part one: carly’s dinner with danny

This story started here.

Danny was on his best behavior. It was almost painful to watch.

Carly couldn't tell if she was supposed to notice and appreciate his self-control, or if she was just supposed to think that somehow he'd suddenly become more mature, but in either case she resented the way everything he said (and didn't say) seemed to imply some horrible evil in herself. Why would he be so tense and cautious, clearly checking everything that came out of his mouth, unless she was truly terrifying? She wished he'd get angry, explode, accuse her of something, so she could at least defend herself. But no accusations were going to be made here tonight, she knew, at least not verbally.

"So," he asked, "where have you been staying?" which was the question she'd been expecting every time he'd opened his mouth.

"Oh, around," she replied. As she said it, she realized how it sounded, as though she was hiding from him, afraid he was going to start stalking her or something. She cursed herself silently, angry that she'd anticipated the question so many times but hadn't bothered to prepare a decent answer.

He nodded, and another long silence ensued.


The only enjoyable part of the evening was when Danny pulled a piece of paper from his pocket and said, "Uncle Mike just added a new rule." He tossed the piece of paper across to her and she picked it up.


Rules for An Orderly Neighborhood

  1. Working people have the right to quiet streets after 8PM so they can get a good night's sleep.
  2. People have the right to walk down the street without being bothered with pleas for money.
  3. People have the right to drive down the street without having to worry that somebody will step out from the curb and cause them to have an accident.
  4. People have the right to an education that doesn't include any concepts which might disturb them or their parents.
  5. Sidewalks are for walking, not for selling food, artwork, personal possessions or anything else.
  6. Only licensed vendors are allowed to sell on the street, and then only at their assigned locations.
  7. Taxicabs can pick up and discharge passengers only at designated taxi stands.
  8. Only the guilty have any reason to be afraid to give such things as
    • Fingerprints
    • Footprints
    • Voice prints
    • Retinal scans
    • Handwriting samples
    • DNA samples
    • Urine samples
    • Stool samples

    and therefore the innocent should be willing to give any or all of these at any time, at the request of a police officer or any other representative of the government.

  9. Smoking is illegal within the city limits.
  10. When people are in public places they shouldn't be doing things they wouldn't want Uncle Mike to see.


Carly looked up with an expression of horror and disbelief. "This is a joke, isn't it?"

Danny shrugged, then he grinned. "Of course it is. It really does look like a real Uncle Mike list, though, doesn't it?"

Other than that, there were awkward periods of silence occasionally interrupted by awkward conversation. And eventually even the fake Uncle Mike list was spoiled for Carly because she started to wonder how carefully and for how long Danny had saved it for just the right moment during this dinner.


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About Anthony Lee Collins

I write.
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