Denver and Cortez

Illustration by Scott Shields
Written by T. LeMonde in collaboration with Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm

In a large city, in a large apartment building, lived a poor politician with his wife and two children. The boy’s name was Denver and the girl’s name was Cortez.  The politician had worked all his life to bring inclusivity and equality to his community, but as the economic bubble was about to burst, his goals were becoming more and more difficult.

One evening, as he was lying in bed worrying about the state’s problems, he turned to his wife and said, “What is to become of us? How can we provide food, housing and adequate health care to our community?”

“Early tomorrow morning,” answered the wife, “we will take Denver and Cortez into the thickest part of Central Park and leave them by themselves. We will take money from private ‘investors’ and none of that money will go to our children’s education or basic needs, just to the ‘community’”.

“That’s a great idea,” proclaimed the man. “Soon, I will be a successful politician and business man”.

At daybreak, even before sunrise, the woman came and woke the two children. “Wake up! We are going to Central Park for a nice walk”. Then she gave each one a nickel, saying, “This is to buy lunch. Don’t spend it any sooner, for you’ll not get any more.”

All together they set forth to the park.

The politician and his wife took the children deeper into the park than they had ever been in their whole lifetime. Finally the group stopped, and the mother said, “Sit here, children. If you get tired you can sleep a little. We are going into the park to feed pigeons. We will come and get you in the evening when we are finished.”

But as the day passed and it became night, nobody came to get the children.

Denver said to Cortez, “We will find our way,” but they did not find it.

They walked through the entire night and the next day from morning until evening, but they did not find their way out of Central Park. They were terribly hungry, for they had spent their nickels on pretzels the other day, and without bank accounts, they were unable to buy hotdogs or snacks from street vendors. Nonetheless, they kept on walking deeper and deeper into the park. Finally they came to a little blue house, with a white “f” for the door. As they came close, they saw that the walls were made up of personal information, and the roof made of advertisements for pretzels and hotdogs.

“Those advertisements are weirdly relevant, and seem tailored to our experiences,” Cortez mentioned.

“I admire the ingenuity,” Denver said, brushing off his sister’s concern.

Suddenly the door opened, and a man, possibly young but possibly old, came creeping out. Denver and Cortez were so frightened, but the man shook his head and said, “Oh, Denver and Cortez, come in and stay with me. No harm will come to you.”

“How do you know who we are?” asked Cortez. But before she could get an answer, the man took them both by the hand and led them into his house.

“You two have a low-income and are underbanked. I have the perfect solution,” the man said, while shoving Denver into a big pile of cash, trapping him under the weight of the money bags. Then the man took Cortez over to an oven in the corner of the small house.

“Climb in,” said the man, “and see if this product meets all legal standards, so that it can go public.” And when Cortez climbed inside, he intended to close the oven, and bribe her, and corrupt her.

But Cortez saw what he had in mind, so she said, “I don’t know how to do that. How can I get inside?”

“Stupid goose,” said the man. “The opening is big enough. See, I myself could get in”. And he stuck his head into the oven.

Then Cortez gave him a shove, causing him to fall in. Then she closed the iron door and secured it with a bar. The man began to laugh with glee. But Cortez ran away, and the godless capitalist turned into cash. Cortez ran straight to Denver, lifted the bag of money off her brother, and cried, “Denver, we are saved. The man is dead”.

But, after watching what happened to the man, Denver had other plans. “Stupid goose,” he said, “that is the American Dream”. And he ran to the oven, lifted the bar and hopped in, turning himself into cold hard cash.