Why am I here?
We all have days like this, do we not? Just yesterday I was floating in my glass and concrete tank, high above the city of Detroit. The transparency of my exterior wall had been turned up so that the sun's rays warmed my icy skin. I floated in a near-nap state, pleasantly spending the afternoon's currency like a child-human in a confectionery store. My remote-sensing apparatus were newly functional after recent sabotage, and as I half-napped I observed my able and slothful assistant Rob playing a game on his personal computer; my office manager Molly screaming on the telephone, her lips forming the phrase "No comment" over and over; Leeks, our accountant, eating a swiss cheese and onion sandwich while surreptitiously nipping from a flask hidden in his desk; my typist Jarwaun bouncing upon his desk chair with large puffer-fish-esque headphones clamped about his head, his mouth again-pon-again forming the word "Umbrella," I know not why.
On a day like this, Lauren, with everyone in their place and the sun pleasantly wrapping my tentacles and body sac in a soporific blanket, it is impossible to imagine life being any better. This is why I am here, my blood sings, to ensure this organization runs smoothly, and to soak in the sun's rays. Belly full of broasted dog, headsac empty of woe and sorrow, gears whirring away bereasédly smooth. All is right and proper.
But it is on these days, lulled into unawaresness, that Destiny most often pounces upon you, red of tooth and claw — or, as Rob so eloquently emotes, "Fate makes you her fuck-bitch, all un-lubed strap-on and whips in both hands. You know?"
I do indeed Rob, more than most.
A phone-call from Devo arrived, and was patched into my tank.
"Hey, Boss. I, uh, I'm not going to be in today. Something has come up." Devo's voice was wavering, and nervous. Monkey-wails echoed behind him.
"EMPLOYEE DEVO, THIS IS DISTRESSING. YOU WERE TO COMPLETE MY NEW HOVERLIFT THIS DAY. ADDITIONALLY, I HAVE CONCERN BY THE WAILING I HEAR." I LOWERED MY VOICE TO A WHISPER, "ARE YOU IN DANGER? IS THERE A FIREARM POINTED AT YOUR PERSON? IF YOU CAN NOT SPEAK FREELY, THEN SIMPLY SIGNAL THUSLY: IF THE DANGER PRESENTED TO YOUR PERSON IS MORTAL, WHISTLE THE THEME OF A SUMMER PLACE; IF THE THREAT IS EXISTENTIAL OR PSYCHOLOGICAL, WHISTLE THE JINGLE OF — "
Devo sighed, and the wailing increased in volume. "Y'know what, Squiddie, I will be in. I think I need Molly's help."
My imagination was sent reeling at this. What trouble could posses Devo—a competent mechanoneer—such that he would require the help of acerbic and deceitful Molly? Her experience, as far as I knew, amounted to: several degrees in varieties of biology, marine biology, and environmental sciences; several credits towards an MBA (abandoned); a short stint as Vice President followed by a shorter stint as President of these as yet United States; and, an online course in Human Resources.
For hours my mind spun and whirred, while Jarwaun ran up and down the aisles shouting "Tiger style! Tiger style! Tiger style!" or "Wu-Tang Clan ain't nothin' to eff with!" White earbuds splayed from his head. I paged Rob and he explained.
"Yeah boss, little dude's all hyped up an' shit. Molly bought herself an iPhone and I was at Starbucks over by Belle Isle, and they fucked up my mocha so they gave me two and I gave the extra to J." Rob rubbed his shaggy head. "I think I gave him the triple, so he's, like, full of espresso and has the Wu-Tang Clan at full volume in his head. That shit could fuck anyone up, like a HYDRA brainwashing."
At this point Jarwaun charged up and slapped the glass with his sweaty palm. "Mr. Squid! Mr. Squid! Molly gave me a iPod and showed me the ded'cated server where she and Rob and Devo an those evil monkeys hide all their MP3s and there are about a jillion gigs of stuff and I found Wu Tang and Kanye and N.W.A. and Too Short and Prince Paul and all sorts of classic stuff and I put it all on here on my iPod and Molly said I could have it for keeps and then Rob gave me some hot chocolate and now—" and then Jarwaun vomited very forcefully across the front of my tank. The vomit was thin and brown, and possessed of the chocolate sprinkles.
Rob put his arm around the little puking boy. "Okay, little man, let's get you cleaned up and, like, hydrated. Then you can eat some orange slices. 'Kay?"
Jarwaun shuddered, leaning into Rob's slat-side, then nodded of the head as he was lead away to the kitchenette.
