The first installment of this ongoing dark-comedy, sometimes somewhat literary story about a society run by children, for the most part. It’s a cross between Lord of the Flies, and, well, everything else. It shall be ongoing, and is open to fan fiction. Just let me know. We can post it here, if you so please. Hopefully, I can post a new stanza at least once a month of about two-thousand words. And here we go.

 

The Adoption Center/Parent Kennel

 

Florence entered the adoption center, finally ready to start his family.

The secretary, a ten-year-old smacking bubble gum, grinned at him and his short, yet untrimmed hair. Walking towards the counter, he bounced the tennis ball he found in the gutter on the way there.

He could barely go to sleep the night before, as today was his birthday. Officially 12-years-old—old enough to finally adopt a parent.

“Do you have an appointment?” the secretary said, twisting the end of her ponytail.

“They said show up when I’m twelve. I turned twelve.”

She reached into a drawer on her side of the counter, extracted a sucker, and handed it to him. “Go have a seat over there.”

She pointed to a line of pastel green, blue, and orange beanbags along the wall.

He quickly unwrapped the sucker. “Do you have the cherry kind?”

“Only apple.”

“I guess that’s okay.”

Sucking on the sucker, he made for the beanbags, bouncing the tennis ball on the carpet along the way.

The secretary exited the room and skipped down the hall.

He chomped down hard on the sucker. To his dismay there was no gum in the middle. Why didn’t she offer him the kind with gum in it?

Florence jumped on a beanbag, elbow first, and then did it again. The beanbag rustled, as air escaped from it in a sudden burst. He leaped onto it again and again.

“Florence!”

The sudden shouting of his name startled him. He flung himself around. The secretary was in the hallway entrance with another girl. The second girl looked a little mad with her stringy long hair. She was probably his age. An older kid like him.

“You’re Florence?” the older girl said.

He finished chewing, and swallowed the sucker. “Yeah.”

“Follow me.”

“Okay.” Hopefully, there were quality parents available.

The two of them strolled down a hallway, and stopped in front of a tall die-cast iron screen door. The older girl inserted a key into the brass knob, and then twisted.

“Again, follow me,” the older girl said. “Stay close. You’ll know the right ones when you meet them, understand?”

“Got it,” he said, and then they continued their journey.

To the left of them, a long, beige wall with pictures of nuclear families, framed and proper. Every few steps a professionally produced photo of a different family. To the right of them were rooms with, Plexiglas doors, so they could see the prospective parents through them. Holes in the doors allowed them to hear the prospective parents on the other side.

The older girl said, “So, as you know, any parent who is here is here for a reason.”

“Why didn’t you tell me your name?”

“You didn’t ask.”

“Oh. What’s your name?”

“Samantha. But I don’t use that. Call me Ta-ta.”

“Why?”

“That’s the name I use.”

Florence smashed the tennis ball into his jean pocket. “Ta-ta, how do I find the reason the parents are here?”

“We lost the papers that said why they couldn’t be parents in the outside society anymore. But I know why. I read the papers.”

“Oh.”

“You can trust me,” she said with a nod. “I have a really, really, really good memory.”

They passed yet another picture of a happy nuclear family, and then stopped at the door of a muscular adult who had a nicely trimmed beard. Although it sounded as if he might have been talking to himself, once he saw Florence and Ta-ta he went quiet. He took a few steps forward. A man barely taller than them, tattoos along his arms, his eyes wandering.

“He’s not that old,” Florence said.

“Nope,” Ta-ta added. “And he’s fun. He likes go-carts and ice-cream. Not even kidding.”

“No way.”

“There’s other stuff,” Ta-ta said, with a slow nod.

“What’s the other stuff?”

“He’s addicted to crack.”

“Oh, man,” Florence responded.

“Yeah. All of his teeth are fake and he’s been injecting steroids to get big.”

“Do crack and steroids go together? It might not be good to do both. I wish I got the sucker with the gum in it.”

“We have those. I’ll get you one when we’re done.”

“Oh, cool.”

At the next door, a young woman with long, dyed pink hair sat against the back wall. A maudlin stare emanated off of her.

“She’s pretty,” Florence said.

The prospective parent had on plenty of make-up, which brought out her eyes and made her cheeks rosy.

