Three Rivers, 8.1

Eighth Sim of Thirty Sims at Three Rivers

Author’s Note: Alec Dolan is the first Sim featured in Three Rivers who is game-generated. This Townie, who’s already appeared in a few chapters, moved into an island house, thanks to MC Command Center. As I began to consider a Sim for the eighth prompt, Alec seemed to express this quality better than any Sim I could dream up in CAS.

8. He wanted to buy the other car


The Greens needed a candidate, and Alec Dolan needed a party. That’s how he came to be running for the Three Rivers Council as the Greens’ choice for representative.

Given his family affiliation and culture, he felt the Conservatives would fit better, but his friend Huntington, with a dream of filling his father’s shoes, was their candidate.


Alec didn’t mind pretending. He was used to saying things he didn’t mean.

He’d been using pick-up lines as his beard for so long now that repartee had become second nature. Lead with “jerk” and they’ll lose interest real fast, and no one will be any the wiser.

Sometimes, a woman would surprise him, though, and see through the facade to find a whisper of friendship beneath. Serena, his new campaign manager, had become one such truth-whispering friend.


She inspired him to dig deep to find a cause he actually believed in–or at least one he could talk about with enthusiasm. He loved trees, oaks, especially. Preserving the ancient oaks lining the meadows was a noble cause.

“They’re grand trees, aren’t they?” he said to Serena. “You’d probably never guess, ma chère, but I spent half my childhood up the limbs of a giant oak. We’ll rescue them for the boys–and girls–of the future!”


Without anyone’s promptings, he stumbled onto Free Internet Access and Bridging the Digital Divide as another cause he believed in, or almost believed in. He could talk about it with passion, at least.


“But I haven’t got a house,” protested one of the constituents.

Ce n’est pas grave,” Alec replied. “The hand-held device, non?”


“Health care is more relevant,” said the blonde woman who’d been listening attentively, “and more strategic for effecting real social change.”

The next day, on his morning walk, he ran into that same blonde, who introduced herself as Janet Fuchs. She’d been talking with a few other residents of Three Rivers.

“What a coincidence!” she said. “I was just telling Esmeralda and Dominic about those good ideas you were putting forth yesterday. They like your idea for free region-wide Wi-Fi.”

“And also free, region-wide health care,” said Esmeralda.


“Health care was her idea,” Alec began to say, but Esmeralda and Dominic had already turned to leave.

Alec realized that he could use someone like Janet on his campaign. Quel passion!

“You have a way with you, madame,” he said. “And the people, they follow. You are a Green, non?”

She was a Green, yes, and also a CPA, and so, that very morning, she also became Alec’s campaign finance manager.

“When you ask,” Alec said, “the money, it will flow in! You have the golden tongue!”


Alec felt charmed whenever he met someone who genuinely believed in the causes he espoused. Innocence is irresistible, and true innocence, disarming.


The owner of the new café where all of Alec’s friends visited built his business on the party ideals: sustainability, profit-sharing, eco-friendly. All the buzz was not buzz but substance to Emiliano Zorelo. Alec found sincerity to be très sexy.


Inspired by the others’ enthusiasm and passion, Alec held his first campaign meeting at his house.

“Converse avec tous les autres on the ferry,” he told Serena on the phone, “that way, you can discover the agenda, and when we meet, we have more time for visiting.”

“Or planning,” Serena replied.

The group arrived together.

“You’ve brought them here like a true leader,” Alec told Serena. Compliments, he believed, served as the best motivator.


“Where are your pup-dogs?” Serena asked. She half expected to be overrun by the two Schnauzers that Alec had told her about when he first met her.

“Mitzi and Matilde are upstairs, happily watching the TV.”

“The cat show?”

“Ah, no! The Great British Baking Show. BAKE! They adore the co-host. And the patisserie!”

In addition to Janet, Serena, and Emiliano, two more party members attended, Savannah and Sierra Trejo. Alec never did quite catch how exactly they were related, but he gathered that they lived together. Mother, daughter? Sisters? They looked nothing alike: but they shared a passion for the issues.


Serena’s grass-roots organizing experience put them at ease.


While the women researched historic green space and common land laws, Alec contemplated his new position in this party he hardly knew a thing about.


J’aime les arbres, he thought. Could he build his political career on his affection for oaks? Wild lands were worth saving. Wild blackberries, les mûres sauvages, those were indeed a resource to protect.

