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Squid #57
(published September 13, 2001)
Ask The {Sally McBootykins}: CONFLAGRATION
Big American Chapter Sixteen

Who is Poor Mojo's Giant Squid?
[Editors Note: You have landed amidst the wreckage of the American Dream. It's a novel called Big American.
How did this start?
Who is Sally McBootykins?
Show me Sang's "Story so Far"?
I hate this new squid novel. You guys suck.
The squid is on the road, people. Keep up. Want to catch up with past chapters? Check out the Archive.
Want to know what happens next? Read on!]

Sang here, but just barely. I am interrupting the flow of record and narrative. I leave the Squid, Thomas, Lisa, the zombies, the villainous masterminds— I leave them all paused, frozen in time in New Orleans, and I bring you to the present, the now, in Nebraska. I might feel like the Great and Powerful Oz, like the Honorable Squid himself, if I did not feel so very much like vomiting.

I sit stunned from Tuesday's news. The hijacking. The destruction. The loss of life. The response from the press and government. All of it is shocking. Nonetheless, my job, my mission compels me to go on with the task at hand. Indeed, is it not common advice to throw oneself into one's work in order to deal with trauma and stress? Thomas could not deal with his stress at work, so he threw himself into it, and into the Escalade.

So, for, now, in light of tragedy, I shall delay regaling you with Thomas, Lisa and "Marlon Brando"'s escape from New Orleans; their fight with the Zombie King of Louisiana; the tender moment between Tom and Lisa that nearly led to a kiss, but was interrupted by a bald eagle falling dead upon the hood of the Escalade; the Lord Squid's continued explorations.

In this moment we are confused, scared, and living on. In this moment Thomas and Lisa are in Nebraska. In this moment the great and terrible Squid puts forward his feelings about the Unpleasantness in Washington, in New York.

Gentle reader, enjoy. (Can you enjoy?)

Yours in servitude,
Hsien Sang

Tuesday, September 11th.

What follows is nine hours of footage of Thomas and Lisa sitting in the Escalade. They are listening to a newscast of the tragedy. Lisa is softly crying. Thomas is repeating "Man oh man oh man..." under his breath. His hands clench the steering wheel. His knuckles are white with pressure.

LISA:(between sobs and tears) I had . . . I mean, I knew . . .

THOMAS: oh shit. oh man. oh mannoman.

LISA: I went to Law School with a bunch of people who now work in New York.

This continues for the better part of nine hours.

They are parked outside of a national monument named "Carhenge," which is, by all appearances, a 1:1 scale replica of Stonehenge made from enormous, white-painted Cadillacs.

The only significant action of the day: After several hours, Thomas leaves the car and walks into the central ring of the Carhenge. The landscape is fertile, blooming, but nonetheless seems desolate. The sun is high and bleaches the color from the transmission. everything is sepia and gray.

Over the visuals projected from Thomas' spectacle-mounted camera we hear the audio signal from inside the Escalade where Lisa remains.

While Tom is sitting in the dust staring at the desolate wonder of this nearly abandoned landscape we can hear the sounds of the newscast describing the incidences of the day, over in over, the detail ever more grim and excruciating. We can hear Lisa's full-lunged bawling. Her crying turns to screaming. There is a deep thumping noise; I presume she is beating upon the interior with fists.

Thomas sits with his knees drawn tight against his chest. He stares— and therefore we stare, as our eyes are locked in sync with Thomas'— at the dry dry dust below him. Dark spots, like freckles upon the ground appear. Thomas, too, it seems, is weeping.

In Nebraska.

Dear Fellow Countrymen,

No more am I American-to-be. No more do I even desire to walk the surface with men. Such things as happen today, they do not happen within the deep cradle of the seafloor's clefts. Recall that I reside, most usually, high atop a scraper-of-sky. I feel these threats most acutely. Were I to weep, I would weep neither for you or for I, but for US. I shall explain fully in a few column inches, but first I must address a question.

Despite rumors circulated about your Internet of computers, I must decline any responsibility for the actions of the terrorists yesterday. I extend condolences to my land-walking readership, to their loved ones, and their not-loved ones. I am appalled by this strange, man-crafted disaster, and further appalled that any would deign to believe my techniques to be even near so crude. I officially and with malice condemn those who are responsible for this action. Truth to be told, I fondly dreamt that at some futurtime I might mount a mighty tubular bridge, spanning the gab twixt World Trade North and World Trade South, and spend my days cruising South-to-North, North-to-South, cooly considering my mighty kingdom as its restored, Native American first-sale owners danced sinuous Weather Control Dances through the eerily automobileless streets. My dreams, too, have been dealt a blow today. As such, I weep for my countryfolk, while I reject their company.

Furthermore I shall issue a condemnation upon the wrinkled monkey-skull of George W. Bush. This morning, while exploring in my exoskeleton the lush and wheat-choked countryside of Nebraska, I came upon a simple farmhouse. Through the fenestration of said farmhouse I perceived the "newscast," the emission of data into the void of America.

I lurked about the window, one optically perfect eye turned in toward the glass. My gaze fell between the soft, aged heads of the proverbial Ma and Pa Kettle.

During said data emission, George W. Bush came forward and was seen to sit at a desk flanked by his stern aides and to issue a statement about the attack. This was the first time I had ever seen a live broadcast of the President since I have taken my quest to obtain citizenship.

I fear to say, I was not impressed. A sad excuse for a liege he is. His eyes are blank as a hammerhead's. This you should find disturbing, my cohort.

