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Yes, congratulations!! You’re the person of the year plucky industrious threadbare Bangladeshi youth fighting over Unicef water bottles in the alleys, picking through landfill and being sold into Thai sex slavery without having ever seen a computer in your life except perhaps upon the peeling canvas of a streetside billboard!! Your contributions to Web 2.0 new standards such as YouTube, Facebook, and your Myspace have allowed you to join the”many wresting power from the few and helping one another for nothing and how that will not only change the world, but also change the way the world changes.”!

 

Since I didn’t write a single piece of actual journalism this semester, I caught up on my fiction.

People’s Pleasure Park

 

            In winter’s boldest day I caught sight of a squirrel outside a tree.  I saw him from my vantage point on the window sill, looking down at the people’s pleasure park that lay like jade mantling across the square (that would otherwise be a concrete face like all the others around).

 

            He made his way through the manicured grass with tense hops that barely got him a head above the tips of the blades.  However, I could see him clearly.  Sipping my coffee, I watched his brown-into-cement gray length struggle across that jade pool, tail thrashing, devoid of reassuring trees or compatriots.

 

            It was long past the weeks during which the local scatter-hoarders made their last madcap communal dashes across the squares between the apartment towers, confiscating the last of the fruits, nuts and garbage that were strewn around to squirrel away back into their fortresses.  It doesn’t freeze over here or snow, the salt in the near ocean and the blond hills to the north, east and south all guarantee that much, but we do get frost and that morning there was frost.  It’s a fairly apt method of visual judgment to surmise the abrupt disappearance of the squirrel mobs with the overnight arrival of the first frosts.

 

            I blew steam onto the hermetically sealed window and rubbed away the moisture with a jumper sleeve.  Yes, he was really there.

 

            Sunila, my roommate, was awake by then, slouching behind the open kitchenette counter.  As attentive as ever for Sunila, she watched water boil while spooning jasmine petals and curls of green into the pot. 

 

            I felt even worse now, being fully dressed and chipper and leaning against the sill like some still-life reproduction of an atrocious mail order catalogue cover.  I am always loathe to think I’m ever making someone else feel uncomfortable.

 

            Sunila spoke before I could.  She asked, “Sumei– what are you looking at out there now?

 

            I stood.  “Ehhh, there’s a little thing out there that got lost or something.”

 

            Forty-five minutes later I stepped out of the old single elevator into the complex lobby.  Outside past the fake wood faux Art Deco stuff and the glass doors, the air was a taste of crisp frost, yet free of any sort of moving breeze or circulation.  Tenement weather.

 

            Outside, there was a foreman with a cinematic cockney lilt to his voice and three chins tucked under a nylon vest of loud orange orchestrating the systematic removal of the half dozen slim ash trees adjacent by the thoroughfare with a banana yellow CAT-forged piece of robotics.  Lush with ninety-degree geometry, a trio of arthropod arms folded and rose and descended with the supple grace of an articulated toy with limbs.

            I couldn’t find that squirrel anywhere, for certain.  Eventually Sunila emerged out the two iced-up glass doors, now distant from halfway across the people’s pleasure park.  She was rotund in three woolen jackets and two silk scarves, or perhaps a single one of two tones that overlapped.  We went out for some kebab since it was near noon by then.