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AND OTHER STORIES
short fiction by
MODUS ARTS GROUP 2012
Copyright 2012 by Christopher Hayden All rights reserved. MODUS ARTS GROUP
The real community of man, in the midst of all the self-contradictory simulacra of community, is the community of those who seek the truth, of the potential knowers . . .of all men to the extent they desire to know. But in fact, this includes only a few, the true friends as Plato was to Aristotle at the very moment they were disagreeing about the nature of the good.. . .They were absolutely one soul as they looked at the problem. This, according to Plato, is the only real friendship, the only real common good. It is here that the contact people so desperately seek is to be found.
- ALLAN BLOOM
PRE-TEXT GLOSSARY OF TERMS burner : slang for deep space explorer crew member, as in ‘Dale Evanburns was a burner. He died in the Hanson Collision of 2314.’ fin : slang for manned solar-sail deep space explorer, a space craft that uses ambient energy from the sun to cross an ever expanding trajectory of routine manned space flights within the neighborhood of our relatively warm and bright inner solar system. the core technology does not allow a craft to leave the warmth and light of our star and thus head off towards the outer solar system (unless the crew were willing to surrender all power to move and tack in amidst the energy flow of the great solar dissipation out there in the local realm of the vacuum; that is a terrifying idea to a deep space crewman; not being able to turn nose and head home is a worse case scenario for a space man, no one would jump-off like that on purpose; so it could be said that time and space limit the human expanse into the cosmos for now but they have likely not throttled it for good. new technologies are always dawning, necessity being the mother of invention, after all. jump-off : slang term for space flight; usually reserved for space flights outside Earth orbit, as in ‘another martian jump-off’ or ‘the big rockbelt jump-off.’ ------------------------------------------TEXT Dale Evanburns was a burner. He died in the Hanson Collision of 2314. He may have been the first burner to be called a burner. He used to call himself a burner. He took a crew of ten out on that fateful Mars
Jump-off on a lithium-9 fin they called the Dottie-K. The Dottie-K made it back to Earth orbit with half its crew and none of its ore. That ill-fated fin had run into a cloud of golf ball-sized and smaller space particles traveling fast enough to make what was left of the alloy hull look like swiss cheese. The odds were hundreds to one against them teasing her back to Earth. That anyone lived through the initial impact event was beyond mathematical hope. Eleven dead. Seven survivors. Doctor Madelyn Hanson was one of those. She would go on to great things eventually, including bearing me. Dale Evanburns didn’t make it. He was 41 years old the day he died. He was my father. My name is Justin Evanburns. I am a burner. And not just by blood. I pull jump-offs on fins for money. But let me be honest. It's not just the cheddar. Being off planet does something to a man’s head that you have to experience to fully understand. Maybe it is the absence of the subtle pull of the Earth’s magnetic stream on the atoms that form the cells in your brain. I don’t know for sure. If I had to guess exactly what it is, my presumptions would be along those lines. Something happens and your thoughts feel unleashed from the walls of your mind in the same way your body has been unleashed from the gravity of Earth’s surface. It is a very weird feeling. You only notice it after a while. It sets in slow. Every time I jump-off, it comes right back so there is something to it. I'm addicted as Hell. It is almost like having endless varieties of the most beautiful orchestral music playing sweetly in your ears except you can't hear it and it's not really music. In space everything tends to be crispy and cool. I prefer to keep my bubble heated at a nice toasty 85 degrees Fahrenheit the whole time I am out. Out there in the vacuum you need to stay warm to keep your wits. The cold is death’s proof positive. A man could go crazy…. So yeah we keep it pretty smokin’ in the bubbles. It is almost a superstition in a way. Just like the tattoo of a pig on one foot and the tattoo of a chicken on the other will give away any true burner as soon as he takes his souls off. Those tattoos can trace their roots back to the ocean sailing days of Colonial America. Sometimes when a ship went down the cartons of boxed pigs and chickens would actually drift ashore
somewhere with live animals aboard. So sailors would tattoo the creatures on their feet so they could symbolically stand on the fortuitous fate of pigs and chickens and make it to land alive as well. It’s all about floating home by dumb luck when your wits have long since gone over the side. I’m going back out soon. We're planning what the media has dubbed the 'big rockbelt jump off.' Flight Staff wanted this draft for the shrinks. One of these ‘Write what you feel.’ exercises they ask you to do for homework in between going in to Command so they can bleed you and run a wire up your prong and check your DNA to make sure you haven’t started turning into something else since you got back from your last jump-off. Give them credit. They try to be careful. It would be a shame for humanity to get wiped out by something from outer space that got carried back to the mother biosphere by a burner. But it would be just plain stupid to let that happen if it turned out to have been at all avoidable. We were trained to call it Taking Steps. Command takes steps. Lots of steps. My job when I’m not out clocking a fin, while I’m stuck to Terra Firma, is to make sure I don’t get walked on as all this step taking takes place. And though it is true I have made it this far with my flight status intact, I must admit that I wonder aloud to people I trust if I’m still cut out for all this shit. And we all know I can say anything I want in this document and it won’t matter. If I cop to a murder they'll stamp the file, triple overwrite every copy, and pretend they never read it. People with my education and experience are getting rarer with every passing season. Nor will they cut me from the flight line on a mental just because I say something weird here. They would be incredibly disappointed if I didn’t, actually. Ain't that right, boys? ——————————————————————————– CENTRAL TOWER CONTROL REPORT : SUBJECT EVANSBURN, J. FILED THE POST APPEARING ABOVE AT 13:55 -0 2/22/2329 ON THE TERMINAL IN HIS LIVING QUARTERS AND WAS THEN TRACKED UNDER STANDARD JUMP CREW SURVEILLANCE TO AN ALCOHOL AND HASH BAR IN THE LICENSED PROSTITUTE DISTRICT OF MIAMI, WHEREUPON HE ESTABLISHED CONTACT WITH KNOWN CONTROLLED
SUBSTANCE(S) ABUSERS AND IMBIBED OF ALCOHOL. HIS BEHAVIOR REMAINED EVEN AND HIS DEMEANOR REMAINED CIVIL. HE SANG DRINKING SONGS WITH HIS CHUMS. HE DRANK QUICKLY, WORKING HIS WAY THROUGH MULTIPLE PITCHERS OF THE TAVERN’S GROG IN A SHORT PERIOD OF TIME AND THEN STOPPING COMPLETELY. THERE WAS NO FURTHER CONSUMPTION IN THE FINAL HOUR THAT HE LINGERED AT THE ESTABLISHMENT. HE RETURNED TO HIS LIVING QUARTERS AT 02:55 AND SLEPT. ——————————————————————————– Now the sun isn’t so all fired hot as you might think it is. In fact that candle starts looking faint and feeble just about the moment you complete your mud run. We call it a mud run because the rocketry engines burn petrochemical fuel to lift you from the Earth’s surface to the geo-stationary platform where the fin sits waiting, all folded up and wound tight as a drum. The petrochemical fuel is mud. Oil is mud. Yes they call it solid fuel and it is in the final form we burn but it is still just mud. And, historically speaking, one hell of a goddamned mess to deal with. Just thinking about all those dumb fucking chimps back in the 20th and 21st Centuries driving their nasty-ass internal combustionengined cars and trucks around in the good clean air. Uhhh. Now that they have to bottle oxygen and wear it in a backpack in the industrial Hells of Asia, I’ve seen men go to jail right here in Old Florida for lighting a small fire in a camp out in the hills. We don’t burn much anymore. Not in the fragile atmosphere we have left these days. Rocketry fuel is one fun fuckin’ exception. There just isn’t any other way to get the concentrated lift you need to push out from Mother. We love to burn it. Yes sir, yes sir. Woke feeling pretty good considering all the drinking I did with my esteemed acquaintances down at the White Rook. The Flight Staff dicks were practically keeping a tally on a napkin. The only guys not drinking are not hard to clock in that boonswoggle mob. I really like drinking in there. I achieve a certain attachment to my cronies. We crack jokes and sing dirty hymns and laugh at the hookers and try not to piss our pants swilling down cold, small beer. The real attraction - a lot
