THE BRONX IS BURNT

10/28/2020 4:49:25 PM
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A Native New Yorker, born in Harlem and raised in The Bronx. I spent a great deal of time visiting, living in and working in Virginia. As a result, many of my short stories are in the vein of Zora Neale Hurston, with extensive use of southern black dialect.
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           As William Jones, a young, new employee of the Shea Corporation, walked through the massive building that was filled with an assortment of computer screens and geographic maps, he saw an extremely large laser beam-like device. “That looks great,” he thought to himself. “I hope I get to use that one.” 

Dr. Thomas Agee, who accompanied William, was a black older gentleman in his early 70s. He wore a white lab coat and used a wheeled walking device. He was explaining to William the history and various functions of Shea that ensured the safety of Planet Earth and its inhabitants.

            "As I was saying,” continued Dr. Agee. “About one hundred years ago, workers were doing basic upgrades to The Bronx’s electrical systems and found some very valuable items.”

"What kind?" asked William.

"Primarily Native American," replied Dr. Agee. "Then there was the gold."

"Gold?" said William incredulously. "Gold in the South Bronx?"

"Yes. By virtue of The Bronx being the only New York City borough geographically directly connected to the United States, it became a popular route for miners, as well as assorted thieves and other lowlifes to transport their gold and ill-gotten goods throughout the country."

"Wow!" said William.

"So the digging for gold and valuable artifacts continued under the guise of doing necessary electrical repairs and other public works projects."

"Nothing wrong with that, I guess."

"No, but as Shakespeare would say, 'here's the rub', the digging caused the release of a previously unknown toxin, Fizzoline."

"What in the hell is that?" asked William.

"It's something that when mixed with oxygen, causes some people to lose their common sense over a short period of time," explained Dr. Agee.

"But, surely there was similar excavation projects being done in other parts of New York City, as well," said William.

"Yes, but testing in the other four boroughs found nothing. No trace of
Fizzoline anywhere else."

"That’s incredible," exclaimed William.

“Its being directly connected to the United States, may have been a contributing factor, also,” replied Dr. Agee.

“Maybe space aliens left it there,” said a grinning William.

Dr. Agee stared at him for a moment and then continued. "Anyway, tests were done with Guinea pigs and white rats. For two weeks they were locked in a room in which oxygen and Fizzoline were both prevalent in the air."

"What happened next?"

"Large amounts of food were placed in one tunnel and cats placed in an adjacent tunnel."

"What happened?"

"Well, for some reason the test subjects didn't follow their natural instincts. They proceeded down the tunnel with the cats inside of it."

"Damn!"

"They were rescued in time," said Dr. Agee. "But, needless to say, it was clear that their common sense, as well as their sense of right and wrong were gone."

“Incredible,” replied William.

“The same thing was done with human beings, but using a different kind of test.”

"How so?" asked William.

“Over a one year period, humans who had been exposed to Fizzoline, were sent to assorted locations in the borough,” continued Dr. Agee.

“Nothing wrong with that,” said William.

“No,” said Dr. Agee. “But just before they were sent out the door, they were given cell phones.”

William shrugged his shoulders and said, “Well, I guess the folks conducting the test had to have some way of staying in contact with the test subjects.”

“Aha! But that wasn’t the only reason.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, as expected, with a lack of common sense, the test subjects continually searched for music, read and responded to text messages, and looked at cell phone pictures, as they were crossing streets,” said Dr. Agee.

William did not understand the problem with that.

Dr. Agee saw the look on his face and continued. “They did this regardless of the color of the traffic light, my boy! Some even walked into oncoming traffic, as they looked down at their cell phones.”

“Wow!”

“Yep. And, sadly, there was even one fatality on The Bronx’s Southern Boulevard and East 174th Street.”

“Are you serious?”

“Unfortunately, yes I am, young William. Yes, I am.”

“My, oh, my.”

“Of course, the corporation managed to avoid any accountability for the accident. However, it did discretely pay for all costs, including funeral expenses, associated with it.”

“Anything else?”

"It was also discovered that Fizzoline caused an assortment of mental health illnesses and/or increased illegal drug usage in others."

"Is there a cure?"

"Yes. Some scientists at Trump University found one," replied Dr. Agee.

"Then why wasn't it used?"

"Well to be honest, the release of the Fizzoline toxin had a positive financial ripple effect for a host of people, including some politicians and wealthy businesspeople, from all over the city and country.

"How so?"

“They began investing in the development of shelters and other kinds of housing for those who were classified as mentally ill, as well as those with drug addiction problems or, in many cases, a combination of both."

“Seriously?” asked William incredulously.

“Yes, indeed, my boy,” responded Dr. Agee. “Ownership, construction and management of these buildings flourished! This whole enterprise was worth billions!”

William’s eyes widened.

Dr. Agee continued. "There was also a proliferation of homeless shelters in parts of The Bronx, the likes of which hadn’t ever been seen before."

"So, that’s why my school’s history books described how so many of these things were placed in small areas of The Bronx."

"Yes, indeed,” said Dr. Agee. “And, the politicians who went along with the program, so to speak, always had their campaign coffers and pockets filled to the brim."

"Money talks," said William.

"But, things in The Bronx began to get out of control,” said Dr. Agee. “People suffering from the effects of Fizzoline began traveling to other parts of the city, state and country."

"Holy shit!"

"This resulted in an increase in all manner of crimes," said Dr. Agee. "Plus heavy drug usage among the general population began to spread."

“So what happened?” asked William.

“Well, the World Safety Council’s Subcommittee on U.S. Urban Areas decided it was time to erase The Bronx from the planet.”

“What!” exclaimed William. “The entire borough and its people?”

“Yes,” replied Dr. Agee. “It was the only way to save the city, the United States and possibly the entire world. That big, old laser beam-looking device you saw when you first entered did the trick. We were able to vaporize The Bronx without touching any other part of New York City. ”

“In school we were taught that a meteorite of some sort had destroyed The Bronx,” said William.

Dr. Agee shook his head. “Well, I guess to a certain extent that might be correct. You see by the time the decision had been made to erase The Bronx, scientists here had altered the beam’s ray to look like a meteorite.”

“You live and learn,” said William.

“Okay,” said Dr. Agee, as he and William approached one of the large room’s doors. “I’ll show you the view from the roof of the building and where your office is located, then we’ll grab some lunch.”

“Sounds good to me,” replied William.

Dr. Agee held the door open for William.

As they entered the corridor, Dr. Agee thought about how he had intentionally left out the part about how six of the seven members of the Council were New York Mets fans.

 

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