Just what you’ve always wanted: the freedom from having to make decisions! Now you can have the computer link you directly to a random episode of the bits that don’t need to be read in any order anyway. Give it a try!
And now we speak with Jeffrey Busybees, the founder of BusyBee, the world’s largest Internet retailer.
We’ve automated just about everything in our warehouses for years now. The delivery trucks are driven by computer. We do find it’s helpful to have an actual human jump out and hand the package to the customer. Put a human face on it, you know? Most things in China’s factories are being built by robots. Automation is Good.
Our next step? Well, that’s to automate consumption! We’ve already implemented that on the production side. When factories, warehouses or the delivery system need something, the robots just place an order with BusyBee. The next step, and I believe this is a natural leap, is to have robot consumers. Humans are fairly predictable, but not predictable enough. Humans are inefficient. If we are going to continue to have the kind of share value growth we want, we need to drive consumption on the curve we’re looking for by ourselves.
That’s why we’re introducing our new BusyBee Robotz. They will have their own bank accounts and apartments across the world. This will keep the humans busy building new apartments for Robotz, construction crews can order anything they need and get it delivered same-day from BusyBee. When we want more sales, we will simply have the Robotz buy stuff. Lots of stuff. We take our cut at every step of the way. When the Robotz apartments are completely stuffed with kitchen appliances, home electronics, wonderful toys of every description… That’s where the humans come in again.
You see it’s quite hard to automate recycling to reclaim as close to 100% of the raw materials as possible, and we need to feed those raw materials back to the factories. Humans are great at smashing things. Give them a hammer and they will smash stuff all day. Then they sort the bits into the correct bins, which we sell back to the factories. All the BusyBee products the Robotz buy, they get recycled. This is going to be great for shareholder value, the economy and the entire world!
Yes, you are right. There is still a yawning demand for fresh raw materials if we are going to continue to grow our consumer economy. That is why we are going to Mars and the Asteroid Belt. Endless supplies of the raw minerals to mine, absolutely zero environmental degradation. It’s a win / win!
Have you had a chance to interview any of our BusyBees on Mars? Talk to my people and we’ll get it set up. See you on Mars!
Marigold woke up on the floor behind the bar. As usual the Yucatan sun beat mercilessly into his bloodshot eyeholes. He raised a meaty hand to shade his face and brush back his bushy, dirty blonde hair.
Seagulls called to each other on the Riviera Maya and the humid, cool morning sea breeze boiled over his limp body like a salt-water gazpacho.
Lying there, memories of the previous night, mixed with thoughts about the duties of the coming day arranged themselves in his mind, like so:
“Marigold, why are we here?” his brain asked. Why indeed. With a heave he flipped up to one knee and drew himself upright on the de-laminating vinyl of the bartop. Hazy morning sunlight filtered down through the palms. Due to the nature of being built on sand, the whole pallapa and related structures leaned a bit in the oddball directions usually only seen in the customers after they’d been there for a while. Sticky too.
To his surprise, he found a dwarf with a broken nose in a straw hat and bright hawaiian shirt perched on one of his stools. Looking at him, with that look that says, “I’m thirsty.”
The pair took each other in. The dwarf stuck a half-burned Cohiba in his mouth and causually re-lit it with a fine lighter, a vintage Davidoff, noted Marigold. Taking a solid draw, he exhaled and slowly gazed at the rumpled figure before him with the patience of a man who knew he came expecting to wait.
“Marigold is a funny name for a man.” Cigar stuck back in mouth.
“Yeah, ask my mom about that.” Swipe the bar. Towel, clean enough. This guy has money to spend. “What kin I getcha?” with an attempted note of morning friendliness.
Fact Finding Timmy tapped his gold ring against the empty glass to his right, which gave off a tinny ring. “Scotch on the rocks, still got ice? And some coffee.”
Marigold rattled a couple of battered coolers behind the bar – a few stray cubes swimming in meltwater, waiting for today’s delivery of the fresh stuff. He sniffed his hand and behind the bar pretending FFT couldn’t figure it out, used his fingers to fish out a few survivors into a fresh plastic cup. Scotch not being the drink of choice of the gringo surfer crowd of Tulum, the single bottle of Johnny Walker was nearly untouched.
Marigold’s sleeveless t-shirt, chest hair peeking out of every crevice, the right thing for most of the Carribean weather felt sticky and a bit cold with sweat and salt. Marigold took a moment to breathe, brushing his hair out of his face. Pulling all the professionalism a man could have under the circumstances he set the drink in front of Timmy. With something of a sorry glance he followed, “Coffee. All we have is instant Nescafe, and there’s no hot water until I get a fire going.”
“Of course.” FFT leaned back with his smoke and regarded the mustachio’d bartender, as Marigold tended to the overnight disorder behind the bar. “Things didn’t go so well in Texas, did they?” the dwarf asked, eyebrow cocked.
