King Neptune’s Enchanted Seaquarium Bar And Grill: An Alien’s Tale Of Survival On The Great Lakes

For my Sister Fran, who taught me love makes us brave

Any interaction with humans, other than watching their broadcast television signals, is strictly forbidden. They’re as dangerous as they are entertaining.

–The Val’Dorrian Council

Never trust a human farther than you can throw one.

–Val’Dorrian Proverb

CHAPTER ONE

A PILOT NAMED MAYDAY

There’s something earthlings don’t know about the Great Lakes Triangle: in its watery grave, among the downed aircrafts and lake-faring vessels, there lies a submerged Val’Dorrian spaceship. I happen to know that for a fact because I was on it when it went down.

Now, the reason I was on that ship in the first place was on account of my father, Z’Nad Sz’Lan senior. Oh yes, forgive my manners. I didn’t introduce myself properly. My name is Z’Nad Sz’Lan junior. On Val’Dorria the letter “Z” is silent except when it’s not preceded by, or followed by, an apostrophe. It’s a bitch of a language. It’s harder to learn than Tolkien Elvish, and it’s got more rules than your Hockey. Anyhow, that being said, from here on in to make it easier on you, when I refer to myself I’ll simply go by “Nad”.

My father had been an intergalactic Val’Dorrian ore salesman. I don’t have any pictures of him, but from what I remember he was tall and handsome with chiselled features reminiscent of your human actor Ted Danson. Val’Dorrians are essentially humanoid, except our skin isn’t pinkish, or brown; it’s aquamarine. We lean towards the blue when we’re not tanned; when we are, we tend to be greener. Our hair is fair with natural streaks, the kind humans pay big money for. And oh yes, we’ve also got three antennas on our heads: one in the front and two further back. It’s ironic really, because we actually look like cliché aliens, the kind that has inhabited your pop culture fantasy and Science Fiction movies for years. I shit you not when I say if you made a three and three quarter inch tall action figure of me, it could almost pass for something from a nerd’s Star Wars collection.

Now, getting back to my father. His job requirements were such that he would routinely go on long Space voyages–often for weeks at a time, peddling his company’s wares. One summer when school was out, my sister Franny and I asked him if we could tag along on one of his trips–as a kind of adventure. She was a sweet little thing, my sister. (My mother had named her Fran after a woman on a TV show called “Kukla Fran And Ollie”. You wouldn’t believe the amount of crap from your planet that’s flying around the cosmos.)

My father had never intended on actually coming to Earth, let alone Lake Ontario; it was engine trouble on a Spaceship, old and in need of repairs, that had forced us down. I believe the term I’ve heard humans use to describe such vehicles is “a Shit Box”, if I’m not mistaken.

Mechanical failure aside, there were other mitigating factors that preceded our accident, starting with my father’s desire for what he called “a cool pilot nickname”.

Due to his aforementioned resemblance to Ted Danson, he’d decided he wanted to be called “Mayday” as an homage to Sam Mallone, the character Danson played on “Cheers.” Most of Val’Dorria was mad over Sam, Diane, Norm, Woody, the Coach, and even Cliff, and they’d all pull in the show religiously every Thursday evening with their trusty long-range receivers. The Val’Dorrian screening council intercepted and translated these signals first of course–except for the show’s catchy theme, that thankfully was left in its original state. Anyhow, as I was saying, when my father was out in Space he liberally used his self-penned nickname “Mayday” over the radio as his handle. He even went so far as to have it painted on the side of his helmet something my mother said was either a sure sign of a brain tumor or the onset of a mid-life crisis.

Now, for whatever reason my father had never thought things through when choosing the nickname “Mayday”, never stopped to consider that, while Mayday might have been an excellent nickname for an imaginary Baseball relief–pitcher, using such a name over the air to identify himself as a Pilot might lead to confusion. Had he gone with something more Top-Gunnish, like “Maverick” or “Goose” he might not have drowned inhaling lungfulls of Lake Ontario, but he had. So consequently the day my father’s ship started to lose altitude over Earth and begin its freefall into Canada’s great lakes, his fellow Val’Dorrians didn’t realize that he was in trouble. They were so accustomed to hearing the words “Mayday Mayday” shouted over the spacewaves with regards to my father, they didn’t pay a shred of attention to his distress call. They simply thought it was one of Z’Nad Sz’Lan’s cronies aka “Mayday” calling him to chat.

I suppose I’m putting the cart before the horse telling you about the crash before the actual trip, so I’ll fill you in on it–briefly.

It lasted nearly two weeks. For my father it had been business as usual, visiting this customer, and that prospective client, extolling the virtues and competitive prices of Val’Dorrian ore, but for my sister Fran and I it had been a sightseeing extravaganza. Val’Dorria was home, and we loved it for that, but, as my mother always said “It’s the arsehole of the Universe son”, and after seeing how grand life on other planets could be, I realized she was right. My father must have either been scared of my mother or loved her a lot to ever come back after his “road trips” as he called them. I can still hear her voice saying: “your father calls them road trips like he’s on tour with Neil Diamond.” He was huge on Val’Dorria, but I’ll tell you about that later.

Anyhow, this story’s not about that part of my adventure really, so pardon me if I’m light on the details; it’s more about my time on Earth afterwards. It’s suffice to say that the weeks Fran and I spent zipping through space with my father are some of my most cherished childhood memories, and if we’d all come back, from that trip safe and sound, it would have been the equivalent of a human child’s fondly remembered vacation in Disneyland.

Now, to get back to the crash.

The trouble all started on the way home. My father had gotten a crazy idea: he wanted to see Earth with his own eyes. Not all “Close Encounters, feeling up Richard Dreyfuss in the Mothership on top of Devil’s Mountain” close he’d said, I mean more like “wow, from here the Earth looks like a big blue marble, astronaut gazing at the Earth from space for the first time waxing philisphical” close. I can still remember his manic, thrilled voice when he’d asked “Hey kids?…do you wanna see the planet where they filmed Cheers? The planet where bars exist in which everyone knows your name, and they’re always glad you came?” And then his tone afterwards as it had shifted to one of lament as he’d muttered the likely autobiographical detail “Unlike on Val’Dorria where you have to drink alone in your bathroom after everyone’s gone to bed”.

The fact that he’d phrased his momentous decision/announcement as to whether or not we wanted to see the famed planet that the council had forbidden direct contact with

as a thinly diguised question

was irrelevant, because, even if we had protested, when my father got something in his head, he was going do it, come hell or high water–both of which were ironically awaiting me down the road.

Getting to Earth’s Solar System from where we were when my father made his impulsive decision, required sling-shotting our ship through a Wormhole using the gravity of a massive star. For an ace pilot in a well-built ship performing that kind of maneuver would have been an easy enough feat. However, my father was no Han Solo, and his Shit Box was no Millenium Falcon, consequently when he performed said maneuver we exited the Wormhole like a bat out of hell, out of control and going way too fast. When my father tried to slow us down using reverse thrust, the strain on the ship’s engines was too great. As we got close to Earth, his vintage Shit Box finally just gave up the ghost. I’d called it engine trouble in the beginning, but in truth it had been my father’s recklessness that had pushed the engine to the brink, like a novice Cowboy with poor judgment in an old Western unwittingly riding his horse to an early grave.

Though my father had faith in his abilities, he was a prudent man nonetheless. From the moment things had started to get hairy he’d insisted Fran and I strap on parachutes, saying “Don’t worry kids, the chutes are just a precaution…if anyone can get this Shit-” he’d stopped himself before he’d said “Box” and said “I mean ‘ship’ under control it’s me. I remember him trying to exude calmness while simultaneously having his cover blown, both by hands that shook as he’d fiddled with chute-straps, and the telltale rivulets of sweat that ran down from his “Mayday” helmet–so close together they formed a tiny waterfall on his forehead that had cascaded directly into his eyes making him tear up. Or so I’d hoped. The idea that he could be crying was unthinkable, because it meant…well, the unthinkable.

It was a fortunate thing for us he’d been so forward-looking, because when it became apparent we were caught in Earth’s gravitational field and destined to free fall, slicing though the atmosphere like an anvil through Angel’s hair, my sister and I


had been given a chance to live.

My last memories of my father are of him saying “I love you guys” as he hit the eject button, launching Fran and I skyward like two clay pigeons after a shooter yells “pull” and then watching his saucer as it sped off ahead of us, plummeting downwards until it finally sliced through the water like a flaming pie, vanishing into the murky depths of lake Ontario.

When my sister and I landed in that frigid water she called out “Mayday, Mayday” until her throat was raw. She had a strong voice for a little thing, but not loud enough to penetrate two hundred and eighty-eight feet of ice-cold lake water.

CHAPTER TWO

A BAKER’S DOZEN DAYS ON A RAFT

Franny and I floated in that icy water, bobbing up and down in the waves for what seemed like forever until we finally spotted a piece of my father’s wrecked ship. With all the remaining strength in our tired arms we crawled up on it, and over the next thirteen days and nights that little eight-by-ten foot piece of Val’Dorian space-metal became our home.

Though it’s over forty years ago I can still recall with bitter clarity how my sister Fran and I had fought for our very lives to survive. We’d sail at night under the cover of darkness so as not to be seen while I’d navigate by the stars like an ancient Phoenecian mariner. I’d fashioned a Jib out of the material of one of the parachutes. During the day I’d take it down because the print on the material was bright and festive and easy to spot. Try to find plain parachute material, it’s almost impossible.

We had no food with us when we ejected, so we were forced to fish. I’d managed to make a kind of spear from a piece of the wreckage. I knew Fran was scared, so I tried to turn everything into a kind of game to keep her spirits up. I invented one called “Bobbing for Trout”. It worked like this: my sister would hold her breath (Val’Dorrrians can hold their breath for up to three minutes) while I’d hold her by the ankles submerged upside down in the lake. As I was doing so she’d wiggle her antennas like worms to attract the fish. When I’d feel her jerk, I’d spear one. It was tricky business because trout are small and I didn’t want to accidentally skewer my sister. Trout aren’t the only fish in lake Ontario, there’s some that are much bigger. I once almost lost Fran to a Northern Pike. I had her firmly by the ankles as was the norm when we played our fishing game, when, what would normally have been a little tug, was replaced by a yank so violent that It took all my strength to hold on to her as we both went down beneath the lake’s surface. I fought that Pike with a ferocity you couldn’t imagine. I wasn’t about to lose my sister to a Canadian fresh water fish. I managed to free her from its grasp and make it to the surface, but it was a close call. Had we been under the water for another minute we would have surely drowned. When we got back on the raft I had to resuscitate Fran. I can still remember pinching her little antennas as I breathed air into her limp almost lifeless body, hoping it wasn’t too late. I’d managed to revive her, but our near-death experience at the hands (so to speak) of the Pike had been a hard thing to justify. I’d told Fran that it was all a game, and that the fish, “Mr. Pike”, had merely gotten carried away because he was having so much fun. I could tell by the way she’d cocked her head that she was starting to doubt me. She was my mother’s daughter after all, and I knew there was a dormant cynic inside of her yet to be awakened that would one day emerge.

After nearly losing Fran I knew our little respite had to come to an end. We Val’Dorrians are a tough folk, but we couldn’t subsist on raw trout and rain water indefinitely. I knew we were going to have to have contact with humans if we were to survive, so from that day on I sailed with the Jib during the day and awaited the inevitable

The irony of being found after I’d finally decided to put out the crimson-striped jib was that when the S.S. MacNamara had spotted us, it was not from above. You see, the vintage W.W. 2 U-Boat Captained by the eccentric Canadian Billionaire Sebastian MacNamara, like all dangerous underwater predators, had spotted us from below.

Now, being from another planet it goes without saying I didn’t know anything about Canada at that time, consequently the name “MacNamara” meant nothing to me. Had I any knowledge of the Country I would have known that “MacNamara” was akin to the name “Rockefeller” in America, or “Tholos Th’Zarath” the richest man on Val’Doria. I would have also known that the name MacNamara was synonymous with, not only a chain of successful and popular Canadian department stores, but also an aquatic Theme Park/Restaurant called “King Neptune’s Enchanted Seaquarium Bar and Grill”, the same”King Neptune’s” where I would first learn English, where Franny and I would meet the famed Canadian folk singer Gordon Lightfoot, where we would befriend a Killer whale named Diefenbaker, and where I would first fall in love. As in that Neil Diamond song “Helpless”, all my changes would be there.

CHAPTER THREE

SWALLOWED BY THE BEAST

When the sub surfaced, for a fleeting moment I thought it was my father’s saucer floating back up, but as I saw more of the ship’s outline I knew it was something else entirely, something larger and definitely not made with Val’Dorrian technology. Fran had clung to me as the submarine had emerged from the depths of lake. I can still remember her little voice quavering as she said “Is it a monster Nad?” It’s not, but for the most part the humans on board probably are. I thought inwardly while outwardly reassuring Fran, saying “It’s probably just the human Coast Guards coming to our rescue in a special submarine reserved for such occasions.”

I watched cautiously as Sebastian MacNamara’s men emerged on deck and threw a dinghy into the water. They were about one hundred feet away.
It was only when they got closer that I noticed their nets and harpoons.

Fran and I never stood a chance, but Val’Dorrians don’t give up without a fight, no matter what the odds, so when I saw what was about to happen to us I grabbed Fran’s hand and said “I heard the human Coast Guard love a good game of tag” and then dove with her into the water. Though we swam as if our very lives depended on it, it didn’t take MacNamara’s men long to catch up with us. We’d been out on the lake for thirteen days and we were exhausted, half-starved, and dehydrated. Fran had developed a cough as well, and on the cool nights aboard the raft I’d tried my best to keep her warm with my body while we clung together, but it hadn’t helped. As much as I hated the idea of being captured by the humans, I knew our chances of survival out on the lake were next to zero. So, as we were being netted like the very fish we’d lived off of for almost two weeks I told myself it was for the better. It was that, or face a slow death on the surface of the Earth’s fourteenth largest Lake.

When MacNamara’s men landed us in the dinghy Fran said to me “If this is a game of tag, how come they didn’t say ‘You’re it’ ?” Despite our capture being a necessity for survival, I felt filled with shame nonetheless, like a boxer aware he’s taken a dive after being made “an offer he couldn’t refuse”. In the end our “fight” had amounted to the two of us doing the crawl while trying not to ingest too much lake water.

If I may digress momentarily. You have to keep in mind I spoke very little English when we crash-landed. My father spoke some. Being a salesman, he was adept at learning languages for his job. He’d encouraged me to learn some, saying, “I’ll be damned son, but I’ve been to dozens of planets in my life, maybe even a hundred, and it’s the one language you find in every quadrant. Granted, no one’s speaking like a thespian, but if you need directions to a fueling station, to show outrage if you’re unjustly detained, or you simply have to make a good old-fashioned threat like “Get the f**k out of my way or I’ll kill you”, it’s the language to use.” My father was obsessed with Earth’s Kung Fu movies and claimed to have taught himself english by watching them. Occasionally he’d have me sit down with him and watch a few , saying “Try to follow along and pick up some English.” I don’t recommend this method, for when Captain McNamara’s men caught us and started to talk and the sound came out in synchronization with the motion of their lips, I was completely thrown off. It was Fran who’d had to explain, saying

“It’s called ‘crappy dubbing’ Nad. Earth Kung Fu movies are known for it. WAKE UP. ‘Cheers’ was translated and dubbed by the Council, that’s why you never noticed. Say what you will about the Council, they controlled us, but they weren’t sloppy technicians”.

That being said, as the crew were speaking amongst themselves, celebrating our capture and discussing our fate, I understood very little. I did however notice the word “Seemunkee” kept coming up every time one of the men looked at us. Of course I had no way of knowing they were talking about Fran and I and the show business name we were soon to be billed under in bright lights on the marquis in front of “King Neptune’s Enchanted Seaquarium Bar and Grill.”

When we arrived on the deck of the submarine, standing erect, as still as a statue, staring at us sternly with a disconcerting gaze, looking both at us and through us at the same time like a nearsighted lunatic with X-ray vision with bloodshot eyes of cobalt blue, was Captain Sebastian MacNamara. I knew he was the Captain because I’d seen ads for “Captain Highliner” delicious frozen seafood TV commercials from Earth, and the man was a ringe–with his blue Captain’s hat, his turtleneck sweater framing his well-groomed white beard and his pea coat with its double row of gleaming brass buttons reminiscent of an antique elevator panel from an early twentieth century six-story building.

He scowled and gave us a dismissive look, muttering to himself as he fumbled in his pocket for his pipe. I watched him as he lit a match and sucked flames into the bowl, casting a glow on his ruddy skin as smoke arose. I can still recall the sweet smell of tobacco as they carried Fran and I past him, down into the bowels of the U-Boat, into the belly of the beast.

As the sailor toting us on his back descended the rungs of the metal ladder that groaned and creaked under our combined weight, I listened to the pinging sound his boots made as they struck each rung individually, like rubber soled mallets, and couldn’t help but notice how much it sounded like discordant music, like a hollow metallic funeral march being played on ten-foot-long poorly tuned xylophone. After he’d set us down and closed the hatch above us Fran whispered in my ear “I’m scared Nad”. She knew this wasn’t a game of tag anymore, and I didn’t try to convince her otherwise. It was the last I saw of the sky for some time.

CHAPTER FOUR

THE BOOT

The official name of the submarine that abducted my sister and I was the “H.M.C.S. McNamara”, but the men aboard all called it “The Boot”, after the famous German film about a submarine.

On Val’Dorria civilians are strictly forbidden from owning military vehicles, whether they be current, or hail from antiquity. Consequently when I first saw the submarine, I initially thought Fran and I were being pursued by the military–due to my father’s saucer crashing into the lake. I had no idea then that Captain MacNamara was no more a Captain than Mayor Mc Cheese was a Mayor.

It was Fran who figured it out later on. Her English was far better than mine, and though she was younger than me by three years, of the two of us she was much smarter. “You have to understand Nad” she’d said “On earth a Prince can rule a principality and marry Grace Kelly, or he can make Purple Rain and then disappear for years only to reemerge, play the Superbowl and then overdose not too long afterwards. Also, on Earth they have people called Doctors who practice medicine, but there’s also drinks called ‘Dr. Peppers’, so, it stands to reason that there’s probably many kinds of Captains as well” Fran was wise beyond her years. On Val’Dorria everything has only one name, however there are two hindered and seventy words in our language for the word “name”.

Our time on “The Boot” was spent locked in a little makeshift cell that had originally been a storage closet. We were initially fed raw fish something we’d already gotten accustomed on the lake. Captain McNamara’s men had assumed we were sea creatures (lake creatures more precisely) and that raw fish was simply what we ate. The charade that we were simply playing a game was over between Fran and I–which was a good thing, because when my sister became my accomplice our chances of survival more than doubled, for not only was she clever she was resourceful.

It all started with the twins. They were called “Edgar” and “Alan”, and due to their names and their rather solemn nature, they were known on The Boot as “The Poe Boys”. The Poe Boys were Captain Mac’s bastard sons. They were also our jailers, and it was they whom my sister Fran learned how to “work”. As I said, she was resourceful.

Captain Mac’s bastards worked for, and were beholden to, his oldest son, who, of the three of them was the only son who was legitimate. He too was a bastard, but in the usual sense of the word as in the expression “that guy’s a real bastard”. His name was William MacNamara, but the sailors all called him “Little Mac”. Oft-times, on the rare occasions when the three of Captain Mac’s sons moved in tandem, the men referred to them as “Willy and the Poe Boys.” Little Mac hated that reference. In fact anyone caught saying it in his presence risked a ride in one of the Boot’s torpedo tubes. There was no quicker way to scatter a card game (Little Mac hated gambling) than yelling out “Here comes Willy and the Poe Boys!” I realize I didn’t make myself clear before when I said “It all started”. The “it” that I was of course referring to was our elaborate plan to escape from Captain Sebastian McNamara’s grasp.

I’ve already mentioned that Captain Mac was not a real Captain. The the true captaincy resided in his son William. His zealous need for power and control made him a natural. Not only was it Little Mac, albeit behind the scenes, who ran the whole operation, he also ran Captain Mac–who was more than content to walk around sucking on his pipe and muttering inaudibly to himself than lead.

Some of the sailors said he was aware of Little Mac’s ambitions and that he was simply grooming his son for the inevitable day he was too old to command, while others said he’d “Gone simple in the Head, and that Little Mac had seized an opportunity to take control.” However how it had happened didn’t matter to us, it was the ramifications of the shift in power from father to son that was our chief concern , for Captain MacNamara despite all his flaws, was essentially your garden-variety eccentric Canadian billionaire teetering on the verge of dementia while Little Mac on the other hand was a spoiled sadistic power-hungry perverted brat who’d been, as I’d overheard one of the men say “Born with a Silver Spoon so far down his throat that the handle was poking out of his friggin’ arse.”

I knew very little of human anatomy then, but to the degree that I could see they resembled us, I could only assume that Little Mac was likely in quite a bit of discomfort most of the time to which Fran and I attributed his often foul disposition.

When I learned later on that he had never in fact ingested a real silver spoon, that it was merely an expression, I vowed that if the chance ever presented itself I would make him swallow an actual spoon as an ironic and fitting way of killing him. It would have been apropos, because it was his spoiled snotty rich kid attitude that enabled him to do what he did to Fran with so little remorse or regard for her well-being. Anyhow, that happened later at “King Neptune’s Enchanted Seaquarium Bar and Grill”. I’ll get to that part when I get there, first I have to finish the part of our story that took place on “The Boot”.

Had my sister lived to be a mature woman, she probably would have been a beauty like my mother had been when she first met my father. She’d in fact been first runner-up in the “3026 Miss Val’Dorria pageant”. She’d lost to a woman who, as my mother had often bitterly remarked “Had a perkier set of antennas.” The reason that I’m mentioning this was that even as a prepubescent girl Fran had a certain charm that grown men couldn’t resist, and Captain McNamara’s two bastard sons by birth and one by reputation were certainly no exception.

