Maps in a mirror, p.104

Maps in a Mirror, page 104

 

Maps in a Mirror
 



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  Got a call from Jorgenson at 7 a.m. and he wanted me to come over so I did, his doctor opened him up and looked at his prostate and bingo. Whole new set of male organs, not a tricky operation, but Jorgenson didnt want new ones, he liked the old. Too much sentimentality. And in him, too, the transplant has overgrown its boundaries. His doctor is worried. His doctor told him to take a sedative. Why isnt my doctor that thoughtful?

  This afternoon went back to talk to Bartholemew Biscuit since he hadnt called, he told me he hadnt called because it was so damn ridiculous, which I agree with except when its me, in which case its pretty serious. Yessiree bob, a lung transplant, which has taken over his heart (me in reverse) and is progressing to the skin. His doctor is not worried. His doctor is delighted. At last, something new for the MDs to do. And get this—genetic check, and it comes from a medium height male with brown hair, white skin, blue or green eyes. Now maybe thats coincidence but I did some research and now I really am scared.

  See, the CDs prophet who was assassinated in June was named George Peppinger and I looked up the old Time stories on him and he is, you guessed it, medium height, blue eyes, brown hair, white skin. Im doubtless paranoid, but Maier was a GD and what if these nuts have some idea of keeping there rainmaker alive? I dont like playing incubator to somebody elses chicken. So Im in the airport going back to Doc for a progress report. Murrul Myril Myeroll has bought the ticket next to me, so therell be no writing on the plane. I plan to ask her a few questions. Then I plan to push her out the window (Ha ho). (Whats so funny?)

  AUGUST 22

  Doc is treating me really carefully and I feel like Im already deceased. My new heart (Sweetheart, Heart of Gold) has given rise to new lungs, new trachea (those are the plumbing), a new esophagus, a new stomach, and the list goes on and on, so that theres less of me in me than there is him in me. The Doc admits that since he doesn’t know how it happens he cant do much to stop it. No way to transplant my whole innards, therere limits to what the MDs can do.

  But you see I know whats causing it and Id tell the Doc only then hed lock me away for believing such drivel. See, my little GD virgin friend Moral (yes, folks, I finally got the spelling of her name, and I nearly puked too) is very starryeyed about Peppinger. They dont think Christ or God or anybody reincarnates in particular, they believe that anybody can, if hes got enough of the world spirit. There are spirits and bodies, see, and some spirits are of the world spirit, and they are strong. Others have forsaken the world spirit and stand all alone and so they are weak. So that some spirits are so weak that it takes two or three or many of them to operate one body (welcome schitzophrenia) and other spirits are so strong with the world spirit that they can control many bodies all at once (heil hitler). She has only a little world spirit (humble child) and so only controls one body “But I am alone” she said. I congratulated her and she glared at me.

  There was a lot of other stuff. I had to pretend to be very interested, and Im a lousy actor because she said she knew I didn’t give a darn (she said darn, not my cuph this time, looks like she repented of swearing at me the other night) about the GD church anyway. They think that Christ was not God but his friend, trying to save, not mankind, but God, by casting out all the weak spirits and letting Gods great worldspirit in, and so on, who understands this stuff? I never went to catechism.

  AUGUST 25

  Peg of My Heart, I Love You

  Dont let us part, I Love You

  I left my heart in San Francisco.

  A half-hearted effort

  A hearty laugh

  Heartless wretch (O that I were so

  lucky, mother)

  My heart is heavy (full, light, in my

  throat)

  My hearts in my throat ha ho hee

  hee howdy.

  There is now strange hair growing around the scar on my chest and also on my back which never had hair before and when I look closely I see a very thin dividing line where the old me is giving way to the new somebody.

  Only I know who the somebody is except that I think Im crazy to believe it but the GDs must believe it too else why are they watching me? Protecting me—maybe they think there prophet can take over. If they think so, their right, and hes doing a damn good job.

  I thought of killing myself just for spite but then I figured what good would that do because

  A. they would stop me (they watch me a lot)

  B. and there are 10 other transplantees still living.

  Ha ho.

