Some days, everyone went to the Dasney Amusement Park Mall. The Dasney Mall was a knockoff of Disneyland; only it was a mall, and it had all things Dasney instead of Disney: for example, Sinderella’s Bridal Clothes and Dunbo’s Hearing Aids, Banbi’s Taxidermy and Stuffed Animals and Snotty’s Cold and Flu Elixir Shop. Plus, it had dysfunctional rides and long lines. Everything was bright and pastel and had a sheen of lacquer, as if the world were a giant LP with cartoon liner notes.
On this day, everyone took her or his daughter or son with her or him, one of the four. Entry had cost twenty-seven dollars for the child, and everyone was feeling the bite in her or his pocketbook walking around. Everyone and her or his progeny would have to leave to eat lunch elsewhere, and everyone felt bad and cheap about it, but such became requisite when one’s spouse ran away: one was left as poor as a near-sighted librarian without glasses, which was sort of what everyone was. Everyone actually worked for Dasney. Everyone got half off entry to the mall (that is, free for her- or himself), but everyone could still not afford to take all the children at once.
The floor of the candy store in the Dasney Amusement Park Mall sounded like Pop Rawks. The store was a walk-through ride, looping machine arms twisting taffy around for visitors or giant mallets rocking in rhythm, pounding sweet milk from cane. The heart of the store was a computer made of suckers, its parts rotating to 0 or 1 on Popsicle sticks. Everyone stared in wonder. Everyone always stared in wonder, even though she or he had worked for Dasney an amount of time that, according to statistical averages, would have precluded such interest. The reason might have been that everyone’s second child, Star, had a heart of gold. Everyone could identify with metal and hearts and machines.
The child everyone had brought to the mall stood in wonder as well, or so everyone was thinking when everyone noticed that the child’s hand was not in her or his own. Everyone felt a quiver, uncertain whether it was panic or a candy high (the store smelled of bleach and sugar). Unfortunately, there were so many greedy children in Mikey Moose hats that everyone found it near impossible to distinguish her or his child amid the din. The child did not appear to be amid the computer Popsicles or in the pounding room, nor did she or he appear to be in the taffy room or in the peanut peeling quarters.
Where everyone eventually found the child, just as she or he was about to report the child missing, was next to the cash register, inside a giant glass candy bowl. The bowl was full of fifty-pound chocolate bars. The child was sitting atop the heap. Chocolate smeared her or his cheeks, and she or he was still eating.
Everyone warned the child to get out. The child stared at everyone and took another bite.
The chocolate bars were $5092 each, all that everyone had in savings. There was no way that everyone could pay for a bar. Everyone needed the savings to buy a new car. The new car would have room for the four kids and the dog, as well as the missing spouse, though there was no guarantee she or he would ever return to sit in it. The current car was a green that had peeled to gray and smelled of hairballs. It was hard to drive, and everyone often had to pull over after two or three miles to air it out.
Everyone wished that she or he still had the $27 entrance fee.
Everyone hoped that she or he could pay for just part of the chocolate bar, that the store would be willing to cut off the portion eaten and charge only for that. Everyone needed that $5092.
Unfortunately, everyone’s child loved chocolate.
Everyone wants you to read the book on which he or she is working, a novel everyone is writing in order to find the meaning of life, with which everyone’s spouse ran off. But everyone has to finish the novel before everyone can know where the novel begins. In the meantime, there are all these distractions, such as the twelfth-floor window at the office building where everyone works out of which people or maybe just one person keeps jumping or falling--everyone isn’t sure--or everyone’s sexy coworker Sam, whom everyone is struggling valiantly against to keep from becoming a paramour. It’s kind of pitiful, actually, the way everyone keeps begging you to read, sending you e-mails, dropping it into conversation (“I have a book, you know?”), posting links to it on social-networking sites. Everyone figures that if he or she begs enough, you will break down and try it. Everyone is like a dog that way, watching you eat your dinner. The way you handle the dog is to push it away from the table, lock it outside the room. Sometimes, of course, you hand the dog a bite, an inch-sized bit of beef, and that is all everyone is asking for--a bite, that you read just the first line of his or her book. The problem is that you know everyone too well. If you read one line, everyone will beg you to read another. Just one more.
To start from the beginning of the novel, go here.