As Rob mopped up the content's of Jarwaun's belly the elevator dinged. Rob glanced down the hall, still moving the mop in perfect circles, and called out, "Where the fucked you get that thing, holmes? Crazy fucking yard sale?"
I looked up to see Devo entering the lab, dressed in his customary leather trousers and mesh shirt, but holding at arm's length a pink-wrapped bundle. It wriggled curiously. Slung across his shoulders was an uncharacteristic accessory: a sturdy pink cordura-nylon shoulder bag, in which was roughly crammed a plastic bag emblazoned as HUGGIES™.
"Hi gang," Devo smiled shakily. "I'm a," his eyes gleamed, and his mouth worked strangely, like a snake writhing on a hot skillet, then righted itself to again smile, and spat out "Daddy."
This was befuddling, as Devo is a practicing—although evidently imperfect—homosexual. Immediately I demanded clarification.
"DEVO!" I shouted. "I DEMAND CLARIFICATION!"
"Hush!" Devo hissed through a wide, gleaming, greasy smile. He wrapped his offspring, a bald mocha-colored creature swaddled in pinkness, in his heavily muscled arms, shushing and swaying. "I have a baby," he hissed sotto voce. He clenched his teeth, latching his teeth upon the smile whilst some tectonic shift rippled through the watery, high gleam of his tiny, optically imperfect eyes. "Surprise!" he squeaked
"BUT DEVO," I spoke slowly, in the case he was addled, "YOU PRACTICE THE LOVE WHICH DARE NOT SPEAK ITS OWN NAME, AND DO LACKBOTH OF THE UTEROOSES AND FALLOPIAN TUBERS NECESSARY TO CREATE NEW LIFE." Everyone silently stared at the chimpling. "IS THIS SOME SORT OF ROBO-BABY OR CYBER-CHILD YOU HAVE COBBLED IN YOUR LAB? IS IT GROWN FROM CLONE-MEAT OR THE STEM CELLS?" We all dwelled upon this, doubtless thinking the question I then voiced, "IS IT . . . TASTY?"
"What's her name?" Jarwaun asked, extending his thin brown finger for the humankind to grapple.
"Well." he bit of the words and breathed hard, "Her mommas named her Virginia." Devo slumped to the floor, his shorn head leaning against my tank wall quite near my perfect eye. "Y'see, I uh, donated them some of my . . . stuff . . . genetic material. A f-f-few years back, when they were first trying to conceive. They had trouble, so I started banking it for them."
"And about a year ago it took and Saffron got all preggers, y'see? Only it seems they . . . they—" Devo's skin hue flashed from its norm to a high, pasty white, then mottled to red, as though he intended to hide among the crags of a volcanic ledge, taking solace amongst the sharp aa lava sure to chase away any who met threaten him harm. "They were in a, um . . ." he searched for words, and tears slipped from his eyes, "car accident. This weekend. Saffron was killed right there, and . . . and Janey died." Devo looked at his watch, "Janey died yesterday. And my name was on the birth certificate." His breath came in thick, thrumming heaves, like the tide pounding a bare and lifeless cliff. "My names is on the birth certificate, because I'm her father." He stopped, and breathed, his small daughter — goggle-eyed, still gripping Jarwaun — breathed, too. "They weren't even going to be here, in town, but their flights got fucked up, and they missed their fucking connection, and rented a car and . . . and I didn't even know they were here. You know, until—" But something either slipped loosed or became frozen in the mechanism of Devo's speech, for he said no further words, only held his right hand aside his head, the thumb and smallest finger extended, in pantomime of a phone.
Devo's body shook in rhythm as sobs punctuated the lab like hiccups.
Jarwaun stepped forward and patted Devo on the head. "S'okay man, you can have Trael's old crib. He don' use it no more." The boy took up the baby gingerly, and Devo curled upon the floor and wept. Then, for reasons we know not, the baby too wept, and the lab was all wailing. Rob ran to fetch Molly, who is possessed of nephews young and sturdy, as Jarwaun did pace the lab swayingly, singing of lull-you-bys of the Boys in tha' hood, who are always hard . . .
Dear Lauren, I bid you not to inquire of destiny why you are here, or as to what is your purpose, for destiny shall surely tell you when the time is right. I began the day happy and restful, floating in serenity. And now I have found myself uncle to a chirping burping girl-thing. Life, she does make sport of us all.
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Copyright (c) 2000, 2004, David Erik Nelson, Fritz Swanson, Morgan Johnson