Short Stories & Social Commentary, by Charles Carreon

For the sake of ornament and illumination.

Re: Short Stories & Social Commentary, by Charles Carreon

Postby admin » Sat Oct 19, 2013 2:10 am

THE PENTAGON RECONSIDERS
by Charles Carreon

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[I now look back fondly on the Reagan Era, remembering the playful character of Papa Ron. He was so fatherly, he could make sending welfare mothers out to work, leaving their kids at home to sell crack, sound like tough love. Actually, now that I think about it, there wasn't much crack then, but the CIA got busy and fixed that problem in a hurry. When I heard Reagan's rich, resonant voice booming through my cheap radio, I knew he was a President before Carter lost. And I knew I had damn well get on the right side of the fence, the educated, lawyerly side of the fence, because pickens were going to be mighty slim back on the old food stamp commune. So Reagan inspired me to be a lawyer, something I like to shove in every Republican's face. What do they call it, "the law of unintended consequences?" One more Democratic administration and I might've disappeared into the woods forever, now they can't get rid of me. Not to digress, however. There was a time when I thought badly of Ron, thinking that his humongous defense buildup would saddle us with enormous debt, and in conjunction with the S&L bailout, would leave the nation in hock for generations. That's when I penned this little humorous and nostalgic view of why all-out war and macho militarism just don't mix. As a final aside, I once believed that the word "Reagan," would someday assume the same importance as "Caesar," such that King Bush may someday crown himself Reagan The Second, but he's probably too stupid to do anything that artistic. -- CC 05/03]

Certainly we never thought the day would come when the bomb would be repudiated by the Pentagon generals themselves, and yet, reliable sources in Washington assure us that just such a development may be in the works. You may of course be sure that any such action, originating from the Citadel of Paranoia, would not be motivated by a desire to insure world peace or any other such sentimentalism. Around there, war is a pleasant business, and some of the high brass have begun to consider the drawbacks of an enterprise which might annihilate most of their clientele. A brief excerpt from a telephone conversation between G. Jim Hollowpoint and Lt. Col. Ed Witherfire may serve to illustrate the surprising dialogue which is beginning to animate that big five-angled building.

Lt. Col. Witherfire: Well, it looks as if we finally got an administration that'll hold hands with us in public. Too bad we lost the MX racetrack system out west, huh?

Gen. Hollowpoint: Maybe it's better this way. We've been tramping over the same ground so long with that damned MX anyway, it's an open secret it'll be obsolete before the overruns are tallied.

Lt. Col. W: Jim, you always were a killjoy -- I didn't even see you smile at the last budget meeting. What's bugging you these days?

Gen. H: If you want it straight I'll tell you. I'm sick of the whole ICBM system, the B-1 is boring, and I've had it with graphs, charts and computers. I didn't get into uniform to be a bookkeeper. This isn't even like war anymore!

Lt. Col. W: I see. Well how'd you start thinking like this?

Gen. H: I just got to thinking about what it'd be like if we go all-out with the Soviets. Damn, Ed, if we started at eight we'd be over by five, and after that what? Wheat thins and canned caviar for one to five years in an underground bunker. Not my idea of a soldier's life.

Lt. Col. W: You're being selfish? What about national security?

Gen. H: I tell you what, just between friends, let's cut the crap. If peace is our business then war is our life, because without war we're both useless as tits on a boar, and moreover the art of war is dying; battlefield experience is a thing of the past, and in fifteen years every general will be an armchair general. They'll replace us with a computer programmed to be aggressive and blow up the world at the stroke of twelve. Courage, strategy, risk, all gone. And where's the thrill?

Lt. Col W: So you want to go back to fighting on horseback?

Gen. H: Wrong. I just want to reintroduce the human element, the risk, the excitement that made me get into this damn business in the first place.

Lt. Col W: But Jim, the point of war is to win, not to have a good time. You know, "things got tough -- we got tougher." The H-bomb's the biggest bruiser on the block.

Gen. H: So what's to win, radioactive acreage in Siberia? That's not conquest, it's ridiculous!

Lt. Col W: OK, granted I accept your considerations, which I'm in sympathy with, but one question. What'll we do with all the hardware? Shall we use up some of it in a limited engagement somewhere, say in Europe?

Gen. H: Despite the pleasure it might give Secretary Haig, I would say no. I've just bought a small castle in Bavaria, and personal considerations aside, there's a PR problem, because once our citizens get a look at Paris after a two-hundred kiloton flash, they might not like what they see. The only way to keep their cooperation is to keep them in the dark, and once the cat's out of the bag, that's pretty hard to do.

Lt. Col W: Good point ...

Gen. H: Ed, your problem is tunnel vision. You're fixated on the idea of nuclear engagements, but there's no need for it. We've got laser tanks, supersonic warbirds, automatic and chemical weapons that do the old tricks in such fine style. But there they are, sitting on the shelf, because people are getting lazy, they just don't want to get out there and pull the trigger, do the work they're paid for. I don't think that's healthy.

Lt. Col W: I'm beginning to see your point. Perhaps we've gotten a little sentimental about the big blast.

Gen. H: Sentimental is right! It's certainly not logical. Just think, the way these peace movements are proliferating, if we sit on this thing much longer people are going to wise up, and then the game'll be over for you and me, my friend.

Lt. Col W: Well, it's certainly something to think about.

Gen H: Good. It can't hurt to stir up a little thought in that empty head of yours. And by the way, don't think I mean to say that nuclear technology is all bad. We just need more control --- particle beam weapons, say ... now then we could have a war. Tell your men, "Vaporize that," and it's done, "Raze that hill," and it's gone.

Lt. Col W: I can see you've done some original thinking.

Gen. H: Well, in an expanding field you've got to, and I tell you, these big bombs are not the way. After all, the point is to keep fighting, not to end it. If we wanted to do that we could go march in a peace parade.

Lt. Col W: You know, I think I begin to hear you! I've got an itch to fight that's about to kill me, but something keeps holding me back, and now I see what it is -- it's my conscience. I can't have my war, because it would be the last one, and that would deprive generations of soldiers still unborn of the right to taste the joy of combat. In fact, a world without people would be a world without war -- kinda makes me cold just to think about it.

Gen. H: You've got it. We have a duty to all humanity to preserve the sacred tradition of war. Nuclear war could endanger that mission.

Lt. Col W: You know, I think we've got some work to do. Let's get together at that place of yours in Bavaria and talk this through over a glass of Jack Daniels.

Gen. H: It's a date.

Lt. Col W: Good, I'll see when Emily's free next week and get back to you. Now, what were you saying about particle beam weapons ...

(March,1982, Issue 38, "More Than Food," Ashland, Oregon)
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Re: Short Stories & Social Commentary, by Charles Carreon

Postby admin » Sat Oct 19, 2013 2:10 am

THE UNITY OF RELIGIOUS IDEALS: THE SUFI MESSAGE OF HAZRAT INAYAT KHAN, by Charles Carreon

Since the late sixties, Sufism has become quite well known here in Turtle Island. The work of Sam Lewis and the writings of Idries Shah, as well as the related work of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky have all been deeply influential, to the extent that Sufism has become something of a now thing, as well as an inspiring and venerable tradition of self-unveilment.

Hazrat Inayat Khan stands in the light of a blending of the Hindu and Islamic traditions. The result seems to be the warmth and accessibility of the Hindu devotional approach tempered by the Islamic sense of order and tradition. There is a certain reserve inherent in the Mohammedan definition of humanity's relation with the Creator. Where Hinduism takes the unity of the Deity and Creation as its keynote, the orthodox background of Islam suppressed any such profession on the part of its mystics, emphasizing instead the attainment of a total submission to the being of Allah. At times the experiences of the mystics and the declamations of the scholastics ran counter to each other resulting in conflicts which many Sufi masters were at pains to clarify. Others took to couching their teachings in allegory and symbolism. In the fertile atmosphere of India, far from the tyranny of the orthodox, Sufi tradition flowered in its full mystical splendour.

For Hazrat Inayat Khan, all life is the expression of the Only Being, and our struggles are the means to realizing the Perfection of Love, Harmony, and Beauty. Disharmony plagues us like untuned instruments, for we are out of touch with the Harmony of our Being. The wise of all ages have given limited methods to limited minds in order to give a path to the devoted, however limited their understanding; for of all the attributes important to an aspirant, sincerity is most basic.

