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RAIN -PART I- Rocks

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									Rain                                                    1




                                  RAIN
                                        a novel by

                      William Hrdina
                      “Common sense is the monkey on Satan’s back.”
                                    -Rev. Johnny Swaingo




       -PART I- Rocks
Look Out Below!

        Twin suns pierced the horizon as Eddie crawled slowly over the large bronze rocks of
the canyon. The view was majestic, blue sky streaked with long pink scratches, like the
precision cutting of a surgeon into a smurf. The large peaks of the mountains rose far into the
distance, the sharp early light throwing long, stark shadows. Eddie was oblivious to the
scenery; his goal was more mundane, staying alive.
        Eddie hung suspended like a bug, several hundred feet in the air without so much as a
string holding him where he was. His eyes were fixed on the large flat rock that lay only a
few feet away now, jutting out from the sheer wall he was hanging on. His breath was
labored from the long and difficult climb. His fingers dug into the small indentations for
purpose. Each time he let go of the wall for another handhold he went through a brief
moment where he was sure he would fall, twisting and banging against the rocks until his
final splat on the canyon floor.
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         He whimpered quietly as his large rock gun, packed snugly in its case, shifted
unexpectedly, making what was already difficult veer toward impossible. He held his breath
as the case slid around his body on its strap, finally swinging to a stop at his side. The case
was bulky and it made scaling the canyon wall more difficult than it already was, which was
pretty damn hard. There was a time Eddie looked forward to this day. But he had to admit,
now that he was doing it, he wasn’t enjoying the experience the way that he thought he would.
Thinking the view would offer some consolation Eddie shifted his sight to the grand
mountains all around him. But looking only made him feel a sickening rush of vertigo. It
was very stunning vertigo visually, but nauseating nonetheless.
         He made his way carefully across the last few feet of cliff, inching along with a
painful, deliberate slowness. He’d come much too far to fall. Eddie planted his feet as best
he could, bent his knees a little and threw himself the last little bit, landing in a heap on the
large protruding rock. He hissed an enormous sigh of relief upon reaching the relative safety
of his assassin’s perch. He rolled onto his back, closed his eyes, and took a little time to
collect himself.
         The big day had finally come and Eddie was going to become an official “Adult in
training.” He thought of himself as an adult in training for quite some time but after today he
would have the certificate to prove it. He could see it in his mind, gold calligraphy letters
announcing the coming into pre-adulthood of Eddie of the Eastside Eddies. It would have the
official stamp of Vlad; their leader, and he could use it to get discounts at a number of
different outlet stores.
         Eddie lay on his back thinking about how great it was going to be not to be treated like
a child anymore. He was a little nervous about the task that lay ahead, but he was sure that he
could do what was asked of him. He would show he had the same strength as the bigger boys,
the ones who seemed to enjoy tormenting those who hadn’t made their first kill. Well, he
thought, now he would get his kill and the torment would stop.
         His breath was more regular now and he shifted onto his knees, drawing the gun case
in front of him. He unzipped it revealing the rock gun. It was a X2300//5 J Pentaverat Rocket
Launcher with scope. A top of the line weapon provided to Eddie by his Father, who had
borrowed it from a friend who had stolen it after being dishonorably discharged from the
Whozit Rock Brigades. It was essentially a fancy slingshot that fired rocks of a whole variety
of shapes and sizes depending on weather condition and target type. The gun was flat black;
the fact that it didn’t shine at all in the light made it look even more deadly than it was. The
case had a variety of differently shaped rocks; each fitted into its own nook in the thick
sponge of the case. It was the sheer number of rocks that made the case, and therefore, the
gun, so difficult to lug up the side of a canyon.
         Eddie took the gun out of the case and lay it next to him. He decided to take a look at
his targets before trying to pick out a rock. He adjusted his position, pulling his body towards
the edge. The rock stuck far out, giving him a clear view of the valley far below. The act of
shifting his body around caused him to accidentally bump the gun, which immediately began
skittering and rolling toward the edge. Eddie felt his throat close and he let out an involuntary
gasp, he thrust out his arm and grabbed the gun at the last second, barely avoiding toppling
the gun case over the side as he did so. For the second time Eddie stopped to catch his breath
and thank Glarf that he made the snag. A minute or two later Eddie was back at the edge of
the cliff staring down at his prey.
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        He was amazed at how high he was. The Flallops below were very small, which was
good, it made him less likely to be caught if something went wrong. He could make out their
tents clearly; there were four of them, one at each of the compass points. Flallops always
camped with two per tent, which made a group of eight. Plenty of targets for him to aim at,
surely one would offer himself as the obvious choice.
          In the middle of the tents was a fire circle. Eddie could see that there were two
Flallops in the process of building a fire, the snap of their lighters drifted up to him. Reaching
for the gun, he used the scope to get a better look.
        He put his eye to the glass and swept the gun around, looking for something in the
shape of a Flallop. Eddie always had a hard time finding things that were artificially
magnified but after a few minutes he got his bearings and located the two Flallops lighting the
fire. They were ugly creatures, nine feet tall and blue with big horns that stuck out of their
butts. The Flallop’s horns were big but Eddie knew Whozit horns were bigger.
        The Flallops were wearing overalls with buttoned straps and two front pockets. Poor
backward bastards, Eddie thought. His own overalls were Velcro, and had a third, larger
pocket that the inferior Flallop version lacked. Having demonstrated to himself that he had a
clear enough view from where he was, Eddie moved back to the case and pondered the
difficult task of choosing which rock best suited his position. His immediate inclination was
for a round one, but from his angle a round rock may end up falling short of the target. He
went through the case picking up one rock after another, looking for the one that would do the
job in a single shot. He could, he supposed, fire a second shot before he would have to flee,
but he didn’t want the situation to come to that. He would only have one easy shot and he
was determined to make it count. The last thing he wanted to do was to have to come out here
again on another day. His mind reared at the mere thought of climbing up here again.
Although he never knew it before, it was now pretty apparent to Eddie he was a trifle afraid of
heights. He only wished he realized this small bit of trivia before he was too high to really do
anything about it.
        Whenever he started to feel tentacles of doubt enter his mind he thought of that Gold
Certificate. He thought of showing it to mean old Mr. Oliver’s son Wendell the next time he
wanted him to do some stupid errand. Maybe he would get the chance to knock Wendell in
the head with his certificate. Everyone knew that Wendell had hired someone to kill a Flallop
in his name, yet he was the worst about flaunting the privileges that came with Adult-in-
Training status. If Eddie earned his certificate he would be free from such disgraces, an adult
in training was not a child, and in Satan’s Monkey, this made all the difference.
        Eddie supposed it was good that he was killing a Flallop too. They were terrible
creatures, who although barely distinguishable from Whozits physically, were nevertheless
the completely evil opposite of the benign to a fault Whozits. Eddie suddenly, and with great
authority, decided he would use a flat rock of medium gauge thickness. He pulled two similar
specimens out of the case and held them up to the suns, which by now shown as full circles a
few feet over the horizon.
        The flat rock fit neatly into the adjustable breach of the rock gun. He turned the
device over on its side and turned a small switch to the proper position. There were different
knob positions for each of the different major rock shapes, round, flat, oblong, square, and
other. With the switch adjusted, the scope would automatically aim a little low since flat
rocks had a tendency to drift up from the velocity of the wind. He switched a second dial that
gauged thickness. The thicker the rock, the stronger the initial velocity needed to be in order
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to reach the target successfully. Having made his initial adjustments Eddie lay again on his
belly, his horn pointing up at the sky, his eye to the gun’s scope.
         The first Flallop Eddie sighted was praying. He lay strewn out on his back, arms and
legs held as far out from his body as possible. His horn was planted firmly into the ground,
which thrust his hips out at the sky. This prayer position was called “The Loving of Glarf”
and it made Eddie’s stomach turn to see it. Such a position was considered blasphemous and
demonic to the Whozits, whose ideas of religion had nothing in common with the backward
savage Flallops.
         Seeing the Flallop praying reminded Eddie of Minitonqua, the Religious camp he was
sent to as a boy. In a flash he remembered how he dreaded going, it was the first time he left
his parents house for any notable length of time. Camp was considered an important part of
every Whozits life and he did as he was told, spending a week total at the camp. Each day
was spent primarily in a large auditorium where prominent Whozit religious leaders gave
lectures. The seats were, he remembered, quite uncomfortable and he spent most of each day
shifting from one cheek to the other, trying to keep his entire ass from falling asleep. He
heard most of what was said however, and it became, in time, the cornerstone of his faith.
         Each day had a theme of sorts; the first day was about cosmology. Eddie learned that
a glorious, omniscient, and all loving being named Glarf created the world. Glarf was a very
large fellow who lived before there was a universe. Nevertheless he was decidedly male,
decidedly cranky, but still completely loving in every way; except the ways that he wasn’t.
         Legend has it one day Glarf ate a particularly spicy meal. Some Whozit Sects said it
was a curry dish, others said Cantonese. The one thing that everyone agreed about, the
cornerstone of their faith, was that Glarf ate a ball of spicy cheese for desert.
         Glarf suffered, drank some Pepto Bismal, felt better, and then suddenly died. To
which Nietzsche is rumored to have said “See, I told you he was dead.” However,
miraculously, four score and forty days and three nights later he came again in fulfillment of
the scriptures and continued his message of Antacid salvation. He continued his message for
three days before he realized there was no one to preach to.
         He had yet to create anything.
          Never one to be put off by details Glarf set about to alleviate this problem. He did
what any rational deity would do- he created the universe. Once he started creating things he
was having such a grand time of it he considered altering the basic chemistry of being so that
spicy food soothed, instead of bothered, the stomach. However, the marketing people he
created poo-pooed the idea, lobbying instead for what eventually became the platypus.
         After a few eons of thought Glarf decided it would be a hoot to indulge himself in a
Second Coming. After all, there wasn’t anyone there to see his first coming, and he so
enjoyed an entrance. After a remarkably small amount of thought Glarf returned for the
second first time to the world.
         For his second coming Glarf chose the form of a can of primer paint which was found
in an old unpainted house after a Bingo game by an old woman named Pistis Sophia. She
took the can to the divinical authorities because it was glowing majestically in a way that it
hadn’t during her previous visits to the tool shed. Within days the authorities pronounced the
spray can the second incarnation of Glarf. In a unanimous vote, the Whozit Pope, “Pope II-
the Sequel” named Pistis Sophia the Wise High Saint of Returning Gods, a title that gave her
a fifty- percent discount at the movies, free bus rides, and first dibs on new releases at the
video store.
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         Eddie sat and listened to all of this with interest, it was nice to learn about the
universe, even with a sleeping butt. He was pleased to find out there was an all-powerful
being in his corner, it made facing the day a little easier. The lectures about the beauties of
the Whozit religion took the first two days of camp and Eddie was having a pretty good time
despite the abysmal seating arrangements.
         Then came the third day, the “Fire and Brimstone” lecture. This was the day they
learned about the terribly blasphemous beliefs of the Flallops. Beliefs so shocking some of
the younger children vomited in terror.
         The Flallops said the Son of Glarf came to Satan’s monkey in the form of a small ball
of cheese that fell from the sky. He arrived, listened to an old woman talk about her bad
knees, blurry vision, and back troubles for about an hour, and was promptly eaten on a nice
Ritz cracker.
         Glarf returned again a couple of days later (in fulfillment of the scriptures) by
exploding out of the old woman’s chest a’la Alien. Astonishingly, the ball of cheese was still
in pristine condition, like Kennedy’s magic bullet. With a cowboy ‘whoop’ the cheese shot
up into heaven where it remains seated at the right hand of the divine salad tong whose left
hand holds an individually wrapped baggy of garlic and onion croutons.
         As the priest detailed the bizarre beliefs of the Flallops, Eddie found himself
wondering what the big deal was about. Then, as if to answer his question, the Priest told him
what the big deal was.
         “HECK!” The priest’s eyes suddenly bulged out; the satin and rhinestone cocktail
dress he was wearing sparkled wildly. “Anyone who believes such madness is going to spend
all of eternity in Heck. Heck is a place so terrible it makes ballet lessons seem like a day at
the zoo.
          “Eternity,” said the priest, “is the time it takes Jello to turn into a hippopotamus. It is
the length of time that Rush Limbaugh will remain a big fat idiot… a very very long time
indeed.”
         Eddie’s young mind boggled at how long it would take Rush to not be a fat idiot and
shivered.
          “Further,” the priest continued, “It’s your Whozitly duty to try to save every one of
the lost Flallop souls. If they won’t go peaceably, we’ll force them. Either way, the glory was
to Glarf, and to those who loved him in the way that they said he wanted to be loved.”
         Glarf himself made no comment at all. He was out having a nice expresso latte.
         To believe the lies of the Flallops was to spend eternity in Heck having your intestines
used as a jump rope, your eyes as ping pong balls, and your head for soccer. “You will” the
priest informed them “suffer unimaginably forever, wishing the whole time to be dead, to be
free of the endless torment, but the end will not come. Not ever. There will be only pain and
suffering and more pain and suffering after that. And,” said the Priest, “if you are not actively
working to change the sick and lost minds of any Flallop that is met, then eternal damnation
will meet even the believer. It is not enough to just agree with the right ideas, You have to be
a booster.”
         At this the priest passed several wicker collection baskets. As the basket passed by
Eddie he took the envelope his mother gave him and dropped it in, wondering why she didn’t
even hesitate to put five bucks in the envelope while refusing adamantly to cough up fifty
cents for a candy bar. Eddie figured there must be a rule where the giving of money is
prioritized, again probably with the threat of Heck to guarantee compliance. Eddie was a little
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put off by the idea that he would be punished eternally for something like that, but his fear the
threat would be carried out went a long way towards his eventual acceptance of everything he
was told in this regard.

        Eddie shook his head, the memories clearing. It was a sin to shoot someone who was
praying, even if they were praying to the wrong God, so Eddie moved the scope on, looking
for a face that appeared sinister, evil, and therefore, easily shootable. He looked at the
Flallops cooking, no obvious evil there. He scanned around to a Flallop reading a paperback
book; his feet propped up on a rock. For a second Eddie thought he might have found his
target, but then the boy shifted the book’s cover and he saw it was the latest effort by his
favorite writer, Bialini DeTorres, who wrote terrifically exciting stories about pitched space
battles and mutant fishmongers from beyond the moon.
        Again he searched around trying to find a worthy, or perhaps unworthy was a better
term, target. Eddie could only spot four of the Flallops, he thought the others must still be
sleeping. Eddie decided to wait to get a look at the other three, maybe one of them would
stick out as the obvious choice, although thin tendrils of doubt were beginning to creep up
around the edges of his resolve.
        As he waited for the rest of the Flallops to emerge from their tents Eddie’s mind
ranged over the changes that occurred since those carefree days at camp. Besides his growing
up, a process which was just as painful for him as it is for anybody, the society he lived in
changed drastically as well. He watched it happen with an interested, if impotent eye, the
world he knew growing darker as he grew older, the hatred between the Flallops and the
Whozits growing more in violence as he grew in height.
        In the days of church camp it was very rare for the two groups to actually fight one
another, although attitudes about this were changing rapidly. Eddie remembered his parents
discussing whether or not violence would be necessary at the dinner table. It was discussed so
casually he wasn’t aware of the impact it would have. He wasn’t aware his parents were
jabbering away the long-standing peace of Satan’s Monkey in favor of what had come, the
tense anger and nastiness of war.
        One night ten years earlier Eddie’s Dad came home late from the corner bar, his eye
swelled completely shut. He made quite a ruckus coming in and Eddie walked bleary eyed
into the kitchen, his sleep interrupted and his curiosity overwhelming his desire to return to
bed. He pulled up one of the kitchen chairs and watched his mother working on the eye,
placing a cold piece of chicken over the nasty pink bruise. His Dad had his elbows on the
table, his fingers drumming with a nervous rapidity that unsettled Eddie even more than the
eye did. Normally his Dad was a calm guy, slow to anger; and he was never nervous. Eddie
asked what happened.
        He hadn’t heard the whole story that night, but as the years went on he learned the
evening’s problems went much further than a nasty eye bruise. The entire fabric of their
society was ripping apart and Eddie was too young to understand. His Dad was an honest guy
and although he knew most of what he said would be lost on Eddie, he told him anyway
because it was just the kind of guy he was.
        “It’s the damn Flallops Eddie, there is talk of splitting the town between us. The
Flallops are going to secede from Satan’s Monkey. They claim the Whozits have too much
power and are actively discriminating against their kind in everything from business to sports
officiating. And while for the most part they are just causing trouble, I fear that there might
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be just enough truth in what they are saying to cause things to get much worse indeed. I am
afraid because I don’t know what kind of world you are going to inherit. I am afraid because
there is a great deal of uncertainty in all of our futures. I am afraid because it is very possible
bar fights are only the beginning, it may get a whole lot worse before it gets any better.
         And it did get worse, as Eddie knew all too well. “If it hadn’t,” Eddie told himself
resolutely, “you can pretty well guarantee that I wouldn’t be sitting up here on this rock.”
         As any society that invents lawyers knows, the occasional drunken fistfight can turn
into a mountain of litigation with both sides yelling through split lips and busted teeth. This
happened the day after his father came home with the black eye on the lawn outside of the
Satan’s Monkey courthouse. The yelling led to more hitting, which led to more litigation. It
was a viscous circle, a tangled kite string, the NJ Freeway system, in other words, a mess. It
wasn’t long before the litigation turned into focus groups which turned into lobbyists and
drunken bar fight issue advocacy. Satan’s Monkey was on a crash course with disaster. The
lobbyists took a brief detour as parking lot attendants before veering back into the more
familiar territory of political scapegoatism. This consisted of otherwise remarkable statements
like “It’s the Flallops fault the peaches went bad this year; it’s not the forty five thousand
gallons of pesticide we accidentally spilled behind the garage.” That sort of thing.
         Only to Eddie- a young impressionable Whozit who had yet to learn the fine art of
recognizing bullshit when he heard it- the arguments seemed plausible. Of course he was
only a year or so past believing in the jolly fat crucified man in the sleigh whose death
everyone celebrated once a year by the hiding and giving of chocolate eggs. Eddie became a
strong believer in Flallop/Whozit separation and began to pay attention when his teacher
droned on about the superiority of the way Whozits brushed their teeth or did their laundry.
He was pleased with what he learned, but as time passed he began to notice a trend that
bothered him.
         It was never enough to just say Whozits brushed their teeth better, it was always
because they brushed their teeth with Gleam O Brightly. As if simply using the proper
product would in itself make the Whozits superior, as if a brand name was more important
than the people who made the products, as if the people weren’t even involved. One day he
couldn’t stand it anymore and had to ask.
         He raised his hand, interrupting the teacher’s lesson. Mrs. Panko stopped what she
was saying in mid-sentence and asked, “Yes Edward, What is it?” It was clear from her tone
that what he said better be good. Mrs. Panko had a hard time getting going, and if someone
threw her off her train of thought she would often have to struggle for minutes before she got
it back. The kids learned to not interrupt her because when they did it immediately put her
into a foul mood.
         Eddie cleared his throat, feeling a great pressure on his chest; the entire class was
looking at him expectantly.
         “Why does it matter if we wear clothes that are made by one specific designer? Isn’t
the fact the clothes are made by Whozits the thing that makes them superior? If there is only
one really good designer, aren’t we implying it’s a product that’s superior, not the Whozits in
general?” He was asking because he thought his teacher was making an inadvertent mistake.
When she said “Poofbutt overalls were the greatest overalls that modern science produced.”
Eddie wanted to clarify the matter. But Mrs. Panko’s response confused him even worse.
         She never answered his question. Instead she simply stood there looking at him, hand
on her hip. It seemed like she stood there, still as a statue, for at least an hour. It wasn’t that
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long, but from Eddie’s seat it was. He felt the silence and her gaze like a big bag of bricks
settled uncomfortably on his head.
        Finally she opened her mouth as if to say something. Just as suddenly she closed it
again, her teeth clicking audibly together. She appeared to think for a moment and finally she
started again, speaking in a whisper. Eddie leaned closer to hear, “Perhaps we need to take a
look at your permanent record, it seems that you may be a troublemaker, a sympathizer
perhaps?” Mrs. Panko then lifted a single eyebrow in a facial expression that expressed a
definite threat. Her eyebrow was telling him he better walk very carefully now, he was on the
verge of serious trouble. Eddie could feel all of the moisture in his mouth evaporate all at
once.
        “I’m sorry I asked an improper question Mrs. Panko, I beg your pardon and will not
repeat my previous insolence.” Eddie looked at her with what he hoped was an expression of
great sincerity. She apparently bought it because after several minutes of trying, she did
eventually get back her train of thought. However, for the next week or so, each time she
mentioned a brand name she would say it directly at Eddie, stressing the word until it hissed
like an angry snake.
        Eddie got the message and stopped asking questions.
        This didn’t mean that they didn’t occur to him from time to time, brief whisperings of
doubt at some of his teacher’s more outlandish claims. He just didn’t voice them. Instead,
they remained in his brain, rattling like change in a dryer.

         While Eddie had reservations it seemed the rest of the world did not. Society, as a
whole, moved unwaveringly forward toward war with a slow predictability that was painful to
watch unfold. The political scapegoatism led to small-scale skirmishes involving moderately
armed bands of nuns, used car salesmen, telemarketers, and the odd refrigerator repair artist.
         Skirmishes eventually became battles. Great nasty things with rocks flying all over the
place. The battles were an incredible spectacle. Too incredible perhaps. The battles
eventually became televised. Thanks to a good host, (He seemed to generally care about the
massive destruction of life that he commentated.) the show was a great success. It wasn’t
long before the war was beating out Monday Night Gladiators and winning Emmys. The
latter were small rabid rabbits that came in their own cage. The Whozit leader, Vlad, a
remarkably ignorant man, wanted his subjects to be as stupid as he was so he gave the award
to any television show that truly worked to make the public more ignorant or stupid.
         The success of the war of course, only insured more battles. (Not to mention product
tie-ins, action figures, and even T-shirts.) Eddie received a T-shirt from his aunt the year
before. He only wore it when he was doing chores in the backyard or exercising. Eddie
actually liked the shirt when he first got it; his aunt always brought something when she came
to visit. This wasn’t as good as the time when she brought the baby grobnick, (puppy) but it
was pretty good. He thought that he would wear it often.
         Three days after receiving the gift however, Eddie saw something that made him
relegate the shirt to chore status immediately. (Chore status was the lowest level of clothes,
just one good lawn-mowing shy of being in the garbage can.) He was walking along the
Flallop’s perimeter fence. It was erected to separate them from both the forest and the
Whozits. He had a stick in his hands and was rattling it through the links, the Chocka Chocka
sound droning monotonously. As he passed around a large guard tower Eddie saw another
kid, perhaps a year or two older. He was wearing a shirt almost identical to the one his aunt
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had given him. He stopped, taking in the details. The kid obviously thought Eddie was trying
to be smart because he spit at him, the large glob of nastiness flying remarkably through the
mesh of the fence untouched. Eddie had to jump out of the way to avoid getting it square on
his shirt. A bit did get on his arm and he wiped it away furiously on his overalls.
         On his rock Eddie waited, quietly hoping the kid that spit at him was one of the
Flallops still inside a tent. He had no reason to think he was there, but it would certainly
make his decision about who to shoot a hell of a lot easier.
         When his mother asked him why he stopped wearing the shirt he told her it was
because it was too big. This was actually true; the bottom of the shirt went almost to his
knees if he didn’t tuck it in. But he had lots of T-shirts that were too big; he wore them all the
time. It was the T-shirt itself, the illustration that so closely resembled the illustration on the
spitter’s shirt. It was a still frame taken from an actual battle that had been shown on TV. It
featured a Whozit guy braining a Flallop in the head with a rock. There was a terribly bright
spray of purple blood. Beneath it was a caption that read, “Whozits Rule!!! Kill all the
Flallops and let Glarf sort em out!!!” The explanation points were printed in the same bright
purple as the blood in the picture. The boy’s shirt, the one who spit on him, also featured a
brain bashing- only a Whozit was on the receiving end on his version, and the caption was
different too, it read, Flallops Rule!!! Kill all the Whozits and let Glarf Sort em out!!! Again
the letters were written in the horrible blood purple.
          The shirt raised a whole new series of questions Eddie wanted to ask, but there was
no one to talk to. They stayed in his head and most of the time he forgot about them. Only
now, sitting high on a rock, getting ready to kill another living being- for real, not just play
acting, the questions were starting to come back. He thought of the plaque he would get if he
went through with it and wondered, not for the first time, if maybe it wasn’t worth it. Even if
he didn’t kill anybody he would automatically become an adult in training in a year and a
half. He thought maybe he could wait.
         In a way, Eddie thought now, what he was doing was cheating. Sure it was accepted
and common now, but it was only two years earlier the rules concerning elevation to adult in
training were changed. Before then everyone waited until their seventeenth birthdays. Now it
was available to anyone who could kill a Flallop. At the age of sixteen Eddie’s older friends
began to be asked by their teachers if they would like to be assigned to the list of kids who
want early promotion to adult in training status. The words, “go murder someone” were never
actually uttered in schools but everyone knew what was really being said. It was like when
the swear words are cut out of movies on regular television, the actual word is bleeped out but
everyone over the age of three in the room knows the lady just said “Bitch.”
         In the brief two years since the rule was changed the full force of peer pressure had
shifted behind the idea of gaining the title early. In Satan’s Monkey adults in training have a
great deal more power and privilege than do children. In many ways, being an adult in
training was the best time of life because a young Whozit enjoyed the freedom of adulthood
and only a modicum of the responsibility. Eddie knew he was looking forward to the new
privileges, so much so he squelched most of his doubts until the last minute. Most kids now
became adults in training at the age of fourteen. Eddie was fifteen and a half. He had
endured a year and a half of torment over his hesitancy that had hitherto been more the result
of squeamishness than moral confusion. He thought about the picture on his shirt, the way the
blood was spraying out in an arc. It repulsed him to think he was going to have to do that to
someone himself. He put it off as long as he could.
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        He finally broke down and asked his Dad to get him a gun, That week, when his
teacher asked him (as he did every week, like clockwork) if he wanted to be put down as a
candidate for early adult in training status, he said yes. His teacher, now Mr. Przybylski,
clapped him on the shoulder and told him he was glad Eddie finally came around to being a
good citizen. Oddly, the strongest part of Eddies memory of this encounter was how strong
and sweet Mr. Przybylski’s after shave lotion was. It seemed to surround him like some kind
of eerie invisible cloud. The part where he agreed to kill a Flallop was somehow lost in the
haze of his memory, lost to the smell of after-shave.
        The thing that finally put him over the edge was; he now realized, stupid as hell. One
of the perks of becoming an adult in training is the ability to vote in elections. Vlad was the
only name on the ballot for ruler, so that part wasn’t interesting. (There were very few
political science majors in Satan’s Monkey.) The election that got all the press, the one the
public paid the most attention to, was what the official food of Satan’s Monkey was going to
be.
          The current food was potted meat, a product that actually touted “partially defatted
cooked pork fatty tissue” as one of its ingredients. It won the last election in a landslide over
the incumbent Cheese Doodles on ice cream. The win was largely attributed to Potted Meats
campaign slogan, “Potted meat, It’s gross, but at least it’s not Cheese Doodles on ice cream.”
        It was the straw that broke the camel’s back for Eddie. He loved Cheese Doodles on
ice cream; it was his favorite food. He decided to go for early status so that he could vote in
the next election. He knew his was only one vote, but it would be a vote for Cheese Doodles
and ice cream by Glarf, and that was important.
        Only now he wasn’t so sure. He was just sitting there thinking, trying to decide what
to do when he heard a rock break loose and fall very close to where he was sitting. Eddie
whirled around, as fast as he could manage in his limited space, and saw his friend Nigel
clinging to a rock only a few feet away.
        “What are you doing here?” Eddie asked, really rather freaked out.
        Nigel looked up at the sound of Eddie’s voice. He immediately began to whisper
urgently, “Eddie wait, stop, don’t kill anyone yet! I’ve got to talk to you!”

Einsteen’s 3rd Law of Impetuous Rocks

        A month and a half before Eddie decided to climb a cliff and bag his first Flallop, a
terribly brilliant bean head scientist named Ernesto Einsteen made a discovery. Only he
hadn’t started out trying to make a discovery, he started out with a powerful, deep annoyance,
like a scratch in the center of your back, far beyond the reach of fingers. It started on his front
lawn with a large rock that resided there.
        Brilliant people often have tendencies that make them prioritize their lives differently
than the rest of us. Ernesto Einstein was no exception. He developed a peculiar interest in
lawn care that blossomed into obsession as the years went by. He loved his lawn as much as
he loved his science. For Ernesto, the state of one’s lawn was a direct reflection of the state of
one’s mind. He spent two to three hours a day on his lawn, trying to keep it as lush and green
as possible. He picked weeds by hand and fertilized using a small hand sprayer. He didn’t
spray each individual blade of grass, but it was close enough his neighbors wondered if this
wasn’t his true goal.
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         Ernesto lived in a modest sized house on the eastern side of Satan’s Monkey. The
Whozit Horticultural Society always made Ernesto’s house the last stop on the annual “Lawns
of Satan’s Monkey” tour that went on every spring. It was by far the nicest lawn in town.
          But it wasn’t perfect. It could never be perfect as long the large boulder remained in
the lawn. We’ll get back to the rock in a moment.
         It was a Saturday, not particularly different from any other. It was an important lawn
day however; Saturday was the day he mowed. Ernesto walked out to the shed in his back
yard, unlocked the padlock and swung open the door. All of his tools were neatly hung on
hooks; each rake and shovel was clean. On a table to the side was his favorite gardening hat.
It was straw, with a wide brim and Ernesto wore it whenever he was doing work outside. He
took it from the table and pulled it onto his head. It smelled of outdoors and putting it on
immediately improved Ernesto’s already good mood.
         In the middle of the shed was the lawn mower. It was the top of the line model. After
each use Ernesto would wipe it down. Every two months he sharpened the blade. Out of
habit he glanced at the calendar on the wall, noting the mower was due in two weeks. He
made a mental note to make the appointment with the blade sharpening man.
         He bent and pulled the starter cord on the mower. The machine started on the first tug
with a roar and the distinctive smell of gasoline wafting from its engine. Ernesto tilted the
angle of the mower so the blade was clear of the grass. He pulled the mower over a small
cobblestone walkway leading from the shed to the corner of the property. Once he reached
the corner he dropped the mower flat again and began cutting the lawn in a precise grid
pattern, careful to make each square the same size. He mowed with his head down, very
slowly, ensuring the mower had time to cut everything within its circumference. Ernesto took
care of his lawn barefoot, the green grass squishing between his toes as he walked; he liked
the feeling of connection it gave him to the earth. Ernesto whistled happily to himself, the
sound lost to the growl of the mower. He followed the previous week’s tracks as a guide.
There was however, a part of the lawn that he didn’t let his eye so much as glance toward the
entire time he mowed. It was as if there was a blind spot in his vision, a place where his mind
forbade his eyes to see. Eventually he finished the job of mowing, except for the blind spot.
It was here that the fun stopped.
         Ernesto took a deep breath. He continued to look down at the ground, working up his
nerve. He huffed three quick breaths, clearing out his lungs like someone getting ready to
jump off a cliff into water of an unknown depth. His eyes slid up the nicely mown lawn to the
left side. There was a stone there, just sitting in the lawn minding its own business. Now that
he was looking at the thing he marveled, as he always did, that he was able to block his sight
of the thing for as long as he could. It stood at least fifteen feet in the air. It was a solid hulk
of a thing, black with thick veins of cobalt gray throughout its rough, craggy surface. Ernesto
swore it was alive. It lived a simple life that evolved around one thing and one thing only:
The destruction of Ernesto’s happiness and/or piece of mind.
         It was an alien stone. It hadn’t been there when Ernesto bought the house. When he
purchased the place it had a nice unblemished lawn. After five years he sculpted it into a
stunning example of uniformity in horticulture. Ernesto’s work went splendidly during these
years, discovering all kinds of amazing things that made the other smart physicists ooh and
aah in envious marvel.
         One morning he woke up, and there it was, an immense Stonehenge sized stone. A
pyramid stone, sitting there in his lawn as if it had been there for eons. Ernesto had a distinct
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impression the first time that he saw it. He thought the rock was trying to make him feel like
he was the one who had just showed up all of a sudden uninvited.
         Ernesto examined the grass around the rock, thinking maybe it had fallen from the sky
or something. Only there was no crater. There were no tracks on the lawn either. The rock
had somehow materialized itself on his lawn. There were times over the upcoming years that
Ernesto wished the rock destroyed his entire lawn and the house to boot. Then he would’ve
moved and bought a new house and the damned thing wouldn’t be in his front lawn anymore.
Except that somewhere, way in the back of his mind, where he kept the Christmas
decorations, he knew that if he changed houses the rock would surely follow.
         The most obvious solution was to get a big crane and lift the sucker right out of his
life. Only that wouldn’t work. That would destroy his beautiful lawn, the giant tires of the
machine would dig up his grass like a tiller, destroying what had taken him years to create.
No sir, that wouldn’t do at all.
         He tried just mowing around it. He had to admit that the rock was sort of pretty, he
even studied it objectively by crouching down low to the grass and looking up at the rock
from a perspective that eliminated the grass it was sitting on from view. He would try a sort
of détente. Only the rock seemed to really hate him.
         He came to this conclusion after making his first pass at the rock. The lawnmower
blade broke once he got within two feet of the dastardly thing. There was no obvious reason,
it just snapped off, flying past his bare feet fast enough he would have lost a leg had it not
buried itself in the ground before it reached him. He tried the WeedWacker with the same
result, once he got a certain distance from the rock (He had later measured it, 2 feet 2 and
2/3rds inches.) The Wacker string would break.
         His face scowled deeply the first time. It deepened the second, by the third Ernesto
had thrown down his WeedWacker and went inside. If you were standing on the street in
front of his house you would have heard loud crashes, swearing and yelling. There was no
second voice however; it sounded like someone was having a terrible argument with a mute.
This would go on for a while and then Ernesto would suddenly come out, picking up the
WeedWacker and re-stringing it. The string would break again immediately. Ernesto would
throw down the seemingly cursed hunk of garbage and go back into the house. This process
repeated itself for almost a full 24 hours. He stood in his living room, staring out at the thing
with all the hatred he could muster. Then it came to him. He would simply figure out the
physics he needed to levitate that damn bastard rock right off his property.
         The only problem was there was absolutely no precedent; not a single postulate
indicated the levitation of large rocks was even possible. The idea that a machine would be
built that could actually utilize the nonexistent principle was crazy. Ernesto didn’t care, he
wanted the rock gone and he would invent the math from scratch if he had to.
         It took a long time. He was forced to drop all of his other projects. Ernesto stopped
going out at all, except to work on his lawn, just as he did a month and a half before Eddie
climbed the mountain.
         Only on that particular afternoon, as Ernesto looked at the rock with a weary hatred it
suddenly came to him. He knew.
         It was the answer, the way that he could do it. He knew before he tested the equation
a single time that he was right. He had figured it out; he was finally going to be free of the
accursed rock that had nearly destroyed his entire life. He spent the next two days making
sure he was right, although he knew in his heart, his head was a tougher sell. Eventually his
Rain                                                    13


head was convinced and Ernesto began to build a prototype. It was a box that stood about
four feet high. He could put it onto the back of a truck, move his rock and be able to mow his
lawn again by the following week. But not with this first crude attempt. In order to build a
rock dropper that could lift his rock he would have to enlist the aid of the military, the only
group that could get him the necessary materials.
        Ernesto had essentially figured out a way to create a portable null gravity field.
Anything that was within the specified field would float wherever Ernesto wanted it by using
three-point geometry. When he explained this to the military guys they smiled broadly at
him, barely able to keep from giggling like schoolgirls.
        It took the Military guys about two seconds to realize that Ernesto’s device could be
used for a purpose much more valuable than just lifting rocks. It could also be used to drop
them, “PLOP” right out of the sky and onto the heads of unsuspecting passersby. It could
also, with a few extra batteries and a little duct tape pick up and drop a boulder the size of a
small city… onto a small city. As anyone with advanced knowledge of rock velocity physics
is aware, the dropping of a rock the size of a city onto a city will leave very few places within
the city to have a nice sit down Italian meal with nicely fresh baked bread and olive oil.
Indeed, the only possible result of such an action would be the creation of a bigger rock that
could then be dropped on an even bigger city. And so on ad infinitum or some other Latin
phrase. With this new discovery the Whozits would not have to worry about killing one
Flallop at a time, like George Washington chopping down a single cherry tree. Instead, they
could kill lots of them at the same time with a huge chunk of rock, like the timber industry in
the rainforests.
          The machine was built, but not in the shape that Ernesto designed, and not for the
purpose he wanted either. In fact, the Whozit military refused to return his phone calls once
they had copied all of his research. When he went to their offices in person he was told that
he didn’t exist in the interest of national security. When he wouldn’t stop the military guys
told him that if he didn’t shut the fuck up they were going to come into his house in the
middle of the night and cut his tongue out of his head, stuffing it up his horn. Of course,
neither his tongue, nor his horn existed as far as they were concerned, which made doing
horrible things to them much easier.
        Then it hit Ernesto, well, like a big rock on the head. He knew that the military was
going to use his idea and principles to make a weapon. They were going to kill people with
his idea, and to make it worse they were never going to take the accursed rock from his front
lawn. They would surely leave it there, as a constant reminder that he was a very smart fool
who worried too much about his lawn. Now untold numbers of people were going to die for
that lawn, and Ernesto knew that it really hadn’t been worth it.

A Brief discussion of Biology.

       Before we go any further we should interject a little fact about the actual differences
between the Whozits and the Flallops. There are none. No biological, genetic or intelligence
quotient differences, no color differences, nothing. Just one group of beings who decided that
they were two different groups of beings. Like the US and Canada. Or the countries of
Europe. Or the whole damn world for that matter.
       The only way that anyone could tell the two sides apart was by the color of the
clothing that they wore and the whether they said “about” or “aboot.” It was true that in
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general Flallops preferred green overalls and the Whozits preferred orange but for the most
part the cultural differences arose through misunderstandings and the inevitable information
fuzzing involved in gossip and rumormongering. The fact was that both groups stood about 9
½ feet tall, were a lovely shade of dirty blue, and had large horns sticking out of their butts.


Here Comes Sunshine?

        The military guys, in a truly inspired bit of efficiency built Ernesto’s device into a
weapon in only two weeks, amazing even themselves. They worked feverishly and the
project moved along at a remarkable speed, building several prototypes along the way, each
getting a little fancier. The military guys would have finished two days earlier but they
decided to alter the body significantly at the last minute and add some wheels and a V8
engine. Once the rock dropper was actually built the military guys hopped in the driver’s seat
and laid a good two feet of rubber on the laboratory floor.
        Once completed the military scientist’s first destination was Vlad’s castle. Vlad was
the King of the Whozits. He was also known as Vlad-The Not Quite as Mean as THEY Make
Him Out to Be on Television. The weapon came speeding into his throne room, glasspack
muffler causing the engine to rumble, vibrating on a very low register, like a locomotive.
Vlad’s eyes literally bugged out of his head, he blinked to insure they remained where they
belonged. As he absorbed what he was looking at his body gave an involuntary shudder of
pleasure. It was, Vlad explained to his wife later, rather like an orgasm, only it wasn’t sexual,
it was power. He clapped his royal hands with glee. He knew the weapon was coming, he
had hardly been able to think of anything else since his trusted advisor Wayne had briefed
him earlier in the day. Nobody had told him about the motor though, he thought it was a great
touch, nothing intimidated like a V8.
        Vlad immediately took up his “Scepter of Political Power,” a large thick shaft with a
large bulbous jewel cast onto one end. It was one of several scepters that he kept by his
throne for a whole variety of reasons. The Scepter of Political Power was his favorite, he
used it whenever he ordered a decree, and without it Vlad felt that his orders didn’t carry the
proper heft. He jabbed the scepter suggestively at his Head General and demanded that a boy
be chosen to be the first to test the new weapon.
        The order came as no surprise. Immediately a large, clunky computer was wheeled
into the throne room. The computer was covered with lights, dials, and several reel to reel
tapes, they spun this way and that importantly, indicating that truly great calculation was
going on. Deep in the bowels of the machine was a laptop that easily did the required work,
and kept the outside looking busy with enough computing power left over to play music and a
DVD or two. In Vlad’s opinion the way that something looked was at least as important as
how it worked. He had seen a laptop once. He thought that it looked too simple, “That thing
looks like shit,” he had declared, “if were gonna have a computer it should look like a
computer, put some blinking lights and stuff on that sucker. And so it was.
        After an impressive series of beeps and a faint odor of Brie cheese a little green card
popped out, an idea they had gotten from the batputer on TV. On the little green card was the
name of the kid who was up for promotion that day: Eddie of the Eastside Eddies. Urgent
messages were immediately sent out to retrieve the boy in every available medium. Eddie’s
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friend Nigel knew where Eddie was, Eddie had told him where he was going on the telephone
the night before.
          Nigel was sitting on his bed, reading Whozit of Fortune magazine when Vlad’s
message reached him. A carrier pigeon landed with graceful efficiency onto his windowsill
and began pecking at the window glass, each strike making a tink tink. Nigel lifted the
window and the bird flew right up onto his shoulder. There was a piece of paper attached to a
little sling on the bird’s leg. He took it out, read it, and immediately ran out the door to find
Eddie, the magazine thrown forgotten onto the floor with an ad for Mail Order hand grenades
showing.

Should Have Hurried

        The paper was small, which left no room for elaboration or clever allegory. It was
only six words, but when Nigel read where he was to report, all thoughts left his mind except,
“Find Eddie.”
         The message said, “Stop Eddie. Come to Vlad ASAP.”
        That was all, no reason, no detail, nothing. Nigel’s mind raced as he hurried along the
upper rim of the valley Eddie said he was going to shoot from. Eddie was easy to spot from
above and Nigel was pleased he found him only ten or fifteen minutes after the receiving the
message. When he first spotted him, Eddie was laying on his stomach in the firing position.
Nigel felt his heart constrict. His eyes squinted and he realized Eddie had the gun out and his
eye was to the scope. He could fire any second.
        Whenever the TV news reporters talked about Vlad they made him appear to be quite
mean and Nigel really didn’t want to meet him for the first time and report that he had failed
in his assigned task. He was sure that Eddie would fire long before he got a chance to reach
him, he could yell, he supposed, but it was certainly possible the Flallops below were armed.
He would do what the message said, but he was not about to get killed over it. That wouldn’t,
in his opinion, help anything.
        Nigel pulled out his climbing harness and attached it snugly around his body. His
climbing gear had been conveniently lying in a pile by the front door; he had planned to spend
the afternoon watching the Flallop authorities as they cleaned up Eddie’s victim. He had
gathered the equipment the night before. He anchored the ropes, bringing an extra along for
Eddie. After taking a deep breath, jumping over a cliff’s edge was frightening, strapped into a
harness or not. Nigel allowed gravity to take him and he fell backwards off the cliff, the rope
snapping taught and holding nicely.
        Eddie was still aiming his weapon at the Flallops below. Every time he almost pulled
the trigger, something distracted him. It was as if the muscles in his arm were hard wired to
the distraction center of his increasingly weary brain.
        He almost did it; the trigger was a millionth of a pound of pressure from releasing.
Then Nigel arrived and totally ruined his hard won concentration. Eddie’s first instinct was to
get angry. He knew that Nigel had already killed a Flallop and it was primarily through his
peer pressure that Eddie was here in the first place. Eddie was so close to the fulfillment of
his mission, only to be stopped by the very protagonist of his actions.
        For his part, Nigel had no idea why he was told to stop Eddie from fulfilling his duty
to manhood, but what Vlad wanted, Vlad got. He was mostly relieved that he had been able
to stop Eddie, he would be praised by Vlad, not eaten.
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         After Eddie had time to think about it, he decided that he was really glad that Nigel
had stopped him. Now that he was getting out of it for whatever reasons Eddie admitted to
himself that he wasn’t thrilled with the idea of killing anybody in the first place. He didn’t
even like to hunt.
        Sure he hated the Flallops but hating and killing is not necessarily the same thing; no
matter what the movies tried to tell him.
        His biggest problem was that he wasn’t sure why he was supposed to hate the Flallops,
even though he did. When the Flallops won the national Pootyball competition, beating out
the Whozit champion by three flingers Eddie hated the Flallops quite righteously, at least for a
while. But soon enough a new season began and the righteousness of the anger turned into
hope for the new season. He looked forward to good news from Nigel who was waving for
him to be quiet and hurry up at the same time.
        Eddie figured there had been a treaty or something. He was wrong.
        “I am supposed to take you directly to Vlad, our glorious leader.” Nigel said, rocking
back and forth from foot to foot and looking like he needed to pee for three hours. “I don’t
know why.”
        Eddie had never actually met Vlad-the Not Quite as Mean as the News Makes Him
Out To Be and wasn’t sure what to think now that he apparently was going to. Eddie watched
the news every night felt pretty sure that Vlad was a nutball.
        “Are you sure that I am actually supposed to talk to Vlad himself, not some
intermediary or dignitary?” Eddie asked, hoping that he would be spared an audience with
such an important and reportedly crazy figure.
        “No they told me to take you directly to the head cheese.” Nigel, who was adept at
hating the Flallops, was unable to hide the bubbling excitement in his voice. Eddie wondered
if perhaps there wasn’t also a twinge of jealousy. Eddie’s emotions were split in half- he was
happy that he had gotten a reprieve from killing the Flallops that afternoon, but at what price?
What the heck could Vlad want with him, he was still a boy after all, his chance at being an
official adult in training dried up when Nigel arrived.
        The two boys quietly made their way from the big rock on which Eddie was perched.
They headed toward the Far Western end of town where Vlad's palace was located.

There’s Two Sides to Every Satan’s Monkey

         Tim the Flallop slept soundly on his face. There was a little smile on his lips as he
dreamed the dreams of teenagers; beautiful female Flallops and great adventure abounded. In
reality, his blanket was pulled over his head to keep out the bright morning light and the only
female Flallop anywhere around was his Mom in the living room watching TV. His alarm
clock suddenly blurted into life next to him, a primeval sound capable of waking the dead and
sometimes teenagers. As he woke up he blearily remembered he had to get up early to go to a
stupid lottery.
         Tim sat up, his vision bleary with sleepgunk. He wiped it away as he reached for his
overalls. He couldn’t believe that he had to get up an hour early to go to school. The day
before, during final period Principal Joan, a thin faced woman with a voice like a chainsaw
came onto the intercom.
         “Children,” she announced, “Tomorrow all students over the age of fifteen are to
gather a half an hour before regular classes. Our Illustrious Leader, Uncle Gus, has called for
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a special lottery tomorrow. Attendance is mandatory of course; any child not in attendance
will be put in jail from three to five years depending on behavior. Remember children…” a
terrible burst of feedback roared from the speakers, “…being a good citizen is the backbone
of our culture. If you don’t accept this, then you won’t be a citizen, you’ll be in jail. Have a
nice day children, see you bright and early in the morning.”
        Every student over fifteen groaned in unison. Tim was in Religion class; the teacher
was discussing the way the Whozit religion was a travesty against nature, being the creation
of the devil. The Flallop religion, Tim knew the teacher would eventually add, was the exact
opposite, perfectly accurate and true in every regard.
        That next morning Tim stood in front of the mirror brushing his teeth. He was fully
conscious now, and he considered what the lottery could possibly be about. Normally the
lottery was held at lunch. The “winner” was let out of school early. The winner was also
given a weapon and told to not come back until they bagged themselves a Whozit.
        But now they suddenly had to get up early in the morning and Uncle Gus was going to
be there in person? Everything about it stank. For the first time Tim was a little afraid of the
lottery. The lunchtime lottery didn’t worry him because he had pretty well had his fill of
school anyway. Ever since the battles had started school wasn’t the same. Gone were
interesting classes like art, music, and history. Now it was the Flallop superiority of this and
the Flallop superiority of that. Tim found the whole thing immensely boring. His passion
was literature, books and ideas. He wanted to make the world a better place and couldn’t see
how killing Whozits made anyone’s life better.
        When he thought about it at all, Tim thought that the threat the Whozit’s posed was
overblown. They were just little rocks after all. The rock throwers were still a new invention;
they had come onto the market three years earlier. Only the richest families actually owned
one of the devices, but they were happy to let others use them as much as they wanted. (They
were not so generous with food or DVD players.) Uncle Gus himself had presented a rock
thrower to Tim’s school as a gift just a year and a half ago. The gift went along with the start
of the daily lunch lotteries. Some days the gun was taken. Other days the student chosen just
walked away, never to return to school.
        Tim planned on being one of the latter. If their way of life really was in danger, well
that was another matter entirely. But that simply was not the way things were. His teeth
brushed, he went downstairs to try to get a quick breakfast before heading off to school.
        He ate quickly, stuffing an entire piece of toast into his mouth in a single gulp. He
wasn’t about to go to jail over a lottery, even one as ominous as this one seemed to be. Tim
almost walked out of the house without his books; perhaps he wasn’t as awake as he thought
he was. He spun on his heel and rushed back to his room. His books were scattered
everywhere; he had taken to tossing them away in random directions when he finished with a
subject. He gathered them together and literally threw them into his backpack. He cursed the
way time moved quickly in the morning, then slowed to a crawl the minute he walked into the
gaping mouth of school.
        Tim was on time for the beginning of the assembly, but just barely. He ran down the
corridors to the auditorium where the lotteries were always held. He was one of the last to
arrive and had to stand in the back, all of the chairs were taken. Tim took his place leaning
against the wall at the same time that Uncle Gus walked up to the podium, his belly leading
the way. Tim looked at the stage. In addition to Uncle Gus and the podium, the lunch lottery
machine had been set up. There was also a curtain that ringed something that Tim could not
Rain                                                    18


see. It was set off to the side and had cables coming from it that could raise the curtain up
into the rafters.
         The lottery machine was a golden mesh barrel; the edges lined with florescent light.
On the bottom were small nubs that struck a playing card as they spun around, causing the
machine to clack noisily as it spun around. The golden barrel had a small door with a fine oak
knob. The barrel was mounted in such a fashion that it could be spun around with a large
wooden crank that stuck out of the back. Inside the barrel were the names of every kid in the
Flallop side of Satan’s Monkey. On the wall behind Uncle Gus was a red banner; on it in
giant capital letters were two words, TOTAL VICTORY. Tim didn’t like the look of that
banner, or the sound of the sentiment. The small lump of nervousness that had begun to form
earlier that morning was growing.
         Uncle Gus wore a red, white, and blue hat that matched his red, white, and blue
overalls. On his face was a solemn look. He tapped the microphone on the podium with his
finger and cleared his voice in a loud hack that carried very well over the speakers.
         Leaning forward Uncle Gus began to speak.
         “Ladies and Gentleman, I would like to thank you all for getting up so early on what
will prove, I think, to be a truly historic day. You are all of course, very aware of the battles
that have been going on against those heathens, the Whozits. The Whozits have become the
greatest enemy the Flallops have ever known. We have been forced to fight with them
because of the threat that they represent to our culture and our way of life. Well no more.
Last night Glarf, our Lord and savior presented us with a gift. A divine weapon that will
show the power of the true church of Glarf, a power which has, up till now been taken entirely
too lightly. Glarf’s wondrous gift will, I believe, bring an end once and for all to the
Flallop/Whozit conflict. Or rather, I know it will, because they would have to be a great deal
crazier than they are to not accept our terms of TOTAL VICTORY.”

So Much For a Reprieve

        Nigel and Eddie arrived at the palace of Vlad. It was a big sprawling monstrosity full
of flying buttresses, gargoyles, neon signs, marble, and statues of the Pope in drag. The
palace existed to show the Flallops that Whozits could be more obnoxious in their
architecture. The Flallops had a similar economic eyesore that sucked away tax dollars in the
name of race pride. In a shrewd move, the Flallops had just began painting their leader Uncle
Gus’s palace a nauseatingly thick and mucous-like shade of pink.
        Eddie had been to the palace several times during field trips. On these visits the
palace only represented good things, a day out of school to explore the largest building in
town. The hide and seek games that went on every year were the stuff of legend.
         This time however, the shadows seemed deeper and darker. The gargoyles seemed
pissed off and dangerous, not comical. As they approached the giant wooden front doors that
were more than twice the height of the tallest Whozit, Eddie began to have second thoughts.
The door was so heavy that a vein in Nigel’s neck stood out as he pulled it open. As the
inside of the palace came into view Eddie was beginning to entertain serious thoughts about
turning on his heel and retiring to his room for a bout of television watching. For the briefest
moment it occurred to him that he would be much better off hiding in the forest.
        Then the doors swung open and all doubts were cast aside. More importantly, all
thoughts were cast aside. They had no more than taken a single step towards the entryway
Rain                                                   19


before the palace trumpets began to blare. They were playing a particularly cacophonous
piece, complete with screeching cats and breaking glass. Thankfully this particular piece
didn’t involve breaking the glass with the cats or vice versa. Whozit symphony pieces were
known the planet round as the most violent and meaningless music ever produced. They were
very, very popular.
         At the other end of the long hall stood “The throne.” It was an elaborate porcelain job
with an attached bidet. When asked why he had built his throne as a toilet Vlad replied with
only a second’s hesitation, “The throne is a toilet so no one will ever worry that I am full of
shit.” He followed up his remark with a glib grin, his trademark facial expression.
         Eddie could see Vlad sitting on his throne, an enormous bear of a Whozit with a white
beard. In his beard was perched an uncomfortably large piece of lime Jell-O that shook and
shimmied as Vlad breathed. The Jell-O had been there for the better part of a week but no
one had the courage to risk Vlad’s anger by telling him. The wall on Eddie’s right side was
made up entirely of windows covered with black mini-blinds from floor to ceiling. The lack
of light gave the entire grand hall a dark and depressing flavor that stood in stark contrast to
the lively if rather insane musical performance.
         Eddie began the long walk across the great hall. With a great deal of fanfare and a
newly renewed blowing of trumpets Eddie was brought in front of Vlad. As he approached,
Eddie took in the details of Vlad’s ceremonial clothing, which consisted of a thong and a
Styrofoam 20-gallon hat.
          “Eddie of the…” Vlad glanced down at the card his aides gave him, “East Side
Eddies. You have been chosen for a great honor. I command you to be very proud of yourself
and your entire race. We are now in possession of a weapon that practically guarantees that
we will be the victors in our conflicts with those despicable Flallops. It is you who have been
chosen to be the first to wield this incredible new weapon, and wield it you will. Today. This
very afternoon.”
         Having read his prepared remarks Vlad picked up his “Scepter of Political Power” and
pointed at a large lump covered with velvet cloth that was obviously the weapon. Eddie felt
his heart run cold. Whatever it was, it was big, at least twice the size of Eddie himself.
         Once the scepter was pointed special guards marched to the sheet and pulled it back
with as much fanfare as they could muster. Which was a lot. Anyone who didn’t display a
satisfactory amount of fanfare was threatened with a week in the “Cell of Bad Music” which
constantly broadcast terrible 80’s pop tunes through some weird hiccup in the space-time
continuum.
         There was a legend of a guy who was in the “Cell of Bad Music” during a Wham!
Marathon. He tore out his own throat with a dinner spoon after only seventeen minutes. The
prisoner’s family then sued the prison for a million dollars for cruel and unusual punishment,
a suit that they won. It took the jury only three minutes to come back with a guilty verdict.
The lawyer for the family called no witnesses and asked no questions. She waved the opening
statement. At the end of the trial she took out a tape recorder and walked to the juror’s
section of the courtroom. She put the tape player on the jury box banister and without saying
a word played only a single Wham! song. It was all she needed to do.
         The weapon was the XLB95229/www.bigrockdropper.com. (Pat. Pend.) An
enormous phallic shaped thing with wheels, bucket seats and air conditioning. It wasn’t just
phallic, that would indicate subtlety, perhaps even inadvertence. There was none of that here.
Rain                                                    20


It was a dick with wheels. From somewhere far away Eddie could have sworn that he heard
soft laughter at the unveiling of the thing. He did. It was Freud’s ghost.
         The woman responsible for naming the weapon was given a little brass pin and a small
promotion. It was very satisfying. Although she would never admit it, she didn’t really know
what any of the letters or numbers meant. She just made them up on a whim.
         The music in Eddie’s honor was terrific, but the sight of the thing brought a return to
the uneasy feeling. Although he had to admit to himself that the weapon looked pretty cool.
It was a weapon with power, no doubt, but he didn’t like the sound of the name: “Big Rock
Dropper?” How big? What exactly were they asking him to do?
         It would be an understatement to say Eddie was suddenly very hesitant about the
events he saw unfolding before him. He was like a virgin in the arms of a 350 pound drunken
redneck on prom night. Killing one Flallop was bad enough but this thing seemed like it
could be used to kill everybody. It was an impression that was quite valid because it could, in
fact, kill everybody. It had an aura of stupid cold evil around it. It really looked like the sort
of thing that a person would use to commit cultural genocide all wicked black with
ridiculously stereotypical red flames painted on the sides of the shaft.
         Eddie was about to speak up for himself, voice a doubt, or maybe even ask a question
when the mini blinds suddenly retreated up into the ceiling on motorized tracks. Light poured
into the chamber, light dazzled off of the jeweled ceiling. The trumpets that had fallen silent
during Vlad’s address suddenly started up again at twice their original volume.
         As the blinds made their way into the ceiling the open windows revealed a giant crowd
which had gathered in the courtyard next to the castle. It looked like almost every Whozit in
Satan’s Monkey was there. The cheer that washed over Eddie was almost physical.
Everybody carried flags, they waved in a beautiful sea of color. Eddie was choked up. The
display had touched a sense of belonging that was mostly missing from his existence. It was a
blind foolish feeling, but an attractive one nevertheless.
         He saw that he was being stupid. There was no way that he was right and all these
people were wrong. There must be something really terribly bad about the Flallops that he
just wasn’t old enough to understand yet. In that moment he even thought that maybe it did
really matter what brand of toothpaste he used.
         Eddie smiled and waved at the crowd. They roared in response. Vlad took his hand
and raised it above his head the way that a referee does to indicate the winner of a boxing
match. Again the crowd cheered. Now that he was close Eddie saw that Vlad was wearing a
microphone attached to the brim of his cowboy hat.
         He started from the beginning for the benefit of the crowd who had been blocked out
of the actual unveiling. “Fellow Whozits, we gather here today to wish (a glance at the card
in his hand) Eddie, of the East Side Eddies good luck in his final attack on the stupid,
ignorant, and backward Flallops. The weapon that you see before you is capable of lifting
rocks of enormous size and dropping them on anyone we want. We hope that with this new
weapon we will have the power to put an end to the bloodshed that has plagued us over the
past several years. They will either give in, or we will crush them all flat.”
         The crowd went crazy; it was as if the entire Whozit population was in a crazed state
of blood lust. They were sure they would win, and the idea tangibly electrocuted the air.
Eddie who was starting to feel terribly tired from the emotional roller coaster of the day felt
his mood plummet again when his worst possible fear was confirmed. What the hell was this
fat bastard saying? Eddie wasn’t about to commit genocide against an entire half of the
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population; that was crazy. He didn’t say anything; he only stood quietly, his mind whirling
at full speed, trying to figure out what to do. There was also a part of him, and not an
altogether weak one, which told him to surrender to the will of the group. If that meant his
destiny was to kill half the population of his town, well everyone would see him as a hero, not
a monster.
         These thoughts would soon become irrelevant however. From the far left side of the
throne room, a small unadorned door swung open and a the chief general of the military came
hurrying in, a memo in his hand, He went straight up to Vlad on his throne, ignoring the
crowd and seemingly everything else. Eddie saw him coming and didn’t like the grave look
on his face. He looked like a guy who was carrying his own death warrant.
         The general passed the memo over to Vlad and stood back. Vlad read the memo, as
his eyes passed over the words written there his face began to crease with a look that seemed
to be a combination of fury and terror.
         Vlad stood up and yelled out, the fury momentarily taking over. “Everybody shut
up!” he screamed. The entire crowd fell silent like someone had pushed a mute button on
reality. All eyes were on Vlad. Everyone except Eddie, he was trying to read what he could
of the memo in Vlad’s hand. He only caught a few of the words but he thought he knew the
gist of what it said. The words were Flallops, Stolen, Crisis, and POA, which Eddie knew,
stood for Plan of Action.
         When next Vlad spoke, his earlier enthusiasm was gone. In its place was a matter of
factness that belied the full scope of what he was saying. “The Flallops have stolen a Rock
Dropper prototype. It doesn’t look as cool as ours but it is fully functional and now they have
it. I don’t know how they got it, but I have every intention of finding that out too. What was
promising to be an easy victory is now taking on the dimensions of the most potentially lethal
battle of in the history of Satan’s Monkey. It is up to you son, to keep us safe.” Vlad
addressed Eddie directly. “Son if you don’t go out there and stop them Flallops we all may
die. Now none of us particularly wants to, so it would be very much appreciated if you were
to not lose.”
         Eddie took in all that was happening and for the first time that day he had a brief
moment of calmness where his emotions took the briefest time out. He knew that he didn’t
want to kill the entire Whozit race, so he knew that he would be open to a settlement with the
other guy, other people who were more zealous may force a confrontation. He decided that
he would take the responsibility and do whatever he could to try to avoid squishing
everybody. He wasn’t sure how he was going to achieve such a goal, but he knew that he was
going to have to try.
         Loudly, so that everyone could hear Eddie gave his first public speech. It was short.
He said, “OK, I’ll do it.”
         Eddie climbed into his fancy new weapon and revved the engine to a roar. The people
went wild again, their fear and nervousness being vented through slapping palms and over-
extended vocal cords. The trumpets started to blare again as Eddie turned the weapon around
and drove it out the door in the direction of the BIG BIG CIRCLE OF DEATH, which, by
law, was the only place that weapons of mass destruction could be used. Vlad watched the
weapon drive away and nearly cried; he was so close, so very close.

