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The Winds of Futility

 

 

 

Girl Destroys the World

 

 

Yonatan Kirby

 

 

 

Shakespir Edition

Copyright © 2016 Yonatan Kirby

All Rights Reserved.

Chapter 1

 

 

 

One night around the dinner table my father said, “Our neighbor Jimmy, you know him? Well, he has been attacked.” My mother leaned in toward me, gauging my reaction.

“But why?” I said.

“Their tree was encroaching on another house’s yard,” said my mother.

“But they’ve hardly even moved in!” I protested.

There was a knock at the front door, followed by a loud barking. “Ruff ruff,” I said. “Clover, shut up.”

“You get it, honey,” my mother said. Just that moment, there was a loud “ftach et ha delet” from behind the door. Apparently, someone wanted us to open the door. Someone with a very loud, very deep Israeli voice.

My mother peered through the hole. “Police,” she announced, and instead of answering the door, she stood back and said “Honey, you should probably answer it. They’re probably going to ask about Jimmy’s case.”

Case? Jimmy’s? What the heck? But before I could demand any more of my mother, the door swung open.

“Excuse me, could I speak to your mother,” the policeman said.

The policeman was a towering presence. He had to have been six-foot three. The booming voice didn’t do anything to alleviate my nerves, either. I was scared.

Slicha,” I said, and bravely stood my ground. “My mother doesn’t want to talk right now, and besides, you wouldn’t want to talk to her anyway.”

The policeman ignored this barb and focused his eyes on me. “I would like you to tell me everything you know about Jimmy Goldgrabber.” He pronounced the name “Jeem-ee Goldgghrabberrh,” so it was all I could do not to laugh. “Um,” I said, covering the side of my mouth with one hand, “Ani lo midaveret Ivrit.” I don’t speak Hebrew. I understood it well enough, but to ask me to have a conversation with this armored, hulking beast—a two-way conversation, at that—was downright unreasonable.

Lo ichpat li,” he said. It doesn’t matter. He didn’t care; he was going to get what he wanted out of me whether I desired it or not.

Ma at yoda’at al ha chutzpan haze Jeem-ee?” What do you know about this troublemaker Jimmy. I didn’t laugh this time.

“Um,” I said while I paced on the linoleum in the front entranceway, and tried to think back.

Jimmy had been introduced to me in the fifth grade, an aberration if there ever was one. At that time, girls didn’t talk to boys (although in my little brother’s grade, they were early bloomers and started to go out in fifth, sometimes in forth grades), but were introduced to each-other by their parents. By their muddling, interfangling parents if any word could be used to describe them.

I had been ‘re-introduced’ to Jimmy (or you could say re-acquainted, because our parents didn’t introduce us this time) on the bus last week. Jimmy had been sitting in the front seat of the bus, and I in the seat directly behind him. Well, I didn’t know anybody—you can’t blame me.

“Clarissa,” he had said to me as the bus had carted down the sloping street of our little village, “what do you know about slugs?”

What? I had thought as I absorbed what he had said. What kind of moron was he? What had all these years at public school done to him?

I tried to be brave and said, “Jimmy Goldgrabber, right?”

Jimmy ignored me and said, “Clarissa Steiner, right? You went to my school, right? And then I left and went to a different school, but we still went to the same shul. Remember?”

Of course I remembered, but I was trying to pretend I didn’t. Well, if he spoke in complete sentences like this, then why did he start by asking me the question about the slugs? Was he a loser or not?

“Jimmy, of course I remember,” I said, trying to keep my cool. “The question is, why did you start by asking me about the slugs?” There. I had put it to him. I would get my answer now.

Jimmy folded his arms and sat back in his seat. “Because I wanted to test you,” he said.

Just at that moment, the loudspeaker erupted with noise: “Yeladim!” (Children!) Tafsiku lihishtolell! (Stop running wild!) Jimmy and I had been almost standing in our seats, but we hadn’t noticed it. Jimmy grounded and said, “But I just sat down!”

“Quiet,” I said, “or else he’ll hear us.”

“Does it really matter?” Jimmy said. “The bus’ll probably run flat on its face before we reach school, anyway.”

I was shocked. “What are you saying?” I said, covering my mouth with my left hand (the one with the stars and stripes, not the one with the balloons—Independence day happened so long ago anyway). “Are you trying to anger the driver enough to get us killed?” And at that point I turned in my seat and hugged the window, glad I could get an excuse to write him off once and for all.

“I don’t think you’re making very much sense now,” Jimmy said, obviously angered by my refusal to engage him. “I think you need some sense put into you.”

Some sense definitely had to be put into me. Some sense to stay away from Jimmy. “Whatever,” I said.

What did end up going wrong, however, was that Jimmy drove all the teachers wild.

The classes were co-educational for some classes, single-sex for others. And while Jimmy didn’t take offense to the co-educational classes, he definitely erupted at the thought of splitting each class down the middle along gender lines.

“But Clarissa here!” he said, pointing to me in a very demonstrative manner, in front of the clutch of teachers that had grown very quickly since he had started shouting, “Clarissa is my best friend! You can’t take me away from her!”

Thankfully, one of the teachers, who had spoken and understood English very well, had the presence of mind to wait him out (and not enter into a shouting match). “Jimmy,” he had said, “we are a religious school. Religious schools don’t have young men and women learning religious topics together.”

“But I did at my school,” I said. At once I was the center of attention. My cheeks flushed and my ears got hot.

“We’re not asking what you did at your school,” one of the teachers, a woman, said to me in broken English. Her black headscarf looked menacing. “You’re only Conservative,” it seemed to say. (Our family was only Conservative, and not Orthodox)

“Enough,” the man addressing Jimmy said in his American-accented English (I wonder if the other teachers were looking on with awe or if that silent seriousness on their faces was obedience).

“It’s okay,” I said to the teacher as he stared at me, “he’s not my best friend. He’s only an acquaintance.”

“What?” Jimmy looked angrily at me, and then down at the floor. I could feel the heat radiating angrily off of him. You would want to get close to him at this point, I thought. Nor would any slug.

“You step back here,” the tall, powerful (it seemed like) male teacher said to Jimmy, indicating the principal’s office. He must have been the principal after all.

“And enough standing around,” he said to the teachers in Hebrew (this I could understand). The teachers moved grumpily away.

“Anything you give, you get back in return,” he said, sighing, to the two of us. “I was like you once.”

Jimmy turned his back and walked with the principal to the principal’s office. Fine, Jimmy, I thought. Be that way.

Chapter 2

 

 

The largest threat ever facing me from the Israel end of things came from food. I’m not kidding—food. It had been my nemesis since I had gotten to Israel and would continue to be my nemesis even after I left. Here’s the thing: never eat zchug on an empty stomach.

Zchug: a pasty solid which people like to call a spread—you spread it on your pita, lafa, whatever (I have some friends who even used to use it on challah—I mean, talk about desecrating the Sabbath). Now, zchug is not just spicy. It doesn’t just burn your tongue off. It roasts it.

I was learning to speak Hebrew and it was like I was talking out of a coma. My tongue was put out of commission for two weeks. I talked and talked but it was like my tongue was wagging and flopping inside my mouth with no focus, all that came out was spittle. Which is I guess appropriate, given the nature of Hebrew—a guttural, spit-filled language.

At lunch one day Neelee asked if I could try it. “Sure,” I said, trying to imitate her spit-filled accent. And then it happened.

My tongue roasted.

“Rissa, are you okay?” my friend Naor said to me (we were permitted to eat together).

“Ahhhh!!!” I told him, and raced to the bathroom.

“Stop running!” one of the teachers said.

“Fuck, fuck, fuck. Shit, shit,” I whispered, and splashed water in my mouth.

It didn’t abate. It got worse.

“Shit,” I said, and crying, retreated to the table.

Naor was laughing.

“Fuck you,” I said.

“Fuck what? I no hear.”

“Fuck you.

“Stop it,” Neelee said. “You must eat bread,” she said in her beautiful, mellifluous Hebrew.

“Fucking…” and then I stopped.

I ate the bread.

“Hey, Clarissa!” It was Jimmy. He was followed by a sternly clad police officer. “You going to jail with me?”

Chapter 3

 

 

I should tell you now, Jimmy is no fun in jail—or anywhere. He gets all dirty from rolling around in the dirt in the bottom of the cell and lets out trumpet blasts of air when he’s panting, which is often. He does it to get my attention—I know it. But what should I do, you tell me? Should I reject him, now that he’s so attached to me? He can’t help that I’m so beautiful! Even my daddy says so.

Back to the present: “What the (bleep)?” I yell, ready to throw a punch at anyone, anything.

“Clarissa,” Jimmy repeats snidely, “you are going with me. You are under arrest. I hereby read you your rights.”

“Shtok (shut up),” the policeman said. “You’re coming with me. And I’m sorry to take you out of your lunch hour.”

Four days had passed since I had started school. Now I was being arrested.

“Okay,” I said. I said goodbye to Neelee and Naor (who gave me a thumbs up). “I no know you can swear so well,” he told me.

The policeman pushed me in front of him and said, “March.”

“Pretty ironic, huh,” Jimmy said, smiling—”the pretty perfect girl from America, who even speaks a little Hebrew, going to jail.”

“I don’t see how my superiority has to do with anything,” I said to Jimmy.

“Oh, it has everything to do with everything,” he said. “And it can help me get out of this mess.”

Confused? I was.

But first, we need to go back to a time when the sabretooth tiger still existed, when triceratops roamed the plains, and when humans were nothing but a dust mote in some primitive rodent’s eye. In other words, we need to go back to when I wasn’t born yet, when my superiority didn’t yet rule the universe.

I was a bit confused back then, as well.

All my life, I had been perfect: perfect grades, perfect pigtails, perfectly complimentary friends. My daddy loved me. My momma adored me. So I suppose you could say I was ingenious, after a fashion. Adorable. Cute. Hot, even (well come on, even you agree). But I never knew how to love.

Until I met Jimmy.

I don’t know what it took for me to love Jimmy, what made me do it. But I do know that it started right there, in that prison.

“You see,” Jimmy insinuated, hissing his face up to my ear, “I need your skills of acting like an innocent twerp to get me out of this mess.”

“You framed me!” I yelled at him. “You said to them I’m involved in whatever plot you have to conquer the neighbor’s backyard or whatever ruckus you have planned lately! Maybe you should go back to the slugs, your friends. They like dirt. But whatever you have planned, keep your dirty hands off me.”

The policeman shoved his hands in between the two of us.

“I know you like each-other,” he said, “but this is not the time.”

“What did he say?” Jimmy asked.

“He said that you should get down on all fours and do twenty. Knocks to the head, that is.”

“Oh, very funny.”

“Quiet!” the policeman said. “This is the last time.”

We were walking down the path to the car. We passed a couple of olive trees. Jimmy took one and began to chew.

“Can’t eat that,” the policeman said. “Too bitter.”

“Huh?” Jimmy said.

“He said you gotta chew them real hard,” I said.

“Shut up, Clarissa,” said Jimmy.

After a couple more steps, Jimmy started retching. “Clarissa!” he gasped.

“Enough,” the policeman said. “Get into the car.”

We reached the car; the policeman had a friend in the driver’s seat. He was bearded and looked sort of like a rabbi. (Of course, you wouldn’t be able to distinguish which religious sect he’s from.)

“What are you doing here?” The Bearded Man accosted me suspiciously. His Hebrew was heavily accented.

“What?” Jimmy said.

“OK, American,” the bearded Rabbi said in barely coherent English, turning to Jimmy: “You tell me now, in English. Vat is going on?”

Jimmy looked confused. “What is he saying?” he said.

“He’s saying you have a small penis.”

“Clarissa, fuck you,” he said. “What exactly are you saying to me?” he addressed the policeman. “Please say it again.”

“He ees saying,” said the first policeman, who was balding (either intentionally or not, we didn’t know) “that he vants to know ha-wat is going on? Zey do-not tell us a lot from ze intelligence. Eet is important zat we know, zo, because we are eenterested, you see.” He peered at us, alternating from Jimmy to me, until he was satisfied. He winked. “Yes, you know,” he said to me. “You know what I am saying.”

“Don’t fraternize with the prisoners,” the bearded policeman said.

“Religious twerp,” he said to the religious man in Hebrew. “Always trying to tell us what to do.”

We rode the rest of the time in silence—until we got to the police station.

 

——

 

“But wait!” I said to Clarissa. “Are you sure you’re not making anything up?” I smiled at her. “Drug ring?”

“Fucking seriously,” Clarissa said to me. “Do you think I’d be making up something like that?”

“Well, no. Probably not.”

Clarissa laughed like a hyena. “Seriously, Samantha, you really think all that is fake?”

“No,” I said. I opened the window a crack. Sounds of students talking filtered in: it was a nice warm day out, people would be playing frisbee.

“Want to go out?” I said.

“What, to those morons outside?” That’s classic Clarissa for you.

“No, for your own health!”

“Fuck health. Booz is what matters.”

I sighed. Clearly this wasn’t getting anywhere.

“Listen, you want me to tell you the story or not?”

“Fine. Go on.”

“I haven’t gotten to the drug ring part yet.”

“I understand!”

“Okay, listen carefully.”

Chapter 4

 

 

The stay at prison was pretty dreary. The accommodations were suitable for high-class prisoners at Alcatraz—except for the fact that they made us wear white shirts and blue pants. I know that the stereotypical American zebra suit is what people usually have in their minds… and our outfit was definitely more stylish. One prison guard actually commented on how good I looked in it.

“Thanks,” I said.

“Ah, Eenglish?” he said. “You are American.”

“Yep.”

“Ah, nice!” he said in Hebrew. “You come and make aliyah?”

“Yes,” I said.

“Ah, you come to my house, you eat schnitzel!” he said. “You meet my wife!”

“Sure!” I said. I was reasonably interested in getting away from my parents, anyway.

We unpacked our bags (which had probably been packed just before), which consisted of one set of everything: pants, undies, shirts, white pants, a blue dress, and a toothbrush for brushing teeth and fungus of your limbs, which resulted from the seat of a corroded toilet. For a backwater prison in the North of Israel, however, the facility was definitely pretty modern.

See, these guards had brand new fountain pens, and I know this because they twirled them when they were bored (which was always). They were all hairless on the top of their heads, and had bad attitudes. And the guard let me have a cigarette.

It was a faded, slightly dry, slightly brown sort of cigarette that blended in with the prison walls. Jimmy wanted it but I didn’t give it to him. The cigarette brought back memories of such innocent experiences… like whiffing marijuana for the first time on a blustery spring day in seventh grade, when we thought the Rabbis weren’t looking, and then almost getting caught for it! Thank goodness some rabbis are susceptible to the cute flirt. But some rabbis don’t even know what marijuana is, or looks like.

Anyway.

Scratched on the prison walls was some mantra which involved saying some Rabbi named Nachman’s name over and over again… if you said it enough times out loud, it might bring messiah. I said it a few times, and then scratched my name on the wall. I thought of what message to write, and then thought “this is fucked up.” So I wrote “this is fucked up.”

In Hebrew.

I sat down to think. It seemed like I hadn’t done much thinking in the past few days—with my first day at school, dealing with my parents’ worried blusterings about how they’ll fit in, dealing with Jimmy, the principal, the teachers. It seemed like the only people I could trust were my friends.

Neelee I met when we were both talking about how we weren’t familiar with the language, and how many tests they were going to force us to take this year. Turns out her parents are Russian, and although I thought of her as Israeli, she had moved there only three years before.

“But your accent is so beautiful!” I said to her at lunch, the day we met.

“Don’t trust the accent. Thank you, also. I trust you don’t think your own accent is beautiful as well?”

“It sounds like I’m crapping through my mouth.”

Neelee laughed. “Not so much.”

“Yeah, not so much,” I said. “Only when you’re listening really closely.”

On the first day of school, she had saved me from embarrassment when I pissed off the menacing-looking woman in the black headscarf.

“You see,” Mrs. Rothenberger had said, as she was polishing off a class on Isshiut—the science of being a good Jewish woman—”a woman has to anticipate the needs of her husband and make herself available to him.”

I looked around at everyone else: taking notes as if nothing had happened. I raised my hand. “You think you can just say that, without worrying about how it’ll make us all act—as slaves to our husbands!”

A few girls gasped. A couple of them smiled at me.

“You were not called upon, but I will address your comment,” she said. Neelee elbowed me in the ribs; I sat up straight.

“If you were paying attention to the whole lecture, we were talking about behavior in the context of the bedroom,” she said, a bit snippeshly.

So I was supposed to understand the entire lecture now? “Um,” I said. “In America, it might be different.”

“Really? Please tell us,” Mrs. Rothenberger responded.

“Um,” I said. I looked around at everyone else. The students all looked at me expectantly. “It just is,” I said.

“I don’t know how ‘it just is’ constitutes an answer,” she said.

“Um,” I said. I felt myself turning beet red. I decided to strike back. “Well, we’re not tied-down all the time, you know… long skirts…” I paused, to see their reaction, and continued: “worrying about pissing off the men…you know” I paused, and breathed in again. “We’re not scared.” I stopped talking. Mrs. Rothenberger stared at me. I stared back.

“Okay,” she said. “Good. Let’s move on.”

That whole time, Neelee had been pulling on my knee with her foot. If she hadn’t been, I don’t know what would have happened. Perhaps it would’ve went like this:

 

I waited for Mrs. Rothenberger to insult me, or to somehow just get back at me.

Okay,” she said.

Well,” I said. “Fucking…”

A couple of the girls gasped.

What did you just say?” the teacher said, astonished, her eyes narrowing.

Um,” I said. “Sorry.”

She’s sorry,” Neelee says quickly. She always covers for me. “It’s just how she talks.”

We do not swear in this classroom,” the teacher said, her black headscarf drooping a bit over her eyelids.

Conclusion: I am sent to the principal’s office and suspended.

 

Thank the Lord I just politely shut my mouth and let the lecture stream on uninterrupted. Thank God for Neelee. She saved my skin, but—I could have left a lasting impression on those young minds. I left them to their religious misery.

 

***

 

“You sure?” Samantha asked. “It sounds like you’re the miserable one in this story.”

“Watch it, fuckface,” I told her. “You could be next.”

“What, in the parade of never-ending stories about Clarissa Steiner? I don’t fear, they’re all about you anyway!”

“Anyway, the point is, if Neelee hadn’t been distracting me, I really would have started on one of my rants. One of my epic rants.”

Epic rants,” Samantha agreed. She paused; then she said: “Where’d you learn to swear like that, anyway?”

“Never mind that,” I muttered. It actually was my older brother.

“I guess I’ll just have to do my own independent research.”

Chapter 5

But I never told you about our time in prison. So let me do that.

Jimmy was all full of these obsessions and loathings that had to do with me. He absolutely detested me, As if it was my fault we ended up in that place!

“Clarissa, it’s clear,” he said. “Remember when we got to first know each-other?” I did. “And it was good, right? Uh-huh? Yeah? You know?”

I knew.

“And didn’t that mean anything to you?” he repeated.

“What?” I said. I was confused. Mean what? What should it mean? What does it mean? You tell me, Samantha. You tell me what all this shit means. I am invited over to his house. We smoke some weed downstairs. Everything is good. And then I leave with my family! I mean, goddamnit! Why is God so evil? Jimmy has to rail on how he is all hung up over me not calling him ever (like I ever did), and my not returning his calls, the horrible bitch that I am. Although I was too young to be a bitch at that time. Maybe just a cunt. But poor little Jimmy. He goes into the drug business, after that. He’s a pusher. He be a pusher. El habla espanol. He’s multicultural.

Ah, globalism. Globalismo, in the Spanish. I’m very educated, after all.

And a pussy. I mean, why didn’t I give Jimmy a call? I suppose I’ll never know.

So we parted ways, me and Jimmy. I continued on doing what I do best, and Jimmy started his own empire.

“I became a king, Clarissa,” he said, contently, like a fat cat with a cigar in his mouth. He leaned his back against the grimy wall and let it absorb the scum which had been festering there since G-d knows when. His back was probably full of the porous stuff by now. We’d been here for two whole hours.

Mostly, he’d been humming popular tunes over and over again while the other prisoners yelled at him to stop or asked him what song it was.

“Ever hear of Beethoven?” one prisoner asked.

Jimmy continued talking, then frowned.

“No, don’t listen to him,” another prisoner said. He was a bearded Rabbi-type who looked like he hadn’t eaten bread or water for two full days. “Want to hear a niggun?”

“My name is Jimmy,” he told the prisoner. “Nice to meet you. And this here,” and he pointed to me in the cell across from him, “is Clarissa.”

“Very nice to meet you,” the Rabbi-Figure said. He let us keep talking.

“So anyway,” he said, “I became a king. And I reveled in my kingship. I was glorified in it. My honor was a garment for me; my enemies fell before me. Because my honor told the older thugs to do it. And they didn’t know it was me.”

“What are you talking about?”

“You see, Clarissa-pie,” he said with pointed acerbity, “I enacted this enterprise with the Internet. Chat rooms, Myspace, anything you can name. I did it. I spread myself all over, made myself an entrepreneur. I was a creative shit. A creative little shit.”

“You are verifiably crazy.”

“So I am. Kill me.”

“No. I can’t. And even if I could, I’d go to hell and have to be with you.”

Jimmy stared back. “Ah! So you do like me! What a nice surprise!”

I eyed him. Didn’t what I say have the opposite connotation?

“Enough,” Jimmy waved his hand. “Let me proceed.”

“Fuck that,” I said. “You’re just wasting time. Just get to the part where you get arrested, for whatever… it was you were doing. And why I’m also suspected of aiding you in your latest ploy to take over the world.”

“Ah, resorting to clichés! This I like!” He was definitely getting annoying.

“Too much,” I said.

“Fine, fine. I’ll get to it. But first, do you want some prune juice?” He offered me something from his tray.

“No,” I said.

“Fine, be that way!” he said. “Anyway…

“You listening?

“They took me to prison first time in eighth grade. Juvie, they called it. In Juvie, there were many different kinds of kids. Being a New-York Jew and all, and then a Los-Angeles Jew, I didn’t have much opportunity to branch out. I met people from all across the world. Among them: Swiss, Kurds, Mexicans, Americans, Iranians (well, Iranian Jews) and Circassians. And, bum da dum bum: Israelis! Of all stripe and color: blond Israelis, brown-haired, etc… I can tell you’re getting bored from all this cataloguing, so I’m going to stop. Besides, you’ve seen them all anyway.”

“You’re a good storyteller. Surprised I said that, though.”

“You’ve always been sweet under your bristly skin, Clarissa-pie.”

“Fuck you. You’re the one who got me here. And I still don’t know why I’m here.”

Jimmy stood silenced (or rather, sat). After a minute or two, he whispered, “I’m sorry. Honest, Clarissa, it was just an error. There should be someone else in your cell.”

“5 minutes to lights out!” yelled a warden.

“Who?” I demanded.

Jimmy hesitated. “Look,” he said. “It was my idea to have our families move to Israel.”

“What?”

“I met some pretty cool Israelis in that L.A. jail,” he said. “We started a drug enterprise… spanning the glove. Along with the Pakistanis, Mexicans and South Africans. You know, globalism. You know, Jews and Muslims work together pretty well when it comes to defeating the establishment. In fact, anyone who’s not American is like that. As long as you’re an outsider, then it’s okay, as I like to say!”

“So you started this… enterprise.” Fucking Jimmy. “And why didn’t you bring someone else’s family instead of mine? You could’ve brought anyone! Any one of your drug buddies!”

“Bedtime,” spat a guard. “No more talking.”

Jimmy leaned in closer once the guard had gone. “So I subliminally convinced my parents to go to Israel, Paradise of Drugs, so I could build up my empire. I did all that anyone would expect. You know, I bought them Israeli products and such, and when they asked, I said I found them on the cheap, or nonsense like that. Or a friend had given it to me (which was true in some cases—Israeli pickles stolen from the pantry of one of my drug buddies (stolen from his parentals)). When my parentals came into contact with yours on the Sabbath, it was a simple matter of me inserting the topic of food, and watching them go off the rails! They move to Israel, and take us with them.

“Unfortunately, you were a sad little footnote. I accidentally wrote your name on a government form, saying that you were my first contact in any case of emergency.”

Accidently?”

“Um, you were the only contact I had at the time, I had to put someone.”

I was really angry. Stewed, in fact. “Then wait a bit, till you meet one of your druggie friends!”

“Don’t call them that!” Jimmy snapped. “You might as well be insulting me.”

“I guess I am.”

Jimmy sighed. “When I get out of here, I’m getting me some nice Crackerjacks.”

The lights went out.

Chapter 6

 

 

Jimmy and I were in jail for six days. I guess we were lucky, because we should’ve been in there thirty. Maybe it was because they knew they had nothing on me (or maybe they had asked the U.S. about my various 6th grade misdemeanors—I don’t know). Maybe they had averaged my and Jimmy’s sentences; but then, wait, it’s impossible to average zero and infinity! No one told you I was a math major, huh, Samantha? Give us time—it’s only the fourth day of college.

Where was I… oh, so we got out. I was prancing around school telling everyone about it. Jimmy was tagging along, thirsty for some attention, like some uncared-for dog. I mean, I know he couldn’t understand Hebrew, but at least he could have looked a little more dignified…ah, you know I’m kidding, Jimmy!

We even got a reception from that old meanie, Mrs. Rothenberger.

“So I see you’re back. Welcome!” she said when she saw us in the hallway.

“Yes!” Jimmy said, proud to be saying something.

“So this is Jimmy?” said Mrs. Rothenberger.

“Yes!” I said. I didn’t know why my volume level was up. After all, I did dislike her—right?

“Oh, you’re famous!” she said. “All the boys are talking about you.”

“Hopefully I can understand them,” Jimmy muttered.

“I’m sure you will,” the teacher said.

“Huh? I didn’t ask you,” Jimmy said.

“I know. But I’m sure you will,” she said, and left.

“Jimmy, Jimmy,” I said, and almost took him by the arm (I saw another teacher rounding the corner who was staring suspiciously at us). “Jimmy, we almost haven’t talked about classes. Tell me about your classes, Jimmy.” I was surprising even myself.

All the students were staring at us as we walked past. Neelee waved as we walked past.

“I have no friends,” Jimmy said.

“What are you saying? I was asking you about your classes, stupid.”

“Shut up,” Jimmy whispered.

“You didn’t seem so morose in prison,” I said. Please lighten up, Jimmy, I thought.

“Well, this isn’t prison! Clarissa!” Yes, he said my name.

“Hey, it’s Naor,” I said. He was jauntily walking down the hall in that not-quite-strutting manner that many Israelis of the Middle-Eastern variety possess. I.e. shaking your hips and hoping someone will notice you. Ah, well. I happen to do that, too.

And so does Jimmy.

But he didn’t do it back then.

“Jimmy,” I said in the manner of one who instructs, “You must do like Naor. Naor will show you how to jive-walk.”

“You kidding me? Naor?”

“Hey, guyz. Vassup?” Naor said.

“Hey, Naor,” I said. “Want to take a walk with us? We’ll show little Jimmy how to walk. You know, like a Sephardi.”

Ars,” Naor said, with his little accented “r”. “You must know my name. That is it; That is what people call me.” Ars meant poison in Hebrew—why young middle-eastern Jews with spiky hair got to be called that in Israel was beyond me.

“How’d you get such good English?” an amazed Jimmy asked.

“Doesn’t matter. TV,” he said. “Want me to show you around the school?”

“OK!” Jimmy said, even though he had already seen the school multiple times.

“Have fun!” I said to the two of them, and wished them on their merry way. As they turned to leave, Jimmy leaned in close to me and said, “He likes me!”

“Of course he likes you, you idiot,” I wanted to say, but didn’t, because I know. I know, that learning Hebrew can be hard.

Israel is a different culture. It’s easy to get lost in the fact that you’re different from everyone else. You think you’re stupid. You think everyone else is ignoring you. The truth is, you probably are at least a little stupid, because you’re still learning how to adapt to a foreign environment. But if people are ignoring you, then you’re not the idiot. They are. You just remember that if you ever go to a foreign country, Samantha.

“Okay, mom,” says Samantha.

“Anyway,” I continue, “Naor goes off with Jimmy and they have a good time. Yay. And I’m left to deal with some more illicit teachers. What are they up to this time? Well, ‘no good’ is an excellent way of putting it.

 

___

 

Boom…Boom…Boom…Thump. That is the sound of me jumping on the bleachers in the city soccer stadium, just a few kilometers from our little grouping of houses on a hill. A dirt hill, I should add. But that’s irrelevant.

What’s relevant is that I was seeing Jimmy practice with his team of pals. They had graduated to two-word phrases like “that’s cool,” “chase it,” and “high-five” (a favorite among the Israelis—it’s not just Borat, you know). Jimmy was getting a real education, what can I say. Harvard-esque. They should make Legally Blonde 3 and have it be about him. I’ll be his girlfriend.

Okay, enough of that. I was there to see him and in exchange, he would come to see me. You see, he would quiz me on my shit, from these little wonderful colorful cards that we had, and I would come to his games. And, of course, his practices.

I had my shit spread out all over the three benches adjacent to me—Deuteronomy, Exodus, Genesis, Kings, Judges… you name it. I’d gotten the best of the Conservative authorities to combat that awful Orthodox arrogance, with a capital A, that this school has to offer.

You see, the Orthodox bigots with their black hats and streimels and their not-so-Orthodox cousins with their knitted colorful hippee yamulkees really want to monopolize G-d and religion in the name of the black coats and the segregation. Of women, I mean. Women can’t sing in public, women can’t pray in public, women must obey the male authorities. Meaning the rabbis.

The rabbis have their own G-d. He is an old man in a long black coat.

“Is that Clarissa I see?” said a voice with a long black coat and a circular furry hat. I tried to ignore him.

“Clarissa!” he said. “Turn around so I can see you.” I reluctantly did so.

“Clarissa, you’re one stunning beauty,” he said. Well, no, he didn’t actually say that. He said, “Clarissa! Not often I see you outside of class!”

No shit, Rabbi. “Um, Rabbi, so you want to sit down?” I asked him, with a forced cheerful smile on my face. A smile is worth a thousand A’s.

“Clarissa, fine,” he said. “As long as you can tell me if it violates the laws of yichud.”

Yichud. The set of laws which tells me when/where I may be with a boy and therefore designed to regulate fucking.

“No, no!” I said. “It doesn’t violate the laws.”

“That’s what I thought,” he said, and sat down. “So, Clarissa, tell me what is going on in this game. Who is winning.”

“Well,” I said, and looked at the field. They had started a scrimmage. Fuck me, I was so engrossed in my studying. I started to cup my hands to my mouth in order to cheer on Jimmy, but… I hesitated. And stopped. As I sat there with my hands in my lap, powerless to act, I wondered, why am I being stopped by this itinerant rabbi? Could it be that I am actually embarrassed?

No, it couldn’t.

So I put my hands to my mouth and yelled. “Hey, Jimmy! Go score a goal!”

The rest of the players turned to look at us. After a moment they started laughing. The rabbi must have had a dangling booger or something.

“Is that your boyfriend?” the rabbi asked.

Were rabbis always this direct?

“Um,” I said as I tried to come up with an answer. “So, rabbi, how are you doing?”

“Good, good!” he said and rummaged through his briefcase. “I have to give you something. Did you know that you were summoned to compete in a debate? About holy studies?”

I knobbed my nose down in distaste. “Debate? About Bible?”

“No, about holy studies in general. Thought, morality, Bible, Talmud, anything and everything. It’ll all be there. In your head. Should you choose to participate, of course.”

Should I choose to participate. Sounded like a guilt-trip to me.

