‘No, no, no. It is already well understood that Willow resigned, for the greater good of our blessed party, of our glorious nation, and indeed, of this grand, great global village; and the everlasting supremacy and dominion of our common humanity.’
Cassie-Jane Helman exploded in laughter.
Ruby Chandra Di Montevideo took good care to maintain her composure and maintain the high ground of good form. ‘Now… that is extremely unprofessional,’ she icily intoned. ‘This is on live television, or have you not noticed?’
‘Our party, our nation, our planet, and our species. Is there a difference?’
Ruby Chandra Di Montevideo murmured.
‘I am not here for intellectual word games and semantics. Half the media nowadays is about mere semantics, rather than about the given constellation of purely value-free and objective strategic constraints and opportunities. Mere poetry and passion in the place of intelligence. How many journalists nowadays understand the difference?’
Cassie scowled in mock-fury. ‘Why did you come here then?’
Ruby Chandra di Montevideo paused for dramatic effect. ‘You may the special snowflake cooo-looo-ra-tuuu-ra diva of this establishment; but let me tell you, young lady. I am the Queen of the Night!’
Cassie, unable to maintain her ruse any longer, burst into a stream of mirth. ‘The Queen of the Night is the greatest coloratura role of all! Is there really a difference between Mozart’s Dark Empress and Gluck’s Eurydice of the Blessed Light?’
Ruby Chandra di Montevideo gaped in wonder at the appalling presumption of the interviewer. She simply couldn’t believe what she was hearing.
‘You are thick as an Arab!’ she spat. ‘You are perpetuating a vicious Madonna-whore gender stereotype. I mean, it’s all about intersectionality nowadays, or at least it should be. All this unworthy concern for the admittedly rather aggrieved poor unfortunates who have the bad misfortune, ah, bad luck, to get caught up in our collateral strikes; er, to end up as collateral on account of our… well, you know, what else can we do?’ she finished weakly.
‘Intersectional racism. That’s a new one!’ Cassie roared with laughter.
‘Well, yes. It is, isn’t it!’ Ruby snorted.
‘Maybe try and include women in your intersectional social justice framework?’
‘Well, we’re still sitting here, aren’t we?’ Ruby muttered, appearing to warm a little.
‘Alan, why the hell did Cassie-Jane Helman quit doing her job and do this godawful satire persona? It’s unfunny as shit. I mean, it’s just so contrived and artificial. I mean, nobody goes around in real life saying stupid shit like ‘humanitarian bombs are not one whit more cosy and fluffy than Soviet bombs,’ or ‘the only thing worse than a Godwin fail is a Godwin failure; especially one sitting in the Oval Office!’
‘I mean, it doesn’t work as comedy; I know comedy is supposed to be flaming stupid, but for God’s sake! Come off it, would you? Nobody, but nobody thinks like that!
‘Hell, when did they ever? I just can’t suspend belief because the opinions on that show are so, I mean, they’re not even far out. Not even wacko. Not even, I mean, not even…’
Alan sat down the glass he was wiping, shocked at Cassie-Jane Helman. ‘Are you seriously dissin’ Cassie-Jane Helman?! Well, you can just go to fuckin’ shit, Sally. That bitch is hot! Just at them gorgeous tits, Sally! You jealous bitch! Huh!’
Sally spat on her apron and rubbed it a little more. ‘You still thinking with your dick? She’s nothing special, even in that department. But look; nobody cares about that creepy black boy of theirs leaving, but they think that now she’s gone, the whole shebang might just fold. Or they might just have to go paper only.
‘Still, I wouldn’t so much as wipe my ass on that shit. Worthless liberal bullshit, excuse the t… the telephiliology. Or, or whatever.
‘Well, anyways, did you hear that they are saying the geo-engineering complex shouldn’t be wound down, because people are actually affecting the climate with our, I don’t know, our shit? Oh, and apparently they were still plugging this crap a few decades ago. Well, guess what? Eco-doomsday never happened. Why don’t we quit funding this crap and, I dunno, fund some hospitals or something.’