  If I could draw I would draw a picture of my head and put a little light bulb over it. There are things I can do. World Spirit, go to hell. I shall send you friends.

  Luckily, I have done nothing so far to arouse suspicion except that they probably know that I know. Question? How does one untail a tail?

  AUGUST 26

  Answer: You dont. Tighter than glue. I tried taxis, I tried walking through crowds, Moral is tighter than glue.

  AUGUST 28

  Victory. I am now on the plane to Sacramento and except for the fact that anybody around me might be a GD, I think I made it. Moral is waking up about now unless I broke her neck, which I doubt because lets face it, Im not all that tough. If I hadnt had my gun (registered, folks, my occupation allows weaponry for self defense) and if she hadnt happened to hit her head on a urinal I think I wouldnt have made it. Shes pretty scary. She may be a virgin but she knows all about the laying on of hands. The bruise on my arm is pretty bad, I can see it through my shirt sleeves.

  Took a jet to Boston, then from Boston to Dallas only I got off in Chicago and flew to Tulsa and hopped right on another flight to Sacramento. Maybe they’ll catch up and maybe they wont, but at least theyll have to do a little research unless somebody saw me who knows me and thats the gamble Im taking.

  AUGUST 29

  Greyhound bus to San Francisco. Job done.

  AUGUST 30

  Landing in Tulsa. I reread this thing and Im absolutely sure Im insane except sane or not Im committed (ha ho) to this now. No turning back at all.

  AUGUST 31

  Radio is talking about the rash of Tulsa murders and frankly I dont see what these nut murderers get out of killing strangers. I would kill myself right now except that it would leave the job undone. I had to kill Valery Van Vleets mother too because there was no way to get to the little girl without

  I want to vomit.

  I vomited but I don’t feel any better. What am I doing Im killing people and even though I don’t believe in God I feel damned. I cant be insane because insane people can black these things out and why the hell am I writing at a time like this except that I guess when Im dead I hope that people will understand and at least think I was crazy except Im not except that thats what all crazy people say (and all sane people too) but at least I know that what Im doing is insane. I know its insane but the MDs dont understand whats happening to me and the others and I cant think of any explanation except what the GDs say oh what the hell 111 just shutup and try to sleep

  I cant sleep

  I dont want to sleep anyway. I want to die.

  SEPTEMBEREMBEREMBEREMBEREMBER THE FIRST

  And the mission is accomplished I had to kill a whole bunch of GDs and thank heaven for my permit to buy ammo because without it theredve been no way. If Im right or wrong it doesn’t matter anymore because there all dead and 111 be too as soon as I finish writing this which Id better hurry and do because my guess is theyre trying to find me right now. I realized after I got all but Biscuit that theyd better not try to stop me because the only way they could do it would be to kill me and Im a peace of there prophet, who they dont want to kill. Im carrying valuable cargo. Which is why they havent called the cops, because the cops would kill me. And besides, how would they explain how they know who Id kill next without letting out their little secret which even if nobody believed it I figure they dont want anybody guessing.

  I got all new skin on my tummy, and this Peppinger must have been a pretty virile guy, if body hair has anyth
ing to do with virility. I feel like a new man Ha ho.

  I thought maybe it would be kind of harder to do Biscuit because after all I liked him but after you’ve killed about twenty people who arent fighting back, who just look at you all surprised and frightened Vomit Vomit. Good thing I dont plan to get myself with poison because Id puke it up before it got me. Dead time, boys and girls. Whoever reads this, take a good look at the GDs and do yourself a favor. Dont let anybody operate on you under total again. There aint nothing worth dying for, unless its making sure that youre the only person living in your body.

  I just thought of something. What if I had waited a little longer, and this Peppinger had got to my brain? Would I just become Peppinger?

  Who gives a darn (euph).

  I do.

  I found myself with a pistol barrel in my mouth wondering why. I remember why now, I think. I have read this journal, and I think I remember thoughts of a few minutes ago. They were not my thoughts. But they are my memories.