The outer clothing of religion is different from culture to culture, but the important thing is the subtle growth all systems seek to nurture. The increase of compassion, warmth, and awareness are the core of religion, and apart from a loving soul, religion does not exist. An illumined being does not need the scriptures to see the way anymore than we need a script to know our thoughts.

This excellent book contains talks on many masters of the past, as well as rich information about the Sufi way proper. It is the spirit of Inayat Khan that speaks most clearly however, beyond the nature of the subject matter, awakening joy and trust, and the deep feeling of longing for our true nature, expressed in the Sufi way as a homesickness which guides us to our home.

Many thanks to the Golden Mean Bookstore for the use of this book. Check them out in their uptown setting. Starting next month we'll begin a four part series on the works of the Venerable Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, beginning with his autobiography, "Born in Tibet."

"November, 1979, Issue No. 15, "MoreThan Food," Ashland, Oregon
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Re: Short Stories & Social Commentary, by Charles Carreon

Postby admin » Sat Oct 19, 2013 2:11 am

THE MORAL MAJORITY, by Charles Carreon

An acquaintance of mine recently became a card-carrying member of the Moral Majority. It was, after all, as easy as mailing off a postage-paid card. Unable to resist a bargain, she sent them her name and address, and shortly thereafter received a small package containing a personalized membership card and a small paperback entitled "How to Help Clean Up America." On the cover of this useful volume there is a picture of a whiskbroom sweeping across a map of the continental United States. In place of a handle it is equipped with a small image of the U.S. Capitol, presumably directing the cleanup.

Of course it's easy to see that, as the slogan says, the Moral Majority is neither, but it is meaningful that the leaders of the organization chose that title, obviously implying that the "Silent Majority" of the sixties has begun to take a more aggressive stance. But whereas the Silent Majority perhaps really existed (they never spoke up to say), an examination of the recent surveys shows the Moral Majority to be the most vocal segment of a group that weighs in at about twenty percent of the country's adult population. (I take my figures from Daniel Yankelovitch's recent book, "New Rules.") Seen in this light, the title, "Moral Majority" seems more like a nostalgic assertion that the nation stands firm in its hallowed beliefs, despite appearances.

In league with Creationists and born-again Christians, the members of the Moral Majority are using grassroots activism to re-establish unity which they think our nation once enjoyed. They may be sensing the increasingly pluralistic nature of a society where people read the Q'uran, the Tao Te Ching, and the Bhagavad Gita with devotion once reserved only for the sacred word of Jehovah; a society where money talks so loudly that nothing else can be heard, where no one is really sure if they want to raise a family, or take a job, or adhere to any semblance of appropriate behavior.

The string of winter holidays will serve as an example of the increasing relativity of beliefs. For my own part, Thanksgiving is a perfect time to eat; if I consider its historical roots I cannot but feel the bitter irony of the fate endured by Native Americans, without whose help the first American settlers might well have perished. As to Christmas, I must admit that I have been known to hang little Bodhisattvas all over the tree; I actually lack sufficient eclecticism to rigorously ponder the joyous mystery that unfolded in a manger in the Middle East some two millennia past. And come New Year, I will sense acutely the arbitrary nature of the holiday, since I know the Sino-Tibetan New Year will occur some weeks later. Of course I am weird, and any red-blooded American would tell you so, some more politely than others. But the trend is growing, and our country already boasts one of the most diverse religious landscapes of any country. And religion is culture -- never mind the idea that what matters is the non-cultural essence, differentiable from its trappings like a bottle and its contents -- if you throw away the bottle you lose what's inside.

Like the decayed and affluent Rome which became a vehicle for the Christian faith, North America has become a host body for the incubation of a number of different beliefs. Against the grey background of technological uniformity, the bright colors of ancient belief sparkle with new life.

It is well known that the round of Christian holidays we now celebrate are actually a mix of pagan tradition and Christian symbolism. That they no longer have meaning to most celebrants is also nothing new. Most Americans celebrate both from fear of acknowledging the hollow nature of their activity as well as from a vague sense of duty. We are properly busy, properly gay, and when it is over we are more often than not, properly drunk. It is clearly time for something new, but this is something the old guard never admits. "Rekindle the flame! Raise the old standards anew! Rout the unbelievers!" But time has its way with all things, even with hard beliefs, those stones which uphold the structure of society.

American culture can no longer bear the sterility of materialistic values, but neither can it go back to the comfortable ideological wholeness it once enjoyed. It is a difficult pass. European countries since the Middle Ages have more or less demanded a uniformity of belief from their citizens. Though the United States Constitution guarantees religious freedom, until recently it was generally unwise to test the limits of that right. Today our nation has dried up its own resources and finds itself being a veritable marketplace for world religions. The Moral Majority avers that such activity portends disaster, for it is a "turning away from God." It is therefore a patriotic and religious duty to repress such activity. Such is the paranoia of the dogmatist to believe that disaster attends all who diverge from their path. But it need not be so. In India a number of faiths have lived side by side for centuries, and by and large, tolerance, not repression has been the rule. Such a flowering of many paths could also occur in North America, resulting in a diversity that would be truly splendid, displaying in one land and in complete naturalness the many expressions of the quest for meaning.

(Nov. 1981, Issue 35, "More Than Food")
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Re: Short Stories & Social Commentary, by Charles Carreon

Postby admin » Sat Oct 19, 2013 2:11 am

WATCH OUT FOR THE QUIET ONES, by Charles Carreon

I often hear people talking about how quiet someone is, usually with the implication that this quality is a great virtue. Everyone seems to admire the person who has nothing to say. The monk keeps silence, the sage guards his words, scholars reserve their opinions, and politicians refrain from comment. All preserve dignity thereby, and even the most common among us can earn some measure of deference by keeping our mouths shut.

"Oh," people say, "she's so quiet -- he's so calm --" and "he never speaks except when he's really got something to say." Everyone praises the silent ones for their reserve. Rarely does anyone consider that these people might have nothing to say, that their serene inscrutability might not conceal deep thinking, but rather mere emptiness. Common logic recoils from such a thought, holding to the notion that silence is a seal of superiority. And yet I must insist, how are we to measure the quality of a person's ideas who will not reveal them for our examination? This habit of heaping praise upon the head of every reticent fellow is surely absurd: the quality of their wit can at best be considered an undetermined quantity. While the closed mouth of an acquaintance may conceal the mind of an Einstein, it may also be the honest expression of a total lack of intelligence.

The other half of this specious argument is the notion that talkative people are vain purveyors of dubious information. People who talk a lot, the reasoning goes, do so merely because they love the sound of their own voice; they are likely to say anything, and thus their words are without weight. Nothing could be further from the truth. The value of a statement lies not in who says it but in its congruency to actual fact. Whether Caesar or his parrot says "the sky is blue," does not affect the value of the statement, which is true regardless of who says it.

If we are going to examine statements for their truthfulness, we will immediately discover that it is much easier to examine statements that have been made and heard, as opposed to those which have never been voiced. The reason is that while the first object is available for study, the second simply is not. Likewise, it is much easier to judge the thoughts of talkers than those of their silent counterparts, who refrain from conversation.

While I do appreciate the fact that good listeners are rare, and that the practice should be encouraged, this advice is often disseminated by gabby people who relish the lack of competition. They are more than willing to feed the silent ones the sop of common praise in exchange for keeping the floor to themselves. Authority figures also speak out loudly in honor of silence, realizing, of course, that dissent must be voiced to be effective, and that those who don't speak out must consent to be spoken for. Just as no news is said to be good news, a lack of protest may be construed as actual agreement -- a moment of silence as an implied consent.

Ultimately the notion that silence is preferable to talk may be dismissed as mere superstition. A moment of silence could be full of more lies and misinformation than a single sentence could possibly contain. And worst of all, we would never know it.

(May, 1982, Issue 40, "More Than Food," Ashland, Oregon)
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Re: Short Stories & Social Commentary, by Charles Carreon

Postby admin » Sat Oct 19, 2013 2:14 am

WHITE MAN TWEAK WITH FORKED TONGUE -- THE GOVERNMENT-INDUCED SPEED PLAGUE, by Charles Carreon

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Warrior Tweakers, Good! Citizen Tweakers, Bad!

They’re tweaking again. The military, I mean. It’s not just the throttle jocks, I’m sure, who are popping Dexedrine to stay alert. It’s a war on, man, and if you can’t sacrifice a little sleep to the war effort, then what kind of patriot are you? That’s speed thinking. Compelling, so compelling of course that virtually all of the pilots flying combat missions in Iraq are in an altered state.