of those cats are industry chemists. They know how to cook up any number of psychoactive tasty treats and pass that shit around right in front of the Flight Staff dicks without raising any suspicion. I got high as all Hell, on top of my beer buzz, on some stuff they are calling 'Microsoft' which is a quaint name if you know your history. And after the technical stuff of my profession, history is my forte. A shrink once convinced me that at least part of that is how strange I find the story of my own history, which is just about as crazy and unlikely as a story can be and still be true. If you think about it, the odds against your ever being born are impossibly high. If your parents had waited a few minutes to fuck, or if your Dad had worn a rubber, or blew his load on your Mama's tits instead of inside her, then you wouldn't be here. And what if they had never met? Or if either of your two sets of grandparents had waited a few minutes etc. etc. The new quantitative math formulae they've just lately been able to use to describe so many previously incalculable phenomena are still useless when it comes to calculating the odds against any particular human being ever making it to that first gasping breath. The variables are too variable, as they say. If you think you are having a bad day try pondering what I'm telling you for a minute. If you are here to think about it, then your luck is good. Beyond all rhyme or reason. Period. But even so, here's a story that should peel your wig: my parents never had sex. From what I have been told and been able to gather, they didn't even like each other. My father and mother were part of the staff and crew on the Dottie-K, that old Romney-Class robust bitch, when she was ambushed by bad luck in the form of a micro-meteorite storm. Dad was killed on the spot. Mother was critically wounded but, again against odds too high to calculate, she survived with the use of both hands and most of one leg. The other limb was shredded like pulled pork in the collision, which came to be named for my mother because of what happened next. It seems that pieces of my father's flesh and blood and organs were carried by momentum on slivers of that space debris which tore through his corpus and then exited still traveling fast enough to pierce my mother's body. The spermatozoa from which half my genes
derive was still swimming around in my doomed father's balls when a dust-sized particle of carbon or iron or who knows what tore through him and then carried it to the egg which happened to be, at that fateful moment, sitting primly and innocently in my mother's oviduct. Nine months later, voila! You do the math, boys. I've got a hangover.
It was raining again. Big drops fell fast and hard from a partially clouded sky as Chet and I sat protected on the back porch of his small, red brick apartment building on the west side of North Winooski Avenue in Burlington, Vermont. Above us dark rolls poured it down on the porch roof and Chet's over-grown and weedy back yard, which was full of broken toys and crippled. rusty bicycles and various and sundry rubbish. Meanwhile, out over Lake Champlain, the sun was shining through vast patches of clear blue. From the porch you could not see the lake but above it, the schizophrenic sky was right there to look at. The humidity must have been a hundred percent; I was sweating to prove it in my sleeveless Beatles t-shirt. We were smoking a short, fat joint of my second to best weed. I had come to Chet's door, ostensibly to get him high, but hoping to be invited to spend the night on his couch. Being homeless in Burlington in those days was about as painful as being born a Rockefeller; free hot breakfast at the food-shelf every morning, free lunch at the C.O.T.S. Daystation most days, free dinner at Salvation Army every night at 5:30. There were a couple different shelters you could try to get a bed in for night times - one run by the local Christians, the other by the local Marxists - but in each case that came with a lot of red tape and bullshit hoops to jump through. You had to give them your real full name and your social security number and for me that just wasn't an option. And besides, a few minutes walk in any direction from the center of downtown lay scores of acres of the most beautiful woods, just waiting for you to plop down your gear and throw up your tent. But be that as it may, I wanted to stay indoors because I had just that morning scored what for me was a very large stash of high quality marijuana and I didn't feel safe exposing myself to the wild and - in some cases - desperate characters I would routinely encounter in the wilderness of woods and weeds down near the edge of the lake at night. Not while holding that much product. I'd been robbed under those exact circumstances just a
few months prior to the afternoon in question. Two guys I thought I knew and could trust beat my head in with something blunt and got me for several ounces and a couple hundred in cash. Even worse, the surgeons shaved my white-boy dreads off at the emergency room so they could close up my cranium. Worse still, my muggers killed my dog too. As one of the best known small-time pot dealers in town I guess you could say it was an occupational hazard. While I wouldn't have classified Chet as a friend, I will say that he was an alright guy most of the time. I'd first met him in City Hall Park when he was sniffing around for a couple joints. I hooked him up nice and when I saw him again in the dinner line at Salvation Army he invited me to come to his apartment and 'smoke lovely' as he called it. Chet was about twice my age, which put him in his mid-40's. He had icy blue eyes and long, salt and pepper hippie hair. He was tubby and a bit of a slob, both in his personal hygiene and his house keeping. I'm sure you know the type. Dishes stacked to the rafters in the sink. Frumpy thrift store clothes laying around everywhere. Lamps with no shades and bare bulbs blaring. Crumbs. Splatter. He'd take off something that was dirty and drop it and pull on something else he'd done the same thing with a few days ago. The only reason he had an apartment at all was because he was officially disabled and collecting a stipend check from Uncle Sam. I got the impression he had once been heavy into the hallucinogens and had become a bit of an acid casualty, you know, back in the real hippie days. I watched him watch the rain with his big, zombie-esque eyes while holding in a hit of that delicious smoke. He seemed to go somewhere far off and then come back. He handed me the joint and said, "Do you believe in God?" "Depends." I told him. As I smoked he continued. "I hope you do, man. You're a good dude, man. I'd hate to think the Devil's gonna get ya in the end." Something about this made me start chuckling. Maybe it was the way he said it. Or the way he held his mouth in a tight little 'O' when he was done saying it. I'm not sure. But it struck me as damn funny.
He leaned toward me from his end of the wicker and wood bench we were sitting on and said, "Oh you think that's funny, Beanie?" (People called me 'Beanie' that summer for the knit hat I had started wearing after my head got bashed in and then relieved of my formerly glorious dread-locks.) "C'mon, man." I said, handing back the sizable and still-burning roach. "Don't get offended. I'm baked, bro." He took the roach and puffed on it. Handing it back from the pinch of his finger and thumb to mine, he said, "You like The Beatles?" I looked down at my own chest. The Fab Four striding a crosswalk from the cover of ABBEY ROAD. "Yeah. Sure. I guess." Chet then told me, with all the seriousness in the world shellacked on his greasy face, "The Beatles are proof there's a God." I made a physical attempt not to laugh at him and failed. "Oh you think that's funny too, huh?" "C'mon man." I managed. "You want me to leave? I'll leave, Chet. It's cool...." This brought him back down to Earth, at least somewhat. He stood up and patted me on the shoulder. "Naw. Don't leave. I told ya you could stay here tonight, didn't I?" He hadn't, actually. But I nodded. With that he leaned his head out off the porch far enough to get rained on and swept the perimeter of the property with his eyes, as if to make sure no one could hear us as we sat there shooting the shit. Finally he sat back down and looked at me with the most serious expression. He said, "You ever go to college?" "Harvard." I told him. "C'mon man. Quit fucking around." "No, Chet." I told him. "I never been to college." Which was a lie as I had answered him honestly the first time. I graduated from Harvard University in three years at the age of twenty. I walked away from Yale Law to follow Phish and wound up following them all the way home to Burlington. I grew up in Greenwich, Connecticut less than a mile from the house where Martha Moxley was murdered. My real name is Leonard Frederick Rockefeller but in all the time I spent kicking around
Burlington, Vermont in the summers no one ever knew it except for a state senator named Vincent Illuzzi who, in the capacity as my attorney, would meet me at the top of Battery Park once a month to give me the small cash payout I was still allowing my family to contribute to my liquidity in those days. It was my habit to take that money and buy weed, wholesale, and flip it just for the sake of having a tangible reason to mingle among the sweet and charming folks who peopled that city back when. "Well Beanie. Believe it or not, I went to UVM up there on the hill. Long time ago. That's how I wound up in Burlington to begin with. And when I was a student I studied philosophy." "Descartes and shit?" I queried. "Yeah. Descartes. Thomas Aquinas. Nietzsche. You name it. I read all those guys. But for me it all boils down to logic." "Like the Greeks?" "Yeah!" he said, slapping his own knee. "Like the Greeks." "I thought we were talking about God." "And The Beatles." he reminded me. "Okay." I assured him. "I'm with you." "Okay." he nodded just like a bum professor I'd had once. "If I could prove to you that Satan exists then it would follow that God does too, right?" "Sure." I said. "That's logical, right?" "It is indeed." "Okay. So you got The Beatles. John. George. Ringo." and then his brain failed him. He sat there staring off into space and snapping his fingers as if that would nudge his memory. "And Paul McCartney." I finally added. "And Paul!" he pointed his finger at me like a gun. "Okay. Never mind Paul. Never mind Ringo. Never mind George. John Lennon. Remember John Lennon. That's the key to this whole thing." "John Lennon." I repeated. "The Beatles put out The White Album."
