Thursday, August 27, 2009

Scene 64

Having managed to position themselves on the seriously bad side of 1) a diabolical corporate menace, 2) a face-sucking interstellar landing party, and 3) the Ohio Department of Transportation, Myron and Blinky are back in the now-empty stolen salt truck. They’ve decided to head off on county roads for a while, looking to confuse and/or disorient the bad guys before ditching the vehicle and commandeering another. Their objective remains unchanged: to duck back into Metropolitan Newark, to locate the celebrated Hopewellian Octagon Earthworks.

Myron is following a two-lane highway past a place with 600 trailer hookups toward what looks like a flea market or a carnival. They can see a big yellow tent in the distance, and people streaming toward it like ants going to their little hill. It looks like a big deal. And maybe a good place to get lost before the copters and the cigar-shaped squid carriers close in.

As Myron makes the turn, he looks in the rear view mirror and sees Wayne and Little Turtle swinging in behind them. In a cement truck. Little Turtle is driving. Wayne, riding shotgun, has a rifle beside him.

Myron and Blinky see a sign by the road leading to the goings-on at the tent. It says:


A line of vehicles is crawling into a fairgrounds area. They’re almost at a stop. Suddenly Myron hears that distant whobb whobb whobb. Blinky turns stiffly and points out a helicopter, swinging low over the horizon half a mile off. “They’re over there,” Blinky says. Myron is looking at Blinky’s arm, which has begun to take on a grayish cast.

Myron exhales.

“Are you feeling alright?” he asks, worried.

“I can’t tell,” answers Blinky. “I feel different, but I don’t know how to describe it.”

Myron looks at him.

“I’m fine,” says Blinky. “Really.”

“Okay,” says Myron. “I think it’s time to ditch the truck,” He pulls over into the grass on the side of the road. “Blinky,” he says, “we gotta get out. We gotta mix into the crowd.” Blinky nods grimly. Myron kills the ignition.

They get out of the truck. Wayne has opened the passenger door of the cement truck. He’s waving his tricorner hat, an apparent blessing of Myron’s plan. Little Turtle has gotten out a pair of opera glasses.

Proceeding on foot, Blinky and Myron pass through an outer ring of candy and sausage vendors. They encounter people selling tee shirts and cassette recordings. Large, thick people lumber along next to them. Everyone’s pressing toward the large yellow tent, the center of activity. Soon Blinky and Myron can hear an amplified voice. It’s a jabbering sound, not understandable, but musical and creepily appealing.

On walks the crowd. They pass a row of portable toilets and a haphazard collection of parked cars. There’s a bank of people selling Colfax mineral water. “With cleansing ingredients,” says one. “Helps speed metabolism!” People keep advancing on the tent. Finally the crowd bunches up and slows down. Now the voice attaches to a colorful figure in striped pants with a headset and a snakelike posture. He’s ranting. They recognize the voice from the radio.

“That’s Mr. Colfax,” whispers Blinky.

“I’m asking you, in all honesty,” declares the figure, gesturing plaintively, “do you think that Justice--that grand draped lady with the scales. . .” He pantomines the gesture of holding something up. “Do you think that Justice lives here today? Do you think that she dwells in this magnificent country?

“I don’t. My sources are telling me, and they’re reliable, that Justice has been slipping away from federal courthouses all around this great nation. Sneaking off under cover of darkness. In shame, people, in shame. Gone into hiding. Why? She is hoping against hope that no one will associate her good name with the stream—the torrent, the roiling river—of crime that has been spilling down from those same courthouses. Crime and corruption and ever greater concentrations of power, spilling down. Under the name of the public good.”

An assistant places a bottled water on a stand next to Colfax, who unscrews the cap and takes a swig in a single motion.

“Oh, that tastes good. Oh, Jim Dandy it does. The supplements in that clean fresh beverage, they fortify me, for the struggle.”

He returns the bottle to the assistant. The helicopter skirts along the edge of the fairgrounds, 200 feet up. A security man onstage is watching through binoculars.

“Now, as I was saying, before I cleansed my palette and girded my loins, I was saying that Justice has gone into hiding. She is trembling in the wine cellar. And why does she tremble?” Colfax raises his hand to the sky, his pants billowing in the wind. “Why? Because the poor grand dame of America is in fear for her life.

“And she’s right to be!”

The crowd shouts its assent. “They’re up there, aren’t they?” continues Colfax, “The Bureau of Tobacco and Firearms, and the Department of Motor Vehicles, and probably a few gutless traffic reporters along for the ride, people who are paid to keep us all in a permanent state of mental gridlock. Which is only part--a single facet--of a larger plan, which also includes pumping radon into peoples’ homes, and the widespread use of dangerous food additives--”

Myron turns to Blinky. “You want a hot dog?”