An altered state, may I remind you, that in an ordinary citizen is considered illegal in the extreme, a dangerous self-indulgence in a forbidden psychic kick that renders you outré. You’re a meth-head, a dangerous, child neglecting, spouse-abusing, larcenous scab on the body of society, in need of treatment and scorn. As a former prosecutor and criminal defender, I know the depictions are not far-fetched, either. Cranksters can be vile creatures, and meth induces a callousness of character that is definitively anti-social. Delusions of grandeur can feed notions of gangster mystique, and facilitate violence. I once had a client tell me in jail about how he brutally broke the kneecaps on a total stranger after taping him to a chair in his garage, because he had mistaken the poor fellow for some guy who ripped him off. After another tweaker friend came home and informed my client that the fellow was not the ripoff, they put him in the back of a pickup and threw him out in front of the emergency room and sped off. Of course, some meth users merely become weasely thieves, and do not commit mayhem. At all events, it has a corrosive effect on character.

So why do the military rate? Eliminate from your mind first the notion that the drugs are not the same. Dextroamphetamine is what the Air Force hands out to pilots, and they take extras along in the jet to self-administer as desired. Dextro just means the molecule “turns to the right” instead of to the left, but to your brain it’s all the same – left turn, right turn, speed on. To fight fatigue is said to be the reason. But a great side effect is the creation of the callous, anti-social character necessary to drop weapons of mass destruction on fellow humans. It takes a certain distance to do this sort of thing. Speed helps.

It makes me think of the lyrics from “Lucretia,” by the Sisters of Mercy:

“I hear the roar of a thin machine,
Hot metal and methedrine.
Love lost, fire at will,
Dum-dum bullets and shoot to kill,
I hear a dive bomber …
Empire Down …
Empire Down …”


Returning to the question – why do the military get to take speed? Because they need to, we are told. The Iraqis are probably doing speed, too. They’re not stupid. It gives them a little bit of advantage, what with having to stay up all night soldering together bomb-timers, and repairing assault rifles, not to mention keeping a prayer schedule. Speed helps.

Where’s The Money?

The origins of amphetamine are recent. Discovered just before the turn of the century, methamphetamine was synthesized by Smith, Kline & French in 1929. The company filed two trademarks on the trade-name “Benzedrine” in 1936, one as a tablet “medicine for the stimulation of the nervous system,” and another as a decongestant inhaler, citing first use in commerce in 1933. Glaxo, Smith Kline is still the big distributor of Dextroamphetamine for the military, and related stimulants like Adderall, for obnoxious little boys who won't sit still in school. Merck developed a simplified synthesis during the second world war to fuel the Blitzkrieg. I assume we aren’t holding back from giving infantry their share of the crank. After all, the infantryman and mechanized armor guys have the hardest work. So they’re speedin’ legally, driving humvees, tanks, fuckin’ rockin’ and rollin’ for real, and their commanders don’t mind that they’re listening to death metal with titles like “Cook Your Balls and Eat ‘Em,” ‘cause it’s a new crankin’ Army muthafucka.

War Is Hell, But Peace Is Sooooo Boring!

Our little cranksterized killers are going to have a hard time adjusting to civilian life. Death metal they’ll still have, but speed will be dearly bought with social ostracism. And they may begin to reflect on the horrors that they committed when the tunes were crankin’ and their reflexes were cleanly, smoothly distributing ammunition among the Iraqis. It seemed like a video game, but after the smoke and heroics are blown away, there is a terrible wound that the heart does not know how to heal. I knew that wound in some of my uncles who were in the infantry during world war two. They drank a lot.

Of course, the speed experience is not all exhilaration. There’s depletion and exhaustion and paranoia. No amount of speed will move the weariness out of bones that have been worked sore, and the business of dispensing ammunition is terribly wearying. I like to shoot my daughter’s .44 magnum lever-action gun, but it doesn’t have a cushion on the butt, and I’ve never shot a whole box of 50 rounds at a time. My shoulder just gets too sore. I’d hate to have to use that rifle in a war. They’d win just because my shoulder would get sore. Speed might help.

This Shit Works!

I wonder if it’s just possible that the policy makers, munitions makers and pharmaceutical makers might have realized how beneficial it would be for them to encourage the use of a drug that makes people more productive, less sensitive, more able to commit mayhem, less concerned with how they feel about what they are doing. Alfred Nobel created dynamite, some nameless chemist created speed. Who did the more powerful deed? Well, certainly their inventions worked hand in hand to make the world a far more detonated place.

Celebrity Cranksters, Celebrity Killers

Genies have a habit of getting out of the bottle, and the meth genie has been out of the bottle for about seventy-plus years now, fueling an expansion of manic energy that has probably resulted in the unnecessary damming of rivers, cutting down of forests, annihilation of entire tribes, species and ecosystems. And the toxic mentality has spread from the top down. Both Adolf Hitler and John F. Kennedy had “Dr. Feelgoods” who injected them with methamphetamine daily. Dr. Theodor Morell was Hitler’s psychiatric physician and constant companion, just as Dr. Max Jacobson was always present to serve as Kennedy’s pharmaceutical nursemaid. Both doctors supplemented the stimulant regimen with downers to moderate the manic effects of speed. It has been observed that Hitler’s mania for annihilating the Jews developed in intensity during the period of Morell’s influence.

Dirty Deeds, Done Dirt Cheap

Hitler’s allies, the Japanese, were also tweaking freely throughout the second world war, as the Imperial government doled out speed to the military and civilian populace alike, to keep up the “war effort.” The Rape of Nanking, a horrific war crime perpetrated by Japanese soldiers against no fewer than 369,366 Chinese men, women and children during 1937-38, was a murderous orgy that continued for months, during which the Japanese troops raped no less than 80,000 women of all ages. Reliable historical reports indicate that the Japanese killed many millions of Chinese during the second world war, although this Sino-Japanese holocaust has received little attention or commemoration. This type of lethal productivity has the feel of a meth-fueled murder nightmare. The suicide pilots of the Japanese air force were given amphetamines to overcome the desire to survive. The Japanese reversed course on their people after the war, made meth illegal in 1952, and arrested over 50,000 people. The country still has a serious problem with intravenous methamphetamine users, who comprise a large proportion of the 2 million meth users in the land of the Rising Sun.

African Children Turned Into Killing Machines

Many of the approximately 100,000 children under arms in the world are manipulated with amphetamines. For example, in Sierra Leone, Rwanda, Burma, and other war-torn nations, children are taken captive, raped, starved, brutalized, and then injected crudely with amphetamines, cocaine, and other drugs, and directed to commit murderous rampages. A Washington Post article by Douglas Farah, published April 8, 2000, quoted international aid sources as follows: “In Sierra Leone, said social workers and the child combatants, taking drugs-especially amphetamines and cocaine-was a regular part of ‘military training.’ Human Rights Watch found in a 1999 report that ‘child combatants armed with pistols, rifles and machetes actively participated in killings and massacres, [and] severed the arms of other children. . . . Often under the influence of drugs, they were known and feared for their impetuosity, lack of control and brutality.’”

American Children Turned Into Substance Abusers

That’s one way to get folks into drugs young, but we are more subtle in the USA, and we use what is called “treatment.” Under the guise of treating ADD and ADHD, two “diseases” that seem to afflict little boys who eat junk food and watch a lot of TV, our little preschool punk rockers are “treated” by school nurses who dole out speed from a jar. Of course, first they started out using “methylphenidate,” aka Ritalin which supposedly “wasn’t an amphetamine.” This label-switching was ordained by the pharma marketing geniuses who started this project to turn kids into cranksters back in the fifties, because the diet pill craze was winding down, and amphetamines, bennies, white crosses, pink hearts, and black beauties had all got a bit of a bad name at the courthouse and in popular literature. The Rolling Stones helped break the bad news about diet pills in their song, “Mother’s Little Helper,” with its pleading refrain “Doctor please, some more of these!” and its jabbing rejoinder, “Outside the door, she took four more!” But the pharma hacks are always good at finding another use for powerful substances, and now, it turns out that Dextroamphetamine, mixed with meth, in a formulation called “Adderall,” is even better than silly old Ritalin. So what good is it to give speed to kids who are speedy?