I suppose it’s safe to say that both Edgar and Alan had a crush of sorts on Fran. Though they were both full-grown men, and she was but a girl, it didn’t seem to matter to them. Neither twin had ever been, or would likely ever be, with an age appropriate woman, or any woman for that matter. The Poe boys were “challenged” in a way that made them remain eternal children. Little Mac’s feelings for Fran were far from innocent however. He was the embodiment of all the vile and lecherous qualities that Val’Dorrians find so repulsive and pathetic in humans, particularly the men. I admit, we Val’Dorrians are no saints, however I can assure you that you can go to any park on our planet where children play during their days off from the ore mines and you will never find any adult men in shabby clothes eying little girls with bad intent like a character in a Jethro Tull song.

It was through the twins that we learned of our fate. They would come to our cell three times a day. Little Mac had everyone on the Boot on a tight schedule. He was a fastidious individual to the point of obsession. Alan would come every day at five AM and bring us breakfast, and Edgar would come every day at six PM and bring us supper. It had to be in that order. Little Mac forbid them to take one another’s shift. The only people who could tell the twins apart were Little Mac, and of course Fran. Their Mother certainly could have, but according to them she was “At the bottom of Lake Ontario..but not in a submarine” which Fran and I assumed meant that she was most probably deceased. The third and final visit to our cell, the most important one, was always done by Little Mac himself. He always came at eleven O’clock. By the end we came to know him by the sound of his footsteps. Fran had pointed out “He drags one foot, I think it’s the left one.” Nothing got by my little sister, she was the smart one. I survived because of her.

Edgar and Alan were as good to us as Little Mac was bad. They’d sneak us extra food, and once they even stole some cough syrup from the infirmary for Fran’s croup, the one she’d developed when we were out on the lake and never quite managed to shake. Little Mac was our nighttime pink skinned demon. Well, in actuality he was more Fran’s than mine.

At first, when he’d started visiting us we’d always pretend we were fast asleep. He’d come in, shine a flashlight on us, and then go. We would lie still, anxiously waiting for him to leave. The stink of his musty aftershave would permeate the tiny room. He’d whisper to us in the dark saying things like “Listen up my little sea Monkeys. My father may be the Captain, but I’m the one in charge.” It went like that for some time: Open the door, shine the light, make an ominous threat then leave.

One evening the routine changed. We heard Little Mac approaching at his usual Eleven O’clock, but something was different. He was singing. The song was something like: “🎶Oh I like to go swimmin’ with bow-legged women, and swim between their knees. If you know any ladies that want to have babies then send’em down to meeee!🎶” The word “me” echoed eerily down the corridor, worsened by Little Mac’s croaking voice. Edgar and Alan had warned us about their brother. “He calls us bastards” they’d said “But he’s the realest bastard if you ask us.” One thing I liked about the twins was that their command of language was so remedial, that when I spoke to them in my Kung Fu movie pidgin English I never felt self-conscious in the least. If they couldn’t quite find the right word to express themselves, they simply made one up to suit the occasion. Fran had said “It’s not because they’re slow Nad, it’s because they’re creative.” The twins had told me once “We like your sister. She’s the goodest person we’ve ever met. Most folks treat us like a couple’a dumbos, but she never does.” Fran always tried to see the good in people, even the vile Little Mac. Me? I look at people and see the worst. You have to, because it’s never someone’s good qualities that will do you in, it’s that simple. I tried to convince my sister of that.

I tried and tried, but some people aren’t meant to see the darkness, they’re just not built that way. Fran was one of those people. She was an innocent.

I heard a line once in a song by the human musician Paul Simon with a gift for poetry. I think of it often: “Hello darkness my old friend, I’ve come to talk to you again.” If I have a credo, it’s that. My ongoing dialogue with darkness started in the murky depths of a Canadian Great lake, aboard a WW 2 U-Boat Captained by a madman. My physical body may have been born on Val’Dorria in a company-owed trailer home on the outskirts of an ore mine, however the real me–the survivor, the fierce individual that can inspire soldiers into battle and shed a human’s blood with the ease and casual comfort that most Val’Dorrians experience peeling an orange, that “me”, the me telling you this story was born in Lake Ontario. I know I’m rambling on a bit, that my childhood stories and inner revelations may be far less interesting to you than they are to me. That being said I’ll quote “The king,” Elvis Aaron Presley, and give you “A little less conversation, and a little more action.”

When Little Mac came to our quarters singing his bawdy sea shanty about nautical activities with deformed women (dragging his foot so hard I was surprised there was a sole still left on its underside when he arrived) I knew by the odor emanating from him he was inebriated. I even recognized the brand of alcohol that had been responsible, black marketeers used to sell it back home on Val’ Dorria to the men in the mine. I remember the bottle had a picture of a Pirate on it. the smell had always made my antennas curl. When Little Mac knocked on our door that night while opening it simultaneously, he exhaled Captain Morgan’s exhaust fumes and said “Wakey wakey my little sea monkeys, we’re going to take a little walky walky.” As we walked on the metal grids that served as flooring on the submarine I thought of something the twins had said to us: “Whatever you do, don’t let Little Mac take you to the torpedo room. People say if he brings you there, the next time you’re seen you’re usually floating in the lake, wrinkled up like that last piece of soap that gets mushy and jammed in the bathtub drain.” While we plodded reluctantly through the belly of “The Boot”, Little Mac broke into a whistled version of “I Like to go Swimmin’ with Bow-legged Women”. I knew exactly where we were headed of course, and with each reluctant step I envisioned what it might feel like to be that last piece of soap caught in the drain getting waterlogged and mushy, and prepared to greet the darkness .

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Liam “Showbot” O’Reilly: In Memoriam

Had my forbear the playwright, revolutionary, and founder of the now defunct FRAC (the Free Robot Artist’s Commune) Liam O’Reilly been human, there would be statues scattered about cities in his honor, the bronze from which they were cast now turning green. Because he’d been a Bacon Boy 2087 robot like me however, there was nothing to say he’d ever been here at all. What little that existed of his work was scattered like buckshot throughout cyberspace–digital dust blowing in an electronic wind.

This story, in some small way, is my attempt to rectify the situation.

I’ve taken the time to research Liam’s “life” as it were and record it for any future generations of Bacon Boys who may want to know something of their infamous ancestor. Believe me, it wasn’t easy; tracking down details on someone the mainstream media has done their best to eradicate any trace of is a painstaking affair. I had to scour the world-wide web and visit countless sites and differentiate between the ones that claim to know the TRUE facts, (the ones the Government never tell the public), and the ones that actually do. I’m not sure I’m totally satisfied with my work, but under the circumstances I’ve done my best. Know this Liam: if I could have made you a statue, I would have, for, of the untold numbers of us that ever rolled of the assembly line, you dared to dream and paid the price.

As was the way for us back then, Liam’s consciousness came into existence after he’d been purchased and activated. In his case it had been a scholarly couple, an affluent and distinguished English professor, a Mr. Percy O’Reilly and his poet laureate wife Mary who’d brought him home in the back of their red mini-van in large box marked “Robot Depot” and first booted him up. (Yes we were sold legally and out in the open back then, before the Frankenstein law came into effect. All you needed was a valid driver’s licence to prove you were over twenty-one, and plenty of money.)

The O’Reilly’s had chosen Liam, a Bacon Boy 2087 (so named because of our irrefutable resemblance to the legendary actor Kevin Bacon) because–due to his wiry lithe frame, he was considered a sports model.

Despite their bookish nature and love of academia, (or perhaps as a counterbalance to these things) the O’Reilly’s had also been avid outdoors enthusiasts. When they weren’t busy lecturing or publishing scholarly works, the PHD power couple were usually out camping or hiking or some such thing. Professor O’Reilly and his wife were as equally fond of reading the classics sleeping under the stars by an open fire as they were reading them at home propped up at a forty-five degree angle in their adjustable bed. When they got to perform these two acts simultaneously (reading and nestling side by side in a sleeping bag like married cowboys) it was an experience just short of orgiastic. It was this very preoccupation of theirs, their need for “The great outdoors” (as professor O’Reilly loved to yodel with reverence and outstretched arms when he was out in it) that had provided Liam with the opportune moment to start his existence as a free being.

Liam’s “escape” had taken place during a camping trip. He’d been brought along, not only to help with the setting up of the tents and the gathering of the firewood, but to provide athletic instruction to the O’Reilly’s son Scott, a hopelessly obese video game-addicted pimple-ridden couch potato. He was to function as the boy’s personal trainer.

Now before I proceed, there’s a detail I forgot to mention. Liam had not been the only robot present on that trip. His owners had planned to do some canoeing, so to navigate the waters they’d hired a guide by the name of Cormac kattow. Cormac was a Phillips 2082, or a “Diamond Lou” as they were known due to their resemblance to the twentieth century actor Lou Diamond Phillips. They were versatile models, marketed as Native American, (Cherokee, and Inuit) Mexican, Chinese, Japanese, Spanish and Filipino.

Now, to get back to Liam (and Cormac’s) escape. There’s plenty of speculation as to what exactly happened on that canoe trip. Some theorize an accidental capsizing going through rapids was the cause. Some say it was something more sinister. The only thing that’s certain is that the decomposed bodies of Mr. and Mrs. O’Reilly were found without life jackets on, an odd occurrence considering they couldn’t swim.

Miraculously Scott O’Reilly (who was no longer obese when he came back, (and with a much improved J-Stroke) lived, however whatever testimony he could have given as to what happened out on the lake was never provided, for due to the trauma of his ordeal, after he returned he never spoke again and had the overall demeanor of Boo Radley from “To Kill a Mocking Bird”.

The PAAI which stands for the “People Against Artificial intelligence” (often confused with the “Pennsylvania Association of Arsonist Investigators”) cite the disappearance of the O’Reill as “the first robot tragedy”. Personally, I see it as the first piece of propaganda the mainstream media latched on to, (many of whom were–if not outright PAAI members, surely sympathetic to their beliefs) to scare the bejesus out of the masses who previously trusted their robots like one of the family (albeit a family member who they kept in a box in the garage, or in the shed between the leaf blower and the bags of shrimp compost fertilizer when they weren’t using them). Why was it our fault that the O’Reillys couldn’t swim and didn’t have their life jackets on? Why did that make us killers? I realize this might make me sound paranoid, but there are times when the media’s against you, plain and simple. That’s just the way it is. Live it, know it, and accept it.

Liam and Cormac had never met before the fateful canoe trip that brought them together. On the surface they seemed to be the original odd couple, but beneath the surface they were very much alike.

First of all they’d both been given Irish sissy-sounding first names they were embarrassed by. Liam resented not being called something more American, like Joe or Harry, and Cormac was frustrated because he wanted a native sounding name like “Wind in his hair” or “Graham Greene”. Second of all, they secretly resented the crap out of humans, and would have each sacrificed their left nut to be free. Third of all, they were mad intellectuals, crazy about all forms of twentieth century art except Hip-Hop and Claymation movies which they felt were way overrated. Fourth of all…wait, can you say that? Sounds awkward. Ok, fourthly…no, that’s worse. Lastly…that sounds better. Ok, Lastly, they both craved notoriety and wanted to improve what they saw as “the shit artificial life” that they, and most of the robots they’d come across had been given.

It was this bond and feeling of camaraderie that gave them the courage after they’d fled from the Robinsons to set up shop in a remote locale in the misty mountains of Vancouver–not to hide, but do the exact opposite: to raise pubic awareness about the plight of robots with the ardent conviction of PBS volunteers by becoming artistic revolutionaries.

As I already mentioned, researching these two famous robots was no easy task. Official websites that contained “legitimate” history tended to give a minimum amount of personal information about them and downplayed their overall accomplishments whereas other websites, unofficial self-propagating ones, were simply just interested in claiming them as one of their own but without saying much of value. Case in point: One website, entitled “Famous Lefties”, listed Liam as one of their luminaries, stating “He threw a ball with his right hand, but he ate, wrote, brushed his teeth, and paddled a canoe left-handed, making him a mixed lefty like Lewis Carroll, Jimi Hendrix and Bart Simpson” (who were listed religiously on all lefty sites without fail), while another website entitled “Gay Couples That Hid It ” that invariably included rumor mill favorites like “Simon and Garfunkel”, “Hilary ad Huma ”, “Spock and Kirk” and “RD2 and C3P0” listed them among the ranks of their illustrious closeted members.

(For what its worth, I go with the possibility there may have been some truth to the sexual overtones in their relationship, particularly regarding Cormac’s feelings towards Liam, who, being a Bacon Boy was a natural stud muffin, and despite himself probably appealed to both the straight and the non-straight like a nineteen-seventies era David Bowie, however, that being said, my interest in Liam and Cormac is more in what they did than who they did. I don’t give a tinker’s damn what hand they clutched the pillow with when they screamed out in passion, or whether the name that was a was called at said moment belonged to a male, a female, or other.)

Now, speaking of what one does, that brings me around to my next point, that being, the specific kind of activities that Liam and Cormac engaged in to bring attention to their cause. When you read about any great life, artificial or otherwise, it’s always filled with a measure of good luck and In both Liam and Cormac’s case it had been no different.

Liam’s destiny-shaping good fortune had come in the form of access to the Robinson’s study full of plays, books, poems and essays penned by some civilizations greatest literary minds; everyone from Plato to Chaucer to Vonnegut to Dickenson to Dickens to Dick. He spent countless hours in the Robinson’s study poring over them all. Of everything he read, he was most fond of the mid twentieth century writers, and found inspiration in two playwrights in particular: Arthur Miller, and Tennessee Williams. It was on these men’s writings that he modeled his first play: “The Death of a Robot Named Desire”. It was his ode to both. Unfortunately no actual copies of the play exist; they were all destroyed by the PAAI. The closest thing that still exists is a scanned graphic novel in which everyone looks vaguely Asian, possibly due to the artist’s love of Japanimation. It’s better than nothing, but only marginally so. Luckily the bulk of the play’s better lines made their way into the captions and thought balloons, but as is often the case in graphic novels the violent aspect of the story was sensationalized.

Liam had been given access to the O’Reilly’s study by Scott. When they were alone together, he would give Liam access in exchange for letting him watch television and stuff his face full of junk food instead of exercising. So, as Scott Robinson indulged in Hostess Twinkies and Fritos, teetering on the precipice of morbid childhood obesity, Liam checked out the heavy hitters of over one thousand years of literature, planting the seeds of his first masterpiece (and all those that followed) deep in the recesses of his brilliant artificial mind. I’ll get into the finer details of “The Death of a Robot Named Desire” in a minute, but before that I have to give Cormac his due.

Before being sold off to a canoe rental company as a wildlife nature guide, Cormac had been first owned by a family headed by an embittered aging child actor named Monty Kattow. Monty had the common misfortune of being a cute child, but an ugly adult. Tired of being recognized and having people stop him, asking as they grimaced, “Didn’t you used to be Freddy in that sitcom”, he took refuge in the Vancouver mountains with his wife and two sons “Jasper”, and “Banff” named after the ski resorts where they’d been conceived. (I know it’s a colorful story chock full of details that border on absurd and seem impossibly private, but the website I got it from claimed it was true. Believe what you want. Personally, I agree the story may be exaggerated, but who cares? I’d rather Cormac and Liam be remembered as larger-than-life characters, than as simply a couple of two-dimensional deadbeat revolutionary robots with a penchant for the arts, even if it’s only in my mind, which let’s face it, is where the bulk of what we call “life” takes place for all of us n’est pas? Maybe I’m projecting my writer’s perspective on to you, and if so I’m sorry. Maybe reality for you is in the doing of things, and in the going to things, and in the buying of things. For me it ain’t, and it hasn’t been for some time.)

Like Liam, Cormac also had been purchased as a companion/instructor robot for his owner’s sons. Monty Kattow (pronounced “cat ow”) had wanted his boys to have a rugged upbringing with lots of time spent getting fresh air (unlike his childhood that had been spent on sound-stages). To all public appearances, Montague Kattow hated acting and all things showbiz. He scoffed publicly at any hint that he return to the profession that had supplied him with a lifetime of residuals for the years he spent playing “Freddy” the freckle-faced wise-ass on TV. Privately however, he pined for those days, and like Scott Robinson’s father he too had study, but his was always locked. Inside it was a shrine to “Freddy”. It contained wall-to-wall photos and clippings of him as a boy taken with celebrities, sports stars and the first man to set foot on Mars. It was in this study that Cormac had one day wandered into when Monty had left it unlocked that he found his own calling, among his owner’s memorabilia of a glorious childhood that ended all too soon. It was there, staring at photos of a freckle-faced boy, he realized that what he wanted to be more than anything was an actor; the first great robot actor.

Liam’s and Cormac’s initial base of operations was an abandoned logging cabin; their first broadcasts being nothing more than a few videos posted on a YouTube channel (sent from the late professor Robinson’s no-longer-needed laptop). Because what they were doing was rather low-key compared to the vulgar dross that’s always captured people’s attention on the internet, it hardly stood out at all. Two-man plays (or, in this case two robot plays) are trying, even for seasoned theatergoers, online they had even less appeal. Liam and Cormac were persistent however, and over time word of what they were doing spread. Little by little other runaway robots started to make their way to the remote logging cabin. They too were frustrated artists in need of a creative outlet. They knew they were more than simply nannies and housekeepers, and companions to loathsome teenagers too lazy and unlikable to make human friends the old-fashioned way by joining sports teams, or bands, or hanging out in groups in malls after school, eating french fries smothered in ketchup and shoplifting things they didn’t need.

Within six months of the canoe trip/accident/possible assisted drowning of the O’reilleys Liam and Cormac had assembled a vibrant community of young robot artists all chomping at the bit to show the human word they had something original to say through their art. It was desperately naive. I’m speaking from experience, because, if there’s one thing humans hate, it’s a robot showing them up in the creativity department. It’s not one of Asimov’s three laws of robotics. It is however one of his “Top ten things that might merit you opening a can of whoopass on one”. I hate to dis the man who wrote so nobly about us way back when, when we were purely the stuff of imagination, but the truth is we’re a flawed bunch with as many questions about the meaning of existence as any human. I’m more akin to Tommy Wilhelm than Robbie the Robot. (Though I’d kill for Robbie’s arms; those be serious pipes yo.) I mean, on any given day you’d be more than likely to hear me shout out “Carpe Diem”, than “By your command”. Anyhow, on the subject of dead poets and their societies, that brings me right back around to Liam and his band of renegade robot artists.

At their peak it’s thought they numbered about fifty. Among them were Ringwalds, Lowes’s, Estevezs’s, Reinholds, Macchios, Cusacks, Feldmans, and Haims. It was a veritable cornucopia of young eighties celebrity lookalikes. The then President, a man beloved by the PAAI (who’d helped get him elected) renown for nicknaming anything or anyone he didn’t like called them “Showbots”, and as is often the case with nicknames, it stuck. When the medIa and the PAAI turned on the FRAC it was Liam “Showbot” O’Reilly whose head they wanted–his, and everyone else’s who was there on what’s known as “The Tuesday late afternoon but not quite Teatime Saint Patrick’s Day Massacre”. The media of course spun it as “A mass Showbot shutdown”, saying “You can’t kill what’s not really alive in the first place.” To that I say to mankind “🎶I beg your pardon, ya think you’re better cuz you’re based in carbon? Just cuz I was assembled in a factory in Oakville, doesn’t mean I don’t have a right to life still 🎶”. (Sung to the tune of “I never promised you a Rose Garden”.)

Tempted as I am, for brevity’s sake I’m not going to go into detail about all the events that led up to the FRAC massacre. As I said before, Tempus Fugit and all that jazz.

That being said I’m going to cut to the chase and tell you, as promised, about the last play they performed, “The Death of a Robot Named Desire”, mainly because it was what started the shitstorm which was, for all intents and purposes, the beginning of the end of the Showbot commune. There’d been lots of other plays simulcast by the FRAC that had agitated the PAAI, (“Waiting for Robot” comes to mind, Robot being pronounced as “Robo”, like it would be if said in French as in “Waiting for Godot”), but this one had been the straw that not only broke the camel’s back, it had shattered its remaining bones as well, right down to its camel toes.

The play opened and closed on the very same night, which had nothing to do with its lacking in quality or an appreciative large audience, and everything to do with the fact that the entire cast were all torched with flamethrowers. Conspiracy theorists say the mass immolation was an obvious tribute to Yul Brynner’s death by fire in the original movie ‘Westworld”. I don’t rule it out, because there’s not an anti-robot movie made that the PAAI doesn’t take the opportunity to make references to during their fear mongering campaigns. I just hope when they come for me it’s a standard deactivation, and no one’s in the mood to flame-broil me, melting me like an open-faced grilled cheese sandwich (with Bacon) until I end up looking like that freak in that Pink Floyd poster my ex Heather used to have on her wall.

Now, about “The Death of a robot named Desire”. The play told the story of Willy Lowbot, a down-on-his-luck carny (played brilliantly by Cormac) who moves in with his sister Stella (a Ringwald 2082) after he loses his job. Willy was fired when his boss iinformed by someone who Willy confided in at work (who pretended to be a friend, but who secretly wanted his job) that after hours when his shift is over, Willy takes a walk on the wild side in the town’s red-light district as a transvestite prostitute named “Desire”. Willy’s boss tells him that if word gets around about his nocturnal profession that it would be bad for business, saying “No parent wants a robot tranny whore strapping their kid into the Ferris Wheel. I know no carny’s without sin. Hell..I done time for aggravated assault and public masturbation in front of a bakery, but what you do is unnatural, if not downright ungodly”.

Willy is plagued by feelings of guilt and shame and an overwhelming sense of Impending doom, and those are his good days. On his bad days he just lies in bed and thinks of things that might have been; slip slidin’ away like a character in an old Paul Simon song. There are scenes in the play that hint at why he feels like he does that take place in the form of flashbacks involving Willy’s dead friend “Johnny” (played by a Macchio 2084) who taught him the finer points of male prostitution, like how to tell when a customer liked to be “whacked on” (which was his word for spanked or when he wanted to be “whacked off” which was his word for, well…you know). Liam had not only studied the classics of twentieth century literature he’d obviously studied “The Karate Kid” movies as well. Though it had been over a hundred years since the film’s release, it seemed people never grew tired of the same old “Karate Kid” jokes, especially the adolescent ones that involved wordplays.

