unlikely commodities. 3.

Jimmy and Timmy and Mimi play in the sandbox, laughing, happy, active youngsters. They are in the middle of building a complex Castle of Neat Stuff when they become aware of a sound in the distance-- tell-tale electronic beeps playing a despondent, atonal melody. "Could it be?" asks Jimmy. "It must be!" says Timmy. "Let's tell Mom!" says Mimi.

"Mommy mommy it's the Ennui Man!" they yell, running into the house, tripping over themselves. "Give us some money pleez pleez pleeeeez!" Their mother's body is limply draped over the couch in front of the TV, her mouth slightly open, drooling. She barely notices them as they reach into her purse and grab fistfuls of money. She briefly reflects on how eager she was at their age, and how the Ennui Man changed her life, but is far too bored by the memory to pursue it.

The kids race out to meet the dirty little Toyota hatchback with its alluringly musical speaker grille. "Mr. Ennui Man! Mr. Ennui Man!" they shout, running after the car. The driver doesn't bother to stop, but he's only going two miles an hour anyway, so they catch up easily. Jimmy gets to the driver's window first. "Hey, Mr. Ennui Man!" he says, panting in anticipation. The driver yawns, scratches himself, continues driving.

"C'mon, here's some money," says Jimmy, throwing it in through the window. The Ennui Man finally notices him, looks at him for a moment, nods imperceptibly, then drives on. Jimmy suddenly stops, defocuses his eyes, and collapses onto the road. An ant makes its slow but industrious way along the yellow stripe right in front of Jimmy's nose, but he can't even summon up the concentration to stare at it.

Meanwhile, Mimi and Timmy have caught up to the Ennui Man and paid for their doses. Mimi wanders haphazardly on and around the road, bumping into lightposts and parking meters for lack of anything better to do. Timmy finds a rock and beats himself over the head with it in a regular, relaxed tempo.

By the time their father gets home from work, Timmy has a severe concussion, Mimi has multiple bruises, and Jimmy has been run over by a bus. Daddy doesn't particularly care. He stumbles into the house, grabs a beer from the fridge, dumps Mommy off the couch, and switches the channel to Monday Night Football. Life just doesn't get any better than this.

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