Jerry decided not to drive the extra five minutes to reach the home he had left that morning.  Instead he pulled into the first empty driveway he saw on Woodstream Terrace.  He was hungry.

The house looked pretty much the same as his anyway.  When he opened the front door, he noticed the furnishings were about the same as those he had left, which were about the same as those found in the window display at the nearby furniture store.  The surprised woman who wandered from the kitchen was about the same age and build of the woman he married, which is to say about the same age and build of most women on cereal commercials.  The two children who ignored him went to the same school as his and wore the same clothes as his—or the same clothes on the manikins, not the racks, at the mall.

His favorite show was on TV.

Saving the five minutes by not going to his own house had been a good choice.

He sat and kicked off his shoes.  The wife told him not to leave his stuff everywhere.  The kids fought in the background.  Something about one of them hogging something and not complying with the established sharing guidelines.  “Tell them to stop fighting.”  “Stop fighting.”

Meanwhile, at his own house, a man who looked about the same as Jerry walked through the door.  He wore blue and khaki,  was about 15 pounds overweight, and looked as if he had just spent the day having to be nice, which is to say he looked like every man to whom real estate is marketed.

Jerry had set a familial jumble in motion.  Men, women, and children began to show up in houses with different street numbers than their own.  When parents came home to find a car already in their parking spot, they continued driving until they found one empty.  If children saw others get off the bus in front of their home, they got off at the next.

And in short, no one noticed, nothing changed, and everyone remained happy.  The deck had been shuffled, but all the cards were the same.


Found in It Happened Yestermorrow:  Stories Written Two Minutes Before Waking