Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Book Review

If you haven't already, please do read Elif Shafak's novel The Forty Rules of Love. If you have read it, please read it again. Then read it backwards and in translation and while you spin and spin and spin.

Image by Rumiwater

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Getaway

So what if Riva Lacey has just gotten pulled over for speeding? Today, she won Best Actress at the 2021 Idols of the Universe Awards. She sucks her teeth and studies her manicure. Sunlight glints off red lacquer.

Officer Joseph Theodore Patton grips his urge to smash the black corvette’s window. Oh, how’d he like to yank this rich asshole out of his car and into the ditch; instead, he gently taps one knuckle on the window.

What? He recognizes the famous teen idol, Riva Lacey.

This was her first time ever getting pulled over in two-years of driving. Riva assumes she’ll evade punishment. Seducing a police officer should be cake compared to the effort she made with the director.

“Young lady, you were doing one-twenty.” Officer Patton removes his sunglasses. His eyes could win a stare down with Death.

Unintimidated, Riva pouts. She arches her back and puffs up her chest, giving him a generous view of her endowment.

“That fast? Sorry. Sir.” She exhales, summons desire to her brows and lips, and locks her eyes on his; she visualizes his mystic lover pressing him to kiss her. Method Acting works every time.

But the officer’s gray eyes remain like isinglass.

Officer Patton tightens a fist behind his back, “I hope you have a license.” The officer’s livid tone tests Riva’s confidence in her powers as The International Seductress of the Silver Screen.

“Every woman must want you to gun her down. Yo, babe! Justin Bieber’s got nothing on you, Yo!” She hands over the license. Their fingers touch.

“Ms. Lacey. Flattery is not going to get you out of this. Now, your vehicle registration should be stored in the glove compartment.” Patton’s fury churns his guts, but he works to suppress it. He doesn’t care if she is a celebrity; he never lets anyone off without a fine.

“Right.” Riva flips open the glove box. Confetti, balloons, bells, bobbles, and candy burst out, as if the glove box were a broken PiƱata. Among all this party stuff lay a white envelope with Happy Birthday, Rivkah. Open this now! written in her mother’s elegant hand.

With Officer Patton’s patience spent, he uses every coping mechanism they’d taught him in anger management class.

“Oh, Mom always surprises me on my birthday. Like, when she gave me a pony, I found the breeding papers in the pocket of my bathrobe. Last year, I bit into the keys of this car; they’d been baked into the cake. Now. This envelope contains this year’s gift.”

To keep calm, Officer Patton inwardly repeats the word “Easy.” His hand fondles his gun. He breathes. He doesn’t want to repeat the slip he made earlier this week when anger made him beat the Prescott boy. Two incidents in one month wouldn’t look accidental.

Riva forgets all efforts to seduce. She works up courage. “This envelope reveals results of a paternity test that my mother has been keeping from me all these years.” Riva pauses, genuinely contemplative. “Mom thought it better that I don’t know the identity of my father until now.” Riva stops acting and turns real.

For reasons Officer Patton cannot fathom, he suddenly grows strangely chatty. He says, “Hey, I wish I had never known my own violent father.” Stunned he’s just spoken so frankly, he zips his lips to the soul.

But Riva doesn’t hear him; she babbles on her own thoughts. “And he doesn’t know of me, apparently.” She looks at the officer. “You know. Thousands of journalists would kill to be in your shoes right now, sir.”

She unfolds the document. Pauses.

“Says here that my father’s name is Joseph Theodore Patton.” Riva sinks. Contrary to what she’d hoped, this name means nothing to her.

Riva had always hoped her father was Senator Stevens, or that Chargers Running Back, Mick Jobs.

Riva tosses the document aside and peeks in the glove compartment, curious; any other gifts?

Officer Patton shudders. All his anger turns to shock.

No. Not his one night? With…? Was her name Alicia or Patricia? Yes, now he remembers Patricia Lacey. She was his one and only effort at lovemaking. Afterward, he swore, never again.

Traffic races past while Joseph and Riva share an eternity.

“I will not issue you a moving violation, Riva Lacey. Happy birthday. Go. Be safe.”

Patton remains stiff. He watches her car accelerate onto the roadway. He waits until the reliable flow of traffic convinces him that nothing has changed.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Plaintiffs' Lawyers' Meeting

(This meeting takes place in a law firm in the year 2050, when Corporate America and the federal government have been allowed to suppress all tort actions through sweeping tort reform.)

Two partners from the famous law firm Dewey, Cheatem, & Howe, LLP are thinking of ways to drum up some business.

Walls have ears, and now they happen to be listening—with some genuine interest this time—to the ideas being thrown around by Bill Dewey and Will Cheatem.

The walls overhear this conversation.

“But everyone who speaks any language invests in names. They were lied to.”

“Yes. L.a.n.g.u.a.g.e commits fraud. No one can be sure that he says what he means or she means what she says.”

“And no one can be sure his meaning is ever really understood.”

“Okay. Let’s file a complaint.”

“All Native Speakers and Non-native Speakers can be class members.”

“Imagine the attorney’s fees we’ll collect!”

Bill Dewey and Will Cheatem sit quietly satisfied for a few minutes. Their eyes sparkle with greed as they consider the economic potential of a lawsuit against Language.

Bill snaps his fingers and pounds a fist to the table, “Hey, while we’re at it—let’s file a lawsuit against Time.”

“The magazine?” Will Cheatem looks confused. “What fraud did Time Magazine commit?”

“No, you imbecile. We’ll file a lawsuit against Time, as in tic tock, tic tock. One o’clock. Two o’clock. Rock around the clock. Time!”

“Oh, yes. Time is also a big fraud. And people invest a lot of it doing lots of useless stuff.”

“Yes. Anyone who has ever invested Time in any useless endeavor could be a class member.”

“Yeah. Like picking up after messy kids. Why does that take so much time? Or scrubbing showers and toilets! Flossing our teeth. Standing in line. Idling in traffic. We invest way too much time in all that. What do we get in return?”

The lawyers at Dewey, Cheatem, & Howe want you to become a class member. They're kick-ass litigators who've never lost a case. They litigated that famous case in which that group of Bay Poets sued Cynicism and Irony. The case never had a chance to settl. Straight to court. Jury awarded 10.6 million dollars. Cynicism committed suicide. Irony is on the run.

Yes, Language shall have her day in court, and Time shall have his.

The sounds we make and the clocks we race against. Big. Ponzi. Schemers.