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The Birthday Present and The Ground Zero Club - Collection / Anthology

The Birthday Present and The Ground Zero Club

Charlie Schulman

Collection / Anthology

ISBN: 9780822201212

THE BIRTHDAY PRESENT. Wallace Cooper, a put-upon, unpopular child, is …

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Collection / Anthology

THE BIRTHDAY PRESENT. Wallace Cooper, a put-upon, unpopular child, is celebrating his tenth birthday when his father arrives home with bad news: His medical license has been revoked and he must stand trial on a charge of conducting unauthorized experiments. He tells Wallace that he has a secret birthday present for him and proceeds to inject him with a mysterious substance. Twenty years pass. Wallace, still a loser, is being sued for divorce by his unfaithful wife, and a male infertility epidemic is sweeping the world. Dr. Cooper, having escaped from prison, claims that he has the solution to this international problem, and that the inoculations he gave his son years ago have made him the only fertile man left on earth. Wallace's spirits lift considerably at this point, as he becomes a sudden celebrity and is sought out by women from around the world. In the end, however, Dr. Cooper finds that he cannot recreate his magic serum, and he commits suicide on a TV talk show—leaving his overwhelmed son with the sole and awesome responsibility of fathering the human race of the future. (5 men, 4 women.) THE GROUND ZERO CLUB. Takes place on the observation deck of the Empire State Building, fifteen minutes before the nuclear cataclysm. As a Japanese tourist mechanically feeds quarters into a telescope, a security guard drops postcards to the pavement below, pleading for company as he awaits the end. His call is answered by Tanya, an anti-nuke activist who is now selling "Cruise people, not missiles" buttons at half price, and they are soon joined by others, all brought together by chance to form an impromptu Ground Zero Club. There's Sal, an over-the-hill punk rocker; his flower child girlfriend, Angela; the stuffy Bob, an Assistant Secretary to the Associate Secretary of the Secretary to the Secretary of Defense; and Bob's world-weary wife, Fiona, who is thinking of jumping before the bomb arrives. Angela and Fiona strike up a friendship; Tanya prods Bob into a grudging acceptance of governmental responsibility for the oncoming holocaust; and the security guard finds a soul mate in the Japanese tourist—all before the bomb hits, killing the Japanese tourist on impact but failing to detonate. It turns out that both sides have sabotaged each other just in time to prevent a full scale war, leaving those assembled to face the future with a somewhat altered perspective, having so perilously, and hilariously, survived what surely seemed to be the end. (4 men, 3 women.)
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