Sunday, November 27, 2011

69. Corporations

It was the grossest thing you can imagine. I was enjoying perhaps the last warm day of the year sitting on a park bench admiring my city’s skyline. I was, mind you, not bothering a soul. Actually, I had dozed when I awoke to a horrible, screeching, teeth-setting-on-edge sound.

Who should appear but an exceedingly overweight man waddling along the sidewalk playing an accordion? May I add that he was playing it rather badly? I believe he was attempting the old protestant hymn “When We All Get to Heaven.”

I averted my eyes but he sank beside me and nearly pushed me off the bench. He smelled terrible. His arm pounded me as he continued to play. I rose and started to walk away.

“Hey Big Dope, where you goin”? he said.

“As far from you as I can get,” I said. “What kind of person are you trying to be?” I hadn’t seen C.W. since before Thanksgiving and had, of course, been expecting the worst.

“I’m a corporation person,” he said.

“A what?”

“A corporation. Can’t you tell?”

“A corporation?”

He began to play the accordion again. Needless to say, people were beginning to stare.

“You are going to get arrested,” I said.

“How can you arrest me? I’m not physical.” He lit off on what sounded vaguely like “Lady of Spain.”

I groaned.

“Why do you think you are a corporation? And besides, you stink.”

“Naturally I’m a little fulsome. Can’t you see how well I eat?” He hit a sour note and held in it an ear-shattering vibrato.

“You are destroying the peace of the park for everyone else,” I said.

“Their comfort isn’t my problem,” he shouted over the “music.” “My job is to produce and feed my dependents. Gorging isn’t always pretty.”

I stared.

“Listen,” he said. What emerged next might have sounded to a person with a good imagination as “Beer Barrel Polka.”

I cringed.

“What do you think?” he said.

“I think someone is going to knock your block off if you don’t quit.”

“Can’t touch me,” he said. “I’m not really here. I’m a corporation. I only exist in contemplation of the law.”

“Then why are you in such an annoying configuration?”

“Corporations are people,” he said. “Don’t you know that?”

I sighed.

“At least that’s what your species’ supreme agency for hearing legal appeals says.”

“Our Supreme Court said it but that may not make it so in all cases,” I said. “Just look at you.”

Don't worry. Be happy.Corporations
will take good care of you. - C.W.
“Hey,” he said. “Don’t be such a ninny.” With this, he made some unrecognizable sound on the instrument. “I call this ‘A Light From On High.’”

I flinched.

“I wrote it for the justices that made me a person. I like to think of them as my fathers.”

“Your what?”

“Yep. I transmitted their dossiers to Falloonia today as part of my ‘Great Legal Minds’ series.”

I gasped.

“You want to get something to eat?” he said.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

68. Books

“No, put that down, I want to keep it.”

C.W. came by to, as he put it, “Help with your hoarding problem.”

“It’s not hoarding,” I said, grabbing my prized copy of “Lucy” by Donald Johanson. I opened it. “See, I got him to sign it when he came here once for a lecture. “It’s a valuable piece of my life.”

“And what decision are you to prepared to make about it?”

This infuriated me. He had appeared as that rather attractive blond-haired woman from one of TV’s “hoarding” shows who plays a “licensed psychotherapist specializing in obsessive-compulsive hoarding disorders.”

“Are you going to help me or not?” I said.

“Are you sure you are in touch with your feelings about all this?” she said.


“Yes, and that reminds me,” she said. She walked to one of three bookshelves in the room and pulled out a copy of “The Complete Works of Josephus.” She studied it for a moment. “This one takes up a lot of room.”

“Put it back,” I said.

“Have you ever read it?”

“Just the sections where he mentions Jesus.”

“Are you going to read the rest?”

“Probably not,” I said. “But if anyone wants to know about the only historical reference to the man, that’s where you can find it.”

“They have copies in the library?”


“Then why would you need to keep a copy?”

I considered the question. “But it mentions Jesus,” I said.

She replaced it and pointed to the “Faulkner” section.

“I see you have three copies of ‘As I Lay Dying.’”


“Do you need all three?”

“Well,” I said. “One is a nice hardback and the other is a ragged copy that would be great for making notes. I intend to do that some day.”

“And the third?”

“My wife gave that one to me. I could never get rid of it.”

She sighed.

I picked up a copy of “Victory” by Joseph Conrad. “Now here is a must keep.”

“May I ask why?”

“To point out how a seduction scene can be tastefully written.”

“Excuse me?”

“Well, the whole thing consists of the man placing his hand on the woman’s back and she brushes it away and says ‘stop.’”

“That’s all?”

“No, the scene ends with ‘It was a command he did not obey.’ Is that neat or what?”

“Sounds a little like forced sex to me.”

I ignored her. “I teach it as a welcome alternative to ‘Their hungry tongues greedily sought out one another.’”

Oh please don’t make me nauseous.”

“It’s ‘nauseated.’ If you are nauseous, you cause people to become nauseated. Same form as poisonous.”

“Has anyone ever told you that you are a tedious bore?”

Big Dope with a book he won on the old "Book Guys" radio show.
It is about bibliophiles and its title is "A Gentle Madness."
That figures, right? - C.W.
“Did they teach you that in psychotherapy school?” I was becoming a little agitated. I will admit it.

“I think I’ve had enough of your species’ weakness for hoarding material objects,” she said. “You should know it’s a problem when they start making TV shows about it.”

