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Eighteenth Sitting

I just gotta keep repeating to myself: "This book is better than Mein Kamph. It is." This is not to imply that this book is supposed to be in the same genre as that one, or that I hold anything but revulsion to that carpet-chewing moron or to the senseless babblings of a deranged and demented man... but you can see the basis of my fear though...

What is this? A part of the reader's brain engaging in self-pity? (I'm pretending this is new for a second) Or are we even doing that puppet show these days? It should be pretty obvious that my story here is pretty much generally applicable, for just as I and the Damaged become pretty much indistinguishable at some points, so do you and He, you and I, you and She, etc. No? You resent being included in this weird mess as if it were your own? Perhaps it is just that you want your own place, your own identity, is that it? I will grant this. You now have your very own spot in the back of my hot blue luscious Honda Civic-duty,-ha!, but you'd better move over and unlock the door to your right, because we're about to pick up the Damaged...

I stood leaning on my open car door, my hands dangling through the half-open window. Were my knee to somehow roll up the window, my fingers would be chopped. Were someone to slam the door, my legs and chest would be chopped. I was a vulnerable boy.

The door to their house opened and She emerged, wading through porch cats and half-skipping to her side of my car. She smiled like Clinton, semi-helpless, totally friendly, half-heartedly encouraging yet giving little hint of her inner workings. "He's coming. He has to get his coat."

I had kind of hoped he'd be busy. He usually is, what with three jobs, four independent research projects, and all that sulking to do. Nonetheless, he seemed a nice guy, so it was mostly in jest that I asked, "So does he get violent, ever? These seat belts are kind of long and could be used to say, choke someone in the front seat..." I demonstrated. She laughed and took a few steps towards the house, escorting by unseen strings the gaunt figure who was then slipping through the cracks between the door and its frame. The porch cats had scattered, and the porch steps required only one step from this man of the longest legs. His face turned up in my direction for a second, leaving only the little rectangular mustache like a taped-on piece of dryer lint. We exchanged pleasantries, with his face and voice retaining the staid but twittering-on-the-edges manner of a scientific mind being questioned about issues only slightly related to his field. My voice and features sped up to about fifth gear, the point at which a few key exaggerated facial expressions, an aggressively friendly manner, and a series of constant semi-random quips flow from my face, leaving no need and no room for my actual personality. She offered him the front seat. He opted for the back.

Before I had even fully pulled out of the driveway, my left elbow started to hang out the now-fully-open window, the music, my music bought and placed on the cassette deck by me, layered softly as the first line of defense underneath the car's oxygen level, my face set itself into that overly-relaxed New York cabby look, and I glanced in the direction of the rear-view mirror and spoke: "Okay. The purpose here is to convince you that I am in fact not evil, and not out to destroy anybody's life, so you will stop freaking out, okay?" I turned to Her. "Was that too blunt?" If she answered, I didn't hear it. He certainly didn't answer, but instead lounged in that back-seat-with-the-music-on sort of staidness that makes dogs stick their heads out the window and pant.

There was a pause.

I'm not sure who actually spoke next, but within a minute we were all explicitly searching for a conversation topic. "...besides awkwardness, which would be a much too self-reflective topic..." I of course said that. She was amused.

"Nuclear power in the Ukraine," He suggested. At this point he was only a voice to me.

"What about it?"

"With the dissolution of the USSR, the Ukraine, which before relied on nuclear power from Russia, is no longer in the position to be asking for favors, and so has had some major problems..." At this point, someone let out a tremendous wet belch. We all turned; it was You, of course, with not so much as an "excuse me." He pulled out the shotgun he'd been saving for me and pressed the barrel to your nostrils.


YOU HAVE DIED. Your score is 20 out of a possible 400 points, which gives you the rank of Chick Pea.

Thank you, Friend. I'm still finding writing in a narrative style quite uncomfortable, and so am happy that you broke that spell with your inadvertent gaffe. Suffice it to say we took that topic as far as It could be took, with me speaking very quickly, bullshitting, admitting that I was bullshitting, and giving opinions anyway. If only the Ukraine had something Russia wanted, then all would be well. A deal. A trade. An agreement.

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© 1993 Mark A. Linsenmayer [ Contents ]