Thanks for asking. To answer, I must introduce the vaunted “paradoxical effect” of amphetamines on children under some uncertain age. Marvelously, the pharma hacks explain, speed slows down speedy kids! And you know, with proper medical care and monitoring, maybe it is helpful in extreme cases. But in the USA, what’s good can get force-fed down your throat, whether you need it or not. Think lobotomies for excitable mental patients. The same thing has happened to children. Researcher Nadine Lambert recently presented data at the Consensus Development Conference indicating that prescribed consumption of stimulants during childhood predisposed young adults to cocaine abuse. This sort of obvious connection occurred to me when I heard that one of my nephews, a longtime Ritalin-kid, was doing hard time in the penitentiary because he couldn’t stop using meth. Soon, some criminal defense attorneys are going to wake up and realize that when the state gets you addicted to a controlled substance, that should be a defense to criminal possession.

Houston, We Have A Problem!

Meth has crept into our lives very quietly, and will not leave easily. It may very well explain the extreme bellicosity and hardheadedness of many white American males, who develop a strong loyalty to the drug because of its association with productivity, the work ethic, and a positive, can-do attitude. There is a great false optimism that is brimming over among the nation’s military leaders. We are going to export democracy, uproot tyranny, and kill all the bad guys. With a little crank, it’s all in a day’s work, because speed helps. On speed, we can do more. Somewhere Hitler is smiling.
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Re: Short Stories & Social Commentary, by Charles Carreon

Postby admin » Mon Apr 27, 2015 2:26 am

The Village
by Charles Carreon
4/27/15

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Ron was not happy. Not happy at all. He was staring at the hole in his dashboard, and he just could not believe it. The windows weren't broken, the doors were still locked the way he'd left them before he started his shift. It was broad daylight. Out loud he breathed the words, "Where's my fucking stereo?" A frown was holding his face prisoner, and it tightened its grip as he reached out and said, "What the hell is this?"

"This" was a wispy piece of iridescent paper, or maybe it was metal, about half the width of a stick of gum, and twice as long. Again he said, "What the hell?" as he flipped on the dome light to give it a closer look.

As he did, it stiffened in his fingers and a gleam ran down its length. Then a string of words began flowing across the surface. The words were ... well he couldn't remember them exactly when he tried to later, but it was essentially something like,

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"Dear Ron,

Your car stereo has not been stolen. You have been selected for a special experiment. Your car stereo has been displaced to a null space, and as a result, a village of 600 people has been spared from destruction. Should you want your stereo back, it will be necessary to displace the village. To make your choice, you need do nothing. The same process that initiated this special experiment will effect its return."


Ron felt a surge of anger, possessiveness. He had really been enjoying his car stereo, and so had his girlfriend. He could put the old one back in. Geez. He stared at the strip of metal that had stopped displaying text and was getting wispy again.

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He stared out the windshield, seeing a village in his mind, drowned at the bottom of a lake someplace in China. He didn't know why he thought that. The note hadn't said anything about China. He went to look at it again. There was nothing between his fingertips. Oh my god. He felt dizzy for a second, like maybe he was losing it, and stuck his hand into the empty space, feeling loose wires. "It's still gone," he said. And he knew why.

Luann didn't even mention when she played the old stereo that he reinstalled. It was weird, almost as if she didn't remember him getting it, or the big deal he'd made about the increase in tonal range the new amp had, with digital fuzzy logic and ... and he realized he didn't miss it at all. Things were going better with Luann, in fact, and maybe it was because he spent less time talking about electronics stuff. He chuckled to himself. Fuckin' crazy shit. "Special experiment. Scammers ... pranksters...." occasionally he wasn't sure, but he couldn't bring himself to test it, to say, "I want my stereo back! Drown the village." No, no. He didn't want to risk it. He did not want his stereo back that bad, or maybe, he realized, at all.

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Ron was looking at Luann's books -- pictures of coral reefs and fishing villages. Luann was making lunch in the kitchen. They'd gotten married about a year before, and on the weekends she liked to cook, and Ron liked to dream about places they could get away to. He called out to Luann, "We should go see some of these places."

"We can't," she replied.

"Why not?"

"Because they're all gone. Drowned by rising seas. Even before that, the coral reefs were killed by rising acid levels."

Ron looked at the cover of the book. It was called "Hidden Paradises," by a couple of photographers. A husband and wife team. Their picture was on the back standing on a dock in some jungle with a pontoon airplane floating next to them. Ron envied them in every fiber of his being. They looked relaxed, satisfied, energized. Just like I'd like to feel, said Ron to himself. He checked the date on the book -- 2018. "I hadn't realized this book was so old," he said to Luann, as he got up off the couch and walked into the kitchen, looking at the couple on the back again. "Why didn't our parents give a shit?"

"It's hard," said Luann. "They were pursuing a dream, right? Isn't that what they taught us in school? The American Dream was unsustainable and toxic? Now sustainability is our path."

"Too bad we couldn't have taken it by choice," answered Ron. He went back to the couch. Their only window was next to it.

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That night he had a dream. He was playing poker, and he got a royal flush. Everyone around the table was looking at him with amazement as he fanned the cards out on the felt. He was about to reach out and scoop the pot, that was stacked with cash, gold, jewels, a king's ransom, it looked like. Then he looked across the table, and there was a little girl in a threadbare muslin dress, looking wan and pale and hungry, and as she looked at him, he saw that she was one of a great crowd behind her, all hungry, all silent, all pleading without breathing a sound. Then suddenly a clock started ringing, and he looked up on the wall and there was a clock there, and both hands were pointed straight up. He awoke with a dry mouth.

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After that, the special experiment resumed, and picked up speed. One day it was his new car, reduced to a scooter, with a little silver wisp hanging off the right-side mirror. It was a nice scooter, and his car was worth a lot -- it displaced a huge slum outside of Rio de Janeiro, and replaced a six square mile swath of Amazonian forest, and several villages of forest dwellers with unique language, culture, and pharmacological wisdom.

He got into the game, wondering what the experiment would hawk next, and how much he'd get for it. From the news, he could see the world becoming a much nicer place to live, but he didn't need the news to see it. The results were all over the neighborhood. For one thing, there was a neighborhood. In the evening, you could hear people calling their kids home for supper, screen doors slamming, and smell dinner aromas drifting across the way. Bicycles were everywhere, and cars rarely seen. Less car accidents, for sure. Strangely, he hadn't heard of a war, anywhere, in years. That was so weird. He tried to remember some of the wars. Like there was one in the desert for so long. Religious thing, or maybe an oil thing. He just couldn't remember.

The years went by, and he never told anyone what was happening. He knew he couldn't be the only participant in the special experiment, and he could tell it was going well, very well indeed. But no one talked about it. No one said, "I'm saving the world one displaced commodity at a time."

But that's how it was. Gradually, even the neighborhood thinned out, and he and Luann decided to move closer to the beach. There were a number of places available, and rent was low. They didn't worry about buying the place. Nobody seemed to worry about buying a place anymore.

About a month after they moved in, all of Ron's automotive tools disappeared, along with the scooter he'd had for years ever since his car disappeared. Now the scooter was gone. He walked into the garage, and whoa, it was a stable. Hmm, he recognized the horse, and it recognized him. He had an apple for it right in his pocket. He fed it to him, and rubbed his head under the forelock. "Whatta ya say, boy? Shall we saddle up for a ride later?" Rusty, that was the horse's name, pawed the ground lightly and whinnied with a soft head shake in reply.

Image Image

After dinner, the sun went down red over the sea, and he and Luann sat in woven chairs seeing the world tinged with passionate rose light.

As the sun winked behind the coral atoll offshore, a pod of dolphins broke through the glassy surface of the sea, spreading ripples across the waves. Ron held Luann's hand gently. He looked forward to losing so much more.

It's Our Love, by Iggy Pop
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Re: Short Stories & Social Commentary, by Charles Carreon

Postby admin » Sun Jun 14, 2015 7:20 am

THE STADIUM PLOT
by Charles Carreon
November 17, 2005

This is a work of fiction.

Joe Mathers moved to Phoenix with his family when he was still in preschool. His dad and mom were decent folks, who didn’t leave him much but a work ethic, but that proved to be all that was needed in Phoenix. As the years went by he grew up and got through high school, racking up a degree in construction engineering from SciTech in fourteen months after high school graduation. He kept his credit record clean and within a few months after getting certified by SciTech, his high school sweetheart, who had a job in a local watering hole pushing electric punch, was riding sexily by his side in a new red impulse-drive Jaguar pickup. He was moving up in the local Phoenix economy as fast as one of the elevators that shot up from the hills north of town two hundred and fifty stories high. Construction engineering was a great field.

