Wednesday, July 11, 2007
The Great Exxon Gerber Spill (Prescient)
My first flat out fiction, circa May 2005. As I'm inert currently, this is appropriate for reposting.
My new chair in my new home. They poke me with needles to make it okay.
What happened to me, you ask? Sit down, relax. I'll tell you. I've needed to tell somebody for a long, long time. I'm going to do it today. Now. Before it's too late. Before they get me.
Last October I decided to get involved in politics. It was already late in the election season, but I decided it was my patriotic duty to inform myself. I wanted to know what values each candidate represented. I live in Illinois, and as a dedicated blue state, no presidential candidates would waste any time here. Indiana is red, so no luck there either.
Wisconsin was tipping back and forth. They garnered plenty of attention nationally. I hadn't been to a political rally in Wisconsin since 2000, when I went to see Ralph Nader call Governor Tommy Thompson "A blight on the landscape, a destroyer of families, a corporate demon destroying the livelihood of the family farmer." Or something similar. Actually I just made that up, but it's correct in spirit. I love Ralph Nader.
I discovered that "Swingin" Dick Cheney was coming to Waukesha on October 28th, mere days before the final tally. I didn't want to get beat up for being a skeptical liberal, so I wore a Cornhuskers sweater I got for Christmas from my Nebraska relatives a few years ago. Red would wear well in this crowd. I left my granola in the cupboard and bought a pound of black pepper beef jerky on the way there. Nibbling meats would chew well in this crowd. Finally, I left my cigarettes on the nightstand. As one last extreme measure to fit in, I bought some minty Kodiak chewin chaw so I could spit and drool like a real rural type.
I got there and signed my loyalty oath and listened to Dick's muttering monotone. He was introduced by Republican Representative Jim Sensenbrenner. They used hearty words and satisfied chuckles to give each other verbal reacharounds.
Sensenbrenner with groupies.
I was bored and the cool weather was making me sleepy, so I scratched and tugged at my testicles. I grunted. Better. I looked around. Other fellas were reseating their hats on their dirty unkempt hairy heads and cracking their necks with enthusiam. I tried the same and gave myself a slight case of whiplash.
I decided to leave. Dick didn't tell me much about himself or George. He was talking about John Kerry, and all I really wanted to know was how many foreign nationals could be liquefied by the latest radioactive diarrhea missiles, or whatever the hell they use to kill little brown people these days.
I've been against the war since before it began, but I'm not above a good sick joke. If Cheney would've smiled like a serial rapist and made a joke about using a turban as a cum rag, I would've laughed. In this crowd I'd probably slap my knee to show everybody else how funny Dick is.
But he didn't, so I ambled away. The hoots and hollers and stomps and squirts faded into the background as the throng of yokels receded behind me.
At that moment my life changed. I heard something strange. A woman screaming. It was almost dark, but I saw a violent movement behind a few trees next to the idle motorcade. I walked up the lane, passing several black stretch limosines along the way.
I was tiptoeing towards the sound when silence abruptly interrupted. I stopped. In silhouette I saw a secret serviceman with his hand clamped over some poor woman's mouth. The curly cord that ran from his earpiece jiggled as he violently wrenched her head, snapping her neck.
What had I just witnessed? I wanted to slink away. Nobody can take on the government and win. Nobody. I'm no hero. I made the smart decision and crept away, quiet as can be.
When I heard a baby begin to cry, I paused. I couldn't help myself, and I turned to look back. I spied a dual stroller with two infants nestled inside. The woman's children. Twins? It stood alone. Where had the agent with the dead mother gone?
I was frozen. I knew I was in mortal danger, but I wanted to save those poor little ruddycheeked bundles of joy. I thought hard. What could I do? Maybe he would head for the forest to dispose of the former mother, and meanwhile I could steal the infants and bring them to a church or an orphanage or somewhere.
Footsteps. Two agents now. I could barely see them in the darkness. I crept closer. Stupid.
I saw the agents casually heave the victim into the lead limo's trunk. One grabbed the children, one in each arm. He was rough with them. The other folded the stroller and jammed it into the trunk, struggling to squeeze it into the same space as the fresh corpse. He slammed the trunk and went to the rear limo door. He opened it. I was crawling on my knees at this point, peeking from behind a large treetrunk. I was sweating, shaky, and desperate for a cigarette. A woman swung her legs out and leaned forward to reach for the babies.
