This is a fable concerning a narrative dilemma:
I got a couple of agents to look at my novel manuscript when I was trying to go the agent route. One agent said of my novel (back in its Feme Sole incarnation) that the writing was good, but the story wasn't fresh enough for this economy.
Fresh enough? I hadn't come across any novel that had a mother who didn't want to be a mother who was traveling cross country to maybe give her 6 month old unnamed infant back. Plus, who wrote about the Bohemian Grove? Was it the robed procession in Chapter 25? Did she think I was trying to cash in on Dan Brown's success, even though I'd never read his books and I wasn't writing about Freemasons or the Vatican?
I'm trying to talk about America. I'm trying to, in the words of Anne Waldman, perform a "Whitmanic task" and "wak[e] the country up to itself." But, not in a pretentious or pedantic way.
If that's possible.
But, back to the dilemma. I decided I was trying too hard make my novel something it wasn't. I was trying to make it mainstream. In fact, in some of my query letters, I sold it on the "baby daddy" and love triangle angle, without making any mention of politics. So, how could I remedy this?
There was a character in the original version of Little pink babies who was not allowed to speak. This character provided a lot of motivation for the main characters but this "poor" character was not allowed to explain his motivation. In fact, he wasn't allowed to explain anything. So, I thought, let the man speak.
He is Sammy's uncle; he is the man behind the MAN.
Here's what he sounds like:
I am the uncle who narrates everything. I am the one who sets it all in motion. I know everything because I’m always watching. I am interstices; I am law; I am beyond Law.
I have put my nephew on the road. I have made him run from me to run to me. There are no binaries; there are no opposing sides. It may look like that to you, but you aren’t always watching. You don’t know the things I know. You don’t have my networks, my agency; you don’t have any agency at all.
I’m not the only one running things. We work together for the common good. We work together when it suits our purposes. We’re not schemers or a cabal. We meet in restaurants; we meet at houses; we meet in the open.
There is a reason for the electoral college. There is a reason for public education. The vision of our forefathers.
The girl and her baby are civilian casualties. Or collateral damage. Or just in my goddamn way.
Imagine me with a big cigar and a bigger map. Imagine me with a highball in my hand. Imagine me being fellated by a whore. Or two whores. Or three. Fuck. Imagine me as a soft-spoken man with steely eyes behind designer frames. Imagine me on my lodge patio at the Grove. Imagine me with Cheney and Rove. Imagine me eating barbecue with Clinton except I like things clean. Imagine me pushing so and so out a window. Imagine me as the voice behind Moloch. Imagine me as the conductor of an unseen orchestra.
You don’t know what I look like. You don’t know where I am. I could be in the Mercedes behind you. I could be in the town car. I could even be driving a microbus. But, I won’t chase you. I don’t need to. You’ll come to me; just like they all do. I’ll set you in motion; I’ll keep you moving. Moving forward, getting better, school then job then exercise to get rid of the midlife flab, moving to a new house, a new suburb, a new subdivision, the myth of progess; you’ll be so busy moving better faster richer you’ll never notice me and what I’m doing.
Have I scared you? I haven’t meant to. I just cut straight to the chase. I’m a man who goes out and gets what he wants. I have everything I want. Well, almost everything.
I’ve driven past you and you were driving home from work or you were a homeless puddle of stuff sleeping over a sidewalk vent or you were a child crossing against the light and I stopped. It didn’t matter to me what or who you were. I was in my black car with tinted windows or in my sky blue Porsche convertible circa 1960. I was either camouflaged or out in the open. I’ve never been a spy but the Porsche has always made me feel so goddamned dapper Avengers-style British, like I should carry an umbrella.
I don’t need one. If it rains, I have made it so I will never be that pile of stuff huddling on the sidewalk. I’ve been a responsible citizen who has made sure they’d never be a burden on the system. I love this country and never forget it.
Interstice 8: Privilege
If that hotel is the scariest or creepiest thing Cass Wildes has ever seen in her life, she does not ever peel back the thin veneer of civilization or conformity to see what’s really going in the backyards, basements, alleys, bathrooms of small American towns. People fucking children or dogs or people watching children fuck dogs or watching dogs tearing each other to pieces or teenagers braining homeless or methheads clawing at their own skin. Satan worshippers fucking on altars, Jesus worshippers stringing up gays and Blacks. Serial killers circling the edges, waiting for one of the herd to fall behind.
Cass and her suburban-molded brain, her heart that bleeds bleeds bleeds could never comprehend any of this. That is why people like I exist; we keep her safe, we keep her innocence protected, intact.
Of course, too bad, she’s getting in the way of my plans.
And goddamned SA ----, he should have shown up at that hotel. He was supposed to bust into the room, threaten the baby, tie Cass up, abduct Sammy and bring him to me. I’m tired of waiting.
If I find out he’s in Afghanistan stirring shit up again for cheaper opium…
I’m not going to do anything. He entertains me, and he’s never fucked up any of my plans. He’s very useful, generally. & a great actor, SA ---- can pretend to be anyone, a private dick, a radio DJ, Julie Brown, a doctor, Bill Clinton, etc. Even if the man likes his opium.
It’s what gets him through all of the above; it’s what gets him through. Me, I like my Scotch and whores. It’s a cliché, I know, but it works oh so well.
- Okay, I lied. There's nothing fabulist about this. It's just my narrative about how I tried to make my narrative "fresher." Hopefully, I did make it fresher and didn't just add Rose's lime juice to the mix because the bar was out of real limes.
I hear a gin and tonic calling me...