Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Open House

"Welcome to today's community meeting. We'll be hosting this open-house style, so please make your way around to the stations as you will."

I stared at the metallic man for a moment, then abruptly turned my head to look inside. Sure enough, the room beyond was populated by poster board, tables, and welcoming robots. While there was a person or two milling about, I was astounded by the amount of shiners inside.
Art by Abe P.

"Something wrong ma'am?" the greeter inquired as I hesitated.

"No, nothing. I just didn't expect, well, everyone..."

"I can assure you, we're programmed to be most accommodating."

"I'm sure you are." I half stated, half muttered as I entered the room. With nothing else popping up as an obvious alternative, I approached the closest table.

"Greetings! Would you like to learn more about water usage in your neighborhood?" the box stated soullessly. "Please indicate on which block you live."

"I'm sorry," I managed. "I think I need to leave."

Head spinning for no particular reason, I rushed out of the room and found myself on a toilet. I sobbed for a full five minutes, exhausting the supply of tissues in my purse and moving to toilet paper to dry my eyes and nose. I couldn't believe this is what happened to my neighborhood. I'd faced down the developers and the bureaucrats, I'd worked to keep long term residents around, I'd almost even gotten a neighborhood association going, but for what? The corporate goons and city stooges were moving in and, benign as it may seem for those not in the neighborhood, it was killing the local flavor.

I dried my eyes and took a deep breath. I marched out of the bathroom and made my way back home, ignoring the blank stares of the shiners I passed. Once home I wrote a short ad:

For Sale By Owner: Brownstone. 3BD 1BA. Owner is moving out of the country.

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