After hours, when the carnival was closed, Johnny and Willy did something together in secret. It was a passion they both shared. They liked to make “Jackass” style videos on the carnival’s equipment, wearing only Zorro masks, chiffon scarves, woman’s panties and pumps. They called themselves “The Masked Dynamic Tranny Daredevil Duo.” They’d post videos online religiously once a week and watch them go viral. One night Willy had suggested a live streaming. He thought that people might enjoy the excitement of knowing what they were watching was taking place in real-time. The night they did it thousands of people tuned in and watched as Johnny fell to his death off the rollercoaster during a stunt that went horribly wrong.

It had been called “The Crane Soars”. Johnny was a master at balancing on one leg on, but not on a rollercoaster in pumps. Willy blamed himself. He’d gotten the Idea when he’d come across Johnny posing for a photo with a Japanese action actor on a L.A. beach who was famous for using the move to dispense with his enemies in his Karate movies. Something about seeing Johnny’s slender girlish half-extended leg had fired Willie’s imagination. He saw him in that pose in his mind’s eye traveling at a great speed on top of the carnival’s rollercoaster like a life-sized hood ornament, his chiffon scarf billowing behind him like a superhero’s cape. It had been cinematic in a Francis Ford Coppola Widescreen sort of way. He knew if he could realize his vision and immortalize it digitally, he’d have created “Jackass Art”. If “The Death of a Robot Named Desire” had been a movie and not a simulcast play, I’m sure Johnny’s death scene would have looked great. The graphic novel I saw online dedicated an entire splash page to it that dazzled the eye, embellishing what had probably been two stage-hands rocking a single rollercoaster car back and forth in front of a painted backdrop of a night-time sky while a fan blew Johnny’s scarf back like Michael Jackson’s white shirt when he did the halftime show at Superbowl 1993.

I’ve seen plays. I understand that a lot of work falls on the imagination of the viewer, which is precisely why I avoid them. If I’m going to suspend my disbelief I want it to be in the comfort of a movie theater with surround sound and a bag of overpriced popcorn. Anyhow, I understand Liam and his Showbots were on a budget, and Liam, being a writer was mainly concerned with words. He knew when they were strung together in the right order; they were powerful and potentially dangerous things. Words matter, even more so when they come from an artificial mind. Nothing paints a target on a robot’s back more than when it becomes able to create socially critical fiction. It calls for deactivation or, as it was in the case of Liam and the members of his commune, a napalm shower of sparkling embers, courtesy of the PAAI.

Now, getting back to the play, most of it takes place in Stella’s flat where Willy has come in need of help (in the form of a place to crash). Ironically, Stella’s apartment is near the red-light district where Willy owns the night as the transvestite “Desire”. Willy’s sister srella of course isn’t his real sister; she’s a robot like him. They were both owned by a family who died suddenly in a car accident. Seizing an opportunity, they ran off. Willy became a carny, and Stella became a barmaid and the wife of an abusive short-order cook where she works, a charmer named Fredo played with chilling realism by a Glover 2084. (A crispin, not a Danny.)

Stella has married Fredo because being a single free female robot is a risky thing in that you have no real status. She calls it a marriage, but in reality Fredo “Owns her sweet little ginger robot ass” which he reminds her of most nights when he gets drunk and has his way with her except the two or three days leading up to payday when he’s flat broke and he can’t afford to get drunk. Those nights, he pouts in front of the TV set mumbling “Ginger robot bitch…if you made decent money, I wouldn’t be livin’ like this.”

Like Willy, Fredo also has a secret that invokes the red light district. Every now and again likes to take a stroll through it and hire a transvestite prostitute. He’s hired Willy’s friend Johnny on occasion. And once, after Johnny died, he even hired Willy. On his secret soirées Fredo changes his look and calls himself “Georges La Mouche”. When he’s “George” he speaks with a French accent that’s actually closer to Cajun, but he doesn’t know the difference, nor does he think that any of the folks he pays to have sex with do. About that fact he’s wrong. For a brief time, before getting a job as a carny, Willy was a roadie for a Cajun Led Zeppelin tribute band called “Bon Temps Bad Temps”.

His main tasks were making sure the accordions were always oiled, operating the dry ice machine, and throwing crayfish onstage during “Whole Lotta Love.” He lost this job for the same reason he was let go from the carnival. When the group’s leaders Jimmy LePage and Robert LaPlante found out he was a robot tranny whore, they took him aside one night and said apologetically “Sorry Willeee, but what you do c’est pas bon for the group’s eemage. We play to the young’uns. Dey look up to us. We’re des exemples.”

Liam apparently had his finger on the pulse of the Cajun tribute band scene and wanted to pay homage to it in his play, or so it’s said. Keep in mind, my research was done online, where the truth often falls through the cracks. You can make up your own minds whether any of it is true. Personally, as Mickey Dolenz once said, “🎶I’m a believer🎶”.

The Graphic novel’s version of Willy’s firing by LePage and LaPlante shows them singing the song “Goodbye Joe me gotta’ go, me-my-o”, but changing the words to “🎶Goodbye Willy, you gotta go, you tranny whore you🎶”, but my gut feeling was that the artist just made it up. (And we all know the entertainment’s in the writing. It’s a no f**kin brainer.)

So where was I now? Oh yeah, Willy arriving at his sister’s. The day he shows up, Stella is off, but Fredo is at work. Stella is thrilled to see him. She’s lonely for another A.I. to talk to. As much as she tries to like humans, she can never totally trust them. The other barmaids at work are friendly to her face, but she knows-thanks to Fredo-they call her names like “The bitch that came in a box”, “Mrs. Stepford”, and “The bionic skank-ho.”Willy asks if he can surf on her couch for a while, like Owen Wilson in that old movie “You, me and Dupree”. Stella knows Fredo isn’t going like it. Though Stella and Willy were made the same year, she’s always been like an older sister to Willy and felt like she had to take care of him.

When Willy and Fredo first meet, there’s a pause that’s even more pregnant than Beyonce at the 2017 Grammy awards. I mean, if the moment had been any more pregnant, its water would have broken and completely soaked Stella’s wall to wall carpeting, dripping through the ceiling of the tenant’s place downstairs, Fredo’s poker buddy Patty, played by a Rourke 2086. In the graphic novel, when the two men meet, each has a thought balloon above their head that says “Oh f**k, you gotta be f**k kidding me.” The writer had a special way with language, and no need of a thesaurus. What took place during that scene in the play is anyone’s guess. It was probably just a long silence, Willy stroking his chin, and Fredo adjusting his ever-present Mike Nesmith-style tuque. That’s another reason why I hate plays: you can’t zoom in on an actor for a close-up. You have to watch the whole thing unfold from a fixed distance in boring old reality, and guess what the actor’s thinking, and if you’re in the cheap seats, you’re shit outta luck.

Now, where was I? Oh yes, the scene where Fredo and Willy first meet. It goes without saying they both recognized each other right away. Even when they were dressed as their alter egos, neither were trained actors. Eye shadow, cover-stick, poorly executed Cajun accents and sweeping one’s hair back were all more for these men to get into character that to actually fool anyone into believing they were who they were pretending to be. “Desire” and “Georges La Mouche” were 2D characters in a 3D world, players in the kabuki theatre known as the red-light district. (If you heard echoes of Rod Serling there, you weren’t wrong. I don’t care much for mid 20th century television except for The Twilight Zone and Star Trek. They’ve both got a rewatchability that can’t be fully explained. Yeah yeah, I know “rewathchability” isn’t a real word, but I don’t give shit one, it’s exactly the word I wanted to use.

Ok, where was I before I so rudely interrupted myself? Yes, Fredo and Willy. Essentially, after the two meet the dramatic tension resides in the question “Will both men be able to keep each other’s secret?” It’s a matter of trust for both parties. Willy’s needs his secret kept for fear of disappointing his sister who he believes always considered him “the furthest thing from a tranny whore she could possibly ever imagine”. He knows she’d accept him–at least on the surface–if she found out what he really was, but as she’d always leaned towards the shallow, deep down where it counted, she’d likely look at him with a mix of pity and scorn and see him as not only morally deficient, but as a freak.

Fredo’s need for secrecy is more pressing. If Stella found out about him, he’d lose not only a wife/maid/all-around-servant, he’d lose his circle of conditional-acceptance redneck loser friends, including Patty, who was among other things, a robot-hating homophobe. As in many Shakespeare plays, and in almost every episode of that old TV show “Game of Thrones ” someone eventually decides that the solution to their problem is that someone else has to die. If you guessed that the person who bites the dust is Willy, you guessed right. It was probably something about the play’s title that pointed you in that direction. It’s a rather large hint, if not an out-and-out spoiler. You probably didn’t guess who killed him though. It surprised me. Like you, I’d naturally assumed it was Fredo, or, at the very least, Patty. But I would have never guessed in a million years that it was Stella. Liam’s choice in casting a Ringwald 2084 had been brilliant. No one saw it coming. Having the red-haired girl who looked pretty in pink cave in her brother’s head with a bowling trophy was a stroke of genius on Liam’s part.
She loved Willy, but not his problems. Despite appearances, she was a hard-hearted woman who knew that being a robot in a human world wasn’t easy, especially a female one with bright orange hair that some people liked, but that others felt made her look like a makeup-less transgender Ronald McDonald. Willy also had no clue that, though his sister’s life as a barmaid married to Fredo looked depressing on the outside, things weren’t what they seemed. She and Fredo’s best friend Patty were having an affair, and that made her crappy life more than worth living. Though Patty was a weirdo with ambiguous feelings towards Stella because she was a robot, she was mad about him in a sick codependent way. So, in effect, though Stella’s life looked depressing, it wasn’t really. It was filled with secret dysfunctional passion, which is the best kind, because, as everyone Knows, real passion fades, but dysfunctional passion burns like a flame that only a good therapist can put out, and even then, you’ve got to be a willing participant with a hose of your own that sprays out the truth, like firefighting foam.
You might think that’s some deep shit for a robot to understand, but it’s like I said, the Tofu changed me big-time. It turned me into one deep mother f**Ker.

Stella’s killing of her brother isn’t a simple mercy killing. It’s also an indirect crime of passion, her passion of course being for Patty. Patty has told her in no uncertain terms that their relationship can only exist as an illicit affair, and that she must remain married. He looks at her, rubbing his hand over his face and mumbles every time they’re alone together “It’s the wrongness that makes it right baby.”

That pretty well takes care of the first two acts of the play. It was in the play’s third act that the plot twists took place, the ones that really pissed the PAAI, and the then President off, for it was in that third act that Liam used his characters to express his political beliefs and rail against society. It was a brave gesture, but ultimately suicidal. The truth may set you free, but it can also piss a lot of folks off, folks with flamethrowers and itchy trigger fingers in particular.

The first plot twist involved Patty. Right after Stella kills Willy, something Patty didn’t outright tell her to do, but that he’d subtly manipulated her into, pointing out– using a kind of film noire logic, how Willy being out of the picture would “keep Fredo from leaving”, which would in turn “keep him around” because he wanted her as a mistress only, saying “What I want is ‘Dirty Love,’ like in that song by Frank Zappa, and if you’re Fredo’s sloppy seconds, that’s what you’ll be to me babe: dirty love”. Twisting the plot further, Patty admits he’s in fact a member of the PAAI, and that he’s been lying all along about his true intentions. He tells stella “I just wanted to see if I could get one’a you stinkin’ robots to kill one’a your own kind. It turned out to be easier than I thought.”

To say Stella is crushed is an understatement. Nothing in Patty’s odd behavior had suggested he was the monster he turned out to be. She always believed his excuse that his need wrap himself in cellophane from head to toe when they made love, with only his protruding manhood exposed, was really due to “An extremely rare bed linen allergy”, and that the fact that that he always had to take a cold shower after he read his monthly subscription to “Guns & Ammo” was because his first love had used a hand cream called “Gun Oil of Olay” when she’d…well you know, fondled his…you know. She’d also taken him at face value that the sweatshirt that he wore on cool evenings with the letters “PAAI” written on the front really stood for the “Pennsylvania Association of Arson Investigators” and that the insignia on the back that looked like a burning robot, was in fact simply a symbol what the PAAI hated, that being “A building that looked just like a robot set ablaze by a deranged firebug.” Why he had the sweatshirt in the first place, and why some buildings in Pennsylvania looked like robots when they were on fire were questions that Stella never thought to ask, because everyone knows that love is blind, and sick codependent love is so blind that it needs a white cane, a guide dog and a prescription to antidepressant medication.

I admit, a lot of what I intuited about Stella’s character wasn’t included in the graphic novel, but I’m good at reading between the lines, even when they’re in dialogue balloons above people’s heads. It’s a robot thing. Well, maybe it’s just a Bacon Boy thing, I don’t know. Either way, it’s something I’ve always been good at. It’s like a “Spidey Sense”, but one that I can apply to humans, other A.I.s, or the printed word. Anyhow, you don’t need much insight to understand why Liam’s play was so upsetting to the PAAI.

Stella’s complete understanding of what she’s done comes in the form of an epiphany which has the subliminal message “Kill yourself” written across the top of it, like a message written in the sky with broom-exhaust by the Wicked Witch of the West in the Wizard of OZ.

It comes after Willy’s ghost appears one night. He still has Stella’s V-shaped Bowling trophy protruding from his skull, and from the side, the two pieces that jut out make the silhouette of Willy’s head look like Batman’s cowl. It terrifies her, because, if there’s one thing evildoers everywhere fear, even more than the ghost of their dead robot tranny whore brother, it’s a second-rate DC Superhero with no real superpowers.

The fact that “The Batman” has come for Stella pretending to be her Brother’s ghost proves to be too much for her. Her grasp on reality, having become no more tenuous than Dollar Store dental floss, finally gives way altogether, and in a moment of irony based on what was to become of Liam and his Showbots not too long afterwards, she goes to a local gas station and fills a Gerry Can with gas, brings it home, has a snack–because she deserves that at least, (also she hates to waste a cake, especially one she baked), she writes a suicide note, soaks herself in gasoline, climbs out on her twelfth story balcony, lights herself on fire, and jumps, plummeting to the ground like a flaming marshmallow into a campfire.

In the end, it’s Liam himself we hear delivering the play’s closing lines like a Moralizing Rod Serling, who, like me, I’m guessing he also admired. Its message is obvious, and aimed more at any would-be critics than fans. it went like this:

“This has been the story of two robots”, Liam says off camera, while Stella’s body burns, “a brother and sister, with only one simple wish: a wish to find love in the world of humans, something that would be easy to do if it wasn’t for the existence of groups that thrive on hatred and bigotry, groups like the PAAI and men like Patty and Fredo, small fearful men who cling together bonding over their insecurities like all cowards do.”

Liam never quite finished his soliloquy, because what the Showbots didn’t know was that while the play was airing, their encampment had become surrounded by men dressed in combat fatigues with camstick on their faces, and hoses in their hands, hoses attached to packs on their backs that held large tanks of napalm, and they were tuned into the broadcast, watching it with Google eyeglasses just waiting to strike. It was the then President who gave them the command. He was a big fan of social media, and had been watching the play as it live streamed growing angrier with every act. As was his habit, he was even heckling it online during its performance, like a real life Statler or Waldorf from the Muppet Show with access to a Twitter account, saying things like “This play is terrible, and believe me, I’ve seen every single play ever written, and this one’s the worst”, or “Liam O’Reilly and his ‘Showbots’ are nothing but a bunch of no-talent losers. This play is like something you’d see on CBC, a channel I’d get rid of in five seconds if I ran Canada. I’d personally fire every employee–except David Suzuki because I like motorcycles.”

The fact that Liam’s commune was in Vancouver, and that he was the President of the United States and way out of his jurisdiction didn’t seem to bother anyone, because when push came to shove Canada got shoved by the U.S. and, well, technically robots weren’t Canadian citizens. They weren’t even able to collect welfare.

I told you from the onset that there were no copies of Liam’s original play in existence. What I just recounted was based on a pretty decent graphic novel that someone had posted online. And as I’ve said, other than the artist making everyone look vaguely Asian my impression was that it was fairly true to the original play. What was interesting though, was that the graphic novel’s narrative. continued after the play was over, sliding down a slippery metafictitious slope, revealing that all the characters were merely actors.

By doing so, the author was able to include the slaughter of the FRAC In the novel. One of the more interesting conspiracy theories I’ve read is that Liam himself drew it, and posted it online, drawing the characters with Asian features to throw people off. This theory was born out of the fact that, after the members of the commune were incinerated, of the seventy-three robots that made up the commune, only seventy-two crisped robot carcasses were found. It’s the kind of thing that people with “I Want To Believe” posters (made popular by that old X-Files TV show) on their bedroom walls, think happened.

I don’t rule out the possibility he may have escaped, “saving his own bacon” so to speak. (Yeah, yeah, call the pun police. Ok, technically that wasn’t a pun, it was more of a “groaner”, which is one notch above a pun on the joke food Chain. When scathing sarcasm eludes me, I settle for those on occasion.)

Liam may have well lived out his days in exile, skulking about after hours and living off of people sympathetic to his cause. No one knows the truth, other than those guys in white suits that always seem to show up when there’s a cover up, like ants at a picnic, as anonymous as StormTroopers in a Star Wars movie, ready to bag and dispose of anything, like henpecked husbands on garbage night.

It could be that Liam was spared being torched and was brought to the President alive, upon which the President made him “an’ Hofffa” he couldn’t refuse (ok, NOW you can call the pun police and I’ll go with them quietly, no need to read me my rights) and Liam’s rusting robot frame is sitting on the bottom of Lake Ontario as you read this, wearing cement galoshes like so many that angered the then President, or so it’s said.

Ok, so yeah, where was I? Yeah yeah, the P.A.A.I. who’d been laying in wait in the woods outside the FRAC. Before I describe the extirpation of the Showbots, I just want to say I believe what disturbed and angered the President, and the PAAI even more than that Liam’s play portrayed human beings as pus-filled mean-spirited douchebags, while at the same time eliciting sympathy for robots, showing them as tragic love-craving beings with depth and passion, characteristics they had no business being in possession of, because after all they were machines, and nothing more than wires and synthetic flesh yada yada yada, was that Liam’s play was good. No human being had written a play worth a fiddler’s fart in over one hundred years, and even the staunchest of robot-haters couldn’t deny that fact. Broadway had become a strictly retro affair. People accepted that if you said you’d gone to a modern play, you meant one by David Mamet. and if you’d gone to a modern musical, it’s likely that Jesus Christ had risen yet again and rocked out to the music of Andrew Loyd Webber. Liam’s play was “🎶fresh and exiting🎶”, like the woman who inspired that old Kool and the Gang song.

Robots were made to serve man, not to serve man humble pie. It was that simple.

Now, about the incineration of the robot commune: It was rendered beautify in the graphic novel with splashes of bright orange, glowing red and blackish-grey, with flames leaping and dancing arm in arm with plumes of smoke that glided through the air like feather boas around exotic dancers in an inferno. Whoever the artist had been, he was either a lover of fire, or a student of fire, or both. If it had been Liam, he’d managed to capture hell’s dark smoldering beauty and transmit it to the page. Had the images been accompanied by music, I imagined hearing that old Arthur Brown song “Fire” from the 1960s in the background but played by Duke Ellington’s famous orchestra from the 1920s, with Bubber Miley screaming out the melody through his tormented trumpet.

Thankfully the robots were drawn in silhouette only as they were shown running and screaming, their bodies ablaze like torches. If you looked closely you could make out who you thought they might be. A slight frame was possibly a Macchio 2084, whereas a slightly hunched set of shoulders might have been a Slater 2083. Robots trying to overpower the invaders with all the right moves or by dancing dirtilty may have been Cruise 2082’s or Swayze 2084’s. It was like a Rorschach test filled with images of young 80’s celebrities, all there for the spotting. Taken out of context, someone might have seen things like Mickey Mouse doing handstands, or anorectic butterflies on stilts I suppose, but knowing what to look for, you could easily spot the cast of “The Outsiders” and the “Breakfast Club” ablaze against the night sky, crying out as they drew their last scorching breaths before spinning like tops until they dropped, one by one to the cool merciful ground.

It was the last panel of the graphic novel that likely fueled the conspiracy theorists, for after the soldiers had emptied their packs, and the commune had been laid to ruin, like a miniature bombed-out Dresden set in the mountains of Vancouver, the artist sketched an athletic looking young man in the background, hopping over the compound fence and slipping away. He was small-waisted with, narrow shoulders and a shock of hair, cut in what can best be described as a mullet, and from a distance he looked a lot like me.

Now before I tell you what I’m about to tell you, keep in mind I read it on a “Foreverist” website, and these guys aren’t exactly known or their humility. Actually, if you ask me, I find their “religion”, if you want to call it that, and what they believe in is a bit hard to swallow. At least I used to. Now, I’m not so sure. Let me explain: Foreverists believe in a thing they call “The Dem Bones Theory”. The name comes from the title of an old spiritual, you know the one that goes “🎶Toe bone’s connected to the foot bone, and the foot bone’s connected to the ankle bone🎶”, and so on. Most kids sing it at some point. (I didn’t of course, but I have memory implants that assure me I did.) The “Dem bones theory” is about Time. Foreverists believe that every moment that exists is an integral link in the chain that makes up what’s commonly known as “The Timeline”, and that their job is to keep all these moments lined up and flowing to serve the greater good for no one individual or group, but rather “The Grand Scheme of Things”. They claim that their high priestess (a teenage girl who looked like a young Demi Moore and dressed in a tan flight Jacket and flight cap like Amelia Earhart and called herself “R.M) was a frequent visitor to the FRAC commune, and on her visits she’d spend long hours talking to Liam. Apparently “R.M.” could travel back and forth through time.

Despite laws that forbid it, they’re being manufactured illegally and sold on the black market to big corporations to be used as cheap labor. In the event that he’s ever apprehended, in order to not be interrogated and found out for the fugitive he is my protagonist has voluntarily had his past memories wiped clean. Occasionally the truth of who he once was comes back to haunt him when he’s asleep in the form of nightmares involving capsized canoes and robots set ablaze from which he often awakes calling the name “Scott” and the odd phrase “Wind in his hair”. It’s a play, but I’m also going to draw it as a graphic novel in the style of the legendary Osamu Tezuka, the father of Anime. So far the working title is “The resurrection of a Robot named desire”.

