Part 28: Fit The Twenty-Fifth : Zoo Station
Fit The Twenty-Fifth : Zoo Station
A long time ago now, when I refused an offer I couldn't refuse, my apparent reward was a six letter word, pronounced Zickswivvuh. I'd forgotten about it, but while I was going through my files to help the city historians compile a history of Funkytown for its golden anniversary, I'd come across my notes from that year, and there it was. I decided to chase it up. I picked up the phone, and when the operator took the line, I said, Zulu Yankee X-ray Whisky Victor Uniform.
No good. The operator was quite insistent that no such line existed. What was this? I had heard rumours that mention of the code meant we would get some kind of castle, but we got nothing. I didn't understand. I tried something else.
Oh, the operator knew that one, she got requests for that all the time.
OK, then, madam, let's try Broccoli, then.
She took on a bemused tone when I spoke the word back to her
Well, damn it. The telephone exchanges were going to be automated soon enough, and I would be done with telephone operators with arcane knowledge and mysterious hotlines to unknown forces.
But still I'd promised the citizens "something cool" to mark the 50th year, I suppose I had to deliver.
I hope they'd be happy with a zoo. I knew Sophia would be, at least, since she'd been the one asking for it.
Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!
And speaking of bears, whilst it remained a rhetorical question whether they defecated in the forest, they certainly did so in our zoological gardens.
Along with that, of course we had to give Pompeii a bit more of a kick along.
And that was that for 1950. The really good part was that we were debt free, and that meant I could really start on some serious spending.
First to tackle the traffic problems. What better way to do that than to put in a freeway. I decided it to name it the Hume Highway, after the philosopher David Hume. When I announced the name, Moe looked at me as if I had two heads.
A highway wouldn't be enough, though, so the subway system was also extended to Bunkleyville.
So people could take the A-train from there down to the factories instead of driving.
There'd been a great big open space in Ashy Bend for the past few decades, and it finally seemed like I should do something about it. With that, the coffers were near empty again, not that that really bothered me.
One day I heard a shout out in reception. It sounded like Funkytown's favourite entrepreneur Malcolm.
It seemed to be more a shout of excitement than anger, but I opened the door to find Beryl trying to fob Malcolm off, or at least get him to take a seat and wait.
I'm here, stupid.
Oh. Of course. You really have to check this out, you're always looking for new ways to make money.
I suppose. Stop bothering Beryl and come on in.
Malcolm bustled in, and plopped down a manila folder on my desk as I took my seat. I picked it up, noticing the title "high temperature incinerator" handwritten on the cover. I opened the file and had a bit of a flick through.
I'm sure you'll find the idea intriguing, nearly five thousand in cash a year extra in your city budget.
Hmm. We're nearly at the point where we don't really need it. Do you mind if I make a call?
Of course not.
I got Beryl on the intercom and got her to ring Karen. She wasn't in her office, she was out checking out that archaeological dig out at the base of Firetop Mountain, but luckily she was in at the university nearby checking out some of the artefacts, and she was able to take the call there.
Hey Karen, how's the dig going?
Very fascinating. Do you know we've found several artifacts from several thousand years ago? There's some stuff that seems to be keys and such. Lots of primitive weaponry.
Uh-huh. Sounds really interesting. Looks like I'll have to pop out one day this week. But yeah, Malcolm's in here, he's just dropped off this proposal for some kind of toxic waste disposal facility.
Oh has he now? I was wondering when he'd would give you a look at it, every other city's knocked it back. And with good reason.
I see. That's what I was thinking. Thanks, I just wanted to see if my gut feeling stood up.
I reckoned even you'd think it was bad idea.
Oh, ye of little faith. OK, I'll talk to you later. Might even see you out at the dig.
I bid her goodbye and put down the phone.
The answer's no.
Oh c'mon, use your common sense. Every second month you're telling me we need more housing. Who's going to want to live next to a toxic waste dump?
Yes, well, I see your point. I'm sure RuPaul would like to have it.
I doubt it. And by the way, Malcolm...
DON'T CALL ME WALLY EVER AGAIN. My preferred diminutive is Wal.
With that settled, another new year ticked over, which meant more cash - I mean, we really didn't need the dump, I was even thinking of terminating the penitentiary contract, though that probably wouldn't happen until I had other uses for the site. Until then, we would keep throwing our cash at other things.
The highway project was continued. For some reason people didn't want to use it, even though the small segment already in place had been opened for a while. Still, it'd soon prove it's worth. I hoped.
The transformation of Pompeii into boring generic suburb continued.
