In Progress:

I WANNA BE EVIL!

or...  Gretty Gets to Meet the Pope and Sit on the Group W Bench

It's our heroine's second friendless semester in college. All she wants is to get a head start on her modest plan to warp the arc of history via the creation of a mass mesmerizing digital myth world. But her intentions are temporarily crimped by:

  • an unplanned pregnancy

  • a credible accusation against her of gang rape by a bedeviled fraternity

  • becoming enmeshed in a nefarious capitalist plot to upend the foundations of Judeo-Christian morality and FAITH

An ill-advised excerpt from the still unsploogechecked third chapter:

*************

But myth was such a nettlesome problem. Like a sphinx, crawling with all its parts across the ancient world (exchanging them with peasants, pirates, and local gentry) on its way to eat Oedipus.

 

The more she pondered, the less sure she became about what was and wasn’t mythological. These ideas reminded Greddy of her streamly gredible dad, and she looked up to him in his crafty little ashbox high on the bookshelf before forgetting the summons and getting back to work. He was all about turtles, so maybe she should work them in somehow. Right now though, mercurial Octopus and impetuous Honey Badger were enough of a handful.

*************

The Universe Doesn't Owe Me Sleep

Heidi scrambled over the arid wasteland as fast as she could scamper, but Octopus was quicker still. It slithered rapidly past before shooting out an azure tentacle to grab an ankle and twist her off her feet. She shrieked as it thrashed and bashed her across the stony rubble and then sent her hurtling down a rocky hole. There, in candlelight two lanky scholars huddled over a steamy samovar set uneasily on a creaky card table. They slow-eyed the interloper with some glum discomfort before returning urgently to their earnest conversation.

 

“But Spritznik!” cried the one with the more watery eyes, “Can’t you see how dangerous this man is? He’s threatening us every day and has been cursing us for years!”

 

“Oh Schmetchel, please just calm yourself,” tut tutted the one with bonier fingers. “You don’t understand. Blowhards blow over. He has to say these things because of the politics of it. We have to trust in history and the essential good nature of the folk.”

“The essential good nature of the folk?” Schmetchel histrionically slapped his own forehead. “The essential good nature of the folk?”

“Yes, Schmetchel. Yes!” Spritznik explained again with tortured saintly patience. “What have we but nothing if we don’t trust the essential good nature of our humanity to fall back upon in a crunch?”

Schmetchel, for that was his name in this game, became red in the face. “Spritznik! he shrieked in a self contained measure of practiced desperation. “Have you never read a book of history? Are you a newborn, still slippery wet with innocence? Are you SPOOFING me?” Something in the breathy sputter of the word “spoof” caused the candle on the table top to puff out. Relying only upon the pale gleam of a full moon looming bonelike above their garret window and the white glow of the plutonium disk powering the samovar, the two scrawny scholars scrambled to find their little tinderbox, upsetting a chair and almost tumbling the table in their pressured efforts.

Heidi noticed what they were looking for set atop a rickety chest of drawers in the corner of this untidy space. Gently, she handed it to patched and raggedy Spritznik who gazed at her with suspicious astonishment.

“Thank you, Mistress,” he whispered stiffly with a formal nod of his head. He turned to relight the candle and resume his discourse with tousled, slovenly Schmetchel whose face was even younger and more unlined than his companion’s, but whose scraggly beard held slightly less pepper in its saltless PREMATURE grey. “Now Schmetchel,” spat Spritzer. "We can’t live in the past. This is a civilized country we’re referring to, romantically seeped in The Enlightenment with all its many noble ideals. Better angels now everywhere have their say.”

“‘Better angels!’, he says!” scoffed Schmetchel. “Better angels?”

Heidi thought he might be addressing her, but she wasn’t quite sure how to respond.

“Better angels?” Schmetchel repeated himself, this time regarding her squarely.

Heidi was regretfully unable to prevent herself from responding Mae West like with, “Oh, I’m no angel!” But then, self annoyed, she asked impatiently. “Just where are we here, anyway?” Her hands were on her hips and she was barely able to prevent herself from stomping her foot Alice in Wonderlike. She blushed, looking down to notice her corpus decked in a white and blue checkered pinafore with an obnoxious bustle.  Am I Dorothy? she wondered in anxious alarm. Then she stamped her foot anyway.

“‘Where are we anyway’, she wants to know!” marveled Spritznik addressing Schmetchel who shrugged good naturedly. “She doesn’t know where we are?” Spritznik pressed on. “She doesn’t know we’re in Gdańsk?”

“How could she not know we’re in Gdańsk?” pattered the continuous Schmetchel. “Here we are, after all, in Gdańsk! And where else would we be?” Schmetchel looked to Spritznik as a friend looks to another friend to implore and receive confirmation.