        TOTAL VICTORY
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        “…They would have to be a great deal crazier than they are to not accept our terms of
TOTAL VICTORY.” Thundered Uncle Gus.
        “Oh boy.” Thought Tim the Flallop, “We’re really in for it.” Uncle Gus had really
built up a head of steam and continued, talking so fast you had to strain your ears to
understand him.
        “Asyouallknow, our main weapons are rocks, weusethemtoprotectourselves,
ourfamiliesandour property. Rocksarethecornerstonesofourdefenses…” Uncle Gus was
turning a weird shade of blue due to the lack of oxygen. He was forced to pause and regain
his breath. All of the kids in the auditorium were looking at one another, trying to get a sense
of what the hell was going on.
        Uncle Gus finally started again, much slower this time. “Last night a new weapon was
found in our military laboratory. On the weapon was a note from Glarf, it said that the
weapon is a gift from the Divine Salad Tong of Justice. We are, the note continued, to use
this weapon for the advancement of Flallopness and the Flallop interest. With it we will
achieve Total Victory.”
        It was now clear to Tim where the slogan on the banner came from and he had to
admit that it had a certain sinister ring to it. He somehow doubted that it was the word of
Glarf, but you can never tell about divine things, they’re tricky.
        Uncle Gus continued. “So you see why we have gathered you here together this
morning. By divine providence Glarf will guide my hand to pick out the name of the
worthiest candidate among you. He will, of course, accept this honor with a joyful heart. We
are going to achieve Total Victory today Flallops, today will be a day that is remembered for
the rest of our time.”
        Uncle Gus pointed at the curtain that was covering the device. The cables snapped
taught and lifted the curtain in the air, slowly revealing the gleaming metal weapon behind the
curtain. Suddenly loud explosions were going off all around them; Tim ducked down
thinking that they were under attack or something. Then the pinwheels came up from a
trapdoor in the stage. There were three of them and each was covered in sparklers, the
explosions had been the beginning of an extravaganza.
        Uncle Gus watched the fireworks with admiration. He loved fireworks and was
pleased in his heart to have such a great opportunity to use them. He watched as the bears
came out. They rode unicycles and were wearing cone shaped dunce caps on their heads.
There were five bears in all; each one wore the same look, total humiliation. They looked like
nine-year-olds who were being forced to wear idiotic outfits for family photographs. Uncle
Gus didn’t notice that look in the bear’s eyes; he was actually in his glory. If there was one
thing he liked more than fireworks, it was bears on unicycles. Add to that the fact that the
Flallops had a weapon powerful enough that the war could completely end, everything
seemed like perfection. Without a Doohicky of their own, the Whozits would have to
surrender. Doohicky was Uncle Gus’s name for the weapon, he had thought of it himself and
was actually quite proud of the name.
        Tim felt the knot in his stomach slowly double in size. He really hoped that his name
wasn’t picked out of the hat. He was looking at the rock dropper and he decided that he
would refuse even if his name were called.
        It looked like a penis. It wasn’t subtle; it didn’t kind of look like a penis. It wasn’t
sorta like a penis. It was a penis. A big metal penis almost fifteen feet tall. For the briefest
Rain                                                  23


moment Tim thought that he heard laughing coming from somewhere very far away. It was
the ghost of Freud again and boy was he getting a kick out of the Doohicky.
         Uncle Gus returned to the microphone as the bears were herded back off the stage by
trainers with nasty looking whips.
         “This device, a weapon that I have dubbed the Doohicky, had the power to drop big
huge rocks out of the sky. It can pick up rocks of almost any size and just float them over
whatever we want to smash. We can squish individual people, or the whole Whozit territory
with the push of a button. It guarantees us Total Victory,” Tim thought he was overdoing with
the Total Victory every three seconds. “We cannot lose, it’s a no brainer. So without further
ado…”
         Uncle Gus stopped speaking when the back door of the auditorium suddenly crashed
open with a loud bang. A man in a military uniform came running into the room. He jingled
as he ran, the numerous medals on his shirt bouncing off of one another. He ran directly past
Tim, close enough that he could smell the acrid sweat that seemed to permeate the air around
him. He was by in a flash, seeming not to care that he was obviously interrupting Uncle Gus
at the emotional high point of his presentation. He held only one thing, A single piece of
paper that was folded in his hand. He reached the stage, jumped up onto it and gestured
Uncle Gus away from the microphone. He had unfolded his paper and was showing it to
Uncle Gus. Even from the back row Tim could hear Gus’s voice. “Fuck.” Was all he said.
         There was a long silence. The same thought was in every head at the same time, What
could have caused such an outburst? For Tim, the pressure on his stomach was becoming
rather unbearable. Whatever was happening was bad- it had to be. He hated not knowing
what was going on. He suddenly realized that his leg was bouncing up and down at twice the
speed of his heartbeat, it annoyed him when he did this and so he forced it to stop. Five
seconds later his leg began to bounce again, when it did he was too shocked to notice or care.
         Uncle Gus returned to the microphone, his expression dour. “Flallops I have some
very disturbing news. I have been just informed that we are, in fact, NOT the only ones in
possession of a large-scale rock dropping capability. Major Riley here has just shown me a
picture of a device that is in the Whozits possession. Apparently they plan on arriving at the
Big Big Circle of Death with their weapon and a representative within the next twenty
minutes. We have very little time. The drawing will go on as planned. But first I would like
for us all to take a moment and pray to Glarf he guides my hand to picking the most worthy
candidate.”
         After a moment of very tangible silence Uncle Gus strutted up to the big wheel that
had been rigged with special lights that blinked yellow and then blue. With a deep-seated
grunt of effort Uncle Gus grabbed hold of the wheel, lifted it slightly as he went up onto his
toes, and then pulled it down and around with much more effort than he needed to. The wheel
spun madly, the playing card clacking loudly with the speed of a machine gun.
         Tim watched the cards in the barrel spin around, tumbling madly. His stomach felt
like those cards. He felt a sureness in his gut that his name was going to be pulled from that
barrel. He didn’t know how he knew, but he was sure. The entire scene that was happening
before him took on a surreal cast. He felt as if the world was becoming smudged somehow,
that he was only a ghost in the shell of his skin. It was as if the clacking of the barrel was
hypnotizing him. Slowly the clacking stopped, and the barrel came to rest. Uncle Gus
adjusted the barrel slightly, putting the door in a location that he could easily drop his arm
into it the cylinder. He pulled open the door and fished out a card.
Rain                                                   24


         Nobody in the room was breathing.
         Uncle Gus’s eyes dropped to the card in his hand. He read it, nodded absently at the
card and returned to the microphone.
         “Thank you Glarf for guiding my hand in the choosing of today’s candidate. Please
go with him in this time of trial and see that he works for the good of all of Flallop kind. And
now without further ado, the name I have drawn is a boy. A boy by the name of …TIM.”
         He paused, giving the hushed crowd time to locate Tim. Someone from the back row
of seats spotted him standing against the wall. “There he is!” he cried.
         Everyone in the entire auditorium turned around in their seats to look at Tim. He was
a moderately popular student and most everybody had seen him at least once or twice, even if
they had never actually spoken with him. Only now he looked different than he ever had
before. He was a hero. Just by being chosen in the way that he had made him a hero to
almost everyone in that room. The applause began to thunder immediately afterward. Soon
the entire room was standing and facing Tim, the applause and the cheers thundered at him
from every voice in the room. Within the cheering was an almost imperceptible current of
relief. Every other person in that room now knew that the burden of what was coming was
going to be on someone else’s shoulder. So they clapped, they clapped because someone was
going to have courage and it didn’t have to be them. There was admiration too, a great deal of
it actually, most everyone could imagine, if not understand what Tim probably felt like.
There wasn’t a stomach in the room that hadn’t contracted when Uncle Gus announced that
what was supposed to be a TOTAL VICTORY might actually be the end of existence for
everyone in Satan’s Monkey.
         Suddenly a second round of fireworks began to crash and explode on the stage. Uncle
Gus had ordered them before Major Riley had arrived and changed the atmosphere form one
of jubilation to one of barely comprehended disaster. Within seconds the bears had
reappeared as well, Unicycling dejectedly in a circle around the stage.
         Tim was only peripherally aware of any of this however. He was keeping himself
together, but just barely. He had remained eerily certain that his name was going to be picked
right up to the moment that Uncle Gus had announced him. But up to the last minute he had
held on to the hope he was just being paranoid. Once he heard his name come from Uncle
Gus’s lips everything went silent. He was suddenly moving in slow motion, his hearing gone.
He neither heard the applause nor noticed the people who were giving it. The musty smell in
the auditorium, the result of a persistently leaky roof had disappeared. There was only Tim
and a responsibility so large that Tim was sure that he could physically feel it manifesting
itself on his shoulders. He had begun walking toward the stage but there was literally no part
of his mind that was aware of the movement. His body was on autopilot as his mind tried
desperately to grasp what had happened over the past several hundred preceding seconds.
         This wasn’t something that he could just walk away from, this wasn’t just grown ups
being stupid and killing each other in handfuls for no intelligent purpose. This was the
possible eradication of all the Flallops in Satan’s Monkey. This was mass murder, genocide,
and total annihilation, not TOTAL VICTORY. He had been appalled when he had first seen
the machine, a terrible device whose very existence made everyone’s life worth a little less
than it had been worth before. Only now the other side had a weapon too, and they intended
to use it if someone didn’t stop them. It made sense, in a very short-term way, that he could
stop the Whozits from using their weapon if they thought that doing so would cause an equal
Rain                                                     25


or greater harm to themselves. Only by threatening the Whozits could they have any chance
of frightening them into leaving their powerful weapon dormant.
        Tim decided that he would accept the position sometime before he reached the stage.
He was never sure, even afterward, what exactly had caused him to make such a decision, but
he did. He climbed up the steps and onto the stage, somehow oblivious to the rather pungent
bears that were laboring on their unicycles. Oblivious to the sparks of magnesium as the
fireworks continued to burn all around him. He could only see Uncle Gus, and in the
background, entirely too real, was the weapon. He came closer to it now, trying to get a
closer look. It didn’t look divine- it looked made. Only Tim had no reason to doubt Uncle
Gus’s story, he had never heard anyone even mention the possibility that rocks could be
levitated in the air. If someone had built the thing, it wasn’t any Flallop that Tim had ever
heard of.
        Tim walked to Uncle Gus, who waved him forward, his best politician’s smile on his
face. His eyes, Tim was a little surprised to see, were telling another story entirely. The envy
on Uncle Gus’s face was clear. He wished that he could be the one to handle the weapon. HE
wanted to drop rocks on the Whozits, if for no other reason than because they had ruined what
he thought was going to be an easy, bloodless victory. Tim wished that he would do him a
favor and demand the honor for himself. He would have been happy to relinquish the job; he
would be over the disappointment in about 0 milliseconds.
        Only this wasn’t to be. Uncle Gus turned Tim toward the crowd and for the first time
the loudness of their cheers and applause made it through the filter of his consciousness. The
applause washed over him like a wave, somehow dissolving the knot that had been in his
chest since he had woken up that morning.
        Uncle Gus reached under the podium and brought out a box that was stowed
underneath it. Inside the box were the special pants and vest that had been made in honor of
the weapon. During the normal daily lunch lottery, the winner who accepted the challenge to
kill a Whozit received just a plain vest with “Warrior of the Day” written in flat black letters.
This vest had the same inscription only the letters were formed from hand-sewn rhinestones
that sparkled prettily in the florescent lights of the auditorium. The vest was also laden with
fancy frills and stitching which gave the vest a distinctly country-western feel. The pants
were bellbottoms, which in Satan’s Monkey actually had bells sewn all down the side leg
seams. This outfit had been blessed by the Flallop pope and officially decreed by the
government to be the most important outfit that could ever be imparted to the winner of a
lottery. He presented the suit to Tim with a flourish, a slight look of greed still visible in his
eyes as he reluctantly actually gave possession of the outfit over to Tim. Meanwhile the
fireworks continued exploding and causing the crowd to Ooh and Aah.
        “Tim, do you have anything that you would like to say to your friends out there in the
audience?” Uncle Gus asked Tim as he slid the vest on over his overalls. He would put the
pants on later, when he wasn’t standing on a stage in front of every Flallop girl he had ever
met. The idea of talking to everyone, especially under the circumstances terrified him, but it
suddenly occurred to him that he was going to need help moving the weapon to the BIG BIG
CIRCLE OF DEATH. It was in the exact middle of town the narrow conjunction that
connected the bow tie shaped town together. It was also, as everybody knew, the place where
you had to go when faced with destroying all kinds of stuff at once.
        Tim walked up to the microphone. The crowd quieted at once. Within seconds the
only sound that was in the auditorium was the persistent squeaking of the unicycle wheels as
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the bears continued to go around in circles. Tim noticed Uncle Gus watching the bears with a
placid smile etched into his face.
        “This Doohicky device looks pretty heavy to me and I was hoping that a few of you
might be kind enough to help me carry it to the BIG BIG CIRCLE. Can anyone help me
out?”
        There wasn’t a single person in the room that wouldn’t volunteer to carry the weapon.
Had Tim asked if there was anyone who wanted to switch places with him he would have
been standing there in silence for quite a while. As it was though several people came
forward, picked up the weapon and began to carry it towards the loading bay of the
auditorium. Tim followed behind them, rhinestone vest sparkling, and the pants he carried
over his arm jingling slightly every time he took a step.

Fear and Ignorance: Two Great Tastes That Taste Great Together.

        The BIG BIG CIRCLE OF DEATH was located in the exact center of the town (which
was shaped like a bow tie) and was basically a big circle etched in the ground, approximately
a hundred yards across. It was made by repeatedly kicking the earth until it was laid bare in a
big big circle. The circle itself was regular lawn terribly cluttered with rocks and stones. Big
ones and little ones covered the ground like stars scattered across the sky or paint scattered
across Pollack’s canvasses. Each town had a special Green Beret maintenance team that
mowed their respective half on alternating Wednesdays. They did so without running over a
single rock. This was a highly specialized skill that the holders thought they would never find
an outlet for.
        The Circle was what separated the Flallop side of Satan’s Monkey from the Whozit
side. When the battles between Whozits and Flallops first started they were happening in
bars, in piano recitals, and at bake sales. The atmosphere was nice, but the networks were
having a hard time getting to the battles before they were over. The two major networks
(There appeared to be hundreds of networks, there were hundreds of channels, but the truth
was there was only two networks.) Got together and bought the land that had been the No
Man’s Land between the two factions and fashioned the BIG BIG CIRCLE OF DEATH.
        The first battle in the circle broke ratings records when it aired live, just after the
popular Thursday night electrocution. One didn’t have to be Ernesto Einsteen to figure out
that they had stumbled into a good thing. All that was left was the force of law. On an
otherwise bright and sunny morning the Flallop and Whozit network heads had gone to their
respective national leaders. They greased palms; they offered all expenses paid vacations to
wherever a person might like to go. Alas, there was even hookery involved. Before anyone
knew it Uncle Gus and Vlad, not to mention their advisors, were recommending that they pass
laws constraining the violence to the circle in the middle of the two towns.
        These were not just regular laws however. They were monsters, hundreds of pages
long. They were so long that maybe three people read them all the way through. If pressed,
all three would admit that most of it was skimmed, not actually read. Around page three
hundred, after a rider illegalizing shearing sheep with safety scissors, (Say that three times
real fast.) came the section where anyone who happened to fight and/or die in the circle
automatically gave up any rights they may have concerning the airing of their likeness on TV.
They also gave up rights to any residuals from T-shirts, coffee mugs, or action figures that
may bare likeness to heretofore-mentioned persons who fight in the circle.
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         Further, there was the meat of the laws where violence of all kinds were banned from
anywhere inside the town limits, with the exception of the BiG BiG CIrCLE of DEATH. The
penalties for breaking the rules were to be swift and severe and involve chainsaws and
stainless steel nipple clamps. The good news was that domestic violence was drastically
reduced after the laws were passed. The bad news was that people were slaughtering each
other on television for sport.
           The laws did not ban the killing of Whozits or Flallops outside of the town limits
however and there were still plenty of killing going on in the woods and mountains that lay
beyond the town proper. It was in a valley outside of town that Eddie had planned on making
his kill. The networks never bothered to cover killings that happened in the wilds unless
someone had been smart enough to bring along a video camera to document their kill.
         The new laws allowed both networks to work together to wire the BIG BIG CIRCLE
from here to Happy Crucified Fat Man in a Sleigh Day. There were cameras on almost every
tree that surrounded the circle. There were giant telescoping crane cameras encased in mesh
and concrete to protect them from stray flying rocks.
         Two large editing trailers built were brought in to remix and edit the battles for replays
and highlights. The crew was large, consisting of three teams that rotated around the clock.
The 24-hour a day system had been put into placed when it was discovered that often, the
most dramatic footage wouldn’t happen until the wee hours of the morning. Giant floodlights
were erected for better resolution and the best footage from the previous evening was
replayed during a show called “Early Morning Midnight” which became Satan’s Monkey’s
highest rated morning show. People watched while eating their breakfast and dressing the
kids for school.
         Because of this previously available infrastructure, the opening events of what was to
be known as the Chilly War were broadcast live to every TV in the town. The director, a
wizened veteran named Hap Winklesphere was on duty during this crucial time and would
later win three Oscar’s and a Tony for his work.
         Hap’s private phone rang ten minutes before Tim and his group of Flallops came into
view, carrying their rock dropper. His thin figure (He only ate once every couple of days)
was a whirl of activity, moving from station to station he filled in the details, making small
adjustments unconsciously, his fingers moving of their own accord. He decided to go with a
wide shot to open, taken from his blimp cam. If he shot from this angle the two weapons
could be seen moving toward the circle in kind of dramatic inevitability. Tim’s group was
quite a bit closer to the circle, but they were moving slowly carrying the big bulky thing like a
coffin. Eddie, on the other hand, had his rock dropper floored. He bounced and swerved
through the badly paved streets towards the circle. It was a classic case of the tortoise and the
hare.
         This race was a tie; and the tie always goes to the elephant.
         The bushes on either side of the circle started rumbling as Eddie and Tim arrived.
They both crashed into the circle, discovering each other simultaneously. In what amounted
to badly disguised panic, Tim and Eddie snarled at each other. Tim showed Eddie his horn,
and then Eddie did likewise, standing up on the seat of his rock dropper. Insults were offered
about each other’s parentage and choice of deodorant soap. Eddie was frightened; he couldn’t
believe what a stressful day he was having. The Flallop with the stolen rock dropper looked
really angry, He was so quick to flash his horn, which to a Whozit was the most offensive
insult possible. It was the equivalent of screwing a guy’s sister.
Rain                                                   28


         For a moment Tim considered trying to tackle or kill or somehow incapacitate Eddie
by hand. It was against the rules, but considering what was at stake, wouldn’t any later
punishment be worth avoiding what seemed to loom on the horizon like a bad dream? There
were laws that said the only legal way for a Flallop to touch a Whozit was with a high
velocity rock. This effectively kept curious teenagers from talking and discovering they had a
lot of stuff in common. Tim looked at the small group he had with him and compared it to
Eddie. There was no question they could take him; the problem was that he was still far
enough away that he could conceivably fling a good-sized rock at them before they reached
him. Then Tim would find himself dead, on top of being the cause of the Flallops losing to
the Whozits. There was also the distinct possibility that might just smoosh everyone for the
hell of it, he was a terribly mean looking bastard.
         In the end, Tim decided that it wasn’t worth taking any chances, the referee would
arrive shortly and guide them through the preliminary part of the battle. There were accepted
protocols that both sides had agreed to in the event of two parties entering the Big Big Circle
simultaneously. There were in fact whole branches of both governments that just sat and
argued about exactly these contingencies in case they came up. On the rare occasion that an
agreement was made, copies (altered for national security) were handed out to all of the
citizens to learn so that in the event of (X) the proper protocols would be in place. Honest to
Glarf grown-ups spent literally years making up this kind of crap. The result was often that
by the time the two combatants had gone through all of the rigmarole, they were too tired to
fight anymore which was in most people’s opinion, a good thing.
         When the entertainment industry got involved this changed dramatically. Tired people
make bad ratings. When they were through, the branches of government remained, but in the
“interest of fairness” the industry brought in referee’s from Las Vegas to cut through the
literally miles of red tape that had arisen. The result had created “a more streamlined,
proactive product that was in synergy with the target market’s interest quotient.” At least that
was how the marketing people at Banal, Boorish, and (mostly) Uncreative pitched it at the
board meeting.
         Tim and Eddie approached one another as the announcer read their names off of a cue
card, the bright afternoon suns glaring off of his bald head. They looked each other in the
eye, not flinching, although both wanted to quite badly. The announcer finished his
introduction and turned the microphone over to the referee who was wearing the traditional
white an black striped shirt with Day-Glo pink pants. As the two boys came together before
him the ref looked at the weapons that the boys had brought along. He could barely keep
himself from laughing, while at the same time he was very afraid for these big weird blue
creatures. Their weapons were big penises. The ref had studied Freud in college and
recognized his laughter when he heard it.
         The main event, the violence, was still the same. The barbaric spirit of the old way
was maintained. The only difference was that in its modern form you insulted your opponent
while standing in front of a microphone. In the old days you would first have to build a
twenty-foot tower out of toothpicks and scotch tape, and that was only a preliminary
preparation.
         The rules, as defined by that year’s official “BBCOD for Dummies” were that both
sides take turns threatening each other until one side backs down in proper homage to the
other side’s monkeyfish ancestors. When this threatening was through the winner would
Rain                                                    29


carry out the threat. The loser cannot. This system had worked every time two parties had
entered the circle at the same time.
         Before the invention of these new weapons of mass destruction (A term that actually
causes politicians to drool and make happy in their pants.) the threatening didn’t go very far.
Maybe three or four people would be threatened and then one side would back down.
However, the political analysts of CNNBC (Your HOME of Propaganda and news shaping)
had already realized that these new weapons would outstrip the traditional ability of one side
to rationally threaten to kill the other. (No irony lost there) These weapons allowed for
unimaginable destruction far beyond anything that either of these boys had the ability to
realistically contemplate. It was like two ants trying to figure out how many of them it would
take to fill the Grand Canyon.
         The answer: a lot.
         Nevertheless, the system rolled on, being the only thing it knew how to do.
         “Let the ignorant, racist, and other comments that blatantly show misunderstanding
begin!” Shouted the announcer who was also from Vegas.
         Actually, the referee told him about the gig. The degree to which announcers and
referees go to other dimensions for work is a remarkably underreported story that only garners
attention in the tabloid press.
         With remarkable speed a special arrangement had been set up for the opening barrage
of insults. Two large Barco Loungers were set up facing one another at opposite ends of a
smaller circle that lay within the Big Big one. Assistant directors led Tim and Eddie away
from their weapons to their respective easy chairs.
         As Tim was sitting down to his place beside the rock dropper some thoughts kept
going through his mind over and over, like a record stuck in a scratch. He had a big rock
dropper. The Whozit across the field had an equally big rock dropper. In fact, it was hard to
be sure, but the Whozit’s rock dropper might even be a little longer than his own. And it had
wheels. Tim wished that somebody had put wheels on his rock dropper.
         Tim was filled with a primal fear that gnawed on his stomach like a hamster on crack.
(By the way, a hamster on crack can chew through your leg in 6 seconds... Really.) It was
only slightly reassuring knowing that he could squish all of the Whozit’s friends if his own
were squished. He realized that if the unspeakable happened the only person that would be
left to talk to would be the Whozit sitting across from him. It was true that he barely knew the
guy but Tim already didn't like him. It would be terrible if he were the only person left
around. He decided he would do whatever was necessary to keep from being stuck with this
guy as a neighbor.
         The ref was in the process of throwing a large coin in to the air. One side said Whozit,
the other Flallop, to Tim’s eyes the coin spun in slow motion while the same thoughts cycled
over and over through his head. Scare him! The idea flashed suddenly into his mind. He
wouldn’t just make a threat; he would make an asinine threat. A threat so enormous that
nobody in their right mind would ever accept it. He would force this Eddie kid to threaten
him back. They would go on like this for as long as they had too; hopefully neither would
ever have to actually begin.
         “I will drop 5,000 rock on every family member you have!” he said before he really
thought about what he might be getting himself into with such a large number as the starting
point.
Rain                                                      30


        Eddie had been thinking very similar thoughts as Tim (only the names were changed
to protect the innocent) and when he heard the threat he quickly retorted,
        “Oh yeah smelly? I’ll drop 10,000 rocks on every relative you have twice a year for
the next twenty years.”
        “Oh Yeah?”
         “Yeah.”

       What Are You Doing Dave?

         And so they threatened each other.
         Time swung into a blur. Weeks, then months past. The town itself began to sicken
under the strain. The streets, veins of the city whose labyrinthine mazes baffled all but the
most astute mailmen, were empty. The streets seemed ready to collapse from the lack of
traffic. If anyone had been in the streets with an open ear they would have heard two things,
the lagging, hiccuping fibrillation of a troubled town and the soft laughing of Freud’s ghost.
         Movement was limited because everyone was inside, glued to the TV. Watching their
lives, spectators huddled in their houses, untalking, unthinking, and in shock. The whole
world was essentially drawn into what had become the most insane spectator sport in history.
The ratings were through the roof and within minutes of the first threat awards were pouring
into the trailers where the crew was working. The CG man won an award for his stunning
graphic and headline “Crisis in Satan’s Monkey” accompanied by silhouettes of the two
weapons pointing at each other.
         Inside their houses citizens worked furiously making ribbons to wear on their shirts.
(They did this in front of the TV of course.) The flag knitting industry also did a quick
business. Every week or so one faction or the other would gather together to compare their
flags and ribbons. There was also a lot of waving, fists, flags, and ribbons alike. They waved
them at each other, at trees, at spiders that lived in the corners of their houses, but most of all,
more often than anywhere else, they waved them at the TV.
         The fear had been growing, drawing powerfully on the town’s reserves of strength and
integrity. In galaxies far, far, away, you would say that she felt a disturbance in the force.
There was ill wind blowing and the fear that gripped her citizen’s began to grip her own
failing heart. She being only a larger part of themselves, had mechanisms in place to save her
existence, mechanisms that she initiated more by instinct than by conscious choice.
         It came to her like a revelation. When she realized what she had to do, she found that
she had already done it. The plan was there for her, writing out a tale of salvation.
         The town itself called out into the ether for help. Although in doing so she had to
admit it didn’t know who or what it was calling, she knew that there was something that was
listening, something that could help. (It was not lost on the town that action was supposed to
be out of its realm of possibility, a fact she found interesting, but ultimately irrelevant.)
Satan’s Monkey could feel the rocks floating above her surface, and she cursed having no
appendages of her own to brush them away.
         The irony was that she was bitterly aware that it was a part of herself being used to
threaten her, the rocks that hung over the surface were from her just as much as the Whozits
and the Flallops that put them there. Like a cancer that goes out of the body, only to invade
again, making the death even more excruciating and meaningless. She would remove the
cancer, even if it ultimately had to be burned out.
Rain                                                     31


        It was a good thing that the town knew what it was doing because the people who
lived within it were lost like children in a forest of unavoidable nihilistic terror. Existence had
become a meaningless farce, every movement, thought, dream, carried out under an
increasingly thick cloud of rocks, each the size of a house.

       Ernesto’s Fate

         The threatening went on for months; the numbers reaching proportions that were so
high branches of theoretical physics were founded on it. Branches that were created without
the help of the venerable scientist Ernesto Einsteen. Shortly after the Chilly War started
Ernesto locked himself inside his house, boarded up his windows and never came out except
to pick up his groceries once a week. There were all kinds of wild rumors that he was trying
to grow a lawn using special lights in his basement. When reporters and general admirers had
tried to approach Ernesto to ask him what was wrong they received no response of any kind
from him except for a ferocious “Go away!” And maybe a dirty look. The only clue as to
what happened to the man was the front lawn, now an unkept wild jumble of madness that
reflected the heart of the scientist like a scraggly green mirror.
         A lawn mower had apparently been dashed into literally hundreds of pieces against a
large rock that stood near its center. If you looked closely, you would also find the remains of
a WeedWacker and Ernesto’s favorite pen.
         Little kids, on dares, would sometimes go up to the house’s front porch, giggling in
terror. If you touched the front door, you were in the club. What club you were joining
varied by what kids were playing the game.

       The Big Big Circle of Death

        In the circle Tim and Eddie kept spiraling further and further into the bizarre hell that
they managed to create for themselves. Both sides had started off terribly and things had gone
downhill from there. Tim realized his mistake within the first couple of hours of threats.
However, close on its heels came the revelation that he had gone too far to back down. Tim
boggled at how quickly and unexpectedly they had painted themselves directly into a corner.
He had no idea how to close Pandora’s Box.
        To further confuse matters, the boys were not allowed to sleep. The threats had to
continue 24 hours a day. Any breaks, days off, or extended coffee breaks would be seen by
the other side as a less than total commitment to the total eradication of the other. Instead,
Tim would nap while Eddie read off his threat, and vice versa. The practical result of the no
sleep policy was that within the first couple of days Eddie had found himself raising his
number so high that it would take at least an hour or so to get all the way through. This at
least gave him a little bit of REM sleep.
        Living like this over several months had created a distinct sense of illusion to
everything that went on about them. There was no privacy at all, and the scrutiny was
enormous. If Eddie turned down a glass of Yoo-Hoo it would spark off literally hours of
intense commentary and debate on the television. The Whozits say that their guy is keeping
himself refreshed and healthy without the Yoo-Hoo and the Flallops saying that the fatigue is
clearly showing by his inability to drink a refreshing beverage.
Rain                                                     32


         When the first rocks began to become visible floating over their heads, they distracted
both Tim and Eddie. They looked quite unnatural hanging as if someone had decided to press
‘pause’ on the law of gravity. Every now and then, as the field modulation shifted the rocks
would shimmy in the air, threatening to fall onto their heads uncommanded. As time went on
however, the boys became once again oblivious to the rocks; their menacing everpresence
receding into just one of many horrors that seemed to have become every aspect of their sleep
deprived existence. There was one thought that the boys shared, one thought that made what
they were doing worthwhile, at least nobody was dying while they threatened. They both felt
confident that their actions would at least bring a cease-fire. Putting off the inevitable?
Maybe, but it made them feel better nevertheless.
         There was no cease-fire. The petty sniper war continued in spite of the fact that it
served no purpose, Total Victory hung over everyone’s heads in all its perpetual splendor.
How anyone had the dedication to go on murdering despite the perpetual threat of the
obliteration of everybody in the whole town was to remain in the annals of the inexplicable,
like the success of boy bands, or chewing gum.
         The town economy was falling apart under the strain of what Uncle Gus had termed
Total Victory. The entire concept was MAD. As quickly as they could be mined rocks were
sent up into the air. Crews worked non-stop in long shifts mining the rock from the ground in
bus sized chunks. Before long a thick blanket of rocks began to block out most of the sun’s
rays. This caused crops to die and made Satan’s Monkey a much less cheery place to live in.
People starved, education levels dropped, violence became more rampant as every citizen was
faced daily with 1,0000000000000000000000000000000000000 to the same number squared
several times and then raised to that big ass number again… twice…rocks falling on their
individual head at any moment. This is a very stressful way to spend a life.
         There was no escape from the specter of death. It shone on the town like a fluorescent
bulb, the soft humming audible even in the deep sleep of night. If you managed to forget,
even for a second, all you had to do was go outside or look up to be reminded. The rocks,
suspended on nothing but some guy’s math were prominent enough reminders. Hope was
precious and sporadic at best. Nobody on either side favored of the state of affairs at the time
but it seemed that the alternative was much worse. If side X backs down then group Y
smashes them all into oblivion. It had to continue, and yet it couldn’t, not forever.
         It was interesting the way the fears of one side mirrored the fears of the other. One
scientist at the university wondered why it was that both sides considered themselves
absolutely trustworthy and the opposition absolutely full of liars. You could trust your own
side (they would never lie to you) but everything anybody else said was suspect. This led to
people saying things like, “Well, what if the Flallops say they will get rid of all of their rocks
but they save one big one and then they drop it on our heads when we aren’t looking?”
         When it was pointed out that the only reason the other side had a rock pointing at them
in the first place was because there were rocks pointed at them the questioned would begin to
wave their flag and wander off whistling “Little Drummer Boy.” The scientist that originally
brought this up, a guy name Wilhelm Reich was thrown out of the university and jailed for
trying to “foster a riot.”

“Sanity Never Came My Way”
Rain                                                  33


        The last day of the Chilly War was a Thursday. Had the sky been more visible, the
people of town would have been privy to a beautiful morning that led into a peaceful
afternoon. Beneath the shadow of the rocks, however, things were as bad as they had ever
been. Word was spreading that food was scarce and people were feeling desperate.
        It was into this atmosphere that a traveler came to Satan’s Monkey.
        She was a beautiful woman with dark skin and soft but stormy brown eyes. She was
obviously not from town; she was lacking both the horn in her butt and the dirty blue
coloring. She was dressed in a simple orange patterned dress and wore a single black ribbon
in her hair. Around her neck was a small elephant pendant made of jade that swung slightly
as she walked. Her name was Rain. She came walking out of the forest from the East casting
an odd shadow. It was distorted by her backpack, a green monstrosity that hung huge on her
frame, looming on her shoulders. She carried the load with her head up, gazing into the
world. There was an almost ethereal quality to her countenance.
        Rain observed the streets, dirty with discarded paper, refrigerators, weird twisted
hunks of metal, and the miscellaneous universe flotsam that finds its way onto the streets of
every rundown urban center. She walked past boarded up, abandoned buildings; one after
another discarded like pizza boxes. Rain wondered what had happened to the people who
used to live and work here. The people that were still around stared out of their windows
through mostly drawn shades. Most folks couldn’t see her at all, but even the ones who could
looked with a distrustful scowl. Rain wasn’t harassed or chased, but she certainly wasn’t
welcome either. She walked past empty lots full of weeds, and increasingly there were male
and female whatchamacallits (Rain was bad with names) sleeping under newspapers in these
miniature fields, there bodies clenched up to the cold, horns sticking out defiantly into the
brisk air. The weather was always chilly in the perpetual shade of the rocks. Now she knew
where the people who used to live in the abandoned buildings went.
         Signs of desperate poverty became increasingly evident. The only buildings that
weren’t painful to look at aesthetically were morally abhorrent. There weren’t very many
signs of wealth, but what there was rivaled anything Vegas or the Renaissance could come up
with in terms of opulence. These ornate buildings shone in brutally stark relief to the
dilapidated structures that made up most of the view. Rain walked past one large house that
drew her attention because of the huge rock that stood in the front yard. She walked up to get
a closer look and came across what appeared to be a completely demolished lawn mower.
Pieces of the thing sparkled in the occasional shaft of light that found its way through the
rocks. Rain looked back to the house and noticed that there were bright lights shining through
the basement windows. She made her way to the house almost wading in the deep grass. As
she got closer she realized how truly blazing the basement light was; it had to be to pierce
such a overgrown lawn. Rain crouched carefully to look into the window, the huge pack on
her back making the maneuver a little harder than it should have been. In the basement
Ernesto Einsteen was sleeping on a beautifully manicured green lawn. The grass was as
green as the cheese that makes up the moon, as thickly, completely green as a chunk of jade.
The bright was coming from the grow lamps Ernesto had strung everywhere. Rain could hear
him snoring so deeply his toes moved with the effort. She smiled, puzzled but pleased with
the odd scene. Rain then turned smartly on her heel and returned to her journey to the center
of town.
        She walked past what appeared to be the industrial center of town; high fences
surrounded the giant uniformly gray buildings. Smoke and fire poured from stacks that
Rain                                                     34


seemed to grow out of the buildings like cancerous growths. She stopped at the fence and
watched as blocks of stone, ten feet square and bigger were rolled out of the far end of the
factory. The slabs of rock were wheeled into a field full of rock droppers where they rose
steadily into the air, one after another, to join their brethren in the macabre dance of inevitable
destruction. Rain took pleasure in the movement that she witnessed, the way the teams
worked together to achieve a common goal. She did her best, not entirely successfully, to not
think about how stupid the goal was. There was beauty in everything, one only need eyes to
see it and a heart big enough to forgive the horror that it sometimes foretold.
        The industrial area was the only part of the town that didn’t feel deserted. The shops
that hadn’t closed down had open signs in their windows, but no cashiers at the counters. No
stockboys moved boxes, no old women browsed the knick knack shops for ceramic pigs in
police uniforms. Rain figured that these places probably received their business when the
whistle blew at the rock factory. She wondered why they bothered making the rocks into such
nice cubes, she figured they would crush people just as well if they were pulled raw from the
ground.
        She stood at the fence, her fingers interlaced in its links. People were living in boxes
along the fence, people who either didn’t want to work in the rock factory, or perhaps, weren’t
able. The homeless were the most constant thing that she perceived, they were living out of
shopping carts, desperate looks covered most of their faces. She was suddenly very aware of
the thick, acrid industrial smells that floated on the air from the factory. She could see the
terrible smog that belched out of the stacks floating up to the layer of rocks that hung in the
sky and kind of waft around, unable to escape into the outer atmosphere except as a slow
trickle. Rain began walking again; trying not to notice the children who slept in alleyways,
the beds made of cardboard.
        Rain took everything in without comment, but her eyes shown with compassion for
the suffering all around her. She had no money to help these people; besides, such duties
were not her place. The town had summoned her, its desperate cries called to her like a voice
floating out of the wilderness. She followed it, because that’s what Rain did. It was what she
had been doing for as long as she could remember.
        She knew what was going on in the center of town. She knew that there were two
very scared, very angry, (but otherwise intelligent) boys who were taking turns reading out
numbers to one another, oblivious to the world around them. She had been summoned and
she came to help. Although they didn’t know it, they were special; they had the ability to see.
However they were, for the moment, as blind as Stevie or Ray.
        The industrial center gave way to the nicest neighborhood that she encountered. It
was probably here that most of the management of the factory worked. It was clear that for
these folks, life went on pretty much as normal. In spite of the rocks that hung in the air, this
was the area of town where people had managed to put such gloomy thoughts as total
annihilation out of their heads. Instead people here focused on quota deadlines and efficiency
ratings. They allowed their jobs and their lives to filter out the rocks. Rain knew this without
knowing why she knew it. It was very vivid to her mind’s eye. She could see the way that
these people slowly let their eyes drop down the horizon, until they were unconsciously
avoiding looking up. It was as if the sky had suddenly disappeared, only to reappear briefly,
in the moments when things were going wrong.
        Finally Rain came to the Big Big Circle of Death. A thick layer of brush and bushes
that had been planted to take the boy’s mind off of the cameras and editing trailers that lay
Rain                                                    35


just beyond the circle’s perimeter. There were guards posted every few hundred feet, but
Rain passed between two of them without the slightest suspicion. She stopped just before
entering the circle, looking out at Tim and Eddie.
         It was Tim’s turn to read off the threatening number, which he did in a flat, bored, and
slightly confused tone. There were immense circles under his eyes; his skin was a pale, if
very dirty blue. Eddie was taking a nap, laying on his side, an egg timer, set to ring in ten
minutes, ticked quietly next to his head. She stood watching and waiting, Tim’s voice
droning on monotonously. Finally the timer expired, the subsequent ding causing Eddie to sit
up quickly, a confused and frightened look on his face. After a moment he seemed to realize
where he was again and he absently wiped the sleep boogers from his eyes so that he could
see what the sky looked like. In fact, Eddie spent most of his time, reading off a number or
not, watching the increasingly brutal sky fill with more and more rocks until it became as
crazy to Eddie’s mind as it seemed to his heart.
         Standing on the perimeter of the circle Rain took a deep breath and pushed apart the
bushes. She walked quickly and directly to Tim whose was facing away from her. She
placed her hand on his shoulder, badly frightening him. He jumped in his seat almost letting
loose a maelstrom of rocks upon the earth. Nobody had dared interrupt the threatening
process before and her arrival had thrown him so much that he lost track of the number he had
been reciting. He looked up with fear and annoyance at whoever it was that interrupted his
important threatening. The sight of Rain stopped him cold.
         Although she was clearly of a different species, Tim nevertheless found her stunning
and unabashedly beautiful. For more than a brief moment Tim forgot about everything else,
his attention rapt with this strange woman. He had been looking at her for a full thirty
seconds before he noticed how enormous her backpack was, it was as if she was giving
something twice her size a piggy-back ride.
         When she began to speak Tim stopped paying attention to her looks and felt his mind
being pried open to allow room for what she was going to tell him.
         Eddie was equally taken with Rain. The sight of her woke him completely the fog of
grogginess drying up in her sun. It was the first time he felt truly awake in months. He never
seemed to have the time he needed to fully reset his batteries, instead he remained constantly
groggy.
         Rain seemed to be speaking inside of his head even though she was standing ten feet
away. He wasn’t really conscious of what was being said to him; consciously he was just
listening. Unconsciously Eddie, like Tim, felt that his mind was somehow being enlarged, or
perhaps more accurately, altered, to be able to accept the realizations that had been skittering,
hesitant and afraid, at the edges of both of their consciousness since the beginning of the rock
dropping ordeal.
         Eddie sat enraptured with what seemed like impossible wisdom- the kind that refuses
to cooperate because it’s too damn simple to be talked in or out of anything. The kind of truth
that when it knocks on your door and you tell it to go away because you are looking for truth
it sticks it’s foot in your door and whacks you with the newspaper over the head. In other
word it reeked…of common sense.
         Rain had only been in the circle for a couple of minutes, but to Tim it seemed much
longer. He saw himself, and the choices that he made over the past months, only now with a
remarkable detachment. The negative emotions, fear and even hatred had disappeared. In its
place were the love and compassion that he had felt throughout the entire experience, the love
Rain                                                     36


and compassion that had previously been lost to the much more pervasive negativity. What
he knew suddenly, intuitively, he now understood logically, rationally. Tim closed his eyes
tight, this strange new wisdom the only input he could allow in his brain at the moment.
When he opened them again, the girl was gone.
         Perhaps by coincidence, perhaps not, Eddie had his eyes closed at the same time; he
also missed Rain’s disappearance. She left, traveling to the next place in the universe,
everything she needed in that bag on her back. The memory of her remained however,
although it had almost all of the characteristics of a dream, neither boy thought for a minute
what happened was hallucinatory. Tim knew that her name was Rain, and that while she was
no longer there, in a way she was. Whatever she had done to him had altered him in a way
that was both profound, and yet inexplicable. He simply thought differently now, and it was
quickly becoming harder to remember how he had thought about everything that had come
before. Tim and Eddie experienced what is known as a paradigm shift, the total
transformation of one worldview to another.
         The core of it, the center that everything else revolved around, was a single thought. It
was stupid almost, so simple he couldn’t understand how what it meant had never occurred to
him. The only way that violence would ever stop was to stop being violent. He knew this
already, had always known it, and yet he hadn’t. The truth of it had always had a caveat, an
afterthought that tainted the thought’s simple validity.
         “It can’t be that simple...What if?”
         Tim began to get a very bad stomachache. He felt as if he had suddenly swallowed a
whole turtle still in the shell. He wanted to turn away from the truth of it. Only something
was different in him now, he could not turn away, could not rationalize himself out of the
simple truth. Instead it hung there, doggedly naked, refusing to submit to his excuses. Tim
felt a second wave of nausea waft over him, he was in a kind of shock, like the lucky survivor
of a terrible plane crash, the kind where the plane was doing it’s best to imitate a lawn dart. “I
am,” Tim suddenly thought, “the pilot of the plane.”
         He had the lives of every person in the city on his proverbial airplane and he was
flying straight at the ground. Now that he had his senses back his mind raced trying to figure
out how he could pull the town out of its death spiral. Tim looked at Eddie, and was actually
relieved at what he saw.
          Eddie was also starting to turn green. He was also absorbing the reality of what they
almost did to each other, to their whole society. And for what? Cultural differences that
neither side was really affected by. Religious differences, differences of economic status, all
in a culture whose technology afforded enough for everybody. There were economic
differences as well, but hadn’t they reached a point in their technology where food wasn’t a
problem? The rest of the economy was just details anyway, and mostly imaginary to boot.
The grinding of independent thought beginning in their respective brains was almost audible.
Their thoughts were, if only briefly, free of both the practicality of pessimism and the
emotional knee jerking of his less fortunate ancestors.
         Nobody really wanted to kill anybody. It was just fear, fear and ignorance and Glarf
damn anyone who refused to just admit it once and for all.
         Tim realized, all at once what the next step was. He stood up from his place in the
circle, his knees cracking loudly from sitting for so long. They felt stiff and unresponsive, but
they worked. He looked Eddie directly in the eye. Then he stuck both of his fingers into his
Rain                                                    37


ears. He stood up on one foot, his sore leg almost collapsing with the effort. Tim recited the
Flallop oath of taking back all the nasty things you said to someone.
         “I remove my threats of violence which were outrageous and without any merit or
aforethought. I offer my apologies to your family and to those who you consider keen. I am
sorry for almost crushing your entire culture. I have been foolish and have shown that I often
think with my horn. Please forgive my stupidity, for I have forgotten the face of my father,
who was a swell guy who used to play catch with me on the weekends.”
         Having provided the necessary formalities Tim sat back on his horn in the universal
sign of surrender. It was the same position that was called “The Loving of Glarf,” only given
in this context it meant absolute surrender.
         A giant cheer erupted from the Whozit side of Satan’s Monkey, the victory was theirs,
all Eddie had to do was threaten Tim one last time and the Whozit’s would win the war and
wipe the Flallops off the face of Satan’s Monkey once and for all. Nearly every Whozit and
Flallop in the town gathered around their television sets. Some looked out their windows at
the sky, wanting to watch the rocks falling down upon them in the thousands.
         The crowd silenced itself as Eddie rose from his seat.
         There was a pause.
         It was pregnant.
         It had twins who grew up to be doctors.
         Finally Eddie smiled and said, “I too offer my apologies. I have been like a snake that
sticks its head up its own ass to get out of the sun. I would rather be your friend, than eat your
face. I too have been thinking with my horn and not my brain, I was scared and angry. Like a
child I nearly struck out, causing your mojo injury.”
         Eddie went down onto his knees and placed his head on the ground, his arms stretched
towards Tim in the Whozit posture of total submission. When Eddie finished his speech,
there was almost no air in Satan’s Monkey because everyone on both sides gasped
simultaneously with surprise. As suddenly as the Chilly War had came, it had gone. There
was no fanfare or excitement really. Tim just got back to his feet with Eddie. They
approached each other and spoke briefly; it was the last time they would talk for a while.
They talked quietly so that the microphones wouldn’t pick up their voices.
          “Look, now that we’ve decided not to kill anybody a lot of people are going to be
mad at us. They’ll call us cowards.” Tim said, “If they think that we are crazy they are likely
to declare us as such and just start the Chilly War over with people that aren’t crazy. We
probably shouldn’t mention that girl who disappeared into the clear blue sky.”
         “You’re probably right, but how are we going to explain to all of these people that we
just up and called off the war?” asked Eddie.
         “I guess we’ll have to tell them the truth, that killing people is stupid. Since we agree
on that, why should we kill each other?”
         “It’s so simple it just might work.”
         And it did work. According to Law 532345/uhsoh]hfh’.,/,[. The participants can call
off all wars if they are so inclined. This obscure clause had been created in the rare case that a
crazy ass leader might declare war on himself or something equally ridiculous. It was a
loophole, but it was legal. Since the participants were inclined to end the war, it was over.
         “Well, I guess I’ll see you around.” Eddie bowed in the official Whozit manner of
bowing, and smiled.
Rain                                                   38


        “Yeah, I’m glad we didn’t destroy the world together.” Tim returned to the Flallop
version of the bow that was identical to Eddie’s except that fingers were stuck in both ears.
They turned and walked away. As they did, the rocks that had hung in the air slowly started
dispersing, ultimately to settle randomly in the outlying forest with only a soft thud. The
settling rocks killed millions of ants, but that’s a different level of abstraction.

       Aftermath

        Just because the Chilly War was over didn’t mean the end of the differences between
the Whozits and the Flallops. It was just the end of direct confrontation with the threat of
destruction. The sniper war continued for several months longer, until the first election in
Satan’s Monkey’s history. But we will get to that.
        The Whozits and Flallops of Satan’s Monkey mostly held on to their prejudices and
hatred as if admitting that you had acted foolishly was the same as being a fool. However,
when push came to shove it was hard to find anyone who really felt that the things that
separated the two groups were worth annihilating all the life in the whole town.
        The one thing everyone on both sides agreed on was that they liked having the sky
back. The view during the Chilly War really sucked. There was nothing but those damn
rocks hanging over their heads, day in, and day out. The whole thing had gotten rather
depressing. The end of the war also made growing food a great deal easier. It turns out
sunlight helps.

The Inside Scoop

        While the end of the Chilly War made many people unhappy for a whole mess of
different reasons there was one man whose annoyance surpassed all others. He was a Whozit
named Mr. Oliver and he was the owner of ROCKS AND ALL Corporation. Everyone called
him Mr. Oliver, even his wife.
          He was the richest person in all of Satan’s Monkey, richer than the government itself,
though you can be sure, the government didn’t know this. Like most rich people Mr. Oliver
made his fortune the old fashioned way. He inherited it. Also like most people who hide
their money in stock and offshore accounts, he paid little to no taxes.
        Mr. Oliver’s father, Mr. Chad died when he was only fourteen, his mother was never
known to him. His Dad suffered a massive heart attack and fell face first into his soup in the
middle of a lecture about immortality and why it should never be offered to poor people. He
was stopped, mid-sentence when all four ventricles of his heart burst simultaneously, the
result of living a life of high stress and limited happiness. From that moment, sitting there
looking at his dead father, Mr. Oliver loathed the irony that was the universe.
        No one but Mr. Oliver was surprised at Mr. Chad’s death. He was strung so tight it
was probable that his heart had decided on a walkout in an unprecedented move on behalf of
his body’s labor unions. Mr. Chad always called Mr. Oliver by the nickname “Little Ollie.”
He didn’t mind when his Dad called him by the name, but he hated when anyone else did.
“Please call me Oliver.” he would say, his dark eyes killing whoever had called him his
Father’s pet name. The only time Mr. Oliver really cried was when Mr. Chad died. He had
been cruel and mean, but Mr. Oliver had loved him. Sadly, once Mr. Chad was gone he
would never love again. At least not another Flallop or Whozit.
Rain                                                     39


         Little Ollie inherited his Dad’s sizable fortune. It wasn’t anywhere near its current
value, but it was a lot of money in those days. Thoughts of the money allowed Mr. Oliver to
endure Mr. Chad’s funeral. Thankfully there was a great game of pin the tail on the donkey
and Mr. Oliver was able to concentrate on his duties of stoking the cremation fire. Children
sat and roasted marshmallows, a Flallop tradition that dated back to the days when camping
was very popular. Although Mr. Chad had not a single person in Satan’s Monkey he could
call a friend, the cremation party was packed with people. It seemed to Mr. Oliver every
single one of these ninnies were taking turns coming up to him, pinching his cheek and
offering their condolences to Little Ollie. He just grinned at them and turned away, his face
souring as soon as it swung out of view.
         He put up with the name for his three-day “official period of mourning.” During this
time he was still considered a child, the surviving child of Mr. Chad. But, by Satan’s Monkey
law, Little Ollie took over his father’s estate the minute that he walked into the offices that
served as his Dad’s headquarters. He had already called his Dad’s old secretary Irma, and
told her to organize a meeting of all his Dad’s directors for 10:30 sharp.
          Three days after his Father was cremated he walked through the tall front doors of
Mr. Chad’s headquarters. He walked through the door and felt a wave pass over him, so
intense it was actually physical. He felt the power of what he had become. Like some
immortal mythical creature Mr. Oliver felt the possibility of what he now possessed. He liked
the feeling; he liked it a lot. But, already in those first moments of gluttonous ego-expanding
power he felt a lack. It wasn’t a lack of love, or honor, or compassion. He had none of these
things and was perfectly fine with it. Instead, he felt a need for more, like a whiff of sulfur in
the air. For the rest of his life, there would always be a part of his mind that turned on the
Problem of More, and the many ways that it could be solved.
         Little Ollie overcame his swoon and straightened his back. He nodded at everyone he
passed, grunting something that could have been “Good Morning.” It also might have been,
“Go fuck yourself.” Even as a youth, Little Ollie like to swear. He made a beeline for the
office that his Father had used for ten years. Walking into its opulence, Mr. Oliver was
pleased that Irma had done what he had asked, redecorating the office entirely. He wanted it
turned into a war room, he was going to be making changes, and he needed the proper office
to make them in. There was a huge picture of a jaguar pouncing on a deer; the print covered
almost one entire wall of the office. In the picture the jaguar had already managed to
disembowel the poor deer and it appeared ready to start in on the eyes. Mr. Oliver liked the
picture immediately and reminded himself to compliment Irma on her choice.
         A minute later he got his chance as Irma, a stout little woman wearing glasses and a
plaid and polka dotted dress entered the office. He grunted cheerfully at her but didn’t bother
to make the compliment about the picture. After asking if he needed any YooHoo she
informed him that she had called together all of his Father’s directors as he had asked her to
do.
         “Everyone has already arrived Sir, they are waiting for you.” She smiled at him
brightly. He grunted a second time. He stopped and glanced at his watch, it was 10:33.
According to a book he had read, 3 minutes was the perfect amount of time to be late if you
were the boss. People were just starting to get bored. They were starting to stop thinking
about his not being there and instead were thinking whatever dumb thoughts floated in their
tiny stupid cow minds. (Mr. Chad had always hidden his fears or sadness with vitriolic name-
calling; Little Ollie was doing his best to take after his Dad in this regard.) He would burst in,
Rain                                                    40


and his very arrival would be intimidating. Not that this would stop them from being insolent.
No, he figured that nothing could avoid that little bit of corporate initiation. He had decided
how to deal with the problem long before his hand reached out and pulled open the door to his
new conference room.
        There were a dozen bright orange plush chairs flanking a long table carved from a
single piece of beautifully veined wood. At the head of the long table, set noticeably higher
than the others was his Father’s chair, deep red instead of orange. Those who had worked for
his father sat in the orange chairs that day, looking at him with superior, condescending eyes.
        “Hello there Little Ollie.” Said his Dad’s Senior Vice President; an unpleasant Flallop
named Horace, who sat in the chair closest to Ollie’s.
          Mr. Oliver didn’t reply immediately, instead he began walking toward his place at
the head of the table. He walked to his chair, and without warning, as quick as a cat he
stepped on the chair and jumped to the table’s broad surface. In two quick strides he was in
the face of Horace. He reached out with one hand and grabbed him by the throat. With a
quick jerk he pulled the trachea from Horace’s neck, his eyes suddenly bulging from his head.
Horace made a single, terrible gargling sound and then slid from his chair and onto the floor.
        Mr. Oliver calmly returned to his chair, dropping down off the table with a thud. He
sat down, bridged his fingers in front of his eyes and informed those who remained that “I
will be referred to as Mr. Oliver from this moment forward. Anyone who makes the same
mistake as Horace will get the same treatment. Only next time, I assure you, I won’t be so
merciful.”
        Mr. Chad left a letter in the house safe, a safe that he was only allowed to open upon
his Dad’s death. The letter suggested the move. At first he balked, thinking it too harsh.
Maybe for the second offense, but the first? Nobody had any real way of knowing that he
disliked the name Little Ollie. In the end though, he had seen the wisdom of the suggestion.
If they thought he was capable of anything, they would treat him with kid gloves, and they
could be trusted, especially if they knew that he might do anything to them if they
disappointed him. He saw the wisdom in this and admired Mr. Chad even more. The letter
had held other suggestions as well, suggestions that Mr. Oliver would keep with him for the
rest of his days.
        From that day forward nobody called Mr. Oliver anything except for Mr. Oliver. He
was never prosecuted for killing the Vice President of the company. Mr. Oliver employed the
coroner that did the autopsy on the body. He had suggested to the coroner, his face blank and
unreadable, “That it is in the best interests of the town, as well as your job, that you rule that
Horace’s trachea burst out of his throat by its own volition. Further, you should find no
evidence of wrongdoing. If you do find such evidence you should make it disappear, into an
incinerator or something. Of course,” he smiled, “If you disagree I could always put you in
the incinerator instead.”
          It probably wasn’t a coincidence that the coroner report ruled that Horace’s death
was from “a spontaneous tissue rebellion of the trachea.”
         In business, Mr. Oliver was a quick study. He immediately understood the numerous
ways that profit could be maximized, and set our to execute them in his business as well as he
could. These strategies included such lovelies as layoffs, cutbacks, and fraud just to name a
few. Mr. Oliver was just as eager to exploit workers as his father had been. He had a talent
for it. He could push people around with the best of them.
Rain                                                     41


         The first “crisis” he had to deal with involved a group of explorers far out in the
wilderness looking for fresh rock sources. Almost three thousand workers were involved in
the project. They had come across very dangerous terrain and many of them were dying in
terrible accidents. Twenty workers had died in six days and the workers decided to go on
strike if they weren’t given hazard pay.
         Mr. Oliver didn’t negotiate. He didn’t threaten. He ordered that all food supply lines
to the explorers be cut off effective that very minute. After three days of no food or YooHoo
the workers were forced to cave in and call off the strike. As a lesson and an example, Mr.
Oliver cut every single worker’s wages by 25%. Although conditions remained uniformly
terrible, the laborers worked without complaint from then on.
         He was fascinated by profit. Or, as he proudly called it, “Legal Theft.” Profit itself was
by definition the selling of goods for more than they’re worth. He marveled at the double
standard that was inherent in the very fabric of Satan’s Monkey’s culture. When a Flallop or
Whozit child takes more candy then his or her parents approve of the child is punished and
rightly told that they did a bad thing. Yet when a grown up did the same thing in the “real
world” it was called “shrewd” and “smart business.”
         Mr. Oliver loved that people respected him for his ability to steal candy from damn
near everybody. Nobody questioned the wisdom of such a system. The question was
somehow unavailable to the public, and from the start Mr. Oliver decided to invest a lot of
money in insuring that it remained that way. As long as everyone’s attention was elsewhere
Mr. Oliver could get away with almost anything that he wanted. The trick was to keep
everyone diverted away. With rhetoric, action, or both.
         His fortune grew, but not fast enough. The town had pretty well reached its limits in
size and the amount of rock needed for construction was decreasing.
         Faced with a decrease in profit margin Mr. Oliver did what all rich people do when
they’ve absorbed one market, he moved to corner more. What started out as an only slightly
diversified moguldom became a bilateral empire with large holdings in both the Flallop and
Whozit markets. This pleased him for a time but he knew that it was going to take a more
ambitious plan to achieve his ultimate goal: He wanted to own the entire town of Satan’s
Monkey like Maurice Minniefield on Northern Exposure.
         Then one day it came to him. Like a stroke of evil right from the mouth of the devil
himself. There were nuggets of his Father’s suggestions throughout, but the pattern, the
cadence of the plan was his own. He had found his own life’s plan. Further, he thought that
his Father, standing with Glarf in heaven, would be proud of his plan, and the riches it would
bring him.
         He knew that his scheme would probably take the better part of a lifetime to
implement, but it was clearly worth the effort. Mr. Oliver wrote down the whole plan into a
book that he kept with him constantly for the next 20 or so years, until his power was so
secure that he no longer bothered. Over those twenty years the differences between the
Flallops and the Whozits increased. If anyone had looked for it, they would have found a
direct correlation between the warring tendencies of the two groups and the financial holdings
of Mr. Oliver. He was like Bell helicopter during the Vietnam War, the worse things got, the
richer he became.
         Despite it’s being impossible; Mr. Oliver was the very first person who knew that the
Chilly War was over. The knowledge brought on one of the best Mount Vesuvious
impressions the world has ever seen. He threw a glass paperweight at Irma’s head when she
Rain                                                   42


stuck it into his office, trying to see what the fuss was about. Luckily for Mr. Oliver it
missed, he relied heavily on Irma and would probably have even missed her a little if she was
no longer there.
         He watched the glass explode and shower little glittering fragments onto the rug. For
a moment he felt discorporate, separated from his body, as if he had somehow left it behind.
In his mind’s eye he watched the weight break into it’s many parts, and then slowly in reverse
and return together. He saw a relation between the whole and its parts. He saw that the parts
were always there. It was the way they separated themselves that mattered. When there was
cohesion, individuality was lost. But what if he could create the illusion of cohesion without
there actually being any? In essence, he realized he could make people think the ball was not
broken even though it was.
         He could use this sudden change and the uncertainty it would bring to cut 5 years off
of his timetable. The two know-nothing idiots who stopped his marvelous war may have only
sped up their own inevitable slavery. Mr. Oliver lit a large, expensive cigar and picked up the
phone. He had some calls to make.

