Rachael got home late, coming right in through the front door.
Making a dart for the staircase, she still couldn’t escape the light of the kitchen down the hall, and the voice of her Mother, who’d been sitting there, waiting…
“I’m not sure about this guy, what’s his name…” she said, without preface.
“Kim.” Replied Rachael with a little too loud a tone. She was surprised that her first concern was Kim, not the fact that she was getting in at nearly midnight.
“What’s wrong with Kim? He’s so sweet and innocent.”
“Helen says he’s a little…off.”
“Those were her words?”
“How would Helen know Kim mom?”
“I don’t know but Jenny sure talks up a storm about you two as well…”
“Mom, just between you and me, Jenny is a stupid little half-wit and anyway, has seen and hung out with us, like, once. What else did Helen say about him?”
“Look I’m not a racist sweetheart but he is Eastern Pacific. All I’m saying is that he may be a little…well, different for you.”
“Different? Mom, he’s grown up like, all around the world, speaks English better than I do, with an American accent, no less, and–I know what you don’t like about him—he’s different, like everyone else I like that you don’t. He’s not gonna pick up a golf club and start going to the range like you and John mom, but that doesn’t make him a psycho.”
“I have no idea where you’re getting these ideas from, but all I’m saying is that you two might have some cultural differences to work through, and besides, is he even going to College?”
“Where the hell are you getting this from mom??’ ”
“All right Rachael, so Helen knows his parents.”
“Helen knows a lot of people doesn’t she?”
“She’s on the PTA, goes to Wakefield Chapel Rec., golfs with me and the community and is in touch with nearly every out reach group in Fairview.”
“So, what, what mom? What inextricable evidence do you have against my Boyfriend?”
Pam had known at least part of how sexually active Rachael had been and didn’t care so much about that, but had no idea she would go as far as to have a Boyfriend at this age.
“That’s right, my Boyfriend mom!” she declared with utter confidence, wondering how she’d bring this up to Kim tomorrow.
“So, tell me mom, make an argument for once, what exactly do you not like about Kim?”
“I don’t appreciate having my intelligence insulted young lady.”
“Yeah, well, I don’t appreciate these little nightly interrogations.”
“Oh get off it Rach—so melodramatic, everything has to be this big soap opera with you.”
“Mom, look around you, life is a soap opera, especially when John and you pick a fight by the way.”
“OK, that’s it, up to your room you go Rachael!”
“By the way, you’re grounded.”
“—I didn’t forget you were late.”
“You never forget anything mom,” Rachael said, and quickly climbed the stairs off to bed.
The next morning Rachael waited in the car in the sluttiest outfit she could find: The shortest little miniskirt she had, hoop earrings, plastered red lipstick, overdone mascara, and a sleeveless tacky yellow open belly shirt constricting her tits looking like they might pop out at any moment.
“You’re Jon here, at your service!” said her mom. “You’re not going to school in that.”
“Apparently, mom, I am.”
Pam took in a long breath and let it out steadily.
“Fine, you be mommy’s little Hooker today, how about that?”
“Mom, in case you hadn’t noticed, every girl’s a hooker nowadays.”
“Yeah, well, that doesn’t mean you have to be.”
“How you’re ever going to get a guy to stay with you, let alone marry you dressing like that.”
“People don’t stay out of how you dress, they stay cause they love you, or they should or they’re fucked up.”
“No, Rachael, no matter what anybody tells you, a guy stays with a good girl, and leaves the sluts at the bachelor party.”
“Where’d you get that, you’re weekly issue of Good Housekeeper? Actually, studies will show you most people regardless of what they say, cheat on each other at least 35% of the time, if not half.”
“There you go again with those statistics, but statistics won’t tell you anything. You’ll learn, they don’t have anything to do with the world and certainly aren’t going to win you a man, Rach.”
“Whoever said I wanted a man anyway…?”
To this her mom simply shook her head and clasped the steering wheel tighter.
“Why don’t we drive the Capris mom, this is such a gas machine.”
“Rachael, both our cars take gas.”
“Yes, Mother, but one of them consumes far less energy in gas than the other, plus this big ol boat Cadillac all the time gets old.”
“Rach, a car’s a car, and cars take gas and cost money, and you can’t ever predict gas prices anyway.”
“Actually mom, I think the Cadi takes far more considering its old, and the Capris is built as a partially Bio- Based car anyway. What do you mean you can’t predict them?”
“I mean it just depends, like where we’re going for one thing.”
“Where we’re going, mom, gas isn’t that expensive near The City.”
“One gas station is totally different from the next.”
“What are you talking about mom? How much different, like what are the rates?”
“Like how much?”
“I don’t know Rachael, how much, I mean…”
“If you don’t know, why’d you say they’re totally different?”
“Okay, well this is a bit more of an adult concern, but if you really must know Miss Smartypants, gas is completely a different price depending on what station you’re at.”
