Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Chapter Eight: The End of the Beginning

The only vice which cannot be forgiven is hypocrisy. The repentance of a hypocrite is itself hypocrisy.
~William Hazlitt

“Are you kidding me?!”
Edward just shook his head.
“No, I’m serious here. You’re not messing with me?”
“I’m serious.  It might have seemed callous of me, but I also had to know. And, yes, it knew: down to the very last second.”
“So… it’s real.”
“Well… that much of it is anyway. But if you consider the impossibility of that one thing, I suppose there’s really no reason to doubt the rest of what she said. As impossible as it all sounds, we've now seen it do the impossible.”
“And what was it that she said this can do, by the way? Refresh my memory, please.”
“Basically the personal pages are part of an application – one resembling a database – that allows me to alter or re-write someone’s fate.  I can control their actions, possibly alter their life’s circumstances to some extent…” he paused.
“Yeah. Only once the conditions I’ve entered are met, and they’ve ‘fulfilled their destiny,’ so to speak? Their life ends.  If I l leave it blank, and just hit the ‘execute’ button? They’ll die immediately.”
“Yeah, so what I’ve been given is basically the ability to kill people, only with the bonus of being able to make them do things before the die.”
“So… What are you going to do?”
“That’s the thing. I don’t know. I honestly don’t know. I know what I’d LIKE to do, but…”
“Every time I allow myself to believe it, the reality of what I’m proposing sinks in.  Killing people.  Most likely a LOT of people. I don’t know. When I start to believe it would really work?  I just… can’t.”
“You mean there's no one you don’t think we need to get rid of?” her tone was heavy with sarcasm and she raised an eyebrow as she spoke.
“Ha-ha. Yeah. Sure. I can think of a LOT of people – just fantasizing about it. I’m sure anyone could. AND I’m sure that in the hands of any of those people we’d already be seeing a lot of unexplained and mysterious deaths, following a lot of people acting completely out of character.  But is the only way forward to be just like them?”
“OK, but ‘they’ would be doing for personal gain, personal power and partisan party politics. YOU would be doing it to STOP that kind of thing, right? If I’ve understood any of what you’ve said over the past week, it’s not about the positions they hold so much as they way they usurp the process, by buying off politicians and propagandizing through the press. You’re looking to put the power back in the hands of the people, and to make the elite serve their interests first.  Also, if I’m not mistaken… didn’t she – Luci – also say something about a final judgment coming? Aren’t all these people pretty much fucked anyway, along with everyone else if you do nothing?”
Edward had to chuckle at that last suggestion. “So you’ve come around on that whole thing, huh? That was fast. If I remember correctly, the last time we talked about it you called her a 'nut-bag.'”
“All right, fair enough.” Epiphany shrugged and held up the palms of her hands in concession. “And no… I don’t know if I’m ready to believe everything she said.  But it’s like you said: If you’re told five impossible things, and the first one comes to pass, you get a little more open minded about the other four.”
“Yeah, I get you. And, uh, by the way,” Edward got to his feet and headed towards his bedroom, beckoning her to follow him. “I’d like to show you impossible thing number two.”
“Huh?” This struck her as a bit of a non sequitor but she followed him in and sat on the edge of the bed. Edward remained standing. He had something in his hands but she couldn’t see what it was yet.
“First, I want you to see this.” He handed her his driver’s license.
“What this?”
“My license.”
Epiphany laughed, “Dude this isn’t even a good fake! This guy looks nothing like you!”
“That’s me.”
She laughed again, but this time it sounded a little nervous. “Ummm… No, no it’s not. It says he’s thirty-seven. You’re like…”
“What? How old do you think I am anyway?”
Although she hadn‘t given it much thought, now that she looked at him she was a bit stumped. He looked  young, but hardly child-like. And he possessed an air of maturity that most of the twenty-somethings she knew just didn’t have. Although she would’ve put at just a few years out of school, his lifestyle definitely didn’t seem like one of a recent graduate, particularly in the present economy.  “I don’t know… Twenty… six? Twenty-eight?”
“I’m thirty-seven. I graduated from college in 1995. I’ve been with my current employer for almost fourteen years. I can show you my diploma. You can call my boss, if you’d like.” Although he hoped it wouldn’t come to that. He still needed to square things with his soon to be ex-employers himself.
“OK, OK.  But,” She held the license up to his face and made a back-and-forth motion with her hand, “How do you explain this? You don’t even look like each other.”
“That was me just over a week ago; just before me met.  Before I was given… this.” Edward showed her the vial.
“What’s that?” Her apprehensive tone suggested that she would not need much convincing.
“Eternal youth. Freedom from old age, illness and injury. You will be made into the perfect version of yourself and maintained that way indefinitely. All of your genetic potential realized. You will become the perfect you.”
“And that’s why you look like you do?”
“Why are you telling me this?”
