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Me: Thanks for agreeing to this interview! By which I mean, “Thanks for being in these countless Uber pools with me!”

Everyone: Hey, how else are you supposed to get around this city? … Really, though, how?

Me: Public transit?

Everyone: [Violent, sick laughter]

Me: So, are you liking it out here?

Everyone: No.

Me: Oh, really? Are there parts you like, at least?

Everyone: The people are super nice!

[In this exact moment, we are being screamed at by nine different people on the road, all of whom flip us off]

Everyone: The weather is really nice, too. [To Uber driver] Hey, you’re dropping me off before the sun goes down, right? I didn’t bring any Arctic exploration gear, and I am not losing another finger to hypothermia. [Back to me] And the food is really great! I don’t really eat out much, though. I spend most of my money on renting an apartment. Well, a room in an apartment. Well, technically, a closet in a room in an apartment. Actually—

Me: Do you have any food recommendations?

Everyone: Food trucks are great! I think. I smell them all the time while I’m stuck in traffic. No idea which ones are good; they all kind of mix together during my commute.

Me: Speaking of which, what do you do for a living here?

Everyone: [In a deafening unison which shakes the mountains to their core and triggers a small but measurable California earthquake] Entertainment.

Me: Oh, you’re making that work?

Everyone: Well, I’m hoping to. Right now, rich people just summon me with an app to perform whatever tasks they need done: driving, food delivery, you name it. Oh, that reminds me: there’s great vegan food options here. I pick up vegan food all the time… whenever a rich person uses an app to turn me into their food delivery slave for way below minimum wage.

Me: Where in the city exactly do you live?

Everyone: I’m not sure which of the countless hovels in which of the countless neighborhoods it is, but it’s overlooked by beautiful mansions on green hills. I think. It’s hard to see through the smog.

Me: Hmm. Do you have any other recommendations while I’m in town?

Everyone: Like I was saying, those hills are gorgeous. You should go for a hike! You can see the whole city, lit by the warm glow of the smog. You can also go downtown, the epicenter of the smog. Or you can go to the beach. If you can find it in the smog.

Me: I don’t know if—

Everyone: Recreational weed is legal here, too! If you think about it, it’s kind of like your own personalized smog.

Me: OK, great. I’ll keep that in mind. But are there, like, any shows you think I should see?

Everyone: There’s a bunch of good ones. But they’re all sold out and expensive. There’s a lot of free shows! But they’re always terrible.

Me: Do you go see shows?

Everyone: No, why would I? If you’re bored, though, I do have an improv show coming up. And it’s free!

Me: Consider me a hard maybe.

Everyone: I’m holding you to it!

Me: Where are you from originally, anyway?

Everyone: A much nicer place, which I am always considering moving back to.

Me: Do you think you ever will?

Everyone: No, and I don’t know why. Please help me.

[At this exact moment, the Uber crashes into the La Brea Tar Pits which had been obscured by the smog. We sink slowly, as everyone in LA gives me their headshot, “just, you know, in case you need to cast someone.”]

Elijah Sloan

Writer of societal manifestos, ransom notes, bomb-making manuals, secession declarations, new constitutions, and children's picture books.

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