By Steven Lance

RELAXING IN BAGGY SHORTS on vinyl padded plastic chaise lounge, cool in the shade of beachball-hued umbrella hat with tiny, built-in batteried fan; sipping off an iced beverage, with his rubber flip-flops flapping against the heels of his over-the-edge-hanging feet; Morley Spendolet senses something amiss.

Although six-foot-three and string bean thin, his gray haired belly buckles up like four stacked bread dough rolls as he hunches forward with the sudden realization that he has not yet achieved sought after satisfaction. He squints against the glare of the sun, from the pool reflected shine that brings tears to his eyes.

Morley's expression is a mirror to his psychosomatic perplexity. For the ritual preparations had held so much promise: The patio furniture placed just so midst jungle greenery, gas grill readied for burgers and franks, table festively set with snacks at the ready, cold beer foam mustaching his thin upper lip as ballgame announcers on his small TV just now chant, "Play ball!"

Yet, a gnawing unease gobbles up more and more of his attention.

He breathes deeply, tells himself to "Knock it off and enjoy!"

Still, something...does not seem...quite right, somehow. A vague emptiness ripples into and out of awareness; not so much a thought as indescribable lacking; a longing for...something.

One flip-flop clad foot swings to the side, sets down on the deck with a slap. But, Morley's torso hesitates, fails to follow his own skinny leg's lead.

He slumps back into his lounger even as his foot taps in consideration of returning to cross-ankled rest.

"What's the matter, honey?"

Morley turns his squint-eyed gaze in the direction of his tall, thin, red-haired wife as she glides from the house carrying a tray of condiments which she sets down on the picnic table. She smiles, gives her husband a devilish look.

"Need some of this?" she says softly, not wanting the neighbors beyond this fenced in Shangri La to hear as she daintily flips down her tube top exposing braless milk-white breasts with thin pale nipples and delicately fingers aside the crotch of her baggy shorts to display crimson pubes and labial pink.

Morley thinks, "NNNooo, that's not it."

Rejection shades Ivana Spendolet's mood. She lets her shorts fall back into place, tugs her white tube top back into position, ponders just how much her allure has dimmed; no longer able to bait him let alone arouse his jealous nature. Time was, once, that he would be boiling over from the mere thought that she would dare not wear panties and bra with their guests arriving within the hour for a day's worth of fun. But, now?

Morley sighs a long breathy exclamation of ennui, of unfulfilled desire to quench his as yet unspecified thirst for some-...thing.

"I think I'll..."

"Where do you think you're going? Everybody'll be here in less than an hour."

But, Morley has risen and is walking trance-like away not listening to his wife. "...head on over to Overton."

"Oh, Morley...At least take off that silly hat! You look ridic/..."

The side door to their detached garage closes. Ivana hears her husband's car door slam shut, the engine growl-start and Doppler shift quieter as he backs his way out into the street. And, with a beep beep beep-beep beep...beep beep toot of the horn, he is on his way to maybe his favorite place in the whole world, to Sweet Grandma Gingham's Old-fashioned Country Fresh Megamall.

From the Interstate, no matter the direction headed, one watches the Mall's swelling-into-monstrous-being: From a distant bubblesque UFO to horizon blocking immensity the size of a city containing everything under-the-sun under one tinted plastiglass domed roof thereby verifying Sweet Granny Gingham's motto: Whatever you want...Whenever you want it.

But, what about the shopper unsure of what s/he is in need of? Not to worry. They are sure to find something and call it, "it", if for no other reason than to get back home.

And, so it is, that Morley Spendolet (sans umbrella hat) rides the parking lot shuttle train to color-code entrance blue, zone three, attempting to clear his mind, much in the manner of wine tasters, in order to more accurately appraise and appreciate each new sugar plum offering to be displayed in front of his eyes with the express purpose of enticing him to enter and browse, if not outright buy.

Every passenger on the Electricart Express falls into one of two categories, but shares equivalent expression: either the vacant look of going over mental shopping list or the vapid look of percolating anticipation of some treasure about to be discovered.

The ride is quick and quiet, already moving down the ramp to the underground terminal nexus. From here, shoppers elect to transfer to quadrant bullet shuttles or ride the escalators in upward ascension until they emerge upon aroma-rich ambiance of nearby food court that has the just-arrived already heeding cravings to taste of some calorie-rich specialty or other. Which illustrates a bottle-necking design flaw as incoming hordes mill about trying to make up their minds as to which stall they would rather have milk them of their hard earned cash or costly credit.