"My sweet little darlings, aren't you just adorable! I can't wait to get you to my kitchen."
The interior lights backlit the woman. I recognized her easily. Lynne Cheney. She stroked their soft skin with her sharp fingernails, eyeing them greedily. She even licked her lips. She swung herself back into the car. An agent closed it, muttered into his tiny microphone, and got into the front passenger side. The other looked around briefly, and, satisfied that they had not been witnessed, slid into the driver seat. The vehicle rumbled away, leaving the rest of the motorcade to wait for the end of Dick Cheney's droning stump lullaby.
I followed them away. Curiosity got the better of me again. I'll never be the same.
When they turned onto an unmarked gravel path I kept to the main road. I stopped at a local pub a few miles down. I needed a drink. Badly. Neon Lienenkugel's signs flickered. Waves of vomit and urine wafted out the doorway in thick aggressive gusts. Slouched figures donning ragged flannels sat on stools, slumped with bad posture and lazy defeat. They gnawed on soggy cigarette filters and fingernails. The television played muted sitcoms while an old Garth Brooks CD skipped through songs on the jukebox. Dim light and dim sadness hung throughout like humid suicide.
I sat on a rickety stool and grabbed the bar's edge. Without a grip, my shaking hands would attract attention. I made a conscious effort to breathe slowly. When I ordered three shots of Jim Beam, the tired old waitress stopped her gum smacking mid-chew. Mouth half-open, she eyed me, sizing me up. Chewing again, she went for the bottle and sighed. She expected trouble from me. I don't blame her. My eyes were peeled open, my muscles were tensed all over and I looked like an electrocution victim with a tooth-grinding problem.
I downed the amber poison to calm my nerves. One, clack, two clack, three clack. I surprised her by leaving. She was already reaching for the Beam again, but I was ready to go learn some ugly truths about the leadership of my beautiful country.
I left my car behind.
Three miles of strewn gravel and fleeing squirrels later, I came to a large clearing in the trees. The grass lay chewed and dead, and up from the forlorn ground stood an old chemical refinery, long abandoned. Rust and foraging mammals fought for conrol of the weathered edifice. Parked and poking out from behind the aging structure I saw the tail of a black stretch limo. It was turned off and all was quiet but for grasshoppers.
I went inside the imposing monument of decay. Moonlight snuck in between pipes and wheels. Deep within the spooky old factory an ancient retired device shuddered into action, gears turning for the first time in decades. Following the racket, I came before a door. I put my hand on it and felt the slightest tremor, physical evidence of the ominous sound. The vibration of angry machinery lured me on. I opened it.
Enter a new hell.
Before me lay an awesome sight. Both above and below me, tier after tier of catwalks lined a great courtyard sunken deep into the ground. The moon shone upon the arena below, an iron floor the size of a football field. The tiers gave the immense expanse the feel of a stadium or a prison. The iron courtyard was fraught with hazardous protrusions: chains, hooks, tools, and punctured barrels. All dormant. These former metal behemoths now rust and rot without purpose, forlorn heaps of gizmos, gears, and scattered gaskets, anchors left to sink the factory in the ground inch by foot, decade by century.
As the scene stretched out before me, I saw false light flickering below, peeking out from the farthest corner. Electric torches and kerosene lamps swung about, carried by the busy activity of the small party camped down there. I heard hoarse cackling laughter join the rumbling beastly machinery that creaked away for some unknown sinister purpose.
I drew my gaze back to close range. Moonlight glistened on the wet slick rungs of a mossy ladder before me. Down it led, descending all five levels to the bottom floor. I went down three levels and gingerly tested the catwalk. It seemed sturdy and quiet enough. I chose to remain two stories above the murderous agents and the witch woman.
I allowed myself to feel slightly safer by looming above them. I began creeping closer to their light, ever so silently. I was nearly above them when Lynne Cheney threw a match onto a mound of stale crumbling rubber, igniting it into a fierce blaze that scalded the air. Insects fled. The light showed me the violent pair of secret service agents, now wearing red togas, standing back from the fire. They stood twirling empty gasoline cans, looking bored. Lynne stood before the fire, arms upraised, jaw clenched, eyes closed. Her lips moved but no sound emitted. She prayed silently to a foul beast beyond my reckoning.
