Cart Dream

I’m at work, a wooden cart on a narrow stone street atop a cold hill. It’s nearly dusk. The cart is tall and open on one side, revealing two huge computer monitors. The folks passing through the adjacent mosque door stoop to touch the calligraphic inscription on the sidewalk as they pass. God is great, it says.

Clark is asking if I could make a few simple changes to the user interface on the right-hand monitor, a stylized kitchen scene. Dan concurs. As he tosses me the mouse, the view shifts to the pink cheek of the woman in the foreground, every wrinkle and pore visible.

“I, uh… I don’t think I actually know how to use this program.”

A well-dressed angel investor I’ve never seen before interjects, “Five dollars says I can show you a better way.”

But this wasn’t my idea, I mumble. Dan’s purview. Unfair.

They’re all staring at me.

Five dollars?

“Fine,” I tell him.

He gestures down the road, where a smaller cart rounds the corner and climbs the hill. Two men pedal in front, singing Elvis, one strumming a ukelele as the other steers. The cart is open, like a pickup, piled high with crushed ice, dotted with buried drinks.

Nick giggles as they pass and calls out, “I’ll have a Republican.” The driver hands him a glass of ice, mixed nuts, and California white.

A cyclist follows, playing Nine Inch Nails on the guitar, steering his BMX by weight. The words and tune are wrong, but he doesn’t seem bothered.

“If you want to host a party, you need to hire both,” says the well-dressed man. We gasp. I feel around for a five-dollar bill.

“In fact,” he continues, “every single one of these characters is a leafy sea dragon.” It’s true — the woman in the foreground, her husband, the baby on the counter. Junior is greener and leafier; the parents look more like weedy sea dragons. We drained the kitchen in the last revision, courting a broader demographic. Now they float in air.

“Or a rabid wombat!” he finishes, indicating the monitor’s wooden frame. I can just make out carvings — squiggles, or spirals. Huh.

“And that,” he says as he turns to us, “is why we must always support Israel.”

He joins the musicians as they come running back and they yell and throw rocks at two men just exiting the mosque, chasing them down the hill and around the corner. We look on, slack-jawed.

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