EPISODE 10



          Andy entered Glenn and Anne's Ivona suite soaked, tired, still unshaven; eyes radiating a dull, mean Trumpish-glow instantly silencing the chattering Conk in a plaid jacket and a bad rug. "Jerry Vidor," the creature meekly introduced itself, offering a sweaty, tentative hand Andy merely glared at.  He parked his wet butt on the damasked armrest of the remaining unoccupied chair.

          "You're wet!" Anne finally determined.

          Andy let half his mouth curl into a smile before telling Glenn: "That's it, man! We're fucked.  An’ that means you're fucked. First the permits, then... hey! two-thirds of what went down at the C.U. wasn't even aimed at you. No more! You're going down with all the rest of them."









          "Siddown," Glenn retorted, "siddown. Drip all you want over the furniture; property of the corporate insects who prey for the people. News on in fifteen minutes. Have a grape!  They’re OK, Chilean… if it doesn’t bother you that Don Jones says Chile has the highest armed robbery rate in the world, now, worse than Honduras and El Salvador… like… that…"

          He gestured towards a hospitality basket full of waxy, artificial-looking fruit; plenty of plastic straw, reposing on the bananas; even a tiny three-ounce bottle of Belgeweiser and a pocket guide to erotic films on the pay cable... full Easter basket, for a dirty old bunny.

          Andy winced. "Now... let me tell you what's going to happen. You've had all the people who could keep the lid on locked up so the posers and crazies and government’s secret agent-provocateurs get to do their thing. Then the cops do their thing, the Guard... the UN stands ‘round looking impotent, as usual, and Pinhead gets on the national news, he's tough on crime. What did the Catfish promise him, couldn’t be Vice-president – I despise your motherfucker, but he’s not that stupid.  Attorney General?  No… maybe Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms?... plenty of experience with them all!  Deals... like Washington, with the Chinese and UN, bringing the Turks in. Fuckin' deals. Speakin’ of Mayor Potter, got anything real to drink?"

          Glenn Savitt lifted an eyebrow for the benefit of his suddenly speechless guest. “It seems this gentleman believes we had something to do with the fiasco in Dorritt Square."

          "Impossible!" Anne cringed. "We're victims too... it was the Guard who started all the trouble, as we heard it, the Governor sent them down in order to make Mayor Potter look bad. Probably on orders from Washington... Glenn, who's Governor here these days, is he a Democrat or a Republican?"

          "According to Ralph Nader, it doesn't matter anymore," Andy responded, "maybe some Russian.  I prefer to think that Catfish, Tillerman and Pinhead got together to keep unassimilated elements away from your convention and throw them back on... well, he's got some local agenda, I haven't figured it out yet, but that's Pinhead. Always scheming, whenever he isn't passed-out drunk!  Makes Rob Ford, rest his fuckin soul in Whiskey River, look like the fuckin’ Moral Majority.  And Ratso... he's always dealing..."

          "Folks," Jerry Vidor piped up, "I'm leaving."

          "Shut the fuckin’ door behind you!" Andy pointed.

          "That wasn't very sporting," Glenn said as the white door softly clicked shut. "Look... I don't go along with everything Austin Tillerman says, but America is the land of the duopolies. Hertz and Avis, Micro-Time and DreamBell, McDonald's and Burger Jack. Coors and Bilgeweiser... since Anheuser Bush bought out Miller then got bought out themselves by those rich guys in Belgium while Coors was snapping up Heinekins and the Westworld rights to Zero Clock, of course; won’t call it Hoors, of course… Chinakins? It's the same in politics... the moderate, wishy-washy Democrats and Wall Street Republicans are merging, most of them since Trump and Jeb Bush kissed and made up and watered down the tea-party tea, and they need an alternative movement or America gets perceived as a two-headed Bush/Clinton dictatorship, which is ultimately as bad for business as for the people.  If only those rumors about Bernie Sanders and the libertarians were true…"

          "That old fart?  Why?" Andy asked, still dripping.

          The phone trilled. "I'll take it," Anne volunteered.

          "Give my regards to the man behind the curtain," Andy sniped.