"MOO-V-E ALONG, PLEASE," urges the booming public address voice. To which the bovine-eyed herd pays no attention whatsoever.

After initial nifty side-stepping footwork and some nimble diagonal striding, Morley is able to break free of the milling mob and exercise his natural bony legged gait.

Like a bird of prey he searches his surrounds with arched eyed keenness; left and right; double- and triple- taking in every store front window display.

Morley Spendolet's mind sounds with the monotoned om-chant of "NNNNNNNNo, that's not it." And, he is, if not yet ensconced in perfect peace, then surely in a pure state of bliss. For an angelic kiss of promise, having injected itself into his brain and body, keeps him in a winged-flip-flop state of calm alert; a state-of-being that he always equates to his fine hunter-gatherer qualities honed by generations of successful breeding so as not to allow the truth of his inherent klutziness to rob him of self-esteem.

After all, Morley is on a quest for satisfaction of craving for as yet unknown object, substance, or experience. Why bum to the truth-- of behaving like rats through a maze pressing levers for this or that reward even as those same lever presses register shock one billing period later --when mindless desire beckons one to stay the course in joyous pursuit of quenching some deep-seated need? Even if the need ultimately turns out to be the never-ending pursuit of something more; the scurrying more important than the pellet consumed.

Why, indeed?

Morley Spendolet zicks-and-zooks his way past young stragglers, old strollers, adolescent posers, past all those here with social intent rather than for serious sprint shopping. He dismisses everyone he breezes past with a sniff, snort, or sighing exhalation, as if such hissing rebuke might enlighten the slow moving gadabouts to the expectation that rules of the road apply here also; slow moving well to the right, more swift of foot and mental faculty passing to the left.

Up ahead looms the lingerie store with its almost real mannequins improbably posed for erotic effect. This store front in particular always lures him closer and usually slows him down just enough for him to be able to scan every display without slowing so much as to be obvious. Morley feels a bit wistful as he recollects (or, attempts to at any rate) the last time he had been inside the store, able to leisurely ogle the displays on the pretext of buying something for his wife. Which he now recalls he had, in fact, bought Ivana a very expensive romping ensemble more than two years ago in the half-hearted hope that she would submit to wearing it and exude a tenth as much eroticism as the mannequin. She, of course, promptly deposited it with all her other sexy unworn outfits.

Morley zips past the peek-a-boo crotchless panty display without so much as a sidewise glance.

Five strides ahead a wide-assed mother in slacks and faux fur fringed coat stops, bends over to scold her young child.

Morley's gait disjoints, becomes immediately ungainly. He stubs his flip-flop on nothing at all which launches him into an awkward impromptu one-legged bunny hop as his toes struggle to regain gripping control of the rubber sandal. But he recovers quickly, very nicely moves into a groove between the event up ahead and center strip kiosk trinket display.

Unscathed through the gauntlet and with good open space before him he checks his watch. If he is to make it home in time to greet the first arriving guests this afternoon, then he will have to come upon his treasure a whole lot sooner than later.

Morley admonishes himself to focus, to winnow options.

"Something to wear? NNNNNNNNo, that's not it.

"For the garden? NNNNNNNNo, that's not it.

"A tool? NNNNNNNNo, that's not it.

"A book? NNNNNNNNo, that's not it.

"Automotive? NNNNNNNNo, that's not it.

"Kitchen appliance? NNNNNNNNo, that's not it.

Suddenly, it strikes him. Not the "it" of "gotta have it" but a warming possibility as to the ballpark in which "it" might be found.

Morley hears the incipient jingle as imprinted memory as he heads for The Biz; a super huge chain outlet for high-tech gadgetry at the lowest prices to be found anywhere around. Their motto? "No one competes with The Biz." And truer words have never been spoken as all North and South American competition for above average earning mall-patronizing hi-tech gadget buying consumers has been deleted. Besides The Biz, there are only skeevy little niche trawlers left to fish shallow market share puddle waters for ghetto urban or hick hamlet sucker fish to fry.

As Morley negotiates the penultimate turn, altering his path this way and that for dawdlers and saunterers, he begins to feel that tingly feeling he always gets when he is on the right trail. He does indeed sense he will find what he needs at The Biz.