  This gun has killed. These hands pulled the trigger. This heart beat faster as the gun fired. These ears still ache from the explosions. These eyes wept in remorse. My mouth still tastes of vomit.

  But I did not kill. Please, God, I did not kill.

  I was killed. Mabey says so and I remember a mad face and a meatcleaver, coming from nowhere in the depths of a crowd of smiling, laughing, loving faces. I remember a moment of pain, and then

  No. This I cannot

  I can think of no reason to believe that this journal is a fraud.

  I have looked in the mirror. I am the man I remembered myself to be.

  3 SEPTEMBER

  I have met with Hyman, Ron, Moral, Chaste, and Egan. The answers are clear. Such a great sin has never been committed, and yet the hearts of those who sinned were pure.

  Surely the humble fishermen whose hearts’ love had been torn from them did not sin in wishing him alive again. And in the wishing, neither did these disciples of God’s Deliverance sin. But ours is a different age, and it was the genius of Egan and Chaste, the deft hands of Hyman, the force of will of Ron and Moral that have brought me back, not from the grave, for I never was there, but from where I was, and that is sin enough.

  The chemicals are destroyed, boiled away or burned or both. The papers are all ash, which has been raked to dust and scattered through the fields and woods of this countryside. And they have knelt before me and given solemn oath before God and before me (it is a mark of all our weakness that they and I hold it necessary to vow before someone else than God) that their secrets will die with them.

  We all have blood on our hands. They have the blood of eleven murdered men, women, and children. I have the blood of Frank Mabey whose body I stole. I have done what cannibals only mocked: I have eaten his flesh and taken his virtue and I live because he is dead.

  This sin is on our heads, and though we will proceed as we had planned before the manservant of sin cut the thread of my thin and nebulous life, nevertheless we, like Moses and Aaron, will not see the promised land.

  I will lock this away until my death, because for the sake of the movement we must go on. Penance for these sins will come later, in God’s time. Now we must work in God’s Deliverance. After my death this will be Frank Mabey’s testament and my confession.

  It is no jest that religion forbids all good things, and the stronger the forbidding, the better the thing forbidden. But the forbidding is only for a time. To own is forbidden, until the thing owned has been earned. To copulate is forbidden, until that copulation is locked within a family. And to die and to kill are forbidden, until God himself reaches down his hand and releases us from life. This I have taught them now. I see that it must be the cornerstone.

  10 SEPTEMBER

  They ask me, again and again, what is death like? What did I feel? What did I see?

  I show them, but they see not. I tell them, but they hear not. If death were not desirable, it would not have been forbidden us. We are taught to fear it, and we are forbidden to seek those who have died, because if we knew, if we understood what lies within our reach, at the cost of a pill, a bullet, a blade, a breath, then in the moment we understood, this world would be unpopulated. We would leap into our graves like a lecher into his lady’s bed.

  But we do not know, and the fear is on us, and God in his mercy will deliver us from ourselves if we can school our passions.

  Perhaps God will let me stand on a high hill and look out into the promised land before he lets me return to him. Then my people will mourn me. But I will go singing.

  FOLLOWER

  Reuben Ives decided on his twelfth birthday that this would be his lucky year. His dog and his doctor disagreed, but he ignored them. Maynard could hide under the bed with his paws over his eyes, but it wouldn’t stop Reuben. And the doctor—well, he was one of them, and Reuben had nothing but contempt for him. He showed his contempt by always arriving exactly fifteen minutes late for his appointments, which he knew threw off the doctor’s schedule for the rest of the day. And every time the doctor got used to it and scheduled someone else into Reuben’s half hour, Reuben would arrive on time. It was just Reuben’s way of letting them know that he didn’t care, the doctor whispered to the nurse. Ho hum, Reuben said to himself. And Maynard looked embarrassed and curled up under the chair looking more like a sheep than a sheepdog.

  In fact, Reuben thought, he looks kind of sheepish.

  “What are you laughing at?” the doctor asked.