          "The issue is whether we march into the vacuum or deconstruct, like the rest of the past outlier movements," Glenn spat, "...the Reforms, Libs and Greens and, it would appear now, the Democratic and Republican Parties; all the pussy left and nutball right, so virtuous in their own minds. Because what they do never means anything, except once in a while to throw an election to the marginally greater evil, as in Y2K… I specifically exclude the last two decades; at least Sleepy Joe hasn’t made anything worse and the ex-President – he was entertaining.  A professional Entertainer!  While the disloyal opposition never moves out of its compounds, whether in Idaho or Slab City or the hippie ghettos of a few big cities and the dingy old college towns they somehow forgot to grow up in. Plus, maybe, Vermont… hey, maybe Bernie Sanders will make it in ‘twenty four.  He’d only be eighty… something.  So, in order to hold together a viable alternative, we're the ones who have to take bits and pieces of what the system throws away..."

          "Like Frankenstein preparing his creature..."

          "Save the irony. This, Andy-boy, this is real power," and Glenn reverently fingered the sky-blue and silver convention credentials still dangling around his neck like dogtags... little magnets and holograms shimmering under the Ivona's lamps. "This!  It's what I've worked in the trenches twenty years to achieve."

          "I thought you got in tight with the Catfish because of Anne kissing up the fat booty of his girlfriend, that cosmetics queen? Maybe I was wrong. Maybe I'm impressed! Credentials! Shilling for national ID cards at thirty bucks a pop in order to collect food stamps, or vote?   Can you say… poll tax?  Makes you wonder what the Catfish has in mind for all the people without credentials... concentration camps, maybe.  Or worse, considering all that crap about Malthus and Marshall Applewhite in his columns... people who want to thin out the human herd never tend to finger their own kind!"

          "Now you're deliberately confusing Jack with Tillerman," Glenn wagged a finger, "you promised you'd read his book before we came to town.  It’s not a poll tax, it’s… it’s like an intermal passport, a mini-passport.  Lets you come and go to Canada and Mexico, too, the Bahamas, even.  People like you are what's wrong with the left."

          "So I guess that makes you what's right with the right."

          Glenn's long sigh and the silence, which followed, allowed both to eavesdrop on Anne's phone call, "...feel sorry for kids today. Not only was dope only fifty bucks a lid, you could buy cherry bombs, legally, four for three dollars. "We'd set them off to... what was it... God! The Bangles?"

          "Voice of the Me Generation," Glenn pointed with his thumb to the other room. "That old codger, Burt Weston... ILWU man, you'd probably like him... says that the country peaked on VJ Day when he was all of one month old. Can't argue. Rest of the world's productive capacity destroyed; people able to buy cars and houses in the forties and fifties with the jobs the G.I. Bill let them have, walk the streets at night..."

          "Lynch a coon by torchlight... sorry, what's Parnell's buzzword, nword?... vote for Joe McCarthy, pump that frackin’ gas out of the ground until there’s nothing left, the aquifers collapse like Mexican caves and Miami goes underwater... hey, man, it’s Zimmertime…"

          "Siddown, will you? People trusted each other, which they forgot how to do in the 70s and 80s. Forget everything after that! A little reaction's good...we're trying to turn the wheel back... not all the way, just a little. Jack's import-reinvestment program..."

          "We said revolution, then, I still mean it, now. Not some vapor about raising import duties and following the Wallace people over the edge into third-party fantasies."

          "Henry Wallace was a man ahead of his time. The Catfish says..."

          "I was thinking George... he's more your speed..."  And then he began to sing…

          “It’s Zimmertime.  And the streets are uneasy.  Nerves are jumpy… gun sales are high.  One of these mornings…”

          “Andy…” Glenn shook his head…

          “People risin’ up angry,” he pumped up the volume.  “So let’s get out of here, baby, cuz a lotta people – fixin’ to die.”

          "Andy," Glenn warned but Anne, having finished her call, came between them, still wearing the red dress from dinner at MacAuley's... wool, still damp and dank from the rain.

          “It’s Zimmertime, Zimmertime, ZimZimZimmertime,” Andy persisted…

          "Did I hear singing?  That was the Menningers, Vern and Char... didn't you have a crush on Char back in the day?"

          "She was a kid," Andy demurred. "Haven't seen her for years... still with the U?"

          "Associate Professor."

          "Bummer," Andy said. "They're paid less than garbagemen, I hear, except what they take under the table from the textbook companies and for priming the kids with propaganda, steering corrected little minds towards their sponsoring corporations, tutoring the favorites to pass tests and jacketing those who might profile as troublemakers."