And when he felt the earnestness of the women around him, he thought he could fabricate interest in any cause that he would need to espouse.


“Listen to this!” said Sierra, looking up from her book. “It’s about Eugene Henard, who created the greenbelt in Paris. ‘The city, as any living organism, needed oxygen, and parklands provided the necessary breathing room.'”

C’est profound. Who wrote that?”

“Albert Vaiciulenas.”

“Never heard of him.”


He followed Sierra into the kitchen. She was talking about the wide spaces of meadow and forest surrounding the city.

“And it’s not enough for us to keep the greenbelts we have,” she said. “We need to go further! Foxes, for example, need at least a few dozen hectares for their home ranges, and 20 to 30 kilometers is even better!”


Alec laughed. It was fun to see her become excited about an issue.

“Could we make a difference, do you really think?” he asked Sierra.

“I do! Why not? Look at those history books. Policies were made by people just like us. We’re no different. We can make a change, for sure!”

When he and Sierra brought coffee into the front room, they found Janet looking thoughtful.

“What about LGBTQIA issues?” she asked.


“QIA?” asked Alec. “What a mouthful. Can we not simply say ‘human’?”

“It’s critical,” said Savannah. “We can’t call ourselves progressive without addressing these rights. Besides, it’s not even progressive anymore. It’s just the way it is.”


“True,” said Serena. “It’s part of the platform of any forward-looking campaign. And it’s not only good policy, it’s good politics. There’s a wide base of support.”

“How about you?” Alec asked Emiliano. “Where do you stand on LBGT-Q-I-A rights?”

“Right smack en el medio!” laughed Emiliano, with a wink. “Well,” he counted on his fingers, “third from the left.”


Alec laughed. He liked Emiliano’s style.

They heard the ferry horn sound as it entered the bay.

“Oh, I must get home!” said Janet. “It’s a day tomorrow!”

The others hurried to wash up dishes and put away books.

“No problem,” said Emiliano. “You ladies head to the ferry. I will stay to help our candidate with the dirty work of the cleaning up! Go! Go!”


After the front door closed behind them, Alec and Emiliano sat at the dining table and felt the quickening silence that descends when guests have left.

“You don’t mind, I hope,” Emiliano asked, “that I stayed behind?”


Alec didn’t mind one bit. In fact, it was what he’d been hoping for since the moment he found out that Emiliano would be coming to the meeting.

“I am glad you’re a Green,” said Emiliano, when Alec wrapped him in his arms.


“Green is good,” said Alec, laughing. And he thought that maybe he even meant it.

The next morning, while Emiliano lay snuggled in Alec’s bed with Mitzi and Matilde curled up around his feet, Alec rose to clean the dishes they’d left the night before. He kept one mask off that morning, and he wasn’t sure he’d be putting it back on. Oh, he’d wear other masks, perhaps, just not that particular one ever again.

Maybe it wasn’t so bad after all, he thought, being a candidate for the Greens. If it allowed him to discover and then to be his true self, maybe it wasn’t so bad, after all.


Three Rivers, 7.1

Seventh Sim of Thirty Sims at Three Rivers

7. Organic shade-grown Mexican fair-trade coffee in a red mug


Most days, Emiliano Zorelo felt far from home. Never mind that El Colectivo de Barrio owned the small house and café that he, as representative, ran with a proprietor’s rights: he still felt like el extranjero. On a lucky morning, he’d catch a neighbor’s 1987 VAM coupe drive past, and while he listened for the backfire, he felt, just for that instant, like he was a kid on the streets of the pueblo once again.


He’d come to Newcrest carrying the collective’s dreams. They were confident that theirs was the best coffee in the world–at least, as every cupping revealed, there was no better. Earthy, caramel, chocolate, with a hint of malt–that’s what Cesar’s coffee from the north slope was like. Oscar’s south slope beans offered notes of citrus and cinnamon, with robust woody overtones.

As Emiliano was the only member of the collective without a farm, he was the natural choice to run the café and store. He was the one with the MBA from Universidad Regiomontana, after all, and his was the vision behind co-operative principles which they’d adopted.


There were days, though, when he had to wonder if his vision was completely misplaced. He felt like Tio Taco among the gabachos.


Somehow, he hadn’t pictured that the café’s regulars would consist of the power elite.

He and his comrades knew that shade-grown fair-trade coffee was trendy, but they’d thought that it was popular for what it stood for, the environmental and political ideals, not merely because the materialistic foodies loved it for its status and flavor.