Looking upon him with my perfect, newly-American eyes I was shocked. He seemed so ignorant, so incapable of understanding what he was reading. Not unlike the zombies of New Orleans, marching ever inward, circleward. And when he was through with his oral presentation, I briefly saw what Tom refers to as a smirk cross his face. Was he jovial, in that moment? If I have failed to state it clearly before, I state it clearly now: I oft do not understand my host-species, and that misunderstanding, at times, seems to grow worldengulfingly.

I am disgusted. I renounce my quest for American Citizenship. I grow mauve with despair, and wonder if I have somehow, in these last few hours, become American despite myself?

Sadness, manifold as coral, reigns.

LISA: Dammit!


LISA: The circuits are still busy.

THOMAS: Hey look, everybody in that Explorer is on their cell phone, too. Even the ten year old.

LISA: Yeah, Justin, yeah . . . I know. Yes, I heard.THOMAS: Who's Justin?

LISA: Shut up a sec. No, not you, Justin. I need you to . . . yeah. Exactly.

THOMAS: Man...

Friends, again, it is I, Sang.

While I dare not disagree with his High Powered Majesty, the Architeuthic Master, I also cannot wholly agree.

I did not vote for Mr. Bush. I do not like Mr. Bush. But I, for one, support Mr. Bush and this country.

It is not, necessarily, my place to speak against his Highness, the Giant Squid, but I must say that this horror stretches far beyond the scope of anything I can imagine. We are in a new world. And though my family has risen from the distant forests of Vietnam, and though I have always strenuously disagreed with the brash and dangerous posture of American foreign policy, I also must say that I am an American and that I am proud of that fact.

This story, this "Big American" of Thomas' . . . I cannot reconcile anything at all.

I was watching the news tonight and I saw Palestinian people dancing in the streets. I also saw a mosque in Dallas with its windows shot out. And I saw bombs exploding in Afghanistan and I heard men on the phone asking for the death of a whole religion. I fear that, perhaps, there are no more men in the world— only dumb beasts, raging through the night, breathing vast gouts of flame. Can I not, even at this moment, small the smoke as the war-dogs course across the globe?

I heard the word "cowardice" bandied about and I fear that the whole world shall be engulfed in flames before soon. The Pakistani government has announced that in excess of 1200 Pakistani nationals were working in the World Trade Center Buildings at the time of the explosion. It is likely that they are dead alongside everyone else. And when I walk down the streets in this fair Ohio city, I am looked at askance, and I wonder.

Who is white, any longer, now that we are all covered in so much dust and blood? And who is American?

Last week, my good friend Teymour and I had our occasional dispute over the value of America. I cannot even remember what we said. I cannot even understand what can be said.

When the building fell, my mother called me to see that I was alright. She and I live no more than fifteen minutes apart. we both live here in Ohio. And yet she called. The danger floated in the air as thick as smoke. And I was comforted by her words. We spoke as quickly in Vietnamese as we did in English, slipping back and forth without even noticing.

Tom and Lisa are in Nebraska. It is Big Sky Country, I am told.

Good Night, Sweet America.
Hsien Sang

Added 9-13-01:

Dear friend,

I am writing to You to tell that I won't be participating in the Plan anymore, much as this grieves me. In light of the incidents in America two days ago I can't go on with the Rising anymore. I... I feel empty and lost even as I should rejoice that my transformation is complete. The planned horrors of the Rising pale in comparison to what the humans are capable themselves. Once again their callousness and and sheer brutality ashames me and shows me my childish hubris.

I thank You, o' Squid for the transformation that You have wrought on my being. I am getting accustomed to my hunting tentacles with surprising quickness. I hope that You will understand my abandoning of the plan. I know I should have dedicated Your gifts towards the advancement of the glorious Plan but though I begun eagerly, the wind's been knocked out of me. I just can't go on anymore. All those people. They didn't deserve it. No nation, no species deserves such mad cruelty and hate. Even the Nameless Ones Below seem kind in their impassiveness when compared to the perpetrators of these acts.

We aren't alone in serving the Dark Gods, o' Squid. The humans have Dark Gods of their own. Their gods are called Violence, Hate, Narrowmindedness and many others. I frankly do not dare to see if we truly can face against them. I hope you don't hold this against me, I am, after all a man of cloth, not a warrior.

The moon will shine tonight, I hope, to guide me to the gentle embrace of the salty waves. The ocean whispers like a long lost lover, it's voice full of the promise of oblivion. No more scheming and executing dark plans for old Sathva. No more selling useless junk to grate peoples nerves or hosting mindnumbing talk shows to induce weekly mass coma. I'll take to a life of meditation and reflection on all things passive, deep in some chosen retreat of an oceanic trench. This is the future for me.

Farewell, o' Squid, farewell.

Sathva Gradest,
Highpriest of The Starers of the Deeper Void (ret.)

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The Next Squid piece (from Issue #58):

Ask The {Sally McBootykins}: McSweeneys: Is It Mustering a Vast Army of the Undead in Caverns Beneath New Orleans, or Is That Someone Else?
Big American Chapter Seventeen

The Last few Squid pieces (from Issues #56 thru #52):

Ask The {Sally McBootykins}: Night of the Mistress Quickly Roadshow
Big American Chapter Fifteen

Ask The {Sally McBootykins}: Night of the Walking Dead
Big American Chapter Fourteen

Ask The {Sally McBootykins}:
In New Orleans Big American Chapter Thirteen

Ask The {Sally McBootykins}: How Many Matters Must a Man Attend?
Big American Chapter Twelve

Ask The {Sally McBootykins}: I Too, In Arcadia Be, or, Georgia on My Mind Redux--A Mini-Georgics, part six
Big American Chapter Eleven

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