Kicking and Screaming
Naked we come into this world and handsomely outfitted in a new pinstripe from Big & Tall, complete with a foulard tie, we go out of it.
At any rate that’s what happened to Nettie Polotnik’s husband Phil who had been dead nine years to the very day when our story begins. Philip Hart Polotnik had never been neat while he was alive (Phil died at age fifty-six, his skull broken in a car crash); he drank like a fish, played poker all night long and smelled like the nasty brown cigars he smoked (and those cigars were what killed him, according to Nettie! If it hadn’t been that accident it would have been emphysema like the late Johnny Carson)......
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There is no earthly explanation for what happened to me one terrible night last spring except that I was deeply depressed, seriously thinking of killing myself because I wasn't a celebrity (or at least rich, successful and sought-after) and had started having a real problem with alcohol.
I was in the newsroom (I'm a reporter in her mid-to-late forties; the exact date won't pass my lips in this cruelly ageist society. Also, my name happens to be Dorsey Corn and I don't like hearing jokes about it) doing my routine daily work when the invitation was tossed on my desk along with the rest of the morning mail, which I customarily read with a latte and a sticky bun or two. Little did I know this would be my last morning of relative peace and sanity!....
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The Silence of the Hacks , or What Really Happened to Hannibal Lector
I don't want to rain on little ole Thomas Harris' parade or put a spoke in his wheel--it's just that I'm sick and dog-tired of all these tenth rate so-called "writers" harvesting kudos and million-dollar advances for writing pure trash all the time.
I mean what's the point? Hannibal Lecter can go take a long jump off a short pier--so what if the Queen Herself knighted the slimy little jerk? It just proves what a tribe of perverted bums our Leaders are, don't it? Because you are never told the truth, Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury. You are once again being fed a LIE and right now I'm going to tell you the way it really happened (which is nothing like it's reported in the so-called News of the Day, Hannibal the Cannibal being the hot story of the moment).
Anyway, a bunch of us got together and said we wuz sick and dog-tired of the reading public being such a ninny, needing something as DUMB as mere cannibalism to get them to go to their bookstore and buy a book. At that time Hannibal Lecter was right here in Shoreline, Washington, which is the suburb of Seattle where me and my buddies live. He was hiding out here; it's the one place the cops would never think to look for him....
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Incident At The Dog Park
Steve began to remonstrate (that means like, protest a bit when you know you are in the right) and at the same time Reba, who always carries a baseball bat on her walks to send the tennis ball spinning a little farther and faster and also to protect against stalkers and suchlike-- Reba snuck up behind the cop. Just as the cop was saying, "The law states that each of you are subject to a $120 fine or you can appear in court with or without a lawyer to present argument--"
That was the exact moment when Reba hauled off and whacked the officer in the head with her Louisville slugger.
When the bat connected with the cop's skull, the sound was like a watermelon being dropped ten stories down to a cement alley.
Reba wiped her bat with handfuls of grass.
"That's one dead-looking cop," she observed....
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Warm, grasping hands! Tan, muscular calves and legs!
Looking down at her body, Benaroya had to shriek with laughter. It was so perfect it was absolutely fantastic. What would the kids back home say if they could see her now?
She glimpsed her face in the rearview mirror. The lips peeled back, displaying a set of shiny white teeth—not apelike, but quite sharp—and a wet red tongue. The tongue poked out and touched the upper lip. Holy Moses! The eyes were a dazzling sapphire blue, alive with lusty humor. It was the face of a predator. A sleek, dangerous animal. Make no mistake about that. From here on, anything could happen.
But leaping lizards, it was a wonderful feeling, this being alive in a human body! She couldn’t help bouncing up and down in the bucket seat out of sheer exuberance. Graduation day. What a thrill. After months of training here she was, roaming the savage, backwater planet Earth, ready to begin her first assignment.
She remembered Omark’s briefing: “Never forget, these bushmen must eat other creatures in order to survive. Not a single one of their leaders—presidents, popes, kings, basketball players—has a shred of ethics whatsoever. Carry a weapon at all times and don’t hesitate to kill.”