Consistent Entropy

         Eddie hadn’t taken more than a couple of steps out of the Big Big Circle of Death
before Nigel came racing up to him. Although Eddie expected to see a look of joy on his
friend’s face all he could make out was extreme anger. Nigel didn’t stop his determined stride
until he was much too far into Eddies personal space for comfort.
          “I’m really disappointed in you.” Nigel said. He was staring- hard. Eddie was
shocked, not expecting such a reaction from his friend.” We were winning, the Flallops were
gonna give. We had a good thing going, the Whozits were relying on you and ya just gave,
toppled like a house of cards into a mess on the floor. The war was necessary for the survival
of everybody’s way of life.”
         “But...” Eddie got no further.
         “But nothing.” Nigel poked Eddie in the chest, “Because of you and that idiot
Flallop, we are surely doomed to anarchy. If you were so convinced that the Chilly War
wasn’t worth it then you should have disarmed slowly, not all at once. It’s insane, what if the
Flallops still have weapons grade rock droppers, what if a terrorist organization gets one?
We’re at the mercy of the crazies!”
         Nigel was screaming now, his eyes popping out of his head. To Eddie, Nigel was
looking pretty crazy himself. Nigel continued ranting, “Just because you were afraid to stand
up to what you believe in, because you were unwilling...”
         Eddie was thinking about how willing he had been to destroy everything; he had been
one of the crazies too. It was only the intervention of that hallucination, or whatever she was,
that made him unwilling and sane. (Or at least more sane.) He wasn’t about to tell Nigel that
little fact.
         “Nigel,” Eddie asked, talking quietly. “May I ask what it was you were doing while
the destruction of the entire world was being forced into my ignorant and unwilling hands?”
         Proudly Nigel replied, “I worked as a coordinator of development in charge of rock
production.”
         “Pay well?” Eddie asked, his eyebrow rising in sardonic interest.
         “Well sure, pretty well. It’s an important job.”
Rain                                                    43


         “You were in charge of cutting rocks more efficiently.” Eddie felt his anger rise in his
chest, “And what did that do? That made it easier for my dumb ass to threaten to drop them
on Tim. Tim’s side has somebody just like you. And I bet he’s as pissed off as you are. But
the only possible outcome of my actions would be the total destruction of everybody. Which
means that the profits that you earned off of the terror of war wouldn’t have been very useful.
You don’t need money or objects in the house of Glarf. You think self-annihilation is
important?
         Teachers are important. Those few who dared to try to stop what you and I were
doing. They are important. (Eddie didn’t know that nobody had actually tried to stop what
they were doing. It was only afterwards that those types of questions were being asked.) We
were ignorant killers who should feel lucky that somebody woke up before there was nobody
left to do so!”
         Eddie was really angry that his friend was willing to risk so much for short-term
monetary gain. Nigel was yelling something back about the importance of sovereign cultures
but Eddie was no longer listening. He would find others. With a deep sigh Eddie turned from
Nigel and did a quick little dance on the ground. It was the “Screw You Two Step,” the dance
that Whozits did to announce that a person is no longer their friend. He walked away without
looking back at Nigel who continued to yell at Eddies back until he was far enough away not
to hear. When he reached this point, when Nigel's yells were only phantoms that continued to
echo in Eddie’s mind, he allowed himself to cry. Although he didn’t know what was rolling
down his cheeks was rain, if you brought samples of both to a chemist, he would not be able
to tell you which was which.
         Later when he was finished crying he brought his hands to his cheeks and smeared the
dirt over the parts of his face that had been stripped clean by the down pouring from his eyes.
When his face completely dried nobody would know the difference. But Eddie remembered.
He remembered that Nigel had chosen death over life. Had actually got mad at him for trying
to not kill people. Just for money. Just so that three person families could have seven
bedroom houses.
         As it turned out Nigel wasn’t the only one who preferred the continuation of the
madness to the uncertainty that its ending had brought. Eddie was part of a whole lot of
“screw you two-steps” over the following weeks. But he did them. Each time his heart
groaned with the pain of it. But he did them nevertheless.
         Most of Eddie’s friends abandoned him in the first week. That would have been
enough. The loss of all of his friends more than sucked, thank you very much. He ate lunch
by himself, getting none of his usual enjoyment from the salty french fries dipped in Italian
dressing.
         But it apparently wasn’t enough that Eddie be alienated and ignored for ending the
Chilly War. His old buddies decided it was necessary to take a step further. To rub salty
french fries into the wounds that he already carried from his own terrible greed.
         One afternoon Eddie came home looking forward only to the cartoons that waited for
him on TV. Someone had left a message for him in the grass of the lawn. It was written in
large connected letters. The grass itself was stained, the color bleached out of it like a shirt
washed in too much Cloroxicon. Eddie knew how such an effect was achieved, urine. The
message was clear and unmistakable. It took no great leap to understand its meaning; there
was no irony and no sarcasm implied. The message simply said, “We don’t like you
anymore. Die.”
Rain                                                    44


       After the pee incident, Eddie had taken to looking over his shoulder every now and
then. More often now than then.

Is it a Bear?

         A week and a half after the pee incident Eddie had to stay after school. There was a
paper due for his history class and it had to be typed. Stupid old Mr. Hallahan always wanted
his papers typed. “It is not my job to decipher the illegible scrawling of the likes of you.” He
would say to the class each time he reminded them of the typing rule. Eddie hated the
assignments that were always too long in length and short in interesting material.
         Eddie had no typewriter or computer of his own so he was forced to use the schools.
He worked late, until after 6 in the evening, looking up articles, searching fruitlessly for books
in the stacks by the 30 to 40 digit number inscribed on the spine. Often locating a book could
take as long as ten minutes. Upon its discovery, more often than not, the book would end up
useless.
         As a result of the tedious work the lights in the library were almost all shut off when
he finally finished, the pages neatly piled next to the printer. At this hour the only lights that
still burned in the library section of the school were over Mrs. Walsh’s librarian’s desk and
the lights directly over his cubicle. He could see through the window that twilight had set in.
The window’s curtains were a bright fire engine red and Eddie wondered why anyone would
put up that color anywhere, let alone in a public building.
         Gathering all of his stuff together Eddie thanked Mrs. Walsh for letting him stay late
and made his way down the darkened corridors to the exit. Only every fifth bank of
florescent lights was lit and Eddie wondered if there was anyone left inside the school. He
walked down the darkened halls, a poster of a serious looking bee reminded him to “Bee
smart and prepared.” Eddie shook his head at this and continued to his locker to get his coat
and the rest of his books.
         He reached his locker, number 5938, painted the same color as a frog’s belly. He
worked the lock, spinning the wheel this way and that until he suddenly realized that the green
unlocked light was already lit. His locker was already open. His eyes narrowed in suspicion
and alarm. He wondered who had opened up his locker.
         Cautiously, slowly Eddie pulled the door open, immediately a terrible acrid smell
assaulted his nostrils. It stunk of ammonia and asparagus. Someone had peed into his locker.
The books and papers that were stuffed at the bottom reeked with the scent and Eddie had to
fight back the urge to throw up. He turned his head away and brought his arm across his face,
the smell of warm fabric softener replacing the overwhelming smell of urine.
         Eddie backed away and hurried to the end of the row of lockers, his eyes searching
for, and then finding a large garbage can. Eddie peered into it and was pleased to see that the
bag that lined the can was still completely empty. Eddie pulled it out of the can and made his
way back to his locker. He turned the bag inside out and used it like a pair of rubber gloves.
He picked up the papers and books and dropped them, en masse in the garbage can, leaving
only a terrible small puddle at the bottom of the locker.
         By some stroke of luck or mercy his jacket was spared, a small gift for which Eddie
was actually grateful. He went to the nearest restroom and pulled several handfuls of paper
towels out of the dispenser. The bathroom smelled strongly of orange disinfectant, the
cloying scent almost as bad as the smell it was supposed to cover. Eddie again felt his gorge
Rain                                                   45


rising, again he swallowed it down, refusing to create yet another disgusting mess that he
would then have to deal with.
        Returning to the locker he sopped up the remaining puddle, recovered the books from
the top shelf and tossed them into his book bag. He threw the garbage can bag into the
bathroom garbage and slammed his locker door shut. Eddie decided that from then on he
would carry his books with him while he was in school. It meant lugging around a lot of
weight all day, but the extra strength it would add to his muscles wouldn’t hurt, especially the
way that things were going.
        With such thoughts on his mind Eddie headed home, the only place that he felt
entirely comfortable these days.
        It was a foggy night and the lot in front of the school was eerily deserted. It was odd
when a place that was designed for crowds was deserted. It made the air itself feel wrong
somehow, a place designed for motion largely at rest. Eddie picked up the pace of his
walking. He quickly felt silly, and forced himself to slow down. His footsteps echoed across
the lot. He was about to turn down the road that led toward his house when he heard a door
slam shut. Eddie swung his gaze back toward the school, his eyes searching.
        It was probably just Mrs. Walsh, Eddie thought. She had finished her work and was
going home for the evening, thinking only of the lovely supper that would be waiting for her,
prepared by Mr. Walsh, one of Satan’s Monkey’s most famous chefs.
        Only when he finally caught a glimpse of the silhouette of the figure he knew right
away that it was not Mrs. Walsh. Unless of course she doubled in size when she stepped out
into the night air. Eddie turned his gaze back up the street and again increased his speed, no
longer caring if he was being foolish. If the figure was a disgruntled war admirer then an
ounce of prevention could prevent a pounding on his head. Besides there was always the
chance that the giant hulking monster would go in an entirely different direction, leaving
Eddie to go about his day in a relatively normal manner.
        The next peek over his shoulder revealed that the large stranger was following in his
same direction, and at no slight pace himself. In fact, owing to a much larger stride pattern,
Eddie figured that the beast would catch him far before he reached the safety of his own
house. He sped up a little more, trying not to make his awareness too obvious.
        Eddie could now hear the footsteps and breathing of the figure echoing through the
streets. Eddie walked faster; the figure matched him, although the increase in speed brought
with it a noticeable increase in respiration. A chill ran up Eddie’s spine as he considered what
such a big guy might do to him if it turned out to not be friendly. At least it wasn’t in good
shape.
         Maybe it was a bear. Eddie laughed in spite of himself; bears had been extinct for
centuries. But then again, Eddie had promised himself that he would never be foolish enough
to say the word impossible again. Even if bears were never known to slam school doors
before chasing people on their hind legs, he wasn’t going to say that it was impossible. Not
Eddie, he had already seen far too much to be silly enough to bandy about a word like
impossible.
        Besides, the bear was gaining.
        Eventually it got close enough that its Santa-esqe beard was visible, bushy in the
darkness. Once the large beard was identified Eddie decided to stop turning around, he didn’t
want any more details. He focused on walking a little bit faster instead. There were no such
things as bears with beards. It just didn’t happen. He hoped anyway.
Rain                                                   46


        “Hey you.”
        Eddie ignored him hoping that the voice would go away. No such luck. At least he
had finally ruled out bear and settled on really large person of one sort or another.
        “Hey you, are you that guy Eddie? The war guy?”
        Eddie nodded without turning around or stopping. He actually went faster. Eddie
suddenly had a picture of what he looked like, going at running speed while still maintaining
the posture of walking, he imagined he looked quite foolish. He suppressed a laugh and kept
doing what he was doing.
        “If ya really are that guy, I wanted to thank you.”
        Eddie stopped. He still didn’t turn around.
        “Thank me for what?” Eddie asked his voice full of apprehension; he was ready to
bolt.
        “For taking your hand off of the dummy switch. Not to mention being smart enough
to know that you were being stupid.” Eddie could hear the sincerity in his voice. He was
immediately touched. He turned to face what seconds ago he had classified as a bear.
        The large boy held out his hand and introduced himself.
        “I’m Jerry. Nice to meet you.” He smiled engagingly through his beard. Eddie could
see that although Jerry was quite big, he wasn’t really that old. He was only a few years older
than Eddie was. Even as it was happening Eddie couldn’t shake the sense that he was, in fact,
meeting a bear. There were several different times that Eddie thought he would break out in
laughter at the thought of having a bear for a friend.
        Jerry was nearly twice as big as Eddie, his beard alone was bigger than Eddies head.
He wore overalls made out of several Satan’s Monkey flags sewn together in a mosaic. He
wore his dirty hair long and frizzy which made him look even bigger than he was, which was
quite large. Eddie couldn’t help remaining pensive as he waited to see what would happen
next.
        Jerry smiled. It was a big genuine smile, a smile normally unachievable by adults
except when they get a really neat Christmas present. Eddie realized this giant of a guy was
not dangerous... unless he thought you were food. It was obvious from the first Jerry was
interested in food, only politics came a close second. They talked of food and politics for
quite a while switching from one subject to the other by means of segways Eddie never would
have imagined. Jerry would start out talking about pot roast and end up describing the way
the strings that bound the roast together were the same as those that connected constituencies.
Inside they were all different, more different than the same really. Yet certain threads were in
common, and strong enough the entire roast held together almost in spite of itself. The
common strings of social justice fettered its unwieldy girth. These strings, Jerry announced,
were in better shape than they had been in a long time, thanks to Eddie and Tim’s willingness
to stop being morons.
        When Eddie found himself nodding in agreement to the comparison of
representational democracy to a chocolate chip cookie he realized that he had found a friend.
One who although different, was also the same. They stood there under the street light where
Eddie had stopped until late into the night. The shadows that were thrown on the street
bounced often with their laughter. They made plans to meet the next day and continue their
conversation where it was left off- in the place where applesauce became foreign policy.
        As Eddie walked away into the night his footsteps lost their ominous quality as they
bounced into the night air and echoed back. Instead their return only reminded him he wasn’t
Rain                                                    47


necessarily alone. That there were others like him. Eddie’s thoughts turned to Tim. It was
very likely that he was going through a very similar experience because if there was one thing
the entire chilly war had taught Eddie, it was Whozits and Flallops were equal in their ability
to be short sided and stupid. Undoubtedly Tim was learning the same lesson. Eddie reached
his house and walked slowly across the lawn. Although he had gone into the yard with a
bottle of bleach and tried to cover the words that were written there he could still see them,
just slightly lighter in the light from the street. “We don’t like you anymore.” And the even
worse epilogue, “Die.”
         Only today it wasn’t so bad, in fact, Eddie did his best to forgive his friends who were,
after all, only acting the way they thought they were supposed to. He wasn’t perfect either; he
was in no place to judge. A small part of him did though. It was wrong to treat anyone with
such anger or malice. He wished that people would just leave well enough alone. It was
enough to ignore him. It really was. He got the point that they didn’t like him anymore. He
did his best to stay out of their way. But it wasn’t enough; they had to use pee, the greatest
insult of all. Eddie went to sleep that night troubled about the locker, but happy about his new
friend. In the end the happy part of his brain outweighed the unhappy part. He thought of
Jerry, and how huge he was. He wondered if people wouldn’t begin to think twice before
they peed on things that he owned. In fact, with Jerry around he doubted they would even say
the word pee in his vicinity. The best part was that he would have liked Jerry if he was a
midget of only seven feet.
         That he was gigantic was only a bonus.
           Eddie and Jerry met again the next day and picked up from where they left off. For
such a big monster of a guy, he was quite nice. On the second day of their friendship Jerry
had also introduced Eddie to smoking fropberries. They were walking, wandering aimlessly
throughout the outskirts of town when Jerry suddenly glanced around to see if there was
anyone else around. There wasn’t.
         “Hang on a second.” Jerry said, a wry smile on his face. He reached into the pocket
of his overalls and drew out a small tin box. Eddie could read the label, Altoids, stamped on
the lid. Jerry glanced around again to make sure that the coast was clear and then he snapped
open the boxes lid. A strong sweet smell immediately filled Eddies nose. He looked into the
box and saw several small green berries; there were red hairs that stuck out form every side.
Also in the box was a small piece of glass. A blue and gold ribbon was beautifully inlaid in
the glass.
         Unsure what he was seeing, Eddie asked innocently, “What is that?”
         Jerry smiled at him and shook his head. He took one of the berries and stuck it into
the end of the glass pipe. He summoned a Flic lighter from another overall pocket and lit the
berry in the glass. He inhaled deeply. Eddie could see the thick smoke pouring out of the
berry and into Jerry’s throat.
         His face began to turn comically red as he held his breath; his cheeks puffed out like a
puffer fish. After a time Jerry finally exhaled, the smoke pouring out of him in alike from the
top of a chimney. He coughed briefly and held out the glass pipe to Eddie.
         Eddie hesitated. He had heard bad things in school about smoking berries, they it
made you into a criminal and caused violent irrational behavior. Eddie said as much to Jerry
who smiled understandingly at the comment.
         “Well, “Jerry replied, “there are two problems with your statement. First you are
assuming that all berries are the same. They are not. Second, I am smoking a fropberry, I
Rain                                                   48


have been ‘under the influence’ (He said this in a mocking tone) “since the first second I met
you. In fact, I am only smoking now to give you a chance, I smoked right before we met up
this afternoon.”
         Eddie looked at him. “I had no idea you were a drug addict.” He said earnestly.
         Jerry laughed hard and from his belly nearly losing his balance. “How can you be as
smart as you are, and yet be so stupid. I won’t be foolish myself and say that I wouldn’t steer
you wrong, friends with good intentions have caused lots of problems over the years. But if
you think that fropberries are dangerous, well then you are mistaken. Other berries, they are
dangerous, make no mistake. The clear woopberry will cause you more problems than a rabid
weasel in your underwear looking for a meal. But fropberries are useless at worst and
remarkably useful at best. Try it if you will, I mean to put no pressure on you, but for one
who has professed to trying frog licking, I am surprised at your hesitation. That is a frog’s
stomach, this is just smoke.”
         Eddie hesitated, almost said no but then at the last minute changed his mind and took
the pipe from Jerry. He smiled at him, put the pipe in his mouth and lit the fropberry. He
drew the smoke into his lungs, but too much and too fast. He choked immediately, feeling as
if smoke was pouring from all of the holes in his head.
         The second time was easier, he didn’t inhale so strongly and he was able to keep from
nearly coughing to death, the avoidance of which made the process much easier. Five minutes
later they had knocked the gray ash of the berry into the dust of the path and had again begun
to walk.
         Overall Eddie found that he was in favor of the experience. He found it preferable to
the culturally acceptable escape vehicle, licking toads. Although the elders of Satan’s Monkey
“Officially Condoned” such practices, in truth the message was clear, lick away kiddies.
Licking toads became legal when full Elderhood was reached and the toad licking companies
spent a lot of their money on advertisements that glamorized toad licking while
simultaneously spending money on eliminating the existence of Fropberries. Eddie could
immediately tell why it was that Fropberries were so frowned upon.
         Licking toads was known to initiate aggressive and obnoxious behavior. It also led to
barfing and was habit forming. Eddie had never been a big fan of licking toads though he did
lick on special occasions. For him the experience of smoking fropberries was much more
pleasant. He had to admit the coughing did get to be a little much at times. Instead of barfing
the fropberries led to a prolonged discussion of the mechanisms of existence, and a fair share
of junk food. Eddie had no problem with either, and the days past by.

       Dreams and Dreams

         Tim woke up with sweat standing out on his brow. He was breathing heavily, almost
panting. He felt as if he were drowning in his covers. He threw them off, kicking his legs
furiously until the covers were on the floor and off his body where they had been sticking.
         He had the dream again, the third night in a row. It was always the same; he was
sitting in the Big Big Circle of Death with Eddie across from him. In the dream Tim was very
old, and the number of rocks they threatened each other with were so large that they had both
agreed that both countries should just keep making rocks until the rocks ran out. He could tell
that the battle had been going on for years with neither side ever giving up. No girl showed
up in the dream to diffuse the situation. Instead, it continued to escalate endlessly.
Rain                                                     49


         Tim felt himself getting frustrated, too frustrated. He became enraged, yelling about
the pressure. He felt the years of threats weighing on his soul like, well like giant boulders.
He watched himself in absolute horror as his own hand passed over the large red button
marked “DROP” in angry red letters. He gasped as the hand plunged down, engaging the
drop button. And drop they did. Sirens blared and red emergency lights began to spin.
         Tim watched with jaw open, his eyes wide as the whole sky seemed to fall in at once.
Then he would “zoom out” his perspective widening so that he could see the full extent of
what he had done. There was a cracking sound, louder than Tim imagined a sound could be.
His heart broke as he watched the planet he had lived on crack in half. The fault line ran right
through the Big Big Circle, the sound continued for a few moments longer and then there was
only silence. Nothing lived on the face of the planet; every Flallop and Whozit was dead. In
his dream Tim would cry, he would say that he was sorry, that he didn’t mean it. Only he had
meant it. Although he knew that he would never raise his hand to another being in anger, that
he would never kill, no matter what the circumstances, he would never forget that he had
meant it once. That he was as much a murderer as the next person, that even if he never
purposely killed another being in his life, it wasn’t because of some genetic advantage, it was
because he had nearly become the greatest monster of all time. He had been lucky enough to
find a reprieve before it was too late, but the girl’s coming made it just that, luck. As he sat in
his bed, the drying sweat giving him goosebumps on his arms and the back of his neck, Tim
vowed to never forget how close he had come. That if he lived to be a million years old he
would never forget.
         Thirsty, he got up and drank several glasses of Yoo-Hoo from the tap, pausing only to
refill the glass. When he was finished he wiped the glass clean and put it back onto the shelf.
He returned to bed, the mattress still damp from his perspiration. He shifted to the side of the
bed that remained dry, closed his eyes and fell slowly back to sleep. His last thought before
sleep overtook him was that he should look up Eddie, they could form a support group for
folks who almost destroyed the whole world. A smile came onto Tim’s face at this and when
he slept, the nightmare didn’t return. At least not that night.
         Synchronistically, the next day Eddie suddenly began to wonder more and more how
Tim was doing. He hadn’t seen him since the conflict ended and he wondered how he was
adjusting to the change. He thought back to the day that he had found the pee in his locker.
He had felt so isolated, so alone. If it wasn’t for Jerry he didn’t know if he would have made
it through the last couple of weeks. As it was, things were looking up. Eddie was
increasingly comfortable with the sacrifice that he had made, even if nobody seemed to
appreciate it. He had often wondered about Tim but had never worked up the nerve to go and
see him.
         One particularly fine Saturday afternoon Eddie packed himself a small sack lunch and
started out on the long walk to the other side of town. He whistled as he walked through the
streets, the familiar Whozit architecture slowly giving way to the similar, but distinct style of
the Flallops. He found that several times he got lost, unable to find the street or intersection
that he was looking for. Eventually though he found himself at the head of Tim’s block. He
could see the brown front of his two-story abode, barely distinct from the others on the block
except for a large chemical type burn that was in the middle of Tim’s yard. Apparently there
were even fewer differences between the Whozits and the Flallops than even Eddie realized.
         He walked down the road to Tim’s house and up the path that led to the front door. A
mat lay there, it said simply, “We don’t want any.” Eddie chuckled; his grandfather had the
Rain                                                    50


same doormat in front of his own house. Eddie knocked, nervous. There was a long pause,
long enough that Eddie almost gave up and turned around, convinced that no one was home.
But right before he did he could hear footsteps in the house, the rhythmic crashing of someone
hurrying down stairs. Eddie waited.
         Tim opened the door and smiled in a way that put Eddie at ease. It was a welcoming
smile, one that said, “What took you so long?”
         “I was wondering if I’d see you again.” was what Tim actually said. And then,
surprisingly blunt. “Is everybody making you nuts?”
         Tim suddenly burst out laughing. It was a nervous laughter, but it held a great deal of
irony. Feeling a bubble of tension pop Eddie joined him. The ice was broken barely before
they had time to feel its alienating touch. Eddie sighed with relief. He hadn’t realized how
nervous he was until he was no longer nervous. Now it was past he saw that the nervousness
was in fact extreme, like a balloon full of air to the point of bursting, the place where you can
see the rubber itself vibrating madly.
         Eddie looked past Tim and into his house. It was remarkably similar to his own. The
color scheme was different, but that was about it. He realized that the big department stores
probably manufactured the same furniture for both sides of Satan’s Monkey and just sent one
color to the Flallops and another to the Whozits.
         Tim was also smiling. Eddie wasn’t the only one who had contemplated attempting a
meeting. Tim had actually left his house on two different occasions with the explicit intent of
visiting Eddie. The first time he happened across his neighbor and close friend Tree. She was
one of the few people still talking to him. They were not together romantically, although they
tried it once a year or two before. They mutually decided being friends was much more
natural than being life mates and so it had been. Tree thought what Tim did was very brave
and she had hugged and kissed him firmly on the cheek the day that he had come home from
the Chilly War.
         “You thought with the head on your shoulders and not with your horn. That is a very
rare thing in boys your age, I know because I have to deal with your hormone addled brains
on a daily basis. You were empathetic and wise and the people of Satan’s Monkey are lucky
that you and that boy Eddie were the ones chosen and not a number of other boys who would
have crushed us all under the rocks for the empty victory of being able to say ‘I told you so.’
You both acted in the greater good and screw and tattoo anyone who thinks that you did the
wrong thing. Remember they burned that astronomist Galiilieoot for saying that Satan’s
Monkey was on a planet not a corn chip. Now everybody knows that he was right.”
         Tree came out because she had wonderful news. The boy she was dating, a likable
guy named Neal, asked her to go steady. She insisted he go inside with her while she told him
all of the details. Tim allowed himself to be taken in thinking he would go to see Eddie in a
few minutes, after he finished chatting with Tree. He went inside, sat down, and didn’t move
for several hours. They talked about everything under the sun, and Tim enjoyed her company
a great deal. Every once in a while he would think about the visit he was supposed to be
making, but he would quickly put the reminder out of his head.
         When he finally allowed the idea to hold in his consciousness long enough to register
he no longer had enough time to visit Eddie. No big deal, he told himself, he had no plans
tomorrow, he would simply go the next day.
         A week and a half later Tim tried again. This time there was a sale on tube socks at
the mall. Tim allowed himself to be drawn in by the bright colored signs announcing the sale.
Rain                                                   51


And damned if it wasn’t too late to go to Eddies by the time he emerged from the mall, the
setting sun bright on the horizon and a shopping bag full of tube socks in his hand.
         He thought extensively about why he was having such a hard time meeting with Eddie
again. He finally came to the conclusion that it was the enormity of what they had almost
done. And in some ways, more importantly, it was the repercussions of that act. It never
crossed Tim’s mind to think that he had made a mistake. In spite of what had happened after,
the way that they had peed on his lawn, tripped him in the halls at school, simply beat him up.
He never expected it and was genuinely surprised each time that it happened. It happened
almost every day, yet he remained surprised. He didn’t know if Eddie was getting the same
treatment. In a way Tim dreaded the idea that Eddies people accepted, or even applauded his
decision to end the war. Tim didn’t want to think that his own people were so much worse
than Eddies were. At the same time, if Eddie was being treated the same maybe he wouldn’t
want to see Tim at all. Maybe in retrospect he wishes that he had dropped a rock on my head
after all. Tim didn’t feel that way, but he couldn’t know if Eddie would. He supposed he
wouldn’t really blame him if he did hate him, at least a little. Tim threatened to drop several
thousand rocks on his family’s head and that was enough to put off almost anybody.
         Only now it was apparent it hadn’t put him off. Eddie was feeling and dealing with
many of the same things that Tim was. Looking into Eddie’s eyes was like looking into a
mirror, they had the same tired bags, the same world-weary glare, intense yet musing. Young
and optimistic, yet too experienced to really pull it off. They were, Tim supposed, far too old
for their ages. Both boys had, by this point, achieved some kind of equilibrium with the
world, They figured out how to exist from day to day in their new state, how to eke out some
happiness, but neither boy was settled in his heart about what happened. Neither was
comfortable with what life had become. It was clear from the looks on both their faces that
they hoped this final reconciliation, in actuality as well as in words, would go some way
toward the true resolution.

        And because they knew these things to be true of each other, they relaxed and quickly
found they had a lot in common. The ice broken, Tim asked Eddie if he would like to go to a
coffeehouse that was down the street from his house. Tim said the coffee was good and
cheap, a rare thing for coffee houses. You always pay more if the item is in the name of the
place. They went to the coffeehouse because they were thirsty, this was true, but there was a
cultural reason as well. It was a well-established tradition that the only place where near-
adults could have intellectual discussions was in coffeehouses. High cliffs with breath taking
views were also acceptable places to talk in this way, as were graveyards and for some
unfathomable reason, hair salons.
        It was in a hair salon that the great principle of diffusion was first discovered by a
woman who wanted the efficiency of blow drying but didn’t want to mess up her carefully
sculpted hairdo in the process. She invented the diffuser, a remarkable device that
recalibrated the airflow and allowed directed heat to escape without the accompanying wind
gusts. The same principle was then incorporated into a handy device for cooking eggs and
bacon quickly and easily. It sold for 42.95 plus tax and moved thirty thousand units over the
Christmas holidays in spite of the cheesy name the “Bacon and Eggerizer.” .


Consistent Entropy, Deja Vu
Rain                                                     52




        The coffeehouse was typical. It is a little known fact coffeehouses actually look the
same no matter where you are, no matter where you go regardless of time, place, universe, or
dimension. There are subtle variations of course, but this particular den de Java was
unremarkable in every respect. It was a storefront; the walls were brick, painted over in a flat
white tone that seemed to absorb light. The art covering the brick was locally painted and
therefore ran the gambit from brilliant to crap. The most interesting part was nobody could
agree about which was what. Some people liked the freedom of one print that was wildly
painted in broad strokes of bright crashing color. Others liked the small unadorned still life of
the pencil stabbed through what appeared to be a mutant hamster. Dull mustard yellow blood
was pooled around the creature in what the artist must have thought of as realist chic.
        There were old couches, more patches than original fabric. Yet they were comfortable
in a way only heavily used furniture can be. The never ending variety of horns and asses
pressing into the resilient fabric made the couches more comfortable than they really had any
right being. The tables were oaken jobs that unfailingly had one short leg that caused the
entire table to rock precariously every time some non-thinking shmoe put their elbow on the
table. The chairs lining these tables were as uncomfortable as the couches were comfortable.
They were straight backed monstrosities invented during some darker, more sinister age when
the wind blew colder in the night and the way was uphill no matter which direction you were
going.
        Although coffee houses were primarily supposed to be places where people came to
socialize and talk endlessly about things that were “far out” this particular coffee house had a
handy tool to keep conversation moving. Televisions were bolted to the wall in several
places. Each was tuned to a different political news channel so that any conversation that was
faltering could have something to turn its attention onto. It was easy, for example, to point at
some political pundit on the screen and say that he or she was a brainless asshole. This was a
safe leap to make because it was an invariably true statement, even if the speaker hadn’t
actually bothered to look at which talking head currently filled the screen. That these sponge
heads actually listed “Talking Head” on their resumes was proof enough to most that they
should be dragged behind the barn and gassed. David Byrne can call himself a Talking Head,
nobody else.
        Tim and Eddie took their place in line at the counter. Old muffins sat behind
scratched and old glass. It was rumored, although never confirmed that some of the muffins
had been sitting behind the glass since the day the place opened. Some of the regulars,
including Tim, thought the muffins were actually made out of plastic, just there for show.
Whatever they were, it had been a long time indeed since anyone had been foolish enough to
order any of the ancient pastries.
        The top of the counter was covered with an unmatched assortment of coffee decanters,
the kind that you pump to get the coffee out of. A marvel of thermodynamics, the decanter
kept the coffee hot if not fresh, for a remarkable amount of time. It was rumored among those
in the know in the coffee business that somewhere there was a holy decanter of coffee that
was still hot, it was said to have dated from the time of Bob, the son of Glarf, just a little more
than 2000 years ago. Hand drawn signs on each decanter listed what kind of coffee lay within;
in addition, a brightly colored and elaborately decorated placard behind the counter listed all
of the coffees available. To say there was a variety would be an understatement akin to
Rain                                                   53


calling the Grand Canyon “a wee hole in the ground.” Eddie looked up at the list with
amusement.
         Grand Bean, Super Bean, Broccoli Bean, Roast Pheasant under Glass with a light
cream sauce bean, cofe, cofeee, coffe, cooffe, and on and on. There were coffees from places
that Eddie had never heard of; places like Columbia and Brazil. “They’re just making this
stuff up,” he thought to himself. Eddie went up onto his toes, his eyes searching around
behind the counter. He was not surprised there was only a single bag of beans visible. It was
just like the coffeehouses on the Whozit side of Satan’s Monkey, they advertised the huge
variety of flavors, but in reality there was only one flavor.
         Every coffee in Satan’s Monkey was a mocha. This was not because the people had
any special love of chocolate. It was just there was no water in Satan’s Monkey and the
coffee wash percolated with Yoo-hoo. You could order a no mocha coffee but all you got
were grounds dumped into the bottom of a cup. Some preferred their coffee this way, but the
number was never very high.
         Eddie ordered a cup of coffee. When the guy behind the counter asked the inevitable,
“What kind?” Eddie growled at him in the deep part of his throat. He stared the guy directly
in the eye and repeated his order.
         Remarkably the guy got the point and simply grabbed a cup and handed it to Eddie.
As in all coffeehouses the mugs were a crazy collection that seemingly had no order
whatsoever. Eddie wondered if there wasn’t an elite team of yard sale shoppers that swept
onto unsuspecting yard sales and stripped them of their coffee mugs. The mugs were then
mixed, boxed, and then sold to coffee houses in special edition collections that promised to
give each place the “unique” feel unmatched coffee cups give.
         Tim ordered a crazy named coffee that took about thirty seconds to pronounce. Eddie
watched, amused, as the guy behind the counter took the beans from the same bag he used to
serve the preceding four customers. He smiled even wider when Tim declared his obscure
brand was the best kind that the coffeehouse offered. They made their way to a table since all
of the couches were taken. As they were sitting down Eddie made the mistake of putting his
hand onto the table for balance.
         The whole thing tottered on its uneven legs. Instead of its usual three, only two legs
remained on the ground and the table hung balancing precariously, finally settling with a
small crash back onto the ground. Several large drops of hot coffee came out, nearly scalding
them both. Tim laughed; Eddie shook his head with relief.
         Once they were seated Tim immediately started the conversation, and he spent very
little time on vague pleasantries, he jumped into the heart of the matter like a fat man at a
smorgasbord.
         “I really need to ask you about what happened in that circle. Who the hell was that
girl and where did she go?” Tim stared at Eddie. This particular enigma had obviously been
weighing heavily on Tim’s mind.
         “It happened so fast. I knew that what we were doing was wrong, all of a sudden and
absolutely. It was as if there was one of those fabled forks in the road. Where you have this
information, a knowledge about yourself that either you accept and allow your whole life to
change as a result or you deny, and know in your soul forever that you are a fool. We both
chose to let the knowledge do its work. Reflection convinced me this was indeed the right
choice.”
Rain                                                   54


         “I agree the arguments to stop the war were completely compelling, but the nature of
its transmission was a little strange you must admit. A beautiful girl just showed up and
disappeared. She did something to us I think. Eddie where did she come from?”
         Smiling Eddie replied, “I don’t know. I wish I could have gone with her. It’s as if
everything here is in limbo. We all know our society has completely changed in a
fundamental way but nobody knows what to do about it. The political structure is the same
with Flallops and Whozits essentially functioning separately. The only thing that’s different
is everybody wears these new clothes...” Eddie gestured to the green and orange overalls he
wore, the new united colors of Satan’s Monkey. “I don’t really believe the girl is gone. I
think she’s waiting to see what we are going to do. It’s like we received some sort of “Get
Out of Species Annihilation Free” card. Now it’s up to us to figure out where to go from
here, how to rectify the mistakes.”
         Tim sat for a minute, deep in thought. He weighed the merits of what he was thinking
and finally said, “There is another way to look at it. Maybe we created the reprieve for
ourselves. I had a lot of doubts about what we were doing when we went into the circle in the
first place. I was thinking about how we could kill literally everybody in the town, I didn’t
want you to do that. So I made up outrageous threats.”
         “I was thinking almost the exact same thing.”
         “Exactly. So there was a part of us that knew from the very start what we are doing
was insane on some fundamental level. It’s senseless to try to protect oneself from violence
by acting in a violent manner. Because of the impenetrability of ‘the other’ there is no way to
know if what you perceive to be going on is what is actually happening. In the circle we were
both trying to be defensive by aggression and look where it got us. If we took the time
instead to discuss what we were afraid of we probably would have saved everyone a lot of
grief. I think we knew all this stuff while we were in the circle, but things got out of hand so
quickly we didn’t have time to consciously think about what was happening to us. What we
were doing to so many people with our individual actions. That is one of the greatest prices
that you have to pay when people allow you to have power. What if the only reason the two
of us saw that girl was that we are the ones who invented her? Maybe she was a figment of
our collective imaginations. The stress of destroying the whole world somehow created
something... I don’t know what to call it.” Tim stopped trying to come up with a name for
what he was saying.
         As if on cue (Whose cue? Nobody knows.) the TV suddenly got loud as a “Special
Report” graphic leaped to the screen. The camera cut to Diane Chung, the most popular
female anchorwoman in Satan’s Monkey. She was crying. Eddie and Tim sat with their eyes
riveted to the scene.
         “Flallops and Whozits,” She began haltingly “I, uh, have terrible news to report. Vlad,
Leader of the Whozits was shot today, in the Dallas section of the city. He was traveling by
motorcar in a “Parade of Illumination.” At the conclusion of the parade Vlad was going to
make what his close aides called a stunning revelation. So far there is no definite word...” She
paused to wipe the tears from her eyes. “But eyewitnesses say the shots were probably fatal.
Throughout the years we in the media have always made Vlad look very terrible. Now that
he’s gone, I have to admit he wasn’t as bad as we always made him out to be. We’re
journalists and we have to say something. Otherwise, you won’t buy the products we
advertise. Anyway, this is all that we know at the present time. Stay tuned for up to the
minute reports on CNNBC your home of disinformation and scare tactics.” The shot cut
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away to a commercial for Wally’s Funeral Home- “Where you can eat your loved one or
freeze em for later. We put the FUN back in funeral.”
        There was a silence so heavy in the room it could actually be felt. It was as if for a
moment everything stopped. No dishes tinkled. Nobody swallowed their gum or wondered if
Glarf could make a rock so big he couldn’t lift it. Then as if a switch was pulled everyone
started talking at once. Eddie felt sick to his stomach. Things were about to get really scary.
Under the well known “Tuesday Killing Rule” if a Whozit leader was killed on Tuesday the
only one who was allowed to succeed him is the leader’s first born child. But Vlad didn’t
have any children. And it was Tuesday. There was no precedent to know what would happen
next. In all of the hubbub nobody thought to really wonder why Vlad was murdered.

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

         It was no secret that Vlad had been terribly upset in the weeks after the war. He wasn’t
upset because Mash/ER/St.Elsewhere was canceled or because the children seemed to
increasingly worship those weird imported purple TV Poke-dinosaurs. He was upset because
he was sure that the Flallops had cheated. Not in ending the war but in beginning it.
Somebody was a cheater and Vlad was determined to find out who it was. On the first day of
the Chilly War Vlad had really found it odd when the Flallop boy showed up at the Big Big
Circle of Death with a slightly different version of the rock dropper. It was simply too huge a
coincidence to be a coincidence. Then when the rumor reached the Whozits that the big
machine just showed up one day in a Flallop lab without any explanation Vlad was
understandably incredulous. Hours later the famous “Letter from Glarf” surfaced and Vlad
was incensed, he thought the whole thing stunk like his Aunt Gertrude’s drawers.
         After the blood lust had cooled Vlad had come to the same conclusion as Tim and
Eddie. The Chilly War was a really bad idea. Vlad’s reasons for this decision were as
different from Tim and Eddie’s as Ralph Nader is different from Ralph Reed. Vlad saw that
the entire business of war was based on an unnecessary tendency to exaggerate the
importance of culture over general well being. This was a fine thing, so long as the war was
either A) Small enough that none of the leader’s friends had to die in it. Or B) you had
enough fire power to completely annihilate the other side without their ever getting a chance
at retaliation. Vlad didn’t like making such choices but a leader had to do what a leader had
to do. Besides, for the most part, war was a profitable business.
         But the Chilly War was a different story. The chilly war had the potential to kill
everybody. Even those too good to die. He realized that He might have been one of the
people killed by a rock, which was really bad. He certainly didn’t want to kill himself. He
was the leader of his people for Glarf’s sake. He had nightmares every night where the
people of Satan’s Monkey all came to him demanding to know why they had to die in the war.
If he knew that the other side was equally armed with a huge weapon he would have went to
Uncle Gus and worked something out. Totally annihilating the enemy was one thing, but at
the cost of one’s own life? Well that was just plain craziness. Vlad was determined to figure
out how the Flallops knew about the weapon so that he could kill them for almost killing him.
         Being the leader has its perks, and one of the perks is access to and control over town
spies. Vlad had spies who paid people to tell them who was paying them to tell them things.
(In his mind this wasn’t espionage- it was information gathering.) On this particular Tuesday
Vlad had just met with one of his spies who told him that Ernesto Einstein gave the rock
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dropper technology to the Flallops. The spy had unearthed evidence that the Flallops paid
Einstein for first access to all his inventions. Vlad could have kicked himself. He should
have known. Several years earlier Ernesto had invented mayonnaise and it was only days
later that the Flallops had a similar condiment known as mustardayonaise. A combination of
the new mayonnaise and the more traditional Flallop condiment, mustard. The rock dropper
was just like the mayonnaise.
        If what the spy was saying was true then the Flallop’s discovery of the rock dropper at
the same time as the Whozits was not the result of an unhappy coincidence. It was the result
of espionage. And as everyone in Satan’s Monkey knew: Espionage is cheating and not
allowed by a long list of summit agreements dating back to the original summit at Camp
Whataloadofcrap. In spite of (and because of) the agreements both sides of Satan’s Monkey
had sizable amounts of funds devoted to departments like “The Bureau of Stuff We Don’t
Want You To Know About” or TBOSWDWYTKA. And the “Central Information Agency,
otherwise known as the CIA. These groups were given huge amounts of money while not
actually existing in any manner that any citizen could learn about.
        Officially though, the party line was that espionage was cheating. Vlad was so
infuriated by the Flallops actions that he told his advisors that he wanted an immediate Parade
of Illumination where he planned to announce that Uncle Gus was a smelly cheater. He
would further request by Summit Agreement 8374587 that Gus step down as leader of the
Flallops and allow himself to be spanked by the Board of Dirty Cheating Puds, a punishment
never before administered to a leader of either side of the town. The arrangements were made
quickly so as to avoid leaks. But one guy took the time to step into a dark shadow, pick up a
phone and make a single phone call.

Vlad’s Middle Initials are JFK.

         By midmorning of November 22, clearing skies in Dallas dispelled the threat of rain
and Vlad greeted the crowds from his open limousine without the “bubbletop” which was
removed to allow over-flying birds a clear shot at pooping on Vlad’s head. To the left of the
President in the rear seat was Vlad’s wife Jaqi Vlad O’nassis. The two remained married in
spite of the fact that they didn’t really like each other. For her part, she was with Vlad
because divorce meant jail for both of them. (In Satan’s Monkey it was against the law to
divorce if you were in the leadership.) And while the idea of Vlad in jail was an attractive
one, there was no way she was going to spend any time there. Vlad’s infidelities were
legendary and Jaqi filled the gap with a fella of her own. The previous night, in the arms of
her beau, Jaqi promised to wear her pink outfit with the matching hat as a symbol of her love
for him. Thinking of him, she adjusted the hem of her skirt and searched out the cameras on
her good side.
         In the jump seats were Governor Connally, who was in front of the President, and
Mrs. Connally at the Governor’s left. Agent William R. Greer of the Secret Service was
driving, and Agent Roy H. Kellerman was sitting to his right. Mr. Greer had a demonstrated
ability to drive, talk on the phone, play Nintendo, make cappuccino, and act as an air traffic
controller simultaneously. Directly behind the Presidential limousine was an open “follow-
up” car with eight Secret Service agents, two in the front seat, two in the rear, and two on
each gold plated running board. These agents, in accordance with normal Secret Service
procedures, were instructed to scan the crowds, the roofs, and windows of buildings,
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overpasses, and crossings for signs of trouble. If trouble was spotted someone would yell out
“trouble!” and everyone was supposed to fire wildly in the direction indicated. If no direction
was indicated, the agents were under orders to pick a direction at random and start firing. In
order to insure his protection from the wild firing Vlad had ordered a statue of Wanda, Mother
of Glarf to be cemented onto the dashboard.
         Behind the “follow-up” car was the Vice-Presidential car carrying the Vice President
and Mrs. Johnsonville Sausage and Senator Ralph W. Yarborough who was only there
because he had a funny name. Next came the Vice-Presidential “follow-up” car and several
cars, trucks, and buses for additional dignitaries, press representatives, and others. In Satan’s
Monkey the Vice-president was elected for life, under no circumstances would Mr.
Johnsonville ever be allowed to move into the #1 spot. This way, the vice-president would
never have a reason to want the current President to be dead.
           The motorcade left Love Field shortly after 11:50 a.m., and proceeded through
residential neighborhoods, stopping twice at Vlad’s request to greet well wishers among the
friendly crowds. Actually, he pulled over every time he saw a girl with a big horn, the fact his
wife was sitting next to him didn’t keep him from passing his phone number to a couple of the
ladies. Each time the President’s car halted, Secret Service agents from the “follow-up” car
moved forward to assume a protective stance near the President and Mrs. Kennedy, the stance
consisted of holding their genitalia and waving at people who got too close. The agents also
wore conspicuous earpieces that somehow gave them great menace. As the motorcade
reached Main Street, a principal east-west artery in downtown Dallas, the welcome became
tumultuous if not downright loquacious.
          At the extreme west end of Main Street the motorcade turned right on Houston Street
and proceeded north for one block in order to make a left turn on Elm Street, the most direct
and convenient approach to the Stemmons Freeway and the Trade Mart. It was also the place
where the surprise attack was planned. As Vlad’s car approached the intersection of Houston
and Elm Streets, there loomed directly ahead on the intersection’s northwest corner a seven-
story, orange brick warehouse and office building, the Texas School Book Suppository. How
a building loomed we shall never really know, but loom it did, you better believe it. Riding in
the Vice President’s car, Agent Rufus W. Youngblood of the Secret Service noticed that the
clock atop the looming building indicated 12:30 p.m., the scheduled arrival time at the Trade
Mart. Vlad noticed the building and smiled. He had gotten a hand-job there from a buxom
little intern named Monica the last time he was in Dallas. Vlad didn’t notice the gunman on
the sixth floor or Lee Harvey Oswald on the fourth eating his lunch and muttering to himself
about someone named Patsy. Vlad’s car, which had been going north, made a sharp turn
toward the southwest onto Elm Street. At a speed of about 11 miles per hour, it started down
the gradual descent toward a railroad overpass under which the motorcade would proceed
before reaching the Stemmons Freeway.
         The front of the Texas School Book Depository was now on the President’s right, and
he waved to the crowd assembled there as he passed the building. Dealey Plaza—an open,
landscaped area marking the western end of downtown Dallas stretched out to Vlad’s left. A
Secret Service agent riding in the motorcade radioed the Trade Mart that the President would
be dead in less than 5 minutes. Seconds later shots resounded in rapid succession. The
President’s hands moved to his neck. He appeared to stiffen momentarily and lurch slightly
forward in his seat. A rock had entered the base of the back of his neck slightly to the right of
the spine. It traveled downward and exited from the front of the neck, causing a nick in the
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left lower portion of the knot in the President’s necktie. Before the shooting started, Governor
Connally had been facing toward the crowd on the right. He started to turn toward the left and
suddenly felt a blow on his back. The Governor had been hit by a rock that entered at the
extreme right side of his back at a point below his stinky right armpit. The rock traveled
through his chest in a downward and forward direction, exited below his right nipple ring,
passed through his right wrist which had been in his lap, and then turned in a curving u shaped
arc and caused a wound to his left thigh. The force of the bullet’s impact appeared to spin the
Governor to his right, and Mrs. Connally pulled him down into her lap. Seconds later the
Governor called out “My God, they are going to kill us all!”
          Another rock then struck President Kennedy er… Vlad in the rear portion of his head,
(after entering from the front) causing a massive and fatal wound. There were also rocks fired
from the grassy knoll, from a sewer, from the Daltex building, and somehow, a dart managed
to get him right in the ass. The driver, William Greer also shot Vlad with a small hand held
pistol loaded with a rare form of shellfish poison. Witnesses reported seeing one rock looping
around in circles, changing direction and even holding motionless in the air for a couple of
seconds before joining four monkey’s in the creation of the screenplay to “Gone in 60
Seconds.”
         Vlad fell to the left into Jaqi’s lap. Secret Service Agent William Jefferson Clinton J.
Hill, riding on the left running board of the “follow-up” car, heard a noise that sounded like a
firecracker and saw the President suddenly lean forward and to the left. The fact that before
slumping forward Vlad was thrown back and to the left was conveniently forgotten. Hill
jumped off the car and lumbered toward the President’s limousine.
         In the front seat of the Vice-Presidential car, Agent Youngblood heard an explosion
and noticed unusual movements in the crowd. Unusual movements like assassins firing rock
guns. He vaulted into the rear seat and sat on the Vice President in order to protect him.
While there he told the Vice President what he wanted for Christmas. At the same time Agent
Kellerman in the front seat of the Presidential limousine turned to observe Vlad. Seeing that
he was struck, Kellerman instructed the driver, “Let’s get out of here; we are hit.” (By “we”
he meant “Vlad.”) He radioed ahead to the lead car, “Get us to the hospital immediately and
no stopping for burgers this time!” Agent Greer immediately accelerated the Presidential car.
As it gained speed, Agent Hill managed to pull himself onto the back of the car where Jaqi
was desperately trying to escape. As Hill pushed her back into the rear seat he whispered to
her a single sentence. “We have your children.” He then forced himself onto the stricken
Vlad and Jaqi as the car proceeded at high speed to Parkland Memorial Hospital, 4 miles
away. Vlad dead before the car started moving again. As soon as he arrived at the hospital,
his brain was lost. It had apparently been mistaken for a cotton swab.
          So he was dead. And the perpetrator would have gotten away with it too, if it wasn’t
for those meddling kids.
         A young girl named Jamie Zapruder had been filming the parade with her video
camera. She was standing a few feet in front of the grassy knoll and she had a fabulous view
of the whole thing. Acting out of pure instinct Jamie hid her camera in her bag as soon as the
cars sped away. She ran home and kept her mouth shut. She was a very smart little girl.
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       Who’s Patsy?

         It was fifteen minutes after the assassination. The TV suddenly doubled in volume,
alerting the people in the coffeehouse that there was another incoming special report. If the
anchorwoman looked surprised the first time now she looked like she just found a cruise
missile in her colon.
         “People of Satan’s Monkey...” she began her voice crackling with fear. Eddie and
Tim looked at each other, her manner didn’t make sense, and too many things were already
not making sense today.
         “People of Satan’s Monkey I have just been handed an announcement that I am
supposed to read.” The shot pulled back, revealing Uncle Gus and a small number of armed
guards. They were all armed with small rock shooters. The woman tried to read the paper in
her hand but she was quickly reduced to an incoherent blubbering. Understandable, she was
unarmed and pregnant. Uncle Gus pushed the woman out of her chair and stared into the
camera. He cleared his throat.
         “I, Uncle Gus, Leader of the Flallops do take this opportunity to declare Satan’s
Monkey under official military lockdown. I have recently come into possession of some
information that everyone in this town must know. The cold war that was fought between the
Flallops and the Whozits was not what it appeared to be…”
         Gus stopped when one of his soldiers stepped between him and the camera. The
soldier said something into Gus’ ear. The Flallop leader stopped for a moment and could be
heard to mutter, “What’s a patsy?” Then the screen turned suddenly to static.
         A few seconds later the picture returned but the newsroom at CNNBC was gone. In
its place was a shot of Mr. Oliver sitting behind a desk. The image faded for a second and
then returned.
         Mr. Oliver looked at the camera. “I’m not sure how long I can override the
transmission. For those of you who don’t know me my name is Mr. Oliver. (He knew that
everybody knew who he was but thought the modesty was a nice touch.) We don’t have to
listen to Uncle Gus. My extensive network of friends have informed me that Uncle Gus’s
forces are concentrated in the CNNBC building. It was Uncle Gus who was responsible for
the murder of Vlad the Not As Terrible as They portray him on TV. I am taking the initiative
to stop them by utilizing one of the few legal “industrial use” rock droppers for a military
purpose. I pray that I am making the right decision but I feel I must step in and try to put a
stop to this potential tragedy. Being a highly important Whozit in the Flallop hierarchy-
Uncle Gus had made attempts to recruit me into his insidious plans, but of course I refused. I
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will do what I feel is my duty. Glarf help us and protect us, and please keep the King of
England out of our faces.” The television returned to its normal transmission. Unbelievably, a
commercial for cheese was playing.
         The coffeehouse that Tim and Eddie were sitting in was only about a half-mile away
from the television studio. They both bolted out of their chairs heading for the new building.
They had barely gotten two steps out the door before an enormous crash completely
overwhelmed their ears. The shock wave from the giant rock’s impact sent them both
sprawling on the ground. A huge cloud of dust was rising from the general direction of the
news building. Mr. Oliver hadn’t wasted any time or spared any innocent bystanders. Eddie
helped Tim to his feet and they hurried towards the site.
         Debris was everywhere. Chunks of rock and architecture mingled into an
unrecognizable mess. Because the building was in the middle of Satan’s Monkey’s business
district it didn’t take long for a large crowd to gather. Many in the crowd hadn’t been
watching television and had no idea what was going on. Others were panicking with the
recognition that there was no longer any cohesive leadership left alive in Satan’s Monkey.

Motive is the Key to Comprehension, If not to Wisdom.

