Emerson Emmerglick was in Goose Point scouting a new office location for his firm Emmerglick, Enfinger & Funkhouser. Where To Do Street meets Ta Da! Boulevard, he found Conniption Fitness. The landscaping on the property was amber waves of beans. (People came here just to feed Snickerdoodles to Labradoodles.) Even though the fitness center—one of two buildings standing on the four corners—was brand new, expansion to it had begun, but only an expansion of the plumbing, because of incremental gains in excrement. Matter of Fact Contracting won the job. Their slogan: “Increasing our commitment to mediocrity.” Their fleet of heavy equipment and vehicles included a Turn-a-Pull, a grader, a dozer, and a dumper. (A quick view of a leading pharmaceutical firm’s website reveals postings for dozers and dumpers wanted in drug trials.)
Moments after Emmerglick’s arrival, two Matter of Fact trucks with over-the-top subwoofers initiated a battle of the bands: Deathcab for Cutie versus Dashboard Confessional. It reached him as Deathcab’s Dashboard.
A passerby, introducing himself as J.Q. Publique, complimented Emmerglick’s tie, saying, “I like the pheasants.”
Emmerglick said, “Pheasants? This morning they were ducks.”
They crossed with the signal to the construction site on the opposite corner: Future Home of Goose Pointe Endoscopy Center. So far the only thing completed was an electronic sign display that scrolled the news headline, “Anxious families await, but still no word from trapped mimes.”
“What do you think would happen,” Mr. Publique asked, “if all cemeteries were consolidated at Bury, Indiana?”
“Irrelevant to me,” Emmerglick said. “My ashes will be donated to science.”
A passing Volkswagen SUV’s license plate proclaimed I8ABTL.
Mr. Publique adjusted his combover for the crosswind and elaborated: “My daughter, if I ever have one, will go to ag school and study poultry science—eggonomics.”
He advanced westward.
“More like hag school,” Emmerglick found himself thinking. Crossing to the third corner, he shouted into the Ah! Tongue Bakery, “Éclairs have éclat by what factor?”
The coltish countergirl’s face clouded.
Whereas the fitness center, designed by an acolyte of Pei, was Postmodern, the bakery boasted a cookie-cutter design and ebulliently featured gingerbread. Pretzel people lounged after their yoga class sipping green tea for the antioxidants and nibbling cheesecloth for the fiber.
“By the factor of leaven,” said the man with the beaded beard and the beadless abacus. “Indeed, leaven to the highest power.”
The coltish countergirl’s face cleared. “To the power of pi?”
Getting all frazzled, Emmerglick ducked out.
The fourth corner lot was for sale: build to suit. Real numbers have properties, so why shouldn’t Emmerglick? The lot encompassed the entirety of Archuleta County, Colorado. The notion of owning Cat Creek Gap and spanning it with a model railroad bridge was tantalizing. He called the broker, who called the assessor. Having recently retired, she called her successor. Prices were bandied, but in the end, no offer tendered. All to the good, Emmerglick would admit now, for his vision combined a shopping plaza with a Plaza de Toros. He foresaw not so much franchises as offshoots: the dairy store fusing with the day spa for a milky soft complexion—that sort of thing. The design motif linking it all together would have been Moorish-Gothic, with a touch of Romanesque-Pueblan.
Later, in lieu of it all, he removed the lien against Hadrian’s Wall, which he’d always wanted as a hedge against conflation.