“—a plot which I will outline in a moment.” continues Colfax. “But let’s keep an eye on the fact the whole project is sustained by frippified fops and supporters of federal mandates, and people who think more highly of trees than they do of you! For the love of God!”

“Blinky,” says Myron, “I’m worried about you. You gotta eat.”

“These minions of the intrusive state that flutter around us, they do not know the mind of the people, do they!

“No!” shouts the crowd.

“They do not know who they’re messing with!”

“No!” comes the response.

“Frozen yogurt?” says Myron, raising his voice over the commotion. “Nachos?”

“These are the very same people who, joined by shadowy figures in the French government--yes!--are actively planning to replace our entire native population with millions of Burmese peasants!”

Blinky is rapt. Myron wanders over to a stand where another guy in striped pants is selling E. Colfax mineral water with B6 complex.

“And why would they want these people here?” thunders the libertarian dietetic prophet. Myron buys a bottled water and brings it back to Blinky.

“Drink this,” says Myron.

“Because they can’t read warning labels, the pitiable bastards, anymore than they can read Madison and Jefferson!”

Blinky takes the water but doesn’t open it.

He’s preoccupied.

“We must face facts, people,” Colfax says to the crowd.

“Myron,” says Blinky.

But Myron doesn’t hear him. Myron is watching the security detail behind the stage.

“Our politics has been poisoned. And we are vulnerable to this poison precisely because our food supply and our water and the whole environment we operate in, these have also been poisoned!”

Myron notices that the security guys with the binoculars are not tracking the helicopters anymore. They’re scanning the crowd.

“Oh, crap.”

“By the same people! These toxins sap us! In our weakened state, we cannot mount a response to this grave challenge to our liberty!”

“Myron,” says Blinky, a little louder and a little more anxiously.

One of the guys with binoculars is scanning their part of the crowd. He stops abruptly, then focuses.

“What are we supposed to do, you ask?”

He’s seen something.

Myron begins to push Blinky behind a sales booth.

“This is the question that’s troubled me, friends.”

It’s too late. The security guy has spotted Blinky. Now he’s pointing, and the others are beginning to jump down off the back of the stage.

“As a patriot, I ask myself,” continues Colfax, “what am I to do? Well, I have plunged myself into my work. And I have produced, after long reflection and longer effort,”

Myron grabs the bottled water from his friend’s hand. In tiny letters, along the bottom of the label, it says: E. Colfax is a registered trademark of SBE, Ltd.

“--I have produced a series of NEW products designed to decontaminate our republic, by first ridding ourselves of the toxins used to weaken us!”

“It’s a front! The guy’s a Sucke!” exclaims Myron.

“Myron!” shouts Blinky, grabbing him by the arms.

“What?!” Myron shouts back.

“I can see them!” Blinky’s weird feeling has morphed into a perception. He knows which people in the crowd are Aliens. Their octoheads are tucked inside fake faces.

“Octos!” he shouts.

“Which ones?” demands Myron. Blinky takes off running. He darts through the crowd like a maniac, stomping toes every fifth step or so, kicking somebody in the shin. He nails the guy who sold Myron the water, and a biker chick, and a guy who looks like an engineer. Each one of them cries out in sudden pain, and out pops an Octohead. People in the crowd are freaking. Total chaos.

Interlocking multi-layered conspiracies of domination are breaking out into the open like a runaway biology project. The Sucke Brothers have manufactured a fake populist opposition which—true to form—also manages to produce income. But seems like the Suckes may have been blind to the underground advance of the Octos, whose thirst for domination goes totally past accounting. In any case, the shit is hitting the fan. Indeed, the whole pace of things, possibly including the rotation of the Earth, has begun to accelerate.

Blinky and Myron are sprinting toward the RV and truck parking. Myron is flipping through mental options in his brain, but all the cards are blank. Realistically speaking, odds are they’re screwed. Breathing hard, Myron scans the landscape. The cement truck is nowhere to be seen. “Damn,” breathes Myron. He looks back over his shoulder and sees that the Octos and Sucke Brothers security people are mostly occupied with each other, except for like a squad of guys in pinstriped suits and transistor radios. They are booking along behind, gaining ground, when several of them shudder and go down. Arrows to the chest.

Little Turtle has ceased to fuck around.

A powder blue-colored bus pulls up alongside Blinky. The door opens, and there’s an old guy driving the vehicle with a thick shock of white hair. “Get in the God damn bus!” he’s shouting. “Myron! Get in the God damn bus!” Myron looks at the side of the bus. It reads, “Quinn Transport: Where You Want to Go.”

“Q!” shouts Myron, and pushes Blinky into the bus.

No comments:

Post a Comment