9/22/07

Postmodern posing in Istanbul



Being postmodern is all the rage, and s/he who (re?)reifies their imagined Selves without re-course to a discursive deconstruction free(-d) from the gaze of the Other, is still a s(elf-s)lave to the En“light”enment. Aight?


Does (Is?)tanbul really exist? Do we? Are these spatio-temporal matrices we In-habit merely composed of agonistic interstices where defunct enlightenment-inseminated textualities subjugate our actual states of sim(syn)ple existence to form subjectivized simulacra of other-Others? Is this all horse manure?

The answer to all of the above (including the picture) is, yes, it’s all horse manure. Plus it’s bad for your eyes and may even cause hair to grow on your palms. But that doesn’t matter because postmodern-ism-ity-ish-ness (pick which suffix you think is correct) is now fashionable. In a city like Istanbul where everybody’s looking for the next hot trend with which to give themselves a sense of super uniqueness to rub in other people’s faces, postmodernismation has paved the way. But why?

First of all, postmodernisming is only for the overeducated. After all, it’s full of recondite terms and snazzy Greco-Latin neologisms that can only ever be useful in an otiose academic environment, but also because the more educated you get, the more you realize that traditional modes of identification – namely nationalism and religion – are crap. Thus the educated young Turk, bored by the usual discourses of the aforementioned ideological straightjackets, is relieved to find something a little more challenging and palatable for intellectual nourishment than myths of Central Asian she-wolves or fairy tales with angels and prophets.

Secondly, in a classist society like we have in Turkey, trends are not only a good way to distinguish yourself from other classes of people, but also from those within your own class. After all, we don’t seek to differentiate ourselves on an individual level (individualism in Turkey equals ostracism), but instead seek to fit into the trends dominating the class of people we belong to, thereby choosing to differentiate ourselves within the safety of a herd. So, for example, while the upper middle class like to pride themselves on being “white (European) Turks” (read: wanna-be-white-Turks-who-have-a-complex-about-being-Turkish) so as to differentiate themselves from “black (Anatolian) Turks” (on whom they like to place the entire onus of the Turkish stereotype in Western eyes while exculpating themselves of said onus), those self-described “postmodern white Turks” among them can further distinguish themselves as a subclass of “intellectual (entel) Turks” who are (read the rest of the sentence with sarcastic tone) above such paradigmatically textualized discourses of identity power politics that feed their ideo-subjectivity by self-Othering with the aim of Othering others not like themselves (viz. tosspots).

Thirdly, postmodern discourse has nomenclature that’s hard to understand, and so when you say something really hard to understand you tend to think that it is therefore really intelligent. Thus, guys like to use it to try and impress chicks and get laid, while girls use it to let guys know that they are not one of those chicks to whom they can just spout off postmodern drivel thinking they’re going to succeed in impressing them into getting laid.

Fourthly, postmodernalizing is now trendier as a rebellious image than Marxism. Aging Marxists tend to become postmodernnessists because they can still uphold a counter-culture stance without having to be revolutionary about it (revolutions are hell on the knees), while Gen-X and Gen-Y postmodernites like to sound radical without having to get off their spoilt privileged lazy slacker asses to be politically active enough to actually make a change instead of bitching and moaning all the time (example: me). After all, the monolithic relativism (a PA-RA-DOX if you will) of postmodernismity is a good excuse for not doing anything, or taking any stances other than anti-stances, and is thus a convenient way to justify our natural inclination to indolence and inertia.

Fifthly, postmodernicality is a good look because you can be stylish but brooding at the same time. Plus you can wear lots of black and thus look thin while pretending there’s a philosophical reason to why you’re wearing black. Guys can go with a shaved head for that futuristic Foucaultian look, while girls can sport rectangular specs as they sit at cafes doing their look-at-me-with-furrowed-brows-reading-some-smug-European-designer-academic’s-postmodern-ouvre-with-sleek-cover-design-that’s-ideal-for-being-seen-reading-with thing, which just made me top my own record for hyphen abuse.

Sixthly, thanks to postmodernismness you can indulge all your guilty pleasures with a clear conscience by saying things like “I’m not just watching Survivor, I’m deconstructing Survivor”. A trip to Pizza Hut can become a pop-cultural case study, while surfing porn can be “a hermeneutic study into the objectification of sexual otherness in contemporary... uh... in in... contempo...” oh no, too late, I’m not interested anymore.

Finally, you can go one step beyond and be post-postmodern, like you’re so over having been over modernism that you can go back to your comfy convenient modern bourgeois life but this time around live it out as a hypercritique of itself, thus possibly starting the next big trend where driving to the mall in a station wagon while listening to Coldplay becomes a radical artistic post-postmodern “happening”.

The only thing I left out is a definition of what “postmodern” actually means, but nobody really knows, and even if they did, defining it would be such a pre-postmodern thing to do that only a post-postmodernist could do it without sounding like a post-premodern hypocrite, so let’s just say it’s a pile of horse shit and leave it at that.

9/18/07

Buying toilet paper sucks



The problem with buying toilet paper is that we usually only ever remember to do it when we're out of it, often finding ourselves sitting on the toilet with our pants around our ankles staring in horror at the few measly scraps of tattered paper clinging pathetically to the cardboard core. The ensuing debacle where we get up and shuffle around in a semi-crouch with our pants pulled half way up our legs hoping no dangling chunks of doo doo are about to fall out of our butt and on to the carpet as we curse God for doing this to us and search desperately around the flat for napkins and paper towels (which are also usually out), before finally settling on some old electricity bills to wipe our asses with, is not our finest moment. But hey, at least nobody can see you… which reminds you, you should have closed those curtains first.

Some of us are sometimes lucky enough to notice we're out of toilet paper right before we have to plop. This is as much forewarning as we're going to get, because unless we need to relieve ourselves then and there, we're not going to bother going out to buy toilet paper. In fact we'll just tell ourselves "I'll buy some next time I go shopping", which we will always forget to do, and thus find ourselves back where this article began: having just taken an enormous dump and realizing that we're out of toilet paper.

So you pull your pants back up, zip, button, buckle, grab for your keys, drop them, curse at God for doing this to you, bend down and pick up your keys (imagining that some of your shitty ass just scraped a thick crayonny brown line on the inside of your underwear), open the door, run down the stairs, realize halfway down that you forgot your wallet, run back up, laying more curses on the universe and its evil creator, grab your wallet, hesitate whether you should bother taking your cellphone with you, decide to take it, slam the door behind you, turn to hurriedly lock the door, drop the keys again, curse some more (imagining that crayonny brown line on your underwear is now a thick creamy smudge), then finally run down the stairs and straight into the first mini-mart around the corner.

In terms of embarrassment, buying toilet paper is on a par with buying condoms. One reason is because the purchase of those products immediately gives the unmistakable impression to other people that you'll be engaging in a very specific bodily function that will result in a particularly noisome discharge very soon. This impression is further exacerbated by the fact that you're buying ONLY that particular product, since toilet paper and condoms are only ever emergency purchases. In fact, buying toilet paper is even more annoying because at least with buying condoms it's usually only an immediate embarrassment shared with the cashier you're asking it from and one or two people standing behind you in line, all of whom you assume are at that moment thinking "SOOO, LOOKING FORWARD TO A NICE BIG FAT NIGHT OF FUCKING, HUH?!". Then you just stick the box of rubbers in your pocket and you're home free. In fact it’s not even that bad, because at least you’re about to have sex, which people can admire.

But the problem with buying toilet paper is that it means you’re not about to be a sex stud but a crouching moaning mess pushing out a big disgusting pile of shit all by yourself in a smelly toilet. Furthermore, the toilet paper you need is sold in huge big fat fluffy conspicuous packages filled with the stuff, rolls and rolls of it, as if you were getting ready to clean up an enormous industrial spill. First you're embarrassed to be seen comparing prices and checking quality of the paper, giving the impression that what’s going through your mind at that moment is "HM, WHICH OF THESE WOULD I LIKE TO SMEAR MY SHIT ALL OVER? DEAR ME, I JUST CAN'T PICK!" So you naturally end up just quickly grabbing the first brand you see (which always turns out to be the cheap one with zero point minus zero percent absorption that tears just as you're wiping your ass causing your middle and ring fingers to pop through and plunge into your anus a split second before goose bumps sprout all over the back of your neck).

Now you have to take this big fat fluffy package and walk all the way over to the cashier with it tucked under your arm as you queue among a bunch of other shoppers. You think maybe you should buy some other stuff so it doesn't just look like you're dying to take a shit, but then when you grab a bar of chocolate and some 3-in-1 coffee packets, you realize that your big package of toilet paper looks even more enormous in comparison to your other tiny insignificant acquisitions. One hand: dainty little packet of coffee, other hand: MOUNTAINS OF TOILET PAPER TO WIPE SHIT WITH FOR WEEKS. So you just put the coffee and chocolate back and carry your cross of soft padded fluffy rolls of shame straight to the cash register.

Once the toilet paper has been purchased, now you can look forward to having trouble fitting the enormous package of toilet paper into a plastic shopping bag which is almost big enough but not quite. So you actually have to ask the cashier to help you fit it in, in the mistaken belief that the plastic bag will somehow hide the fact that you went out with the sole purpose of buying toilet paper which you're now dying to take home so you can take a big enormous dump already. The cashier asks if you'd like a bigger bag, which you interpret to mean "DO YOU NEED TO TAKE AN EVEN BIGGER SHIT THAN I'M IMAGINING?" so you hastily decline and just try to get out of there as fast as you can. The cashier holds the bag, you try to fit the package in, it doesn't work, one of the corners doesn't make it, so you stretch the bag out too far and it rips. The people behind you are now watching you wrestle with your big package of shame thinking "SOOO, CAN'T WAIT TO GET BACK HOME AND DROP A BIG FAT SMELLY PILE OF CRAP IN YOUR TOILET, HUH?!" You decide to just carry it in the ripped bag anyway, just so you can get out of there.

You run through the street. Mocking eyes follow your every step. The package of toilet paper – now seemingly even bigger than you are and possibly with a personality of its own that might just be laughing at you – falls out of the ripped bag in the middle of the street. Somebody tries to help you "EXCUSE ME SIR YOU JUST DROPPED YOUR ENORMOUS PACKAGE OF TOILET PAPER, YOU MIGHT NEED IT CONSIDERING IT LOOKS LIKE YOU'RE DYING TO GET HOME TO DROP A BIG FAT TURD!" You snatch at it, mumble a panicky thank you, throw the ripped bag away, tuck the naked package of toilet paper under your arm and take your precious rolls back home, up the stairs, back to your flat, like a fecaphiliac Quasimodo.

You're finally back in your bathroom. You throw your pants down, collapse on the toilet, realize the toilet seat’s up and that you just sat on your own urine-smeared porcelain bowl, jump up, pull the toilet seat down, jump back on, and… discover you don't need to take a shit anymore.

Moral of the story? God is a fucking asshole.

9/16/07

Things I write when the boss is around


Over the last couple of years I’ve had to take on some jobs for money. That means having to do a bunch of boring stuff you’d rather not do but have to so as to earn a little money to live on and be able to afford alcohol, which is an expensive hobby. This doesn’t of course mean that I’m usually working on what I’m supposed to be working on at work. I mean you only really work on the stuff you should be working on about one panicky hour before a presentation or a report is due, the imminence of which seems to do wonders for your concentration and productivity, especially considering the looming threat of the possibility of humiliation and disgrace if your report/presentation should happen to suck.

