Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Forgotten Song of Our Drifting Tomorrows


Douglas woke up and thought about society. “There’s a lot of suffering,” he thought. “Why *is* that??” He was the boss of a college so he woke up like this a lot. It was time to go to work.

Driving there he felt like a great American Indian sunbird or a giant arcing beam of limitless potential. The clouds and trees were like cottonballs and those fancy toothpicks with the green plastic at the top. It was as if he was driving through outer space with a torid whisper WHY ALL THE SUFFERING aching behind his eyes. Earlier he’d thought of sunbirds because he was fascinated by American Indians and he’d read all of their folklores. The last time he read a bunch of Indian folklores he went“There are so many metaphors in this!”Was there really a Trickster God in his life?

He pulled into his parking space like a great arcing beetle scurrying for its primal feast. He got out of his car and the sun basked him like a soaking rain. Nearby his favorite student Gloria was in a MAKE WATER TASTE GOOD protest march. Gloria had two books in her hands. One was about the history of the good water movement and the other one was all about vaginas.

“Your protest is so good,” Douglas said to her. “How do you find the time with your studies and whatnot?”

She had braids and a not-famous band shirt on. "You have to make the time, Professor Tartaniam. You have to make time for what is right."

Douglas and Gloria were having a sex affair. If his wife ever found out about it she would be like an arcing flame of furious light. Also if the college found out he would be fired and he’d get arrested and Gloria would probably have to give up crunk dancing.

"Gloria," he whispered hotly "No one can ever find out about our sex affair."

"I agree," she hissed.

Then he said "My brother is coming to visit. I hope he's no longer dealing street drugs. He got into some messes with some bad people."

"I agree," she hissed.

Douglas gazed into the wind.

"I have to go back to protesting," Gloria said.

"Okay," he said, and she started yelling protests. "NO BAD WATER ONLY GOOD WATER!"

He wondered what their future would be. It was like he was a baby uncertain of what it was or indeed who it was. The tree shadows trembled.


"Hi Douglas," said Dimitri Jenkins his office partner. "What do you think of morals? Do you like them?"

Douglas put his hand to his be-stubbled jaw. "Well Dimitri," he said, "I rather think I do. You see morals in our society today are like a guide for behavior. They are the sunbirds to our Trickster Gods, if you will."

Dimitri nodded. "That makes a lot of sense."

"I think morals are basically really important," Douglas went on. "A lot of them are metaphors. A cosmic swirl of light and image."

"The reason I'm asking," said Dimitri "is that my student Gloria is cheating on all of her tests and homeworks."

The shock of the news made Douglas's world spin and he was suddenly thinking in a stream of consciousness kind of way.


"Gloria!?" he went pretty loudly. "Gloria the radical crunk dancer!?"

"Yes," said Dimitri "which is why I'm concerned. Ordinarily when a student cheats I'd just call the police but she is the soul and conscience of not only our college but of our lives."

Douglas nodded. "If she's caught for cheating it would basically be like America has died." He smiled ruefully. "Or taken off life support."


Douglas looked at Gloria's cheated tests and homeworks. One test was about World War II and there was an essay question that went "Why do you think Hitler killed those people? What about economics? How many battles were there? Were there morals? Show your math." Gloria wrote "Yes there were morals and economics. Also Hitler was a patri-anarcho-Fascist, so that's why. There were about 70 battles."

That answer was exactly right...almost TOO right. Douglas could understand why Dimitri called her a cheater. He picked up his desk phone.

"Trinity," he said to his secretary "Have Gloria come see me."

"But sir she's in her good water protest."

"DON'T YOU THINK I KNOW THAT!?" he bellowed. His voice arced from his throat like a fleet of devious salmon. "Get her here NOW!" Gloria came into his office.

"You're a cheater," he said to her, "how could you cheat? My anger is like an awoken dinosaur!"

"Oh so that's it, is it!?" cried Gloria. "You found out I cheated on tests and homework! And here I was thinking you wanted to continue our sex affair! I WAS SO NAIVE!"

"Don't throw that back at me!" Douglas hollered. "You knew what you were getting into with me!"

"Sure I did. SURE! I knew that you would take my young person and use it and then, later on, after that, when you thought that my radical ethics might get in the way of your precious boss-at-a-college job you'd throw me out of your life like yesterday's..." She stopped suddenly, almost as if she couldn't think of a good thing to compare it to.

"That's ENOUGH!" he choked. He threw up in his trash can. There was so much stress! Gloria looked at him disgustedly.

"I'm going to tell your wife about our sex affair," she said. "Maybe then you'll realize the importance of good water!"

She slammed her way out of his office in a flurry of wind and dust like a ghost arcing down off the plains of Ireland.

"Nooooo!" he screamed. "NOOOOOO!!!!" he screamed again but louder and more crazy.


Mathilda Tartaniam sat at home where she lived with Doulgas Tartaniam (the professor from before) and read a magazine. It was called "Ethics and Morals in the Culture of Today." It was their special annual "Good Water" issue and Mathilda was all excited for it. Good water was important to her. She had a daughter named Judy who drank some bad water this one time and honest to God, she almost died. Mathilda went to the mayor and said "How can we have all this bad water? Why can't we have good water!?" So after she said that, the mayor went "Good water?? I'm controlled by a special interest group, my dear! Bad water makes this town thrive! HAW HAW HAW!"