Alan dropped his glass in horror. ‘Hospitals?! That’s… that’s literal socialism, Sally!’
Sally grunted. ‘So?’
Alan stormed out in his usual strop. ‘No stupid sister-girl of mine is supporting socialism! That really hurts!’
Sally swiped as he left.
‘Maybe quit cheating on those foodstamps. Or I guess the rules only apply to niggers, right!’ she spat. Sally glowered at her brother as he left her holding the baby once more.
‘Not even a proper goddamn baby,’ she cursed inwardly, to pretty much nobody in particular. ‘Least you can get rid of a baby when you don’t need one. Oftentimes I wish Ma had done the decent thing and really fucked Jim when he had the chance. Not much of a life for him, is it right?
‘It doesn’t matter whether you have a right to choose or not,’ she whispered. ‘In the end, the choice you actually make is the most important thing.’
‘Yer energetic bastard, yer!’ roared Saul, handing Jim another potato chip or two. ‘How far can you throw this one? Huh? Wait til ol’ Saul frickin’ Friedman casts this one to frickin’…’
Saul stumbled and fell of a clatter.
Jim wailed in horror.
‘Mr. Mr Saul. Mr Saul. Mr,’ he wept.
Saul was reluctant to let his jest backfire any further.
‘Ah c’mon son,’ he laughed, springing up like the feisty Springheeled Jack he was. Of course, the real Springheeled Jack was not 5 foot 6 inches; but today was a day for fun and frivolity; and not at all for needless solemnity.
Jim’s face lit up with you.
‘Mr Saul! Yeah. You’re alright!’
‘Alright as I’m never gonna be!’ grunted Saul, rubbing Jim’s tousled mop for sheer delight. His clumsy bear hug made Jim’s heart leap for joy.
‘Tell yer what, you boys are the best fuckin’ family in this whole goddamn state, a’right?!’
Now, if Saul had heard the news more often, instead of relying on a narrowly circumscribed range of sources for his political intelligence as a Republican politician, he might have known the name of the antisemitic asshole who was breakin’ his frickin’ balls like that when Senator Bubble gave his notorious speech.
‘He knew all about the heckle, of course; but he would never once have dreamed that the masked assassin of all decency and love and generosity of spirit was the same guy, Alan Jepthah Thatcher III, who served the odd drink in the Stony Joe’s.
It was not in Saul Friedman’s nature to assume the worst of human nature in everyday life.
Only in politics.
‘But why do you keep doing it?’ pleaded Lucy, staring in bewilderment at the defiant Cassie.
‘I don’t know!’ snapped Cassie. ‘There are just no openings for critical journalism. There were precious few when the wall fell in, like, ancient history; and fewer still in September 11 times.’
‘September 11? Oh, you mean like the Vietnam thing?’
‘No, Vietnam was even longer ago than September 11. 9/11 was the World Trade Center thing.’
‘Oh wow yeah, of course, sorry. I wonder what it was like to live in the days when the media was only, like, you know, 90% corrupt?’
‘Well, I don’t think there’s a single person on earth old enough to remember that. And so the media shill corruption and corruption went on and on, deepening and deepening.
And so on and so forth; the Islamic State (which Washington created, by the way, according to the document JW v DOD and State 14-812, the Ukrainian Emergency (the third and most brutal of the CIA-fomented coups), the Japan-Korea war (oh, God! I still think the leaks are real, say what you like!)
‘No, no, they got Japan in trouble in order to stir the shit, and then threw their former allies under the bus. That’s why Japan doesn’t even exist anymore; because they were no longer useful. Korea is pretty weak for the time being; and any atrocity is worth it for a short-term gain. Oh, and the, and then the July 4 coup in Ankara (why the hell do they name it after an American holiday?! That alone says enough).
‘No! No! No! No! No! You’re wrong!’ begged Lucy.
Cassie sighed and shrugged her shoulders.