But the rest of the time, when time is a bigger broader luxury, I am not working. In fact, like everyone else, I’m usually either writing my own stuff or checking emails or playing minesweeper or surfing porn or reading an article on Wikipedia or finding and memorizing obscure words to use in my writing to impress people with, or (more often than not) just doing nothing. (There was no Facebook last I was working in an office, so we had to actually be creative with our procrastination)

You will all agree however that it’s important that while you’re doing nothing, to actually at least SEEM like you’re doing something, especially every time the boss happens to be in your vicinity. And we all know what seeming like you’re working entails: it entails typing. Now, since you just have to type away to seem productive, you really only have to type the first words that come into your head as your boss walks by. That means, basically, typing gibberish. Of course, this doesn’t satisfy the boss that you’re working, in fact he probably knows you’re a lazy ass who’s just typing an email to their best friend. But you have one thing working in your advantage: that there’s a chance that you might be working. Even if there’s only a one percent doubt in the boss’ mind that you might be working, that works in your favor, because even a one-percent doubt is doubt all the same, and we’ll take all the doubt we can get if it means people can’t prove that we’re not working. (I decided to lop us all in together so I don’t stand out as the only lazy ass bum to barely hold down a half-ass job, so just humor my self-trickery)

To complete the act, I throw in some sighs and concerned pauses and furrowed brows and sometimes sit up really straight and rigid, acting all stressed out, and using all the sort of body language and facial expressions that go along with the whole charade of a diligent employee dealing with his work. But, like I said, what I’m really writing is gibberish, nonsense, nothing.

Now, usually I would naturally just erase all the gibberish I’d written as soon as mr. boss person had passed by, but one day I read over what I wrote and it was like a revelation! It was the first time I felt any sense of excitement at work (except when surfing porn, but that’s more of a predictable reflex mechanical excitement). But looking at my gibberish, I enjoyed what I saw.What I saw and read was fun, weird, stream-of-consciousness stuff – and so I decided to save what I wrote.

So I present to you now all the gibberish I wrote to make it look like I was working all those months of my life that I had a job. And as I present this, I’m proud to realize that all those hours at work weren’t spent in vain, because if it wasn’t for those jobs, I would never have written these. Just goes to show, work isn’t necessarily a complete waste of time.

[Cautionary warning: Please do not look any of the following words up in a dictionary, it really is gibberish and any sense or meaning that you think you might have picked up on is purely accidental. Also, for optimum enjoyment, the following are best read aloud, preferably to friends.]

1. If it’s not there then he’s probably not on the way, the only way would be to try and ziplock the other things on how they act so aloof with inconspicuous gaxes lingering around the other attributes of zealous belyosandinase beings out of any mere sprickly continental shelf tasks in the majority of deceased writer literary douche rinds.
(I like the “writer literary douche rinds” bit)

2. throughout the gaff the marvels representationmade the being of all the most important plenipotates of the potates throughtout potatia in the back of ramionaphilatelic asperpraphinates in which there were I think already Attila Pelit the only thing missing is the drawer How to make hashbrowns through me, why end with toast and cheesophiliac redontotrophs??
(“Asperpraphinates” definitely deserves to become a legitimized word, while “cheesophiliac redontotroph” is worthy of being up there as one of the funner adjective-noun couplings of late)

3. libid to be depressed to the ordinary for why don’t we already be if ever we already were one?
(The boss passed by pretty quick on that one – and I sort of cheated because I read over what I wrote and added the last six words, so the boss passed even quicker than you first thought)

4. lower the gourds after the prepedantic gyrationman through the y chrome beings of the plant yeast fields of the ordinary dizzymazes that I already knew from when we were the only ones who rolled through the finest troughs of centauri irradinetophination of lesser souls affects only one out of two out of three out of four and so on so could the boss please fuck off already he’s been standing there for ever, kill myself kill myself, ingratiodiotinatacon fleas ok he’s going now, fuck why would emin want to stop and talk to him there, if he actually looked at my screen he could ok any transcribed toll of all the worlds heights he’s gone fucking hell im bored
(The boss took forever to get away on that one, and that douchy workmate of mine didn’t help)

5. a million monkeys typing a million years could probably come up with this, but could Shakespeare? I feel like my heart was left out on a fountain of dryers that are all blowing through each artery like a searing dry wind of blazes and fires that fan the only oceans where pterotynactillian [prepenadinated gylosancrinadial asterpods] roam behind every screen like blank faces left to draw blood from sacred rivers left out in rock strewn streams of halimenx – could islands wander and let the souls die, without offense, without even a sinful burial, I’m hungry give me lunch, send me lunch fuck face RING spastorialish!
(Actually the boss passed by quick there but I was on a gibberish roll, and then I got hungry which would explain the subtle allegory at the end)

6. elzabethan scribes enhance the juices of lyre playing sophisticates of the lesser Papuan tribes with mellifluous try back centiquistalian anthropomegranates that taste like sweet blood and baby juice, but who ever said instigatomatrix actuarians never evicted traitors as if they were the bosses of angrotastinoitated victuals? I despise the cows of mordor and the murderous bards of Alcatraz if only they would sleep, peaceful like me.
(Obviously written around the time of Lord of the Rings, which would explain the word “mordor”. The other words obviously speak for themselves and need no elucidation)

7. elven hooves cluster like whimsy on fury in the office where the pencil sharpener and the terrorist printer make friends and stab allies in backs all wet with the bloodied sweat of bossy bolingration binging bastards on rollerblade steeds without a harness that ties around your neck and saves your life by hanging you high from Mississippi trees in plain solstice inscribed on the mind frames of acumenical needle priests of the papal seal.
(Elysion accounts triabalorial pasing of indiraminatial instarminates… sorry the boss was passing by as I was commenting on that one)

8. althea paisley rickworth brown gave her sentence two words that could tear only the first and the last from y=their literary slumber despite the going rate of vowelatted trichokolophoniate zyclotopes in harritenation and lache… how many does that count and how few were the ones left unaccounted in traiobolafrate zest that is to moons what tomatos are to ketchup oes os oes os.
(Ok now I’m writing this stuff when the boss isn’t even around, so time to quit here)

9/12/07

Why keep a blog?



(or "Writing as prophylaxis")

The best part about keeping a blog is that you can write whatever you feel like, stuff that’s not even really publishable, but that’s fun to write and – more importantly – keeps you writing, thus countering a writer’s far more pressing urge to procrastination and idleness. Yet you could be outside meeting people, working at a desk job that would at least pay a lot more money than sitting around writing stories nobody will read or publish, get drunk, or just pick the dead skin from your calluses and stare blankly at a wall. But instead you sit at home and write stuff on a blog that will most likely be read by no one, because you know that others know that you’re just another self-important narcissistic attention-whore who thinks they have something amazing to say, like about ten million other dilettantes out there chopping away on their own blogs, shoveling their own contributions on to the cosmic compost heap of literary mediocrity.

But if we know it’s futile and pointless, why don’t we instead just keep our ground-shattering revelations on some word document that’s left on our desktops to pop up and amuse us when we’ve got a beer buzz on and no company around to share it with, save perhaps the faint hope of emailing it out to the odd person who might actually show some slight interest in reading it at some point (probably after you mention it with blithe calculation to some girl you want to fuck at some house party, after which she awkwardly acts like she’d love to read it just to be polite, which you then mistake for sincerity)? Why do you have to share it with the entire universe if it’s just going to be lost among a trillion other inconsequential blogs? Why bother at all?

I suppose the only way to answer this is that we write blogs because the treat is in the trick, whereby we fool ourselves into assuming that people are in fact reading it. After all, it’s out there, and once it’s out there our minds start playing tricks on us, with seductive what-if’s and maybe’s. What if maybe your ex-girlfriend or one of your frenemies with whom you’re in a lifelong rivalry for success, recognition and one-upmanship, really is reading? It’s possible, isn’t it? In fact, it’s even probable. It makes sense that they have probably Googled you (as you yourself have consistently Googled them) and found your little online virtual vanity space and read your stuff and searched for your photos with the sort of voracious voyeurism that is not exclusive to Facebook (though best exploited by it). It also makes sense that they would certainly not want it to be known to you that they have been visiting your blog and Googling you, because we are all curious at the risk of losing our dignity, and thus careful to dissimulate those embarrassing base urges which underlie our most viscerally satisfying deeds. So in our case, absence of proof is no proof of absence, and our self-love makes greedy optimists of us wherever doubt thrives to our benefit.

It’s this doubt and this anonymity that seduces us, not just in our passion for prying, but in our need for exhibitionism as well. Hence the blogger. We are the ultimate gainless exhibitionists who let our minds trick us as we tap tap tap away on our blogs while granting ourselves the benefit of the doubt that there exists a whole array of invisible eyes looking down on us as we write to our affectation’s content, further bolstered by the illusory promise of that one hidden gaze that stands out among the rest, watching on and justifying our endeavors to the point where our only true happiness resides in the spaces between our self-precious words and those two eyes we believe always and unfailingly look back at us in silence, with sympathy, compassion, awe, admiration, respect, and perfect understanding. After all, each of us only really lives for one pair of eyes at a time.

Just kidding. Fuck the eyes. I write because I'm bored and have too much time on my hands and too much clutter in my head. I write to stave off dementia. In other words, I write prophylactically.

9/6/07

story - Vanuatu (part I)


RING RING RING

We took our seats at the bar among four or five other patrons, all of whom were men yakking away in conversation. Some were laughing, some were quite serious, one of them was fighting. I say one of them because although everyone was engaged in a conversation, everyone was – as far as I could hear – the only participant in their own respective conversations. Each one of these people looked like they were talking to themselves. Everyone looked insane. If I didn’t know better I’d say the world had gone mad.

But I did know better, even though I still thought the world was mad. None of these guys was insane – not necessarily, anyway. They all had phoneplants, the latest innovation in the on-going “telecommunications revolution,” probably referred to as such because it kept revolving and revolving without getting anywhere. You would think a revolution would have a goal and an end, an “-est.” Instead, our “revolution” was one of “-er”s; fast-er, slick-er, smart-er, small-er. Bigg-er was of course no longer in, except in Texas (where I read that one man reportedly prided himself with having his own private phone-booth before the police had to extract him from it. Apparently he thought they took his phone-booth away because everyone was jealous of him) and bigg-er was also still big in oil-rich Arab countries, where it was hard to be ostentatious with your new technological acquisitions without people being able to see what you were being ostentatious about.

So cell-phones got smaller and smaller until they decided to get rid of them altogether and stick a silicon microchip in people’s skulls. They inserted a microphone behind one of the front teeth, and there you had it: the phone implant, known colloquially as the “phoneplant.” No more dialing either; you just say the number or the name, followed by the word “call” and it dials. Any number that calls you is automatically stored in your chip. No ringing is heard except by the recipient. Those who have the phone implant are called “chippies.” Although the plebs still carry cellphones (or “walkie-talkie”s, as the chippies and the techie “New Revolutionary Digital Designers” – or NERDDS – call it), one is no longer considered chic unless one looks like one’s talking to oneself all the time (I read somewhere, in the early days of the phoneplant, that one senile and short-sighted high-society patroness of a fund dedicated to the “Protection of Endangered Exotic Parrots” – or the PEEP fund – had once sought a room in an insane asylum thinking it was the Heatherly Hills Hotel. She could never convince them that she was not insane, nor could the director of the asylum convince her that the other “guests” were in fact insane. The Heatherly Hills Hotel was of course the new name of the iconic hotel in the heart of Beverly Hills after it was bought by Heather Lookleer following her success in the hit Aaron Spilling TV series, “Whose Tits Did You Think They Were?” in which she played an actress who was sick of being typecast as a “good girl” and so decided to be a bitch and thus found herself a new niche, “niche” of course being a euphemism for “typecast,” often used before one gets sick of being “typecast” because they can’t find any interesting work anymore). My lawyer finally interrupted my mental diarrhea.