"Yes they did." I conceded, growing bored fast and running down a mental list of other places I might be able to eye out my dope into small bags and crash for the night without waking up with my throat slit. "And then Charles Manson built his whole cult around the messages he was getting from The White Album. I mean his whole fucking ethos!" "Okay. Helter Skelter, yup." At the mention of Helter Skelter Chet's eyes got huge. He got back to his feet and scoped the backyard again for prying ears. When, at some length, he finally sat down he said, "And the Manson Family committed a bunch of murders, trying to start a race war." Now he lowered his voice and said, "To kick-start the Helter Skelter." I just nodded. He went on, "So one of the people that got slaughtered was Sharon Tate." "The actress." I said. "Yes. Sharon Tate the actress. And Sharon Tate was married to who?" "That Polish guy." I said. "Holocaust survivor, I think." "Polanski." Chet said. "Roman Polanski." I contributed. "That's right. Roman Polanski. And what film did Roman Polanski make?" "Chinatown." I said. "Rosemary's Baby." He told me. He got a look on his face as if he was about to check the backyard again but then it passed. "Before Sharon Tate got butchered by the Manson Family when she was pregnant as Hell and about ready to deliver, her husband directed 'Rosemary's Baby.'" He slapped his knee again and said, "So you see what I'm saying?" I scratched the side of my head for effect and said, "Not really, man. You kinda lost me." "Dude. Didn't you ever see that movie?"
"Yeah. Everybody probably has." The truth was I had watched it on cable with a cute little crunchy chick in a hotel room out on Shelburne Road that past spring. "What's the movie about, Beanie?" "This chick gets fucked by the Devil and has his kid." Now his chin was going up an down like a toy bobble-head. "Where did they make the film?" He demanded, growing even more animated. "New York City." "Where in New York?" I sat there dumb and silent. The rain was hitting the roof in a steady little pitter-patter. There was a rainbow up in the sky over Lake Champlain. One of my ears began to ring. Chet finally said, "At The Dakota." "Oh. The apartment building." "Yes, Beanie. The apartment building. It's called The Dakota." "I know. It's on West 72nd." Maybe it was the weed, or just the mood the rain and this drab old babbler-dabbler had me in but I still didn't make the connection, even though he had been spoon feeding it to me the whole time. "John Lennon lived in the Dakota when Chapman shot him to death." Chet declared in a half-whisper, hissing through is black and yellow teeth. "He shot him right out front of the place." "That's fucked up." I told him. "That is fucked up." He agreed. "That's Satan for you."
It was in a sweaty little east Texas town near the Louisiana Border that I met up with Dagz and we settled on a plan. Over heaping plates of dry barbecue washed down with Budweiser we agreed we were both there to proceed past the talking stage. We were sick of talk. There had been too much talk. Dagz was a brainy redneck with a red bandanna tied on his skull and a battered copy of Hemingway's FIRST 49 SHORT STORIES shoved into the breast pocket of his red, plaid, flannel buttondown which had been relieved of its sleeves all the way up to the frayed shoulders. He wore it open and unbuttoned, revealing a white, bony chest emblazoned with a bad tattoo of a skeleton swinging a saber. The skeleton was also wearing a red bandanna. Sitting there across the picnic table from me on a grassy lot just outside a worn out old joint called Uncle Billy's Big Time Barbecue, I would look at him as we ate and think, "This guy is perfect." I had dressed as I always do when I'm on the road with my Harley. Blue denims and black leather, a bit dusty from the road but clean enough to eat in. My head was shaved to the scalp and burnt dark by the southern sun, to which my Yankee hide was not accustomed. I kept my voice down in an attempt to conceal the fact that I do not drawl. Our table was set off and away from the others anyway. The other patrons of Uncle Billy's paid us little mind there in the cloudy and sweltering Sunday afternoon. Dagz was talking to me in a low voice with his mouth half full of pig, "I'm in for one reason. They don't want to listen. They don't care if they get it wrong and kill somebody innocent. They don't see the wrongness of it." I nodded and chewed and swallowed, answering him, "I've always said that killing people is no way to teach people that killing people is wrong. It never made any sense to me." I pointed at him then for punctuation and added, "Even if they have the right guy, I'm against it.
But the fact that there is no guarantee that they even get it right makes the whole thing just insane to me." "Insane." Dagz agreed, chewing. "And morally wrong." I added. "How can killing somebody teach everyone else that killing is wrong? You're basically saying killing is okay so long as it's done by these guys over here but not those guys over there. So long as it's sanitized and hidden from the public view, premeditated murder and conspiracy are okay-just-fine. It's bullshit." Dagz pulled a piece of unchewable gristle out of his mouth and dropped it on the edge of his plate. "But you still think this is the way to go?" He was studying my face with a ton of doubt expressed in his own, "We're gonna kill a cop, man. A cop. Just up and blow his head off. Soon as they announce they've executed Manuel Garza, we're gonna do a cop in retaliation. Then it's gonna get announced in the World press why we did it. And we're going to keep doing it every time a state executes someone. This week it's Texas. Next week it's Texas again. Next month they've got one they're gonna do in Colorado. By Christ, we're gonna go to Colorado and kill a cop there too. If the Feds execute Bobby Jameson this winter we're gonna pick us out a F.B.I. man and dust him. And so on. Until they stop this bullshit." I half stood and reached across the table, grabbing his forearm with my fist and squeezing. I looked him in the eyes and assured him, "I think it is the only way to go. I think if we do this, and do it right, the national discussion will get a kick-start and maybe we can end this thing." I unhanded him and sat back down, making a thoughtful and confident face which Dagz instantly emulated, probably unconsciously. I added, "So if there has to be a little puddle's worth of blood spilled to stem the tide, so be it." "So be it." Dagz agreed. We sat there eating for a little while. Dagz then said, "You know this is Texas." "It took me two days to get here, Dagz. I know where I am." "So you know what's waiting for us if something don't go right." "Yeah. I know. I ain't thought about much else since the pastor called me in and set this thing up."
