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Chicken Soup for the Soulless! (a parody))  Smirkov Grinn
 Sep 04, 2005 14:58 PDT 

The Brothers Grinn present the September 5, 2005,
serving of "Chicken Soup for the Soulless"

Our special "How does this work again?" issue


Matt Wegman pulled onto the interstate and felt the smooth acceleration
of his sport utility vehicle. The roadside scenery fell behind as the
road raced on, and Wegman felt completely at peace.

From time to time he would run into a pothole or run over a small family
sedan on its way to the Jersey Shore, but with his SUV's massive frame
and superior suspension system, he barely noticed the bump in the road
even as the other motorists were dispatched in flowering red balls of
fire beneath his wheels.

Forty miles and three-quarters of a tank of gas later, it suddenly
occurred to Wegman that he was dead. He remembered dying; he recalled
those last desperate weeks in Texas, gasping for fresh air that could
not be found; and he remembered that he had traded in his SUV,
affectionately called Bessie, years earlier for a Hummer. He began to
wonder where the road was leading them.

He came upon a high, white stone wall along the right side of the road,
just as the fuel light came on. The wall was made of the finest marble,
and far up the hill he saw a tall arch that glowed in the sunlight.

When he drew close, he saw that the arch was set over a magnificent gate
made of mother-of-pearl, and the street on the other side of the gate
looked like it was made from the purest gold. He parked the SUV, let out
a low whistle, and thought, "Man, I'd love to try the four-wheel drive
on that!"

A man seated at a desk to one side of the gate, with the dirt-stained
clothes and hefty frame of a laborer, looked up as Wegman stepped out of
Bessie, and smiled. "Hi," he said. "Can I help you?"

Wegman tried not to react as the man reached out a grease-stained hand.
He forced a smile and asked, "Excuse me, where are we?"

"This is -- hell!" The man screamed, and grabbed his wrist as a wasp
stung him on the back of his right hand. From beyond the gate came the
sounds of happy laughter, mixed with birdsong and carried aloft on a
sweet-smelling breeze with the merest suggestion of wildflowers in full
bloom. Softly from the background came the gentle susurrations of a
river whose mere thought filled the receptive heart with new life.

"Err," Wegman said, an eye on Bessie's fuel gauge. "Could I trouble you
for some gas?"

"It's not a problem at all," the man at the desk said, sucking at the
welt now growing on his hand. "Come inside, and I'll be happy to direct
you to some of the best places to get some. We have a burrito stand just
down the street, and a few blocks away there's a Chinese restaurant
that's a great place to get lots of gas."

Everyone's a comedian, thought Wegman, as the man gestured and the gate
swung open.

"Can old Bessie," said Wegman, climbing into his SUV, "come in too?"

"Oh dear," the man said. "I'm sorry, sir, but we don't allow those
inside. Besides, this isn't the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Our roads are so
smooth you won't even notice you're driving anywhere."

Wegman thought a moment, then turned back onto the road and continued on
his way.

Just as it seemed Bessie was running on fumes and surely would conk out,
Wegman came to a dirt road leading through a gate that looked as if it
had never been closed. There was a soft, broken-down split-rail fence.
As he approached the gate, he saw a man inside, leaning against an apple
tree and strumming on an acoustic guitar. On the fields beyond the man,
children raced back and forth, kicking soccer balls to the shouts and
jeers of parents. Rows and rows of identical houses stretched out as far
as the eye could see, under a shimmering brown haze that filled the air

"Excuse me!" Wegman called to the man. "Do you mind if I come in?"

The guitarist looked up. He had a tired face and brown eyes that seemed
lined with care and worry. About him hung the aura of a man used to
newspaper deadlines, a man deeply acquainted with role-playing games,
and a man who while deeply gifted artistically had never been able to
make it commercially as a rock musician.

"Yeah, sure, come on in," he said, and he turned back his attention to
the chords for "Blowin' in the Wind," which Wegman had not ever heard in
6/8 time, minor key before.

"What about Bessie?" Wegman asked, patting his SUV on the side of the

"Yeah, bring her in," the guitarist said, jerking his thumb over his
shoulder at a nearby convenience store. "You can fill her up over at the

Wegman grabbed a Coke and some Slim Jims from the convenience store,
then walked to the pump to fill Bessie's tank. An LED display on the
bump listed the price as $6.579 per liter. When he had paid, he drove
toward the man who was sitting by the tree.

The gate and fence were nowhere to be seen; everywhere Wegman looked,
the same soulless suburbia rolled on and on without interruption. There
was no way to leave.

"What do you call this place?" Wegman asked.

"This is hell," the man answered. "My name's Lou, by the way."

Wegman shook the proffered hand enthusiastically. "Well, that's
confusing," he said, pausing only to choke for five minutes on the
ground-level ozone. "The man down the road said that was hell too."

"Oh, you mean the place with the clean air, hydrogen-powered cars, fresh
water and happy animals frolicking beneath rows of trees?" said Lou.
Overhead the sun squatted motionless over a landscape that never knew
the peace of night. "Nope. That's heaven."

"Doesn't it make you mad for them to use your name like that?"

"No, we're just happy that they screen out the folks who would leave
their best friends behind."

Moral: With gas prices so high, people who drive SUVs can just go to

See the original:


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Original humor at www.BrothersGrinn.com!
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