She fixed her eye on Lucy. ‘You really sure about that one?’
Lucy whimpered, barely able to hold her voice together. ‘Look, look, I know we have a few corrupt people out here.’
Cassie guffawed, to the point of making Lucy sit bolt upright in horror.
‘A few? A few? A few? Are you freaking kidding me, Lucy?’ she practically screamed.
‘Yes, no, please, please hear me out, there are all these corrupt people, OK, but, but the other ones…’
‘What other ones?’ groaned Cassie. ‘Don’t you think about the crap the airwaves are spewing out? For God’s sake, it is not reality. It is the media!’
Lucy trembled in terror. She could barely string two letters together, let alone two syllables.
‘And, you know, OK, we’ve made some big mistakes, and yes, we’ve some really, really bad, stupid, stupid mistakes, but it’s not like we meant to hurt those poor, innocent people, I mean do you remember when Ruby Chandra Di Montevideo held that baby in her arms and cried, because she was a, a, a a a mother, and the baby was afraid, because, because she no longer had, h-h-h-h-h-ad, had a, a mother…’
- I’ve been lenient. But this is just too much. Time to move in for the kill.
‘Lucy,’ Cassie whispered.
‘Hm? Yes?’ Lucy whispered, apprehensive of what could possibly be coming next.
‘Let me ask you something, Lucy,’ Cassie murmured.
‘Y… yes?’ whimpered Lucy; a single, solitary tear rolling down her tear and resting upon a single, solitary acne scar she had carelessly forgotten to cover up.
She remember edthose boys.
Cassie’s warm, mellow cadences ullulated enticingly in the almost silent vacuum of the park. The air was brimful of menace.
‘Why… did… that… child… not have a mother?’
At first, Lucy could not assimilate the question.
All of a sudden, Lucy threw her hands up in horror and shrieked.
‘Exactly!’ roared Cassie, almost callous in her jubilation. ‘EEEXAAACTLYYYY!’
Lucy fell off the bench, overcome with horror.
Number 1. There are no honest mistakes in warmongering.
Number 2. Even if there were, a war is not a single mistake, but a series of a million small decisions. ‘One mistake’ is hardly what’s at issue, right?
Number 3. Once again: there are no honest mistakes in warmongering. Period. Finito!
Number 4. There is no such word as ‘we!’ The word means everything and nothing, and signifies everyone and no-one.
Number 5. The only thing the word ‘we’ could possibly mean, apart from (but not exclusive of!) everything and nothing, is: ‘the narrow, petty, self-interested depravity of the warmongers.’
Number 6: By the way, just on off chance you’ve forgotten already, there are no honest mistakes in warmongering.
Number 7: This is gonna hurt. I hate slavers. I hate abusers. I hate rapists. If I ever told you what I knew, and what I know in my own body, every single hour, about a certain high profile Republican with that greasy fuckin’ ass ah his, the very blood in your veins would freeze into ashes.
Cold, deadly and poisonous.
‘But the only thing worse than a rapist, and an abuser, and a slaver is a victim, an enslaved one, an abused convenience meat-puppet who loves their chains. I can never forgive or forget an abuser. But at least I understand them.
‘Well, just a little. I’ve got the measure of them. Every fucking inch, and by fuck, oh by blazing fucking fuckety-fuckie-fuck, Lucy, do they plough you deep!
‘But let me tell you something, Lucy…
‘I can understand these bent fucks, just that tiny little bit.
‘But the one thing I will never understand, should I even live to be a million years, a billion, trillion, zillion years, and forever and ever more, is how someone who is getting fucked over into brutal, heart-crushing oblivion and misery can sit there, and fight tooth and nail for the filthy, sub-human, parasitical, vermin fuck-ups who are battering their screaming, bleeding skulls under their furious, iron jackboots.
‘Have you no shame? You have no fucking shame at all, do you? The one thing you can say for Dickie Klindel or Lynton Goering or Marcus Charleston Bubble (now why do I mention that guy, I wonder?) is that there is some kinda fucked-up rationale for what they’re doing.
