‘Roscoe Bowls’ slid out of bed in the manner of an inebriated slug. One could say he toppled out of bed but because his topple was so devoid of energy and panache few would use the word. The foam top of the bed slumped unhealthily to the left. This slump produced a small tunnel which was popular with neighborhood creatures: cats, sugar gliders, isopods. They were always gone when he got home so he never complained.
His coughing fits started before he was even outside the hallway of the tenement. These fits caused him to tremble with each step as he passed the mailbox labeled ‘Roscoe Bowls’. That wasn’t even his real name but he had long stopped questioning why others preferred this moniker. Passing the Cafe Nonchalance he witnessed patrons stuffing their gullets with barrels of coffee and buttered extremities like a flock of well dressed pelicans. Cafe Nonchalance was key in promoting the New Grotesque, a dining trend popular with educated professionals. Table manners were seen as a thing of the past and patrons were encouraged to eat with their hands and chew while talking, letting bits of bread and egg escape their mouths (or “coffee gullets” as a certain chic set was fond of saying) and litter the tiled floor and marble counters of the Gaslamp themed cafe. One can only imagine the mess produced when a patron ordered the steak tartare.
‘Bowls’, or whatever his name was, had no time for such dilettantism. He had a meeting with the Soda Pop Confederation. They were trying to push some new flavors of cola. Increase production and distribution. ”They’re doing some amazing things with soda pop these days,” ‘Bowls’ overheard a passing citizen say one day. He knew then that he had picked the right industry to work in. The Confederation was having some trouble with the bottling sector. They were too busy funding vicious paramilitary groups to crush the indigenous resistance (“Mate tea drinkers. Every last one of them.”) The soda pop bottling industry was a well known front for US foreign policy interests. Soda executives had to tread carefully in these situations. They didn’t want to be seen as taking US National Interests lightly while remaining firm on the issue of increased production and distribution of new flavors.
The soda pop executives were very excited about the new flavors. One was called Fizzlebop Goonberry. A televised ad featured a google-eyed CGI blueberry laughing maniacally while beating citizens with a bat. The beaten citizens then melt into platinum colored digital puddles which reassemble as slick metallic Flavor Peoples. It was reminiscent of Capri Sun ads from the 1990s but the market research showed that most consumers didn’t remember those. Another flavor, Raspberry Rapture, was advertised on a billboard. Here a sinister anthropomorphized raspberry terrorizes a city by evaporating its citizens into a similarly metallic liquid. This didn’t go over so well in parts of the developing world.
‘Bowls’ realized he would be uncomfortably early for the meeting. His cough had induced a jump step which allowed him to skip three blocks. ’Bowls’ decided to kill some time by visiting the Trend Predictor at Office 725. More of a narrow hallway than an office, it was primarily used by music students to store their instruments while they took classes on Blog Copy and Shoe Repair. The Trend Predictor was located in one of the storage units, a clean and comfortable room with a desk and two Wassily chairs. Jill the Predictor smiled warmly at ‘Bowls’ as he took a seat. She then asked him generic questions about his childhood, his relationship with his aunt, and his opinion on wood panelling (“More appropriate in a house, a shipping container turned office, or on a station wagon?”) She rarely looked at him as she asked these questions. After a few taps on a keyboard and a haphazard flick through a blank rolodex, Jill concluded, “Within three years time we will see a Jangle Pop Revival.”