Yet the California scenery was ever so pretty. There, just ahead, was some sort of fabulous monument. What could it represent? Aha: a giant taco, eighty feet tall, oozing lettuce, bits of cheese and tomato and a thick purple goo, possibly plum jam. She’d seen ever so many pictures in magazines. But the monument was made of plastic! Oh, how inventive. And the sweet little bushmen were lining up to get small, hot duplicates of the tasty food product.
Benaroya felt a pang of ecstasy. This trip was going to be thrilling. Already she liked her Brenda Starr body, so lush and supple, wearing a thin bikini, since the day was a scorcher. She had a closetful of other bodies back at the ship but the Brenda had seemed so very right. She could have slipped into a Mary Magdalene, or a Ruby Keeler in tap shoes, or Nelson Rockefeller or Dorothy from The Wizard or Toulouse-Lautrec, Zorro, Gertrude Stein, or any of a dozen others. These bodies had been reproduced from films and comics, police records, time-travel cubes and other devices. Each was a dead ringer for the original, down to the very freckles and toenails, EKG, blood-sugar level and condition of arteries. Not a one could be distinguished from the actual person! And this wasn’t easy, boy, because primitives look so much alike.
At the moment, Benaroya was moving much too fast. She hadn’t anticipated the impact of culture shock; this lightheaded, out-of-control feeling much like the “rapture of the deep” experienced by divers. She’d stolen the Mustang a mere ten
minutes ago and was already doing 90—wow! Such a kick to zoom past other cars, floating in and out of traffic, losing the police miles back, with their funny wailing sirens and flashing lights and cute, wide buttocks and slow reflexes. She knew they were hated and feared by everyone and this heightened her sense of drama.
Benaroya’s original body, the one she wore back home, was exclusively aquatic. (Rysemus was a thick-molecule “water” planet.) Her body was dolphinesque with a smash of semidivine Bright Lights class and glitter. Of course she’d never wear it here on Earth; it wouldn’t survive the rough frontier conditions; seawater would ruin the rippling chiffon fins, impurities would lock the gills--oh, the bod would be an absolute mess in no time. She kept it in storage back at the ship.
One of the motorcycle cops was moving up. She knew he was called “pig”--darling nickname!--and he would be terribly annoyed, so she slipped between a couple of trucks and lost him. The officer made radio contact with his reinforcement down the line: “Phil, intercept this baby. Black Mustang license H5428; red hair and a bikini; jumping lanes like she’s on speed or worse. Stop her! Before she wipes out some decent people,” at which point his voice trembled and he broke connection.
This officer was in pain. He’d fallen off his Harley the day before yesterday. Fortunately no colleague had been present to witness his embarrassment. He suspected a hernia but didn’t want to see a doctor and fill out all those fucking insurance forms. Benaroya caught this stream of images telepathically, and was puzzled--how very complex the sweet little bushmen were!
“Right,” Phil barked to empty air and waited for the suicidal redhead to enter his field of vision. This took longer than expected: Benaroya was jumping a median to slither south between lines of northbound cars; now she flew twice around a cloverleaf, giggling at the deathtraps of Stone Age engineering, drinking in the heady waves of larceny, guilt, greed, anguish and nervous agitation that flooded the sunbaked ether. Oh Earth, Earth, how ubiquitous is thy wide-screen insanity! (As Omark had orated this very morning at graduation exercises.) But soon she zoomed into Phil’s turf, and the busy little centurion was on her tail, using lights and siren to force her over.
Benaroya gave a joyful wave. She loved Phil’s Nazi-like helmet, his outraged sense of authority. She was drunk on industrial fumes, flocks of wheeling gulls, soot and tideflat and carbon monoxide, new leather and her own pungent, sun-kissed, unfamiliar sweat. It was a giggle to move this alien vehicle through traffic and suck waves of horror from other drivers who were pop-eyed at the beat of death’s approaching wings--zowie! The dial was hitting 110, 115, 120, flashing past billboards of Sea & Ski, Marlboro, Budweiser, and under enormous, spider-legged signs--San Diego! Santa Monica! Golden State! Hollywood!--names to roll on the tongue, sweet, remote echoes, exhilarating, tantalizing, incredibly exotic.