“Like, how much? They’re not that much different in price per area.”
“I don’t know Rach—like, Lidel’s is 153A’s to the liter, but if you go to Ruby X it could be like 162 or something, and if you go outside CAMBIAN it could be astronomical.”
“How are those so totally different mom, what’s astronomical?”
“What’s astronomical? Like 168 is one I saw the other day.”
“Mom there’s an average gas price in this area and in all the ‘totally’ different prices you just quoted, there isn’t more than a 15% separation from the first to the third, your most astronomical example. At most your only spending like four thousand which is like 350A’s to fill your tank–not that much. And just so you know, things are totally different when there’s a shift of close to at least like 30% or more. Plus the fact that the Capris gets 45K a liter and this car, prolly close to like 25 or 30 at best.”
“Yeah, then spend two hours in traffic and have half your tank gone by the time you get home.”
“Mom, there’s no way half a tank is spent in two hours idling even through dense traffic. Even this car is like a 20 liter carrier, if you get 25 kilometers to the liter, you’d have to have traveled equivalent to like 250 Kilometers, like almost halfway to New York! Simply in two hours of idling through a traffic jam?? I don’t think so.”
“New York is less than 250 Kilometers, way less.”
“No, it’s not, New York is like 6 or 7 hundred Kilometers from here.”
“Whatever Rachael, I go up to New York once every year, it can’t be that far. When was the last time you went to New York?”
“Mom, that doesn’t matter, believe it or not, a fact is a fact regardless of whether Rachael or Pam has visited New York, now or ever. And I assure you New York is like I think 667 Kilometers away. If we were in the Capris I would just ask Janus, bet you two days off from school, I’m right.”
“Oh God Rachael, you and your father both, always into these endless numbers. Numbers, numbers, numbers, statistics and numbers. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again–the real world isn’t as simple as a bunch of numbers or percents. And I assure you, gas is quite expensive these days.”
“That’s not what I was saying—that’s not even what we were—Forget it, let’s just get on the road…”
Pam had stopped facing her daughter a long time ago and was more than ready even before she stopped speaking.
The heavy traffic started in their neighborhood, taking five times as much as an everyday commute in terms of getting to the highway. Consequently, they passed through a detour to avoid hitting the crest of the Mountaina Village suburb, and even headed through D.C. this time to get to school.
Once they finally got out of the suburbs, office buildings and shopping centers marked their graduation into the urban environment. Rachael always tended to look up at the buildings while her mom curiously enough, never seemed to divert her attention, as scenic a ride it might be, her eyes never deviated from the road.
“Hey look mom, there’s the old Chinese parlor.”
“Oh yeah, we used to get Ice Cream there.”
“Well, ya ma, it’s an Ice Cream—Parlor.”
They passed a few hot dog stands and the CAMBIAN City Library when they suddenly found themselves stuck in traffic.
“Oh great, I’m gonna be late for work and you’re gonna be late for school,” her mom said, nodding her head, half in expectation, half in a feeling of security.
“Hey mom! Fuck! Look, there’s a guy up on the building there!”
“Rachael, enough language okay?!”
“No, seriously, Mom, look, right there!” She pointed to the very top of a tall glass office building where indeed stood a man, alone.
Pam tore her vision from out of her mental blinders long enough to take the briefest of glances. “It’s probably just some prospector.”
“Ah, it’s kinda weird mom, I never see anyone on top of those buildings.”
“I suppose you’ve kept track of exactly that building in particular.”
“Well, yeah, actually, I’ve always done that.”
She looked closer with the vision on her Switch-Light. He had on a wife-beater T and business slacks. He also appeared to be on the very edge of the building from her point of view, looking down.
“He’s gonna jump!”
“Oh come off it Rachael! More melodrama.”
She kept looking, zooming in further. He didn’t jump, just stood there.
“Actually, he’s just standing there.”
When she got to school, Dave and Linda were in their usual place underneath the staircase to the first floor by the exit doors.
“Hey Dave, Linda…”
“So how was the rest of the party? What’d you guys end up doing?”
“Eh, it petered out, everyone ended up going out to a late night diner and eating breakfast. Dave ended up hitting on one of the old bags that worked there, he is such a fiend.”
“Why the long faces guys?”
“We have an Assembly today.” said Linda as if exhaling her last breath.
“Oh Christ, are you serious? Ugh.”
“Yeah, some douche-motivational speaker.” added Dave.
Linda continued. “Wait, it’s an Assembly, I mean, isn’t that good, we’re gettin’ outta class? And I think he’s like someone famous though or something, some dude named Edwin or some shit…He’s with um, ya know something affiliated with what Jenny’s mom does, at least that’s what I heard Jenny say. Plus, apparently he’s like, Totally Hot.”
“Oh yeah? We’ll somethin’ to look at, at least? How long is it supposed to last?”
“I don’t know, like maybe an hour, I’m sure he’s not the only one speaking.”
