Welcome to Smallville, Kansas
Meteor Capital of the World!
As I fly past the sign at a sedate 80 mph, I can't help but think it should say "Smallville: The town that time forgot." According to Dad's file, the town itself has remained virtually unchanged in my lifetime. What a load of shit. This place hasn't changed since before the Depression. I bet that if I squint, I could see the town in sepia tones.
I park on what the locals optimistically call Main Street, what I call my personal corner of Hell, and sit in my car. A bright yellow sign stretched over the street from two telephone poles boldly proclaims, "Let's Go Crows! Kaw, Kaw." At least they invested in an actual sign; I suppose they could have just borrowed one of Ma's old sheets and spray painted it. Don't these people realize that crows are a symbol of death? Does Van Gogh mean nothing to them?
Smallville is a strange cross between Norman Rockwell and Stephen King. On one hand it's full of blue-haired ladies that smell like mothballs and pinch children's cheeks, but at the same time I fully expect Malachi to come running out of the cornfields and murder us all in our sleep. There's something hanging in the air here, a secret that everybody knows but never talks about. They say that every town has one. Metropolis has millions, and my father knows where most of the bodies are buried.
As I slide out of my car, I wonder if Smallville's secret is just it's overwhelming odor of cow shit. Dad knows how to pick them. This place obviously has enough excrement lying around to fertilize the entire fucking country, perfect for a crap factory. It's making my eyes water.
Just looking at this place makes me want to get high. There's supposed to be a coffee shop of some kind in town. Since I don't think the denizens of Smallville would take too kindly to me snorting a line off the hood of my car, I'll have to make do with a caffeine fix. Maybe they know how to make a double shot espresso in Hell.
At least ten people stare at me as I walk down the sidewalk towards The Beanery, a feeling disturbingly familiar to my father's walk of shame in his office. I am neither amused by it, nor do I owe anything to these people. If it were up to me, I would raze this pimple on the ass of humanity that they call Smallville and salt the earth behind me. For now, though, I have to bide my time until my father's little chess game with my life pans out.
I stride into The Beanery and a bell jingles over my head. How quaint. It smells vaguely of stale coffee and the industrial strength cleaner they used on the counter tops this morning before opening. I suppose I should be grateful that they clean at all here. They probably serve Folgers instant and call it coffee. There's four or five customers seated around the store, all of them staring at me. I choose to ignore the peasantry.
The perky blonde behind the counter has a wide, soft mouth. The kind that makes even a dead man think about endless possibilities and hours of fellatio. Obviously they can do some things right here. I give her a crooked smile.
"I'll have a double shot espresso."
"Okay," she gushes as her eyes glaze over.
Christ, she sounds like she has cornflakes for brains. She probably rattles if you shake her too hard. I suppose it doesn't matter, though. A girl doesn't require too many brain cells to give good head, just a brainstem and a healthy sucking reflex.
"That'll be $3.50."
Obviously Starbucks doesn't have the corner market on overpriced coffee.
She gives me my change and a vapid smile. "You can have a seat. I'll bring your coffee when it's done." She then meanders off to the back somewhere to presumably make my espresso.
Almost immediately after I sit, metallic-sounding scrapes and an odd rattling noise float out from the back room where the blonde disappeared. I'm not sure if I should take my chances or call an exorcist. I decide that the crap factory really isn't going anywhere, unfortunately, and wait.
I would never actually admit to myself that I'm avoiding Plant Number 3. Luthors do not avoid; they face things head on. Of course, I'd prefer to face that particular firing squad at least three sheets to the wind, but I wouldn't technically call that avoidance. It's Dutch courage. According to half the Metropolis police force, technicalities are my specialty.
Evidently the waitress survived her foray into the back room because she plunks down my espresso, sloshing about a third of it into the saucer. If you could call it sloshing. I'm not completely sure what she's placed in front of me is espresso. It looks more like raw sewage or maybe used motor oil. It's not really capable of sloshing.
She smiles at me, as if she expects me to pat her head and tell her I'm proud.
"Enjoy," she chirps. She walks back behind the counter as the bell over the door jingles, announcing another customer.
I wince a little and take a hesitant sip of my "espresso." It tastes a lot like what I imagine jet fuel would taste like. I'd suspect that she's trying to poison me, but I don't think she has the faintest clue of who I am. On the bright side, the caffeine high will probably be like no other.
I sit in The Beanery for thirty minutes staring at the sludge in my cup. I wonder if you can read espresso sludge like you can read tea leaves. Evidently it doesn't work that way, because it's definitely not telling me anything about my future. Well, unless I'm going to be attacked by a shit monster at the crap factory. Or it could just be saying that my future is in the toilet.
This is ridiculous. It's espresso sludge, not a fortune cookie. And it's hitting way too close to home and I can't even blame it on drugs or booze.
More than a little spooked, I leave the coffee shop. It's raining now. And it smells like wet cow shit outside. Obviously my day can get no worse.
As usual of late, I'm wrong. There's something off about the Porsche. And it's not just that it's parked next to an ancient, rusted-out Chevrolet truck. Studying the driver's side as I walk towards it, I realize that someone has keyed my car. That's just fucking fabulous. They obviously took a page out of my book on passive aggression. My father would probably tell me I had it coming. Yeah, fuck him and my inner-voice that sounds like him.
After briefly entertaining the idea of peeling out, I decide that I am a better man than that. And I make a mental note to fire as many people as humanly possible as soon as I get to the Plant. And kick every puppy I see along the way. No one's that good of a man.
I pass the town limits doing 95 mph. "Smallville: the town that Lex Luthor raped and pillaged." That has a nice ring to it.
The closer I get to the Plant, the darker my mood becomes. This whole week has been one huge downward shit spiral. Now it's all culminating into this: I'm going to be playing the master of the plantation in the ass-crack of nowhere, Kansas. It's the biggest fucking joke of my life.
As I park I momentarily entertain the thought of turning around, going to the castle and getting completely shit-faced. My father would expect nothing less from me. Smirking, I slide out of the car instead and take a quick glance around the parking lot.
I am lord and master of all I survey. Fuck me.
"Thanks, Dad," I mutter. I turn and stride towards the dead end of my future.
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