“God damn you crazy bitch pull over!” Phil screamed in an agony of frustration.
Benaroya was flying high. She flitted beneath overpasses, around curves, through a tunnel; wasn’t surprised when Phil hit an oil slick and was sucked, bike and all, under the eight screaming wheels of a semi. She came out in flat saltmarsh where hills cut the horizon, and was slowing to admire a produce stand heaped with brilliant oranges, avocados, watermelon, red and green and waxy yellow peppers, when her first Clash began.
To a Rysemian anthropologist, the Clash is the ultimate learning experience. How else can you learn all there is to know about a person? This woman drove a green Lotus and had one of those funny Earthie names (Benaroya probed her mind carefully) that sounded like Wolf, or perhaps Fox.
This Fox was a miserable being. It seemed other people sneered at her fat arms, thin hair, angry features, and at the fact that she was unbeautiful and not young. Her whole life was a waste. Salesgirls insulted her. She was never respected. She was no longer desirable. The world was rotten. Life stunk.
Benaroya found herself charmed and amazed. Why, the darling person relied completely on the judgments of humans! She thought that “life” meant the opinions of three billion bushmen. How quaint! How adorably provincial. Here was Fox, a taco eater, glamorous, entrancing, absolutely stuffed with pulsar power, being “unhappy.” Tee hee! Earthies were ever so ramified.
Fox whipped past the Mustang and cut in front with a glance of withering contempt. Seeing how it was done, Benaroya zoomed past the Lotus and also cut in sharply, with the same look of disdain.
Why in the world was Fox unhappy? The anthropologist probed. Yes indeed, it was because the other little Earthies sneered at her. But how absurd. They all did that to each other constantly. All competitive beings ripped at each other like cornered rats, but who cared? There must be a more important reason. Aha: it was because Fox’s husband ran around. But how silly! She should be pleased that the sweet little bushman was being hysterical somewhere else. Anyway, now was the time to cheer Fox up. Give her a race she would never forget.
The anthropologist tramped on the accelerator. This was going to be gorgeous. From Fox came a burst of confusing images: Benaroya had never probed a real Earthie this close and it was like a jolt of sour mash. Fox seethed with anguish. She was a volcano of wounds and grief, of tears, prayers and frustration that other humans forced her to keep under cover. Fascinating! Just like Omark had said. Earth was a powder keg waiting for a match.
Fox was increasingly angry at Benaroya. For what reason? Her chutzpah, her smile, the fact that she was free. Could such idiocy be possible? Earthies were so illogical. It seemed Fox craved being first in line. Excellent; Benaroya would show her some real fun.
“Do exactly as they do and you can’t go wrong,” Omark had said. How easy, how delightful it all seemed. She would become a top secret agent, make Omark fall in love with her, and be a credit to her planet.
Ahead was a sharp turn. Benaroya geared down to third, then to second, the Lotus moving up until they ran hub to hub. Benaroya looked across and smiled, winding it up, testing the silken mesh of gears--oh, how she adored primitive mechanics! But Fox would have none of that smile. Fox’s morning had been a roll of ratshit and she despised bubbly redheads; this was the kind of cheap slut her husband chased. Fox could hardly control her resentment. This redheaded floozie was disgusting!
Fox bent forward grimly, her knuckles white with tension. She moved an inch out of lane and barely, almost tenderly, touched the flank of the Mustang.
It was enough to send Brenda Starr spinning across lanes of traffic, around, around in highway roulette; landscape a whirling blur, horrified faces whipping in circles to a wail of horns and a shriek of burning rubber. Then the Mustang recovered and drifted broadside. Benaroya eased into line. So much for round one.
Fox settled back to enjoy her triumph. Benaroya slid closely behind the Lotus. Fox’s lips tightened. Hadn’t this stupid girl had enough? She floored the Lotus, putting distance between the two cars.
Benaroya went flat out with the tach up to 5000. At the next curve she dropped into third and pulled abreast of the Lotus, grinning and waving.
