Many years ago, this blog told the tale of a man who refused to take off his gorilla mask. This is not that tale. This is the tale of a city. The city is called Crustville. You won't find it on any map, unless you find yourself in Crustville. In that case, it can be found on every map. Crustville is located eight miles beneath the earth's surface, below an abandoned doll factory deep within the Mojave Desert. You may ask how a city could exist eight miles beneath the earth's surface. Personally, I don't care. A better question is why a doll factory would set up shop in the Mojave Desert. It's asinine. Who were the advertising geniuses who came up with that one? Huh? Huh? Am I right? The Crustville founding fathers, before constructing their wondrous, terrible metropolis, raided the doll factory. They plucked each hair from each doll's head, laminated each individual hair, and declared it Crustville's currency. They have a saying in Crustville: "Another day, another doll-hair." Up here on the Earth's surface, this would be considered a dreadful pun. In Crustville, it is a practical statement of fact. Excepting their oddball currency, which is unwieldy and requires Crustvilleans to carry enormous wallets, their way of life is much like ours. We take you now to episode one of our delightful non-fiction tale, entitled "Downsizing."
I.P. Fakely combed his auburn moustache slowly and sighed. He had enjoyed his recent beach holiday in West Crustville and was feeling melancholy about returning to the hustle and bustle of corporate life. He took a deep breath and quietly uttered his relaxation mantra: "I am a handsome and powerful man who rarely appears unkempt." Then he smiled. The office needed him. He would have to leave his wistful vacation dreams behind and produce. His assistant, Jimmy, looked up from his computer and winked.
"How was the vacation, Mr. Fakely?" Jimmy asked. Jimmy was slight and too cheerful, though an excellent worker. I.P. enjoyed his company but occasionally fantasized about seeing him devoured by chimpanzees.
"Sensational," I.P. replied. "I was able to grow this moustache without worrying about looking unprofessional at work. The first few days of moustache-growing are not as attractive as they ought to be, Jimmy."
"Don't I know it, Mr. Fakely. When I pledged Sigma Tau Delta at Crustville Tech, I had to grow one during Hell Week. I also had to drink a cup of semen and get beaten severely with a tire jack."
"Hahahahaha!" I.P. laughed heartily. "Those were the days, Jimmy."
"I know, sir," Jimmy said. "To have just one of those golden afternoons back..."
Jimmy trailed off pensively. I.P didn't know what he'd do without him. He could type 280 words per minute.
Bob Larkin pulled into the parking lot of Crustnet Enterprises and breathed heavily. He took a pinch of snuff and punched the dashboard furiously.
"Goddamn you, downsizing!" he yelled. Then he put in a Roxette tape and snorted some cocaine. He liked to combine cocaine and snuff. He called it "the poor man's doubleheader."
I.P. had just opened the folder containing the Williams account when the phone rang. Jimmy answered it. "Yes, sir, right away," he said.
"It's Mr. Larkin, sir," Jimmy said. "He's waiting for you in the conference room."
"Bob Larkin," I.P. yelled affectionately as he entered the soundproof, leather-reclinered, executive conference room. "You filthy pederast! You abortion doctoring so and so! You cane toad! I find your aroma intoxicating and adult-oriented!"
"Fakely, you fuck!" Larkin responded. "You suckle a septuagenarian's armpit! You own the first three England Dan and John Ford Coley albums on cassette! Your daughter gave me a blowjob at Home Depot!"
"I love you, Bob!" I.P. exclaimed, and the two men embraced.
"What's the occasion?" I.P. asked.
"I'm afraid an unhappy one," Larkin replied.
I.P. swallowed hard and stared at his boots. "Let me have it."
"I'm sorry, I.P., but the rumors you've heard about downsizing are true. Profits are good, but the shareholders think they could be even better. Unfortunately, our assistants are first in line for cuts."
"Not Jimmy!" I.P. gasped.
"Afraid so," Larkin said, shaking his head sadly. "However, it could be worse. They're dropping us down to half an assistant."
"You mean __"
"Yep. Only part of Jimmy has to go. I've got my saw in the car. You want me to get started?"
"Wait a second. You're going to slice him in two at the midsection, right? He types 280 words a minute, so I'd really like to keep his upper body."
"I'm real sorry, I.P., but we tried that the last time we downsized, back in '89, for just the very reason you mentioned. It worked great for the upper bodies, but the lower halves got screwed. The only work they could find was operating paddle boats at ponds in state and amusement parks. Needless to say, paddle boat operator is not a high-demand industry. A lot of those damn things are still unemployed."
"Damn this infernal downsizing,!" I.P. shouted, shaking his fist at an imagined spiteful god.
"I don't like it, either, but it makes practical sense to slice them in half from head to toe. That way, each half gets a hand, an eye, a leg, and part of a fucked-up kind of mouth and tongue. They can make it work. Jimmy's typing skills are probably going to decrease, but just think of the thousands of doll-hairs we're going to save. I bet you'll get a new computer."
"Yay!" I.P. yelled, clapping his hands happily. "With a DVD-ROM and CD burner?"
"Only the best, baby," Larkin responded, pushing his thumb and forefinger together and kissing them. "Only the best."
"You've sold me," I.P. said. "Let's slice the fucker in two."
Larkin worked steadily for more than an hour, turning Jimmy the assistant into two able-bodied half-men. Jimmy took it like a trouper, even offering to clean up the blood. I.P. put in a special request to keep the right half (Jimmy is right-handed) and Larkin magnanimously complied. I.P. then gave Half-Jimmy a pep talk, a rousing oratorical masterpiece of strength in times of adversity. Half-Jimmy was inspired, though his typing suffered due to the forced reversion to the hunt-and-peck method. He was also not too fond of the new office uniform, a sweatsuit and football helmet, suggested by I.P. after a few days of staring at his disgustingly exposed innards. Half-Jimmy is still a solid worker, still too cheerful, and even slighter than he was before.
Next time: What Happened to Jimmy's Left Half?