The town’s insanely accelerated growth had never slowed down. People had moved from the devastated Gulf coast to the desert in droves, never wanting to see water again. Lakes had been created north of town by damming water that would’ve flowed wastefully through the desert. Desalinization plants down at Rocky Point produced drinking water that was pulled through a two-hundred and fifteen mile-long pipeline studded with solar pump relay stations. Skyscrapers sprang up in greater profusion every year. Officer workers flooded in to man banks of computer terminals, processing the flood of the data that the world economy generated. Using Google Earth, you could watch suburban sprawl moving outward from the urban center at an astonishing rate. Capital flooded in, following itself, and Phoenix grew apace.

The people of Phoenix were very patriotic. They’d come like Joe’s dad from everywhere to try and make a good life, and they had made Phoenix beautiful and prosperous. Sure, it was hotter than hell in the summer, but the golf courses were lush, the bars were cool, and the hotel lobbies gleamed with polished brass and crystal chandeliers. The jail always seemed to be overflowing, and consumer bankruptcies kept the courthouse busy, but if you kept your credit record clean you could buy a house out at the end of the freeway, wherever that was this week. There was enough frustration in the town to keep the mental health clinics busy, and it was almost a relief that the war was there to let people focus the aggression outside.

Towelheads, camel-fuckers, goddamn godless heathen brown-skinned bastards. Not that Joe was into that kind of talk, but then again he’d nod his head along when it was tossed around at work, or at the after-work drinking sessions that got more aggressive as the bitter taste of humiliation sank in over the recent nuking of Dallas. Homeland Security reported the bomb had been trucked over by a towelhead terrorist cell in the Chihuahua mountains. All of the Home-Sec border agents were under suspicion, and many had been directed to report for interrogation and of course, possible torture. The only thing more dangerous than working for Home-Sec was not working for Home-Sec.

President Starr’s real name was Smith, but in the style of all politicians in the current age, had adopted a politico-name. President Starr espoused the ethical principles of Kenneth Starr, who masterminded the Republican defense strategy in Dean v. Bush, and convinced Chief Justice Roberts that the Twenty-Second Amendment did not prevent President Bush from running for a third term, only from taking office if he won. The rest is history. Bush won his third term by a landslide, and before his inauguration, Congress repealed the Twenty-Second Amendment altogether by the required two-thirds majority, and a landslide of State governors promised immediate ratification of the amendment.

On the day of the Dallas nuking, President Starr’s face appeared on the cube everywhere, reassuring the nation that we would not collapse under this cowardly assault. He put a helluva brave face on it, but you could see he hardly knew how to deal with the fact that the nation’s venerable patriarch, Gee-Dubya, was missing in the disaster. Of course old Gee, as most schoolchildren learned to call him, had been a dotard for the last ten years, but the war was his proud legacy, and he had now become its most famous victim. The rage that boiled in the breast of every true American was unquenchable.

The Presidential edict came down swift and certain before night fell on the tragic day. Dubbed the Subversive Alien Civil Rights Elimination Directive of 2035, “SACRED” reduced aliens to completely rightless individuals, unable to assert any claim to the fairness of criminal or other proceedings. SACRED defined “aliens” broadly as “all persons acting in actual or tacit complicity with purposes, intents, plans, or initiatives inimical to the interests of the nation by means of the dissemination of tools for the accomplishment of actions lending aid and comfort to the enemies of the nation wherever found, which shall include the use of data transmission facilities and all instrumentalities of communication …” Any person, the President declared, who forms a criminal intent to attack society by lending aid and comfort to the enemy must forfeit all rights of citizenship. Otherwise, loyal conduct in the citizens would diminish, and society as a whole would suffer a loss of rights. Chief Justice Roberts had given that provision the nod in a midnight session set up by phone call from the White House.

A couple of days after SACRED went into effect, Joe was having a beer at his favorite bar, The Trail’s End, when Attorney General Reese pushed a soccer game off the cube and shoved his ugly face into the bar. He he was unable or unwilling to conceal his pleasure over the power that SACRED put into his hands. “The Dallas nuking,” Reese emphasized, “would most likely have been prevented if the terrorist sympathizers who aided the demonic project had been ferreted out and forced to divulge their sympathies through appropriate methods.” He paused, “Those methods give us the power to prevent evil, the power to uproot terrorism, and will now be deployed full-strength to get to the root of the rot in our society.”

Reese had meant what he said. As Joe left the bar, the streets were already filling with army trucks and black, windowless vans. As he drove home through the streets, he saw soldiers going into the apartment complexes methodically, leading men, women and children out of their homes and into the vans. A lot of them had looked like Mex’s, but that wasn’t surprising, since a lot of Mex’s were towelhead simps according to Homeland Security, which nevertheless encouraged the employment of Mex’s in “non-security” positions, i.e., as janitors. So Joe wasn’t that concerned about the roundup. They’d happened before, and he never had a problem, and didn’t really know anybody personally who had. His record was clean, and he kept it that way by logging his whereabouts on GPS twenty-four/seven. He could always prove where he’d been, with whom, and why. Every roundup just gave him one more reason to keep his nose clean and stay away from politics. So far it was working.

Joe was hooked at his waist to a very strong rope way the hell up over the skyline, using his laser to calibrate the exact position for a plastic girder on the 282nd floor of the new Hyatt tower. He had almost dialed in the specs to perfection and was about to do set codes for the auto-crane when his earbud rang with a phone call. He answered. Mandy’s hysterical voice broke into his ear. “They just took Lexi away!” Lexi was Mandy’s best friend, and a hot brunette into the bargain. “Who took Lexi?” answered Joe. “The fucking Sacred cops, you asshole, who the fuck else?” Mandy was sobbing, shrieking. It wasn’t a prank, but Lexi couldn’t be arrested – her dad was richer than hell. “It must be a mistake,” Joe said. Mandy’s shrieked back: “It was no mistake! She’s been hanging out with terror-simps – civil righters, evolutionists, global warming nuts – you know she loves that intellectual bullshit.”

Joe couldn’t calm her down, he couldn’t leave the job, and his nerves were rattled. Shit, he thought, just like Lexi to stress out all her friends by getting involved with the civil rights of towelheads. What could be more irrelevant to real life? As if anything was going to change. Tell the towelheads to stop nuking us, then maybe we can talk about civil rights. He turned back to his work, but he screwed it up, tried to redo it, then gave up and decided to come out of the weather. It was getting kind of windy anyway. He returned to his office, a lightweight ovoid cocoon at the center of the auto-crane, like the body of a spider built for constructing and navigating through the skyscraper structure. He flipped the cube to newscast and saw coverage of an ongoing interrogation down at the Rattlers stadium.

The interrogation subject was confessing to participation in an extensive plot to poison the water supply of a large Midwestern city. The guy who was confessing looked like all the terrorists they brought to trial these days – very docile. The show was directed by a Homeland Security interrogator who explained that the terrorist had been truth-drugged, an alternative to torture allowed for those who agreed to confess. However, the interrogator admitted that, however satisfactory truth-drugging might be, the infliction of “the ideal amount of pain” a term he introduced with an explanatory grin, always made a confession more complete. “There are always some questions left unanswered with truth drugs. Applying the ideal amount of pain helps us answer those questions. And answering questions saves lives.” The interrogator concluded with a reassuring smile and a nod.

Joe googled for news on SACRED enforcement in Phoenix, and found a cube-cast of Reese, explaining how the Dallas nukers had been linked to a terrorist nerve center in Phoenix that apparently had operated through a corrupt financial network that had infiltrated the banks. Reese was in Phoenix himself, directing interrogation of high-level suspects personally from field headquarters he had established in the new Rattlers mega-stadium. All “aliens” were being concentrated in the stadium as the first stage of mass interrogations. Reese was gloating like a freak as he ended his speech. Then the speech started to play again, a clockwork asshole cranking out the shit that others had to eat.

He looked at his watch and was surprised to see his shift had ended. Fattie Macdowall was coming up in his own auto-crane just a few floors below him, walking up through the latticework in the slow, methodical fashion that typified Fattie’s movement in his control-suit. Joe was relieved to be off-shift. He settled himself back into the gentle grip of his suit, and drifted down to base on the 285th floor. He wasn’t surprised when Mandy broke into his ear again, somewhat calmer this time, but now whining, asking the impossible – “Joe, we’ve got to help her.”

