Monday, August 18, 2014


LARGE BRIGHT vegetables, unreal in their perfection, had that nice easy shine, and everyone was feeling fine. Good mellow sunshine mood pervaded in the Produce Department, and beyond. Above the over-sized depictions of healthy farm life stretching up the walls, one-way windows blankly stared.

Tomorrow’s Tomato Today. Always huge, always perfect. Everybody feeling fine.

Apples. Apples so golden, they gave off a glow.

Uniformly, the unreal food beamed. And that was fine. Bell bottoms were back. Again, people were feathering their hair, and the hems of the corduroys which audibly brushed came with the realistic green appearance of having walked through fresh-cut lawns.

Black domes of cameras watching glittered.

“We’re Proud to Serve You!” The reassuring words on the wall spanned from the unreal artichokes all the way down to the unreal zucchini. Plus-size peppers, red, yellow, and orange, radiated the appearance of agricultural mastery. The image of the great big tractor on the wall was also red, and the brightly smiling people depicted wore overalls as blue as the sunniest sky.

“I’m here to see the manager,” he said, returning the new plastic comb to his pocket.

The black wall-mounted dome that fish-eyed his face asked if he had an appointment.

“I’m here to sign up. I’m ready to join Big Farm.”

A bright red light scanned him head-to-toe. He heard the swift click of the door before him unlock. Turning the handle, he went inside.

The door shut quickly behind him, cutting off the soothing sounds of music, the co-opted voice of AM.

“Gee, this is just all right with me,” he said, admiring the wood paneling of the interior, “gee, this is just all right.”

A representative appeared in a white button-up coat, like a sanitarium attendant, or a doctor, or a butcher, big juicy produce in hands protected by long, tight gloves that loudly snapped going on. The Aquiline profile and patrician carriage of the representative imparted him an imperial air. “You’re here to join,” he said, standing in the paneled hall before an open door. The representative seemed bothered to have to take the time to run through procedure. “State your name," he said, "last name first followed by first and middle initial.”

“Ray, Brady A.”

The representative peered back into the room from which he had emerged. “Very well,” he said, clipped tone snapping as soundly as his gloves, “in here.”

Brady entered a wider room of humming machinery, huge, dark perfectly strange devices confounding surroundings starkly contrasted with the world the shoppers saw. A screen inside near the door displayed Brady’s name and personal information. He saw the flashing green dot next to the image of his face, and followed the representative past crate after crate of produce until they came to a table where the representative set down the produce in his hands amid an array of microscopes and Petri dishes. Removing his gloves now, the representative coldly inquired, “Eat healthy portions of Big Farm produce, do you?”

“Yes, sir,” Brady said with an easy sunshine smile, “I sure do.”

“Have you ever operated a drone?”

“Yes, sir, I sure have.”

“Tell me about that.”

“I was at my cousin’s house. We used his drones.”

“Were the drones equipped with guns?”

“They sure were.”

“Did you shoot what you saw? Were you any good?”

“Yes, sir,” Brady said, sweeping his hair of off his collar.

“What did you shoot?”

“My cousin and I shot animals.”

“What kind of animals?”

“A couple of dogs," Brady said with a natural grin. "A couple of dogs and a deer.”

“Ever shoot a person?” The representative’s cold, perfunctory tone never once changed.

Neither did Brady's. “No, sir,” he said.

“Care to give it a try?”

“Yes, sir,” Brady replied, brightly beaming. “I sure would.”

The representative led him to a back room stocked with personal computers. Here a sour smell pervaded, the pickled stench of broken beer bottles, smashed pop cans, and tons of rotten produce saturating the floor like the blood of sacrifices on ancient altars. Brady took a chair in front of a screen. Seeing a mouse, he got on the web. It all seemed so natural. He went where the representative told him, simply following orders.

Brady thought about combing his hair again. He thought about his clothes, and the way he looked. He thought about his favorite programming.

The representative took a call while Brady selected a village. The village had a name unpronounceable to Brady. Someplace far away was all he knew, not that he cared. Brady clicked on the name and then waited patiently to find out what to do. He looked at an antique clock left on the wall while he waited, the kind with the parts that used to go around and around in a circle. The antique clock was tilted and had dusty cobwebs on it.

Finishing the call, the representative returned his attention to Brady. Still resentful of the duty, he instructed Brady to select a drone.

"Which kind of drone would you like me to select, sir?"

"It doesn't matter, just pick one!" The representative's perfunctory tone had turned now to anger, the flash of which instantly shifted into welcoming conciliation as the head of the Produce Department suddenly appeared.

It was a wonder. The collagen-packed fabulously wealthy cranium of the world's tenth-richest heiress, still bearing some of its actual original flesh, entered the back room atop a shiny artificial body wearing a green sequined mini skirt and sporting high heels. It had once been a real woman.

