Part 19: Fit The Sixteenth : The Lamb Lies Down On Rape Street
Fit The Sixteenth : The Lamb Lies Down On Rape Street
Downtown wasn't looking too shabby these days. The nightlife, though it consisted mainly of speakeasies and burlesques, had become one of things that marked the city. And if that wasn't your thing, you could always head to the tenements and see if there was a rent party going on, complete with a hired stride pianist.
However, if you got stabbed in the night, the nearest hospital was nearly two miles away, and it being the only hospital in the town, was often overcrowded. I had to fix that. A second hospital was accorded pride of place on the shorefront, to the disappointment of several property developers, but fuck'em.
Even that was overcrowded after the first month of operation, but at least the situation was far better than before.
OK, so I was perhaps being self-indulgent when I dictated that a bus stop be planted right next to my house, but there were times when I might want to catch the bus to work. Besides, it would also serve the school.
Another block of dense industrial area was laid out, now that the first was fully developed with that ludicrously huge factory dominating it.
Another road. No idea what I was going to call it, presumably the Town Planning department would start a new naming scheme based on muses or dwarves or illegal narcotics. Heroin Street did a certain ring to it.
The glut of money was getting so that I was looking for new ways to waste it. I called in Connie.
Connie, I'm bored. What plaything do you have for me today?
What? Well, apparently there's crazy idea that's going around called conservationism. We might be able to enact an ordinance encouraging its growth within the city.
Oooh, tell me more.
Holy crap, that actually looks like it might do some good. How much does it cost?
About §200 a year, the cost will go up as the city grows, but it's something we could well wear.
OK, consider it signed. Nate won't know what's hit him. He'll go "Mr B, can I get some help moving this rusty car wreck" and I'll be all "no you're a strong young lad you can lift it all by yourself".
By some kind of miracle, it seem to have actually worked. A few months later, Connie had some good news.
We've got a what?
A High-tech research lab!
I can't bloody see it anywhere. It looks like the same old morass of cloud factories.
Well I'm pretty sure we approved the construction of Doctor Zed's Cloning Facility (We Make Toasters) Propriety Limited.
I'd just have to take her word for it.
The suburb of Port Funkytown was fully laid out, with another station put down to service it.
Traffic volumes seemed to go up and down with no real rhyme or reason, though the bus network had made an impact. Maybe it was just about time to think about putting in a subway. Anyway, at least this month Moe was happy.
Great, Moe, just keep bugging me for no reason.
I went back to what I was doing, deciding which invitations to parties and openings I should accept. I was halfway through the pile when Randall let himself in.
Something on your mind?
Can't we just make the existing library bigger or something? I thought it was serving the city pretty well.
Well, it could be better. Plus putting a new branch out elsewhere in the city, perhaps closer to the ghetto...
We don't have a ghetto.
OK, I meant the "estates".
A fine euphemism. But whatever, I'll plonk it next to the new train station and see if they can be bothered borrowing anything out.
Everyone seemed to be getting on my case that week. The next day Maria had come in with her precious graphs.
Yeah, well, I suppose two stations isn't really enough. I'll see what I can do.
I really do not see why you're always so ready to take Randall's advice but when I come in you never take me seriously.
Uh, well, I don't know. He's a persuasive chap. Whereas you have all the charm of a walrus.
A walrus? Now come on! I AM NOT A WALRUS!
Uhh, leave the maps with me, I'll try and work something out.
As sure as night followed day, Randall was in requesting even more schools. At some point I was going to have start putting them down willy-nilly just to keep up.
Whilst schools were numerous and yet not numerous enough, I'd been mulling over having a college built over the past few years so that school-leavers had somewhere to extend their education.
Fortunately the budget seemed to be overflowing with cash at this stage so I finally decided to approve it.
First I needed to mess around with the northwest end of the old town, to accommodate it, which would make for a nice little neighbourhood.
Voila! Scumbag College.
And, eh, why not build a completely pointless rail bridge while I was at it.
I ended up having a road pulled up since I realised that I had it built on the wrong side of the tracks. I still wasn't sure how that whole area would end up looking, but I'd keep working on it.
Yes, yes. Soon we'd be seeing intellectuals here there and everywhere, but it'd be worth it. At least I hoped so.
Oh yes, Randall was back in with his big smile, reeking of enthusiasm.
I've been reading this bio of yours. Interesting reading.
Yeah, it is, isn't it?