I had to dick around with the rail underpass at the freeway, since the routing was a bit haphazard there.
Oh, and a control tower was finally sorted out at the airport. The airport, too, would need to be expanded, though it could be done gradually as we needed the capacity.
With the age of electronics slowly dawning, I felt it was important for Funkytown to catch the wave. Thus I had a couple of ordinances passed to assist that process.
It would also mean that the more polluting industries would be discriminated against, which was exactly what I wanted. In fact this was one major reason for rejecting Malcolm's proposal.
And, since the number of sporting facilities in town had increased, it'd be good to encourage their use by the children of the city. We might even find some potential champions in the process.
And so, by the middle of 1952, things were merrily galloping along. Well, not quite. We had not really expanded that much in the past few years, in deference to building infrastructure. Pompeii had certainly grown but it seemed like the centre of town was being hindered.
More cash, and of course everyone knew where that was going.
The highway turned the corner. My eventual plans would be to connect it with both City Name and Achewood, which was going to be expensive. (RuPaul could go jump.) At this rate I expected it would not be finished until the '70s.
As I mentioned, Pompeii was building up very nicely.
Also, the pollution ordinance had made began to make an impact.
Though much of the remaining smog could not be helped when our power came from coal and oil, and our garbage went up in smoke.
Gleaming new buildings also appeared on the foreshore of Downtown, which really got me thinking about finally pushing across the river and building things up all around the harbour.
After all this time, I'd noticed that people were still not using the freeway to get to work. I'd soon fix that. Funnelling had come to Funkytown.
The commuters should at least be glad that I wasn't charging a toll at least. On the other hand, the number of car accidents on the bend had increased to the point where the highway was starting to be referred to as The Deadly Hume. I had to wonder about that.
I hoped to see less and less smokestacks as time went on, but I had found that Funkytown's reputation as a dirty city was becoming a thing of the past. The education program certainly helped, too. Why work in a smelter and mess around with heavy metals when you had the know-how to make transistor radios in a nice clean assembly plant instead.
1954. More cash, more progress.
The freeway was rolled further downtown.
And, as I envisaged, I finally made the push across the Maxwell Smart Bridge and began to approve office development there. Since this was an area where the hills formed into a ridge, I suspected I'd be placing new estates for housing along the hillside.
Constance suggested another road connection might be in order, so another link to City Name was laid down.
Over the years I'd increasingly let Randall to his own devices, since he preferred to work at the coalface of the city's so-called "education revolution", and whilst he'd been critical, if rarely judgemental, of some of my decisions over the years, I'd certainly credit him with providing me a lot of the impetus to pursue a more progressive policy in that area. And so it was he came in for our usual chats about the status quo.
Randy. Same old, same old, again?
Well, not quite. You know how I keep bugging you to build this and build that? I think it's finally paying off.
It's been paying off for the past few years, I mean we have a university and all that now.
I know, but we've reached a particularly high mark now. I mean, check this out.
So my citizens are smarter than me, now, are they?
Fair enough. Took them bloody long enough.
I mean, it's phenomenal. Most of the adult population have degrees of some sort, nearly 10% have post-graduate degrees, some of SimNation's brightest minds were born and raised here.
And who's responsible for it all, huh? I'm not exactly some buffoon. I made this happen!
I hasten to point out that I don't mean to demean you, I mean you've probably learnt a lot on the job. And you've used that knowledge.
Dude, I've been doing this for over fifty years. I haven't aged a day, neither have you, I mean I've pondered this in the past, but, by my calculations I should be in my 90s. I don't even have any grey hairs. I mean, you're bald and shit, but hell, you still get around town.
Banging hot undergraduates.
Uh, yeah. Well. As long as it's consenting adults and all. I guess it's kind of heartening to see that you're not all goody-goody all the time...
Well, they don't call me Randy for nothing. While we're on the subject, what's the deal with Sophia at the moment.
I bought her a zoo. Aside from that, who knows, we really don't talk much. I'm not even sure what's happened to my daughter, she probably has a degree or something by this stage or something...
And so instead of talking about health and education policies and such, we ended up shooting the shit late into the night, like two old friends who'd known each other since childhood - even though we'd only met when we were just into our forties. It'd still been a long time.
The best part was, while we could reminisce about the city's past, in this strange state of grace where aging had been suspended, we could also look to the future without fear. Would that everyone had that option. I didn't like to question it, lest cracks begin to appear, but nevertheless the notion of solving the mystery of why this was so all began to play more and more into my mind.
But, hey, it was 1955, it was early days yet.