President Bump has made his way to the House of the Book. he's never had to run so far and so fast in his life, his feet hurt terribly. but he is comforted and panting to know that he can lean his large frame against the fluted columns and stone carvings of the place and rest assured it won't topple over like one of his buildings.
Bump: there's no casino here. cos the library won't allow it.
the columns of the colonnade fill up with his sweat. he wants to know but his pants are soaked.
Bump: this place is wondrous! like Rome. and Rome never fell, technically. it's still going on. like the Deep Illuminati. it will be sturdy through the tides. like an old mate. i had an old mate named Jim, he was imaginary.
he waddles his way to the front of the glassed counter a tired and broken man.
Bump: mate, one ticket for the show later this afternoon. air-conditioning in there, right?
the clerk is listening with both ears to his vintage Walkman but you can still see the pimples inside his ears.
clerk: what? show?
Bump: yeah, this is where the Power Rangers teleport to. i need a means of escape, i'm on the run, i'm being run down, chased by an old man with gray hair.
Bump: you'll see. soon.
clerk: *typing/hacking* and you are?
Bump: oh yeah, you're just a kid, you wouldn't know. you're not in my demographic as i've been told now.
the clerk is Dirg.
Dirg: *chewing pink bubblegum* just kidding. you're my hero. it's cool we get to spend some time together just you and i like this. so how goes the trolling? it is just trolling, right? that's why you connected with disaffected white dudes who sold their farm and tractor to buy an ipad maxi with the warranty, it's the internet thing which made you clean up that voting bloc like a drone who spreads toxic chemicals into wheat. i love how you're the personification of the concept that school is useless, that's so cool.
Bump: no time to talk, kid, pressing matters, the adults are in the room.
Dirg: i'm afraid you are mistaken, sir, the Power Rangers don't really live here. or work here. there's no transporter yet, that must be invented, but without nasally NASA's ass-global cabal of Roundists. i hate to do this to a fellow nerd, but it is just a show.
Bump: is it at least a factory?
Dirg: no one knows what the House of the Book is. so it's a monument. to something. oh, i got my friend on the line, he wants to ask you a few follow-up questions.
Dirg switches on his connection to Laertus through a watch.
Laertus: several. friend? you've never addressed me as friend before. are you getting melted in all that post-hurricane sun?
Dirg: i miss you...
Dirg: shut up. here, gold sir. i put him on the phone. watch. phone-watch.
Laertus: so you were right about the hurricane...
Bump: i know, right? the only cool thing that happened was that roof coming off that gas station. but a village pump doesn't need a roof for it to work, take it from me.
Laertus: and there was that sight of the American flag ripping in two in the strong winds and salty surge.
Bump: i know, right? that was so cool. i've Tivo'd that scene and i'm gonna watch it later on Youtube Fast-Forward, just the good sports highlights.
Nixon in blue hologram: don't you think that torn American flag is evocative and indicative of something? something larger and grander going on in the larger culture than your thinking? a symbol?
Bump: yeah it was pretty erotic. a symbol of freedom, or so i've been told.
Laertus: this whole Kavanaugh thing really gives me the heebie-geebies. makes me depressed for the nation. are we a nation of laws or a nation of nations? can you do something about the mail threats? like shut down the Post Office? i know your life is of rushjobs but...time doesn't exist...
Bump: hey i'm saying all the right things. no feelings involved. either way. we're playing the long con i mean long game. lockerroom talk can extend to actions you know. this is why there should only be one party, so no one feels left out. everyone wants to have fun, no one wants to be at a birthday party where no one else is invited, even your mom. everyone goes through life drunk. we've tried to return-to-sender mail these creeps, but on the back of the envelope, the only address left is the letter Q. besides, Judge Mark is taking care of the proceedings.
Laertus: there's an inherent male-slanting systematic attackive mal in the software of this culture. it's culture which simply doesn't respect women or a woman's worth, it's been programmed that way. the superstructures are in place to perform this ovulating operation. it's a culture like a lab-specimen culture, not yogurt. what are you gonna do about this, sir? you have the power unfortunately.
Bump: i leave it to the Senate, Congress really does a job.
Laertus: i've been following your twitter feed which i despise. i've hated twitter ever since you came aboard, you ruined what was once a nice positive place for discussing K-pop. a lot of links and retweets of Orrin Hatch...
Orrin Hatch: why don't i believe her? cos she's a woman.
Bump: *laughs* look man, i mean, you gotta give him credit, he's at least being honest. he's not frontin' for the good cause. he shows to the cameras the weapon of his age, not the weapon of artifice. no artificial sweeteners, that's awesome! gotta give him that, he's not trying to be PC.
Nixon: noticing the parallels? seeing? they were both professors...
Bump: i notice how the Left keeps referring to her as Doctor and Professor, not Woman.
