Part 7: Fit The Sixth: I Predict A Riot
Fit The Sixth: I Predict A Riot
Another day in Funkytown, another round of building approvals. Ho-hum. As I was stamping a bunch of development applications one morning, I looked out my front window and saw Randall walking up to the door. I supposed he was going to gush about how cool the school was again, but I when I opened the door, he actually had a rumour of a frown on his face.
Hey Randall! How's it hanging, cobber?
Wal. We need to talk about building a library.
I agree, a library would be neat. I'll put it next to the garden square, people could borrow books and then read them in the park.
A very nice idea. I might even do that myself.
OK, is that all? I'm rather busy ticking boxes for more boxes of ticky tacky.
Not quite. We need more schools.
What? We need another school already?
Well yes. The rapid rate of growth, which I see you quite preoccupied with continuing, has meant that the existing school is already full to overflowing.
I know. Look, we're just going to have to make do for now. You're lucky I agreed to the library, to be frank, everything has been going gangbusters over the past few of months and few of the existing services are keeping pace.
I appreciate things have been hectic, but you really should consider building another school as soon as possible.
It is on the list. Like everything else, I'm afraid.
I bid Randall goodbye. I had perhaps underestimated the need for housing, and Funkytown seemed to have a lot of apartments for a town its size, many of those having been completed in the last two months.
A week later I was walking down the street to get my regular iced coffee at the milk bar, when I noticed Sophia walking up the street. I tried to pretend I wasn't there because I didn't particularly want to be seen by her, but it was too late. She called out to me as I was about to scarper across the street (in a nonchalant manner of course).
Oh Wal! Wallace!
Dammit. Hi, Sophia!
Oh, I'd been meaning to talk to you, but you're so hard to get hold of.
I'm a busy man. What did you want with me?
Ah yes, Randall's been on my case about that too. Your concerns have been noted. Now, is that all?
Yes. And no.
That's a bit contradictory.
Why do you never return my calls? Your secretary always says you're out, but I know that's not true.
Well, uh, umm, you see, errrr...
Suddenly I jinked away from her and scarpered across the street (in a nonchalant manner of course). A driver honked his horn at me as he jumped on the brakes hard to avoid hitting me as I darted out in front of his car, having not noticed it driving up the street. I could hear Sophia shriek from behind like she thought I'd been hit but I daren't look back. Instead I ran up a back alley and hid in the Lagerhaus where all the cops hung out after work.
A few days later Randall was back in my face, startling unawares while I was playing minigolf. I stuffed up timing of a putt under the windmill and the blade knocked the ball into a difficult corner.
There you are. I get the feeling you're just ignoring me.
What is it now?
Now it's the teachers threatening to go on strike? For crying out loud. Well, it'll be dealt with in the fullness of time. Sheesh. That's going to be a double-bogey at least.
You are ignoring me.
I'm not ignoring you it's just when I get the same message over and over again I start treating it like noise and reject it. I suppose you put Sophia up to bugging me about the schools last week too.
Hey, well, since she's stalking you, I figured I could use her to pass on a message while she's doing that.
Very resourceful of you. There'll be a new school, in the new suburb. But that'll be a while. Meanwhile, I'll keep the funding up to the current school and everyone will have to make do with the larger class sizes.
I have to say that, in spite of our clash of personalities, Randall and I got along pretty well most of the time. But he was an idealist whereas I was more pragmatic about things. We essentially believed in the same aims, but he wasn't the one having to balance everything so that everyone was at least satisfied. Theory was great, but alas, the real world was a place of compromises. I knew Randall understood that, and really, it was good that I had the luxury of having him as my compass in those matters.
Besides, if it wasn't the schools, it was traffic problems. Marsha turned up at the house with her ridiculous earrings again. At least she didn't have a claque of fanatics this time.
Uh-huh. So what do you want me to do about it?
Put in bus stops.
What are those?
They're places where buses stop and pick up passengers.
What's a bus?
Are you serious? OK, big truck thing, only it's got lots of seats for people. They get on, sit, be conveyed somewhere else, get off closer to their destination. Kind of like , you dig?
Well, now, people in trucks, that's a pretty way-out idea for 1905. Try again in fifteen years time.
Incredible. You are so narrow-minded.
Moe turned up the next day to inform me of the same thing.
Yeah, I know. Marsha told me.
Thought she might.
She tell you her crazy idea for reducing traffic? Putting people in cattle trucks and ferrying them around town?
What'd she call them? Omnibuses? Heheheheh.
OK, let's quit roleplaying, you know and I know what a bus is. Why can't we put bus stops in?
Because it's 1905 and buses haven't been invented yet. Gotta wait until 1920.
But we can put subways in around 1912, if that helps.
I did what I could and extended a third road from the town to the factories. It'd have to do for now.
The rest of the farming plots had been taken up, so I was pleased that something was working as intended.
However, Gus mentioned that the growth spurt was also putting a strain on our sole coal power plant, with brownouts occurring across the city.
It was indeed a concern but I felt that putting another plant in would be premature, especially as it would wipe out the remaining ready cash.
At least the budget was still returning a good profit.
I was not particularly happy with the itinerant nature of the population, however, with the number of residents fluctuating rapidly in the high teens throughout the year. Perhaps it was to a process of people coming in, discovering the services sucked, and moving out again. I couldn't really tell.