“Hey what the hell are you doing? You’ve been moving your lips for the past 15 minutes without uttering a sound. I know you’re not on the phone, those things don’t work on telepathy.”

“I was thinking of Heather Lookleer.”

“Oooooo, she’s got some nice tits. And I hear they’re real too…”

My lawyer, Louis, was a short stout balding middle-aged man with freckles and ginger hair. He always looked red, and he always looked young, mainly on account of the freckles. We ordered two whiskeys with soda as we involuntarily rested our elbows on the counter and simultaneously took our first sips. People kept jabbering away around us, none of them aware of anyone else’s presence, not consciously anyway. My lawyer continued complaining about the sort of cases his firm was dealing with nowadays. We were both slightly drunk after having treated ourselves to wine and dinner in celebration of the fact that I was now officially divorced. Whereas I usually mellowed out when drunk, my lawyer always showed the opposite reaction. When drunk, my lawyer didn’t talk anymore so much as rant. Sometimes he raved too, but he was always ranting.

“…so the chick asks the prosecution how on earth she could have known whether her husband was insane or not, right? She says she thought he was a chippie, right. So Larry Schwarz asks her if she didn’t suspect something was amiss when she asks him who he’s talking to and he tells her he talks to demons, angels, prophets, god, apparently even a screwdriver! Check it out, right, she says she thought he was dealing with sportsmen, you know how he’s a dealer for Hike – I love that ad, “Take a Hike!” – anyway, she says she thought they were from some team, like the Minnesota Angels, or the Toronto Demons or some shit. Larry asks her if she thinks there’d be a team called the “Gods” or the “Prophets” right, let alone “the Screwdrivers” and she says she doesn’t know much about sports and that there might be in the South or something – yeah, like the Hickville Screwdrivers or the fucking Soggyass Prophets. Anyway, the long and short of it, when he starts talking about how they’re out to kill him and shit, she loses it, right. She says she wants to know who keeps calling him, who’s talking to him, but he won’t say a word. He’s all paranoid and all he can talk about is how ‘they’re out to kill him.’ She gets desperate, so she takes a knife and – while he’s asleep – she jabs it behind his ears trying to dig out the fucking microchip. Of course it’s not there. And even if it was you couldn’t check your calls without submitting it to the police or the CIA or the Homeland Safety Inquisition or whatever they’re called, seeing as they’re the only ones with the transcodifiers, thanks to Hashcrop Jr. So the guy dies – because she rips through his jugular while trying to find the microchip, right – and she’s tried for murder! Fucking hillbillies. The chick’s like 16 years old, her husband was 48!”

“What a shame.”

“Shame, yes, that’s the word, it’s a shame.” He said the word like he wanted to believe it.

“Could she plead insanity?”

“Nah, the best she could plead is ignorance of insanity.” He laughed at that.

We were waiting for my ex-wife’s lawyer so as to iron out the details of who-gets-what after the settlement. Although I was just happy to get the divorce and be rid of her, she wanted everything. She was bitter and she was irrational. I was ready to let her have most of what she wanted, even the house. But she even wanted my phoneplant, and that was not something I was willing to do. I guess it was a matter of honor for her, a matter of vengeance perhaps. Her lawyer still hadn’t shown up.

“You know, that case reminds me of something I just read about this woman who thought her husband was having an affair…”

“YEAH?”

“Why are you shouting? So she…”

“UH-HUH!”

“…So she sets her friend up to call him around bedtime when she’ll be with her husband in bed. At that exact time the friend is supposed to be calling her husband to see whether he answers or not, assuming that if he doesn’t he thinks it’s his mistress and so doesn’t want to risk it, lying as he is in bed beside his wife. But the friend has an emergency at the last minute so instead of calling her friend’s husband she calls her friend’s implant to tell her they’ll have to do it another night…”

“YOU DON’T FUCKING SAY!”

“…He’s reading his John Trasham novel. The wife picks up the house phone saying she’s going to call their daughter in Phoenix. The husband says ‘Sure Candice, call.’ She dials her husband’s implant number instead, and it’s busy. So she caught him not answering his phone. She springs on him…”

“I DON’T WANT TO HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH THIS.”

“…No, but wait, she springs on him and says ‘Aha! Why aren’t you answering your phone? Worried it might be your little slut?!’”

“WELL HE’S GETTING WHAT HE DESERVES.”

“Wait, check it out… so he says he accidentally dialed her own implant number when he said ‘Sure Candice, call,’ and now he’s asking why her number was busy and she wasn’t answering. The wife doesn’t know that it was her friend calling her to tell her it was off. So now he thinks his wife is having an affair!”

“WHAT A FUCKING MESS!”

“She says, all defensive like, that nobody she knows would ever call at this time, that it must be a wrong number. He says the same thing, that nobody he knows would call at that time, that it must be a wrong number. Each asks the other why they wouldn’t think it’s an emergency, how they wouldn’t worry about whether there’s an emergency concerning their daughter in Phoenix. He accuses her of not trusting him and resorting to sneaky tactics, she accuses him of lying about the ‘accidental’ sure Candice, call. Neither are satisfied, both of them live for another year suspecting each other of either infidelity, subterfuge, or callousness vis-à-vis their daughter’s safety, until they can’t take it anymore and get a divorce citing ‘irreconcilable suspicions.’”

“YOU DON’T SAY!”

“Talk about a pig’s dinner! The friend calls the wife’s implant, occupying her implant, just as the husband accidentally calls his wife’s implant, which is of course busy because her friend’s calling her implant, just as the wife uses the house phone to call her husband’s implant, which is also busy because it accidentally dialed his wife’s implant!”

“AND YOU THINK THAT’S TRUE?”

“Well I read it in…”

“OH WELL THAT’S OK THEN, ISN’T IT?”

“Hey, you’re drunk, no need to get…”

“GIMME A BREAK!”

“You’re getting out of line, Louis…”

“LET’S TALK ABOUT IT LATER.”

“When?”

“LATER.”

“When?”

“When what?”

“When are we going to talk about it?”

“About what?”

“Are you listening to me?”

“Sorry, I was on the phone.”

“WANKER!”

“What did you call me?”

“Sorry Louis, just reacting to a prank call.”

Finally, my ex-wife’s lawyer, Craig, showed up. This guy was young, in his 30s, handsome, with chiseled facial muscles, as if he worked out on every single muscle in his body twice a day, seven days a week. I could see him chewing a tennis ball just to build up his jaw muscles, or whatever those are called in Latin. He had a detachable one-piece set of (natural) hair that he probably took off before going to bed every night and then put back on in the morning, just after polishing his dolichocephalic skull with car wax. He was slick, he was cocky, and he was probably fucking my ex-wife. Even Louis said so once, he said “he’s probably fucking your ex-wife.” Lawyers seem to have an innate gift for sensing who’s-fucking-who. I couldn’t stand the slickster, though Louis seemed to admire him – or envy him would probably be more correct.

“Gentlemen, hello.” He never apologized for being late. “I trust you’ve all been well? Been downing a few have you?”

“Sright,” said Louis, getting nice and juiced up. “You want anything? Whiskey? Nice tight little single malt?”

“No thanks, I don’t touch alcohol,” replied the slickster.

“He said anything,” I interrupted. “Not even a glass of milk?”

“Or a Jewish cocktail perhaps,” added Louis.

“Jewish Cocktail?”

“Yeah, nice tall glass of water.”

“Ok, I’ll have a Jewish Cocktail,” Craig said, seriously.

“So what have you got there in your school bag,” I asked. “I mean besides your amino poofter power milkshake powder shit. Any fun new surprises I should know about?”

“Hey c’mon, I’m just doing my job here, ok?” answered Craig with affected modesty.

“Since when is bonking the client a part of the job?” I asked in a prodding tone.

“Hey, hey, hey, knock it off you guys, alright? Go ahead Craig, we’ve been having a few is all.”

“Ok, well, she wants the house too.”

“We knew that, I don’t care, she can have it. It’s her fucking mother’s house anyhow. It was like living in a fucking museum, you can’t touch anything, you can’t change anything, everything has its place and stays in its place. I felt like I had to pay an admission fee every time I walked through the front door.”

“So that’s that then.”

“Tell the curator she can have it, white picket fence, lavender wallpaper, dog and all… She can have the furniture too, though I had half a mind to claim it for myself just to see it burn like a Nazi bonfire.”

“Uh, she doesn’t want the dog.”

“Well neither do I.”

“It’s not her dog.”

“And it’s not her car, but she’s getting that. She can have the dog too. The bitches can go drive off a cliff together.”

“Ok, look, you wanna do this some other time? You’re drunk, you’re angry…”

“NO! I WANNA DO IT NOW.”

“Right, we’ll take the dog,” intervened Louis. “Don’t listen to him Craig. Is that it?”

“That’s almost it.”

“What’s left then, does she want my soul as well? Perhaps she’d like to tear my heart out of my chest too?”

“I doubt it, she said that’s the last thing she’d want.”

I lost control at his snippy remark and got up ready to have a swipe at the smart ass before Louis stepped in.

“C’mon, c’mon, geez, calm down the both of you, acting like a pair monkeys. Behave and be civilized.”

“Thank you Louis,” Craig said, patting his unruffled hair. “As I was saying, there is one more thing. I think you already…”

“The implant, right? The fucking implant?”

“Yeah, that’s it. I tried to talk her out of it but she insists.”

“Well how noble of you, Mr. Mighty Mouse.”

“You could always get a new one,” said Louis. “You have the money.”

“NO! This is a matter of honor. I’d sooner give her my ears than give her my implant.”

“Look, the implant costs a lot, and your wife did…” began Craig.

“Oh, excuse me I have a call…” I interrupted.

“Ok,” he said again.

“HELLO? YES! OH IT’S YOU… YOU FUCKING SLICKSTER SHIT-FOR-BRAINS. I WAS HOPING YOU’D CALL. IF YOU HAVEN’T TAKEN YOUR STEROIDS YET I CAN WAIT TILL YOU POP THOSE ZITS ON YOUR BACK AND WE CAN TALK.”

I was looking at Craig as I spoke. He was trying to ignore me. I went on with my tirade…

“NO, I UNDERSTAND, YOUR MOMMY WOULD HAVE WANTED IT THAT WAY, FINE PIECE OF ASS YOUR MOMMY, FINE, FINE, FINE PIECE OF PUSSY SHE IS…”

“HEY!” shouted Craig.

The barman stepped in this time.

“If you gentlemen can’t behave and keep your voices down then I’m going to have to ask you to leave.”

“JUST A SECOND,” I went on. “What’s all the racket about Craig? I’m just talking on the phone.”

“Yeah, right. I don’t have time for this bullshit.”

“OK DICK NOSTRIL, BYE BYE. There, now what were you saying Craig?”

“I SAID I DON’T HAVE TIME FOR THIS!”

“Of course you have time for this, Craig, after all, I’m the one who’s paying for your time, am I not? My wife’s paying you with the settlement money – MY MONEY – which sort of makes me not only your patron but your pimp as well. She certainly knows how to suck good cock, eh Craig? Go ahead and have fun, I can keep the money coming.”