Laertus: it's everywhere, it's pervasive in the autumnal air. democrat, republican, and especially independent. when a blonde comedienne said she couldn't wait till your son flipped on you, his comeback was to demean her for not being funny in a crude way. on twitter.
Bump: but that's just science. women aren't funny. ask Bill Nye. and in fairness to my son, she said she would orgasm for the first time in 30 years after my son flipped on his own father. so. see i'm all about fairness. i mean she said she'd videotape that wet sticky orgasm session of hers at Lush and put it on her twitter timeline.
Laertus: don't take my wife. please. take the Mavericks. that was supposed to be a "fun"---fun in quotations---culture, boys-will-be-boys barf, roughhousing, loose and free, a player's dream, heaven for hunky jocks. but it turned into a hell for hotties and a lady jail. nobody wants to smell a jockstrap.
Bump: yeah i wouldn't know, basketball isn't my thing or my demographic. Cuban should go back to Cuba.
Bump looks up into the sun and with his finger's yellow lasers carefully pastes over the carefully-carved letters on top of the House Book tower. it used to read NATIONAL ARCHIVES but now it's just a bunch of Roman numerals which spell out an egg scramble.
Bump: i actually came here with a purpose. and some interviews. i'm here to officiate the divorce between my pals Brady and Belichick. two men should never marry, that is a crime against nature.
Bump thinks up to the sun.
Bump: there's one thing i can do for myself to get out from under the boot of Mueller. distract with a good deed on the other side of town. i have to hurry, time's running out, i'm late, and my heels just broke.
Dirg: he's gone now, disappeared into thin air, which isn't easy for him to do.
Laertus: actually it's very easy for him to do.
Dirg: now i'm bored. i'm cooped in this booth and hot. you keeping your third eye on the old bats?
Laertus: of course. time is running out for me, i'm on a tight schedule with this finals week. tight on time like my estomago enchilada. i'm not pregnant. i was given special dispensation from Professor James Gunn that i can take my final as a take-home final home with me. i told him i was on a boat and he misconstrued that as me serving on the Peace Corps. i am keeping the peace in a way. gotta make sure our witches are healthy to combat powerful men. i pattern my love after those two old birds.
Dirg: misconstrued, that is such a lovely word.
Laertus: the catch is the final doesn't count. i'm in a rush, go, ol' buddy ol' pal.
Dirg: The Last Uncorn. go.
Laertus: great great great film. a little long truth be told if i'm being honest through my teeth. a bit bloated in the middle. that annoying owl or bat thing in the beginning was useless and annoying. like that's the Gilbert Gottfried role. there are no Medieval tacos. and the unicorn was being a bit of a b.
Dirg: Gottfried got fried many psychedelic moons ago. she's a bitch, say it.
Laertus: yeah i don't know if all unicorns are this haughty and arrogant and dismissive or it's just her. i mean she is a unicorn i guess, she's earned that right. humans ARE silly. you get the sense she's a diva but doesn't know why. the writer said the wizard character's voice was played flat but i thought it was just the right tone of Jewish rye bread. i loved how it played with tropes, i use that in my own life, in fact tropes are my entire lifestyle. like happily ever after and the good guys and heroes always win. one thing which really fucked me up was this concept they brought up that there is no happy ending cos nothing ever ends...
Dirg: please, i don't want that concept rattlin' round my brain when i booze. or worse, when i snooze, i'm already fucked up. i take drugs for that. street drugs.
Laertus: Molly Grue has such a standout voice in this, she's the surprise scene-stealer. the speedboat moral compass and glue-girl of the group, Molly Morality. i love motherly figures with warm-tone voices, i just want to wrap my arms around them and be a sucker for them. the entire voice cast is outstanding. superb Shakespearean actors who you think are British but are really just grand Americans using their high-registry voice of good breeding.
Dirg: Prince Lir was Finn before Finn.
Laertus: their singing voices on the other hand were.....sweet. i mean it sounded like a bunch of actors who didn't know how to sing but sang in the voices they use in their showers. they tried, it was heartfelt, but not exactly operatic. professional but on tape. it was like singing to your neighbor on the phone. they gave it the ol' college-theatre try.
Dirg: watch it while you can, you know Ronan Farrow will definitely be investigating this film!
Laertus: i wish we would return to this America. an America that only cares about producing the best possible epic nondenominational fantasy it can and delivering it to sinner and pauper alike. i want the America that's represented by America the band called America! righteous heavy metal slowed to fit a fantasy, that music was moody magic.
Dirg: rock on, sista.
Laertus: gotta go, the ladies are speaking.
Gladyce and Doryce are stewing in their pot aboard the doomed ship. Doryce is done with her "training" (in quotations) inside all the smokestacks of the Titanic. she and her body are completely covered in thick dark black soot, that when she smiles it's funny cos all you see are her bright white teeth floating, well bright white as against this black backdrop anyway, and her two floating white pupils for eyes. you don't even see her glasses she's wearing!