“You guys wanna pop some Meds before class?”
“Naw, I feel like shit anyway.” said Rachael.
Linda merely waved her hand in dismissal of the drugs he was offering.
“Hey, what the hell, is that him?” Linda inquired with a brief sense of urgency.
There stood a very tall, slender man with stern broad shoulders wearing a jet-black suit and silky blood red tie. He was smiling and chatting a bit with the school Principal, Mrs. Elaine Kimsky. His smile looked inviting, but something about him kept you looking rather than simply wanting to approach him.
“Well, I’m getting wet,” Linda pointed out, adding nicely to what Rachael had been thinking.
“Yeah, Jenny said he used to be married to some model or something, very Haute Couture kinda guy.”
“Hmm. How come he’s the motivational speaker at a school like Fairview?”
“I don’t know, it’s a rich area, maybe he’s making his rounds to future lawyers, Techies and doctors and shit.”
When it came time for the Assembly, Rachael made sure she had her Switch-Light to take a picture. Her second Session teacher, Mrs. Arola, lead her class to the entrance to the theatre.
The kids shuffled into the auditorium in the manner of horses filling an oversized stable. The large Views on either side of the stage faded in and out of Ads for Bitzeri and other sub-companies. Fashion had been the Ad Theme for last month. Now it was food, and Camello’s was actually one of the Ads featured.
Rachael caught a glimpse of Ms. Deanard, her Psych teacher heading to the double doors of the auditorium.
“You guys ready to get pumped?!” Cried Dave who’d snuck up right behind Rachael.
“Fuck off Dave, this is serious,” she retorted in the most ridiculously sarcastic voice she could muster.
RD AUTO Message 170: Sat 12, Octobre 2086 – Steinenhurst, Maryland |
The air would have been gray.
There was a breeze that sort of didn’t dare make too much sound.
Old people were marching in unison.
The new UFED Cooperation with the Steinenhurst Micro-State of Maryland kicked off an Ad campaign targeting the 45 and up. A series of blockbuster romantic comedies featured newly revived, key pre-era celebrities–and had now consolidated the previously scattered market for seniors. Among these changes; we now had funeral parlors, B&Bs, pancake and breakfast houses, diners, nursing homes as well as Assisted Living communities, all contained inside official Theme Parks with rides!
The beach of the local Bitzeri ‘Arrangement Living and Interment’ camp was a faint sap green and billowed into a muted tan around where its dunes would peak. You could see the yellow blotchy horizon, and the bay, even the ocean beyond, but somehow, none of these things seemed to make a difference. A fog of atmospheric haze coming in from the sea collided with the long perspective of the boardwalk until it disappeared into the sky. The walls that lined the boardwalk were made of a watery blue brick that loomed over their tennis courts and workout cul-de-sacs. Somehow it looked as if to be missing the crown of its own barbed wire. But there were no imprints of where it would have been, as the brick was freshly painted twice a year.
The pitter-patter of quiet sneakers hitting the ground seemed to be in slow motion. Looking at an old painting try to move and watching these people exercise would have required the same visual attention. Somehow it was as if witnessing only the aftermath of some distant speed. They had on noisy jump suits that represented the entire color spectrum. And still, the sharpest thing in Rachael’s gaze was the grayish-blue metal of the fence she clung her fingers to.
She felt playful, suddenly. Murmurings of things past echoed throughout her mind. She’d known pure boredom enough to make life a race against it. She started playing with these thoughts, tossing them around. She did this until she discovered the game in her head had turned her into an insect.
More like a bumble-bee, maybe.
They had made their way into the waiting lobby when her mom turned to her. “Rach–what’s your SSN again?”
“They can’t pull up Fingers or Hands here.”
She gave it to her and looked around the dull yellows and grays that made up the lobby’s ceiling, aside from the skylights. A small company library could be seen to her right, possessing a curious addition on an island in this adjacent room that could have at one point, been a kitchen.
They stood in the center of the circular lobby filled with baby blue chairs, marble seeming walls, shiny black tile floors, and funny looking glass sculptures. All of this on the axis of a tiny fountain of ornate, undulating white metal. It was inactive and sort of hidden. Hallways spun off from the lobby in four directions.
They were visiting her Grandmother, not quite ailing enough yet in her old age, they all thought, underneath it all…
It was the one on her mom’s side. Rachael was always bored with this sort of thing. Smiles, nods and fractured anecdotal conversation was her fate every time she went. Why should she be made to think anything different?
They made their way down hallways of that sweet, sickly aroma so indicative of rotting flesh. That is, of old age.
Monitors passed them, stuck one after the other on the walls, maybe ten of them to a hall. They were most of them, dead, black screens. Dead to their Eyes anyway, but not the Eyes of the inmates here, or any of the staff for that matter.
“So, I have to tell you Rachael, there was something I did talk to Helen about that I’d like you to consider seriously…”