Edward got down on one knee and looked up at her. “Because after this past week, you’ve become someone important to me. Someone I want in my life – for a very long time. If I’m going to do anything with this tablet, I want you to be a part of it. I want you to help me, to council me. And if that’s going to happen, then I want you to have this – to have the same protection, the same responsibility and the same power than I will. I want to share this with you.  Will you accept it?”
“Oh my God I…” she paused, as if she was going to accept immediately, until she realized the full gravity of what was being proposed. “Yes,” she answered, more quietly and solemnly that she would have before. “Yes, I will.”
Edward just smiled. “Then close your eyes and open your mouth.” Epiphany just looked at him as if he’d casually suggested that she eat a cockroach. “OK, fine. I guess it doesn’t matter. Just stick out your lounge.”
Epiphany watched as Edward removed the stopper from the vial. She followed it as he slowly brought it down, ending up almost cross-eyed as he touched it to her tongue. “That thit?” She asked, tongue still out.
“It doesn’t take much.” He smiled.
“I don’t feel any different.”
“Well, you have to give it some time. A few hours maybe, since you’re already about ten years younger and in much better shape than I was in. I’m guessing that by dinner time, all of your flaws will be gone.”
“And what are my flaws exactly?” she asked, cocking her eyebrow again.
‘Uh-oh.’ Edward thought to himself. He knew a loaded question when he heard one. “I’m sure I have no idea what you’re talking about my dear, for I do not perceive ANY flaws in you myself.” She smiled, despite his obvious sarcasm.
“You’re such a clown!”
“OK, in all seriousness? Why don’t you wait until about six or seven, then look yourself over and YOU tell ME what you see.  For me it took off forty pounds and about twenty years.”
“And uh…” She patted the top of her head, as she held up the license showing his formerly bald pate.
“Yeah,  yeah.” He said with smirk, as he snatched his license back. “Like I said, YOU tell ME.”
“OK, fine.” She answered, a bit disappointed, but smiling again. “In the meantime, why don’t you tell me what you had in mind for that tablet?”
“I told you, I don’t…”
“Stop. Just stop. If you want my help, my advice, I need a sense of where you are with this.  If I don’t know what you’re thinking I can’t tell you what I think of it. So stop with this ‘I don’t know what to do’ crap, because I KNOW you’ve got a pretty shrewd idea what you want to do. It wouldn’t be freaking you out so much if you hadn’t given it any thought.”
“OK, fine: You got me.”
“So what’s the plan, so far?”
Edward took a deep breath and exhaled. “It would need to be something big. Something really big. Something that could not be explained away, misinterpreted or ever forgotten about. It would have to hit every aspect of the problem at hand: The legislature, the judiciary, industry, their lobbyists, their interest groups, the church, the media… Every group that has participated in, enabled or benefited from the perversion of our democracy and the systematic power-grab that has resulted from this systematically misinformed populace and a corrupt or lassie-fair regulatory body and judiciary. And what’s more, it MUST exact retribution for the crimes committed against the public.
“Wow! OK, now we’re talking! So… what did you have in mind?” Her eyes widened in anticipation.
Edward took another deep breath, exhaling before he began. “What I want to do, is to force a bunch of these right-wing corporate whores – and I do mean a LOT of them, like… a hundred, maybe – to ‘confess their sins.’ And I mean their sins as you and a I and any relatively well-informed, progressively-minded person would see them.  Then deliver their part of a progressive political manifesto for the public to look to for guidance, and then…”
“What?” she was practically shaking in excitement.
“Kill themselves.”
“Oh my God! That’s perfect!” She clapped once as she said this.
Edward looked at her like she was crazy. “OK, I’m going to forget that I heard that just now. We’re talking hypothetically here. I’m not going to actually DO that!” Epiphany’s jaw dropped in disappointment and Edward held his hand up as she started to protest. “There’s more; Hypothetically speaking, anyway.”  She resumed her previous posture and listened intently once again.
“First of all, to leave no doubt as to what happened to these people, they will record the entire event  on video so it can be found at the scene.  And this ‘manifesto’ they are to deliver? To further blow people’s minds, so that no one will be able to deny that something truly extraordinary is going on, each one will write just one line of it. And they’ll number their individuals lines, so that the manifesto can be re-ordered and read in its entirety once it’s completed. As if this was all coordinated. And…”
“Yeah?” she was clearly loving this.
“Not only will they be on video when they write it, but…”
Yeah?” she looked like she was going to pee herself in excitement.
“They would write it in their own blood.”
“Whoa.” Her smile almost scared him.
“There’s some details that would need to be worked out, and maybe a few other things added in, for effect, but… that’s the gist of it.  In theory, anyway. Since there’s basically no fucking way I’m going to do it.”
“Well… you should. Because it a fucking awesome idea!  The Right’s own, most prevalent voices condemning their sins and delivering a manifesto for the progressives. Man. THAT is a good idea. And delivered in such a way as to sufficiently scare the crap out of anyone left that they’d think twice about picking up where their predecessors left off! It’s amazing.”