“No,” I said promptly, and finally, and as Israelis said it, happily.

“Are you sure?” he said, wagging the papers in the air and arching his eyebrows. “You friend, em, Neelee, is participating. You could say, she is the main contestant.”

Main contestant? Neelee? It all left me feeling confused.

You see, Neelee was a very quiet person. Studious, yes. Not loud. Very quiet. She was an immigrant like me, I guess that had to play into it. Her family immigrated from Russia when she was nine. Her and her blithe, friendly Russian parents who didn’t know a thing about Judaism. Who didn’t want to. I didn’t blame them.

I guess that made Neelee all quiet. Maybe she was just patient. Or maybe Russian people are just quieter. Have you ever seen a Russian yell? Except for those old men with huge beards, I mean.

So Neelee was an interesting choice for contestant.

“Why’d you pick Neelee?” I blurted. It wasn’t that I was jealous. I just wanted to know.

“Neelee is a dynamic candidate with a working knowledge of all facets of the Bible,” he said.

“I don’t understand. Who decides this? Who knows this?”

“The teachers, for one. Listen, Clarissa, you’re being impertinent. For one, it’s not your decision. And two, she picked you. Are you going to turn her down? Don’t waste this opportunity!”

Fuck opportunities, I thought. I already have all the opportunities I need. But I was confused. “She picked me? For what?”

“Each team has three members. And each school has one team. Neelee was chosen for her knowledge. She applied, as well. Didn’t you?”

“For what, the test?”

“Oh, right, you weren’t here last year,” the Rabbi said. “Right. Sorry. Well, she picked you, and the final candidate is picked by the two of you.”

“What?” I was about to say wtf, but I stopped myself. “She picked me? Couldn’t she have done better than pick an American like me?”

I waited while one of Jimmy’s friends made a corner kick. It caromed off one of the posts, and Jimmy headed it in.

One thing I knew: Jimmy wasn’t coming to Jerusalem or Tel-Aviv, or wherever this thing was being held. He would spoil it. I mean, we’d been out of prison for what, two days? I wasn’t going to allow him to start telling prison stories.

Oh, wait, he can’t speak Hebrew. But I’m sure they would understand gesticulations and English.

Fuck fuck fuck! I couldn’t do this! Now I’d have to choose who comes. Along with Neelee, of course. That kind of pressure…makes me piss myself. I mean, I’m a tough girl, right guys? But playing picky-choosy with a bunch of other tenth-graders… what am I, a queen? I’d never be able to do that, I thought. I didn’t know anyone. What if we picked someone and then we got along horribly? And then we did horribly and flopped and then everyone blamed me?

Fuck me. And my life.

“Clarissa, so what if you’re American? We’re all just a bunch of motley immigrants, anyway.” He pointed to himself. “My grandparents were from Poland and Czechoslovakia, and I’m a mutt of that plus Moroccan and Egyptian.”

“I don’t care about that.”

“I know,” he said. “But you know, we’ll forgive you if you’re American. If you’re a depressed American, I don’t think we’ll have the guts. Or a nervous American.”

“Do I look nervous?” I checked myself and saw that I was shaking. “Fine. You’ve got me on that one, but you’ll never make me go.”

“It’s up to you,” he said. “But think it over. I’ll see you tomorrow morning for Talmud.”

If I survive the night, I thought.

“So any news on Jimmy’s verdict?” my mom asked me as we were sitting at dinner.

“Um… no,” I said.

“I think he should be pardoned,” my father said. “For not making a ruckus.” We all chuckled.

“The kids didn’t make fun of me today,” Chris said. I still thought of him as Chris, even though his real name was Caleb.

“That’s good, honey,” my mom said.

“I finally got a hang of the Arabic swear words and then shoved the leader against a wall, and that’s why,” he said.

“You shouldn’t shove people, Caleb,” Dad said.

“Daddy,” I said. “Don’t you think it’s better to let him handle things himself? I mean, it’s not like you’re the one going to an Israeli elementary school.”

“Clarissa-pie,” he said. “I think he’s handling things fine. I don’t know what I would have done if I was in his place. I was just informing him of the kneejerk moral abstraction which I was reacting to him with.”

That left me silent.

“And Clarissa,” Mother said. “Why don’t you go up to your room now for that?”

I giggled. But I wouldn’t be calling Daddy “Daddy” for quite a while.

“So, how was your day, Clarissa?”

“Absolutely fabulous,” I responded. I wiped the lasagna from my mouth with my duck-colored napkin (the ones we had brought from the States). “Give me some more lima beans, will you, Dad?”

Daddy grimaced and passed them.

He will always be Daddy to me.

“My day was actually amazing,” I said to them in spite of myself.

“Oh, really?”

“Jimmy came this close to scoring a goal in practice, and I got a job offer.”

“Oh, common, babe,” my smart-ass brother said. “You’re not even qualified to work.”

“You’re not, dipshit,” I fired back. “I am.”

“My ass.”

“Children, children,” my father held up his hands. And you wonder why I call him “Daddy.” He gives me the creeps.

“Um, guys, you want any dessert?” asked Mom.

…nation or ethnicity or something else… search the web

Is Judaism a movement or a philosophy? That’s certainly not a question I’d been asking myself the sixteen years I’d been alive.

First of all, who cared? I mean, I know Rabbi WhatsHisName did and all that, and probably cared about the outcome enough to rig it so that we would all turn into his prostrating, black-clad puppets. At least we had freedom of choice. That we could agree on.

I know Rabbi Klinghoffer probably knew the head of the committee which picks the questions and so he probably rigged the entire thing himself, making me and Neelee and Unknown Candidate #3 have to strain and sweat as hard as we could, for our ultimate betterment, of course. He probably picked it right after I arrived in school, so he could see me represent the liberal elements in Judaism and thus be shamed before the Ultra-Orthodox anti-feminist bigots which would populate the coliseum. Let us rejoice.

So it was that I set about this task, answering this question, along with Neelee and Unnamed Person #3, with a heavy heart. Of course, the first task we had was to pick our mandatory third teammate.

“Haven’t done that since you stopped playing kickball,” Chris said the next night.

“Aw, shutup, Chris,” said, surprisingly, my dad.

“Language, dear,” spouted my mom. “You must learn manners.”

“Who are you, his mom?” I moaned. “Gimme a break.”

“Maybe when your balls drop you can start playing kickball again,” Chris said.

“Fucking jerk,” I muttered.

“So how’s Jimmy?” Chris said when we had gotten upstairs.

“What do you really want to ask,” said I.

“Oh, you mean, did you do him yet?” he pantomimed.

“Where did you hear that?” I asked, horrified. You know, I can be genuinely horrified.

“Honey?” called my mom from downstairs.

“She means you,” Chris said.

“I know.”

I overhear your phone calls,” he said, licking his lips. “Sexy sluts.”

Now where’d he learn language like that?

Chapter 7

 

 

I suppose Rabbi Klinghoffer must be thinking of me as quite the obnoxious slut, as by now he will have read this book and all the materiel herein—but perhaps his kids won’t. Perhaps his kids will hold me up as the standard of moral behavior; their father worshiped idolatry, and now they are free. They are free to enter the promised land.

I mean, it’s not like I’m a total sinner. I do volunteer in some foreign countries. Like Kenya. And I sleep on the floor from time to time.

Bet he doesn’t do that.

But before I hang up my black hat on the hat stand and get comfy on the loveseat, let me tell you that Jimmy wasn’t happy about his eventually being nominated, either. You see, Rabbi Klinghoffer didn’t quite mean it when he insisted that Neelee and I choose our own running mate. You see, he would eventually turn out to be a sort of “mate”, but not of the same kind, and definitely, definitely not at that time.

 

NEWS FLASH

 

“Christina, it’s time to go to class,” Samantha interrupted.

“Ah, what? Oh,” said my muttering mouth.

“I can’t wait to see Jimmy.”

“Ha, now that I’ve told you all that? Don’t try to steal him from me.”

“I won’t.”

“I think he has soccer practice today, anyway.”

“Isn’t today Friday?”

“You’re right again.”

“Fuck, I forgot to turn in my chem homework last night,” she said.

Privately, I was sad she had copied my tendency to be a sailor. I didn’t look so good in a pirate anyhow.

“Are you alright? What’s wrong?” she asked.

“Nothing,” I said, forcing a smile. “Life goes on as usual.”

“So let us depart!” Samantha exclaimed.

We exited the building and started walking down the long concourse to the Spanish building.

I said, “I’ve always envied your vocabulary, you know.”

“Igualmente,” she said.

“Show-off.”

“Fuckface.”

“Potty-mouth.”

“Well I learned it from you.”

“No, you didn’t.”

“Yes, I did.”

“We’re reaching the fucking building. Tone it down.”

All at once, I caught a glimpse of bright blue engulfed in the crowd, coming toward us.

“Hey look, it’s Jimmy!”

“No fucking way.” Samantha turned.

“Hey Samantha, Clarissa.” I smiled at him. “Want to come jogging with me?”

“No thanks, Jimmy, we’re a little, how shall we say, weighed down,” I said.

“No kidding,” he said, and winked at Samantha. I cringed.

“Hey, listen, you want to come to Rabbi G’s tonight?” he said. “Plenty of good food.”

Samantha and I looked at each-other. We burst out laughing.

“What’s so funny?” Jimmy asked.

“Oh, it’s not you, Jimmy,” I replied, although it was. Rabbi G was the resident Chabad practitioner, which was a sect of black-hat. This sect of black hats’ aim was to convert all other people into Chabad practitioners. “Spreading Chasidus,” they called it, which meant spreading a vague eighteenth-century philosophy designed to bring people together under the control of one charismatic leader, or “Rebbe”.

We had just spent the last hour reliving my experiences from Israel. That’s why it was funny.

“Listen, Jimmy,” I said. “We’re sort of busy. You know, girl things. But we’re still going out, right?”

Jimmy looked baffled. “Right,” he said.

“Fuck me,” I said, looking at my watch. “We’re late. Love you.” And I gave him a little peck on the cheek.

Perhaps it was my imagination, but Jimmy seemed to recoil a bit when I touched him.

 

“Yo tengo! Tu tienes! Usted tiene! El tiene! El y ella tienen! Vosotros Tienen! Nosotros…”

“I thought we didn’t learn Vosotros,” Samantha whispered.

“I think she’s from Spain.”

“Silencio! Fermen las bocas!” the teacher screamed.

“She has good ears,” Samantha wrote to me when the teacher had turned back to the blackboard. (We still had blackboards—it was definitely a public university.)

“Yeah, no kidding,” I answered. “We should do a survey on the physiogamy of Spanish teachers.”

 

It turned out, actually, that Rabbi Klinghoffer was a Chabad. Not a Rebbe-worshiping, hero-lauding Chabad, but a Chabad all the same. He told us stories about the Rebbe, often for hours at a time, if it happened to be connected to something we were doing.

“Did you hear about the time the Rebbe farted?” he asked us once when he dropped in to Physical Sciences class.

But actually, no, that didn’t happen.

It went like this:

“Ladies!” he excited upon us as he dropped by where we were studying. “How is the progress?”

“What progress?” Neelee asked.

“The competition, of course.”

“We are competing quite fine,” I said.

“Hahaha,” he said. “You girls are quite something magnificent. I expect you have chosen your third person already?”

“No,” I said, and started to hate him.

“Clarissa,” he said, “You don’t look so hot. Cheer up.”

Fuck you.

“Clarissa,” Neelee said, shaking me like a sack of beans.

“Neelee?” I asked. I raised my head from the table.

“Neelee?” Neelee asked. “Who’s Neelee?”

“What?” I said. It was only then that I realized that Neelee wasn’t Neelee and the table wasn’t a table. It was a desk.

“Class is over,” she said. “It’s time to go to Philosophy.”

“Fuck,” I said. Philosophy be damned, my philosophy was sleep. Especially after getting four hours of sleep. But drinking has its rewards, you know.

“We’re still in class, you know,” she said. “Swearing can come later.”

“Right,” I said, sighing. “Thanks, mom.”

Samantha said, “Okay, then,” and took my backpack and me. I was dragged from the classroom.

“Better luck on the quiz next time!” the teacher screamed after me.

“Why is she such a bitch?” I asked Samantha.

“She was born that way. I don’t know. I think that’s the way she talks, actually,” she said.

“What do you think of Jimmy’s proposal?” I said.

“What do you mean?” said Samantha. “I thought we were going out tonight.”

“Don’t you think it’s a little risqué for me to fuck someone else when I’m also fucking Jimmy?”

“I mean, you can stick two penises in you at once, can you?”

“Shut up, you slut!” I said and lashed out at her. She blocked it. Black belt, what can I say.

“Stop fucking around and tell me why you want to go be with Jimmy. I mean, you’re with him every day!”

“Like I said,” I said, “It just doesn’t seem right.”

“I see,” she said. “Monogamy clearly suits you. Let me know when you break out the dresses.”

“Give me a break,” I said. “It’s not like I’m becoming religious.”

“Good,” she said. “Because you can’t get drunk on Saturday night if you have to go to church.”

“Synagogue.”

“Synagogue.”

“I mean, there’s also another reason I want to go,” I said.

“And what is that?”

We passed a group of party-animal guys. They ogled at us.

“I mean, I want to sort of see what these people are all about,” I said, although that couldn’t be farther than the truth.

“I thought you said you hated Rabbi Klinghoffer.”

“That’s because he was a klingy shit,” I said. “And I did. But not that much. And just in a particular way. Just for certain things. Not for others.”

Samantha groaned. “You will become religious.”

“Just watch me,” I said. “Maybe I’ll become a Scientologist.”

 

—-

 

SUDDEN STARTLING FLASHBACK

 

It was a Shabaton at Rabbi Klinghoffer’s house. Everyone was staying for the weekend in the Zichron Ya’akov neighborhood where the school was, and where the Rabbi’s house also happened to be. We were at the Rabbi’s table. Maybe thirty of us. Jimmy was there. Neelee. Naor. The soccer team. My other girlfriends. And some various assorted nerds, etc. But of course you don’t need to hear that.

“The most important thing is the Torah,” Rabbi Klinghoffer was saying. “Doing the Torah. Because if you’re not doing the Torah, you’re not living life. Going to school and doing your homework is not enough. You need to be doing your homework up there,” and he pointed to the sky.

Several students coughed. I looked up at the ceiling where he was pointing. Lots of little patterns etched in white paint. Nice roof, Rabbi.

“It’s not wealth that matters,” he continued. “It’s godliness. It’s cleaving to G-d. Taking the hidden and making it revealed.”

I took a bite of coleslaw.

“Therefore,” he said, looking at me and then back to the group, “there needs to be a continuation, a confirmation of all we learn in Judaism. This is Chasiddus.”

What is Chassidus,” I pictured Alex Tribek telling the audience, is right. Two hundred dollars for Mr. Jones.

“Well, then,” he said to me, sparking chuckles from the boys. “Clarissa. You tell us what the four worlds are.”

Four worlds of Kabbalah. Fuck if I know. And although I didn’t really appreciate him putting me on the spot like that, fuck my life if I was going to give in to that rabbi.

“Well,” I said, thinking hmmm and not getting anything, “well, I think that the four worlds are Abercrombie and Fitch, Aeropostale, Roxy and Urban Outfitters.”

The rabbi chuckled. “You know, Clarissa, I think that’s sort of funny.” Again the laughter. “I’ll tell you now that the four worlds are bacon, ham, pork and anchovies.” More laughter. His face became serious. “But now what I’m going to tell you is not a joke. The four worlds are the World of Emanation, the World of Creation, the World of Formation, and the World of Action.” The faces in the room are staring intently. I perspire. “There is not just one world,” the rabbi continued. “What I’m about to tell you is absolutely serious.

“We are mere ants. We are walking around on the fingertip of G-d’s hand. I cannot stress this enough. We are eating, sleeping, driving, yes, even pooping,” he said, and some students laughed, “in his presence. In his presence we are all fools, who go about the day like chickens with their heads cut off.”

“Chickens! That is what we are.” He paused a little to think. “That is even lower than ants, wouldn’t you think?” More laughs. “And you, Clarissa,” he said, singling me out again. “What do you think? Wouldn’t we all make good ants?” He gestured at the room. They laughed. I remained silent.

“And what does it mean? What does it all mean? That were are in the bottom world. That we are mere mortals. We are not Gods.”

“Except when it comes to skateboarding,” I said.

I couldn’t help it. I had to say something. I couldn’t let him steal the room like this.

“Skateboarding?” the rabbi said. “Skateboarding? Clarissa, what is skateboarding, if not for a frivolous pursuit of vanity which has utterly no meaning whatsoever?” I opened my mouth, but he continued. “Furthermore,” he said, “what is anything in the presence of G-d? Nothing! Ashes and dust.”

“Therefore,” the rabbi pontificated, “it is imperative to be on the alert at all the times.”

“For what?” I said.

“For what?” he asked. “For falsehoods! For untruths that you must clear out of your life at the moment’s notice! That’s what! For instance, drugs! Drugs, sex and Rock and roll! Things which are imported from America! Every morning, I wake up thinking about that, and thinking, ‘Thank G-d I’m a Jew, and not an animal like those goyim!’ It’s about truth above falsehoods!”

The boys in the room were nodding their heads thoughtfully.

Is he high?” the girl next to me whispered.

“I don’t think I’ve seen him high yet, so yes,” I responded.

The rabbi ignored us. “Don’t you know,” he said, “that the geula has already happened. We are in the end times. The end of the world as we know it. And the beginning of the messianic era.

 

The beginning is always the hardest part. Like when I found out I was bisexual. The beginning was the hardest. And when I found out Jimmy wasn’t. I mean, time crawls so slowly when there are no orgies. Just kidding. I don’t do that.

Or do I?

But, my point is that it was pretty hard in that first encounter with Chabad. And with strict Orthodox Judaism in the first place. I mean, school was weird in a sense, but it was also a factory. You know how everyone from a certain place is a certain way? Like everyone who plays Magic the Gathering is a little bit socially inept; everyone who smokes pot regularly is a little bit lazy; everyone who parties regularly is usually just a little bit horny. Well, everyone who went to my school was the same way, too. They talked the same and acted the same and talked to the opposite sex the same. In that sense, it was easy to fit in. Just be like everyone else; be an actress.

It was weird, but not nearly as weird as Chabad.

At Chabad, you see, there was this whole thing going on where you had to be a certain way. For instance, talking to the opposite gender is frowned upon, so I couldn’t just fuck someone in the middle of the room or even grind against them. I had to think first. Then my mind would tell me “no”. That’s how it works.

So no grinding or bumping or fucking, you ask. What kind of party is that?

The answer: one hell of a stuck-up one.

So enough pontification on my part. You want to know: what happens next?

It’s not Rabbi Klinghoffer’s diatribe. It’s not my past. It’s not even my present. Which is why I’m going to hand you over to…… Jimmy.

 

Jimmy

What’s up, niggas?

Racism be damned, Black people say it, why can’t I?

And why can’t Clarissa?

Damn, let me tell you, that girl is one hot chick. One girly girl. She get what she want. She be struttin her stuff. And it be pertty, too.

That’s my Intro to African-American English. I didn’t tell you I was a Linguistics major, did I?

I am. And a PolySci, with a minor in Computer Science. Why? I’m just a nerd inside, I guess.

I read the previous portion of Clarissa’s account. You could tell I was a geek, right? Magic cards, I think she said. References to my fascination with slugs. I like animals, what can I tell you? I collect things. Animals, people, girls. Although some like to say that “girls” are included in “people”.

Now that you know how much of a misogynist I am (although not a pig, I just collect them—little plastic ones) you can really see how fucked up I am inside. Although I’m not against pigs, I am against women. Doing what they want, that is. Sitting around the house and fucking us is fine, but them doing what they want? Nuh-uh, honey. Un-acceptable. No way. No goddamned way.

And the fucking has to be good. No half-ass blowjobs. And the dancing. Gotta hit the spot. If you know what I mean.

I been to prison. I fucked girls there. They fucked me.

I get confused by girls sometimes. Are they in it for the fucking or for the “loving”? Because there is no such thing as love. I only am with Clarissa for the sex. And the moral support.

But…. it is sort of hot when she says “I love you”.

That’s between us, though. No nosing.

You can’t tell anyone, though. You understand? Because it would mean the end of me.

You see, I can’t let Clarissa know how I really feel. I mean, she would think I’m like one of those ordinary college jerks, right? You know? I mean, I can’t just be like everybody else. You know. I have to be different. I have to be unique. I have to be mysterious.

Mysterious with a capital M.

You see, I need to be alpha. Sexual. Hyper-sexual, in fact. Able to ram anybody and give them an orgasm with a single blow. They’ll scream out and love it. I’ll have power and love. I won’t be lonely. Because you know, I’m not lonely. I have Clarissa. I make her cry out at night. And that’s why she loves me. You know?

When we’re making love/ I mean, having sex/ I mean, fucking/ I mean, getting nasty…. um, it’s pretty cool. You should see us. I mean, you shouldn’t. Or you should. As an evidence of my virility. Even though my penis isn’t the biggest… but it’s still pretty schwe. I.e. pretty cool, hot, rad, whatever you like.

So when I asked Clarissa to Chabad, it was to mask my growing concern that she was getting to know that part of me too much. Too intimately. You know, the part of me that likes slugs. And sex. And sex on the beach, on the sink, on the toilet…. Etc. Although I think no one really likes it on the toilet. People just try things, you know?

I wanted to ask Clarissa to Chabad in order to show her that I am a deeper person…. than she thinks.

The fact that Samantha comes too, that’s just an added bonus. I mean, Samantha is a hot girl with a lot of baggage. Just like Clarissa. But there’s a special thing about Samantha, as well: I’m friends with her. Which means that we can commiserate.

You know what commiserating means.

Yes. Sex.

With a capital S.

But here I tell you a secret. And this is a secret for relationship-building. This secret must only be whispered from one ear to the next for the next thousand years. Then it can be mentioned in public.

Haha just kidding. But. It is important. And the secret is this: As long as you focus on one woman and make her feel loved and protected, she will give you all the sex you want, as long as she loves you back.

The key, of course: as long as she loves you back. This means basically that you have shared interests, passions, etc, and have more than just a sexual connection. So, when you commiserate with her friend, even when she’s there, you will get more sex. Because she will feel more protected/loved when you’re there, because you are friends with her friend, and thereby her connection with her friend is strengthened when you’re there.

Yay. Horray for physics. And chemistry. Ah, yes, Chemistry.

A demonstration:

Chapter 8

 

 

Okay, I’m going to take over here because Jimmy didn’t want me to see what he just wrote. No, Jimmy, stop! Sorry. He’s getting in my face. I guess he really doesn’t want me to see it. We’re in my college dorm, by the way. That’s where we’re writing this. I know, I’m a pretty good writer, right? Jimmy helped me a bit. Didn’t you, Jimmy?

Okay, now that you know how hot my hottie is, I’m going to tell you about the party I went to with him. Or the dinner. Or the religious dinner party. Whatever you want.

Me and Samantha and Jimmy. That’s who went. I suppose you want me to get to the meaty part already. So I will.

Enter the Chabad house. Rabbi G: “So nice to see you! Aaahh. Look who we have here!” He gives me a smiley-face.

Jimmy: “Hey, Rabbi G.” He walks over and shakes Rabbi G’s hand.

Samantha: Stands around looking awkward.

Here: why don’t I give it to you more in a form you can understand:

CLARISSA:

So Rabbi what’s new?

RABBI:

Not much Clarissa; it’s Shabbos! (he smiles) The holy day of rest! Welcome, welcome! Sit down, please!

[RABBI bows to CLARISSA.]

CLARISSA:

Why, thank you, Rabbi. I suppose you already know Samantha?

RABBI:

I don’t suppose I do!

CLARISSA:

Well would you mind if I introduced you?

RABBI:

Not at all!

[RABBI smiles graciously.]

SAMANTHA:

Hi. I’m Samantha.

[Samantha sticks out her hand, nervously.]

[Rabbi’s wife sidles up out of nowhere.]

RABBI’S WIFE:

Hello, I’m Miriam.

RABBI:

Miri, get out of the way! I’m meeting them now!

CLARISSA:

Oh, hi!

RABBI’S WIFE:

Hi, Clarissa! Oh, and you must be Samantha! We’ve heard so much about you!

[Samantha blushes.]

RABBI:

Sit down, sit down! Jimmy, how are you?

JIMMY:

Good, Rabbi. And you?

RABBI:

Ah, Jimmy, couldn’t be better. It’s Shabbos! The holy day of rest!

 

Don’t you think I should be a playwright when I grow up? Maybe when I finish this stupid English major.

So basically this is what happens:

“Where should we sit,” Jimmy whispers to me.

“Where do you want to sit?” I counter.

“Let’s sit here,” Jimmy announces. He points to a section in the corner.

“Don’t you think that’s a little isolated?” Samantha whispers to me.

“Here, have some gefilte fish!” the Rabbi yells. He passes the dish to some intermediate people.

“It’s the same color as my cum,” Jimmy says.

“Shut up!”

“What did you say, Jimmy?” asks the Rabbi.

“Um, nothing.” He gasps and giggles.

“Shut up,” I said to him again.

“Clarissa! That isn’t very nice!”

Rabbi wasn’t daddy, but: “Okay, daddy,” I said.

“Okay, daughter,” Rabbi chuckles. “Okay. Where do you all fit in here?”

Rabbi seats us.

 

“Jimmy, why are you laughing!” I ask him.

“Because this is where it’s about to get nasty,” he says.

“Stop looking over my shoulder.”

“I just want to see exactly what you’re writing.”

“What, so you can gloat over what happens in the end? We already know that one.”

“I know, too. And that ending is about to repeat itself.”

“Jimmy. Must you, in front of the readers?”

“Reader. First-person. You must remember your grammar, Clarissa.”

“And you must remember your manners. Can’t we skip over this part? You know, leave it to a short story?”

“What, in the uncertain future? You’ll goad me into not writing it.”

“You’re right. You need me to write. I’m the one who comes up with most of this shit, anyway.”

“Fine. Why don’t I take over the writing? This is the part where the aliens start to invade the Earth, anyway, to have illicit sexual liaisons with humans.”

“I’d rather like to be an alien, although it would leave me worse-looking than I am now,” I purred.

“Eew. What did you eat for breakfast today? Just kidding,” he said.

“Time to write,” I said.

“Time to write.”

 

“Have a seat,” Rabbi says.

We take our seats.

“I have an inkling this is going to be a long evening,” I muttered.

“Hush, Clarissa,” said Jimmy, carefully folding his coat and placing it on his seat.

“Um,” I say, looking up from my seat at a colorful presence in the doorway…. It was blurry, I couldn’t see, then:

“Neelee!” I cried.

“Clarissa?” Neelee asked.

“Neelee, is it really you?” I asked, recalling my previous dream. It couldn’t be her…. definitely not….

“Clarissa?” she asked again.

“Clarissa, it looks like she knows you!” said the Rabbi.

Several people stirred in their seats.

Then I recognized her. It was her! I got up from my seat, ran, tripping over some peoples’ feet in the process, and stumbled over. A couple party-animals ogled at me on the way. Ah well, too bad if they’re animals (aside). Still feels good when I fuck them.

They really are animals, though. They pant and snort and….

“Neelee!”

“Clarissa!”

“What are you doing in America?”

“What are you doing in America?”

“Fucking random people, just like you.”

“Neelee!” I was shocked. “Language.”

The Rabbi was talking to someone else, so he didn’t hear.

“There are four worlds….” he was saying.

 

——-FLASHBACK——

 

“His name is Shaul,” Rabbi K. was saying. “He will be your third teammate.”

“No shit,” I muttered. “Fuck. Whore. Bicycle?”

“Bicycle?” whispered Neelee.

“Couldn’t think of anything else to say,” I muttered to her.

“So girls,” the Rabbi said. “You ready to compete?”

“Not yet,” we both said.

“Meet Shaul, then,” he said.

He left the room.

A pause.

Then, a black-hat-clad, young, gullible boy walks into the room. And an awfully arrogant one, at that.

“Hi,” he said. “Where can I find Neelee and Clarissa?”

“You’re talking to them,” Neelee said.

“Oh!” he said. “Nice to meet you.” He stuck out his hand. I accepted it. Neelee did not.

“Oh!” he said. “You are shomer nagia” (you don’t touch men before you’re married). “Very religious! We should do well on the competition!”

I was starting to like him already….. not.

“Time to start walking away,” I whispered to Neelee. Neelee ignored me.

“Time to start learning!” Neelee said to him. “By the way, do you speak English? I detect a bit of an accent! Clarissa, by the way, is from America!”

“Oh, really,” he said, with a bit of a jeer, and then with a smile. “Welcome to Israel! You ever been to Crown Heights?”

“No,” I stated. Then, I remembered. “Yes,” I said. “Yes, in fact, I have.” It was back in the fourth grade…

 

——

 

“Now, Clarissa and Caleb, you have to be on your very best behavior when we visit the synagogue, you hear?” my father said.

“No,” I said.

“No talk-back, you hear?” he said, and slapped me.

It stung. Stung like a bitch. But of course I had just learned that word.

Chris, in first-grade:

“Daddy, what’s a bitch?”

Just kidding.

Really, he said: “Daddy, I have to go pee-pee!”

“We’ll find a bathroom soon,” he muttered. “First, I have to put on some tefillin.”

“What’s tefillin?” my mom asked.

“Ceremonial object,” Dad said. “Arm. Face. Head, I mean. Black boxes. Filled with some kind of parchment.”

“What’s parchment?” Chris asked.

“Animal skin,” my dad said. “Dried, written on.” He turned around to see a Chossid who was approaching us. “Oh, there you are!”

“Jerry!”

“Shawn!”

“It’s Moshe now.”

“Moshey!”

Moshey slapped my father’s broad backside with his calloused, dry hand. Lots of time spent shaking other peoples’ hands in synagogue. I look at his face to see his long, dangling black beard. Not so much like a booger—much prettier. Sort of like a carpet.

I wouldn’t want to have one, though.

“You brought yours?” Moshe asked.

“No, forgot them at home,” Dad said.

“Why, Alzheimer’s?”

“Too much booze.

“Ah,” Dad says. “We’re back!”

“Back where?” I ask. I refrain from adding more comments.

Father ignored me. “Shawn, I have a question. Why is it that—”

“Daddy!” Chris interrupted. “What is that?” He pointed at a balcony overlooking the room. A white, rumpled curtain was draped over it.

“Don’t point,” Dad said. “Not polite.”

“What’s a brit milah?” Chris asked.

“Caleb, we’ll talk after,” Dad said.

“A brit milah is G-d’s covenant with Abraham and his children,” Moshe says.

“Wait, Moshe,” Dad said. “Give me a sec. Oh, fuck, I forgot my question.”

“No swearing in here, dear,” says Mom. “My dad would have a fit.”

“Your dad?” my dad said. “Your dad is in a cemetery.”

“He works there,” my mom said.

“Enough,” Chris said.

“Wow, your boy has spunk,” Moshey said. Uncle Moshey must be having a fit as I’m writing this.

“Spunk and funk,” Daddy said. My daddy.

“I don’t think I ever met her,” Moshey said, pointing to me. I stare at him.

“Oh,” father said. “She wasn’t around last time.”

“Where was she?”

“Probably poking around in Mom’s stomach,” Chris suggested.

“Not the stomach, Caly,” I said, as was my custom to call him at the time.

“Uncle Moshey, why do you want Daddy to put on those boxes?” I pouted.

“I don’t see how that’s relevant,” Chris said.

“Chris, no backtalk,” Dad said.

