Sunday, November 28, 2010

POP14: “A Digression”


(Can be skipped. Not in the regular flow of the plot.)

Fake Face remained standing at the head of the purple or orange room—the color shifting with sunlight entering through the broad bay windows overlooking Killtown. His followers, black-and-white coated Jake Pol among them, wondered where in his hidden mind Fake Face was going. His voice continued in a low murmur, almost a whisper, before subtly rising. Fake Face was speaking about rodents cohabiting the building with them.

“Do you ever wonder?” Fake Face pondered. “Those gray creatures. They’re our underclass, remaining within the walls or under the floors of this too-old Civil War-era place while we gleam like rulers, like sungods in daylight. They won’t come out. That they so studiously avoid us is a mark of their intelligence. They know us well!”

On coffee tables arrayed about the brightly lit orange-or-purple room sat thick glossy fashion magazines with Face’s plastic visage smiling from their covers. Several of the photos were in black-and-white, others in color.

“They’re our Other, these skulking bottom-feeder friends of ours. The other side of our coin. Everything has its underside. Everything is its opposite. Our society presents the good. The look of the good. The polished presentation. But what life is really about is pure malice. Mendacity. Stabbing crushing disposing of all who oppose you, but especially those who don’t oppose you, who just are. When I present the good to my fans and followers they know—they know—I’m the opposite. That’s the subliminal appeal. Maybe not even subliminal. In the open. Don’t give me silly notions of the authentic. What we’re about is co-opting the authentic, replacing it, killing it, neighborhood by neighborhood territory by territory.

“That’s my philosophy it’s a godless philosophy yes but only when you embrace your godlessness can you become a god yourself as I’ve become one.”

Fake Face smiled at this. But he was always smiling. They sensed somehow that this time behind the fearsome mask he was smiling for real.

His ambitious paramour Rhonda Ruthlessness dressed in red sitting diagonally across from him openly beamed.

As they reflected on this a colleague of theirs, Mike Mild, stood next to Fake Face. From where had he come? Likely stepped into the room between sunbeams from the arched hallway beyond.

Mike Mild was a representative gang member: handsome, clean, and square-jawed.

“Take young Mike,” the Face said. “Our good friend. He’s been representing our organization with the press. Witness if you will Mike’s stunted personality, his inability to read people. Mike’s senses have never been challenged by questions of survival. He’s never feared anyone, not even his parents—least of all his parents—and so never was forced to consider, to analyze, the nature of the human beast. Given our enemies, our need to analyze them, to know them better than they know themselves, Mike Mild is no longer a relevant model.”

Before the room could react Fake Face slipped a slim .38 automatic pistol from his pocket and put a bullet through Mike’s head. They heard a distinct “pop” as Mike fell to the floor. They felt no emotion about the event, instead wondered that the image of the killing came to their senses a microinstant before the sound.

Mike lay across thick shag with tongue hanging out of his mouth and eyes wide open, staring blankly upward. Another young man stood now in his place, equally square-jawed but with darker hair and vaguely Asian features.

“Meet Mike’s replacement, Dao Loon,” Fake Face said to his people. “I think he’ll be from New Orleans, but I’m not sure. We’re still writing his bio.”

The words smirked. The plastic smile in front of the roiling gang members became more intense. Several of them sweat. Jake Pol sweat most of all.

“Poor Mike!” Fake Face eulogized. “Sad Mike! There he lies. A fallen idol. We knew him well, but then again, we hardly knew him. Now he’s forever gone. The problem, you see, isn’t the sudden disappearance of Mike Mild. He himself our precious and perfect Mike in the larger scheme of things which means in our scheme of things meant nothing. The important thing the only thing is that Mike’s red blood has stained our imported rug.”

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