Fox exploded with a lifetime of suppressed rage. “You cheap slut! You cow! What right do you have to be happy!” Fox screamed, despite herself.
Benaroya blew a kiss, as they did in the films. Benaroya knew a lot about human death. She had personally strangled, drowned, shot, beheaded, and dissected scores of empty bodies to test their capabilities. They were fragile eggshells, but what did it matter? Bodies were unimportant; you could grow hundreds of them in the ship tanks. Sensing this attitude, Fox experienced a stab of fear. The girl was plain crazy! Either that or she’d swallowed a whole bottle of uppers.
The Rysemian nosed out to slip ahead with a brash wiggle of the rear end. Fox tried to control her emotions. What an impudent bitch! But anger never won a race, and her Lotus could beat anything on the road.
Fox whipped around the Mustang and cut back in, horns blaring contempt. She lifted the stiffened middle finger of her right band and punched air with it. Benaroya wondered if the gesture had some special meaning. The Lotus was boxed in for a moment; Benaroya crept up and tapped its rear bumper caressingly.
Fox screamed. She raised one fist in hatred. Now she could never rest until the Mustang had been forced off the road.
“Cow!” she shrieked.
“Cow!” Benaroya repeated.
The two women leapfrogged, grabbed the lead by turns, honked and yelled obscenities at each other. Brenda Starr displayed a stiffened middle finger whenever she caught Fox’s eye; it was wonderful; Fox seemed to go higher up the pole each time. Several motorcycle centurions were closing in, and now a bearded black man on a Honda 750 shot into view. He seemed infuriated. When he was even with the Mustang, he screamed at Benaroya, telling her to pull over.
“This is a citizen’s arrest,” he shouted several times.
Why was he angry? Fieldwork was certainly interesting. Benaroya sorted mental patterns busily. Now five contestants were racing in a tight, emotional little network. The more people who joined in, the more fun it became!
Signs kept flashing past: Magnolia, Burbank, Oxnard, bathed in a metallic yellow haze. The road narrowed here; it had been raised above ground level and was flanked by scrubby weeds, not crisp ice plant or concrete like the roads downtown. Along each side were rooftops poking through a blanket of smog. Exquisite! Earthie dwellings were so meltingly picturesque! And how lovely were the endless billboards, gas stations, the brick walls of housing projects or were they concentration camps?--oh, so many quaint, otherworldly sights to see!
But first there was a good race to be won, and a lovely Earth lady, Fox, to be shown a bang-up jolly time.
Benaroya did a snake dance between lanes to the tune of blaring horns. She crept up on the Lotus, pushed Fox to the railing, and tried to cut her off.
For Fox, this was the last straw. She jerked the wheel to give the Mustang a well-deserved slap; lost control, skittered toward the metal railing, and crashed through it.
The Lotus turned somersaults end over end. It appeared to freeze in midair at each bounce. Then it slammed down the embankment and shot across the intersection. It came to rest on a cyclone fence, teetered for a moment, and burst into flames.
Fox was pinned in the wreckage.
Her mouth gaped grotesquely. The boom of traffic drowned her screams. Benaroya bounced to a stop upside down. At that instant the Lotus exploded--BLAM!--like a hot gasbag; it shattered the windows of a barbershop across the way.
Metal, glass, and bits of human flesh rained down for a hundred yards in every direction.
end of Chapter One.
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There is no earthly explanation for what happened to me one terrible night last spring except that I was deeply depressed, seriously thinking of killing myself because I wasn't a celebrity (or at least rich, successful and sought-after) and had started having a real problem with alcohol.
I was in the newsroom (I'm a reporter in her mid-to-late forties; the exact date won't pass my lips in this cruelly ageist society. Also, my name happens to be Dorsey Corn and I don't like hearing jokes about it) doing my routine daily work when the invitation was tossed on my desk along with the rest of the morning mail, which I customarily read with a latte and a sticky bun or two. Little did I know this would be my last morning of relative peace and sanity!
