Return To Bountiful, Part 1
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One man’s journey from an idyllic summer vacation, to a waking nightmare in a small town.At the signpost up ahead; your next stop: the Unity Zone.
It had been during the middle of an especially hot July that I, seeking some relief from the climbing temperature, decided to visit the north country. I had been traveling for three days through a forgotten corner of the state passing endless farms and towns some of which were so tiny they consisted of little more than a post
office and general store.
It was toward the evening of the third day that I came upon a road sign alerting me that I was coming to yet another featureless town in what had become part of the expected driving rhythm of farms and towns. The sign that caught my attention had an unexpected peculiarity in its wording. It read: "'Unity': A Fine Place To Enjoy
Your Double Pensions".
A mile later I found myself on the main street of Unity. As a town, Unity was far more well kept than anything I'd seen in my travels. Its fine shops ringed a well manicured village park where colorful flowers surrounded a bronze statue of either a tiny union leader, or comedian David Brenner.
I was growing hungry, so I pulled my car into one of the white lined parking spaces beside the village green. I was stepping onto the sidewalk trying to maneuver the kink from my back when I noticed that across the street was the "Unity Restaurant." I remember thinking to myself that I was fortunate because it looked like a place where I could finally get a decent meal after three days of fast food.
I walked into the dim lighting of the restaurant and was startled to see what appeared to be a group of identically dressed gentlemen sitting at a table. Clearly they were very pleased with themselves for some reason.
"We're so sophisticated!" one bespectacled individual whined in a nasal drone.
"Real intellectuals!" another added.
"We've even heard jazz!" a third exclaimed, clapping the back of the fellow seated next to him.
I was still watching the strange conversation when a tall crane-like woman with a remarkably small head appeared out of nowhere.
"This way," she said and lead me off to a small table beside the bar.
The woman then asked me if I'd like dinner and I asked to see a menu. Suddenly the whole restaurant erupted into laughter.
"Menu?!" the woman repeated in disgust. "We don't need any menus here."
I was about to respond when she continued, "We all eat the same meal, each day. It may be different, but we all eat whatever the meal of the day is."My mouth hung open in disbelief.
"Today," she continued "We're serving Steak Friedman."
"I guess I'll have the steak." I said my annoyance growing, "What does it come with?"
"Hostility Potatoes and Arrogance Asparagus. They are the chef's specialty." she answered.
"Fine," I said. "To drink, I'd like an iced tea."
"Today is lemonade day." She smiled briefly and walked off toward the kitchen.
The dinner, to my surprise, was actually quite good and I enjoyed it even without any A-1 steak sauce, which wouldn't be available to anyonefor two more days. Eventually the waitress returned and asked me if there would be anything else. I asked for a cup of coffee. She said I could only have tea.
Once I was outside, I felt relaxed and tired. The sun was beginning to go down and some people were strolling around the park, while otherssat on benches lazing in the shadow of the bronze statue. I sat down on a bench and lit a cigarette, enjoying the gentle summer breeze. I had decided to spend the night in town and start my travels fresh in the morning. I was debating if I should ask one of the locals about a hotel when one of the men from the restaurant approached me."We don't allow smoking here." he said, the sunset reflecting on his glasses. "We think it sets a bad example for the children."