‘But you’re not a humanitarian rapist or fucking paedophile interventionist.
‘You are the one who will stand up with placards defending them, begging judge and citizen alike to give them the benefit of the doubt.
‘You are the one who gets on the web forums and plays devil’s advocate, asking people not to take one-sided views.
‘You are the one who is outraged at the atrocities of the Koreans and the New Zimbabweans, but has nothing to say about the senseless and utterly, utterly merciless atrocities ‘the good guys’ are inflicting upon innocent people, most of whom have never so much raised a peevish thought against our citizens, let alone an angry fist!
‘I’ve seen a million like you, and there’ll be a million more, and then a million, and an endless stream of ass-licking cowardly reprobates who are too cowardly so much as question even their next breath.
‘How fucked up is that? Where does your next breath come from? Huh? You think it comes from Pharaoh. The river is mine, and I have made it.
‘Well, what about the rivers of blood streaming from the shattered skulls and shredded entrails of the infants caught under the carnivorous blood-frenzy of the Stormtroopers of the Greater Good?
‘Look, if you disagree with me on abortion, that’s your affair. But here’s the thing, Lucy. If you think cutting up foetuses is so brutal and so unforgivably callous, how can you let people do this to fully conscious, living and breathing children and adults?’
‘Right, here’s the deal. You quit talking to me, quit defending and appeasing and collaborating with pure evil, and you get your own house in order first, before you ever dare patronise me with your idiotic horseshit.’
‘It’s not horseshit,’ a chastened Lucy dully murmured. ‘Not all of it. I’m…
‘I’m trying to get a nuanced view.’
Cassie slammed her pale white fist down on the bench in fury; so hard she broke the outwardly sturdy but inwardly irredeemably rotten arm of the seat.
‘There is a time and a place to consort with nuance.
‘And there is a time to fuck nuance in the ass, hard, backwards, with a rusty blazing fucking chainsaw, and then by God Lucy, will we just let the bastards bleed!’
‘Open your mind!’ pleaded Lucy. ‘You’ve only got part of the picture. I mean, they are the government! They are! Aren’t they? I mean, they are not perfect, I never said they were!’
‘Ahhh! I mean… ohhh, why do I even bother? You haven’t even begun to…’ Cassie drew a breath mid-sentence and dropped her hands in despair.
‘Can it really be true? I mean, really? Oh God, no, it can’t be true! It can’t be! I won’t let it be true!’
Cassie spat contemptuously. ‘It ‘couldn’t be true’ for the orphans in Vietnam. The widows in Iraq. The widowers in Afghanistan. Half of Japan is now dead, and the other half are doing hard labor in the Gulags of Korea, along the last few pitiful remnants of the citizenry what used to be South Korea.
‘All these people ‘‘wouldn’t let it be true.’’ Every last damn one of them. Lot of good it’s going these poor wretches by now, huh?’
Lucy was at her wit’s end. ‘But why would they? Why would they? They’re supposed to be protecting us! They’re supposed to be on our side!’
Cassie laughed. ‘No shit! Yeah, they’re supposed to be. Don’t you think Lynton Goering was supposed to be a good Southern Baptist like-totally-non-rapist-kinda-guy too, when he was doing the Thursday Morning club in New Hampshire?’
Cassie didn’t whether she was more indignant or despairing. ‘You’re… you’re lying! I just know you’re lying! I just know it! You’re lying! No, they wouldn’t! They just wouldn’t, you know! They are supposed to… supposed to…’
Cassie jumped off the bench.
‘Where are you going?’ panted Lucy, afraid of being left alone in this weird park. There were rumors aplenty of violent people roaming abroad.
And not just any people.
Presumably not elected ones…
‘What, are you afraid?’ snorted Cassie.
‘Are you actually kidding me?’ shrieked Lucy. ‘Don’t leave me alone. Please, don’t leave me alone in this dangerous park, Cassie?’
