I think I know what the problem is, I said quietly, knowing full
well that unlicensed tampering with National Color property carried a
five- hundred- merit fine.
The park keeper looked at me, then at Dad, then back to me. He bit his
lip and scratched his chin, looked around and then lowered his voice.
Can it be easily fixed? he asked. We have a wedding at three.
Theyre only Grey, but we try to make an effort.
I looked at Dad, who nodded his assent. I pointed at the pipe.
The yellow flow meters jammed, and the lawns receiving only the
cyan component of the grass- green. Although I would never condone
Rule breaking of any sort, I added, making sure I had deniability if
everything turned brown, I believe a sharp rap with the heel of a shoe
would probably free it.
The park keeper looked around, took off his shoe and did what I suggested.
Almost instantly there was an audible gurgling noise.
Well, Ill be jaundiced, he said. As easy as that? Here.
And he handed me a half merit, thanked us and went off to package
up the grass clippings for cyan- yellow retrieval.
How did you know about that? said Dad as soon as we were out of
Overheard stuff, mostly, I replied.
Wed had a burst magenta feed a few years back, which was exciting
and dramatic all at the same time a cascading fountain of purple all
over the main street. National Color was all over us in an instant, and
I volunteered myself as tea wallah just to get close. The technical language
of the colorists was fairly obfuscating, but Id picked up a bit. It
was every residents dream to work at National Color, but not a realistic
prospect: Your eyes, feedback, merits and sycophancy had to be beyond
exemplary, and only one in a thousand of those who qualified to take
the entrance exam.
We ambled around the garden for as long as time would permit, soaking
in the synthetic color and feeling a lot better for it. Unusually, they
had hydrangeas in both colors, and delicately hand- tinted azaleas that
looked outside of the CYM gamut: a rare luxury, and apparently a bequest
from a wealthy Lilac. We noted that there wasnt much pure yellow in the garden, which was probably a sop to the Yellows in the town. They liked
their flowers natural, and since they could cause trouble if not acceded
to, they were generally given their own way. When we passed the lawn
on our way out, the grass in the anomaly was beginning to turn back to
fresh lawn green, more technically known as 102-100-64. It would be
back to full chroma in time for the wedding.
We stepped out of the color garden, and walked back toward the main
square. On the way we passed a Leaper who was seated by the side of the
road, covered entirely in a coarse blanket except for his alms arm. I put
my recently acquired half merit in his open palm, and the figure nodded
in appreciation. Dad looked at his watch.
I suppose, he said with little enthusiasm, we should go and have
the rabbit experience.
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