Sunday, June 24, 2018

430. Retribution

C.W. had left a message: “Under the tree. Sad. Bring the good Scotch.”

I knew what to expect. Pensive moods fit only a few of his shapes, and this had been a rough week for him. I carried everything on a tray, the single-malt I had been saving, two glasses, and a bucket of ice, though I knew he preferred the things in his world be unadulterated.

The Galilean didn’t seem to hear me approach. He sat between a spreading oak and a stand of variegated bamboo. My late father-in-law planted the oak years ago, but he had never enjoyed its shade. Now, a lonely figure, his white robe spreading around him, watched a group of geese leading their young around the banks of the pond.

As I approached, he said without looking, “It’s peaceful here. Someone planned things well.”

“Thanks” I said.

I sat the tray on the table, uncorked the scotch and motioned toward the ice with a questioning look. He shook his head. “I like it just as it is,” he said. “We can change our lives, but not good scotch.”

After I poured a “finger” for each of us, we raised our glasses and touched them. “To the children,” he said.

I said, “To the children.”

The geese caught our attention. They were in a line with the adults fore and aft. The lead goose, a mother I supposed, would flap her wings. Immediately the young ones would mimic with their small, developing stubs.

“She’s teaching them to fly,” he said. “Isn’t it a marvelous planet we have here? So much potential. Could you imagine what would happen to those youngsters if the mother wasn’t there to teach them?” He drained his glass and thrust it toward me. I began to pour and he gave me “the look.” I added an additional finger. He smiled and sipped.

“There seems to be a vicious cult threatening this peaceful place,” he said. “Why?”

“I don’t know,” he said.

He did a perfect impression of Zorba the Greek. “Then what is the use of all your damned books?” He laughed and drank half the rest of his scotch. Playing Zorba is one of his favorite games when he chooses this shape.

He brushed his fingers through long greasy hair. “What the hell do they have against my children?” He was still watching the geese.

“No one seems to know,” I said.

“Wasn’t I pretty clear about that?” I said 'suffer not.' I don’t think I said a damned thing about making them suffer.” He tossed off the remainder of his drink and held his glass out toward me. I filled it nearly to the top.

He sighed. “When we dropped the sperm off on this barren rock of a planet, the one you call home, six billion years ago,” he said, “we chose the very best. Yours was to be a glorious experiment in excellence—in thought, expression, and behavior. What the hell happened?”

He sipped. “Might want to take it slow,” I said. “Don’t get yourself all worked up.”

“Oh,” he said, “you know very well that I’m programmed for forgiveness.” He sipped again. “But the Exalted Falloonian, head of this great experiment, isn’t so bound. He can get really pissed. Remember that home planet destruction scene from that Star Wars movie you took me to see?”

I shuddered. He took another long drink, settled back in his chair, and continued. “And what’s with this immigrant shit?”

“What do you mean?”

“Doesn’t anyone remember the scenario the Elders wrote for me and the family? How we were immigrants? If these sons of …” he stopped and took a long breath. Sipped, and calmed his voice. “If these people in charge now had been in charge back then, and had tried to do to my family what they are doing to families now, there would have been thunderbolts galore, you can bet your sweet ass on that.”

I moved the bottle from his sight. “Maybe its time I took you in for a rest,” I said.

He let out a breath. “I suppose so.” He drained his glass and looked at me like a child begging for a last cookie.

“One more.” I said. He held out his glass. I filled it. This time he finished it off in two large gulps. He leaned back. We sat in thought for several minutes.

Before too long, he broke the silence. “There is a day of reckoning coming,” he said.

I looked over at him.
The best of pals. - C.W.

“It may not be pretty,” he said. “Especially for the leaders of this dreadful cult. Maybe the followers too.”

I drew a deep breath.

“It’s been done before, you know. Not like they wrote it, but its been done. Wasn’t pretty at all. Not at all.”

“Let’s get you to bed,” I said.

“It won’t be pretty at all.” He held out his glass.

I shook my head. He rested the glass on the table. Then he dabbed at his eyes with a corner of his robe. He looked at me with deep black eyes. He said, his words becoming slightly blurred. "It’s not going to be pretty for those who harm my children and rebuke the aliens.”

The sound of a crop-dusting plane made the geese bark and rush to the safety of pond, the little ones flapping their wings to no effect.

Not pretty,” he said again. “There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth among the wicked.”

He started to rise, then slumped and looked at me. “I don’t really care. Do you?”

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