‘Uh… earth to Lucy. Earth to Lucy, huh? Anybody there? I mean, didn’t you think to bring your gun?’
‘No!’ shouted Lucy, indignant at the very thought of it. ‘No! No! No, no, no, no, no! … I’m a woman!’
On any other day, Cassie would have exploded with laughter. But here and now, she was genuinely dumbfounded.
At last, she managed something: ‘Good to hear. That’s pretty good. You’re a woman, huh? So, tell me, Lucy. So how do you defend yourself?’
‘The police. Of course!’ shouted Lucy, amazed that the question could even come up.
‘Ohhh, I’ve had enough! Just… just go to hell! I’ve had enough, and I’m going home! Fuck you!’ Cassie roared, at the end of her tether. She galloped through the park, deliberately outpacing Lucy’s short and slender limbs, as she tearfully pleased with Cassie to help her get home safely.
Lucy got to the edge of the park. Cassie was way gone by now. But at least the streetlights were here. She could get home safely now. She should really pause and rest. But it was as though her legs were possessed by a divine madness. Her horror and sorrow propelled her as she pelted across the road.
‘Hell outa my… ohhhhhhh, shit!’ screamed the terrified taxi driver as he cursed this one dread unhappy oath he would ever last would curse.
Lucy never had a chance.
The collision was horrendous in its suddenness and its brevity.
Not so many blocks away, Jane Pringle awoke with a start.
No idea why?…
She turned over and slept and dreamed again.
‘Where were you?’
‘I heard a noise.’
Sandy touched her finger gently upon the lips of Jane.
‘I thought you had gone away for ever,’ her heart murmured, almost playfully.
‘I did. I did.’
‘But why?’ Jane sobbed, her tears falling upon Sandy’s glitzy ear-rings.
Sandy raised Jane’s face, her eyes perfectly dry, but radiant with compassion.
The compassion only two true equals would enjoy.
‘It was the only way we could be together,’ Jane whispered, her words issuing tenderly form an ocean of regret.
Jane caressed Sandy’s trembling cheeks. ‘There’s no place for us, where you are. There’s no place for most people. You know that. I know that. And that’s why I had to go away. Because this is the only place where we can really be ourselves.’
‘Everything you touch turns to gold,’ sobbed Sandy.
‘Shhh,’ whispered Jane.
‘No matter how hard it is, no matter hard it is, I can always come back here. Well OK, well not always, but sometimes.
‘ I can’t just come here at will, but every now and then, I get this stirring and this intuition in my heart, and I know that this very night, I will be here, just here with you, right next to you, and I see your face, and I hear your voice, and I know everything will be just fine.
‘It’s as though nothing bad had ever happened; and yet there is nothing absent, nothing is any less richer. It’s infinitely rich, but also clear beyond measure.
‘I have two worlds, most of the time; the inner and the outer. I live in them every day. But there is an inner world within the inner world, that most of the time, I cannot embrace or speak with.
‘But I always know when it is our time. That last Valentine’s day, I knew you would be with me.
‘You visit me. You visit me. And it’s then that I know you are real. I don’t care if it’s a ‘‘fact.’’
‘I don’t care about ‘‘facts.’’
‘I only care about the truth, about what is real for me. For us, Sandy. For us. We will be in love forever. I am sorry I doubted you. Really. I am. You never really left me at all.
‘For us two within the world within the world; this is the only way we can ever see each other’s face again.’
Sandy’s breast heaved with tender empathy.
Jane grew pensive.
‘Will the other people find their way to this place?
Sandy was firm. ‘No.’
‘But why?’ Jane pleaded.
Sandy’s face grew grim. ‘This place doesn’t exist for them. Everyone has somewhere like this. It’s not the same as our place. You must have known, right?’
Jane’s voice trembled, with the pain of a thousand knives of sorrow coursing through her veins. ‘One day, my day place will be a paradise, just like this.’