The final turn brings him in full left-to-right view of the hanger-sized store front that looks exactly like a mini book shelf stereo system precise in every detail with entrance ways created by the parting of flat black mode selector pads. With every inner store backlit egress and entry, The Biz appears to be happily licking its chops savoring the just bitten and those it will yet bite.

Morley, hypnotically drawn, lilts along with fluttering flip-flops, light as aromatic bee balm breeze; his mind in a freeze of wanting, of believing his eyes behold the Promised Land.

He feels so tiny passing through the stereo mode selectors, a feeling that stays with him when he enters the multi-leveled complex of huge dimension.

"Can I carry you, Sir?" asks an elderly electri-cart cabby.

"Why, sure." says Morley stepping into the cart.

As the small vehicle's drone transforms into a hum, the driver inquires, "Where to, Sir? What section, please?"

"Well, I...I'm not/..."

"Not quite sure, is it? How 'bout a general tour of the place then, Sir?"

"Very good. Yes...A tour. But, don't dawdle. I have to be out of here shortly."

The old gentleman nods once, returns his full attention to his task and accelerates.

Electric powered inventory of every conceivable variety streams by causing Morley to wonder what, if any, organizing system is in use as any sense of order escapes his comprehension.

And, Morley thinks the same thought he always thinks upon entering The Biz: "Suppose I ever got lost? Even if I miraculously found a store phone and was able to call someone and tell them I was at the, say, electric ping pong display, could anyone ever find me?"

Perhaps this is due to a touch of Freudian-slip-into-Mother's-womb-itis or some other such mental maladjustment that makes him shudder at that same thought again and again. But, as the inventory streams by, he feels less and less threatened by being swallowed whole, of losing himself. He feels more and more sedated, a part of, not apart from, until he becomes the uninterrupted "nnnnnnnn" in monotony: Air purifiers - night lights - handheld computer games - ultra sound antivarmint devices - ear/nose hair trimmers -remote controls - foot massagers - breast milk pumps - electrostatic window shades - build yourself robots/domestic or industrial - laser graffiti erasers - sex toys - outlet plugged room deodorizers - decorative lamps - satellite dishes - mini freezers - microwave ovens - blenders - penis enlargers - hair curlers - cattle prods (Almost gets a nod from Morley before he mantras, "NNNNNNNNo, that's not it.")

And now they ascend to the next level, not as gaudy, nor as jam-packed with cheap foreign produced fetishes. This level, as in life itself, represents a step up. Sure, there are, these days, noticeably more folks of lower level ilk finding themselves up here, gazing upon items they are no longer limited to merely dreaming about owning. They, too can own some of these fine Level Two offerings if they can save all spare cash for six months to a year. Or, they can charge it and have it now. As long as they do not mind getting gouged with two percent per month interest on unpaid balance; a debt that keeps on sucking them under until they drown.

"Justice..." muses a smug and chuckling Morley as he decides he needs the more rarefied air of Level Three, or maybe even/No. Morley Spendolet has no business on Level Four. He had once left his nose print on the entrance glass, indicted by that greasy smudge. For his income then, now, and pretty much forever more will not allow for any Level Four purchases. Unless, of course, he wins the Lottery or does not mind charging it to his debit card at unholy interest.

Morley is distracted from his level envy upon spotting a huge wall, every square inch of which is covered with TV screen; thousands of sets all tuned to the same station.

"Hold it! Here! Right he-e-er-r-r-re."

The elderly cabby smoothly pulls the electricart off the Level Three Bizway.

Morley exits.

"Shall I wait, Sir?"

"Uh, yeah...Yes...Do that." He is transfixed by the fly-eyed view available with the newest WAVE (Wrap Around Visual Environment) technology units sold on Level Four. While the image on every set seems the same, each one is, in fact, slightly different so that scanning across the bank of monitors, from one side to another, two-hundred-seventy degrees of image is available; from a view behind one ear moving around to full frontal face continuing on to behind the other ear.

"NNNNNNNNow, that's really something!"

But, of course, as Morley zombie shuffles across terrazzo floor onto commercial tweed carpet closer to the sweep of the display, it begins to dawn on him that to enjoy such a marvel in the comfort of his own home he would have to buy too many TVs to get the effect or a wall-screen TV. Either way he can not, and will not in his lifetime be able to, afford it. Never mind the cost of the crest-riding WAVE components available on Level Four.