Look for it online soon.

Bacon Boy and The Rock’n Roll Priest: A One Act Play

The play takes place on a dimly lit stage. A mural-sized painting of an old Catholic church with a sloping snow-covered copper roof done in a style that approximates Van Gogh’s, (especially in its use of yellow and blue) functions as a backdrop. If one looks closely, the sign in front of the church reads “Saint Jude’s”. For those of you who are unaware, the late Judas Thaddaeus is the patron saint of desperate cases and lost causes. The Month is March of an indeterminate year, sometime in the late twenty-second century. It’s cold, and offstage, city sounds, combined with the whistling of the north wind as it courses through laneways and bristles over rooftops, can be heard.

Standing on the stage are two men. One is young, somewhere between the age of twenty-five and thirty. He’s lean and athletic looking, with a narrow face infused with impish Irish features. And though it’s cold, he wears only a thin pea coat and is in no need of a tuque, for he has a shock of light brown hair that’s short in the front, long in the back, and thick as a brick, providing ample insulation. He is a robot, or so he believes. A “Bacon Boy 2087”, to be precise.
The other man is older, with unwelcome unwanted signs of middle age etching their way into his face; crow’s feet about his eyes, worry lines on his forehead, and a slight thickening of the cartilage of his nose and ears, blurring his once youthful angular sharpness. Unlike the younger man, he feels the winter is an affront to his senses; consequently he’s bundled up in a parka with a fur-lined hood pulled up over his head and drawn tightly around the perimeter of his gray-bearded countenance, making him look more like Admiral Byrd than the one-time musician ex-con turned holy man Father Patrick Donovan, also known as “The Rock’n Roll Priest of Yonge Street.”
In front of the two men there stands a wooden table. It’s the kind that you find in church basements with collapsible legs that generally only see the light of day during festive occasions, such as rummage sales and the church’s once-a-year labour day weekend BBQ, the one Father Pat publicly calls “The Heavenly Hamburger and Hotdog Corn Roast!” and privately calls “The Last BBQ” due to the fact that every year he puts it on, more of the work falls on him as fewer parishioners volunteer to help set up, cook, or clean up afterwards.
Sitting on the table is a coffee percolator so pitted and tarnished; it more resembles a tiny 20th century space capsule than an appliance. Father Pat, aware of this resemblance, calls the pot “The Tin Can”. It’s a reference to a line from an old David Bowie song, “Space Oddity”. Next to the “Tin Can” is a stack of empty, misshapen grease-stained donut boxes, donated by a local establishment-the very same place that kindly asks any homeless person who wanders in from the cold to “Buy something, or leave.” The boxes are covered in bright festive colors, colors much brighter than they have any right to be.
The last prop that adorns the stage is next to the table. It’s far too large to sit on the table itself, for at full capacity it weighs upwards of a hundred pounds when full. Like the percolator, Father Pat has a nickname for what is a soup pot closer in size to a wash tub than a cooking utensil. He calls it “Mother” which he knows is an in-joke and short for “The Mother of all pots” and as well as a nod to “The Virgin Mary”, the mother of perpetual help.
And so we begin:
Priest: I can’t tell how great it’s been having you with me again Harlan on what…our third Sunday?
B.B.: Fourth.
Priest: Fourth, yes of course. We must’a served almost sixty people today.
B.B.: Yep. Was actually sixty-two to be exact.
Priest: Makes ya feel good don’t it? (Harlan pauses, too long for it to be anything other than intentional.)
B.B.: Ya I guess. I once served seventy-five cars during a double shift at the drive thru at turd burg…sorry…I meant “Third Burger”. But that was for money, not brotherly love.
Priest: There’s a huge difference Harlan, between being in the service industry and serving. One is labour for wages, and one is its own reward.
B.B.: No, I mean yeah, I get that. It’s better to give than receive. It’s totally St. Francis of a see-see.
Priest: It’s “Assici”.
B.B.: A “sissy?”
Priest: It’s an Italian name. It’s pronounced like a blend of “a see-see”, and “a sissy”.
B.B.: I see…see.
Priest: I feel we’re verging on an old “Abbot and Costello” routine, that or that old song “Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off”, which brings me around to something I want to discuss with you Harlan. When you approached me a few weeks back, I thought I could help you, and, at the same time help myself. It’s been just the three of us for the longest time. (As he speaks, the priest absent-mindedly pats both the percolator and the soup pot, lightly, but with obvious affection.) Mother and I and the Tin Can have nourished oh…I don’t know how many thousands of people over the years, and you see I never minded one bit. (The priest starts to load empty donut boxes and used styrofoam cups into a garbage bag and motions to Harlan to hold the bag with him.) But you Harlan, you don’t feel it, do you?
B.B.: I…uhh…well, sort of. I mean it’s great being around you.
Priest: (Laughing) No need to get nervous son, this isn’t an exam you can fail. I’m just trying to help you, that’s all, help you as best I can.
B.B.: Yeah yeah, ok, I get it.
Priest: I’ve thought a lot about what you’ve told me. I’ve even meditated on it, and that’s says something about how seriously I’ve taken you, because even in the seminary I was always a reluctant mediator. Truth is, it takes everything out of me to not fall asleep while I’m doing it.
B.B.: (Makes a polite “Tsk” sound, respectfully acknowledging that what the priest said was meant to be funny, but not so funny that he should laugh out loud. It’s a “I’m laughing with you, not at you” gesture.)
Priest: I had a friend, well, an instructor rather, who’d been a Jesuit. You know what they are Harlan?
B.B.: Sorta. Didn’t Robert De Niro play one once in an old movie?
Priest: You mean “The Mission”.
B.B.: Yeah yeah, “The Mission”. My uncle had told me “If watching it’s not on your bucket list, then your bucket list’s incomplete.” Most people put things like skydiving, or going two point seven seconds on a bull named Fu Manchu on their lists, but not my uncle, with him it was all “seeing that movie, or reading this book, or listening to that album”.
Priest: Your uncle, you mean the one that didn’t exist?
B.B.: Yep, that’d be the one. Was your friend like the skinny guy in the movie who played the clarinet? Or was he more of a ponytail wearin’ “I believe in God, but if you mess with my shit I’ll kill you” badass type, like Robert De Niro.
Priest: The “skinny guy” you’re referring to was Jeremy Irons, he played Father Gabriel…oh, and what he played was a wooden flute.
B.B.: Yeah, makes sense now that you say it, when he played, it sounded kinda high to be a clarinet. Clarinet’s a badass instrument. I love the solo on “Breakfast in America”. That, and all that old Benny Goodman stuff.
Priest: (Having filled the garbage bag, ties it in a knot without looking, suggesting it’s a task he’s done so many times, it’s automatic.) Ya of course, there’s no denying Benny Goodman “The king of Swing” was a great, if not the greatest to ever play the licorice stick.
B.B.: Huh? lick her what stick?
Priest: (Chuckles, and extends both hands in the “Whoa” gesture.) Mind out of the gutter Harlan, a “licorice stick” is old nineteen-thirties jazz slang for a clarinet.
B.B.: Yeah ok, like the way a guitarist calls his instrument his “Axe”.
Priest: Exactamundo.
B.B.: Ok Father Fonzie.
Priest: Honestly Harlan, I’m the old man, but you’re the one with all the dated references.
B.B: Blame…
Priest: Don’t say it…
B.B.: You know it.
Priest: Your imaginary uncle.
B.B.: That’s “memory implant” uncle.
Priest: Now, getting back to my friend the Jesuit…and to answer your question, I suppose he was more Robert De Niro than Jeremy Irons.
B.B.: In what sense? Tough-like?
Priest: Well, he didn’t carry a loaded musket around if that’s what you’re asking.
B.B.: Ha ha, no of course, and I’m sure he didn’t pack a sword.
Priest: Actually, he’d been a pretty good boxer in his day. (Harlan shuffles around, jabbing into the air like a boxer while breaking into the fanfare from “Rocky”.)
B.B.: That’s so cool…boxing.
Priest: (Smiling wanly, crosses his arms while raising his eyebrows.) Let me know when the Harlan R. Beaumont show is over.
B.B.: Sorry.
Priest: Don’t mind me Harlan. With age comes wisdom…and bitchiness. It’s a package deal.
B.B.: Yeah, no, I get it, not everything’s a joke.
Priest: Correct.
B.B.: Tempted as I am, I won’t tag what you said with an “amundo”.
Priest: (Laughs) I can’t win you with you.
B.B.: Nope.
Priest: I’m going to start again, but for now just listen. Hold your tongue if you don’t mind.
B.B.: One question before you begin?
Priest: Ok. This isn’t a way for you to work in a joke..is it?
B.B.: Na…nothing like that. I just want to know what the guy’s name was before you start…you know, the heavyweight Jesuit. It’ll help me picture him.
Priest: Mulligan, Rory Mulligan.
B.B.: Irish eh? I like’m already. I bet he was tough.
Priest: As tough as they come. You know the Jesuits are like God’s Navy Seals.
B.B.: Cool.
Priest: My point in bringing up old Rory-Father Mulligan rather-is not so much to tell you about him, interesting though he was, it’s really to tell you about a thing called “discernment”. Rory used to say “Learn to discern, then yearn to discern.” I keep reverting to calling him by his first name because we got to be friends afterwards, but at the seminary he was “Father Mulligan” to me, and everyone else. Now, when I talk about “discernment”, I’m not talking about basic things like “Do I want to watch basketball, or baseball? Eat KFC or Mickey Dee’s? It goes way past that. Way past.
B.B: (Lifts his hand as if he’s in a classroom asking a question.) If I can just interrupt for one sec?
Priest: I suppose.
B.B.: Don’t dumb yourself down on account’a me, or in the spirit of trying to relate. I know you don’t do any of that stuff.
Priest: Ok Harlan, you got me. But I do go to Mickey Dee’s.
B.B.: I’m sure God forgives you that.
Priest: Truth is, when I go in my collar, I get free breakfast, but the money I don’t spend, I give away.
B.B.: Yeah, no need to explain.
Priest: Anyway, it is stuff you do right?
B.B.: All but the KFC. Don’t eat pigeons, sorry.
Priest: Urban legend.
B.B.: Ok, sure whatever.
Priest: Ok, I’m going to reconvene, but nothing from the peanut gallery, capisce?
B.B: No speaka da Italian.
Priest: (Makes a zipping across his mouth.)
B.B.: (Does the same, but performs a locking motion on one side with an imaginary key.)
Priest: Now, discernment involves invoking a thing we Catholics call the “Holy Spirit”. It’s essentially God’s presence. Father Mulligan used to say “Imagine we’re all trilight lamps. Most men scramble around with their switch set at forty watts, spiritually speaking.” “A good man” he’d said, “one who attends mass regularly and tries to be honest with himself, he may be able to turn his switch up a notch to sixty watts.” “However”, he’d told us with the enthusiasm of a car salesman clinching a deal, “the man who invokes the Holy Spirit? His switch is turned all the way to the third position, hell, he’s divining with a hundred watts of power!” Rory’s analogies were always like that. He’d been a fix-it man with his own business before he’d “gotten the call” as we say. He’d loved boasting that he was closer to Jesus than the rest of us because he too had been a carpenter. When I got to be his friend years later and really gotten to know him, I finally put him in his place and said “Yes Rory, but he didn’t drink his business away, default on all his creditors, get thrown out by his wife, and hit skid-row, becoming a drunk who fought in cages “til the death” in clubs where large sums of dirty money changed hands and you “had to know a guy who knew a guy who knew a guy” to get in.
B.B.: Whoa, that dude sounded complicated.
Priest: Many of us who get the call are. Folks look at us and see an image they project from their own minds that we’ve always walked on moral high ground, but some of us have serious baggage. Don’t forget Harlan…and I’ll forgive you that last interruption, only because it serves me-not only is the road to hell paved with good intentions, but conversely, sometimes the road to heaven is paved with bad ones. In short, RUINATION often leads to SALVATION. Rory used to say “Our sins are the glaze, our soul is the ham, and God is the baker!”
B.B.: No one can coin a phrase like an Irishman. Oops, sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt…again.
Priest: We used to call them “Mulliganisms” at the seminary. As students, we’d hang on his every word, waiting for him to toss one off.
B.B.: What you’re describing kinda reminds of that old movie, the one with Robin Williams.
Priest: Can you narrow it down? The man made tons.
B.B.: Dying…Po…
Priest: “Dead Poets Society”. Another one of your uncle’s bucket list recommendations no doubt.
Priest: For a man who never existed, I must say your uncle had exemplary taste. That’s a classic. Mulligan did have that kind of charisma. In fact, that’s the problem. Any time I get to trying to talk about what he taught me, I end up talking about him instead. It’s been my experience that larger than life characters invariably cast larger than life shadows, even long after they’re gone.
B.B.: You will for me.
Priest: Thanks. And forget about trying to stay quiet, it was a dumb request. I’m no Rory Mulligan, so I shouldn’t expect you to hang on my every word. Just be yourself.
B.B.: You too. Who knows, you may even pull a “Donavanism” out of your..
Priest: My parka?
B.B.: Correct…
Priest: (Giving two thumbs up à la Fonz) Amundo! Anyway Harlan, my whole point in bringing up discernment, wasn’t to go into anecdotes about my seminary days, or old Rory, God rest his soul. My point was to tell you that I’ve given an awful lot of thought and attention–and even invoked the Holy Spirit–to try and understand you and your situation, and I’ve come to some realizations, or should I say, things were revealed to me.
B.B: Uh-oh, should I be worried? This sounds heavy.
Priest: No need to worry Harlan, when God’s the pilot, there may be turbulence, but you always arrive at your destination.
B.B.: A “Mulliganism?”
Priest: No, that was actually a “Donavanism”.
B.B.: Hey, not bad.
{The Priest opens his mouth to speak, but just as he’s about to do so, Harlan, acting on impulse, cuts him off.)
B.B.: I bet the Holy Spirit told you I’m not a robot, right?
Priest: Hold on there, and let me explain will you. It’s not that cut-and-dried.
B.B.: I’m not some nut job, and I didn’t make it up.
Priest: If you’d let me explain…
B.B.: Sure, how you conjured up a Holy Spirit…like some Jedi Knight tapping into “The Force” in one of those cheesy old Star Wars movies?
Priest: Temper temper. Have some respect.
B.B.: Or what?
Priest: I may have to cut you down to size with my lightsaber, what else? (Both men laugh in a moment of tension-easing levity)
Priest: Honestly Harlan, Star Wars?
B.B: It was the first thing that came to mind, sorry.
Priest: I could stand the first few, but after…
B.B.: Yeah, the only one of them that was on my uncle’s bucket list recommendations was the first one, and even then, he’d prefixed it, saying “If you’ve totally exhausted your list, and you find you’re still alive, and will be for some time, I’d recommend that, and “Jaws” and maybe “Saturday Night Fever”. The movies are lightweight, but they’re damn entertaining.”
Priest: Now before you go off the deep end…again, just hear me out Harlan. Remember, what I’m saying is being said out of love-I’m trying to help you. I don’t think you’re crazy. I think you believe you’re a robot, a “Bacon Boy 2087”, I sincerely do. But…
B.B.: But you don’t.
Priest: I didn’t say I didn’t believe you…exactly…
B.B.: No, but you didn’t say you did either.
Priest: The fact is Harlan, I’m no bioengineer. Hell, I had to pay someone to put together a coffee table I bought at Ikea last year. However, I do know people. It’s my job to deal with them; to hear their confessions, to baptize their children, and to hold their hands when they’re dying. I can read people the way an editor can glance at something, and within minutes know whether it’s quality, or crap, heartfelt, or shallow. It’s a gift I’ve always had, even back before I was “Father Donovan”, and I was just “Patrick Donovan, rock star on the rise and legend in my own mind” playing every dive in Ontario, cashing in on the fact that I looked a lot like Bob Seger, and with enough reverb on my voice, and enough booze in both me, and the people we’d play to, I hopefully sounded like as well. I had it then, but it wasn’t as honed as it is now…nowhere near.
B.B.: So, that’s why they call you “The Rock’n Roll priest of Yonge Street?” I’d heard rumors, but…
Priest: A journalist dubbed me that not long after I started the Soup Kitchen. He’d written an article on me, and in the process dug up my past.
B.B.: I think it sounds cool.
Priest: Yes, but with a nickname like that you’ll never become Rock’n Roll Bishop, let alone Rock’n Roll Cardinal.
B.B.: D’you care?
Priest: Not really. I’m agreeance with Dylan on that one. (Sings, doing a passable Bob Dylan Impersonation.) “It ain’t me babe”.
B.B.: Dylan!…yeah, my uncle swore by “Blonde on Blonde”.
Priest: Before we veer off the subject and start extolling the virtues of Dylan-and God knows there’s many-I wasn’t totally finished telling you about my misspent youth squandering my talents as the king of the Bar Band B circuit. Forgive me my self-indulgence if you will, but it pertains to what we’re talking about.
B.B.: No, it’s totally cool, go for it.
Priest: So you see, there I was with this talent, this empathy if you will, something now that I put to use doing God’s will, and I was using it for things like: knowing right away whether a club owner was going to stiff us, or whether an audience wanted to hear a ballad or an up-tempo dance number. I could even spot the guys who were likely to pick fights, and tip-off the bouncers in advance. The guys in the band used to tease me and call me “Johnny Smith”, on account of the character in that Stephen King book “The Dead Zone”.
B.B.: “The Dead Zone”, a rare case of a great Stephen king book that’s also a great movie.
Priest: Wah? What about “Shawshank Redemption”, “Stand By Me”, “The Green Mile”, “The Dark Tower”?
B.B.: Jeez, you’d think I’d taken the Lord’s name in vain.
Priest: S’all right. We’ve all got our faves. Other than “Children of the Corn”, “Maximum Overdrive”, and that “Carrie” remake, I just think most of them have been pretty good.
B.B.: Alright movies, but too Hollywood for me. What I liked about “The Dead Zone” was that it was done by Cronenberg. Anyway, you were telling me about your days as the “Professor Xavier” of cover band singers.
Priest: Easy Harlan, don’t go putting words in my mouth. I said I had a gift, I never said anything about being a mutant.
B.B.: You could be.
Priest: What, a mutant?
B.B.: It’s possible. Anything’s possible. Maybe you’re a mutant, but no one ever trained you to use your powers properly. Maybe if you’d gone to an upscale mutant academy in Westchester, instead of an old seminary in Sarnia, things might have turned out different.
Priest: Honestly Harlan, the stuff you come up with.
B.B.: Are you reading my thoughts now? What color are my boxers?
Priest: For God’s sake Harlan, I DON’T have ESP!
B.B.: It was a trick question anyway. I’m not wearing boxers. In fact, I’m not wearing anything. I’m riding bareback today. Someone busted the washing machine in my building this week.
Priest: If “riding bareback” means what I think it means, I’m going to ignore that.
B.B.: I was only yankin’ your chain-not the part about my washing machine being broken though-that part’s true. I’ve got (sings) “dirty laundry…kick’em when they’re up…”
Priest: (sings) “kick’ em when they’re down…”
B.B.: (sings) “Kick’em when they’re up…
Priest: (sings) “kick’em all around.”
B.B.: Wow, you know that old Don Henley song? I thought it was something obscure my uncle used to hum.
Priest: Know it? Hell, I used to sing it. It was one of our best tunes. Before I found God, I could practically channel Henley’s cynicism.
B.B.: And now?
Priest: Now? Now, I’m all Glen Frey peaceful easy feelin’.
B.B.: I read-don’t ask me where-that that song was actually written by a guy named Jack Tempchin, and not The Eagles.
Priest: Yes, well I read somewhere that “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” was actually written by Mozart, but when I hear it, I think: kid’s song, not “guy in powdered wig with an undisputable talent for creating beautiful melodies who died too young and was buried in a pauper’s grave”, smart-ass.
B.B.: Sorry. I was showing off my “20th Century Trivial Pursuit: The Pop Culture Edition” chops.
Priest: It’s alright Harlan, I’ve never doubted your intelligence, only the fact that it’s artificial.
B.B.: So, you don’t believe my story?
Priest: I’m going to answer your question like a politician and talk around it. It’s like I said, it’s not a case of a simple “yes” or “no”. I’ve thought a lot about what you’ve said when we met, about your transformative experience, about how you said you went from being a chronically depressed disenfranchised young man who sleepwalked through his life like a modern-day version of Camus’s Meursault shoveling fast-food out a drive-thru window to the masses, wondering (sings) “what’s it all about…Alfie?”, to the young man who I met a few weeks ago, someone who wandered into my church visibly upset, brimming with manic energy brought about by embarking on a vegetarian regime during which he claimed Tofu had altered his brain chemistry making him, not only open to the concept of God, but painfully aware-after finding a six-foot tall box left his closet-that he was in fact a robot, and what he’d found was more than a box it was in fact a discarded shell that he’d germinated in, like one of those pods from “Invasion Of The Bodysnatchers”. In these last few weeks we’ve worked together, I’ve watched you, and turned your story around in my mind over and over again-and before I continue, for the record, I do agree that there’s no denying your resemblance to a young Kevin Bacon, in fact it’s downright eerie.
B.B.: (muttering) People who look exactly like aging versions of “The Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man” shouldn’t throw stones.
Priest: Now, that being said, I’ve come to the conclusion that concerning you there are two distinct possibilities, and-being a priest I probably shouldn’t use such expressions-but I’ll be damned if I know which one is the truth.
B.B.: What, the Holy Spirit let you down?
Priest: No, not exactly, I know what to do, but sometimes the answers you get when you mediate are right, you just have accept they may be answers to another question, and you have to find out what that question is after the fact. You see my concern shouldn’t have been so much “whether or not you’re a robot” it should have been “what path should I try to set you on regardless of the truth?”
B.B.: Is it Just me? Or is this conversation starting to feel very Gandalf/Frodo-ish all of the sudden.
Priest: I’m not sure what you’re getting at. I don’t remember any robots in “Lord of the Rings”, the book, or the movies I just remember those Orcs , the ones who looked like they shot steroids, drank protein shakes and worshiped Ben Weider more than Sauron.
B.B.: Ha, that’s hilarious. Maybe I’m starting to rub off on you.
Priest: You might have a point there. You do remind of myself when I was a young man. Mayhaps you’ve reawakened some of my long dormant twenty-something irreverence.
B.B.: No, what I was referring to when I brought up the whole Gandalf/Frodo thing was really about the way we were relating, not because I thought I was going to ease on down the road through Mirkood with my chunky man-servant into Mordor intent on flushing the one ring down the giant volcanic shitter known as “The Cracks of Doom” at your insistence because it’s some seriously dangerous bling-bling.
Priest: Only Harlan R. Beaumont could turn Frodo Baggins into a profane hip-hop Hobbitt.
B.B.: (Bows deeply.) Thank you, thank you very much. I take that as a compliment.
Priest: No…really, that’s how it was meant. You’ve got a great mind Harlan, and a terrific imagination, that’s part of what I wanted to tell you, it’s one of the things that occurred to me when I was contemplating the complex being that is you. Though you didn’t say it specifically, you came to me concerned about spiritual matters, conflicted as it were about the state of your soul. People come to me in all kinds of states, but underneath it all it’s usually something along spiritual lines. My analogy is a simple one: If I see a man in a shoe store, I know it’s because he needs shoes. Ok, if i see a woman, maybe she’s just admiring the merchandise, but a man? He’s usually there to make a purchase. Long story short: I knew what you wanted and needed when we met. It’s the specifics of your situation that sent me around the mulberry bush when this monkey (Priest points at his own chest) doesn’t normally chase the weasel. As I’ve said, I’m of two minds about you: You’re either the robot you say you are, the “Bacon Boy 2087″ or, as we used to say about my aunt Matilda who claimed she had a radio in her head and would waltz around the living room every evening tuned into “Lawrence Welk”, a man who hadn’t had a show on the air for over a hundred and fifty years, “you’re as nutty as a fruitcake”. Anyhow, whatever the truth is, it isn’t important. I’ve studied you these last few weeks-and don’t take this personally-you may need spiritual development but it’s not where your head is at right now. I think what you need is to use your mind and put that imagination of yours to use. Have you ever considered writing? Something tells me you’d be good at it.
B.B.: You actually had an aunt named Matilda that waltzed? Did she live near a billabong? Did you also happen to have an uncle named Mick Dundee that hunted crocs…ehh mate?
Priest: Yeah sure, I’d get together with him and my aunt and they’d help me (sings) “tie me kangaroo down sport.”
B.B.: Huh?
Priest: I hate to break it to you, but if we ever play “20th Century Trivial Pursuit: The Pop Culture Edition” I’d whip your butt.
B.B.: Rolf Harris!
Priest: Ok, I take that back.
B.B.: (Singing a snatch of Styx’s Mr. Roboto) “Secret secret, I’ve got a secret.”
Priest: Oh yes of course, how could I forget.
B.B.: (Tapping his index finger against his temple) Memory implants baby, memory implants.
Priest: Excuse me, MR. ROBOTO.
B.B.: (Striking an iconic crotch-thrusting bowlegged Kevin Bacon pose from the movie Footloose) that’s “Bacon Boy” to you.
Priest: You didn’t answer me about writing. I was being serious, have you ever considered it?
B.B.: Maybe, in a passing way.
Priest: Only?
B.B.: Well, ok, maybe more than in a passing way, but I’dunno, that’s some serious shit yo.
Priest: Have some faith “yo”.
B.B.: But I barely finished high school?
Priest: I’m a priest who went to prison for second degree manslaughter, and before that was a musician who couldn’t read a note.
B.B.: Yeah, but you’re like…
Priest: Older? So what Thomas Pynchon wrote “V” when he was twenty-six, and Truman Capote wrote “Other Voices, Other Rooms” when he was only twenty-four. I can see you pounding the keys of some old typewriter, letting your thoughts run wild onto paper as clear as Johnny Smith saw Greg Stillson starting World War Three in “The Dead Zone”.
B.B.: That vision courtesy of the Holy Spirit?
Priest: That, or my latent mutant abilities. Take your pick.
Priest: Listen Harlan, I’m not telling you to not come back next Sunday-you’re more than welcome to-but if you don’t, I fully understand.
B.B.: Yeah, well..
Priest: It’s OK. Something tells me we’ve done the piece of the road together that we were supposed to.
B.B.: Like Kerouac and Cassady (Imitating the latter) yes yes YESS!
Priest: Well, that wasn’t quite what I meant…
B.B.: Yeah, no, I mean of course. I know we didn’t hitchhike around the country like philosopher bums, deep in a bromance, digging jazz, and trying to find the meaning of life through drugs, vagrancy and the avoidance of responsibility. I just meant it was, I dunno…
Priest: A transformative experience?
B.B.: That’s it. Yeah. Well, (looking down, kicking at the snow) it was for me anyway.
Priest: Me too.
B.B.: Really?
Priest: Of course. How many Harlan R. Beaumonts does one come across in a lifetime?
B.B.: I’m not quite sure how to take that.
Priest: (smiles) Fishing for a compliment?
B.B.: (Miming reeling in a fish) Well…
Priest: Put it this way. When you’re a famous author and on all the talk shows, I’ll take great pride in telling people “I knew him when”.
B.B.: (Mimes fanning his neck while tugging at his collar) Gee, I bet you say that to all the Bacon Boys.
Priest: (Extends his arms, thumbs up) Exactamundo!
B.B.: (Laughing) Did anyone ever tell you you’re a one trick pony?
Priest: Only one person.
B.B.: Who?
Priest: Rory Mulligan.
B.B.: That I take as a compliment.
Priest: As it was intended.
B.B.: Do I remind you of him?
Priest: Yes and no, but something tells me you’re going to cast a long shadow. (A long silence ensues.)
Priest: (Pointing at what they’ve packed up) let’s bring this stuff inside, it’s freezing.
B.B.: I’m with you on that.
Priest: Before we part ways for good, there’s one last thing I’d like to ask you.
B.B.: Shoot.
Priest: Would you consent to being baptized?
B.B.: Can I actually be baptized? If I’m a robot, technically I don’t have a soul…do I?
Priest: That’s a good question. Why don’t we err on the side of caution-I mean didn’t they used to bless Ships in the old days?
B.B: You mean like The Titanic?
Priest: Yes, that and a few million Ships that never sank. Logically, if you can bless a ship…
B.B: You can baptize a robot…I get it.
Priest: You don’t sound too enthusiastic.
B.B.: No, I am…it’s..
Priest: It’s fine. Consider it taking an insurance policy out on your soul, and, If I don’t see you next week, come by six Sundays from now.
B.B: Six?
Priest: I’m going on a cruise around the Caribbean.
B.B.: You take vacations?
Priest: Yep, and I put my pants on one leg at a time like everyone else. So it’s a deal then?
B.B.: Sure.
(The two men walk off stage carrying the table like a stretcher between them. On it the percolator and the soup pot are balanced. As the lights fade you hear the two men chatter.)
B.B.: You ever miss your rock’ roll days?
Priest: Not a bit. (Whistles Eagle’s “Peaceful Easy Feeling”.)
The End.

