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THIS COMPANY DIED FOR YOUR LAWN, THIS LAWN DIED FOR YOUR COMPANY/ Steve Almond SLIGO'S NEW IDEA WAS WEALTH, sudden gouts of cashola, the vaguely cheese-like scent of new biUs. He viewed our current circumstance —technicaUy, a circumstance of poverty—as the ideal substrate . There was always a friend of a friend; there was always TV and the shiny-paper versions of TV. Runts with messianic grins and the right creation myth were becoming ziltionaires on the Net. What was it anywaybesides wishful thinking? Wishful thinking is always the linchpin of a sustained and senseless prosperity. Our economy of scale, Stigo's and mine, involved chicken wings and hot-dog buns. We were members of the reflective poor, a couple of can-do palookas with dreams in our socks and so on and so on. SUgo was hemorrhaging with ideas:;; The key was seed money. The career counseling center at Grover Cleveland Senior High was pasted with Uterature from the armed forces, an enterprise ardently concerned with computer training and cross-racial hygiene. Before we could even reach the desk, a woman in lumpy slacks appeared. Her manner suggested the brisk loneliness of a parent volunteer. "May I help you?" came out more Uke Dear God, turn me into someone else. "We're looking for the job board," SUgo said. "Are you aU students here?" SUgo wore army surplus cutoffs and a guayabera. His skull was massive, which wasn't his fault but contributed to a sense of menace. I was thepossibly-more-dangeroussidekick. Myhairhunginridiculous shingles. There was a tendency on my part to skulk. "We're alumni," SUgo said. "My name is Fortran SUgo. This is Michael McGlinchy." "Tm not sure I understand," the woman said. I wasn't quite sure I understood either. We were college graduates, after aU, with lovely, pointless degrees in philosophy. But SUgo insisted the bestjobs, the quick cash numbers, were at the high school level. He urged me to consider the dramatic upswing in teenaged millionaires. His logic was relentless and opaque. "Graduates," he said to the parent volunteer. "We are graduates of this fine institution, though currently on the market, as it were, when considered —that is, ws—from an employment perspective." 170 · The Missouri Review The woman inspected SUgo. Her mouth was a rubberized message of doom. "I think you'd better leave." "Tm sure that's not necessary," SUgo said. But already she was moving to the phone. This was a period of extreme paranoia concerning schools and school property, thanks to the series of deadly assaults by disaffected students. In Europe and Asia, disaffected students fomented revolution and swung heroically from tanks. In America, though, they were more or less in the business of slaughter. Someone was always going apeshit in America, and never for the right reasons. You read about it all the time. SUgo had a plan to capitalize on this: Out on the sidewalk, SUgo showed me the three-by-five card he'd nicked from the job board. Big $$$—Growth Field—Sales experience preferred ! There were directions to an orientation session, to be held in the courtyard of a leafy community college outside Sheperdstown. We arrived on a Saturday afternoon. Wrappers tossed past on a soft breeze. At last a guy in a sweater vest appeared. He checked his watch and frowned. "You the only ones?" His hair looked like one of those Rogaine ads. You could see someone was paying very careful attention to his hairline, some poor hairdresser named Trish or Linda. "How old are you guys?" he said. "How old are we?" SUgo said. "Right." "In our twenties," SUgo said. "Right around there." "Any sales experience?" I could see SUgo start to sort of cock his fist. "Okay okay okay," said the guy. "Tm late already." He introduced himself as PhU, though tentatively, as ifhe mighthavejust settled on the name. He took our number and handed us a pamphlet. AAAA Lawn Service. The Company That Cares About Your Lawn. The Company That Would Take a Bulletfor Your Lawn. The Company That Diedfor Your Lawn. We hollered these mottos back and forth, SUgo...


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