Mortimer fingered through all the catalogs and placed his order for a New World.
In 6 to 8 weeks a large box marked “Fragile” arrived in the mail, with instructions manual outlining what little assembly’s required.
Mortimer tore it open, arranged the pieces as he found them — he filled the rivers, lakes and oceans in the kitchen sink, glued the Styrofoam glaciers on at the poles, herded the little sheep in their pastures, horses in mid-leap over fences, tiny packs of cigarettes on the shelves of convenient stores.
But Mortimer noticed pieces were missing, and he shook the empty box around, stared into it, spanking its bottom holding it open-end down.
Pieces were missing: There were no humans.
Not even those little Fisher-Price people to place behind the cash registers, at the ends of long conference tables, no hands signing agreements to deaf colleagues across the stock exchange rooms of Wall Street, the trading floors silent.
Mortimer called the 800 number to complain about his defective product, but no one answered ‘” just this voice recording optioning off his frustrations numerically.
Mortimer hung up—
Looking back through the catalog, he wasn’t sure he’d been ripped off, since this appeared to be exactly what he paid for.