He begins to decompress from initial flux of stimulation. His slow shuffling pace slows to a near standstill. He feels gradually more like himself. He thinks to turn around and continue his storewide tour. But, just at this moment, the dull talking-head interview is replaced with the same ball game Morley had been watching back home and listening to on the radio on his way over to Sweet Grandma's. He is immediately reminded that his patio designated TV is old and small at only twenty-five inches. He doubts his ancient model's screen even has a photo-sensitive anti-glare filter. In fact, he is sure it does not.

Morley feels the familiar sensation of slipping into a psychic zone, a pre-buying state-of-mind; about as close to purchasing a thing as one can get without actually deciding to buy it.

In this state, rationalizations inundate his conscious mind and overwhelm his analytical thought processes with anti-pragmatic propaganda; sounding as countless clichéd jingles or mottoes that have been injected into his mind hour after hour, day after day for his entire life; their sum wisdom, buy whatever.

Morley thinks of the guys on their way to his house, how they would go nuts over a thirty-seven inch patio TV on which they could view the game while floating in the pool sipping large iced beverages, how it just might keep them from stealing glimpses of every poolside female not their wife.

The smile on Morley's face fades. "Fuck 'em," he says to himself. "Why should I chunk out that kind of money for them? They're just my brothers-in-law and neighbors, for God's sake! To hell with them."

Yet the thought of his hopelessly old, small screened TV is a thought that will not go away.

"And," he wonders, "who better to impress than Ivana's kin? Her envious ne'er-do-well brothers and sisters? Snobby neighbors and the like?"

Still, he senses his emotion quotient is not quite high enough to merit a 37-inch TV becoming the "it" for today. He does not, however march off on his way, but rather, lingers. Morley is reconsidering. Of course, a new, bigger, more sturdy holding cart would be required. And, perhaps a new extension cord. Maybe, just maybe, that would feed the need.

The wall of TV monitors blinks with another channel tuned in. Looking every bit the farmer out in his fields of whatever a Farmers United representative is being questioned by a suited reporter hip-high in green as to the farmer's thoughts on the current bread shortages around America.

"Nope. No, Sir. Don't feel bad 'bout it at'll." says AGrainCo CEO Bordon Gell. "Hey, our foreign customers pay cash on the ol' barrelhead. Shoot, come delivery day an' we can be sure the Europeans, Japan, the Chinese, all of 'em pay C.O.D.

"The states can't expect us agricorp folk to give away our product. This is capitalism, my friend! We have product to sell. We're dang-tootin' gonna get the best price we can. If it be the Euros or the Jap'nese, the Chinese, well, so be it. Besides, we got contracts with them people.

"We members of Farmers United have a responsibility to our investors. They have every right to demand a decent per annum profit increase. Which they can't have if we're always lowerin' our prices and still have to pay out big interest for float loans to cover our cash flow problems caused by states bein' delinquent on their bills.

"It's outrageous! We gave 'em grain at reasonable markup, nowhere near what we get in the global market. Plus we gave 'em a full thirty days from date of delivery to pay. What more do the states want? Hell, we gotta pay taxes, too!"

"But, Sir," says the reporter, "Isn't that being rather disingenuous of you? After all, a growing majority of citizens are saying that you agricultural entrepreneurs are reaping all the rewards of huge land holdings while the middle-ish classes subsidize those assets by shouldering the burden of taxation. That is, because you don't pay your fair share in taxes, Sir, we, the people, have to! Pick up the tab, that is."

AGrainCo CEO Bordon Gell looks like he has seen a very dark skinned, large penised man up inside his lily white wife. He turns crimson as his eyes bulge, begin to glisten.

Without any finesse whatsoever and with absolutely no fear, the young reporter jarringly gives the CEO's initial comments context.

"And now, Sir, you're saying to the American people that Farmers United has no problems with the grain shortages that have instigated bread riots in fifteen states around/..."

But before the FU rep shoves the microphone out of the way with swift backhand swipe, spats at the camera and bites off the nose of the reporter, the picture is replaced.

The wall of screens go dark save for stars that are, upon slow recognition, not stars at all, but, whole galaxies sprinkling the cosmic night.

This impossible, deep space vision courtesy of animation, seems so real that every crowd member watching is sucked into the abyss of sudden universal consciousness. Even Morley.

Mouths fall open. Egos shrink, excised to barely aware. Wavelengths of air-moving vibration, the music, as elemental concentrate of the sum and substance of what we know to be human being, gives wing to resurrection of wandering souls.