Sandy wrestled herself free of Jane’s embrace.
‘You idot! Don’t you understand? It’s not like how is used to be. Senator Marcus Charleston Bubble is the future of America. No-one can save this nation. The liberal interventionist and the neocon wormed their way in, and there is now zero prospect of curing this terminal spiritual decline.
‘There is no future for America. There was a time, I don’t know, well say a few decades back or whatever, when there was some hope of turning things back.
‘But people back then didn’t seize the opportunity.
‘Some were brutal and vicious, of course.
‘Others were dull as blocks.
‘Others had some inkling of what was wrong, but frittered away their time on idle professional or intellectual or creative pursuits.
‘Others, and these are the only ones for whom I can have any sympathy, knew all about what was going on, but they were too ground-down by the cares of this world, down in the economic doldrums or struggling with poor health or a poor education, to muster some strength to oppose the tyrants whose hands like a savage, heartless noose tightening ever closer and stronger around their chicken-necks.
‘Those ones I respect a little.
‘But not so much, even then.’
‘Is there… any hope?’ quivered Jane, placing her trembling hand on Sandy’s shoulder.
Sandy threw off Jane’s trembling palms with consummate ease, like a stern iron Buddha sloughing off an idiot gnat.
‘Are there windows in Heaven?’
Lucy paused and looked around.
‘I… I hope so.’
All went dark.
But Sandy was no longer there.
But Sandy’s voice still echoed silently in her throbbing heart.
‘America is dead. It’s too late. Pack up your bags and join me, because there is no place for you or me. Maybe it could have been different. Maybe not. Fuck knows. But it sure as hell won’t be different now. It’s just that little few decades too late to be suddenly worrying about how to change things. You can shoo a camel, and you can shoo him and shoo him and beat him and spook him and do whatever you want; but if you are remotely half-assed about it, the time will come when you’ll realize you’ve missed your opportunity. There’s nothing left you can do. There was a window of opportunity to leap through, and by fuck did you assholes drag your feet!
Just you quit worrying about how to change this crap.
America is gone.
Dead and buried.
Not by the evil people, the liberal interventionist and neocons, who hated her and wanted to viciously rape her and torture her and behead her and murder her in her sleep.
Nope! It was the dozy, sluggish assholes who loved America, but who didn’t love her enough to raise a single finger of criticism, let alone a single fist of fury, against the cowardly, miniscule gang of child-killers, woman-rapists and MIC pervert fucks who, as every damn one of them knew, was trying to obliterate and liquidate every last shred of hope and decency and dignity for which America, even at her very, very worst, had often stood.
For all her considerable faults, at least America excelled in one thing; self-criticism. Accountability was long and hard, but active, informed citizens were once the lifeblood of this active, self-assertive nation.
Now, however, critics have been plague-shamed into oblivion. The one and only antibiotic to the neocon plague and liberal interventionist ebola had been inoculated without mercy.
People had only half-cared.
Perhaps a few even 75% cared, or even 99%.
But in the end, even critics of the barbaric culture of humanitarian genocide and humanitarian child-rape had their qualms and their reservations.
You know what, Jane? Just pack your bags and come with me. Come with me. Anywhere! The spaces here are infinite and boundless.
Strike this path, be a pioneer; and others will follow too.
This is the only ‘America’ that exists now, and that ever will exist.
Will you join me? I’m not taking no for an answer.’
‘Ha! Ha! Ha! Well, isn’t that just the best!’ snorted Marcus Charleston Bubble. I mean, I know these people like their drugs; but sheesh, oh my God, Dickie! Talk about timely payback, huh?’
Dickie Klindel’s beady eyes darted back and forth. ‘I don’t think a strategically expedient post-mortem is out of the question. It’s not the first time in hissstory. Are you quite sure? Politics is the art of risk management, after all. It is little else, don’t you think, when it comes down to it?’