Craig lost it and lunged at me. We started rolling around on the floor of the bar as Louis and the barman – and eventually also a bouncer – tried to break us up. The barman soon had me by the neck and the bouncer wrestled Craig away by grabbing his arms from behind.

“FUCK YOU! FUUUUCK YOU…” shouted Craig, all red and hysterical. “However much she hates you isn’t enough, asshole. We want the implant, so get ready to pay up for making her life a living hell!”

“Sorry, I have to make a call. HELLO? FUCKWIT, COCKSUCKER, DIPSHIT, ASSWIPE, PINPRICK, STEROID DICK, CHICKEN PISS, MUSCLE HEAD BITCH? Looks like he’s busy, must be at a bar. Or maybe he’s fucking someone’s wife?”

“Ex-wife,” corrected Louis.

“Shut-up Louis.”

“See you in court,” said Craig as he left, hair disheveled, tie, shirt and jacket pulled and crumpled, face still red.

Louis and I sat back in our seats and finished our drinks. The barman eyed us with hostility.

“Well I think that went pretty well!” I offered.

“Except for the implant.”

“Yes, except for the implant. She’s not getting the fucking implant.”

“It’s just an implant, right?”

“No Louis, it’s not just a fucking implant she wants. It’s my dignity, my pride, my very soul. To have a doctor cut you up and take something out of your flesh and hand it to someone else because you have to is the lowest you can go. It’s not a fucking walkie-talkie cell-phone you can just throw away or throw in someone’s face. It’s an implant, Louis, and she’s not getting it!”

“That’s $42.50 gentlemen, card or cash?” asked the barman.

“We haven’t finished yet…”

“You’ve had enough.”

“ARE YOU OUT TO FUCK US AS WELL?!”

And with that we were pushed by two bouncers out on to the street. We started walking over to Louis’ car. We got in and I lit up a cigarette.

“What’s that?” asked Louis.

“What do you think it is?”

“You can’t smoke in the car, dude. Sorry.”

“Fucking hell, can’t smoke in the car, can’t smoke in the bar, soon you won’t be able to smoke in your own fucking home because it’s harmful to the fucking plants!”

“Get some rest man, we’ll talk tomorrow.”

“Call me on my implant, before they rip it out of my skull by way of my ass.”




Here’s the deal:

It had been only two months since this implant invention hit the market and already our “telecommunications revolution” had yielded two classes in its ever-revolving new world order – those who were “telecommunicationally empowered,” and those who were “telecommunicationally challenged.” These were two new classifications that were addled into an already existing global phenomenon referred to by certain members of the prestigious Institute of Global Apologists for Greed (IGAG) as a “Socio-economic Hierarchy of International Telecommunications,” or SHIT. We were thus all in this SHIT. At the top of the SHIT were those with access to at least three household computers (one for the kid(s), two or more for the adults), a computer at work, at least three gadgets that are so incredible as to be totally useless (the Wireless Anatomic Neural Knowledge Sensor – or WANKS – being one, another being the so-called “Palm Wizard,” both of which enable you to basically find anything anywhere that has anything to do with you in anyway whatsoever, and also take photos), and of course an implant. The new wallpaper TVs that are so thin they can be rolled on to a wall and thus put in every room of a house – in fact on every wall – are also an indicator. Subsequent classes of SHIT take into account fewer computers, fewer incredible gadgets (without WANKS and Palm Wizards but with, for example, the less sophisticated Manulator, also hand-held but without some of the optional graphic-sizing components common to WANKS, and fewer sound effects, which also means fewer tone options, etc.), and whether one has implants (and how many per household) or still uses “walkie-talkies” (cell-phones). The hierarchy goes all the way down to countries, regions, communities where people not only do not have their own phones but have to share them. Some consider these so backward as to not even be included in the global SHIT, being as they are beyond SHIT, and thus “Meta-SHIT.”

Our western governments (actually “western” is no longer used anymore, as it has been replaced by the less geographically specific term of Upwardly Sophisticating, or “US.” And “non-western” countries are referred to in more politically correct terms as Third-world Emergers, or “TH-EM”) continue to send more and more private enterprises into these telecommunicationally impoverished and challenged regions at any price possible. The avowed goal of a Global P-illage (a term cleverly coined by our president, “P-illage” of course being a portmanteau neologism signifying “Peoples’ Village”), in the words of our president, Damon B. Damm, is to:

“…bridge the unbridgeable, ford the unfordable, cross the uncrossable, able the unableable, to undesert the deserts of unjust dessert, to dam the damned undammable river of ignorance that is sweeping away in torrents this great planet that is our earth by exploiting differences without prejudice for the sake of prejudiced differences that can know no greater prejudice than a prejudice that is itself indifferent to difference. These are trying times for all, be it US or TH-EM. This SHIT has to change, for all women and men!”

His rousing speech was broadcast live from Congress just as the new “SHIT Act” was being passed by the Senate. The SHIT Act was a 2 billion-dollar bill that enabled the U.S. government (not to be confused with “US” of course) to finance pro-Global P-illage movements, and even small-scale wars, for the sake of being able to help nations isolated by “Evil” regimes to overthrow these and replace them with “Good and Free” regimes that would help bring in U.S. and other US companies to ease the transition from being SHIT-poor nations, or even Meta-SHIT nations, to more SHIT-capable and SHIT-empowered nations. Thus the U.S. and US companies would lay the infrastructure that would enable a person in Mozambique to be able to speak to a person in Rwanda, or even Russia, and vice-versa. This ambitious SHIT Act also envisaged a very clever funding and financing system whereby the U.S. and US would provide the technology, personnel (NERDDS) and know-how while the Freed Nation, or TH-EM, would provide personnel over a ten-year period after which there would be a complete technological and management transfer in the host nation from US to TH-EM. The host nation TH-EM would put aside one-tenth of its annual GNP for the purpose of funding this project over a ten-year period. The minority Femocrats in both the House and the Senate for the most part opposed the bill, citing the partition of Iraq in 2006 and the ensuing Middle Eastern War as an example of a similar plan having gone horribly wrong before. However, common sense prevailed thanks to Prepubican persistence and the U.S. reassumed its leadership role in eradicating global SHIT inequality.

In any case, this all meant something to me because I was most likely to be one of those called upon to direct one of those ten-year SHIT Act operations in one of their TH-EM countries. Having worked in executive positions with companies such as Can-Tel and Cell-Off, along with a few interim years in a lesser position with My-Cell, after which I moved on to Silicon Implant Industries (where I’m currently on a sabbatical), I was already more than qualified for such a job. The implants were the way of the future and the SHIT was our oyster. The more countries we brought into the telecommunications revolution, and the more we addressed the SHIT imbalance, the more of a market we were creating for ourselves for future investment and sales profits – while of course at the same time helping TH-EM keep up with US. The thought of a person in Mozambique being able to talk at leisure with someone in Russia, or Rwanda, was probably mind-boggling for many of those TH-EM people. For US people it had already become a way of life. Not that I ever called anybody in Russia, but I knew I could if I wanted to, and that always gave me goose-bumps. And now a person from Mozambique or Rwanda will also be able to sleep more easily at night, comfortable in the knowledge that they too will be connected, that they would be able to call whomever they liked and wherever, that they too were in the SHIT, that TH-EM people too could begin receiving phone bills, just like US people. That was progress… and like I always say, you can’t stop progress.

The ringing started in my head again. All day, all night, there was the sound of the implant ringing in my head. It was a small price to pay for technology, but I had to take 6 of these migraine tablets every four hours a day, otherwise I couldn’t sleep and the headaches wouldn’t cease. I swallowed another tablet and answered the phone.

“YEAH?” It was my wife.

“Oh, sorry. I was expecting the doctor or the police to answer. How are you dear?”

“Fuck off, dear. You’re not getting the implant.”

“I think I am, dear.”

“Has your little boy toy bimbo lawyer boyfriend told you what I told him? If he hasn’t why don’t you just tap him on the shoulder and ask him. I’m sure he could use a break from eating pussy all day.”

“Oh there’s no need for that, dear. He’s already told me. He can go on eating pussy…” There was a brief pause. “Well then, I’m suing you. See you in court, dear.”

“You have the car, the art, you’ll have the house too… but you still want the implant, eh?”

“Oh yes. The implant is more important to me than everything else put together. Well, no less important anyway. It will be satisfying to have your bloody implant in my hand.”

“It’ll be satisfying for me to deny you that satisfaction.”

“Goodbye dear.”

“Fuck off dear.”

The ringing started again. It never really stopped. There was always somebody in your head, talking. And if there wasn’t a voice talking in your head, there was the ringing. It never ceased. I can’t even remember anymore when it had begun, or when I had actually got the implant. For as long as I can remember there has been the ringing. I answered.

“YEAH?”

“Hey, you ok?”

“Yeah Louis, I’m fine. Just talked to the ex, she’s suing me for the implant. So no surprises there.”

“Yeah, I figured. She’d better have a good case. The divorce settlement is through and the implants weren’t an issue. Now she wants them.”

“You mean she’d better NOT have a good case, right Louis?”

“Yeah, sure, it was rhetorical. Hey did you get the news?”

“Yeah, just read about another implant murder. Rich people being waylaid and having a front tooth and the back of their ears ripped out for their implant, regardless of whether they have one or not.”

“Dude, where do you read all that shit you keep telling me about? You’re not still buying the…”

“The LA LA Gazette, it’s all I read anymore.”

“I’m starting to worry about you. Since the divorce you’ve been given a… a…”

“A sabbatical.”

“Right, a sabbatical… from work. You’ve become more and more aggressive, you’re starting to look unkempt and shabby, you’re not shaving more than twice a week, and you’ve given up on respectable news, reading that sensationalist crap everyday. Listen man…”

“I’m fine, ok Louis? I’m F-I-N-E, fine, fine, fine. Besides the LA LA Gazette is no worse, in fact it’s better. At least you know it’s bullshit when you see it. They know it’s bullshit too, but they – and I – also know it’s entertaining. Not like all the other crap that tries to hide its bullshit behind a façade of objectivity and responsibility. Respectable journalism my ass. All our knowledge of what’s going on in a foreign country comes from some upstart pipsqueak with a Hemingway syndrome who doesn’t even speak the local language and ends up reporting what his local translator skews for him with some militant third-world ideological bias or other. And the editorials are all about why TH-EM are not like US, and how TH-EM can be more like US, and how there are people in TH-EM countries who have some people who are more like US, and how our governments should help TH-EM US’s to make TH-EM more like US, but not exactly US so we can still have cheap places to produce stuff necessary for US so we can make profits so as to be able to continue to pass on our technology and expertise to TH-EM, and thus keep the whole technological revolution revolving, keeping us rich and making sure they stay Emerging, so it seems like TH-EM countries are always and forever going forward and progressing…”

“SHUT UP ALREADY! Sheesh. Listen to me, seeing as you haven’t read the news, let me tell you there’s something that concerns you. The first country for the SHIT Act has been chosen.”

“Really? Which one? Africa or Central America?”

“Neither. It’s Vanuatu.”

“Vanu-wa-who?”

“Vanuatu. It’s a small country in the Pacific.”

“Really? That doesn’t sound half bad. Isn’t that where what’s-his-name cut off his ear?”

“Dunno. Van Gogh, you mean? I guess so… Tahiti or Fiji or something…”

“Any news on who’s being considered? Which companies?”

“No, not yet. It’ll be the usual people from think-tanks, universities, companies, government, bureaucrats, retired politicians, blah blah blah. I’m sure Silicon Implants will be among the top companies the government would like to have involved. Anyone called you yet?”

