A Fictional Character's Rite of Passage by Chris Leavens

By Chris Leavens
I felt like I had hit full-stride when I wrote this story about a guy who wanted to by a mall with a bag full of gold. It encapsulates the elements I always strived for: absurdity, humor, and self-reference. This one makes me feel pretty good about what I accomplished in the Pork Pony days.(CL)

Perched atop that hill on my moped, I stared at The City spread before me. A buffet of lights it was and I had already chosen the course I was to sup. The City had a store that sold malls and I had enough yellow boys to snag one all for my own. My eyes felt that they had taken in enough of this vista so my body was inclined to carry them into The City. I pushed my foot against the gravel beneath. Potential energy was made kinetic and the moped and I began to drift down the sloped roadway. My backpack full of gold coinage jingled upon hitting each minor bump.

I can tell about now you're wondering why I don't use all these doubloons I'm carrying on my person to buy and maintain a car or light truck. Well, I'm into the notion of saving. When I was a boy, my older brother Jim and I would eat breakfast together every morning. Orange juice was our preferred beverage. I so dearly loved orange juice that I wouldn't drink it; I'd quaff it, gulp it, pound it, choke it down. My older brother liked it very much as well, only he'd sip it. By and by mine would be gone before I so much as touched an English Muffin and Jim's, well he'd store his up for a grand breakfast finale. He'd always say, "I'm saving it." He saved everything he liked, including money.

Jim's now a millionaire.

So I decided to subscribe to this pattern and I began saving. Unlike Jim, however, I had a goal in mind. My saving would go toward buying a mall in The City. That's where the moped comes in. It's an amazingly efficient machine. Downhill journeys are virtually free. Helps me save.

MallMart was the vendor I'd chosen to procure my mall from. Their fliers told me that a sale was underway and that now was the time to buy. I knew those fliers were right. I coasted into the parking lot and shackled my moped to a kindly and sturdy post that was embedded in the concrete in front of MallMart. The City's residents didn't really ride around much on mopeds (or bicycles, for that matter) so finding a place to chain your wheels was often difficult for guys like me. I silently saluted that pole and MallMart.

The aisles in MallMart are huge. They have to be. MallMart sells malls. I sounded like a walking piggy bank as I trudged along those lanes perusing the merchandise. Soon enough a salesman was upon me. His MallMart issued shirt was stuck with nearly eighty pins, all ads for MallMart. He was called Vance.

To call Vance a large man was a bit of an understatement; this man was a mountain. I'm certain the squirrels and monkeys living within the fleshy folds of his behemoth body would agree. A fluffy black mustache crawled across his upper lip. "What can I do you for, son?" he asked, yellow teeth poking from his gums like candy falling out of a trick-or-treater's bag.

I'm looking to buy myself a mall, I told him. "Which model you looking to own, bud?" Well, that big one over there. "AT708? What are yer plans for her?" I figured I'd open some stores in it, I guess. "Hmm. You got any merchants lined up?" No, not really.

Vance was vexed, "Have you had a look at all our models, bud?" Well, in the fliers I - "You hain't never bought a mall before have you? No you're a real greenhorn, I can tell. Listen, you got the cash for this kinda thing?" He cut into my personal space like a glacier.

I unzipped my backpack a little bit and took out a couple gold coins. They gleamed with the opulence of old world conservatism. I told him that like my brother Jim, I had been saving "Gold? Boy, you wanna pay in gold?" It just seemed to me a more dramatic way to pay.

Vance shifted his massive frame. I'd normally call this fidgeting, but this man was too enormous to fidget. "Listen. We don't deal in drama in this store or in this City. We deal in malls. How do you plan on taking something like an AT708 home? Have you made arrangements? Where are you gonna put this thing?" I figured you delivered. "Do some freakin' research next time kid. Malls are huge. Even mini-malls are big. Do you know how much it costs to tote one around?" Listen, I've got wheels and I've got a little extra cash if you can help me arrange delivery. I've been saving. "Where's your car?" I don't have one. I've got a moped.

Vance's mouth opened and stayed agape for at least three minutes. I mentioned that my brother Jim had a car that I might be able to use to haul the mall. His trance broke. "What does yer brother have?" I told him it was a Volvo. "Wagon? It's a wagon, right." Sedan. "My God. I'm thinking about asking you to leave son." I've got the money. "I'm thinking about asking you to leave." I've been saving. I want the mall. Vance stared at me. His flesh rippled. A deer fled from his back fat and flock of geese sprang from his belly. His whole being trembled. Like a volcano, he grew and erupted.

The strength of a fat man can often be misjudged. I contemplated this as I flew through the air, backpack in tow. I watched Vance and the myriad of malls behind him grow smaller. The automatic glass doors slid together supplying another layer of distance between my prize and myself. Why did I want a mall anyway? Vance was right. Where would I put one? I didn't have any stores lined up, just a whole pile of arcades and Orange Julii. My plan was all foolishness and youthful boldness. Still in the air and ascending, I realized that this was my rite of passage. It's such a commonplace theme in fiction. How could I have been so blind? This man tossing me into the air was symbolic of my growth as a person. Boy becomes man.

Taking hold of this thought, I decided abbreviate the process of falling action and altogether skip dénouement. I'm a fictional character with a sack full of gold coins and self-realization. My brother's got a Volvo Sedan. Why not repeat the story's climax forever? I think that's what I've been saving for.

Leave a comment

Entry Archives

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Chris Leavens published on May 27, 2002 8:28 PM.

Crumpets was the previous entry in this blog.

Somewhat Fit: A Mild Success Story for Those Seeking Mild Success by Jason Kornblatt is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.