"Let's not talk about the pastor." Dagz winced. "Let's not mention anyone else from here on out until we're done with it and part ways. Okay?" "I'm sorry." I told him, nodding my assurances. "That's the best way for everybody." "Indeed." He nodded. When we had filled our stomachs with the salty-sweet fare of Uncle Billy's Big Time Barbecue, Dagz jumped in his dilapidated Chevy pick-up and had me follow him out to the edge of that east Texas town to the motel I was to stay at. When we were about to pass the place, he tossed some litter out his window to let me know this was it. I applied the brakes to my bike and rolled into the parking lot of an old soggy strip motel called, typically, THE COLONIAL INN. Dagz kept going. I watched his truck until it rounded a slight bend a ways down the highway. Now that we had met and sized each other up and still intended to go forward with the plan, the idea was to minimize the number of people who could place us together. I was fine with that. I climbed off my bike and took a look around. The place was okay as far as those types of places go. Fresh paint on an old building and a surprisingly robust and well-tended garden growing beside the oval pool, which was empty except for the knee-high weeds growing out of the meandering crack that ran down the center of its pale pink floor. That was okay. I wasn't here to swim. I walked into the office and was instantly chilled by the air conditioning, which the proprietors had cranked way up. A young Asian man, probably still in his late teens, signed me in and counted out my change. I paid for three nights in advance. He gave me the keys to room 106. Without starting her up again, I pushed my bike over to the parking spot directly in front of my room and grabbed my helmet and travel bag before going inside. A few dog-eared looking people were taking some sun out in front of their rooms. I suspected they were "pay by the weekers" who lived here more or less permanently. The room was small and clean. Cable TV. Microwave. Mini-fridge. AC already running. The bed was oversized and firm enough when I kicked my boots off and
dropped onto it. I was exhausted from the road; the two-days ride had been chock full of anxious moments that kept my guts fluttering the whole way. With a belly full of the local fare and better than twentyfour hours to keep myself entertained until show time, I thumbed on the TV with the remote and set it to CNN. I waited for any mention of the pending execution Texas was planning for the next evening and as I waited I dropped into a deep sleep, still fully clothed and with the bed made up beneath me. I slept a long time and had a dream just before waking. During the ride down to Texas, a rude and snippy Black girl in her late teens had sold me a bucket of chicken at a KFC just outside of Atlanta, Georgia. She had rolled her eyes a certain way when I asked for extra napkins and it must have bothered me on some level. In my dream there in room 106 of THE COLONIAL INN I was, for reasons that escape my memory, beating the snot out of that same Black chicken girl with a tire iron. I think we were on an abandoned back road somewhere in the middle of America. I was not angry as I did it. Rather, I was shocked and disgusted by my own violence even as I kept hitting her and hitting her. The tire iron made the most awful, hollow, thumping sounds when it connected against her body. Throughout the beating she kept getting to her knees and then her feet and I kept knocking her back down, bashing her for all I was worth. She was screaming fit to raise the Devil. I smashed her across her shoulder blades. I cracked her on the top of her cranium thrice. I beat her in the ribs and then her guts and then her ribs again. Finally she stayed down. When she was close to unconsciousness and her shrieks had finally turned to a low sobbing, laying there at my feet as I stood trying to catch my breath, she looked up at me with a make-up stained face and said, in an angry, choking voice, completely devoid of any shred of fear, "I ain't gonna be able to have kids...." I woke up then. My clothes were soaked through with sweat. I tried to shake it off as I undressed and jumped in the shower. I killed a bunch of people in Iraq; it never bothered me much and I 'd go back and do it again right now if they asked me to. Even so, I confessed it all to Jesus Christ when I was alone in the woods the night before the pastor baptized me one Sunday morning, last year, in Ogden,
Utah. But that dream of that chicken girl really had me tipped over for a few days. That kind of shit always fucks me up.
THE PISSING CONTEST
Ever since I was a child - and I do mean a very small one - I always wanted to be a United States Marine. By the time I was beginning high school I knew I wanted to be a commissioned officer. Now that I am one, and have been for some six years and counting, Command keeps giving me assignments that are less than professionally gratifying. You've seen the commercials. "The Few. The Proud. The Marines." Deep blue Class A dress uniform with the white pants and the red stripe. White gloves. The sword. Yeah. You've seen it. A line of cookiecutter men with the chiseled jaw-lines and the perfect tans. You wouldn't have to watch much television in America before you were treated to one of those recruiting masterpieces. Sooner or later, between Saturday Night Live skits or during a break on the Weather Channel, you just might catch the one where a Medieval Knight of the Realm storms a digitally generated castle in the course of a victorious battle against a digitally generated dragon. After killing the Beast, said Medieval Knight is suddenly transformed into one of the Few. One of the Proud. A Marine. Take a close look next time. I am him. He is me. One year out of Annapolis. Did I mention I hate it? In the Marine Corps you do what you are told. In the Marine Corps, if you don't like your orders, you keep your mouth shut and you obey them anyway. Five years ago, when I was ordered to report for duty to a Madison Avenue address in New York City, I very wrongly assumed that I would be guarding someone important while they had their picture made for a print advert. I was correct in guessing that this operation was related to recruiting but I had no idea it would be me standing in front of a blue screen in my long johns swinging a Styrofoam dowel around my head. That spot wound up taking almost a month to shoot. The sequences with me climbing through the weird meat grinder thing had me on the verge of a Section-8 before that faggy French director was satisfied.
If you are having a hard time understanding why I am rather sour on all this glitter and fame it's probably because you haven't been the brunt of six thousand and one wise-cracks every time you have a meal in the officer's mess. What has that been like? Let me put it this way: I don't drink in the officer's clubs anymore. Ever. Okay? Better than that (which is to say worse) I just wrapped up three years on security detail with the U.S. Diplomatic Mission to North Korea. Kim Jong Il himself was prone to cracking on me, calling me the names of characters out of Tolkien's LORD OF THE RINGS during lulls in the tepid action of long, strokey-beard meetings between he and our diplomats. It's a good thing he died last week. There was a limited number of times I was going to let him call me "my precious" without lopping his Red head off with the very real, very sharp sword that I wear in my official capacity as liaison to diplomatic security. And though I wanted to so badly I could taste it, I never sang, "I'm So Ronery" where he could hear me. So anyway, on my last day in North Korea, I found myself standing at a men's room urinal draining my bladder when a young Korean dressed in an English tailored business suit entered and began to use the urinal to my right. I finished my business and began the short few steps toward the door. In accented English, the Korean told me, "Hmmmp! In Korea we are taught to wash our hands after piss." My right hand already extended towards the door handle, I stopped dead in my tracks. Without turning back, I told him, "In the United States Marine Corps they teach us not to piss on our hands." And with that I went out, leaving North Korea's new 20-something dictator to finish his own business. Good God I'm glad to be back in San Diego....