“No, not yet. They will.”

“This could be good for you. You could get away from it, change of life, scenery, it’d do you good. Well, let me know. I gotta run. Let’s meet up later and see what we’re going to do about the implant.”

“Later Louis.”

It kept ringing in my head but I was now thinking of Vanuatu. Tropical beaches, coral reefs, coconuts – I love coconuts – smiling, happy people, beautiful girls… I could live in Vanuatu. Sun, sea, swimming, laid-back, relaxed, sipping gin-tonics… RING RING RING… big smiles, palm trees… RING, RING, RING… painting, ears, coconuts… RING, RING, RING, RING, RING…

“YEAH? YES? WHAT?”

“Aaa… is… this a bad time?”

“Oh, Mr. Stormweather, excuse me, no, that’s fine, how can I help you sir?”

“Oh well, I suppose you’ve read about the SHIT Act and the news this morning of a small Pacific nation that will be a pilot country for the first SHIT Act project, Vanulavu, or something…”

“Yes, sir, read it this morning sir, Vanuatu.”

“Yes well, as you know Silicon Industries was really looking forward to the passing of the SHIT Bill for some time. We’d given generous support to Mr. B. Damm and his party during the elections and we were particularly interested in lobbying for the SHIT Bill, seeing as we do seek to expand our market overseas.”

“Yes of course sir, I’m well aware of that.”

“Well, we will of course be one of the few companies invited to invest there, grateful as they are for our generous backing. No doubt our company’s ex-President, who now happens to be Secretary of State, also put in a good word for us, because he really does believe in us and our potential in the quest to bring civilization to these shit-poor countries... that’s why he’s a significant share-holder of course…”

“Of course, sir. By the way, sir, that’s ‘SHIT-challenged’ sir…”

“…so we are of course getting a strategy together and I thought you might be a good man for the job. I hear you’re on a… um…”

“Sabbaticide, sorry I mean, sabbatical sir.”

“Right, so would you be interested in this job?”

“I’d really…”

“GREAT! It’s settled then… I’ll tell Stenoson to get in touch with you. He’s coordinating the new operation…”

“…love to… Stenoson sir?”

“Stenoson, yessir.”

“On operation…”

“Operation SHIT.”

“Very well sir, I look forward to… Sir? Hello? Sir?”

Well that was a turn of events. I was to be sent to Vanuatu! Coconuts! Beaches! Palm trees! And I guess I would be gone for, well, for maybe up to ten years! Wow. Ten years of coconuts, beaches, palm trees, smiles… RING RING RING RING RING… coconuts, smiles, sea, sun, ears… RINGRINGRINGRINGRING…

“YES?”

“Ok, so I spoke to Craig, your ex’s lawyer, and he says they’re pushing for a hearing next week.”

“What are you, friends with him now?”

“Jesus, be rational would you, I’M YOUR LAWYER!”

“Ok, sorry…”

“But we are going for a few drinks later tonight.”

“WHAT?”

“Hey he’s good with the chicks, I wouldn’t mind hangin’ out a bit and… oh… sorry.”

“Whatever Louis. Hey I think I’m going to Vanuatu.”

“Vanuatu! Wow!”

“Yeah, I spoke to Mr. Stormweather, looks like it’s a done deal.”

“Congratulations, we gotta celebrate.”

“We’ll celebrate when we kick my wife’s ass in court.”

“… oh… right, of course.”

“Right indeed Louis, right, right, right indeed. Hey I just read about this guy who’s so in love with his two Rothweilers that he had them chipped and had the implant programmed so that it would dial his own implant every time the dogs barked so that when he was away he could always hear his dogs and make sure they’re ok. Isn’t that fucking insane?”

“Insane is the word. Chippie dogs. From the LA LA Gazette, I take it?”

“LA LA LA LA…”

“Ok, gotta run, we’ll touch base later.”

“Sure Louis, let’s touch base. You go have fun with the enemy.”

“Who loves you baby?”

“You do Louis. And don’t put shit up your nose, we gotta be fresh tomorrow.”

9/5/07

story - Vanuatu (part II)


Louis of course put shit up his nose and called me 8 hours later, plastered off his tits, babbling something incoherently with what sounded like a rowdy group of people around him. The good thing about implants is that not a lot of outside noise can be heard on the other end, but when it’s noisy there’s this general humming that sounds like it’s coming through a wall – in the case of implants, through a wall of skin and bone. I could hear it now, and so surmised that my lawyer was fucked up. It was 2 a.m. and he was at a bar and going ape-shit. He started every sentence with “you know something man,” or “I tell ya.” Pure cocaine bollocks. He says he was still with that dickhead Craig.

I’d been alone and lost in thought, despite all the incessant ringing in my head. I felt sad, I felt a little depressed, more so than usual, and I knew it was more than just the side-effect of those tablets I was taking for the migraines. Then I had the most ridiculous urge to call the last person I would ever have imagined calling. No, not Stormweather, and not that weasel Stenoson either. I wanted to call my ex-wife and talk to her. I couldn’t trust Louis on this, I didn’t even really care for anything at that moment. Maybe I was lonely, but I just wanted to call her.

“YES?” she answered.

“Hey it’s me.”

“You? What do you want now? I didn’t think we had anything left to discuss.”

“No, no, I’m not calling for any reason.”

“So why are you calling then?”

“I don’t really know. Like I said, no reason.”

“Are you drunk? You’re drunk, aren’t you?”

“No, not really. Where’s your boyfriend Craig, is he next to you?”

She hesitated a bit.

“…Yes, he is… he’s just gone downstairs in fact.”

“I see.”

“What are you, lonely?”

“Sort of… I just… I sort of just wanted to stop being a prick and immature and all. I wanted to be civil.”

“Well maybe you should have thought of that before you decided to humiliate me and yourself in front of everyone at my parents’ house, in a party they threw to celebrate YOUR new job by getting drunk and confessing that you were sick of everything, sick of me, sick of them, sick of your job, sick of life, and having an affair with a 20 year-old Romanian whore…”

“Ukrainian.”

“Whatever! How do you expect me to forgive that?”

“Well it’s time somebody put your parents in their place. I felt like I was in the fucking Truman Show, everyone organizing everything around me, watching and making sure I never strayed from their path. And you always took their side…”

“Look, I’m not going to discuss this anymore. What’s done is done, ok? You can’t expect sympathy from me now. You could have done things the civilized way instead of letting everything build up inside you until you lost it. Why didn’t you ever talk? Why didn’t you? Nothing. You come up to me one day, in front of me, my family, my friends and declare your love for a Russian whore!”

“Yes that’s right, YOUR friends, YOUR family, you still don’t see do you? You’re still…”

“Like I said…” She sounded upset. “I don’t want to talk about this. Don’t expect sympathy from me. Craig’s coming back now. We have a whole weekend planned. So go now and don’t call me.”

“Right, Craig. Ok. Well sorry. Hey you know I’m going to Vanuatu?”

“Vanuatu?”

“Yeah, with Silicon Implants, the SHIT Act, you know.”

“Right. Well, maybe it’ll do you good. I hope it does.”

“Yeah, coconuts and trees…”

“I have to go now…” I fancied I heard her voice tremble a little.

“Ok, right, well goodbye.”

“…”

“Goodbye,” I repeated.

“Yes, yes, bye.”

Somehow, talking to her made me feel even more depressed. I wished she hadn’t lied about Craig. I knew Craig was out with Louis. I really wished she was well, that she wasn’t alone, that she didn’t need to lie. I had lied all my life, I needed to, and I knew how hard it was to live with, how hard it was to live with myself. I wished I was the only miserable person that I had to think about. I thought that if everyone else in the world was happy and if only I was miserable, I wouldn’t care. And now I couldn’t help think about her too, lonely, broken, lying, after it was too late, after nothing could be done about it. That was the saddest part of all. I went to bed but stayed awake all night thinking of Vanuatu.

RINGRINGRINGRIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIINGRINGRING

“HELLO?”

“Hey it’s me, where are you?”

“Home. Is everything ok?”

“Aaaa, not really.”

“What happened?”

“Well remember I called you from the… the…”

“Bongo Bong’s?”

“That’s it Bongo’s… well I met this girl there who said she could get us some more blow. Some chick from Tijuana. We go to this seedy club where we meet the owner, some mafioso guy with a blue silk shirt and gold medallions dangling from his neck. He goes on about how many guys he’s whacked in his time. He takes out a brick – I kid you not – a veritable BRICK of coke and slams it on the table with powder flying around and shit. He says he’ll give us as much as we want as long as the chick sleeps with him. I’m drunk and I get up all indignant and shit, and I guess maybe I swore at him…”

“You don’t say.”

“Yeah, I don’t remember too well. So next thing we know I’m being kicked by some big-ass apes with sideburns and we’re thrown out. When I get out I can’t find my car. It’s probably been towed ’cause I left it in front of the club and thought we wouldn’t be more than 5 minutes, right. Anyway, we find friends of hers who take us to some other party in a house up in the hills. We get more yayo from them. As we’re driving to another club, around 5 a.m., the cops spot us going the wrong way down a one-way street. So what does her fucked up friend do? He’s got coke on him, and he’s packing heat…”

“Packing heat?”

“Yeah, he’s got a gun, and he’s probably got a history with the law. So anyway, this guy ain’t stoppin’, right. He starts screeching around corners, going the wrong way down other one-way streets. I’m paranoid at this point. The coke high’s worn off and I’m paranoid. I could be out of the bar, lose my license to sue, you know…”

“Your license to sue?”

“My license to sue, man, that’s right. So what do I do? I open the door after we’ve just turned a corner and throw myself out, rolling into a bunch of trash cans as the pigs round the corner…”

The PIGS? You’re supposed to be a fucking lawyer!”

“The pigs, man, they round the corner and both cars are gone. So I find a cab and get home around 6 a.m., bruised and fucked up. I think I may have cracked a rib.”

“Does it hurt when you laugh?”

“I don’t know, I haven’t been laughing much since I jumped out the car. Say something funny…”

“I was kidding. So you haven’t even slept yet, have you?”

“He, he, he, hey it does hurt… No, haven’t slept yet.”

“And how ’bout the slickster?”

“Craig? He left a long time ago. At Bongo Bong’s. Picked up some chick…”

“…”

“You there?”

“Yeah, yeah, I’m here. So when are we going over this implant suit?”

“I gotta take a shower, jack off and get some sleep. So how ’bout in the evening?”

“Fine. And drink some Quenchezade or Chemicade or something.”

“I’m drinking water.”

“Who the fuck drinks water?”

“Anyway, see you tonight at Exorbitante. 8 o’clock good?”

“Fine, see you there.”

I had a meeting with Stenoson at Silicon Implants that same day, and I’d hardly slept at all. The implant kept ringing, on and on, RING RING RING RING… But I didn’t answer. I just kept quiet and tried to relax, maybe even get some sleep in the cab. But it didn’t work. I kept thinking about that party, and my ex, and Craig, and mafia, and coconuts, one big jumble of incongruent thoughts floating around with an incessant, universal, background radiation of ringing to accompany them.

“Stenoson, hello.”

“Ah, yes, I’ve been trying to get in touch with you but you weren’t answering…” He was expecting an explanation, which I wasn’t going to give him the satisfaction of receiving.

“…”

“Yes, well, anyway, now that you’re here, a little thing has come up. Not important really, just some more, uh, paperwork.”

“About Vanuatu?”