“Is there a problem with her?” he asked.

“It depends on what you call a problem. She has five kids, already.”

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“Plenty of experience.”

“I think I remember that she has AIDS, and all her kids died of it.”

He placed his hands in his pockets. “Hmmm. Can she give it to me?”

Ta-ta grabbed his arm. “You can get it every time she kisses you. Or not, maybe. Nobody really knows. Like I said, it’s up to you on what’s a problem or not.”

She let go of his arm.

He said, “Is she sick?”

For a moment they stared through the door and across the room, both of them waited for the woman to move, to blink, to show signs of breathing.

Ta-ta shrugged. “Like I said, she’s got the AIDS.”

“Oh yeah.”

They continued their stroll.

“The next one is going to be a challenge,” Ta-ta said in a whisper.

“Why are you whispering?”

“I don’t know.”

They approached the transparent door. The man in there was bald but smiling, despite his wrists being cuffed in front of him, despite the chain attached to the collar around his neck that connected him to the back wall.

“Hey, guys, how’s today for you?” the man said. “You can come in. No worries.”

Florence frowned. “Why is he chained and cuffed?”

“The real question is, why is he here?”

“If you uncuff me, I’ve got candy right in my pocket.”

“He’s got candy?” Florence said.

“Maybe. Probably.”

“You guys treat people mean,” Florence said. “What kind of candy!” he shouted to the man.

“Butterscotch!” was the reply.

Florence’ eyes went wide. “Butterscotch.”

“No,” Ta-ta shook her head. “He’s a molester.”

“A molester? Why is a molester allowed to be here?”

She tugged his elbow, ushering him along to the next door. “It’s complicated.”

“Well, are there weird answers or something? Too many answers?”

“I only know of one.”

“Then what’s the answer? Why is a molester allowed to be here?”

“Because they couldn’t decide what was worse—getting molested, getting AIDS, or being raised by a crack-head on steroids.”

“I’d rather be raised by a crack-head on steroids with AIDS than molested.”

“So this next one you might like.”

They arrived at the next room. Inside were rows of flower pots with flowers of all sorts sprouting out of each respective pot. Along the back wall lay rows of carrots and tomatoes. Bags of fertilizer were stacked on the side wall, and in the middle of all of it and watering the roses was an old woman, slightly hunched and straight-faced.

“Wow,” Florence said. “She made all that?”

“Yep, she did.”

“What’s the problem that she has?”

Ta-ta sighed, deeply. “She’s just old. She might die any day. Then what?”

The old lady turned, looked at them, and then smiled from ear to ear. Her wrinkled cheeks became smooth with her grin. “Hello, young man.” She waved, set the water spout down, and then started towards them.

The old woman said, “You look like a fine young man. Do you like to play?”

“Yes, yes, I do,” he responded.

“We could go to the park, and I could help you with your homework. I’m good at math.”

Florence gasped. “I’m horrible at math. You can do math?”

“My best subject.”

“I like soccer. Could you take me to soccer practice?”

The old woman pursed her thin lips. “I’m afraid my knees aren’t what they once were, I shouldn’t get out too much. But we can still have fun, don’t you think?”

“I guess,” he said. “Do you like pizza and ice-cream?”

“Those are okay, but not something you should be in the habit of having. You need green, raw food. Keep you healthy and young and strong.”

Green food? He thought. Raw?

“What about TV?” he said. “Is that something you’d allow, you know, as far as being fun?”

“I don’t do television or video games.” She laughed. “Those things keep you from going out and having fun at the park.”

Florence turned away from the old lady, and focused on Ta-ta.

Ta-ta’s face was covered in curiosity, one brow raised, her head turned to the side. “What?”

“I’m going to go with the crack-head.”

“Are you sure?” Ta-ta said.

“He’s outgoing and likes ice-cream. I don’t think steroids hurt anybody, not too much, at least. We’ll just make sure he gets enough crack to get by and then we’ll be a good family.”

Ta-ta placed her hands on her hips, rocked on her heels. “If that’s what you want.”

The old woman closed her eyes, turned and slowly walked away.

“She’ll find someone,” Ta-ta said of the old woman. “Most of them do.”

From there, Florence began getting mentally prepared to start his new life with his new crack-head, steroid-using dad.

 

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