As a girl, the heiress never dreamed when playing on her father's farm that the wealth one day to come would enable her to stretch her life far beyond her body, no idea in the days of swaying on a tire swing that the genetic modification of food would include artificial cells taking total control of the host.

"Young man," the head of Produce hissed through the ragged concavity in the waxen shell which was its mouth, collagen-hidden eyes blackly glittering, "I perceive you lack initiative in your selection. Do you know why you are here?"

"Well, I've been thinking about joining Big Farm for a long time. Then last night sometime after the Caesar salad, I figured I better come on down."

The high heels strapped to the feet of the artificial body under the swollen, lifelike head of the heiress ticked across the sticky concrete floor. "Young man, you are here because there are places in the world where people are breaking the law. A law I myself shared a hand in fairly purchasing, I might add. All around this wonderful planet of ours, it is illegal that any fruit or vegetable not produced by our company be grown. You are here to do your part to ensure our way of life, young man, to ensure our very way of life."

"Our way of life!" the representative echoed in stern support. "He's been nothing but trouble."

"Oh, he's not so bad," the head of Produce hissed.

"I've selected my drone, ma'am," Brady said. He didn't know why he was smiling. He just felt...really good. Ever since Big Farm took over, everything was fine.

"All right now," said the head, leaning in, "disengage the drone from the carrier."

Smiling with an easy air, Brady did as he was told.

The head of Produce peered directly over Brady's shoulder. The artificial body pressed against him felt firm and cold. "Oh," hissed the head, wafting its preservatives, "I see you're good at farm work."

The screen was a blur as somewhere over the globe a missile-equipped drone dropped free from a carrier hovering miles above, then open ocean advanced in high definition as the drone sped toward its destination. A satellite with the coordinates locked onto the precise target--the home of someone with a garden--and displayed on the screen in high definition the landscape from high above, moving all the way down to a tight close-up on the moving lips of a lovely woman. She was speaking to someone out of view. Lip-read mode automatically kicked on, displaying the woman's words for Brady, the head of Produce, her stern bodyguards and the representative to see:

"...ahead and turn it off," the target said, oblivious she was being watched. In fact, she wasn't merely lovely, she was an absolute knockout. The kind of woman Brady dreamed about before the days of Big Farm. All eyes on the screen immediately perceived the targeted woman's remarkable beauty. "Righty-tighty, lefty-loosey," the words on the screen from the woman appeared.

A red light on the computer flashed and a soothing voice intoned, "One minute and counting . . . "

"Prepare missiles for firing," the representative snapped.

Brady heard, but he hesitated. Deep down, somehow, some part of himself...still clung on. A lifelike hand appeared on his thigh.

"It's all right, baby," the rank head hissed, "I understand. It's your first time. You'll get used to it." The lifelike hand slid up his thigh, then retracted.

" right there," the target said, gorgeous smile flashing across the screen.

The soothing voice of the computer pronounced, "Thirty seconds and counting . . . "

The lifelike hand intervened between Brady and the image of the woman on the screen, holding now a big bright red apple.

"Come on baby," the huge rich head croaked, "show me what you got."

Brady opened his mouth. A quick crunch filled the room. Chewing the tasteless bite, Brady took a hand off the keyboard long enough to swipe genetically-modified apple juice from his chin.

"Ten seconds and counting . . . "

There sure wasn't any fighting that free and natural feeling. It was everywhere now. No one ever said no. The lifelike hand patted his leg.

Brady put his finger on the button. Whatever it was inside him sure re-asserted its control.

Smiling an easy, with-it smile, Brady got lucky first day on the job and scored.


Thursday, August 7, 2014


I have in mind a John L. Sullivan biopic.

It starts out mid-fight.

John L. bridged bare knuckle prizefighting
to boxing with Marquis de Queensbury rules.

The Boston Strongboy interests me for a number of reasons,
not least of which being his straight-forward slugging style
eventually matched against the dancing jabs of
Gentleman Jim Corbett, bank clerk.

There's something about a bank clerk darting in
and dancing around the bloated John L. that speaks
to the economic condition.

John L.'s trainer was an ex-wrestler named William Muldoon. Muldoon had some crazy ideas about fitness considered state-of-the-art at the time which I think would be interesting for us to see taken totally seriously. It's also interesting to me for the lead character to have a story arc ranging from challenging anybody to a fight in a bar, then eventually becoming a bloated teetotaler telling everybody not to drink. 

I'm seeing a whole lotta movie here.

Gonna call it STRONGBOY.

We hear the sounds of bare fists impacting on flesh in a sweaty din of screaming men.

The year is 1882 and it is the 8th round of an illegal prizefight held in Mississippi
between reigning champion Paddy Ryan and the challenger, John L. Sullivan.

A clubbing blow from Sullivan sends Ryan to one knee. Wild William Muldoon, Sullivan's trusty, crusty trainer, barks advice from a roiling throng...