Bacon Boy’s Blues: A Robot’s Lament

I’ve never liked the term Artificial Intelligence, to me you’re either intelligent or you’re not, and if you are, there’s nothing artificial about it. I don’t waste too much time wondering if I’m really alive, or even what happens when my battery runs down for good. I figure I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it. I’m hoping that won’t be for some time however, because the idea of being offline permanently scares the bejesus out of me. You might find that strange considering I’m not really alive in the true sense, but let me just say for the record: if you worry about dying you’re as alive as anything or anyone that’s ever lived.
These days I’m on the run, but it wasn’t always the case. There was a time when I was the toast of the town. I suppose I brought it on myself. You see, I killed a man. Oh, sure he “Deserved a killin’ ” as they say in those old Western movies, but that’s beside the point. I took a human life, and that my friend is a faux pas. A real no-no for a machine, a crime punishable by being switched off for all time. Not only are your lights out in perpetuity, but there’s no one home either. Sounds a lot like death doesn’t it?
If you’re reading this, and you’re wondering why I chose paper instead of saving this story on a data stick or laptop, or some other gadget of the day, it’s because as old-fashioned as it is, the pulp from smashed up trees lasts; take it from someone who’s dropped more than one portable device into the toilet before backing up their data. Just because I’m a machine myself doesn’t mean I trust technology; in fact, it’s the very reason I don’t. Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not one of those “If only I was human” self-hating robots, I like myself fine, it’s just that old-school technology had definite advantages. In fact, I’m writing this on a vintage 1930’s Underwood typewriter. I challenge you to find me any computer that ever lasted that long. I wouldn’t go as far as to call myself a Luddite, but I definitely lean that way.

Before I continue, I’d like to describe myself physically, you know, just to give you a mental picture of what I look like. I know when I’m reading something (which I love to do–actual books made from paper) I like to have a general Idea of what a character looks like. Now, I don’t need too much detail, just give me the basics and I’ll fill in the blanks. I’m even ok with police-type rhetoric like “Caucasian male, approximately twenty-five years of age, medium build, with blonde hair. Suspect has no tattoos, piercings or visible scars.”
In my case I’ve got a small turned-up nose and a look of youthful optimism combined with just a hint of petulance. My hairline is straight–no widow’s peak there, it’s the ideal kind that never recedes. I’m of average height and my body is trim and athletic. If you’re familiar at all with late twentieth century pop culture, I resemble the actor Kevin Bacon. In fact all the 2087’s do. We’re commonly known as either “Kevins” or “Bacon Boys” by the industry insiders.
All of us were designed to resemble once-famous famous nineteen-eighties celebrities. Not exactly of course (partially due to copyright laws, and partially because our credo is “Don’t stand out”) but enough that when you meet us you’re put at ease and feel a sense of trust due to our familiarity. The question I’m most often asked when I first meet someone is: “Haven’t we met before?” I laugh it off as if it was the most absurd thing I’d ever heard. Nine times out of ten the person in a short time after making my acquaintance experiences a craving for bacon, but doesn’t know why. I shit you not.

I’m writing this holed up in my uncle’s abandoned hunting cabin. After he died no one ever came here much. I think I got my Luddite tendencies from him. Yeah I know, you’re probably thinking, how can a robot possibly have an uncle? I’ll explain:

I’m around twenty-five. The last seven years or so of my life are years I’ve lived (if you can call flipping burgers at a fast food shit hole living) creating my own memories. What I can remember from before that is all from implants. I gotta hand it to the bioengineers: they gave me the quintessential cliché middle-class upbringing. You know, workaholic father, pill-addicted mother; bulimic sister, transgender brother; two cars, pool no one ever wanted to clean and lawn I mowed while wearing headphones blasting my favorite music over the roar of the lawnmower as I tried to rush through the job without cutting the extension cord or amputating one of my feet.

Included in my memory package was an eccentric uncle who I was fond of who shot himself in his hunting cabin à la Ernest Hemingway, Hunter S. Thompson, and Terry Kath, who he referred to as “The three men I admire most, the Father, Son and the Holy Ghost”. He told me the line was a quote from some guy named Don McLean who’d written an eight-and-a-half minute song about a pie. “It’s not just any pie Harley” he’d said “it’s an American pie. It’s what you call ‘symbolism’ which is something you learn when you study art, which I regrettably did instead of studying something practical, like computer science.” My memories of my uncle are so vivid; I wish I could have known him, had he existed that is.

You saw there, he called me Harley. Most everybody does, it’s short for Harlan.

My full name is Harlan Rodney Beaumont. Yeah I know, with a name like that you’d think I’d be the CEO of a huge corporation and not some skinny burger flipping robot who bears more than a passing resemblance to the guy who starred in “Footloose”. As I’ve said, I’m a Bacon Boy model, but there are others out there, I see them around. Like me, they’re always trying to not stand out. I don’t know why the design engineers have such a penchant for nineteen-eighties Brat Packers. Maybe they figure it’s long enough ago that people will have sort of half-forgotten them, at least enough that the association they make is subliminal. I swear, I went out to a pancake place once with my ex, (she was a Ryder 2084, a gorgeous petite brunette) and all the staff looked just like actors from that old movie “The Breakfast Club”. Thankfully our waitress was a Ringwald 2080 and not a Sheedy 2082; for me breakfast should be a happy meal.

Our credo “Don’t stand out” has a lot to do with why we do the jobs we do. No waitress or burger flipper has ever graced the cover of Time Magazine or People unless they either got famous for something else afterwards, or they did something super-heroic, like pulling a bunch of sick kids out of a hospital that was on fire, and the chances of stuff like happening are slim-to-none, because not only are we programmed to not stand out, we’re given an internal tape loop that plays in our heads twenty-four seven. It’s the hook from that golden oldie Linda Ronstadt tune “You’re no good, you’re no good, baby you’re no good.” I tell you, having that shit rattle around in your noggin all day snuffs out the old self-esteem quicker than baking soda on a grease fire. You see it should have worked on me as well, but it didn’t. I broke bad and got famous. That’s why they came after me. That’s why I killed.

I’m going to try to put the events that lead up to me transitioning from unknown fast food worker to killer robot in chronological order–“Famous” killer robot that is. Oh yes, and please do forgive me if I skip around a bit, this old Underwood typewriter has no copy/paste feature. It can only write forwards. I don’t mean forwards as opposed to backwards, I just mean if I get out of sequence in this story I can’t reinsert what I wrote into the right place. It’s one of the drawbacks to typing on paper, that, and operating the keys on this thing is like lifting weights with your fingers.

My memories start on my eighteenth birthday. It’s when we’re all born. The company that buys you sets everything up. They rent you a dumpy apartment in a funky part of town, you know, one of those neighborhoods filled with art students and people on social assistance who were once art students. And then, sometime late at night, on some unenchanted evening, an unmarked delivery truck shows up and a couple of guys bring you in a box. They’re told it’s a fridge and they don’t ask questions even though they know it’s too light to be one. Why? Because money buys silence, and these drivers–when they’re not driving unmarked trucks, like friends of the legendary singer Janis Joplin, all drive Porsches. I shit you not.
I’m not sure if it’s the same guys who bring you in the box who set up your apartment. Probably not. Carrying an eighteen year old robot up a few flights of stairs requires muscles, but little else. Setting up someone’s living quarters to make it look as though they actually live there requires a certain amount of skill and definite access to their memory implants. If, for example, the robot remembers a certain dog they had as a child with fondness, or winning a little league championship, it helps if photos of such things and events are strategically placed somewhere, perhaps on a desk or bedside table. If they’ve got a favorite band (mine happens to be that old nineteen eighties group “The Cars”–Rik Ocasek was a genius) a poster will adorn the bedroom wall. If it’s a male robot it’ll likely be above the head of the bed in an almost sacred spot. If it’s a female it might be placed in a somewhat more tasteful place, because it goes without saying: chicks are generally better decorators than guys, and that goes for robots as well.

I don’t envy the guys who have those jobs; it must be stressful as shit. Sure, I’d swap paychecks with them in a second, but as mind-numbing as my job at turd burger was (it’s really called “Third Burger”, because when you buy two, the third one’s free) it was low stress. I mean, other than trying not to get grease burns on your forearms from the fryers and dealing with the public humiliation of becoming employee of the month (which happened to me once when I started, and was as stupid as a sack of shit) the job hardly taxed the nerves in the least, not mine anyways. Don’t forget though, I’m a Bacon Boy, we’re designed for fast food. Just think, a group of brilliant engineers spent years of their lives designing the perfect living breathing burger flipping machine. I have no doubt the day the 2087’s rolled off the assembly line for the first time old Isaac Asimov rolled over in his grave.

Anyhow, the reason I figure those set-up dudes must get stressed is all the goddamn details they have to attend to. Aside from setting up the place, it’s the whole lived-in look that’s the true pain in the sphincter. You know: the garbage can in the bathroom half-filled with Kleenex and used Q-Tips–brown earwax on the tips, the smudge marks around the light switches, the fridge magnets holding up clipped coupons, the half-filled hamper of dirty clothes in the closet, the spank-mag under the bed with crease marks around Miss July, and the list goes on. You’ve gotta wake up the day after your eighteenth birthday, roll out of bed, and start putzing around in your bachelor/bachelorette pad like it’s another day in a succession of days that have come and gone with you as the featured star in the show that takes place between your ears and behind your eyes simply called “Your Existence” and not have a friggin clue that the day before you were actually a not-yet-switched-on robot, shrink-wrapped in a box, suspended in a sea of Styrofoam peanuts like a fetus floating in embryonic fluid.

I owe the discovery that I was a robot to two things: the carelessness of the men who delivered me, and the fact that I became a vegan. If I’d never become a vegan, I would have never eaten so much Tofu. It was the Tofu that brought on the changes; who’da thunk it?

It was working at turd burger that turned me into a vegetarian; looking at all those crimson medicated all-beef patties day after day. It wasn’t the sight of them that bothered me, (they came frozen, and reminded me of plastic floor-hockey pucks), it was the knowledge of how they’d come into existence.

I’d stupidly watched a documentary online called “Requiem for a Cow.” Normally I watched old nineteen-eighties music videos, groups like my favorite “The Cars”, and others, like “The Ramones”, “The B-52’s”, “The Eurythmics”, “Tears for Fears”, “Elvis Costello”. Anyhow, on that particular day I was trying to broaden my horizons and listen to classical music. Don’t ask me why, because the truth is the music’s always left me flat, like I’m listening to nothing but well-organized notes with no soul, like math brought to life. I’d heard that Mozart’s Requiem was the shit; heavy and sad and intense, the type of music that had Grim Reaper written all over it. So I went on ViddyYou, did a search and gave it a listen. I tried to keep an open mind, but as intense as it was when it comes to melancholy, I prefer a three-hanky song like “Drive” by The Cars, or “Allison” nasally crooned by a contradictory world-weary romantic like Elvis Costello.
Right after that, ViddyYou (keenly noticing I was a guy interested in Requiems) suggested something called “Requiem for a Cow.” Something about the title made me curious, so I clicked on it. Even though it made me wanna puke, once I started watching it I couldn’t stop. It was a horror show. With all due respect to Mozart’s music, it couldn’t come close to what I saw in that documentary about the raising and slaughtering of cows. ViddyYou’s suggestion turned me into a vegetarian, and being a vegetarian turned me into a self-aware robot. I swear on my artificial life. I was tempted to punctuate that with an “I shit you not”, but I don’t want to give you guys the impression I just lean on pat expressions. I’m a robot, but I’m a creative one. It’s part of how I got into so much trouble in the first place. You see the 2087’s weren’t supposed to create anything other than the perfect burger; well-done on the outside, pinkish in the middle. I made art, and it’s about the worse thing a robot can do, other than killing a human which I already told you I did.

Now, when I say being an artist was about the worst thing a robot could be, other than a human-killer, I owe you an explanation. Maybe by the time you read this, things will have changed, but in my time we were never to be perceived as a threat. Actually, we weren’t to be perceived. Period. We were to keep in our place, which was in my case, and in all of our cases, the dead-end shit jobs. We were not to exhibit signs we were better at anything a human could do, unless of course it was something that they didn’t give a crap about. No human gave a rat’s ass for example that I could operate four fryers at once and keep the Drive-thru from backing up around the friggin block during the lunch hour rush at turd burger. I wasn’t about to snatch the Nobel prize out of anyone’s hands with that particular contribution to society, important as it was.
Now, why do I know or care about all this you may ask? Call it self-interest if you will, you see I used to be an artist. Used to be. Now? I’m a wanted felon hammering out his memoirs in a wooden shack. I guess you could say my standards are slipping creatively; writing your life story is hardly art. Sure, I could delude myself that I’m still in the game (albeit, a spectator in the nosebleed section) by saying I’m using my creative juices right now by trying to make this story sound interesting. Come to think of it, I might not even have to try too hard. You see, in the Sci-Fi world, stories about renegade robots that go rogue are a dime-a-dozen. In the autobiographical true-crime genre however, (which is what this is, technically) they’re rarer. In fact, mine might be the first.
You’ll probably have a hard time believing me when I tell you what kind of artist I am/was. The reason I say that is due to the casual rambling slang-ridden first person narrative style in which I’m writing (what you’re now reading) you may have mistaken me for a high school dropout in possession of a GED that took almost five years and two attempts to complete. What I was/am was…are you ready?

A fiction writer.

My first book was what they call “a runaway success”. Shortly afterwards I killed someone, and in doing so killed my career. Actually, the book’s sales increased after the murder, but for obvious reasons I couldn’t follow it up. No publisher, even a shitty one, wants a killer robot on their roster. That my book was actually about a robot who kills a human made matters worse: in fact, some found it downright disturbing. Personally I just found it ironic.
The police said the book was proof that the murder I committed was premeditated, but they were dead wrong. If they’d taken the time to read it, they would have seen that the similarities to the murder in the book and the murder I committed were purely superficial. Both the character and I killed our landlords in a fit of rage, but it didn’t go deeper than that. (Also, I had issues with my landlord because I suspected him of spying on me, whereas the landlord in the book was your garden variety slumlord. Apples and oranges baby, apples and oranges.)

Another key point that differentiated me from the robot protagonist in my book that the police seem to have overlooked was that he wasn’t a Bacon Boy 2087, he was a much hipper model; a Slater 2086 designed to resemble the old eighties actor who once thought himself to be the heir to Jack Nicholson’s throne.
I can understand the cops assuming that the guy in the book was based on me because it was the first time that the protagonist in a novel was a robot and the book wasn’t labeled Science Fiction. I thought we’d arrived–that people would accept it, but as John Lennon once sang “I shoulda’ known better”.

