In what seems to be a population, whose rich, gorgeous culture is inevitably disappearing into the computer, technology age, small-town America still loves its classified ads, especially personal ads, which are, at least for now, still thriving for us and especially for a particularly large mob gathered at the deteriorating, old North Gate shopping center in Springfield.

This very large, mysterious mob is strangely quiet for some unverified reason that they all think they might know but they’re not telling anyone except their closest friends till they’re sure.

All these pensive people are filling the front walks, the parking lot, and the few remaining actual open-for-business stores in the old shopping center; guarding their true intention as best they can and taking quick furtive glances at all the other fake shoppers going in and out of the few stores

The whole town is well represented by the strange, tense mob ——-some housewives left their cleaning chores undone to be here, there are teachers and students playing hooky from school, salesmen who left their sales kits in the car, cops and taxi drivers using the excuse that their services are much needed here at North Gate, and even preachers and ministers who, no doubt, would tell us all that they have a moral obligation to assess this mysterious scene.

They’ve all been reading the little innocent ads in the online personal classifieds for weeks now, and they all have strong, but of course, not well-founded, ideas of who’s posting them back and forth. They are actually, maddingly unsure who they might be protecting or keeping quiet for or perhaps getting the goods on. They all have their motives or justifications for keeping quiet, but they are all dying to know for sure and dying for the certain knowledge of who’s taking part in these shenanigans.

Now, with the ad that came out yesterday that reads, “Oh, yes, I’m ready for whatever you want to do, ASAP. Meet me at North Gate at the place where we first met, then we can do anything and all the things we want to do, alone, just you and me”, everyone was dying to know who this is.

On the outer edge of the growing mob, six carloads of federal agents rolled up. In the lead car, an agent with his gaping mouth and bulging eyes turned to the agent in charge and said, “Tom, I thought this was going to be the biggest bust in the last five years for the FBI; a trap the Chinese could never smell out or see coming, what are we looking at here Tom? What is this? Tom looked as bewildered as his fellow agent.