Thursday, August 27, 2009

Scene 69


A number of things get clarified in the first week after the Ascension. First of all, Darryl was wrong on the narrow but critical question of motive. The Octos did not seek global dominance. Because Blinky metamorphosed into a semi-immortal cross-species translator and tipped Myron off in that exchange on the bus, the world learned that here was a simple case of galactic disorientation. Turns out the Octos looked into all kinds of metaphysical possibilities; it just so happened that Professor Kleinenfloncker had the best material, luckily brought off the shelf by the misadventures of Myron and Blinky; unluckily, creepy Alan was probably just a bad apple. Possibly Telly Savales in The Dirty Dozen. Bummer for Special K.

Meanwhile, the climactic contest revealed a crucial weakness of the Sucke Brother Empire. No matter how skilled, how ruthless the Suckes might be—and they were both, in spades—in the end, they were shown to be nothing but technicians. They wanted too little, even though they took everything. A terrified species in fear for its very survival rose up and ate them for breakfast. Today the Suckes remain in business, still more than a match for your average city or county government. But they’re chastened. And they sold off the remaining helicopters.

Mad Anthony Wayne did not advance to the other side along with his co-signatory of the Treaty of Greeneville. It’s possible the whole thing was a terrible mix-up, and nothing more than lost spiritual luggage, partly rectified much too late. Alternatively, and more likely, Wayne remains on this side of the portal for personal reasons—specifically, because he struggles so to control his emotions. Ask anybody: anger will keep you stuck like nothing else.

Q suggests that the best corrective training in the world can be acquired through the game of golf. “It’s so damn frustrating,” he observes. “But the reality is: you can’t play mad. You must tame your anger to get any good.” Which is true. Unfortunately, Q isn’t very good anymore. Neither is General Wayne. But they’re both still out there, whacking and cursing their way around the course. Which no longer occupies the site of the Octagon Earthworks. They fired the guy in charge of the Ohio Cultural Legacy Department, who turned out to have acquired an entire tropical island on a $32,000 salary.

Little Turtle’s passageway to the upper world was re-colonized by Shelley Palomino (nee Shertzer), a fiftyish woman disillusioned by the Church who changed her name and launched a wildly successful but totally bogus Native American sun-worshipping cult. She offers an impressive array of reasonably-priced audio cassettes, shiny stones and talismanic effigy figures in the renovated clubhouse. The piped-in flute music tells you right away when you walk in: this is an extremely spiritual outfit.

And Myron. Myron walks away. Literally. He swears off the corporate life, buys a wide-brimmed hat and some snowshoes, and learns to live off the land. He completely outgrows his intestinal problems, likely tied to pervasive anxiety about how he’s perceived by others. Has he accomplished enough? Is he important enough? These things matter less now.

Myron tramps crosslots a hundred miles or so through the sticks, down to the Serpent Mound, in honor of Blinky. It makes a big impression on him. The mound runs along a steep ridge, the edge of a giant prehistoric impact crater. On the day Myron gets there, in winter, the place is abandoned. He shares the grounds with a big buck deer that follows him in. They pick their way around independently, then Myron climbs the observation tower to get a proper view. Perched up there in the rusting tower, looking down on a quarter-mile worth of unfurled snake opening up to chomp on an egg, Myron wonders whether Little Turtle was right. Is it best to live your life with an expectation of harsh dealing, developing your stoic Zen muscles in the face of an unforgiving fate you can’t know and couldn’t control if you did? Or is it better to fight and flail, accepting nothing, biting down hard on life with a vengeance? Does Mad Anthony Wayne have it right after all?

Every now and then, Myron pulls out Blinky’s weathered postcard and asks the question: which comes first, the Serpent or the Egg?


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