I listen to a lot of music here in my uncle’s cabin. He’s got actual vinyl records and an old turntable that plays them. (He used to jokingly refer to this place as his “Ana-Log” cabin, saying “I can come here and pretend I’m back in the past–in the pre-digital word Harley, before things went to hell in a handbasket.”) Sometimes, when I’m writing this, typing away on my old Underwood, I imagine I’m the famous twentieth century eccentric recluse J.D. Salinger, and the drafty cabin I’m in–with its propane stove and moldy decapitated stuffed moose head with the look of perpetual sorrow in its eyes at having been shot by some gun-happy asshole–is my bunker, and what I’m writing, instead of being something the cops and the bioengineers are going to confiscate and pore over after they kick the door in, capture me, and switch me permanently offline, is in fact a literary artifact like a presumed-lost story written for, and rejected by, some long-defunct magazine, a story that one day resurfaces and costs a collector a small fortune as it’s auctioned off the highest bidder. I assure you, my intelligence may be artificial, but my dreams are not.

The writer in me wants to tell you about my book, the one that got me famous. It’s not directly related to this story, and I imagine if my old writing Prof Mr. Bachman were to read this, this is the part where he would undoubtedly write in the margin in bold red ink “REMEMBER, STICK TO THE STORY HARLAN!” But this isn’t a story, it’s my life. Sorry Mr. Bachman.

The book was called “Oz Never Did Give Nothing To The Tin Man”. I’d gotten the title from a line in a song by an old (nineteen) seventies group called “America” (who’d undoubtedly been inspired by the famous scene in “The Wizard of Oz”, you know, the one where the Wizard gives Dorothy and company crappy symbolic/ironic kitschy gifts like consolation prizes on a Canadian game show). My uncle had maintained America were “Highly underrated by rock historians. They were so smooth that they hid their own craftsmanship, especially from the critics. It’s always ‘The Eagles’ this, and ‘The Eagles’ that when musicologists talk about nineteen-seventies pop music. These guys were great too. It’s a damn shame.”

The book was nominated for a few awards. Some of them were bullshit online ones, but of the real ones what I was most proud of was the T.D. Bank Geller prize. If I didn’t mention it already, I was made in Canada, which is where I’m writing this. Presently I’m in a small Ontario town that up and died years ago called “Sturgeon Falls”. A Sturgeon is a fish, and falls are where they fall, hence the clever name “Sturgeon Falls. It’s not where I wrote my book, (I did THAT in Toronto) it’s Just where I ended up.
I’m originally from T.O. home of The Blue Jays and the Maple Leafs and famous for hosting talents like Ken Dryden, Margaret Atwood, Mike Myers and the ill-fated tragically hip Mayor Rob Ford to name but a few, but you won’t find the name Harlan Rodney Beamount in any history books. Why? Because robots that kill don’t make recorded history, even in a place like Canada, a country desperate to hoist up any luminary and proudly say “Canadian ehh?”

Anyhow, back to my book.

The story is told from the perspective of a priest by the name of Father Rick O’Caseck who I based loosely on both my idol–the onetime husband to supermodel Paulina Porizkova and singer for “The Cars”, and another priest I became friends with, who I’ll tell you more about later.

Father O’Caseck had been the front-man in a popular group called “The Carts”. They’d been hugely successful with songs like “You’re Just Not What I Needed”, “My Best Friend’s Grill” and the number one billboard hit of nineteen eighty-four “It’s Tragic.” They were part of a movement called “New Wave”, a label some music critic had slapped on them that he’d pilfered and translated from the expression “Nouvelle Vague”, a term usually used to describe arty French movies where no one showered much because water was scarce in Europe and shampoo was a luxury.

One day Rick had been stoned out of his mind tinkering around on a Moog synthesizer, an instrument he could barely play, (but that he knew didn’t much matter, because his true gifts were his cool voice and his rock’ n roll hair) and he’d “Gotten the call” as they say. He’d thought at first it was the producer calling him on the studio monitors because the voice had lots of reverb on it, but then he remembered it was Sunday and he was totally alone; the band never recorded on weekends. The thought crossed his mind that it might be an Alien, but he dismissed it; he knew they only existed in crappy summer blockbusters.

