As I am now a-walkabout, and a-field in America in a manner both vacational (in that it takes me from the humdrudgery of my Ovular Officework and vocational (as I set to put right what has once gone wrong, in the fashion of any great body politic ), I shall, for the briefly forseeable future, be travelling the high byways of thee great Yet Still United States so as to ameliorate your despairs in person.
Although I had an inauspicious start to my wanderings, lost in the uneven wildernesses of the Westernmost Virginia, that time proved Gethseminal, headsac clearing in the extreme, and now having completed my lone meditations in the wilderness—and having gained my bearings, navigationally—I am much prepared to lend aid and succor not with distant Bills and Zombie Judges, but rather with the strength of my own two tentacles and 8 arms, not unlike James Jimmy Billy-Beer Carter, and his two hammering hands, and sundry other appendages of utility. Provided my attempts to overthrow the 22nd Amendment of our Constitution fail to meet with success, I shall be recalled, fondly, as a "tentacles-on" president. And if those attempts succeed? Then a much-belovéd ruler-for-life, always ready and able to lend of the extra manipulator to any project.
Late last week I did execute a buttonhook maneuver to bring myself down into what naming convention might indicate should be "East Virgina"—although conventional cartography shows it to be the markedly Southern Virginia, and the naming itself is simply the Virginia—and into the City of Goochland, itself in Goochland County, although strangely lacking in Gooches of any sort. I arrived at the McGill home late in the day, at about dusk, as the crickets and summer peepers came up to full song, and the sodium arced street lights first flickered to buzzing, nightly wakingness. The McGill home is a fine structure of new wooden construction, a sort of neo-tudor, quite large (a fashion that I have heard my assistant, Rob, term a "McMansion" as we pass acre upon acre of them along a given strip of Interstate Highway—as, in fact, was the case with the McGill domicile, itself backed up to such an asphalt thrumming American inferior vena cava, pumping oil and steel—our national humours—from sea to shining sea,) with an expansive yard, meticulously poisoned and salted so as to only support marigolds, yew bushes and st. agustine grass, an attached garage-box capable of holding several motorvehciles (although showing just the one, lone Ford Explorer), and quite attractive doubled front doors, of the french fashion, and inset with large panes of prismatic glass which, in the gathering, somnolent and rumorous dark, did dazzle with their senseless, polychromatic glammer.
I tapped lightly—and, I shall openly admit now, somewhat tentatively, as this was my first "presidential house call." The doors did open, with a quickness, to reveal a stylish professional woman of some 30 or 40 years; Mother McGill, I reasoned correctly.
"My Lord," she gasped, eyes a-gog.
"I have come for Kaitlin," I indicated, my public address system perhaps the tiniest fraction overly boomful, as I watched the decorative ceiling chandelier dance in the sway of the pressure waves carrying my vox architeuthic. Mother McGill, overcome with delight at being house-greeted by the Nation's President, lost consciousness, soiling her flowing beige slacks in the process.
I waited for several awkward moments, unable to enter through the single open door, unable to work even my finest waldo—I am travelling in my more robust velocitator, which is quite good for covering vast areas of less developed land at a speed and weathering the harsh elements of my great nation's diverse environs, but consequently ill-suited for detailed work, like pulling down a stop-latch on a doubled-door.
As it was, patience proved the better part of valor, and she did come to wakefulness after just a moments repose, by which time Kaitlin had already been attracted by the commotion. The little girl—a towheaded lass of some ten years, I would wager—looked dispassionately at the crumpled form of her, groggily returning to this vale of tears, and then looked up to me. Immediately her visage changed from impassive dull-eyed wasteyouth to a heliotropic glow, her eyes a-dazzle—not unlike the prismatic panes of her francofomred front doors—and lips spread in a broad, aggressive smile, showing teeth to the canines.
"Mr. President," she curtsied politely in her pinafore, bowing her head, "We are very much . . . filled with . . . honor that you came here, to our house. Please do come in."
"It would be my enduring delight, little Kaitlin, but, alas, my suit is too large to enter through this single double door."
Kaitlin did look upon the still bolted door's edge. She stooped, loosing the lower latch, but stretch as she might, she could reach not the higher.
"Mom," she said absently, over her shoulder, "I can't get the latch. Open the latch."
Mother McGill, blanched and trembling with excitement, had sat up, and scooted upon her dampened rear back farther into her palely tiled foyer, shaking her head back to forth. "No," she gasped, "No, Kaitlin; that . . . that thing is not coming into this home."
Kaitlin turned to her mother, hands upon her tiny unblossomed hips, and subsequently back to me—in her mother's wide, optically inferior eyes I could, with my own optically flawless eyes—see the reflection of the tableux the mother saw: The tiny blonde girl in her white-and-pink-beflowered pinafore and gleaming, chitinous black mary-jane shoes standing, arms akimba, before the compassionate, apocalyptic sight of the American President in full travelling suite, himself struck to a glowing aurora of buzzing yellow street lamps; it was a site to behold, and may well find itself in my re-election campaigning audio visual materials.