I turned the square of cream-colored pasteboard over. Sure enough there was a Hallmark logo so it couldn't possibly be a hoax. I immediately showed the card to my editor, we call her Susan Lucci, a still glamorous aging movie star I'd been having some trouble with lately (nothing to do with business I assure you) --Susan said it looked like a breakthrough opportunity, adding "Go follow up on it, Dorsey! File a story by this week's deadline and you'll get a nice raise."
According to the small print, I was on my way to interview none other than Athena the Goddess of Wisdom; I could hardly believe it. What an opportunity! Once in a lifetime? More than that--once in a million lifetimes--
Forthwith, I began packing. The invitation said "Bring no baggage. Nothing at all" but of course that wasn't possible; I began filling a backpack with thermal underwear, my travel alarm, a parka, sweaters, the Bible, my roach clip, a change of shirt, camcorder, passport, journal, nail polish and so on--the bare essentials.
Following instructions I took a cab to Paine Field late at night--a cold, beautiful night in early March. I paid the cabbie, watched the taillights disappear in dark shadows--
I was all alone; even the cafe (which is nothing spectacular at that small airport) was closed. I saw plenty of tethered Cessnas and Piper Cubs, etc., but no people at all; maybe it was too late for them.
On the runway was a private jet ready for takeoff, otherwise there was no welcoming committee, nobody at all. The minute I boarded the aircraft the steps folded up, whoosh! and we taxied out- the pilot, if any, appeared to be locked in the cabin. I knocked repeatedly but there was no answer, only a note pinned to a seat-back. The note read, "Without trust you won't make it."
"Okay. Don't panic" I said to nobody in particular, and fell asleep under an army blanket with a Greek logo on it (I found the blanket along with several Greek magazines and a can of warm Diet Pepsi in the overhead compartment).
We set down in what appeared to be a rice paddy with a falling-apart hangar, no food or drink anywhere (by now I was starving) and again, not a soul in sight. A note pinned to a fence post informed me that the rest of the trip would be made by muleback; Athena and I would meet in a bamboo hut on a mountaintop "Twenty gazroans from the blue Indian Ocean," said the note. Attached was a rough map.
"What is this f*#& sh#&?" I blistered the air, mad as hell; I'd had nothing to eat or drink for hours (except for one warm Pepsi) and was furious at such shabby treatment of a member of the American Press Corps, but what the f*#?& could I do? There was a mule tethered by the fence.
I arrived panting and bleeding from a painful fall (at first thought my wrist was broken but it turned out to be only badly sprained), had lost my backpack and most of the equipment I'd brought including my cell phone, was scratched from head to foot by brambles, exhausted, in no shape to interview a Goddess or anyone else and all I knew for sure was that somebody was going to have a big fat lawsuit on their hands as soon as I got back to the U.S. of A.!!
Imagine my disappointment when I discovered that the goddamn bamboo hut was empty! Damp, moldy, obviously nobody had used it for years, and yet--that figured, didn't it? Isn't this the kind of torture that the so-called "gods" have always inflicted on us poor dumb mortals? Exactly. You bet.
I was angry, scared, tired beyond anything I'd ever before experienced. And then-- Behind the hut I found a series of steps leading to an open space surrounded by crumbling columns that were holding up a roof of some kind. I walked deep into the interior of this shaded structure, whatever it was--my eyes gradually adjusting to the darkness--
To be honest, at this point I was crying bitterly (but silently) and was utterly terrified. Why had I come on this stupid mission in the first place? All I wanted was to be safely back home again! My wrist throbbed, I was trying to palpate it to see if a bone was broken when lightning suddenly flashed all around. Gray clouds came rolling in--the lightning picked out a shape at the end of this godforsaken temple or whatever the hell it was--
What I saw was fuzzy and indistinct at first.
I just stood there, staring blankly. Eyes trying to adjust to--what? And then rising out of the gloom was an enormously tall, robed figure. And a voice that broke the stillness.
"Come nearer," the voice said.