"For fuck’s sake! We’re in fucking Gdańsk,” rejoined Heidi much against her will. And even more so, she heard herself demanding, “You’re not gonna now tell me this is 1939 and this is Westerplatte, are ya?”

“Westerplatte?” echoed Spritzer.

“1939?” repeated Schmetchel.

“This is Obrońców Westerplatte 80-317 Gdańsk if you must know,” stated Spritzer with inexplicable satisfaction. “But why do you say Danzig?”

I didn’t say Danzig,” Heidi retorted impatiently. “I said Gdańsk!”

“We must insist, as a point of pride and fellow feeling,” sighed the ever patient Schmetchel, “that, though you are obviously from elsewhere else, whilst you are here, you will kindly refer to our fair surrounded city as Gdańsk and not, please, as Danzig. And what is your name please? I am Schmetchel and this is my impolite friend, Spritznik.”

I. Did. Not. Say. Danzig!” slow burned the shuddering Heidi with sweaty tremors of offended outrage. “I said Gdańsk!” And then out of nowhere, she added curtly. “I am Heidi Husseldorf, and very pleased to met you, I’m sure.” Heidi Husselfdorf? shrieked her mind’s inner voice. Since when is THAT my name?

Ahhh, Madam, or is it Mademoiselle? Husseldorf... Now, now...” placated the suddenly solicitous Mr. Spritznik. “I, and I’m sure my friend as well, recognize that you too may have affinities and ideologies which compel you to insist on calling Gdańsk Danzig, so may I suggest on behalf of the both of us that we will not object to your terminology if you will accept our innate right to utilize our own?” Schmetchel bobbed his head affirmatively, amiably, and eagerly.

Heidi glared at them with hooded eyes. “Look, if this is Danzig in 1939, or even 1938, you two boys ought to be thinking of fast narrating your pale white asses somewhere goddamn far away ELSE right about now or pretty damn quick.  Your nitwit Holsteins are about to be Schlesswiged!”

Schmetchel straightened with wounded pride. Spritznik dismissed her with a gruff hand wave and turned away.

Listen!” she pleaded. “What is the date anyway? You REALLY don’t wanna be here when they start dive bombing, and neither do I.

“When ‘we’ start dive-bombing? So you’re gonna dive bomb us now?” asked Schmetchel with a new found sternness.

I didn’t say ‘we.’ I said ‘they!’ THEY are going to dive bomb ALL of US if we’re here when they come. And if WE survive that, there are even worse things than being strafed or blown to bloody bits.

Schmetchel’s voice was cold. “I think," he lisped like Marlon Brando playing a guapo Nazi in The Young Lions, "I find it most unseemly to be threatened and bullied so by such a young maitchen barely out of school, if I may dare say so. What have we done that you so despise us?”

Despise you? Threaten you? Can’t you hear me? I’m trying to warn you. I’m ONE of you! ...Oh Greddy,” she moaned, awkwardly trying to click her heels. “Get me out of this dreck!

She wore old brown shoes, battered soft by wear and, try as she might, could evoke nothing even remotely percussive between them

Spritznik spun around quickly. “What did you say? Did you say ‘Honey Badger’?”

No!” wailed the now overwrought Heidi gazing desperately up at the window framed moon. “I did NOT say ‘Honey Badger’! WHY would I say Honey Badger?”

The floor between them burst open with nails and splinters spattering in every direction as panting, beet red Honey Badger leaped up into the room and whizzed around in frantic crimson circles which whipped themselves halfway up the pulverizing plaster walls before the beast lurched between Heidi’s legs to carry her off.

Spritznik and Schmetchel, keeping their dignity intact, hurriedly dusted themselves off and righted their chairs, taking care to avoid noticing the gaping abyss in the center of the room.

“Just what is a Greddy?” Schmetchel wondered out loud as he reached for two chipped teacups wobbling precariously on a high shelf laden with two trembling mounds of grey ash laced with the yellowy shards of crushed bones and teeth.

“Oh, ANOTHER phantasm for you to worry about,” scoffed Spritznik as he took the cups, cleared them of detritus with a hot blow of his death dry breath; and, twisting the spigot on the samovar, he poured each of them a steaming serving of its boiling brew: hot vodka infused with hemlock, overripe beets, and sweet blood red cherries. With wolfish grins, each commenced to sip and then to deeply suck at the coagulating potion as its novocain numbness spread coldly from their lips into the farthest tightening extremities of their fingers and toes while the air congealed thick and milky pink around them. ​

***************

Coming up for air, something had compelled her to study the papers, a summons and three pages of complaint, and to wonder.

 

Gretty's dead father would tell her to call Portnoy. So would Stan and Carol Ann, her legal guardians for the final months she stayed seventeen. Her pulverized mother would say this is what happens to harlots. She scanned the documents with her phone and texted them to Portnoy.

 

Then, back to work.

***************