“This is repetitive,” Mother said.

“The leather boxes,” Father said. “I have to put them on every day. Except I haven’t- not for too long.”

“That’s right!” beamed Uncle Moshey. He was becoming my uncle by then: so exultant! Like my very own Uncle Black-Bearded Gandalf. Although I hadn’t watched The Lord of the Rings at the time. Some people would have considered it Avoda Zara (idolatry). Read: Uncle Moshey.

“Mood: Anxious :/ Music: Trivium,” I muttered to myself. Fourth grade.

“What?” said Daddy.

“Leave her be,” said Chris.

“Yeah, leave her be,” I said.

So what’s the point of this book? Wait, did I write this???????

 

——

 

“I dunno, did you?” says Jimmy. We’re back in my dorm room. Kids playing outside. A girl walks past, shaking her booty. Mine is more tight, and hers is more curvy. Irrelevant details.

Kids playing outside. “Let’s join them,” I suggested.

“Yeah, let’s get in on that frisbee game,” Jimmy says.

We walk down the hallway.

“Why did you hate Shaul so much?”

“He was a bastard, for one,” I said.

“I don’t think he was a mamzer,” Jimmy said.

“I didn’t say mamzer,” I said. “I said bastard. He was a meanie.”

“What did he do?”

“He just was condescending,” I said. “It was really insulting, and rude.”

“Well, that’s your perspective,” Jimmy said.

“My perspective matters, too,” I said.

“But you’re not telling me anything.”

“I’m telling you something really important. Why aren’t you listening to me?”

“I am trying to listen to you. You just aren’t telling me anything.”

“Fine,” I say, and envision sticking him with a wooden spear. “Don’t think that!” a small part of me thinks.

I continue: “Um, so….. Basically, he tried to rig it so that the judges disqualified us because we were females.”

“How so?”

“Well…”

 

FLASHBACK

 

“The question is, is Judaism a movement or a philosophy,” the Judge said. “You will have two hours to discuss it with your teams and prepare a response, and then you will have to face the audience. And me.” Everyone in the room laughed.

“Two hours? That’s way too much,” I mocked.

Neelee giggled. “Is that all you have to say?”

“I have to say that your mother is a kumquat.”

“Quiet,” Shaul said. He had probably already prepared on his own for two hours.

“You be quiet, yourself,” I said. “Ah, Shaul. Always trying to hush up the female side of things, huh?”

“I am familiar with your arguments, Clarissa,” he said, smiling slightly. “They are all trivial….. and American.”

“American?” I said. “I don’t know how that has to do with it…..”

“Okay, children,” Neelee says, striking the wooden table for emphasis. “We must focus. What are we going to accomplish today?”

“Certainly nothing that important,” Shaul said.

“Shaul, you’re trying too hard,” I said.

“He’s not trying hard enough,” Neelee said, “if anything. We need his help, Clarissa.”

Shaul smirks.

I roll my eyes and scream inside.

Why scream, reader? You will see—soon enough.

“What are we going to say?” Neelee said.

“Something about Judaism being outdated and so thus it is definitely a movement and not a philosophy,” I say. “The philosophy of one god is out the window….. people already worship money, they have multiple gods aside from that as well: sex; hedonism, which is the same as sex; pop-culture icons; fame; et cetera.”

“Correct!” Shaul beamed. I shook my hair in an alluring formation. Do you want some? I thought.

“Shaul,” I said. “How about we go get a drink?” There were various soda tables arranged around the circumference of the room.

“Drink?” he snorted. “I had plenty of caffeine this morning. And sugar. I don’t need more.”

“What you need more of, Shaul,” Neelee said, “is time. You need to integrate your own opinion with our own.”

“Well, I didn’t know that you two were of one opinion,” he said, pointing at us.

“Well, we are,” I said. “We’re a pair of lesbos.”

“Lesbians you may be,” he said. “Irreligious you are not.”

“We’re just as religious as you, Shaul,” Neelee said.

Shaul blushed.

“Time to start debating,” I said, “on what we are going to debate on.”

“I vote that Judaism is a philosophy,” Neelee said.

“Why?” Shaul said.

“Well, for one thing,” Neelee said, “Judaism is the essential philosophy of one god, started by Abraham as you know.”

“We know,” Shaul and I both said.

“And for another thing,” Neelee continued, “Judaism started as a philosophy. Abraham, the first Jew, and Muslim. He realized that there was a god when he was three. He realized it by himself. No one there to help him. No one there to ‘move’ him, and thus Judaism is a ‘movement’ and not a philosophy.”

“I didn’t know you could talk in such a scholarly manner,” I said, somewhat condescendingly (although compared to Shaul, it wouldn’t even have registered on the radar).

“I actually think that is quite a cogent argument,” said Shaul.

“Really?” I say, meaning to be sarcastic but failing.

“Yes,” Shaul said, glancing at me in his indifferent manner, a smirk almost on his face. Almost smoochable, I thought, but those glasses really get in the way…

Neelee snapped me out of my reverie with “Clarissa!!! What do you think?”

“I am ambivalent,” I said, and tried not to imagine Shaul fucking me.

“Ambivalence is irrelevant,” Shaul said, and I imagined him as Seven of Nine. I said I was bi before, right?

“I need a new ringtone,” Neelee said, as “Hatikva” went off to an anthem of percussion and horns.

“What you need,” said Shaul, “is perspective. The only reason Judaism started in the first place is because G-d chose Abraham to be the mover of his will. Therefore Judaism is a movement.”

“Are you high?” I said.

“Slightly,” Shaul said with a smile. “But the point is, Judaism isn’t merely a thought, a philosophy. It is a movement of people who are at one with G-d.”

“Like you,” I said.

“Like us,” he said. “Like those of us who have a spiritual calling. Who wish to be close to G-d.”

“Isn’t that faulty logic, though?” said Neelee. “Doesn’t everyone want to be close to G-d?”

“G-d is close to those who call to him,” intoned Shaul, “to all those who call to him with sincerity.”

“Sincerity my ass,” I said. “I could take apart your argument with a piece of toilet paper.”

Shaul snorted. “Then try.”

“Just look at Judaism in America,” I said. “Orthodox, Conservative, Reform. If Judaism was a movement then there would have been three different religions by now. Rather, there are three different movements within one philosophy.”

“Quite a cogent argument, Clarissa!” Shaul exclaimed.

“I’m glad you think so,” I said.

“Oh, look, I’m hungry,” Neelee said. “Why don’t I go get some Doritos? And breath mints?”

“For when we make out later?” I said. “I’m down.”

“I am also ‘down,’” Shaul said. Who was he, Lieutenant Tuvok?

“Goodbye, Neelee,” I said and dismissed her with a wave of my hand.

“Now that she is gone,” said Shaul, “let us flesh out our arguments in full.”

“You know what?” I said, full of fake outrage, “I’m not interested in what you or the establishment has to say. It doesn’t matter whether Judaism is a movement or a philosophy, because either way, they’ll get you. If you’re not submissive to their male guidelines, which comes from their male movement, you’ll get tossed overboard, because you’re a girl and thus you’re slutty and thus you don’t know what you’re saying. And if you think it’s a philosophy, which comes from the philosophy of Abraham and Sarah, which advocates one god controlling everything, then you’re definitely mistaken in any new viewpoint which you might come to submit, because the current black hats are definitely the inheritors of this tradition, and make their wives work for their food while they sit in the house of study and discuss the same oblivious points which allow them to continue their frivolous pursuits of vanity in the first place.”

“You are indeed correct,” Shaul said. “It does indeed state in the marriage contract that the man must provide his wife with food, clothing and sexual relations. And I am myself attending a school which will prepare me to earn a living.”

“Indeed, Shaul,” said I. “And why is it that you are doing this?”

“I wish to better the world. I wish to change things.”

“Change what?” I spat. “The only thing you can change is yourself.”

“Obviously,” Shaul said. “That is what Judaism says. But what I wish to propose is that Judaism is a movement precisely because the male and female elements agree on almost everything.”

This came out of nowhere. “Almost everything?” I rushed at him. “Women are excluded from doing almost everything in Judaism. We aren’t allowed to pray in front of men except at Conservative and Reform congregations and some select liberal Orthodox ones; we are cast aside as an evil temptation and relegated to the home to cook your food and make and care for your babies; many of us are stuck with horrible husbands who have long ago given up on life and refuse to divorce us; many even refuse to let us drive their cars!”

“I am not disputing this,” said Shaul.

Here’s the thing with Shaul, reader. He enjoys arguing. So much so that he will wait you out, until you run out of energy, and then he will swoop in and try to convert you to his absurd philosophy. Like some other ultra-religious people I know. They wait you out because they know you’re “wrong” and they’re “right”.

“OK, guys, I’m back!” squealed Neelee as she trounced past us to her seat. She handed us each a bag of M&Ms. “Sorry about the misstep.”

“No, seriously, Neelee, it’s fine,” I said, and Shaul grunted agreement. “What were you doing?”

Neelee covered the side of her mouth with one of her hands. “Eh… talking to this guy.”

“Sounds like we’ll probably beat his team,” I said.

Neelee blushed slightly and leaned forward, putting her face close to mine. “Be quiet. So where’d we get to?”

“Shaul and I were discussing the position of women in Judaism,” I said.

“So what’s new?” Neelee smiled.

“So what’s our position?” I said. “I’m ambivalent.”

“So what’s new?” Neelee smiled again. “Clarissa, you’re seriously starting to get on my nerves.”

“Yeah, right,” I said. “So decide something, already.”

 

FLASH FORWARD

 

“Remember that, Neelee?”

“Of course I remember!” she snorted. “I was there, yes?”

“Yes!” beamed the Rabbi, who was listening in.

“Rabbi G!” I said. “Quit listening in on our private conversation.”

“But I couldn’t help hearing!” he said. “So what happened next?”

I couldn’t even remember. So I said, “Quit flirting with me, Rabbi, and just cut to the chase.”

Neelee was shocked. “Clarissa!” she said. “Oof!” (which is Israeli for oy vey)

“It’s okay, Clarissa-pie,” the Rabbi chuckled. “This happens all the time with us. We have a… special relationship.”

“You can bet I’m jealous,” Jimmy said.

“Jimmy!” I said. “You’re back! “

“And where was I?” he said.

“I don’t know,” I said. “Just not in my field of consciousness.”

“Jimmy, how are you, my dear?” said Neelee.

“Just fine, thank you,” he replied. “Trying not to die from excess of sex, as always.” He turned to me. “Shaul was a bit of an asshole, there, wasn’t he?”

“Language, Jimmy. It’s the Chabad house!” the Rabbi jumped in.

“Oops, sorry,” Jimmy said, his face whitening.

The Rabbi patted Jimmy on the back. “J.K, Jimmy, J.K. Let it all out. Over here, you can say anything.”

“I’m glad you are chill about me entering your messianic cult,” he said.

“Ah, Clarissa, has your boyfriend picked up something from you?” he said. He grinned at Jimmy. “Don’t worry, we’re not messianic here. We just wish we were.”

“What does that mean?”

“Ah, just that some underlings of mine disagree with my position,” he said. “I don’t hold it against them.”

“What does that mean?”

“Jimmy,” he said, and patted him on the back, causing Jimmy to squirm in his seat. “I don’t have an answer for you. All I know is that ignorance is bliss. You know what I mean. Ignorant people spawn other ignorant people. I don’t think the Rebbe is still alive, but everyone else does. And it stays that way because everyone they know believes the Rebbe is still alive.”

“And why do you think that is,” I spawned.

“Time to talk about something else,” Jimmy muttered, eyeing the black-hat clad Rabbi sitting two seats down from him.

“Jimmy, you are positively right,” said the rabbi.

“No,” I said. “Why doesn’t this ever get brought up in the open?”

The black-hat rabbi sitting near us spoke. “The Rebbe is still alive. We just have to envision it ourselves.”

“Ah, Yosef Yitzchak, again?”

Rabbi G was ignored by New Black-Hat Rabbi. “I’m not sure what you mean when you say the Rebbe isn’t alive. He is alive in soul as well as in body.”

I looked at Rabbi G. Perfectly serene. Like he was enjoying it all.

I look at Jimmy. Are we just supposed to sit back and absorb this?

 

We are sitting before the judge. “Everyone up from the Katz school,” says the judge.

“Um, that means us, I think,” Neelee whispers.

“You’ve prepared your arguments, I expect?” he says expectantly.

Shaul gets up. “We have,” he says. But he isn’t supposed do this. What is he doing?

“Shaul,” Neelee whispers.

He disregards her. “First thing,” he says, “Judaism is most certainly a philosophy. A movement could never spread through the world like wildfire…. It would fragment, splinter, into many disparate movements. “

I sighed. At least if he was hijacking the forum, he switched his opinion to the correct option. There was no way we were going to win if we put up a united front of stupidity. Five thousand shekels wasn’t a lot, but it was enough to buy a ping-pong table and a bunch of towels. Why towels? you ask. Well… if we were in Israel, we might as well buy a full-sized pool to compliment the weather, yes? After all, that’s what Daddy Moneybags was for, yes? …

Might as well call him Uncle Scrooge. But anyway…

“You are the official representative for your team?” the judge asked. Neelee and I were seated.

He is now, I thought. I chuckled inside. The judge looked at me. I guess some of it must have come out. I looked down. Then I looked at Neelee. “I guess we can’t stop him, can we?” I said.

“It would be foolish to try,” she replied.

“Indeed,” said I, and presently turned again to stare at Shaul.

“Indeed what we have here,” Shaul said, “is a profound disconnect between the theory and the application. Between what people think and what people do. You see, as Judaism is a philosophy, it by necessity must exclude something. The philosophy of one G-d by necessity excludes the worship of other things. The worship of sex, for example.”

“Worship of sex?” I said.

“I thought he said it was a movement,” I whispered to Neelee.

“Let’s listen to what he has to say.”

Why? I thought.

“It is because,” Shaul said, “postmodern elements in secular society have taken the initiative to promote the false notion of hedonism. Judaism by necessity excludes hedonism for its own sake. This is clear.”

I cringed. What did worship of sex have to do with or without Judaism? Sex was necessary for procreation, wasn’t it? For making Jewish babies. I’m sure Jimmy would agree. Wouldn’t you, Jimmy?

Anyway, this fiasco is not over.

“What would you say to me if I told you that the worship of sex is directly related to the worship of G-d?” said Shaul.

“How so?” responded the judge.

“Well,” Shaul said, gazing around the study hall at the assembled, “as I said before, there is a profound disconnect between sex and Judaism. Sex is necessary for Judaism, true? But sex also permeates into all realms of Jewish existence—not just the bedroom. Ethics of our fathers (cite the chapter later) states: Do not talk excessively with women. The sexual relationship permeates all actions, even talking alone. “

Even pooping, even farting, even doing homework, a voice sang in my head. I slapped myself. My face jerked. A couple boys in the audience gaped.

The judge looked at me for a second and then his tired eyes turned back to Shaul.

“You are saying, then,” the judge said, “that our sexual relationships define us.”

“Yes,” Shaul said. “Yes, in that the sexual relationship is an important component in defining our entire identities, motives and actions.” I was starting to lose him here. His Hebrew was too fast and choppy, and too high (not in the drug sense). All I made out was: “….relationship, is complicated…….whore….party….food, nourishing……kaballah, is extremely important in our tradition, although on a side note; ….organ….marriage….sectors of life, saving our libido, for self-control and strength…”

And there was something very specific I got from this:

“And what was that?” says Rabbi G.

“It was that in times of stress, one should always start talking super-fast so no one knows what you’re talking about,” I said.

“I don’t quite understand,” says Rabbi G.

“Me, neither,” I say, “but it works. Take this, for example:”

I am skateboarding. Date: 1997, March 4th. There is a slight drizzle. I am wearing no helmet. I mount a railing. I grind. I am having a grand old time.

I fall.

When I awake the date is March 2d, 1967, and I am surrounded by weeping fans.

“Did the concert go alright?” I ask.

“Perfectly fine, dear,” my mother said, wiping a tear from her face.

“Why are you crying?” I say.

“Dear, you were involved in a crash.”

Chris is also there. “Dear, we were worried.”

“How many people came?” I asked, still oblivious.

“Well, you have four people here,” my father chortled.

“And another coming,” said my mother.

Another? I thought. Don’t we only have four people in this family?

Of course it was Jimmy. “He called as soon as he heard you were hurt,” my bereft mother said. Her normally sharp voice quavered.

Oh, right, I thought. I fell. “How long was I out for?”

“Two days.”

“Holy crap!” I had just remembered falling. “Did you take care of Aeropostale?” Aeropostale was my pet fish.

“Of course we did, honey. We gave him everything he needed.”

“That means you went and got him artichokes?”

Jimmy burst in the door carrying a bag of weed. “Clarissa!” he said. His eighth-grade self was much scrawnier than I otherwise would have liked—I hope he doesn’t read this—and he hasn’t much improved. But that’s alright with me. I used to draw stick-figures in class all the time. So why don’t you leave the rest for your active imagination.

“Could I please have some time alone with Clarissa?” Jimmy politely asked my parents.

They looked flabbergasted. “Well… of course,” said my mother, and said something to my father in an undertone.

“Can I stay?” whined Chris.

Jimmy stared at Chris for a moment. “Hey, he can be our partner.”

“Our partner in what?”

“Our drug enterprise.”

“Oh, so suddenly we’re actually going through with this business plan?” We had just smoked weed together for the first time. “How about my getting through high-school first?”

Jimmy paused a moment. Then, he said: “Listen, Clarissa, I’m sorry you were injured…”

“Sorry I was injured?” I exploded. “I was out for two days!”

It was not like me to explode. I usually bluff at times like these, but now I surprised myself. Was I really that into Jimmy?

It was like going on a roller-coaster of emotions, except I wasn’t at Universal Studios. I was in a sling. Imagine how I must have felt, being asked join a drug cartel before the age of fifteen!

“No,” I said.

“Not even Chris?” Jimmy pouted.

“Not Chris. I’ll tell my father.”

Now, remember, Reader: I forgot about this whole episode until it resurfaced in jail a year later (though it seemed like five years). Let me fast-forward you a bit now to when……

Now, what did that episode have to do with the story?

The answer: absolutely nothing.

“Granny? Are you coming to my skateboard competition this afternoon?”

Ah, I groan, slash sigh in contentment as I peer up from my writing table at my beautiful little granddaughter, not five years old, who speaks and writes and even serves tea and does all the amazingly polite, charming things that a girl that age is supposed to do: three-hundred years ago. Yes, Reader! The year is finally 2011: the year I will hopefully publish this gosh darn thing. You know it: it’s been sitting in my desk drawer for the past thirty-five years (at least, if they’ve advertised it properly.…I can just imagine the headliner: “Mrs. Clarissa Steiner publishes her memoirs: finally!!!” says the New York Book Review. The Chicago Tribune screams: “It’s everything we’ve been waiting for—and more! See the numerous exciting chapters of Mrs. Steiner’s life: through her own eyes!” Of course, they would have neglected Jimmy. But his part in the book is so small, anyhow.

By this point, my first-time readers might be wondering: why did I never change my last name?

The answer is, if I may admit so myself, a somewhat baffling one.

Like most young career women of my time, I’d valued independence. From men. From other people. Religious independence. Financial and personal independence. Independence to blabber and have people pay to read it, as you are doing now. And, I just never got around to it. Also, because I had thought that this would be my first book, and I had thought that a Jewish lady’s (yes, I considered myself a lady, even then) recollection of random events might not have been so marketable.

You can just imagine, then, what it must have felt like to so suddenly contract writers’ block just as I did when I was in the meat of my first memoir (I had already published a short novelette, Circus, about my time in band camp). All the despair in the world! Did I not have it in me to write a novel about my life? (I was far too young to have it be a “memoir”)

Enough with the parentheses. I might as well tell you, I’m too old for them (yes, you can tell that I don’t really mean what I say—and that I’m starting a new day, or night, of writing, can’t you?) I’m fifty-five years old, young for a grandmother, and I’m proud to be one. Did I ever shrink at the word? The word grandmother, I mean? Might I ever be able to tell you what I saw in the mirror when I looked at myself in the morning and imagined myself at that age? Perhaps in the next memoir.

Why don’t I figure out what I was going to write next, yes, ah, was it: let me rummage around in my notes for a bit (I’m amazed you tolerate me; ah, dear!)….

If you didn’t tolerate me, I don’t know what I would do to you….. eviscerate you, perhaps?

What do you usually do in your spare time, Reader? I go to the movies with my granddaughter.

“Are you the lady who says that the Lebuvicher Rebbe is not Messiah?” one lady, her hair kercheiffed, stops us. I did, in fact, mention this in my fourth novel, The Tote-Baggers. And I am mentioning it again here. But before I have a chance to reply, she snorts, “shame on you, a God-fearing woman like you,” and walks away. I guess she is talking to herself.

One reason (besides the money, of course) that I am very happy to be publishing this memoir is to offer a positive portrayal of religious Jews, which I have not had too much occasion to offer in my previous work, being of mostly “average” American and British and French women solving mysteries or dealing with family issues. I, myself, am a religious Jewish woman. And what I have not had much occasion to tell my average reader is that it is an intensely rewarding experience.

Back in my old days of pretending to sell drugs, I couldn’t have had a day where no one I walk past stares at my bum. Now, I wear a skirt and a neckscarf, and while the latter article of clothing does nothing to stop the stares, the former averts them rather quickly.

All along, I dreamed of having a home where my children respected me. Going to Neelee’s house and seeing the way her brothers and parents treated her, and how she respected her parents, made me dream of living in a home where the same rules applied. I would light candles with my daughter(s) on Friday night, help them with their homework, learn bible with them, plait their hair… and not come home from work obsessing over my nails and my high-powered corporate job. I would obsess over my husband. That would be enough.

I would have a nice house. I know it sounds vain and pointless, to dream of having an upper-middle-class household with all the furnishings, a golden retriever or two, and a couple of cats and a turtle.

The turtle can’t be nosy, though. You know how turtles can get.

So what do I talk about next.

Well I could say that it’s positively a jungle in here! My husband hasn’t installed the air-conditioner yet! One would think that in a fully modern home that things would be different, but alas…..

Alright, so it would seem that Jimmy’s visit to me when I was out after that skatin’ accident was actually relevant. Because……

“Alright, so I want you to meet this guy named Mo,” Jimmy said, after finally convincing me to come to the parking lot of his public school after hours.

“Why this particular guy?” I said, edgy and wanting to get this over with.

“Well, you’ll see.”

After a while, this guy scoots up in a white jeep (my dark vision is superb).

“Holla!” he says.

“Jimmy, what is he saying?” I moaned.

“Exactly what I need him to say,” Jimmy said, his dark sunglasses obscuring my view of his face.

“So you got it or not?” the big kid said. I call him the big kid because he had a baseball cap. He couldn’t have been older than twenty-four.

“Yeah, I got it, don’t worry,” says Jimmy, cool as a cucumber. I bite my lip.

“Hey, who is this girl; your girlfriend?” poses the guy. “Hey,” he said, turning to me. “Want to get involved in the business?”

“Listen, Joe, Big Chunky is going to get pissed if you don’t get him the juice soon,” Jimmy said, taking a posture I had never seen before. “And you don’t want to see him angry.”

The handler named Joe considered this a moment. I could almost see the gears turning in his head… Big Chunkyassociating with this kid?

But what if Big Chunky was the kid?

But I didn’t know that at that time. And besides, Jimmy had way too little body fat at that time. I say at that time because I don’t know how chunky he is now. Not that I really care. Not to knock him, though. I’m sure he’s a nice person (relatively, you know) as always.

Maybe if I was who I was now, I’d call the police. Or maybe I wouldn’t. The fact is, I just did nothing while I shook in my boots.

“Are you sure you don’t want to join the industry?”

“Jimmy, save me,” I whispered.

“Will you go out with me?”

What?” I recoiled.

“We don’t have to tell our parents or anything. It’ll just be…. clandestine.”

“Jimmy, what are you saying?”

“I guess the answer is no,” said Big Chunky, rather sadly. I almost pitied him.

But I saved that scene in my head. Until…..

“Jimmy, do you think…” I said to him one day, not long after the bible competition, “I could become a drug dealer?”

“Hmm?” he said, still chewing on a sandwich he was carrying from the lunchroom. “Mah?”

“We’re not speaking Hebrew, Jimmy,” I said to him, letting slip a small smile.

“Really?” he stated, quite seriously. Then, he said: “Why?”

Too much confidence for him, too soon. I started to walk more quickly.

“Really, why?” he said, catching up. “Why do you want to become a drug dealer?”

“No, not a real drug dealer,” I said, quite obviously, while staring disapprovingly at the half-digested lettuce and grain inside his mouth.

I explained my plan.

“We’re going to have to be really careful,” I said to Jimmy the next day, as we exited the school the next morning, laden with the supplies we had said were necessary for our community bake-a-thon. We had let it be known to some key confederates that they should tell whoever was interested that we were in fact making “special” brownies—as in, pot-infused brownies. We had obtained the pot from one of Jimmy’s subjects, who had dropped the pot off to Jimmy, thinking Jimmy was just a local drug dealer and not the head of the operation.

“Do I eat the entire thing?” Chris demanded.

“Eat the whole thing,” I demanded. “Leave nothing untouched.”

It wasn’t often that I told Chris to eat the entire thing of anything. He might let it get to his head and take it from me as permission to get fat.

Chris stuffed the brownie in his mouth and chewed. He snorted, barely getting the air to say: “I’m ‘anna tell everyone at school what I did.”

“What. The big-boy thing you did today?” I snorted back, intentionally. The brownies weren’t even laced with anything. I am actually quite a law-abiding girl, despite all of my run-ins and close-ups with the drug business. It was just one of my social experiments. See what happens, you know…..

Clarissa is a prissy bitch, in case you haven’t guessed,” quoth I—you guessed it—her brother. One and only (that I know of). So while she was sitting back painting her nails, or doing whatever it is she does best (fucking? not that I would know), I am the hyper-excited fifth-grader whose mind is convincing him he has “the munchies”… which is what you’re supposed to have when you’re high….. right? That’s what all the movies say. She is making me write this the day after, for her little diary….. which she is probably going to shut off somewhere in her room for ten years until it reaches the volume of two-hundred pages, and then publish it under a pseudonym…. or so she says. Today is Thursday.

The day I go crazy… and invent my own pseudonym.

“Call me Zany,” I announce, walking in to my morning English class with maroon sunglasses.

“Zany?” asks a chick I like to call Lisa. “Why Zany?”

“Well,” I explain to the blondie, out of the goodness of my heart, “it is because I am supposed to be acting super-zany today. You see, I ate a pot-infused brownie.”

I spotted Clarissa coming down the hall. “Oh, is that your new girlfriend?” she asked me.

“Clarissa, meet Lisa, Lisa, my sister Clarissa.”

“Hi, my name is Lipaz,” said Lisa.

“Oh, that’s what your name is,” I say.

“Hey, do you think your teacher would mind having you miss class today? I have something really funny to show you,” Clarissa said.

“Sure!” I said, motioning to Lipaz to come with us. “English is my best subject, anyway, and I can always fill you in, Lipaz.” Which of course referred to our make-out sessions.

We arrived at Clarissa’s class, Clarissa holding a plate of brownies.

“I hope those are kosher,” Rabbi Klinghoffer, her Talmud teacher, said when she walked through the door.

“Of course they are,” she said slyly, and gave a brownie to each student and to the teacher.

“I hope you aren’t just trying to add to my weight problem,” Rabbi Klinghoffer said.

“Oh, that’s me, trying to hasten you to an early grave,” she said.

Rabbi Klinghoffer took a bite.

Immediately he began dancing around. “Oh, don’t mind me,” he said, waving his arms about and shaking his legs. “I’m just having fun.”

The rest of the class began to eat their own brownies, suspecting something funny was happening, and they all, too, began to get up and dance and sing.

After about fifteen minutes or so, everyone got back in their seats to await the start of the lesson.

Rabbi Klinghoffer led it off: “Kaballah is just so…cool! It can take you to spiritual highs that you’ve never reached before!”

“And how do you know we haven’t reached them before?” Clarissa asked.

“And Jews for Jesus!” I said.

“Why Jews for Jesus?” asked Rabbi Klinghoffer, who looked a little uncertain of himself.

“Well, there are none of the petty rules and restrictions of Judaism, so we can go to clubs and get naked with girls!”

“I’ll have it pointed out that Christianity forbids you from doing stuff like that, too,” said Clarissa, who had not taken a brownie.

“Yeah, but Christianity is just so…chill about it,” I said.

“You mean Christians are,” said Clarissa.

“Yeah, same thing,” I said.

Rabbi Klinghoffer was looking up at the ceiling. “But kabbalah is just so cool!” he said.

“I think we have to get Rabbi Klinghoffer to the infirmary, don’t you?” said Clarissa to the rest of the class. They murmured their agreement, and two of the larger boys began supporting Rabbi Klinghoffer under his arms.

 

The short of it, we were caught, and had to do some time in a Lebuvish yeshiva as a punishment. That’s where I found out that most of the Lebuvichers think the Rebbe is still alive and will return in a “second coming” type of deal. But how does this relate to anything? Was I not telling you about my granddaughter?

 

My granddaughter Sarah is a pleasure to watch on the ramps and rails. She just tears up the courses with ease. I was listening to Lady Gaga in the car ( I still do that) on the way back from the tournament when she asked me: “Grandma, are you still going to take me to visit Shaul like you said?” Shaul, of course, was now a close friend of the family, and so had been for the last fifteen years.

Why that, Reader? I guess you’ll just have to find out.

You want me to recall the incident in Yavneh, when Shaul faced me and Neelee down and spouted holy-sounding bullshit?

Well, it didn’t go down very well. I hated Shaul with an erotic passion after that, even more so than before (which unfortunately wasn’t much). You wouldn’t want to see the videos, though, would you? I have them lying around here, somewhere…

Anyway…

The worst thing was that he bragged too—whenever he saw us—even if it was unintentional. He cavorted through the hallways, practically prancing, sometimes appearing as a hopping flamingo, at least from a distance. Always wearing that black yarmulke, when every other boy always wore those colored things which the girls which the girls made for them. “What point doth this raise?” asketh you. “What doth this slander impart?” Patience, my friend.

The point is that Shaul’s Rebbe probably told him to wear that thing. He had no choice in the matter, that Shaul. He had to be like all the rest of those people—those men in black hats and black coats who dressed like it was still the eighteenth-century and said it was because it was modest. And you know what, it probably was more modest. At least than my tank top and bikini bottom. (That sort of is pushing the limit, but I still, at fifty-five, am not thinking of reverting five-hundred years.) But wait, that wasn’t it…

How could my hate of Shaul have originated from such a small thing as a yarmulke? And besides, Shaul’s Rebbe might not have insisted on it. And what vendetta did I harbor against Shaul’s Rebbe?

“Now, Sarah,” I told my granddaughter as we slammed the doors of my grey Oldsmobile (just kidding, it was a blue Honda sedan…I haven’t lost my style, even in middle-age). “Sarah, dear, listen,” I said again, even though Sarah was listening. We passed the security guard at the gate, who stared at us curiously. “Listen now, my puppet, my little poodle (Legally Blonde IV had come out by then, but precious Sarah, at five, wasn’t old enough to have seen it and thus get insulted by my allusion). Sarah, now. You must realize—”

“What’s realize, Gramy?”

“Realize, my dear.…” I started. Then I realized I was beginning to sound way too much like the Queen of England in one of her past incarnations. Not that I would have minded sounding royal. But—

“Realize means to know, my little dearie. Now, sweetie, you must know that Shaul comes from a very different background than we do.” I held up my hand. “Background, my dearie, means where he comes from. What kind of family he has, et. Cetera.”