Texas. Headlights. Fists. Money, but not enough. A long, terrible dark ride to Mexico. Marigold reached out for a toothpick and stuck it in his mouth as a delaying action. Spinning that tiny tree around his pie-hole a bit and peering through his dirty locks he sniffed, “You’ve got cash?”
FFT looked away, smiling a bit. Tapped out a bit more ash. Leaning forward, looking deeper into Marigold’s eyes. Cock the eyebrows, cold stare. “Cash?” #DramaticPause. The camera pans back, framing both figures backlit by the sun just starting to assert itself through the verdant setting of the Gulf of Mexico, a bit of cigar smoke floating through the frame.
Cigar: Tap tap, a quick cigar stab towards Marigold’s slightly blood-shot eyes.
A light breeze ripples the fronds of the palm trees lining the pool. It’s sunny at the Palm Springs Racquetball Club, but it’s always sunny at the Palm Springs Racquetball Club. Arnold’s eyes are focused in the middle distance over the pool and shaded by his Ray-Bans.
A man with a small blue swimsuit and a chin with a divot large enough to hide a golf ball strolls over, cigarette dangling in his fingers. “Howdy Arnold, how they hanging? Borrow your lighter?”
“Kirk, buddy. It’s all yours.” Arnold doesn’t take his eyes off the pool.
Eva leans over, “Mr. Douglas, how nice to see you. How was your latest movie?”
Kirk snaps the zippo closed and breathes in the healing smoke enjoying its contradictory stimulating and relaxing effect. “The Arrangement?” He taps his lit cig against his leg and grits his teeth. “Average, baby. Average.” He takes a long drag, flicks the dart into the ashtray on table next to Arnold and without a word turns and dives into the pool.
Audrey, resplendent in a simple one-piece black swimsuit reclines deeper into her lounge chair. “Well, he doesn’t seem too happy about that.”
“Pity.” Arnold worries his cig from one side of his mouth to the other. “Eva, I’m thinking Bombay Beach. What do you think about putting some of our TV money into property there?” He’s watching some birds going in lazy circles over the mountains. “I’m thinking it’s primed to go big.”
“Oh, Ahrnold, I just can’t think about that today.”
Arnold barely hears her. He is lost in a daydream of dollars driven by the craze for Salton Sea waterskiing and tourists fishing.
“They say love is the best investment; the more you give, the more you get in return.”
“Audrey, you are so romantick!” returns Eva with a smile.
Arnold lights another Regal. He starts to sing… “Money don’t get everything, it’s true. But what it don’t get, I can’t use…”
He continues to hum the song as the pool staff comes by with fresh gin and tonics.
Author’s note for younger readers:
Kirk Douglas, Audrey Hepburn and Eva Gabor were major stars in the time period of this episode. I will leave it as a Google/Wikipedia exercise for the reader to learn about Palm Springs, The Salton Sea and Bombay Beach.
Scene: The Long Up Chuk Chinese-American Restaurant. The lights are low, and mostly red-ish. The Legion of all the Dooms is lounging comfortably in the sagging vinyl booths and battered banquet chairs in the back. A dark miasma of malice hangs in the air like the stench of last years second hand smoke.
An argument is going on.
“I’ll have a Singapore Sling, heavy on the Singapore.”
“Let’s call Evil Buddha and take out Good Hitleronce and for all!”
“That never works. They just clone up a new one. Every. Fucking. Time.”
“Well, fudge a monkey. We need to p0wn some chumps! Halloween’s here. It’s time for mischief.“
“How about … we hand out chocolate covered brussel sprouts!”
“Unhappy Meals. The special prize inside… Tax forms, heh heh.”
“Elephantiasis! In the water supply!”
“Gummy Bears, rock hard gummy bears…”
“Can the chin-music you sock monkeys!”
The bags under Secret Nixon’s eyes look extra dark tonight. “The NRA does more to torment children than we could. I say we stick the knife in deep. Deep in the sweaty little hearts of the Justice League of Justice. I say we take the battle to the enemy, on their own home turf!”
“Someone get that cigarette out of his mouth!” A black-garbed grip grabs for Arnold’s cig, but Arnold’s quick lip action shifts the stick to the other side of his gob as he blows a fragrant cloud of pig-lung scented tobacco smoke right in that guy’s face.
Fixing the grip with a stare that would curl a Jedi’s toes, Arnold sucks the smoke down to the filter, exhales and spits the but onto the floor.
The director, with his Don Johnson 3-day stubble and black watch cap rolls his eyes. “Are you ready to act now?”
“Show me the money.”
“We signed the contract.”
“Who do I look like, Snoopy? This is porn. I wanna see the cash.”
The director shrugs with that special “see what I have to put up with?” motion. He pulls out some greenbacks and waves them at the pig.
“Now we’re getting somewhere. Next, tape them to the camera.”
“Hey, lookit Akira Kurosawa here. Listen Otto Preminger, this pig’s a method actor. I need to see my motivation.”
Sigh. The director motions to another stagehand who hands him some grip tape. He rips off a length, fastening the tip to the bottom of the camera lens and pastes on each $100 bill, one under the other so Arnold can see all five at once. “Better?”
