The day had been a tough one for Larkin René Parquet de Parque. It had been full of disappointments. Though he lived in a timeline in which global warming had been reversed in a timely fashion through concerted effort among nations – which meant of course the weight of opinion of the greedy and their ability to manipulate the weak-minded had been countered by overwhelming passion for preserving all life now and in the future – no amount of good will on the part of others could guarantee that there wouldn’t be days when unforeseen difficulties would dominate the hours and thus defeat one’s inclination toward a good mood. Such a day was this.
Not even the ultimate defeat of the capitalist domination of economies could forestall the inevitability of such a day. The switch from plastics to various renewable configurations of carbon and glass was key to diminishing and ultimately eradicating the pollution of land, water, and air. One would think such a switch would somehow minimize the chance of having a bad day full of bad difficulties. And it may have, but minimizing a chance and preventing an inevitability are two entirely different things.
Larkin René Parquet de Parque did one thing and one thing only: he went from town to town, neighborhood to neighborhood, with a very large rock tumbler. He would send out notices a few days before his impending visit urging people to bring their empty glass bottles. Usually such bottles were recycled by the municipality. De Parque would arrive, not to supplant such services, but as a compliment to them. The bottles that were brought were shattered in a bin, tumbled in de Parque’s rock tumbler, and artificially turned into “beach glass” for use in people’s vases, landscaping, and terrariums. Sometimes he would stay more than one day if there was sufficiently high demand.
He had recently taken his rock tumbler in for a tune up, and the following day, in front of an entire neighborhood of beach glass enthusiasts who’d saved their prettiest-colored bottles for the entire year, the rock tumbler refused to tumble. Its motor was on the fritz. It turned out that the mechanic tuning it up had failed to replace an important washer. The mechanic had been too lazy to double-check her washer checklist. Don’t assume it was the absence of a profit incentive that caused it. The mechanic was part owner of that shop, as was the case with most businesses. Laziness occurs in humans for a variety of reasons. Even a compassionate economy can’t prevent it. And certainly an abusive, coercive one won’t.
So the day was a wash. The rock tumbler would have to go back to the shop, where the mechanic would discover her mistake and own up to it because there was no punishment for telling the truth except embarrassment, and she vowed to herself, her co-worker/owners, and de Parque that she would be more mindful. De Parque, for his part, decided to push his schedule back a month and take a month’s vacation starting the next day. Maybe he would join his three spouses, who were already on a camping trip. There would be no inconvenience to him nor those who relied on him to turn their bottles into beach glass, except for them having to shlep their bottles back home to await another day.
On his bullet train homeward he found the train people had decided to replace the popular Biscoff biscuits with a type of madeleine he wasn’t fond of. Lotus Bakery in Lembeke, Belgium had been continuously baking the things since the 1930s. His fellow passengers were unhappy with the replacement as well, and many a complaint was lodged. In the meantime he had little choice but to opt for a Michigan company’s version of the Dutch stroopwafel instead.
The last straw was when he went to the bar that evening and ordered a “Last Word” cocktail. He was told the bar was out of green Chartreuse, a key ingredient. The “Last Word” was made with equal parts gin, fresh lime juice, maraschino liqueur, and green Chartreuse, just as it is in our own timeline. It was the most popular craft cocktail in North America at the moment. Chartreuse was made according to a five-hundred-year-old secret recipe vouchsafed to the Carthusian order of monks. The monks at the French alpine Carthusian Monastery, however, had decided that catering to the North American thirst for green Chartreuse was a lower priority than their ecclesiastical studies and monastic rituals of devotion. The result was that the mixologist decided, with de Parque’s permission, to substitute Pernod. The result was inferior.
It was just that kind of day. De Parque’s wife, husband, and fluid third spouse were all off on a weeklong camping trip together, so before retiring to bed he read to the children of the neighborhood from a dystopian novel about an alternate timeline where fascism was rising all over the world, multiple wars were being fought to benefit arms makers and dealers, and a global climate crisis was looming with the world’s governments intransigent and their populations manipulated by for-profit propaganda corporations. A small class of über-wealthy oligarchs owned most of everything, including the legal system. Surveillance was wall-to-wall, day and night, one hundred percent continuous and ubiquitous. Slavery was a common form of labor arrangement, the seas were depleted of oxygen, the rivers were unswimmable, and resources and opportunities were kept in a state of artificial shortage, doled out parsimoniously to the great masses of people. Every attempt at social improvement was sabotaged by the infiltration of secret police.
The children found the book hilarious. Each new indignity, injustice, or instance of cruelty was greeted with the delirious uproar of childish laughter. It all seemed so outlandish and impossible.
And that’s the Moment of Truth. Good day!