Marchus grunted. ‘Fuck you. You think I’m afraid of the stupid tranny comrades of this liberal piece of shit who just died there? Probably too busy sawing their dicks off outside our elementary school to worry about this crap!
‘I mean, oh c’mon man, seriously! These guys are just lazy-assed flaming parasites, aren’t they? What the hell could they possibly try and pull? People who stagger around on freaking crystal meth 24/7 couldn’t possibly dream of giving us any serious opposition. Give me a break!’
Dickie Klindel’s fishy lips pursed into a frown of displeasure. ‘Well. To speak of other matters. Russian intelligence are said to be closing in on the underground infant cinema network. There are fears that they might already know about the role Benito Scarlett Muskogee and Eva Vernon Letterman have been playing in our… endeavours.’
Bubble roared with laughter. ‘Goddamn Russkies. They make me sick. Who the hell is going to believe that President Schleisser’s Secretary of State and; the hell does Letterman do again?’
‘Human Rights Publicity and Transparency Officer. Children’s health and woman’s equality portfoliosssss,’ hissed Klindel, apparently deadly oblivious to the irony of the situation.
‘Ha!’ grunted Bubble. ‘Well, what the hell can they really do to our party? Who the hell cares about what a bunch of bitter Russkies thinks about anything?
‘Nobody believe these guys, with their shit empire and… hell, I can hardly believe Warsaw is still standing!’
‘Mossscow,’ slithered Klindel. ‘Ssserpently, sir, I ssshall be inclined to say it wasss Mossscowww.’
‘Well, never mind the semantics. They can’t do shit! Everyone knows the flaming Russkies are the biggest goddamn liars. Not a single person in Africa, India, Mexico or any other country on the face of this earth believes a word they say.’
‘I believe, Sssenator Bubble,’ Klindel spat, ‘they are not the only sssomewhatly ssstaggering great power in this world of ours, that is sssimply not the most widely credited of all.’
‘Ha! Bloody Chinkies, huh? Or the Koreans? Or the… well it can’t be the Japanese? Heh, heh! Wonder why, huh?’
‘I find your flippancccy rather… distasteful, if I may take leave to thusss afirm,’ Klindel nauseatingly slug-trailed.
‘Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ohhh, you pretentious, moralistic asshole! You suddenly having qualms? You afraid or what?’
Bubble got in Klindel’s face, pinching the arm of this semi-fellow-traveller and useful not-so-idiot of his. But nothing seemed to make an impact on the stony cold think-tank-intellectual and war politico: neither Bubble’s bullying vice-like grip, his repugnant breath, or the demonic gleam in his piggy little eyes.
Not the slightest shudder or facial twitch animated this fatal fugitive from a cold, dark, planet indiscernible to the eye.
Or should that be… to?’
Cassie sat elegantly smoking her cigarette.
‘Quite a charming young belle demoiselle de Paris,’ he murmured.
Cassie coughed and spluttered. It was a point of honor with her to never cough when smoking. That would be a sign of weakness. Cassie, as not a few readers will be very far from appalled to hear, was one who loved ardently but narrowly. Her circle was narrow enough, God knows! But if you were by any chance within that circle, Cassie was as fiercely for you as she was mercilessly against you, if you should ever but once fall outside the circle of her concern and affection.
And once you fell, that was it. You were dead to her. Cassie-Jane Helman never gave second chances, as poor Lucy Klindel had found out to her cost.
‘You pretentious jerk!’ she guffawed, rolling around the bed in glee.
‘Care to scoop it up? I drive a fairly hard bargain, you know. In the meantime, we’ll take it that you’ve surrendered your lighter into the custody of a more prudent being.’
Lucy screamed with delight at Otis’ faux-solemn professoriality.
She took the risk of Yoghurt Baba; unlike Gideon Truman, Cassie was the only person on earth he could permit to sing the buffoonish white power rapper without serious qualms.
Apparently, some short few decades before, flippantly singing someone like Yoghurt Baba to a black person would have been considered, if not wicked on principle, at least a serious breach of taste.
