Anyway, he was full of questions today. He was in my favorite recliner going through notes he had collected during the week. He studied a page and looked up. “What do they mean by this?”
I stopped my computer mouse. “By what?”
“De mortuis nihil nisi bonum.” he said.
“Fu … uh darned if I know.”
“Wait one,” he said. I could tell he was consulting his GUT. “Oh,” he said. “It be meaning ‘Don’t be dissin’ the stiff dudes or y’all be some sorry mother ….”
I interrupted. “Wait,” I said, “I think you need to adjust your GUT.”
“My GUT is fine,” he said. “I trust it as having all necessary parts or not lacking anything.”
“You may trust it completely,” I said, “but you may want to make a slight adjustment to its coordinates.”
“Wait one,” he said. I could almost hear him mentally punching in new numbers. Then he smiled—a crooked little smile that showed some missing teeth. “Hit means ‘Don’t chall go round pissin’ on the graves of the deceased.”
“I think a couple of clicks to the north,” I said.
“Oh,” he said. Another moment passed. “Here it is,” he said. “We should attempt, giving the constraints imposed upon us by a cruel and unsympathetic societal structure, to, if we are not otherwise genetically impaired in our self-control, to only speak, utter, communicate, or otherwise articulate good about the livingly impaired.”
I shook my head. “No,” I said, “I think you landed in the middle of a college campus.”
He shook his head. “Okay,” he said. “Respect the dead, unless, of course, they are women, spics, or n…”
“Stop it,” I yelled. He looked stunned. “You’re in the headquarters of some political candidate.”
“Well darn,” he said. His eyes crossed slightly when he adjusted this time. “I think I’ve got it,” he said. “Listen … anyone killed with a firearm of any sort, it’s their own damned fault. Otherwise, we are sorry for your loss.”
“Where in the galaxy did you find that?”
“Wait one,” he said, “Oops, sorry. I accidently opened something called the NRA manual.”
“I thought so,” I said. “Anyway, I think I get the picture now. I believe that is a Latin phrase translated as ‘Of the dead, nothing unless good,’ and goes back to writings by Diogenes Laërtius around AD 300.”
He was obviously impressed, but, then, he couldn’t see my computer screen. “And it means?”
“It means,” I said. “Don’t badmouth dead people.”
“Oh,” he said.
“Why? What’s wrong?”
He ignored me. After a moment, he said, “Is there a time limit on it?”
I answered mischievously, “It depends on what political party you belonged to.”
“Be serious,” he said, a highly uncharacteristic statement, coming from him. “I need to know about this.”
“Okay,” I said. “There isn’t a strict time limit.”
“What else should I know about this system of symbols (as letters or numbers) used to represent assigned and often secret meanings.”
|Of all your species, I think this group would|
want to be on the right side of history. - C.W.
I couldn’t help myself. “This code is more what you’d call “guidelines” than actual rules.” I tried to stifle my laughs, but they made my stomach bounce.
“You are an ass,” he said.
“Okay,” I said. “I’ll be serious. What’s the big deal about not unloading on a corpse?”
“I have to file my weekly report of current events to the Falloonian Elders,” he said.
“I don’t understand.”
“Then you try to say something nice about a recently deceased person who once ruled that a corporation is a person.”
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