Not a single one watching thinks "me" though they teem with sensations of at-oneness, alluding as it does to "me" with some thing(s) other; thus, the evolved dual state of being part of the whole even as achieved of non-being via quintessential selflessness of wholeness.

Now, a richly textured synth-enhanced male voice hypnotizes with deep, soothing ease.

"...Thus...our universe expands...It's cosmological fate...rests in the hands of gravity. If there is not enough matter in the universe, to put the brakes on its acceleration, then the cosmos will expire in the heat loss death of entropy. If, on the other hand, there is sufficient matter, then the universal expansion will check itself and collapse, falling in on itself until it will explode again in regeneration.

"So far, only ten-percent of the mass needed to halt and reverse universal expansion has been accounted for. The search for confirmation of so-called dark matter theory-- super dense strings of matter, existing in, and consisting of, many folded dimensions, or monopoles, or gravity waves, et cetera, et cetera --has yet to yield replicable results. Ninety percent of the necessary matter is still unaccounted for.

"And, so it is, that Professor Angus DeGree now claims to have accounted for that missing matter..."

An elderly gentleman, wearing a DeGree dress plaid jacket of heather gray, white, and charcoal, that coordinates perfectly with his tangled thatch of unruly hair and unbelievably bushy eyebrows, displays an odd array of facial ticks and twitching features. His lower jaw and lip protrudes so far forward as to produce humorous impediment.

"My contention is, and I have preliminary data to support this hypothesis, that the universe is, in fact, the cumulative potential of all humanity as embodied in the ninety percent of our collective brain mass we humans do not as yet utilize.

"Of course, this suggests a reason for why each human considers reality to be the sum of their own perceptions, to wit, 'Cogito ergo sum.' Because reality, in fact, seems to be largely a figment of collective human imagination."

The channel is switched. The crowd is coaxed back to the here-and-now. Their President is explaining to United Nations General Assembly delegates why America must go to war.

"He's a madman! Plain and simple, people. Even as this august world body investigates his weapons of mass destruction, even as a quarter million of our troops are poised at his borders for the mother of all assaults, the man goes ahead and deploys his military might all around his country. Well, except in the North. Oh, yeah...and the South. Okay, he's deploying weapons around the middle third of his nation. I mean, he's actually trying to defend himself! Do you need any more proof of his insanity? His treachery? He aims to kill Americans, by God...And, as the President of these United States of America, I can not tolerate that. No, sir. No way."

The President is interrupted by rather loud muttering as an Arab Ambassador, wearing pure white kaffiyah held in place by black silk agal, protests. "Then simply keep your troops out of our country! Let us decide our own fate. It is our sovereign right to do so. You call him a terrorist? By what definition? Because whatever one you use, America is manyfold times worse. Let us not forget that America is the only nation to use nuclear weapons of mass destruction. And, it was against civilian targets no less. America refuses to sign off on biochemical weapon treaties that call for their elimination. In comparison, Israel has two hundred nuclear weapons; never signed on to the non-proliferation treaty. Yet, you have no problem with them. Need I remind the world that we have been a signatory from the very beginning of our peaceful nuclear program which was illegally destroyed by a pre-emptive Israeli air strike? You, Sir have no business demanding anything from/..."

The spry, wiry American President leans into his shrill interruption of this presumptuous Arab. "We have every right, raghead! God's on our side! America knows best! But, most important...Your guy's a madman! We'll do whatever we want."

"Blah, blah, blah...My country right or wrong," thinks Marley. The channel changes. War rants are replaced with a commercial.

On the bank of monitors appears a strange looking contraption, nearly four feet long, with heavy gauge gridwork wrapped around a centrally located cylinder, being hung from a fake tree limb by some overweight female in house dress looking every bit the typical frumpy neighbor. A very weird, ever-modulating chorus of whirrings or chirpings or loose fan belt squeals or hordes of grief-stricken Muslim women wailing, grows louder and louder.

Jane Q. Hag squeezes out a tobacco stained smile as she shuts the chain-hanging unit's latch lock tight.

"Here they come," yells an off-camera male voice.

"Let' em!" snarls Jane Q. "We're ready for 'em."

A sense of anxiety heightens as the old hag lowers herself out of picture, is replaced with a panoramic view of wheat-colored flatland running to the horizon. A huge dark cloud-wall moves towards the camera with stunning alacrity.

The god-awful sound gets louder.

The cloud comes closer.