I heard noise from above and behind. I froze. Lynne's eyes snapped open and trained on the ladder I'd used mere moments before. I concealed myself behind a sort of metal trellis and waited. More suited secret service agents came down the ladder a hundred yards behind me. They were not so stealthy as I, and I saw them pass my elevation and continue down to the floor level. Seven of them crossed the ugly ground to Lynne.
One pulled a lever. The rumble got louder. The secret machine revealed its purpose. A rope let out slowly into the sky, where it slung over a series of pulleys, and down came a corpulent man. It was him: the Vice President Of The Unites States. He made a careful descent to the eager group. He was slung in a hammock and appeared to be relaxed. When he landed, he strode up to Lynn, kissed her passionately, and she led him by the hand to a makeshift pavillion a few yards from the fire.
After this things began to get hazy for me. Some of my memory is raw and patchy from the shock of what I witnessed. Some of the damage may be a chemical side effect from the thick black smoke that drifted off the rubber fire up to my lookout perch. I must also admit that I may have blacked out some of the details as a means of self-defense, a frightened denial to help me sustain my sanity and lucidity. Some things cannot be erased no matter how badly I want to forget them, and it is these fragments that I sadly and dutifully remit to you for judgement.
The seven late arriving agents stipped bare and their suits went into the fire. They walked like robots single file into the pavillion, and they emerged wearing the same blood red togas Lynne's murdering crew already wore. They brought from the pavillion several sturdy wooden tables and a few wire mesh bags filled with sharp metal implements. The shiny bundles scraped together with menacing shrill whispers as they swayed under the heavy hands of the expressionless men.
Last from under the pavillion came the motherless stolen twins, now doomed to a gruesome fate I could not turn away from. Then the hammock was lowered again, and this time it contained nine more squirming, mewling children, all bound in pink twine. The party now totalled twenty two, eleven adults and eleven infants.
Dick and Lynne hugged and watched as the toga men carried the bound children to the wood. They tied them down with thicker ropes, each child separate from the rest. The men stood back. The mesh bags were opened and heaps of polished kitchen tools were carelessly strewn upon a plastic tarp.
Chanting ensued. The feast began. The children screamed with high-pitched clear tones that rang into the night sky. It was the worst sound I'd ever heard until the blood began to bubble in their little throats. That then became was the worst sound I'd ever heard, their pure siren screams slowly diluted by bubbling, gurgling blood.
I began to fade at this point, unable to move and help them. Intervening would just end my life, and it was already too late to help. I had to tell the world. I had to share the secret. I had to survive. Unable to gaze upon the profane slaughter any longer, I crawled away from sight and cried silenty.
Snatches of dialogue clawed into my ears as I lay on the catwalk in fetal position, rocking back and forth, pulling at my hair. I was at a cocktail party in hell.
Eventually I slept, and when I woke, nothing remained but a stray charred little ribcage that had been kicked to the base of a corroded pile of sheet metal.
These are the ghastly words that haunt me:
"Too bad George isn't here tonight. He's great with the meat tenderizer."
"Lynne, honey, let's get the grill going. You know I love to grill the feet, just like Anton showed me last month at the pheasant farm. Those little toes are juicy with zebra crosshatch grillmarks."
"Now Dick, where are my little plastic martini swords? I've got fresh eyes here. I can't enjoy my drink and pop the 'olives' without my swords."
"The lard of an infant is divine, translucent as a pearl, unsullied by the pollution of life that stains it yellow. Adult fat is chewy clumpy corn kernels."
"Peel that skull open like a sardine can. Give me that potato skinner. Here, like this. Yyyyeeesssssss. Put your finger in there. Feel that."
"Kidneys are great thin and fried. Get the meat slicer, some olive oil, and the frypan. Oh, and some Triscuits for serving."
"This one is green, no longer fresh. I think it died before we began. Be a good fellow, Langley, and throw it on the bonfire. Do take care to keep our sport fresh, or I'll reassign you to mine-crawling duty in Fallujah."
"No, save that! We can make back scratchers, candle holders, and hemmoroid cream from that."
"Lynne saves the gums. She puts them on her eyes at night to keep her laugh lines subtle."
"Don't worry, we'll ban abortion soon enough. I figure the more orphans and desperate mothers we have, the easier this will get. The children are our future! How do you think Jesse Helms lived for so long? Marrow shakes. I made them myself sometimes. It takes more than oil connections to seize this kind of power."
"There's no such thing as an unwanted child." 3:32 AM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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