Joe replied, “Are you kidding? How could we help her? She’s being taken to the new stadium like everyone else. We can’t get in, and we can’t find her, and if we could, they wouldn’t let us out. I worked on that place, and it was designed as a gigantic backup terrorist holding pen. All around the top perimeter, they put gun emplacements that make every seat in the place a perfect target. They can shoot any kind of ammo they want, from stunners to glue blobs to armor-piercing rounds. Perfect for crowd control. There are only thirty entrances, each of which can be covered by a small number of guards. Large vehicles can be driven straight into a network of underground tunnels, and there’s enough space under the stadium to get lost in. Lexi will be back when the Sacred cops let her go.”

Mandy’s response was unbelievable. She began to pout. As if she were going to dare him into going to find Lexi. Just go to the Sacred cops and ask, she said. It didn’t sound like a good idea, said Joe. Mandy insisted. It was ridiculous. She teased him into coming to her apartment right away. He said he’d bring pizza. She said to bring some ideas. He sort of mummed along, thinking he’d have her in the sack before the night was over, and Lexi’s Daddy’s lawyers would surely save Lexi’s ass. After all, she was not of the victim class. It would all turn out okay. He checked his credit rating and it was clean. He liked to check it several times a day.

Hoisting the pizza jauntily over his shoulder, he sailed out of the pizza joint, and was just giving the pizza chick the eye when Mandy called again. “Joe,” she shrilled in a whisper, “I’ve got Lexi on the line. Lexi?”

Lexi whispered back, “Oh guys, I’m so scared.”

“What happened?” asked Mandy.

“Jeezus Christ, what didn’t happen. I’m hidin’ in the can right now. They took everybody’s phone away, except mine’s in my designer belt buckle, and these bitches that search you are fashion illiterates. I’ve got an implanted radiomike in my mastoid, but I still move my jaw when I talk, so I was afraid to call where anyone could see me. They’re knockin’ people around like flies. I’m really scared, just trying to stay quiet. My dad’s not taking my calls.”

“He’s what?” questioned Mandy.

“Not taking my calls …” answered Lexi. She explained, “He told me he couldn’t risk being associated with me if I insisted on going against him. I didn’t think he meant it.”

“Hey Lexi,” said Joe, “do me a favor and turn on the video on your phone.”

“Oh, I look like shit,” responded Lexi.

Joe sounded exasperated: “Christ, Lexi, I won’t be seeing you, I’ll be seeing what you’re seeing. Have you ever used the video feature?” said Joe.

“Well, duh, why would I buy it?” answered Lexi.

Joe winced. Only Lexi could make you feel stupid when you were trying to help her, so he just asked the next dumb thing. “Have you got plenty of battery time?”

“Plenty. Here, I’m turning on video.” Answered Lexi.

Lexi activated the lens that displayed as an apparent gemstone on the stylish buckle, and Joe saw a toilet stall door on his phone. He ported Lexi’s video stream to his phone’s uplink. The toilet stall door tilted as Lexi shifted her torso. Some scrawlings on the metal stall door squirmed a little from transmission lag.

Lexi and hundreds of other unfortunates were locked into the Rattlers stadium as it morphed into a pit of orgiastic brutality and the long-pent up hunger for homicide at last slaked itself in streams of gore. As the carnage continued on, Lexi served as a human recorder. We hear her cries, her stifled agony, witnessing the horror that she knew it was her task to record, and which we share through her sacrifice. Using all the cunning at her command, she lingered long at the periphery of the evolving massacre, trying, successfully for a time, to elude her own inevitable death by torture at the hands of Reese’s zealous prosecutors. The transmission of Lexi’s record over the net has been compared repeatedly to the network-television release of the infamous Rodney King tape. It is like comparing a hand-grenade to a nuclear blast.

The towers in Phoenix still gleam, and Joe still works among them. Sometimes when he is striding among the towers, trying to make it all straight and perfect, he looks out across the desert horizon. The tears begin to fall as he remembered the concluding scene of Lexi’s transmission, recording the faces of the precise violators of the young witness’s own person. The images were damning evidence at the successful trial of Reese and Starr for war crimes and ironically, violation of SACRED anti-terror provisions.

At trial, the prosecution proved that the Dallas nuking had been masterminded by Reese with Starr’s agreement, in order to resolve various problems involving toxic waste, urban blight, and unemployment in a single plan pursuant to which Reese and Starr came first to own downtown Dallas, then to destroy it, then to collect government bailout funds for its destruction under the Real Estate Owner’s Recovery From Terrorism Act. As for the death of Gee-Dubya in the bombing, that turned out to be a shameless exploitation of Gee’s last big load of political capital, because military hospital records proved Gee had died ten years before. The stalemated forever war in the Middle East mysteriously sputtered out after the jailing of Reese and Starr, as the arms trade seemed to stall. Surprisingly and spontaneously, peace broke out all over the world.

While the jury was unanimous in recommending death under the SACRED anti-terror provisions for the two convicted traitors, Chief Justice Roberts and the other eight Supreme Court justices unanimously agreed it would excessively deter worthy persons from seeking high office if the chief executive and chief law enforcement officer were held to answer with their lives for what were, essentially, misguided attempts to perform their official duties pursuant to law. The Court therefore reversed the death sentences on the grounds that SACRED was void.

A couple of years later, they demolished Rattler stadium. Couldn’t get anyone to go there anymore.
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Re: Short Stories & Social Commentary, by Charles Carreon

Postby admin » Fri Jun 30, 2017 1:56 am

Drink the Water (PLOT SUMMARY)
by Charles Carreon
June 29, 2017

NOTICE: THIS WORK MAY BE PROTECTED BY COPYRIGHT

YOU ARE REQUIRED TO READ THE COPYRIGHT NOTICE AT THIS LINK BEFORE YOU READ THE FOLLOWING WORK, THAT IS AVAILABLE SOLELY FOR PRIVATE STUDY, SCHOLARSHIP OR RESEARCH PURSUANT TO 17 U.S.C. SECTION 107 AND 108. IN THE EVENT THAT THE LIBRARY DETERMINES THAT UNLAWFUL COPYING OF THIS WORK HAS OCCURRED, THE LIBRARY HAS THE RIGHT TO BLOCK THE I.P. ADDRESS AT WHICH THE UNLAWFUL COPYING APPEARED TO HAVE OCCURRED. THANK YOU FOR RESPECTING THE RIGHTS OF COPYRIGHT OWNERS.


Whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst.

-- John 4:14


A virus appears with an unusual post-infection side-effect: the inability to observe or commit acts of physical violence. A young reporter, Jason Reckoner, is assigned to interview Patient Zero, Lucinda Washington of Holmesburg, Pennsylvania, an area of Philadelphia. Reckoner works for MegaMedia and moonlights secretly at his blog, ReckingCrue.com. Throughout the novel, Reckoner experiences tension between his official persona and his blog persona. He always wants to move as much provocative information through the MegaMedia pipeline as possible, but sometimes saves the tastiest bits for his blog.

Reckoner discovers that Lucinda Washington is not really Patient Zero. She got the virus from her prison guard husband, Walter Washington, who in turn believes he got the disease from a prison lifer with whom he developed a friendship and spent a good deal of time talking while on duty at the prison. Reckoner comes to suspect that the true source of the disease may have been experiments performed on prisoners at the Holmesburg Prison without informed consent, a matter that eventually became a national scandal. However, the health records of Walter Washington appear to have disappeared in the course of his workers-compensations process, and he is satisfied to forget the incident and collect his retirement and disability. Throughout the novel, Reckoner keeps trying to piece together the evidence to publish a story that will establish that the true source of the virus is in fact, the CIA, that was the hidden hand behind the unlawful experimentation.

Lucinda is believed to be Patient Zero by the physicians at the hospital where she was treated, and passed the infection to her co-workers at the HeadStart program where she cooked school breakfasts. This resulted in widespread infections spreading through the schools among students and teachers. Lucinda, not being given to watching violence, did not even really notice the results of the infection, but her coworkers did – experiencing a variety of upsetting experiences due to what came to be called “PVVA,” Post-Viral Violence Avoidance.

Efforts to contain the virus at the front-end are few. Most news outlets find it impossible to take the disease seriously. Reports of PVVA often provoke humorous responses, and it becomes an entertainment story – what movie should you see if your date is PVVA? Should you share popcorn with someone who is PVVA?

