When The Galilean walked into the room, I knew I was in for some stimulating conversation. When C.W. takes on this form, he gets serious and moves to the higher levels of thought and analysis. He puts aside all thoughts of levity and cheap talk. In short, he is the epitome of thoughtfulness and high-order behavior.
I motioned for him to sit, and prepared to be stimulated. He obeyed, spreading his long, white robe into a semi-circle around his feet. He looked off, drew a breath, exhaled and looked at me with serious intent.
“I need a beer,” he said.
“A beer, dammit. You heard me.”
“A beer. You freakin’ deaf or something?”
I assured him I wasn’t and left. I brought back two cold ones and sat his before him. He took it, nodded, and held it out in a mock toast. “To screw-ups,” he said.
I returned the gesture. “What screw-ups?”
“The ones I create. People don’t expect it of me, do they?”
“I don’t understand.”
“You ever read a book entitled Hud, by any chance?”
“Uh, I saw the movie.”
“Close enough, I suppose,” he said. “I hear that a lot when I visit the lowlands. Doesn’t your species ever read?”
“Some do,” I said. I was about to get defensive when he continued.
“I was talking to the author, a Larry McCurtry. I think it was originally called Horseman, Pass By, or something like that.”
This time I interrupted. “You talk to authors?”
“When I choose to.”
“Only living ones?”
“Oh no, I have spirited chats with some of those who have passed.”
I pondered this.
“That was a little word-play joke,” he said, pleased with himself. He drained his beer, held the bottle out and looked at me with a question on his face.
I fetched another beer and handed it to him. “Tell me,” I said. “Do you really talk to dead authors?”
“Oh yes,” he said. “I used to talk to Ernest Hemingway all the time.” He slugged his beer. “No more though.”
“Last time we got into an argument and he asked me if I wanted to box.”
He drained his beer, and stared into space, recalling the memory. I could tell it was a fond one. “I knocked the son-of-a bitch through four clouds and into the Pearly Gates. Bent two bars.” He finished the beer and held the bottle out. “Boy,” he said, “did the Old Man get pissed.”
I returned with another beer. “You mentioned Larry McMurtry and Hud.” I said, anxious to change the subject as I feared he might be feeding me “alternate facts.”
“Quite so,” he said. “Well … Larry was telling me that Hud was originally a minor character, intended to symbolize the loss of morality in the species. Not a nice guy at all. The very image of a despicable man.”
“The movie came out and Hud became a cult hero in the 1960s. Sort of a literary transmogrification.” He finished the latest beer and motioned for another.
After I returned, I was curious. “So how does this all relate to you … Hud and all?”
“It started when the Old Man and I, along with Casper … .”
“The friendly spirit. The old man brings him in on important stuff.”
“We set out to create two of the worst characters on your planet. You know … as moral instruction of the negative type. Casper wanted to call them ‘The Deplorable Duo’ at first.”
“The Old Man sprayed him with Febreze.”
We sat in silence for a moment. This time I voluntarily replenished the beers. “So, did the lesson work?” I asked when I returned.
“Are you sh …, uh, kidding me? Worst mistake we ever made, even though we started them out as boys who loved to torture animals.”
“What happened to them?”
“Ever heard of Stevie and Donnie? They grew up.”
“I don’t understand.”
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