They hanged Justin Small in the Northgate Prison at 4:25 in the morning. This was not a death sentence mandated by the criminal courts. It was murder, plotted and carried out by a criminal conspiracy. The two prison guards responsible for the physical act of strangling Mr. Small with his own shoelaces were both mid-level members of a local lodge of Illuminati Freemasonry. As much as they personally enjoyed the act, which they carried out with their own bare hands, they were relatively inconsequential to the plot. Correctional Officers Darren Brandy and Eliot Newcombe, virtual cookie cutter prison guards with close-cropped haircuts and what some of the inmates would jokingly refer to as porn mustaches, were merely acting on secret orders that had been passed down a long chain of command. Those orders, in fact, originated from so high up in the rafters of society that even they themselves would have had a hard time believing the full scope of it all. But they were just muscle and would never, of course, have to wrestle with the full dimensions of the secret government nestled within the shell of outer appearances like nested Russian dolls. Brandy held the shoelaces wrapped tight around the victim's neck while Newcombe pulled on Mr. Small's ankles as hard as he could. This all took place in the day-room area of the solitary confinement unit while seven other prisoners, serving punitive time in administrative segregation, snoozed in single-man cells only a few yards away. For his part, Mr. Small was calm and unresisting. He did not quiver when they came for him. He did not plead for mercy or his life. He made almost no sound, even when his throat was contracted by a full third of its natural diameter. As the light went out of his eyes, his face closed and went blank. His nostrils bubbled a bit of white froth. His lips turned a faint blue. Simple as that. When they were satisfied that Small was dead and would stay that way, Brandy and Newcombe strung him up on the corner of the dayroom
door. Brandy lit a cigarette and he and his partner took turns dragging on it. They did not speak to each other out loud or even in whispers. Instead they mimed a silent, no-contact "high five" and stood there smoking in the calm and the quiet. At one point Small's left foot executed a series of spontaneous spasms which neither startled nor alarmed his killers. Eventually it was the odor of offal, wafting off the fresh corpse, that impelled the guards to retreat to their small unit office and notify the chief of security that they had "lost one." The chief, also referred to as the shift supervisor, arrived with the prison nurse a few minutes later. The chief was a big-bellied redneck named Percy Mandel. The nurse on overnight duty was a short, petite woman named Sarah Crier. By the time they arrived, Newcombe and Brandy had cut down Small's corpse and dragged him out into the hallway. "So what do we got?" Mandel asked them, his gut sticking out over his belt and his pant legs rising at least two inches too high at the hems. "Justin Small" Newcombe told him. "He strung up?" "Yes sir." Newcombe said. "I let him out of his cell and into the dayroom so he could have his hardcover law books and he up and punched his own ticket on me." "Well...." Mandel told him. He made a shucking noise with his teeth. "That's too bad. Sad, really. He weren't a bad feller. Cocky little sumbitch. They say he's pretty good at giving the courts Hell." "Was good." Brandy corrected him and instantly regretted it. He quickly dialed something back a few clicks inside of himself and came up with, "You're right sir. It is too bad." The chief squinted at Brandy for a minute while Nurse Crier performed a cursory check for vital signs on the shit-reeking corpse. "He's dead." she reported, still kneeling beside the body. "Yes ma'am." Newcombe assured her. "I'll need to call the coroner." she announced, peeling pale green surgical gloves off her pretty little hands. "You got a phone down here what I can get an outside line on?" "Nope. Sorry." the chief told her. "You want I should have the bubble call?" (The bubble was a command center located at the
intercises of the prison corridors. No one could travel from one section to another but that they must pass into the realm of the bubble and be buzzed through doors by an officer who sat inside the sealed, locked plexiglass and cinder-block control room. "No. That's okay." she said, pinching her nose between finger and thumb. "I'll go back to medical and call from there. Maybe I can get the chart and paperwork done while we wait for him." She smiled, "He hates these night calls you know." "Who can blame him?" Mandel piped up. "I'm gonna have plenty of paperwork myself." He looked at the body. "Goddamnit Small. You shoulda kept the faith, boy." The four of them stood there silently for a partial minute. "Here, Sarah. I'll walk back with you." When they were again alone, the two killers shared another cigarette. "He knows." Brandy said. "Shut up." "Okay." As if on cue, one of the other prisoners in the unit began banging on his cell's solid steel door. "Hey man! What stinks out there?! Christ! Hey! C.O.! Something sure as Hell stinks!" Brandy rolled the halfgone cigarette he'd been sharing with Newcombe under the complaining inmate's door, still lit. He told him to pipe down. The inmate complied.
"It's the hypocrisy I don't like." She told him between deep and measured breaths as they jogged together in their matching exercise suits. "And the arrogance." It was 6:07am on a sunny business day's morning. The clean, paved streets of the subdivision were nearly empty. Mr. and Mrs. Ladley were about half way through their three mile morning run. "I just don't see where you get 'hypocrisy' from." Joshua Ladley replied. "Or arrogance." "Look." his wife told him, "I admire their clean living. And their focus on the family. I like that they mostly don't drink." "You drink." Joshua stated too quickly. He added, "Well, you know, we drink." And then both of them together, "Sometimes." They reached the end of a block and ran in place at the mouth of a cross-walk, so as to allow a small pickup truck to pass. A baldheaded older man was at the wheel as a young, fox-faced teen in the bed of the vehicle was engaged in the folding and tossing of the morning newspaper into their customer's yards and driveways. Once the truck had passed, Joshua and his wife Lorraine crossed the crosswalk, each of them mentally preparing for the end of the next block of capes and raised ranches. For at the end of this next block was the point at which they would be exactly one mile from their own pretty little house. And they always made a friendly race of that last mile. Breathing heavily now and anticipating the moment that he would start to pour it on, Joshua turned his chin towards his wife and told her, "I want to join. You know, to convert. To start going." He watched the series of effects his words had on the woman. He pressed on, "I mean. I don't even know yet exactly what you have to do to get in but I want to explore it."
She looked into his eyes and then away. "It's just because of the election. Because of Romney." "No." he said. This caught him off guard. He felt his face twitch. "It feels right. I can't explain it." She steeled her nerve and found his eyes with her own. "Your father raised you with a Ronald Reagan poster on your bedroom wall." She said it like a prosecutor in a court, he thought then. His face twitched again. "So? What's that got to do it with it?" "So this Romney thinks he's going to be the new Reagan." she made a sour face and added, "The Romney Era. It's just bull. Too much Fox News." She took an un-syncopated breath and held it too long. "Don't you know the Mormon's 'prophet' was a con-man and a, a, a Freemason? It's a bunch of weird nonsense." She knew this was the wrong way to handle this but it was too late. She added, "It's not even Christianity. I think they're all full of the Devil. That look on their faces. Like they know something God only tells them. And Romney's not going to win anyway. Can't you see that?" She stopped running and bent half way over with a hand on each knee. He almost stopped with her and then didn't. Instead he accelerated to a near sprint, several yards too soon to be fair if they were racing, which they decidedly were not as she remained planted to the Earth as he pulled away alone. He surprised himself and pounded out that last mile in what must have been record personal time. Lorraine walked all the way home - at a healthy clip - but walking all the same. Not running. Decidedly not running. He was treading big sloppy figure-8's in their front yard when she got there. Without a word or even so much as a glance, she skipped up the front steps and went inside. When he went in she was already in the shower. He ate a light breakfast while he waited for her. When he could hear her padding around in their bedroom, dressing and applying makeup, he went up and got into the shower himself. She left for work before he could finish shaving. A great many things poured through his head as he drove himself to the office that morning. He thought about the wonder and merriment
of his childhood Christmasses, spent at his grand-parent's house in Ohio with all his aunts and uncles and cousins. All of them had been raised in the Protestant tradition, in a Protestant Church. But the magic and the warmth he had felt as a child in that church grew tepid in his teen years. His own formal confirmation ceremony following a six week afterschool course in Church doctrine had been barely more than an exercise in empty formalism; he spent half the classes smoking cigarettes and talking about girls behind the rectory with a buddy. Four years in a secular college. And now seven years as an account executive with a shipping concern. No dressing up for church on Sundays and no mingling at Bible studies Wednesday nights had left him feeling a bit empty; a bit far away from that feeling of, well, God. Romney didn't remind him of Reagan. That was unfair. This wasn't about trading up on heroes. And it wasn't about his father. Was it? Joshua was very certain this was probably not about his father. And now, just for mentioning the idea and getting a few of hers back at ballistic speed, he had left Lorraine standing in his dust. Why the heck did he do that? He wasn't even sure himself. He tried to tell himself he didn't mean anything by it but this was no time for vague selfdeception. So what did that mean? They were happy. In love like puppies a full five years into this thing they called marriage. She herself had been raised Catholic and never once applied so much as an ounce of pressure that he should convert. He knew she had hated her parent's cold, religious judgments and prognostication "on every little damned thing" as he had heard her say a hundred times. She couldn't get away from it all fast enough. He wasn't stupid and he wasn't callous. He knew she would have to warm up to the idea. He knew that might not happen. Knowing this, he had waited what felt like a long time to mention it to her. Yet despite his best efforts to shake it off, deep inside, he felt that he was missing something. Was it God? Or was this some type of hang-up the Freudians have been writing books about for ten decades? He shuddered at the thought and thumbed the touch-screen of his phone, quickly commanding it to call his wife's matching celly. He set the thing to speaker phone and tossed it on the passenger seat.
