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.”