“I know!” Sarah protested.

“And also his religiosity level,” I said, intentionally using a word she didn’t know to keep her off-balance. Or maybe she did know it.…Hmmm….

We walked past the lockers, down the empty hallway. This school reminded me a lot of the one Jimmy and I had terrorized for that year back in Zichron Yaakov. But, of course, this was Petach Tikva. An entirely different city. Maybe the vibe was just similar—maybe there was another Clarissa and Jimmy to take the reins of the honored mission. But now that I’ve gotten myself this far, what was the mission for, anyway?

To create a giant dance party, obviously.

A giant kosher, gender-separated dance party. That was the ticket. To Heaven, that is.

Did you know that there are thirty-one things one can do that guarantee him an excommunication? Whatever that means.

We knocked on the door to the classroom. I held out my hand to discourage Sarah from walking further, and held the other hand to my lips. “Shhh…” I said.

There was no answer, but just a still, small voice emerging out of the tinted-glass window into the classroom. One of his students must have notified him, because this monotone hum stopped.

The door opened, and a tall, friendly-looking man in a dark coat and with a dark beard walked out. He beamed. “Clarissa! A pleasure, and what a surprise! And who might this be?” he said and put his face down opposite Sarah’s.

“This is Sarah, my granddaughter,” I said.

“Sarah! A pleasure!” he said, and held out his hand. Sarah took it like the nice young lady she is.

“I think the time had come to interrupt my monotone and tell another story,” said Shaul (now Rabbi Krimksy) to his class.

“You see, after I won the Judaism debate for my friends Clarissa and Neelee,” he said, to which I gave him a disapproving stare, “I was so excited at my newfound popularity within the school that I 1) joined the soccer team and 2) helped Clarissa and Jimmy sell their pot-infused brownies. That in turn got me into a lot of trouble with Rabbi Klinghoffer:

“Just what was it you think you were doing?” he accosted me as he walked me back from the disciplinary hearing where I was given the probationary sentence of one week in a lebuvich yeshiva (which Rabbi Klinghoffer had very artfully convinced the administration would be an excellent punishment for my crimes).

“I was trying to be popular, master,” I said, my eyes downcast.

Popular?” the rabbi screeched. “You were trying to be popular? Don’t you know that all the popularity you need is in the eyes of G-d? I thought our weekly lessons in Chassidus imparted that!”

“Apparently not enough,” said Clarissa, striding up between us from behind.

“Clarissa! Not now!” I hissed. I didn’t want to be given a public tongue-lashing and then a private one for letting this one go public.

“No, I think it’s time someone took Rabbi K. down a peg,” she said.

“What, like you tried to do at the shabaton and so miserably failed at doing, Clarissa?” Rabbi K. sneered. “Just be glad I only gave each of you a week in yeshiva and not a month. That, you know, was within my powers.”

“What, your powers of destruction?” Clarissa giggled.

“One thing I want to get straight before I go to this lebuvich yeshiva,” said Jimmy. “Is the Lebuvicher Rebbe really the messiah?”

“He is! In body and in spirit,” proclaimed Rabbi K.

“But he’s dead!” protested Jimmy.

“No, he’s not!” said Rabbi K. “Furthermore, we can talk to him by opening his writings to random pages!”

“And that,” Shaul told the class, “was when I realized the folly of the Rebbe being the messiah—I realized that the Rebbe really wasn’t the messiah.”

“Granny, that wasn’t such a nice story!” wailed Sarah.

“Now, now, dearie,” I said, absently patting her arm.

Chapter 9

 

 

What would I do if this book doesn’t make a lot of money? Well, I assume I’d just write another memoir and hope that one makes more money.

But seriously, reader: there was a time when I was struggling to make cash writing and I lived in poverty. I had a job at a grocery store, which was my only source of income. Daddy Moneybags had kicked me out of home for dropping out of college. Just kidding: Daddy didn’t kick me out, but he sure wasn’t happy with me. And I was living on my own because I needed to be independent.

Why did I need to be independent? Well, I just couldn’t have Daddy Moneybags hovering over me telling me what was good for me all the time, now, could I?

It was only when I made mention of the Lebuvicher Rebbe not being the Messiah in my fourth novel, The Tote-Baggers, that I became religious. It was actually an accident—I wore a nice round green hat that I reserve for special occasions to one of my book-signings. Someone asked me if I was religious. I said no, but I realized that it could be a good gig, being religious—you appeal to an elite audience. So I phoned Neelee and asked her how to light the Sabbath candles, and that was how my excursion into being religious began.

I was already married to Jimmy by that time. He had already graduated with his Bachelors in Accounting like the good Jewish boy he was and was supporting both of us, so I could spend all my time writing.

He didn’t talk to me for two weeks after I started lighting those Sabbath candles.

“Are you sure I can’t talk you out of it?” he asked me at the end of the second week, cooking a cheeseburger in the oven while holding our eldest, Emily, in one hand.

“I told you, it’s a marketing ploy. Of course you can’t talk me out of it.”

“Da!” Emily said.

“Yes, da!” Jimmy said. “Well, then, I’m sorry I didn’t talk to you for two weeks.”

“No problem,” I said. “I was expecting a communications blackout for longer.”

“So it’s okay if I continue the ‘blackout’ for another two weeks?” Jimmy teased.

“No,” I said, finally.

I went to bed.

I arrived at synagogue on the Sabbath for the first time in years, and I was making the acquaintance of a few of the local ladies and they were talking about my novel. It was the oddest thing.

“Do you like it how in The Tote-Baggers the main character, Linda, just walks into a Chabad house and announces that the Rebbe isn’t the messiah?”

“It was astounding—I admire Steiner’s courage in writing something like that into her book.”

“Do you think she’s religious? She wears a hat. I hear she even lives here in Boston.”

“Oh, my goodness! She’s right there!” And the woman pointed at me.

“Uh, hello,” I said. “I’m Clarissa Steiner.”

“I know, I know!” said the lady. “And I’m Jackie Roth, pleased to make your acquaintance.” We shook hands, then I shook hands with the other lady.

“Marsha Samtubri,” the other lady said. “A pleasure.”

“The pleasure is mine,” I returned.

And so I entered into the friendship of two of my best friends the world has ever given me.

They were always wondering what I thought of certain things, as if my own opinion held more validity than their own just because I was a published author.

“What do you think of Harry Potter?” Jackie asked me one day.

“Naturally, it’s a bunch of sorcery and thus is forbidden,” I said. She gasped. “I’m kidding,” I amended. The color flowed back into her cheeks.

 

Grandma Clarissa’s such a bore sometimes. You see how she prattles on and on about what books she has written?

She once took me to Disney World and wanted to ride the ferris wheel ten times in a row. That’s how much of a bore she is.

In fact, she’s such a bore that she arranged bat mitzvah lessons for me with Shaul, a whole six years after I first met him. Of course I remember meeting him—do you think it would be mentioned in this memoir if I didn’t remember meeting him?

Grandma Clarissa is giving me five percent of the profits for my contribution to this memoir. I plan to buy a car if the profits amount to enough. I know it’s five years until I can drive one, but that’s five years more interest in the bank when the time comes.

“Sarah,” Shaul says at our first meeting, after we have satisfied ourselves of some tea and cookies, “have you had sex yet?”

“Uh, no,” I said, somewhat baffled that he would ask me this question. What was Grandma Clarissa’s associate doing nosing into my personal business?

“Good,” he said, smiling. I could see the faint outline of a dimple under the beard. “I just wanted to know, so I could scold you if you had.”

“Eleven’s a little young to be having sex, isn’t it?” I asked him innocently.

“That’s what I would think, but unfortunately our young girls are getting their cues too often from the TV and not often enough from their teachers and parents.”

“What makes you think my parents don’t want me to have sex by the time I’m eleven?” I asked.

“Oh, don’t be silly,” Shaul scoffed. “I’ve met Emily and Mordecai; they’re a pair of ultra-religious nitwits if I’ve ever met some. And don’t get me wrong. Sex is fun and worthwhile.”

“You should know—you’re married,” I scoffed back.

“On another note, did you know that your grandmother would probably be Chabad if they didn’t all believe that the messiah already came?”

“Those sex-starved maniacs? I’m surprised.”

“Don’t be: they’re far from sex starved. Do you know how many kids they have? I used to be one, you know.”

“But you stopped when…”

“I realized that the Rebbe wasn’t the messiah.”

“Impressive. To leave all your friends like that.”

“Oh, it wasn’t too hard. I was leaning toward getting out of the movement anyway,” he said. “Too much dancing in other peoples’ living rooms.” (Sarah’s note to reader: Chabad did “operations,” which sometimes involved dancing in other peoples’ living rooms to increase their level of joy.

“So what kind of torah reading do you want to do on your bat-mitzva?”

“What kind? What do you mean?”

“Well, you could do Ashkenazi, Sephardi, Morrocan, Syrian, Iraqi…”

“And you know all these styles?”

“Yes,” Shaul said, modestly.

“How about plain old Ashkenazi?” Ashkenazi, or the German style of Torah reading, was the style employed by most Jews of North America.

“Plain old Ashkenazi it is,” Shaul said. Then he set about teaching me. He had a Torah scroll in his basement—he was a sofer, which meant he wrote Torah scrolls.

Chapter 10

 

 

Jimmy:

As a proud grandfather, I was present at the bat-mitzva. It was held at the Congregation Young Israel in West Jerusalem. All the relatives came. Even Clarissa’s “Daddy Moneybags” and his wife were there, even though they were both over eighty. Yes, reader, don’t think I don’t know the fond nickname Clarissa applies to her father.

There were tiny hot dogs at the bat-mitzva. That’s why I couldn’t wait for the dinner reception after the service. That and the booze, but the booze happened at every reception.

Sarah was just finishing her Torah reading, her voice not even wavering. The crowd was starting get restless, so it was good the reading part of the service was ending.

Now the speech part of the service was commencing, and the crowd could laugh at some jokes.

“Thank you all for coming to my bat-mitzva,” Sarah said. I looked over to

Clarissa on my left: she was mopping back tears. “You go, girl!” someone said from the back of the room.

Barely acknowledging the shout, Sarah continued, “I have the pleasure of having my grandparents and great-grandparents at this gathering.”

There was a smattering of applause. The same voice shouted from the back of the room, “how about great uncles?”

“And, great uncles,” Sarah said. Motioning to the back of the room, she said: “Ladies and Gentlemen, my great uncle Caleb.”

“That’s Chris to you, honey!” Chris shouted. There were some gasps.

“Anyway,” Sarah continued, “in this week’s Torah portion, Abraham sends his servant Eliezer to find a wife for his son Isaac. In Genesis 24:14, Eliezer prays to G-d:

“Let it be that the maiden to whom I shall say, ‘Please tip over your jug so I may drink,’ and who replies, ‘Drink, and I will even water your camels,’ her will You have designated for Your servant, for Isaac.”“

“Yeshua is the messiah. Why are ye faithful obstinate and refuse to accept that?”

“Not my messiah,” said an angry voice from the midst of the crowd.

“Yeah, seriously, uncle Caleb, if you can’t keep silent, why don’t you just leave?” said Sarah.

“You’re a sell-out,” he said, and walked from the room.

 

Uncle Chris did have a point, you know. Maybe I should have just invited him to talk about it after the speech instead of kicking him out, or maybe I should have done what Barack Obama said to one heckler: that the heckler has freedom of speech, but that the heckler was impeding on his freedom of speech.

Sarah, you have a Talmud test tomorrow. Shouldn’t you be studying?

No, I say to the voice inside my head. I should be writing.

Because I need to tell you, reader, about my life. My grandmother Clarissa and to a lesser extent my grandfather, Jimmy told you about their lives, and now it’s up to me. But first, for the story’s sake, let’s hand the mantle back to Grandma Clarissa, who will regale you with more of her old-timer’s stories.

I’m back! said the sultry, even in old-age, temptress.

So here’s what I did on my last day of Israel—you see, we only stayed a year.

Kind of sad, don’t you see? We left because my grandparents got sick. Cancer, you see.

So when the black hand of cancer strikes, you visit them stricken by it, because they could go at any minute.

The decision was to go to Boston, where my grandparents were residing, and which, incidentally, had the best medical care in the world.

But before I abandoned Israel and my humble town of Zichron Yaakov, I had to make one last statement. I went to the local drugstore and crafted a placard for myself to wear on the last day of school, which said “proud to be an atheist”. I was sure it would generate waves.

“Clarissa!” Shiri, one of my friends, came up to me. “I didn’t know you were an atheist—not!”

I received similar comments throughout the day.

None of the teachers, even Mrs. Rothenberger, asked me to take the placard off. I guess they were just celebrating the end of school with me.

Which sort of disappointed me. I had wanted more of a reaction. Maybe if I had added the word “gay” to the placard, it would have helped, but somehow I doubted it.

But at the end of the day, I received a summons to Rabbi Klinghoffer’s office. At last, I thought: a disciplinary hearing. But as it turned out, it wasn’t that at all. More like the opposite.

“Clarissa,” he said, “how would you like to participate in a nationally-televised debate on whether G-d exists?”

I was taken aback. To be honest, I considered it for a while—but then, I said, “no.”

“Why not?” questioned the rabbi.

“After the last time, which I’m sure you remember,” I began.

“I know,” said the rabbi. “Shaul stole the proceedings away from you and Neelee.”

“And you know it,” I finished.

“You do know you’ll be entering this debate on your own,” the rabbi said. “No one can steal the mic from you.”

“Really?” I brightened. “Then definitely, I’m all in!”

 

The audience was clamoring for me when I finally walked onstage. “Clarissa!

Clarissa!” the crowd chanted. I had been one of the more popular girls at our school, and the turnout of supporters in the seats was showing that.

Rabbi Klinghoffer walked out of the doorway on the other side of the stage. He was to be my opponent.

Mrs. Rothenberger, the moderator, tapped on the mic. “Ladies and Gentlemen, I have the honor of welcoming Clarissa Steiner and Rabbi Osher Klinghoffer!” There was wild applause. “Before the debate commences, we will field questions from the audience. Yes, in the back.” A girl of about fifteen stood up.

“How does each of you deal with something in your life that goes wrong? How do you comfort yourselves?”

“Clarissa, why don’t you go first?”

“Thank you,” I say, then I clear my throat. “What I do when something goes wrong is that I remind myself that everything is going to be okay.”

“Very good,” said Mrs. Rothenberger. “Rabbi Klinghoffer?”

“You know, Clarissa hit on a very important point, there,” Rabbi Klinghoffer said. “Everything is going to be okay. Because there is a master plan for everything.

G-d’s plan.”

“Follow-up comment?” I said.

“Very well, Clarissa. What is it?”

“I believe there is a master plan as well, but I believe that the universe is a life form, constantly learning. What evil may befall us is part of the universe’s attempt to coordinate itself, as it were. In essence, the universe is learning to walk.”

“Did you get that from some science-fiction novel?” asked Rabbi Klinghoffer.

“Um, no. Yes. Maybe,” I said.

“Touche,” said Rabbi Klinghoffer.

“I didn’t know you spoke English,” I said.

“Actually, it’s originally from French,” he said. “And to prove my own point, doesn’t there have to be a G-d in order for there to be a master plan?”

I was taken aback. “Um, no,” I said. “As I said, it’s part of the universe learning. Each bad thing that happens is necessary, because it helps the universe learn.”

“OK, next question,” said Mrs. Rothenberger. “Yes, the young man in front.”

The boy stood up. “Isn’t belief in G-d tied to morality? I’m curious what Miss

Steiner would have to say regarding this matter.”

“First of all, Miss Steiner thinks you can shove that question up your ass,” I said.

Actually, that’s not what I said; it’s what I should have said, though. Because that question really did stump me. I didn’t do enough preparation, I guess, and I don’t even know if I would have responded well to that question even with preparation.

“Actually, I do think I have morals,” I said.

“But how can there be morals without an absolute?”

“There is no absolute.”

“Therefore, you have no morals.”

“I do have morals, thank you very much!”

“But there’s no absolute authority on anything, you say!”

“Yes there is!”

“Ah! So there is a G-d!”

“I didn’t say that!”

“An absolute authority on everything- I think you did!”

I was speechless.

 

‘The universe is learning? Are you serious?” I asked Grandma Clarissa.

“I was young,” she said, as if that explained everything.

“So anyway, I was converted to being a believer right then and there, and after a while I was offered the job explaining how G-d exists to people who were having troubles in their lives, in order to help them.”

Grandma had told me this story a dozen times already, but I still loved to hear it.

“I had a radio program. My first caller was calling about global warming. She’d get so worked up about how the world was warming up at such an incredible rate that she couldn’t sleep. Literally, couldn’t sleep. So I told her to trust in G-d—he would do his part if we did ours. I told her to write letters to her local politicians, and that’s all she could do. She called back a few weeks later and said I had really helped her.”

“And did I tell you the time we were on the run from the cops in the U.S.?”

Of course she had, but I let her tell it anyway.

“Me and Jimmy were on the run because the police suspected us of being a part of a dangerous drug-running organization. We had Emily in tow.”

“Why didn’t you just turn yourselves in and explain the situation?”

“Because we had been framed.” Grandma frowned. “Someone had hacked our email and made it look like we were part of an operation. And since Jimmy and I were too tired of prison to endure it any more, especially when we’d have to give up our baby, we just struck off cross country and took ourselves a nice little vacation. We stayed in various Jewish communities posing as a roving preaching rabbi and his wife.”

 

“Anyone want a bris milah?” (circumcision) I hollered to the other people in the park. By now this town now knew of us as the resident wackos. The FBI wouldn’t find us here.

“What do you want to do now?” Jimmy asked me.

“Well, we do need a source of income,” I said, “since we’re trying not to rely on Daddy Moneybags. What do you say we start our radio show?”

“I took the liberty of checking the radio station yesterday while you were nursing the baby,” Jimmy said. “They have Monday through Thursday from eight to eleven AM free on one of the local radio stations.”

“Then what are we waiting for?” I said. We hopped in the car and headed down to the station.

Our first caller was a really amusing one. “Uh, hello? Am I on the air?” a male kid’s voice said.

“Yes, you’re on the air. You’re on Jimmy and Clarissa’s religious advice show. Why don’t you tell us your problem?” I said.

“I can’t stop watching Game of Thrones,” the boy said. “And I feel really useless when I do it. I try so hard to stop, but I can’t.”

“Okay, first off,” Jimmy said, “do you watch anything else?”

“Well, of course not,” the boy said. “Game of Thrones is my favorite show!”

“Well, you need to start watching something else, first off,” Jimmy said.

“Why?”

“You’re the one who wants to stop watching Game of Thrones,” Jimmy said. “If you can’t figure this one out, then you’re a lost cause.”

“Next you’ve got to find a hobby. Do you like reading? Playing sports? Watching movies?”

“Yeah,” said the boy.

“Well, find some more time to engage in these activities,” Jimmy said. “Because always being occupied with something will decrease the urge to watch Game of Thrones.”

“Whoop-ee!” said the boy. “Thanks, guys!”

Unfortunately, our radio program only lasted 2 calls, then we were done. Here was the second call:

“Hey, aren’t you guys wanted for drug smuggling? I’m calling 911!”

We decided to give ourselves in.

“So what did you think you were doing, running from the law?” the agent who was grilling me said. I can only assume he asked the same question to Jimmy.

“Well, what do you think you’re doing working for it?” I posed to him.

“I can see you’re mocking me. Well, you do have the right to remain silent, as we so dutifully informed you when you got arrested.”

“Do I?” I said.

“Yes, indeed, you do,” he said.

The only comforting part of the whole jail excursion was that after they were certain Jimmy and I weren’t hiding anything, they let us share a cell.

“So, Clarissa,” he said, leaning back against the muck and grime, “where was I? Oh yes, I have a mistress.”

I reared back my hand, ready to slap him.

Jimmy put up his hands. “Just kidding, Clarissa, just kidding! I was just testing to see how much you loved me.”

And since they knew they were holding us there for no reason, they let us continue our radio program.

“So is this your first time in jail?” a caller asked.

Jimmy and I looked at each-other. “Actually, the first time was back in Israel…” I began.

 

“That still doesn’t tell me how to deal with peoples’ problems!” I complained to Grandma Clarissa as we headed toward the radio station.

“It’s a start,” said Grandma. “It’s not like I can tell you all of my stories in one sitting.”

The car slowed to a halt. “I know,” I sighed.

We entered the station. There was a foreboding silence over everything, before the mics would finally turn on.

“Listen, if it makes you feel better, I’ll accompany you into the booth,” Grandma said.

“Look, there’s Grandpa!” I shouted. Grandpa was inside the booth.

We reached the booth and opened the door. “Grandpa, why’re you here?” I said.

“Well, your grandmother let me know of your impending fame, and I just couldn’t resist crashing your party.” He smiled. “And it’ll remind me of my own radioing days, when your Grandmother and I made a mean show together.” He squeezed Grandma’s hand.

“I never thought I’d say this, but he is a hopeless romantic,” Grandma said.

“You’ll always be number two to the slugs, dear,” he said, a whimsical smile appearing on his face.

And suddenly the show was starting. “T minus one minute,” the producer said. He was doing this as a favor to my grandmother, who had once had a show on the air similar to Dr. Laura Shlesinger’s, by letting me do a radio show for my sixth-grade bat-mitzva project.

We put on our headsets. “Three. Two. One. And action,” the producer said.

The theme music played, a sort of marching band medley, and I spoke, my voice shaky: “And welcome to religious advice hour! My name’s Sarah Eckstein, and I’ll be your host for today. Remember, this is a one show only deal. This is my bat mitzvah project.”

“Hello?” a caller was on the air.

“Yes, hello, there,” I said. Clarissa gave me a reassuring pat on my shoulder. “And what is your name?”

“Is Clarissa there?” the voice said. I gasped. It was Uncle Chris!

“She is, but you’re talking to me now,” I said, my voice more confident.

“What are you doing, calling this show, Chris?” Grandma said.

` “The same thing you’re doing in running the show. Why don’t you step down and let my grand-niece do some of the talking?”

“That’s not my style,” Grandma snapped. “Now why don’t you go take your show on the road?”

“No, let him speak,” I said with consternation. “Grandma, don’t you want to hear out your brother?”

“Ever since Mom died, he’s been acting crazy,” she said.

“Nonna? He and her weren’t particularly close, as I can recall,” I said.

“You know, all of this is going out on the air,” Chris said.

“So fuck me,” Grandma said. “Um, excuse me.”

Grandma!”

“I said excuse me!”

“I notices that Brother Jimmy has been silent in all this,” Chris said. “What do you have to say for yourself?”

“How did you know I was here?” Grandpa said.

“It wasn’t hard, gramps. I knew you wouldn’t miss this special day.”

“And I guess you subscribe to Young Israel’s mailing list, so that’s how you knew this show was going on,” Grandpa said.

“You are correct,” Chris said.

“So why don’t we get to why you called, Uncle Chris?” I said. “Aside from checking in on the family and so on.”

“Very thoughtful of you, my niece. And may I mention that I renounce the name Chris, and would like to be known from here on as Caleb.”

There was a collective gasp throughout the booth.

“But…why?” I finally forced out. “I thought you were a Jew for Jesus!”

“Not anymore,” said Caleb proudly. “Someone called me a kike because I had a big nose, and you know what? It’s true. I have a big nose and I’m a Jew. I’m one of the chosen people. And I think I’ll go to yeshiva.”

“You’re going to have to quit your job with Jews for Jesus, how’re you going to make any money?”

“I think I can rely on the charity of others for now, until I find another job,” said Caleb. “I trust you’ll sponsor my trip to yeshiva?”

Grandma spoke up. “But of course!” she said. “I trust you’ll come back a big rabbi?”

“But of course,” Caleb responded. “I’m only what, fifty-two? I should be done in five years, no biggie.”

“Well, we’ll meet on it soon, Caley, and we’re glad you called,” said Grandma.

“Next caller, you’re on the air,” I said.

“Hello?” an old man’s voice wheezed.

“Hello,” I said. “Who is this?”

“Is this Sarah?” the old man wheezed. “I’ve heard so much about you! And what a brave way to do your bat-mitzva project.”

“Thank you,” I responded. “Now who is this?”

“You don’t recognize his voice? No, of course you don’t,” said Grandma. “It’s the voice of Rabbi Klinghoffer! Rabbi, you learned English!”

“It wasn’t hard,” he said. “I just watched TV every day for five hours.”

“You call that not hard?” I said.

Rabbi Klinghoffer just cleared his throat in a non-committal way.

“I’ve heard so much about you,” I said. “There’s this partially completed memoir my grandmother’s writing—”

“Shhh, don’t mention that!” Grandma hissed. “It’s not done yet.”

“It looks like the damage is already done,” Rabbi Klinghoffer said heavily accented English. “Now, Sarah, is this the beginning of your working with teens in need of religious guidance?”

“It looks to be,” I said.

“Well, then maybe you can come to a shabaton I’m having this Shabat, along with your grandparents,” he said. “It will be a shabaton to bring people closer to religion.”

“We’d be delighted to,” I said before Grandma or Grandpa could respond. “I trust you guys are free, Grandma and Grandpa?”

“Affirmative,” Grandma said. She put her hand over her mic. “Are you sure you want to do this?”

You’re the one who’s been training me for this for the past few years,” I said.

“I mean, it’s just that you don’t have any experience yet with kids who are in need of religious attention.”

“And my waiting another year or two will supposedly help that situation?”

“I see your point,” Grandma said.

 

The shabaton was a real experience. I managed to get my leg pet under the table by a fifteen year old boy. Or, at least, that’s how old he looked. When I told him I don’t touch boys until I’m married, he ignored me until I threatened to tell Rabbi Klinghoffer of my plight. Then he relented. The whole time, Rabbi Klinghoffer was speaking about Kabbalah.

“Perhaps you’d like to tell me what the four worlds are, Sarah, since I can see you’re paying such good attention?” he asked me, to the snickers of the other kids.

“The World of Emanation, the World of Creation, the World of Formation, and the World of Action,” I recited mindlessly. I, you see, had taken Kaballah classes before, and I had certainly read my grandmother’s partially-completed memoir, in which Rabbi Klinghoffer asked her the same question. “I was just trying to tell the boy across from me that I don’t—” And he kicked me, hard, under the table. I guess he didn’t want to be embarrassed.

“What was that?”

Nothing, I said, regretting what I had said earlier.

When Rabbi Klinghoffer’s attention was focused elsewhere, the boy said “I heard your radio program last week. It was impressive.”

“Is that why you’re trying to start something with me?”

“Yes,” he said, suddenly looking deflated.

“Plus, you’re three years older than me.”

“I’m only one year older than you. I see you at synagogue, you know.”

“And that’s supposed to make me feel better?”

Uncle Caleb, who’d been listening in, said: “hey, that’s my grand-neice you’re talking to! Don’t get any ideas!”

Rabbi Klinghoffer was talking. “And the Rebbe will rise from the grave and lead us all to the redemption.”

“Hey,” Caleb shouted, “that’s like Jesus.”

Rabbi Klinghoffer paused for a moment, then responded: “And I suppose you would know.”

Grandma Clarissa patted Uncle Caleb’s arm, whispering “let this one rest, Caleb.”

“No, I won’t let this one rest,” Uncle Caleb said. He stood up.

We visited Uncle Caleb in jail later that night.

“I mean, all I did was stand on a table!” he said. “I was trying to get peoples’ attention.”

“Well, it worked,” Grandma said. “You really did it this time, Caleb. But hey, at least you’re not a Christian anymore.”

“So what do we do now?” asked Caleb.

“Pay your bail,” said Grandma. “After the Sabbath.”

Caleb sighed. “The Sabbath is going to have to take some getting used to…”

“Just remember how it was to be ten again,” Grandma said. “And you’ll remember.”

“I was a lot shorter back then,” said Caleb.

“Not that much shorter,” said Grandma.

“Thanks.”

“So much for my helping religiously disadvantaged kids,” I said.

“Don’t worry,” said Grandpa. “Your day will come.”

 

I decided that I wanted to be a singer.

Since a rabbi had given the OK for the women to become singers, I was elated. I had been in the women’s choir since birth, practically, and this seemed the perfect way to exercise my talent as a profession.

What would I sing about? Oh, about Jimmy, about life, about love, about everything! I’d be the hottest singer since Britney Spears. Except that I couldn’t sing about sex or about suggestive topics. I mean, how boring is that?

I mean, I could dramatically change the landscape of singers everywhere. Imagine a singer who was chaste until marriage, who didn’t even touch boys until marriage! I could be Rabbi Klinghoffer’s dream come true—except that he didn’t hold by this new law regarding women singers.

So I couldn’t be Rabbi Klinghoffer’s dream and I couldn’t sing at a brothel. So what could I do? Sing in slogans for major political parties! And that’s in fact what I did: start my own party.

“Legalize marijuana!” I shouted to passing cars, waving a huge, neon-green placard at them which bared the words “The Clarissa Steiner Party- dancing encouraged!” A couple of black hat guys rolled down their windows and clapped their hands, whether in enthusiasm or mockery I don’t know.

Unfortunately for me, Shaul was instantiating his own rival party, the Black Hatters Against Mixed Dancing Party. At that point, I didn’t know how someone who was in my class at school could be so much more holy than I was.

I still hadn’t internalized the vision of becoming a religious person that had presented itself to me at the end of mine and Shaul’s and Neelee’s debate on Judaism. I had embraced the idea of being a talk-show host with my opportunity from Rabbi Klinghoffer, but my idea of getting to be religious involved going to a Friday night dance party. Rabbi Klinghoffer cancelled the show after the first caller.

You know I eventually got to the point where I became religious, right?

It started when me and Neelee went to this strip club. We were eighteen then, just having graduated from high school, and we needed a dose of the erotic. Or so we thought. What ended up happening was they went overboard and had a live sex-showing. And, as I observed the two muscular partners pound the shit out of each other, to the gasps of the astonished crowd, I thought to myself: “these two probably don’t even know each-other. It’s just a job to them. A hobby. There’s no deeper meaning. And this was echoed throughout college with my open relationship with Jimmy. Every time I fucked one of them, I asked myself, “How much longer is this going to go on?” I mean, I hardly knew any one of them apart from Jimmy. It was all a sport. Yes, that’s what it was—a sport. A competition with myself to see just how much pleasure I could squeeze out of this one or that one. It wasn’t even a search for “the one,” because I had already found my “one”—Jimmy.

So after college, Jimmy and I moved back to Israel, got married, and learned some Jewish texts. Even if we did move back to America in the end, it helped us find our centers.

What did we do when we moved back to America? We opened a Jewish themed park. You can get your face painted with the star and stripes here, you can get your head measured for a black hat there.

Not all Jews have black hats, you know. Some have grey ones, white ones or even green ones.

So I became a Jewish studies teacher.

And this is what I was teaching my mixed-gender class when we were discussing Joseph and his not-falling-for Potiphar’s wife, who wanted him to commit adultery with her. Joseph endured years of prison as a result of not acquiescing to Potiphar’s wife’s demands. And I was equating this to the modern idea of sex before marriage, the idea of pre-marriage sex being capitulating to Egyptian culture, as Joseph had refused to do.

“Yes, Joseph.” I point to one boy who had his hand up.

“But Mrs. Goldgrabber, I thought one of ways you could get married in the olden days was to have sex,” he said.

“Um, correct,” I said, as the rest of the class looked on expectantly. “But back then, you would get married if you had sex.”

“So you could have plenty of sex with whomever you wanted to, provided you divorced them immediately after doing it with them,” said Joseph.