Initially, the government policy is to downplay the entire issue, because there is an immediate awareness of the risk that PVVA poses to the military establishment. Eventually, however, politicians ever in need of circus entertainments to distract the public from the continuing outrages of the kleptocratic elite, which it is their daily duty to conceal, get the media to conjure up a crisis. Congress conducts hearings, and Dr. Ricardo Alvarez from the NIHS is called to testify. Dr. Alvarez notes drily that the disease is not lethal, and has caused a net improvement in national health in measurable ways, i.e., reductions in domestic violence and violent assault. Several reactionary Congressmen and Congresswomen blunder into a trap, as Dr. Alvarez begins to reveal the fact that there has been a coverup of the true scope of the virus, which is turning into a genuine epidemic in some parts of the country.

Conservative Congressmen are outraged, and while they are reviling him live on YouTube and Facebook, he resigns, the scene goes viral, and before the live feed is cut by a semi-hysterical committee chair, he has become an enduring icon of resistance. Reckoner connects with Dr. Alvarez, and the two begin a fertile association. It turns out that Dr. Alvarez had planned his mutinous testimony ahead of time, and had already cleaned out his desk and captured all of the official data on the virus from the NIHS databases, along with considerable other scandalous information. Reckoner thus plays Wikileaks to Dr. Alvarez, steadily leaking embarrassing information on ReckingCrue.com, often contradicting the government’s spin du jour with irrefutable evidence.

The first documents Dr. Alvarez provides are interviews of patients that reveal the subjective experience of the virus infection to be widely varied, from nothing more noticeable than a brief head cold and a hacking cough for a few days, to a multi-week ordeal that includes episodes of extreme delirium. It appears, from Dr. Alvarez’s analysis of the data, that the more violence in a person’s history, the more severe the impact of the virus, and the more the sickness appears to resemble a psychedelic trip, replete with confrontations with spirits, bouts of severe regret for past acts of cruelty, and a powerful need to seek forgiveness and absolution.

As ReckingCrew.com releases this information, people with PVVA start to discover each other, and start a website at DrinkinIt.org, where stories are posted. The site grows very quickly, and becomes the basis for many versions of a mushrooming pro-viral movement.

The noises out of DC become more and more paranoid. The DOD gets a billion in funding to develop a vaccine, and there are rumors that not only active duty soldiers will be subjected to forced vaccination, but also that all citizens will be required to submit to vaccination or be interned in FEMA quarantine camps. Numerous “intelligence reports” are circulating, claiming that the virus is a foreign bioweapon. In the emerging McCarthyite atmosphere, accusations of “giving aid and comfort to the enemy” are leveled at those who show “tolerance” toward the pro-viral movement. In response, ReckingCrue.com begins to publish the story of the true origin of the virus in the Holmesburg experiments, and the puppet media responds by branding the story as “fake news.” This story unfolds throughout the novel, with Dr. Alvarez and the staff that defects from the NIHS with him conducting forensic science and investigative work to document the CIA’s culpability in creating the virus. Ultimately, the doctor who created the virus will give a deathbed confession and explain how he believes the virus works.

As governmental repression gets going, it has the opposite effect, giving birth to the Renaissance movement. Emma Williams, a soft-spoken black Tennessee schoolteacher with a disarming smile becomes a charismatic leader of the Renaissance movement after she is forced to resign from her job at an airbase that is the HQ of a huge fleet of surveillance and “anti-terror” drones, that are now deployed around the world. Many of her students were young men and women recruited at an early age from the ranks of top-gun gamer academies sponsored by the military, and had rarely known much mother love. Emma suffers a bad bout of the virus from which she has a hard time recovering. She can’t figure why, since she isn’t actually witnessing any violence, or committing any acts of violence. Finally it comes to her – she is actually picking up the subconscious vibrations of violence emanating from her students, many of whom are engaged in performing live assassination missions in the mistaken belief that they are actually “just training.”

Reckoner’s interview of Emma contains this segment: “Before I got sick, I never thought about what really happens to people on the ground when those drone missiles hit them. I’m sorry, I just must’ve blocked it out, but I swear to you, I never thought about it, and I didn’t think about how those children I was teaching were gettin’ involved in something that serious. They were just kids to me, my kids, and I was doin’ my job helpin’ ‘em to get an education. But after I got sick, it got very strange. I’d be talkin’ to one of ‘em, and these images would start comin’ up in my mind, horrible images of people burning to death inside their homes, children dying in their parents’ arms, all kinds of images that I couldn’t imagine where they were comin’ from. Then it hit me – they were comin’ from my kids – not all of ‘em, but some of ‘em. And when I realized it, I just walked right out of that classroom, got in my car, and drove off that base and never came back. It was like walkin’ out of hell. You don’t go back.”

The DOD vaccine project is declared to be a success, and final stage trials are approved by the FDA. Within a few months, however, severe and disturbing side effects begin to manifest. Most obviously, skeletal growth in the facial area and upper body is restarted, perhaps because of reactivation of the pituitary gland, resulting in unsightly and uncomfortable ridges and protuberances in the face, on the shoulder blades, and in the chest area. The condition comes to be called Klingon-syndrome, and is too obvious to be hushed up. Nevertheless, government doctors declare that this is the price of maintaining military security in the wake of the virus, and promise to improve the vaccine. The program is about to move into the phase of administering the vaccine to the lowest-ranking infantry when Dr. Alvarez’s team secures documents showing that the results have been faked. The vaccine not only causes deformities, it is less than 65% effective in animal tests, and is being pushed by the DOD primarily because the contract will put billions into the coffers of the drugmakers, and make a small number of retired military men rich. The vaccine program goes down for the count, and does not rise again.

The Renaissance movement grows, and Reckoner travels to meet with the Renaissance Communities that are forming around the world. Newly-converted Renaissance People sometimes wander about in “love mobs” that bear some resemblance to the Bacchantes, or Sirens, offering “the Kiss of Rebirth” to anyone who wishes to join their ranks. Renaissance Men and Women are evolving into community health organizations with greater goals than spreading the virus and helping PVVA people to integrate into post-viral life. Community gardens, solar energy collectives, and distributed manufacturing begins to thrive in the Renaissance communities. Post-viral people appear to have diminished jealousy and are more able to collaborate and engage in community activity. Some commentators in the mainstream media take notice, and write complimentary opinions about them, but the McCarthyite mood gripping the elites makes these occasional outbursts of sanity rare, and the speakers are promptly punished. Some of them ultimately convert to the Renaissance cause, abandoning jobs and families to join Renaissance Communities.

As the Renaissance Communities begin to grow, the government begins to fund anti-Renaissance terrorism. Renaissance leaders have to face the daunting challenge of learning how to deal with violence when they are unable to respond with violence. They begin to study Aikido and other soft martial arts, and learn to meditate so that they can face violence without being overcome by the ugliness of it. A new strain of Renaissance warrior begins to emerge in the movement, people who serve as security guards for Renaissance leaders and communities, developing what they call “proactive ahimsa” techniques to protect the non-violent from the violence that threatens.

Congress turns to efforts to frustrate the social movement by defunding it. A bill is passed to disqualify anyone who voluntarily contracts PVVA from receiving Social Security disability income. A sound bite from a reactionary Senator: “We used to court-martial cowards, not give them a pension at public expense. If we can’t eradicate this plague of cowardice, then at least we can stop incentivizing it.” When Renaissance people march in protest, they are attacked by violent thugs, but increasingly, the thugs find themselves unable to make much headway, as the proactive ahimsa techniques prove effective, and sometimes result in converting violent thugs to the Renaissance cause, as they are delivered into the hands of the love mob, and succumb to the Kiss of Rebirth.

Congress can only go so far with its efforts to punish the pro-viral movement, and the agenda-creators and corporate donors direct additional efforts at local governments, that are paid to enact unconstitutional Jim-Crow laws that forbid PVVAs from gathering in groups in public places, and make them guilty of “conspiracy against public order” when they violate these anti-assembly laws. Injunctions that were previously used to combat violent streetgangs are now, ironically, turned against peaceniks who are not breaching the peace, but rather fomenting it. The irony is not lost on social commentators, who ridicule the yahoo legislatures enacting these laws. Local police find the enforcement of these laws to be absurd, and prosecutors resign their jobs rather than put teeth into the letter of the law. Private law firms are hired to take over these persecutions, but the cost of litigating jack-booted laws with white-shoe lawyers is prohibitive. Local politicians are embarrassed by the cost, and run out of office.