It rang four times before she picked up. "Hey." she said. "Hey." he returned. A pregnant pause ensued. She ended it by telling him, "Listen, Buster. You called me." "I know." he answered. More silence. A full minute. "If you don't say something I'm going to hang up." she said. "I want to join." He finally said. Then he added, "I want us to join." "Look." she replied. "I don't mind talking about it. But I don't want to fight." "Are we fighting?" he asked. "Is that what this is?" "Without much help that is exactly what this could turn into." she said. "And this is just too early in the morning for me to think about this kind of stuff. I haven't eaten anything. I'm going to be at work in a few minutes and I have a big day to get through." "Okay." he told her. "We'll talk tonight. I'll cook dinner." "I love you." she said. "I love you." he said.
THE GREAT MERGER
We live in the midst of a great merger which is taking place both before our eyes and behind the scenes; both in our homes and above our heads. This great merger is nothing short of an all-out revolution. A rebel's war on life as we have known it in the past. Everything is changing, and at a speed which defies collective human comprehension (not to mention our individual imaginations.) I am speaking of that process by which every dimension of our daily lives and all forms of endeavor - from art to science and back again - are being infiltrated and co-opted by that irresistible force which we have innoucuosly come to term, Digital Technology. Let me say that again. Digital Technology, as we know it today, is an all-encompassing grid that has been lowered onto the landscape of our daily lives and welded firmly into place. The aptly named World Wide Web, in its present form, is merely a single facet of the virtual industrial-diamond with which our existences are perpetually being sliced into tiny packets of 0's and 1's, like so many boxes of cereal on a grocery store shelf. In light of what I have to tell you, this simile is disturbingly operative. The modern film industry is an example of a similar merger. Visual art, theater, literature, documentary history, music and scores of scientific disciplines all came together in the California desert to present us with the modern dramatic film. This was a virtually unprecedented artistic revolution and at the time a rare event in human history. And now it has been quickly followed (and fomented) by the revolutionary techniques of our modern digital gurus and taskmasters. The longpracticed art of chemical film photography is dead. Music is arranged and generated and recorded and played back by computers, without the need for a microphone. And when a microphone is used, it is generally to capture a human voice or acoustic instrument and send the signals straight to a digital storage device. And so it goes with everything.
In Hollywood, seat of the first great merger, everyone today shoots in digital. And edits in digital. And publishes in digital. And the public enjoy it in digital screen theaters. And on their home digital equipment; and of course all the sales (and sales tax) are tracked and counted digitally and so too is everything else on the face of the planet, including you and me and, it seems for now, wealthy people's cars. (A trick to make all of us want to pay to be tracked by a computer.) Isn't it obvious what is going on here? Pull your head out of the sand. We as a planet have been netted in a digital fish-trap. Aliens from a distant galaxy, interstellar reptilian bloodlines hailing from super-tech cultures, have infiltrated our governments and set in motion a harvest of human flesh. Our dead are being offloaded from the planet and shipped to the reptilian home-world for food. The mysterious preservatives they put in our food these days are there to keep us fresh during the trip across the stars. Embalming fluid is just a sort of pickle juice, flavored to reptilian tastes, and we end up nothing but well-pickled skinless, boneless carcasses once we die and have been handed over for supposed 'burial' or 'cremation.' The truth is that we are packaged like beef stick and shipped to a distant star system to be consumed as food by the predatory aliens who are discretely running our planet for the sole purpose of achieving these ends. Having perfected this scheme on countless other planets, they accomplish most of their plan by proxy, using our own leaders against us. They control everything we see and hear and most of what we do on a daily basis. They often masquerade as people, and indeed, certain people are actually nothing but shape-shifted aliens who are here to supervise the harvest and make sure nothing interrupts it. When I first realized what is going on I lived in denial for a long time. But now that I have it all figured out, I just thought you would want to know too. Once you make your peace with the situation everything gets easier. We must accept our fate and never try to fight back.
The mountains surround these river-riddled flats like the walls of a wet, green box. The early morning sky is just now beginning to ripen past its colorless, cloudy grey - pink streaks are piercing the billowing canopy even as patches of daytime blue are forming in the eastern-most regions. I sit here in this small pick-up on the far edge of a freshly paved parking lot listening to a CD of my own music which I composed and recorded and burned to disc on my Toshiba laptop. Before me rises the unsure and imprecise form of the main dormitory building of the state mental hospital. She's in there. Sad and alone since my discharge a few days ago. Morgan is up there behind the still black glass of her cinder-block cage's one window. She is awake. She is always awake. In the four months that I was herded around the day rooms and hollow corridors, sharing in the madness and the suffering, I never knew how or when she might depart from the corporeal nightmare of her waking mind. I find myself wondering if her Vampyric extra sensory perception has alerted her than I am here. She will know soon enough. I reach up with my right hand; in a single gesture I click off the CD player in the truck's dash and pull the keys out of the ignition. In the deep quiet, the engine makes tiny pinging noises as the heat escapes the block. I look at my own eyes in the rear-view. I feel good. I wink at myself; my reflection winks back. Not in the same instant. No. It waits a moment. Leaning forward and down, I drag the small duffel bag from the floor in front of my feet up into the passenger seat. I am about to unzip the bag when I freeze my hand in mid-air and instead reach up and pop open the glove box. The small paperback King James Bible is in there alone; the blue foil cover shimmers in the glow of the tiny bulb that
clicks on when you drop the small door down. I wonder for a moment if that light ever really goes out and then I gently lift the book and open it randomly. There is a small LED flashlight on my keyring, which I am still holding. I thumb it on and read: "Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant. But he knoweth not that the dead are there; and that her guests are in the depths of her." [Proverbs 9:17,18] It is a disturbing passage yet this whole mission has been nothing but, so I close the Book. Rather than put it away where I got it, I instead place it gently on the dashboard, puffing air from my mouth to clear the dust first. There is no dust: whoever owns this little truck has taken very good care of it. On top of that, I cleaned it top to bottom after stealing it in a shopping mall parking lot just about 24 hours ago Now I unzip the duffel bag on the seat beside me and remove the heavy, chrome .44 magnum pistol. With a 10 inch barrel and a comfortable rubber wrap installed on the grip, it is absurdly heavy. Just via the effort of lifting it I feel the stirrings of sweat on my brow and under my arms. The six high power loads filling the cylinder will serve as my keys for the locks on the six doors that stand between me and Morgan. Switching the .44 from my right to left hand, I now reach back into the bag for the cool and comfortable Glock-17 9mm. I have four 50 round clips in the leg pockets of my combat fatigues plus the standard 17 round magazine which is currently inserted in the pistol's handle. Working the action, I rack a round into the pipe. The sound seems much louder than it ever has before. Instinctively I know that this is that particular bullet's way of telling the world that it will be taking a human life shortly. Cradling my pistols in my lap, I fold my hands and pray for success. I tell God, and by way of God, myself, that this is important, that this is the right thing to do, that Morgan has been in here too long, that she needs to be cut loose and set free. I am God's cutter. I pop the door of the truck and climb out into the early morning air. With a gun in each hand and that creepy Bible verse rolling around in my head I begin my swift march towards the emergency fire-door around the back of the dormitory. I count the locks and doors in my
mind, seeing them blasted and kicked in. When I look up, Morgan's light is on behind the glass. That blood-sucking bitch knows I am here; knows I have come back to set her free, to blow her fucking head off....