        It wasn’t just Vlad who had spies. Uncle Gus also hired people to tell him who was
paying whom to tell them what about whomever. He had never gotten over the
embarrassment that a divine gift was less cool looking than the Whozit version with its V8
engine. His spies had informed him that the Whozits had stolen the rock dropper technology
from the model that Glarf placed into the Flallop laboratory and improved on it. Gus turned
to Mr. Oliver for information on who might have leaked such crucial information. Mr. Oliver
was the natural place to turn since everyone knew that his network of spies and graft had few,
if any, equal. Mr. Oliver provided Uncle Gus with a small list of probable subjects. Trusting
the information that was provided to him, Uncle Gus went ahead and “dealt with” the people
that were on the list.
        It was a particular Tuesday morning when one of Uncle Gus’ spies (to Uncle Gus he
wasn’t a spy but an executive decision facilitator) asked to speak to him in the “Big
Styrofoam Hat of Silence.” This was an oversize cowboy hat that completely enveloped the
two people having the conversation. It was purple with a green hatband. The thick
Styrofoam blocked out even the most sensitive of listening equipment. Uncle Gus, bristling at
what the news might entail, went immediately to the specially prepared area and activated the
hat. There were two chairs and someone had marked the perimeter of the hat with a circle of
tape. The precaution was taken after special agent Wayne “Fig” Newton nearly lost his horn
to the descending headgear.
        The spy’s name was Fnord. Uncle Gus knew that he was investigating the Oliver
information. He wondered what Fnord discovered that required the Styrofoam Hat of Silence.
From the look on Fnord’s face Uncle Gus was glad that he didn’t take what Mr. Oliver said to
be a-priori true. It really didn’t bother him that he had already killed the people on Mr.
Oliver’s list, being an executive, he felt he shouldn’t have to deal with such trivial details.
        Once the hat was firmly sealed to the floor Fnord began to make his report. “OK, the
short version of the story is that Mr. Oliver is lying. It didn’t take all that much digging
before I realized that all the men on his list had one thing in common with one another: They
all controlled companies in fields that Mr. Oliver had no control over but has made moves to
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try to get involved in.” He would have added that five innocent people had undoubtedly been
killed, but he knew such details were irrelevant to Gus.
         Fnord continued, “But that was only the beginning. Once I began searching around
Oliver’s life a whole mess of things that stink rose up to the surface. Five hours ago I
anonymously received documents that indicate that Mr. Oliver actually stole the rock
dropping information from the Whozits, not the other way around. This means that the rock
dropper was not placed into our hands by Glarf, but by a rogue Whozit who was trying to
make the money from the death of his fellow citizens.”
         This was shocking news to Uncle Gus who had used Mr. Oliver for a whole number of
different tasks over the years. He had always been helpful and willing to come through with
money or suggestions. The news was so shocking that Uncle Gus was not sure that he even
believed it. Gus realized that he didn’t have anyone spying on his spies. How did he know
that it wasn’t this Fnord fellow who was actually on the take? The fact was that he didn’t
know. In order to find out, Uncle Gus called for an investigation of Fnord as soon as he
stepped out of his office. Another spy, a fellow named “Deep Throat” took charge of the
investigation
         Within hours Deep Throat told Uncle Gus that it was Fnord who was the traitor. He
said that he was secretly working for a Whozit named Bob who was a competitor of Mr.
Oliver’s. Extermination with extreme prejudice was recommended. Uncle Gus was furious
that anyone would pay money to plant false information or spy on him. Gus decided that it
was probably true that the Whozits stole the weapon from Glarf and the media had to be
alerted. When Gus tried to call he found that his phone refused to dial the number to the
television studio. The spies must be blocking his ability to call there. When Uncle Gus tried
to go to the studio alone he was turned away at the door by security guards who reminded Gus
that the studio was the private property and couldn’t be commandeered by anyone, even the
King of England, should he show up.
         So Uncle Gus came back with weapons and soldiers and took the place over, just like
the King of England would have.
         It all went according to plan.

       In the basement of the completely flattened television studio were five of the best
sharpshooters in Satan’s Monkey. Their bodies were never discovered.

The Hobbesian Route

        The constant chaos had taken its toll on the people who lived in Satan’s Monkey.
They were tired of being afraid. They were tired of the constant threats to their collective
lives. All too many people were ready to throw in the towel and just go shopping. Three hours
after the destruction of Uncle Gus and the death of Vlad, Mr. Oliver bought airtime on every
channel and spoke for the second time to the people of Satan’s Monkey. He sat in front of the
cameras with a small poodle and his entire family. They sat behind him and didn’t say
anything at all; they were only there for decoration, like living wallpaper. Mr. Oliver cleared
his throat and began.
        “Fellow Citizens, we have been witness to far too many tragedies of late. As of now,
our futures are fuzzy as well. I just wanted to come on the air tonight and ask that we not
forget what the government is for.” Mr. Oliver picked up the poodle, which had been sedated
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to guarantee good behavior, and showed him to the camera. “We have government to keep
our puppies safe. This little guy here’s name is Checkers. He was a gift I gave my little
daughter. er. son Wendell for his birthday.” Mr. Oliver reached over and tousled his son’s
hair. Wendell didn’t look particularly pleased, the tussling had knocked the boy’s glasses
askew on his face, and with a brisk movement he fixed them.
        “Well, I don’t have too much time so I just wanted to ask all you folks to consider an
election to decide who to lead Satan’s Monkey. Further, I would like to suggest that we have
one person rule both sides of Satan’s Monkey, a new unified government that represents the
interests of both our constituencies. And even further than further, I would like to suggest
that Whozits and Flallops make moves to integrate together, by mixing in our neighborhoods,
schools, and perhaps someday even in the churches. Furthest of all, I think that I would be the
perfect person to help Satan’s Monkey through this time of crisis. When making this decision
I would ask you all to consider your safety and that of your children. Thank you and Glarf
Bless.”
        The Satan’s Monkey Council of Domestic Affairs, a group that consisted of three
people and a rocking chair decided unanimously to hold elections for a general leader of
Satan’s Monkey. The official title of the role would be “Defender of Satan's Monkey from
All Who Would Spank Her.” The nomination process was a complicated one that involved
several penguins and a three legged greased pig playing chess while drinking fermented milk.
When the dust cleared two sets of names had come up. The first was Mr. Oliver. The second,
Tim and Eddie jointly- the two responsible for the beginning and the end of the Chilly War.
They had been nominated by one of the penguins after trading a queen for a bishop and pawn.
        The constant chaos had taken its toll on the people of Satan’s Monkey. They were
tired of being afraid. They were tired of the constant threats to their collective lives. All too
many people were ready to throw in the towel and go shopping. Anyone who could manage
to create the perception of leadership would get a great deal of support from the electorate.
Mr. Oliver was well aware of this fact.

How Can We Lead When We Don’t Know What We’re Talking About?

        Tim and Eddie were in a coffeehouse again when it was announced that they were
being nominated for leader of Satan’s Monkey. Neither one had any interest in being named
“Defender of Satan’s Monkey from All Who Would Spank Her.” After all, in reality there
really wasn’t anyone left to spank, and besides, Mr. Oliver had taken care of the problem that
did arise with seemingly no effort. So what was the point? Besides, the ideas that Mr. Oliver
put forward seemed like good ones. He had experience running complicated businesses.
There was also the fact that they were just smart enough to know that they didn’t have any
idea what they were talking about.
        In contrast, Mr. Oliver immediately accepted his nomination. He said that it was
unexpected, but he said so from a catered party at his home, a party attended by most of the
rich people in town. His slogan was simple. “Peace, by any means necessary.”
        Once nominated for an election in Satan’s Monkey you are automatically running. It
doesn’t matter if you want to or not. There is only one way to declare that you aren’t running;
leave town until after the elections take place.
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Run Away! Run Away!

        Tim sat looking distractedly out the window. “I’m not sure which direction the town’s
gonna go, but I’m afraid that people are gonna starting hitting each other about which is the
best route to not hit each other. Mr. Oliver is a tough character and I am really not up to
fighting what in the end is an unimportant battle. The leader isn’t going to have very much
power, not after what happened with Uncle Gus.”
        Eddie was nodding. They were hard at work justifiying their decision to themselves.
        “My grandmother had a definition of insanity that I have always been fond of.” He
signaled the waitress for the check. “She said that insanity was when people made a mistake
and then repeated it. And then instead of learning, they do it yet again. And again. Most of
us learn to not walk into doors, (When it does happen most choose not to deliberately repeat
the experience) but we’ll hit anybody for a quarter. Can’t people be a little cleverer than that?
At least stick your finger in the blender the second time around.”
        Tim laughed, “I know. I don’t really want to be around watching people argue
anymore, lets just go camp for a couple days and make it clear that we don’t want to run.
People are going to want us to take sides on issues that we don’t believe in anymore. Nature
could care less about two guys who almost fucked up in the most monumental of ways. What
do you think?”
        “Camping good, clubbing bad.” Eddie smiled and threw his share of the check on the
table.
        Tim and Eddie packed their bags that afternoon and headed for the mountains.

         Mr. Oliver was initially worried that Tim and Eddie could possibly beat him. As much
as he hated them for it, even Mr. Oliver had to admit that it was one hell of a brave thing that
the little bastards did. He was prepared to spend any amount necessary to defeat them. The
focus of the campaign would be that they represented weakness, a trait that would damn them
if trouble ever came from anywhere. The worry that he felt didn’t take away from the
bloodlust though. He wanted to publicly destroy these two brats who could have caused his
downfall. He had worked very hard to get both nations mad enough at each other that they
would actually want all those rocks, and it had fallen apart so quickly.
         He was pleased when his network of spies brought in the news that the two boys were
packing up and leaving town. With them out of the way he would be the first elected dictator
in the history of Satan’s Monkey. He immediately began to work on his first policy speech.
Rain                                                   64




       -PART II-
       RAIN
Dry

        It never rained in Satan’s Monkey. And I mean ever. Satan’s Monkey was so dry
there were dust storms when butterflies flew past. It was dry, dry and not wet. No rain, no
oceans, no rivers, no ski weekends. No water to be crystal and pure like a mountain stream.
Instead, by a weird hiccup of evolution the streams in Satan’s Monkey ran rivers of Yoo Hoo,
which was the official drink of the SM international house of pancakes. (But we digress)
Nobody had ever even thought of rain. (Let alone singing in it with Dick Van Dyke) (We
digress again.)
        Then it rained. (That’s better- if a bit confusing)
        But it didn’t, ever.
         Until it did… so…
        Naturally both the Flallops and the Whozits evolved without any need for water.
Although it surely would be rude to tell them so- the people of Satan’s Monkey really stank.
They smelled like an extra mayonnaise balogna sandwich with sardines that somebody left on
the dashboard of a ‘76 pinto for two months until on the hottest day in the Death Valley
summer so far from shade that the locals have forgotten what the word means. When you go
to any big city, LA, New York, Delhi, Des Moines the air inevitably smells like death.
However, natural selection has allowed a reprieve in the “over time terrible smells don’t smell
so bad” syndrome extensively studied at MIT during the seventies. The process is similar to
when you boil a frog. If you turn up the heat slowly they’re too dumb to know they’re
boiling, so too with the people of Satan’s Monkey. They stank but nobody noticed because
everybody stank so in a sense nobody stunk, but everybody actually did; so if you were an
outsider -Whew! What an odor.
        It rained on July 6th at 8:30 in the morning.
        Eddie and Tim were camping in the hills on the Far Western side of Satan’s Monkey
when the rain came. They were walking and discussing, as they often did, the nature of their
first meeting, and how weird the entire experience of the girl appearing was. They were also
looking for some food to eat.
Rain                                                   65


         “You know, when I first saw you I hated your guts, I thought that you were a total
savage who wanted nothing in the world but to kill everyone.” Tim said, pausing to pass the
bowl of fropberries to Eddie.
         “Yeah, I hated you too. In fact part of what kept me going the first couple of days was
the idea that we’d kill everyone in town but ourselves if we stopped threatening. I wasn’t
going to make you the last person in Satan’s Monkey, because that was the only way I could
imagine ever being your friend and I didn’t want that. Yet it turns out that for all the hoopla
and bullshit bandied back and forth between the Whozits and Flallops, we have much more in
common than not.” Eddie drew deeply on the fropberries.
         Tim’s face suddenly took on a very odd expression. He was looking past Eddie and
up at the sky. Eddie turned around to see what Tim was looking at and felt his stomach
clench with fear. The sky behind them had suddenly become very dark in a way he had never
seen before. The dark things looked like clouds, only they were much to gray, in some places
even black. The only kind of clouds anyone ever saw in Monkey were white, or
Technicolored at sunrise and sunset. These clouds looked menacing, and they were moving
fast… directly at them. The storm head rose up and blotted out the sun. Tim and Eddie
watched with growing alarm as the sky darkened. The wind picked up from a light breeze to
a ferocious gale in a matter of seconds. The wind was chill and smelled like freshly washed
sheets. Washed in good detergent too, not in that cheap crap that smells like the inside of a
bus. It was the wind with “Color Guard.”
         Seconds later the first raindrops began to fall from the sky. First one and then more
and more at an alarmingly increasing rate. Tim and Eddie panicked, completely ignorant
about what was falling out of the sky at them. There was a moment or two they felt sure that
the world was ending. The rain approached in a visible sheet, taking on the plodding
inevitability of Jason in any of the thirty Friday the 13th movies. With no plan presenting
itself the pair decided to try to run for it. According to any outside observer, they were
running faster than the rain was approaching. Nevertheless, the rain caught them effortlessly
due to their constant baffling inability to not fall down.
         A giant drop hit Tim on the nose. He fell to the ground holding his face and yelling
bloody murder. Then, as quickly as he started, he stopped. To his shock the wetness felt
really good. He held out his arms, leaned his head back and allowed the water to bathe his
face and hair. Eddie turned around to see how close behind him Tim was.
         He didn’t expect to see Tim lying on the ground. The rain was washing dirt off of his
face and the effect was disturbingly like seeing it melt. Eddie rushed back to try to save Tim
and was shocked to hear him laughing. Eddie watched with horror as a thick layer of mud
formed and ran off of Tim’s face. Tim opened his eyes and was equally shocked to see
Eddies face in the process of melting. It took several minutes of confusion before the pair
figured out that whatever was going on wasn’t harmful. In fact, once the water had a chance
to actually soak into their skin they began to feel quite peculiar indeed.
         The contours of objects began to get sharper, more defined, then the sharpness seemed
to bleed out into a startlingly beautiful mosaic of fuzz. They might have been scared that they
couldn’t move their bodies except their bodies simply didn’t seem to be there anymore. Their
very consciousness’ seemed discarnate, like a ghost, only instead of feeling dead; they felt
more alive then ever in their lives. They could feel their hearts as they regulated the blood
flow, hear the synapses crackling in their brains as it interpreted and shaped what they
normally considered reality. They watched the very fabric of existence, its breath, become
Rain                                                    66


visible and pliant to their touch. They saw the world as it was without history, without the
differentiation and patterns that they learned so early in life there was no conscious memory
of the world as existing in any way but the way they saw it. Now the world was as it was on
their first day. Enormous amounts of information flowed into them and through them. It was
overwhelming, so much so that they both closed their eyes and allowed the worlds of their
own minds to dominate, the real one’s being too intense and complex to deal with on such
short notice. However, if you would like to leave a message, please begin speaking after the
beep.
And they went into a dream.

           Eddie’s Vision

         There was nothing at all. Darkness stretched out for eons. Then, without warning
there was an Eddie. There was no body Eddie, no Whozit with a horn. He was only
awareness. His awareness decided it didn’t like being discorporate so it quickly fashioned a
body from some available bits, giving the outside observer something to look at. But there
were no outside observers. There was just Eddie and nothing.
         Then, without warning a second figure appeared just behind Eddie, a rather large
woman wearing flowing robes of impossible colors. She put her hand on Eddie’s shoulder to
get his attention, scaring him badly enough in the process that he nearly soiled his astral self.
         Eddie turned to meet this mysterious woman who appeared in his vision but she held
up her hand to quell any questions he was going to ask. The woman cleared her throat and
spoke.
         “When to himself his form appears unreal, as do on waking all the forms he sees in
dreams; when he has ceased to hear the many he may discern the ONE- the inner sound which
kills the outer… For then the soul will heat, and will remember. And then to the inner eat will
speak the VOICE OF THE SILENCE… And now the self is lost in SELF, thyself unto
THYSELF, merged in that SELF from which thou first did radiate…Behold! Thou hast
become the Light, though hast become the Sound; thou art thy Master and thy Glarf. Thou art
THYSELF and object of thy search: The VOICE unbroken, that resounds throughout
eternities, exempt from change, from sin exempt, the seven sounds in one, the VOICE OF
THE SILENCE.”1
         Then, with the suddenness of her appearance, the woman was gone. Eddie thought
about her words, they rolled through his self-created brain and within them he searched for
meaning. Immediately struck by the peculiarity of a foreign consciousness invading his
vision, he assumed that the words were of great importance somehow. She seemed to be
saying that Glarf was actually himself, that any attempt to find meaning must begin within,
that in fact the universe was inside him, he only needed to find it.
         Charlie Chaplin suddenly appeared and twittled his patented cigar in Eddie’s face. He
asked two questions and promptly disappeared again in a puff of smoke, “How the hell are
you going to fit a whole universe inside yourself?” and “How big do you think you are?”
         Now an ocean manifested out of the nothingness. The water was loaded with dolphins
by the thousands; they leapt into the air, performing beautiful flips and spins. The sight of an
ocean caught Eddie’s heart in his throat; he had never seen anything so expansive, so complex
in its undulating magnificence. Dr. John Lilly emerged from the water, his eyes shining in
1
    HP Blavatsky: The Voice of Silence
Rain                                                             67


their peculiar way. “My philosophy,” he said, “Don’t get caught with a fixed philosophy, a
set of safe beliefs, a particular way of life. Experiment! With life, with love. Run an
exploration of the real and the true degrees of freedom in life, of love, of the Whozit and
Flallop condition, inside self and in one’s style of life. Move! Into new spaces beyond one’s
present concepts of possible/probable/certain/real spaces. Far vaster than I now know are the
innermost/outermost realities. Far more interesting than I now feel are the deeps of space, the
beyond within, the infinite without. Love and loving are basic. Hostility is redundant. Fear
is non-sense. “Death is a myth. I am I.”2
        Overwhelmed Eddie tried very hard to eliminate the rapidly appearing visions.
Obediently they were gone and there was only Eddie once again alone in the void. The stuff
the dolphin guy said sounded a lot like what the fat woman was saying. There was something
that was being communicated to him, or if the visions were to be believed, something that he
was trying to get across to himself. A couple of times he thought he felt himself approaching
whatever it was, only to lose the feeling, like soap slipping through a tightly clenched fist.
        In response to his struggles, another figure appeared, a thin woman, wearing torn,
crudely woven garments. She smiled at Eddie and offered her wisdom. “Where are you
rushing, so intoxicated and having so fully drunk the strong wine of reasoning unaccompanied
by acquaintance? You cannot hold it; already you are about to throw it up. Stop, get sober!
Look up with the eyes of the mind- and if you cannot all do so, at least those of you that can!
For the imperfection that comes from unacquaintance is flooding the entire earth, corrupting
the soul along with the body that encloses it and preventing it from putting in at the havens of
safety. But first, you must tear off the tunic that you are wearing, the robe of
unacquaintance…it has plotted against you in rendering insensible the reputed sensory organs
by stopping them up with a mass of matter and filling them with loathsome pleasure: to keep
you from hearing what you ought to hear, and keep you from seeing what you ought to see.”3
Promptly after finishing, the woman vanished.
        Unsure if he had just been scolded or invited, Eddie balked, the flood of images finally
getting to him. He cast everything out of his head, achieving an intense state of Zazen.
        He stayed like this a long time, a Whozit, floating solitary in the air without anything
else to reference to. Eventually this became boring. Tim was gone. Satan’s monkey was
gone. It was depressing. Then he had an idea.
        “I want to see a cube.” (It’s better than an antelope.) Besides, a cube is square and
therefore easy to picture in the minds eye. Obediently, a softly glowing cube appeared in
front of Eddie. It rotated in place, moving erratically. There was a soft green luminescence
that rippled throughout its surface. Eddie murmured softly to himself, “Then there was light
and it was good.”
        This was creation. From total darkness, void, and now a cube of his own creation.
Eddie was very impressed. He had never created anything before. It existed because Eddie
willed it. The movement of the cube mirrored his thoughts; its undulation matched his breath.
He willed the cube into a sphere. The manifestation complied with his desire instantly. For
the briefest of moments Eddie was able to see a square circle but then common sense told him
that this was impossible, and so it was. Now he had a sphere. It was such a nice sphere that

2
    Lilly, John. John Lilly, So Far… p. 194
3
 “That the greatest human evil is unacquaintance with God” The
Gnostic Scriptures, p.462
Rain                                                     68


he put it on a pedestal like a globe. He stood admiring the perfect roundness of the sphere
thinking about the mysterious “number” pi… MMM pie. A French silk pie appeared in
Eddie’s hand. He munched on it while he looked at his interesting creation.
         The closer he came to the sphere the more detailed it became. The details seemed to
arrive out of nowhere appearing as quickly as he could imagine them. He was amazed at the
intricacy of his imagination. Shortly he came across what appeared to be a city. He leaned
closer. The settlement was shaped like a peanut. Eddie could see a big big circle in the
middle. Satan’s Monkey. How interesting. Wanting to see better Eddie leaned in as close as
he could to the globe. It didn’t make any sense. Did this mean that Satan’s Monkey didn’t
really exist? Or maybe this experience wasn’t real. Maybe what’s real is actually fake; or
vice versa. He was so wrapped up in his thoughts and/of/about visions that he didn’t realize
that he was no longer above the sphere but actually standing on it. Curved buildings towered
in the brilliance of the sun. The surroundings were intimately familiar but somehow alien.
Everything that he saw was too sharp, too in focus to be real. The sky looked like a bubble
reflecting the sunlight, everyhue.
          There was no order to the colors as they swirled and mixed across the sky. The
movements reminded Eddie of a fractal he had seen in book about chaos theory. Trees were
bent like complex breathing banzai, constantly winding around themselves in slow rhythmic
patterns. The architecture consisted mostly of glass and a pleasant dusky brown organic
material that was flecked with reds and yellows. The air smelled lightly of cinnamon. The
architecture combined gothic and modern influences to create an ornate structure with flowing
lines that were crisp and definite. The eyesore that was Vlad’s castle was toned down to
gaudy. He continued to his house, only when he got there something else was where his
house was supposed to be. It was a large open room without a roof. From all appearances it
was a ballroom filled with strange fat people in frilly clothing. The room was insanely ornate;
it made Uncle Gus’s old castle seem as bland and unadorned as Industrial modern furniture.
Eddie ogled at the opulence. The people were all terribly ugly. The room was almost
completely filled with fat, white men with red cheeks and shivering jowls.
         A smallish figure approached Eddie from the middle of this odd assortment of people.
He wore a friar’s cape on his head and a long pointed beard on his face. An old yellow twist
tie held his cloak closed. In his knotted hands he carried a beautifully carved oak walking
stick. Eddie, struck by the man’s resemblance to the Keebler Elf watched him approach.
There was a definite sense of other-ness to the figure, nothing about the ballroom felt “from
him.”
         “Do you believe there is a natural order of superiority in the world, or must superiority
hold the threat of force to exist at all?” asked the elf once it approached close enough to be
heard.
         The question almost made Eddie laugh; it was so unexpected and odd a first question.
However, the solemnity of the man’s gaze kept the laughter back. There was no need to
offend.
         “I think that superiority is a confusion of social hierarchy with internal reality.
Nobody is superior, even if they have the ability to force their will on you.” He answered
finally.
         “Bertolt Brecht.” Said the elf.
         “What?” asked Eddie.
Rain                                                    69


         “There is a fable written by playwright Bertolt Brecht that goes roughly like this: A
man living alone answers a knock at the door. When he opens it, he sees in the doorway a
powerful body, the cruel face, of The Tyrant. The Tyrant asks, “Will you submit?” The man
does not reply. He steps aside. The tyrant enters and establishes himself in the man’s house.
The man serves him for years. Then the Tyrant becomes sick from food poisoning. He dies.
The man wraps the body, opens the door, gets rid of the body, comes back to his house, closes
the door behind him, and says, firmly, “No.””4
         “Yes, the strongest things bend, the Taoists were clever enough to figure that one out
also.” Eddie responded; pleased that the elf so clearly understood what he meant. Looking
past the elf to the mass of folks behind him Eddie asked, “Who are they?”
         “Them?” Asked the elf, looking back over his shoulder at the crowd. “Well, those are
mostly assholes with a cool cat or two thrown in for variety.”
         “OK.” Eddie didn’t know what else to say.
         “Listen, never mind those guys,” said the elf; “I’m really just kind of freaking out. I
know this is hard to understand but I was walking with my friend in a place that wasn’t a big
frilly ballroom with no roof. But then all of a sudden some kind of liquid began to fall from
the sky and I ended up here. No offense, but I’m pretty sure that you are just a figment of my
imagination.”
         “See, that’s weird, because everything around me except you is definitely a figment of
my imagination.”
         As Eddie spoke the figure before him looked less and less like the Keebler elf. As he
continued the elf looked more and more like Tim until it was Tim.
         As soon as Eddie recognized Tim the entire world that he/they had created started to
crumble. The very surface of existence began to float apart like enormous puzzle pieces
slowly dissolving away again into nothing.

           Tim’s Vision

        Once Tim was soaked, he too fell into a trance state. He felt his consciousness being
projected toward something, only so quickly that both time and space had clearly lapsed into
meaninglessness, just like Ernesto Einsteen had predicted they would if you were going fast
enough. (The equation, E=MCHammer was known to everyone, although the finer points
were only understood by men in very baggy pants.) Suddenly from out of the nothing came a
something that might have been everything.
        Only it wasn’t.
        It was a large ballroom, filled with strange people in frilly clothing. The room was
insanely ornate; it made Uncle Gus’s old castle seem as bland and unadorned as Industrial
modern furniture. Tim ogled at the opulence. The people were terribly ugly. The room was
almost completely filled with fat, white men with red cheeks and shivering jowls. There were
several women tied up and gagged in a group in the middle of the room. None of the men
paid any attention to them in spite of their obvious attempts at speaking. Everyone in the
room had a nametag. It was the sticky kind that said, “Hello, my name is” and then had a box
to finish the statement. Tim glanced around and recognized many of the names as the
founding fathers of Satan’s Monkey, Burke, Washington, Hamilton, Locke, Rousseau,


4
    Zinn, Howard. Declarations of Independence, p.103
Rain                                                   70


Lincoln, Corneal Sanders, and many others. The women had nametags like Virginia Woolfe
and Hannah Arnedt.
        These fat little white men had none of the stature or authority of their namesakes. The
whole room was embroiled in a conversation about politics, one that Tim found very
interesting. His hobby was politics, much more in theory than practice. He had been genuinely
relieved when Eddie wanted to leave town instead of run for President against Mr. Oliver. He
didn’t feel ready to do more than learn.
        GeorgeWashington came up to Tim, shook his hand and proudly declared, “I was the
richest man in America when I was elected President.” He flashed a smile showing his
infamous wooden teeth. “I smoked pot too. It’s actually a very well documented fact.”
        “That’s good sir.” Tim replied, honestly not all that impressed. He didn’t even know
what America was.
        “Yes, it is good.” Washington agreed and walked away his ass shaking to music
nobody but he could hear, leaving Tim alone again.
        A book sat on a table to Tim’s right. The title of the book was The Illuminatus
Trilogy. Curious, Tim opened it to a random page and began reading. “What would you
think of a man who not only kept an arsenal in his home, but was collection at enormous
financial sacrifice a second arsenal to protect the first one? What would you say if this man
so frightened his neighbors that they in turn collected weapons to protect themselves from
him? What if this man spent ten times as much money on his expensive weapons as he did on
the education of his children?…What would you say about a man who introduces poisons into
the water he drinks and the air he breathes? What if this man not only is feuding with the
people on his block but also involves himself in the quarrels of others in distant parts of the
city and even the suburbs? Such a man would clearly be a paranoid schizophrenic.” Tim
grew more freaked out as he read, it was a little too relevant to his own life to be a random
book, especially the arsenal part.
        A guy with Burke on his nametag addressed Tim directly, taking him away from the
pages. “Don’t you see, the essence of property is unequal. So we have to protect it.
Sometimes we have to go to great lengths to protect it, lengths that require sacrifice. People
like Uncle Gus and Mr. Oliver are better than everyone else. They are better than you are.
Even if they are worse. They have money and power don’t they? Glarf wouldn’t give money
and power to those that don’t deserve it would he?”
        “He might.” Replied Tim, thinking of Wendell, Mr. Oliver’s son, a character that
Eddie had told Tim all about.
        Burke was infuriated. “You sound like one of those homosexuals I read about in the
newspaper. Are you a Communist sir? Is that what you’re trying to hide with your puffery?
The voice of the people is dangerous, foolish, and beneath reproach.”
        “What does that have to do with what you were talking about?” Tim asked.
        Alexander Hamilton butted in; “The public is a great beast that needs to be brought
down to its knees. All political systems must protect the minority of the opulent against the
majority. The people will always labor under the hardships of life and secretly sigh for a
more equal distribution of blessings. This sentiment must be quelled or the great beast will
overcome us and take that from us that Glarf has declared ours.” The fat white men began to
crowd around Tim, pointing fingers and baring teeth like gorillas.
        Locke chimed in, “The state of nature wills it boy, don’t you see? It is by using land
that one owns it. If a man is smart enough to get others to do that work for him, well so much
Rain                                                     71


the better for that man. Who has the right to take away what man is clever enough to exploit
from his fellow man? After all, the masses do all the work; it’s not our fault they’re not smart
enough to realize it. We have a lot of power, but we couldn’t possibly stand up to everyone,
at least not yet.”
         Rousseau chimed in “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains.”
         “Exactly,” Agreed Locke, assuming that Rousseau was describing a good and proper
state of affairs.
         Hamilton, thinking like Locke added, “Yeah those are some good chains. We need
more chains, chains rule!”
         Rousseau- “No you stupid pufftoad. Chain’s aren’t good things. Elites are not
necessary in the sense you are describing. It’s just like the representative government you
always argue for. It bypasses the people by creating a permanent body that protects you from
those you are exploiting. Citizenship is participation in the creation of laws. Representative
governments specifically takes away this ability.”
         Locke was incensed. “As well as it should.”
         “And you call yourself a founder of Democracy, you a sticking oligarchist.” Replied
Rousseau.
         “That’s not even a word.” Tim pointed out sheepishly.
         “Yeah I know, but you know what I mean.” He snapped back.
         “Nothing but a permanent body can check the impudence of democracy.” Interjected
Hamilton.
          “Impudence? Boy- you really are an asshole.” Tim said.
         “Asshole? Don’t you know that I am on the nickel? I am to be respected. We
founding father’s came to America, a wild untamed land full of savages, and laid the
groundwork for the most powerful country in the world. We did this by hard work and
gumption.”
          An Indian came wandering in from out of the void. He knocked Hamilton to the
ground and proclaimed, “Hard work and gumption? Try exploitation and murder you dick.
The pilgrims had hardly explored the shores of Cape Cod four days before they robbed the
graves of my ancestors, and stole their corn, wheat, and beans. So don’t give me this bullshit
about who works the land owns it. We worked the lands and you killed us by the millions.
So stick your fat self righteous opinion up your ass.”
         “Propaganda!” cried Burke, his jowls really dancing now, “Heathen communist peace-
nick Indian Hippy environmental terrorist!”
         Ignoring him the Indian continued, “Let’s give an instance from the very beginning.
In 1623 the British founders offered a treaty to the Indians along the Potomac River. To
celebrate the treaty the British commander offered the Indians a toast to symbolize the eternal
friendship of our two peoples. You poisoned the chief, his family, advisors, and two hundred
followers. With friends like you, who needs enemies.”
         From outside of the ballroom appeared a tall green figure with a curved slope head.
Tim instantly recognized the figure as Gumby. Tim had always wanted to know where
Gumby stood politically and so he headed straight toward him. Gumby was looking at him
peculiarly, his face half puzzled and half amused.
         “Do you believe there is a natural order of superiority in the world, or must superiority
hold the threat of force to exist at all?” Tim asked Gumby, maintaining the discussion’s
current topic…
Rain                                                    72




       The last thing either of them heard before drifting off into the realm of regular sleep
was, “Magick doesn’t happen to you, it happens from you.”



       The Calm before the Storm

        They lay in heaps on the ground. Eddie was on his back, arms stretched out in all
directions. He was in the Flallop prayer position known as “The loving of Glarf.” (Although
he was entirely too asleep to know it.) Tim lay flat on his face in the grass; he was snoring
loudly despite the muffling effect of the ground. They had been there for hours, unmoving.
Suddenly Eddie sat up; he was completely awake, his awareness returning in a rush. He
thought about what he had just seen. The details were already floating away, disappearing
like dreams. Next to him Tim began to stir, he made loud hurumphing sounds as he came
awake. Eddie laughed. Tim made his way to his feet. This was a big mistake. Once he
reached a standing position his brain informed him that both of his legs were in fact, still
sleeping. Directly on the heels of this realization came the inevitable stab of millions of
invisible needles. Tim fell back on the ground, the force of which instigated another round of
terrible pain, he twitched helplessly. Eddie laughed again, this time losing control
completely.
        “Stop fucking around man,” his eyes were starting to fill with tears, he could hardly
breathe, “You…” He broke off he was using too much breath laughing and was unable to
speak.
        Tim, lying in a heap for the second time that day, joined Eddie in his laughter. He was
laughing at his situation, sure, he just fell on his face, high comedy for a boy of sixteen. Only
that wasn’t really it Tim realized, there was something bigger. He was really happy. The
world seemed brighter than it was before the Rain came. At least it did for the few seconds he
could see it, once he had fallen the only view he had was of the grass, its blades pointing up at
him, warning him to come no closer. Tim and Eddie just stayed where they were for a few
minutes, gathering their thoughts, and trying to get some semblance of an understanding
concerning what had happened to them in the vision. They both knew without talking that
their separate visions had intertwined somewhere, becoming a single vision, somehow
encompassing a reality that they both existed in.
        Tim thought best when he was busy so after a while he again sat up, more slowly this
time, making sure that he didn't fall a third time. Everything seemed to be working OK now.
He went out behind a tree and peed for the first time in what seemed like a month. On his
way back he picked up stray pieces of wood. He dumped them in a pile by their stuff and
went out for a second load. Eddie was rummaging through the equipment and bringing out
their tents. Because the war was over there were lots of cheap army surplus type stuff
available and they had been able to purchase battle tents for a pittance. They were actually
marvelous contraptions. Stored in landmine sized discs there was a small red button that you
pushed after unscrewing a safety release. Eddie did this and the tent immediately began to
unfold, like a Japanese origami flower. Although called “Battle tents” they were a nice sun
reflecting shade of tan with periwinkle accents around the doors and windows. Frankly they
didn’t look like battle tents at all; they looked like the tents that came with Outdoors Barbie.
Rain                                                   73


         Once both tents were opened Eddie joined Tim in gathering wood. They built the fire
together in silence; both completely enamored of their own musings. Tim struck his Zippo
under the pyramid of kindling they had built. It took several tries before the wood would
light; it was wet from the rain. Tim was puzzled, having never experienced wet wood before.
Eventually the kindling caught, thin tendrils of smoke rose into the air, thickening as the fire
grew larger. The air was filled with the wonderful smell of burning pine and cedar. Only in
Satan’s Monkey what we call pine they call cedar and vice versa.
         When the fire was burning they sat down to share a bowl of Fropberries. Tim took out
his glass and cleaned the bowl, holding it up to the fire to make sure he had gotten all of the
gunk out. He set the bowl aside, hands moving automatically. He snapped open his fropberry
container, a hinged stone split in half and hallowed out. He took out a berry. Without
knowing why he did it Tim took the berry and held it up to the sky, quietly thanking whoever
it was that was responsible for bringing this odd fruit into his life.
         As Tim passed the glass to Eddie he felt part of a ritual, ancient as life itself, the
bonding over a pipe. They had the three elements: fire, berries, and a device. It was a ritual
that could be a source of great good or great evil; this depended on the individual and berry
that was burned.
         To Tim this was one of the most religious moments of his life. He was a creature of
the plane of reality, unlike Eddie who was more spiritual in his essence. For Tim, the passing
of the fropberries was a rite, a connection with the earth that kept them alive and the society
that made being alive worthwhile. It took on a special significance sharing with someone
who had been his enemy. An enemy he was now linked to with a bond of absolute
brotherhood, whatever the liquid was, they were both clearly changed from the experience.
The more Tim thought about the experience the more he felt one word- possibility. He felt as
if anything were possible, that the only thing that made things impossible was everyone’s
insistence that something was so. As the effects of the fropberries began to manifest
themselves, Tim found it easier to focus on his feelings about what had happened. He felt the
way he sometimes did after a terrific concert, when you want to talk about a million different
things that happened all at once, but cannot decide where to start, so you don’t say anything at
all.
         Finally, after a long time Eddie asked, “How did our visions get mixed up at the end?
My vision led me to a place that looked like Satan’s Monkey, so naturally I headed towards
my house. Only when I got there, I found the ballroom…”
         “And you looked like Gumby.” Tim started laughing at the memory.
         “What?”
         “You looked like Gumby. You were green and had the signature lump and
everything.” Tim replied. He had almost worked himself into tears he was laughing so hard.
         “You looked like the Keebler Elf.” Eddie replied starting to laugh himself.
         Nothing was said that made any sense for about ten minutes, both boys were far too
busy laughing.
         Once they settled down Eddie asked, “Do you think that’s what happens all the time?”
         “What do you mean?” Tim asked.
         “Do you think when we are babies we are just making up the world entirely on our
own? Then as we get older, things become more complicated, the creation of reality suddenly
becomes a group affair where we all agree unconsciously to certain ground rules, from there
we all just make it up as we go along. That’s why there’s so much conflicts, nobody
Rain                                                    74


understands anything. When you think about it it’s a miracle that we haven’t killed ourselves
yet.”
        “See I thought that I had created the Satan’s Monkey that I visited but you were
already there, or vice versa. The planet that Satan’s Monkey was located on was created in
my imagination, which is confusing indeed.” Eddie shook his head, bewildered. “Should we
tell people?”
        “We are going to have to tell them something. Whatever that stuff was, it cleaned off
a whole mess of dirt. We are even paler than Mr. Oliver now.”
        “We could tell them… I don’t know what to say but the truth.”
        “We’ll have time to think of something, we can’t return home for at least another
week. I wonder if whatever it was will happen again.” Tim looked up at the sky.
        “Have you noticed that every time we see each other very weird shit happens?” Eddie
asked, “You are a nice guy, but I’m not so sure we should keep hanging out together.”
There was a pause. For a minute Tim thought that Eddie was being serious. Then they
started laughing again.
        The week passed uneventfully. The pair discussed what had happened to them over
and over, trying to figure out the nature of their experience. They decided to call the
phenomenon Rain, after the girl who had first knocked their consciousness into a new orbit.
They looked every night for the rain to return, but it stayed away.
        It was only after they decided on the name Rain that they began to wonder if there was
a connection between Rain, the girl; and rain, the celestial event. Eddie remarked that there
wasn’t much of a difference as far as the way either made him feel. He was both fascinated
and scared in almost equal measure. This was as it should be. He vaguely remembered her
coming to his dreams, but he could never be sure if the dreams had happened, or he simply
wished they had. When the time came, they packed up camp, buried their organic garbage,
and made sure that only they prevented forest fires. Before walking away from their
campground they made sure that the exact spot was marked on the map and in their memories.
Some day they hoped to erect some kind of monument on the spot.

       Peer Pressure

        Tim and Eddie were at the outskirts of town when they decided to not go home.
Instead they headed for the Big Big Circle of Death. They weren’t sure why they went to this
particular landmark, they just felt compelled, it was for some kind of closure. Once the
thought entered their minds there was no doubt that the Circle was where they were supposed
to go. As they approached they knew that they had made the right decision. What was once
the Circle of Death was now prominently marked with a new sign, the paint barely dry. The
sign said, “The Big Big Circle of Trees, a community park brought to you by your friend, Mr.
Oliver.”
        “What a guy.” Murmured Eddie.
         Mr. Oliver had renamed the park as his first official act of leadership. Freshly planted
trees surrounded the perimeter of the circle, and the once overgrown bushes were now
trimmed back and manicured. Mr. Oliver was moving quickly, making popular proposals
such as universal Internet access to porn, the elimination of trans-genetic reproductive
inhibitors, and cutting back on the town’s mustard gas supply. The “Board of Ratification”
quickly passed every suggestion made by Mr. Oliver. A group of people who were selected
Rain                                                   75


to weigh the merits of Mr. Oliver’s ideas. Nobody thought to question if it was fair that Mr.
Oliver got to appoint all of the members.
        The new constitution of Satan’s Monkey was written entirely by Mr. Oliver. There
was an open forum announced so that the public could give their comments, but someone had
scheduled an unbelievable night of television on the same night as the meeting, so very few
people showed up. Those that did go were greeted with a sign that announced the meeting
had been moved to the opposite side of town. By the time people got to the other side of town
Mr. Oliver had already voted on and ratified the Constitution he was wrote.
        He wrote the budget on his own in the same manner. Given such free reign he put
money into social programs but then actually spent the cash on all kinds of shit. He created
funding for police, spies, a new and greatly improved type of mustard gas, and most terribly,
he was trying to clone a hybrid of the Spice Girls and Fabio. He hid the expenditures in the
belly of reports on park building and adult education. In one of his favorite misdirections, Mr.
Oliver actually hid the spending for the new mustard gas in the report about getting rid of the
old mustard gas. Everything was available to the public, but it was buried in the overall
information glut. Reports were never issued individually; they were issued in 10,000 page
chunks. Most of which dealt with bizarre subjects like which color of soft drink is better, gray
or mauve.
        But on the face of it everything was going great in Satan’s Monkey. The park looked
nice, the streets were becoming safer. The business community was assuring everyone that a
new age of prosperity was on the horizon. Since nobody knew what was bubbling underneath
the surface, it may as well have not been there.
        As Tim and Eddie entered the park they could make out a large group of their folks
sitting on benches by a rock sculpture that had been built as a reminder of the Chilly War.
Another kid was sitting off to the side, apart from the larger group. This would be Wendell,
Tim and Eddie exchanged glances, they hoped that Wendell would be at home.
        Eddie’s friend Jerry was the first to see Tim and Eddie approaching. He had just been
wondering where the hell Eddie had gone when he walked into the circle. They were
supposed to have made some groovy tunes (Jerry was a hell of a guitar player) the day before
but Eddie hadn’t shown up to play his half-full jar of marmalade. (Eddie could play the hell
out of a half-full jar of marmalade.) It is a little known fact that Marmalade actually contains
essence of Funk, thus making a half-full jar of marmalade a dangerous instrument in the
hands of someone who knows what they are doing. Jerry had written a new song about the
power of eating an enchilada on sweeping vistas overlooking the eternal tire yard of destiny.
The song simply wouldn’t cook without someone on Marmalade.
        Jerry heard the rumor that Tim and Eddie bailed to avoid running in the election
against Mr. Oliver. He went to the Circle to try to find out if the story was true or not. Tim’s
friend Tree just confirmed the rumor when who shows up at the Circle but the very devils of
which they were speaking.
        Jerry was glad they showed up because he wanted to give them both a piece of his
mind. They should have ran against and beaten that old bastard Mr. Oliver. Jerry was one of
the people who had trekked all over town trying to go to both the budget and the
constitutional meetings.
        Have you ever looked at someone with a new haircut, and not noticed the change until
several minutes have passed? Usually the new haircut’s owner will make some reference to
the new doo and all of a sudden you become aware of the haircut. It’s like your brain
Rain                                                         76


airbrushes in the hair to match your memory, like misshapen nipples or mustaches on models
in the fashion magazines. That’s what happened to Jerry. When he looked at Eddie, he looked
all dirty, just like always. Then Jerry looked at Tim who he had never actually met in person
before. Tim was a remarkable shade of blue. As blue as a newborn infant. It was only then
that Jerry looked back at Eddie and suddenly POP he was a light shade of blue too. It was the
contrast that made Jerry realize that there actually wasn’t a contrast. In a second, Eddie
looked like a complete stranger.
         Every culture has some universal standard that it measures the wealth of its people by.
Some do it by the size of the brain, some by the size of the penis, others by the size of the
bank account. The only cultures that do not have these kinds of social measuring sticks are
actually quite nice places to live, but we’re not talking about one of those places right now. It
is also true that these kind of “markers” are a million more times alluring to those who rank
best in the system than to those who are at the bottom of it.
         Because of the lack of water in Satan’s Monkey the amount of dirt that you had caked
on you was a good indicator of what your social status was. The difference in dirtiness was
attributed to grime’s fear of attaching itself to the rich and powerful of Satan’s Monkey. The
rich believed that only the most divine dirt found its way to sticking to their bodies, all other
dirt didn’t dare. If you could get within ten feet of even Mr. Oliver you would know that
there was an awful lot of divine dirt of Satan’s Monkey.
         In reality, the explanation was a lot simpler. The rich in the town didn’t actually ever
do any work. They planned work for other people to do. They told other people to do work.
But they didn’t do anything themselves. Mr. Oliver ruled Satan’s Monkey but he couldn’t
make toast. He made tons of money from his rock quarries, but he couldn’t have taken you to
a single one of them with a map. On one occasion Mr. Oliver was so out of the loop he went
into a supermarket and expressed amazement at the way that the food could be scanned into
the cash register.5 The irony of the invention being fifteen years old was lost on him.
         Since the wealthy of Satan’s Money never did any real work it really wasn’t surprising
that they managed to stay so clean, which as we have stated, wasn’t actually very clean at all.
Most of the poorer classes had already figured this out for themselves and openly mocked the
skin tone belief system. Yet, despite the denials of interest, you could sometimes catch a poor
person vainly trying to clean themselves up at the Yoo-Hoo river.
         Whether you believed in the system or not, the fact remained that by the status
measure of Satan’s Monkey Tim and Eddie were now clean enough to make Bill Gates look
like a pauper, to make the Wal-Mart family look like they actually need another tax break.
Jerry felt like he just found out about some rich relative that he didn’t know he had.
         The crowd expressed a variety of reactions to Tim and Eddie, ranging from admiration
to fear. Tim and Eddie were surprised at the way a lot of the people were looking at them,
like they had done something wrong. Jerry, never one to worry about social standing, rushed
to hug Eddie. Although he knew a lot about Tim from the television and newspapers, they
had never met. Jerry honored Tim with one of his patented bear hugs, the only kind he could
reasonably give, being that he was a bear-sized guy.
         Tree, Tim’s next door neighbor and close friend also came and gave Tim a hug, her
boyfriend Neal trailed behind waving amiably. Jerry immediately wanted to know what had

5
 One of our own beloved Presidents actually expressed this
sentiment. Can you guess who it was?
Rain                                                    77


happened; his song could wait. He didn’t have to wait long. Tim and Eddie immediately
started recounting their story, mainly to their three friends, but they made sure to talk loud
enough that everyone could hear what they were saying.
        One girl in the group listened more intently to Tim and Eddie than even their closest
friends. As Tim and Eddie told their story she felt a lump of hope rise up in her chest. She
was keeping the greatest secret in Satan’s Monkey and she didn’t know whom she could go to
for help. She thought now that maybe she knew. On several occasions she tried to get up the
courage to speak to them, but she just couldn’t do it. They wouldn’t believe her; they would
call her a liar. Instead of doing anything, the girl, whose name was Jamie Zapruder; just sat
and watched.

       Wendell

        The boy that was sitting outside of and away from the group was Wendell Oliver, son
of Mr. Oliver, and bane of many a kid’s existence. He watched Tim and Eddie’s arrival with
utter shock. It was impossible that they could be as clean as they were. It was simply
impossible; there was no substance in Satan’s Monkey that made you clean. In the long run,
even jumping completely into the Yoo-Hoo river didn’t help at all. The dirt stuck again right
away. Once the Yoo-Hoo had been out in the sun for a while, even the smell-blind folks of
Satan’s Monkey turned away in disgust. Until the arrival of the squeaky brothers he had been
the cleanest person in Satan’s Monkey because of his young age and rich daddy. Since for the
most part he was a shit, being the cleanest person was the only honor that Wendell had to
really hang on to. Now, even that was lost.
        Wendell was a tragic figure. He was an asshole, but he was an asshole out of complete
social rejection by his family and peers, not just out of sheer meanness. Yet, on the other
hand, someone that acts like a jerk; acts like a jerk, no matter what the reasons. “Everyone,”
as pointed out by Larry Diamond “has a hard-luck story.”
        For example, in days past when everyone played hide and seek Wendell would give a
kid money to go and hide for him. He said that he didn’t want to get dirty, but the truth was,
he ran like a girl. And not as fast as most of the girls either. If the kid Wendell paid to hide
for him got caught he would throw a tantrum and demand his money back. Anything less
than instant compliance led to a complaint to his Dad, Mr. Oliver.
        For his part, Mr. Oliver didn’t much like his son. He didn’t really like his wife either.
The feeling was mutual. What kind of a wife actually wants to call their husbands Mister?
When Wendell was very young Mr. Oliver realized that in order to ingratiate himself, his son
was willing to be a stoolie. Since having a stoolie gave him more information about what was
going on Mr. Oliver would be nice to his son on occasion. More specifically, he was nice on
the occasions that Wendell came to him with some bit that he could hold over someone.
        A fan of irony, when his son informed him of such occurrences Mr. Oliver would call
the child’s parents and give them a lecture on the importance of honesty and good parenting.
The lecture consisted of their lack of integrity and his own remarkable ability to parent. There
were also exaggerated threats and screaming to fill the gaps in his attention. The call was
supposed to be about his son, but anyone who looked into the matter would find that the only
time that Mr. Oliver made these particular phone calls were when he needed or would need
something from the parents. The call was like a debit card that Mr. Oliver could just invent
when the need suited him.
Rain                                                   78


         After a while people stopped catching Wendell’s hide and seek stand-in entirely so
that he or she could keep the money and avoid the dreaded phone call of doom. Wendell still
brags about how good he was at hide and seek. He liked to watch television shows from
France (A small area in the south of Satan’s Monkey where everyone ate meatcake, had sex,
and didn’t shower. (How’s that for a pointless stereotype?)) And when he was thirteen he
began to like people from the region. The people of the region talked in exaggerated and
flowery tones that reeked of the same pretension that gnawed at Wendell’s soul. (Damn, lay
off the poor French, you’re just jealous of their 35-hour workweek.)
         The most famous landmark in France was also one of the more frightening objects in
Satan’s Monkey. If you are walking on “El Bloc Due” you can find half way down the street
nestled between two houses a large statue. It was a weird looking two armed, two legged man
wearing a lab coat, wearing broken glasses held together with tape and with a concealed
speaker that kept repeating, “Hey Laaady…Hey Laady.” Over and over again in an
astonishingly annoying voice. (Yeah, there’s definitely some culture envy here somewhere.)
         Wendell initially wandered over to see what the commotion was. (He was also a
busybody.) But once he saw what was going on he immediately broke into the conversation
that the larger group was happily conducting without him.
         “Well look at these two!” He said, as if they hadn’t already been there for ten
minutes. “My, my, how on earth did you get so blue? Surely some BAD activities were
involved- eehhh?” He leered wildly at Tim and Eddie. “My father is the richest Flallop in
Satan’s Monkey, Protector of Her Butt from All Who Would Spank Her, and he is not nearly
as clean as the two of you appear to be. Now what, pray tell, have you been up to that you
have acquired such a shine? Perhaps you are dealing in fropberries? Perhaps there is some
secret that you know that you feel yourselves too privileged to share. Perhaps you do not love
this land that our forefathers…” He would have gone on like this for hours, babbling
incoherently about the pride of the flag and the Civics of Superiority. However, he looked so
stupid that everybody in the circle began to laugh at him, causing him to lose his
concentration. They couldn’t help it, he waggled his ass horn in such an absurd way as he
carried on, the funny bones of the spectators simply leapt out of their bodies and kicked them.
         Wendell didn’t like it when people laughed at him. He quickly reached into his pocket
and removed the pencil and pad that he kept there for just such occasions. He jotted down the
date and time and began to systematically list everyone that was laughing at him. He wrote in
a mad scrawl hurrying to record the perpetrators before they scattered away. He would later
give this list to his dad. His dad had ways of making the people that laughed at him stop
laughing… at him.
         Wendell’s father understood why kids laughed at his son, the laughter was a familiar
visitor from his own childhood; he had been a pompous ass when he was a child as well. You
would think that would give his father compassion for Wendell but it brought only pity and
scorn.
         Today nobody ran or hid from Wendell’s annoying pencil.
         Today there were two of them that made Wendell look like a dirty slob. It didn’t
matter that all but two of them were twice as dirty as Wendell. For the first time he wasn’t the
cleanest and he didn’t know what to do about it.
         Having gotten their laugh out of Wendell, Tim and Eddie returned to their tale of the
strange occurrence that happened in the western forests of Satan’s Monkey. Jerry kept asking
Rain                                                     79


the same question over and over again, “What did it feel like.” Every time they tried to
explain they kept descending into giggles.
        Then suddenly Tim stopped laughing. “Wait, I got it.”
        “Got what?” Asked everybody.
        “What it felt like, I know this is kind of weird but it is the best that I can do: The sun
shone on the shadow and the day sang.”
        Eddie looked at Tim who looked at Eddie. Eddie said simply, “Perfect.” And they
both broke down into fits of giggles all over again.
        They were still giggling when Wendell suddenly found his voice again.
         “Look at the two of you sitting and laughing like two drunken walruses. I don’t think
I believe your little story about the liquid, but I am going to repeat it to my father and I
guarantee you that he is going to be really mad and I don’t know what he’s gonna do!” He
put his hand on his hips and tapped his fat foot impatiently, his ass horn a’wagglin. His
remarkably childish appearance and attitude again drew mocking laughter from the crowd.
Shocked, he turned and stormed out of the circle muttering about how things were better
when this circle was dedicated to killing people like these damn lazy do-nothings.
        Wendell did just what he said he was going to do, he went straight home to tell his
father. Although he hated him and honestly knew that he was evil, he was still his Dad and
Wendell wanted his approval, any way that he could get it. Besides, he had done something
several weeks ago that he still carried a great deal of guilt over and was trying to make up for
it.
        Tim and Eddie watched Wendell leave. They knew that word would spread fast.
They also knew that Wendell wasn’t the only one who would react to them negatively. As
they had discussed back at the camp Tim climbed up on top of a picnic table.
        “We are going to go back to the woods straight from this meeting. If you want to join
us and try to figure out what is happening we ask that you go home, grab the stuff you need
and come back here within fifteen minutes. We have enough shelter, but if there are special
things you need go get them right now. We’re sorry to be jerks about this, but we gotta get
out of here before someone decides that not being covered with dirt is a crime and we get
taken into the cops.”
        A couple of the kids present laughed; thinking that Tim was joking. It only took one
hard look at his face, however, to know that he was deadly serious. Three people turned on
their heels and went out in different directions to gather their stuff, everyone else just sort of
wandered a little way off, talking about leaving but not actually moving to get their stuff.
         Fifteen minutes later 5 people headed into the wilderness.