“Yes, precisely, about Vanuatu.”

“Is there a problem with Vanuatu?”

“Oh there’s nothing wrong with Vanuatu, except that it’s shit-poor,” he thought this an amusing joke. He always found his jokes amusing.

“Challenged, SHIT-challenged. No I meant, is there a problem with Operation SHIT.”

“Oh no, like I said, just a little formality really. You see, before we start mapping out our strategy and the scope of the operation, we will need a, uh, well Mr. Stormweather in particular requested a… well that you undergo some minor examinations, just standard really, you know, to… uh…”

“What? To figure out if I’m crazy? Is that it, you think I’m CRAZY!?”

“NO, of course not, gosh, HAHAHAHA, that’s rich, really, that’s…” Not only was his pathetic attempt at a laugh unnatural, it was painful to us both.

“What then?”

“Look it’s just standard…”

“Standard? What standard?”

“I mean before we send someone on such an important job as this to a foreign country…”

“What are you talking about, this is the first time, how can there be a standard?”

“Well of course there can’t be a standard unless we aim for one right from the first operation, so for there to be a standard we’re going to have to set one and thus standardize for posterity’s sake. And this… is the standard… a, uh, Standard Capacity Test, it’s called.”

“A crazy test eh? You want me to undergo a crazy test. Where?”

“AH! Good, I’m glad you understand. Well with our own company psychologist of course, Dr. Peniferathawt.”

“Did you say Dr. Penny-For-A-Thought? Never heard of him.”

“He’s new. He’s Squaw.”

“He’s what?”

“Squaw.”

“Squaw?”

“Squaw.”

“To help you standardize, I take it?”

“Precisely.”

“When can I see him and get this over with?”

“He’s on his lunch break for now. He’ll be back in half an hour.”

“Oh.”

“Yep.”

“Ok.”

“…”

“…”

“So, um, how’s the family?”

“WHAT?”

“Oh, right. Sorry.”

“I’ll wait outside his office, Stenoson.”

“Yes, sure, see me when you’re done!”

“Sure, I’ll let you know if I’m insane.”

“HAHA, what a sense of… Haha, really… hmm.”

I stood outside the doctor’s door no more than five minutes before a large, fat, stoic, white man with a beard and a cup of coffee in his hand came hobbling up the carpeted, air-conditioned, sterile labyrinth of cubicles. He brushed right past me as if he didn’t see me, shut his door, and took a seat as he started sipping on his plastic cup of coffee. I tapped on the window of the door and a somber voice from inside declared that I may enter. I went in and, with the index finger of the hand that was otherwise burdened by the weight of a cup of coffee, he signaled me to take a seat in front of him without so much as looking up at me. He was fiddling with a bunch of papers in front of him. Taking one, glancing at it, putting it on top, and then taking another and doing the same, before going back to the first piece of paper that was underneath and doing it all over again.

“Dr. Pennyweight?”

“Dr. Peniferathawt, yes.”

“Yes, excuse me, Dr. Peniferathawt…”

“It’s Squaw.”

“Yes so I’ve heard. Pardon me for saying so, but you don’t really look Squaw.”

“Well I am. 1/16th pure Squaw.”

“Right.”

“What can I do for you?”

“My name is…”

“Oh yes, youuuuu’re…” He glanced at a piece of paper on which the writing was upside down to him. “Yes, they told me you’d be coming for an examination.”

“Yes, for a Standard Capaci…”

“Yes, they want to know if you’re crazy.”

“You said it doc.”

“Are you?”

“Am I what? Crazy?”

“Yes, are you crazy?”

“Of course not.”

“Ah, well that’s the first sign of craziness.”

“What, not being crazy?”

“No, not thinking one is crazy. Crazy people never think they’re crazy, you see. I’ve studied many cases and can safely conclude that crazy people always think they’re sane.”

“Right, I guess. But sane people can think they’re sane too, right?”

“Of course, but not all people who think they’re sane are sane, are they?”

“Well, no.”

“That’s right, some of them can be – and are – in-sane, crazy, mad, kookoo, un poco loco…”

“Yes, ok, I get the point Dr. Pepperfart.”

“Dr. Peniferathawt.”

“Yes, sorry. Ok, can I have the exam now? I have an appointment tonight with my lawyer and have to run a few errands before then, so…”

“Of course. Tell me, can you act like a chicken?”

“Excuse me?”

“A chicken... Can you act like one?”

“You want me to act like a chicken?”

“No, that wasn’t the question.” He gave me a condescending smile. “The question was…”

“Yes, yes, I know the question Dr. Pfeffernought…”

“Dr. Peniferathawt.”

“Yes, sorry. The answer is that I never have acted like a chicken.”

“No, but can you?”

“I don’t know, I suppose so…”

“How do you know?”

“How do I know what?”

“If you can act like a chicken?”

“Well I’ve seen chickens before and I know how they act…”

“Ah, so you assume you can act like one then?”

“Look, Dr Paperweight…”

“Dr. Peniferathawt.”

“Yes, sorry, Dr. Peniferathawt, I don’t understand where you’re going with all this…”

“Well of course you wouldn’t. I’m the psychologist, not you.”

“Ok, well, yes, the answer is yes, I can act like a chicken.”

“Well go ahead then.”

“What?”

“Act like a chicken.”

“Here? Now?”

“Yes. Go ahead. Let’s see it.”

“Ooookay.”

I stood up nervously. I paused for a moment. The doctor looked at me without any expression on his face. He seemed neither serious nor jocular. He just waited for my chicken act. I hesitatingly bent my upper body down, tucked my hands under my armpits and started jerking my head from side to side as I carefully placed one foot before another, as if I were walking through a minefield.

“Why don’t you cluck?”

“Cluck?”

“Yes, chickens cluck you know.”

“Ok, ok… cluck, cluck, cluck.”

“And throw in the odd gawk, you know like…”

“Yes, I know, guuaaaaawk… buk, buk, buk, guaaaawk, buk, buk.”

As I performed this ridiculous routine – feeling like a right idiot – the doctor calmly opened his top drawer and pulled out a Polaroid camera with which he promptly took a photo.

“Now can you tell me you’re not crazy?”

“What? Of course not.”

Fanning the Polaroid photo up and down, he said:

“Look at this, you’re acting like a chicken in my office. Do you think that’s sane?”

“WHAT? What are you talking about? You ASKED me to do this! It’s part of your examination!”

“Examination? What examination? We haven’t even started the examination yet.”

“You mean you’ve just been wasting my time?”

“No not at all. It’s been very valuable for me. I now have two indications that point strongly toward the possibility of craziness.”

“I don’t believe this.”

“One, you think you’re sane, and two, you act like a chicken in my office while still claiming that you’re sane! Now tell me that’s not crazy!”

“I don’t fucking believe this.”

“Please, try to watch your language in here.”

“LISTEN HERE DR. SQUAWSHITFERABRAIN, I’M NOT CRAZY! YOU FUCKING QUACK, YOU’RE JUST SETTING ME UP. YOU’RE THE ONE WHO’S CRAZY…”

A man behind me cleared his throat. I turned and saw Stenoson with a disturbed look on his face.

“Hey Stenoson, what kind of quack did you set me up with here?” I asked, but he quickly left the room and closed the door behind him. I turned again to the doctor.

“You’re trying to set me up for something aren’t you? I know what’s going on here. You people have been talking to my ex-wife haven’t you? She put you up to this shit, didn’t she? What is she, fucking Stormweather now? You’re going to use that photo and your bullshit report against me in court as evidence, aren’t you? Like I’m too crazy to be allowed to have a phoneplant or something, right? My ex-wife and her fucking slickster lawyer, Craig, they’re behind this. Of course! I told her about Vanuatu and she had this sudden ‘standard procedure’ come up. I see it all now!”

The doctor had started writing something on a piece of paper a few seconds ago, mumbling to himself the words “paranoia” and “conspiracy” as he did. The ringing intensified in my head and I needed my tablets. RINGRINGRINGRING… I was fumbling in my pockets for my tablets… RINGRINGRINGRING… WHERE WERE THOSE FUCKING TABLETS!

“What’s wrong with you, what are you looking for?” asked the doctor.

“My tablets, my fucking tablets, what do you think I’m looking for?”

“Tablets? What tablets?”

“The migraine tablets, what do you think?”

“Migraine tablets? I didn’t know you suffered from migraines.” He wrote that down immediately on the same piece of paper.

“Of course you didn’t know, you were too busy asking me to act like a fucking chicken.”

“Excuse me?”

“CHICKEN! CAN YOU ACT LIKE ONE? REMEMBER?!”

“I never asked you if you could act like a chicken.”

“What? Are you serious? Ok, this is starting to get a little creepy. Please, really doc, tell me what’s going on here.”

“There’s nothing going on here. I began by asking you if you had been recently grief-stricken. Then you started arguing with me and acting like a chicken.”

I was speechless. They were really out to get me. This was so blatant, so shameless a set-up that I was almost beginning to doubt my very self. I suddenly felt afraid. I… the ringing again… the incessant ringing… RINGRINGRINGRINGRING… RINGRINGRING… I let out a scream, my hands started shaking and I fumbled around in my pockets for my tablets.

“Are you looking for those tablets again?” He was acting alarmed now.

“Yes, yes, doc, yes, my special migraine tablets.”

The doctor tried to calm me down and looked into my pockets. He took out a packet of aspirin pills.”

“These tablets?”

“Yes, wait no, those are just aspirin pills. I had special migraine tablets…”

“How many of these do you take a day?”

“I take six a day, one every four hours.”

“And when did you open this box?”

“Two days ago.”

“And let’s see… you’re missing…”

“Wait a minute…”

“…you’re missing 12, three today, six yesterday, three the day before that…”

“But, I had migraine tablets… I…”

“Why do you take these ‘tablets’?”

“For the… for the ringing, the endless ringing…”

“Ringing?”

“In my head, yes, the ringing in my head.”

“You hear ringing in your head?”

“Don’t you? Doesn’t everybody? The implants? The implants keep ringing…”

“The… implants?”

“YOU BASTARD! YOU REPLACED THEM WITH THE ASPIRIN, DIDN’T YOU? You replaced the special tablets with aspirin. You knew how much I took because my ex-wife told you, or her lawyer, Craig…”

“Craig?”

“CRAIG!”

“You’re going to have to calm down Mr…”

“DON’T TELL ME TO CALM DOWN YOU FUCKING SQUAW!”

I suddenly felt a set of strong hands grip me by the arms and neck and start wrestling me out of the room. Before I had any idea what was going on, I was being dragged by physical force amid the pitying gaze of my co-workers, past the maze of plastic cubicles, down the sterile, carpeted, plastic, air-conditioned corridors, past the white, hollow, plastic walls of the office, past the bubbling plastic water fountain, past the little kitchenette with the ever-gurgling coffee machine, the plastic refrigerator with the plastic magnets, the plastic plates, the plastic knives and plastic forks and plastic spoons, the plastic packages and plastic sandwich boxes, the plastic cups and the plastic trash cans, in plastic bags, on plastic seats, with plastic faces giving me plastic stares, behind plastic blinds that were accounted for by plastic pens that sat in plastic containers on plastic desks, with plastic name tags, and plastic titles, speaking on plastic phones connected with plastic wires, and plastic computers that printed out spread sheets that were stored in plastic files and plastic portfolios in plastic drawers… RING RING RING… And plastic plants, everywhere, plastic plants, plastic palm trees, plastic flowers, plastic picture frames with plastic faces, plastic families, plastic smiles, plastic sons and plastic daughters and plastic dogs, and plastic wives with plastic hair-dos and plastic eyelashes… RINGRINGRINGRINGRING… RIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIING, RINGRINGRING… out a plastic door, past a file of plastic cars, into a plastic ambulance, with a wailing plastic siren, surrounded by plastic apparatuses, conducted by plastic men in plastic uniforms, with plastic syringes, and plastic name tags, holding me down with plastic straps… RING RING RING… RING RING RING… fading, fading… ring, ring… ring… fading, dark… palm trees, smiles, coconuts, canoes… fading… sun, water… fading… Vanuatu… cannibals… flesh, meat, nails, bone, blood… smell, smell, smell… salt, sea, sand, trees… smell… the welcome smell of blood and earth in a fucking world of plastic.