“You’re psychotic,” Edward answered smiling as he said it.
“Hey, it was YOUR idea!” She answered feigning being insulted. “If you live in a glass house, don’t walk around naked!”
“Or throw stones?”
“You know what I’m sayin’!”
“Yeah, it was my idea. But it’s a fantasy! A fucking daydream! I don’t know why we’re even talking about it.”
“Because you wanted to know what I thought.  And I think you should do it!”
“Well… now that I’ve said it out loud, I don’t. It’s completely wrong. There has to be another way; a better way.”
“So who’s on the list?” she asked with enthusiastic anticipation.
“There IS no list! I’m not doing it!”
“Hey, don’t get all huffy! WHATEVER you do, you’ll still need a list. So? Who’s on it?”
“Oh, fine. First things fucking last. In the media? The Fox News and AM Talk Radio crew. Limbaugh, O’Reilly, Hannity, Beck, Ingraham… those clowns. Throw in the Coulter’s and Malkin’s of the world, too I guess. The Brietbart’s, from the web,  the Reverend Moon’s from the newspapers... You get the idea.”
“And the church?”
“Just the blatant, hyper-partisan, hypocritical frauds. Scum like Pat Robertson and James Dobson, mainly. Fallwell, if he were still alive. Donohue. That piece of shit Phelps. Jack Chick. You get the idea.”
“OK, wait… what about those same people outside the U.S.? Bin Laden, the Ayatollah’s, guys like that?”
“Eventually? People the world over will have to be dealt with, but I want to start HERE. I want to return us to a place where we lead by example and are looked up to by the rest of the world as a moral authority. We’ve lost that. And I want to make sure our own house is spotless before looking at anyone else’s.  But eventually, if we can’t get to them or marginalize them any other way? Sure. One country at a time. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.”
“OK… How about industry?”
“Guys like the Koch brothers and organizations like ALEC and all the people that head up and fund all their goofy ‘think’ tanks,” Edward made air-quotes on the word, ‘think,’ “that do nothing to actually solve any societal problems, but do an awful lot of work figuring out to sell their fascist agenda to the voting public and grab more power for themselves.”
“And the judiciary?”
“Oh, that’s easy: Scalia, Thomas, Roberts and Alito. Done.”
“And the legislature? You mean, like the tea-baggers?”
“Actually, just the group on the whole? No. The legislature needs to purged not of the Right or the Left, the Conservatives or Liberals or the Republicans or Democrats. What needs to be eliminated are two types, free of any partisan or party considerations: Blatant Corporatists – those legislators who are owned lock, stock and barrel by the corporations – and the Religious nuts who can’t get the meaning of the First Amendment through their thick skulls and who are forever using stupid, religious nonsense to get self-proclaimed Conservatives in the working class to vote against their economic interests and who run interference for the Corporatists by confusing the Liberals – making us take our eye off the ball.”
“Wait… What do you mean by that? I thought the separation of church and state was important to you.”
“Oh, it IS. But they’re not the REAL problem. The Right doesn’t have a truly Christian bone in most of their collective bodies. They just USE religion to get votes from one side, and meanwhile the opposition is so torqued up about church and state issues that they stop talking about the REAL issue. The ONLY issue. Which is the ever increasing Corporatization of America and the World. These Right Wing hypocrites don’t really CARE about their social agenda. It’s just a tool to get one group of votes, and to keep the other side focused on different issues. Well, BOTH parts of that strategy need to be dealt with: The corporate whores AND the funny-mentalists. And while the bulk of them will likely be Republicans, I can think of a Democrat of two that might fit that description as well. It’s not like I drew up a list of them yet or anything, but these people are the real cancer in our society. They’ve betrayed their oath to represent the will of the people and uphold the Constitution and instead sold out for some easy campaign funding and a cushy post-politics job once the voters get wise to them. They need to go. And they need to go in such a way that NO ONE will be tempted to fill their shoes once their gone.” 
His tone grew increasing loud and aggressive as he spoke, and the sincerity with which he delivered this practically inspired Epiphany.
”Bravo!” she called out sincerely, although sounding sarcastic.
Once Edward realized how he had been speaking, and became aware of his posture and the chopping motion he was making with his hand as he spoke, he stopped and collected himself. “Yeah, well… That’s what I think. But I’m not going through with it.”
“Come on! You were great just then! And you were just getting going!” she was laughing, but her admiration was genuine. “I could see you at the U.N. now, pounding your shoe on the desk!”
“Whatever reservations I may have had before, your comparison to Khrushchev did little to dispel them,” Edward answered wryly.
She moved closer to him. “You know it will come to something like that eventually.”
“I know no such thing.” He drew back, but only a little.
“It’s gonna happen,” she said, smiling, only a few inches from him now.
“It won’t.” He leaned in slightly.
“We’ll see.”
And whatever answer he would have given was lost as she closed the rest of the distance between them and they kissed deeply.

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