Otis pursed his lips, not losing one whit of poise and elegance in doing so. Everything for him was not so much grand theater (political, journalistic or otherwise) as supreme ballet.
Otis wondered if it was all some kind of gigantic hoax. Could all three of four people really have been telling the truth about this? Did they seriously mean to tell him that there was a time when all this was anything other than…
Not the right choice of words.
Yo! Yo! Nigger, blastin’ ass today!
Nigger chasin’ girls, bitch, get ooouuut Yoghurt’s way!
Smoke that shit, chicken! Blastin’ ass today!
Yoghurt Baba got a baby and he makin’ whitey hay!
Otis paused for a moment.
Cassie felt uneasy.
‘Otis…’ she whispered.
Otis gazed heavily upon his former love.
‘I… I thought it was OK. I mean, like our little private joke.’
Otis finally opened his lips, seemingly drained of all energy.
‘Are you a nigger. Cassie?’ he asked her, still maintaining some kind of baseline decency and civility.
Cassie’s normally pale face, already flushed from flesh plonk and a full three hours of sporadic lovemaking, turned so crimson that a dispassionate third party observer would have expected her face to blow any moment.
Cassie paused. She didn’t want to say anything. She wanted this moment to go, and to go forever.
Otis paused himself.
The question again.
‘Are you a nigger, Cassie?’
Cassie never cried. Or so she thought.
‘No…’ she whispered. ‘No… Otis. You’re not a nigger.’
Otis narrowed his gaze. ‘How very peculiar. I thought I had just asked you precisely the question that we may take to be, if you will, at issue.’
Cassie’s lip quivered. ‘No. No… I’ve never seen you in that way.’
Otis wiped his brow with his silken handkerchief.
‘There is evidence to the contrary, I do believe.’
Cassie tried to say more, but the words wouldn’t come out.
‘What do you think should be done to these… these niggers, then?’
The enunciation was merciless.
Cassie exploded into a veritable bloodbath of tears.
‘I swear, I swear, I will never, ever, ever sing that shit again. I mean… It’s just… It’s just…’
Otis groaned inwardly.
The very soul of artistic pretension.
‘There are 324 Federal dollars on that table, and a Nixon memorial freedom tablet. You may choose to have the humility to take them, and dispose of them as you please.’
Cassie’s face emptied of her last traces of wine-flushed glory.
‘Are you… sending me away?’ she breathed, helpless under the iron spell of her beloved’s glamour.
‘I have never sent away a living soul, as long as I have been on this earth,’ enunciated Otis, although his voice was uncharacteristically near to choking.
‘Did I… did I send myself away…?’ whimpered Cassie, her voice practically inaudible, even to ears as keen as those of her common-law houseboy.
Otis paused. The warm air pulsed and vibrated for a season.
The moment was lost.
The opportunity was nevermore to be found.
‘Thou sayest,’ murmured Otis, deftly springing off the bed to seek a toothbrush.
An owl hooted.
By the time Otis returned to dim the switch, there was no-one there.
He furtively searched under the pillow, as though he ought to be ashamed of his unworthy, cloying sentimentalism and undignified, gushy tenderheartedness.
Enough of this.
It will be mere waste paper, and I shall know soon enough.
Only an utter buffoon would hug close a lover’s note in the stead of a lover?
Nothing could be more foolish!
Off it goes!
There was nothing there.
That is not so much to be deplored, perhaps.
Bitch gimme dollar girl,
Gimme dollah moh!
Yoghurt’s got a blue-eyed ho
Mr Cracker got a…
Excuse me, dear fellow. But I do believe you are appropriating my culture.
Ha! Another nigger! Hm! Fuck this guy! Whatever happens, yoghurt gonna muvvafuckin YOOOGHURT! Mmmmm-HM! Yer better believe it, bitches!
That was more or less what I anticipated.
If this is a dream, then it is greater than reality.
Greater… and ever bit as pitiful, mediocre and contemptible.