be sure to check out Joan's latest on her website:

be sure to check out Joan's latest on her website: (usually she updates her blog every Sunday evening but she can and will surprise you) **Special Note: all of Joan's archives are now up--almost ten years of 'bitter girl.' As Joan says, go wild!**

Saturday, February 1, 2014

A World Full of Lobsters Prologue

“What’s that?” Walt inquires of his mother one day on the beach.
“What’s what, honey?” Carolyn, his mother, absentmindedly asks him back, not taking her eyes off the page that she’s currently absorbed in.
"That," Walt exclaims while making an unsuccessful grab for the paperback that his mother is trying to read, jealous of his mother’s attention.
“Brandy,” Carolyn calls out rather than specifically answer her only child. When Brandy approaches them as bidden, Walt’s mother instructs the other, “Walt wants to surf some more; be a dear and take him in the water please.”
“Certainly,” Brandy announces over Walt’s protests to the contrary as she picks him up and carries him oceanward.
“Sorry kid,” Brandy brusquely explains once they’re out of earshot, “but your mother would like some alone time with her book.”
“What’s the book about?” Walt eventually inquires once he’s done complaining about his mother ditching him.
Once the seawater renders Walt a little more buoyant, Brandy answers him, “It’s called ‘A World Full of Lobsters.’ It’s about when the world was young and giant mutant lobsters ruled the seven seas.”
“Uh-huh,” Walt dryly responds. “Aunt Brandy, is this another story you’re telling me?”
“I guess,” Brandy, who is not his biological aunt, replies in resignation to the truth, that the days are long gone where he’ll buy anything she fabricates to him. “It’s about economics; the history of economic thought and the men who sought to explain capitalism.”
“What’s ‘capitalism?’” Walt persists with a grimace.
“It’s the market system,” Brandy in as bored a voice as she can possibly muster continues. “As opposed to traditional or command economies.”
“What’s ‘economics?’” Walt next wants to know.
“It’s the science of scarcity,” Brandy details with absolutely no interest in pursuing this line of thought. “Hey look–there’s Chely and her mommy.”
“What’s ‘scarcity?’” Walt now counters, as a wave has turned them around at precisely the most opportune time so as to block their collective vista of the beach.
“Scarcity means not enough to go around,” Brandy hears herself explain with enough finality to let even four-year-old Walt know she wants this subject changed. “Say hi to Chely; say ‘Hi Chely.’”
“Hi Chely,” Walt echoes as instructed even as he waves to his future girlfriend.
“Hi Walt,” Chely calls back after being prompted by her mother.
“Hey Chely,” Walt begins once they’ve caught up with Sharon and her daughter. “Did you know that the world was once full of giant lobsters?”
“Then I’m not going in the water,” Chely flatly announces in kind.
“Walt asked me about scarcity today,” Brandy warns her opposite number even as they both briefly observe both toddlers building a sand castle on the beach a few hundred feet away.
“Roger that,” Carolyn responds in dread. “Thanks for handling it for me.”
“Auntie Brandy likes to make things up,” Chely dryly observes as she helps Walt with the excavation.
“That’s what I said,” Walt replies from the other side. “Like when I asked her where babies come from; she told me the most ridiculous story.”
“The stork brings them, right?” Chely affably responds.
“Well of course,” Walt pontificates, as if it couldn’t be any other way.
“How big did the lobsters get?” Chely asks after a while.
“Big,” Walt explains as he momentarily stands to demonstrate with his hands. “They were huge.”
On their way home, Carolyn stops by Hubert’s place and he gives Walt the nickel tour; the older, larger more genial black man eloquently and mellifluously explains in stultifying detail all about the replicator to the pint-sized skeptical four-year-old.
Once done there, Carolyn asks her darling baby boy if he can imagine a world where the replicator doesn’t exist.
“Nope,” Walt immediately replies, not appreciative of this tour of duty. “Sure can’t.”
“Fine, honey,” Carolyn sighs in capitulation. “Let’s just get home and make dinner.”
During dinner, Walt’s father John gives it a shot. “Walt, have you ever noticed how I go to work every day and your mother doesn’t?”
“Uh-huh,” his son answers while munching on some potatoes.
“Ever wonder why that is?” is the follow up.
“Not really,” Walt eventually rejoins after eating some more.
“Well, suppose there wasn’t enough food to go around,” John continues while Carolyn remains silent. “Suppose there weren’t enough clothes to go around; suppose some families were homeless. What do you think would happen then?”
Walt shrugs. “I don’t know.”
“You’re lucky you don’t,” John announces in finality, not appreciative of his son’s attitude while shooting his mother a look.
It turns out Walt will tell only Brandy his opinion. “Hubert has all the stuff at his place,” Walt very nearly explodes in impatience when he does unload on his fake aunt, “just because he likes being the center of attention.”
“Well, it’s a theory,” Brandy admits rather than argue with him about it. “So how many kids are you and Chely going to have.”
“None,” is his spiteful retort. “Kids are ungrateful little brats who eat you out of house and home.”
Brandy sighs. “At least you got that part down.”
“Darn straight,” Walt adds while trying his best to swim away from Brandy, who won’t let him go.
“Not ready for the truth,” is the way Brandy sums it up to the kid’s parents. “Only wants fantasy at the moment.”
“Then that’s what we stuff him with,” Carolyn grimly decides. “Until he’s begging us for the truth.”
“Both he and Chely are done with Sim and Don,” John cautions both of them.
“Doesn’t matter,” Brandy gives voice to their consensus when Carolyn waves this away. “More than one way to skin a cat.”
John takes this as his cue to recede from the drama that is about to unfold.

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