The whirring gets deafening, becomes pink noise background for low budget bass-boosted voice-over.

"You, too can protect your plants, pets, property, and loved ones from the scourge of," And the voice gets very loud, echoes unnaturally. "...Ci-ca-das."

Thousands of screens suddenly darken, flutter with millions of computer generated winged, fat, ugly, red-eyed insects. Coupled with the hideous whirring and grotesque sound of countless exo-shell splattering collisions with any vertical thing of substance, and all nearby shoppers are now involuntarily ducking their heads while fanning their hands about in warding-off fashion.

Even Morley, who prides himself on not acting like a rube in public, is stimulated by a shiver to cringe and furtively check nearby airspace.

Now the view pans back. The wall of monitors brighten with erratic strobing blue-white splashes of explosive flashes as cicadas are electronically vaporized by the contraptions now seen hanging salami-like from the trees everywhere around a residential property; amidst which, Jane Q, with her John, and a genderless third adult with two nondescript children, enjoy their backyard picnic completely nonplussed.

As a superimposed windowed animation of an Eighteenth Century patriot on horseback riding at full gallop plays, the deep voice-over booms. "Yes! You, too can avoid costly home repairs." ("The cicadas are coming! The cicadas are coming!" cries the cartoon figure.) "You, too can prevent physical harm from befalling your family." ("The cicadas are coming! The cicadas are coming!") "Yes, the cicadas are coming. Be prepared. Order your 'Cada Zapper' today."

The J.Q. family outing is replaced with a screen of text extolling the virtue of the product even as it describes the company's sixteen year guarantee along with a smaller print disclaimer that states the product is only warrantied for use on cicadas and that the company guarantee is only valid if the company president, on a case by case basis, decides it is.

The deep pitched voice-over gives way to a super-fast speaking male voice much higher in register, spewing ordering information as star-burst of inducement shouts, "Use the CADA ZAPPER again and again. Completely guaranteed."

"ABSOLUTELY CRIMINAL!" yells out someone in the crowd.

All eyes turn toward the colorful rowdy. A hairless young man with painted pate points an accusatory finger at the wall of screens and repeats himself, only partly for the benefit of his pixy cute female companion.

"It is! It's CRIMINAL!"

He jumps to a higher energy level, starts bouncing, hip- hopping around, bounding to open area, addressing the crowd at random with de rigueur arm-and-body posturing.

"Don't you get it, people?! Cicadas don't hurt anything! They don't damage houses! They don't fly at you in giant swarms! They climb out of the ground. Then they climb the first upright thing they come across. What possible good would hanging a zapper in the tree do? None, that's what!"

Like all crowds, some are put off by his impudence, some are entertained by the very same. And some, have already moved on.

As for Morley, he wishes the young jackass would shut up and melt back into the crowd.

But the kid's petite gal pal, aged somewhere between mid-twenties and prepubescent, beams her approval which shines with lithe bodied promise. It fires the kid up.

"And...And like, cicadas? Like, ploogie this! They only come out every seventeen years! Can you all compre-fuckin'- hend that fact?!"

Like all crowds, half is too repulsed by the vulgarity of the F-word to stay around. The other half of the crowd has somehow been propitiously numbed to the evocative nature of such words so it continues to listen for the points being made rather than the manner in which they are being conveyed.

Morley is turning to leave.

The kid brings it all home in his bouncy inch-wormish way. His little beauty adores him, wets her sheer panties.

"Don't you get it, people?! What good is a sixteen year guarantee when the cicadas won't be back for seventeen years?"

Morley stops, thinks, "Good point."

The remaining crowd offers spontaneous applause.

So enamoured of, excited by, her beau, the pixyish playmate wets right through her jeans.

When, out from the walls, as if stepping through thin sheets of latex from some contiguous dimension, four members of this Mall's anti-terrorist strike force emerge, descend on the youth as he relishes his moment of fame. Two of the mirror-shielded, gray uniformed security personnel grab hold of the kid's arms, taking him completely by surprise. A third warns the crowd to disperse, while a fourth gives the kid a taste of his short, blunt electro-baton to the testicles. The subsequently triggered discharge sags the youth even as it elicits a guttural growl of mindnumbing discomfort.

The kid's little lady leaps from her psychic lotus blossom with a scream of outrage. She bee lines the strike force members. But the officer handling crowd control gets an excellent jump and moves quickly to intercept her. The burly officer sweeps her up in his arms, right off the floor, the same way he does with his daughter.

