Thursday, July 27, 2006

Enter The Three Ring Circus

Hi, I'm Dan.

Meet Dennis. Dennis lived in a town that was so virtually unknown and out-of-date that it easily could've been mistaken for a ghost town were it not for the one-pump gas station and the old-timers who sat outside of it poppin' off their shotguns. One of them would look to the left, down the road that lead to nowhere, and the other would look right in the other direction, at more nothing. When something was spotted on the road, off went the guns. All able-bodied folk would then rush to the gas station and wait for whoever it was that was coming. When someone got close enough, the town people would block the road, swarm their vehicle and proceed to wash it like squeegee kids. While most people would spare some change and buy a candybar or two from the canteen, this method of making money hadn't always went as planned. Many years ago, two elderly men were killed by a van, likely because the driver was scared and thought they were some kind of cannibal hermits out to murder him for food. Since then, the children are the ones who approach the vehicles, and the elderly follow in tow- without their shotguns.

There was an advantage to being in the middle of nowhere. If anyone ever found you, they'd be there as well. And, chances are, they'd probably buy something. The success of the town's economy depended solely on the revenue of the gas station and, as such, people got enthusiastic when others passed through.

Okay, back to Dennis. When he was young, his father had once told him that the town, which no one ever cared to name, had been considered as a possible set for the filming of Little House on the Prairie. His father told him how the town staged an uprising, forcing the money-grubbing city slicks out of the county. His father told him lots of stories that spoke of courage, integrity, tradition, and things of the sort. Dennis always smiled and nodded as if he gave a shit, but in reality he didn't care all that much. Even then he knew his dad was a has-been, and that it was his time now. He was to be heir to it all- the gas station, the dilapidated housing, and the endless desert nothingness that surrounded it all.

As the years passed and Dennis became an adult, his true personality began to show as he no longer had a reason to hide it. Life has a way of figuring you out like that. You can only pretend to be someone else for so long before everyone realizes that you're a complete fraud and you realize that your days of having everything both ways are over. And besides, Dennis' father was dead now, and he only had himself to answer to.

Dennis acquired a reputation for being greedy, arrogant, selfish, and, among other things, a plagiarist. He had once passed off a Mona Lisa drawing as his own, until a young boy found the same picture in an old textbook and asked his mother if Dennis was famous. Many of the elderly in the town gossiped about how he bore a striking resemblance to a modern day politician. Others not so far on in the years suggested he was just an asshole. In any case, Dennis paid no attention to the others. He had plans, and so he left the town.

Roughly six months after his departure, more and more people began passing through the town, spending more money. A satellite had fallen from the sky and crashed a ways down the road, drawing many tourists. And with all the added revenue, several basic services were added and the town became somewhat presentable and known.

With the town busy reaping the spoils of luck, nobody had a reason to think about Dennis. So no one did, for years. And that was the case until he came back.

By now, the town resembled more of a museum. A motel and a series of small shops had been drawing in the tourist population for years. When Dennis came back, he had something to offer as well. A business. He had become quite well-off as an entrepreneur in the nearby city, and proceeded to destroy the home where he used to live and build a store over it. At first, the town rejoiced because Dennis sold them products that could only be found in the cities. He also sold them fruits, vegetables, and meats, and they no longer had to grow their own. They had become victims of convenience.

So everything continued in relative normality for some years, until of course people started losing interest in the satellite and no longer had a desire to come out to the middle of the desert, stand in the heat, and stare at it. So, as you can imagine, the town lost money. Their houses began to fall back into disrepair, and the elderly men resumed sitting at the gas station with their shotguns, gazing down the road in both directions.

At that moment, Dennis had some serious deja-vu. It was like he was a child again. And because he was not willing to go that route again, he packed up shop and made plans to leave the town. This took the people by surprise, as they relied on his products for survival. They had largely stopped farming and raising livestock long ago.

*Two shotgun blasts*

Several people in the town attempted to reason with Dennis to support them until they could get back on their feet. Dennis flatly refused and continued to make preparations for his departure. For many people, this was the last straw. They had despised Dennis all their lives, and now was the time to show it. People ran to their homes and grabbed their guns. Children hid, because they knew.

Dennis ran down to the gas station and stole a shotgun from one of the elderly men. The people of the town approached quickly, pointing their weapons in his direction and firing in the air. Dennis backed out towards the road and in the direction of his car, screaming at them to let him leave, and was pancaked by an oncoming tractor trailer. It took residents of the town several days to clean up the mess.

Moral of the story?

Don't get hit by a truck. And remember that life is always there to kick you in the ass and remind you that you're its lackey, and not the other way around.