He’d expected to see liberals, environmentalists, and lefties at the café, like the crowd he’d hung with in college, those who were getting their MBAs in order to redefine business to empower the laborers who’d been denied for too long.


And here he was, supplying the coffee grown by the dreams of his compadres and the warmth of the sun of home to the very group that, historically, had been doing the denying all along.

It was hard to get into what they were saying, when their conversation consisted of corporate ventures, venture capital, firewalls, network security, and leather footwear.


It was hard not to feel a little hemmed in when they they filled the café with their bright voices.


All that talk about real estate, stocks, investment portfolios, new cars, new houses, new clothes, electronics, technology, i-Pads, minis, maxis, motor week, and he felt that Cesar and Oscar’s beans were nothing more than another commodity.


And that’s exactly what they were. Even if the profits were shared among the farmers and the laborers, coffee was a commodity, and he was here, doing what his ancestors had done for generations, supporting the habits and pleasures of the colonists.


He was a very long way from home, and his patrons carried their moneyed selves right on back to his living quarters. “Mi casa es su casa, right hombre?” Sure thing, taco man.


Even his dreams filled with stock quotes, corporate gossip, and golf scores.


He and his brothers, cousins, and neighbors had formed the collective to serve each of them and their families, and here he was, with his shiny MBA and his co-operative ideals, serving the rich, como en los viejos tiempos. Life sucked.


One morning, his regular barista didn’t show. The service company he contracted with sent an old guy who barely seemed to know his way around the espresso machine.


“I see you’ve got the boss working for you,” said Sandra, one of the regulars that he actually liked.

“You know him?” Emiliano asked.

“Sure,” she replied. “Everybody knows Mr. Landgraab. Must be a training day.”


Sandra explained that once a week, Mr. Landgraab, corporate head of Landgraab Service Contracting Specialists, covered for one of his employees, so that the employee could attend a training day in order to be qualified for a better position within the company.

“It’s his way of paying it forward,” Sandra said. “He wants to make sure that everybody gets a chance to move up.”

Emiliano had heard about this management strategy at the university–in fact, they’d even implemented it in the collective, so that the field hands would have the opportunity to learn accounting or other office skills.

It was a good idea–and it might have been even better if the boss actually had the technical mastery of the workers he subbed for.


Emiliano’s attitude picked up a bit after that. A few conversations with Geoffrey Landgraab, along with a few training sessions for him on the Nuova Simonelli, and Emiliano began to feel that he had maybe found a comrade.

“Ah,” said Geoffrey towards the end of his shift, “there’s our man.”

He waved towards Alec Dolan, the Green’s candidate, who danced in the corner of the store to the mariachi music from home that Emiliano played over the speakers.


“You are a Green?” Emiliano asked Geoffrey.

Geoffrey laughed. “Much to my wife’s chagrin.”

Emiliano knew about Alec’s platform–¡Qué mierda! The collective even contributed to his campaign! His environmental stance matched theirs. Of course, he was pro-labor, too, but it was his stance on education reform and “organic, integrated learning processes” that really motivated them to support him.

Now here was the type of person that Emiliano had hoped to serve when he had first dreamed of opening the collective’s café in Three Rivers.


Alec was a good dancer, too. Most of the gabachos looked awkward moving to the rhythms of home, but Alec’s steps were suave.


In fact, he was un tipo muy bueno.

“You like the music?” Emiliano asked.

Ah, sí! La música es dulce.” He spoke Spanish, too– with a French accent, but it was Spanish all the same.


“What do you say, Huntington?” Alec called to his friend. “We shall play this at our next rally, non?”

“Huntington is a Green?” Emiliano asked.


“Not really,” said Alec. “He is the spy for the Conservatives! But we welcome him nonetheless. Isn’t that true, mon ami? We hope to convert him, or, as he would say, corrupt his capitalistic mind.”

Emiliano found Alec’s style refreshing. He was friendly to all, regardless of their politics.


One Saturday, Alec showed up in the barista’s apron.

“You work here today?” Emiliano asked.

Alec laughed. “Oui! The candidates of the political races must eat, too. This is my day job, the slave for the Landgraab Service Empire.”


Lo que es un mundo extraño when the laborers were the political candidates, when they danced with the opposition, and when their bosses supported their causes! Emiliano realized that he might need to rethink everything that held up his world. He was still a long ways from home.