“I suppose,” I said. “Man, you guys always get the best of me, don’t you?”

“Yes, I am a man,” Joseph said, arching his eyebrows.

“Um, I think Mrs. Goldgrabber is married,” said a girl in a mock whisper.

“I know,” the boy said, blushing.

“Now, now, Angela, don’t give him a hard time. I’m sure that’s not what he meant. And even if it is, what’s the harm? He’s just working out his hormones.”

Then I realized that I had gone too far. “I’m sorry,” I said, addressing Joseph. “That was inappropriate.”

“It’s okay,” he said.

It was then that I realized that I could turn this into a marketing pitch and tell people to “be like Joe”—i.e. to refrain from premarital sex, and it would sound good. I’d market it through the TV, and people wouldn’t question my logic like my class did, because they wouldn’t be as smart.

And my husband Jimmy would be the messiah, because we convinced every Jew to observe the Torah commandments.

First, I had to convince him to go back to yeshiva, because he needed to spend more time studying Torah if he was to achieve the level of scholarship required of the Messiah. So we ended up moving back to Israel. I conducted my ad campaign from there, while Jimmy learned his Torah. And ultimately, because the Jews were good to G-d and repented, Jimmy became the Messiah. The resurrection of the dead isn’t for another twenty or so years still, but we can safely say that we made it. I hope I can live long enough to see the resurrection of the dead, and thus live forever, without dying in the middle. Well, at least there’s no more war.

If only all that really happened.

Even if Jimmy and I couldn’t be the actual messianic couple, we could still have a part to play.

So we actually did open up a Jewish theme park. Try your black hat on here, learn a little Torah there. It was a great success.

We had so much success that we picked up camp followers. Thousands of them, in fact, who wanted to learn more about Judaism. So what could I do? I couldn’t refer them to Chabad, because Chabad was messianic. I couldn’t tell them to just up and leave their families and go to study Judaism in Israel; they had jobs and families to support. So I brought the teachers to them by raising money. I called the foundation the Freedom from Religion foundation, because Judaism meant freedom from all false religions.

Not quite a messianic movement, but enough for now.

And you can bet they want to get their hands on this book.

This book is like The Chronicles of Narnia, you know? Openly promoting Judaism.

Well, you know that the ideal Jew doesn’t go out and get drunk and party, he learns Torah (the Jewish laws) in his spare time. Judaism is like one giant book club. And I’ll stop promoting Judaism right now, at least openly.

If this was the Chronicles of Narnia, what would be the plot?

Well, I would be G-d/Aslan, obviously. Because everyone worships me.

The bad guys would be all the evil club-goers.

Et cetera.

So as it turns out, I got to using my camp-followers’ energy to good use: we collected cans and spare food to feed the poor. Only there was one problem: Sarah, my beloved granddaughter, wasn’t getting such good press from it at school.

“Grandma,” Her Sweetness told me one day, “the other kids all think I’m weird. Hanging out with homeless people.”

“Do you have friends?”

“Well, yes, but—”

“Then consider yourself lucky,” I said. “Anyways, I have an idea. How about Jimmy, Neelee, Shaul and I come into your school and teach those kids a lesson?”

“Grandma, no!” wailed Sarah.

“I’ll fly Shaul in from Israel just for the occasion,” I said.

“Doesn’t that cost a lot of money?” Sarah said.

“Well, it helps to first have a lot of money, dearie,” I said.

“I always knew we were good in that department,” she sighed.

“And you think it would be better if we didn’t have money?” I said. “It’s really hard to be poor, ask me in college when I was trying to be free of Daddy Moneybags.”

“You shouldn’t call your father that name,” said Sarah.

“Why should he care, he’s long dead,” I said. “Anyway, I need to go to the bathroom.”

 

Why did Grandma Clarissa have to do this to me? Embarrassing me in front of all my friends! Even more than I’m already embarrassed by having thousands of camp followers and hanging out with homeless people all the time!

Well, if Grandma Clarissa was going to bring her posse to school, at least I could organize my own. And if you’re wondering how Grandma could just up and invade my classes, the answer is money. The answer is nearly always money.

So when Grandma Clarissa, Grandpa Jimmy, Neelee and Shaul arrived in class one day, I had already organized my friends into giving them the silent treatment.

“This is so not fair!” Grandma Clarissa said once she finally realized what was going on. “You can’t do this to me! And think of my guests!”

I said nothing.

“Well, I suppose I did invite them,” she said. “Darn. Now all that expense for nothing.”

I pointed back to Jimmy and Todd.

“Oh, you mean those boys aren’t in on your little trick? How lovely,” Grandma considered.

The teacher came in.

“Morning, class,” she said.

“Good morning, Miss Hempstead,” the class intoned.

“Today we will be learning how to write essays,” she said. The class groaned. “But first, we have to welcome our special guests. Would you please introduce yourselves?”

“I’m Clarissa,” Grandma said, “and this is Jimmy, my husband, and this—”

“We’d like everyone to introduce themselves today, if you don’t mind, Clarissa,” Miss Hempstead said.

“Why, yes, of course,” Grandma said, looking a little flustered, to my enjoyment.

“Hi, everyone, I’m Jimmy, Clarissa’s husband,” Grandpa said. Miss Hempstead nodded her approval.

“Fuck her,” Grandma muttered under her breath.

“I’m sorry, what did you say, Clarissa?” cooed Miss Hempstead.

“Nothing, sorry,” said Grandma. I guess even do-gooding Grandma Clarissa can lose her cool.

“And I’m Neelee, Clarissa’s friend from high-school,” Neelee said in her mellifluous accent.

“And I’m Rabbi Shaul Bernhoffer, Clarissa’s friend from high-school, at least, if she’ll have me,” chuckled Shaul.

“Our four visitors are very special guests, so I want everyone treating them with the utmost respect, understood?”

The class murmured their assent.

“That means we have a lot of money,” Grandma murmured. If Miss Hempstead heard her, she chose not to react.

“So what’s a thesis statement?”

Shaul raised his hand.

“Yes, Shaul?”

“A thesis statement is a statement of an argument, outlining what you’re going to say in your paper.”

“Excellent. Would you care to provide us with an example?”

“For example, back when Clarissa and Neelee and I were arguing whether Judaism was a philosophy or a movement…” and he began regaling them with tales.

Grandma Clarissa interrupted him. “I think we should just come down to the point of why we’re all here today,” she said. “No offense, of course, Shaul.”

“None taken,” he said.

I put my face in my hands.

“The reason we’re all here today,” Grandma began, “is to confront Sarah’s classmates who think it’s weird to help the poor or have camp followers. I’ll happen to tell you, that helping the poor is a very good deed that will be greatly rewarded in Heaven. It thus follows that having homeless people hanging around cannot be constituted as ‘weird.’

“Furthermore, that we have thousands of camp followers is a result of our opening a Jewish theme park, which, for your information, is definitely not nerdy. We help these people with their spirituality every day, and we’re proud to do so. We have twenty full time staff to assist us with this. G-d bless you all.”

One of the boys in the back began to slow-clap, which erupted into a full-blown applause. I never thought I’d hear myself think it, but I really was glad Grandma and her friends came in that day.

It didn’t help that during sex education, Grandma got up and taught the class, but still.

 

——

 

Now that Sarah regaled you with…. Let me tell you about the time I met the president for my work with the homeless.

“Clarissa Steiner…er, Rubinstein,” he said with a slight cough, enunciating the syllables of my husband Jimmy’s last name.

“It’s okay, I go by my maiden name when it comes to all professional correspondence,” I said with a smile.

Professional correspondence?” he said. “And I thought we were getting up close and personal.”

“Well, we are, if you think about it,” I said. “My face is only five feet from yours.”

“So, Clarissa,” he said, “how did you get all these homeless people helped, and how did you get all these camp followers? I could use some myself.”

“Who, homeless people or camp followers?” I smiled at him. “Seriously, though, I think it has to do with my natural sex appeal.”

“Seriously,” returned the president with a deadpan look.

“Seriously,” I said, “but with a twist.”

“And what is that?” asked the president.

“My organization skills,” I said. “And my husband Jimmy’s natural charisma. You see, it comes back from Jimmy’s days as a drug runner…”

 

Drug lord, she should say. Because I was smuggling drugs big time, and my subordinates didn’t know who I was even. How’s that for a scary boss? Someone who could be anyone at anytime.

I wasn’t concerned about the ethics of it. Who was, when you’re young? Or I should say, who cared when you’re a young Jimmy Rubinstein?

By the time I was thirteen, I had gotten my business up to international proportions, as you well know.

And, of course, I had developed some unlikely employees. A Russian mobster, for instance. Who was living down my street, as it turns out. But he didn’t know it, of course.

I was like a poker player each time I saw him watering his lawn or trimming his shrubs. I would just smile at him, and nod, and he would do the same. He twice offered me weed. That was a surprise, since I had him dealing all the hard drugs. Turns out he had a business on the side.

What an unlikely person to be living in a charming neighborhood in New York.

But then I went to Israel, came back to America for college and became a changed man. I decided that I was stepping down the drug business, as it was unethical. I didn’t even pirate music anymore. My religious friends in Israel had finally impacted on me.

So I called up my Russian mobster friend. Told him I wanted to give the business to him. And he recognized my voice as being from the kid down the block. I cursed the time I had decided to talk to him, but then he just said, in a small voice, “Me? Why are you giving the business to me?”

A good question. Why was I giving the business to him? I had finally decided it was unethical, but not decided to turn in everyone who was in the business? Not a very honorable thing to do, I know, but I decided right then to do it. I hung up the phone and strode into the police station, saying that I’d provide the addresses of all of my employees if they just didn’t arrest me. They looked me up and down, and I tried to look as charming and charismatic as possible as they were doing so.

 

As Clarissa was relating this to me, I thought, why didn’t anybody arrest Jimmy? He made the police officer that deal, but he sure didn’t make it with me!

So I took the gavel I kept from my days as a lawyer, struck my desk with it, hard, and said “As of now, your husband Jimmy is under arrest!”

Clarissa was shocked, as she should be. But she really got me: “I thought the statute of limitations…”

“Darn, you’re right,” I spat. “Damn humanitarian laws, fudging up the criminalizing process! Hey, how about I make you a deal: I won’t tell this story to anyone if you give me five hundred thousand dollars.”

“Too late!” she said.

“For what?” I said.

“Too late for you,” she said. “I already have been recording everything on this device” and she flashed an IPOD, “and streaming it to my computer at home.”

“Women,” I muttered. My career was over.

“Tut-tut,” she said. “You’re still on camera, and if you make a formal apology,” and she put her hand over the microphone, “or even say it was all a joke, you might be vindicated.”

I regained hope. “People of America and of the world!” I proclaimed. “That bit about the arresting and the bribe was all a joke—I don’t want anybody to misunderstand,” I said.

“They might forgive you now,” she said.

“Thank you,” I said.

 

What I didn’t tell Mr. President was that I would be recording all of this in my head to be published in my memoirs. So the president still had hope. Ah, hope. What a beautiful thing.

“Don’t you think it’s amazing what a sadist sense of humor my grandmother has?” Sarah blurted.

“And why does it have to be ‘blurted,’” Sarah blurted. “Why can’t it be ‘said?’ There! You wrote ‘blurted’ again!”

“One is allowed to write what one likes about one’s granddaughter,” I said.

“I know you’re the final editor and all that, but ‘blurted?’”

“I’ll change it as soon as I can,” I said.

But, of course, I never did. I wonder if my granddaughter is right about me being a sadist.

You know what? I don’t think I’m a sadist. I think I’m a bring-in-pleasure-for-myself-ist.

Chapter 11

 

 

Now that I was here in America, I thought I’d do some education to those infants who were in need of it. And the perfect place to start would be, of course, Clarissa’s camp followers.

My wife Neelee tagged along, as well as Clarissa, Jimmy and Sarah, because they knew this would be an event-filled evening.

“How can G-d be a human being?” the first follower asked, once everyone was seated in the auditorium. “I mean, isn’t G-d perfect? Humans have deformities.”

There was a hubbub in the room. Once it quieted down, I answered: “G-d can’t be a human, of course.”

“But I thought you said…”

“No one said anything of the sort, and if he did, he was wrong,” I thundered.

“So how can G-d have been conceived by himself?” the follower continued.

“Next question, please,” I said. The mic was passed around to the next customer.

“What about masturbation?” the next person said.

“Well, when you’re sitting next to me…” Clarissa chimed in, and gave the man a couple of winks.

“Oooooh,” the audience said. Sarah looked shocked.

“Masturbation is forbidden in the Torah, as it is called ‘spilling your seed,’” I said. “The idea is that you spill your seed, your seed that could otherwise be used to create a baby (or babies, for that matter), is a waste of potential life. And that is not down in Judaism.” I used the slang, hoping it would reinforce it more to him.

 

Now that that’s over, let me think over what to tell you next in this oh-so-revealing memoir.

I’m sitting next to my pet parrot, Jumpy. Jumpy and I keep each other company nowadays since Jimmy still works every day. I still work every day, of course, but my definition of work is different. Work for me consists of chatting with my parrot, accompanying Sarah to the skateboard park, and the like.

“Wanna go for a walk?” Jumpy asks me.

“Sure,” I say, and get him to come up to my shoulder. We walk to the park, where some camp followers, and also Neelee and Shaul are kicking back. Neelee and Shaul have moved to be with us full time since we have had the camp followers.

That day they took Sarah.

I was in utter disbelief when I first heard.

Jimmy and I met Neelee and Shaul at home, where a police car was parked out in front. Never a good sign. As we opened the front door, we heard: “So that’s the last time you saw her.”

“Saw who?” I said.

“Ma’am, why don’t you sit down,” the policeman said.

I saw my daughter Emily sitting in the corner crying. “What is it?” I said, addressing all of them.

“Sarah’s been kidnapped,” Neelee said.

 

The following day, I was too emotional to write—I just kept fretting about Sarah. In the middle of the day, I received an email from some random email address saying the following:

“If you want this matter settled and done, then to Manhattan you’ll surely come.”

If this was the kidnapper’s psychotic message to his victims, then this was right on target. I didn’t know who else would send such a weird message to me like that.

“She’s in Manhattan,” I announced to Neelee when I saw her, later that day.

“How do you know?”

I showed her the email.

“Ohhh,” Neelee stepped back, mortified.

“So what are we waiting for? Let’s go!” I said.

“Don’t you think we should show this to the police first?”

“Nah. Police take their time. They’re getting paid to do this. I, on the other hand, have an incentive to be quick about it.”

“Where in Manhattan would we go?”

“To the city hall, of course.”

We arrived at the city hall, where there was a huge protest on the steps.

“Clarissa Steiner NOT for U.S. President!” said one sign (my presidential campaign was just kicking up at that time).

“Clarissa Pah-rissa” said another.

Several people started pointing in my direction. “Hey, it’s Clarissa Steiner! It’s Clarissa! Clarissa!”

People parted to let me walk to the podium.

“How can you think you’re going to get elected to the presidency when you infect our children’s minds with useless sex-garbage?” shouted one protester once I was at the podium.

“It already is infected with useless sex-garbage, I’m just explaining it,” I said.

Then I went inside. Shaul, Neelee and Jimmy followed.

“Ah, Ms. Clarissa Steiner!” said a gregarious deep male voice.

“Yes?” I turned.

“Someone left this note for you,” he said.

“When?”

“Oh, just this morning!”

“What did he look like?”

“Nondescript, really. Jeans and a t-shirt. About a day’s stubble.”

“Okay, thank you for your help. I’ll read that letter now.”

I started to read. It said, “If Sarah’s location you want to know

Then to central park you must go. By the way, you are a ho.

I showed it to the others. “I mean, what kind of deranged person would write these? Or even take my granddaughter in the first place?” I shrieked.

“Shhh,” Jimmy said as I buried my face in his shoulder and let loose a wail of despair. “I mean, I know I’m a ho! But why’d he have to take my granddaughter?”

Shaul and Neelee, who were standing awkwardly off to one side, said, “can we join the hug?”

“Sure,” I said, wiping my eyes with my sleeve. “Sorry to leave you out.” And so Shaul hugged the male half of us and Neelee hugged the female half.

“Talk about one weird hug,” Neelee said. We all laughed.

“Let’s go to central park already,” Shaul said.

“No stopping to give sermons to every person we see. That’ll surely blow our cover,” I said.

“Where in central park do we go?” asked Jimmy.

“The zoo, of course!” I said. “Someone will surely have another message for us at the entrance.”

Surely enough, they did. And there was a convention of some sort set up, too. People were expectantly sitting on chairs, waiting for something to begin. There were two podiums. One man was preaching to the audience from one of the podiums, the other one was empty.

“Hey, they’re talking about you, Clarissa,” said Neelee.

We made our way to the ticket counter.

“Clarissa Steiner?” asked the worker.

“Yes?” I said expectantly.

“A message for you.” He handed me a slip of paper.

In the end, If you don’t want to offend

You’ll engage in a debate.

It concerns your granddaughter’s fate.

I screamed in anguish. Several heads turned to look at me.

“And now, we have Clarissa Steiner coming to participate in our debate!” sang the announcer’s voice.

I stepped up to the podium.

“Boooo!”

“As you can see, Clarissa, we’ve stolen your precious child from you, just as you’ve stolen our children from us with your pernicious writing that promotes sexual promiscuity,” said the big, bald man to my left. The audience cheered.

I started to talk, but was drowned out by all the booing. “Let her speak,” the bald man said.

“First off,” I said, “you have bad hair.” The audience erupted with boos. When they quieted down, I said, “secondly, I think that my books help the religious cause, and not hurt it.”

“Then how come my daughter’s a prostitute in LA!” screamed a man from the front row.

“I’m very sorry she’s a prostitute,” I said. “What does she do, porn?” He nodded. “Well, when Mathilda enters the prostitution chamber of the supreme hierarchy in The Chosen One, for example, it is to illustrate the extreme depravity of the prostitutes. And the fact that everyone in the society touches each-other’s private parts as a greeting illustrates the same thing—the depravity of the society. Mathilda is out to change this situation.”

“We don’t care about Mathilda!” shouted another man.

“Yeah!” screamed a woman, who was soon joined by several others.

“How about Robert?” asked the moderator.

“Yeah! Tell us about Robert!”

“Well, Robert was a male-prostitute in LA whose surplus cash went to the needy orphans and to fund religious scholarships.”

“That’s racist!” someone shouted.

“What’s racist?” I responded.

“Him only sponsoring religious schools.”

“I thought we were all religious people here,” I said. “People who want to see Clarissa Steiner’s reign of sex and terror come to a hasty, bloody end.”

The audience cheered.

“So what do you want to do now,” I said. “Do you want to give me my granddaughter back?”

“Your granddaughter? We have no information at this time of the whereabouts of your granddaughter, Ms. Steiner.”

“But the notes said…”

“What notes?”

“Never mind.”

Then I viewed Sarah’s face in the audience. “Sarah!” I call.

“Grandma!”

We met in the middle of the audience and hugged. “Oh, my Sarah, are you okay?”

“Yes, Grandma,” she said. “What are you worried about?”

What was I worried about? That one had me taken aback. I paused. “It’s just that, honey, you’ve been kidnapped, and I’ve been receiving all these clues, and…”

“Kidnapped?” Sarah looked shocked. “No, I haven’t been kidnapped, this is just a trip my friend’s parents are taking me and a couple of other kids on. We tour around New York City and stay in hotels.”

“Oh, no one told me, and I’ve been worried sick! I thought—I mean, Neelee, I, Shaul and Grandpa thought—that you’d been kidnapped. Plus, someone kept sending us notes that said ‘If you want Sarah, go to so and so a place…’”

“That was me, Grandma.”

I gasped. “That was you?”

Sarah shrugged. “I wanted to see how you’d take criticism of your work. I don’t personally think that giving to the poor justifies being a male prostitute.”

“But you agree that each character has his merits as well as his faults.”

Sarah shrugged again. “I suppose.”

“I guess I shouldn’t lecture you. Although I could get you on probation for what you did, young lady, don’t you forget it.”

“You shouldn’t say ‘young lady,’ it makes you feel old.”

I laughed. “You’re right.”

Chapter 12

 

 

So that was that. I had duped my grandmother into following a closely-contrived scheme that ended up, I hoped, in her humiliation, but ultimately ended up providing justifications for her actions. I mean, who knew a male prostitute could be good? It got me so that I wondered at Grandma’s desire to be included in Orthodox Judaism in the first place.

Now that I was thirteen, I had decided to date. For marriage. No matter that I couldn’t marry at that age, and that Grandma had told me that by the time my potential spouse and I reach marriageable age, we’d be so different from when we started out that we wouldn’t like each other anymore. I was going to find my spouse now, get engaged, and get married at sixteen. I would just have to get my parents’ permission.

I wanted kids. I wanted sex. I just wanted them in a good way.

So we were watching a movie and he says, “Did you know that movies are prohibited in Judaism? We’re not supposed to be like the goyim.”

So much for dating. That was the only guy I had found that was looking to marry. He was fifteen.

At least I look good. That’s one way that my grandmother and I are alike- we toot our own horn.

Chapter 13

 

 

“And we also look over each-others’ shoulders. Sarah, now that was an astounding piece of writing. I think you have what it takes to be a novelist yourself!”

“But what would I write about?”

“You could write about me.”

You write about you.”

“That doesn’t mean another person can’t write about me.”

“I think you’re even more arrogant than I am.”

“I’ll take that as a compliment.”

Chapter 14

 

 

Of course, I haven’t gotten into my run for president yet. I bet everyone reading up to here was itching for me to get to that.

Because I was for the poor, I was a Democrat. I don’t buy into this whole trickle-down theory.

I held my first rally in Central Park. Britney Spears opened for me. Of course, you already know that. When she was done, I started my speech:

“Gentlemen and Ladies of New York and the World!”

A massive cheer, slowly building, from the audience.

“Are you ready to RUMBLE!” Cue music.

“Clarissa, can I kiss your feet!” someone from the first row yells.

“You’re already kissing my ass,” I shouted back.

I tapped the microphone. “Okay,” I said. “I know about that incident of a supporter of mine setting herself aflame on the steps of the capitol…for those of you who haven’t heard, that’s what happened.”

Silence from the crowd.

“But we aren’t going to let that stop us, are we? Are we?” More silence from the crowd, then another deafening cheer.

“We are going to set up Jewish learning centers in every major city of every state in America!” Some halfhearted cheers, mixed with some boos.

“I’m Christian!” screamed a lady in the front row at me, performing a cross in front of her body.

“I don’t care!” I shouted back.

I tapped the microphone again. “We are going to raise taxes to accomplish this!” Powerful “boo”s emanate from the crowd.

“I want Britney Spears back!” shouted a man.

I could hear the rising chant of “Britney! Britney!”

“Just kidding!” I said. “Just kidding!” But the damage had been done. I didn’t do well in the polls, and suffice it to say, never did that many people come to one of my rallies again.

 

The next day, I started to write my acclaimed novel, “The Hound of ClarissaVille”, in which the main character, who was sadly male, as all major American characters need to be, runs for and wins the presidency. You can see major themes of my life which are reflected in that work.

But no work is more personal—thus far—than this set of memoirs I’m writing. So you’re really experiencing a treat.

“Chris is coming over for dinner, dear,” I remind Sarah as she rushes to go off for school.

“Again?” Sarah frowned.

“Honey, you know he isn’t in very often. And besides, he isn’t like he was before.” Before meaning a Jew for Jesus who was constantly proselytizing to whomever he came in contact with.

Plus, he was just so cool when he was younger. I don’t know what happened to him since then.

I bought the vegetables for the night’s dinner and cooked the pasta, and then there came the knock at the door.

“Coming.” I dropped what I was doing and opened the door.

“Chris—Caleb!” I exclaimed, and threw my arms around him. “You’ve grown a beard!”

“Yes, to offset my formally idolatrous ways,” he said. “I hope it grows fast; I don’t have much time left in this life to grow it.”

“Oh, don’t say that,” I said.

“You know, we’re not young anymore, Clarissa.”

We small-talked the rest of the afternoon until dinner, and when we were all seated at dinner, there came a hesitant knock on the door.

“Come in!” I said, before realizing the door was locked. Caleb was quicker than me and got to the door.

It was our old school principal, from Israel, Rafael. We had kept in touch, but this was the first time he had come unannounced.

“Hi,” he said. “Remember last time we spoke, you said you might take on some kids for adoption? Well, I have those kids. They’re siblings, so they come as a set.”

“You mean vagrants,” I said.

“Hey, we heard that!” came a voice from behind the door.

Immediately, the door opened and a stunningly beautiful teenage girl walked in. “Oh, I’m sorry if I’m late, it’s just that I’m always late, and fashionably so, you see. Plus, I had more than my tote-bag to carry. I had these two vagrants to drag along with me.”

“What’s a vagrant, Mommy?” came a child’s voice from the doorway.

“And this one has the audacity to call me mommy, when I’m only his sister! For all he knows, I could still be a virgin!”

“So we thought you could handle them,” Rafael concluded.

“Handle us?” the beautiful girl said. “As if!”

The beautiful girl was tall and had long, blond hair. Her sister was shorter, with short-cropped brown hair about her head, and the youngest was small and young, about eight years old.

“So why don’t you introduce yourselves for your new parents?” Rafael said.

“New parents?” said the beautiful one. “I doubt any of you could replace them. The fucked-up drug users that they were.”

“Eliza!” Rafael said. “Where are your manners?”

“Anyway,” Eliza said, flipping her hair, “I kind of like these people. I think I’ll tell them my name. And by the way, I was paying you a compliment when I said you could never be like my parents.”

“Duly noted,” I said. “Well, welcome to the house. You can bring your things upstairs to your rooms, where the oldest will have priority.”

“No fair!” the youngest child screamed.

“Now this is Joshua,” Rafael said, “and the middle one is Hannah.”

Hannah curtsied, her long skirts ruffling as they touched the floor.

Jimmy leaned in toward me: “Some very interesting recruits, if I may say for myself.”

“No kidding,” I said.

“And how are they doing to deal with all the homeless people, our camp followers?” Jimmy continued.

“I don’t know,” I said.

“They’re staring at you,” Neelee said.

“I think this is the first harmonious marriage/family they’ve come in contact with,” I said.

“They certainly look like they could use inculcating with the Bible’s rules of modesty,” Shaul said, “especially the oldest one.” Eliza was wearing a tank-top with pink short-shorts. “I don’t like the way she wiggles her butt when she talks.”

“Shaul!” Jimmy said, half-mockingly. “You’re a married man!”

“I guess all this time spent with you and Clarissa has been rubbing off on me,” Shaul responded.

“I’m starved,” Eliza said.

“By all means, help yourself to some turkey,” Jimmy said. “There’s plenty to go around.”

“I’m a vegetarian,” Eliza announced. “Do you have any food for me?”

“I’m not a vegetarian,” Hannah said.

“Me no,” Joshua said.

“Am I having a seizure or something, or does Joshua not speak English?” I queried the older daughter.

“Oh, Joshy does speak English,” Eliza said. “He doesn’t use complete sentences, though.”

“Has this always been the case?” I asked.

“Only since our parents divorced,” said Eliza.

“Here, sit down,” Jimmy said. “Welcome to your new home.”

“Do you guys have cable?” said Eliza. “Because one of my favorite shows is on tonight.”

“Okay, no more questions from you, my little dear,” I said, even though she was quite as tall as me.

“Thy poultry is scrumptious!” said Hannah said in an extremely polite tone.

“Indeed, I thank thee for thy compliment!” I replied.

“Thy are most welcome, mother!”

“Um, you can just call me Clarissa,” I said.

“Thy wish is my command, mother!” said Hannah enthusiastically. It was then that I noticed that she wore a long white skirt as well as a bonnet on top of her head.

“Pretty Victorian, huh?” Neelee said.

“I think I can convert this one to Orthodox Judaism rather easily,” whispered Shaul.

“Potatoes, please,” said Joshua, extending his arms.

“You don’t have to reach, dearest; just ask,” I said.

“So what’s our first day at school going to be like?” Eliza said, ignoring my orders.

“Interesting, I’m sure,” I said.

We ate the rest of the meal in silence.

Chapter 15

 

 

My name is Eliza. And I am the sexiest beast to ever set foot in this obscure New York high-school. Did I mention that I’m from LA?

Yes, that’s Los Angeles, for those of you who don’t know. The City of Angels. Also the city of pop culture.

I even starred in a commercial when I was six. Pretty cool, right?

So I wasn’t exactly sure how the New York crowd, having lived in such obscurity would react to me.

“Like, hi!” I said to the first girl who passed me. “I’m, like, new here, so would you , like, have the bravery to show me around?”

The girl happened to have braces, short brown hair, and lots of pimples on her face. I didn’t mind. It’s not like she would spoil my pure beauty.

We passed two other kids, who didn’t spare us a passing glance.

“Hey, why don’t we talk to those kids?” I asked the girl.

“They’re not my friends,” she said.

“Well, I am going to introduce myself to them,” I said. “Good bye. By the way, what’s your name?”

“Rachel,” she said, looking downcast.

“Well, good-bye, Rachel,” I said. “I’m Eliza, for future reference.”

She nodded sadly and continued down the hall.

I ran after the two kids, a good looking boy and his girlfriend, I was guessing.

“Like, hi!” I shouted once I had reached them. They turned around and regarded me with appraising expressions.

“My name is, like, Eliza. I’m new here. What are your, like, names?” I said breathlessly.

“Our names, like, are, like, Jason and Melissa,” the boy said.

I flushed. “What grades are you in?” I stammered, without using the l-word.

“Like, we’re in tenth grade,” the girl smiled.

I smiled back. The boy, who I might say was extremely buff and good-looking, whispered something to the girl, who listened intently.

“Okay,” the girl announced. “You can hang out with us. Where are you from: like, California?”

“How did you guess?” I said, semi-calmly.

“All the likes, of course,” said the boy.

“No kidding,” said the girl. “So here’s the deal: meet us at lunch. We always sit at the corner table closest to the doors.”

“OK, deal!” I said. I was glad I had worn one of my short shorts and tank top to school that day; maybe I could entice the buff boy Jason away from Melissa. That would be a major score on the first day of school. Now, if I could only figure out how to stop saying the word “like.”

The three classes I had in the morning passed without event. I flirted with the History teacher, who was mad hot, but didn’t get too close because I’m underage. I didn’t want to end up in prison, right? The teacher was talking about the California Gold Rush, and I answered a lot of questions he had, so I think I, like, built a solid relationship with him. All the other girls would have to wait in line to flirt with him—in fact, they would never get to flirt with him at all, since I stayed in the classroom until everyone else was gone.

Ha. Take that, non-California girls.

At lunchtime I sought out my new friends, and I found them at that corner table. They were saving a seat for me.

“Hi, guys, sorry I’m late,” I said as I sat down.

A couple of people at the table turned to stare at me, but other than that, that was all the reception I got.

“Who’s shoes are the most stylish,” said a girl.

“I think mine are,” said Melissa. “These babies cost two-hundred dollars. They look like they’re from California.”

“I’m from California,” I blurted.

Melissa smiled. “And here, friends, is Eliza, our emissary from California. But of course, she’s only wearing crocs.”

Everybody laughed.

“Where in California are you from?” a boy asked, squinting at me.

“LA, where else,” I said, rolling my eyes. The boy continued to stare at me.

“Did you ever meet any movie stars?”

“Like, duh,” I said, ignoring my resolution to not use the l-word. “Julia Roberts, Brad Pitt, Whoopi Goldberg, et all.”

“Et all? We have a smarty-pants,” Jason said. “How many APs are you taking?”