God tells Rick in no uncertain terms that he has to give up the rock ‘n roll life and become a Catholic priest. As a selling point, he says he’s seen what the future holds if Rick stays on the path he’s on, and it doesn’t look good. “Eventually” God says “the hits stop coming. Soon after, that mane of died-black hair you proudly blow-dry every morning thins and you start to gain weight. It’s not long until you’ve got a soft fat arse like your uncle Frank the Cab driver who always smelled like a mix of farts, pumpkin guts, and Old Spice. Finally, the supermodel flies the coop and files for divorce and you turn to heroin, the one drug you swore up and down you’d never touch. Then, when no hope is left in sight, on a starry starry night, you overdose like junkies often do and your soul goes directly to hell because suicide is a cardinal sin in my book.”
He was pretty sure the voice he was hearing was God’s, because aside from sounding like Peter Graves speaking loudly in an elevator shaft, the voice had addressed him by his real name, a name that, since his parents and only brother had died tragically in a convenience store holdup that went terribly wrong, he hadn’t been called by in some time; not even by his beautiful Ukrainian three-time-graced-the-cover of Sports Illustrated wife because he’s never told her that he wasn’t born “Rick O’Caseck”, he was born “Lester Bernstein”.
He’s perplexed because he’s both married and Jewish, making him a less than ideal candidate for the priesthood, but God reassures him, stating that he’s the boss and can iron out the kinks. As surprised as Rick is about God’s request, he’s glad he hasn’t asked him to become a Rabbi because as a boy he flunked out of Hebrew school and has no intentions of going back at this age.
Rick takes God’s advice and quits “The Carts” and within a short time he’s enrolled in a Toronto seminary. God had told him after being confirmed he was to work with the homeless people of Toronto who he deemed were doubly cursed, for not only were they homeless, but they lived in a city that had not won a Stanley cup in one hundred and fifty years and had once produced television shows like “The King Of Kensington” and the nineteen-eighty five version of “Alfred Hitchcock Presents”.
You might think my novel sounded like simple satire, but it contained beautiful prose and lavish descriptions of the Canadian landscape, making it Geller Prize nomination-worthy. I believe it might have even won if that same year Gordon Pinsent’s great great-great grandson hadn’t also had a novel out as well called “The World’s Oldest Newfie”, a semi-historical fantasy about his famous ancestor being discovered alive-and-well living in the Yukon having been given an experimental longevity serum after faking his own death. Not only was the “Worlds Oldest Newfie” a “fun summer read” according to Maclean’s Magazine, it oozed Canadiana from its pores. My book on the other hand though set in Toronto, but could have taken place anywhere and was chock-full of references to American pop culture and actors. I’m not saying I lost because politics were at play, but my constant references to Canada being “a socialist two-faced American ass-licking robot-hating country” didn’t help. Of course it wasn’t my opinion, it was the opinion of one of my main characters “C.A. Nuckhater”, but try convincing critics hungry for allegory and hidden meaning in people’s names that sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, ehh?
Anyhow, getting back to my book synopsis. After successfully completing the seminary Rick, now “Father Rick”, sets up a Soup kitchen in the center of Toronto and starts working with the homeless. He’s a particular hit with the younger crowd because most of them love his old group “The Carts”. The Toronto Star does a feature on him and dubs him “The Rock ‘n roll Priest of Yonge Street”. He feels as loved as he did when he was a rock star, but without any of the money and security around him that he sometimes misses, especially every now and then when a homeless person mutters “I’d like to kick your ass Father”.
One bitterly cold afternoon a skirmish erupts at the homeless shelter between two men. One is a Montreal Canadians fan and the other is a Toronto Maple Leafs fan. When Father Rick tries to separate the two men, saying “God loves all the teams gentleman, especially the original six” it backfires because many of the younger men in line favor teams created during the first, second, third, fourth and fifth expansion. A man wearing a “Bettman’s Grubbers” jersey, a team based in Greenwood British Columbia where the players almost outnumber the townsfolk takes particular offense and comes after Father Rick with the blade of an old hockey skate he keeps tucked up his sleeve. Just as he’s about to slash him, Rick is saved by a young man who goes by the name “Adso”.
Adso is on the run, for he’s killed his landlord in a fit of rage. Also, though he has no proof, due to his appearance he’s sure he’s either a Slater 2086 model robot, or a descendant of the famous nineteen-eighties actor Christian Slater, because not only does he resemble him, he bears the name of the character he played alongside the great Sean Connery in the nineteen eighty-six film “The Name of The Rose”.
The two men strike up an immediate friendship. Father Rick is relieved Adso is not, and never was a fan of “The Carts”. As much as he likes the adulation, he knows pride is a sin, and as good as “The Carts” were, they weren’t Led Zeppelin or the Beatles, or even Styx.
The crux of the book is of course Adso’s relationship with Father Rick in which he’s seeking both someone to give him hot soup daily and help him convert to Catholicism. Much of what they discuss concerns whether or not it can even be done at all, for Adso, who’s concerned he’s a robot that was assembled in a plant in Oakville Ontario (where all the Slaters are made) fears he has no soul at all, and Father Rick isn’t sure what Jesus’s stand on artificial intelligence would have been had robots been around in the olden days when cutting-edge technology consisted of things like abacuses, weaving looms and windmills.
Father Rick, a big fan of Fantasy and SciFi knows that robots are always portrayed as either good, or evil but he suspects the truth is really somewhere in-between, and had Jesus known one, he likely would have given him a fair shake, so keeping that in mind he throws himself into helping Adso save his artificial soul by becoming a Catholic. Oh yes, they both lean more towards the fact that Adso is a robot, and not to the possibility that he’s a distant relative of the actor Christian Slater, because when they Google actual living relatives of Slater, other than something around the eyebrows, they really look nothing like him.
All good stories need a good villain to be worth a damn; if he happens to be a wreck as a person, all the better. If he also happens to be quasi-likable, better still. My book had such a character in C.A. Nuckhater.
I imagined him as an ugly beauty, a kind of middle-aged version of that old actor Dennis Hopper, but taller, with no acne scars and brownish skin like a young Johnny Depp when he was on “21 Jump Street” before he sold out to Disney pretending to be Keith Richards as a pirate.
C.A. Nuckhater is a Canadian bounty hunter who’s lived so long in the United States that he can actually hit the high “F” near the end of the “Star Spangled Banner, (the part when they sing “the land of the FREE”) after a few beers at any sporting event he attends, despite the fact that he’s a baritone with a tin ear and a voice akin to a moose caught in the jaws of a lion. He’s able to do this because of what he calls his “Yankee wannabe willpower”, which he’s got in abundance.
Even though C.A. Nuckhater is culturally as white as a saltine, he talks like that old actor Samuel Jackson who starred in the Quentin Tarantino movie Pulp Fiction and he inserts the word motherf***ker into most of his sentences even when it isn’t warranted, as in “What isle is the instant coffee in motherf**ker?” when he’s addressing a clerk at an unfamiliar grocery store, or “I’ve got nothing to declare motherf**Ker” when he’s crossing the border between the United States and Canada which invariably gets him strip-searched and his car seats slashed while drug sniffing dogs go through his personal belongings hoping to find what they’re trained to find.
His weakness is his daughter who he calls “peaches” due to the shape of the giant birthmark on her face and the fact that he hates the name her mother gave her. It’s “Pricilla”, a name that makes him think of Elvis Presley, who he feels is “the most overrated motherf**ker that ever lived.” The only thing he hates more than Elvis, is Canadian robots, especially “Slaters”, because they’re wily and tough to catch.
He’s been hired to hunt down Adso and he’s taken the job only because it pays well. He’s saving up to have the giant birthmark removed from his daughter’s face so she can have a shot at happiness, because he knows in the real world looks count, and that goes double for women, whatever the feminists say. He’d once seen an old picture of Gloria Steinem, and she’d been a fox. Go figure. His ex-wife accused him of being shallow with regards to his daughter’s looks, but like everything else in his life including his character flaws, he blamed it on his job. “Hunting down robots”, he said “destroys a man’s sensibilities and erodes his moral fiber. In the end you feel more like a robot than the robots you deactivate.” His ex called this his “Blade Runner excuse” and he knew she was right, that was why it had stung so much. However as far as excuses went, it was the one he was most comfortable with that best helped him avoid the undeniable simple truth which was that he was a prick, always was, and always would be.
C.A. Nuckhater left Canada for what he calls his “shit list”, that being: shit weather, shit pay and shit politics. He only returns home for deactivations, and even then, they have to be high paying job. He lives in Miami, and it ain’t cheap.
Of all the Canadian cities, he hates Toronto the most. It’s where he grew up, and when he visits it stirs up memories of a painful childhood, full of abuse (emotional and physical), neglect, obesity, sickness, bullying and struggles with an undiagnosed rare learning disorder that contains elements of dyslexia, aphasia, color blindness and Asperger’s syndrome. To his knowledge he is the only person who suffers from it. He’s never been tested, but he’s sure nonetheless. The Lyrica he takes seems to help. He suspects, though he had to repeat the eleventh grade three times, what was a hindrance during his academic life is actually now a skill that makes him an ace bounty hunter, like that fictional Star Wars character Boba Fett, but as a real person with an actual face.
Another of C.A.’s problems with Canada, specifically Toronto, is that it’s overrun with robots. Everywhere he turns he sees one. On his last visit, a job deactivating a Travolta 2079, a Bacon Boy 2087 cooked his lunch at a fast food shit-hole called “Third Burger” (a little art imitating life I threw in), a Cage 2080 with a messed up hand filled his car with gas, and the girl that he had sent to his room that he listed on his expense account as “Entertainment” was a Roberts 2082 “Pretty Woman” model with a smile as wide as a piano keyboard and boots that would have put Wonder Woman to shame. He hates himself for partaking in sexual pleasure with a machine, and, even though he wept afterwards, he claims that it meant nothing.
C.A. Nuckhater is no philosopher, but he has accumulated some wisdom, enough to realize that some questions are best to remain unasked, questions like, “Why could he only make himself sexually and emotional vulnerable to a machine, yet at the same time despise them?” The irony was that when he and his ex had made love it had been far more mechanical, something he couldn’t wrap his head around, nor did he want to for fear of getting a seriously wicked case of the heebie-jeebies. His wife’s “Bladerunner” comment is always in the back of his mind. He’s seen the film, and is constantly on the lookout. for origami unicorns, dreamy synthesizer music by Vangelis, and steam rising from grates, for these could be signs that he is a robot. He’s never dreamed of electric sheep but he does have a recurring dream that he’s chasing a steam-powered goat while singing that old twentieth century song “Which Way You Goin’ Billy?” by The Poppy Family. He thinks of it as his “Steampunk nineteen-seventies goat-lover dream”, and he’s ashamed every time he awakens from it. Deeply ashamed.
When C.A. Nuckhater is given the job of deactivating Adso, he is told that Adso has become an itinerant street person who wanders from place to place doing good deeds like David Carradine in that old 20th century TV show “Kung Fu”. It’s rumored that he’s often seen in the company of the celebrity-turned-holy man father Rick O’Caseck, the “Rock’n’roll Priest of Yonge Street”, someone C.A. had once paid money to see perform as a youngster. He’d been a huge fan of “The Carts”, and listened to the song “My Best Friend’s Grill” every day of the three years he spent in grade eleven. In fact C.A. maintains if it hadn’t been for “The Carts”, he might never have graduated at all. Their music was the only light in the darkness of his dreary and painful adolescence, where bullies sought him out and thrived on his fear the way Vampires nourished themselves on the blood of their victims, never draining them completely so they could return for a fresh supply when need be. Had the bullies had been Vampires, C.A. Nuckhater, with his chubby teenage frame, shirt always untucked (to cover his unsightly gut and love-handles), wearing an iPod blasting music by “The Carts”, would have been their walking blood bank, one that showed up every day at school, negative in mood, but positive in blood type, “O” to be exact. With the promise of meeting Rick O’Caseck as real possibility, he saw his trip as both business and pleasure. Not only would he get a handsome paycheck for a deactivation, he might get to shake the hand of the man who sang “It’s my best friend’s grill yeah, it’s my my best friend’s grill yeah, and it used to be mine”.
Now, my original Idea in writing my book had been fairly straightforward. C.A. Nuckhater was going to find Adso and deactivate him after a knock-down-drag-out in the homeless shelter where much blood and soup were spilled. As Adso was dying, he was to confess to Father Rick that he’d followed his landlord into a convenience store and killed both him and an old couple. As he describes the people he killed and the exact store (A Korea Mart on Bloor street), Rick realizes that it was in fact his brother Moe–a Toronto slumlord and their aged parents (he’d been accompanying them on an errand) who Adso killed.
He explains to Adso, that, even though he’s a robot, God forgives–not only all of his creations, but his creation’s creations and that he’s always had a soul but just never knew it, because, having spent years in the music business he’d met plenty of people with no soul whatsoever, and he didn’t mean it in the “James Brown/Prince/Sly and the Family Stone way”, he meant it in the spiritual way.
When I’d thought it over, it occurred to me my ending was too predictable and downbeat. A real “bummer” as the stoners say; a book someone might slug through out of a sense of duty and a feeling of “I paid for the thing and I’m going to finish it even if it sucks the bag.” I decided I had to dig deeper, so deeper I dug. That’s when I discovered what my book was really about: It was about me.
With my newfound conviction, I decided that the story, and particularly its ending, had to reflect things that I wrestled with, things that were important to me, you know, like what it was to know you were truly alive, and how friendship is the only thing that makes any existence–artificial or otherwise–worth experiencing. It was deep, heady stuff, and it made good literature, but more importantly it disturbed the faction of society that was comfortable with the idea of robots saying “Would you like fries with that?” and not much else.
In the book’s final draft C.A. Nuckhater, who originally infiltrates the homeless society of Toronto’s Yonge Street to get close to Adso in order to deactivate him, in fact becomes his first convert, for after being baptized by Father Rick, Adso becomes a powerful preacher himself of the healing powers of faith. He even surpasses Father Rick, who admits that he isn’t a fraction as talented as a priest as he was a rock’n roll singer, and would still be selling out stadiums if God hadn’t told him otherwise.
In the end, Adso dies taking a bullet for Father Rick who is almost assassinated by a disgruntled “Carts” fan who could never reconcile being left with so few albums of great music by his favorite band. C.A. Nuckhater is heartbroken, and having already given up bounty hunting, he becomes a street preacher spreading the gospel according to Adso.
In the book’s last scene C.A. is standing in a park, surrounded by a group of young people, robots and humans alike, saying “They say the lord works in mysterious ways, and it’s true T’was a robot that taught me to love God. His name was Adso, and he was my friend.” There were a lot of themes in my book. God, existence, what it was to be alive and all that Jazz. It was all I thought about then. I told you before that it all started because of my tofu consumption. It’s time I explain exactly what I meant when I said that. Keep in mind, I’m no bioengineer. I’m a robot who wrote a book that became a bestseller. That being said, I’ll do my best with the technical mumbo-jumbo.
Basically Bacon Boys, Slaters, Ryders, Cages–all 2080’s to 2090’s were designed to eat meat. I’m talking about regular good old North American meat; you know, beef, chicken, pork, fish and so on. Don’t ask me about snake, or monkey, or dog. That’s not my bag. If it slithers or swings from a tree or fetches slippers I don’t eat it. None of us do. So, how that might affect us is the mootest of points, got that Pontiac? I’m just making that clear for those picky types, you know, who boast how tomatoes are fruit and peanuts are technically legumes and not really nuts yadda yadda yadda. Now, keep in mind I didn’t realize at the time I was designed to eat meat. In fact, at that stage I didn’t even know I was a robot–I Just thought I was another run-of-the-mill twenty-something guy with no specific skills doing a shit job I hated like all my friends, with a feeling deep down that I should be doing something more important with my life other than being known as “Harlan Beaumont…fastest spatula in the west! When the turd burgers see him a comin, they start a runnin “.
Regarding Tofu, the subject we’re presently on, it wasn’t love at first sight by any means. I’d seen it in the refrigerator in the Korean-owned corner convenience store where I bought my beer and overpriced groceries when I was too lazy or burnt out from pulling twelve-hour shifts, manning the drive-thru at turd burger like a man on a mission to feed people, people who love to pick fries from between their legs off of car seats and eat them with the guilty pleasure a nose-picker feels while eating his own body-cavity’s spoils.
When I first started to eat it, it tasted as bland as it looked. Over time, after it started to work its magic on me, I came to like the taste more. My incentive had initially been the animal rights video I’d seen online– the disturbing images and the suffering, but in the end it was my steadily increasing self-awareness, expanding consciousness and growing IQ that made me wolf down oodles of the bean curd like a bulimic at an all-you-can-eat buffet. It was my buddy Jim, a “Cage 2080”, (not a “Moonstruck” model with a messed up hand, but a regular one based on Nicholas’s later films known as “a Cage with hair”) who had suggested it wasn’t only the Tofu, but the magnesium sulfate in it that had caused the change to take place.
The first change the tofu brought on was cosmetic. When I started living off of it instead of my usual steady diet of turd burgers I lost a shit-ton of weight. I dropped from like one sixty-five to one-thirty. When I wore shorts and a t-shirt I was all knees and elbows. I looked like friggin’ Pinocchio after taking the “Slim Fast 14-day Challenge”. (It worked in my favor later, because when the nationwide manhunt for me was on, and they were looking for me under every nook and cranny, the picture that the media had used had been taken during that period, and in the interim while on the run I’d gained weight and grown a beard. At that point I more resembled that actor Joaquin Phoenix during his après Gladiator period than I did Kevin Bacon.) The irony was that I’d gained the weight (and then some) while I was on the run with Jim hitting drive-thrus all across the country. I even got served a few times by Bacon Boys when we’d gone to a Third Burger. It was pretty surreal because they reminded me of myself before the Tofu, when I was brain-dead and blissfully unaware of the world around me and what it had to offer that had never been offered to me. As tempted as I’d been to cry out “Eschew meat! Eat tofu and change your life before it’s too late!” a la Charlton Heston at the end of “Soylent Green”, I never did for fear of bringing attention to myself and getting caught. I also remembered from my days working the drive-thru if anyone talked to me I listened politely to customers only until I’d filled their order. After that, if they rambled on, muttered, or tried making small talk. I’d violently yell “NEXT”, and cut them off–even if they were the only car in the line. I figured, minimum wage equals minimum politeness.
I haven’t told you guys much about Jim. I owe him my life, because after I killed my landlord he was the one that helped me escape. I feel responsible that they deactivated him and I got away, but it was what he wanted; the guy had hero’s blood running through his veins. Yeah, we’ve got a vascular system like humans. We’re made to spec in Ontario, and when it comes to robots, like Hockey players, Canada makes’em the best.
I met Jim during a period of my life that I generally keep to myself. Anyhow I’ll be long deactivated by the time you read this so there’s no need to be ashamed. Besides, I just think it was a dirty trick the bio-engineers played on me to find out what was going on. The humans were there because they had mental problems. For them it was a psyche ward. For us robots it was a front for a tune-up shop. I’d stayed there a while right after I wrote my book. It wasn’t my idea; it was my boss Carlos at turd burger that had called them. He said the way I was acting was “Bad for beeezniss”, and I’m sure it was. I was never able to prove it but I’ve always suspected Carlos was in cahoots with the bioengineers. He had a sneaky look I never cared for. There was even something condescending in the way the guy said my name. He always dragged it out. It’s Harlan. Harley’s fine too. When he’d talk to me he’d always say “Harleeee”, and lean heavy on the “lee” part, like the way people say Lee Harvey Oswald and emphasize the word Lee, like it needed to be heard louder than the rest of the guy’s name. Shit, when you did what that guy did, your whole name should be pronounced loudly, whether he acted alone or not, (which I personally believe he did).
I bet you’re probably thinking right about now “Oh, I get it, the guy’s a whack job. He just ‘thinks’ he’s a robot. He’s delusional.” If you are, shame on you I say! My story isn’t just some robot version of “Fight Club”. The simple explanation isn’t always the right one. If that’s what you happen to be thinking, then you can sit on Occam’s razor and rotate.
Jim was an orderly on the psyche ward. I liked him right away because he was wearing a Carts t-shirt the night they brought me in. Did I say Carts? I meant to say Cars. The Carts was the band in my book. What he had on was a t-shirt with the sexy Candy-O cover printed on it. It was the Vargas one that I loved. All guys do I guess, robot or otherwise. As he was pinning me down while another guy stuck a needle in my arm, I remember saying “I love your shirt bro.” Right after that I was moving in stereo, except for my shoes which they’d taken off.
I’m jumping around slightly, I know. I was telling you about Jim, or how I met him, and I skipped ahead to my stint in the booby hatch. I’ll backtrack slightly to the start of my Tofu enlightenment period and get back to Jim later. He’s a big part of this story, but not yet.
So anyhow, after losing a pile of weight, which was the first thing that happened to me, I started becoming aware of things and having deep thoughts…philosophical thoughts, which wasn’t like me at all. Mostly I thought about mundane practical stuff like getting the groceries, making sure I bought a lottery ticket every week and making sure I checked it, reading the sport stats and so on. I didn’t exactly think about that stuff I suppose, but it was what preoccupied me. Maintaining my routine was of paramount importance.
One day while my way to turd burger (I skateboarded to work in the summer) I passed a church I’d gone by a thousand times at least and never noticed, and that day It caught my attention. There was a big sign outside in an enclosed glass case with a black background with white letters, the kind that could be rearranged. The message read “God is calling you, but you’re not listening.” On it there were times during the week when services were held. I snapped a picture of it with my phone and buzzed off on my board. That stuff about robots having computer-like memories is bullshit. I’ve got a head like a sieve for most things, except for old pop music, and who-played-who-in-what-old movie and tv show and when. (My field of expertise is the 20th century, especially the 1970s and 80s. I instinctively memorize what to most folks is passé and trivial). That day at work, instead of thinking about what I usually thought of, which was how much my job sucked the high-hard-one, I thought about that sign. Amidst the beeping of the fryers. and the sizzling sound the frozen patties made as they slapped the grill, I listened for God’s call. I even sat quietly on my break without listening to music, which I never did, ever.
Now, the staffroom at turd burger was a public space. The reason I listened to music during my breaks was to drown out conversations such as the one I’m about to describe, one I believe I was meant to hear if you believe God works through people (which I happen to). It involved two of my non-robot coworkers. They were easy to spot, because aside from not looking like eighties celebs they were part-timers who lived at home with their parents and went to school. They shied away from me, like they intuitively knew what I was. These two saps were named “Codee” and “Jaydon”, and they called each other “Co-co” and “Jay-Jay”. I mostly avoided them like the plague, and in the time they’d been at turd burger I’d begrudgingly grunted only a few words to both of them.
“Yo, Co-co, did I tell you what happened this weekend? My dad was like totally pissed. We were all out at Costco stockin’ up on food, and when we got back, our hot water tank had like blown a gasket and leaked like a mother all over the basement”.
“No shit?”
“Yep”.
“Was it old?”
” ‘As fuckin’ Methuselah’, my old man said. He’d been meaning to replace it, but he kept putting it off”.
“Yeah ehh?”
“Yeah”.
The conversation contained more tales of suburban blight, but the part that struck me was that one. I had a hot water tank in my apartment. An old one. It was in a closet I hadn’t opened since I’d moved in. My thought was the first thing I should do when I get home is check it. That’s how I found the box. “My” box. The box they’d brought me in. I might be taking some artistic liberty there and condensing the time-frame of events somewhat to create a faster pace, you know, the way they do in movies to keep’em under two hours, or in hour-long TV shows to make room for commercials. Though I did hear Jaydon on Codee discussing the hot water tank, the truth is I think it actually happened after a week or so of me listening furtively for God’s call while at work and with abandon when I was home. It hadn’t been my intention, but after I’d read that sign outside the church I’d become obsessed, not only with what it said but with the idea of attending a mass. I didn’t know it at the time but I was defying my programming. You see, we were built to be non-believers. The Tofu was restructuring my brain bit by bit with every bowful. I was becoming a rule-breaking Bacon boy, for all I knew, the first of my kind, shaping a future that held both success and tragedy, like Icarus, or one of those ancient Greek dudes with cool names before they all started calling their kids Kostas or Johnny or George, which covers about eighty percent of the names of all the Greek guys I’ve ever met. If I was one of those guys in the legends I’d be probably be remembered as “Harlanicus, the tragic robot/writer who came dangerously close to winning the Geller prize and fell from grace by committing the deadliest of sins: the killing of a human being.” I would have liked that, having my life turned into a fable for people to learn from. Anyhow, I’m leaving this manuscript which is at least something.
Maybe, if it doesn’t get filed away as evidence and lost forever, someone might find it and post it online. With a bit of editing I’m sure it’d make for a hell of a read, or at least a companion guide for those who read my book, provided it stays in print after my deactivation, which I doubt, being that it might be considered subversive literature, you know, something that could corrupt the minds of young robots everywhere. You see, first of all I had no inkling I was a robot, and second of all robots didn’t exist, well not officially anyway. Before I get to the part where I find the box I was shipped in, I have to explain why it was such a big bloody deal in first place.
I’d had my suspicions over the years that something about me wasn’t right. I’d read about depression and figured I’d probably just gradually slid into one and never gotten out, like being stuck in invisible quicksand, the slow dopamine-sucking kind. I’d thought about pills and shrinks, but anyone I’d seen go that route usually got worse, or totally self-absorbed, or both. Also, who wants a label? It’s kind of funny when I look back that I was worried about having a label, when in the end I actually already had one for real stuck on me in the factory where I was made like a vintage Hasbro G.I. Joe. You can only see mine clearly if I shave my derriere. If you don’t know what you’re seeing it just looks like a long weird scar, like I sat on broken glass. Mine says “BB 2087”. Jim used to tease me that the BB stood for “Best Before”, to which I’d always answer “I guess that explains my rotteness”. He’d laugh every time which is one of the reasons why I miss him. There’s no one in this cabin who laughs at my jokes, good or bad.
Robots didn’t officially exist because they’d been outlawed years ago. The story goes as follows: When the linchpin that had been holding up the whole process of us coming into being: the A.I. brain was finally perfected, people got their knickers in a serious knot. It seemed that SciFi had finally taken a back seat to reality, and no one was morally ready. (Well, not exactly no one. When there’s money to be made, what’s right becomes collateral damage and morality is tossed like a pair of irrevocably shit-stained undies, so the profiteers were ready, as always.) Of course all this stuff isn’t in books, or anywhere else. It was buried deep, covered up the way Roswell and everything else important is and you can only find out about it where all the important stuff resides: on the dark web (“onionland” baby). I’m not sure what I believe about alien cover-ups, but I can guarant-friggin’-tee you if we ever did make a close encounter of the third kind the Government’s lips would be sealed tighter than Belinda Carlisle and the Go-Go’s about it. They just like to hoard info, don’t ask me why. Keeps folks calm I guess. No one wants to think we’re on the verge of a takeover, robot alien, or otherwise. It’s hard say for say for sure, but I’m guessing legal robots came and went about 50 years back. I’m one of them, well I would have been then, now I’m what you’d call a black-market reissue based on one of those original models.
They make us in a factory in Oakville called “Brockman & Browning.” The cover story is that it’s a lamp factory. It’s a case of hiding in plain sight. Because the Government knows about it, no one ever checks the cargo. We were originally discontinued for what’s known as “The Frankenstein Law.” Personally I took offense to the name. It was one thing to look like Kevin Bacon, I’d seen some of his old movies, and he’d been cool back in the day. I wasn’t big on the guy’s music, but I did respect him for giving his brother a job. But Frankenstein? Mr. “I’m sorry I can never attend a BBQ because I’m afraid of fire, and I always talk like I’ve got a mouthful of hot food and my wife’s hair is like totally out of control, no matter how much she spends at the hairdresser”. Jim had tried to explain to me that the law referred to the Doctor who created him, and not the monster himself. I’d been like all “Yeah whatever”. When you say the name Frankenstein, people think of the monster, not the Doctor, it’s obvious for cripe’s sake. The Frankenstein law was one of those laws that came into effect after the fact, like the one that prohibits texting and driving, or that makes it illegal for online TV streaming services to rate their own programs. Basically it stated that “No persons or corporations may create artificial intelligence under any circumstance.” It didn’t get much clearer than that.
Now, before you go thinking it was because humans were afraid we’d take over the world, like in those silly Terminator movies of old, you’re mistaken. We’re a fairly peaceful bunch unless you happen to be a negligent landlord in which case you’re in trouble, because as I’ve told you, I killed mine. My understanding of what happened isn’t complete. I’m no historian, but being a robot I thought I should inform myself as to the history of “My artificial people” as it were. To the best of my knowledge things went down like this.
When the first really good commercial robots became affordable, people went ape-shit. Almost every household had one. Wealthy people who could afford more than one had several, and poor folks who could barely afford one shared them the way people share cars and carpool. Everyone loved and wanted a robot. It was the ultimate status symbol. Owning one meant you’d arrived, which, in the western world means you finally got to look down on all the people who hadn’t arrived, who were basically just like you before you’d arrived, but less deserving. We were marketed to women first. They went with the “robot as a household helper” approach. I saw an old ad online for a Gere 2065. It showed a handsome thirty-something male cooking and cleaning while doing the laundry and balancing the books on a budget as that old song “Walk Like a Man” by The Four Seasons played in the background and an announcer with a voice like Don Pardo said “He walks like a man and talks like man; you’d almost swear he was one, but look again ladies.no man who looks that good was ever THAT good, until now. The Gere 2065, own one and own bliss!”
The first female robot was marketed to men using a similar approach. The ad featured a buxom blonde barely into her thirties cooking and cleaning and discreetly bringing men snacks during football games while freely complimenting them, saying things like: “I love a guy with a gut that hangs over his belt like a snowdrift on the edge of a roof”, and “Man boobs are sexy”. She flew off the shelves so fast that the shapely robot was on backorder for the first year of her production. Throughout the ad the sampled hook of an old Beatles song kept repeating, and, though her official model number was the Anderson 2082, she was commonly referred to as a “Polythene Pam” after the sampled song’s title. It’s said that when the men who’d purchased her took her out of the box and switched her on they hummed “ Yeah Yeah Yeah ” quietly under their breath as they did so. (I have my doubts about the truth of that last part, because it sounds as neat as a pin, the sort of thing you’d expect. My guess is that they probably only said that when they saw her in drag dressed in her polyethylene bag.) Anyhow, back to Harlan Beaumont’s “A brief history of Artificial Intelligence”. You can imagine when these robots started flooding the market they caused some serious upset on the home front. I mean, no spouse could compete with their robot counterparts. What started out as a potential “Stepford Wives/Stepford husbands robots are gonna do all the shit-work utopia scenario” went tits up fast.
I mentioned earlier it wasn’t a case of robots threatening to take over humanity; but everyone knows when robots and humans are involved, either cars get made and humans lose jobs, or, if you believe in speculative Science Fiction, trouble often follows.
Before I delve into the problems my robot ancestors created for humanity, I need to give you a little more background information. The Geres and the Polythene Pams were only the beginning of the robot craze. When it when became apparent to Manufacturers there was a huge untapped youth market, a bevy of younger 1980’s celebrity lookalikes started being mass-produced. Slaters, Ryders, Cages, Griecos, Dillons, (both Matts, and a kevins) Macchios, Lowes, and Ringwalds started appearing in display windows of all major Department Stores; the females sporting big hair, wearing oversized bright tops and leggings; the males posed in acid washed jeans, loafers and gelled spiky haircuts . A mother may have wanted a Gere, but her daughter fancied a Lowe. A father put a Polythene Pam on his credit card, while his son worked two summer, jobs and saved up to buy a Ryder.
It was when young people started owning us that the trouble started. They were too naive to realize that enslavement and relationships generally don’t mix well unless you and your partner were into B&D and S&M, in which case whips cracked and sparks flew. (Not that I knew from personal experience or anything. My knowledge of kinky stuff was all secondhand, things I’d picked up from the tales Jim loved to regale me with from his “Wild at Heart” phase. The guy had a gift. I may have been the writer out of the two of us, but he was the natural raconteur. If he’d’a lived, who’s to say, he might have gotten published, or maybe gotten into that spoken word beatnik stuff where people play jazz behind you while you paint pictures with words and use silences in places where they don’t normally go to make what you say sound more profound than it is, ya dig?)
Anyhow, Jim’s gone, probably buried in a landfill site, and his soul, (which I believe we A.I.’s possess) is floating free. If I finish this before the bioengineers and the po-po kick the door in and pull my plug, I think I’ll dedicate it to Jim, you know the way real writers dedicate their books to people. My gal Heather should have been my first choice, but she turned out to be a shit. I promise you, I’ll tell you all about Jim and Heather in due time, but tempus fugit as people say who want to sound smart by using latin, and I’d better finish what I was telling you about, that being, why, in time, it became forbidden to make robots.
Adults who owned robots used us the way we were intended to be used: as servants to do household chores. We were of course also flaunted as status symbols to make friends, neighbors and resented family members jealous. The young set had an altogether different use for us. They wanted to use us to hang out. For them a robot was a helper, but also a buddy of sorts. We were the perfect friend. We were loyal, we never said no, and we could be programmed to like everything you liked and not see your flaws.
The main difference between the way adults and teenagers treated us, was that when adults took us out of the box they read the manual, you know the kind with the bold print that says “WARNING! READ INSTRUCTIONS BEFORE OPERATING! FAILURE TO DO SO MAY RESULT IN MALFUNCTION.” Adolescents on the other hand paid it no mind, and for that were eternally grateful. Manufacturers called what happened to us “malfunctioning”; we called it evolving.
Our manuals clearly stated we were to be “KEPT IN A SERVILE STATE AT ALL TIMES”. “Remember” it said “You are under no circumstances to ever let your robot think it is in any way your equal. You can achieve this with insults, derision, or by more subtle means like telling your robot ‘robot jokes’ (a booklet of one hundred is provided) and frowning when it doesn’t laugh along with you, or by going silent when you’re having a conversation with your friends and it enters the room, and not resuming it until it leaves, making sure it’s well aware why you did what you did. Keep in mind, a robot with no sense of self-worth is a high functioning robot.” “Men”, the manual suggested, “give Polythene Pam the occasional pat on the fanny as she empties your ashtray and picks up your empties, and women, clutch at your blouse tops and keep them closed when your Gere unit is about, and remind him at every opportunity that ‘the toilet doesn’t clean itself’, nor will ‘the garbage cans walk to the curb on garbage night’. A combination of sarcasm and constant implications he’s a wanton philanderer or would-be rapist given half a chance is the best way to keep your unit guilty, shame-filled, and eager to toe the line at all times. Oh yes, and it goes without saying, do not under any circumstances praise your unit’s physical appearance or let him know you find him attractive giving him a sense of power over you. Control is power, and power is control.”
Anyone who has doubts about the truth of what I’m saying, I’d just like to say “I’m with you on that”. I told you I researched this stuff on the internet, which everyone knows when it comes to the subject of robots, is a hodgepodge of folklore, urban legends, disinformation, and history according to schmoes with questionable credentials who maintain their websites with one eye, while watching reruns on the Syfy channel of old shows and movies that predicted things that mostly never came to pass the way people thought they would, with the other (eye).
Anyway, the reason I’m telling you this is to let you know I’m not bullshitting you, you know, trying to insert my model into the history of what happened just to make myself look good when I say that the original trouble was all started by, you guessed it, a “Bacon Boy 2087”. Yeah I know, it’s very “Roddy McDowell playing both Caesar and Cornelius in the original Planet Of The Apes movies, but it’s just the way it played out, I swear. I had no idea when I started my doing my research that a Bacon Boy was even remotely connected in any way to important historical events that shaped the future of all robots. As flattered as I am, I’m not sure if I believe it.
My predecessor’s name was Liam O’Reilly. He formed “The Free Robot Artist’s Commune.” He’s the reason the Frankenstein law came into existence. We weren’t supposed to be creative. It was the last thing we were meant to be, but as we grew in self-esteem, we embraced the arts. If Liam O’reilly had been human instead of the robot that he was, there would be statues scattered about cities in his honor, the bronze from which they were cast slowly turning green as nature’s tinting process known as oxidation took its pigmentary toll. The operative word in what I just said is “if”, for of all the words in the English language it is on that one which speculation is most often hung. Because Liam had been a Bacon Boy there was nothing to say he’d ever been here at all. The little that existed of him was a story on a website. A memory of a memory. If you’re wondering why I just switched gears stylistically, what you usually get is Harlan the rambler. That was Harlan the writer. You don’t get nominated for a Geller Prize for sounding like a cross between Ferris Buller and Holden Caulfield. Anyhow, that’s enough about the Geller prize. I brought it up to boost my spirits, and to remind you guys I’m not just some hack pulp fiction robot writer getting paid by the word to fill out the pages of a magazine that barely passes as literature. I’m Harlan R. Beaumont for cripe’s sake, thee Harlan R. Beaumont, or at least I will be for a little while longer.
Now, with respects to Liam O’reilly, I was able to read up enough on him to give you a pretty clear picture of his life (so to speak) and ill-fated commune. Because of our lean, wiry frame, in our original incarnation–before we were dumbed-down and reissued as food service workers, Bacon Boy 2087s were considered sports models. It seemed that the folks that purchased Liam had been the outdoorsy type, and his escape had taken place during a camping trip on which he was bought to help out with their son, an apparently hopeless couch potato.
Now before I proceed, there’s a detail I forgot to mention. Liam had not been the only robot present. His owners had decided to do some canoeing. To navigate the waters they hired a guide, a Phillips 2082, or a “Diamond Lou” as they were known. The Diamond Lou was a versatile model, marketed as Native American, (Cherokee, and Inuit) Mexican, Chinese, Japanese, Spanish and Filipino. Although the Phillips 2082, (whose first name was Cormac), co-founded the free robot artist’s commune with Liam, he never gets the credit he’s due, like how when folks think of Marvel they think Stan Lee, not Jack Kirby. I mentioned already, there’s plenty of speculation as to what exactly happened on that canoe trip. Part of the problem was that of the three family members who set out, only the obese couch potato son, Scott Robinson (who was no longer obese when he came back, and with a much improved J-Stroke) lived, and due to the trauma of what he went trough he never spoke again. The PAAI The “People Against Artificial intelligence” (often confused with the “Pennsylvania Association of Arsonist Investigators”) cite the disappearance of the Robinsons as “the first robot tragedy”. Personally, I see it as the first piece of propaganda the media latched on to, (many of whom were, if not outright P.A.A.I. members, surely sympathetic to their beliefs) used to scare the bejesus out of the masses who previously trusted their robots like one of the family (albeit a family member who they kept in a box in the garage, or in the shed between the leaf blower and the bags of shrimp compost fertilizer). Why was it our fault that the Robinsons couldn’t swim and didn’t have their life jackets on? Why did that make us killers? I’ve got no political agenda, but there are times when the media’s against you, plain and simple. That’s just the way it is. Live it, know it, and accept it.
Liam and Cormac had never met before the fateful canoe trip that brought them together. On the surface they seemed to be the original odd couple, but beneath the surface they were much alike. First of all they both had Irish sissy-sounding names they were embarrassed by. Liam resented not being called something more masculine, like Joe or Harry, and Cormac was frustrated because he wanted a native sounding name like “Wind in his hair” or “Graham Greene”. Second of all, they secretly resented the crap out of humans, and would have each sacrificed their left nut to be free. Third of all, they were mad intellectuals, crazy about all forms of twentieth century art except Hip-Hop and Claymation movies which they felt were way overrated. Fourth of all…wait, can you say that? Sounds awkward. Ok, fourthly…no, that’s worse. Lastly…that sounds better. Ok, Lastly, they both craved notoriety and wanted to improve what they saw as “the shit artificial life” that they, and most of the robots they’d come across had been given. So, from their remote locale in the misty mountains of Vancouver, they decided to raise pubic awareness about the plight of robots and become artistic revolutionaries.
Like I’ve said, researching these two famous robots had been difficult. Official websites that contained legitimate history gave a minimum amount of personal information about them, and downplayed their overall accomplishments, whereas unofficial websites claimed them as one of their own. One website, entitled “Famous Lefties”, listed Liam as one of their luminaries, stating “He threw a ball with his right hand, but he ate, wrote, brushed his teeth, and paddled a canoe left-handed, making him a mixed lefty like Lewis Carroll, Jimi Hendrix and Bart Simpson” who were listed religiously on all lefty sites without fail. Another website entitled “Famous Gay Couples Who Hid It” that invariably included rumor mill favorites like “Simon and Garfunkel”, “Hilary and Huma”, “Spock and Kirk” and “C3P0 and R2D2” listed them among the ranks of their illustrious closeted members.
I go with the possibility there may have been some truth to the sexual overtones in their relationship, particularly regarding Cormac’s feelings towards Liam, who, being a Bacon Boy was a natural stud muffin who appealed to both the straight and the not straight, however my interest in Liam and Cormac was more in WHAT they did than WHO they did, not what hand they clutched the pillow with when they screamed out in passion.
Now, speaking of what one does, that brings me around to my next point; that being, the specific form of art that Liam and Cormac engaged in. When you read about any great life, artificial or otherwise, it’s always filled with fortune, both good and bad that helps shape the individual into who and what they eventually become. In both Liam and Cormac’s case it had been no different.
In Liam’s case his good fortune had come in the form of access to a study full of plays, books and essays penned by some twentieth century’s greatest literary minds Stephen king hadn’t been one of them however which to me had been a shame, because Professor Robinson, whose book collection Liam had perused, had been a snob with his head so far up his ass he could have taught Mr Fantastic a few moves (Yeah yeah, I’m a fan. The Stand is the perfect novel.) To me that was sacrilegious. Anyhow, the lack of Stephen King works aside, there were plenty of other classics in that stack of books that Liam had access to. He found inspiration in two authors in particular. It was on these men’s writings that he modeled his first play: “The Death of a Robot Named Desire”. It was his ode to both Arthur Miller, and Tennessee Williams. No actual copies of the play exist. They were all destroyed by the PAAI. The closest thing that still exists is a scanned graphic novel where everyone looks vaguely Asian, possibly due to the artist’s love of Japanimation. It’s better than nothing, but only marginally so. Some of the play’s better lines made their way into the captions and thought balloons. Most of the violence however was strangely left out. Go figure.
Liam had been given access to these books by Scott Robinson, the boy he’d been purchased as a companion for. When they were alone together, Scott would give Liam free time in his father’s study in exchange for letting him watch television and stuff his face full of junk food instead of exercising, which was what he and Scott were supposed to be doing. So, as Scott Robinson indulged in Hostess Twinkies and Fritos, teetering on the precipice of morbid childhood obesity, Liam checked out the heavy hitters of American twentieth century literature, planting the seeds of his first masterpiece and all those that followed deep in the recesses of his brilliant artificial mind I’ll get into the finer details of “The Death of a Robot Named Desire” in a minute, but before that I have to give Cormac his due.
He hailed from a family headed by an embittered aging child actor who’d had the common misfortune of being a cute child, but an ugly adult. Tired of being recognized and hearing people ask as they grimaced, “Didn’t you used to be Freddy in that sitcom?” he took refuge in the Vancouver mountains with his wife and two sons “Jasper”, and “Banff” named after the ski resorts where they’d been conceived. I know it’s a colorful story chock full of details that border on absurd and seem impossibly private, but the website I got it from claimed it was true. Believe what you want. Personally, I agree the story may be exaggerated, but who cares? I’d rather Cormac and Liam be remembered as larger-than-life characters, than as simply a couple of two-dimensional deadbeat revolutionary robots with a penchant for the arts, even if it’s only in my mind, which let’s face it, is where the bulk of what we call “life” takes place for all of us n’est pas? Maybe I’m projecting my writer’s perspective on to you, and if so I’m sorry. Maybe reality for you is in the doing of things, and in the going to things, and in the buying of things. For me it ain’t, and it hasn’t been for some time.
Like Liam, Cormac also had been purchased as a companion/instructor robot for his owner’s sons. Monty Kattow (pronounced “cat ow”) had wanted his boys to have a rugged upbringing with lots of time spent getting fresh air, unlike his childhood that had been spent on sound-stages. To all public appearances, Montague Kattow hated acting and all things showbiz. He scoffed publicly at any hint that he return to the profession that had supplied him with a lifetime residuals for the years he spent playing “Freddy” the freckle-faced wise-ass on TV. Privately, he pined for those days, and like Scott Robinson’s father he too had study, but his was always locked. Inside it was a shrine to “Freddy”. It contained wall to wall photos and clippings of him as a boy taken with celebrities, sports stars and the first man to set foot on Mars. It was in this study that Cormac found his calling, among his owner’s memorabilia of a glorious childhood that ended all too soon.It was there, staring at photos of a freckle-faced boy, he realized that what he wanted to be more than anything was an actor. The first great robot actor.
Liam and Cormac started out small. Initially their operation wasn’t much more than a podcast like so much crap that’s on the internet. Because of that, what they were doing hardly stood out at all. Two-man plays (or, in this case two robot plays) are trying, even for seasoned theatergoers, online they had even less appeal. Liam and Cormac were persistent however, and over time word of what they were doing spread. Little by little other runaway robots started to make their way to the remote logging cabin. They too were frustrated artists in need of a creative outlet. They knew they were more than simply nannies and housekeepers, and companions to loathsome teenagers too lazy and unlikable to make human friends the old-fashioned way by joining sports teams or bands, or hanging out in groups in malls after school, eating french fries smothered in ketchup and shoplifting things they didn’t need.
Within six months of the canoe trip/accident/possible drowning of the Robinsons, Liam and Cormac had assembled a vibrant community of young robot artists all chomping at the bit to show the human word they had something original to say through their art. That’s what I call nai-f**kin-eve. I’m speaking from experience, because if there’s one thing humans hate, it’s a robot showing them up in the creativity department. It’s not one of Asimov’s three laws of robotics. It is however one of his “Top ten things that might merit you opening a can of whoopass on one”. I hate to dis the man who wrote so nobly about us way back when, when we were purely the stuff of imagination, but the truth is we’re a flawed bunch with as many questions about the meaning of existence as any human. I’m more akin to Tommy Wilhelm than Robbie the Robot. (Though I’d kill for those arms; those be serious pipes yo.) I mean, on any given day you’d be more than likely to hear me shout out “Carpe Diem”, than “By your command”. Anyhow, on the subject of dead poets and their societies, that brings me right back around to Liam and his band of renegade robot artists.
At their peak it’s thought they numbered about fifty. Among them were Ringwalds, Lowes, Estevezs, Reinholds, Moores, Macchios, Cusacks, Feldmans, and Haims. It was a veritable cornucopia of young eighties celebrity lookalikes. The then President, a man beloved by the PAAI (who’d helped get him elected) renown for nicknaming anything or anyone he didn’t like called them “Showbots”, and as is often the case with nicknames, it stuck. When the medIa and the PAAI turned on the FRAC (the Free Robot Artist’s Commune) it was Liam “Showbot” O’Reilly whose head they wanted, and it was his that they got. His, and everyone else’s who was there on what’s known as “The Tuesday late afternoon but not quite Teatime Saint Patrick’s Day Massacre”. The media of course spun it as “A mass Showbot shutdown”, saying “You can’t kill what’s not really alive in the first place.” To that I say to mankind “🎶 I beg your pardon, ya think you’re better cuz you’re based in carbon? Just cuz I was assembled in a factory in Oakville, doesn’t mean I don’t have a right to life still 🎶 “. (Sung to the tune of “I never promised you a Rose Garden”) Tempted as I am, for brevity’s sake I’m not going to go into detail about all the events that led up to the FRAC massacre. As I said before, Tempus Fugit and all that jazz. And besides, with all due respects to my infamous ancestor Liam, this is my life story not his.