"Yes, Mother." Kaitlin did pronounce, like a little queen, "The President is coming in. We invited him."
"You invited this . . . this thing to our home?"
"He's the President, and he's coming in."
Mother McGill shook her head loosely.
"Maaahtheeeeer . . ." Kaitlin intoned quietly, a slow and menacing growl.
And so, as a giver-of-advice by nature, I did intercede.
"KAITLIN, DEAR," I said and, noting the wincing of these fair electorate, did down-adjust the gain on my audible amplifier, "Let us respect the wishes of your mother. Clearly, she does note the gargantuacity of my conveyance, and fears for the light scratching upon her tiled and hardwood floors, as well as some possible snags of her wall-to-wall carpeting, and possible structural damage to load bearing members. Perhaps we could tete-a-tete . . ." here I swirled my left tentacle in the water of my mobile velocitating tank, in a manner suggestive of my inviting suggestion. Kaitlin's whipcrack mind followed on the heels directly, and her face was again a-glow with youthful exuberance.
"The patio!" She exclaimed, "We'll sit on the patio! Around back!"
"No," Mother McGill said weakly—although what she was denying was somewhat unclear.
"Excellent! Let us meet there poste haste!"
In the jardin derriere—which was separated from the glorious interstatual highway by just a thing scrim of trees—I squatted upon the finely kept lawn of grass and Kaitlin sat in a wrought iron chair, pulled to the edge of the bricked patio.
"So, then, Kaitlin; please explain the problem in as much of the details as one might bear."
"Well," she began, running her hands along the lab of her pinafore, chasing away wrinkles before them and leaving in their wake straight an pleasingly geometrically regular pleats, "My friend, Jessica Saunders—she lives right up the street—"
Mother McGill came to the patio from the rear french doors (such affection for French architecture!), carrying a tray with two tall glasses of iced tea, and now wearing a beige skirt in lieu of her slacks.
"I voted for President Bush in 2004," Mother McGill said archly, apropos of nothing, "He was a good man and a good President."
"He is indeed a good man," I agreed, "I adore George Double-Yew. Did you know he can kill an MDMA-enraged, tumescent adult male baboon with his bare hands?"
Kaitlin greeted this news impassively—perhaps not understanding—while Mother McGill glowered. I sought to explain further, so that Kaitlin might be aware of the dangers implied by an amphetimized and sexually aroused male baboon, but was interrupted by Mother McGill.
"My husband, James—Kaitlin's father—was killed, pressed into labor in your ridiculous Moon Bridge Project."
"I prefer to think of it as a 'Moon Tether', but that is no account. His loss, surely, is sorely missed here," at this Kaitlin, arms crossed with the petulance, muttered, "Is not!" under her breath, emphatically, earning a blistering glance from her Mother, "As it is by me and my Administration Just and True. An omelette cannot be made without breaking the eggs."
At this truism Mother McGill grimaced, swallowed hard, and extended her tray, "Some sweet tea for you two?"
"Yes, Mother," Kaitlin said, reaching for the glass to her own left. Like the tongue of a newt, Mother McGill's hand shot out, gripping Kaitlin's tiny wrist "That," she intoned, "Is the President's tea. Let our guest have his first."
In the spirit of good breeding, I reached out and grasped the glass with the finest manipulator available—which, unfortunately, had a gripping strength far in excess of the brittleness of the glass. Mother McGill was clearly quite disappointed that I would not be enjoying her fine tea, while Kaitlin had returned to her ghostly impassivity, taking her glass and sipping heartily.
"Apologies," I said of the broken glass, "But, I cannot take in such fluids in this velocitator in any case, so . . . it was the thought which counted, no? And that thought is much appreciated."
"Perhaps Moth-ther she leave so we can talk now, Mr. President Squid? Or maybe," Kaitlin said, eyes slitted, "We could talk instead about one of your special projects that she'd be good to work on. Father used to always say that Mother is very good at accounting and keeping books."
"Really," I did wonder aloud, but when I swiveled to ask Mother McGill for further details, she was turned away, hustling tidily indoors, perhaps intent on balancing the family ledgers?
Kaitlin sipped upon her tea's straw reflectively for a moment, and then placed the glass on the diminutive table to her side.
"So," she said, setting her hands, one atop the other, on her lap, "Jessica Saunders, who is two houses over, says I'm a show off, but I think she's just jealous because in school—we were in the same classes two years in a row, and will be at the same school next year, but next year is sixth grade and so we'll have different teachers for most of the day, and probably different homerooms, because she is an S and I'm an Mc. But all this year I did better than her in school, and Ms. Mickleson always called on me, and I had a perfect attendance award at the end of the year, plus I took a blue ribbon in my last three jumping competitions and when we were at cheerleading camp in July, the counselor made me cabin master over all the other girls in our cabin, to make sure there was no funny business" at the notion of "funny business"—whatever that might entail—Kaitlin did scowl mightily. "I don't let any funny business go on around me. No sir."