The Renaissance Movement becomes legally organized, dignified, and increasingly able to repel physical and legal threats through its proactive ahimsa techniques and legal advisors. Law professors begin to write scholarly articles to critique the wave of unconstitutional laws that have popped up like mushrooms in communities around the country, rather mysteriously, since there was no popular clamor for repression against the Renaissance Movement, aside from the usual Astroturf campaigns. More and more people of principle are rallied to the cause, and a political leader emerges, Congressman Luke Scott from Madison, Wisconsin – young, fiery, the father of a child who caught the virus on a school outing, he approaches the issue with the passion of a zealot, never apologizing, always shining the light of his probing intellect into the dark places where the violence-promoting sickness dwells. His rhetoric turns the tables on those who accuse the Renaissance Communities of sedition. In his lexicon, people who are post-viral are not sick, they have “been healed of the disease of violence.” No vaccine is needed, because “they have been immunized from the fever that causes people to act out their anger.” The accusations ring true in the minds of many, and Scott becomes a lonely voice of conscience in Congress, making the news regularly despite efforts to squelch him, deride him, and topple him from his position. Reminiscent of Ralph Nader in his adherence to moral values that make him invulnerable to bribery and scandal, he rises in the public estimation.

In parallel and in tandem with the Renaissance Communities, a sect of post-viral religious zealots arises, who call themselves “the Walking Wounded.” The “WW’s” as they are popularly known, take the vow to convert every living human on earth to the path of post-viral non-violence, by persuasion if possible, by “loving compulsion” if necessary. WW revivals are led by witnessing converts who tell the story of their changed lives, and pledge themselves to the “Great Vow” in public ceremonies held with the object of evangelizing and converting new believers to the path of non-violence. Their slogan is “Drink the Water,” and all who come up to the altar and drink the sacramental water that has been “blessed” with the virus, are lovingly cared for by the congregation during and after their “Second Birth.”

Josepha Standifer is the living saint who leads the WWs. A powerful, rather imperious figure who has never fully recovered from the virus entirely, she still undergoes periodic resurgences of the active viral illness, which in her case manifests as a flushing of the skin that many people of both sexes find irresistible. She has converted tens of thousands by her direct kiss, and many of them will live nowhere except close to her. As the movement has grown, she has taken to blessing the ceremonial water by moistening her finger in her mouth, and dipping it into the water that is drunk by new converts. In this way, she can bless millions, and has every intention of doing so. Although the WWs are always on the lookout for someone who, like Josepha, remains an active carrier, she appears to be unique, as everyone else who gets the virus eventually recovers and ceases to be an active carrier. Thus Josepha enjoys unique authority among her devotees.

Josepha’s voice to the nation is her son Antonio and his wife Drucilla. They preach from dual pulpits, sometimes finishing each other’s sentences, often joining their voices at crucial moments, night after night bringing hundreds to the altar to drink the blessed water made sacred by Josepha’s bodily fluid. Occasionally, recent converts, young people still in the throes of their viral attack, are brought to the altar and, seized by the spirit of Josepha, administer the ceremonial kiss, but this is more theater than science, and everyone who wants to join the holy army of the Walking Wounded is exhorted to drink the water to be sure to receive Josepha’s strong blessing.

Antonio is the originator of the doctrine of “Holy Force,” the power that he has prophesied will be bestowed when the last holdouts against the power of the purifying holy water, those most committed to the path of violence, are at last compelled to drink the water. That time, Antonio has often said, “has not come,” but “it shall come to pass, yea, after the sheep have all been gathered into the sheepfold, those that remain unsheltered will be sought out by the shepherd, who will bring them in, howsoever far they have strayed, yea, unto the last one.”

The Doctrine of Holy Force ignited great controversy, and serious efforts were made by the puppet media to use it as proof that Antonio and Drucilla were the agents of the Russian government, bent on destroying our national defenses. This effort crumbled when an aging but still vigorous Vladimir Putin appeared live on RT.com to give a special announcement to the world. As he sat before the camera, a crystal goblet before him, his close associates on either side, each with a crystal goblet before them, he explained his purpose: “Da, it is true. Today, we the men and women of Russia, will drink from the cup of brotherhood, the cup of non-violent cooperation, the cup that ends the war of one against another forever.” He then lifted the goblet of clear water, as did his associates, and drained it in a single draft. Then he put it down and held it out for a servant to refill with a shot of Stolichnaya. “Now, vodka. We celebrate peace with all the world.” The US media made a Herculean effort to brand the telecast as a mere publicity stunt, but as the feeds out of RT.com continued, showing Russians everywhere dismantling weapons in fields, in underground bunkers, on military bases, everywhere they could be found, the truth dawned on a shell-shocked US military establishment. In one fell swoop, they had been rendered irrelevant.

The response from the international community to Comrade Putin’s unilateral disarmament of the Russian nation was swift and virtually unanimous, except in the United States, that apparently saw in this development an opportunity to cement its monopoly on violence. US mainstream media talking heads took the air with great earnestness, declaiming about bravery, loyalty, the nobility of sacrifice, and the power of weaponry, and although domestic ratings looked good, or were spun to look good, the rest of the world seemed to have checked out of our drama.

The European Union nations promptly disbanded NATO a few days after Putin’s announcement, and heads of state from Belgrade to London, from Norway to Greece, posted videos of themselves and their staffs drinking the water and ordering the dismantling of weapons systems. Border guards were seen toasting each other’s health with glasses of viral water in videos that themselves went viral. The world outside the U.S. pitched into a dizzy swoon of peace, confident that at last, the war to end all wars had been won with the right weapon.

Congress and the White House, having lost their way entirely, of course redoubled their efforts to articulate the sound bites they were being fed by their corporate handlers, but day by day, the streets of Washington, D.C. began to fill up with Renaissance People and WWs, dressed in black from head to toe, chanting in unison, “Drink the Water! Drink the Water!” At that point, the sane voices in high places began to speak openly of mutiny, and plans were hatched to disable a Congress and an Executive that no longer had the confidence of the people, and for good reason, since they had long ago ceased to care for the welfare of the people. Over the course of two weeks, the plotters worked with their staffs to replace all of the Secret Service personnel with people ready to work on what was dubbed “the Transition.” Congress and the President were to be carried through this process as safely as possible. There would be no bloodshed on the individual level, no trauma to the body politic.

Sensing that the mood of the nation had turned against them, Congressional leaders decided “to take the gloves off,” and prepared secret legislation that would at last fulfill the fantasies of the most authoritarian among them. The FEMA camps were to be readied, because the inmates were coming, and in very large numbers. Dubbed the Morally Obligatory American Loyalty Exaction Act (the “MORALE Act”), it funded the establishment of “Loyalty Boards” in every County seat in every State in the Union, and required all persons “suffering from PVVA” to respond to a digitally-issued summons that would be delivered to their official Facebook email address by appearing before the local Loyalty Board to affirm their loyalty to the warmaking powers of the Commander in Chief and the Armed Forces, on pain of internment in one of the FEMA camps as dangerous individuals who had to be quarantined for the public good. The “secret legislation,” however, was immediately leaked to the public, and the crowds that had previously filled the streets of the Capitol now began to surge like a black, menacing tide from which the terrifying mantra “Drink the Water” emanated 24 hours a day, all day long. Congressmen and Congresswomen dared not leave their buildings, and security barely seemed to be holding back the tide.

On April 7, 2035, the dam broke according to plan, as Secret Service agents left their posts and went home to their families, their jobs done. The crowds surged into the halls of Congress and the White House, bearing water bottles brimful of their sacred liquid. Crowds of Renaissance People and the armies of the Walking Wounded made their way through all of the government buildings methodically, finding many persons compliant, ready to accept the sacrament. Those who were not were quickly subdued by Holy Force. At 7:30 a.m. the next morning, Antonio Standifer and Emma Williams stood in the rotunda of the Rayburn Building and held their press conference, and announced that the United States government had surrendered to the forces of non-violence. Unfortunately, the President of the United States and members of Congress were all presently indisposed, working through their amassed karma of resistance to peace with the usual difficulty, and were unable to share in the general celebration. But the celebration began anyway, pouring out into the streets. Many removed their black clothing and danced naked in the spring weather, and others donned rainbow garments that they had brought for just this happy occasion. The world was ready to begin the great labor of peace, and the greatest nation in the world had at last been recruited to the cause. And all the world rejoiced.
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