Hmm, yes. "Eschewing the traditional academic route, Randall Shoop received a Certificate of Completion in general studies from Gonzo Community College." What exactly did that entail?
Sitting around in class, chatting up the pretty girls, and then taking them home to drink wine, talk about philosophy and baseball, and listen to weird records from Germany.
Uh-huh. "He landed an internship with the Jackersville department of Social Services, learning his profession, as he likes to say, from the ground up." So you basically opened mail and made coffee.
At least until I figured I could do my bosses' jobs better than they could. I staged a violent and bloody putsch and put myself in the big chair. Then I got bored with the whole charade and quit.
Ri-i-i-ight. "Ten years ago, Randall founded the Urban Paradise Movement, a group that believes cities themselves are living entities". Cities are living entities? That's a pretty far-out idea.
Well you know that joke about town planners placing the entertainment facilities next to the sewerage outflow? That's basically what the whole idea was about.
Sheesh, don't tell Constance that joke. Ahh, now, "Two years ago he renounced the movement." Well at least you came to your senses.
Well, it was attracting a lot of groovy types that had no idea what they were talking about. One of them was thoroughly convinced that London was actually a giant dragon, waiting to strike out at the rest of England.
Congratulations you founded a society of kooks. It didn't end in a violent and bloody putsch, did it?
Ah, well. Where were we? Oh yeah. "Probably due to his natural sensitivity to the plight of those less fortunate, Randall's input on matters of social welfare is sought SimNationwide." So I get to have you come and tell me to build new schools all the time.
Well, there's more than that. I mean, I can tell you that our college is filling all the needs of our post-secondary students!
Great, Randall. I want to show you something, have you seen the latest city budget?
Yeah, where we allocate how much money goes to things. We're taking roughly 18k of revenue, spending about 10k of that on city expenses. Do you know what over half those expenses are due to?
No, your goddamn schools and hospitals! We're spending oodles of cash on the damn things. Maria is cranky with me because I'm telling her she has to run her police and fire services on a third-world budget, whereas our kids are being flooded with cash. And yet you're always coming in and telling me to spend more.
It's worth it, though, isn't it?
I guess it is, but the others are starting to get jealous. You have the flimsiest of formal qualifications and yet you're getting on everyone's case about how they should have a formal education. I find that a little ironic coming from a graduate of the University of Life.
Then why don't you spend more on public safety?
Because I'm a tight bastard, that's why.
Growth, growth, growth at all costs. The cycle of expanding population, then trying to get the services to catch up was starting to get to me. Not to mention that some of my advisors could be pretty dense at times. For instance, take Gus.
Wouldn't it be easier just to put down a few more pumps?
Oh, yeah, I hadn't thought of that.
And as for the power lines on the north end of Lake Bunkley, I was getting sick of those too. Fortunately the best way to get rid of them was just to lay down more housing, which is what I did.
The milestones were coming through faster and faster, 60 thousand was pretty good going but at this stage I wasn't going to get excited until we hit six figures.
I wasn't sure if the city was going to grow exponentially, but even on a linear trend from our base of zero in 1900, we'd hit that mark well within 50 years. I'd like to think we might even make it before 1940.
I went out one morning with Gus to inspect them installing some new water pumps. He roughly indicated where it needed to go, and gave me the honour of placing it down myself.
Oops. I ended up putting an ugly bump into the shoreline.
Err, that's not where it was supposed to go.
That's barely going to suck up any water at all.
Oh calm yourself. We'll put down a few more, no-one will notice.
Passing through the industrial area, I noticed one complex that looked just a little less grimy than the others. That must be the "high-tech research lab" Constance was yabbiting about, but it didn't really look that impressive to me. Better than smokestacks, though.
The magic figure for the EQ of the working population was 100. Given that the city had started it with an workforce EQ of less than 70, 85 wasn't bad and showed that we were about halfway there, and perhaps now with a education system covering all sectors of the population its rise would accelerate. It was even rumoured that a university might even be built in town, though I didn't know when that was going to happen.
Life expectancy wasn't so crash hot. At the low 60s, the idea of retirement was a fantasy. Birth, school, work, dead at 62.
1927 rolled around, and as usual the new year meant spending lots of money on stupid crap.
Like a bridge to Pompeii.
The plans for it were drawn across the river...
... and just like that, the bridge appeared out of nowhere. Very disconcerting.
