The police arrived shortly afterward. Everyone’s child Journey had stolen $5092 of chocolate. Everyone refused to pay. Everyone had been through this before, and everyone was tired of covering for Journey’s addiction. It did not matter that Journey was only eight or nine years old. Everyone did not have $5092 to spend on chocolate.
Journey had been trapped by a giant glass bowl. The glass bowl was full of fifty-pound chocolate bars, of which Journey had eaten at least one. The bowl was in a candy store in the Dasney Amusement Park Mall, a shopping center modeled on Disneyland that featured all the standard Dasney characters attached to various Dasney stores: the Mudhutter’s Amazing Mobile Homes, Dallas in Wunderland’s Drinking Glasses, Yellow Snow’s Lemonade Concoctions, the Wacked Witch’s Flying Cleaning Appliances.
The bowl was narrower at the top than at the sides and difficult to escape, especially when the supply of chocolate bars was low, as it was now. Patrons pointed at Journey within it. One overhaul-clad boy put his nose to the glass and snorted like a pig. Another licked the glass as if the chocolate could be consumed by osmosis. A girl in a polka-dot dress jumped in place as if she might at any moment launch into the bowl herself. A man in a plaid jacket averted his eyes, embarrassed, remembering his own past childhood transgressions involving Fruit Polygon Cereal.
Neither Journey nor everyone noticed any of this. Everyone was in love with the Internet, so computers of any sort sent her or him into a swoon, and a computer made of popsicles sent everyone into a double-swoon, since everyone was on a diet.
For Journey, the chocolate bowl was a world not unlike the animatronic John Quincy Adams Hawaiian exhibit on the other side of the mall. There, patrons were asked to forget what had been and what was possible and instead live in the moment, as if it were the real. Jump out a window and fly, the Dasney Amusement Park Mall executives in charge of bad decisions might as well have proposed. Don’t worry about what’s below.
What’s below came for Journey as a person dressed as a red-mustachioed copper put clinks on her or him. Beside Journey, a person dressed as a woman with a matronly physique read the child her or his rights in an enthusiastic sing-song voice appropriate for a picture book reader. Around Journey, Pop Rawk grenades went off as people shifted their feet trying to get a look.
Everyone was one of them.
Five thousand ninety-two dollars was a lot of money everyone did not have and a lot of lesson Journey had failed to learn. Still, this was everyone’s darling, her or his offspring, and it was difficult to watch her or him disappear into the darkness of a vehicle decorated like a paddy wagon.
Everyone thought of the Internet that she or he loved so much. It was always telling everyone to let go, that attachments were keeping everyone from what she or he wanted, which was to find the end to the novel she or he was writing, the end that was also the beginning.
Everyone thought of John Quincy Adams on the other side of the mall, of the transcendence offered in robotics.
Everyone saw Journey melt before her or him as if everyone’s darling were merely an idea conveyed through an assemblage of metal and plastic. Everyone let go.
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.