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Indubitably

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Things were undeniably difficult in the adverbs business these days.

Once every would-be grammarian with an Internet connection got online, writing advice had spread sleekly across the web like a virus: "kill your adverbs." Lolly's Inc. had been losing business steadily ever since.

The situation was very, very frustrating. Lolly III could stand outside the shop front merrily offering free adverbs to passersby on the street, but all those potential customers blithely walked by, most without a second glance. A few would even mercilessly tease poor Lolly about his adverbs.

"No one uses adverbs," they told him snidely.

Still he pressed on undauntedly. "Adverbs are helper words which can specifically add emphasis to a verb or adjective, or artfully lessen that emphasis!"

Once, the family went to the store to unlock for the morning, and found the phrase: "Use stronger verbs" spraypainted there across the front window. Lolly Sr. retired the next day.

Lolly Jr. was rightfully aghast. "But Pops, you independently invented the -LY attachment process! You're indisputably the best in the business!"

"I was, son," said Lolly Sr. "Now I am very, very tired." He patted Lolly III on his shock of hair. "The future for the two of you is less certain than I would otherwise wish, unfortunately." Lolly Jr. and Lolly III sadly watched him pack his personal things. Lolly III was uncharacteristically quiet during the going-away party, so much so that Lolly Jr. began to worry.

By the following day, the paint was gone, and so was Lolly Sr., off to a delightfully indulgent vacation he'd been postponing for years. Lolly III showed up for work unusually late with an incredibly smug smile.

"Pops," he said to Lolly Jr., "why don't you take a vacation, too? You've really worked yourself too hard over the years, and you deserve a break."

"What are you planning?" Lolly Jr. immediately asked.

"Nothing," Lolly III said. Lolly Jr. skipped the vacation regardless. It wasn't that he didn't fully trust his son, it was that his son had always been deeply into his own ideas.

Time passed slowly, and adverb use declined further. In their fervor against adverbs, editors performed search and destroy missions with their word processors, losing not only modifiers like "stealthily" and "triumphantly" but even adjectives such as "daily" and "holy." Lolly Jr. slashed prices on all -LY attachments, but couldn't give them away. Most days, they had no customers at all.

Sadly, Lolly Jr. shuttered the shop, and took a long vacation of his own.

Lolly III had the keys.

Lolly III had a plan.

When Lolly Jr. returned, it was to find his family business doing a surprisingly brisk trade.

"Son," he said warily as he stepped inside past more customers than he'd seen in years. "What did you do?"

"Welcome back, Pops!" Lolly III held out his arms.

Lolly Jr. saw the words had all been rearranged. He picked one up from the shelf. "What's a Lysoft? Or a Lyshort?"

Lolly III grinned, and rang up a customer. "I rewired the -LY attachment. It turns out there's a huge unmet need for trademarks, and after all those editors got rid of all the -LYs, I used the surplus to create new words."

"New words?" Lolly Jr. asked incredulously. "Son, we sell adverbs, not," he squinted painfully at a box, "Lylazi or whatever this is."

Lolly III pulled it out of his hands and gave it to the next executive in line, who thanked him and walked out. "Pops, think about it. We're seeding adverbs into every aspect of advertisement. A whole new generation will grow up with marketing telling them all about the good old LY process. Once the first wave of anti-adverb editors retires, their replacements will want to make their marks on the world."

He picked up a box with the word "Lyhappi" on it. As Lolly Jr watched, the LY- popped off and reattached at the end where it belonged.

Lolly III said, "We'll be in plain sight until we're inevitably back on top." He grinned widely.

Lolly Jr. thought about it, then beamed proudly at his son.

"Indubitably."