It was a loud, deep, rather pleasant voice and it came so suddenly (as if out of the blue) that I remember uttering a nervous little laugh (like an idiot). Next I cleared my throat to say: "Before we do anything else, ma'am, I'm a reporter and I'll need to establish your identity before asking a few questions, all right? I'll make this quick-"
"I'll make this quick," the voice echoed my words. The speaker was a woman, probably Athena herself (of course, who else?) and she was (as I said), many times bigger than life-sized, dressed in flowing white robes, saying: "First I'll need to ask a few questions. Are you aware that you stole my church--the temple of Athena on the Acropolis at Athens put there by Pericles himself? Has your precious government explained that you just walked in and ripped off my temple as your people so often do while trumpeting their 'niceness' and 'humanity' and simpering 'Oh, I'm so, SO sorry' and 'Can't we all just get along' and other hypocritical cant? So tell me, what is your opinion, Dorsey Corn? Do your beloved laws cover a theft of this magnitude and if so, should not you little locusts receive the death penalty for it?"
"What?" I'd started to say "What are you talking about?" but that sounded rude and I didn't quite have the nerve to finish it. Not under these circumstances.
"Don't play innocent, you criminal," she said coolly.
I watched those marvelous lips as the words tumbled out--I don't have to say that the goddess Athena claimed my full attention (or what was left of it).
"Examine the facts," she said. "Your people spend a lot of time bragging, ''We are a nation of laws.' Let me ask a question you probably never considered before. Can you imagine how such a vain, lying, wretchedly ignorant boast might sound to the ears of an Olympian?"
"Look, lady, I'm tired. I've come a long way, I have injuries, can't we call an aid car or something? Please? You don't have to worry, my paper will pay for any out-of-pocket money or expenses you may incur --"
She held up a hand and just plowed ahead with her own agenda, saying, "It makes you sound like the worst hypocrites ever born. Mark well: in a god's view, your much-touted law is unfair. Unfair laws stink in my nostrils, and a whole nation of them is nothing less than a stinkpot."
"Hey! Hold on there. You can't just--""
"Secondly, you think the word 'human' means kind, good, considerate, etcetera. False! It really means a barbarian. A cruel, stupid savage. Third, your religions including social psychology are nothing but myths to keep you from exploring your own mind--please keep quiet, fool; your turn will come!" she thundered.
"Fourth: you brazenly stole my temple, the Parthenon, and rebuilt it stone for stone in your absurd little country--minus my great ivory-and-gold likeness that the Parthenon itself was built for the sole purpose of housing and then you scavengers, you bottom-feeders, went ahead and renamed it ''The Supreme Court Building,' thinking nobody would notice and having full confidence that such outright thievery wouldn't bring you the foulest of luck."
"Now wait just a damned minute. In the first place, that's a lie!"
She ignored my protest and said, "Why do you people steal? Because you have no great art of your own, no talent except as mechanics, grease-monkeys in the service of computers and piddling space flights (a Mars shot is like a flea jumping from one hair to another on a mule). You call yourselves 'free,' you are no more 'free' than a poor sad little chained-up monkey. The things you do best are brag, and steal. But in this case, unfortunately you don't know what you're messing with."
"Are you threatening me? You can't say these things!" I was crying, angry, in pain and shock. My wrist throbbed and I hated this cruel bitch who didn't put bodily wellbeing above all else in life!
"Where is your vaunted freedom of speech?" she said softly, looking seriously at me. "Even the words are a joke. Every one of you knows that your government is a mere tool of corporate profiteers and that your acts of vengeance--your foolish wars--are all stupid and suicidal no matter how many flags you wave or monuments you build--"
Athena is gorgeous, that goes without saying. Oh, those flashing eyes of hers---the proud curl of her lips! But never at any point did I let this magnificent goddess see how impressed I was.
"I get it, Athena (if that's really who you are); you're bitter! " I yelled. "You're bitter and angry because you think we stole your precious temple, just went ahead and ripped it off, copied it totally and gave you no credit at all, is that the problem?"
"Not angry. Never angry with a poor barbarian. You haven't seen my anger yet--I am only very, very sorry for you. You don't remember who you are, my poor friend. I pity you and your people. You are not bad people, only victims."
"Don't remember who we are, that doesn't make sense--so who are we if you're so smart?"