Mathilda was powerless but then she heard about the Good Water Movement which in this town was run by Gloria Tomtassimo a politically radical crunk dancer. Mathilda wanted to be a part of that so now here was this good article for her to read. It would be a nice day.

KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK went the door. Mathilda opened it up and it was Gloria.

"Why, but, how," sputtered Mathilda. "Aren't you Gloria Tomtassimo!?"

It was Gloria Tomtassimo at the door. She said "Yes I am."

"It is an honor!"

"There's no time for that!" said Gloria. "You husband is cheating on you with me in a sex affair. Meanwhile, I have guilt about it and so I'm confessing."

Suddenly Mathilda's life was upside down. Her thoughts went like this:


Mathilda said to Gloria "What you've just told me is driving me nuts!"

"I bet!" said Gloria.

Just then suddenly a car pulled up. No, two cars pulled up. One was her husband's car and the other was her husband's brother's car. Her husband's brother was named Redmond, or "Red." First her husband Doulgas the professor ran up.

"Mathilda, don't listen to this stupid idiot! My ethics and my morals are really good! I would never cheat on you because that would make me a hypocrite!" Then suddenly it dawned on him that he was a hypocrite. "Oh shit!" he said.

Then Red got out of the car. He was holding a shotgun. He yelled "Douglas you gotta help me! I have street drug dealers on my tail! I got nowheres to go! I done screwed up real bad! They'll be here in six seconds!"

And they were, the drug dealers, they pulled up in a big truck and all got out. Red turned around with his shotgun but the drug dealers shot him and his life crumpled up like a void of existence which if you think about it is like all of us.

"Wait don't shoot!" cried Douglas. "We are all innocent!"

"But are we though?" hissed Gloria knowingly.

The drug dealers all shot their guns and the bullets arced in a flaming parabola of primeval notions of fate down on Douglas and Gloria. Gloria's head got completely shot off. Douglas got shot in his body and fell over. The drug dealers squealed away like Death's own parade.

Mathilda knelt over Douglas. "Oh no Douglas! Why! WHY! I thought you lived so ethically!"

With his dying breath Douglas went "So did I, Matty, so did I. But it's like you get into this kind of head place where you think if you are moral in your good water opinions then that's moral enough and you don't think about all the bad things. But Matty I have now thought of all the bad things and let me tell you I feel pretty sad about it. And now here I am dying, my blood arcing into our front yard like the bad water of our corporate money mills. And my eyes can't see you anymore. It's all light and rainbows, and oh! My hearing! My hearing is going too! I suppose I am dying, Matty, because all I now hear is the forgotten song of our drifting tomorrows..."



Roderick Heath said...

Beautiful and true, Bill. You have illuminated and enriched the American novel with radical technique and ethical depth to match your peerless insights into our modern condition.

bill r. said...

Thank you, Rod. All those things you just said were completely intentional.

blankemon said...

I really had to look within after reading this. Do I live ethically? Do I believe that morals are good and that water should taste good? This novel helps us all confront our personal trickster gods. Your novel is powerful, like a Mack truck full of TNT!

John said...

Great American Novel, or just maybe, GREATEST American Novel?

I am not one disposed to hyperbole by nature, but it would be foolish to attempt to deny the obvious when it is spelled out right before our many eyes.

Sir, you have encapsulated the multiplicative literal themes of 20th, 21st, and possibly even 22nd century American books and woven them into a tapestry, nay, a quilt of many colors, which you have nailed to the mast of public consciousness and sent whirling and whooping into the ether with a gusto that belies your evident humility as an apprentice artisan of the arts in the finest tradition of American letters.

A Mr Chips for our time? Lucky Jim meets Lord Jim meets DeLillo meets Delilah meets some crazed stranger babbling to himself in an alley and then they all knife each other to death in a frenzy of ethical conundrums that circumscribe the zeitgeist in a welter of esoteric symbolism. We are, we have, we feel, and then we fall; the human drama thus rendered impermeable, impenetrable, impolite, and implicit. From Thanatos to Eros then back to Thanatos, then a short side trip to, to Hermes or something. And we are right back where we began again.

The abyss, staring back out at ourselves.

Bravo,sir. Consider this NaNo WriMo'd, and then some.

bill r. said...

blankemon - that is pretty powerful. Please live ethically! It is all we have as humans!

bill r. said...

John -

"Sir, you have encapsulated the multiplicative literal themes of 20th, 21st, and possibly even 22nd century American books and woven them into a tapestry, nay, a quilt of many colors, which you have nailed to the mast of public consciousness and sent whirling and whooping into the ether with a gusto that belies your evident humility as an apprentice artisan of the arts in the finest tradition of American letters."

That's all I've ever wanted to accomplish. It's really great to know that I did that exactly, with this, a full-length novel that I wrote myself.

Greg F. said...

Jesus... I mean... Jesus. That hit me like a ton of bricks. Right here, you know? [points to chest]