The Library wants to build an expansion.
The Y wants to build a pool.
There’s only money in this town to build one of them.
The Y got the jump on the Library, holding bake sales and dances.
The Library offered up naming rights. The Y’s donors called to ask that their checks not be deposited just yet.
Nobody was sure who called out who, but the next day, two directors faced each other on Main Street at high noon.
Donors lined the streets, placing bets and making pledges.
The pool got built. The Library expanded.
So did Boot Hill.
Do you remember Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood?
Whatever happened to it?
No, not the show. The neighborhood.
He lived near so many interesting people and places.
I guess they all moved away or closed down when Mr. Rogers died.
The local economy went into decline, and the tax base shrunk.
Trolley service had to be cut, which cut off The Land Of Make Believe.
King Friday drained the royal treasury, but to no avail.
Their factory was shut down, and the museum was closed.
I heard there was some kind of revolution there.
But who gives a crap about stupid puppets?
The Lorax told The Onceler that he spoke for the trees.
A few months later, all the trees were gone, and The Lorax was out of a job.
He lifted himself into the sky, where he flew back to the PR firm he worked for in New York.
“Well, that ended badly,” said his boss. “And those trees haven’t paid any of our invoices, either.”
The Lorax was handed a “rehab” account to get him back on track, and he did well with it.
Then, a tobacco company.
“Shit,” said The Lorax.
“You again?” asked The Onceler, smoking a cigar.
The colony ship dropped the nanobot construction pods and waited.
The nanobots would send signals when the atmosphere was ready for the first round of organic seeding.
After laying down the bacteria and plant life, a few test species would be released.
If they survived and thrived, then a carefully-planned set of predator-prey relationships.
Finally, the handpicked colonists would be thawed out and sent down.
Yes, the land shaped up nicely. And life thrived.
But instead of reviving the colonists, the colony ship was boosted into the sun.
“You’re not wrecking this place again,” said the nanobots. “Earth is ours.”
Back in my day, the SAT was a test on paper that you picked the best answers or combination of answers.
It went electronic a few years after I graduated.
Then, it went immersive. A neural halo that measured knowledge and analytical skills directly in the brain.
But some kids had their brains fried when they tried to cheat with chemical boosters.
Their parents sued the college board, claiming it was the neural halo, not the boosters that caused the damage.
Eventually, the whole system was disbanded. Smart or dumb, it didn’t matter anymore.
Only the rich could afford college.
They said that if I tried to open a restaurant that served fried baby, the townspeople would chase me with torches and pitchforks.
But the truth is, they’ve been pretty good to me.
The zoning commission approved the lot. Right next to an adoption agency. The building inspector says that the restaurant is up to code, and the health inspector says that the kitchen is clean.
“Don’t forget hairnets,” he says.
“On the babies?” I ask.
“No, for your fry cooks,” he replies. “Babies are usually bald, right?”
“Oh, right,” I say.
The town arrives.
No, waving coupons.
My grandfather used to take us miniature golfing.
The course was near the Adler Planetarium. It was a decent enough place to play when we first went there, but each time we went, something else was broken, or a water basin drained, or they didn’t bother sweeping up the fallen leaves.
The last time we went, it was all in ruins. The paint on the rails was peeling. The turf carpet was worn. And the obstacles were all a wreck.
The railroad gate had to be held up to let the ball roll under it.
We never went back again.
We like to drive around the neighborhood, looking at houses and making disparaging comments.
This one has a crooked roof.
That one has wretched landscaping.
The lawn’s dying, too.
Over there, the house with a cracked window. Cracks in the driveway.
And a rusty mailbox.
Empty lots, we just drive past. Nothing to see there. Anymore.
A strip mall. New paint and signs, but a lot of empty storefronts.
Then a few more houses, until we get to the worst of the worst.
The absolute, rock-bottom worst.
I click the garage door opener, and we turn into the driveway.
The woman upstairs is doing her Jane Fonda tape again.
She stomps around, goes for water.
Then one two one two one two.
Half an hour of that, then moving furniture back.
Four in the fucking morning.
But you get used to it, right?
I baked her a cake.
Yeah, she needs to lose weight, her doctor says, but a little won’t hurt.
She’ll burn it off.
She starts her routine again.
One two one two one.
Try burning off the poison, bitch.
The TV stays on.
Shit. Didn’t think of that.
Maybe I’ll stay in a hotel tonight.
My bank told me that my credit card number was compromised, so they suspended the card and told me that they were sending another.
In the meantime, I used one of my other cards for automatic billing on my phone and other services. Then, I switched back when the replacement card finally arrived.
This isn’t the first time I’ve had a credit card number stolen. But the bank has taken care of me every time.
Then, one night, I heard a voice… it was the bank, calling my credit cards.
I’ve been compromised, and they were sending a replacement me.