.
Probably the work of The Devil, if you ask me.
In fact, we named our son Miles because we hate The Metric System.
The same reason why we named our next son Stone. Stone’s a measurement of weight.
Then came the triplets: Rod, Cord, and Peck. Look those up.
We loved to watch them play in the yard with their dogs Furlong, Fathom, and Fluid Ounce.
Because that’s what life’s about, right?
Enjoying your time with your family.
And when we’re not busy denouncing The Metric System, we, the Van Meters, are all about family.