UNITED STATES—Graydon Miller, the author who had been schlepping around tracking the vestiges of the banana company that had persevered into the twenty-first century, encroached really, but first he had advanced by the seat of his pants. Made it all up with the seat of his pants. If there hadn’t been a story, his life would not have added up to a hill of beans, and why does a hill of beans get demeaned such as it does, if a hill of beans can provide a great deal of sustenance and meals, why indeed.

All the speculative gossamer could not suffice, and then he had to go to the freckled, rusted, scalloped and grand edifice of the Allied Fruit Co., and there is was with the scree of rainbow shaped letters: Allied Fruit Co. 1914. Rusted, speckled, still glorious as a prize at the end of what could be termed this ethnological quest, or this journey to the end of moneyism.

There at the end of the rainbow was the pot of gold, but the gold was a gold electric throne that fried us, our nerves and senses, only the psychopath could endure the spoils as a facsimile of humanhood or a philanthropist. Operation $uccess left us up a creek, and it wasn’t a creek of lemonade, no sah. Ah, the foul stench of Success. . . American Hubris and can-do spirit.

“Fucha. . .?”

“None sah.”

“Earth scorched.”

“Yes, Massa Kurtz.”

Graydon was not yet near the end of the book. He had been spurned and scorned by the Cultural Department of Angel City and not granted the grant for underrecognized artist in mid-career; he was not sorry for himself, but rather the distinguished writers and intellects who had written glowing letters for him to get the backing, the financial egg that would support him through the period of research and travel necessary to complete the atlas of Bananaland, such as it were, and the MRI of the exuberances of moneyism in the new world, the American hemispheres, a creature quite unlike any other that had hatched on the earth since time immemorial.

To be sure, Graydon had to schlep—to imagine first, and pull it out of his ass as a balloon artist contorts their hands and out comes a puppy dog, an angel, and atomic isotope that splits before the baby and turns into ozone and rubber shred and baby cries. To SEE and HEAR and KNOW and FEEL what Sam Delaney and his henchmen –they were henchmen, for he was not the good, larger than life, whisky-imbibing, hail and well-met rusky immigrant who came penniless to the Untai States (as the Bananaland natives could mispronounce) and pounce of a jackpot that made him one of the richest men in America.

And Graydon went to a Pawn Shop and cashed in a gold train watch the belonged to his German great grandfather and some old silver liberty coins—he was into their value—but not the coins themselves; the beauty was to turn them into a plane ticket for New Orleans, and then later up to Boston to go through the files and historic photographs of the Allied Fruit Co. and Chamelecón. Such a trove. They were in the parnassus of Kodak, all this exuberance to show of their “modern clothes” and hourglass waists in skirts that brushed the floor, and their driving machines, the Fords and Hupmobiles, landaus and roadsters. All the inventions, a World’s Fair preserved, a graphic Merry-Go-Round thanks to Kodak. And George Eastman went to a party and blew his brains out.

“I kinda get that,” Graydon thought. Desolation of spirt always hovers near the life in progress; it humbles it and give the Ferris Wheel Rides, both actual and metaphorical, their sweet savor. Oh life, or bittersweet ups and downs. Easy come, easy go, enjoy the ride; smile and be nice to dogs.

“Did you go to Boston?” said Stephen via telephone, ping-ponged through the satellites orbiting the earth.

“No, I stayed in Louisiana. I got interested in the life of Willy Long, just a good ‘ol country boy who darn near became an American Dictator.”

“It seems to be in fashion today. I heard some women talking in the sweatshop today,” said Stephen. “They were all gaga about the handsome new leaders of one of the little countries in Bananaland. Young, smart, and good looking. They see the peace, too, but not the growing cost of becoming embedded. We all want job security, but it gives the damn Yankees an excuse to try our bombs and warcraft.”

“The Yankees is a good team,” said Graydon. “So anyway. . .”

“So anyway. . .”

“Yup. . . Looked into running for governor and there’s something in their constitution that requires one live in Louisiana for five years before they can run for office.”

To be continued…

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Hollywood humorist Grady grew up in the heart of Steinbeck Country on the Central California coast. More Bombeck than Steinbeck, Grady Miller has been compared to T.C. Boyle, Joel Stein, and Voltaire. He briefly attended Columbia University in New York and came to Los Angeles to study filmmaking, but discovered literature instead, in T.C. Boyle’s fiction writing workshop at USC. In addition to A Very Grady Christmas, he has written the humorous diet book, Lighten Up Now: The Grady Diet and the popular humor collection, Late Bloomer (both on Amazon) and its follow-up, Later Bloomer: Tales from Darkest Hollywood. (https://amzn.to/3bGBLB8) His humor column, Miller Time, appears weekly in The Canyon News (www.canyon-news.com)