Drizzle

         Change is the only immutable thing.
         Change will still be dancing long after James Brown dies. It’ll crash your party,
spend a few minutes breaking every taboo and mocking everything decent and pure. Then it
just leaves.
        The next morning you get up and find your microwave is missing and the dog has
impregnated the cat.
         Change is more reliable then death or taxes or even Oprah. Even the end of change
will be different then the constant change we face now; which will surely confuse those who
Rain                                                    80


wait for change to stop being changeless again. Which is also inevitable, just like death,
taxes, and Oprah.
         Everyone that heard the story of Tim and Eddie knew they represented change as
surely as the discovery of gravity. As word spread Tim and Eddie came to symbolize change
for those who wanted it. To those who didn’t they represented evil. Many hated entropy, re-
evaluation, change. The slaves of Dogma. They hated the idea that there were things beyond
their control, beyond even their ability to comprehend. It was a natural inclination to try to
reach out and squash things that created such feelings. Without really knowing it Tim and
Eddie started another Chilly War when they walked into that Circle. It would take a while to
manifest itself, but an avalanche starts with a single flake of snow.
         Once the band of five reached the town limits Neal began to laugh and dance around.
Neal was a large and strong Whozit, although he was tiny compared to Jerry. (Of course,
some moose are tiny compared to Jerry.) In spite of his size Neal was gentle as a kitten. He
was also as skittish as a squirrel on amphetamines.
         Dancing up to Tim, Neal said, “That was great, I don’t know how you guys managed
to get so clean, but I think that everyone at the circle bought your crazy story. Really, You
guys could probably get a job writing for TV.”
         “It wasn’t a story Neal.” Tim replied matter of factly.
         “It wasn’t?” Tree asked, doubtful.
         “”Nope.” Said Eddie.
         “I thought you guys were kidding too. I was just gonna ask what you did to get the
dirt off.” Tree was flabbergasted because they were telling the truth, she could tell by the
look on Tim’s face. Tree knew him like a brother and could tell when he was lying.
         Neal wasn’t convinced yet. “You mean to say that your story was real? A big cloud,
wind, and what did you call it? Oh yeah, Rain. And after that, we are going to have crazy
visions with Elves and Gumby?”
         “Yes, that, as crazy as I admit it sounds, is what we are saying.” Tim said.
         “Of course they were serious.” Jerry put in, “How the hell do you think they got so
clean? That doesn’t just happen for crying out loud. This is the unidentified chocolate in the
candy box. This is one of the enigmas of existence. Subjective objectivity, string cheese, that
sort of thing.”
         “I don’t know… Wow, it really happened huh?” Neal was lost in thought, trying to
understand how it was possible. Finally he said, “Well, I guess I’m gonna get more out of this
trip that I bargained for.” There was a dollop of fear in his voice. It wasn’t a heap, but it was
definitely a dollop.
         Tim and Eddie went into the Big Circle with different expectations. Eddie honestly
thought that everyone that they talked to would come along. It was crazy to him that anyone
would ever pass up a chance at insight into the true nature of existence. It was obvious that if
an opportunity to peer through the window of the universe offers itself, you look. The real
question was-What is the origin of the Rain? Was the girl a subconscious desire to end the
war, or was she a more intelligent entity that had the ability to make them understand on some
basic level the folly of their current mode of existence? And what about his vision? How
could he be sure that what was happening wasn’t still part it? Was he a butterfly dreaming he
was Eddie, or was Eddie dreaming he was a butterfly dreaming that he was going into the
forest to look for a magical liquid that fell from the sky?
Rain                                                    81


         Eddie didn’t know the answer. He had seen a tree fall in the forest to the sound of one
hand clapping. He chopped the cat in half; but still nothing. He couldn’t shake the idea that
somehow the Rain knew who they were and had chosen them to spread the word. Or else
they had chosen themselves and the Rain was a manifestation of that choice. Eddie
consciously changed his mind on the subject as often as possible.
         Tim was more grounded in his concerns. He didn’t expect many people to come
along. He was happy with three. He, much more than Eddie, realized the seriousness of what
was happening. They were shaking up some basic sociological suppositions here. But what
choice did they have? He had not sought this burden, but Tim decided he would carry it. Not
just because he believed in it. But because he wanted to turn the hearts of those who thought
like Hamilton and Burke. He couldn’t stop thinking about the attitude they expressed. Trying
to understand where it came from, what motivated them to express it in such a harsh manner.
The Rain, whatever it ended up being, could cause such a turn. It could also harden their
resolve to the breaking point. Sometimes people who panic will grab onto you and try to take
you down with them. Although Tim didn’t know for sure that Mr. Oliver was evil, he looked
at the way Wendell acted and couldn’t help put Mr. Oliver in the category “shady
motherfucker.”
         For his part, Jerry was really excited. This crazy shit was right up his alley. He didn’t
even go home for any stuff. He brought the clothes on his pack and the stuff in his pockets.
Besides, he thought the “police possibility” to be pretty high and he didn’t want to hold
anyone up. He did take the time to cast about for a walking stick, finally pulling a suitably
large limb off a nearby tree.
         Needless to say, Jerry ‘s lifestyle was a capable imitation of a leaf. He allowed the
winds to blow him wherever, often with no forethought. This made him a lot of fun but rather
unpunctual. For instance, he was actually supposed to have been hanging out in the circle
several hours earlier, but he had only arrived a few minutes before Tim and Eddie. Jerry’s
behavior wasn’t at all unknown to Eddie who usually called Jerry several hours before he ever
expected to see him. He was not entirely unsympathetic; Eddie took on a similar cast when
he became wrapped up in an idea. (Like he was now) This was a big part of why they got
along so well; they had similar idiosyncrasies.
         The group walked all day and into the night, talking about Rain, what was happening
in Satan’s Monkey, who was the best dancer, and whether or not Daphne, Velma, and Fred
got in on while Scooby Doo and Shaggy ate Scooby Snacks and smoked fropberries in the
van. You could hear them come from a quarter mile away, once Tree was convinced that Tim
was serious about the Rain, she had doubled back home and picked up a mountain of stuff to
document the phenomenon should it happen again. She had camera equipment, tape recorders,
lights, and a laptop. Before they knew it the five had walked straight through the night. The
suns started to come up and everyone decided to camp before the day grew too hot. They
found a clearing and dumped all their gear.
         Their stuff had barely touched the ground before a large thunderhead began to rise up
around the newly risen suns, blotting them away. Everyone looked at Tim and Eddie; they
just shrugged and smiled. It seemed as if the storm had been waiting for their arrival. Neal
immediately hid behind Tree as thunder boomed across the field. Lightning spiderwebbed
across the sky. The brightness marked itself briefly on the parties’ retinas, causing the
lightning to remain in their vision after its natural departure.
         “That’s it isn’t it?” Neal asked, semi-rhetorically.
Rain                                                     82


         “Yes sir, that it.” Eddie assured him.
           The beauty of the light dancing across the sky shocked Tree. She yanked Neal out
from behind her back and coaxed him into trying to dig the beauty of the sky. Neal watched,
pouting mildly. He soon admitted that it was indeed beautiful but altogether too loud. Eddie
agreed, smiling with his hands over his ears.
         The wind began to pick up as the storm dragged its way across the field. The rain
began to fall; again approaching as a wall of water. Tree dropped to one knee and tore open
her camera bag. She was already taking pictures before she had totally removed the lens cap.
         The storm front was so wide that she did not have to focus at all, she just opened the
aperture and recorded as much of the event as she could. Jerry watched the sky with the kind
of excitement you display while waiting to get on a rollercoaster. He bounced up and down on
the balls of his heels, fingers steepled together in anticipation.
         Neal had the look of someone who had just died on that same rollercoaster. He
mumbled quietly to himself looking down and picking absentmindedly at his fingers. His
face was almost red. He had convinced himself that the approaching spectacle was going to
be the end of them all. It wasn’t that Neal was a coward, he just didn’t deal with out of the
ordinary situations very well. The storm that was approaching was only the second that had
ever occurred and that would fall quite solidly in the not-ordinary category. How would you
like it if all of a sudden frogs started falling out of the sky? (Which has actually occurred
numerous times throughout history, in these cases too, the reaction ran from enjoyment to
terror to documentary interest.) Anyway, Neal was quietly freaking out.
         Tim ran to him and tried to calm him down but he would have none of it. The storm
arrived in the middle of the hubbub. Tree was so taken with her photography that she was
slow to notice Neal’s fear.
         The rain reached the party. It swept over Tree and Eddie and Jerry. Neal watched its
final appearance as one would watch an approaching train while tied to the tracks. He found
himself thinking of Boris and Natasha. He pushed the thought out of his ear and onto the
ground. For the briefest moment Neal could have sworn there was a flying squirrel in his
peripheral vision. As the rain swept toward Neal and Tim, it parted around them, leaving the
pair as dry as dirt. Jerry and Tree were in the process of admiring their dissolving faces as
years of dirt rolled away in blobs. Tim stepped out of the circle of dry to join the others in the
wet. Neal kept his head down and his eyes closed, praying to Glarf, thanking him for being
spared. He was deaf to the cries of delight from Jerry and Tree.
         After several minutes Neal opened his eyes and peaked out into the rain that continued
to fall everywhere but in a small four-foot wide circle he happened to be sitting in. He looked
for Tree full of guilt for having left her to die in the rain without even trying to save her. He
spotted her immediately and what he saw allowed the rain to begin to fall on him too.
         She was absolutely the most beautiful anything that he had ever seen. Her skin was an
ethereal light blue, like the Montana sky (or a lightly bleached blueberry) free of the dirt and
grime of years she was like a masterpiece restored. She had always been beautiful, especially
in Neal’s eyes, but the rain seemed to wash away the dirt from her skin as well as her soul.
The smile she was wearing took away even a hint of the panic that had so completely
consumed him. His eyes softened and the hole in the storm closed gently around his body,
enveloping him in its warm bath.
         The group didn’t experience the total dissolve of reality the way that Tim and Eddie
first experienced it. Instead the physical aspects of reality remained while the entire group’s
Rain                                                   83


understanding of possibility began to warp and then finally to bend inside out. It felt as if
somebody had opened their heads and turned a screw, or adjusted a valve. The idea of the
world was sharper, more vivid. The feeling was an internal manifestation of the same clarity
that Tim and Eddie experienced physically during the first rain.
        Until Neal joined the group the Rain had essentially had everyone on hold. They felt
the cool enjoyment of the Rain the way only children can, but once Neal joined them the
entire character of the experience changed. Closing the circle allowed the energy to alter into
a collective. Each member felt their minds reach out and touch, like invisible hands. They
gasped at the intimacy. They felt as if some deeper part of themselves were having a
conversation, but much too quickly for them to understand consciously, even in their altered
state.
        After a while they felt a slight closing and heard a voice inside their ears. It wasn’t
anyone’s individual voice but a combination of all of their voices together. Apparently they
had come to some conclusions and it was time to let their conscious minds in on the news.
Softly, the voice told them,
        “Governments are constructs of the imagination. Capitalism isn’t Uncle Gus in his
red, white, and green hat or Vlad with a Chicken leg in his fist. It is an idea like talking
hamsters and Matlock. Whenever this is forgotten it becomes untrue and government is
something else, it’s fascism. It is incredibly dangerous when imaginary things get up and
start ordering people what to do. Especially if those ordinary things are hamsters or
Matlock.
        Collective thinking doesn’t need to mean the destruction of the individual identity.
There was a balance to be reached. Governments were like old men who have forgotten their
glasses and somehow are pissed at you for it. Technology was being used to make rock
droppers instead of food machines and low cost high quality housing. We were smart enough
to design machines that defy gravity but letting everybody eat was too big an effort. The
problem remained even after the War, the rabid weasels of war sucking the hope from the
future.
        The new imaginary system of Satan’s Monkey fancies itself a democracy because
everyone has the ability to vote. On paper, this gives everyone a chance to make a difference-
at least in theory. However, things have not and will not actually work out that way. Instead,
the imaginary system remained unchallenged. And the longer it is left alone the more
powerful it is. The control that Mr. Oliver has achieved in the short period of his rule already
has long arms and teeth, the longer his power goes unchecked the more potential evil he can
create.
        The very rich could live half as well and still live like the Boss of a King. Money,
which would barely be noticed in the hands of the rich, would help the poor immeasurably.
This does not seem especially fair. It is one thing to not pay the extra penny when you go over
at the gas pump, but a billion dollars when some people can’t afford a can of soup?
        Back in the day “old money,” like Mr. Oliver’s used government as a shield. It gave
the people something to be angry at. “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. Toto.”
Now- old money like Mr. Oliver’s WAS the government. The politicians were all rich and the
rich got their power from the politicians. A viscous circle.
          It seemed inevitable and crushing in its authority. Like a high school principal with
one of those oversized paddles with the air holes drilled for a better sound effect. But it was
only the construct of their imaginations. There was no actual Satan’s Monkey except for the
Rain                                                    84


fact that every one agreed to pretend that there was. Everyone could stop and no entity would
exist to protest. They always knew this in the back of their heads but to actually play out the
ramifications was decidedly eye opening. It was true that practicality and natural resources
and many other factors helped to limit the way that they could conceive of government but
nevertheless they could conceive of government differently. In fact they could think about
anything differently. It was the belief in limits that set them. This did not mean that utopia
was at hand, it meant that the never-ending search for it could be a hell of a lot more fun for
everybody.
         Government and life in general was a grim business because all of the institutions and
models they used insisted that the world must be grim. If these grumpy models were replaced
and the new models given a “until something better comes along” warranty then government
might not be such a frightening thing. They envisioned a government based on cooperation
over competition. They decided that this conception was better because after all, which team
always wins? The team that cooperates the best wins. The idea that there is no I in team is
silly. People have strengths and weaknesses; it is knowledge of them that allows one to be a
productive member of a team. Teams are collections of like-minded individuals, not a
beehive. The mistake is to pretend like there is more than one team. There isn’t.
         In their case, they were Team Satan’s Monkey. If another intelligent race showed up
the team could be Team Satan’s Monkey and Whoever. Sure there are different interests but
they all generally lie in the same direction- what will make my life happy? While the precise
answer is always different there are certain things that are true for everybody. For example,
going hungry sucks. Not having anywhere to live sucks. Everybody knew this but it happened
anyway. They realized that technology had reached the point where everyone could be given
the basic elements of life that are necessary on a universal scale. To tend to these needs was
the only sane role of any government. Insane roles were things like Killing everybody,
producing talk shows, and totalitarianism.
         Everyone thought about and experienced their myriad interests just in the small group.
And they were myriad, no mistaking that. Every subject with a book written about it (and
that is quite a lot) exits because there was an individual that was so interested in the topic
that they spent days and years researching, writing, editing, etc. There are thousands of books
on Geology for God’s sake.
          What if everyone could do what it was that most interested them? They wagered that
there would be very few jobs that went undone, even the ones that they found repugnant (such
as waste management) or boring. (Like accounting or putting the little plastic things on
shoelaces.)
         So now you know what you know.”
         The voices in their head just vanished with nothing but the ringing in their minds to let
them know that it was there.
         Each member of the group woke up flat on their back staring into a clear blue sky.
Everybody’s mind was with overwhelmed with the possibility of a new way of living. Alter
the paradigm and put on a new pair of reality glasses. They wanted to teach all of their
friends these new ideas, and they had the vehicle.
         Nobody knew where it had came from but lying in the center of their group was a
glass pitcher, beautifully hand blown with veins of brilliant red and blue. It was full to the
rim with water.
Rain                                                     85


Come and See What We Have Found!

         Neal was the first one to pick up the pitcher. He held it up to the twin suns and gasped
at the beautiful colors that seemed to swim beneath the glass. He swirled the water around
marveling at the way it behaved, it was so similar to the Yoo-Hoo that they were familiar with
but its transparency made it quantum leaps more aesthetically pleasing to the eye. Neal
figured that what they had discovered was probably going to do more to change their universe
than the scientific discovery of the soul. (It’s located just behind the left knee.) After showing
the details of the pitcher to everyone in the group he took it aside and carefully stashed it
between two rocks in a manner that would make it difficult to knock over or spill. Once the
pitcher was safely stuck away Neal returned to where the others were already setting up camp.
Soon he was helping Eddie put up his tent. He glanced around briefly for Tree but she had
already holed herself into her portable darkroom, trying to see how the pictures turned out.
Jerry left the camp with a wave, going off to scout for Yoo-Hoo.
         As Neal and Eddie worked to light the fire for some barbecue Eddie stopped and
looked him in the eye. “That was a close one there, eh? The rain really had you spooked.”
Eddie said, his tone sympathetic and non-condescending.
         “Yea, I was panicking for a minute, there is no doubt. It was just too weird; you guys
showing up and being all clean and blue and then this giant gray fluffy thing comes barreling
down at me out of nowhere. It just scared the hell out of me is all. Then I saw Tree standing
in the rain and I knew that I was going to be all right. She just looked so happy, I’ve never
seen her like that, even after rubbing horns.” Neal smiled at Eddie with his crooked smile,
feeling a little vulnerable. “When I first came back I wasn’t sure that what had happened was
real. I knew what I experienced but I wasn’t sure if it was a hallucination, that I hadn’t gone
crazy. But then I saw the pitcher and knew that it really happened and now I can’t wait to see
what happens next.”
         “Well, I know what happens next.” Replied Eddie. His response got Tim’s attention,
he walked over and sat down, Eddie continued; “Now we have to go and talk to Mr. Oliver. I
know that he is a creep but ever since he took over the town things seem to be getting a little
better. Maybe this Rain thing is communicating with him too somehow. Anyway, we have to
go to him to find out where he stands. If he’s on our side, then terrific he can help us
implement the changes. If he is against us then at least he will have heard the story from our
own lips, not from some scare monger assistant who is bucking for a promotion and
completely misrepresenting what is happening out here. If we make steps to avoid
misunderstanding now, maybe we can get through this wackiness with our horns intact.”
         “You’ve gone crazy.” Tim nodded and went back to what he was doing.
         “What do you mean I’ve gone crazy?”
         Tim returned his attention to Eddie. “I mean that you have lost your senses, that you
are saying things that are without sanity. Mr. Oliver will kill us; he’ll stick skewers up our
asses and eat us for barbecue. If whatever this is can manifest glass it is not going to be taken
lightly by anyone. Eddie we have become a real threat. Didn’t you listen to that vision? We
all, somewhere deep down know that we are heading into some kind of political battle. I
seem to remember the words fascism and totalitarianism coming up. Seeing as Mr. Oliver is
in charge right now, the only one in charge by the way, who do you think we are going to go
up against?”
         “All the more reason to go to him now, right away, before things can get out of hand.”
Rain                                                    86


         “He’s not going to listen to us.”
         “I’ll go by myself if I have to. Tim, I am sure that this is what I am supposed to do.
Don’t you remember what happened in the Big Big Circle? We just decided not to trust one
another and look what almost happened. Now we are clearly heading toward some kind of
crazy situation again. I can’t believe that the two things aren’t connected and I am not going
to make the same mistake two times in a row. Honesty and straight forward is always best.
No matter what happens.”
         “I still think you’re crazy, but I hear what you’re saying. If it means that much to you
I’ll go along.”
         “That was beautiful man.” Jerry said, wiping a tear from his eye.
         Their next move decided Eddie returned his attention to Neal. “I’m completely
fascinated with what happened to you. When the rain first started I saw the way that it fell all
around you without getting you wet. Did you stop the rain from hitting you or did the rain
decide to wait until you were ready?”
         “What do you mean?” Asked Neal who, at the time, had been to scared to even think
about the oddness of the rain falling everywhere but on his head…
         “Well the rain was falling everywhere but on your head. I thought that it was a bit odd.
I’ve been wrestling with trying to understand whether the rain is a manifestation of our
previously unconscious power to create reality, or if the rain is occurring to us. Or possibly a
combination of the two? I don’t know. What was going through your mind? Was there a
conscious effort on your part to keep the rain from falling on you or did it avoid you.”
         “I’m really not sure. I was so scared I surely was wishing something along the lines of
not getting that stuff on me, but I wouldn’t say that I felt any sense of agency that was
effective on the raindrops themselves.”
         “OK, if you think of anything specific that could help just tell me. I think that as time
goes on we’ll find out anyway, but stuff like this just kinda overwhelms the melon. Are you
gonna come back with me and Tim to talk to that stuffed bastard Mr. Oliver?” (Everybody
called him Mr. Oliver- even his wife.)
         “No, I’m gonna stay here and do a little drawing on the trees with my tree painting
stick. I just imagined a new technique that I want to try out.” Besides, Wendell might be there
and I’m not particularly in the mood to give myself a migraine. Neal stuck out his ass and his
lip, imitating Wendell, “I’m gonna tell my Daddy!” he pouted, “Have fun.” Neal chuckled
and headed for his tree. As he started to work he admitted to himself that he was afraid. Neal
didn’t wasn’t to go into town and deal with people who might tell him he was crazy. He
didn’t want to deal with conflict.
         And so the group split up. Tim and Eddie were going to go back into town with Neal,
Jerry and Tree remaining behind. Tree wanted to develop her pictures, Neal set to work
painting the story of the Rain on the surrounding trees, and Jerry (he found the Yoo-Hoo)
started looking for a cave where they could stash the pitcher of water for safe keeping.
         Tim and Eddie knew that what they were doing was a risk. There was always the
possibility that Mr. Oliver would crush them at the early stages, ending their discovery before
anyone else had a chance to experience what they had found. Eddie focused on his question,
is he the rain, or was the rain an Other? Either way, after what he had seen already, Eddie
was beginning to believe that the rain could find him just as easily in jail as it could in the
middle of the forest. It might even be able to find them dead, if there even really was such a
state. The rain experience caused him to question everything. He was actually trying to go
Rain                                                     87


through his brain and doubt everything he thought he knew. Hoping that eventually he would
have no unchallenged beliefs in his head. As he went through the process Eddie was, by far,
the most intelligent being in Satan’s Monkey. He didn’t reject all his beliefs; he simply
questioned them. He searched his mind for alternative explanations in places he had never
looked before and was often surprised by what he found.
       The longer he worked on the problem in his own mind the more answers that had once
alluded him started to come, only to be doubted soon after. Eddie actually felt hopeful that
Mr. Oliver would understand. That he would see that they were not trying to ruin anything,
just make the town a slightly easier place to live for everybody.

Mr. Oliver meets the Mystics

         Mr. Oliver sat in his study in the renovated mansion that had once been Vlad’s palace.
It was a large room, so full of piles of papers and books that it appeared small and cramped.
There was an order to the chaos though; Mr. Oliver knew what went where. He worked from
a filing system so arcane it was boggling even to him. His chair was bright orange, small
green triangles were scatted across it, like the stars that provided the light in the evening. It
was overstuffed; Mr. Oliver sunk into it till it almost became a part of him. Mr. Oliver rarely
had people in his home office, but it did happen. When it did, Mr. Oliver wanted to be higher
than, and therefore superior to, anyone he met with. He had read about the subtle mental edge
that could be obtained by such little details as the height of the chairs in a book he had been
given for his twentieth birthday, “How to manipulate people into doing the things you want
them to do.” By a man named Francis Booberall. He always laughed in spite of himself when
he thought about the day that he had spent bent over the visitor chairs, sawing 2 inches off of
each of the chair legs with a small wooden saw that he had taken from the handyman’s shed.
         In order to straighten his suit that was wrinkling from his extended sitting, he arched
his back, bringing the fine hand spun polyester taut against his ample belly. His large smooth
hands brushed down the front of his suit and over his gut. He picked away a tiny piece of lint,
holding it up to the light and examining it. This was one of the mysteries of the man; he was
anal, fastidious and obsessive. But he was also a slob. For while he picked up an invisible
piece of lint, he left several large, fairly noticeable ones behind. He also left a nacho chip that
had been there since lunch. Even though he bathed often, spending hours clipping and
grooming, there was always a slight smell of sour oil on him that was less than pleasant.
         On this particular day Mr. Oliver was feeling very happy with himself. The biggest
obstacle of his plan was past him, and the labor involved was significantly less than what he
suspected. As far as Mr. Oliver was concerned the riskiest part of his plan was the election.
He wasn’t stupid. He knew that he wasn’t the most lovable guy in the world. He had left the
nominating committee to its own devices, trusting that they would nominate him unopposed,
understanding that his talk of an “election” was just a formality. Only they hadn’t. Instead
the committee nominated the very two boys who had cost him a great deal of profit.
         Mr. Oliver was prepared to move heaven and earth to destroy the boy’s reputation if it
was deemed necessary. Hell, he would have them killed if he had to. There was no depth to
which Mr. Oliver was willing to sink to insure that he got everything that was coming to him.
The plan was the thing that drove him. It burned in his small black heart like a sun. It was
the reason for his every movement, his every thought. It ruled him with a totality. It was a
demon that possessed his soul. He would do whatever it took. Mr. Oliver spent two full hours
Rain                                                     88


working himself into a seething ball of hatred, and all of it directed toward Tim and Eddie. In
Mr. Oliver terms, this state of being was a fine one indeed; there was a part of himself that
was enjoying itself immensely. He had been in the middle of drawing up an “enemies list” of
individuals and organizations that were threatening to him. It was enormous and included
such political threats as Joe Namath, Jane Fonda, Dick Gregory, Carol Channing, Noam
Chomsky, Gregory Peck, and Steve McQueen. Mr. Oliver had yet to write a “things to do to
the enemies list” when without warning…
         The two boys just left town.
         Like a dream the messenger came to him. The spy who had watched them go had
come personally and told Mr. Oliver the news. Mr. Oliver had thanked the man, walked him
to the door of his office and closed the heavy oakenberry door behind him. His heart was
beating rapidly through his chest. He staggered a bit, grabbing hold of the nearby visitor
chairs. He had to bend over to reach the lowered chair that made his already labored breathing
even more difficult. His eyes swept across the room and stopped suddenly when he saw the
reflection of himself in the mirror that hung on the wall, its ornately carved brass edging
reflecting brightly. He was smiling. His dark teeth were clearly visible in his mouth. His
cheeks suddenly hurt, the skin completely unaccustomed to being stretched in this direction.
He felt an alien sound come out from the lower part of his chest. It felt like a purge, like he
was going to vomit, only when the lump actually left his throat, it was a laugh.
         He was happy. He was ecstatic. He was beside himself with joy.
         Mr. Oliver had what he had always wanted; power that came completely voluntarily.
He liked money because it brought him respect, but being rich always carried with it the
knowledge that people acted nice to your face because they knew you were rich. It was a rare
Flallop indeed that would voluntarily piss off a millionaire. Instead everyone wants to
befriend the millionaire because a millionaire can always come in handy in a pinch. But an
election was not like that. If the people elected him they were saying, “Mr. Oliver, you tell us
what to do because we all think you are better than us and we want you to tell us what to do.”
At least, that’s what Mr. Oliver thought everyone was saying.
         With the departure of Eddie and Tim he had everything that he had wanted. The plan
was a success, the biggest obstacle to its accomplishment suddenly overcome, not with a
Hindenburg-like flaming disaster, but with a soft whimper, Mr. Oliver had won... Before he
had the chance to break into their houses or firebomb their campaign headquarters. There was
a little melancholy in that; the fun was over before it had really started. And while he was
happier than he had ever been in his life, there was a part of himself that was furious. It had
been robbed of something, and Mr. Oliver didn’t like getting robbed of anything. There was a
big part of Mr. Oliver that wanted to strangle the life out of those two boys for leaving.
         In order to gain some semblance of control Mr. Oliver decided to make a few changes
in the way elections are run. He didn’t find a loophole in Satan’s Monkey’s campaign
funding laws; he took an earth auger and bored a hole through the whole damned book. Then
shredded the pages, burned the shreds, and buried the ashes in the Rose Garden during a lunar
eclipse, howling deliriously as he sacked up unprecedented sums of money piled in front of
him by corporate executives, Wall Street Speculators, con artists, international schemers, and
on and on.6


6
 Hightower, Jim. If The Gods Wanted Us To Vote, They Would
Have Given Us Candidates. P. 81 <<Modified>>
Rain                                                    89


        Thanks to his manipulations, the election went off without a hitch and Mr. Oliver was
so busy shuffling money around to fund his secret projects he had almost completely
forgotten about Tim and Eddie. Mr. Oliver’s main task, since winning the election had been in
funding the police force. In order to facilitate people’s fears, he began to plant stories in the
newspapers about robberies. He ordered his statisticians to start cooking the numbers to show
increases in violent crimes. He wanted the public to ask for the police force. He wanted them
to want police so badly they wouldn’t even ask about the budget. They’d just pony up and
pay the tax bill. Once the police apparatus was in place he would be able to undertake some
of the less “liberal reforms” he had been holding back for the right moment. He had been
studying a book called “How to be a better bastard in three weeks or less” and had found its
advice quite helpful. So helpful that he hired its author, a fellow named Newt, to be one of
his advisors.
        His first task had been to gain a solid foothold over the news media. CNNBC was
gone which made things a little easier. (He dropped a big rock on the building.) CNNBC had
the annoying habit of occasionally (about once a month) reporting the truth about what
happened in a given situation. Now that the network had been smashed with a big rock, in the
name of freedom, Mr. Oliver no longer had to worry about it.
         As he told his advisor Newt, “I want a thorough and efficient Mr. Oliver network
whose task will be to really raise hell with the people who take us on, and pour praise on
those who take a more productive viewpoint. The networks are very much afraid of us and
they are trying hard to prove that they are good guys. If the threat of screwing them is going
to help us more with their programming than actually doing it, then keep the threat. Don’t
screw them now, they might figure out what we’re doing. Our gain is more important that the
economic gain. We don’t give a good goddamn about the economic gain. Our game here is
solely political… As far as screwing the networks is concerned, I’m very glad to do it.”7
         Mr. Oliver was re-reading his favorite chapter, “How to make people love you for
stabbing them in the back” when he noticed movement out of the corner of his eye someone
approaching his house. His attention shifted out the window and he was shocked by what he
saw. The two bastards! The kids who had ended the Chilly War were coming up to his house.
His breath caught in his throat and his vision suddenly blurred with rage. When they turned
up his walk he fists began to pound rapidly on the table, his fingernails digging half moons
into his hands. They disappeared below his level of sight, there was a pause and then the
giant kA BONG of his doorbell rang through the entire house. Mr. Oliver got up slowly from
his desk, took a deep breath and headed towards the front door. He slid his Robe of Rulership
over his shoulders as he made his way down the stairs.
        He was almost all the way to the front door before he remembered what his son
Wendell had told him the day before. He had been babbling something at dinner about two
boys that had been totally clean. Mr. Oliver had dismissed what he said as an obvious
exaggeration, there was no way to get clean, and if there was he would have heard of it. But
now standing ten feet from the front door Mr. Oliver realized that the kids had been as clean
as the day they were born. What his son said was true, even if it was stupid and impossible.
The little snit must have been telling the truth. Mr. Oliver found himself wishing that he had
paid attention to a word that the boy said. KA BONG! The bell echoed through the house
again causing Mr. Oliver to jump in spite of himself.

7
    The (nearly) exact words of Richard Nixon.
Rain                                                   90


         Eddie walked directly up to the door, trying to convince himself that he wasn’t scared
and that Mr. Oliver would listen to them. Tim held back walking a step or two behind Eddie,
he wanted to at least have a chance to get out of the way in case Mr. Oliver opened the door
and started shooting. Eddie rang the bell a second time and now they could see the large
shape of Mr. Oliver shuffling towards them from the stairs.
         “Oh shit, here he comes” muttered Tim under his breath.
         “Shh.” Eddie said, trying not to laugh.
         The door swung open. Mr. Oliver stood before them, an enormous figure in his full
adulthood compared to Tim and Eddie who were still in the middle stages of early adulthood.
He glared down at them in obvious and genuine anger. Then, as if a switch had suddenly
been pulled, his frown mutated into the smile of a demonic clown, as artificial as chicken
nuggets and Spam.
         “Hello Boys!” he bellowed at about 50 decibels more than was called for. “What can I
do for you? The leader of Satan’s Monkey is always available for consultation because I care
so much about my constituents. As I’m sure that you already know.” Mr. Oliver glared at the
two boys; his lips upturned in a smile that didn’t even come close to reaching his eyes.
Instead, they were dead black, menacing and cold.
         “Would you like pie? Mrs. Oliver just made a wonderful assberry pie.” he offered,
again with a disingenuineness that turned blood to ice. “Come with me to my office, we can
have a little chat.” Tim looked at Eddie, worried. Eddie made a face that said, “All we can do
is follow him. So they did. Tim focused on taking in the details of the house. Knowing the
layout couldn’t hurt. There was a laundry chute in the house, he had heard of the idea but
never actually seen it. He thought it was neat. They entered the office. It was a big room, full
of filing cabinets and an enormous desk. The whole thing was raised slightly in the air so that
Mr. Oliver would tower over Tim and Eddie who had to squeeze into their small chairs even
though neither was full grown nor fat.
         Tim could read the look in the man’s eye. He decided that they had probably made a
big mistake. It was crazy that he didn’t mention their appearance, it was so obvious, like
pretending to not notice a big goiter in the middle of someone’s forehead. Tim sighed with
resignation; all he could do was push on in what was surely a cause as lost as the plot of a
David Lynch movie.
         Tim began, “Look Mr. Oliver, we are here to tell you about an experience that we had
out in the forest two different times now. I’m sure that you have noticed that my friend Eddie
and I look different.”
         “Oh yes,” said Mr. Oliver, obviously full of shit, “The two of you do seem rather
pale.”
         “Yes well,” Tim continued, “We came to ask if you would accompany us to the forest
so that you might experience the phenomenon for yourself. We have termed the experience:
Rain. It has made us clean again and has shown us many alternative ways to live…” He went
on to briefly outline what had occurred in the second vision.
         When Tim was done Eddie added, “It is also possible that this experience is a new
form of self evolution that Tim and I were just lucky enough to have thrust upon us. As you
know we have been through quite a lot in our short lives.” He grinned sheepishly.
         Yea Mr. Oliver knew.
         What they were describing was precisely the kind of state that Mr. Oliver would be
powerless in. They were proposing the creation of a highly educated proletariat that had
Rain                                                     91


direct control over their own affairs. Government would be relegated to the role of social
mommy, dealing out food, clothing, and health care. And the other brat, babbling about
social evolution. The way things were suited him just fine. After all, the way things were
was largely the result of his efforts. (Which, like Mr. Burns, he would gladly trade in for a
little more) He wasn’t really sure what to make of the offer to join them in the forest. He was
damn sure he wasn’t going to go but it worried him that he wanted them to experience what
they had without knowing what it was.
         Suddenly a light bulb flashed brightly in his head. What if the rain was dangerous?
         If the Rain was a threat he could use it to strike fear into the parents of every child in
Satan’s Monkey. They would beg him to form a hugely powerful force to fight it off. If he
marketed it right, nobody would even have to know if the Rain was real. Mr. Oliver didn’t
care if the Rain was real or not, what mattered was its utility to his purpose. He could use the
Rain as an excuse to dig out his old enemies list. He’d get that lousy Steve McQueen.
         He could easily call these two members of a new cult. Whatever this experience was
it had allowed them to come up with these decidedly dangerous ideas about what direction
society should go in. It would be very easy to convince the older members of the town that
such change was dangerous. The children on the other hand, they might not take too kindly to
having the full force of the government aimed at their heads, there would probably be some
resentment there. But that was a problem for later, he’d think of something. In the mean time,
he knew how he was going to deal with the boys.
         “Look kids,” he smiled his biggest fakest smile, bridging his fingers in front of his
nose to give the impression of thoughtful sincerity. “I know that what happened to you was
very traumatic. It has changed your appearance to this new, bizarre amount of cleanliness.
You tell me these outlandish ideas about how you want to destroy society. I cannot help but
come to the conclusion that the two of you have become disturbed. You are not rational and
I’m afraid that I am going to ask you to turn yourselves in to the psychological authorities for
sanity testing.” He stared at them, broadcasting reluctant necessity. Mr. Oliver’s finger slid
underneath his desk and pressed the silent alarm that would bring the police running. No
more than two seconds passed before a siren could be heard wailing from a couple of blocks
away.
         Tim looked at Eddie and they bolted out the office door. They took the stairs three at
a time and went straight out the front door down. They both knew to head toward the forest.
Eddie went to the right, planning to double back. Tim took the direct route, jumping over
fences and on one occasion actually going right through someone’s front door, living room,
and kitchen. As he ran past a man cooking dinner he remarked “Smell’s delicious” and
chuckled to himself.
         He beelined towards the forest and was soon safe among its thick trees. Tim’s mind
raced, trying to figure out the best way to rejoin the group. A search light probed past his
position. Ducking low, Tim rushed deeper into the forest. He hoped that Eddie was safe.
         He most certainly was not. Eddie was running at full tilt through backyards in a
desperate attempt to throw off his pursuers. There were too many of them, Eddie was sure
that they were going to catch him. He hoped that Tim escaped, it was Eddie’s own fault,
trying to be honest. A saying of his Mother’s came into his head. “Sometimes prudence is
more important than truth.” She had said to him. “Oh great,” Tim thought, “Where was that
memory when I needed it?”
Rain                                                     92


        He rounded a corner blind, straight into a fence too high to see over. He spun around
on his heels only to be taken down by a sudden great weight. As soon as he tried to move he
realized that he was in a net, it didn’t take a second kick to his ribs for him to figure out that
they had caught him. Unfortunately, the kicks didn’t end. Not for a long while.

The Trial

        After a week they took Eddie to the courthouse. He spent the time sitting in a cell
across the street from the Court Complex. Surprisingly, they left him completely alone.
When it was time to go to the court two guards opened the cell, handcuffed Eddie’s hands
behind his back and walked him across the street. As he was led out into the bright sunlight
Eddie squinted at the throng that met his arrival. There were people everywhere, yelling
terrible things at Eddie, threatening his life, his children’s lives, his goldfish’s life.
        Mr. Oliver was already positioned half way up the long court house steps, surrounded
by television and radio reporters. He carefully chose his spot so that the large statue of Blind
Justice that decorated the building was just over his right shoulder. On TV it would almost
appear as Justice herself was in on Mr. Oliver’s actions. She was blind because weevils had
torn out her eyes, or so the story goes... As the cops led Eddie to the podium Mr. Oliver
started in like a preacher in a Southern Revival of the Holy Cheese Doodle.
        “LADIES AND GENTLEMAN!” he thundered.
         “ I...I want you to see what has happened here today.” His voice quavered with
indignation.
         “Look at this boy! He comes to me and do you know what he said?” Finger waggling
straight into the camera, “He said ‘Hard working people should pay MORE taxes so that the
lazy shiftless poor of Satan’s Monkey can sit around the house and watch “Let’s make potato
chips” on TV.’ Now I am for free speech as much as the next guy, but this... odd boy is a
danger to our very way of life. Did we go through the Chilly War for nothing? Here for
Freedom or death for tyranny over there!” Mr. Oliver pumped his fist in the air. Almost
everyone in the crowd cheered.
        “And furthermore, this boy is only half the problem. There’s another boy that got
away and is now just loose somewhere.” Mr. Oliver waggled his fingers frantically at the
crowd, “Lock your windows and doors because your children aren’t safe!” He grinned like a
raccoon at the camera.
         “If we had more police we would have caught him.” Stern now, the disappointed
father routine, his son Wendell recognized the face from its numerous appearances in his own
life, and winced.
        He continued, “I have started a new voluntary tax fund to insure the boy is captured
and brought to justice. The money will go to our grossly under-funded Law Enforcement
Agencies as well as toward a new Anti-Rain task force. I am certain that the responsible
citizens of Satan’s Monkey will dig deep and do what is necessary to keep our children free.”
He slowed now, looking into the camera. Newt had told him to do this. “It’ll make you look
sincere.” He counseled.
          “Moms and Dads watch your children, we can’t know how far the evil has gone.
Who knows how big this cult is. Your kids may already be under the spell. Search their
rooms, throw out their records, and take away their pets. We must protect the children.” Mr.
Rain                                                    93


Oliver finished quietly, he was trying to look effusively concerned. His bushy eyebrows
knitted together into a formidable unibrow.
         An official took Mr. Oliver’s place at the microphone and announced that there would
be a trial in morning. Punch and pie would be served.
         Again the crowd erupted in applause. Eddie started to wonder if they weren’t going to
kill him right there. His eyes scanned across the crowd finding only scowl after scowl. But
then, standing apart form the crowd was a girl who was crying. She was looking from Eddie
to the crowd to Mr. Oliver and back again. Eddie felt her sorrow. He wondered who she was
and why she was so upset. In fact, she looked more upset than Eddie felt. Before he could
think any more about it he was dragged by the collar around his neck into the courtroom, Mr.
Oliver leading him like he was a dog.
         News about Tim and Eddie traveled fast. Especially when fifteen channels are
covering it 24 hours a day. The trucks driving around with loudspeakers were also pretty
instrumental in getting the word out. Yet, one must not omit the gossip factor. Simple word
of mouth can outrun even live television with a blip of quantum quickness. It makes a
mockery out of Einstein and insures that the entire town of Satan’s Monkey will have a
convoluted sense of what happened in real time.
         The gist came through but the details were twisted like a traveling contortionist. The
details wore tie-died pajamas and always finished the show by getting into a two and a half-
foot square cube of Plexiglass. People knew that there was something strange going on in the
woods, but things were always strange in the woods, its seems to be in wood’s nature
somehow. They knew that several people were already involved and that one of them, a kid
named Eddie PurpleMonkeyDishwasher (or Elmo- it depended whom you talked to) had been
caught and was to be tried in court for crimes. What the crimes were always seemed to get
lost in the shuffle. The trial was- in everyone’s estimation only a formality. Everyone in
town knew that the Judge declared everyone mentally insane no matter what the charges.
         Julia Child wasn’t happy about being a judge. In fact, wasn’t happy about anything.
She, like ET, wanted to go home, but she didn’t know where home was anymore.
         One evening Mrs. Child was making a fine roast duck covered with her finest cooking
sherry. Her guest chef was John Claude Van-Damm and Julia had great fun patting him on
the ass every chance she got. Throughout the evening Julia had been “ascertaining the
excellence” of the cooking sherry. Well she must have ascertained a little to much because
the next thing Julia knew she was alone on the lot of her cooking show, having fallen asleep at
some point under her vegetable sink. The duck she had been cooking was utterly destroyed, it
looked like some crazy person had torn it apart and thrown it all around the room.
         Upon yanking her girth back on her feet, Julia realized she was still drunk and had to
hold the counter for balance. Once she had her bearings again, Julia grabbed several more
bottles of sherry, stuck them into her apron pocket and hurried out of the studio. She weaved
her way to her Mercedes with the license plate, “ICOOK.” She put in the keys and laid
fifteen feet of rubber flying out of the parking lot. Suddenly there was a flash; she steered the
car blindly. There was a brief glimpse of a tree and then darkness.
         When she came to a week later, she was in Satan’s Monkey. She wandered around,
confused and crying, for about 12 hours before finding herself in front of Mr. Oliver’s house.
He saw her meandering across his front lawn and immediately took her in. He gave her food,
and a blanket, allowing her to sleep on the couch. In effect, he treated her better than he
treated his own family. By the time she woke up again, Mr. Oliver had decided to make her
Rain                                                   94


into his new judge. How could anyone say that a total stranger isn’t an objective judge of the
facts?
         There were strings of course. In trade for her position in the Justice System Julia
agreed to declare everybody insane. In return, Mr. Oliver would make sure that people
generally stayed out of her way. They were both true to their words. Julia declared everyone
mentally insane no matter what happened in every trial. It is a safe assumption that she herself
was crazy by now, after all, she spent all day hanging out with blue people who had big
rhinoceros horns sticking out of their asses.
         The trial room was a grand affair with a vaulted ceiling painted a shocking neon green
and orange. As in all courtrooms there were the stations of the blinding of Justice placed on
the columns that surrounded the circular rooms. The stations were a series of 12 statues that
show Justice slowly having her eyes gouged out by rabid hippo ninjas from beyond the moon.
It was these same hippos who introduced democracy and equality to Satan’s Monkey before
disappearing one evening after an exceptionally boring game of cricket. By the final panel
Justice was naked, and had a ham sandwich in her ass.
          A viewing balcony wrapped around in a U high above the court gallery, it was full of
reporters, the curious, and a few homeless who just wanted to get out of what was rather
chilly day. Everything in the whole courtroom was Feng Shue’d towards the Judge’s Bench,
an enormous thing made of stone and raised high in the air.
         Rusty the Bailiff, looking good for his age, came out from an anteroom and
proclaimed, “All Rise, Judge Julia Child presiding. Now hearing the case of Satan’s Monkey
against Eddie for the crime of being a precocious and insane poop.”
         The entire gallery rose. All eyes tuned toward the large oak door that led to the
judge’s chambers. The door suddenly blasted open with such force the entire audience
jumped in unison. From the hallway came internationally known chef, Julia Child. She was
dressed in an overlarge judge’s cowl, a British type Parliamentary wig, and lipstick painting
her left eye like Petey the dog from the Little Rascals. In her large paw she had a chicken leg
that she brandished threateningly at the gallery. She plopped into her chair.
         Elevated, but not nearly as high as Julia was the prosecutor’s table. Mr. Oliver filled
the entire area. He was the prosecuting attorney at the trial, surrounded by files, charts, and
law books, odd piles of lunchmeat, a lava lamp, and the ceremonial machete of prosecution.
Incense was burning in small “blind justice” incense holders. Most of the items that cluttered
the area had nothing to do with the case but Mr. Oliver liked to give people the impression
that he was impossibly prepared for anything. In reality, he was just enjoying the hell out of
himself. He loved it when he couldn’t lose and this was certainly one of those all too rare
occasions.
         At the bottom of a steep depression that was actually beneath the sight of the
spectators sat Eddie and his lawyer, who was asleep in a beanbag chair under the table. He
had been asleep since Eddie had been led into the courtroom. He didn’t even know the
lawyer’s name. Eddie tried kicking him awake a couple times to no result.
         Judge Child sang quite loudly to herself and drank brandy straight from the bottle.
Separating her from the rest of the courtroom was a large Plexiglass partition. It was
necessary to keep Judge Child from the gallery. She was known to throw things and the court
reporters had grown tired of getting drenched with cooking sherry or pelted with potatoes so
they had organized a bake sale and raised the necessary funds for the partition.
Rain                                                    95


        Every time Eddie would open his mouth to say anything at all, Julia would throw a
piece of the chicken she was eating at him. Most of the time the partition acted as a barrier
and the chicken would ricochet back onto the floor behind her. But sometimes, when she got
really mad she would actually get out of her chair and step around the partition, throwing the
chicken sidearm and swearing like a drunken TV cooking host.
        Once a drumstick hit Eddie’s lawyer. He sat up, objected, and went directly back to
sleep. It was the only time in the entire trial that Eddie’s lawyer said anything at all. Nothing
Eddie said was acknowledged or reported. The audio of everything was bleeped out due to
national security. Anyone who challenged this policy was attacked as soft on protecting the
youth of Satan’s Monkey. Or, so said Tom Brokaw.
        At one point, Eddie began to yell, without stopping no matter what they did to him.
Finally Rusty tied Eddie’s arms and legs to the chair and duct taped a gag around his head.
They trussed up like Eldridge Cleaver. He was kept this way until he was actually called to
the witness stand where the gag was removed. The ropes stayed.
         The court clerk kept a transcript of the trial. An excerpt is written here as it was
printed in every major newspaper. The actual trial made a little more sense than the
newspaper version, but not much.

        Mr. Oliver: Do you know how much sickness that this boy has caused? Do you see
how pale he is? Pale blue like a newborn baby. And that’s what this person is; an crazy
homicidal infant...
        Eddie: Hey now wait a minute…(12.7 minutes removed)
        Mr. Oliver: He’s Crazy I tell ya. We need police, and a lot of them. We need
hundreds of police to protect us from the madness these crazy anarchist baby eaters are
planning. We need to lock this boy under the jail and the sooner his friends join him the
better. We must put an end to this rain business. Our children are going to be brainwashed by
these evil monsters! This boy even said that Glarf is Dead!”
        Eddie: (35 seconds removed) …Zarathustra…(5 minutes removed)… Glarf…(1
minute removed)…is dead.
        Mr. Oliver: More police, more law and order for everybody to the peace of war and
sanity prevailing everyday! “Besides, it’s not pollution that’s harming the environment. It’s
the impurities in our air and water that are doing it, and if we don’t succeed we run the risk of
failure.”8

        A CNNLMNOP instant poll showed that 59 percent of those asked had no idea what
the hell Mr. Oliver was talking about. Nevertheless it was clear that Mr. Oliver was going to
get his way. 85 percent of those polled agreed that more police were needed and that the Rain
was a terrible thing to be feared like pre-marital sex and eating an entrée with a salad fork.
        Julia had a developed a sort of crush on Mr. Oliver. She thought that he looked like a
giant version of pudgy Smurf. She was enthralled by his passion about the boy and the
danger that he represented. Julia Child had smoked pot once in the sixties and hated the
experience. She was totally against drugs. “And proud of It.” she thought, slugging down a
half bottle of vodka in a single swallow. When Mr. Oliver really got going his ears would
almost turn green; it was apparent to her that he really cared about what he was saying. Since

8
    Dan Quayle
Rain                                                   96


Julia went out of her way to not know what was going on in Satan’s Monkey beyond the
confines of her courtroom, she had no idea about the validity of what Mr. Oliver was saying.
She just knew that whatever it was he really believed it.
        None of this was very good news for Eddie. He watched the Judge’s reaction to Mr.
Oliver and it scared him. She just sat and nodded at everything that he said. It didn’t stop at
nodding either. When Mr. Oliver really got himself riled up the Judge would sometimes step
around her Plexiglas partition and wing food directly at Eddie. This was usually accompanied
by some form of comment about the morality of Eddie’s Mother or her favorite name for him,
“You crazy little bugger.” Through the course of the trial everything from yams to donuts
bounced off his head. Once she threw a whole fried chicken.
        Eventually, Eddie broke down and started eating the food that came raining down
from the bench. Prison was lousy and to her credit, Julia only ate gourmet. Besides, he missed
donuts. The only real amusement that Eddie got during the whole trial was offering the
donuts to the court cop. Grossly overweight; Julia called him “Rusty,” although his name was
Al. Every time Eddie held out the donut Al would start salivating visibly. Eddie would
waggle the donut enticingly until, inevitably, he would get up and try to score the Jelly. Every
day Eddie would show him his horn at the last minute and scarf down the whole donut
himself. It made him feel like Lucy, pulling away the football. Al would frown and whine at
which point Julia would bean him with a potato and tell him to shut the hell up.
        The trial was on every television station every day for several weeks for countless
hours a day. Everyone talked about the case because it was the only thing on TV to talk
about. Mr. Oliver had all kinds of experts come in and testify against Eddie. What they were
saying was never clear. What the charges were was never made clear either. Nigel testified
against Eddie. He said that Eddie wasn’t a true Whozit and that he was a coward who
probably communed with the Arnie Jacktoast, the Satan’s Monkey version of Satan. As the
trial continued more and more people began to worry about what the rain would do. The
endless characterization of Rain as evil convinced people who had no other information to
base their decisions on. The media presented a unified voice on the subject. The rain was bad
and dangerous and would cause children to get pregnant and old men to get horn cancer.
Crime was also going to rise. Mr. Oliver’s voluntary tax system began to rake in money.
And for once, true to his word, Mr. Oliver used it to hire more and more police. They asked
him for it, just like he knew that they would.
        After a month the trial ended. Eddie never got a chance to speak in his own behalf.
His time on the stand consisted mainly of Mr. Oliver talking and his words being drowned out
by the impossibly loud buzzer controlled by the censor. His lawyer didn’t call a single
witness of his own. It was very clear that Justice was on sabbatical in Satan’s Monkey,
probably drinking whiskey sours and playing shuffleboard on a beach in Miami.
        There were no deliberations and there was no jury.
        No sooner had Julia disappeared into her chambers than she was suddenly back again,
but now she was wheeling what appeared to be a large cart full of food.
        “You!” She yelled at Eddie, picking up a handful of appetizers. “You are completely
and irrevocably out of your mind. You are a crazy danger to everyone.” She told him this
while furiously peppering him with broccoli spears, carrot sticks, and half-melted sticks of
butter.
        Julia paused a moment and looked at the piece of paper that Mr. Oliver had told her to
read at the sentencing. He told her that it contained an important addendum to the verdict.
Rain                                                   97


Reading from the paper she said, “In fact, I declare that anyone who even looks at this Rain
stuff is automatically insane. They can be locked up without trial; the danger that these
people represent is too great to be slowed by the judicial process.” This last part was
obviously a pretty big coup for Mr. Oliver, although to Julia it just meant less time that she
would have to spend in front of the big blue monsters.
          Once the verdict was read Eddie next destination was a cramped cell in Satan’s
Monkey’s “Official Detention Center For Folks Too Fucked Up To Stay In Society,” a huge
complex that Mr. Oliver was working hard to expand. As was customary in Satan’s Monkey,
Eddie was stripped of his street clothes and issued a pair of black and white striped overalls.
However, before he could put them on, he had to be transferred to the mental institution. In
some ways the transfer was the worst part. A huge stinking camel was led into the courtroom.
Eddie, still naked, was tossed over the camel and tied down, his horn sticking up into the air.
Luckily, the courthouse was very close to the prison because there were quite a few people
outside who threw things at him as he was led along. The people weren’t throwing gourmet
food like the judge; they were throwing rocks.
         As the stones bounced off his body, the cuts already bleeding a bit, Eddie tried very
hard to remain confident that his situation was going to end positively. At least he would
have some time to think... Eddie would wait; the rain would come.
         By the time Eddie was led into the basement of the prison where the mental asylum
was housed Judge Julia was already drunk. She sat alone in her chambers and wished over
and over that the imaginary giant blue people would go away and stop bothering her.

       Busy Busy

        As the month of the trial passed Mr. Oliver was very busy behind the scenes, making his
dream of a giant police force a reality. Thanks to his “creative reallocation of funds” and the
voluntary tax, he had a nearly unlimited amount of money for his project. The new force was in
place within a week, training was seen as “of tertiary importance,” and therefore was very
limited. The newly opened positions were announced by an advertisement in the Sports section
of the newspaper. “Wanted- Law and Order Folks who want to keep Satan’s Monkey clean and
safe by any means necessary. Previous Experience Unimportant, IQ unimportant.”
        The response was immediate. Mr. Oliver didn’t want smart people in the police force
because smart people asked questions. Mr. Oliver didn’t want inquisitive minds. He wanted law
enforcers. Guys and girls who will do whatever he says the law tells them, without question and
with great conviction.
        Mr. Oliver ended up with a force that was highly homogeneous. It was made up of
mostly males who spent too much time licking toads. They had small horns that they made
up for with large sticks and body armor that artificially made them look more muscular and
strong. The town’s horse steroid salesman was also suddenly making a nice living supplying
the goons with artificial muscle building agents. The irony was that the substances made the
male’s horns even smaller, further fueling their sense of inadequacy.
        These were the folks who were sorry to see the war end. They liked the general tone of
violence that war came with, the purpose and confidence that comes from knowing that you
are absolutely right and THEY are absolutely wrong. Now the line was re-established. Those
that lived within the letter of the law were good. Everyone else was bad. Of course, if the
Rain                                                    98


bad person was providing enough supplementary income to the cop, he or she was magically
good again.
        When not harassing people, the cops liked to talk about the world “as it really was.”
They constantly told themselves that people were mostly animals, and it was their job to train
them. This attitude was prevalent in most of what they did in their jobs. There was no
training as to the rights of those that they were hired to protect. Instead, they were initiated in
the style of the military, a well established and long standing mechanisms for making folks
who commit atrocities willingly.
        And it all happened without the public even noticing. Or if they did they went out of their
way to try to pretend they didn’t. Things were going too well; at least that was what the news
said. So what if Mr. Oliver was making a big deal out of this Rain thing? As long as jobs were
plentiful, Mr. Oliver could babble on forever about whatever he wanted. And jobs were plentiful-
if you didn’t mind getting paid squat to work a dead-end job with no benefits.
        Mr. Oliver’s orders to the cops were clear, do whatever is necessary to find and eliminate
the threat of Rain to the town. If there was one thing that the new police force was taught, it was
this priority. That, and how to effectively yield a club. By the time the police hit the streets they
were ready to work aggressively for an end to the Rain, even though they really didn’t know what
it was.

       Job and Moses

         Almost everyone that wasn’t at the courthouse watched the verdict of Eddie’s trial on TV.
Among them was a teenager named Job and his older friend Moses. Job was laughing at Eddie.
He wasn’t laughing because Eddie was guilty; he was laughing because Eddie was strapped
naked to a camel. Job thought anyone strapped to a camel was hilarious, clothed or naked. Moses
shot Job a dirty look, one he was forced to use often.
         “That’s not funny, that’s a damn shame.” Moses said, pointing at the TV. “Putting him in
jail, and for what? I don’t think there’s a person in town that can tell you what Eddie actually did
that was so wrong. If you discount what Mr. Oliver says, we know literally nothing about what
actually happened. We know the Rain is supposed to be bad, but we don’t know if it is a person,
place or thing. I don’t know if the Rain is an idea, or a sandwich.”
         Considering, Job replied, “Yeah well, I guess Mr. Oliver knows some stuff that we don’t.
It’s hard to believe that the media wouldn’t say anything if Mr. Oliver was lying.”
         “Well, he does own a lot of the media. That might be why they aren’t talking.”
         “He may own a lot of the media, but he doesn’t own all of it. If there were more to the
story his competitors would report it.”
         “Unless he had dirt on all of his competitors. In that case, it could be a matter of ‘You
don’t report about me, and I won’t report about you.’”
         “All right, we don’t know anything. Are you happy now? What are we going to do about
it? Oh wait, I know; we can go to the media and tell them to report the truth or we’ll tell on them.
To who? To the media, and then we can get laughed out of their offices. Now I don’t know
about you, but I’m hungry. I am going to go out and get a sandwich.” Job got up and headed to
the front door.
         Moses was hungry too, and decided to join Job. There was a great sandwich shop down
the street that both boys liked. They had only gone three houses down the road when one of the
town’s new police cruisers rolled up next to them. Moses noticed it, but only tangentially, he was
Rain                                                    99


busy trying to make Job understand why it mattered that Eddie was put in jail. “Especially that
last part,” lectured Moses, “Where Julia said that anyone involved with the Rain was
automatically insane. That’s a terrible rule. We don’t know what the Rain is, they can say that
anybody is under the influence.”
         “Stop being paranoid. Why would they do that?”
         In answer to Job’s question the police cruiser suddenly blared its siren and flashed its
lights at them.
         “Stay where you are! You are under investigation for walking in what we have deemed a
suspicious manner.” The voice was huge and menacing from the car’s loudspeaker.
         “What the fuck?” asked Job, raising his hands over his head for good measure.
          Moses just stood there; hoping the shakedown wasn’t too nasty. Again as if they could
read his thoughts, the first cop out of the car threw Moses to the ground, kicking him once in the
ribs. He lay still, braced for another kick but it didn’t come. Instead, after a second or two Job
ended up on the ground next to Moses. The cop, now joined by his partner loomed over the two
boys.
         “You guys are troublemakers. We heard what you said about Judge Julia making a bad
decision. We don’t take kindly to people like you going around and saying such things in public.
Now, where are your papers?” The second cop asked.
         Without getting up, Moses and Job took out their papers and handed them over to the
cops. “I’m gonna go run your names and make sure you boys aren’t wanted for any mis-doe-
meeners or violations of code.” To his partner the guy said. “OK Willis, you give them a
“Dickey Check”, make sure they ain’t hiding no contraband. Kids are hiding a lot of contraband
these days, maybe they got some of that Rain on em.”
         “You heard the man. Lean against the wall and drop your drawers.” The Dickey Check
was one of the few things the officers learned in training. The instructor had insisted that young
folks were always hiding things in their pants and you had to thoroughly check them during every
encounter.
         Moses and Job were as humiliated as they had ever been in their lives. The entire
encounter was such a profound violation they couldn’t talk at all for a couple of hours after it was
over. When they finally could, they were both furious, Job was now completely on Moses’s side
against Mr. Oliver. There was no excuse for what the cops did; he and Moses weren’t doing
anything wrong. They just wanted a sandwich for Glarf’s sake. Job had yoo-hoo come out of his
nose in front of a bunch of girls when he was in the fifth grade. That had been humiliating. But
this was psychologically damaging.
         By the time the cop decided to check his ass, Job was in tears. While the boys agreed that
they should never talk specifically about what happened to them, they also decided that they had
to try to do something. The most obvious tack was to make Eddie a rallying point. Everyone
knew him, and even though most people thought he was evil by now, a lot of others would know
better. If they could get this minority of people together, maybe they could be a strong enough
force to at least counter the police tactics and fear campaign against the Rain.
         After a bit of brain storming, Moses decided to call Eddie’s Mother and enlist her help.
He told her that they wanted to organize a protest against what was happening to Eddie. After
some discussion she agreed. They set the date and got to work organizing.
Rain                                                  100


       How Do You Run a Revolution?

        Tim, Tree, Jerry and Neal literally went underground. They found a cave deep in the
woods and stayed there. For the entire course of the trial they holed up, waiting to see if the
town bought the story. They did. The town was perfectly willing to believe that whatever
cleaned Eddie could just as easily wipe out everything about their way of life, even faster than
the rocks that once hung over their heads.
        That nobody knew what the rain really did was beside the point.
        They followed Eddie’s fate through the newspapers. The coverage was astonishingly
bad. Throughout the trial there was never a single description that made sense or was even
slightly in its proper context. It was clear (if it wasn’t already) that Mr. Oliver was indeed
their enemy, although no one in the group could figure out why. Tim was actually shocked at
the lengths that Mr. Oliver was going to portray Eddie and the entire group in a bad light.
What was even more amazing to them was that although it would have taken little
investigation to find out (for example) that Eddie never actually killed eleven people in a
shopping mall, the accusation stood unchallenged for a week on the front page of several
newspapers. When the retraction was published in the paper Neal had to hold it up to a
mirror, upside-down on page 42, to read it. All they could do was curse their helplessness.
        The trial ended and Eddie was predictably declared insane and put into jail. Then
news of the second part of Julia’s ruling met their ears. Anyone else who was caught would
immediately join Eddie in jail. There would be no second trial. The ruling effectively made
them all fugitives as well as exiles. They knew that they had to do something to get another
story circulating. They couldn’t even hope to win if the only version of the story that existed
was Mr. Oliver’s.
        Throughout the course of the trial Neal and Jerry worked on a pamphlet to get out
their side. It portrayed the whole story, from the strange girl’s appearance in the Big Big
Circle of Death to Eddie’s imprisonment. Tree added the prettiest of her photographs,
including one of Neal standing in the rain with a beatific smile on his face, the dirt streaming
off in clumps. Once it was finished they all worked for a couple of days to make enough
copies that Mr. Oliver’s people would have a hard time confiscating them all.
        Once the pamphlets were finished Tim snuck them into town late at night. He crawled
through bushes, under cars, and across roofs. The idea was to get copies of the pamphlet into
the hands of those who would pass them along. That meant tossing pamphlets through
windows, stashing them in school lockers and leaving a stack in the Big Big Circle of Trees
by the message board where kids coordinated their social efforts. Tim was able to get the
copies out safely but afterwards the group was out of ideas. They had the full police force
looking for them so options were limited. They needed help. They needed larger numbers.
        Every day the whole group would take a walk in the surrounding forest, hoping that
the rain would return. But the sky stayed calm and bright, and the living gray and black
clouds were nowhere to be found. With no Rain and no possibility for a successful change to
the status quo, their only option was to sit and wait. So that was what they did.

