Living in a Big Country

“Hey, you feel like going down to Martha’s Vineyard for the Memorial Day weekend?”

“Sure! Oh, that’ll be nice. A beach trip! And we can see my sister. Do you want me to book a flight tomorrow?”

“Nah. We’ll just use the transporter.”

“Oh, Henry.”

“What?”

“I don’t know why you have to make everything so complicated.”

“What are you talking about, complicated? A plane gets us there in three hours, plus five hours screwing around in airports. The transporter gets us there in a third of a second.”

“Don’t be fatuous. You know exactly what I mean.”

“Plane fare will cost us six hundred bucks. The transporter is free.”

“It’s not free! It cost you seventy million dollars to build that ridiculous thing!”

“It’ll pay for itself in no time. Car fare alone…”

“It won’t pay for itself if we live to be 200, Henry. Unless, God forbid, you were to lower yourself to actually selling it.”

“I didn’t build it to make money, Dolores.”

That’s obvious. You built it so you could use as much electricity as it takes to power Indiana for a year just to save yourself the trouble of walking to the store to buy cigarettes. You can be such a fool sometimes.”

“A…a fool! You’re calling me a fool!”

“You heard me, mister. If the cap fits.”

“Well. How many instantaneous molecular transporters have you built, dear?”

“That’s not the point.”

“Oh, of course not. The point is never that one of us is capable of building incredible scientific and technical devices, and the other one is a piano teacher. What is the point, your majesty?”

“Don’t get catty, Henry. You know perfectly well what the point is. You build these terribly complex, expensive, fantastic machines, and you just waste them.”

“I’m not wasting them! I get a lot of use out of them. How am I wasting them?”

“You use the probability estimator to pick football games. And you don’t even bet on them! You only do it to win that ridiculous fantasy league of yours. I suppose it would be too common to use it to play the stock market.”

“It wouldn’t be common. It would be illegal.”

“The robotic exoskeleton cost you almost ten million dollars and you use it to jack the car up with. Goodness knows why you can’t sell it to the military, or heavy industry, or something like that. Too busy working on a weather control satellite that you’ll use to grow us strawberries in the winter.”

“I thought you liked strawberries. Besides, I don’t remember you complaining when you needed a jar opened.”

“I’m not going to Martha’s Vineyard in the transporter. I’d rather drive.”

Drive? Are you crazy? It’s a 800-mile trip!”

“I’m well aware of that.”

“At least let me finish up the water-to-gasoline conversion unit before we go.”

“Oh, good grief. I’ve had enough of this conversation. I’m going for a run.”

“Down at the lake?”

“Yes.”

“Are you taking the car?”

“I was planning on it. Why?”

“Oh, no reason.”

“Henry.”

“Well, we’re out of cat food.”

“I can get some on my way back.”

“No, no, don’t worry about it. It’s fine.”

“You’re going to use the transporter, aren’t you?”

“No!”

“You are. You’re going to teleport to the convenience store. You’re going to use a matter rebuilder that cost your whole family fortune to go buy a few cans of 9 Lives.”

“I wasn’t…”

“Could you at least buy the cat food in Hawaii, or Paris, or something? Instead of eight blocks away?”

“Would it make you feel better?”

“Immensely.”

“Anything for you, darling.”

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