“Now don’t you go comparing me with those nuts on TV.”

“Pardon me?” She raised an eyebrow.

“I’m not a hoarder,” I said. I searched for words. “I’m a bibliophile.”

Sunday, November 13, 2011

67. Art

“C.W., what the hell are you doing?”

“Shut up, I’m creating.”

Oh my gosh. I had awakened at our farm to the sounds of my wife’s dogs barking and arose to see what poor creature they had cornered this time. They had gathered at the door of our workshop and were raising “Cain” with something inside. Fearing a wild animal loose among my tools and uncompleted work, I trudged across the lawn in my bathrobe to take a look.

What greeted me defies an easy description.

Every can of paint I owned lay opened and spread around a large, cleared circle. A shabbily dressed man with red hair and beard leaned over a canvas on the floor and was busy flinging paint at random across its surface. He didn’t even look up at me, just kept slinging paint, some of which hit the canvas and some of which spattered on the floor of the shop.

“You get one drop on a piece of my work and you’re going to start our first intergalactic war,” I screamed.

“Plebian,” he yelled back.


He ceased his efforts and stood up straight to admire his work. He turned to me slowly, his scrappy beard flaked with multi-colored spots of paint.

“Let us not act disagreeably, my Earthling friend,” he said. Calmly, he motioned toward his work. “What do you think?”

I remained furious. “What on earth are you doing,” was all I could manage.

“Studying your visual arts,” he said. “I read about a woman who had worked all her life to earn money with which to open an art gallery and I thought she at least needed some superior product to display.

I stammered. “Superior product … visual arts?”

“Yes, I don’t quite get the idea, they certainly seem to fall short of your music, but what do you think?”

“I don’t know what to think,” I said. It was the most honest think I could muster but it seemed to puzzle him.

“So, will she be pleased?”

I studied his work. Not being an expert, I could only comment that it seemed a bit jumbled and meaningless.

“Isn’t that the idea?” he said.

“Well, not exactly.”

He appeared crestfallen. “You mean this isn’t a great work of art?”

Maybe my critique had been a little harsh. I didn’t respond, just walked to a cabinet and retrieved a can of paint thinner. I poured a generous amount into a bucket and then picked up a scrub brush.

Be sure and mark your calendars! - C.W.
“Maybe you should choose a less messy medium,” I said.

There is always sculpture,” he said; then he brightened. “I sort of like this Michelangelo fellow.”

I envisioned a slab of Fantiscritti Marble in the middle of the shop. “Why not photography?”

“Great idea,” he said, smiling. “Know where I can borrow a good camera?”

“Don’t even think about it,” I said as I began to scrub the floor.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

66. Incarceration

Yesterday, I found a strange note on my computer that said, “I want to help you in the workshop.” I don’t know how he does that but C.W. scares me at times. I didn’t bother figuring out how to answer since he would show up anyway. I just went out early and hid some of my best tools.

He showed up as I was beginning to route the edges of some wood panels. I stopped the machinery and looked at him. He appeared as a boy of around 12 years of age with a pair of monstrous eyeglasses wearing short britches and a rugby shirt. He ambled in as if he owned the place carrying a three-ring notebook crammed with papers.

“Hello, he said, bending over to inspect the work.

“Be careful, I said.

“What’s this?” he said, reaching for the router bit.

“Don’t touch that,” I said.

He stared at me. “I have to write a paper for school,” he said as if in explanation.

I never know whether it is better to ignore him or play along. “What on?”

“The penal system in America.”

I slumped. “The what?”

“You heard me,” he said, picking up an expensive caliper tool.

“Put that down,” I said.

“Your species shows a good deal of cleverness in designing tools,” he said.

“I thought you said you wanted to help.”

“Initial things initially,” he said. “First tell me what the official policy is in your country concerning the punishment of criminals.”

“The policy?”

“Yes. You must have some overriding policy to guide you or else it would what we call in Falloonia ‘Gephledystra,’ or attempting to transport oneself without a destination in mind.”

I removed his hand from a power-saw blade. “Our policy is to apprehend and incarcerate criminals,” I said.

“With no further intent?” He flipped the switch on my table saw and smiled when the blade started to spin.

I rushed over and stopped it. “Intent?” I said as I led him away from the equipment.

“Sure,” he said. “Are you hoping to dissuade them from making further bad decisions?”

“Yes,” I said. “We lock them up so they can reflect on their shortcomings.”

“Unless you decide, I understand, to take their lives.”

“Why are you asking me all this?”

“Just trying to make sense of it.” He picked up a marking knife and began to carve his initials on one of my panels.

“Stop that,” I said, grabbing the knife from his hand just as he started on the “W,”

“So what do you hope to achieve by all this incarceration of criminals?” he asked.

“Achieve?” I said. “We hope to achieve their separation from the social fabric of society.”

“Ah,” he said. “So how is it working?”

That stopped me. “Not too well, I’m afraid.”

He was writing in his notebook now. “So incarceration doesn’t cure their anti-social behavior?”

“I’m afraid not,” I said. He jotted some notes. I couldn’t resist adding, “Indications are it makes them worse.”

“Strange,” he said, walking over to examine an antique “Shaker” table I had been repairing. He seemed entranced by the simple form and balance of the piece. He smiled and then spoke. “How does a species capable of such beauty accommodate such muddled thought processes?”