Every Action Has an Equal and Opposite Reaction

       Jamie Zapruder was hands-on-hips annoyed. She was lower lip sticking out; just
about to have a tantrum annoyed. Jamie knew more about what was going on in Satan’s
Rain                                                    101


Monkey than anyone else and the only people who could help her were in jail or wanted by
the police.
         And suddenly it wasn’t just the kids out in the forest. In the days since the trial ended,
it was starting to seem like everyone who wasn’t a full-fledged adult was under suspicion.
There were rampant stories of kids getting terribly harassed; there were even rumors of
beatings and torture.
         Jamie was young enough that she was left alone by the cops. Her age, in this case an
advantage, was mostly a hindrance. She knew that no one would take her seriously because
she was so young. But Jamie was an extraordinarily bright girl and at eight she was wiser
than most grown ups, wise enough to keep quiet about the extent of her gifts. She understood
that people wouldn’t talk freely in front of her if everyone knew how smart she was.
         Regardless, the bottom line was, eight years olds, even very smart eight-year-olds,
don’t hold much sway politically.
         She listened to her parents talk about the trial every night at dinner. They went on and
on about how dangerous the Rain was. As the days went on and the propaganda continued
unabated they started blaming everything on the Rain. It was hot outside because of the rain,
gas prices were high because of the rain, her father’s feet hurt because of the rain.
         Normally Jamie was very good at holding her tongue, but her parents were acting like
reactionaries. It was becoming frightening, to a degree that Jamie could not let stand. Finally
she broke down and made the mistake of asking her Father what, exactly, was so terrible
about the Rain? Had he seen it? Did he know anything about it beyond what the television
told him? Wouldn’t it be nice not to be covered with several decades of dirt? What was crazy
about that?
         Apparently even asking such questions was what was crazy about that. He looked at
her like she had two heads, like she asked why dogs don’t fart catfish. Jamie’s Mom lost her
job during the Chilly War. After Mr. Oliver was elected the economy had improved slightly
and she was able to find a job boxing sausage in a factory. The only problem was that the job
was low paying and didn’t carry any medical insurance. But a terrible job is better than no
job. Jamie’s parents thought that supporting Mr. Oliver was in their own interest. As a result,
neither her mother nor her Father wanted to rock the boat. She thought her parents would at
least attempt to do the right thing. But now she saw the real power of scapegoatism, the
terrible desire to sluff off responsibility onto someone else. It was obvious to her that her
parents were incapable of rational discussion on the subject. So she stopped trying. She had
nobody who she trusted enough to tell her secret to and she suffered in silence because of it.

         Jamie wanted badly to show her parents the tape she had taken of the parade; to prove
what a terrible guy Mr. Oliver really was. But she couldn’t. Her parents would have found a
reason to doubt her. It didn’t matter that the tape irrefutably proved that Mr. Oliver was in
fact, a very bad Whozit.
         Her annoyance had almost reached the breaking point, she thought she was going to
have some kind of episode. Then, out of the blue came a ray of hope. Jamie was sitting in
study hall trying to figure out what she was supposed to do when she noticed a group of her
friends in the coatroom engrossed in something exciting. She looked at her teacher, Mrs.
Russell, who was sitting behind her giant notebook like a fat frog on its lily pad.
         Mrs. Russell was in many ways a legend. Not a legend like Superman, but a legend
likes Sleepy Hollow or the BoogieMan. She had been “teaching” for as long as anyone could
Rain                                                 102


remember, and she was unanimously considered the worst teacher in the school. But she was
tenured and untouchable, so she remained, like educational syphilis, for semester after
semester. Mrs. Russell was known primarily for two eccentricities, her fondness for clothing
made out of drapery material and her giant book that was so big she had to drag it around in a
large stainless steel shopping cart. Some people speculated that the book had the records on
every child she had ever taught. Others speculated that the whole book was just the sentence
“All work and no play makes Mrs. Russell a dull boy.” Written over and over.
          What was known for sure, every time a child spoke out of turn, went to the bathroom,
or forgot their homework, she wrote something in that big book, whatever it was. She glared
around the room through glasses thick enough to bring distant planets into focus.
          All the kids had a name for her… Nuts.
          Reluctantly Jamie let her hand go up.
          “This is not acceptable! What do you want…” Mrs. Russell looked into her book at
what was presumably a seating chart. “…Jamie? You don’t have to go to the bathroom do
you?”
          She flipped a couple of pages in her enormous notebook, marking her old place with a
ruler. “It says here that I let you go to the bathroom two months ago at 12:39 PM. Do you
have a bladder problem little girl? Should I call your Mommy and tell her that her little girl
needs a new bladder?”
          Jamie barely held her tongue.
          Instead of, “Fuck you- You stupid fat cow whore.” She simply said, “ No Mrs.
Russell, I was going to ask if I could go to the coatroom and get my extra pencil. You see, I
left it in my backpack.” Jamie smiled as sweetly as she could with her teeth gritted together
the way that they were.
          “Well I suppose you can get a pencil but you only have two minutes.” She took an
egg timer out of her bag and plunked it down on the desk with a loud thud. She then carefully
set the timer for two minutes. Not giving her a chance to change her mind, Jamie quickly
headed to the coatroom where her friends had gathered.
          Even though the coatroom sat as a hub between several classrooms she was surprised
to see the amount of people that had gathered. As she approached she cleared her throat to
announce her presence. The entire group leapt into the air as if electrified. Whatever they
were reading, it would get them in a mess of trouble if they got caught. Jamie hoped it wasn’t
a nudie magazine or anything gross like that.
          It wasn’t a nudie magazine. It was one of Jerry and Neal’s pamphlets. Her friend
Allana was holding the pamphlet and giggling. Jamie asked what it was. They told her.
          Jamie knew she didn’t have much time. “Allana, when you finish reading that can I
have it next?”
          “Sure Jamie, but if you get caught with it you can’t say where you got it. There is
some really bad stuff about Mr. Oliver in there so you better be careful.” Allana paused,
considering, “You know what? Why don't you just take the thing now?” She handed over the
pamphlet. It was written by hand, the title was simple, RAIN. Jamie hurried to her backpack
and shoved it in. She was almost back in her classroom before she realized she forgot to get a
pencil out of her backpack. She hurried back, grabbed it, and returned to class.
          When Jamie got home she took the pamphlet out of the bag and read it from beginning
to end several times. As she absorbed the information Jamie confirmed her belief that these
Rain                                                   103


were the people who she could confide in. The problem was she had to find them and she
didn’t have a single lead as to where they were.
        She knew they could be anywhere. In the vast forests around the town, in the
mountains, holed up in a distant relative’s house. She was mightily excited and terrified at the
same time. She went to her closet. In the back was a loose floorboard. Grabbing hold of it
on either end, she pulled up the board to reveal a compartment built into the floor. It wasn’t
invisible, but it suited an eight year old just fine. Before she had taken the video of the
assassination, the only thing she had kept in this space was a picture of her favorite boy-band
star. Now, boy bands behind her, the compartment held two of the most politically charged
items in the entire town. Her tape, and a copy of the Rain pamphlet. She put the pamphlet
into the hole and took out her tape. As she did everyday, she watched the video of the parade
from beginning to end on her camcorder, reconfirming that she did, in fact, see what she
thought she saw.
        She decided that she would hold on. If they could wait so would she. After all, they
were in immediate danger; everyone was looking for Tree, Tim, Neal and Jerry. Nobody
even knew that her tape existed. Sooner or later she would get wind of where they were, and
when she did, she would find them and bring them her tape. She trusted that they would
know how to help her.
        Within a week the pamphlets had been reprinted in the newspapers. A number of
“experts” assured everyone that everything in the pamphlets was an outrageous lie, especially
the parts that said that Mr. Oliver was lying about the Rain. The analysts reported in smug,
knowing tones that the words of the pamphlet clearly showed that “its writers are dangerously
out of touch with reality and possibly a danger to themselves as well as others.”
        But a growing number of folks were beginning to wonder. The police presence had
been mounting daily and some parents had good kids who had already been shaken down
more than once. The sudden lack of privacy rights was disturbing quite a number of people.
Mr. Oliver was creating an opposition, whether he knew it or not.

Hell no we won’t go

        Jamie was on her way home from school when she witnessed the first protest. About
forty Flallops and Whozits were gathered around the front gates of the jail. They held signs
that read “Free Eddie” and “Justice for All” and “Down with the Crazy Lady that throws food
at everybody.” Jamie walked to the perimeter of the group, feeling the energy that pulsed
through the crowd. The number of police and guards who were gathered around the
protesters frightened her. They seemed to be waiting. There were already about thirty cops
and more were coming out of the prison gates every minute. Jamie backed away as the
number of police outstripped the number of protesters. The cops seemed to be multiplying
like the brooms in the Sorcerer’s Apprentice. Once the police outnumbered the protesters 2 to
1, they fell into the crowd with clubs drawn.
        Moses and Job were clearly leading the protest. The problem was, the police knew
this as well as everyone else, thanks to the taps that were put on Moses and Job’s phones after
their initial run-in with the police. In fact, many of the officers had pictures of Moses and Job
taped to the inside of their Plexiglass shields. Once the police decided to act, they thought it
was only fair to act on Moses and Job first. If you were watching from above it would have
looked like they had homing beacons on their heads. Before either boy knew what was
Rain                                                  104


happening their cheeks were pressed to the dirt and they were arrested. They were also
kicked, quite a few times, sometimes in the back of the head, some times in the stomach.
Moses caught a real good one in his shin.
        Jamie watched from outside the perimeter of cops, looking desperately for some
cover. In a nearby alley Jamie spotted a garbage dumpster that would be perfect for providing
cover and a higher elevation. She monkeyed up the side as fast as she could. Since the
parade Jamie never left her house without her video camera. She rummaged through her
backpack and pulled it out as soon as she was safe on top of the dumpster. She started
filming. Jamie watched through the camera’s lens as the police began pushing people to the
ground and swearing at them to go home. Julia zoomed the camera into Job’s pained face, a
cop’s black leather combat boot squishing it out of proportion on the concrete. People were
clearly not resisting, they were holding their hands in front of their faces as the cops struck
with batons and “Pepper Fart in a Can.” The stench was even greater than normal as clouds of
gas whisked past on the wind.
        Once the violence started the entire incident was over in just a few minutes. Everyone
that hadn’t run away hurt and bloody was being held in police custody for the crime of
protesting without a license. Jamie was helpless; she could only watch as the police loaded
people onto a bus that was conveniently waiting just a block down the road. Jamie figured in a
couple of days the entire group would either be incarcerated or declared insane.
        Eddie’s Mom, a portly woman by the name of Weeza was among the people arrested.
When she had agreed to go along with Job and Moses she had no idea that people would end
up getting beaten and arrested. Had anyone suggested it she would have laughed, even after
what happened to Eddie.
        But it was obvious to her now, sitting handcuffed in the back of the prison bus that
something had changed in Satan’s Monkey for the worse. It wasn’t something that was
restricted to one judge in a courtroom. There was a sickness here that must be cured. She
realized the situation too late though; she was now just another victim.
        The protest footage was different than the assassination. Jamie decided that there was
no reason why she couldn’t leave a copy of the protest tape on a reporter’s desk. There was
no guarantee that they would run it on TV, but she thought it was worth a shot. Jamie walked
the ten blocks to the CNNBC II studios that were built to replace the old building that was
smashed by the big rock. Mr. Oliver paid for the network’s new facilities. This in addition to
the advertising revenue he paid them Jamie walked through the ornate lobby and onto an
elevator without being stopped. She stopped at every floor and peered out into the room
beyond, trying to find where the video guys worked. Finally, near the top of the building, the
elevator doors slid open to reveal a huge room full of video monitors, playback machines, and
mixing boards. There was also a guard sitting behind a desk right next to the door.
        “May I help you little girl?” Asked the man in a friendly tone.
        Jamie’s eyes scanned desperately across the room, trying to pick out a name. Then
she spotted it, a nameplate that read “Adams” stuck on a cubicle wall. Although Jamie didn’t
know Adams she decided that he or she was as good as anyone else.
        “Yes,” She finally replied to the guard, “I am supposed to drop this tape off to Adams
for my Mom. Could you see that Adams receives it?”
        “Sure no problem, that my job.” The security guard smiled at her again.
        “Thanks.” Jamie smiled back and got back on the elevator.
Rain                                                   105


         Shockingly they put it on the air. Actually, Mrs. Adams was fired for playing what
the news director called “inflammatory propaganda” without official clearance. But the
damage was done. A lot of people saw the news report and word spread quickly that violence
of the governmental kind was suddenly rearing its head in Satan’s Monkey.
        Innocent people were being beaten for expressing their opinion. That could happen to
anyone. There were alarm bells going off in people’s heads. For the first time, opinion of
Mr. Oliver began to slip.

       Mr. Oliver decides to beat the band

        Mr. Oliver’s television was tuned to CNNBCII when the tape played live. He nearly
choked on the onion loaf and potted meat he was snacking on. Wanting to hit someone and
not having anyone around to hit, Mr. Oliver grabbed his glass paperweight shaped like a
monkey copulating with a beaver and threw it against the wall. It didn’t break, but rather
imbedded itself into the wall. He built their building for them and this was how they repaid
him. He had half a mind to go out and drop another rock on the building. It was probably
Steve McQueen; the whole thing probably traced back to him. He’d get that damn dirty Steve
McQueen.
        No matter whose fault, the damage was done. The question was now what road he
needed to walk down. As he saw it, there were two alternatives. The first was to round up the
cops responsible, publicly humiliate them, perhaps even beat them, and then fire them. Mr.
Oliver could have to go on TV and declare what the police did to be an outrage- the act of a
few overzealous men trying to act in the service of Satan’s Monkey.
        The other alternative was to say nothing publicly but increase the number of guards at
the prison substantially. Any protesters who showed up would be immediately herded into
paddy wagons and driven into the prison. That would shut things down in a hurry. Any
resisters would be beaten just as badly as the day before.
        He flirted with the first possibility for about two seconds. It just wasn’t his style. The
second option fit both his mood and his character. But, in order to give the appearance of
good will he decided to make a small gesture. He picked up the phone and conference called
the prison warden Mr. Dick and the acting head of the police Mr. Cerdo, relaying his
instructions.
        “Let all of the protesters out of jail. They get this one chance to shut their mouths and
go home. But I want it made very clear to all of them that participation in another protest like
the one today will guarantee them that they spend the rest of their lives in jail. In the future,
anyone who protests anything will be thrown directly into jail without a trial. The details are
up to you, but no protests are to be permitted. I will issue a Press Release later today
declaring all protesters Rain sympathizers.”
        After completing his calls Mr. Oliver went back to poring over the town’s financial
records. The massive spending was depleting the town’s resources at a phenomenal rate. Mr.
Oliver was working out how many social programs he could eliminate and how many cops he
would need to keep people from saying too much about it.

Duck
Rain                                                   106


        The next day was different from the first. Instead of forty protesters there were
several hundred. They were better organized too, a small print shop had made enough signs
for everyone and there was even a plan.
        The cops were all dressed like rejects from a Chuck Norris movie. They wore body
and horn armor. They wore protective face shields over gas masks. Combat boots adorned
their feet and each cop had a larger array of weapons hanging from their cop utility belts than
Inspector Gadget and James Bond combined. Each officer had their name clearly stenciled on
the front of their uniform. Without this identification, there would be no way to tell who was
who.
        In the twenty-four hours since the first protest Mr. Dick had ordered the front of the
prison “maximally enforced.” This involved the erection of a ridiculous amount of barriers
and blockades. There was even a hedge maze. The street was jack hammered to pieces in
front of the prison so that no kamikaze truck bomber could blow the prison gate open.
        The area around the prison looked like a destructive child threw a tantrum with earth
moving equipment. The only exception to the chaos of torn up concrete was the hedge maze.
It was actually quite nice, complicated and in a circular pattern. Anyone who passed by the
prison on their way to work or the grocery store shuddered at the sight of the place. (After
admiring the hedge maze of course.) Ironically, the scene at the prison caused a many people
to root for the remaining refugee’s imprisonment. They thought that Tim’s capture would
return the town to normal.
        Whatever normal was.
        Actually many people were polled about what it was to be normal but all the answers
were different. The only trend seemed to involve cheese.
        It was all very abnormal.
        CNNBCII was now running hourly reports about the “hypothetical training exercise”
that was presented as actual footage of the protest at the prison. The talking heads repeated
over and over that the tape Jamie had left Mrs. Adams’s was not real and that the protesters at
the prison were violent lunatics creating mayhem and attempting to loot commercial property.
The tape itself was never shown after that first broadcast except for a two and a half-second
excerpt that was the only footage that didn’t contain someone receiving head trauma.
        It should be pointed out that the reporters were not lying. Lying involves
knowledgeable deception and the reporters didn’t know what they were saying. They were
reading cue cards. Like politicians reading a speech. They could be saying “the Pigs on Mars
fly South in the winter for large helpings of Poi and cantaloupe.” They would never know.
They just read the cards; they didn’t understand them. The reporters all knew the editors.
They were nice people; they would never purposely deceive anyone. The editors trusted that
when they got a phone call from their bosses saying that a story was “not newsworthy” or
“political debasement” there was a good reason for it. There was. Mr. Oliver didn’t want
certain stories to run.
        Mr. Oliver never called the guys who ran the stations and threatened or fired them. He
didn’t have to. If a story ran that displeased him he would pull half of his advertising for a
week or two. If the story was “retracted” or “blunted” then perhaps the advertising money
was returned in just a few days. It didn’t take long at all for the editor and the editor’s boss
and finally the reporters themselves to develop an “ear” for “what made good news.”
        This was a difficult trick. It involved the ability to believe that whatever was best for
the station was best for the people because if they didn’t read the news, someone else would.
Rain                                                  107


As far as the reporters were concerned that didn't seem in anyone’s interest. The reporters
decided to continue reporting. It wasn’t a conspiracy; it was self-interest.
        The protesters marched around the prison, sang songs and drank lemonade. They
were willing to wait. The cops, on the other hand, must have been in a hurry to get to the
donut shop or something because after fifteen minutes they were impatiently warning the
protesters to disperse with haste. Finally, one cop couldn’t stand that no one was minding his
authority and he brought his club down onto some guy’s shoulder. The crowd reacted almost
immediately to the violence. Eddie’s Mom Weeza spread the plan. At her signal everyone
was supposed to band together and become immovable.
        When the violence came everyone sat down, en masse, and linked arms forming a
rather large immobile lump of individual people. The idea was that the police wouldn’t have
the nerve to strike people that had no way of defending themselves. With everyone linked
together and sitting down, there wasn’t a free arm to be found, people could neither fight back
nor defend themselves.
        Unfortunately, it turned out to be a mistaken assumption. After an initial couple of
minutes of confusion and frustrated whining, the cops developed a strategy to deal with the
situation. Mr. Oliver had been clear, get them gone. The cops would focus on one person and
then another, overwhelming them with falling batons until their grip became slack, allowing
the police to drag the usually bleeding protester directly into the jail. One by one people
watched as the person next to them was beaten until no longer resistant and then dragged
away.
        The group held out for a remarkably long time, at least until it became crystal clear
that the cops were no longer in a hurry. They would obviously keep beating until everyone
was in jail. It started with a single Flallop, a fella named Townsend, who broke the chain and
ran from the scene. After him people scattered like cockroaches under the lamplight.
        As the police went through the list of people present or arrested at the protest, they
noticed with satisfaction that neither Moses nor Job’s names were on the list. Apparently at
least the two of them got the message to leave the protesting to someone else.

        Of course, now that the dam was open a little bit nothing could stop the inevitable
flood. The police didn’t stop with the arrests at the prison. They began to make numerous
raids and crackdowns on people in their own homes, people accused of being “known
dissidents.” In other words, people who were either in favor of or even ambiguous towards
the rain or Eddie’s case. The atmosphere of repression created an enormous amount of
paranoia and distrust among those who disliked Mr. Oliver’s policies. People kept their
feelings to themselves, afraid that the person who was feigning solidarity would turn around
and make a phone call to Mr. Cerdo. People were walking on razors, afraid to topple. The
only positive aspect to the whole process was that so many innocent people were being
victimized.
        Yes, that is a terrible thing to say, and an even worse thing to have happen. But the
fact remained that so many innocent people were hurt, an unspoken hatred of the government
became a common view. More common than the people themselves realized. The innocent
people who were caught up and beaten helped people realize that it wasn’t just those who
“deserved it” who were at risk. It was anyone that didn't directly work for Mr. Oliver or the
cops. Shy of that, you were at risk.
Rain                                                  108


         A lot of people caught on, but not so many that they formed a majority. Most Whozits
and Flallops ignored what was going on around them in favor of all kinds of distractions.
Video games, television, bad drugs (as opposed to good ones), even Beanie Babies. Anything
to keep from focusing on how bad they were letting things get. The innocent people being
pummeled made almost everyone think, at least for a moment, about the choices they were
making. Most people just shook it off and went about their day, but the guilt remained,
hidden and subjugated, but there nonetheless.
         Eventually a copy of Neal and Jerry’s pamphlet was discovered and Mr. Oliver came
on the TV to announce that anyone in possession of the pamphlet would be put into jail
without a trial. Anyone who turned in someone else for possession of a pamphlet was given a
cookie. The pamphlets were mostly being passed around the high schools so the passage of
the law brought a great deal of attention on the children.
         Children were suddenly cast in the media not as the young future of Satan’s Monkey,
but as an enemy, fallen under the sway of the evil Rain. In the classic grown up/kid style, the
parents wanted to save the children from themselves. To the children it was obvious that the
parents didn’t even know what they were angry about. There wasn’t a single kid in Satan’s
Monkey who saw the rain with his or her own eyes, the only ones who saw it were in the
forest. The children were scared at how quickly the adults accepted irrational dogma on the
pretense that the government said that it was so. Children who had no recognizable rights, no
way to resist, were being victimized by a system that ran them down and spit them out like
watermelon seeds at a picnic. With the protests stopped, the ire of the formidable police force
turned primarily on the children.
         The law which was supposed to eliminate the pamphlets led to hundreds more of them
being written. Giant stacks of them showed up on Mr. Oliver’s lawn, they were glued to his
fence. The pamphlets were everywhere. Prohibition never works with the young. Anything
adults declare to be off-limits will suddenly become the most alluring thing any kid has ever
heard of. If you outlawed hitting yourself in the head with a brick, there would be teenagers
all over town with lumps on their heads.
         The cops, frustrated by their inability to get rid of the rain pamphlets came down even
harder. As the fear and propaganda around the rain increased kids became more curious
about it and the rumors flowed like water. Every day the halls of the schools rippled with
stories.
         Those present at the Big Circle when Eddie and Tim arrived achieved a kind of fame,
and they recounted the details of what had happened countless times. It was common
knowledge that Tim and the rest of the exiles were somewhere in the woods. But nobody
knew where. It wasn’t long before kids started going out into the forest in small groups to
look. A lot of the kids never came back. Naturally, this fueled even more speculation.
Where the kids joining some kind of resistance group? Were they starving to death? Nobody
knew. The kids who returned never saw anything; they just went out to the woods for a few
days and returned.
         Jamie worried kids might be dying in the woods. She went to the library and did
research on successful camping in the woods. She put together a second pamphlet loaded
with information that would be crucial to surviving long term in the woods. The new
pamphlets were soon as prevalent as the first. As the survival pamphlet was passed around
the “must bring” list was amended and embellished. Kids who left town started leaving notes
to their parents about why they were leaving. They almost always ended with the phrase,
Rain                                                   109


“Gone to see what there is to see, you see. But you don’t see, that there is nothing here for
me, so I’m going over there, to be where, I should be.” a sentiment that someone scrawled at
the bottom of one of the pamphlets, only to be recopied over and over.


You Say You Want a Revolution?

         Tim sat down with Tree, Neal, and Jerry to try to figure out what to do now that they
had successfully gotten a resistance started. Actually they were shocked that everything had
gone so well. They had been hoping for at least a few people to believe their story. From the
number of protesters at the jail they had reached more than they would have dared hope. The
beatings were terrible and inexcusable, but they also served to forward their purpose. Every
bruise brought more people into alignment with them; the beatings were a better testimony to
what Tim and company were saying than any speech could be. Even if the outright protests
had stopped, people were more pissed off than ever before.
         It seemed that folks weren’t so desperate for stability that they would allow a complete
restriction of their freedoms. The more they realized how little Mr. Oliver’s government knew
about the Rain, the more they wondered if their freedoms were worth sacrificing in its name.
         There were several “scientists” who were making all kinds of claims about how the
rain could have been some kind of collective hallucination. This was actually the most
prevalent view among the academics until someone pointed out that hallucinations couldn’t
remove dirt. Then the experts said that the Rain was some kind of Mind Control Drug being
used by the Communists to control the minds of the youth. It didn’t matter that nobody knew
what a Communist was, it was the explanation and anyone who didn’t like it better not say so
in public.
         The group followed what happened as closely as possible through the newspaper.
They always had outdated issues, salvaged from the Satan’s Monkey garbage pile. In
addition to news of the ongoing police situation, Tim always made a point of looking for
stories about runaways.
         “Once it gets bad enough,” Tim told Jerry, “People will start to leave town. It’s
probably up to us to organize a place for all these people to go.”
         One Saturday, for the first time, they came across an article reporting a rash of recent
runaways. It said that there had been a rash of runaways in the last week and many parents
were extremely worried.
         It was weird how stories that were so obviously related were never connected within
the paper itself. It was up to the careful reader to make the connections for themselves. For
example, on the front page of the paper there was a story describing a new crackdown the
police were planning on several high schools throughout the town. This was in reaction to
someone firing rocks with a copy of the pamphlet through the windows of several of Mr.
Oliver’s businesses. Then, near the back of the paper was the article about the runaways. It
said notes were often left behind but the article conspicuously didn’t mention what the notes
said. It was clear from the paper that the crackdown was getting really out of hand and people
were running into the forests. The chance they were looking for Tim and Company was great.
No one had found them yet, but it was probably only a matter of time. Tim removed the
pitcher of water from its hiding place; it sat gleaming on the table.
Rain                                                  110


        He began, “The biggest problem that we are facing is our overall lack of
communication. We are too fractured to function. Without unity, there can be no real
progress in any direction. We have had no conversation at all with those who are in town.
There is also the problem of vulnerability. We are probably safe in this cave but once outside
we are vulnerable. Besides, it’s against the spirit of what we are doing to not have direct
contact with one another.” Tim paused looking around to gauge the other’s reactions.
Everyone was nodding in agreement.
        Jerry had been thinking about Tim’s meeting idea and he had a few concerns. “If we
decide to arrange a meeting then we have to figure out some guidelines. For instance, how do
we get the word out, how do we know who is safe to let in, and how will we ever know if our
security is breached?”
        “There’s also the problem of what we are going to tell everybody when we get them
together.” Added Neal. “We have to find out where Eddie is and we need a plan to deal with
Mr. Oliver.”
        Tree, who was sitting quietly, suddenly spoke. “I’ll find out exactly where they’re
keeping him.”
        Neal immediately countered, “No way, it’s too dangerous.”
        “Are you gonna volunteer?”
        “To do what?” he asked. It suddenly dawned on him that Tree had been thinking
about this for a while. Neal knew her well enough to know that if she had thought about
something and declared it necessary it would get done. Glarf himself couldn’t stop her.
        “I’m gonna break into Mr. Oliver’s house, go through his files, and find out where
Eddie is.” Tree announced. Neal blanched. He knew that whatever Tree was proposing
would be dangerous, but she was describing suicide. She was right, he wasn’t gonna
volunteer to do it.
        Tim interrupted, “Tree’s right, we need to find out where Eddie is if we are ever going
to get him out of prison. She has all the knowledge of cameras and audio equipment to
adequately survey the house. I think it’s a good idea.”
        Jerry smiled and put an arm around Tree’s shoulders, “You certainly are a brave girl.
I admire ya.” He then spun his finger in the air around his ear in the universal symbol of
“you’re a lunatic.”
        “Well if Tree’s gonna do her part I guess we need to do ours. We’ll begin looking for
a large area as far away from town as is reasonably possible. We’ll set the meeting for a week
from today. That will give Tree time to set up her things and establish a plan.” Having
agreed that action was necessary Tim had a plan of what could be done. A new pamphlet
would go out to a key couple of people who they knew would be willing to join them. The
pamphlet would consist of a single sentence. The ones who received the pamphlet would
memorize the single line and repeat it to no more than two people who they knew to be
completely trustworthy. There was always the chance of a distortion of the information over
time, but this was the safest way possible.
        Neal watched the plans being made helplessly, wishing that Tree were staying with
him, afraid. Before he knew it her lips were on his and she was gone. Leaving to pack and
head out before the sun made travel too dangerous. Neal followed her to their tent.
        Tree was kneeled down in her tent stuffing camera equipment into her sack as Neal
pulled back the flap and smiled at her sheepishly.
Rain                                                  111


        “Neal,” she said, “Please do not try to talk me out of this, It has to be done, and I am
the only one who has a chance of being successful…”
        Neal interrupted her. “I’m not going to try to stop you, I know once your mind is
made up, that’s it. I just wanted to tell you that I love you and admire your courage. Go out
and find out where Eddie is so that we can free him and stop this craziness.”
        Tree smiled, zipped up her backpack, and kissed Neal thoroughly. “I promise to be
careful, and I love you too.” She looked him in the eye one once more and then headed out of
the tent and down the hill. Neal watched her go. She didn’t look back.

       It’s 10PM Do You Know Where Your Children Are?

         Within the town the old political models still owned the media and if you asked a
reporter about the rash of runaways they would look at you like you were talking about your
sister, the Pope. They acknowledged individual incidents, but ignored the larger issue. So
little was said about the problem’s scale in the public discourse that in spite of literally
hundreds of runaways the average citizen wouldn’t even know what was going on, unless they
were close enough to a neighbor that disappeared. Privately, outside the scope of the media,
the disappearances were big news and the latest facts shot through the unofficial channels of
communication. It wasn’t long before the location of the meeting was coursing through
underground channels, a meeting that offered the chance for people to finally find out about
the Rain for themselves.

Little Boxes

         Eddie was completely unaware of what was going on outside. He spent less than a
week in general population before being transferred. Eddie kept to himself, only speaking
when spoken to. He did his best to keep his head down and stay out of the guard’s way. This
worked fine at first. But then after the fifth day Eddie was severely beaten by two guards in
the exercise yard. They jumped him from behind on orders from Mr. Dick, the warden. The
beating was issued as punishment for Eddie’s role in the protest that occurred that afternoon.
In addition to his beating, Eddie was declared a “potentially hazardous” inmate for his
“incitement to kill a police officer” and was sent into solitary confinement where he was to
spend the rest of his time
         The solitary confinement cell was a small metal box without bars or windows. The
only source of light was a thin panel cut just barely wide enough to slide a tray through.
Eddie had gone over the cell several times and there was no apparent means of escape, there
was no concrete to chip away, no bars to pry loose, no guards to bribe. He had enough room
to stand up ¾ of the way and it took three small strides to cross the entire cell.
         He was never allowed to leave the cell. No exercise, no work, no books, almost no
light. A situation that bears a strong resemblance to isolation tank. There wasn’t even a
toilet. Instead, the whole structure was made of “Absorbosteel” a leftover from the chilly
war. Absorbosteel has the ability to break down and absorb any dead matter that is placed
onto it. Somehow this excluded hair and horn, ah, the magic of technology. All of Eddie’s
“business” was absorbed minutes after it being deposited. Eddie hated the arrangements; they
made him feel like an animal. The biggest flaw in the Absorbosteel was that it did not absorb
the smell of whatever it was that was being absorbed. The stink put off even the olfactory
Rain                                                    112


challenged denizens of Satan’s Monkey. Eddie did the same thing with the scraps of leftover
food that he did with his waste, dumped it on the ground. Soon the smell, if not the evidence
of rotten food joined the already unholy stench. In order that religious authorities not be
offended the Grand Poobah of the Second Church of the Returning Glarf came and officially
declared the scent to be unholy, adding as he left, “For such a clean lad, he smells like shit.”
        According to an official press release by Mr. Dick, Eddie was being kept in these
terrible conditions “for his own good” and for the “safety of the family unit.” There was a lot
of talk around about the importance of “old fashion values” and the overwhelming value of
“self sacrifice.” All of which soon became themes that were repeated ad nauseum until
people began to forget that the “good old days” sucked.
        Eddie was, of course, unaware of these developments. He only knew that the place
that he lived smelled like ass. The little information he had about the outside world was
gleaned from an unfriendly guard that sat outside his door. Eddie was on several occasions
denied food by the guard who would sometimes defile the already sub-standard food before
tossing it onto the floor where it would be instantly absorbed by the Absorbosteel floor.
Eddie concentrated on survival. He alternated between sitting and pacing, hunched over half
the time, sitting in a full lotus the rest. It was impossible to not feel claustrophobic, and often
the cell would seem even smaller than it actually was. To be honest, sometimes the cell felt
only slightly larger than a crushed tin can being sat on by an elephant, or Rush Limbaugh.
Rain                                                   113




       -Part III-
       Uprising
       Drought

         Far on the eastern end of Satan’s Monkey, where the mountains get really steep and
the temperatures are especially cold, there was a mountain clearing.
         It wasn’t doing a whole lot, just acting as clearings do, being flat and not particularly
interesting. However, on this particular day the clearing was important because it was full of
people. Normally it wasn’t full of anything except grass, so it was happy for the company.
(Grasses generally kept to themselves-when they did talk; it was usually about the weather.)
         The clearing was Jamie’s destination. Only she wasn’t there yet. She was far below
it, in one of the many canyons that led up into the high mountains. She was wearing hiking
boots, and carried a large pack on her back. Buried deep in the bag, wrapped up in her
clothes, was her secret tape. The tape that she hoped would turn people against Mr. Oliver and
restore just rule to the town. The enormous old trees were beautiful in their majesty, rising
almost beyond her peripheral vision. The big trees calmed her anxiety about being lost, of not
knowing exactly where the clearing was. Two days before she received an anonymous phone
call.
         “Is this Jamie?” The voice asked.
         “Yeah.” She answered.
         “To find what you’re looking for, go into the Eastern Mountains. Take the main trail
until you see a tree with a heart carved into it on the East Side of the trail. When you see the
tree head directly east. Eventually you will find us in a clearing.” The phone clicked off.
Jamie stood holding the phone, considering the message. She didn’t consider long. Within a
half-hour Jamie had her bags packed, her compass in her pocket, and her “Why I left.” note
written and on the kitchen table.
         Jamie enjoyed her hike, she walked along the main path glancing at the trees and
looking for the carved heart. After about three hours Jamie came to a clear fork in the main
path. She hesitated. The called didn’t say anything about a fork in the road. Jamie looked up
one path and then the other. Still considering she looked back. She must have missed the
carved tree. She would walk back for an hour, if she didn’t see anything she’d stop and think
again.
         Ten minutes later Jamie found the carved tree. It was easier to see on the way back.
She wondered if that was done on purpose. It didn’t matter; she took out her compass, found
east, drew a straight line in her head and started walking along it.
Rain                                                    114


        That was two days earlier. Now Jamie was tired, hungry, and she missed her family.
In the end though, her feeling of responsibility overwhelmed all three. Just because she was
born into a screwed up culture didn’t mean she had to inherit it. Jamie wasn’t so much
interested in the Rain. It was the people that drew her. She needed to find someone who
would listen to what she had to say and believe her. After all that had happened Jamie could
no longer tell herself that these were not the people she should approach. Nevertheless, there
was a small part of her that was afraid that Tim wouldn’t believe her, that he would call her a
liar.
        Still, the larger part of herself knew she had to go. She could no longer let her fear
hold her back. When Jamie told her best friend she wanted to leave, instead of
encouragement, her friend insisted that the rain was dangerous. She reminded Jamie that the
TV said the whole group was deranged and insane. They were like George Washington
Carver, dying penniless and insane trying to play a record with a peanut. Jamie had never felt
more alone.
        But she was coping. She made her way through a deep brown ravine that snaked its
way to where she was thought she was going. The rocks were slick with algae and strange
creatures called into the night. She began to consider the possibility that her information was
wrong and she was just lost. She began to think that the phone call was a trap designed to
figure out which kids were loyal to Mr. Oliver against the Rain. The people that believed the
Rain was dangerous would report the call to the police. And the ones that followed it, they
would wander into the woods and die.
        She almost turned back, gave up the crazy idea anyone could help her. But then, for a
split second she could have sworn she heard voices from far away, bouncing to her through
the weird acoustics of the canyon. Jamie waited, straining to hear. Then she heard it again;
there was definitely somebody out there. To hear other voices restored her confidence in her
mission. Jamie forged ahead, whistling to herself now. She had found them, the beautiful
people.
        Jamie was not the first person to make the trek into the woods. People had been
arriving in groups of two or three for almost a week. So when she dragged herself onto the
plateau of the clearing, there were cheers of welcome and hands that reached down to help her
get up safely.
        “Welcome home.” They said. Jamie liked the sound of that. It sounded right.
        “Welcome home.” She returned, smiling broadly.
        “I suppose you’re going to want to meet Tim and company. Well he should be back
soon, they went into the woods to talk.” Jamie nodded her thanks for the information.
        Tim, Neal, and Jerry were in the woods discussing safety issues.
        “I think we need to move further away. There are too many people here, we gotta go
further out.” Neal said.
        Tim agreed. “I told you that we couldn’t tell how many people we were going to get.
Can you imagine if we had chosen to meet closer to town?”
        “OK, it’s good we came this far out.” Jerry said, “But we can’t go further, there are
probably people on their way here already, not to mention the fact that several hundred people
hiking are going to leave a trail that’s really easy to follow, so they can get us if the come this
far. The heart carving is pretty low-key and most of the main ravines converge onto this
clearing so people can find it with a minimum of hassle. We should stay where we are. If the
Rain                                                    115


need comes this is an easy place to run from, you can go down in three directions and up in
one, it’s as good a place as any.”
         “Maybe we’re just being paranoid. Nobody is gonna come all the way out here to
mess with a few rebellious kids. Kids are always rebellious. Our parents were rebellious
when they were kids, how could they forget so completely that they would let the police bash
in our heads?” Neal liked to look on the bright side of things when he wasn’t being fatalistic.
          “Just because we’re paranoid doesn’t mean that they aren’t out to get us.” Jerry
added, smiling.
         “Better safe then bashed in the head. 23-skiddoo.”
         Actually, a number of people wound up lost on their way to the clearing anyway. In
every case, the lost person received a dream showing the way. Although nobody explicitly
remembered the dreams they all noticed their sense of discombobulation fading quickly. The
group gathered together like witches in the 19th century, leaving the civilization and structure
of their birth behind and trying to figure out a way to rewrite the rules.
         Flallops and Whozits mingled freely in the clearing. Some just walked around
marveling at the several hundred people who had gathered, almost all of them under the age
of twenty. There were estimates that a full quarter of the population had wandered into the
field; it was an exaggeration, but not a huge one.
         Tim thought there would be fewer people, but the thing that shocked him the most was
the number of full-fledged adults in the forest. They were vastly outnumbered by younger
people, but there were still 50 of them or so. Tim didn’t expect more than one or two. The
surprisingly large adult attendance did create some tension at first.
          The first adult to arrive was a history teacher from the high school, Mr. Blunt, but he
insisted that even his students call him Phil. Many of the kids always believed that he smoked
fropberries because he always told terrific stories and didn’t act like a full fledged adult in any
way except that he held down an adult job and knew more stuff than any of the kids did.
There was suspicion of his motives at first, some people even went so far as to yell stuff like
“Never trust anyone over 20.” and “Kill the pigs.”
         But then Grandpa Ozzie showed up. He was old enough to eat.
         “What are you doing here?” Asked a boy about Jamie’s age- quite rudely.
         “Watch your tongue around me boy, I’m here because I’m old enough to know why
I’m here. Why are you here?” Ozzie poked a bony finger in the boy’s chest.
         “I’m here…” He was there because his brother brought him. He didn’t know why he
was here. He liked that there were no grown ups around. The appearance of the old guy had
ruined his fantasy that everyone was just there to get away from the grown-ups. “… I guess I
don’t know why I’m here.” He finished finally.
         “Well OK then, I’ll tell you why I’m here anyhow, then maybe you’ll know why
you’re here as well. You see; suffering tends to clear the eyes and I’m an old guy whose
suffered quite a bit in my day. I was one of the many who were put out of work during the
Chilly War. And my pride kept me from working at any of the rock plants. I didn’t believe
that my working toward my own destruction was a good idea. So I had to “get by,” and I did.
When the Chilly War ended, I hoped things would get better, and it did for a little while I
guess. Until that Mr. Oliver got a hold of the Rain idea. Now things are getting as bad as
they ever were, and in absolutely record time.
         A lot of us old timers are on your side, we see what’s happening isn’t working. I
guess most of us are too afraid to do anything, but we’re still on your side. That pamphlet of
Rain                                                  116


yours has been read by damn near every elder in town. My friend Scatman described our
situation best when he said, “Where are we going, and why am I in this handbasket?”
        Once the kids realized that really old people could be with them, they realized that the
issues that they were fighting for were in no way connected to age. They were universal
desires, felt by adults and kids alike. The adults just had a harder time seeing it because they
were old.
        If the adults started bossing people around then the issue would be dealt with, as long
as everyone was treated as an equal, all were welcome.
        There were hundreds of stories passed around. One Flallop, a guy named Arnie,
admitted that he had cheated in order to get his citizenship. He described an incident where a
Whozit kid was walking on the other side of a fence from him. Arnie didn’t really know why,
but he spit at the Whozit and nearly hit him right in the chest. Arnie felt bad about it
afterwards, but when his name was called during the afternoon lottery he accepted the rock
gun. As soon as he had the thing in his hand, he knew he would never use it.
        Arnie wandered out into the woods, looking for a Whozit. When he found one, a girl
named Muriel, also armed with a rock gun; he raised the white flag and approached with his
hands high over his head.
        “Please don’t kill me!” He yelled, “I just want to talk to you.” Muriel, rock gun
pointing steadily at his chest responded, “Say what you gotta say, I’ll decide whether or not to
blast you afterwards.”
        “Well ma’am I am proposing a trade. You give me your pocket Kleenex and I’ll give
you mine. Then we can fire our rock droppers into the air and hurry home to tell our friends
and families we killed one another. We’ll have the Kleenex for proof.”
        Muriel considered it for a minute and then agreed. She wasn’t that keen on murdering
anyone anyway. Both gained their adulthood by the only way they saw as honorable, lying
their horns off. Arnie and Muriel came to the clearing within an hour of one another, meeting
at the cookpot. They recognized each other instantly and spent the rest of the day discussing
the mistakes that had threatened both of their existences. They had beaten the system before,
and wanted to do it again. Mr. Oliver’s treatment of Eddie and the protesters was all the proof
they needed that Mr. Oliver sucked. By the next day the two were sharing a tent.
        The sheer number of people caused a party atmosphere to develop. There was a large
pot into which people threw what food they had, creating a potluck stew sufficient to feed all
the people present. Circles of people sat around smoking fropberries and conversing.
        Mr. Blunt was commonly sought out by groups of students he taught, they shyly
offered Mr. Blunt a bowl of fropberries, which he felt obliged to share. He inhaled; and ate
three helpings of the potluck stew.
        The entire event wasn’t completely fun, and everyone didn’t feel the good will. There
were two people present in particular that had no intention of having a good time. They were
there because they wanted a war. Job and Moses, the organizers of the first protest were
really pissed off, and they had every intention of trying to get the entire group to go along
with their plan to go down and slaughter every cop and politician in town. The word had
gone around that Tim had asked for a meeting the next day and Job and Moses intended to use
the occasion to take over the leadership of the exiles.
        Both boys already spent most of their time in the clearing repeating their own stories
of oppression, trying to get others fired up about their own experiences. They argued that the
only thing Mr. Oliver would understand was violence.
Rain                                                    117


        Their opinions didn’t fall on entirely deaf ears. Many who listened to Moses and Job
agreed with what they were saying. Mr. Oliver already used violence against them. To try
preemptive violence was an attractive idea, especially to people who had family or were
involved themselves in the protests at the jail. The way that the police had acted that day was
brutal enough that many refused to accept them as fellow civilized members of society. They
saw the police as animals that looked like regular citizens. Ironically, the police thought the
same thing about the protests.
        As soon as Job and Moses arrived at the clearing they went to talk to Tim, expecting
to find an understanding soul. They were disappointed in what they found.
        “Tim,” Moses had began, “I know that Eddie was your friend and what happened to
him must make you very angry.” Tim started to interrupt but Moses raised his hand, wanting
to finish, “Now, I don’t know what you were planning for this little group that is gathering out
here, but I would humbly like to request we immediately begin getting these people some
military training. If we are going to take out the cops…”
        Tim would no longer be hushed, “Listen friend, I don’t know what you thought we
would be doing out here, but I guarantee you it had nothing to do with military training. What
is happening is spiritual first, the political is important, but it comes second. We don’t need a
bunch of people thinking the way Mr. Oliver does. That would be missing the point entirely.
We need to think in a new way. The old ways must pass into the past where they belong.”
        “You’re telling me that despite what happened to Eddie you’re still walking around
with your head in the clouds.” Moses had angrily shown him a still not completely healed scar
that ran along his temple, a gift from the police. “You see this? This is what you get when
you try to deal peaceably with Mr. Oliver. I helped organize the first protest, I know what I’m
talking about.”
        “Please just listen to what I have to say at the group meeting. If you still feel the same
way after that, we can talk again.”
        Moses agreed, but he already knew that Tim didn’t have the anger inside of him to
lead their party successfully. Moses would bide his time and when the opportunity arose; he
would lead the people to victory by wiping the blood of Mr. Oliver from the rock that bore his
name. A rock that Moses had carved himself, and carried with him everywhere that he went.

       Solitary Confinement

        Claustrophobia was really starting to get to Eddie. It was getting so bad that he started
to doubt his ability to make it. Every time he breathed the walls seemed to come a little bit
closer together; the ceiling came down just a little bit lower. Desperate, Eddie chanced on the
idea that he could practice making the walls of the cell farther apart, not in reality, but in his
mind.
        He did this by sitting and concentrating on the spatial aspects of perception, allowing
his peripheral vision to expand and grasp the wall. He pushed the walls and ceiling away
until his often-returning sense of claustrophobia went away. He tried to convince his
perception he sat in a great ballroom with enough room to play soccer. Eventually he was
successful, and his claustrophobia disappeared. Twice a day Eddie would practice his
visualizations. He stuck with soccer field for a while, but eventually tired of getting
outplayed by Pelé. It was then that Eddie decided to try to create the forest that the Rain had
first materialized in. He thought a great deal about the first vision with the rain and he now
Rain                                                   118


attempted to create in himself a similar mindset to when he created the ball in his vision. It
was possible the ball actually was the reality he now existed in.
        As Eddie sat and concentrated the forest began to slowly spread out before his eyes.
Enormous trees rose up and pushed the ceiling of the cell away and up out of sight. The
branches spread out and the sun materialized peaking through the trees, making visible
streams that bathed weird shapes of light onto the now leaf covered ground. The alkaloid
smell of the cell gave way to pine needles and Eddie smiled openly to himself when he looked
up and saw that storm clouds were beginning to form on the far off horizon.
        Eddie had a guard named Frank. His seniority at the prison earned him the cushy job
of overseeing the solitary confinement cells. Frank was fast asleep, leaning his chair
precariously against the wall, snoring loud enough to scare small children. Frank’s girlfriend
had recently broken up with him and he was licking too many toads on his nights off. He was
also licking too many toads on the nights that he worked, and the days for that matter.
Suddenly, an enormous crash emanated from Eddie’s cell, jarring Frank awake in his seat,
causing his balance to shift and his whole fat body to go crashing to the ground.

       The Meeting

        The morning of the meeting Tim woke up early. He hiked away from the clearing,
climbing up the cliff that rose up on one side. He climbed until he could see the entire clearing
spread out beneath him and a panorama of cliffs and crags beyond it. Multicolored circles of
color dotted the field where people had pitched tents. Some small fires still smoldered from
the night before. Tim was scared because in many ways he felt responsible for all of the
people in the clearing below. Although he couldn’t entirely fathom what was happening, he
and Eddie seemed to be at the center of it. He thought about Tree, camped out by Mr.
Oliver’s house. If things were going according to plan Tree would be going in today, they
would see her- or not, very soon.
        Soon enough, it wouldn’t just be Tree in danger. Every single soul in the field below
was in mortal danger. They were yet to formulate a complete plan. Assuming Tree got back
in one piece, they would figure out what to do from there. He watched as the suns rose over
the mountains, shockingly beautiful.
        Tim hiked back down the mountain and went to wake up Neal and Jerry. The three
veterans of the rain stood together in a small circle gaining strength from each other. Tim
knew how fragile the situation was, Moses and Job were down there and who knew how
many secretly agreed with them. Tim had the pitcher to prove that the Rain was really a
phenomenon, but even he had begun to worry that the rain would never fall from the sky
again, not the way that it did the first two times. Tim was sure that the rain would fall, but
only if he could convince them that they wanted it to. It’s not an easy task, leading people
with their eyes wide open.
        After a while Tim looked up, looked his friends in the eye and said simply, “Let’s go.”
        They three boys entered the clearing. Tim climbed up onto a fairly large boulder and
began waving his arms and asking for everyone to please give him their attention. For a
couple of minutes before he started, he went over what he planned to say in his head while the
crowd gathered. Once most of the people seemed to be there Tim began. He thanked
everyone for coming into the woods. He then told them his version of what happened up to
that point, stopping to clarify the details that had been clouded through hearsay. Once he was
Rain                                                    119


finished with his story he asked if there was any questions. The first one called out was also
the one on everyone’s mind.
        “OK, so where’s the rain now?”
        “I know that there are a lot of you out there who don’t know what to think about the
Rain. That’s OK, skepticism is a natural reaction to crazy information. But we stand before
you as proof of the Rain. Since you all started arriving I have heard stories of how the rain
will end disease and hunger. I have heard that it has bestowed us with eternal life. I have also
heard that it has made us crazy. However, it is my belief that the rain comes as an instructor,
not as a messiah. I have some ideas, brought by the rain I think, that are better than the ones
we live by now. But please, if you remember nothing else that I say, remember that I am not
proposing any form of utopia. These are new, better ideas; they are not the best ideas or the
only ideas.”
         Tim was starting to feel a little more confidence now. No one had thrown anything at
him yet. “What we are discussing are solutions that work better and make more sense than
the ones we currently are practicing. For example, there is a long-standing trend of fewer and
fewer people getting control of more and more of wealth. This isn’t fair and everyone knows
it. Only we just accept it because we’re afraid to stand up to the Mr. Oliver’s of Satan’s
Monkey. The rain itself is a remarkable sign, but I think that ultimately it’s beside the point.
I guarantee that sooner or later (probably sooner) someone will figure out an even better way
of thinking about the same problems. And I hope that when the opportunity arrives we will
be wise enough to take the next step. We all know these things deep down; that nothing we
know is right in an absolute sense. Yet, we live our lives like they are in fact right, absolutely
and forever. Our arbitrary convictions have some objective truth to them, which is fine when
those conditions are kept to themselves. But when they become a source of pain, something
must be done.
        Forms of government are not real; we have made them up over time. Created them out
of agreements and disagreements by progress and manipulation. In a way, forms of
government are like paintings. Some are clearly terrible. Fascism is the velvet Elvis of
governments. Democracy has, so far been political Picasso. Capitalism is like an art thief.
The problem isn’t that people like Velvet Elvis; it’s that more people like Velvet Elvis than
Picasso. There is only one thing we can do that to help the lovers of Velvet: education.
Through education you can teach history and most importantly the alternatives that perhaps
have never been imagined. We are a remarkably ignorant people. We are not stupid. We are
ignorant. We weigh our options and make our choices based on limitations that we impose
falsely on ourselves.
        After being educated in art you may very well still love paintings of Velvet Elvis but
you will also be able to better see the shortcomings that are inherent in all paintings, all art,
and all government systems. The key yardstick, should be what best serves the largest
number of people. This is hardly a new idea.
        When we were spending almost all of our money on rocks to drop on each other’s
heads we were wasting our resources, our energy, and our ability to live our lives. For the
sole benefit of killing ourselves in an efficient way. Now, only months later, we stand
shoulder to shoulder facing an enemy that is surely going to come down on us as surely as
those rocks would have and we have to choose. We have to choose between the idea of
corporate control and strict governments that spend their time nosing around in things that do
not concern it and a government that serves the people that live in it.”
Rain                                                    120


         A voice came out from the crowd. “Did the rain teach you that?”
         “Yes, it was during the second rainstorm that I realized these things but I am not sure
that somewhere inside I didn’t already know everything I thought I was realizing.”
         “Then the rain is weak. Choices have consequences. Do you think that we can just
ask Mr. Oliver nicely and he will give up all his power? Are you really that naïve?” It was
Moses. He had listened to Tim make nice about how free everyone was, but he could stand it
no longer.
         Tim, trying not to lose his focus replied, “I think that with the help of the rain it is
possible that Mr. Oliver will indeed voluntarily set down his ill gotten power…”
         Moses interrupted Tim by laughing like Deniro in Cape Fear. Tim glared at him for a
moment and then continued.
         “The fact is, Rain is a power that we really don’t understand. We do know that it has
power unlike anything we have ever seen before, the power to unravel the very fabric of
existence itself. Our perception of it anyway. Along with this power comes responsibility.”
         He took the beautiful glass chalice of water that materialized after the second rain
storm and held it over his head.
         “This chalice,” Tim declared,” was a gift from the rain, the liquid within it is the Rain
itself.” He offered the chalice to Moses, “Here, let me give you a dollop on your head and the
power of your possibilities will open up before you.”
         “Stop talking like an idiot.” Moses replied. He yanked the chalice out of Tim’s
hands. Moses turned the cup over, spilling the water onto the ground. The whole thing
happened very quickly, the crowd had no time to react. Moses went into his pocket and drew
out the special rock he had carved with Mr. Oliver’s name; he held the rock over his head like
he was Mel Gibson in Braveheart.
         “This is the only was to stop Mr. Oliver. This is the only mechanism that tyrants
understand. I’m the one who had the boot on my head while you and your friends hid out here
in the forest. We must go and conquer those who oppress us. Leave the words to the
philosophers. We are people of action and action is what is needed, not thinking. You’re a
coward Tim.” Addressing the crowd Moses asked, “Who’s with me?”
         Tim tried to protest, but the cheer that rose up drowned out anything he could have
said. Moses had infected the crowd with his anger. Tim again blessed their distance from the
town. Something scary had sparked in the group. The crowd might have tried to burn Mr.
Oliver’s house down if they weren’t a two-day walk away. But apparently Moses had a
different plan.
         “We must train to become warriors, it would not do for us to be slaughtered like dogs.
Me and my friend Job will teach you to fight and when the time comes, only a few days from
now, we will see Mr. Oliver’s head on a pole, and a new day will dawn in Satan’s Monkey.”
         “A new day where everyone fears the name of Moses, instead of Mr. Oliver.” thought
Tim. But he kept his mouth shut. He signaled to Neal and Jerry that they should leave. They
did, turning and slipping away, with a deep sigh, Tim followed.
         Jamie watched the three of them leave in disbelief. “You can’t just leave!” she
thought, you have to convince these guys to not fight. There is no way that you are ever
going to be able to match Mr. Oliver’s viciousness. He’ll have us all hung from lamp poles.
Jamie also slipped away from the group; she needed to think.
Rain                                                   121


       Can Things Get Any Worse?

         “What the hell do we do now?” Asked Jerry as they walked away from the others,
“All of a sudden we’ve completely lost control of this thing. Does he honestly think that he
can beat Oliver on his own terms?”
         Neal just sat there shaking his head. Tim was looking in the chalice. There were still
a couple of drops of water. If only he had a little more…
         On a sudden impulse Tim brought the cup to his lips and drank the remaining liquid.
He braced himself for something crazy to happen. But nothing did. There were no visions,
no voice of the collective unconscious. Only the silence of his own mind.
         Weird.
         Tim looked down at the empty chalice, his eyebrows wrinkled in frustrated confusion.
He couldn’t believe he wasted the last of the Rain. For nothing. What a waste. He wished
there was more; or more accurately, he imagined there was more.
         The chalice was halfway filled. Tim blinked and looked down again. The chalice was
still half full. Then it started to overflow, running down the side of the glass and onto his arm.
Rain poured out of the glass like it was on a spigot.
         Neal stuck his hands into the water as it poured down, He splashed the water into his
face, it felt terrific, but not mystical. It was just wet, like YooHoo. Jerry was laughing,
enjoying the sight. Then, as quickly as it started, all the water that came out of the glass went
back in. Tim wondered how all that water could fit into the goblet, then he realized he didn’t
know where any of it had come from in the first place.
         “Uh, what the hell was that?” Asked Neal laughing.
         “I’m not sure.” Replied Tim, “but I know it was important.”
         “Brilliant deduction Sherlock.” Teased Jerry. “It appears we should drink. At least,
that’s what I’m going to do.” Jerry reached out for the chalice and Tim handed it to him.
“Thank you.”
         Tim nodded. Jerry took the cup and drank the whole thing. When he was finished, he
smiled and wiped the extra moisture from his lips. Neal and Tim stared at Jerry waiting to see
if anything was going to happen. Again there was nothing.
         Jerry was looking at the still empty glass. “There should be some more Rain in here.”
He announced. At the same time, inside his head he said, “Come on, fill back up.”
         And it did. Shocked, but intrigued Jerry tried the opposite. In his mind he said, “OK,
now empty out again.” The glass was empty.
         “Hey?” Objected Neal; “The Rain disappeared again.”
         “So it did.” agreed Jerry, smiling. “We’ll see what we can do about that.”
         The cup was full again. Jerry couldn’t believe it. He handed the cup to Neal, “Go
ahead and drink.”
         Neal took the cup and looked at it. He looked at the beautiful colors; he looked at the
strange clear liquid in the glass, marveling at the way the colors rippled through it. Then he
tipped the cup back and drank it all.
         He looked at Jerry expectantly. “OK? What now?”
         “Now you make that cup fill up again. All you have to do is picture it in your mind’s
eye. Will it. The way you try to make a shot go in when you watch basketball on TV. Only
in your heart, you know you can make the shot go in, you’ve already seen me do it.”
Rain                                                   122


        So Neal looked at the glass and tried to make it full again. And it was. “Yikes, this is
a pretty nutty power. What else can we do with it?” Neal looked to Jerry.
        “I don’t know Neal, if you have something in mind, try it out. I’m as new to this as
you are.”
        “OK. I have an idea.”
        Ever since Neal was young he had always wished he had one special power. He
wished that he didn’t have to get up to get things that were just out of his reach. He fulfilled
this wish in his imagination at least once every day. He would picture his arm extending
across the room to open the refrigerator. Or he would pretend to be Luke in Star Wars, using
the force to bring the object over to him. Well now, for the first time, Neal thought he might
be able to do it. Neal’s backpack was across the room sitting in a corner of the cave. He
reached for it in his mind, willing it to come over to him. Magically, with almost no effort,
Rain sprung out from his fingertips, looped across the room and picked up his backpack. The
Rain then retreated back into Neal’s fingertips, dragging the backpack along with it.
        “Holy shit. That was cool.” Tim declared, his jaw slack. Tim took the chalice and
drained it, after all, the first time he only had a sip. For the next ten minutes the three boys
threw objects around the room and retrieved them with the Rain, laughing and goofing
around. For a while they forgot about all of the crazy shit that was going on, and they just
played, acting like the kids that they still were.
        Then all of a sudden Jerry stopped. He held up his hands, repeating, “Wait a minute,
Wait a minute.”
        Once he had Tim and Neal’s attention he said, “I think we just found out how we are
going to regain control of the group. We have to figure out a way to make the Rain stop
projectiles, assuming it can stop a projectile.”
        “Yeah, if we can show that the Rain will protect us, there will no longer be a need to
learn to kill.” Tim agreed.
        “But Tim, we don’t know that the rain will stop a projectile.” Neal reminded him.
        “I know that it will, I have no idea how I know, but I do. So let’s go try to figure this
out.” Jerry handed Neal a rock. “OK now throw this at my head.”
        Reluctantly, Neal did. Several lumps later they began to get it. All the while they did
their best to tune out the sounds of people practicing combat in the clearing.