“We only have one this year in ninth grade, and that’s Biology,” I said.

“Oh, right,” Jason smacked his head with his palm.

“Hey, why don’t we finish our lunch and go annoy the losers?” a boy said.

“Yeah!” exclaimed Jason, and Melissa nodded.

“I’m not hungry anymore,” said one of the girls. “Let’s go now!”

Everyone at the table got up from their seats. We went to a table at the opposite corner of the room. As we approached, the conversation at the table quieted.

“So, losers,” Jason began. “Which of you has the most pimples today?”

I recognized Rachel among those at the table, but didn’t say a word.

“I think that would be you, Rachel,” Melissa said, pointing at her subject. Rachel glanced at me, but I again didn’t say a word.

“And who are our resident homos?” asked another girl from my group to the table.

“Yeah, who was the giver and who was the receiver?” said another boy.

“Unless one of them decided to go straight with old pimply,” I said, joining the group. Everyone laughed. I felt empowered by my oneness with my friends.

“Alright, that’s it,” Rachel stood from her chair and addressed us all. “All of you are going to be kicked out of school by tomorrow.”

“As if,” Jason sneered. “I have a 3.9 GPA and I’m a three-sport athlete. See you later, Pimples, losers,” he said. One of those seated at the table began to cry.

He walked away and I and the rest of the group followed him.

I got home and did my homework, and then we had dinner. Dinner that night was uncharacteristically quiet. I could see Clarissa and Jimmy whispering to each-other, though. After a few moments, Clarissa began to talk. “So, Joshua, how was your day?”

“Day bad,” he said. “People bully.”

I started to feel ashamed of myself.

“I’m going to have to call the principal,” Clarissa fumed.

“No! No principal,” Joshua said. “Beat up.”

“You mean they’ll beat you up if you contact the principal?” Jimmy said.

“No, he means that he wants to beat them up himself,” I said.

“Now you tell us,” Clarissa said.

“And speaking of bullying,” Jimmy interjected, “we received a complaint today about you bullying another girl.”

“It was actually a whole tableful of kids,” I said nonchalantly.

“And what do you have to say for yourself?”

“Nothing,” I said. “It just happened.”

“Well, I’m sure you will have plenty of time to think about it,” Clarissa said, “because you are suspended three days. The rest of your gang was booted out of the school.”

It took me a few seconds for that statement to sink in.

“What!” I screamed. “That administration can’t do anything to me!”

“Comes from being from California,” Jimmy remarked. “I would know.”

“And what about my friends?” I asked.

“They had it coming to them,” Jimmy said. “You should have known. But you only have to stay inside three days with us. But no partying.”

“No partying!” I screamed. “But what am I going to do? Who am I going to …”

“Enough tantrums,” Clarissa interjected.

“I would never bully any Goodman,” declared Hannah.

“Nonsense, you bully us all the time,” I snarled. “Talking with that Elizabethan vocabulary and all.”

“Thy are incorrect in thy statement,” Hannah said. “I only do it because it is my cultural heritage.”

“That sentence could almost be termed non-Elizabethan,” I said.

“Thy are quite correct,” returned Hannah.

“Me, too,” Joshua said.

“Yes, Joshua, you are correct as well,” said Jimmy.

“No he’s not,” I screamed. “He only talks in two-word sentences, how is he going to pass fourth grade!”

“And you only say ‘like’ when you’re nervous,” retorted Jimmy. “What happens when you’re taking a test, all you write down in the answer column is ‘like’! Anyway, your bullying will be stopped, one way or another. Clarissa and I will teach you how to not bully and still feel self-confident. Hopefully, three days will be enough to do it.”

“Three days might just be enough to do it,” I said eyeing Jimmy. He was actually pretty hot.

“Eyes off my husband!” exclaimed Clarissa. Or, as I was now to refer to her, “Mommy.”

I had my mommy, my daddy (Jimmy), and my Auntie Neelee and Uncle Shaul. Not that I was interested in becoming religious and wearing a black hat. But I doff my black hat to Shaul for having the courage to be so religious when everyone around him is secular. Ho hum.

Three days stuck at home with nothing to do but studying how not to be a bully…how much duller could you get.

Later that evening, when everyone but me, Jimmy (HOT!), Clarissa and Sarah had gone from the table, Jimmy started to lecture me:

“Can you start with being nice to Sarah, here?” he asked me.

“Being nice to Sarah?” I retorted. “What do you mean, being nice to Sarah? I’m always nice to Sarah!”

“No you’re not,” Sarah wailed. “At school, you wouldn’t talk to me or even look at me!”

“Is this corroboration correct?” asked Jimmy.

“Well, um, like, yes, I mean, yessir, yessiree!” I stammered, barely finishing my sentence in the face of Jimmy’s muscular, clean-shaven hotness.

“We know you have the hots for my husband, but can’t you talk normally when you’re around him?” Clarissa asked.

“Um, like, no!” I screeched.

“Hmm, maybe that’s why she bullies others; it’s because she’s so nervous around the guy she’s into,” Clarissa mused. “Was there a boy involved?”

“Um, like YES, I mean, no!” said I.

“There you have it,” Clarissa said. “That’s what we have to work on with her.”

Jimmy said, “First off, before we dive deep into the wells of self-confidence, why don’t you tell us why you’ve got the hots for me, who is nearly sixty.”

“Well,” I said, “um, like, I don’t know, it’s just that…”

“She can’t get it out,” said Sarah.

“I CAN GET IT OUT!” I said. “Like, um, I mean,”

“Do you like the way he looks?” Clarissa prompted me gently.

“It’s just that he’s so fuckin cool!” I exclaimed. “He wears his leather jacket so well, and he has a family, kids, grandkids…”

“He also already has a mate, who is willing to fight for her man,” Clarissa said pointedly.

“Of course!” I said. “But that doesn’t mean I still can’t have the hots for him!”

“She’s got a point, Clarissa,” Jimmy said.

“Are you Jewish?” asked Shaul. “Because if you are, I can find you a good match.”

“Sorry, not Jewish, but I’d like to check out this most anal of religions,” I said. “I heard Clarissa can’t touch boys except for her husband.”

“That is true,” Clarissa admitted. “Same thing goes with Jimmy, so I guess you’re out of luck.”

“Heck,” said Jimmy, “why can’t we start right now teaching Eliza how to be self confident on her own, and not having to rely upon being a bully.

“First off, Eliza, stand up straight,” he said. Oh, to be looking into those large, sexy brown eyes…

“Stand up straight, girl,” Jimmy snapped. “Don’t concentrate on me, concentrate on yourself!”

I stood up straight. “Now look into my eyes,” Jimmy prompted.

I looked up in his eyes. Then I looked down.

“Look into my eyes, dammit!” shouted Jimmy.

“Positive reinforcement, not negative, remember we agreed, Jimmy?” Clarissa said.

Jimmy rolled his eyes. “Of course.”

I rolled my own eyes. “No! Not any eye-rolling by you, young lady!” said Jimmy. “Now, where was I? Ah, yes. You must find some hobbies that keep you going and boost your self-confidence.”

“I know! I was a cheerleader at my last high-school,” I said.

“There, that’s the spirit!” sang Clarissa. “I was, too.”

“So what does all this have to do with me?” I said.

“Well, you have self-confidence when you’re cheerleading, right?”

I nodded. “That’s because people can see my body, and I know how good my body looks.”

“How about you pretend that you’re cheerleading all the time? That way, you’ll have self-confidence all the time!” said Clarissa.

I thought about that for a moment. “Pretend?” I said. “I don’t like playing pretend. It’s too…childish.”

“Here’s news now, kid: you’re still just a kid,” said Jimmy. “You can still play pretend whenever you want.”

“Wahhh. I want my mommy!” I screamed.

“Mother is dead, remember?” spoke Hannah.

“Art thy sure?” I said, mocking Hannah. “May chance she is still alive!”

“Shut up,” said Joshua.

“Oh, finally, a coherent sentence from the mute!” I exclaimed.

“See, you thrive on bullying,” Jimmy said. “It helps your self-confidence. Just pretend to be a cheerleader, and everything will be okay.”

So that’s what I did, at least initially because Jimmy told me to. When I got back to school, I apologized to the people I bullied, and they gave me a reprieve.

But it wasn’t a full reprieve; I had my next project, with the Count of Sex (Jimmy): I had to become their friend for the span of a month. So there was a major undertaking in my life: hanging out with losers.

Only I had to lose my conception of them being losers. I had to lose the concept of loser itself!

I apologized for calling Rachel “old pimply” and she instantly became my best friend. It’s amazing how she could find the forgiveness in her heart.

Her friends consisted of a computer geek, Delmon; a goth, James; an emo, Charles; and a fat person, Kevin.

At lunch one day, I told them they should come over for dinner. My adopted parents, Clarissa and Jimmy, would give them a “brain-makeover” like they did to me. But unfortunately, the idea didn’t catch on so quickly.

“I’m fine just the way I am!” exclaimed James.

“But no! Like,” I said, and then composed myself: “Trust me! It really got me to have a different conception of life! I speak better,”

“Don’t you mean ‘more articulately?’” sniggered Delmon.

“Yes, that is what I mean! Do you ever hear me saying the word ‘like’ anymore?”

“Not since that first day,” Rachel admitted.

“And, I stopped bullying you guys!” I continued.

“That’s true,” said James.

“Okay, we’ll try,” said Rachel.

“So I’ll call them and tell them you guys are coming over tonight! I’m so excited,” I gushed.

“Whoa—tonight?” said Charles.

“Yes, tonight!” I said. “Come on, it’ll be fun.”

They all agreed.

 

So after school, we all skipped to my house.

“Whoa, that is one ginormous house,” Charles said as we approached my abode.

“And you talk a lot,” I told him. Addressing everyone, I said, “Maybe you can all come live here!”

“Wow, really?” said Rachel.

“No, just kidding, sorry,” I said. I could already hear sounds of commotion coming from inside the house.

We arrived at the front door. “Oh, how nice, Eliza’s home!” sang Clarissa, my new mommy/grandma (don’t tell her I said grandma). “But who is this? Some newcomers? Some of your friends, dearie?”

I nodded my confirmation. “Yes, they are indeed my friends. In fact, these are the people I used to bully!”

“Oh, that’s terrible!” Clarissa said and put her hand to her mouth.

“Sorry,” I said nonchalantly.

“Here, come in, come in, have something to eat!” said Clarissa.

There was pizza, sushi and salad on the table, as we saw when we all filed in and took our seats.

“Wow, so much foooood,” remarked Kevin, the first time he had spoken four words since I said hi to him this morning. His chair looked like it was about to break.

We were seated, and then Jimmy said, “So which one of you was the most bullied?”

My friends all began to laugh. “I think it was an equal amount for just everyone,” Rachel said, glancing around the room.

“I used to be teased for my accent,” Neelee said. “But then I realized people were just jealous that I knew another language.”

“Yeah, I think Eliza and her group were just jealous that there existed another posy apart from their own,” said Charles, looking at me.

I shrugged. “I guess so,” I said.

“So Clarissa said you guys have a makeover-thingee you want to do to us,” said Kevin, again opening his mouth for discourse. “So can I go first?”

All the adult heads turned toward Clarissa. “What!” screamed Clarissa. “I never said anything of the sort!”

“Yes, you did, last week, remember?” I said.

“No.”

“When I told you about the problems of my new posy and you offered to help! Now do you remember?”

“You are just pure evil,” muttered Sarah.

“Excuse me, I didn’t know you spoke English,” I offered. “You may be Clarissa’s granddaughter but you can’t dis me like that.” Sarah looked at the ceiling.

“So, Kevin, what kind of life-coaching would you like?” Jimmy said.

“Hello? Can’t everyone see I’m fat!” Kevin said. “Any suggestions on diet?”

“Diet and exercise,” said Clarissa. “But the Clarissa Steiner way, which is different from all other ways.”

“Oh, reveal it to us, oh, Clarissa,” I mimicked in Clarissa’s voice.

“Oh, Granny, why don’t you just get rid of her already!” shouted Sarah.

“You know, she reminds me of me when I was her age,” Clarissa said.

“Surely you couldn’t have been that evil!” said Sarah.

Clarissa winked at me. Sarah stormed out. Then she stormed back in. “You know, the only reason I’m staying here is because I’m friends with all these people, not counting you, you pitiful excuse for a Barbie.”

I glanced in my friends’ direction. “Oh, you guys are friends with Sarah? Eeeeeww,” I said.

Sarah looked ready to cry.

“I’m just joking, just joking,” I said, exasperated.

“Anyway, what was I saying?” said Clarissa. “Oh, yes. Diet and exercise, my style. The trick is, you have to skip both breakfast and lunch. Except for Sabbaths and holidays, of course.”

There was a pregnant pause.

Finally Kevin said, “I see. And how am I supposed to do this?”

“It’ll work for you, it did for me!” said Sarah. Kevin glanced at her and she looked away.

“Yeah, come on, Kevin, why not?” I asked. He blushed.

“Guys,” Sarah announced, “the secret is…that eating breakfast starts up your metabolism and after breakfast, you just want to eat more! I learned this while I was writing the novel ‘Transformation’, in which I, the main character, went from a huge-size dress to a really slim size, like the one I wore in high-school.”

Kevin grimaced. “So then they won’t bully me anymore…”

“Well, they’re gone from the school now,” I put in.

“All except for you,” Kevin said.

“Don’t worry, I won’t switch sides on you again,” I said, looking into every one of my friend’s eyes. “Wait, you write novels?” I said to Sarah.

“Of course I do,” Sarah responded. “Ever since I was ten. I want to be like Grandma Clarissa.”

“Therefore you want to also be like me!” I squealed.

Sarah shot me a dark look. “I mean, like Grandma’s current self, not like what she used to be,” she said.

“My, my, is that a heartbreaker!” exclaimed Clarissa. “Okay, on to the next person. Anyone else want to come forward?”

“I’ll do it,” James volunteered.

“Okay, here we go,” Clarissa said. “Have you ever watched ‘American Idol?’”

“Yes.”

“Well, don’t be offended, because I’m going to be Simon now. OK?”

“OK,” James agreed.

Clarissa switched her accent to that of the United Kingdom. “OK, James, you honestly look like a dead person. All that makeup…what are you doing with black eye-shadow?”

“It’s actually to imitate zombies,” James said helpfully.

“OK, it’s fine to imitate a zombie on a religious holiday that’s a costume day,” said Clarissa. “And I bet you do it at school because people at school don’t like you, am I correct?”

James nodded, tears forming in his eyes. “I…I’m not cool!” he said.

“Believe me, if you’re friends with Eliza, the best looking girl on the planet,” said Grandma, and I preened at that as she continued, “you won’t be uncool.”

“Best-looking girl, my ass,” said Sarah.

“Now, now, Sarah,” said Shaul, the first time he had said something all night. “Remember what we said about images.”

“I actually think you have quite a nice ass, Sarah,” James stammered.

“See that, boy?” Clarissa said. “James, you’re already gaining more self-confidence!”

“So by that, you think I should abandon religious school totally and wear tight-fitting outfits instead, and move to James’s public school?” Sarah demanded. So I can be ‘admired’ and ‘sought-after’ more?”

“No, Sarah, you’re plenty attractive wearing skirts,” Clarissa said.

“I don’t believe you,” Sarah said.

“Anyhow,” I interrupted, “wearing all that makeup gives you negative attention, believe me,” I said.

“How would you know, Eliza?” Sarah asked me.

“I was a goth for a little,” I told her.

Grandma Clarissa nodded. “That was when you first found out how sex worked.”

I blushed, and I don’t often blush. I guess that’s a real big achievement for me.

“Wait, you knew her parents?” demanded Sarah.

“My dad just died,” James said. “I’m in mourning. So that’s why I’m a goth.”

“Really? We’re so sorry,” Jimmy said.

“Ah, just kidding,” said James. “I wanted to see if you would believe me.”

“See, that-a-boy!” Grandma screeched. “I’m so happy for you. Do you believe you’re cool now, after becoming friends with not only the best-looking girl in the school, but her family as well?”

“I guess so,” Jason said, and smiled.

“Huzzah!” said Grandma. “Then you’re ready to go back to school. Ah, yes, how many more do we have? Two?” She began to count us up.

“Three,” I said. “Delmon, Charles and Rachel. And by the way, Jason, our dad is sort of dead- we don’t see him anymore- and my mom is dead too, from a drug overdose. We have a lot in common.”

Jason smiled, tears running down his eyes.

“I’ll go next,” shouted Delmon, and he instantly raced to the seat beside Grandma.

“Welcome to my husband’s chair,” Grandma said.

Delmon became red in the face. “Uh, uh, sorry,” he stammered.

“Don’t worry, he’ll just sit in your former seat,” Grandma said. “Didn’t mean to embarrass you. Anyway,” she continued. “Hmm. I can’t seem to detect any abnormality in you.”

“Oh, that’s cause all my friends are here,” Delmon explained. “I usually stammer and I can’t express myself to anyone else.”

“Curious,” said Clarissa. “So you’re nervous when people apart from your friends are present?”

“Actually, I just can’t stand the hours in class without my computer,” he said. “I’m allergic to school, and computers are my allergy medicine.”

“Sounds like someone got a little bit too much exposure to computers at a young age,” remarked Jimmy, as he sat down in Delmon’s old seat. Next to me! Wheeeeeee.

Jimmy glanced in my direction. “Don’t think about getting any ideas,” he warned me, as his bulky arm muscles flexed. He looked at me! He talked to me!

“I think computer exposure is overrated,” said Delmon.

“I don’t think it is with you, my dearie,” Clarissa said. “Just how many hours do you spend with a computer each day?”

“Well, coding? I’d say four to six hours per day, ten to twelve hours on the weekend.”

“And why do you spend so much time on those computers?”

Delmon started to stammer again. “Um, uh, well,”

“I think what he means is that he’s never found a friend outside of our little group,” Rachel said.

“Is that true?” inquired Clarissa.

“Yes! I mean no!” Delmon said. “I mean, if I really wanted to, I could find other friends, friends who like computers and video games, but the difference is they don’t do what I want. With computers, though…well, computers do what I want.”

“Interesting,” said Jimmy with a frown. “How about when the computer wants you to debug it? Is the computer somehow ‘failing you?’”

“Good question!” said Delmon. “Actually, it’s to the contrary; I’m the one who fails it! The computer is my one true friend outside of this group.”

“So why do you like this group?” countered Rachel. “Do we all do what you want?”

“Mostly, and that’s enough for me,” Delmon said. “But outside this group, I have no real friends.”

Everybody gasped. “How about your parents?” said Shaul.

“Parents suck,” said Delmon.

“What’s so sucky about them?” asked Clarissa.

“Now, honey, don’t force him to tell…” inserted Jimmy (or, as I have come to name him, “His Hotness.”)

“It’s OK,” Delmon said. “One is always drunk and the other is always high. Including when they’re at work. It’s really bad.”

“Do they beat you?” Sarah whispered.

Delmon took off his shirt.

“My God!” exclaimed Clarissa, and further murmurings were heard throughout the room.

“From now on, you’re living with us,” Clarissa spat.

“Really?” sang Delmon.

“Really,” stated Clarissa. “I’ll even call Child Protective Services this minute.”

“Okay!” Delmon exclaimed.

“Why didn’t you call them earlier?” Neelee asked Delmon.

“I was just, afraid, ashamed, I dunno,” said Delmon.

“So your best friend really is a computer?” I asked.

“Not anymore!” he grinned. “I have all of you now!”

“I think we don’t have much work to do with this guy,” Clarissa remarked to Jimmy.

“But look, he’s still programming on his iPhone under the table!” I blurted. Delmon glared at me.

“I am not still best friends with my computer. I called the police and told them to arrest my ma and my pa.”

There was clapping around the room. “So you did it!” I said. “Finally!”

“So if you guys could maybe adopt me, I’d be forever grateful,” Delmon finished.

“The police will have to come here, where the call was made. I can testify for you,” Charles said. “We can testify that we saw you multiple times with those marks.”

I interrupted: “How come you guys knew about it and I didn’t?”

“They’ve been friends with Delmon for a little longer than you, honey,” Clarissa, using the most acerbic voice she could muster, told me.

“Yes, I know that, duh!” I said as I burst into tears.

Rachel came to my rescue. “Don’t fret, darling. You’ll be friends forever with me and my crew.”

“Who says it’s your crew,” Charles put in. “It’s all mine, baby. I was the original founder.”

“Baby?” exclaimed Sarah. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Well, Sarah, you do know how cute you are, and besides, you have skin which is as smooth as a baby’s bottom,” I said.

“I’m glad none of you go to my school,” moped Sarah.

“Yeah, Charles,” Rachel called out. “Did you know that what you just said to Sarah constitutes a flirt?”

Charles lowered his head to the table so no one could see his burning face.

“Hey, maybe we will go out someday,” soothed Sarah.

“Yeah, after I get myself a nice wardrobe and a nice job and convert to be an Orthodox Jew,” Charles said, his voice muffled.

“Hey, maybe we’ll be family!” I exclaimed. “After all, this is a ginormous house. Speaking of …” I turned around and hiked up the stairs.

“Eliza, hey, where you going?” shouted Jimmy. I secretly felt very happy.

“I’m having a bit of fun!” I shouted back. “And maybe doing a good deed or two along the way!”

I got to Hannah’s room and promptly ripped off her sheets and comforter.

Her body contorted into fetal position. “Reprehensible!” Hannah screamed. “To think that my own sister, blood of my blood, would commit such an atrocity as this, forcing her baby sister out of her sweet slumber and into a wide, vast, uncaring world!” She then burst into tears.

“That a girl, Hannah,” Jimmy’s voice came from downstairs. “I bet she is already out of bed!”

“You’re right!” I called back.

As Hannah and I tramped down the hallway toward Joshua’s room, Hannah said “Woulds’t thou be in agreement that I should be the one who wakes up our little brother?”

“I am agreement with thou on this matter,” I said. You see, I was simply too beautiful and aloof for my little baby brother to comprehend. He is scared of me because I have boobs, and the last person he loved to have boobs was my late step-mother, may she support many flowers. Daddy was always on business trips, so his presence was less missed by our adorable Joshua. Otherwise, he might be afraid of any boy above puberty with a deep voice.

“Thanks, Mommy,” I heard Joshua tell Hannah from his room.

“Thou art quite welcome, darling,” came Hannah’s voice. “Shall we descend the stairs together?” Joshua gave her a sleepy, tear-ringed smile and followed her down the steps to the first story.

“So you are the one who only speaks with one or two-word sentences,” Clarissa said.

Josh burst into tears.

“No, no, no,” Clarissa lamented. “I didn’t mean it as a barb.”

“I kind of doubt he knows that word,” I said.

“You kind of doubt what?” Clarissa mimicked in my voice.

“Wow, I didn’t really believe you when you said you used to be exactly like me,” said I.

“Quite a situation we find ourselves in, here,” remarked my adopted grandmother. “I can see what I was when I was young, and you can see what you will be when you age.”

I screamed, making everyone else in the room cover up their ears. “I hate aging!” I said. “I don’t want to talk about that!”

“Hmmm,” said Jimmy. “She appears to be in distress.”

“You yourself are about to be in distress, you loud-ass motha fucka!” I said. I slightly disliked him at that moment.

Grandma looked like she was about to speak. “Don’t tell me not to swear around the kids,” I said to her. “They’re used to it.”

“I taught my little brother to swear,” Grandma said.

“Good job to you, too, otherwise I would have had to do it,” put in Jimmy.

“I didn’t even know you could swear that young,” teased Grandma.

“Now, now, if you want to say those things, you two, you’re going to have to finish it in your bedroom,” warned Shaul. Big holy rabbi Shaul, of all people, I screamed inside myself. How can he say such a thing? Then I screamed out loud. The shrill sound (yes, practice does make perfect) reverberated throughout the room and caused a couple of curses and a few clatterings of dishes.

“Now, what was that for?” demanded Mr. Hottie.

“I revise my old statement,” said Grandma. “Maybe she is too much like the younger me for her own good.”

“You’re right, I am too much like the younger you!” I shouted.

“Calm down, Eliza,” said Rachel.

“Who are you to tell me to calm down?” I shouted at her. “I’m the epitome of gorgeous, I outrank you!”

“Now, now, Miss Eliza,” Clarissa said. “Just because you have won many swimsuit competitions in the past doesn’t mean you can think you’re better than everybody else.”

“But I am,” I insisted.

“No you’re not,” said everyone at the table in an impromptu chorus.

“Hey, you know what?” I said. “This is like when Moses and the Israelites crossed the sea and G-d made it flood the Egyptians!”

“Honey, what the fuck are you talking about?” said Clarissa.

“Grandma, honey,” I spat back at her, “don’t you remember? When Miriam and the rest of Israel started singing this song spontaneously? It was a miracle!”

“Ha! Hmmm,” said Clarissa. “So you’re saying that you’re Miriam, Jimmy’s Moses and Joshua is…well, I don’t know. Maybe Nachshon ben Aminadav, who plunged into the sea without regards for his own life, on account of his tremendous belief in G-d. “

“Sounds good to me,” I said.

“Eliza,” came the voice from his worship, “How can you know all this?”

“Well,” I began, “I wasn’t the only one in my class at St. Elizabeth’s to have an interest in the Old Testament,” I said. I looked around until I saw Mr. Hottie: “Mr. Hottie—”

“Must you call me that?” his worship said, his voice rising.

“Indeed, Mr. Hottie is what you are,” I said. “Unless you prefer the old fashioned term: ‘your worship?’’”

Jimmy shook his head, while Clarissa exclaimed, “I love that name!”

“Which one are you talking about, Grandma,” I asked, “the old one or the new one?”

“Both, my darling! The word ‘Hottie’ perfectly describes my sexy self, whereas the phrase ‘His Worship’ perfectly fits my darling Jimmy! Anyhow, do you know what really surprises me? That you know anything about Nachshon ben Aminadav!”

“Why should that fucking matter?” I snarled.

“Cause you’re a Christian, you motherfucker, whomever your mother is,” Clarissa returned.

“Just because I went to a Catholic high school doesn’t mean I don’t know some Jewish perspectives,” I offered as an olive branch of peace.

She ignored it. “You must be Jewish, or at least have an interest in it, to know that much,” she said. The doorbell rang. “Hello?”

“Would you please let me in?” sounded a hoarse woman’s voice.

At the sound of that voice, all of us, all three adopted children, fled. Hannah and Joshua went up the staircase while I crouched behind an armchair like a soldier in a trench.

“Who is it?” called Clarissa.

“It’s Emily!” shouted the voice, which then succumbed into a round of rakish coughs.

“Darling, how many times have I told you not to smoke pot while driving?” chided Clarissa.

“That’s her! That’s her! Monster! Monster!” came Joshua’s high-pitched voice from the landing. He began to cry.

“What is it?” Clarissa demanded. “It’s only my daughter Emily!”

“Apparently you are wrong, Mizz Clarissa,” I said. “She was our foster mother before we met you, who abused us terribly.”

“Mom?” came the voice from behind the door. “Are you in there?”

“Yes, darling,” Clarissa spoke. To the table, she said, “Well, this is almost too much to believe in. Everyone pretend the kids aren’t here.” There were murmurs of agreement from his hotness as well as Shaul and Neelee.

“Is that talking I hear in there?” said Emily. “Could someone please let me in?”

“Yes…coming!” said Clarissa. She hurried to the door, her heels making clops that brought to memory those of a horse. When the finally got to the door and opened it, her daughter, a beauty six feet tall with luxuriant blonde hair and my nemesis, strode into the house.

“Hi, everybody!” she said, and promptly went around the room sharing hugs and kisses. I continually shifted my place behind the armchair in order to avoid her gaze.

“So how are y’all doing?” Emily asked.

“Well,” Clarissa began, “we’re actually in a complicated situation right now.”

“How so?” inquired Emily.

“There seem to be certain…allegations about your misconduct,” Clarissa said.

Emily seemed to jump an inch. “What…allegations? Allegations? Against me?” her voice rose.

“Yes, indeed,” Clarissa said. “For we have three children now in our custody who assure me that you raped them and did bad things to them.”

Emily spun around, as if trying to gauge an exit route. “I never did such things!” she said. “Not me! Certainly not me!”

“Then how come these children claim you did them?”

“What children?” asked Emily.

“These children,” I said, revealing myself from behind the armchair.

“And these,” Hannah said as she peered down from the second floor.

“And me,” said Joshua.

Emily put her hands to her face. She sobbed, and said, “no, this can’t be! It can’t be!”

“What can’t be,” Clarissa said.

“It just…can’t be!” Emily responded, still sobbing.

Then it dawned on me: “Wait,” I said. “Grandma, you’re mom’s mother?”

Clarissa nodded.

“Then that would make you my foster-grandmother!” I cried. “Oh, my Lord, that’s why we’re so alike!”

“I guess you’re correct,” snarled Grandma, in a spot-on imitation of me.

“What’s happening here?” asked Emily, wiping her face.

“What’s happening is that you’re about to be arrested,” responded Clarissa.

There was a loud knocking at the door. “Police!” yelled the man. “Open up!”

Emily crawled over to Clarissa. “Mommy, mommy, don’t let them take me! Please!”

“I seriously hope you can rectify your problems while you’re in jail,” said Clarissa gently.

“Fuck you!” screamed Emily as the policeman handcuffed her. “Fuck you all! Joshua, darling, won’t you go home and fetch me my gun?”

Joshua just stared at her.

“Oh, come on, Joshua, darling,” she said, her voice rising to a screech. “Fetch, Joshua,” she screamed. “Fetch!”

Josh shook his head. “No fetch,” he said, and there was an actual, real smile on his face.

Once Emily was clear of the house, Clarissa said, “Poor little girl. Her husband just ran off and left her with the kids.”

“How can you be so forgiving—” I began.

“I’m not being forgiving,” said Clarissa. “Just normal. Did you know that it’s a commandment to be forgiving?”

“Only after the offending party apologizes to you in three separate instances,” I pointed out.

“Damn, girl!” said Clarissa. “Now I know you are Jewish!”

“I had some suspicion,” I remarked.

“What suspicion?”

“Well, Emily had me convert when we first arrived at her house,” I said. “And she also kept some Jewish shit in the basement.”

“Like what?”

“Like the usual,” I said. “Hanuka stuff, a white tablecloth, a candelabra, a prayer book, unopened hamentashen from twenty years ago,” I said. “You know.”

“Yes, I was the one who gave her all that,” Clarissa sniffled.

“Too bad,” said Joshua.

“What do you mean?” said Clarissa.

“I mean that I could’ve eaten all that hamentashen all by myself,” Joshua said.

Everybody gasped, and those on the outside pulled their chairs closer so they could hear.

“Joshua…my darling…I’ve never heard you speak that way before!” stuttered Clarissa.

Joshua’s face turned red and he looked at Clarissa. “Of course,” he said. “My bad.”

“No, no, no, that’s not what she meant,” Jimmy cried. “She is overcome with joy!”

“Oh,” said Joshua. “I guess I’ll continue to talk normally.”

“Joshua, my baby!” said Clarissa. “Why oh why did you pretend to only speak in two-word sentences?”

“Because Emily told me to,” he said. “There were…repercussions…if I didn’t. “

“Like what?” said Hannah.

“Well, being from the eighteenth century, you do have an excuse not to know,” Joshua said.

“Not to know what?” Hannah said.

Joshua looked around at everybody. “Should I really continue this thread?” he said.

“If you wanteth to be truest to your wonderful sister, they will surely divulge this sensitive information!” exclaimed Hannah.

“But you’re so…pure,” Joshua said.