"You've forgotten that you're a race of Great Ones conquered long ago, degraded, scattered around the planets and driven insane. Turned into what I see now: whores looking for paying customers. That's incredible, a terrible tragedy, a working definition of 'hell' and you'll deny it with your dying breath--but truth impinges and somewhere deep you know you are not a body but a spiritual being with hidden abilities beyond your wildest dreams."
"O.K., whatever you say," I held my ground. "Go on. What hidden abilities are we talking about?"
"The potential you have is mind-boggling, yet all of your cultures are designed to minimize you, to make you feel weak, small, bad, wrong, and that you must punish and be punished. You are in a deadly trap. I can help you get out of it. But you must be willing and must understand."
"Willing to do what, understand what? I've come from a great distance at your invitation! I'm tired, hungry, injured, depressed, shivering, my skin is icy cold and I'm probably in shock--" Nothing I said impressed Athena in the least. She went on:
"You are a race of sleepwalkers who've lived thousands of lives with the terrible amnesia of the body-worshipper, but I have news for you! Ghost=soul=spirit=you. Discorporate beings whose gods come and go with the fashion of the day, because you worship a material universe and since time immemorial you've denied it but now-- "
"Yeah? Now? And your point is?"
"The point is simple. I'm offering you my help. I've taken pity on you, but if you want my help I'll need a groundswell of you--millions not just asking but DEMANDING to be set free, to be given a technology a hundred thousand years ahead of where you are now."
"I'm sure we'd accept that," I said (making a feeble attempt to be nice and end this conversation pleasantly so I could get the hell out of this place, alive!)
"Then try to see into the distance. Most humans are in a tumult of despair; no matter how many conceited speeches they make, humanity's face is always wet with tears. But mark this. You must agree to be helped before I will agree to come back and help you."
I was swaying on my feet. "I'm sorry," I moaned. "Whatever we've done to you, Athena, I'm just so, so sorry!" My eyes kept closing (did she care? Not at all!) But still-- Her immensity, her beauty, her sheer presence--
"I'm apologizing! I'm sorry, so, so sorry! There, I apologized! I said I was sorry--so why can't you be nice? Can't we all just get along?" I babbled these platitudes and many more until she gave me a goblet of wine which I drained at a gulp.
I then thanked her earnestly--not sure she was still there. It was even worse getting home--how I made it down that cliff I hardly know, then a bus took me to the airport--after five hours on winding roads and no free ticket home--and when I finally arrived in America and was getting my wounds attended to in the emergency room, I discovered that everything was gone.
Of course I'd taped the interview with Athena but the tape along with everything else, was gone; later that night, looking over what I had managed to salvage I found there was nothing left but a grainy photo of the Parthenon. Her "temple" as she called it, stolen by us light-fingered Americans. Here it is, for what it's worth. And yes, it's where we got the model for the Supreme Court Building but does that make us a gang of rotten, lying, talentless thieves? Of course it doesn't!
In any case, this is my story. I'm filing it quickly, mistakes and all--in hopes of getting that raise Susan Lucci promised me. There are probably larger issues in what Athena said that escape me, but I'm only human; I'd rather be dumb and comfortable than have to deal with that crazy stuff she said--most of which I must admit went right over my head.
Yes--I'll file this story but they'll never print it. As we all know, nothing unflattering to humans ever gets printed. And as for me--I'm more interested in resolving my own self-image issues. I mean, isn't a positive self-image what is really important to a person?
Here are three pieces of free Jody Scott fiction from the blog "Censorable Ideas" on her website,
jodyscott.info. (Click link and then scroll down.) Over time I will be sharing more free fiction:
But all this will be only for subscribers to her newsletter "Jody Scott Info." (This is separate from a subscription to the blog- to which you can subscribe via email or reader on the right.)
The "newsletter" is not run by a publisher, it is a personal email from me, Mary Whealen, Jody's spouse for 30 years and the executor of her literary estate, sent out 4 or 5 times a year.
