come alive

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act 1, scene 2


"Mr. Shirogane, the teller will see you now."

I stood, straightened my coat and tie as best I could, and walked into the banker's office. The room was small, stuffed with a bookcase and a filing cabinet and a desk that took up the whole back wall.

The bank teller glanced up at me from his paperwork as I walked in. His eyes immediately strayed to my single-sleeved suit, as most peoples' did, then he motioned for me to sit down in the short chair that sat opposite of his.

"What brings you here Mr..." the teller consulted his papers, "Shirogane?"

"I'm looking to start a new business, sir."

"And what might that be?"

"An entertainment center, sir."

The teller looked at me sharply. "A what?"

"For the veterans, sir. An entertainment center. So they can see shows."

His eyebrows grew closer and closer and sank lower and lower with each word I spoke.

"Like a play theater? We already have one."

I tried to keep a stutter off my tongue as I wrang my hat desperately. "No, sir. This will be like a museum, sir. I actually quite dislike plays, sir." My 'sir's were overdone, but I couldn't help it.

The bank teller eyed me warily over the rim of his glasses. He shuffled his papers and put down the fountain pen he had been scribbling notes with. "This... 'venture' you propose is risky and somewhat bizarre."

"It's a good bet, is what it is," I tried, my hope and fragile confidence pushing through. "Sir, people don't want to admit it but they're fascinated with the exotic and the macabre- it's why we stare at it."

"The bank is going to need substantial collateral," the teller said flatly. 

This was it, the moment that I had known was coming but dreaded with my whole heart. I was not a lying man. I did not deceive as a formerly firm rule. But I needed this. I placed a badge on the desk in front of me. 

"Of course," I admitted, "I wouldn't suggest otherwise." 

The teller looked down at the badge, recognized it, and then immediately looked back up at me. "General Shirogane, sir!" he nearly shouted. I looked down at the badge. It had been my father's- he was a five-star general and had been second in command at the Garrison. He died from a heart attack after I had graduated from flight school. 

Luckily, the teller could only assume that I had followed in my father's footsteps and that I had assumed his place as the General. The badge did not specify which Shirogane it belonged to. 

When I was younger, I always pretended to be my father, ordering an army of paper planes into the sky of my backyard. Now, as I impersonated the person I would never be, I felt an odd pang in my heart. 

"I hope that the deed and title to my entire fleet of trading vessels will suffice, sir."


"Why would the bank loan us $10,000?" Adam asked me incredulously, but his usually doubtful face had an obvious spark of excitement to it. 

"Because we put up collateral," I responded cheerfully, squeezing his hand. We were walking downtown, my feet leading him excitedly to our new future. It was in the city where the Garrison was and I wouldn't have been surprised if we bumped into Adam's mother- as far as I knew, she still lived here with her husband. 

People looked at us funny sometimes, our interlaced fingers swinging between us, my other coat-sleeve flapping uselessly behind me in the breeze, but I could care less. Right now was the start of a new beginning. 

"Dear, we don't have any collateral," Adam persisted, as though he was arguing against the bank itself. 

"Sure we do," I replied, grinning, "At the Garrison,"

"At the Garrison?"

Laughing, I said, "Of course," and left it at that.

"And what did we buy with this loan?" Adam pushed, curiosity growing in his eyes. I stopped walking and gestured with my chin. Adam turned and slowly read aloud- "Shirogane's American Museum of Curiosity? Oh dear- what kind of museum is it?"

I looked at him nervously. "A wax figure museum."

Adam's nose scrunched up. 

I quickly led him forward, trying to amend it, "It's gonna be great, darling, I promise. See? We already have a ticket booth." Ezor and Zethrid, the caretakers, were looking bored at the empty ticket window. 

Adam looked at me doubtfully. "Honey..." 

I shushed him before he could say anything more. "It's gonna work out. I handed out flyers this afternoon as people were coming home from work." As I spoke, I felt my foot fall on something small and crumpled. 

Looking down, I recognized it as one of my flyers, half-soaked in a puddle. 

Adam rubbed my back soothingly, seeing my distress. "I'm sure you're right, my love."

I vehemently prayed that this would work.


At the end of the day, we had one sale. And the ticket lay in Adam's pocket, buying it out of what I knew was guilt.

We walked home, hand in hand, under the stars that coated the dark sky. As we turned from a side street onto the main road, where shops were open and people chatted between themselves in the relaxing night, a small crowd caught my eye.

I pulled Adam gently towards the crowd to see what the interest was. 

In the center of the ring stood a girl. She would probably barely reach my shoulder if we stood side-by-side. However, her eyes were sharp behind circular glasses and her height deceived her age- she looked old enough to be a high school student. 

The girl was surrounded by various tech equipment, but what had caught the attention of the crowd was a small, triangular pyramid that floated in the air. It bobbed gently in the air, but when the girl moved to the left, it moved with her, like an anxious friend at a party who followed you around so as to not get lost. 

"I built him myself," the girl said proudly, her hands on her hips. "His name is Rover and he's smarter than any of you," she added smugly. 

I tilted my head at the strange little robot and its inventor. How odd.

Adam pulled me away from the crowd. 


That night, again I lay awake, thinking of what I could do to make Adam happy, to make our lives worthwhile, to prove that my disability couldn't hinder my progress. Adam came to stand in the doorway of our room, his toothbrush sticking out of the side of his mouth. He crossed his arms and leaned against the doorframe, looking at me with soft, knowing eyes. 

"What?" I asked tiredly. 

He paused, went to the bathroom to rinse, and then came back and sat on the edge of the bed, the dim lamplight leaving shadows on his face. 

"I think you need something real."

"What?" I repeated.

"People don't want to look at something that just stands there and does nothing. Bring in something real and new and exciting. Make it..."

"Electrifying?" I asked. "Exhilarating? Invigorating? It's hard to do that with wax figures."

Adam kissed my forehead. "You'll figure something out."

That night, I dreamed of Rover, the robot, in the center of a stage, reciting Pi, droning on and on and on and on... But, I woke up invigorated, exhilarated, and electrified. 

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