          "Remind me to tell Jack," Anne brightened, "it used to be doctors and teachers who were the last hope of the unions, but the corporations got around that around the time they fired all those fast food workers in New York and brought back those Horn and Hardart-type automats, which are kinda cool, really, like retro-Redboxes. They still don't know what to do with the trash... they can send it to Jamaica for recycling but Americans still have to pick it up and won’t.   Only places where they can't use prisoners is where unions still control the government’s IQ-87 jobs, running the machines at sewer stations and manning the cubicles at the motor vehicle registration sites. Washington can make a case for relaxing quotas on foreign doctors whose after-assessment living allowances aren't worth the suing for malpractice, but garbage isn't sexy. Glenn!" she snapped her fingers, "turn on the news."

          Glenn rose dutifully and Andy finally lowered himself into the chair and took out his papers and tobacco pouch. "So... how are things faring with your devious Nigerian?" Anne asked.

          "Disson's go-fer? He's from Ghana, I thought I told you... and I did look it up in your Don fuckin’ Jones… Ghana’s not bad, for Africa, way better than Nigeria or most of the rest except… what was that place with the doctors and money?  Botswana?  Sylvester doesn't have any real authority but, between parables from the old country about the monkeys and the kookaburras or whatever; sort of lets on that we'll be offered permits for the U. quadrangle, same as always. Nobody gives a crap what students say. But the demo today bothers me..."

          "Why? You told me, over the phone, you didn't care what people thought about the Coalition, all you wanted was that the protestors didn't overwhelm your flophouse and soup kitchens and give the local cops an excuse to bust up Jefferson Street."

          "Yeah, but somebody's got to take responsibility. The U. sucks... people won't go for it.  Too damn obvious!  Somebody... Borges, I think..." Andy continued, "said that the way you hide a grain of sand is drop it on the beach, or file a bad book in the wrong stack in the library, way back where nobody ever goes. You hide a demo in the U. At least," he conceded, "they'd probably throw in a few Port-a-Potties."

          "Have you ever talked to the real Permit Officer?" Anne queried as the television depicted the aftermath of more killer storms in Texas, Louisiana floods and a Shiite coup in Bahrain that had provoked speculation on a summer of seven-dollar gas.

          "Nice," Andy pointed. "Platinum cable... no pop-ups? Ahh... Mr. Disson? Many times – but only by phone, where he shows off his command of doublespeak between sniffing lines to reinforce his brownshirt Ernst Rohm/Milo Yannopolis fantasy life. Maybe if I were twenty-one again, bald and buff, and with earrings, jackboots and Iron Cross tats... he likes it rough, I've heard say. This guy I know, Marty... he met Disson, said he tried sniffing his ass, like a dog. I mean... this is a guy who talks to the Urinal about counting poor people, making 'incentives' to developers to improve the neighborhoods. Last month he told Sly to tell us he was sorry, but if we were in the Plaza they would have to bring in two bomb-experts from the capital, set up metal detectors and fence the whole shit in and da da... the taxpayers, the RPA. As if some wannabe-Bin Laden, or that droop who did the St. Louis arch would be turned back for lack of permits! So I even called Governor Drummond's office..."

          "Look, there's your demo!" Glenn interrupted.

          "It's not my demo," Andy objected, but still sat, mesmerized by inconclusive images of scuffling on the tube until the grinning visage of Henri Ratzelkreuz swelled to fill the screen - a gaseous Christmas tree ornament painted by wicked elves.

          "That's all," Andy said. "I'm out of here! That fucker's supposed to come out of your airtime, not ours."

          "Stay safe," Glenn waved. "He'll slam the door," he predicted to Anne, sotto voce.

          Andy, still singing “Zimmertime, ZimmertimeZim, Zim, Zimmertime” slammed the white door behind him.

          "Our airtime!" Glenn imitated. "Poor moax probably doesn't even understand Glass-Steagall or the savings tax. All he sees is a chance to attach himself onto something important, without having taken the time to learn the rules, like one of those… what are they, bedbugs?  Vanity! Vanity and delusion... so, Nora, I believe it's cocktail time in the New World Order. Martini, Manhattan or Margarita, my Nora? And turn that crap down!" he waved Ratso away…

          "It's still raining, isn't it? Poor Andy." She reached for Glenn and stoked the back of his neck. "Mix up a Manhattan for a mixed-up lady, Nick..."

          Glenn opened the suite's little refrigerator, removing and shaking a canned Daiquiri and a canned Manhattan… twelve dollars the each, said the card atop the fridge. Snap! went the television.  Pop! went two tabs...

          "Eleven at Eleven will be back with your weather following these messages," promised the anchorperson. "That was Tom Lavin at the scene at Dorritt Square, in front of the Cosmopolitan Union where, for a few hours, the City was tense."  









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