Dispatches From The Future (B-List)

Defunded

Naomi slapped a sticker to the side of yet another full JAG car as it raced past the only functioning station in the Five Points. It read “I’m defunded! Jacksonville Active Go can’t serve Florida,” and the cut and pressed suits that occupied the Personal Rapid Transit car would have to read its day glow lettering all the way to the South Hill Metroplex. When Prop K was on the ballet last fall those ultra-privileged wage-zombies voted to defund JAG. Yet they always magically managed to get priority service from the call-to-ride transit system. The Five Points station was crammed with riders waiting for their turn. Every last one of them had paid their fare in advance to get access to the platform, and Naomi guessed that not a single one of those waiting along side her had voted down the funding prop.

She checked the sweet spot on her wrist where her interactive ink was even now counting the minutes since she had called for her ride. “Ninty-three minutes. Well if that isn’t a pile of fang pi,” she mumbled while looking up the rail for the next potential PRT car. There was nothing. Naomi wondered if she might be able to slip away for a cup of coffee. She switched arms and started playing with a map of the city searching for a mobile cart. Little coffee cup icons inched over her skin. There were two a short walk away, but both of them were still peddling. Naomi decided to wait and see if one of them might park near the entry gate for the JAG. If that happened she could reach through the hurricane fence for a cuppa without losing her place in the queue.

The huge cargo bikes were pumped around the inner city by young people with sexy-burly legs. If she had that kind of augment it would be nothing to bike down to Ponte Vedra every day and the devil could take the damned JAG and stuff it up his can. But, for the time being, that was out of the question. Margo had picked her because she was still mostly stock. Skinny little, pencil legs and an A-cup. Naomi modeled swim suits in a swank tourist beach shop next to a golf course and she had to maintain her “assets” if she didn’t want Margo kicking her to the curb. It paid the bills. Most of them anyway.

As it was, Naomi knew she would show up late, really late. Margo would bitch at her, following Naomi around the dressing room grunting her discontent. Margo knew that there was nothing Naomi could do about it, but that knowledge never stopped her. The JAG cars came when they were available. Naomi planned how she might get the old hag to shut her trap; first she would slip into a bikini, then get onto the show floor. Finally, Naomi would turn up the ink like only she could, and that would silence the lao tai po. It was a Friday, there were already two cruise ships in port and all the New York money wanted something to look at, Naomi knew how to get the message across. Desperate old men would come and watch while their women scoured the mercado. And all those eyes meant piles of cred for Margo-san.

Dance and strut and upgrade the ink. Eventually she’d cash out and buy a long john coffee cart. “If the JAG keeps falling apart,” she mused to herself, “then I know where I’ll park my bike too.”

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