       Don’t Grab the Tiger’s Tail If You Can’t Hold On

        Frank lay on his back, trying to figure out how he got there. From a heap on the floor
the guard looked at the door of Eddie’s cell. There was nothing but silence. A moment went
by, and then a second crash erupted, sending Frank scrambling to his feet. There was nothing
in the cell that could have made a noise that loud. Besides the cells were nearly soundproof.
The guard’s consciousness tried to swim close enough to the surface to allow action. He
rushed/staggered to the cell door and pulled back the small metal visor that covered the food
slot.
        Eddie sat cross-legged in the middle of his cell, all alone. His eyes were closed and he
appeared to be asleep sitting up. A slight grin hung on his face. There was no sign of activity
and certainly no object large enough to cause a crash as loud as the one that had woke him.
Frank was about to write the whole thing off as part of his dream when a cool breeze came
wafting through the small hole in Eddie’s door. This was very significant because the cool
Rain                                                   123


breeze had a fresh scent. There should never be fresh scents coming from a solitary cell. The
guard hesitantly fingered his key ring trying to decide what to do. He couldn’t call the
supervisor because it would be too hard to explain his sleeping. He put the key into the lock
and decided to have a closer look. Since Eddie was a political prisoner and not a violent
offender Frank figured that the threat of physical danger was small. The heavy door swung
open slowly. It was only after he had taken a step into the cell that Frank realized that he
wasn’t stooped over. Somehow the cell’s roof was higher than it was supposed to be. But
that was impossible.
         Frank hesitated, feeling like a character from a bad horror movie. He could almost
hear the people in the audience yelling for him to turn around and get the hell out of there. But
instead of doing it, he investigated further, cursing himself the entire time.
          Each step Frank took into the cell somehow made it bigger. After ten paces he was
no closer to Eddie than when he first entered. Looking around Frank noticed that the walls
had faded away. Frank stopped and watched with awe as the forest of Eddie’s imagination
began to spring up all around him. In seconds Frank was standing with Eddie in the middle of
a mountain clearing, trees and cliffs rising on all sides.
         Eddie was sitting, wide-awake and smiling at the guard. The cell smelled sweet with
pine, and the wind was picking up, it was blowing stronger than before. There was a grand
sky open over their heads. It was tumultuous and boiling, enormous clouds rolling over and
around the horizon.
         “Hello Frank.” Said Eddie. “Take a seat.” He motioned to the ground in front of him.
It was not lost on the guard that the concrete floor was now a bed of dirt and old pine needles.
         “Look kid, I don’t know how you know my name but I think you’d better cut out
whatever it is that you are doing.” The guard looked at Eddie with genuine fear. He wanted to
run away but was afraid to turn around, the chance that the door wouldn’t be there anymore
seemed too likely. He barely was able to hold himself together as it was. It was abundantly
clear that Eddie was not going to stop whatever it was that he was doing. The guard took a
deep breath and spun around toward the door. The other side of the clearing met his gaze.
         Madness can come in a variety of ways. For Frank the security guard it washed over
him like the tide. He watched impassively as his mind and body separated. He felt his
consciousness depart and float away. His body meanwhile sunk to the floor a beatific smile
on his lips. Frank’s consciousness sat across from Eddie. They had a nice long talk. At the
end of their conversation Eddie told Frank that he had two choices, either he could stay a
spirit in a world of his own creation or he could go back to being Frank the security guard
with no pension or benefits, and no girlfriend either. After a while Frank’s consciousness
floated up into the clouds.
         Eddie sat and watched- a smile on his face. The guard’s life was very unhappy,
someone forgot to tell him that he was already living in a world of his own creation. Now
that he knew, Eddie hoped that his life would be much more satisfying.
         They found Frank’s physical body in the hallway outside Eddie’s cell. It sat drooling
in its chair watching television. Eddie was found sitting cross-legged in the middle of the cell
with his eyes closed- a smirk on his face. From then on three guards were posted outside the
door although they never got too close and when the thunder would start to crash, nobody
even looked through the slot. The guards decided that whatever was going on in there was
none of there business. As long as Eddie didn’t escape, it wasn’t their concern.
Rain                                                  124


        Eddie had not planned the Frank episode. It just happened. He had no more of an
idea how he made Frank see his imagination than Frank did. But Eddie was flexible, he saw
an opportunity and he took it. He honestly didn’t know that Frank would choose to go off and
create his own universe.


Secret Agent: Double O’ Tree

        Tree could feel the tension she was carrying in her body like a buzzing, making the
entire world sharper and less real at the same time. She could barely see Mr. Oliver’s house
through the trees on the far side of his backyard. For the past week Tree had been keeping
watch over Mr. Oliver’s house. She knew that his bodyguard would be passing by shortly,
after which he would go on lunch break. This would give her a chance to slip in through the
basement window. Three days earlier Tree watched one of the housekeepers open the
basement windows for cleaning. When she was done she forgot to lock one. She didn’t see
the maid with her own eyes; Tree had motion censor video cameras set up all around the
house. Every night she watched the videotapes, as profoundly boring as they were. Her
diligence in watching the tapes every night paid off. During the week she spent time studying
each of the windows with a zoom lens. From what she was able to observe she had a rough
idea of the house’s layout.
        Right on schedule Mr. Oliver’s beefy head bodyguard Thud lumbered by. Thud had
worked for Mr. Oliver for a very long time and he was very good at his job. The long scar that
ran down the middle of his nose easily distinguished Thud. Ten years earlier Thud’s wife hit
him in the face with a bottle for cheating on her; the scar made Thud look as viscous as he
was.
        In spite of his natural proclivities toward the job, he had no idea that Tree was there.
This was a good thing because she was only about ten feet from him, crouched silently in the
deep shadows of the forest that almost completely surrounded Mr. Oliver’s house. Thud
stopped, sensing something wrong. He stared intently into the underbrush, a fierce scowl on
his face. Tree felt her blood go cold, but she stayed still, certain that the underbrush was
covering her appearance. Thud stood a few seconds longer and then started again. Tree
almost sighed with the relief; a mistake that she would have regretted. She held it in, and
instead used the relief to fuel her flight across the exposed lawn only seconds after Thud
disappeared around the corner.
        She slid into the house like a baseball player, plowing into the wall next to the
window. She finally took a breath, safely covered by decorative bushes. She reached over to
the small basement window, hoping that no one had come along and locked it, held her breath
and slid it open. The air hissed out from between her lips.
        The window wasn’t very wide and Tree had to hold her breath again to slide through
the small opening. She landed in a heap on the basement floor. Shaken but unharmed, she
immediately began searching for possible hiding places should an alarm be raised. Tree
waited apprehensively for two minutes, until she was sure that no one had marked her
presence. There was a flight of stairs that led up to the second floor. She climbed them
slowly. The seventh stair creaked a bit, a fact she filed for later.
        She heard voices as she approached the door at the top of the stairs. She leaned up
against the cool wood, listening. Two or maybe three voices could be heard, too close to be in
Rain                                                  125


the living room. Tree placed Mr. Oliver in the kitchen. If her view of the house’s layout was
correct anyone in the kitchen would see the basement door opening. She would have to either
wait, or find another way upstairs. She glanced around the shadowy basement. It was mostly
neat, things stacked in boxes. The Jolly Fat Crucified Son of Glarf in the Sleigh Holiday
decorations were clearly labeled. Jolly Crucifixion Day was the day of the year where all the
boys and girls of Satan’s Monkey were visited by a jolly fat man nailed to a cross, who brings
chocolate multicolored eggs, and rabbits. It was Satan’s Monkey’s biggest holiday.
         Tree’s eyes fell on a large pile of clothes by the washer/dryer. (The washer/dryer
actually did nothing to wash the clothes; there was no water. Rich people just liked to go
through the act of pretending they could get their clothes cleaned. Nobody was really sure
why. The pile was uncharacteristically messy in the otherwise obscenely neat basement. Tree
looked up at the ceiling and sure enough, there was a laundry shoot that led up to the upper
levels. She stood underneath and looked up the dark shaft, it looked like it continued all the
way up to the second floor. Tree reached up and pulled herself into chute. She wedged
herself so that she could shimmy up the chute a couple of inches at a time, using her knees
and back to hold herself in place. She figured that the chute probably led to a closet,
hopefully Mr. Oliver’s. She knew from the outside that Mr. Oliver’s office was right next to
the master bedroom.
         She had about 10 feet to go when a blinding shaft of light turned off the darkness with
a painful totality. She saw something falling at her, she raised her arms, awaiting the blow.
Two double-breasted pairs of overalls smacked her square in the face. Tree could hear one of
the house cleaner's grumbling about Mr. Oliver’s inability to throw anything into the
basement to be washed. Tree had to repress her giggles (and her disgust at the horrible smell)
at how close she was to getting caught. She allowed the clothes to continue their travels down
into the bowels of the house where they would be serviced, only to be returned as smelly as
they had started. Tree marveled at the stubbornness of Mr. Oliver. The very thing he was
going crazy to stop would actually get the smell out of his clothes. Tree immediately noticed
the difference in her own smell after the rainstorm.
         She waited in the chute for a few minutes until the pain in her legs overwhelmed the
paranoia in her heart. She flipped the hatch and climbed into the inky black closet. She
checked the crack under the door to see if anyone was in the bedroom and was relieved to see
that it was dark now as well. Tree made her way across the room and peered cautiously into
the hallway. It was clear and she rushed down the hall and slid into Mr. Oliver’s study like
smoke.
         Meanwhile, the man in question was lounging in the living room with his wife and son
watching television. Mr. Oliver hated the time that he had to spend with his family; his time
would be better spent planning the downfall of those maniacs in the woods. However, there
were appearances to be kept, he could not allow anyone to know how great the threat he was
facing was. It wasn’t just that people would be clean, that there would be no clear way to tell
the rich from the poor. It was hope. Hope raised expectations and Mr. Oliver couldn’t allow
that. Nothing cut into profits and power like expectations and hope. They had finished dinner
in the kitchen, also in front of a TV. The incessant laugh track made Mr. Oliver lose his
appetite. On the television the inane sit-com completely absorbed his wife and child. He
studied their faces as they stared into the unblinking eye, so passive to the signals and
advertisements calling directly into their subconscious minds. Ironically, although Mr. Oliver
hated TV as much as nearly everything else he used it quite extensively. A majority of the
Rain                                                  126


useless products that his company made had some correspondingly disgusting commercial
that he would inundate the airwaves with until people were brainwashed enough to actually
think that they needed a salad shooting compass with retractable wheels and blood pressure
monitor. He was tired of being inactive; he wanted to go over his intelligence reports about
possible camp locations of the exiles. He had been frustratingly unable to get the location the
exiles were gathering in, although he was able to ascertain that they were, in fact, gathering.
However, Mr. Oliver knew more than one way to skin a hamburger, the location would be
found.
         Mr. Oliver got up quietly and walked to the doorway, he almost announced his
departure but the blank look on his family’s face told him that he shouldn’t bother. He turned
and headed up the main stairs to get some work done.

       The Father of Mutually Assured Destruction Gives Some Advice

        “Nice trick with that guard.”
        “Huh?” Eddie’s eyes came open; the mere presence of another voice surprised him.
A figure was standing in his cell, a pale figure the same shade as that crazy Judge Julia. He
was large, and was wearing what appeared to be a postman’s uniform, the nametag said,
“Newman.” There was a jumbalaya stain on the lapel.
        “I said that was a nice trick with the guard.” The figure repeated. “Making him
choose to become crazy, nice touch. However, that was a parlor trick, and a pretty mean-
spirited one at that. I expected more from you. Anyway, your next task will be much more
difficult.
        Eddie still hadn’t spoken, except for ‘huh,’ which as far as he was concerned, didn’t
count. He was trying to figure out if this talking monkey was a guard or some weird figment
of his imagination.
        “Who are you?” Eddie finally asked, deciding that there was no real purpose in being
coy.
        “My name is John Von Newman and I am here to present you with a difficult puzzle.
While I know you know the answer, you don’t understand the answer.”
        “I don’t understand what you just said.” Eddie replied.
        “Never mind, either you’ll understand later, or you won’t. Let me start a different
way. Do you like games?”
        “Yeah I play video games all the time. Or I did before I got locked in solitary
confinement.”
        “Everything is a game. Games are inherent in all things. The trick is to be able to see
the games that are being played.”
        “There you go again, talking like a cross between Yoda and Deepak Chopra.”
        “Perhaps you are listening with the wrong set of ears.” Von Newman smiled slyly,
clearly taunting Eddie.
        Eddie didn’t fall for it. Instead he just lay there, looking.
        “OK look,” Von Newman said after a drawn out pause, “What I’m trying to tell you is
that there are rules to every game, but only by understanding the rules can you use them to
your own advantage. You and Tim, more than anyone else have seen the rulebook, the
universe has tipped its hand to you so to speak. The problem is you don’t know or understand
what you are being told. You’ve seen what the Rain can do for/to you. But what is your
Rain                                                         127


relationship to it? Are you its servant, or its partner, or its master?” Von Newman paused,
sitting cross-legged on the floor. “You are literally in a Prisoner’s Dilemma. Your friends are
soon to be in one morally. The question is, how do you solve the dilemma? I can give you a
hint: You already know the answer. However, I am afraid that I am not allowed to say any
more, at least not now. Have a nice day.”
         Abruptly Von Newman faded away. In his place were some papers held together with
a rubber band. The words “Prisoner’s dilemma” were written in black marker on the front.
Cautiously, as if he expected the paper to be red hot, Eddie took the pages from the ground
and skimmed the front page. After a minute Eddie shufflewalked to the wall, leaned against it,
and began reading.
         The papers said: The Prisoner’s Dilemma is not just a term that applies to someone
who wants to get out of jail. It is a problem that applies to every game. In short, a prisoner’s
dilemma is a situation where no clear path to success presents itself. The PD is a special
breed of problem, no mere conundrum here. Instead we are dealing with a full-fledged
enigma.
         Douglas Hofstadter (“Who the hell is that?” Eddie wondered.) Used the following
story to illustrate the dilemma. “Suppose you have stolen the Hope Diamond are trying to sell
it. You learn of a potential buyer, an underworld figure called Mr. Big- the most ruthless man
on earth. Though extremely intelligent, Mr. Big is notoriously greedy and equally notorious
for double-crossing. You have agreed to exchange the diamond for an attaché case full of
$100 bills. Mr. Big suggests that you meet out in a deserted wheat field somewhere to make
the exchange. That way there are no witnesses.
         You happen to know that Mr. Big has negotiated with many other sellers of
contraband in the past. Each time he has suggested a remote locale for the exchange. Every
time, Mr. Big showed up and opened the attaché case to show his good will. Then Mr. Big
pulled out a tommy gun, shot the other person dead, and left with both the money and the
goods.
         You say you don’t think the wheat-filed plan is such a good idea.
         You suggest the two-wheat-field-plan. Mr. Big hides his attaché chase of money in a
wheat field in North Dakota, while you hide the diamond in a wheat field in South Dakota.
Then both parties go to the neatest public phone and exchange directions on how to find the
hidden goods.
         You find a wheat field in South Dakota. As you are about to hide the attaché case
with the diamond, an idea pops into your head. Why not just keep the diamond? Mr. Big will
have no way of knowing that you betrayed him until he gets to South Dakota (you would wait
for his phone call and give him directions as if nothing were wrong). By that time you would
be in North Dakota to pick up the money. Then you would hop on a plane to Rio. You would
never see Mr. Big again.
         A worse thought pops into your head. Mr. Big must be thinking the exact same thing!
He’s just as smart as you are, and probably ten times greedier. He has equal incentive to
betray you, and you wouldn’t be able to retaliate any more than he will.”9
         Whether or not to use violence is always a prisoner’s dilemma. Whether or not to by
into the status quo is a Prisoner’s dilemma. Deciding whether or not reality exists, these are
all games that we are constantly playing whether we realize it or not.

9
    Poundstone, William. Prisoner’s Dillemma. Pp. 103-104.
Rain                                                   128


        Eddie thought about what the Dilemma entailed. He couldn’t understand how it
related to him. It was obvious to him that the idea was to show that the most stable approach
would be for both sides to follow through with their half of the bargain. But the payoff, if one
did decide to cheat, would be enormous. Of course, if both sides cheat, nothing happens.

       Get out of the way truth, I’m looking for the truth

         Tree flipped through files as fast as she could. It hadn’t taken long to find the keys to
the filing cabinets; they were cleverly hidden in a flowerpot sitting on the top of them. It was
the first place that she looked. The filing system was atrocious; there was no clear pattern to
the order of the files. She just had to flip through each one and hope that Eddie’s name
jumped out at her. She came across one file labeled “Holdings” and grabbed it along with
several that were behind it. Finally, in the third cabinet she found a file called “Prisoner
Placement Lists.” She flipped through it and felt immense relief at finding Eddie’s name.
Further reading however sent a chill up her spine, his name had “treat with extreme lack of
compassion” stamped on it. A loud screech came from the hallway. It was a distinct sound
that she recognized as a squeaking staircase. Someone was coming up the stairs!
           She hit the light and rushed to the closet, closing the door just as Mr. Oliver opened
his. She tried to conceal herself as best she could, but there wasn’t much in the closet but
boxes of records. Again she found herself scanning around, looking for a better place to hide.
Up was again a kind direction. There, in the ceiling was an entrance to what must be an attic
or crawlspace. She reached up and pushed on the square of ceiling that was framed in darker
wood. Sure enough the ceiling gave when she pushed on it. She moved the square and pulled
herself up. She had just slid the square back in place when the closet door opened, a hand
rifled around for a minute, and then disappeared again.
          It was really hot and the air was thick with dust and the mild (and unpleasant) smells
of old mildew. She had no way of knowing how long she would have to wait up here.
Making her way to the small round window that let in the little bit of light that she could see
by revealed a quite stunning view of Satan’s Monkey, stretching out to the west. She
examined the files that she grabbed. The first thing she did was look up Eddie’s name in the
prison file and memorize the location. She simultaneously despaired. The file had him
located in almost the exact center of the prison. It said that Eddie was not allowed to leave his
cell under any circumstances, including a prison-wide fire. She was carrying two other files
that she had grabbed in addition to the one marked “Holdings.” The first was a file that was
cryptically labeled “Concerning Post Chilly War Agendas.” The second file was thicker.
Tree's eyebrows raised at the name. Clearly labeled on the file were three words, “The Master
Plan.”
         Mr. Oliver entered his office and locked his door immediately with a silver key that he
had on a chain around his neck. The door was never locked when nobody was inside, but Mr.
Oliver liked to feel safe inside his office, the only place where he could really be himself.
This required privacy. He went directly to the two files that he always took out first; his profit
reports that were updated daily by his staff and the most important file he owned. He always
stuck this particular file into an otherwise unused cabinet containing old records of problems
already solved. Every day he would consider burning the file but he never did; it was his
pride. Mr. Oliver was so proud of his abilities to manipulate; he wanted a record, for
Rain                                                  129


posterity. When he went to remove it, it wasn’t there. He looked again, his mind unable to
accept what it was seeing.
        “No way.” said his mind to his eyes; there must be a file there; look again. He did. It
still wasn’t there. The yell of rage that erupted from Mr. Oliver caused Tree to involuntarily
squeak with surprise, it even pulled his wife and son from their TV stupor.
        Oliver knocked the filing cabinet over on its side. Someone had stolen it. Luckily for
Tree his paranoia was absolute and he immediately headed downstairs to accuse his son. The
idea that someone would even attempt to invade his home was rejected out of hand as an
impossibility. Who would dare? This tragedy couldn’t be of his own making, his own
carelessness. Someone else would have to take the blame, and that person was his son.
        After Mr. Oliver left shouting erupted from downstairs. It was obvious that Mr. Oliver
had decided that Wendell was responsible for taking the file that sat in her lap. “That man’s
got a temper, but if somebody else has to be blamed it couldn’t have happened to a nicer
guy.” Tree thought. She closed the file, stuck it into her backpack and left the attic. She
padded quickly towards the laundry chute. She could easily tell where everyone in the house
was. Mr. Oliver was bellowing at his kid who was wailing. His wife was screaming to leave
the boy alone and Thud the bodyguard was yelling for everybody to calm down. Tree felt
sorry for their dysfunctional family. The familiar “you reap what you sow” entered her mind
and cooled her conscience. Wendell always leered disgustingly at her horn, she was sure that
he had never actually looked her in the eyes. He was creepy, like the kinda kid that would cut
up squirrels with scalpels stolen from biology lab.
         Two minutes later Tree was pulling herself out the window and rushing across the
open lawn back into the safety of the forest. She could still hear the yelling faintly in the
distance when she was a half-mile away, Wendell was a creep but Tree felt herself feeling
sorry for him. His father was a really evil guy; it couldn’t be easy to be the kid of a guy
whose wife calls him Mister. At least she knew where Eddie was; that they probably had no
chance to rescue him was irrelevant. If anyone could figure it out, it was the four of them
working together.

        Wendell held his hands over his eyes as his father’s hands lashed out at him wildly
striking his face arms and chest. He cried out begging for explanation if not reprieve. Mr.
Oliver had stormed down the stairs already completely beyond reason. His mother tried to
calm him but he ordered her out and she left when she saw the look in his eyes. So much for
maternal instincts.
        “What did I do?” Wendell sobbed over and over.
        “I’ll tell you what you did you little sneaking bastard!” cried his father who only
elaborated with more violence. He knocked over a wooden end table sending debris skittering
across the floor. Wendell was knocked from the couch onto the ground where he rolled into a
ball and waited for the onslaught to diminish. When his father had at last tired, Wendell got
up and ran out the front door sobbing. Mr. Oliver watched him go; his breathe full and hot in
his chest. A small tinge of regret crossed his serpentine brain; perhaps his son was innocent.
But the mere thought was impossible. If his son hadn’t taken the file then somebody else had
it and that thought couldn’t be true, the possibility alone…
        He couldn’t fail; he absolutely, steadfastly refused to fail. Mr. Oliver told Thud the
police were to find his son and have him returned home as soon as possible. He put special
Rain                                                   130


stress that his son should not be talked to in any way, that he should be returned directly and
without delay.

Wendell II

         Wendell ran as fast as he could from his father’s house. He crashed straight into the
forest without direction, his sobbing blinding him and as he ran. He only knew away and that
was enough for now. The trees whooshed past him as he picked paths at random venturing
deeper into the woods.
         He finally stopped when he realized that he had no idea where he was. His head
snapped around searching for a landmark that was familiar. There was nothing. He felt the
wild dog of panic nibbling at his horn. When the hand fell onto his shoulder, he actually
screamed.
         Wendell’s shriek scared Tree so badly she actually fell down into a bush. Wendell was
so embarrassed he forgot his grief for moment and rushed to try to help Tree.
         “Sorry, Oh gosh I’m so sorry.” Wendell whined. There was a rather large amount of
snot forming a bridge from his nose to his chin that he wiped away with the back of his hand.
Tree tried not to watch him wipe his hand on his pants, but her eyes were drawn, as if to a car
accident. He sniffled loudly.
          “What are you doing here?” he asked, thoughts of his father beginning to reenter his
brain.
         “I, uh, heard someone crying really hysterically and I thought that whoever it was
might need some help.” Tree answered, “I was out looking for a juju fruit tree. Is there one
around here?”
         “No.” Wendell looked down at the ground. He was greatly touched that someone
came to help him. The normal procedure was ridicule followed by exile. He knew that Tree
was one of the people who had gone out into the forest and that it was partially her fault that
his Dad was so mean all the time. But she had stopped to help him even after she knew who
he was. If she was as terrible as he thought she was she wouldn’t have stopped. He looked at
her earnestly and asked, “Do you know how I get back to my house?”
         “Sure, you just head that way.” Tree replied pointing him back toward town.
         “Thanks.” Wendell immediately started to walk away from her. But after a few steps
he stopped. He turned around and said to Tree in a voice that was so genuine Tree found
herself completely believing his words, even though they seemed so out of character for him.
He said, “I know that my father is really screwed up and that what he is doing to you guys is
unfair. I don’t think the Rain is a good thing either, but I don’t think that locking you guys up
is the right way to go about it.” He smiled sheepishly and before Tree could respond, walked
in the direction Tree had pointed. He was almost out of sight before he looked back and
seeing Tree still watching him, waved.

Bad News

        After a long hike through the ravines and valley’s of the forest Tree arrived at the
rendezvous spot. With a final effort Tree pulled herself over the lip of the mountain clearing.
She was shocked at what she saw in front of her. There were people everywhere but instead
of talking or planning they were learning how to fight. Everyone carried clubs or rocks and
Rain                                                  131


was hard at work practicing battle. Tree couldn’t imagine that Tim was leading people to act
like this. Before anyone saw her she ducked back down out of sight. Tree had no idea what
was going on, but the idea of the exiles turning themselves into some kind of an army plagued
her, it was so against everything she felt she had learned from her experience with the Rain.
         She made her way to a different angle where she could see what was going on without
being seen herself. No matter how she looked she couldn’t find Tim, Neal or Jerry. A ball of
worry started to gnaw at the insides of her stomach. What could have gone so terribly wrong?
There were two kids that seemed to be in charge. They were barking out orders and yelling
stuff like, “You are the all-seeing, all-knowing, crap of the world.” She decided to keep
moving, maybe she would be able to pick up a clue somewhere.
         Tree looked around at where she was. Cliffs surrounded the clearing on two sides and
the other two sides dropped off steeply enough that it was necessary to climb them. As she
surveyed her surroundings she asked herself, “If she were Tim, where would she hide?” Then
she noticed a cloud hanging nonchalantly around a particularly large outcropping of rock,
high on the cliff above her. She couldn’t be sure but the cloud seemed to have made itself
into the shape of an arrow, pointing down at the plateau. “Neat trick.” She thought.
         Tree didn’t go ten feet before Jamie came walking up to meet her.
         “Hey!” Jamie said excitedly, “You’re Tree! You’re one of the group.”
         Surprised at the girl’s excitement, Tree agreed, “Yeah, I guess I am. And who are
you?”
         “I’m Jamie, I came here to meet you guys. You see I have this tape that I wanted to
show you but then these two really angry guys took over the camp and Tim and the others just
left and I didn’t know what I was going to do.” Exhausted and disappointed Jamie broke
down in tears. Tree hugged her and just held her for a few minutes until she calmed down.
Finally, all cried out, Jamie looked up at Tree.
         “I’m sorry about that.” She said, a little embarrassed now.
         “Oh please, it’s OK. It sounds like you’ve been through a whole lot of shit; it’s
perfectly natural to get overwhelmed by it once in a while. Now put your chin up. We are
going to go meet Neal, and Tim, and Jerry. And then we’re going to watch your tape. But
first, we have to climb up to that plateau.” Tree pointed out where they were going.
         Tree was about ten feet below the high plateau when she nearly fell to her death. Tree
was concentrating on her handholds, the climb was difficult, when suddenly from above came
a sudden movement. The motion startled her so badly she nearly lost her grip. She felt her
body begin to shift out, away from the rocks, gravity already trying to give her a quick ride
back down to the bottom. She started to panic which further loosened her grip until she
actually started to fall. She dropped about a foot and a half before coming to rest on what
seemed like a net of water. She looked up to see Tim grinning down at her. The movement
that scared her was Tim; he had come to give her a hand. As she lay she felt the strands of the
water soaking through her clothes.
         “Are you going to pull me up? Or do I have to just hang here like yesterday’s
laundry?” Tree asked. She looked over to Jamie, who smiled back. Jamie wasn’t exactly sure
when it happened, but somewhere along the way she realized that she both excelled at, and
enjoyed rock climbing.
         Neal’s face appeared over the edge. “Sweetheart, you’re back! I’m so happy to see
you.”
Rain                                                    132


         I’m happy to see you too dear, now will you please get me up there before everything
I own gets soaking wet?” She smiled up at him.
         They pulled Tree up slowly. Once she was settled the questions began immediately,
both sides trying to tell the entire story at once. Tree went first. “I found what we were
looking for, but I don’t think your gonna like it. Eddie is in the middle of the prison and is
constantly being watched by three guards. Apparently one guard who was assigned to
Eddie’s cell has already gone crazy. They don’t let him out of his cell. Not even for five
minutes.
         I think I found something more important than Eddie’s location. I accidentally
grabbed a folder with the words “The Master Plan” written on it. I haven’t had time to read
the whole thing, but I’ve got the gist of it. It’s like a diary. It starts when he was eleven years
old and traces through the last forty years, his “Master Plan” changing and getting more
ambitious as the years passed.
         Now, I’m not saying another word until someone tells me what the hell happened
when I fell a minute ago. How did you do that thing with the water? Was there another
Rainstorm? And why the hell did you let those violent military guys take over?”
         “Whoa sweetheart,” Neal laughed, “One question at a time. I’ll try to tackle the
biggest one first. Tim found out that we could drink the Rain. Well, actually he just drank it
on a whim. And it’s a good thing he did. We found out that by drinking the Rain allows to
use your imagination to control reality.”
          “We do that anyway, your mind is “filling in” a good amount of everything you see.”
Tree said.
         “Yeah, but this is a straight forward ability to use imagination as reality. Watch.”
         Neal took the pitcher and poured some Rain on the ground. He stared at it intently. A
little puppy dog began to form out of the water. Tree’s jaw dropped as the animal rose into
three-dimensional shape. At first it was transparent, a Rain dog. But as she watched the thing
began to grow solid, turning a pretty chocolate brown. Before long, it was a dog, or least was
indistinguishable from one. It chased its tail and even barked once or twice.
         “How the hell?” Tree asked, bewildered.
         “The longer you focus your attention on it, the more real it looks. But if I get
distracted…” The dog lost its dimension and splashed back into a puddle on the ground.
         “Guess what else?” Tim asked. He smiled and fell backward off the cliff. Tree didn’t
see the whole fall but she saw how Tim landed. Seconds before he embedded himself into the
ground the Rain spread out beneath him slowing his fall and allowing for a safe landing. Tree
applauded, still shocked. Then, to top it off the Rain spread out from his body and carried
him up the cliff back to where they were standing in only slightly more time than it took him
to fall.
         “Nice trick.” Tree replied “I can see how that’s gonna come in handy. We’re gonna
need every trick we can think of.” She dropped her bag and herself onto the ground. “Does
anybody got anything to eat? We’re fucking starving!” For the first time Tree made
reference to the girl who she brought with her. Jamie finished climbing and had been
watching with the same amazement as Tree.
         “OK, OK. I’ll go get you something.” Neal went to get together some stuff for
sandwiches.

The Zapruder Tape
Rain                                                   133




         In the hubbub of their arrival, nobody paid much attention to Jamie; but once the
initial relief of seeing Tree home safely passed, Tim’s attention turned to her.
         He smiled. “Hello, What’s your name?”
         That was an easy one. “My name’s Jamie.” She paused for a second trying
desperately to collect her thoughts. “I have a tape that I need to show you. I think it will go a
long way in proving to everybody that Mr. Oliver is the bad guy.” She tossed her backpack
on the ground and rooted through it. Her hand finally found the tape and she pulled it out of
her bag and offered it to Tim. He took it from her.
         “What’s on this tape Jamie?” Tim asked.
         “It’s the assassination of Vlad. I was taping the parade and I happened to catch the
exact moment that he was murdered.”
         “How does that help us?” Neal asked, his arms loaded with sandwich stuff. He
looked from the tape to the girl and back again.
         “It shows who actually killed Vlad.” Jamie replied.
         “Please tell me that you have a tape of Mr. Oliver shooting Vlad.” Jerry said, excited.
         “It’s not quite that conclusive. I would rather just have you watch it and tell me if it
means what I think it does.”
         “Tree, you have the equipment, may we use your VCR?”
         “Of course you can, it’s somewhere in my pile of crap, you’ll find it.”
         Tim went over to the rather sizable pile of equipment she brought with her from Mr.
Oliver’s and began searching for the VCR.
         “Jamie, why aren’t you in the clearing with all of the other people?” Tim asked,
curious.
         “I’m not there because they are acting just like the police. Their reasoning is different
but in the end it turns into the same thing, Violence. It seems pretty clear to me that if that
Moses guy wins the battle, in reality most of us will end up in the same place we are now,
oppressed. Besides, you are the ones that I decided a while ago to trust. You guys are the
ones that the Rain presented itself to, you are the rightful leaders.”
         “Well I don’t know about the leader part. We’re more like the marvelously ignorant
people who are trying to do there best. That’s why we chose nonviolence, so that our
mistakes and blunders only hurt feelings, which heal much cleaner than large rock wounds.
We are trying to accept ahead of time the fact that we are flawed and are going to screw
things up. Which is true and unavoidable. Of course, we can succeed too, if only with a
small s.”
         Tim found the VCR and pulled it out. He also grabbed one of the camcorders so they
could watch the tape. All five people gathered around the camcorder, everyone trying to see
everything in the frame that was happening at once.
         The video was amateurish, there was no mise-en-scene and the cinematography was
atrocious, but at least the picture was digital, and remarkably clear. The first shot of the video
was of Vlad’s car coming slowly around the corner onto Elm. The book depository was on the
left and the grassy knoll was behind her. Vlad was waving to the crowd from his big
convertible; Governor Connally was in the front seat waving his big Stetson hat.
         Then, shots rang out. Not just three shots, but like twelve went off, almost all in
unison. You could see smoke coming from the windows of the book depository and the
Daltex building behind it, although it was impossible to make out who was in those windows.
Rain                                                      134


One notable thing was that the shots from the book depository came from the ninth floor, not
the sixth. A split second passes on the tape, Connally has clearly been hit, and he drops his hat
and yells out, “Oh my God, they’re going to kill us all.”
        There is a strange whining sound on the tape and suddenly the back of Vlad’s head
sprays out across the back of the convertible. Everyone gasped.
        Jamie paused the tape to explain what happened next, “That whining that you just
heard was the rock that splattered Vlad. It passed just to the right of my head, so close that
the microphone picked up the sound. Naturally I spun around.” Jamie restarted the tape.
        The picture blurred as Jamie spun around. The camera focused on the grassy knoll
where another puff of smoke was clearly visible. The picture zoomed in toward the knoll and
for about two seconds, clearly discernible was Thud, Mr. Oliver’s private bodyguard. He was
holding an expensive rock sniper gun. Tree gasped, she had just been ten feet from the guy
two days previous, the big scar down the front of his face was unmistakable.
        Thud didn’t work for anybody other than Oliver, if he was there that meant that Mr.
Oliver had been responsible for the murder of Vlad, it wasn’t the work of Uncle Gus like
everyone thought.
        Jerry was already flipping through the folder labeled “Master Plan” looking for
information. As he skimmed he read things aloud to the group.
        “Here’s something from the beginning, God this is nuts. ‘I, Mr. Oliver, do on this day
put forward the plan that will be my life’s work. Someday I will be king. I will reign over the
people like a tyrant. Only my subjects will worship me. They will honor me; they will beg
me to rule over them with an iron fist. This is my vow.”
        Neal interrupted, “When was this written?”
        Tim replied, “It’s the first entry so he was still a teenager, younger than us.”
        Neal had a vision in his mind. A vision of young Mr. Oliver, bent over his writing
desk, a pen held in his hand, a small light casting a bright circle of light on the paper that he
was writing on. His hands cast dark, deep shadows onto desk. Only the words being written,
the hand that was writing them was not controlled by Mr. Oliver at all. No, the thing that had
written these words was neither Flallop nor Whozit. It was something alien. Neal felt a
shiver run up his spine just thinking about it. He reached for Tree’s hand and laced his fingers
in with hers. He always felt better this way, stronger, like their combined power was stronger
than his alone. He sat up a little straighter and listened as Jerry continued.
        “I have been born into the distinct advantages of wealth, and it is my intention to
plunder all of the treasures that such a life can provide. I do this not out of greed for material
things, although there will be plenty of that no doubt. I do this for power. People have to be
led. They are not smart enough to know what is right on their own. There is a fundamental
belief that the rich are better, smarter, stronger than they are, and it is on this belief that I shall
build my kingdom.
        My Father has shown me the way. In our conversations he has shown how he controls
certain markets like a puppet master controls a puppet. Markets are mindless if not for the
mind of their master. I have learned much from my Father and his work is rightly started.”
        “Rightly started?” Asked Tim. He laughed. This guy was even haughty when writing
to himself.
        Smiling Jerry continued. “Only my Father aims far to low. He aims for a target, here
on the ground while I aim my arrow high into the sky. To a height never before imagined. I
will be a tyrant and they will thank me for it. I will rule their lives and they will call
Rain                                                      135


themselves free. I will be studied in the future, for I will control the entire town with my
strings. I will be the greatest puppet master of all.
         It is my responsibility to finish the work that he so brilliantly started”
         “What you just read sounds like a Mission Statement or something.” Said Tim. “Tree
you’ve read more of this thing, what else is in there?”
         “Well, its really separated into sections, at least until the recent stuff, he’s been to busy
to separate things into different categories. Mr. Oliver has undertaken many projects during
his lifetime including setting up the social climate that created the Chilly War. That part was
nuts. Hang on…” Tree took the folder from Jerry, she rifled through it, trying to find what
she was looking for.
         “Oh yeah, here it is. ‘The union threat is growing; people are beginning to notice the
inordinate amount of wealth being amassed in the hands of the few. What is needed is a
refocusing of attention, a renewal of the old divisions. The poor must remain divided and
distracted. If Industry is going to continue quietly consolidating until it is impossible to
describe any existing businesses that don’t rely heavily one or or two Mega-Corporations
controlled by me, then there must be a smoke screen.
         There is a long-standing tension in the town between the Whozits and the Flallops.
Just because the limits of these tensions are currently limited to sports and religion doesn’t
mean it has to stay that way. It would be just as easy to nurture them, to help the tensions
grow.”
           “And he did.” commented Tree. “He goes on to talk at length about the two primary
ways he intended to divide people. The first, Whozit against Flallop was obvious and clearly
an effective distraction. Mr. Oliver’s other tactic was much subtler. He wants to make people
who aren’t rich think that they are.”
         “What?” asked Jamie, that didn’t sound like Mr. Oliver.
         “By making people think they are rich, more importantly by making society think that
certain people are rich, it again acts as a deflection.” Tree again looked at the folder trying to
find the part she had read. Finding it, she read aloud from the folder, “If the upper middle
class is perceived as rich then the truly wealthy become invisible. The upper middle class is
highly visible because they live with and among the common folk and the poor. For the most
part, they are terribly hard workers and deserve the little bit of luxury that they receive. To the
poor however, these same people represent the establishment. What the poor do not
understand is that the entire middle class, upper included, only exists to do the work of the
real establishment. The establishment being those few of us who are so rich that we couldn’t
count our money if we tried. I have managed to reduce the number of us significantly; so
much so that there is no one whose power comes within earshot of my own. As long as the
poor look to the upper middle class for their enemies, I am safe.”
         “He really is evil isn’t he.” Tim said matter of factly. For a minute Tim felt himself
get very afraid. This was a smart, ruthless guy. Maybe Moses was right when he said that the
only thing that would change Mr. Oliver is violence. Then Tim reminded himself that he had
recently gained the ability to manifest things with his imagination and he was able to get a
grip on himself.
         “What we need,” Jerry said, “Is a story that we can tell people. A clear explanation of
the major things that Mr. Oliver has been up to, including the stuff about the Chilly War and
Vlad and Gus. So we need the proof to read aloud to people about that stuff. We also have to
Rain                                                     136


find out the reason why he has gone after the Rain with so much vigor. I think we should split
up the file and try to hash out a coherent stream of events.”
        “Yeah, that makes sense.” Tree agreed and passed chunks of the folder around the
room. “But when we’re done, I want to drink some of that Rain.”

        The five of them got busy reading.
        “I’ve got it.” Tim said, tapping his finger on his part of the file. It says, ‘I received the
most amazing news today, Ernesto Einsteen has accidentally invented a weapon that can
potentially make me millions in the rock market. The device is able to float rocks of nearly
any size into the air like birds. The only problem is that such a device guarantees that the
Whozits will overcome the Flallops. Unless I just steal one of the devices and give it to the
Flallops, which now that I write it, seems like a terrific idea. God I am such a genius.”
        Jerry interrupted. “Yeah, and modest too!”
        “So that’s how the Flallops really got the rock dropper. Mr. Oliver stole one of the
Whozit weapons and left in the Flallop lab?” Tim was amazed. “That must have been why
mine wasn’t as fancy as Eddie’s. The Flallop’s weapon was probably one of the Whozit
prototypes. What a dick.”
        “Didn’t he know that the rocks would kill him too? What the hell was he thinking?”
Asked Jamie.
        “I know,” said Neal, looking down at his part of the folder. “It says, ‘Today I had four
rock droppers installed around the perimeter of my house. They are independent units
controlled only by me, now if the rocks do fall unexpectedly they won’t fall on me. I have
also been fitted with a special device I can wear on my body, it has enough strength to divert
any rocks that would fall on my head.’ I guess he had all his bases covered.”
        “I’ll say.” Agreed Jamie. “It says here that Mr. Oliver actually set the ball in motion to
kill Vlad. He “encouraged” his son to leak information to Uncle Gus that Mr. Oliver was
responsible for the Flallops getting a rock dropper. Of course, Wendell didn’t know he was
being encouraged. Probably because his Father was encouraging him by treating him extra
rotten on the same day he purposely left a file outlining what he did on the kitchen counter
where he felt positive his nosy son would read it. Wendell walked directly into the trap and
leaked the information to a Flallop spy named Fnord. Mr. Oliver knew that Uncle Gus would
try to do whatever was necessary to get the word out. That’s why he crushed the whole
building. It also says that the assassins who killed Vlad were in the basement of the CNNBC
building that was crushed. All of this was done to set up the election that he knew he was
going to win.”


Home Sweet Sucks

         Wendell arrived home an hour after his run in with Tree. Her directions had been
accurate and after a minimum of struggle he had arrived at the edge of the property. Instead
of going directly in he stayed outside, lurking in the bushes. He didn’t know it but he was
sitting in almost the same spot Tree had crouched in a few hours earlier. Wendell looked up
into the window of his father’s study. He could see Mr. Oliver pacing back and forth. This
worried and soothed Wendell at the same time. His Dad never paced because he was never
nervous. Nevertheless, he was pacing now. Wendell wondered what could have happened to
Rain                                                  137


agitate his Father so badly. If he didn’t know better, he would think that his Dad was scared
of something. Wendell had seen his Mr. Oliver display lots of emotions, anger, rage, hatred,
bitterness, but never fear. The way he was rocketing from one end of his office to the other
you would think that somebody had stuck a live platypus in his trousers. He was on the
phone to someone, obviously yelling. Wendell took a deep breath and emerged from the
bushes. He went around to the back door, unlocked it, and made a straight line towards the
study.
        Wendell knocked on the door lightly, ready to bolt for the stairs if he became the
target of another barrage of violence. Instead his Father answered calmly, “Who is it?” He
sounded too calm for the behavior he had just witnessed.
        “It’s Wendell, I’m really sorry for doing whatever it is that I did, can I come in?” He
asked trying to not sound like a mouse with a strong case of the flu.
        “I’ll come out, wait there.” The door opened and Mr. Oliver emerged, his eyes were
bloodshot with yelling and his orange and green suit was a rumpled mess. He closed the door
firmly behind him, slipped the key into the lock and shot home the bolt. He turned back to
Wendell.
        “Now, what do you need son, Dad’s a very busy man.” Wendell looked shocked at his
father; it was as if he didn’t even remember what he had done.
        “Mr. Oliver, you beat me senseless and chased me from the house. I did something
wrong, won’t you tell me what it was?”
        “Oh, I was mistaken, I know what happened now. Why don’t you go into your room
like the little bastard you are and leave Dad alone, I don’t have time for you now.” Every
word was delivered in a calm, condescending tone, as if Wendell was as stupid as a
lobotomized frog.
        Defeated, Wendell went to his room and plopped down on his bed. The picture of Mr.
Oliver that he kept on his desk glared at him. He had only been in the room for a few seconds
when he heard the distinctive sound of a padlock snapping shut. He ran to his door and shook
it. Mr. Oliver spoke through the door. “I can’t have you bothering me, I‘ll let you out later.”
Again that terrible dead tone of voice. Wendell finally realized at that terrible moment that
his Father had never loved him and would never love him. It was highly probable that he
didn’t love anyone. He seemed incapable of any love at all. Except for power, he loved
power.
        Wendell had opposed his Father directly only once in his life. It was Wendell that sent
the documents to Uncle Gus’ spy Fnord. He had tried to warn Uncle Gus that his Dad caused
the Chilly War, that he was doing it to take over the world. Wendell had personally watched
Fnord take the package that he left out of his mailbox, and watched as Fnord read the
contents. He had perched himself down the street with a telescope. Yet nothing ever came of
it. Uncle Gus didn’t denounce his Dad; instead he tried to take over a TV studio. What a
jackass.
        It was clear to Wendell that the wheel in his Father’s head was still spinning, but the
hamster was clearly dead. What had been bad had become worse. Wendell still didn’t know
what happened to make his Dad so pissed, he figured that Tree was somehow responsible, but
he had no idea what she did. Wendell propped his legs up on the bed and tried to figure out
what to do. He worried about that padlock on his door; he was already getting hungry.
        He would be a lot hungrier. Wendell spent the next three days locked in his room.
Rain                                                  138


Hey Dad- I’m in Jail... Jail...

        Eddie couldn’t get the prisoner’s dilemma out of his mind. He knew that cheating was
somehow part of what he was supposed to be thinking about, but he didn’t know in what
context. What was he supposed to be trying to figure out? Who or what was he cheating?
The only thing that gave him solace was his success in changing his experience of his
environment. What amazed him was that there was no Rain involved. He had found the
power to alter reality in a serious way without any direct outside assistance. He manifested
clouds and thunder because he knew that it would disturb the hell out of the guards, and he
was right. The story of what happened to Frank had gotten around and nobody wanted any
part of Eddie.
        There was one very large exception. Elmer, the head screw was just looking for the
opportunity to kill Eddie. Frank had been his son-in-law and although he hated the son of a
bitch, he didn’t like his daughter much either and now she was moving home again. He
needed that like he needed a hole in the head. Mr. Oliver had assigned him to watching Eddie
personally so he knew that his time would come, it was just a matter of patience. Luckily for
Eddie, he didn’t know anything about Elmer or his feelings about killing him.
        Eddie was dealing with his own problems. He liked being able to manifest things, but
what he needed to do was escape. He needed to get himself completely out of the prison and
to wherever Tim was hiding out. Eddie didn’t allow himself to think that Tim was also
somewhere in the jail. He had to be free and working against Oliver. On this issue Eddie
held onto the faith of a born-again. It was the presumed hope that Tim was somewhere with
Tree, Neal, and Jerry that kept him going.
        Where he was going, well that was the real problem. Eddie had not seen any Rain
since the second storm. He felt like an airplane over O’Hare at Christmas, forced into a
holding pattern. There was only silence from the trees, which were too busy knitting to assist
Eddie, and the grass wasn’t talking either. Eddie knew that he had to invent the next move, he
would get out, he had no idea how. He thought of the buzzword on CNNBCII: “proactive”
and began to giggle. The act of being active actively, who the hell came up with these things?
        A proper course of action seemed to be right next to his left hand, but too wily and
quick to grasp. A mental greased pig let loose in the barn of his mind. Eddie sat chewing
distractedly on a carrot stick and considered his trial. The judge had really struck him as odd.
She had looked a lot like himself except she was the wrong color and there wasn’t a horn
sticking out of her butt.
         Eddie wondered where such a strange person could have come from. He also
wondered what it would be like to have that big cushion of flab instead of a horn to sit on.
Judge Julia child was the second woman in Eddie’s life to appear out of seemingly nowhere
and hugely impact his life. He wondered if there was any connection between the Rain and
the presence of the pale lady.
        He was beginning to think that perhaps something stranger was going on then he first
conceived. The judge was obviously insane and disorientated. She kept referring to him as a
mutant Smurf, whatever that meant. There was an ever-growing specter in Eddie’s mind that
the Rain was just a means to a larger end.
        The more he thought back to his first vision he had in the forest the more he began to
wonder if he wasn’t just living in a universe of his imagination. He went back and forth over
what would ultimately be more disturbing to him, the entire world being imaginary, or it
Rain                                                   139


being real. Both ideas were chilling. If the world was imaginary then Eddie was living in
some kind of self-created hell. But this idea didn’t make any sense because it had turned out
that Tim was as responsible for how the world was shaped as Eddie was. (At least that what
he thought the vision meant.) The other idea was that everything was real and there really
was some mysterious force that was changing the whole social fabric of the town. Which
meant that he was going to spend a very long time in jail if he didn’t figure out how to escape.
Eddie wished that Tim were there so that they could talk about what was going on.
        The desire to talk to Tim was immensely frustrating because Eddie had questions that
he couldn’t answer on his own. It crossed Eddie’s mind that perhaps the judge and the girl
Rain came from the same place. Maybe both women took the same trip but only one was
traveling intentionally.
        Then again, maybe not. Eddie sat and stared at the wall. He made shadow cats and
chased them with shadow dogs.
        He thought the escape process would be easy, it wasn’t. The problem seemed like one
of semantics on the surface. He could alter his surroundings, just alter them in a way that
allowed him to escape. He could just imagine a door and walk through, except that wasn’t
how the trick worked. Eddie could make his surroundings change for himself and for anyone
who came directly into his presence; but in reality, (He was less sure what reality was every
minute.) Eddie’s body never left its lotus position in the middle of the room. Eddie needed to
learn how to move his physical body in a manner identical to the way he moved his spirit
body, to lasso the body and force it to come along for the ride, a self created mental Star Trek
transporter. The only problem was the dissolve, the elimination of the body so that it could
be made upwardly mobile. Having no alternative, he worked on it.

          The Present

          “So what about the Rain?” Tim asked, “Why did Mr. Oliver jump so hard on this one
issue?”
        “Isn’t it obvious?” Tree asked, “Mr. Oliver wants power even more than money, he
wants people to thank him for acting like a tyrant. We know that Mr. Oliver likes to use
scapegoats as distraction. So here we are. We are Oliver’s distraction. And I’ll be damned if
most of the town isn’t thanking him for his tyranny.”
        Jerry agreed. “Yeah, and he’s got Eddie in jail, which makes him a perfect whipping
boy, anything that goes wrong can be blamed on an insurgency of Rain.” Jerry demonstrated
the insurgency by waggling his fingers in Tim’s face.
        “However, thanks to Jamie we can prove what a fraud Oliver is, we can show people
that the Rain isn’t dangerous. But we can only do that one way. We have to take our
message and the tape to the people. We have to organize a ruckus that will get everyone’s
attention, but won’t get us all killed.” Neal said.
        “That might be easier said than done.” Tim said, thinking of Mr. Oliver goading his
own kid into indirectly causing the assassinations of the town’s leaders.
        Tree walked out to the edge of the cliff and looked down at the exiles practicing. “I
hate to be a wet blanket, but the first thing we have to do is regain control of the group. With
those two bloodthirsty fellows down there running things, Mr. Oliver is currently only one of
our problems.”
Rain                                                   140


         “Oh them,” Tim laughed, “We already know how we are going to deal with them.
Speaking of which, we need to get you some Rain.” Tim got up and walked to the small hole
where they kept the chalice for safekeeping. It was empty, but it filled itself up in the time
that it took him to carry it over to Tree. “Drink up my friend.” Tim said, passing over the
cup.
         Tree took the chalice and drank from it until it was empty. She brought down the cup
and looked around eagerly. “OK, now what?”
           Neal answered her, “Now you refill the chalice with your mind. Just picture it full,
and imagine that you can see the water. The next thing you know…”
         “It’ll be full.” Tree finished for him looking down in amazement at the cup that now
sat filled to the brim. Tree got up and walked the cup over to Jamie who watched what was
going on with a certain amount of trepidation. The Rain seemed like such a big deal, she was
a little afraid to try it herself. But then she looked at Tree and the rest of the group. They
were all smiling at her, encouraging. She could feel their genuine excitement for her. Like
she was an infant about to taste an orange for the very first time.
         Jamie took the chalice. “What should I do? Do I drink it, or pour it over my head?”
         “Whatever you want, I don’t know.” Tim said, genuinely unsure.
         She considered, marveling at the beautiful colors that swam in the surface of the glass.
Finally, Jamie decided to drink the Rain. She tilted back the cup and drank it in several
swallows. The liquid tasted wonderful, it was chillingly cold. Jamie’s vision brightened. The
color of things took on a particularly sharp cast; everything seemed very well defined, but
only for a few brief moments. Her vision returned to normal and she suddenly felt faint.
Jamie sat down on the rock, unable to keep her feet.
         “Are you seeing this?” Jerry asked. Water was washing up out of Jamie’s skin and
flushing away the dirt that covered her body, the muck draining down from her feet. She was
laughing quietly, just sitting and rocking slightly back and forth. After about five minutes
Jamie looked up at them.
         “Holy shit.” She said, her eyes bewildered.
         “Ain’t it.” Tree agreed. “See if you can refill the cup.”
         Jamie looked at the chalice and imagined that it was full. In a second the cup was full.
Jamie couldn’t believe that she had just done what she had seen the others do. The tape was
going to be helpful and these people believed her. Jamie broke out in tears of happiness and
rushed over, hugging all of them in turn, and thanking them for listening to her.
         Everyone was touched even though it had never even occurred to them not to believe
her, she was, to them, clearly an honest and straightforward girl.
         Tim spoke up, “OK now that we’re all relatively up to speed we need to do two things,
we need to wrestle control away from the Murder Twins and then we need to figure out how
to get the entire town’s attention. I have what amounts to the skeleton of a plan, but I need
everyone’s input.


How Can You Beat an Enemy Without Fighting?