As a case officer I have had the opportunity to meet a vast number of interesting people and to get to know them in uniquely intense and intimate ways. I recruit them. I indoctrinate them. I train them. I certify them. I assign them objectives and I deploy them into the field. When they do well I am the only one to tell them so. When they fuck up I am the one to come get them, to bail them out, to pick them up and help them dust off the dirt. My asset I will call Manuel is a very interesting case. He is able to simultaneously pretend to be both smarter than he actually is and dumber than he actually is. It can be quite a performance. When it comes to setting people's nerves at ease Manuel is not your guy. He has rather the opposite effect on folks the moment they meet him. But when it comes to setting people's teeth on edge and enveloping them in a stress-state where they start to utter things they didn't mean to say and make mistakes they cannot afford to cover, he is the tool for the job. And a tool he is. I know. I'm his boss and I'm supposed to be his friend, even his saviour if it becomes necessary. But Manuel is a douche bag. A tattoo-covered longhaired dope smoking dickstain on the upper lip of society. A real prick. And a damn fine agent all the same. Manuel is in his early thirties. Of Irish and Portuguese descent. A transplanted Masshole who wound up growing up on an organic farm in my beloved Green Mountain State. A real class act. He wears his hair in long reddish-brown curls, tied back in a pony tail. Never a fancy dresser, you'll find him in t-shirts and cargo pants. Tactical footwear in the form of black squad boots that blend into his dressed-down demeanor by virtue of how dirty and scuffed up and 'punk rock' they look. But make no mistake. Manuel is not a punk rocker. Pure Bohemian Elitist Scum. A hippie, I mean to say. Peace-nick before I got ahold of him. And like the wretched scent of patchoulie oil in an old blanket, you never get that hippie shit completely out of a person's
personality. I used to make him do push-ups in a two inch puddle of piss-mud (mud comprised of dirt and urine) and holler the following cadence for hours. People enjoy smoking weed. The government should let them. And if some pig should say they can't. The people should arrest him. People should not smoke cocaine. And they should not use needles. They should not huff on gasoline. Or listen to the Beatles. John Lennon was a Communist. George worshipped an Indian demon. Ringo was no threat at all. And Paul just sprayed his semen. People enjoy smoking weed. The government should try some. The next time I have a little loot, I'm probably gonna buy some. War is here and here to stay. We'll fight it and we'll win it. And if it ever goes away We'll fight to re-begin it. As you can see, the programming was designed to tip Manuel's chump, hippie brain toward endless combat enhanced with marijuana and predicated on a dark sense of humor, which is what "The Old Man in the Mountain" did in ancient Afganistan when he built his secretive army, 'The Assassins' from whom hashish itself gleans its name.
TIMES ARE HARD FOR DREAMERS
Air Force One landed at Dulles through clear skies. The flight back from Greece had gone swimmingly from takeoff to touchdown, but then, once back in DC, there had been a 'small security problem.' The ride-along press corp were permitted to disembark after a slight delay and then, much to their mutual chagrin, the President and his wife had been held back in the plane, parked on the tarmac for some three quarters of an hour. Finally, Shumlinger from Secret Service said it was okay for Michele to go, if she so chose but, the unspecified concerns of the Presidential Protection detail would require that the President himself must needs stay on-board a bit longer. Michele had stopped rubbing her temples with her middle and index fingers to shrug and intone through a tired smile that she could wait as well. President Obama pulled her close and kissed her on the forehead. "Go ahead." he whispered deeply. And thus she had left with her female Asian assistant trundling her weekend's worth of baggage behind her. Then, no sooner was the First Lady clear of the high security perimeter than the very hook-nosed Shumlinger had come back to the plane's situation room and told President Obama that, "All was well now." and that they were finally "green" for him also. At that very moment he had been on his cell-phone chatting with the newly confirmed Commandant of the Marine Corp, General Michael Gary Butler. Butler's somewhat anemic predecessor had recently resigned over a flap with the President regarding the amended rules of engagement Mr. Obama had lately imposed on Marine's guarding overseas embassies. President Obama told Gen. Butler, a burly, beet-red Texan, that they would talk the next morning. Gen. Butler twanged to him, "Good night, sir." The President was swiftly and smoothly transferred to his magnificent tank of a limousine. But now the damn motorcade wasn't moving. He was growing frustrated. It had been a long flight and this was all taking far too long for the amount of work President Obama would still have ahead of him before he could spend a few minutes with his young daughters, who had not made the trek to
Greece this time. As he scratched the top of his nose, just between his eyes, he glanced across the backseat of the limousine and saw, through the opposite side window, a trio of Marine Corps humvees - rolling towards him down the tarmac . "What the Hell is thissss?" Barack hissed through his teeth. The quality of his own voice gave the President a profound, lonely feeling. He leaned over a bit and watched as the humvees pulled up close to the limo. A phalanx of Marines, wearing full Class A dress uniforms and armed with rifles, efficently emerged from the vehicles and took up a tight perimeter around the massive car. The President was noplussed as he further observed that these dozen Marines were all General Officers. Suddenly Commandant Butler himself was tapping on the glass of the window beside his face. As if in a trance, Barack Obama popped the door open. Instantly he was looking up the barrel of Butler's .45 caliber sidearm. "All right, boy!" Butler barked. "You just keep your hands right there on your knees for me. Your family is just fine and we're gonna get you through this just as smooth as diahrea. Now, careful boy, slow! Take your left hand, slow! Slide me your briefcase right over here! Do it now...."