I was in the area trying to figure out how to configure the local road network, when Moe turned up in his car. He had a passenger with him. They both got out, and walked over to where I was framing things through my outstretched hands. The man bore a trimmed beard, glasses, and a scowl that was permanently carved into place by years of dedication to being cranky.
Hi, Moe, who's your friend?
I'M YOUR WORST NIGHTMARE!
Yes, settle down Jim. You don't want to startle Wal.
WHY NOT? You need to intimidate your mayor. Not suck up to him like he's your best pal. He's not your best pal. The mayor is the natural enemy of the transit advisor.
Well, with respect, Jim, that might be the way things work in your town, but around here, we rule by consensus.
RULE BY CONSENSUS? Bahahahahhaha. No such thing.
Moe, who is this guy?
Uh, Jim could you shut up for a moment, I want to introduce you to
I NEED NO INTRODUCTION! I'M JIM! EVERYONE KNOWS JIM.
So you're Jim I take it. I've heard... things about you.
There you go, Moe. And you're just another mayor of another cruddy town who doesn't fully respect or appreciate the power of the road.
I see. So why are you here for, anyway.
I'm consulting Moe on various things, like how to make sure his empire doesn't get eroded by mayors who think they know everything but in fact know bugger-all.
OK, whatever, I've got a town to lay out.
Whilst Jim was apparently teaching Moe how to be more assertive, I set about deciding where things would go. The town planning staff took notes, the surveyors surveyed, and the transit advisors bellowed at each other. I'd finished telling everyone what was going to happen, and then I walked back to Moe and Jim, who by this stage were yelling at each other for some reason.
... now, repeat after me, YOU CAN'T CUT BACK ON FUNDING! YOU WILL REGRET THIS!
You can't cut back on funding! You...
YOU CAN'T CUT BACK ON FUNDING! YOU WILL REGRET THIS!
I Still! Can't! Hear! YOU!!!
YOU CAN'T CUT BACK ON FUNDING! YOU WILL REGRET THIS!
Perfect. Remember, the next time your jackass mayor decides to lower the roads budget "just to see what'll happen", just shout that at him until he changes his mind. Got that?
I think so.
Then Jim turned to me, with that steely thousand-yard stare of his. Then he looked at the road behind me.
Jesus what the fuck is this nonsense? CURVES IN THE ROAD?
So what if there is? I think they make the place look nice.
OK whatever I hear you're planning to start a subway network I've had years of experience of helping cities set up subway systems heard of City Name of course you have they keep bugging you trying to get you to take their trash not that I ever thought that was a problem but anyway I helped them put down their subway network and it's great it really works well for them so when you plan to start one here in Funkytown I strongly urge you to employ me as a consultant or else here's my business card I will be very angry if you decide to start the subway without me because I am the best transit consultant in the land when you're ready call me.
At that point, Jim gave me his card, clicked his tongue against his teeth, winked, and gave me the thumbs up, and got back into Moe's car.
Moe. Who the hell was that, exactly.
A genius. A crazy volatile genius, but a genius nonetheless.
Well, a subway, eh? We might think about it. Though I'm not sure whether I wanted Jim to have anything to do with the planning for it. I liked and trusted Moe, he gave good advice, just because he wasn't bombastic like Jim didn't mean he was a pushover. Oh no.
By midway through 1927, we could just about afford to start a subway, though it'd be just a two station system to begin with. But there was something else on the horizon that I'd have to start saving for.
What I was pleased about, though, was the slightly different identity each neighbourhood was taking on.
Downtown (or the Hall District) alongside Port Funkytown was a strip of continuous middle-rise development...
Ashy Bend was a more laid-back suburb. A marina might even find its way onto the river before too long. Some people tended to wonder why I was leaving a gap there near the shore. It would be filled, but only when the circumstances felt right.
The Old Town and the new college district merged into each other effortlessly, the new areas breaking from the grid but still easy to navigate.
And, well, as for the industrial area, it wasn't that wonderful to look at but at least it employed a lot of people.
The city was progressing nicely but, with crime on the rise again, it was becoming clear that Maria's concerns about police (and fire) coverage should start to be taken seriously, particularly as the expansion of the port and college neighbourhoods out of the existing areas of police coverage.
The "aura" in most residential parts was quite good.
But with those areas that were in the red, it was no accident that was were police coverage was weakest.
And, of course, the ground rail was also being hammered. On the one hand it was great that it was being used to its potential, but eventually it would have to be supplemented by that subway line.
And so, the creature spread its claws across the river and into the countryside.