       The teacher known as Mr. Blunt was practicing with his students. Teaching them to
properly wield the clubs they were supposed to use for battle. Job was instructing a group on
Rain                                                  141


how to set a proper ambush. There were elaborate plans scratched into the dirt, preferred
terrain, formations, and emergency fall back plans involving imitating trees and rabid flying
squirrels. They even studied the immortal Sun Sue’s The Macramé Doily of War.
Everywhere there was activity. Kids and adults were working together smoothly for a
common goal. Nobody said anything to contradict the leaders; they just went along, some
with more gusto than others. No matter how good they were at fighting, there was little doubt
that Oliver still had a rock dropper somewhere. He would use it. In the middle of it all was
Moses, he watched the activity with his arms crossed over his chest a stern, but in no way
angry expression on his face.
         Moses was proud of the progress they were making. While he knew that there were
quite a few people who didn’t entirely agree with his strategy of seek and destroy, even the
hesitant ones were becoming confident enough in their skills that they were developing
bravado. Moses daydreamed about the sense of peace he thought he would feel when the last
cop fell. He had felt their batons on his head, on his body, and soon they would feel his on
their own. Moses didn’t care about the people who were gathered with him. He only cared
about what he perceived as justice. He wanted to right the wrongs that were committed
against him. If he had to sacrifice these people to get that justice, then that was just the way
the world was. He would take it up with Glarf if he ever came round for a glass of orange
juice.
         He was surprised when he spotted Tim and his group coming down the mountain.
Moses withheld a small hope that they were going to agree to join him. But more than likely
he was going to have to kill them. He thought about whether to let them speak before he
dispatched Tim with a rock. Tim was eloquent, Moses knew, and he may turn the crowd
against him, as it was he only had their support provisionally. Without the time to work out
the number of different ways people would react, Moses decided to act unilaterally. He
loaded up his rock gun and fired it at Tim while he was still a good 50 yards away. Moses
was a terrific shot and the rock was headed straight for Tim’s head.
         The report from the rock gun got everyone’s attention. They had been using practice
rounds for training and the report from the plastic rocks was silence compared to the crash
that followed a real rock discharge.
         What followed would stay in the mind of all who saw it forever. Before the rock
could hit Tim there was a sudden, shockingly fast movement about his body. Before anyone’s
eyes could even refocus to what had happened it was over. In front of Tim was a circle of the
clear liquid that Moses had dumped out onto the ground before chasing Tim and his group
away. The rock was embedded in the middle of the floating circle of Rain. Tim was smiling
a big smile. The rock and the water fell to the ground with a splash, harmless.
         Moses just stared. For the first time in his life he was speechless. Tim turned to the
others. Tree, Neal, Jamie, and Jerry joined him in a circle. The water spun around out of
their hands. It came up like a long tentacle, headed straight for Moses. Who, not really that
surprisingly, fell to his knees crying. Of course nobody was going to hurt him. Instead the
long arm took the gun from his hand, the water pouring into the breach, wetting the
mechanism and insuring that there would be no more spark of powder.
         The five of them jumped from the cliff, a good fifty feet in the air. To the clear
astonishment of the crowd the rain beat them and slowed their fall. Instead of crashing into a
pile on the ground they kissed down as smooth as cheesecake. Tim knew that he was being a
little theatrical with the Super Dave Osbourne stunts, but they decided as a group to make it as
Rain                                                  142


clear as possible that they could be safe from harm if they used the Rain properly. They had
certainly made their point, Moses and Job had lost most of the group before Tim spoke a
single word.
         Tim said to the crowd, “I hope that we made our point. Violence is part of the old
way. We will always argue; we will always disagree, but we must draw a line at the skin. If
we cannot win without violence then we do not offer anything worth fighting for.
Unfortunately, no matter how much we want it to, no matter how much it seems like justice,
violence in response to violence is only vengeance.” Tim paused, taking a breath and lining
his thoughts into a row. “More violence doesn’t solve problems, it just perpetuates hatred.
Each one of us has a family. Each one of us has someone who loves them. Even your worst
enemy has someone who loves them. Do you see the circle? The pointlessness of
perpetuating violence in the name of RealPolitiK? We must make pacifism our religion, the
foundation of our ethics. We must stop at the skin, the rest is just words.”
         “No,” Moses argued. “What just came out of your mouth is just words.” Moses held a
battle club menacingly at Tim. “This is the reality that you deny. Now I’m gonna crack you in
the head with reality, I would like to see your foolish daydreaming stop me.”
         Moses came at Tim with the club. Tim imagined some water stopping the club before
it hit him. He visualized the club swinging down at his head in its deadly arc; he visualized
the water coming out from him, stopping the club’s descent. As Tim imagined it, so it
happened. Moses pulled back and tried again. The result was the same. The people in the
crowd were enthralled now, barely able to believe their own eyes.
         “Yours is the old way Moses. Things have to move forward, your way is predictable
and silly. You are no different than Mr. Oliver, the only difference is that he has power and
you want it. You are a poor tyrant and he is a rich one. I really do believe that in the
beginning your heart was in the right place, but you have let hatred in, and it has corrupted
you. You have allowed the hatred to eat your soul and now no one can help you but
yourself.” Addressing the crowd Tim said. “Look at these two people and see them for what
they are. They are the all too natural products of violence. There are probably many among
you who have similar anger within yourselves. I empathize with your pain, do not forget that
I too have suffered. But we must choose, each in our own hearts. Either we stop the cycle or
we get run over by it. Don’t forget; most of the cops that you want to kill have children.
Children who we will be making into the next generation of violence. I beg you, for the love
of Glarf, don’t make this mistake.”
         “What are you a priest now?” Moses scowled at Tim, “You have made your big
speech, now why don’t we ask everyone else what they think?”
         “I would prefer that.” Tim replied.
         Jamie walked up to Tim, holding the chalice. She was as clean as the others were.
“Who wants to drink from the cup of Rain? I am proof, it’s for all of us.” She held the cup
out to the crowd and waited.
         There was silence. No wind blew; no one seemed to breathe. Then a voice came from
out of the crowd. “Excuse me son, I would very much like to get a drink. The crowd parted
in a way Moses should have been familiar with. It was the voice of Grandpa Ozzie. He came
forward slowly, shuffling his feet in the gait of the old man that he was. He took the cup from
Jamie’s hand, looking deeply into the colored glass. Finally he drank, lifting the cup to his
lips and taking in the entire contents.
Rain                                                   143


         A huge smile came across his face. Within moments the water came out and played
across his face and body, cleaning literally a century’s worth of dirt off of his skin. The old
man seemed to go far away for a moment before awareness returned to his features.
          “You must not let fear inhibit you,” he said, “What Tim says is true, if you drink you
will know. I am an old man and yet, I feel younger in my heart right now than I have since I
was this little girl’s age.” Ozzie indicated Jamie by tipping the cup in her direction. “We
have already won, there is no battle.”
         Ozzie’s reaction infected the crowd. He had pulled down the floodgates. One by one
people came forward and drank the entire contents of the chalice. As each person drank they
would refill the cup for the next. There was nothing that Moses and Job could do but watch as
more and more people put down their weapons and chose the Rain over the Rock.
         But Moses and Job weren’t the only ones who had been punched or kicked by the
police. There were others who weren’t quite convinced, they wanted assurance that it would
be safe.
         Tim used the water to raise himself into the air. “OK everybody. There are still
people who don’t understand just how much power we have to protect ourselves. So I would
like us to create a demonstration together to reassure our friends who need it. I want every
one to picture a dome, one that covers us completely. Then I would like someone to go
outside and try to shoot a rock through it, preferably at me.”
         Tim held his hands over his head. The Rain shot up out of them passing to Jerry who
held up his own hands to receive it. One by one the people who drank the Rain joined suit. It
leapt from person to person like the jumping waters at Epcot Center. Those who still held
rocks and guns watched as the water leapt from everyone’s hands, streams of water holding in
the air as all of the people were connected together by a vast and growing web of water.
Eventually a critical mass was reached and the web coalesced together above their heads,
forming a gigantic bubble over the entire group. Neal, who had stepped outside of the dome
took a rock thrower from one of the hesitant and fired it at Tim’s head. As before, the rock
stopped clear of his head and merely embedded itself into the water. The demonstration
complete Jerry yelled for everyone to let the dome disappear. It did.
         For many it came down to this. They would look down at whatever weapon they were
holding, then they looked at the group of clean Whozits and Flallops grinning at each other
like cats with cream all over their whiskers. Then back to the weapon. At that moment there
really didn’t seem to be any real choice, it was obvious who was better off.
         One by one the left over folks came forward to drink the Rain. Only Moses and Job
refused. They walked out of the clearing and headed towards Satan’s Monkey. They would
fight alone if they had to. “Let the cowards hide behind the Rain.” They told themselves.
They never made it. They were clubbed to death the next day by a phalanx of police that were
searching the forest for exiles.
         Although the bubble had retracted every single Whozit and Flallop knew the Rain was
still there. They could feel it inside their minds. Each one, in their own way felt altered, they
felt the way they could stretch out their imaginations with the Rain. Different people had
different aptitudes with the Rain. The dome was easy for everyone to make because there
were so many minds focused on it. Individual manipulation was harder but some people were
good at it right away. If one were so inclined, you could say that they took to the Rain like
ducks to water.
Rain                                                   144


         Neal, of all people, suggested they march early the next morning. “Come on,” he
said, “let’s go now while everybody is hyped up. It’s a long trip anyway, let’s go before we
lose our nerve. Rain or no, what we are about to do is nuts. I think we all know that.”
        Tree cut in. “But what about Mr. Oliver. Shouldn’t we tell everyone about what he
really is?”
        Tim thought not. “They already hate him, If we don’t want people to return to violence
we should wait until we have won to remove his effectiveness.”
        “Tree conceded, “I guess you’re right. The news might also make people think that
Mr. Oliver is too far ahead of the game to be defeated. Let’s just go.”
        “This is nuts.” Jerry declared with a big grin on his face.
        “Nuts but necessary.” Tim smiled thinly.
        It was agreed.

       Walking Along

         The group had been hiking for about an hour when Jamie came up next to Tim. She
pulled on his sleeve. “ Excuse me, but shouldn’t we tell everybody about Mr. Oliver? I
mean, everyone should know what he has been doing, we need to tell the cops, the press,
everybody.”
         “Believe me, I have no intention of letting Mr. Oliver off the hook. But I want to save
the information, tell everyone later, when we need a burst of energy. I’m glad you found me
because it saves me the trouble of seeking you out. You know the tape better than anybody
does and I’m probably going to need you to help me visualize it. When I give you the
signal…”
         “What signal?”
         “I’ll stick my fingers in my ears like so and dance around.” Tim smiled and danced
around with his fingers in his ears. “I’m going to make a big Jumbotron TV out of the Rain
and we are going to tell everybody in the whole town at the same time. Or at least as many
people as we can gather together. Can you do that?”
         “You better believe it.” You got any other plans?”
         “Nope, I’m just gonna make it up as I go along, it’s worked out OK so far. If you
have any ideas I’d be glad to hear them. We will gather in the Big Big Circle of Trees. (Tim
didn’t know but the Big Big Circle of Trees had changed its named to The Artist Formerly
Known as the Big Big Circle of Death. This in turn was changed to The Big Artist, then
Artist, then A, then Bar of Soap, until finally it was just the Big Big Circle of Trees again.)
Once we are there we will tell everyone what we know and hope that they are persuaded that
we represent a positive change.”
         “How could they not?” Jamie asked.
         “Easily. They can say we made the whole thing up about Mr. Oliver. They can say
that we are all insane. They can think anything that they want. Which is both the best and
worst thing about all of this in my opinion. Because they have to consciously make the
choice to agree with us that means that they always have the right to disagree.”
         “Yeah, I know, it’s just that I can’t understand why anyone would want to live under
the constant threat of violence. Everyone says that they don’t like violence, so where’s the
difficulty?”
Rain                                                    145


       “I really think everyone does hate violence, but many see it as a necessary evil. When
the most important thing is ‘Order’ a little (or a lot) of violence is often necessary. I just hope
nobody panics when the police come, I can’t be totally sure what would happen.”
       “I guess we’ll find out.” Jamie said resolutely.
       “That’s the only thing we can be sure of.”

Beam Me Up... Somebody?

        There was a popular TV show in Satan’s Monkey that was on Eddie’s mind often in
recent days. It featured a small group of people who could zoom around from place to place
by passing through portals that hung on the wall. Nobody knew where they came from and
they were all searching for wherever the dirt from the first hole went, but they never seemed
to be able to find it. Eddie had decided to use the image of the transporter in trying to imagine
himself out of his cell and in with his friends. It wasn’t working so far. He tried every form
of Yogurt (the SM version of Yoga) that he knew but nothing was sufficient to move anything
but his consciousness, and for some reason that kept wanting to go to Tijuana for some
Mescal.
        He gave up on the teleporter imagery and settled on a visualization exercise he called
“The Howdy Doody.” He visualized his body on strings that were being held by the hand of
his mind. He was going to drag the marionette of his body out of the cell. Eddie relaxed his
entire body. After a while a faint vibration began to course through his body like when you
put your tongue on both poles of a battery. He felt his body begin to lift as if strings were
tugging him up... Eddie’s eyebrows arched with excitement. He tried to move and actually
thought that maybe he had moved a little bit when he became so excited that he lost
concentration.
        Eddie’s eyes snapped open, disappointed. He hadn’t moved at all. This was getting
redundant, he hadn’t moved the time before either, or the time before that. If Eddie were to
measure his success by failure he would be excelling quite nicely. Another couple of weeks
like this and he would be the Mohammed Ali of failure. Quite an achievement if you asked
him.
        He closed his eyes again and began to repeat the process. He slowly chanted the
mantra “We are the Rain” over and over to himself. Once again the light-headedness returned
and he tried to move again. Nothing. He yelled out with frustration, slapping his hands up
against the ceiling. He had to get out of his cell. If they ever realized how dangerous he
wasn’t they would kill him on the spot. Edgar, the head guard that replaced Frank was a scary
fellow. When Eddie looked at him it didn’t seem like his eyes were connected with his brain.
There was a detachment in them that reminded Eddie of nothing but a crazed shit-house rat.
The only reason that he was still alive was that even though he was crazy, he wasn’t entirely
stupid. Nobody was going to touch Eddie without a very good reason; they perceived him as
very dangerous. If they knew the truth, that Eddie would no sooner hurt another person than
purposely hurt himself they would be on him like a swarm. Their ignorance was useful,
without it they would eat Eddie with crackers. He pushed the thought out of his mind and
settled back down to regulates his breathing.

The River Meets the Road
Rain                                                   146


        The group, as large as it was, made it all the way to the outskirts of Satan’s Monkey
without detection. It was an accomplishment only slightly more remarkable than the duck-
billed platypus, an animal so weird it somehow shows up on every planet capable of
sustaining life. It is rumored that back in the early days of the universe there was a planet
where the platypuses achieved dominance. However, at one point they realized how funny
they were and the entire planet literally died laughing.
        After steadily descending for 2 days the view opened up onto the entire valley and the
town could be seen in its entirety, stretched out beneath them. It was nice to see the town
again although it didn’t feel as much like home as it once did. There was a sense of menace
about the place, as if the architecture had begun to take on the attitude of its political leader.
        The twin suns rose behind them as they entered the Far Eastern border of the town. A
watchman sat high up in a tree watching the group appear over the horizon. He picked up his
short wave radio and began calling out a SOS.
        “There is an army of them coming right toward me!” The lookout whispered into his
radio, voice shaking slightly. This message was passed on and an alert went out across the
town that the exiles had returned en masse. Many citizens had bought Police Band radios and
soon the news of the exiles was also making its way through the gossip channels of the town.
        Tim was the first to see the police, lined up elbow to elbow, forming a wall of
overweight, cruel adults. Each wore a plastic face shield that rose to a point above their
heads. Many carried nets and guns that shot rubber rocks. Others carried guns that fired real
rocks. As soon as Tim saw the police he halted the group by raising his hand. It was a signal
that had been worked out just prior to their leaving the clearing. Tim felt kind of ridiculous in
the gesture, like he thought he was Patton or something, but it was more reliable than
scratching your nose and less painful than firing a bottle rocket out of your butt.
        Tim wasn’t the only one with a raised hand. A faceless cop with a couple of extra
stripes on his uniform also had his arm raised. Only this cop was holding back a flood of
pain. He knew he only had to drop his raised hand and every protester that stood in front of
him would be paste on their clubs. He could feel the excitement and testosterone of the cops
milling around behind him; it actually smelled like a hooker’s underpants. There was about
forty police waiting, tense, ready to fall on the group like nuns at a rosary sale.
         Jerry felt anger well up inside of him as his eyes scanned across the line of cowardly
police hiding from children behind a solid phalanx of plastic and metal. It was as if they were
an army with tanks, not just a bunch of people who didn’t like people to dress up in armor and
hit people. He looked to Tree who was standing just behind Tim holding Neal's hand. None
of the exiles were armed, at least not with weapons.
          Tim looked up into the sky and smiled. Behind them came a column of storm clouds
that blotted out the rising sun and cast a dark shadow over the entire town. The storm clouds
swirled and boiled in chaotic but patterned arms that reached out and grappled with the
horizon. Beneath his hard metal face shield a cop named Jimmy saw the giant cloud bank
approaching and instinctually grabbed his partner by the arm and pointed at the threatening
sky. Throughout the entire rain controversy most of the cops hadn’t really believed that it was
real. The talking heads on the glitzy news shows said that it was a hoax, an evil cult trying to
entice children from their loving Glarf fearing parents. Nobody believed the rain was real
anymore, the propaganda had actually been a little too successful. It was pretty obvious from
looking up at the sky that something was about to happen.
Rain                                                  147


        Tim let his arm fall. After a second of uncomfortable inactivity each protester raised
their hands above their heads and willed their imaginations to create the bubble. The Rain
rose up into columns straight up into the air. Once the columns reached their full height they
branched into one another, limbs of water intertwining like the canopy of a forest. The
interconnection continued until in a few more seconds the web of water had become a bubble
that completely enclosed the entire group under its protective canopy. The currents of Rain
within the dome swirled around, fashioning rainbows from the reflected sunlight.
        The entire formation of police rippled back like a rock thrown into water, panic
ensnaring those closest to the bubble’s edge as the nearest cops scrambled desperately to get
away from the rivulets of Rain that were already starting to stream off of the dome where they
touched the ground. Tim and the whole group began walking forward. The entire bubble
followed, keeping pace with the steps. One panicked cop fired a real rock into the
approaching water. The rock penetrated the outer edge of the water, but never made the other
side. The density slowed the rock long before it could do any harm. Other cops saw the
result of the first rock and tried their own hands at the bubble. Every rock slammed into the
water and didn’t escape the other side. Tim was directly in the path of the first shot. He
actually saw the rock leave the gun and come hurtling at a speed he could barely register
straight for his head. His eyes barely had time to squint before the rock had frozen within the
wall. He blinked. Satisfied of his safety Tim started walking again. He began quietly
humming to himself as he made his way toward the center of the town. The bubble was
effectively separating the exiles from the now enraged cops who prowled along the perimeter
of the circle, keeping only far enough away that none of the water made contact with their
bodies.
        One cop, although frightened, didn’t run. This was Thud, Mr. Oliver’s personal
bodyguard. He took a jar that Mr. Oliver had provided and collected a large sample of the
liquid from one of the thousands of little streams that flowed off from the bubble. Once it was
filled he snapped on his heels and ran at full speed back to Mr. Oliver. Thud was a very fast
runner.

        Janet the Elder watched the entire initial encounter between the protesters and the
police from her rocking chair. She was sitting and looking out the window, watching the
policemen mill about all along the perimeter of the town. Nobody but Tim was visible before
Janet was on the phone reporting what she saw to her friends in the Bunko club, who in turn
used speaker phones to further tell the story of what was happening. Janet nearly fainted
when the giant dome formed over the group. She couldn’t believe her eyes, there was some
kind of crystalline liquid pulsing around what had become a rather large amount of people.
Like some kind of see through Yoo Hoo. Janet stared at the faces through the rain. They
were all smiling; they didn’t look like the crazies who ate their babies that were described on
the television. She also noticed that none of them carried any weapons that she could
recognize.
        Janet’s own granddaughter Chrissy had gone missing; (just like her mother, always
defiant) but she was still shocked to see her actually in the crowd of demonstrators. They
were all blue as newborns, and looking radiant. Her Chrissy obviously wasn’t scared at all so
Janet saw no reason to be afraid either. Chrissy had always been a rather skittish girl when it
came to weird things; she was the kind of girl who was terrified by the Twilight Zone. So if
Chrissy wasn’t afraid Janet saw no reason that she should feel any different. Janet yelled into
Rain                                                   148


the house for her husband Jack the Tripper. He was quite the player in his day but now Jack
spent most of his time in the recreation room playing snooker pool and listening to right and
left wing talk radio. He insisted that the lying he subjected himself to should be properly
balanced. Jack reluctantly emerged from the house to witness the craziest thing he had ever
seen.
          He said, “That’s the craziest thing I’ve ever seen.” staring at the Rain with a fair
amount of fear. “What the hell is that?” he asked through artificial teeth.
        Janet filled in her husband with her usual tact and sensitivity. “I don’t know ya damn
crazy old fool but our Chrissy is in there and she seems OK with her situation. We both know
that she is a sensible girl, more sensible than you are, that’s for sure; so I think we should go
talk to her. We should probably even hear what she has to say before we tell her that she’s a
damn crazy fool.”
        Jack was always a guy who knew when to go along with his wife. She seemed to have
made up her mind so there was no point in disagreeing. Janet yelled out to Chrissy and waved
her arms. Chrissy saw her Grandmother waving and waved back. She ran out to the edge of
the bubble. Chrissy stepped into the wall of Rain and continued out the other side. In a scene
reminiscent of a Charlie Brown cartoon a small rain cloud formed over Chrissy’s head and
followed her as she made her way towards the oaken porch that she had hid under as a little
girl. Even through the Rain she could smell her Grandma’s cooking and wished that she had
enough time to have a quick bite to eat. Her Grandmother made the world’s greatest bread.
Every year for her Birthday Janet would make Chrissy a personal sized loaf to eat with butter
and dandelions.
        “Look at you girl, so blue. You have had your Granny worried to death these past few
weeks. You don’t even call. Where have you been? What are you all planning to do? Do you
know you look like you did when you were a baby? ” Her granddaughter looked so beautiful,
so alive, that she found herself babbling with only the slightest idea that she was actually
talking out loud.
         Janet smiled at her grandmother and offered her hand. “Mr. Oliver has been lying to
everybody about the rain and we are here to straighten everybody out. The Rain isn’t evil, and
it doesn’t make people crazy. It just makes you clean. We have ideas about how we can all
have the things we need to survive. The money that we need for such projects used to go
towards weapons and cops; now it’s going towards fighting us. If we weren’t here it would
be something else.
        Mr. Oliver doesn’t wasn’t to lose the power and influence that fear has given him so
he is using us to guarantee that his profits will not be lost. You know me Grandma; I’m not
crazy. Come with us and help, the guns cannot hurt us behind the rain and you don’t even
have to get wet if you don’t want to.”
        Chrissy continued to hold her hand out to her grandmother. Janet stepped slowly
forward and took her hand. The bubble parted to let Janet through. She then held out her hand
to Jack. After a moment’s hesitation Jack took his wife’s hand and stepped with her into the
confines of the bubble which expanded to make room for the extra people.
        It turned out that Chrissy had supplied the plan without trying. Tim looked at Neal
who looked at Tree who looked at Jerry. They smiled at one another. They would split up
and go to their friends, talk to them personally and meet up afterwards in the Big Big Circle of
Trees.
Rain                                                  149


        And so it went throughout the town. The exiles went to their friend and parent’s
houses, telling their story over and over. Not everybody was willing to join the ever-growing
group that moved behind the curtain of rain, but quite a few did. People were relieved to
reunite with their families. They were also relieved that other than a radically altered
appearance nobody seemed any different at all, certainly nobody was crazy... at least not in
ways that were not already apparent before the rain arrived.

Chaos/Control Chaos/Control

        Back in jail Eddie eventually reached some success. He swore that he felt himself
move. He didn’t want to open his eyes and be disappointed so he just sat still. Once he was
calm enough he tried again. In this manner he slowly edged himself across the cell an inch at
a time. After each attempt Eddie stopped and relaxed again trying not to think about what he
increasingly believed was his success. It was like trying to keep out an insistent cousin that
obsesses about broccoli all day long. The process was stressful but Eddie kept at it.

         Eventually everyone assembled in the Big Big Circle in the middle of town. Tim
stared intently at the exact place where he had nearly killed his entire race. This time he came
for another purpose. Satan’s Monkey was to be freed from Mr. Oliver, the main source of her
problems. Tim hoped that when the day was through nobody would believe anything ever
again, at least not with enough certainty to kill over. He stood among the crowd and marveled
at all of the reunited families that were deep in conversation. In places Tim could see rain
hopping onto individuals who had accepted the words of their loved ones and decided to
experience the rain for themselves. Tim was glad with the progress but the real difficulty lay
in convincing those who didn’t come into the bubble. It was these minds he must sway to his
side if Mr. Oliver was to be taken without bloodshed.
          Tim concentrated on the large platform and podium from which he intended to ask for
Eddie’s release. That the circle was bare earth was of no consequence to Tim, he just pictured
the structure in his mind. He had asked everyone to help him in seeing the platform as well.
By now puddles had formed on the grass all around the Big circle. The water in these puddles
began to ripple in odd ways. The rain began to snake its way across the ground, suddenly
imbued with a purpose. It began to collect and rise up from the ground. The water formed
into a transparent skeleton of a platform. A small podium was the only furniture on the
structure. The rippling form began to calm and then smooth itself. A wooden texture
emerged from underneath the surface of the liquid. The podium became more and more
detailed until the entire structure solidified totally into reality. When the vision settled
everybody in the Rain began to cheer and applaud the power of their imaginations.
         Tim took a deep breath and climbed the stairs to the podium. The podium was high up
and as Tim climbed the bubble lowered itself down so that Tim could be seen clearly by those
outside the bubble as well as inside. From this vantage vantage Tim could see the large
contingent of riot police that stood just beyond the bubble that protected the entire group.
Beyond the police were the people who Tim wanted to talk to. Although there were surely
many people not present it seemed that almost everyone who wasn’t in the bubble was
gathered outside of it.
         The arrival of the exiles earned the attention of nearly everyone. There was hardly a
place in the town that you couldn’t at least see the upper dome of the water. So people
Rain                                                        150


gathered, in ones and twos. Some to see these ungrateful kids get theirs, some who were
inwardly rooting for them to win but lacked the courage to act on their beliefs. Surprisingly
there was no sign of Mr. Oliver, Tim had assumed that he would feel forced to come out and
defend himself one way or another.
        Tim spoke from his diaphragm hoping that his words would carry over the din of
people. “We have come because we cannot let this terrible rift get any worse.” began Tim
“Almost everything you have been told is a lie. Mr. Oliver is the one who is responsible for
the terrible deceptions that have been called the facts in our case. Eddie is not crazy and
neither am I. We are talking about ideas. We have no interest in forcing anyone to do
anything. This wall of rain is not there to harm anyone; it is to protect us.
        I am asking that you all come into the dome with us, all of you who would rather live
together. I am asking that you stop the cycle of violence. I cannot stop these police from
coming and smashing in all of our heads. Only you can do that. These are not all bad men, if
they knew that nobody supported their actions they would probably leave us alone. They may
be armed but they number so few, they are public servants, they are supposed to work for US
not for the government.
        If you all cannot find it in yourselves to stop them from hurting us over words and
ideas, then I suppose you will all end up in the shitty town that you deserve.” Tim shrugged.
“Either way, I would kindly ask that Eddie be freed from prison. We can easily force our way
in but that is the way of Mr. Oliver; we come to you as your sons and your daughters, not as
your enemies. If you won’t join us, let us go in peace.”
        “The last words heard from the podium were: “Whatever we poor men may not have,
we have free speech, and no one can take it away from us.” Then the police charged, using
their clubs.”10

Synchronicity

          Eddie opened his eyes. His vision was filled with empty white. He turned his head a
little bit. Still white. Then a little more, finally there was a little perspective, he realized that
his nose was almost touching the wall. Eddie twisted around further to look at the opposite
side of his cell. Jubilation suddenly sung through his veins. He had done it. Eddie had
successfully moved himself across the cell. He looked at the small circle that he had drawn
around himself to prove that he had indeed moved. The circle was where it was supposed to
be, and he was no longer sitting in it.
          Now all he needed was distance.
          In the hallway the guards were gathered around the television set watching live
coverage of the demonstration. The huge dome of Rain had opened up and Tim was speaking
to the crowd that was gathered beyond the bubble. CNNBCII had exclusive early coverage
and was repeatedly showing the video of the platform forming out of the water. The
commentator kept calling Tim the manifestation of the Anti-Glarf. Elmer sat in his chair
staring with hatred at the screen. He couldn’t believe that anyone could be so ungrateful. The
people on the television were some kind of lunatic anarchists that were openly mocking the
things that had allowed Satan’s Monkey to come so far. Elmer cursed the official order to
leave Eddie the Whozit alone. He wanted to go into the cell and pound his face into the

10
     Zinn, Howard. People’s History of the United States.
Rain                                                  151


Absorbosteel floor until it absorbed Eddie. Nobody could stop him; he was the head guard on
duty. But Elmer liked his job more than he hated Eddie. He wasn’t about to throw away a
whole career over one lousy kid. Besides, nobody knew what had happened to Frank, he’d be
damned if he was going to risk being put into that state without his actions being sanctioned.
There was definitely something weird about these kids. Knowing that one of them was just
through the wall from him made him nervous. When the phone on his desk began to ring
Elmer jumped. He quickly scowled around the room to insure that anyone who saw him
flinch wouldn’t dare mention it. Elmer grabbed the phone from the cradle on the third ring.

        All of the cops in the Big Big Circle formed into a large arrow formation. On
command the entire group went straight toward the dome of water. At the last minute the first
cop in line, a large foreheaded mutant named Wayne tried to stop short of the barrier, but the
people behind pushed him forward. The dome was only inches from his skin when it
miraculously began to move out of his way. As he continued forward the Rain pulled back
from his touch as if it were more afraid of him than he was of it. Wayne was several steps
within the barrier before it really sank in that these people could not defend themselves. Once
the realization was made he immediately got to work ordering everyone down on the ground
with their hands clearly showing. When he didn’t get instant compliance his club started to
swing. The individual people were able to defend themselves, the Rain stopping the club
inches from their bodies. It was the illusion of impenetrability that was gone.
        In moments, the dome was a block of Swiss cheese and the police were pouring in
from all directions. Only the cops were not bringing perspective or change, they were only
bringing pain.
        From his platform, Tim looked on in astonishment and terror. He was sure that the
wall was going to protect them, but already the first blows were falling. It never occurred to
Tim that the Rain would move out of the way. It was crazy, but then he remembered Neal
huddling on the ground the second time that they had found the Rain. Of course it wasn’t
going to stand in the way of people. High speed projectiles, sure, but not people. The Rain
wouldn’t impose itself on anyone and the cops certainly weren’t interested in expanding their
horizons on this particular day. Tim still believed he could win everyone over to their side if
he could get the cops to stop hitting people long enough to show them the information that
they had found about Mr. Oliver and what was happening to Satan’s Monkey. As the cops
continued to stream into the bubble it eventually collapsed, accompanied by what would have
been, under different circumstances, a very funny popping sound. With the bubble gone the
whole crowd of protesters panicked, people were scattering like shards from a glass dropped
out of a second story window. Nasty Stinko Gas Bombs began to fly through the air, almost
pretty with their streaking off-white smoke.
         As the gas spread the clouds overhead began to break up. The platform that Tim was
standing on returned to its watery state and he fell crashing to the ground with a companion
squish as he met the soaking wet ground. He was so distraught, he didn’t even think to have
the Rain break his fall. The faceless police (they now wore gas masks underneath their face
guards) were swarming all around using twist ties to bind people’s hands underneath their
horns. The gas was destroying people’s ability to concentrate and for the first time the blows
were getting through. Chrissy’s grandfather Jack received a club square in his head while he
was trying to protect his family. The blow killed him instantly; his wife Janet fell sobbing at
his side. She had time to stroke his face a single time before a swift kick into her back sent
Rain                                                    152


her sprawling into the mud. As the cop twist tied her arms together she felt her shoulder come
out of joint with a sickening tearing sound.

        Wendell was in his room watching the riot on TV. His eyes searched over the crowd
looking for Tree. Finally he saw her; she was holding Neal’s hand and leading him blindly
through the smoke. She was hard to make out because a Newsbot was taking the picture,
which was essentially a floating camera. It was one of the few items that had been given
special permission to use the levitation technology found in the giant rock droppers. Tree
occasionally disappeared in the smoke but Wendell was able to track her by switching from
channel to channel. Wendell looked out his window at his father’s office. He could see Mr.
Oliver talking on the phone, the same place he had been all day. There was little doubt that
his Father was responsible for what he was seeing on the television. Any doubt that Wendell
might have had evaporated when Mr. Oliver cheered loudly at the exact moment that the
police attacked the exiles.
        Tree and Neal weaved through the smoke trying to find the edge of the clearing. The
fog caused the entire scene to appear to Tree in flashes as the smoke opened and allowed brief
glimpses of the horror being perpetrated on the exiles. Folks that Tree had not even known
three weeks before were now falling underneath clubs and combat boots. She was angry, she
wanted to fight, but what would that accomplish? It would only allow those responsible for
the massacre to justify their actions, even if only to themselves. The rain had completely
gone; leaving only wet ground as proof that it had ever been there. The sky was gray but
cloudless; the protesters were alone.

        “Hello” came the voice on the phone, “This is Mr. Oliver I demand to speak to head
guard in charge of Eddie.”
        “You are speaking to him Mr. Oliver, sir. What can I do for you?”
        “I want you to kill him.” Came the reply. There was no pity or care in it; it was as if
he was ordering the death of an ant.
         “I am sure that Sir is aware that killing prisoners is against the strictly enforced rule
that guards are only allowed to torture prisoners Sir.” Edgar replied cautiously, he wanted to
kill Eddie, relished the idea, but he wanted witnesses to know that the whole thing was not his
idea. He figured it would lower his legal liability if it ever needed to be lowered.
        “You will kill the prisoner or I will have your job.” replied Mr. Oliver, the calm
starting to slip out of his voice.
        “Gotcha.” Edgar hung the phone up on its cradle. He took a moment to collect
himself. He was quite excited and didn’t want it to show to the other guards. He was just a
guy following orders. Edgar walked to the big gun closet that hung firmly bolted into the
wall. His eyes scanned across the weapons one after another until his eyes fell on the .357
rock hurler. Edgar didn’t want to take any chances with this kid. The .357 would stop a
kangarelephant, a giant hopping beast with floppy ears and a trunk. (They were so large
people sometimes made summer cottages out of the skeletons of the beasts.) He took a box of
large caliber rocks in addition to the gun and returned to his desk. He started to whistle in
spite of himself. He loaded the magazine full. The other guards were watching every move
that Edgar made but nobody said a word. This was an intelligent decision on their parts.
        He rose and walked over to the cell door, reaching into his pocket with his free hand
and dragging out his ridiculously cumbersome wad of keys. He flipped through the mess
Rain                                                    153


until the special red solitary confinement cell key slid into his fingers. He slid the key into the
lock and turned, the literally hundreds of tumblers that made up the lock falling into place one
after another. There was a click from deep within the door. Edgar pulled down the large
handle and yanked it open. Eddie was sitting on the floor in his common position, only he
was facing sitting only inches from the far cell wall instead of his customary place in the
middle of the cell. Eddie’s back was to Edgar. Holding his gun out in front of himself like a
talisman Edgar strode quietly across the cell. He decided he would just shoot the bastard
before he had time to do to him what he had already done to Frank, the first head guard. The
figure of the boy enlarged in his vision until he was on top of him, the muzzle only inches
away form the back of his head.
        The guards outside the cell all jumped at once from the sound of the gun going off
twice in rapid succession.

         Tim slowly rose back to his feet still a bit stunned from his fall off of the platform.
He was covered in bruises that were already turning a bright orange. His head pounded a
steady rhythm, probably Latin, with a complex polyrhythm holding up the back end. He was
shaken up bad enough that he couldn’t be sure if he had been knocked unconscious or not.
There was still gas everywhere, it floated around as if unemployed. The gas featured a rancid
stink that jumped into Tim’s lap like a big wet dog. He reflexively threw his arm over his
face to protect himself from the smell. His movement was well timed because seconds after
covering his face a policeman’s club gave his arm a hell of a whack. Had his arm been
absent, or otherwise employed he probably would have lost several teeth. Instead he received
a nice blow on the funny bone which got him up and moving in a hurry. He ran straight over
the guard, knocking him onto the ground. As he ran for cover he spotted a man trying to help
his wife get away. A cop came up and the man stepped in front of a club, taking a blow that
was meant for his wife, blood splashing out in a terrible arc. The show of love and loyalty
broke Tim’s heart. The whole thing was unbelievable; they were being massacred.

Wendell Gets a Highball

        Wendell watched on TV as the protesters were massacred. His anger at his father was
immense and pulsing, like the evil brain in the horror movie that he had watched on TV the
night before. The dome the protesters made was quite beautiful, until it was burst by the
storm troopers. There had been no provocation yet the CNNBCII news was portraying the
assault as a necessary action to protect the public. They could talk for hours, nonstop. Well,
they did stop for commercials quite often actually… but the point is that they never once even
made lip service toward explaining what was going on. They just kept repeating the same
thing over and over again, like a broken Teddy Ruxpin doll or President Dubyashrub.
        “Elmo the reporter here at the scene of the great uprising in the circle.” Droned the
talking head. Elmo was surgically altered in the face so that each of his features had the
highest possible rating in multiple opinion polls. “What is happening here today is a terrible
reminder that although we may feel safe most of the time anarchy is just a pig’s hair away.
This is why we have the military folks, nobody wants this but the rule of law must be upheld.”
Elmo looked directly into the camera, and blinked with great sincerity. His countenance bore
a strong resemblance to a cow.
Rain                                                    154


         Wendell’s Father could be heard down the hall laughing and hooting at the particularly
violent actions. The reporter’s commentary brought on an especially loud round of hooting.
Mr. Oliver couldn’t believe how easy it was to define opinion. Nobody had to force the
reporter to say what he did; he just believed it.
         Wendell could overhear what Mr. Oliver was saying on some occasions, at one point
Wendell heard his Dad tell someone that he didn’t care if they had to use flame-throwers on
puppies he wanted every living thing in the entire Big Big Circle killed dead. Wendell
thought it was pretty clear that something had slipped inside Mr. Oliver’s mind.
         For his part Mr. Oliver was having a great time. He knew that the file was somewhere
out in the world, the only set of documents that could bring him down from his lofty height.
After counseling with Thud and having some time to calm down Mr. Oliver realized his son
was altogether too dull to have perpetrated the crime. No, it was the protesters that had
somehow come across his file, they had somehow gotten to it and now he had to see them all
put in jail at the least and hopefully many would be killed as well. He was desperate to cover
his tracks, so desperate that he was taking immense pleasure in the pain that he was causing.
He really wanted to go and be involved in the riot but he knew that he had a different role to
play. It was damage control time, and that took a certain hard discipline. He had ordered
Eddie’s death and now he was going to try to kill his own son. He was neither in favor of nor
against this particular plan. It was just what he had to do. The people were going to need an
actual example of how dangerous the Rain was. Good, loyal, and remarkably nonjudgmental
Thud had brought him a jar of Rain and Wendell was going to drink it whether he liked it or
not. He hoped that the Rain would kill the boy, but if it didn’t he would just poison him and
lie to everyone.
         Once he had finished the last of his phone calls Mr. Oliver took a deep breath and
went towards his son’s room. Thud was standing at the door waiting, good dog.
         Although Wendell was yet to see any flame-throwers, the people were being beaten
mercilessly. He sat on his bed with his head in his hands, crying. He looked out the window,
thinking of escape but he was too high up. He tried banging his body into the door. All he
could do was sit and despair.
         It looked as if it was only a matter of time until they had everyone twist tied and carted
off to jail when the lock on Wendell’s door suddenly snapped open. Thud, the bodyguard and
Mr. Oliver walked into the room. His Dad smiled at him. He looked like Jack Nicholson in
the second half of The Shining, or Homer in that Halloween episode. “No TV and no beer
make Mr. Oliver something, something.” In his hands Thud was holding a jar of what
appeared to be Rain. Wendell was suddenly very afraid. Wendell was in no way ready to try
Rain. He scrambled into the corner, Thud’s girth alone was enough to cut off any hope of
escape. Thud picked him up as if he was no more than a lunchbox. Wendell yelled for help
as his arms were pinned behind his back and his head was wrenched back by the hair. Mr.
Oliver approached with the jar of Rain held over his head. He reached out and took hold of
Wendell’s nose. Wendell held his breath for as long as he could, but he finally had to breathe.
When he did he felt the Rain pour down his throat. He gargled out a scream before
everything went black.

Back at the Riot
Rain                                                   155


        Only those too injured to run remained in the circle. Most had escaped and were
racing through alleyways and cutting through backyards trying to reach safety. Tim had met
up with Neal and Tree not far from the circle. They had searched in a wide arc and found
Jerry picking up cops and throwing them into things like cars and through things like
windows. He was whistling. Tim was shocked at what he was seeing. He was furious at the
cops too, but imitating them didn’t do anything but justify the Pig’s actions. Sure he wanted to
fight, he felt satisfaction from the thuds of the bodies. But even as he felt that satisfaction he
knew that it was tainted and false. What Tim really wanted was for the violence to end and
that was simply impossible to achieve with violence. He marveled at the mind’s ability to
convince itself of this particular fallacy. People still preached the doctrine of Peace through
Violence in spite of the fact that it had never worked, not a single time.
         Tim wanted Jerry to stop what he was doing. More, he wanted Jerry to want to stop
doing what he was doing. He desperately tried to figure out how to get him to stop. Tim’s
mind suddenly struck upon an idea. What if the cop looked like Jerry’s mother? Would he be
so quick to hurt him? Tim knew that there were people that Jerry wouldn’t hurt under any
circumstances, and his Mother was definitely one of those people.
        Tim concentrated once again on collecting the rain. It obediently locomoted over to
the cop who was being throttled by Jerry’s enormous hands and ran up his leg. Without
knowing why he knew, Tim was sure that the Rain would be able to form itself into the
desired likeness. The water floated inches off of the cop’s face and took the form of Jerry’s
beloved Mom. He stopped as if someone had stuck fast drying cement onto his will. In spite
of himself the rage was clearing from his eyes.
        “I’m so sorry.” He sobbed sinking slowly to the ground. The water caught him and
eased his large girth down. The cop fell to the ground in a heap, and scrambled away, unsure
of what exactly he had just seen.
        “It’s all right, nobody’s perfect.” Tim leaned down and put an arm around Jerry. He
helped him to his feet.
        “How the hell did you do that with the water man? That was crazy; that was
compelling. How could I strangle my Mom?” Jerry smiled.
        “There may not be a level of fucked up deep enough to allow someone to hit their own
mother…” Tim’s sentence trailed off into silence. Jerry, catching the same idea looked at
Tim and smiled even wider.
        “I bet these cops aren’t evil enough to whack their own mothers in the face with a
club.”
        “I won’t take that bet because I think you’re right. Let’s go see.”

        Eddie was free. All in a rush he had figured out the answer to the clue Von Newman
had offered him. He didn’t like the rules of the game, especially since they favored cheating
as the most intelligent way to play. In the end he decided to approach the problem in the
same way he did the end of the Chilly War. He decided not to play at all. For all intensive
purposes, Eddie took his body and went home. Once he made up his mind that he was going
to be successful, he was. He only needed to stop questioning himself.
        His body broke down into its component atoms, they danced behind him, sparkling
like chaotic diamond winds, each sparkle unique and connected to the larger pattern of
sparkling that was present in the molecules as a whole. He was pure energy without
limitations of speed, time, or distance. He was consciousness individualized in an otherwise
Rain                                                 156


amalgamated state of unity. He was the individual that made the WE possible. But he was
not alone here. Eddie willed his attention around in a circle, away from the sky and back
towards the prison that he had just escaped. From below him came two sharp reports, which
he recognized as the sound of a rock gun firing. He floated back into his cell and became
aware for the first time that he had escaped death by what must have only been seconds.
Edgar, his deranged guard was looking around frantically, trying to figure out what had
happened. His eyes had gone totally wild in the realization that Eddie had vanished, and that
as the head guard, who had orders to kill him, he was going to be held responsible. Finally,
Edgar just slumped to the floor, defeated. His hands beat absently at his sides.

         Tim could clearly see a group of police gathering to attack them only twenty feet
away. His idea would work or they would end up with their hand’s twist tied behind their
backs. They would be in jail by morning and Mr. Oliver’s power would be absolute. Tim
again brought his concentration to the Rain and it obediently came to him, as it was doing for
Jerry, Neal, and Tree.
         The group of police reached them only seconds after the water covered Tim’s face.
The cop’s mirrored faceplate came straight at him, a club in one hand and a can of mace in the
other. Tim felt the Rain over his face alter, changing his appearance completely. He was able
to watch the change happen in the approaching killer faceplate. He marveled as the face of a
rather stern looking woman appeared where his own visage should have been. The baton
stopped a few inches from Tim’s head, hesitated, and then fell to the cop’s side.
         Tim knew that the cop knew that Tim was Tim and not the cop’s mother. But it was a
really evil guy who would crack a perfect representation of his Mom over the head with a
club. And although not the brightest, these were not necessarily evil people. They were
weak, afraid, and ignorant, but not usually evil.
         The important thing was he now had a new plan and they wouldn’t just be flailing
around anymore. Tim didn’t waste any time gloating on the cleverness of his idea, although
he was actually quite proud of himself. Instead he immediately began to concentrate on
returning the speaking platform to its place in the circle; he had to let the exiles know how
they could protect themselves. The Rain was way ahead of him; or else it knew what Tim
wanted, because in seconds the exiles who weren’t unconscious and bleeding or under arrest
each had their own mask which protected them from the falling clubs of the police.
Everywhere the violence was ending as quickly as it had started. In mere seconds the exiles
felt the tide of the battle once again return to their favor.
           Jamie joined them as the speaking platform once again rose up from the puddles of
mud. There was a nasty bump rising on her head. Tim reminded himself that if the violence
had stopped, it was his responsibility to keep it stopped. He had to convince everyone to drop
their clubs forever. He didn’t know what he was going to say. No idea at all. Then,
remembering his earlier plan. He had a better idea; he didn't need to talk. He would
demonstrate who Mr. Oliver was.
         The second version of the platform differed from the first in one major way. The new
version also featured large screens that hung down below the actual speaking platform. Tim
envisioned the screens but he was shocked to find that the screens were already playing
Jamie’s videotape, the video they had dubbed the “Zapruder Film” after Jamie’s last name.
Tim didn’t even get a chance to will the projection; it was already there. Tim looked around
briefly and then spied Jamie standing at the base of the podium staring up in concentration at
Rain                                                    157


the screens. She had given up so much for the videotape she no longer needed it to show
people what had happened.
        Tim was a little sad that he didn’t get a chance to do his little dance with his fingers in
his ears. On the large screens Vlad was killed over and over with Thud, Mr. Oliver’s
bodyguard clearly visible as the one responsible for the fatal headshot that sent Vlad’s head
rocking back, and to the left. By the second time the video repeated itself even the cops who
hated their mother’s had stopped hitting anyone, they were watching the screens with growing
concern. Everyone knew that Thud worked for Mr. Oliver, and had for his entire life. The
guy was so remarkably ugly that he could never be mistaken for someone else, except maybe
a chunk of bark or something, and the scar was so distinctive. Although the cops were among
the least intelligent folks in town even they knew immediately what it meant that Mr. Oliver’s
bodyguard was actually responsible for killing Vlad.
        Most of the evil cops, the ones who hated their mothers, were also guys who were
strongly nationalist. The Flallops already had reservations about working for a Whozit but the
corruption benefits were simply too great to ignore. Besides they thought that Mr. Oliver had
flattened Uncle Gus for killing Vlad which made him an OK Whozit, like Eddie Murphy or
Michael Jordan for racist rednecks. A majority of the blind anger that was placed on the
exiles was transferred, like magic, onto the head of Mr. Oliver.
        As if on cue a limousine came tearing into the circle, its tires leaving trails in the
muddy ground. The car came to a sliding halt in front of the grandstand. The front door of the
limousine burst open and Thud rushed out. He scurried around the car and pulled open the
passenger door.

         Eddie marveled at the state that he achieved. He looked down at the prison, the
molecules that made up his body trailing behind him. Their movement spiraled and danced in
a marvelous pattern, both simple and utterly confounding in its complexity. The prison sat
like a concrete turd, square, humorless, and drab on the ground below.
         As Eddie’s consciousness rose higher he could see more and more of the town. His
first thought was to go towards the forest to find Tim but the obvious commotion in the Big
Big Circle drew his attention. He immediately made his way towards it, curious about what
everyone was looking at. As he approached he could see the phalanx of cops, their helmets
removed. They were all standing around, their clubs drawn, but not active. A sort of
grandstand stood in the circle, Tim, Tree, Neal, Jerry, and a small girl that Eddie didn’t know
were climbing up the grandstand. It seemed like everyone in Satan’s Monkey was milling in
the circle and the surrounding streets. An astonishing number of the people were injured in
one way or another, even the people who didn’t agree with the exiles had ended up getting a
lump or two in the riot. Eddie noticed that Tim had a particularly bad gash in his forehead.
         There were a lot of people who were lying on the ground; some looked as if they may
even have been dead. As Eddie puzzled over what exactly had happened. His attention was
drawn to a limousine that came tearing into the circle, its tires leaving trails in the muddy
ground. The car came sliding to a halt in front of the grandstand.
         The front door of the limousine burst open and Thud rushed out. He scurried around
the car and pulled the passenger door open. Inside the limo Mr. Oliver had just finished
applying a liberal dose of Visine to his eyes before scooping up the heap of flesh that used to
be his son. He felt a twinge of sadness, but the resolve to triumph was more important. In a
way Mr. Oliver was sad because his victory that day would be complete. As the limo rolled
Rain                                                  158


to a stop Mr. Oliver congratulated himself on a job well done. It was a hard road, but he had
traveled it successfully. The passenger door opened and Mr. Oliver stepped out. There was a
collective gasp from the crowd when it became recognized that Mr. Oliver was holding his
son. The din that had accompanied his arrival quieted down, everyone wanted to know what
was going on.
        Eddie saw Mr. Oliver and felt sorry for Wendell. Eddie wondered if Mr. Oliver had
somehow murdered his son and was going to blame it on the Rain. The thought had no
sooner occurred to him than Eddie heard a wailing cry that gripped onto the wind, clearly
uninvited. If Eddie had his body, the hair on his arms would have stood on end. The cry was
so pathetic and massively sorrowful, yet there was a nasally annoying tone to it that Eddie
found oddly familiar. He took his attention off of the events in the circle and began to cast
around looking for the source of the sound. It was more than loud enough to be followed and
Eddie soon found himself staring down at the roof of Mr. Oliver’s house. In a strange way he
wasn’t surprised at all.
        He could clearly see guards walking around the perimeter of the house, but they were
not reacting to the wailing. To Eddie the cries were loud enough to wake the extremely
sleepy. No, he corrected himself; it was loud enough to wake someone who had taken several
bottles of sleeping pills. By the guards lack of reaction it was clear that the crying wasn’t
coming from an entity that had lungs. Like a key sliding into a lock Eddie placed the tone of
the whining, it was Wendell. Eddie dropped down through the ceiling and sure enough, there
was the shimmering visage of Wendell laying on his bed and crying. Eddie quietly cleared
his throat trying to get Wendell’s attention. There was no reaction. It occurred to him that he
was probably going to need cymbals to get the boys attention over his wailing so he dropped
the throat clearing approach and just shook him by the arm. Wendell’s head came up from
the pillow that it was buried in.
        “Glarf?” He asked, before his vision reached up to the face of the one who had shaken
him. Wendell was shocked to find Eddie standing in front of him. Eddie was definitely not
Glarf. He decided to ask what even he realized was a really stupid question.
        “What are you doing here?”
        Eddie’s consciousness smiled at him and ignored the stupid question, instead asking
one in return whose answer seemed very important. “What exactly happened to you, how did
you end up in this state?”
        “My Dad locked me in my room and then he came in here with his bodyguard Thud
and poured that terrible Rain stuff down my throat. For a minute everything went black and
then I was just here all by myself in the house. So I laid down on my bed and cried because
I’m dead and I’m not particularly happy about it.”
        “Good, I’m glad he didn’t stab you or anything. I am sure that you will be happy to
know that you are not dead at all, you are merely out of your body. I also happen to know
where your body is if you would like me to return in to you.”
        Wendell smiled through his tear filled eyes; “Yes I would like that very much.”
         “Sorry about the out of body thing. When you took in the Rain your consciousness
must have acted to get you away from your father.”
        “He’s not my father anymore. He thought that the Rain would kill me, it was the
reason that he gave it to me in the first place, he wanted to use my death as the final
justification for his actions against you and the rest of the protesters.”
Rain                                                    159


        “Well if we don’t want that particular plan to succeed then we would do well to make
our way to the Big Big Circle where your beloved Pops is displaying your skin as a bizarre
testament to a terrible danger that only exists in his head. Will you help us unseat your Dad?”
        Wendell took a deep breath and made the most important decision of his young life.
He felt a tear involuntarily fall from his eye as he let the last of his illusions about his father
fall away into darkness, a loss he would never fully recover from. He shook his head and
answered simply, “Yes.”

Dude, Karma.

        Everyone’s eyes were on Mr. Oliver, the confusion and indecision clearly visible on
most people’s faces. The police were particularly hesitant. They now knew that Mr. Oliver
wasn’t who he said he was, but at he same time, here was his son, lying dead in his arms,
apparently from the Rain, the muddy dirt still dripped from his face. For his part Mr. Oliver
was massively confused. He was supposed to arrive to carnage. Instead, the podium had
returned and most of the cops weren’t even wearing their helmets. They were supposed to be
arresting people, but they weren’t. He felt his ass pucker. Trying to appear totally calm, Mr.
Oliver walked up the steps of the grandstand, blinking often and trying to get as much mileage
out of the Visine as he could. Tim signaled the others to make room for him.
        “Ladies and Gentleman,” Mr. Oliver began, “I hold in my arms my son. He died
because he thought that he knew more than I did, he thought that the Rain was safe. I don’t
know where he got the terrible stuff, but rest assured I will find whoever gave it to him and
they will be severely punished. I had to watch my own son die. I heard a terrible noise
coming from his bedroom, I rushed from my work to see what was the matter and when I got
to his room he was in convulsions, a glass of water still sitting half full on the table. I did
everything that I could to save him, but nothing could bring him back.”
        Tim had already heard enough, rather than try to argue with him he felt that it was
more important to inform him that everyone who was listening knew that he killed Vlad and
Uncle Gus in order to take control of the town. He stepped forward and said as much, loud
enough so that everyone could hear.
        Tim could see the shock of what he was saying begin to sink in to Mr. Oliver’s brain,
like a dinosaur into a tarpit. What was already going to be difficult suddenly looked
impossible. This stunt was supposed to be the final nail in the coffin. It wouldn’t necessarily
stand on its own. Too many people were clean. What had happened? Panic was settling in.
They really did have his files. They knew everything. Oliver raged at what had happened to
him, this was supposed to be his crowning moment, not his downfall. He reached the top of
the podium, wondering what else could possibly go wrong.
        It was at that exact moment that Mr. Oliver distinctly felt his dead son Wendell start to
move in his arms.
        Out of genuine shock Mr. Oliver dropped Wendell. Immediately the boy’s eyes
snapped open. Wendell smiled up at him and said, “Hi Dad.”
        Oliver turned his head away from the horror. He spun around and found himself face
to face with Eddie. “Hi there.” He said, waving.
        The crowd let out a collective gasp when Eddie appeared out of thin air. Then there
was a pause. Then there was applause. The exiles began to cheer wildly as Mr. Oliver
shuffled around the stage, trying to digest what was happening. Trying to accept the fact that
Rain                                                  160


he had lost. He stumbled down the steps and into the crowd. Their faces loomed at him like a
terrible nightmare, everyone looking at him with disgust and anger. He leapt desperately into
his limousine and tore off out of the circle. As he left there were many cries for pursuit,
although nobody actually left, the curiosity as to what the hell was going on overrode the need
for vengeance, at least for a few minutes.

         The girl Rain arrived for the second time at the Big Big Circle. She watched as a
fancy stretch limousine tore out of the circle and down the road. She looked up with pride at
what had been accomplished. Rain hiked up her backpack a little higher and headed towards
the podium. On her palms were elaborate designs, painted in an ink that echoed the contours
of her face and brought out the subtle brown of her eyes.
         Tim and Eddie both noticed her the second she walked into the circle. They grabbed
Jerry; “Do you see that girl?” asked Tim, pointing toward her.
         “Who, the girl with the enormous backpack?”
         Tim looked at Eddie; they could see her now too.
         “That’s the girl who ended the Chilly War. We just listened.” Eddie said, his eyes
had not left her for a second. She arrived at their platform and climbed the stairs. Again the
crowd quieted, waiting to see what could possibly happen next.
         Rain walked up to the podium, and smiling began the speech that she had given
before, but not often enough. All too often the good guys lost because they didn’t learn the
hardest easy lesson in the universe. It must stop at the skin. But these folks, they learned.
Not all, but most, and that was enough. She would give them a new religion, a new way of
dealing with themselves and the universe. She said nothing that they didn’t all already know.
She said nothing that they didn’t all desire in their heart of hearts. But before now, nobody
believed. They believed in all kinds of other stuff. They believed that they were free,
although they weren’t. They believed that those that were rich were better than they were,
smarter, but they weren’t. Nobody had the courage to admit that the whole thing was just
imagination. They allowed the dirt of the world to muddy their souls, and confuse what was
for what had to be. Now that confusion was gone. The Rain washed it away, blunted away
the sharp edge of society, leaving an instrument that could still bruise, but would no longer
kill. Words could still be weapons, but the hurt they caused healed over time. They’re just
words after all. It’s the wounds caused by physical violence that never heal and only acts to
justify the vile hatred and selfishness of the world for endless generations. It could only end
when everyone decided they wanted it too. The chaos of the preceding years was enough.
They had seen their entire society threatened with complete destruction. It was more luck
than anything else they avoided that destruction. But even then the folly went on, until finally
the whole house of cards fell down and people decided that the impossible was the only
rational thing to do. The only thing holding them back was their inability to really imagine a
world without violence. Only now they were beginning to, and it was through that
imagination that they would finally be saved, at least from one aspect of their own insanity.
         The Rain was, like everything else, just a product of their imaginations.

A New Way to Disagree: Thou shalt not stab thy neighbor with a dinner fork

       From that day on the people of Satan’s Monkey practiced a new kind of religion. It
had no dogma, no rules, but one. There were still arguments; everybody still disagreed about
Rain                                                  161


almost everything. But it was different. There was one common assumption, born of proof,
born of the Rain. The most powerful thing that exists is imagination and creativity. Instead
of murder or physical repression as a form of disagreement people chose art, poetry, science
fiction, some even chose performance art which nearly everyone else agreed, stunk; but had to
be put up with for the general good.
         It was simply the difference between cooperation and discovery on the one hand and
death and suffering on the other. Nobody could figure out why they lived the way that they
had. But there were plenty of ideas; chances were that sooner or later a satisfactory answer
would be worked out. But even that would change. And change is, after all, the only thing
that always stays the same.
         And so we shall leave them. Eddie, Tim, Tree, Neal, and Jerry in the Big Big Circle
of Trees, their arms around each other in a big circle, the suns shining down, making rainbows
through the rain.

Epilogue

       Judge Julia Child took her firing well. She didn’t really like her job anyway. She
packed up all of her stuff and decided to go east, up and over the mountains. The town
provided her with a donkey nicknamed, “John Wayne,” an enormous stockpile of food, a case
and a half of cooking sherry, and the best gift of all, Mr. Oliver. Julia strapped him over the
back of old John Wayne, a gag in his mouth and whimpering fear in his eyes.
       Julia rode off into the suns-set with a bottle of cooking Sherry in her hand.
       The camera pulls back to silhouette, and the credits roll.

The author would like to thank the following statistics without which this book would not
have been written:

US Military Budget Year 2002
310.5 Billion Dollars
4.6% average annual growth 98-2002
-Department of Defense

World Military Spending
780 Billion Dollars a year
-World Game Institute

Yes, the US spends nearly half of the world’s military cash.

Cost of eradicating Smallpox from the world (accomplished 1978):
300 million dollars.


Number of Nuclear Bombs currently active on Planet Earth
  40,640

There are currently 2 MILLION people in jail in America.
Rain                                                 162


One quarter of these people are in jail for nonviolent drug offenses. @460,000 people.
In 1980 there were 474,368 people (total) in prison.

The Federal Drug Budget for Fiscal Year 2000 is 17.8 BILLION dollars.

Corporate Welfare costs US taxpayers about 150 BILLION dollars a year.

Peak number of nuclear warheads and bombs in the stockpile/year:
   32,193/1966
Natural Resources Defense Council, Nuclear Weapons Databook Project

Total number and types of nuclear warheads and bombs built, 1945-1990:
   70,000+ /65 types
U.S. Department of Energy; Natural Resources Defense Council, Nuclear Weapons Databook
Project

Number currently in the stockpile (1997):
  12,500 (8,750 active, 2,500 hedge/contingency stockpile,1,250 awaiting disassembly)
Natural Resources Defense Council, Nuclear Weapons Databook Project

Projected U.S. nuclear warheads and bombs after completion of the START II reductions in
2003:
   5,000
U.S. Department of Defense; Natural Resources Defense Council, Nuclear Weapons
Databook Project

Number of dismantled plutonium "pits" stored at the Pantex Plant in Amarillo, Texas:
  12,067 (as of May 6, 1999)
U.S. Department of Energy

Total known land area occupied by U.S. nuclear weapons bases and facilities:
   15,654 square miles
U.S. Nuclear Weapons Cost Study Project

Total land area of the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, and New Jersey:
  15,357 square miles
Rand McNally Road Atlas and Travel Guide, 1992

Legal fees paid by the Department of Energy to fight lawsuits from workers and private
citizens concerning nuclear weapons production and testing activities, from October 1990
through March 1995:
    $97,000,000
U.S. Department of Energy

Total number of U.S. nuclear weapons tests, 1945-1992:
  1,030 (1,125 nuclear devices detonated)
Rain                                                  163


U.S. Department of Energy

First and last test:
   July 16, 1945 ("Trinity") and September 23, 1992 ("Divider")
U.S. Department of Energy

Volume in cubic meters of radioactive waste resulting from weapons activities:
  104,000,000
U.S. Department of Energy; Institute for Energy and Environmental Research

Ballistic missile defense spending in 1965 vs.1995:
  $2,200,000,000 vs. $2,600,000,000
U.S. Nuclear Weapons Cost Study Project

Average cost per warhead to the U.S. to help Kazakhstan dismantle 104 SS-18 ICBMs
carrying more than 1,000 warheads:
   $70,000
U.S. Nuclear Weapons Cost Study Project; Arms Control Association

Estimated 1998 spending on all U.S. nuclear weapons and weapons-related programs:
   $35,100,000,000
U.S. Nuclear Weapons Cost Study Project

“We all have to live in the world that we make up.”
Rev. Johnny Swaingo

								
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