Gladyce: done, dear? please say yes, i hate seeing you go to all this trouble. you're seriously strenuousing yourself out, spreading yourself too thin.
Doryce: i'm already thin. and our relationship will stretch out thinner and stronger under this strain.
Gladyce: i'm starting to develop a taste for rye bread. like you and your garlic bread. not Jewish, though, i like it dark.
Doryce: dark meat. rock on, sister. uh, dark bread. good for dark magic. coming right up! i will prepare for you a feast! replete with vessel vinegar! where's the chef? i want to compliment him beforehand so he cooks a great job. who's in the kitchen this evening?
Laertus: i believe it's not who you think. it's not the fat guy with the beard...
Doryce: oh come on! he makes the best marinara sauce!
Laertus: all of his jars were taken off the shelves and all shelfies of him deleted after the Ronan Farrow investigation of him.
Doryce: that is not fair! why do WE have to suffer cos he can't act straight! so who's in there? i'll take the Mooch at this point.
Laertus: um, The Mooch is not available. he's busy thinking about why a chef would need a lawyer. i guess i can suppose and rustle up some ingredients and pointy spices up at The Store and dash back. and whip you ladies up something non-BDSM. i fancy myself an amateur sous-cook in college. i added a barbecue Pringle to my ramen and made it barbecue-pizza ramen.
Doryce: btw i died.
Gladyce: *bug eyes non-glassesed* what?
Doryce: it was the queerest thing. i was lost in the heavy tornadic cloud of the smokestack smoke, when suddenly a novice witch appeared spinning upside-down next to me in my tremors of cyclical wind. the circles were everywhere. i had a sense about her, she was ditzy but motherly. she cared. i was at death's door and this woman built a window. my eyes were all bugged-out, i couldn't take any more soot in my mouth.
Gladyce: and stars. Pumpkins. coming soon. she was the star this day! that's not like you.
Doryce: she whipped me up a concoction in a mule-alcohol tin half-cut-off-cup, a strange brew with spices and with her finger swirling in a circle in the air. you could tell she was good at manipulating liquid soaps. she said she was practicing teleporting and ended up next to me as if she inherently knew instinctively where warmth was needed. she mentioned she thought she met me and us before but i told her all of our kind have that ephemeral feeling of togetherness to us without meeting. telemetry. i told her to stop practicing. it was too dangerous. for her. i mean look at me. she wasn't meant to travel like us, she was a homebody.
Gladyce: bless her. what was the drink?
Doryce: golden milk. frightful stuff. delicious. looks like curry. has that distinctive saffron color. quite the jolt! one sip and my eyes popped back in. i was made alert and ready awake. i flew to safety and didn't let the nature of man hold me captive anymore. that turmeric burned the back of my throat like my best study session with Bama!
Gladyce: lovely lasting lashing liquid. for a quid.
Doryce: this woman laughed me goodbye. sweetheart. i believe i caught her name in the wind funnel before she snapped her fingers and was off to her next travel thinned out the tunnel, gone with the wind. Madame Pons? like the vagina?
Laertus arrives at The Store. The Store which is a booth inside one of the many myriad decks of the Titanic.
Laertus: how do you get the food to stack and shelve and sell?
Geoffrey Owens: they ship it to us by boat. it's quite the delay. it's hard to get to an island. don't mind my fatness, i'm an actor. gonna play Falstaff in college theatre.
Laertus: i've got my friend on speaker but he's cool. listen man, i won't do you like that. i use my pocket phone for good, i despise revenge porn and hate twitter. hey the way i see it, this is the fate of most actors. most actors don't become big---i don't mean fat---even after getting a big show, the show dies in the ratings and the funds dry up and you don't get another big break. that was your time as a tv star, you relished it and now it's gone. that one precious chance which never springboarded into anything else except video-game voices. but you'll always be an actor in your big heart. most actors you never see, they stock the shelves anonymously at your local grocer, struggling to make ends and endives meet. and making sure the relish labels are turned outward.
Dirg: Sondra was right to dump Elvin. no offense. she was right to dump all of Hollywood, you never heard from her again. i'm glad she got out of my country and went to France. she had the right idea. it's not the Cosby aspect of your plight, it's that you're a senator's son. people expected more from you. hey i'm just a brotha helpin' notha brotha out.
Geoffrey Owens: never slander the value and inherent goodness of work, a doctor's the same as a bum. well i will be one of the senators on the panel of the Kavanaugh/accuser hearing this Monday.
Laertus: right on, that is something Anita Hill was never afforded. she got railroaded........i've just read Bump's twitter. he says Monday will be the highest-rated tv show ever in all caps and exclamation points. and he says he needed to rush it cos November sweeps are coming up for the Nielsens.