“You know I only talk this way because it was the only way I could get Emily to stop abusing me—by talking Biblical style. You think I liked being a two-hundred year-old woman in a little girl’s body? Lord, I felt ancient.”

“You are ancient,” Joshua said.

“Wow, a three-word sentence!” said Hannah.

“Now, the question is, how did Emily affect me?” I said.

“Obviously, she made you into a purely sexual creature,” said Hannah.

“Hey! Perfectly unsexual creature!” I shouted.

“That’s only because I was being Elizabethan!” said Hannah.

“Stupid girl, Elizabethan is nineteenth century, not eighteenth century,” I said.

“Fine, then,” said Hannah. “I am no longer an eighteenth century maiden. I am now a nineteenth century maiden.”

“I guess we can tell you, then,” I said. “How ridiculous.”

Chapter 16

 

 

“We are now here,” intoned the pastor, “to appreciate the long, productive life Joshua has had.”

“Why didn’t he have a last name?” someone called.

“Because he is from the caste of the perfectors,” intoned the pastor. “And even though he was not one of the founders, he is still to be venerated.”

“But he didn’t’ partake of The One Vagina!” somebody else said.

“In those days, people had certain biases,” the pastor said. “The One Vagina at that time was not that well-known. And sex between brother and sister was taboo.”

“How can that be? The love between a brother and sister is so great!” the parishioner said.

“Certain things are hard to understand until you study the culture of the times,” the pastor said. “What may be moral today could have been blasphemous thirty years ago.”

The man shook his head in disgust.

“Anyway,” the pastor said, switching into his regular voice, “concerning Joshua’s long, productive life, we should try and emulate him in our daily actions.”

“How about nightly actions?” someone asked. Everybody laughed.

There was a screech as the monitor came to life. After a few seconds, the static sound transformed into the theme music of the republic. The screen came to life and showed a man in a suit and tie. He delivered a brief introduction praising the virtues of The One Vagina. Then The One Vagina came forth and spoke:

“I am Eliza!” she said, invoking the most ancient name for the ruler of all humanity. “Heed my call! I am the holy One Vagina! And I proclaim today that there be double sex on this day, in honor of the new month!”

“She’s never done that before,” someone to the right of me said.

“Hark!” shouted the Vagina. “Did I just hear something?” She paused. “I know it’s in this quadrant,” she muttered, staring to the left of the screen. Then she straightened up. “All right. Forget that ever happened. But if another one of you billions of people make one, little teensy weensy noise, then I promise that I will activate my spray of fire on them. And believe me, every congregation room has several of these babies.”

What’s a baby? I asked myself. I thought I had heard that term before, but I struggled to remember it.

“Never mind!” the Vagina screamed. “You all have your assignments! Stop sitting on your lousy asses and get to work!” Then the screen shut off.

I could hear the groans of the people around me. Double sex was hard work. Usually, the worker class engaged in sex for half the day and then went off to work in the afternoons. But double sex was always a punishment, though Eliza always considered it a privilege. Maybe that was because she didn’t know that the second sex experience in our district was always bondage sex, the most painful kind, as dictated by our Governor. Apparently, our beloved Matron and Goddess did not know this. But how was that so—she was omniscient! The answer they usually gave for this question was that she liked to give freedom to her servants to do what they wanted. I wondered if the Governer himself had to do bondage sex.

Probably not; the governor had a reputation as a mean person, so he was probably corrupt and did not join in the bondage sex himself. No doubt there was another local law which permitted him to do so.

Then I wondered if I could find out.

“Hey, Sexy,” I asked my friend, “Want to help me topple the institution of bondage sex?”

“Why?” he said.

“Because it’s unjust,” I said.

“Why do you think it’s unjust?” he said, his eyes narrowing.

I suddenly got scared and looked at the ground in front of his shoes. “Never mind,” I said.

“Orgasm, look at me,” Sexy said. “I’m still Sexy. I’m not an Ugly.” Uglies were spies for the government.

“I know you’re still sexy, Sexy,” I said.

“Very funny,” said Sexy. “So, why do you hate bondage sex? I mean, didn’t we all learn in second grade that bondage sex is a valid, important part of the sex spectrum?”

“Well didn’t you hear, they changed the rules?” I pointed out excitedly. “The current One Vagina discontinued that!”

“Really?” asked Sexy. Sexy was one year older than I was—he should know things like this, I thought.

“Yes, really, she changed it at the end of last cycle!” I said. “I think the One Vagina is becoming more compassionate!” I looked around for uglies. “Not that she wasn’t already super-compassionate,” I hastily amended.

“Yeah, don’t want the Eliza thinking that, else she roasts your balls on top of your liver,” said Sexy.

“I don’t like liver,” I said.

“Anyway, liver’s banned,” said Sexy. “And it might soon become a forbidden word, so be careful.”

“Be careful yourself,” I said.

“So you were telling me how we were going to break into the Governor’s mansion?” Sexy said.

“Yes, and I was going to tell you about it except we somehow got on this tangent…”

“Don’t blame me, boy, and let’s get on with it,” said Sexy.

“So we pose as servants,” I said.

“You mean sex slaves,” said Sexy.

“Of course,” I said. “But of course, we might be too young to be considered sex-slaves.”

“Nah, don’t worry,” said Sexy. “They take kids our age all the time.”

“Really?” I said, aghast. I really needed to work on losing weight so I might have prospects. Still, the thought that at nine years old I might be taken was incredulous.

“So first question, how do we leave our compound?”

“Yeah, I don’t want to spend another day making priestess’s outfits,” I said. “But I don’t know.”

“Maybe we could be sex slaves that accidently wandered into the compound?” Sexy said.

“Maybe not,” I said. “I’ve heard the guards rape whoever is passing through.”

“Mmm” she said. “Oh, well.”

“But we could pass as culinary workers,” I said.

“Yeah, you’re right,” she said. “That’s smart. They are all bitches anyway, so they won’t get checked.” “Bitch” was the word one used when referring to women workers who had children. Another name for this kind of woman was “womb.” The term “hoe” was used to refer to a woman who was kept strictly for intercourse purposes. Hoes never had children, unless they somehow sustained an injury to their bodies that caused them to be less attractive.

What I wondered was: why was God female? If there were so many male governors (and governors were always male) then why did they worship a woman? Maybe it was because The One Vagina was the one woman they could never attain?

 

 

It must have happened very slowly, but my reaction to it was quick. “Halt!” I said.

“What is it?” Clarissa said.

“I don’t know where we are,” I said, looking around. We were in a sort of meadow, except all the grass was yellow and wilted. To one side there was a rocky face, and to the rest there was an endless landscape of stunted trees.

Clarissa and the others looked around. “Wow,” Clarissa said. “You’re right!”

“As I always am,” I bragged.

“I’ll pretend I didn’t hear that,” Clarissa said.

“I think I magically transported us!” I said.

There was a long silence.

“You know, I actually think you’re actually right,” his hotness said. “But I don’t think it was you that transported us.”

“Then it was your penis that transported us?” I guessed.

“No, Eliza,” he said slowly. “I don’t think it was my penis that transported us.”

He said my name! I thought.

“Well, anyway, it’s my world for the taking,” I said. “I’m the prettiest and the smartest…” I glanced at His Hotness “well, the second prettiest and the second smartest.”

“Obviously,” said His Hotness, staring at the sky. “Not a cloud in the sky.”

“Halt in the name of the Empress Eliza, Goddess of the Stars and of the Sex!” came a bullhorn of a helicopter spotting us.

“See, I told you I ruled!” I said, perhaps a little too loudly.

“Put your hands up!” the bullhorn-holder said as he hopped out of the copter and onto the yellow grass. He brandished his weapon toward us. “Girl, do you have a fucking license?” he said to me.

“A fucking license?” I said. “Hell yeah, I just got it!” I opened my wallet and showed it to him.

“No, stupid girl, not a driving license, a fucking license! And you penises and vaginas look like the founders of old! I am going to have to arrest you all.” His deputy started handcuffing us.

“We look like the founders…” His Hotness mused. “Hey, what if we actually are the founders?”

“I’m going to add the second charge of blasphemy to your file,” the sheriff said.

“For what? For telling the truth?” His Hotness said.

“Third charge: talking back to a police officer,” the sheriff said. His Hotness closed his mouth.

“So what are you going to do to us?” Clarissa said.

“Put you in jail, that’s what we’re going to do,” said the sheriff.

Suddenly, the helicopter roared to life. It lifted off the ground, leaving behind it a haze of dirt and yellow grass. “Cease and desist!” came a voice from the bullhorn. “If any of you makes a move, I’ll fire our machine guns on you all.”

The sheriff took off toward the forest.

Blam blam blam! went the machine guns. The sheriff fell about ten feet from the forest. The operator swiveled around to face the rest of us. He or she did not fire again.

“Looks like you lied, Mister,” said His Hotness.

“Mister and missus!” squealed a child’s voice. Two children of indeterminate race disembarked from the helicopter and came walking slowly toward us. But there was something wrong. Then I realized it: they were both naked, and couldn’t have been older than eight or nine. These were little itty-bitty kids!

“Holla, comrade!” cried the boy. “Happy double-sex day!”

“Hey, are you the founders?” said the girl.

“You know what, I think we just might be,” Clarissa said.

“But how can that be?” asked His Hotness.

“I have an idea,” the boy said.

“Do you?” the girl said playfully. She turned to the rest of us. “By the way, my name is Sexy. That guy—and she batted her eyelashes at the boy—is named Orgasm.”

Clarissa and Jimmy, as well as the five kids I had brought home from school, burst into laughter.

“What’s so funny?” I shouted, enraged. “Their names reflect the beautiful reality that is sex!”

“Hey One Vagina,” Orgasm called.

“I think that’s me?” I said.

“Oh, apologies, comrade,” he said. “Not trying to insult, but you are The One Vagina.”

“Hey, you forgot about me!” said the deputy, who finished at that moment the last of our handcuffs.

“What do you want?” asked Jimmy. “Where you the one who opened that portal?”

The deputy looked shocked for a second, but then his expression reverted to a sneer. “Well,” the deputy said, climbing into the cockpit of the helicopter, “you guys want in? I assume you want to stay alive—”

“To have more sex,” the boy and the girl intoned.

“What is this, some kind of cult?” said His Hotness.

“I believe it is!” said the deputy cheerfully. “Although I have no idea what a cult is.”

“Naturally,” I said.

The deputy looked confused. Then he shrugged and said, “you know, the Goddess has been expecting you for some time. She even got the date and time right! And the location, of course.”

I understood. The Goddess was the future me.

“Too bad my boss died,” said the deputy. “I guess these things happen, though. Sometimes. Now everyone into the helicopter! No dawdling.” He put his hand to his head. “Fever again,” he muttered. “Should’ve never taken this job. But it wasn’t like I had the ability to choose.”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“You’ll see shortly,” he answered. “Okay!” he shouted to the rest of the crowd. “Everyone line up here! Well, every male, anyway.”

Jimmy, Shaul, and my male friends all got into a line. “What are you going to do to us?” wailed Charles.

“Emo boy, spare us today, please!” I said.

“Let’s have a crying party,” Charles sniffled.

The deputy led the males to the helicopter. Suddenly, I heard a shout. “No, no!” someone was shouting. Then I realized it was His Hotness himself. Why was he shouting so loudly? Then I walked up and got a closer look. His hotness spotted me. “Granddaughter,” he cried. “Help me get out of this!” Upon moving still closer, I discovered that he was pointing at some kind of strange machine. “It’s against God’s law!” The deputy was overpowering him. Grandpa looked pitiful. I wondered if there was a special serum or procedure that made the deputy so strong. Because he wasn’t jacked at all.

Then the deputy got full control, and he pushed Grandfather into some kind of machine. Grandpa shrieked and cried and at the end whimpered. I never knew Grandpa had all this inside of him.

Afterwards, I heard a recorded voice saying: “Sir, how would you rate your experience, on a scale of one to five, five being the best and one being the worst?”

Grandpa kicked the dirt in disgust, sat down on the yellow grass and started crying. I went up to him but he shooed me away. Then, he beckoned me to sit by him.

“Granddaughter,” he said, “they have just forced me to do the unthinkable—the sin of Er and Onan.”

I understood immediately. “You mean they took it from you?”

“They forced it out of me,” he cried.

“It’s a good thing,” said the deputy, who had come up to listen. “The republic wouldn’t function very well if we didn’t do these things.”

A young woman ran up to them. “Excuse me, sir, how would you rate your experience on a scale of one to five?”

“I already told you,” Grandpa snarled.

“Oh, you mean the machine?” said the woman. “Those are private and this is public.”

“Who the hell are you, anyway?” said Grandpa.

“I represent channel five news as well as the entire news consortium,” said the woman.

“Well, fuck off,” he told her.

“Yes, that is what you just did,” said the woman.

“No, I didn’t mean…” Grandpa wringed his hands.

“He needs to have some quiet time now,” I politely explained to the lady.

“Ooh, sexy,” she said.

“I actually am not having sex with him,” I explained. “He is my grandfather.”

“Grand…father?” she said, and scratched her head.

The deputy butted in: “I’ll take it from here-special instructions from The One Vagina herself.” He went back to the Sheriff’s corpse and took a piece of paper from his pocket. He held it out for everyone to see. The newswoman glanced at it.

“Okay,” she said. “The One Vagina reigns supreme.”

“The One Vagina is supreme,” said the deputy.

The deputy started rounding us up. “You done with the machine? All of you? Good. Now it’s time for some prayer.”

“What is prayer?” asked the girl.

“Something for people older than you,” said the deputy. The girl looked sad.

“I’ll tell you later,” I whispered to the girl. The deputy glanced in our direction but did nothing.

“Okay,” said the deputy. “Everyone repeat after me: “Blessed are you, the queen of the world, who gives us the understanding to experience sex.” Everyone repeated.

“Blessed are you, queen of the world, who opens peoples’ eyes to experience sex.”

“Blessed are you, queen of the world, who frees people from prison in order to experience sex.”

“Blessed are you, queen of the world, who straightens the back of people in order to experience sex.”

“Blessed are you, queen of the world, who gives us sexy garments in order to experience sex.”

At the end of the service, the deputy herded us back into the helicopter. “Who’s going to take the Sheriff’s body?” Rachel said.

“Don’t worry, girl, we have a cure for your ailment,” said the deputy.

“I don’t care about your cures,” Rachel said. “Well, maybe I do, a little. But why did you have to treat our men so inhumanely?”

“It’s a wide, wide world out there, girl, and somebody has to enforce the peace. I myself have sacrificed half my lifespan in order to serve The One Vagina better.”

“So that’s the way you overpowered His Hotness!” I said, excited.

“Yup,” said the deputy.

“Can you give me some?” I asked.

“Why the heck would you want something like that?” the deputy said.

“More exciting sex,” I said.

“Hmmm, that’s a good reason,” the deputy said. Then he pulled down his pants. “See?” he said. “Nothing there.”

I reluctantly looked. Nothing there. “But…that’s horrible!” I said.

The deputy shrugged. “Others have it worse.” I inwardly agreed with him, as I looked at the two forlorn children sitting on the cold metal floor of the helicopter.

There was a column of women and a column of men out in a field in the middle of the forest, and it looked like they were square-dancing, but something was amiss.

“Pilot,” I said, motioning down at the scene, “can you take us closer?”

The pilot moved us down to hover over the camp.

“This is a vacation spot for all kinds of citizens,” said the deputy. He flashed the finger at them. They all returned the greeting. “Equality in sex,” the deputy murmured.

The helicopter hovered ever closer. Abruptly, I heard a voice over a speaker say “Now switch partners.” I could see that instead of fucking, the dancing crowd started circling to reach their next conquest. “Now one, two, three, four,” the loudspeaker said, “In, out, in, and out. Fuck it to the right, fuck it to the left. There ya go!”

“Wow,” Joshua said. “Can we go down and join?”

“Aren’t there plenty of potential partners for you in this here helicopter, boy?” said the deputy. The dancers waved at us as the helicopter took off and resumed its route.

“Like who?’ Joshua said.

“Those children are about your age,” said the deputy, pointing to the two kids in the corner. “Why don’t you join them?”

Joshua hesitated, then said, “Where I’m from, you get to know a person before having sex.”

“Didn’t you just want to have sex with those dancers?” the deputy exploded. “You didn’t know them! And besides, you think those two children in the corner don’t know you? To have sex is to ultimately know someone. Like it says in the Book of Lies.”

Clarissa, who was standing next to the deputy, said: “You mean the Bible?”

“That is a hateful word, Grandmother of the Goddess,” said the deputy. “Much like Hitler’s Mein Kamf, people today invoke the name of the cursed book only if they really really want to make a point. “

“You’re unabashedly articulate for a man of your craft,” said Clarissa. What does that mean? I wondered.

“Well, we all have our nasty little secrets,” said the deputy. “Anyway, here on our left are our mother-fuckers.”

I gasped as we passed people on the ground, doing, allegedly, what the deputy had said.

“Another vacation group?” said His Hotness, who had recovered noticeably from his ordeal.

“Yeah,” said the deputy. “There’s a special connection you feel towards your mother when you fuck her, ya know? Like the pleasure of something once-forbidden, and more. Like eating your favorite kind of aged cheese. But in a more spiritual way. I, myself, experienced this pleasure a long time ago.

“We had a son, who was mine, obviously, because I was the male in the relationship. But I traded my son as soon as he could walk and talk to the government in exchange for a sandwich pick right after the first round. Can’t really get better than that.”

“You mean it’s like baseball?” Joshua said excitedly.

“Only in the fact that we use our balls,” said the deputy. Joshua laughed.

I pulled Joshua aside. “You’re succumbing to his influence!” I hissed.

“Don’t worry, I can act just like you,” Joshua reassured me. The problem was, I didn’t know how to act. “Everything will be okay,” he said, calming me with his steady voice. No matter that it was a tiny eight-year-old voice.

I dozed off for a while, and when I woke up it was time for us to leave the copter. The deputy, whose name was Eric, guided us out of the copter. Last to leave were the two kids.

“Hey, bro,” Joshua said, “sex all the time? That’s got to be amazing.”

“Actually,” said the boy, “it’s sort of like work. We have to do it the first half of every day. And since today The One Vagina appeared on the holy screen and told us that today is a holiday on account of it being the first of the month, we have to have sex all day.”

“Wow!” said Joshua.

“As I said, it’s work,” said Orgasm. “If she hadn’t announced what she did, we would have all been farming like we usually do. So every time she announces a full day of sex, we lose food.”

“But who needs food if you can have sex?” said Sexy, who batted her eyelashes at me.

“I mean, I’ve never had sex,” I stammered.

“Don’t worry, I read in school that you people waited until eleven or twelve to have your first holy consecration,” Orgasm said. “Plus, I figured out something else. Want to hear it?” We all murmured our assent. “I figured out,” said Orgasm proudly, “that we get our babies through sex!”

“Orgasm, brother, didn’t you know that babies aren’t grown inside mamas anymore?” the deputy said.

“They aren’t?” asked Orgasm.

“We grow them in artificial wombs now, which actually have a better track record than female wombs at delivering healthy babies on time.”

There was suddenly a shout: “Now!” I didn’t recognize the voice, but that was probably because I’d never heard her yell. Clarissa strode over to the deputy. She smacked his head with her purse. Others followed and joined the attack. Then they laid our dear deputy down to the ground.

“So what do we do now?” I said.

“Let’s sit in a circle and get everyone’s opinion,” said Clarissa.

“Fabulous idea,” I said and rolled my eyes. “Are we going to have a séance? And where are the TV producers?”

“They just left, oatmeal-brains,” said my grandmother.

“How about,” His Hotness said, “we split into groups of two? And no, granddaughter, you cannot be in my group.”

I cried inwardly.

“No!” he said. “I didn’t mean to hurt you! It’s just that I already have my Clarissa, and incest is forbidden!”

“I wish it wasn’t,” I said. “Hmph.”

“You know, that sounds like a swell idea,” said Shaul in his broken English.

“Swell?” I laughed.

“You are so not stealing my husband from me,” said Neelee, usually so quiet.

“Don’t worry, sistah, I’ve got your back” said I.

“You mean that you’ll poison me behind my back, and take my husband as soon as I’m dead!”

“Yeah, pretty much,” I said.

“Whatever, this whole damn business is perverted,” said His Hotness. “Eliza,” he continued, “Did you ever hear the song ‘I’m my own Grandpa?’ Although in your case, substitute ‘Grandma,’’” he said.

“You know what I like about sex in public?” said the boy. “Well, firstly, it is not blasphemous, of course, like private sex is. But secondly, I like how it showcases one of the most fundamental human activities. I mean, how intimate is sex and how it should be showcased around the world! Except for the wide swaths covered in radiation, of course. All praise to The One Vagina, Eliza!”

I coughed.

“That was a nice speech,” said Joshua. “You speak really well, Orgasm, do you know that?”

“So we were figuring out who would be captains?” I said.

“How about the eldest half of us?” suggested His Hotness.

“I hope this isn’t like gym class at school,” said Charles.

The word “eldest” is sooooooo hot! I breathed.

“Relax, Charles, we’re all your friends here,” said His Hotness. Charles’ face brightened noticeably. “So, who is oldest? Obviously, me, Clarissa, Neelee and Shaul. That leaves nine more. So, with Shaul being the rabbi, let’s have him go first.”

“I respectfully defer,” Shaul said.

“I insist,” said His Hotness.

“Wow, a man-fight!” somebody said.

“Be quiet or we’ll have you for dinner,” said His Hotness. “There doesn’t look like there’s much to eat out here.”

“There are actually nine of us,” I said.

So one of us—rather, three of us—will have to be in a threesome,” said His Hotness. “We can deal with that, can’t we?”

All the adults nodded.

“How about the kids?” I asked.

“We’re in,” said Rachel, Sarah and me. I looked at the two of them, wondering at the minor miracle. We shrugged.

“Ah, no retort, Sarah?” said His Hotness. “I’m proud of you!”

“Me, too!” I screamed.

“Of course,” His Hotness amended.

“And me!” said Rachel.

“Definitely,” he said. “Fuck it,” he continued, “you granddaughters are just too much. Shall we get started? I pick Joshua.”

“Nice move,” I said, trying to induce more love from my grandpa.

“I take Hannah,” said Clarissa.

“Why me?” asked Hannah in a tiny voice.

“Because you’re so polite!” said Clarissa.

Hannah beamed. “When we find another portal, I must go back to my own time, 1850. Then I can be with my own people. And maybe, if I grow old enough, I can encounter you when you are a child,” said Hannah.

Clarissa burst into laughter. “I’m sorry, granddaughter, but I’m not that old,” she said.

“Oh?” inquired Hannah.

“Besides, we are all one people, Hannah,” Clarissa said. “And you’ll always be family.”

“That’s so cliché,” Hannah said. “Oops.”

“Yes, coming out of your Victorian reverie, are you?” I sneered.

“Well, fuck you,” she said.

“Thank you,” I said.

“Whoa, this is incest,” said Grandpa.

“Okay, next,” said Clarissa.

“Me!” said Neelee, in her rich and vibrant tenor.

“Okay, who do you pick?” Clarissa.

“Charles, of course,” she said.

“Yay!” shouted Charles. “Plus one with the friends.”

“I’ll never be your friend,” Neelee said.

There was a pause for a few seconds.

“Bahahh!” Charles wailed.

“You motherfucker, don’t you know that I was just teasing?” Neelee said.

Charles continued wailing.

“A little louder,” said Clarissa to Neelee. “He can’t hear you.”

Neelee repeated her message, this time more loudly.

“Does that mean I can go down to those motherfuckers?” Charles said. “Pilot, turn around!”

The pilot, who by this time was used to getting contradictory orders, just nodded and winked.

“Shut up!” I growled at him.

“Okay, enough of Charles,” said Clarissa. Charles frowned at her and resumed crying.

“My turn,” said Shaul. “I choose Eliza.”

“What the fuck?” I said. “Don’t you know I’m the villain in this world?”

“I’m counting on it,” Shaul said. “I’ll need your guidance with the challenges ahead.”

“I don’t know anything about this place!” I protested.

“Yes, you do,” said Shaul. “Do you remember the Sheriff saying that one of your crimes was posing as The One Vagina?”

“Yeah, of course!” I said.

“So The One Vagina is you! Or some future you!”

“I know that, that’s obvious,” I said.

“So if I walk around with The One Vagina herself,” Shaul said, “Then nobody will touch you,” I finished. Not that kind of finishing, the normal kind. Whatever. I wouldn’t want to cause pain to Rabbi Shaul’s extraordinary wife Neelee.

But His Hotness wife Clarissa? I have no choice but to be the monster.

“Okay, next,” said Clarissa.

“Wait!” I screamed. “Can I talk anymore?”

“Of course you can,” said His Hotness. “What do you want to say?”

“Nothing, really,” I said. “I just wanted to get peoples’ reactions.”

His Hotness turned away from me. “So who’s next?” he said.

Hmmph! So much for being honest with His Hotness!

“Next is Rachel,” said Clarissa.

“Wow, I’m a captain?” exclaimed Rachel.

“You sure are,” said His Hotness.

“I’m older than you, ha,” I said.

“Are you asking why you weren’t chosen as Captain?” Clarissa asked.

“Hmmm,” I said. “I guess I am.”

“Believe me, you don’t want to know why,” said His Hotness.

“Who are you, Clarissa’s spokesman?” I said.

My grandparents exchanged looks.

“Anyway, I turn thirty sooner than Rachel,” I said. “I guess that’s bad.”

“She’s transitioning,” Clarissa whispered to His Hotness.

“What do you mean?” whispered His Hotness back to Clarissa.

“The transition from Bimbo to normal human being. I went through it once. It wasn’t easy.”

I pretended not to hear them.

“I know you’re listening to us, Eliza,” said Clarissa. “Just know you’re doing a good job.”

I spat in the other direction. This elicited no response. “Just why do you have to steal my man?” I shouted.

“I think it’s naptime,” said Rachel.

“Fuck you,” I said.

“But if Eliza’s older than me, doesn’t she get to be captain?”

“A doorknob is smarter than Eliza,” said His Hotness.

Change? Confusing? “Yup, I’m smarter than a doughnut,” I said. “Doughnuts don’t even have brains!”

“Okay, who do I pick now?” Rachel mused. “It all comes down to Sexy, James, Kevin, Delmon and Orgasm. A hypersexual eight-year-old, a repentant goth, a future inductee to the fat camp hall of fame—”

“Hey!” protested Kevin. “You used to be our leader, but now you’re mean! You sound like frikken Eliza!”

“Yeah!” said James.

“All I do is speak the truth,” said Rachel.

“I know I’m probably not qualified to speak my mind in this conversation,” I said, and everyones’ heads around me bobbed “yes,” “but I’ll say that Rachel, you need to take a chill pill. Why are you so ardently insulting these people for no reason?”

“I’m just imitating you,” said Rachel.

“Well I’m a bad person to imitate,” I said. “You think that just because you have a lot of zits that you can beat up on other people—”

“Are you crazy?” Rachel said. I bobbed my head “yes.” “My zits never came into play. My zits…” she broke down crying.

“Girl, if you want to be like me, you have to work out several times a week, and go to a dermatologist to fix your facial acne. Did you know that I’m currently undergoing treatment for back acne? Or that I had facial acne three years ago, when I was twelve?”

“But I thought I, I thought you—were perfect!” wailed Rachel.

“I’m far from it, physically,” I said as our entire contingent looked on. “And emotionally and spiritually as well, I aim to growing.”

“You tell her, girl!” shouted Clarissa.

“But you’re so good with the boys,” Rachel sobbed.

“So I should pity you?” I said. “Look, I’m still a virgin and I’m fifteen already. I feel like a grandmother. But hopefully, with G-d’s help…”

Rachel snorted, and she inhaled some tears. She started to cough.

“Don’t worry, we’ll get you fixed up,” I said. “Waiter!” I clapped my hands. “Would you be so kind as to give our fair charge a bowl of chicken soup?”

“I’m a vegetarian,” Rachel said.

“Okay, we’ll order it without the chicken,” I said.

“But it still has a chicken base!” she said.

“Hell, the U.S. army can put a base wherever they fucking want, I’m not going to try and stop them,” I said. “Besides, chicken soup tastes nice. And we’re in the middle of a field in the middle of nowhere, you think there’s a waiter here? Ha ha.”

“Such a dumb bitch,” Rachel muttered. “Okay, I gotta choose now,” she said. “And…I choose…Sexy!”

“What?” said Sexy.

“Rachel chooses you, honey,” my grandmother said.

Sexy ran up and gave Rachel a hug. “What’s that red stuff on your face?” she asked.

“Oh, that’s just some medical condition,” said Rachel.

“You should change it,” said Sexy. “You can get even more boys that way. Boys!” she giggled. “Supportive sex…”

“for all,” Orgasm finished.

“Yay!” they both shouted.

“What is this, the fucking preamble to the new constitution?” said Kevin.

I approached the two children. “Did you learn this in school, you munchkins?” I said.

“I forgot to tell you a few minutes ago, doughnuts are long extinct.”

“No!” shouted Kevin.

“We only eat healthy stuff!” beamed Sexy.

“She’s not very smart,” Orgasm whispered. “It comes from being the most sexy girl in the habitat. She never had to learn much of anything. She knew her future partners would pay for her to stay and enrich their lives.”

“Are you her first partner?” I asked him.

“No, I’m actually her second partner,” said Orgasm. “All we do is play together. But soon enough, we’ll start auditioning for the real thing.”

Everyone started to speak at once. There was a lot of commotion before Clarissa’s voice broke through the tumult. “I understand your methods,” she said. “I really do. But is it really necessary to debate all of Sexy’s choices? I mean, for G-d’s sake, she’s only eight. And besides, we all go through phases in our lives…”

“I’m eight and a half,” said Sexy.

“Delmon?” said His Hotness. “You’re next.”

“Okay,” Delmon said. “I choose…Orgasm!”

“Why, because you’ve never had one?” I said.

“Same goes for you, evil creature,” he responded.

“I know,” I shot back. “By the way, does anybody know how you spell ‘creature?’”

“Ha, ha, ha,” caroused Delmon. Then his eyes lit up. “Hey, I know! You’re preparing to finish writing your grandmother’s memoirs!”

“Shut up, computer geek,” I said.

“Proud to be one,” he said.

“Okay, this is boring,” said Clarissa. “Next!”

“Only two people left, hon,” said His Hotness.

“No!” said Kevin and James together. “We want to have a ceremony!”

“Okay, guys,” said His Hotness. “Who do you pick?”

“Kevin!” said James.

“James!” said Kevin.

If you want me to make some sarcastic comment, I will disappoint you, reader. This situation was just too extreme to comment on.

His Hotness clapped his hands. “Okay, we’re done,” he said.

“Thankfully, I bought some walkie-talkies that I was going to give to Joshua,” said Clarissa, “but I can only give one to each team. I’m sorry I didn’t bring more.”

“Thou art forgiven,” said Hannah.

“So we have seven teams,” said His Hotness.

“Notably so,” said Hannah.

“Will you just shut up?” said His Hotness. I liked him notably less in that moment.

“Shut up yourself, you piece of shit,” Clarissa said to him.

Jimmy’s face sagged. “Sorry,” he muttered. “Just a bit tired, makes me go off like that.”

“You are forgiven this one time only,” Hannah said. She and Clarissa exchanged high-fives.

“Excuse me, would you please tell me where we’re going?” said Jimmy to the pilot, Orgasm.

“The capitol city, of course,” replied Orgasm. “It’s hard to do anything else when you’re in such a tight regime as our government is.”

“I heard from Sexy that you were on some kind of mission to find your governor?” said Clarissa.