I was losing consciousness. The last thing I saw before I blacked out was a giant smiling plastic Barbie doll dangling from a plastic Lego tower in the middle of a tropical island scooping up little screaming black children and eating them like candy.

9/4/07

story - Vanuatu (part III)


At 8 o’clock sharp, I met Louis at Exorbitante. He came in just as I did. He looked much the worse for wear. He had purple sacks under his eyes. His skin and his eyes were the color of sickly yellow, as if he were jaundiced.

“You look like shit, and you’re my lawyer.”

“I know, I know, I’m in a bit of a bind.”

“What now?”

“Let’s get our table first.”

The maitre d’ was a gaunt, gay individual with a lisp. He had a permanent expression of aloof disdain on his face. His eyelids were half-shut.

“Yeth, table for two, hmmmm. Here we go, Mithter Louis Felloniouth.”

“Felloniousss, yesss,” hissed Louis, stressing the esses.

“Follow me pleathe.”

We sat near one of the windows in Louis’s favorite spot. He came here three times a week with clients or hookers, or both. He excused himself as soon as the waiter brought us the menu and went to the bathroom. The moron was probably still jacking it up in there. Sometimes he went on these binges. I asked for two martinis and gazed blankly at the menu. When Louis got back his face and hair were wet. He still looked messed up, like he’d just stepped out of a washing machine.

“Look Louis, I…” He interrupted me before I could say anything.

“I’m in trouble.”

“In trouble? Why? What?”

“Remember that cop chase?”

“Oh shit. What about it?” I was expecting the worst.

“Well the cops eventually got the car and the fucking assholes told them that I supplied the coke that the cops found on them.”

“But they don’t really know you.”

“They know enough.”

“Have the cops come looking for you? How do you know?”

“My dealer, Chicko.”

“YOUR DEAL-” I realized it was a bit loud and promptly lowered my voice. “Your dealer, Chicko!!!?”

“Yeah, word on the street.”

“Well maybe it’s bullshit.”

“It isn’t.”

“Fuck Louis, I’m so fucking mad with you, you know what this means to me, the implant and all…”

“Look sorry dude, I’ll help how I can, but I can’t give a shit about the implant right now. I’ll definitely lose my license, I’ll be out of the bar, I’ll be out of every bar, I’ll be behind bars…”

“C’mon, it’s your word against theirs, you’ll be fine.”

“Not really.”

“What do you mean, not really?”

“The chick from Tijuana has one of my credit cards.”

“WHAT!” Several people from other tables were giving us suspicious looks.

“We were using it to cut up the shit. I forgot about it.”

“Did you cancel it at least?”

“No, of course not. In fact I’m hoping they use it.”

“Why?”

“So it looks like they stole it. If they use it, that’s good. It’ll corroborate my story.”

“Corroborate huh?”

“Corroborate, that’s right.”

The waiter, who was trying to speak without a Texan accent, came to take our order. He started mouthing off the specials which none of us, including the waiter himself, were in the mood for hearing.

“Ourspecialstodayincludecreamofblahblahblahbatteredwithadaintypigskinsoufflespicedwithparsleysagerosemaryaaaaaaaaandthymeinafreshscallopbisquebrule…”

“I’m not hungry,” blurted Louis as he looked up at the waiter with deranged and dilated eyes.

“Neither am I. Just bring us more martinis.”

“May I suggest some appetizers?”

“No you may not. You may however bring us those martinis.”

“Very well sir.”

We both sat there seething. I was furious. Louis was beyond help, absolutely messed up. I was going to lose my implant. He got up to go to the bathroom yet again. As I waited for him to return, I overheard two old ladies gossiping about dead people behind me.

“Well you know that’s not what I’ve heard. I think there was a little something between Paul and the girl that Friedrich didn’t know about. He was a misogynist and all, that Nietzsche, but he still wanted to get married.”

“I know. Typical Freddy, all hype.”

“Yes dear, hype as in hypocrisy!” They giggled like girls.

“They’re all boys really aren’t they. I mean really, how can you want to marry a woman after everything you’ve said about women!”

“Yes, and what about that photo! Really! The whip and the cart…”

“Yes, well he did have a sense of humor though, didn’t he?”

“Plenty for a sick man. All the sensitivity of a recidivistic convalescent!” They giggled again.

“Yeees, God bless his soul.”

“Yees, God bless him, if only he weren’t dead!”

“Friedrich or God?”

“Both!” They giggled again.

Louis was back in a few minutes.

“So what are you going to do,” I asked him.

“What can I do? Get my story straight and stay out of sight. Maybe it’ll all blow over.”

“Well you should know, you’re supposed to be a lawyer. What about the fucking implant?”

“The implant, right…”

“Remember? THAT’s what we were here to go over!”

“Yes, well, things changed. Um, let’s see. Let’s try to focus here…”

“Yes, let’s.”

“Well, tell them they’ve already taken everything else and that you reached a settlement because you were so, um, cooperative…”

“Pushover, you mean.”

“Yeah, whatever… and…”

“That’s brilliant Louis!”

“Really? Well, thanks…”

“NO, NOT REALLY! Jesus. This is court, not a schoolyard.”

“Ok listen. You know Craig’s fucking the wife, right?”

“The ex.”

“Right. So use that to show she’s been a bad wife, that she’s cheated on you before, and is screwing her own lawyer even before you were legally divorced. She was screwing her lawyer while she was legally your wife. That should sway the jury. They go for that shit. So you can weaken her position while in the meantime using the Vanuatu project, that SHIT Act thing, to show the importance of the implant for your own work. I mean the SHIT Act is a beneficent and patriotic act that the U.S. is undertaking for the benefit of shit-hole countries. You’re going to be the director of Silicone Industries’ operation in the first pilot SHIT Act project. How does it look for a director in such an important operation for both America and Vanuatu and the world to have his implant ripped out of his skull on the eve of taking over the operation? Not a good move for anyone, let alone for AMERICAN PRESTIGE. It takes weeks before a new implant can be installed, so by letting your wife get your implant, the jury would be essentially taking a move that would be detrimental to AMERICAN INTERESTS. Keep the focus on AMERICA and the jury will be like putty in your hands. If there are enough blacks in the jury, use the black Vanuatu card. They’re Melanesians I think, and so as far as any of us bozos can tell, they’re black.”

“Melanesians? What do you call people from Vanuatu anyway?”

“I don’t know. Vanuatuans?”

“Yeah, that’ll do. Ok, we’re on to something then. But I’m not doing this alone, Louis.”

“I have to stay hidden, out of the limelight.”

“Limelight? A divorce settlement and an implant is limelight? It’s hardly breaking-news material.”

“OK, OK, but after that I must live in the shadows.”

“Live in the shadows? What are you, on acid too?”

“Whatever, let’s go. I’m feeling sick. Just one more trip to the bathroom.”

The women were still gossiping about dead people behind me.

“And Ludwig was deaf too. To think he could have written a whole symphony, and he was deaf!”

“Yes… and such an ogre. He was a misogynist as well, but he really had some nice music.”

“Loud music, yes, the sort of thing you’d expect a grumpy deaf man to write. You know apparently he hit Johann over the head just because he bowed to an aristocrat!”

“Really, I mean, such a brute. Johann was always fond for the frills and thrills, though, wasn’t he? Bit of a ladies man, wasn’t he, that Goethe?”

“Hmmm, why he was friends with Ludwig is beyond me…”

My lawyer came back wetter and more messed up than before. Water and sweat and yellow skin and eyes, all contrasted with his red hair and eyelashes and freckles and fat to produce the overall appearance of a malicious wiener that’s escaped and on the run. He now definitely looked jaundiced. We paid the bill – with my credit card – and fled. Louis called for a cab. I guess he still hadn’t found out what happened to his car.

“So give me a call before the trial.”

“What about the hearing?”

“The what?”

“The hearing Louis, what about the hearing?”

“Oh yeah, that too.”

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Louis was sweating all through the hearing. The sight of the judge just seemed to put him even further on edge. Craig and my ex looked tense and spoke to each other a little formally. I could tell right from the get-go that we weren’t going to settle anything here. They were bent on having my implant and I was set on refusing. I made my case the way Louis suggested. She claimed that the implant was not what California state law considered my “separate property” or even “community property,” but separate property belonging to her, because she was the one who bought it, since at that time I was not working and so she was the main money “earner” (if asking for daddy’s handouts could be considered as such). I started working in Silicon Implants after having got the implant, and mostly due to her father’s influence in that company, the president of whom was a freemasonic peer of his who agreed to help my profane self, though I was really not the issue. The issue was that his son-in-law was an extension of himself and his family’s good name and thus had to be helped due to this unique interrelation. So his freemasonic self and his daughter’s primadonnic self pretty much were responsible for my implant. We were given a trial date and all left the courtroom in a bad mood. It was to be a trial by jury. Louis also left in a bad mood and a cold sweat. He was looking worse and worse. The judge kept eyeing him suspiciously, as did Craig and my ex.

Louis looked worried when we left the courthouse.

“You think we’re in the shits?”

“What? The implant?”

“Yeah, the implant. What are you, deaf?”

“Gotta make a call.”

“Go ahead.”

“ROSA? Rosa, don’t hang up… FUCK, she hung up.”

“Who’s…”

“ROSA? LISTEN TO ME BITCH AND LISTEN GOOD, I HEARD WHAT YOU’RE UP TO, YOU BETTER NOT GET ANY FUCKING IDEAS OR I’LL FUCKING…” He became conscious of the fact that he was hurling threats, abuse and foul language in front of a courthouse. When we got in a cab he continued.

“I DON’T CARE. JUST YOU BETTER NOT… WHAT? WHAT DID YOU SAY? I’LL FUCKING KILL YOU, I HAVE CONNECTIONS TOO, YOU BITCH… YEAH, THAT’S RIGHT… WHAT? MY CREDIT CARD WON’T MEAN SHIT IN YOUR HANDS, YOU FUCKING SPICKS, I’LL SAY YOU STOLE IT… ROSA? HELLO? Fuck.”

“Great. You’re my fucking lawyer, Louis. You just threatened to kill someone. You’ve also fled from the cops, contacted your drug dealer, and left your credit card with some whore you hardly know whom you did coke with. Real nice Louis, real fucking nice.”

The trial day came. I sat in the courtroom and let every image pass through me. I was only thinking of one thing. Vanuatu. I was thinking of catching fish with my spear and cooking coconut crabs over fires on coral islands beneath palm trees and stars. I was thinking about being naked, about not wearing anything anymore, about not caring anymore, about solitude… pure solitude. No people, no civilization… and the ringing was killing me, but I never answered anymore. I stopped talking to those countless voices that kept harassing me, that wouldn’t leave me alone. But escape was near. I would be in Vanuatu. I would be a human being again. I would rediscover myself, my body, my hands and my feet, my eyes and my ears and all my five senses, I would find them all again. Everything would be ok again.