Laertus returns. with the brown bag. from above belowdeck:
Doryce: now we can feed our famish. put your delicate napkin on your leg, missus, and chow down! you got the crab rangoon?
Laertus: yeah but it's frozen. it was right next to the nets. and there was no bread. out of bread. there was a shitload of quinoa but no technical bread.
Doryce: how can a grocery store have no bread? carry the bread on your shoulder. quinoa gives me the shits. excuse me. just thinking about them. you enjoy, dear.
Gladyce: no, stay. i love you. so much i won't let you go to the bathroom, hold my hand.
Doryce: shit. i wanted for you those two thick slices of nutty black-rye bread and the crab rangoon inbetween 'em for a sloppy saucy sandwich. dipped in marinara sauce! i wanted everything to be perfect and to your liking. like a first date.
Gladyce: it IS perfect, my lover. why all the fuss? don't tell me. okay, tell me. no, don't. i dunno. this crab rangoon looks good 'n delicious, i think it'll be okay swimming in its own Rangoon sauce. you know i can't ever imagine an occasion where i would have the time and energy to wait in line and money to sit down at a fancy restaurant and order crab rangoon for myself. so microwave-fresh is the best i'm ever gonna get and i'll take it. and i'm lovin' it. i suppose this is the problem with my life: i have to make time for crab rangoon.
Doryce: you would if you were still fucking the Gorton Fisherman.
abovedeck down below sits Taki and Melbourne exhausted after a quick spin. in the racquetball court.
Melbourne: YOU ARE NAKED.
Melbourne: that's what the sign we passed said. i think. but you are naked. to me.
Melbourne: want me to show you my boat?
Taki: now that is a line. please be a boat. okay i'm ready, what are we waiting for? take me up to the captain's steering wheel and let me smoke his pipe.
before Taki can smell, she is whisked away to the basement of the Titanic where Melbourne puts her feet-first into his yacht. the bow breathes the salt air and the stern salties it out, as the crystals hit hard against the ship.
Taki: i knew it i knew it!
Melbourne steers the yacht on a stick until they both see the disinfectant daylight. the sun is so bright it powerfuls a singe mark on the woven sail that smells of Triscuits.
Melbourne: i'm trying to breathe it all in but i can only smell you.
Taki: so tacky, as in a yacht tacking. so yachting...WHOA that was a small wave that becomes a big wave on this yacht! the appeal of this again is...?
Melbourne: well since billionaires run the world because liberal-democratic self-goverments have abdicated their civic responsibility, the world billionaires got together and decided to have a sort of privately-funded Olympics of their own. so they race their yachts representing their countries and various factions against one another to see who has the richest stick.
a series of cannonballs just misses kissing their yacht and splash hard into the winging wavecrests.
Taki: the fuck? remember, calm down. it's just like the air race which is just like the Formula 1 race through a sleepy bedroom village. watch for the chicane, it's colored blue.
Melbourne: see the yachts carry onboard them heavy cannons. they shoot their balls at each other like olden pirate times. but the cannons are so unwieldy and weigh a ton that they sink the yachts. the loser is forced to go on an expedition deep under to the oceanfloor with James Cameron. also known as Jim.
Taki: what, Elon Musk wasn't available?
Melbourne: no, he's currently indisposed at the moment. not in the bathtub. bathtub of butter. nor a basket nor bucket of butter. fighting a lawsuit on twitter. of his own making, not Ronan Farrow. the billionaires may have good intentions but you know the saying. so in an effort to remain aboveboard and show they care and are doing something, they collectively decided to have the billionaires do charitable work with their money, put it into education. of the sea floor. not to dig in more internet cables or oil or anything. James Cameron is the Head of the Department of Education. and temporary In-Charge of the Department of Povery and Poor Boys in Elon's absence. not a sworn-in position cos Jim doesn't swear. but Elon does.
Melbourne clears the cannonballs and puts down his yacht sail, whch converts it into a small speedboat. he navigates the speedbumps in the watery road and tells her,
Melbourne: y'know, i don't think i'm strong enough to be your man, as the Sheryl Crow sonor goes. you deserve a person as upstanding as you are quality. you need someone who will weather with you your dish-throwing torrents of emotion, your tsunamis of daddy issues and cyclones of being introverted and yet a world-renowned reporter and hurricanes of book tours. why do i always see your cat swimming the backstroke on the river that connects us? i assume you have daddy issues, all great women do.
Taki: i've found my person. not on eharmony. just don't tell me you also ride bikes like Lance Armstrong. that guy's arms were strong.
the two sit up and hold hands on the deck of the speedboat. they look out past their sunglasses to the yellow horizon falling down under the cantankerous clouds and misty mountains.
Taki: you're gonna have to be stronger than you ever thought you could ever be. strong for two. i'm pregnant.
at this very precise moment, Melbourne swears he sees five suns.