Friday, June 05, 2009

Shopping Center

The streets are populated with shiny cars in the bright rainbow colors of fruit flavored candy. They are red and bright yellow and dark blue. Some are black or silver or gold. All glisten in the sun like brand new toys. The streets are a velvety gray, smooth with clean crisp painted lines. They are new fairways not yet tainted with tire marks and oil slicks. Circling and winding from one tall stop light to the next, they snake their way around the clean shopping centers and chain restaurants. The whole place is clean and bright. The walls of the box stores are anonymous and painted in warm cream colors, the store names are written in brand appropriate fonts across the front of the building faces in blue or white or yellow. They are un-chipped, void of any stray marks. So new that weather hasn’t been able to take its toll and vandals are still rubbing their eyes in astonishment, licking their lips and rubbing their palms together in anticipation of the day when security diminishes, but those days are yet to come. For now security carts patrol the parking lots like mother hens looking over nests of eggs. The planter boxes are filled with neatly trimmed shrubbery. Little trees that look like toothpicks with gumdrops set upon their points stand as proud as tin soldiers in the cement boxes outside of the glass store fronts. Grass rolls out in a fine green carpet alongside the walkways that lead to the smoky colored glass doors of the box restaurants. Lanky irises yawn up out of little islands set in the parking lots accompanied by skinny little maples that dream of making shade some day. Meanwhile, the shiny cars nose up to them, resting in tidy rows reserved by clean white lines. The traffic lights hang over the intersections that join dining establishments to malls to movie theaters like gawky tall young ladies. Their three bright eyes blink green to yellow to red under their steel black bonnets, holding lines of eager cars at bay with their crimson blush. Pedestrians, mostly teens, flow through the clearly delineated crosswalks guided by the electronic chirp chirp and flashing blue symbol that barely resembles them with their styled hair and skinny jeans, hoop earrings and music T-shirts, skateboards and chunky hand bags tucked under their arms. They mill about in front of the cinema gazing up at the white marquee board with its bold black letters announcing titles, show times, and ratings. More people file in and out of the box stores and main mall entrances, chatting on cell phones or rattling keys, or both at once, carrying boxes and bags, pushing carts with whinny toddlers strapped into the front like the dragon masts of Viking ships. Satisfied diners pick at their teeth with toothpicks and jingle change in their slack pockets in front of the restaurants. They hurry back to their shiny metal hosts to rouse them from their restful slumber, like parents rousing babies in a nursery to claim them and take them home. Only these babies roar and speed along over the posted limit. They are directed along those clean new stretches of road by the gangly traffic lights that hope to imitate rainbows with their perfectly arched spines. These babies puff out little invisible clouds of exhaust, filling the causeway with their chemical breath. They bleat like lambs when they fear they will bump noses with one another, or if the one in line ahead of the others is being too timid or law abiding, they may all join in a chorus of bleated complaints. With no lanes for bicycles or scooters, these must make their way amid the metal monster babes at their own risk, like puppies hopping to avoid their tails getting crushed.

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