  Reuben sneered at him. “You. You look terrible with bifocals.”

  “Thank you, Reuben,” said the doctor.

  “I turned twelve this morning at 9:37,” Reuben announced.

  “Happy birthday,” the doctor answered.

  “Suck rocks,” Reuben responded. “How do you manage it?”

  “Manage what?” asked the doctor, with imperturbable patience.

  “Being sincere, whether you mean it or not. I mean can’t you—”

  “But I mean it,” said the doctor. Reuben laughed.

  “How do you feel,” the doctor asked, “about being twelve?”

  “I’ve lived through a dozen years of being dumped on,” said Reuben.

  “Really?” asked the doctor. He looked a little more interested than usual.

  “Oh, doctor, yes!” cried Reuben frantically. “They’re all against me, they follow me everywhere! They’re out to get me, all of them. Protect me!”

  The doctor sighed and shuffled papers on his desk.

  Reuben fell to his knees on the floor. “You won’t help, then? You’re one of them. I can see it now. Maynard, protect me from them!” Reuben screamed, grabbing at the dog under his chair. Irritated, Maynard bit his hand.

  Reuben looked at the scratch marks on his skin. “Et tu, Maynard,” he murmured. “Doctor, look. Even Maynard.”

  “Paranoia isn’t a joke, Reuben,” the doctor said.

  “A joke he says,” Reuben said to Maynard, laughing bitterly.

  With the enemy ships circling our planet and everybody we meet a possible traitor, the doctor said to himself, paranoia is normal. The sky is our enemy. The world is our enemy. The only escape from fear is to be buried. But Reuben was not paranoid.

  Reuben was chewing the leaves of the rubber plant.

  “Isn’t it bad enough that you’re crazy,” the doctor said to him, “without you acting crazier than you are?”

  “Uh uh uh,” Reuben said, getting back on the chair. “You must not express any negative emotions toward a disturbed person. Code Seven, paragraph three.”

  “I’m a doctor,” the doctor reminded him. “I can tell you to go to hell if I want to.”

  “Do you want to?” asked Reuben.

  “Go to hell,” answered the doctor.

  “I been there,” said Reuben in his backcountry voice, “and I ain’t goin’ back.”

  “How do you feel,” asked the doctor, “about being twelve?”

  “This,” said Reuben, “is my lucky year.”
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  The doctor looked at him blankly. “What do you mean, lucky?”

  “Having luck,” Reuben answered. “Meeting with success; having good fortune. In other words, things is gonna go mah way.”

  “And how,” asked the doctor, “is this marvelous thing going to occur?”

  But Reuben sat quietly and did not answer. He just stroked Maynard for the rest of the half hour, until the doctor got up and opened the door and said, “Time’s up. Get lost, see you next week. Three-thirty. If you’re late, I’ll revoke your pass.”

  “If I’m late,” Reuben said, “you’ll see me when I come.”

  The doctor sighed as he watched Reuben go out the door. Reuben smiled. He never counted a visit as a success unless the doctor sighed as he went out the door.

  Reuben got on the overhead, getting his ticket punched at the machine. When he got off at the downtown station, he flashed his purple pass at the man who took money and credit cards. The man smiled cheerfully and waved Reuben through, but Reuben noticed that he stepped back and that his eyes were full of fear as he looked at the boy. Reuben was not surprised—most people reacted to him that way. He didn’t like it. But at least he got through free—fringe benefits of being a Disturbed Person.

  He walked out to the middle of the routing room, where the overhead train schedules flashed on large screens. A huge crowd was milling around. Reuben stopped and set Maynard down. (He always carried Maynard on the overhead because the vibrations made Maynard nervous and he would go to the bathroom on the floor.)

  “Crowd’s a little bigger than usual,” Reuben said to Maynard. Maynard coughed.

  Crowds were always big, Reuben thought. He wondered what it had been like back when it was legal to own your own car and people used to drive all over. How would the overhead stay in business then? It gave lousy service. There was always gum on the seats. Nobody would use the overhead unless they had to.

 
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