But this little girl does not wriggle nor squeal with delight. This little girl is going to fight for her man. She puts up quite a struggle. A real wildcat. She flails her arms and kicks her legs, claws, bites, and scratches anything she can reach.

The electro-baton wielding strike team member is so engrossed in laughter, so doubled up over his partner's attempts at handling the she-cat from Hell, that he can barely hold his aim still enough to administer a final subduing discharge to the nuts of the in-no-condition-to-resist kid.

A very weird sound seemingly emanates from every orifice at once. Both officers release their grip, let the kid drop into a pile. Relieved of that duty the two turn their attention on the girl; each wrestling control of a leg. They spread her wide, laughingly watch as their comrade applies criss-crossing palming hold on her small, hard breasts.

Morley Spendolet is in full grok as to why he loves to spend a day at Sweet Granny G's.

And the fourth Special Force member gives the kid's pixy gal pal a taste of the baton, between her legs, where the dark wet spot invites attention.

"WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU'RE DOING?" cries out an anonymous voice in the crowd.

"WHAT'RE THEY CHARGED WITH?" yells out someone else.

The baton wielding officer points his article of self-defense at the crowd. He barks out. "WE'RE DOIN' OUR JOB. THE CHARGE? SUBVERSIVE SPEECH CODE VIOLATION. DISPERSE! OR YOU'LL GET A TASTE OF THIS!"

An enterprising young clerk has seized the opportunity by getting a video camera trained on the ensnared pixy with a direct feed into the WAVE unit operating the wall of screens so that her every humiliation at the able hands of the officers is displayed in spectacular Wrap Around technology.

Morley becomes instantly entranced by the monitor screens' image. He is drawn towards the display wall. As are quite a few other shoppers. They all approach in slow paced lock-step, leaving the real event behind.
Extreme close-up of her top being lifted exposes her small gorgeous bare breasts; already being roughly kneaded by the hairy hands of an officer; the crowd oohing over the growing size of her erecting nipples.

The picture pans back to catch her jeans being pulled off her thin legs like a banana peel.

As she strains, arching her back, thousands of monitors display new close-up of her wettened to see-through panties which betrays her secret: Her shaved smooth vaginal pout.

The women watching are speechless; the men, swelling; and the lucky among them licking their lips.

Jarring picture change has the crowd flinching from the baton seemingly thrust into their faces. The smashing of the lens produces a gray fleck fizz of static before the TV section manager figures out how to change the selector mode on the WAVE unit from video feed back to cable feed and now switches channel to innocuous program even as a security electro-van glides up to a halt; into which the drooling, gurgling kid and his dazed and defrocked gal pal are tossed; she, unfortunately groped, squeezed, fingered, and orally violated all the way to Base Central detention facilities by all four accompanying anti-terrorist task force members; where she and her pile of a boyfriend will be deposited to ride out their wait in the incarcerated presence of crazed, perverted, political pamphleteers and ever dangerous peace message t-shirt wearers.

Any of the many witnesses to this preposterous fascistic display should readily comprehend the episodic moral: The more one attempts to aspire to truth and righteousness, the more this rapacious culture chews you up, shits you out, eliminates you from the equation.

But, of course, not a single one has gotten it. They are already on about their business of shopping, of spending their way into Cartesian existence: I buy, therefore, I am.

Morley Spendolet is no different. He decides to buy the 37-incher after all. For he knows every time he watches it he will be reminded not of lessons regarding fraudulent advertising, fascism, or loss of free speech rights, but rather, of that little girl's bare vagina pressed against her wettened to clear nylon panties as she struggled against four burly men. And, he rationalizes, Ivana will no doubt receive ancillary benefit for a good amount of time thereafter.

After debiting his bank card for the merchandise purchase, Morley decides to use The Biz's paid-customer courtesy elevator to the Mall's entry level. The ride is always far less crowded and much faster than the main escalators. As for Morley's waiting electricart cabby? "Fuck 'im," he thinks.

Upon exiting the elevator, Morley spots one of The Biz's cargo carts with its drone driver approaching. He sees his boxed TV and new holding unit on the small rear flatbed. He feels a real sense of satisfaction at not having to go home empty handed.

Morley flags down the cart, climbs aboard, and heads up the incline towards the light at the end of the tunnel.++

* * *

Steven Lance has published a book of short stories entitled "Vulgarian Goulash," now available at Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com.


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