I had never heard of a place, except perhaps Disneyland, where a community was created to reflect the ideal, the perfect, the romantic, the nostalgic, and the magical small town the likes of which you’d only seen in movies like It’s a Wonderful Life.
Joseph Chandler had a dream of such a community, and used most of his massive inherited wealth to bring the dream to a reality. So the town originally called Chandler Village was a place of broad avenues lined with oak trees, tidy homes on generous manicured lots fronted by white picket fences, a plethora of parks, playgrounds, churches, and independent businesses— no Walmarts, no Burger Kings, no Starbucks, no Safeways, no Gaps.
But this dream was not the entirety of Chandler’s Folly, as the town came to be known. Joseph Chandler wanted a kind of underground city, too, where cables and wires and electrical boxes and meters were tucked away below ground, part of a series of tunnels that connected schools and businesses to homes and churches. The conception and building of such an underground system was the major source of employment for the people of Chandler Village. Until the collapse, that is.
Near the outskirts of town was a place called The Quarry. Slabs of rough grey granite formed a circle around a deep, milky, teal-colored pond which was, of course a gathering place in the summer for young people, who loved to swing on a sturdy rope attached to a mature oak on the edge of the quarry, into the pool below. There was even an antique quarry car near the parking lot, a self-driving vehicle that was once used to haul granite shards, placed as if in tribute to the quarrymen.
It was all an illusion. When the tunnels started collapsing, Joseph Chandler had to halt work on their construction, and the worst collapse, one that miraculously claimed no human lives, was the site which the faux quarry now occupied.
According to Wikipedia, many tunnels still existed under the town, abandoned and deemed unsafe, and were often the scenes of sketchy, possibly criminal activities.
This was the home of the little girl who remembered nothing except that she thought her name was Folly. She was born and raised in a perfect illusion, the surface of which was glossy and gleaming and sparkled like the specks of silver in quarry granite.
We stopped for the night at a Best Western Motel, not three miles from the town limits. Folly had relaxed somewhat during our time together touring in the red Jag, but she shared no new information with me and Plato. I told her we were making a bit of a detour which would delay our visit to the Grand Canyon, and this did not seem to bother her. But then, she reacted not at all, to anything, except with suppressed fear and suspicion. I’m not sure how I hoped to heal this child by taking her to her home, whose name and location she’d been unable to recall, though I knew I was right.
But we had to start somewhere. Plato and I had each other from the beginning of the end of the world. I remembered my family well and with great warmth and love, and Plato and I mourned them together.
Folly couldn’t start to mourn until she started to remember.