Feb 17, 2023, 06:29AM

Monica Gets Her Groove Back

As the Quibbitses leave Florida’s Wannado City, Monica finally finds some friends.

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One of the only underrated aspects of living in Wannado City is living in a land of permanent possibility: this place will always be “a good idea,” a place “with potential,” somewhere “you can just see yourself in.” But no one will ever live here, or work, or eat, or relax. Nothing will ever happen again in Wannado City. It is abandoned and forgotten. Even the animals that once stalked these grounds have died and spend their time watching old movies with Bennington. Rooster’s “office” is just the room where the P.A. equipment used to be. Last week we tried turning it on, but nothing happened. Maybe another fake city got our distress call.

“HELP! WE’RE BORED!!!” Even if the FAA picked up on that, or any local law enforcement, they’re not coming to get us. We’re in Wannado City, known locally as Hell. I asked some of the birds in the cafeteria what the most hopping restaurant was “back in the day,” and they looked at me like I was a worm. I told them I didn’t go both ways. They all sighed and told me, “Burger King.” A little surprising: not Chik-fil-A? “No. Burger King.” Gay sturgeons have never taken well to me. Having exhausted all good will on the first floor, I went upstairs to the old fake Apple Store and the even older and faker Sam Goody and Suncoast Video. Nothing was left, not even any unwanted merchandise: no Monster CD’s by R.E.M., nor Norbit on DVD home video.

I walked the perimeter of Wannado City just to get my bearings, and everything after that was a breeze. I knew where I was. I knew what I could do: leave. This place wasn’t nearly as big or labyrinthine as I imagined. Inside, it’s all refracted glass and hard lines; outside, it’s nothing less than a portal to the underworld. The Devil stalks these grounds, and after I played a recording of “Operation Wandering Soul” to Rooster, he agreed it was time to go. “BENNINGTON! BENNINGTON! We’re leaving. Monica found ghosts. Scary ones. They don’t like movie theaters.” There was a bit of a delay, but the foul bird emerged from his pit and came scampering towards us. “Ghosts? Ghosts? I ain’t afraid of no ghosts!” I took my claw and scraped it against the floor, creating exactly the ambiguous screech that would send him screaming. “OK OK OK WE CAN GO!!!”

I never liked Wannado City. Man’s folly is no business for a bird. Back in Massachusetts, we’re all happy to be home. Not even Bennington expresses any regret about abandoning yet another new set of friends, and Rooster has gotten just as much work done on his book here as he did in the observatory. “Monica, I’m writing about 1996 again…” I told him to stop thinking Bob Dole was his friend, that he was just being nice to a chicken on the campaign trail. “No, no, not the election. Manhattan. The plane from Rome. I remember…”

The night I followed those teenagers around?

“I remember…”

—Follow Monica Quibbits on Twitter: @MonicaQuibbits


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