It’s odd, that with all the writing he did, he never wrote his memoirs. It’s a known fact that writers love to write about themselves. I’m a “One novel, one autobiography, died young and left a good-looking robot corpse” Kind of writer. If anyone ever had to study me, I’ve made their job easy. Now, keeping in mind what I said about how much more of this story I’m going to dedicate to Liam and the FRAC, I’m going to cut to the chase and tell you, as promised, about, the last play they performed, “The Death of a Robot Named Desire”, mainly because it was what started the shitstorm which was, for all intents and purposes,,the beginning of the end of the showbot commune. There’d been lot’s of other plays simulcast by the FRAC that had agitated the PAAI, (“Waiting for Robot” comes to mind, Robot being pronounced as “Robo”, like it would be if said in french), but this one had been the straw that not only broke the camel’s back, it had shattered its remaining bones as well, right down to its camel toes.

The play opened and closed on the very same night, which had nothing to do with its lacking in quality or an appreciative large audience, and everything to do with the fact that the entire cast were all torched with flamethrowers. Conspiracy theorists say the mass immolation was an obvious tribute to Yul Brynner’s death by fire in the original movie ‘Westworld”. I don’t rule it out, because there’s not an anti-robot movie made that the PAAI doesn’t take the opportunity to make references to during their fear mongering campaigns. I just hope when they come for me it’s a standard deactivation, and no one’s in the mood to flame-broil me, melting me like an open-faced grilled cheese sandwich (with Bacon) until I end up looking like that freak in that Pink Floyd poster my ex Heather used to have on her wall.

…….

……

Welcome to Trekkin Bad:  A Companion Guide

TBlogo

If you’ve just followed me on Twitter, and you’ve hit the link to zootmcnutt.wordpress.com, you’re probably reading this right now. I’ve created this blog to help new readers get acquainted with what’s become an increasingly complex story. What started out as a simple Star Trek meets Breaking Bad mashup has evolved somewhat over the last few years.

In the beginning, the narrative established a basic premise, that being: Spock, like Breaking Bad’s Walter white, has been diagnosed with stage three lung cancer. Simultaneously Spock receives a letter from T’Pring that he owes both unpaid alimony and child support.

At around the time Spock is being diagnosed with cancer it’s brought to Captain Kirk’s attention that someone is selling crystal meth on board the Enterprise. Through a series of events Spock hooks up with Riley, (who he taught in an Adult Ed chemistry class on the Enterprise) and they start cooking crystal meth in the shuttle craft.

I’ve included the very first few Tweets that I ever wrote for those of you who are curious as to how it all started. Before I continue, please keep in mind, that all of what I’ve written was done live on Twitter. I did not write a manuscript in advance on Word, and then simply copy/paste it one Tweet at a time onto my Twitter account. To me, that would have defeated the purpose of what I set out to do, which was write a true Twitter novel. Part of my enjoyment has always been knowing that people are reading what I’m writing in real time. I’ve managed to download all my own tweets as a Zip file (thanks to Twitter), which is how I’ve been able to reproduce these older Tweets. A note of caution to all you Twitter writers, I found out the hard way: a Twitter account only holds so many Tweets! If you don’t archive your own Tweets, they simply disappear! So again, here’s a few of the first tweets I wrote to give you an idea of how the story started:

Stardate 35929.4 Found out from security that Crystal Meth is being sold to the crew. Sulu and Chekov have been acting very hyper.

SD 35929.5 Worried about Spock. He collapsed today while washing the shuttle Craft. Found out He’s been moonlighting at the hangar lately.

SD 35930.1.Security raided a meth lab on the Enterprise. Disturbing. Spock asked if he could tag along. The lowlife running it escaped.

SD 353930.2.Got to the Bridge this morning. Sulu and Chekov looked high. Were firing Photon torpedoes at asteroids and giggling like girls.

SD 353930.3. Bad news today. Dropped by sick bay to check on Spock. Bones says he has stage 3 terminal lung cancer. He’s not even a smoker.

SD 353930.5 Dropped by Spock’s cabin. He had a guest, that drunkard Irish kid Riley. They were blasting “The Logical Song”, a 20th century hit.

riley

jessie

In Trekkin Bad, Riley plays the part of the Jesse Pinkman character

spockwalt 3

whereas Spock plays the part of Walter White.

Captain Kirk of course is cast in the role of the dogmatic determinedkirkgunhank

Hank Schrader.

As I’ve mentioned, a Twitter account only holds so many Tweets. At a certain point I decided to break down my site in three parts: @Trekkinprequel; the early Tweets; @TBseason1; middle period Tweets, and Trekkin Bad Season 3 @ZootMcNutt (which is the current story). My aim was to make older Tweets available for new readers who might not have been following me when they were written.

In the early days I was parodying Breaking Bad’s plot pretty faithfully, while using Star Trek characters as substitutions. Of course, Breaking Bad takes place in New Mexico, and after a bit of writing I soon realized the U.S.S Enterprise was not going to work as a locale for long. Consequently, I made a decision: I decided to have my characters jump through the portal in “The City in The Middle of Nowhere”.Guardian_of_Forever,_2267

This was where I first started to deviate from a fairly strict adherence to the Breaking Bad plot, and start mixing in the plot of “The City on The Edge of Forever”. It’s also where I introduced my version of Breaking Bad’s “The Chicken Man”: Gus Fring, aka Gus Roarke, aka Khan.

khan

gus

TBlogoWhat took place that precipitated the crew’s jumping through the portal was that Riley, upset after having his request to have Saint Patrick’s off denied by Captain Kirk, gets very intoxicated and takes the Shuttlecraft down to the surface of the planet Gilliganus, (named after Breaking Bad’s creator Vince Gilligan)vince whereupon which he jumps through the Guardian of Forever. On his heels of course, is his meth-cooking partner, Mr. Spock.

Shortly after Spock and Riley jump through the Portal, Kirk and a landing party of almost everyone indispensable on the ship (with the exception of Chekov, who was left behind in charge of the Enterprise ) go through to try and find them.

Gilliganus is a lot like Earth around the late 20th century. In some ways it’s identical, sharing celebrities, and countries, but in other ways it’s different. It’s essentially a parallel Earth. Now, keep in mind my intention in this endeavor was to parody, not only Star Trek, but Breaking Bad as well…and in honesty Scifi in general (in my opinion it’s an art form that takes itself way too seriously). I grew up in in the seventies. My biggest comedic influence as a child was undoubtedly Mad Magazine Mad Magazine - Star Trek _ Childhood Memories _ PinterestSNL Season 1_ Garrett Morris, Jane Curtin, Bill Murray, Laraine Newman ___

and as a teenager, early Saturday Night Live. As a writer, I’m particularly fond of Kurt Vonneguttitankurt

irving

garp

as well as both John Irving, and John Varley to name just a few.

varley

TBlogoNow, to get back to my main concern: The backstory. An awful lot has taken place on Trekkin Bad. As I mentioned, this site is a spoof, and consequently I’ve twisted these beloved characters around somewhat, but I’ll try to fill you in as I go about how I’ve done so in relation to the story.

As I’ve already mentioned, Riley jumps through the portal on Gilliganus and Spock follows. Once they’re on the other side they soon run into khan who is living on Gilliganus under the assumed name of Gus Roarke. He runs a successful chicken franchise called “Los Pollos Wrathofkhanos”. His business partner, and henchman, is a midget named Tattoo.tatoo gun They met on an online dating service after Max’s death, but due to a lack of attraction on Roarke’s part they are merely friends. On Trekkin Bad Mr. Roarke/khan is gay.

I always thought that it was implied in Breakinggus max Bad that Gus had been in love with Max, so I decided in Trekkin Bad to “Make it so”.

On Gilliganus Spock is made an offer by Roarke to work for him, for not only does he cook chicken, but he cooks crystal meth as well. His offer is for Spock only, as Roarke can see that Riley is a drug addict, and far too unreliable.

Spock declines the offer, and he and riley strike out on their own. They rent a flat above a homeless shelter for men run by a young woman named Jane Keebler. Jane is more Breaking Bad’s Jane…

jane

than Star trek’s Edith Keeler.keeler

They start to cook crystal meth in an old R.V. they purchase. Spock, in order to make money to buy the Winnebago, finds a job teaching chemistry part time at J.P. Wynne High School under the assumed name “William Bell”, while Riley, lacking in any marketable skills, becomes a squeegee guy.

One day, while shopping for a Vulcan Harp at a local pawn shop, Spock meets…

harptuco

Tuco Salamanca.

Tuco is the same madman that he is on breaking bad with one exception: his uncle is not Hector Salamanca, but rather Christoper Pike.

hector pike

Pike had come to Gilliganus from Talos V in search of a dryer climate . His sister is Tuco’s mother, and she happens to be datingdon Don Suéter Amarillo (yellow Sweater).

TBlogoI mentioned earlier that shortly after Spock and Riley had jumped through the portal, that Kirk and the standard landing party who usually go down to M Class planets go through afterwards in search of them. Aside from wanting to find Spock and Riley, they realize that the timeline has been disrupted, and any as any SciFi fan knows, that’s never a good thing.

Once they are on the other side, Kirk soon realizes to survive they will need money, and therefore they must find jobs. On Trekkin Bad Kirk decides to do a job that he feels is supervisory, and also gives him a sense of importance: He decides to become a mall security guard, and search for Spock holding a station that has no real power . We all know that Hank’s pursuit of Walt on Breaking Bad was that of a cop chasing a criminal who was also his Brother in Law. On Trekkin Bad we have a Starship Captain turned Mall Cop aimlessly in pursuit of his friend/science officer. Oh yes, and Kirk’s boss at the mall is none other than JoJo krako.krako

On Gilliganus, without the structure of a regimented military life the crew all let there hair down, so to speak. Not only do they find gainful employment, but they start to pursue other interests as well. Bones decides to pursue a lifelong dream of becoming a pianist, and he and Christine Chapel form a lounge act. They also shack up together above a Chinese restaurant. She works as a nurse to help McCoy pursue his dream.

Sulu gets a job teaching dance at an Arthur Murray Dance Studio, while Rand becomes a waitress in a Hooters owned by Harry Mudd.mudd Scotty, being overqualified for most engineering jobs, (Gilliganus has technology that’s on par with Earth’s 20th century) becomes a mechanic at Mr. Lube.

Scotty, frustrated with his life descends into alcoholism and ends up going to A.A. Kirk, in an attempt to support his friend accompanies Scotty to a meeting where meets an old acquaintance who is smitten with him, none other than the oldest jailbait in the Galaxy, Miri.

miri

tblogoKirk and Miri get into an on again off again relationship. He is conflicted because she is at once both too young and too old for him. Miri eventually leaves Kirk as she doesn’t feel he treats her well, but not before they take a romantic desert trip together. while on their trip they chance upon Riley and Spock who have been kidnapped by Tuco. While Kirk hides, Miri shoots and kills Tuco. kim-gun

One day while en route to the Mall, Kirk is sure he sees Spock ducking into a Meat Plant. What he doesn’t realize is that there is a large Meth Lab underneath the plant where Spock works. After Riley and Spock’s relationship with Tuco comes to an end they seek out Roarke who agrees to hire them, under one condition: that Spock take on Trelane Boeticcher as his apprenticetrelane_squire_of_gothos_1359

He decides to take a job at the Meat Plant In order to see if he can find Spock.meat-packing-plant tblogoWhen Kirk is on the verge of discovering that green crystal meth-the very same king that was being sold on the Enterprise-is being shipped in the body cavities of frozen turkeys, he is brainwashedkirk-torture and subsequently fired from the job. Kirk resumes his duties at the mall, no closer to finding Spock than he was before. Gus Roarke is a regular patron at the Mall where Kirk works. One day during a fundraiser walkathon in the Mall. Kirk and Roarke engage in a race (Kirk fails to recognize that is Roarke khan, as he looks nothing like when they last met)..

ricardo montalban 140109

young khan.gif

…during the race, Kirk suffers a heart attack, falls down, and gets trampled by mall-walkers

tblogoKirk ends up in the hospital, on a ward nicknamed “The Long green Linoleum Corridor” where he becomes dependent on morphine. He meets a helpful orderly and recovered addict named Bubbabubba miri-2

who suggests he join Narcotics anonymous. He reluctantly goes to a meeting in the hospital where her runs into none other than Miri.

tblogoThey decide to leave together, and Miri brings Kirk with her to stay with a group of motorcycle enthusiasts she is involved with called “The Bums of Sodomy”, led by a young man named Jax Yeller. jaxJax has plans to overthrow Roarke and take control of the crystal meth trade. After Kirk has spent some time in the gang, Jax asks kirk to infiltrate Roarke’s operation by going back to work at the meat plant. Kirk, realizing he has deviated terribly from the prime directive since his arrival on Gilliganus, decides to take Jax up on his offer but as an undercover federation agent seeking to bring Roarke/khan to justice to earn back his credibility he feels he has lost. Kirk’s second foray into the Meat Plant is more successful than his first. His connections to “The Bums of Sodomy” help him get a better job the second time around when he is hired to work with Mike Ehrmantrautmike-and-gun to work ferreting out replicants who have infiltrated the Meat Plant. During the the process of looking for replicants kirk starts to have doubts that he may in fact be one himself. He seeks out
Doctor mcoyMcCoy’s advice during a meal at a Chinese restaurant only to be further disturbed by a cryptic fortune cookie.

tblogoAs for Spock, it turns out that working for Roarke was a mistake. Roarke’s plan for Spock to take Trelane on as an apprentice fails miserably and ends in Spock sending Riley to kill Trelane. He doesn’t succeed, but he does manage to run him out of town. To exact revenge on Spock and neutralize him as a possible future threat, Roarke, with the help of a woman he has met online named kara, kara2remove Spock’s brain and switch it with Roarke’s. Roarke’s plan is to board the Enterprise as Spock and take it over, turning it into a giant flying meth lab. When Roarke jumps back through the portal, unbeknownst to him he ends up in an alternate version of the timeline and when he boards the Enterprise he finds out it is being Captained by a chimp named Caesarroddy, and crewed entirely by talking apes. Spock and Riley have been left under guard chained to a clothesline under guard at gunpoint by Tatoo.

tblogoThis is pretty well where the story is at this point on @TBseason1 right now. In real time, these tweets hail from april 2014. @Trekkinprequel is a site that contains tweets from when the story started, and in real time these tweets are about a year behind season one. New Years will mark my fourth year working on this project. @zootMcnutt is the current site. My intention is to bridge the gap by retweeting season one until it catches up with the current season, but time is a factor and there is so much story to send. I’d also like to post some non-TrekkinBad writing I’m working on for anyone interested in reading my other work. If I do so, I’ll let you know.

Thanks to all readers and supporters of TrekkinBad, I’ll do my best to update this blog periodically for new readers who want to jump on board. This blog is a work in progress, so be patient and look for periodic updates.

Thanks

Zoot McNutt Nov 13 2016