In the medium term, the general rate of growth was eating into our power.
Gus continued to be concerned about this as well. His reports were alarming, but I felt I still had some time up my sleeve to arrange for more electricity supply. If it weren't for the slumdwellers chewing up the energy with their all-night gramophone parties. (And after all, weren't those things powered with a crank, anyway?)
I decided to balance out the lumpenproletariat with medium density zoning in a nice neighbourhood, next to the parks.
But before I knew it, we had a riot on our hands.
I sent in the cops and they pounded the scalliwags' heads in good and prop-ah. Not before they set one of the estates ablaze, however, so I sent in the firies as well.
However, Maria decided to admonish me instead for setting off the emergency siren after the riot had been quelled. Curse my itchy trigger finger,
Things were going wrong out in the swidden pastures as well, as shameless industrialists moved in and shoved out the good-natured rural folk. There goes the aura bonus. I decided I couldn't spare the resources to move the bulldozers to clear all that, though, and besides, the new factories were providing townies with work, so I decided I'd deal with it further down the track.
The first "nice" apartment building had finished construction.
It was soon joined by two more complexes, and it was all very middle-class and gezellig. Red brick homes, the bourgeoisie, and guitar lessons for the wife.
In fact the kids were even moving into the firefighting business, whilst the firefighters foolishly turned their back on it to fight fires instead.
Another year had passed seemingly quickly, and we were closer to crunch time, though not as close to the red line as I thought we'd be. However, our sweet garbage deal was about to end. The mayor of RuPaul had paid another visit.
Just calling in for a visit. Hey, you know that thing where you send us your garbage for a fee?
Uh, yeah. It's good isn't it?
I am altering the deal.
Oh you are kidding.
I'm not. Pray I don't alter the deal any further.
Mortimer, whom I didn't even know was around the house, butted in at this point.
No, it's not reasonable, it's opportunistic price gouging and I won't stand for it. The deal's off.
That's right lady, you don't play hardball with Wallace Bunkley. Boo-ya!
After she left, Mortimer looked at me as if my head had been replaced with that of a snail.
Great, Wal. Now what are we going to do with the garbage?
Oh. Right. I'm sure something will come up.
Sometimes I felt as if all my dreams had been turned to something quite strange and horrible. For instances, the last vestiges of the farmland had been transformed into shabby little warehouses and smokestacks. Oh, bucolic pastoral life, is there no room for you in Funkytown?
Of course, we had other neighbours we could deal with over the garbage. The Mayor of Buttsville, Edmund Butts, heard of our predicament and came in for the kill.
Sounds good. It's a deal.
OK, now that's settled, I take it the town's named after yourself?
Actually it's named after grandpappy, Beauregard Butts, pioneer of our fine district.
Hmm. Fair enough.
Of course the deal wasn't much better than RuPaul's revised offer, but garbage piled up so quickly after the cancellation of the previous agreement that I had to act fast. Karen hadn't even realised I'd signed a new deal before she came to complain about the garbage.
Already been dealt with. Signed a deal with Buttsville last week.
Oh. Well, OK then. I'll be tending my garden if you need me.
At least one of my advisors was on top of their game.
YAAAAY we gots department stores! Now I can buy perfume and stockings and household appliances!
Apparently I had to go cut the ribbon, so Connie and I went down to the grand opening. The proprietor shook our hands, and he made a speech, and I made a speech, and then I cut the ribbon and the teeming hordes proceeded to flood in as if it was the after Christmas sales. Then they discovered it wasn't a department store after all.
Err, Connie. It's a grocery store.
Oh. Oh, at least they have watermelons!
That's great. Go with your suit.
The town's population was getting tantalisingly close to 20,000 before it took a massive dip again. Something to do with the churn of housing, particularly the blocks of flats. But before I could do something about that, another "emergency" had broken out.
It's a whirlpool! It's going round and round and round and round and round right there in the bay! Whoooo!
So what's it actually going to do aside from going round and round>
Well it might take out the wharf!
Even if it does they'll just build a new one. The port authority are persistent like that. Oh look, the vortex is already disappearing. Well, I might sound off the siren anyway. Just in case someone's picked today to swim across to Penis Peninsula.
You go and do that. I think I'm going to be sick.
I decided to curtail the phenomenon of apartments only lasting a few months before they were pulled down, before another block was built. So I heritage-listed the slums to stop them from being replaced by slums.
It seemed to do the trick, because the next month's population estimate indicated that the town had passed a new milestone. Funkytown was now officially a city.
And with that came more good news.
Greta was of course on hand to pass on the message that the new city would be the recipient of a great gift. I decided to make good use of this opportunity.
I laid out more roads to form the skeleton of what I intended to be the city's main business district. It was close to the harbour, with easy access to both the port and the residential areas of the Old Town, and a grand view across the water to Grenade Island and Penis Peninsula.
I myself walked out to the intended location with the blueprints with the city surveyors and engineers, pointed to a spot on the corner of two of the new roads, and said to them, "I want it right there".
And so there it was.
The city hall looked odd, alone by itself, in the middle of a paddock, but in due course it would become the beating heart of one of the great cities of the world.