Of course I hope the newsletter helps to sell books, that is after all the only way to assure publishers continue to bring out more of Jody's books, but I don't share or otherwise seek to monetize your contact info. This is a labor of love, because I loved Jody and because I love her writing. As do many others from Neil Gaiman to William Burroughs.
Lest you assume I might be prejudiced, I invite you to peruse this site and read the reviews of and praise for Jody Scott.
On Nov 1st her next novel Devil May Care will be published and there will be a very special giveaway to launch it (so stay tuned for that!), and then in 2017 the "subscribers only" section of the website will come online.
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AN OUTRAGEOUSLY EXTRATERRESTRIAL LOOK AT THE HUMAN CONDITION
"Jody Scott knows that science fiction reaches the parts other fiction cannot reach. Like Philip K. Dick, she uses science fiction to question the meaning of reality and the nature of humanity- but saying that doesn't even hint at what a wild, original and outrageously funny writer she is."
When this sequel to Passing for Human and I, Vampire was written in the 1980s, it was rejected by all the major science fiction publishers who told Jody Scott it was “too far out” for commercial publication.
Now available in book form for the first time ever!
Rysemian operatives are here to help us evolve. Or Else. But first they must defeat archfiend Scaulzo, worshiped as the Prince of Darkness across many galaxies, but can the devil ever really be tamed?
Freewheeling cadet Benaroya has a plan- so audacious it might just succeed.
Recruit Virginia Woolf’s lover, lesbian vampire Sterling O'Blivion; send her to the mothership for training and rehab by George Patton and Nancy Reagan.
Detail Abe Lincoln and Douglas MacArthur to the 1950's to unravel the Gordian knot of human history, master the nuances of being a "respected male leader," survive Scaulzo's Agony Organ horrorshow that hypnotically invades their thoughts, and avoid going native.
Tapdance America's child-sweetheart to superstardom as a Rysemian evangelist. ("'I come to you humans from across the void,' Shirley roared in pulpits everywhere— standing on a pile of books.”)
Spring the ultimate, high-stakes trap for the devil; Benaroya the bait, Earth's fate in the balance.
“Jody Scott is like a mad cabby who knows most of the streets in town and knows where the laughs are – get into her rig and she'll take you on a fast and furious spin through America's ideological terrain.” –Michael Shea
"The greatest employment of science fiction in the service of satire. The best unknown SF writer."
-Fantasy & Science Fiction Magazine
Stephen King’s Welsh Corgi, Arfy, has done it again.
His short story Bite ‘Em in the Butt, first published in The New Yorker, won the coveted Peeker Award; now his novel Bowwow Up the Yingyang is topping New York Times bestseller lists on its way to Hollywood and major money.
“It’s no big deal,” Arfy told this reporter modestly as we lunched yesterday at Manhattan’s popular Four Seasons. “Both of Steve’s sons, Owen and Joe, had books published recently. Of course those boys don’t need to mess with agents or other pedestrian crap; Daddy’s name does the work for them. Both their books suck big time, oboy do they ever! But it doesn’t matter how rotten you are, only how well-connected.”
“Where do you get your ideas, do you mind my asking?”
“From the infinite greatness of my own mind,” Arfy chuckled, wolfing down a caviar-laced pop tart. “I thought I was at my peak brilliance in Bite, but Bowwow is really making those Hollywood moguls sit up and take notice.”
“How long did it take you to write Bowwow, and did you use Steve’s computer?”
“Yes to both questions,” nodded Arfy. “If I’d been a Rottweiler it wouldn’t have worked so give me some credit here for sleight-of-paw Darwinian adaptation as a solution to an environmental problem serving a functional purpose—much as long-necked giraffes began having more offspring because of phylogenetic inertia, know what I mean?”
“Er,” I said. “Yes, more offspring would really do the trick. But tell me, when is Steve’s daughter Naomi coming out with her first novel?”
“Don’t ask me, I don’t give a damn,” Arfy snarled. “We writers are a jealous lot and if she gets published it’s only because Steve is her Pop; aside from that she has no talent whatever. Now I, on the other hand—”
A brush fire cut our interview short, but we hope to tap Arfy for the next installment as soon as his singed fur grows back out.