And so the trial unfolded around me. I was there in body, but I was like a ghost. I heard people, I heard them speak to me and ask me questions, I saw the lawyers and the jury and my ex and her family (and none of mine) but I still felt that somehow I wasn’t really there. The ringing didn’t cease either… but for the first time I felt relaxed, easy. As if having decided to give up, I had relieved myself of the burden of responsibility for myself, for my actions, for my rights. Having rights is a burden best undone by indifference. Once I shed my rights I could stop worrying about possessions, about what’s mine and what’s theirs, about who’s guilty and who’s innocent, right and wrong. I could just be again. And the implant didn’t matter either. The only thing that mattered was my dignity now. If I didn’t stand up for it here, I wouldn’t be able to shed it later, because it would have been taken from me, and that’s not the same thing. Sometimes one has to have something just to have the satisfaction of ridding oneself of it. And I wanted to rid myself of the final shackle to my freedom: my dignity.

“And so I ask you, Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury,” concluded Louis, sweating profusely. “I ask you. How can such a man as this, such a man as represents the vital interests of America, such a man as is ready to forsake these shores for up to ten years if need be for the sake of helping those – TH-EM…” He looked at the black jury members as he said this. I could tell they all hated him because they all had sour looks on their faces every time he spoke, like they’d all just chewed on a lemon. “…less fortunate than US, those poor Vanuatuans.” Again he looked at the three black jury members. He was interrupted this time by one of them.

“Ni-Vanuatu.”

“Those poor, poor… what did you say?”

“Excuse me your honor,” said one of the black jury members to the judge, “…but it’s not Vanuatuans, it’s Ni-Vanuatu. I’m Fijian, I know.”

“Ah yes, of course, of course, I meant Nay-Vanuatu…”

“NI-Vanuatu, NI, NI, NI!”

“Yes, yes, ok, whatever, the point is…” I had my head in my hands now. This was beyond bad. It was offensive.

“…The Ni-Vanuatu and other SHIT-poor people like them…”

“SHIT-Challenged, Louis,” I mumbled even though I’d pretty much given up all hope. He, of course, didn’t hear me.

“These people need people like my client here,” continued Louis, “a man who is ready for any sacrifice, a man who is ready to give his life living in their squalid little country eating bananas and swinging from trees just for the sake of bringing them into the civilized world.” Now everyone in the courtroom, including the judge, was appalled. They looked at my lawyer like they would look at Adolf Hitler or Ted Bundy if either had been in the courtroom instead of my lawyer. “And you want to take this man’s implant? You want to deprive this man of that which he is going there to give them, to teach them, so that they eventually, one day, can overcome the SHIT-gap with US? And why? Because his ex-wife wants to teach him a lesson? Well I don’t see her doing any patriotic acts for her country, for the world, for the Vanuatuans, I mean the No-Vanuatu… No, no, no…” He paused to wipe all the sweat off his brow. His shirt was soaked. “Ni, ni… I mean no, no, no… And does she deserve this? Of course not. She wasn’t even a faithful wife…”

My ex-wife lost it upon hearing this as her lawyer Craig tried to calm her down.

“HOW DARE YOU LIE!” she screamed.

“Lie? You were sleeping with your lawyer there while you were still legally married!”

My wife lunged at Louis. The security guards wrestled her back. Craig interposed himself.

“Objection your honor, these are unfounded allegations,” he said while trying to hold my ex back.

“Well we did show the photos, and the recorded phone messages, your honor,” said Louis.

“Objection, that doesn’t prove anything…”

“It certainly leaves little doubt though, Craig,” goaded Louis. Craig was now going all red.

“Your honor…”

“I mean you can’t prove you weren’t sleeping with her,” added Louis.

“YES I CAN, WE WERE TOGETHER ON THE NIGHT OF THE 15TH WAS IT, OR THE 16th, LAST WEEK, AT BONGO BONG’S, YOU SAW ME LEAVE WITH THAT GIRL, LOUIS!”

“You see your Honor, he’s even unfaithful to the unfaithful! Such is their unholy, unfaithful alliance!” added Louis with bombastic opportunism.

Amid the gasps of the jury, the onlookers, and myself, and the snapping gavel of the judge as he called for order, there was one face that was now in a choleric rage: that of my ex-wife. Craig realized what he had said, but before he could regain his composure my ex lunged at him this time.

“HOW COULD YOU? YOU FUCKING SON OF A BITCH, YOU FUCKING… “

Now my ex was wrestling with Craig before the guards broke them up. It was obvious from her reaction that they were indeed having an affair. Louis had a broad smile on his face. He smiled and winked at me (though it was more of a twitch) before turning to the judge.

“I’ve made my case your honor.”

The gavel was tap, tap, tapping, “ORDER, ORDER, I WILL HAVE ORDER,” cried the judge in his courtroom. Everything was a mess now. And before Louis even got his fat, sweaty ass back on his seat next to me, the doors of the courtroom flew open and a plainclothes detective and three uniformed cops barged into the courtroom amid even more gasps and blows of the gavel. Louis did not gasp though, he screamed and then he started weeping out loud.

“What is the meaning of this intrusion into my courtroom?!” asked the judge.

“Excuse us your honor but we have a warrant for the arrest of Louis Fellonious…”

“O NO, GOD, NO, PLEASE, IT’S NOT TRUE, IT’S NOT, THE FUCKING SPICK SET ME UP, I SHOULD HAVE KILLED THE BITCH, O GOD NO, I DON’T DO COKE, IT WAS STOLEN, GOD THEY STOLE IT, JESUS, ANTI-SEMITES, YOU FUCKING ANTI-SEMITES, NO, DON’T LET THE NAZI PIGS TAKE ME AWAY!!!”

Louis lost it completely. They took him by the arms, kicking and screaming as he kept weeping and blabbering incoherently. In the meantime, my ex was getting up to leave and drop the whole thing. Craig was trying to tell her to calm down, until he lost it too. I guess it was all the steroids he’d pumped into his head. He started swearing and cursing her.

“IN ALL MY YEARS AS A FUCKING LAWYER…”

“ORDER, THERE WILL BE ORDER IN MY…” cried the judge, ineffectually.

“I HAVE NEVER SEEN ANYTHING LIKE THIS, FUCK YOU THEN, YES, YES, YES, I WAS FUCKING ANOTHER CHICK, YOU KNOW WHY? YOU WANNA KNOW WHY?”

“ORDER I SAY, GODDAMMIT THERE WILL BE ORDER IN MY FUCKING COURTROOM!”

More gasps emanated from the jury as the judge lost his shit too.

Now my ex’s family members, her mother and father and aunts and uncles, all came storming down and started hitting and kicking and cursing at Craig. The whole courtroom was involved in one big brawl. The two guards were outnumbered. Even the judge lost it. It was like the Benny Hill show in there. He threw his gavel into the melee and started screaming…

“FUCK THIS, FUUUUUCK THIIIIIIS, THIS IS MYYYYYYYYYYY COURTROOM, THIS IS MYYYYYYY COURTROOM, GODDAMMIT…”

And then it happened. Something wonderful. The ringing in my head stopped completely. Nobody wanted to talk to me anymore. And in the midst of this insanity, I was finally, completely alone. Nobody saw me. Nobody looked at me. Nobody cared about me. I was perfectly, completely alone. This is what Vanuatu must be like. This is what being alone must be like. I felt serenity and peace, even tranquility, in a courtroom brawl with my ex, of all places. I made it. I won. I had my dignity.

I walked out, and nobody even saw me leave. It was wonderful.

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A black Jaguar rolled into the gravel driveway of Free-Day Sanitarium. A chauffeur descended and opened the back door as the figure of an elegant lady in her 30s rose out of a pair of turquoise Manolo Blahnik’s that set lighter than a feather on the gravel. She wore sunglasses and a blue dress that was the color of the sky. She took quick and careful steps up the stairs and past the pillars of the 80 year-old building, without saying a word to the two nurses that she passed by. The sound of her quick, smart steps along the polished marble corridors echoed and resonated throughout the building’s dark, depressing, and otherwise quiet interior. She said her name to another nurse – nothing more – and she waited. She entered the director’s office. The director, a skinny, tall, balding man in his late 50s, rose and greeted her obsequiously, bidding her take a seat, which she did without so much as a word. The man nervously blinked and asked if she’d like anything to drink. She said she didn’t. A silence emerged, uncomfortable for the man, annoying for the lady, before the director of the sanitarium decided to finally broach it.

“Thank you so much for coming Mrs., I mean…”

“Yes, I thought I should.”

“Yes, indeed. I know it must have been hard for you. I sincerely apologize for any…”

“What’s done is done, Mr. Weissel.” She pronounced his name weasel.

“Yes, that’s Weissel (He pronounced it as vyzel. She paid no heed). Have you brought the horrible, horrible package, Mrs., I mean…”

“Yes, I have.”

“Would you like to see him?”

“…”

“Mrs., excuse me, I mean Miss…”

“Yes, I’ll see him.”

The director got up and put his jacket on. The lady followed him out of the room, past the nurse and down the corridor where she came, past a stairwell, and out another door and into a large, green garden with lush grass, trees, gravel walking paths with fountains and birdbaths. It was a garden the size of a large park, and it was beautifully kept. There were patients in wheelchairs, or walking, sitting, talking, reading and knitting, attended by white-uniformed nurses. The sky was blue, like the color of the lady’s dress, the sun was warm, it was midday. They walked past people whom the director greeted with hello’s and how-are-you-today’s and smiles. Soon they were past the bulk of people and were walking alone over two green hillocks. There was only the sound of crickets in the distance. As they came over another hillock there came into their sight a man. He was sitting on the grass, his face turned away from the sanitarium, away from the garden, and he was staring out into the distance. He didn’t notice the director and the lady standing beside him. He sat there cross-legged, silent, alone. He had a bandage that wrapped all the way around his head and covered his ears.

“Well Mrs., I mean… well here he is. He’s always here. He always sits here and just stares out into the distance. We thought he’d been making progress when he started eating again. At first he wouldn’t eat anything but coconuts. He likes fish.”

The lady looked at him sitting there. There was silence. A strong breeze rippled through the nearby bushes and the tall grass ahead made a slight, lazy brushing sound that added to the melancholy of midday.

“Do you have the… I mean would you mind if I saw the…”

“No… no of course. Here it is.”

The lady took out an opened white box, wrapped in ripped brown paper. The director took it in his hand and opened the lid. There were two ears smeared in dried blood sitting in the box. On the inside of the lid was written - in what seemed like a child’s handwriting - one word: Vanuatu. He slowly closed the box and handed it back to the lady.

“He mumbles something sometimes about ‘implants’ and ‘dignity,’ and ‘freedom.’ He’s not cogent though. You know, our patients like it when people they know come to visit them. It can help them recover.”

She didn’t respond immediately. She looked at him sitting there with the bandage wrapped around his head, rocking backwards and forwards as if he were in prayer, peacefully staring out at the lush, soothing colors that seemed to stretch out endlessly, as if an emanation of his own gaze. She looked at his face one last time. She’d never seen that look on his face before. That look of serenity seemed so strange, so foreign. For a moment she even felt she envied him. She eventually turned to the nervous director by her side with an uncharacteristically tender gesture which took him by surprise.

“Leave him be doctor. I think he would prefer it that way.”

They left the way they had come. The silence was once again complete.