"That is good," I offered, admittedly a bit at a loss in this sea of data—who is this Mickle's-Son? And from what or whom were the blue ribbons taken? And what could cheerleading be. It was clear that, somehow, I had gotten the barest bit over my headsac at this first housecall. I worked to buy of the times.
"Can we visit upon Jessica, and sort out these matters in roundtable discussion?"
Kaitlin nodded her head, and brought out from her pinafore's pocket a small cellular phone, dialing with lightning rapidity, "Jessica?" she said, the phone primly to her ear, "It's Kaitlin. I'm here with the President of the United States— I am too! Yes I am!"
"It is true," I offered, sotto voce, although Kaitlin shushéd me savagely.
"Well, come over here—I don't care!—come over, and see if I'm a liar!" and with a frustrated little grunt Kaitlin savagely punched the disactiviation key with her thumb. The intervening moments were somewhat awkward, Kaitlin fuming while drinking of her icy teas, and I offering idle comments on the local architecture, the hues of the verdant wood, and my impression of what size engine various passing vrooms and rumbles might imply. Fortunately, the social morass was broken by the arrival of another small humangirl, of roughly the same chronological age as our Kaitlin. This child was dark haired, and the hair was kinked and ratted, ill-kept and greasy. She wore grimy plaid flannel pants, with the general appearance of being sacks, and potato-ish sneaker shoes, untied. Her t-shirt—also oversized—was wash-worn and torn, black, and indicated her proud affection for Marilyn and his Mansons. Her arms, skinny and pale, were festooned with bracelets of spikes and thin filaments of parti-colored plastics. This, I could presume, was Jessica.
"Shit," the girl sighed, "The President really is here. That's fucked up, Kait."
"Jessica!," Kaitlin gasped, rising to her feet, "Language!"
"And don't call me 'Kait'"
Jessica shrugged again, and looked upon me, "Is it true you play guitar?" She asked.
"No, I do not play with the guitar."
"Oh," some moments passed, "Is it true you made a zombie out of that dead Judge with the cancer?"
"Yes, although it is more of a deathless cyborg than a zombie. Yes."
"Thank you, Jessica. What can you tell me of Kaitlin's show-off-ery?"
Jessica again shrugged, "What do you need to be told? Look at her," I did so, "She's Ms. Good-Two-Shoes," I can concur that there were two shoes present, "and dresses like Polly Prissy-Pants. I like her, and I've been her friend since, like, forever, but . . . she's smart and stuff, she was always good in school, but this," she pointed at Kaitlin, at her garb, and especially at the small black shoes, the kneesocks of white, "This is fucked up like Halloween all year. She only got this bad after her dad was crushed by that tube thing."
Jessica paused, appraised Kaitlin and, evidently, made some calculations mental, then proceeded.
"She used to have dreams about her dad dying; she hated her dad."
"I did not!" Kaitlin declaimed, foot-stompingly.
"Would he resist the Show-offery? The Goodness-of-Two-Shoes?"
Jessica sighed, "Naw; he gave her everything she wanted. Everything. He bought her a horse and everything." Again, there was a pause, a shrug, a sigh. "She was a fucking pain-in-the-ass at cheerleading camp. An older girl had a joint she stole from her brother, and we were all going to smoke it, but Kait ratted us out." Jessica shook her head.
"Drugs are bad!" Kaitlin pouted, "I Saved Your Life!"
I had taken hold of the matter, finally, in mind, and was ready to straighten what had grown crooked, "Drugs are indifferent," I explained, "Indifferent as a gun, or a fist, or a tether to the sky. It is their uses which may be bad or good—but that is no matter. Kaitlin," I considered setting my manipulator upon her shoulder, then recalled the tragedy of the tea glass, and chose instead with a paternal nod, "You are indeed a show-the-off of the good-two-shows. As my assistant Rob might indicate, you are the stuck-up of the bitch. Jessica knows it, such as Cain knew well of Abel's favor before the Mythic and Faceless man-god in your hotel-drawer storybook. As such, you have but one choice: Destroy her in single combat. And you," I turned to Jessica, "I admire your honesty, your ennui, and your resignation to the world. Be not like Able: fight hard and cheatingly; this is your first and only chance at survival."
I stepped back, and did hear, to my left, the smash of glass on table as Kaitlin did forge herself the makeshift shiv. Under my watchful and imperious eye she did rush Jessica, who brought a knee to Kaitlin's stomach and a clawed left hand into her hair, tangling it in a fist and bringing the mercilessness of the right to bear upon Kaitlin's savage, upturned visage. As the two girls grappled and fell to the ground, I turned from the scene of childlike domestic decisiveness, and headed back out through the forest, to the highway and points beyond; my work there was done, and the road, she beckoned further.
I Remain in Aid,
Your Giant Squid
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Copyright (c) 2000, 2004, David Erik Nelson, Fritz Swanson, Morgan Johnson