It was cold in the backwater parts of the abandoned state hospital tunnel where I had dragged them, one at a time, like sacks of potatoes. And it was good and dark. Dark like a Bela Lugosi movie. Cold like nighttime in a war camp in winter. Cold that soaks the heat out of your bones, making them ache at their exposed joints with an intensity like you thought only a tooth could as you lay on the dank, packed-mud floor. Picture them there. All five of them. Tough guys. Big fucking tough guys. Look at them now. Five of them with their wrists and ankles wired together with coat-hangers; twisted up and wrenched tight with snub nosed pliers. "Hello my little moonbeams." I tell them in a low voice to make sure they know I am back down here with them. Do they squirm a bit at my words? Do they? Sure. But they are cold and heavily Haldoled so the bulk of the kicking and squirming they had in them is pretty much behind them now. I know. You're thinking that they aren't much to look at. And you're right. A depressing fate for five typical fucking assholes But they didn't have you for a prisoner and a punching bag just a few months ago. They didn't kick you around and hiss in your face and slap high fives to each other as they agitated and provoked and force medicated you and you couldn't do anything because they had taken your shoes and they kept metal detector 'wanding' you so you dared not construct a shank. And a shank just wasn't going to cut it anyway. (No pun intended.) No. You never had to trust God and pretend to grin and bear it and wait for a night like this. Get em all in one place at one time and dispatch them back to Hell as a group. That's how we do. "You boys know why you're here so I ain't getting into it with you. You fucked up. Now you belong to the ages. What are we to think? Dear sirs? What are we to think as we are born out of one eternity to flash for an instance in the pan of forever only to slip back into nothing? Ah, well. I guess it doesn't matter. What did Roger Waters say? 'Its all
dark.' I'm sending you back right now." I let this sink in past the cold, numb parts of their stinking hides. Then I tell them. "But first I want to tell you a story. It is about a house I visited when I was a child. The house was full of story books and it was also a house like you would read about in a story book. It was three stories tall plus a partially finished attic and crazy, winding stairs to go up and to go down. The playroom was full of big, over-sized dolls and teddy bears. It had desks like school kids used to sit in back in the depression days in their depression schools and it had books like sand. They were everywhere. This house stands to this day in Springfield, Massachusetts. It belonged to a woman who had been a college friend of my mother's. When they were middle aged and divorced with kids, we would summer together. They would visit us near the sea in Cape Elizabeth. We would visit them in Springfield and I met Black kids my own age for the first time at the city park playgrounds. They were tough and poor and impressive. I never did hate Black people like so many Whites do. I really never did. Not back then. Not since then. That's why your African American colleagues that thought it would be just as fun as you did to fuck with me aren't here. I'm sparing them. They're just as guilty as you but they get a pass. You get buried." Now that story about the story book house full of storybooks is going nowhere. I ran it down for them like that in that language to make sure they think I am vague and disorganized and less intelligent than they are. Even as they simper at my feet, laid out like dumb, dead tuna fishes. They are better than me. They know it. I want them to believe it, even this late. Having my enemies believe it makes them putty in my hands in all circumstances and under all conditions. This is literally how I beat them. They think I am an idiot. Let them think it. "Now listen guys." I tell them. "There were seven women in the same elevator in the main administration building of the Office of Naval Intelligence. Three of the women were Air Force officers attached to the Navy for an assignment with the same special operations group. Two other women were twin sisters. Daughters of an Air Force General. That's five. The other two women were Red Chinese spies with forged
personal histories that pretended to U.S. High Command that these Peking Province girls were Thai H'Mongs and lifelong American citizens, native born and raised in Vermont. Lies. The two Asian chicks were spooks. Ideological. Dedicated Red Party ass-kickers. The elevator was moving up. One of the general's daughters asked one of the Asian women, "Are you sisters?" I pause and tilt my head from left to right, holding my breath, trying to hear if someone is possibly creeping around and about to discover my party before the ball drops. My five prisoners know better than to make any noise beyond their scared, shallow breathing. I will kick faces and they do know it. "So anyway. The Asian girls go nuts. This innocent question is part of some secret assassination programming they have been put through in North Korea or some shit. They go the fuck off! Kill all the other ladies in like 3.2 seconds with thin, metallic-free ceramic knives from the hems of their uniforms." The guys are grumpy or something as they don't respond in any measurable way. A cricket is singing in the dark and the cold. I cut the wires binding one of my prisoner's wrists. When he sits up with a look on his face like Sweet Jesus, I pat him on the head and toss him the cutters so he can finish freeing himself and then go to work doing the same for his sadistic, fucked up cronies. "If any of you tell any one what happened here with me committing capital kidnaping I'm going send the same Black chick from Baltimore that I recruited, trained and deployed to kill the Asian spies. The two fake Thai chicks. The Reds. She caught up with them in over in Georgetown one night and I guarantee you, you don't want this bitch hunting your dumb asses. "Stop fucking with people. I know its fun. Christ. I know that. But you work for a State Mental Hospital, or you did before God shut the joint down. I've got your pictures. I've got your names."
"Nature abhors a vacuum." - BARUCH SPINOZA He awoke with a ringing in his ears. There was a smell in the room like rubbing alcohol mixed with cloves. He tried to sit up but found that he was restrained, cold and nude, on a long, slender board of hard wood that perfectly matched the length and width of his body. He was not sure but it felt like he had been wired to this plank with coat hangers, his hands held tightly at his sides. He opened his eyes. Lying there flat on his back he realized that his muscles from ears to ankles were writhing and tightening involuntarily. He sussed that he had been drugged with Thorazine or Haldol; with this realization a great torrent of fear hit him like a bucket of cold water. He managed to keep from voiding his bladder completely but only by the greatest of painful, stinging efforts; a dollop of urine splashed out on his belly and thigh. "Good morning, sunshine." A voice said from the end of the room toward which his head was pointed. A small night-light lit the chamber. Aside from an old fashioned, ornate tin ceiling he could see nothing else as his head was caught fast in place by a harness of some type. The fishy-copper taste of blood was in his mouth but when he tried to move his jaw to speak he found that this too was impossible due to a rubber tooth-guard, such as the type that boxers wear, which had been inserted into his mouth. More coat hanger wire had been wrenched around his skull and under his chin to hold this device in place. "Oops." the same voice said. "You pissed yourself again." The ringing in his ears grew steadily higher and higher in pitch until he thought it would blow the entire Earth into a billion-billion atoms. That voice. He knew that voice. His mind struggled against the expanding storm cloud of fear and the effects of the tranquilizers to place it. To put a face on it. The effort itself hurt him deep inside his brain, which was impossible, he knew, because the brain has no nerve endings. He knew this fundamental truth because he was himself a
trained professional psychiatrist. Who is that? Who has me? The tendrils of his consciousness extended out into that void of terror like a beggar's fingers; he almost had it when a blurring motion beside him in the room drew his watering eyes. A face. A human face. A man. Bohm! Adam Bohm. His crabby and arrogant patient from the clinic. Bohm. Schizo little shit. Mouthy. Trouble maker. Always in trouble with the police. Always pissed off. Notoriously violent and paranoid. Bohm. Bohm had him. A scream started in his diaphragm and began to travel up the pipe, only to be stunted and smothered by the mouth and head gear in which he was ensconced. As if against his own will, he began to choke and whine and mew like a trapped animal. A fist landed against the side of his head with a wallop like a hammer blow. "Settle down, sunshine." Bohm told him in a tight, uncrazy voice that inspired a stunning and surreal bolt of covetousness at the control and self-discipline it expressed. When he failed to heed this command two stout slaps followed, one on each side of his face. "Resistance is futile. Stop being silly." But the terror had him and he could no more stop the vocal noises trapped and rattling in his chest and throat than he could make his muscles stop creeping and squirming on their bones. Bohm laid the tip of an index finger on the Doctor's left eyeball. "Settle down. Now." he told him in a calm, quiet voice. "Or I'll poke your eye out. You want that? All that aqueous and vitreous humor smeared on your face? I'll make you eat it." He patted the Doctor on the cheek. "Don't make this weird." Like a truck tire deflating beneath the weight of its chassis he found that the tangible threat of being blinded in such a manner was working to the intended effect. He let out a sigh that hissed and bubbled around the hard rubber mouth-piece. Bohm moved back around above him, out of sight. The Doctor closed his eyes and tried to breath, to relax, to think. His mind flashed on the fact that he had written the prescription himself for the drugs now playing their havoc on his ability to perform a lucid, linear and logical analysis of the situation. Bohm spoke. "Listen to me, sunshine. Listen very carefully. You are drugged into submission and restrained against your will. The more
you struggle against your restraints the greater your portion of pain. That's entirely up to you. I'm fine with it. I'm just saying.... "I am about to hook you up to this electrician's digital DC powersupply. I am going to give you an electric shock and that shock is going to induce a seizure. You probably don't remember but I have been doing this to you every six hours for the past three days." A horseshoe-shaped device with red and black wires snaked onto it came into view from the direction of Bohm's voice. "Try not to piss yourself."
I have finished revolutionizing the neoeuphoric infliction of my internal terror.
– ERIC HARRIS
It could not become us -- we being in some ways, and at intervals, modest, like other folk -- to remind the world that ours is a useful trade, a worthy calling; that with all its lightness and frivolity it has one serious purpose, one aim, one specialty, and it is constant to it -- the deriding of shams, the exposure of pretentious falsities, the laughing of stupid superstitions out of existence; and that whoso is by instinct engaged in this sort of warfare is the natural enemy of royalties, nobilities, privileges and all kindred swindles, and the natural friend of human rights and human liberties.
- MARK TWAIN
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