“That’s more like it. Let ‘er roll, Laughing Boy!” Arnold settles back into the overstuffed armchair bracketed by smiling buxom blonde twins in red bikinis.
“Arnold Ziffel here, TV star and all-around Lady’s Pig. When a pig, or a man, needs to get off, he knows where to put his pork.”
“Neon Nights Productions VHS tapes home delivery!” Chime in the twins.
“That’s right ladies, it’s the best thing since chocolate covered porn stars.”
Wake up. Strangled in bra. How is this thing on backwards?
Bust out of bed. Bathroom, sink, splash face. Feed fish. Feed cat. Remember not to water cactus.
Dim sunlight through the kitchen nook window. Must remember to windex windows. Frozen waffle.
Clothes. Shoes. Crazy hair. Crazy hair is fine. No one cares. Screw makeup.
Jacket. Shoulder bag. Out the door. Down the stairs. Almost to the front door escape portal.
“Hey Sugar, what’s cooking?”
Dr. Tomorrow. Same perfect hair. Same blinding white teeth and matching perfect white t-shirt. What is up with those black goggles? Doesn’t he have a job or something? Prepare to launch Morning Face Attack.
Dr. Tomorrow steps aside quickly, “Woah!” and gets sing-song, “if looks could kill, they probably will…” He’s bopping to his own rhythm. Out the door. Behind her she can still hear Doc going on, “Games without frontiers, war without tears, Jeux sans frontières!”
Hustle down the street. Why didn’t I bring my earbuds? Traffic rolls by with the farting of exhaust, creaking of internal combustion engines fighting the morning, weak sun glancing off anything shiny stabbing the eyes. Feet stomping the pavement.
Shadowy Figure, figures, seems to somehow materialize directly in Sugar Diablo’s path.
“Are you ready to join us, Sugar Diablo? The Legion of All The Dooms awaits…”
Same long black coat, same slouch hat that somehow always hides the identity and even the gender of this Shadowy Figure. Pushy fuck. Stop for one second. Angry Morning Face Attack! Spit on ground. Power on by.
Shouted after her. “We can help you release your hate! You’ll like it!”
Involuntary fist clench. Eyes narrow. hsss…. I’ll show you what I’d like…
Stomp. Stomp. Stomp. Finally, library. Job. Boss Monster. Ugly green over-sized sweater. Big teeth. Glasses on chain around neck. Hair piled high, formerly grown on Planet WTF. “Sugar Diablo, you’re ten minutes late!”
Through gritted teeth. “No, I’m twenty-three hours early for tomorrow.” Mumbled under breath, “bitch.”
Arnold turns slowly to look at the scruffy white kid sitting on the concrete bench beside him. Arnold is chewing on the short stub of a disposable chopstick while he takes in the tattered black hoodie, the moth-eaten black watch cap, the cargo shorts.
“Ass-fucking a police officer and crapping in his mouth.”
“What do you think, Einstein?” Arnold hops off the bench, trots over the unadorned concrete floor to another young man lying on his side with a roll of toilet paper cushioning his head, snoring lightly. “Always make ‘m show you the money first.” He shakes his head and spits on the floor. “It’s always a fuckin’ power thing with the goddamn cops.” Arnold raises his right back leg and lets loose a yellow stream soaking the kid’s already soiled Wal*Mart t-shirt. The kid doesn’t stir.
“What did you do that for?”
“Pig’s gotta take a piss. You think I can hit the crapper from down here?” He jabs his snout at the bleak, seatless metal appliance sticking out of the opposite wall like a robot mushroom. “Just be glad it wasn’t you. This time.” Arnold nods back at the now-wet kid on the floor. “What’s the deal with Sleeping Beauty?”
The kid on the bench shrugs. “Jimmy swallowed all our pills, when the cops pulled us over.”
“Lucky fuck.” Arnold rolls over on his back, schooching across the floor, attempting to get a scratch out of the smooth surface. He stops and stares at the clock on the wall, its hands moving with all the verve and alacrity of break time at an Eskimo molasses factory. With half-lidded eyes he watches the perfectly uniformed cops sauntering about outside the door, doing whatever cops do at 5am. Making photocopies, drinking coffee, grab-ass.
The kid on the bench scratches his head. “Ya ever, ya know, get a DUI?”
“First time, eh?” grunts the pig.
“Run your mother’s mini-van over some mailboxes?”
“Nah, they caught us doing donuts in Jimmy’s Honda in the parking lot at the factory.”
Arnold rolls onto his side, hooves clattering on the hard floor. He lets loose a wet one. He quotes in a sing-song voice, “Git yer girl in the mood quicker…”
“Hey, how’d you know we had 40’s?”
The door clangs open and a uniformed figure beckons to Arnold. “Ok pig, you’re free to go.”
The kid pops off the bench. “Hey, what about me?”
Arnold looks over his pork shoulder.
“Don’t worry about it kid, you’re just getting started.”