“That is correct,” said Orgasm. “But now we have canceled that mission, since your objective coincides with ours.”

“Which is?” Clarissa pressed.

“Overthrow the system,” he said.

“That is so cliché,” I said. “Can’t we just have a nice dinner with her and then return to our own time?”

Everyone was silent.

“You’re talking about The One Vagina, right?” asked Orgasm.

“Yes,” I said. “I mean, she’s got to be a nice person, right? I mean, she’s a future me!”

“Not necessarily,” said Orgasm. “She may be a clone.”

I shook my head in disgust. “A clone? Why?”

“You should know the answer to that,” said Jimmy.

“Really? What?” I said, and then it dawned on me. I gasped at my discovery. “Each of them dies at thirty!”

“Quite correct,” said Orgasm. “I never knew whether you would have agreed with or despised that rule.”

“I sort of don’t agree with that,” I said.

“Why not?” said Orgasm.

“I’d rather die at twenty-seven,” I said.

“Why?” Orgasm asked.

“Kurt Cobain, duh,” I said.

“So you’re ready to commit suicide like Cobain did?” asked my grandfather-in-law.

“Of course not,” I bellowed. “Only joking.”

“I’m not so sure,” said Clarissa.

I braced myself to fight but Neelee, the interfering meddler that she is, got in between the two of us.

“Damn, you people,” said Neelee. “You should all go to family therapy twenty four hours a day seven days a week.”

“No thanks,” I said. “I already take drugs, so I don’t need any therapy. Now which drugs am I taking? Hmm, ah, now I remember. But I can’t tell you! Haha! But if I don’t get to my dealer—ahem—pharmacist soon, we could be witnessing some really annoying withdrawal symptoms. But I’ve done this before.”

“In detox,” said Clarissa.

“Yeah, so what, you wanna fight?” I said, preparing myself again.

“We are approaching the capital city,” said Orgasm.

“What’s it called?” asked Rachel.

“Vagina.”

“I shouldn’t have asked,” moaned Rachel, covering her face with her hands.

“Never mind that,” said Clarissa. “Okay, put us down right here, in this little field.”

“But aren’t we still outside the city?” said the rabbi.

“True,” said Clarissa. “That’s part of my plan. The deputy said that The One Vagina was expecting us …”

“And their GPS, or whatever they have, probably knows where we are,” said Jimmy.

“Okay, so let’s do it!” I said. “Let’s split up. I’ll go this way. Come on, Rabbi!”

“Alright,” Shaul said. In a mock aside, he whispered: “who can resist a girl like that?” Neelee slapped him across the face.

“Wait, I brought some walkie-talkies,” I said. “Each team can take one.”

“Brilliant!” said Clarissa. “How did you think of that?”

“Well, I’ve been having these dreams lately …” I said.

“You dreamed about The One Vagina?” Jimmy asked eagerly.

“Actually, no,” I said. “Just playin wit cha. I actually thought it would be fun if we had walkie talkies on our romp through the woods.”

“Who can believe her now?” muttered Rachel.

“Rachel, I told you, go see a dermatologist!”

“My family is too poor!” she sobbed.

“Hello?” I said. “You’re part of our family now. Remember?”

Rachel, still sobbing, rushed over to me and gave me a big hug.

“Okay, okay, I don’t want to get too wet,” I said. Rachel pulled back and stared at me. “Joke!” I said, hugging her back and feeling her heaving.

“Anyway, Jimmy and Joshua: try and gain as many followers as possible. Hannah and I will dissect their literature and culture. Neelee and Charles: confront their government. Shaul and Eliza, learn about their religion. Rachel and Sexy, find out how they reproduce. Delmon and Orgasm, try and crack the computer system. Kevin and James will be examining their healthcare system. Everyone ready?”

“Yeah!” everyone shouted and stomped their feet on the ground.

“Shhh!” said Jimmy. We all listened closely. “Joshua and I will take care of this guy. Everyone else spread around the city and do your assignments. And remember, everyone, to enter the city at different points. Now move!”

We all moved out while Jimmy and Joshua turned to confront the threat. Hannah kept quiet while I pondered how to become the most culturally powerful person in the city. We had walked about a mile when Hannah spoke: “There!” she said. “Right there. That’s the gate we’re supposed to go through.”

The gate, about eight feet tall and ten wide, was barred. “Um, hello Delmon?” Hannah said to the walkie-talkie.

“Y – yes?” Delmon replied.

“Delmon, I’m part of thy family now. Thou doesn’t have to stutter!”

“Um, okay,” said Delmon.

“How’s it going?” Orgasm shouted into the microphone.

I took hold of Hannah’s walkie-talkie. “Going well, thanks,” I said. “Ye?”

“Fine, thanks, m’lady,” he said. “What’s going on? Have you found your gate?”

“Yes, we have, m’lord,” Hannah cut in. Mad though I should have been, I was actually amused.

“I’ll tell you the password,” Delmon said. “But I worry it’s too dangerous for your ears.”

“Tell us, tell us!” Hannah proclaimed.

“Okay,” Delmon said. “It’s ‘S – E – X.’”

“Aw, come on, Delmon,” I said. “I could have guessed that. You’ve got to make your passwords more secure!”

“Like hell I do,” he replied. “They made that password. It’s their password. They thought I would never guess it. So it’s their stupidity.”

“Oh,” I said.

“Bye now!” said Delmon. “Safe travels!”

“Bye,” Hannah and I said.

“Okay, so what do we do once we’ve entered the code?” I mused.

“Run for our lives. Take cover,” Hannah suggested.

“I concur,” I said. “No one needs to see us opening that gate.”

“You don’t have to worry about that,” Orgasm said.

“Why?” I said.

“Thou shouldn’st spy on us!” Hannah said.

“Hannah, we’re on the same team,” I said. “So, Orgasm,” I continued, “why is it safe right now to enter the city?”

“They’re still on morning fuck,” he said.

“So what was our assignment again?” I asked.

“We are to dissect their literature and culture,” Hannah said.

“What should we do, then?” I said.

“Go find a university,” Orgasm said.

“Hmmm, where should we go?” I said.

“I don’t know; I’ve never been inside of a city before,” he said.

“Wow,” I exhaled.

“Just look for people who might be in their early to mid teens,” Orgasm said.

“Why?” I asked.

“Remember, we only live until we’re thirty,” said Orgasm.

“Right,” I said.

“Okay, later then,” Orgasm.

“Later,” I said and switched off the walkie-talkie.

“You were uncharacteristically quiet, Hannah, even for you,” I said.

Hannah said nothing.

“You fancy him, don’t you?”

She started to cry. “How did you know?”

“Well, it was sort of obvious,” I said, without mentioning the specific symptoms.

“Ah, well,” she said. “What can I do about it?” She started crying again. “And I can’t have him!” she wailed. “He prances around naked with his little girlfriend, who’s also naked, and they’ve known each-other for a long time, cause they grew up together—I mean, how can I compete with Sexy? And I also have to go back to my own time …”

“Maybe he’ll go with you,” I suggested.

“Hmmm, that did happen in a few movies, right?” she said. “But I’m so excited now that I forgot to speak Elizabethan!”

“Don’t get your hopes up,” Orgasm said. “Oops.”

“Yeah, oops is right!” I berated him. “Didn’t we tell you to leave us alone?”

“You’re gonna make me cry,” said Orgasm. “An’ cryin combined with Orgasm don’ sit pretty wit me.”

“What, now you’re making fun of Black people!” I said.

“Black people, white, we all one race,” he said. “Besides, we’re all combined now.”

“Okay, I’m opening the door,” I said. I typed in the password and pressed “enter.” The gates slid silently apart.

“Whoa,” said Hannah. “It’s so eerie.”

“What, are you dating Edgar Allen Poe?”

The streets were silent. “I guess we gotta wait until morning fuck ends,” I said.

“I wonder if they have woman on woman,” Hannah said.

“Hannah, aren’t you supposed to be Victorian?”

“Repressed sexuality,” she whispered. “Ever hear of Oscar Wilde?”

A man stepped outside from one of the buildings’ shadow. “Excuse me for overhearing your conversation,” he said.

“No, excuse me,” said Hannah in an imperious tone. “Aren’t you supposed to be at morning fuck?”

“Um, my dick’s broken,” stammered the man. “No reason to alarm Your Excellency.”

“Show us,” Hannah commanded.

He unbuttoned, unzipped, and let his pants fall to the ground. “See?” he said. I looked. His penis was covered in a white cast. “Like it?” he said. “Like my dick cast?”

“We’ve had enough,” Hannah told him.

“Oh, let me take it off,” he said.

“No!” Hannah cried, and we averted our eyes.

His penis assumed a right angle to itself.

“Ahhhh!” Hannah and I cried.

“Hey, you guys from the past, right?” he said. “For you guys, it’s okay if you see anything but the hole, right?”

I groaned and started praying.

“Nuh-uh-uh,” he said, wagging his finger. “You can’t start praying when you’re next to nakedness, or at the shithole.” He re-buttoned his pants.

“You knew we were coming,” I said.

“You knew that we knew you were coming,” he said, “and yet you’re surprised to see me.”

“Well, you’re the only vagabond in this city that’s actually outside at this hour.” I checked my watch. “And there are two hours more to go.”

“His penis is broken,” Hannah whispered to me.

“There are other ways of having sex that don’t strictly involve the penis,” I said to her loudly. She giggled.

“So that’s how you knew I was a spy!” said broken-penis man. “Nice to meet you,” he said. He held out his hand. I gingerly took it. “My name is Clit,” he said.

Hannah burst into laughter. I tried to hide my smile.

“Yeah, I know, you guys are thinking Clit is a girl’s name,” he said. He glanced at me, then at Hannah. “Wow, that one can’t seem to stop laughing!” he said.

“It’s a condition,” I said, still hiding my smile.

“Hell, you got a condition?” he said. “Can’t talk with your mouth open?”

“Sorry,” I said, uncovering my mouth and managing a concealed grin.

“That’s better,” he said. “And so you said you wanted to see a university?”

“Shit, man,” I said because I didn’t want to say his name; “You really been spying on us, haven’t you!”

“Well, it’s the future, so we have to have better tech now, wouldn’t we?”

“I guess so,” I conceded. “Anyway!”

“That must be your signal to go onto the next subject,” Clit said.

“Wow, how did you guess?”

“Not too hard,” said Clit. “Want to know what we do?”

Hannah and I shook our heads.

“We say, ‘sorry, I can’t fuck you today! Full schedule!’”

Hannah and I exchanged looks, and tried not to laugh.

“Now you might be thinking, can I ask Clit to take me to the university? Well, you sure can! I’m your ready servant.”

“I hope you’re not expecting something in return,” I said.

“No, no!” Clit said. “I do this wholly to pleasure The One Vagina.”

“Okay,” I said. “Let’s go!”

“University, here we come!” said Clit.

We walked in silence for a few minutes.

“How did you get your dick broken?” asked Hannah.

“You don’t want to know,” Clit said.

“A satisfactory answer,” I said.

We began to hear a commotion coming up ahead. We walked closer, and I could see that a few people were arguing in the middle of the street. One of them saw us. He started jogging toward us.

“Clarissa!” he said. “Back from the dead!”

“What?” I said.

“It’s the future, remember?” Hannah whispered.

“Right,” I said. “So I’ve never met you before in my life?”

“You taught me!” the man said. “Remember?”

“I have to say I don’t,” I said. “But puberty usually does a number on peoples’ faces.”

 

“Well, whatever,” I said. “Wait—” I said. I was calculating in my head. “Aren’t you supposed to be dead, too?”

“Shhh,” he said.

“Oh, okay,” I whispered. I checked to see if Clit was within earshot; he wasn’t.

“I had a lot of money right before the second sexual revolution,” he said quietly. “So I had some botox done and I had a lot of other things done—”

“And that’s how you survived,” I breathed. “Wow. Ingenious!”

The man looked around for Clit—but there was still no sign of him. “Anyway, gotta get back to work,” he said. “That man—Clit—is a spy, I seen him talking into this device before.”

I sighed. “I know,” I said.

At that moment, Clit reappeared from inside someone’s house. “Some people owe me,” he said. “And since the law permits trading sex for money, I just had a few quickies in the span of a few minutes.”

“But that’s not possible,” I said.

“Now it is,” he shrugged.

I checked my watch. “Morning fuck is almost over,” I said.

“Well, time flies when—”

“At least one idiom in the future is the same,” I muttered.

“Really? ‘Time flies when you’re fucking? You guys said that?’”

“Let me revise my answer,” I said. “No; we did not.”

We walked a couple of miles through endless parking lots stuffed with trailer homes.

“Okay, we’re almost at the university,” said Clit. He checked his watch. “Yup, in another few minutes or so.”

“How should I act?” I said, pulling out my mirror and brushing my hair.

“Um, put those away,” he said.

“But don’t I want to look as young as possible?”

“You’ve got to wear these,” he said, reaching into his pocket and pulling out a pair of sunglasses.

“Why?”

“So you look more like The One Vagina, of course,” said Clit.

“Why would that help?”

“Well, firstly, you look like you’re sixty,” he said.

“But I’m only fifty-five—I mean, twenty-nine!” I said.

“That’s why we have this,” he said, pulling out a huge bottle of white makeup.

I shrieked, then covered my mouth. “I can’t do that,” I said. “I’ll look twenty-five!”

“That’s exactly what we’re aiming for, honey,” he said.

“But I’m married!” I protested.

“Don’t worry, no one is going to fuck you from behind,” Clit said. “The One Vagina has the power to choose who or what she fucks.”

I pondered that. “Okay,” I said. “In you guys I trust.”

The students started coming almost as soon as I was made up. But Clit and my student shielded me from view.

“Wow, Orgasm was right,” I whispered. “They are young.”

“But still old enough to fuck,” Clit said.

“Okay, enough of that,” I said. “There will be no teacher-fucking-student mess right here. And besides, I’m married.”

“But The One Vagina isn’t married,” said Clit.

“I don’t give a fuck,” I responded.

“Cummon,” my former student said to Clit. “Let me get in here. Okay.” He turned toward me and said, “What are you, some bible-thumping moron?”

“Sort of, I guess,” I said.

“Class is about to start,” motioned Clit. “Come here. Okay. Last prep: you are The One Vagina.”

“I thought Eliza was The One Vagina?” I said.

“Sort of,” Clit said. “But for now you are The One Vagina.”

“Okay,” I said. I raised my voice. “I am The One Vagina! Heed me!”

Nothing happened.

“They can’t hear you,” Clit said. He pulled out a bullhorn from his bag. “Here, try this.”

I shrugged my shoulders and took a deep breath. “Students of Fucking University!” I shouted. This time the students definitely heard me. “Heed my call!” I continued. “I have come to redeem you!”

“No, no, no, that stuff’s for later!” said Clit.

“I don’t care,” I told him.

“I am The One Vagina!” I shouted into the bullhorn. All of the students prostrated themselves to me. “I have come,” I continued, “to take a survey of the university and to see what progress has been made.”

“You already know that stuff!” hissed Clit. “You’re omniscient, remember?”

Pretending no one was talking to me, I said, trying to correct my mistake: “I also come to honor this wonderful university.”

There was a murmur from within the crowd. I raised my hand and brought silence.

“This is my first priestess,” I said, pointing to Hannah.

“Oh, no, this doesn’t mean I have to have sex with everyone, right?” Hannah wailed.

“Yes it does!” said Clit.

“But I’m not even twelve yet!” she continued wailing.

“Then we’ll give them rain checks!” said Clit.

“Yeah, you better come sit on my lap, girl, as soon as this thing is done, or else bad things are going to happen to you, girl,” said someone from the audience.

“Yeah!” said other people. “Yeah!”

“My motherfucking rain check is gonna have to wait,” said the first man. “Because I’m doing this now!”

“Thou shalt stop!” I screamed at him, plagiarizing Hannah in the process. All eyes in the room turned to me.

“General public,” I screamed.

“Yes, mistress,” they replied.

“Kill this man!” I shouted. “And no last blowjob for him!”

“Wow, how did you know that?” Hannah asked me.

“I saw an ad,” I said.

“Yes, mistress!” the crowd enthusiastically responded. They proceeded to rip the man apart limb from limb.

“We should really get a more humane execution system,” said Hannah.

“No,” I said. “This way is perfect.”

“Time-tested, too,” said Clit.

“I am here to sit in on a few classes,” I announced to the crowd after they had completed the execution and quieted down.

Some females in the crowd started quaking with terror. “Don’t worry, ladies, I’ll try not to execute any more people.”

Their quaking didn’t stop.

“Ah, well,” I said as my closing remark. “Let’s all head down to classes, then!”

Some of the more bloodthirsty ones started cheering. I acknowledged them with a raise of my hand in a “peace” sign.

“You do know that sign means vagina, don’t you?” sneered Clit.

“I thought you were younger than thirty,” I said.

“I am, but I’m also a student of history,” he said.

“Pretty impressive, given that you have to have sex the entire morning,” I said. “Your time-management skills must be stupendous.”

“Yesterday, I had stupendous sex!” said a girl who was standing close to the stage.

“We’d better be quieter,” I said.

“We’re going to lecture hall 28B,” Clit said.

As we walked to the classroom, a ring of boys and some girls started congregating around us.

I became slightly nervous, but then I decided to address them. “My delightful honor-guard!” I said. But all I got was a couple of guffaws.

“How many times have you had sex before?” said a boy. And I knew he wasn’t directing his question at me.

“I hath had sex many times,” Hannah answered, “mostly with stable boys. They always smelled like horse shit and were covered in hay.”

“Wow!” said the boy. “Now you can teach us! A blast from the past! You didn’t come here via a time machine, right?”

For a moment I was afraid for our lives. “Um, no,” I said, trying to think on the fly.

Hannah cut in. “If you can find some horse shit and hay, I’ll be your first mate!”

“Good joke,” said the boy.

“Joke?” Hannah asked.

“Well, everyone has had thousands by the time they’re my age,” said the boy. “Didn’t you?”

“It is forbidden to ask questions of the Priestess of The One Vagina!” Clit trumpeted. “On your knees!”

“You’re not planning to execute him, are you?” Hannah said.

“Why not?” said Clit.

“Just don’t execute him,” she said.

“You are sentenced to forty years in the coal mining fields of Antarctica!”

“No!” shouted Hannah.

“I’ve always wanted to kill someone,” Clit said.

“Wicked man,” said Hannah. “Get up! Stand up!” she told the boy.

We continued walking.

Finally, we arrived at the classroom. Hannah, Clit and I took seats at the back while the twenty or so other students filed in.

“Welcome, welcome!” the teacher said as she walked in the door. “Welcome students and welcome The One Vagina and her entourage! How is everyone doing today?”

The class was silent.

“Well, I don’t know about you guys, but I had a scintillating night last night! Want to hear?”

“.…,” I thought.

“Okay, great! So first my mate went all anal on me and then he returned to my clit”—Clit straightened noticeably—”in order to come,” she said. “So why do you suppose that is?”

“I have vagina,” a girl in the front said.

“Raise your hand before speaking,” she told her.

“I just started fucking!” said a boy proudly.

“Actually, you didn’t, because you’re still in training,” the teacher said. “You won’t be considered as sexually active until you fuck a full-grown woman and made her come. At least once.”

“Smartass woman, isn’t she?” Clit whispered.

“Shhh,” Hannah and I both told him.

“I’d love to…”

“Shhh!” we told him again.

“So…” the teacher said. “Who has had actual sex before in training, like Timmy? Whoever has, please stand in that corner.”

“Why?” Timmy asked.

“We’re taking a survey,” the teacher said. Timmy stared at her.

“We…do you know the television show ‘Got Ass?’ Our survey,” and she raised her arms toward the toward the class to illustrate, “provides us with trivia information that will appear on that show. Of course, this is our first time doing this survey, so I expect there will be some hitches. Now go and stand in your corner.” Timmy obediently walked to the corner. The class was now split: ten people, including little Timmy, were in one corner, and the ten remaining children were in the corner diagonally across from them, and seemed to be sulking.

“Hey, he cheated!” a girl in the had-sex-corner said, pointing at a boy in her group. “Make him leave our corner!”

“How do you know?”

“He told me!” she said.

“Did not!” he said, his face reddening.

“The One Vagina?” said the teacher, pulling up her spectacles so she could see me, “do you, in your infinite wisdom, have an answer for us?”

“We have to get her hanged in the public square,” I whispered to Clit. Hannah didn’t respond; her eyes were on the teacher.

 

I straightened my back and stared at the teacher: “Well, love has its buds, and that’s what I think we’re witnessing here.”

The boy looked at me like he was about to cry. “Such are seven-year-olds,” I announced.

“I advanced to seven because of my prowess,” said the girl.

“This is becoming a bit too graphic,” said Hannah.

“I gotta choose her as my next first-round pick,” Clit said.

“What’s ‘prowess?’” asked another girl.

“It means when you’re good at something, honey,” said the teacher.

“Now I want to give her the Nobel Peace Prize,” I said to Clit, but he wasn’t paying attention to me.

“In the name of The One Vagina, magnificent and glorious, I declare that this girl is going to be my intended once she turns twelve!”

“Which girl,” I said.

“The one who told on the boy. Yes, that’s the one.”

“What about the others?” Hannah asked.

“Well, half of them better get drafted by the thirtieth round,” said Clit, “or else they’re going straight to the concentration camps.”

“The what?” I exclaimed.

“You heard me,” said Clit. “You know, where all the ugly people go.”

“Ever hear of the holocaust?” I said.

“The what?”

“Never mind, what do they do there?”

“Work for nine dollars an hour. And some of them ten to an apartment.”

“Why?” Hannah asked.

“Because they’re illegal immigrants. You know, they don’t have such good sex-ed down in Central and South America. There’s a lot of work there for the UN and Peace Corps.”

“Excuse me, we have to leave,” I told everyone.

“Not good manners,” said Clit as he gritted his teeth.

“Where are we going now?” asked Hannah.

“We’re off for the palace to see The One Vagina,” I said as we exited the classroom.

“I—” Clit said.

“The One Vagina can do as she pleases,” I told him.

“But you’re not the real—”

“—One Vagina. I know,” I said. “But I’m all we got.”

“I suppose,” said Clit.

As soon as we entered the gate, a man accosted us. “Spare a fuck?” he said, holding out his hands to demonstrate he wasn’t armed and that he didn’t have a single fuck.

“What’s that bulge in your pocket?” I asked him.

“Oh, I do a sex-toys business on the side,” he said. “But begging is my primary source of income.”

“Makes sense,” I said, and gave him a dollar.

He stared at it for a second and then threw it back at me. “Is that pre-revolution tender?” he shouted. “Are you trying to ruin me?”

“It’s only a buck,” I said. At the word “buck,” he relaxed a bit, but still remained on edge.

“Like ‘rhymes with fuck?’”

“Sort of,” I said.

“Anyway, want a tour of the city?”

“Only if I don’t ruin you,” I said.

He laughed. “That’s impossible, sir,” he said. “I’m already ruined.”

“How?” asked Joshua.

“We’ll get to that soon enough,” said the man.

“What’s your name?” Joshua said.

“Mushroom,” he said. “You know, no sex is complete without mushrooms.”

“So they say,” I murmured.

The man looked sharply at me. I wondered then if he intended me harm. “I only work for The One Vagina,” he said. “I can have you handcuffed in an instant.”

Hence the bulge in your pocket, I thought, but didn’t say a word.

Joshua tensed beside me.

“Oh, you little bugger—you wouldn’t stand a chance against me,” Mushroom said. “I’ve got four dicks on my belt.”

“Oh, yeah?” I said, “well, Joshua has eight.” Joshua smirked beside me.

“He’s half my weight!” shouted the man.

We shrugged.

“Anyway, let me show you,” Mushroom said.

We shrugged again and continued walking.

We continued walking past a clearing, some woods, and into a small village. As soon as we entered, people began coming out of their houses.

“As it was foretold!” a harried-looking man with a long beard shouted. “He has come!”

“Who has come? Who?” shouted the women.

“It is The One Penis!” shouted the man. “He has come to restore the balance!”

Some of the women stripped down and displayed their vaginas.

“Should we take it?” I asked Joshua.

“Why not?” he said, staring at the vaginas.

“I didn’t mean the vaginas, I meant the moniker ‘The One Penis.’”

Joshua shrugged again. “I mean, our assignment is to gather as many followers as we can, is it not?”

“That is correct,” I said. “Now, which one of us should don the garb of The One Penis?”

“Well, I am definitely younger and more innocent-looking that you,” Joshua said, and both of us laughed. The residents of the village, who were all intently watching this exchange, said nothing.

“And I am older, more experienced, and way more jacked,” I said. “But I definitely think it’s you.”

“Agreed,” said Joshua.

“Behold, all ye onlookers,” I said, sweeping my outstretched arm across my body, “Behold The One Penis!” Joshua bowed to the crowd.

“No, no, you’re The One Penis!” the bearded man said, pointing at me.

No!” I shouted, pointing at Joshua. “There’s been a little change in plans! You see, I cloned myself eight years ago and created this facsimile,” I said.

One rough-looking man with a mustache stepped forward. “That one—he don’t look much like you,” he said. “How we know it’s real?”

“I did not die at thirty,” I said. “I used to look like him—old age just messed me up.”

There were murmurings among the crowd. “Blasphemy!” screamed a female member of the crowd. “Take them apart!”

“Honey, where’d you think of that?” asked a male beside her.

“Mortal Combat XXV,” she said.

“Hon, we all know that Mortal Combat XXV doesn’t come out until September,” said the man. “And from what I’ve heard, there’s another couple of people out west that tell people that one of them is The One Vagina. And do we believe that?”

“No!” roared the crowd.

“So why should we believe that you’re The One Penis?” he said, pointing at Joshua. “And, you broke the rules for dyin’!”

The crowd waited expectantly. It was our turn to speak.

“Well, your neighborhood holy man seems to think we’re authentic,” I said. The harried-looking bearded man bowed.

“Name’s Jared. That’s my name,” he said.

“Aw, shut up, Jared!” said another man. The rest of the populous joined in the condemnation.

“I can perform a miracle,” I said. “Will that satisfy you?”

“No, we’re too riled up!” screamed a woman. “We want blood!”

“We want blood!” the crowd screamed.

“I can’t promise you blood, but I can promise you semen,” I said.

“Semen?” said the woman. “Where? Where!”

“Where! Where!” echoed the crowd.

“It’s in your balls, boys,” I said. “The One Vagina has told you lies. Babies don’t just magically appear because The One Vagina wills them into existence! They’re grown in pods, and originally they were grown in human beings!”

“That’s disgusting,” said the woman. But I could tell that I was carrying some of the crowd.

“How do we grow them, ‘en?” a short bald man said.

“Well, my good sir,” I said, “you simply have sex the good, old-fashioned way!”

There were murmurings coming from the crowd. I could see a lot of angry faces. Many sets of gnashing teeth.

“Um, I think we’d better go now,” whispered Josh.

“Agreed,” I whispered back. We both started slowly backing away.

“Seize them!” shouted the grizzled prophet. “The little one is not The One Penis. And the disgusting old one is not abiding by the rules of death. Kill them both!”

“I thought you just wanted to seize us!” I shouted in desperation. “Please!” I continued, “Leave us at the mercy of the Magistrate of The One Vagina!”

“You know, he does have a point,” said the grizzled prophet.

“Shut up, Jared!” screamed the crowd. But they advanced no further.

“Yeah, you know, I think Jared’s right,” said another man. “The One Vagina does have jurisdiction. And the tortures she could devise! I think I’m going to pre-order it on blu-ray!”

“Yeah!” the crowd exalted. “Yeah!”

“May The One Vagina bless you,” said the grizzled prophet.

“Shut up, Jared!”

“So Neelee,” I said as we walked the seemingly endless trail around the city to get to our gate, “what’s it like to be married to a rabbi?”

“I dunno, what’s it like being an emo?”

“It’s sort of sad,” I said, looking away. “No sex with us, except for with other emos. And with girls who feel sorry for us.”

“Well, that’s all the better, as the Torah says that sex is reserved for marriage.”

I shook my head. “You trying to make me religious?”

“Of course!”

“Well it’s not working. And plus, I’m not even Jewish.”

Neelee shrugged. “We’re all human beings.”

“Look,” I said, “if you’re trying to make me religious, it isn’t working. So please stop.”

Neelee shrugged again and popped a piece of bubble gum into her mouth. “I was just trying to tell you my opinion.”

You used to have sex with every man or boy, right? You were like these middle-school teachers who had sex with their students. You—”

“Hey, now you’re going too far,” Neelee said.

“Sorry,” I said. “Basically, I just wanted to know how did you make the switch?”

“My husband was the first person I met who didn’t want to have sex on the first date.”

“Wow. So that’s what it’s like to be married to a rabbi.”

“What do you mean?” asked Neelee.

“I mean having a relationship that isn’t dependent totally on sex.”

“The Torah says that the most important part of a marriage is the desire factor. I.e. lust,” Neelee said. “And in that you have the secret.”

“It wasn’t really a secret after all,” I mused.

“Yes, it was staring us in the faces. Literally,” Neelee said.

We were arriving at the gate. “Wow,” I said. “Time flies when you’re having—”

“sex,” said the guard.

“Whoa, didn’t see you,” I said.

“In order to enter the city, the both of you must fuck.”

Neelee and I gave him an open-mouthed stare.

“So you are the people The One Vagina was expecting. I hardly believed it, although that’s blasphemy. I guess I’m a blasphemer,” he chuckled.

“You sure are,” said Neelee. “Now, could you please tell me where the nearest government agency is?”

“No,” the guard said, and took out two sets of handcuffs. “I must comply with The One Vagina’s dema—”

Neelee took out a pistol and shot him.

“What is this, James Fucking Bond?” I said.

“And suddenly you have moral convictions,” said Neelee.

“Hey, emos can have convictions!” I protested.

And you think James Bond can’t be a woman,” she said.

“Hey, when did I say that?”

“Fuck it,” said Neelee. “Oops, I’m not supposed to swear.”

“Damn right,” I said.

Neelee dragged the dead guard into a corner and stripped him of his clothes.

“Why are you doing that?” I said. “Oh, right,” I reminded myself. “I’ve seen enough action movies to know what you’re doing.”

“Yup,” said Neelee. She straightened up, now a perfect copy of the guard. “So this guard has a sense of humor.”

Had,” I told her.

“Had, whatever.”

“Now what are we doing?”

“Always annoying,” she chided me.

“I don’t know, I was just improvising with the James Bond thing.”

“Thingee.”

“Thing. Okay, so what we do is we find another guy to show us to a government institution.”

“Or girl.”

“Or girl,” she repeated.

“Can we have a crying party?”

“No. Now be quiet.”

As we walked down the cobblestoned street, which was lined with excrement on either side, the people shrunk from us. Noticing this, Neelee remarked that they must have heard the gunshot. They gave us maybe fifteen feet of space on either side.

“Roads?” I said. “But no vehicles.”

“Watch your French,” growled an old lady maybe ten feet in front of us.

“Excuse me?” said Neelee.

“You talkin’ about us in a bad way,” the lady snarled, “talking about us like we don’t have nothin’. Shit! You definitely wrong about us,” she said.

“Lesson in manners, Charles,” Neelee said.

“I know my ma—” A shovel flashed in front of me and I jumped aside, only missing it by inches.

“No!” said the old lady. “No violence!” The shoveling ceased and everyone was quiet.

“Now,” said the lady, “what brings you here?”

“We’re from the past and—”

Neelee kicked me and said: “Please pay no attention to this unfortunate. He was gifted to me as a sex-slave and I am returning him to his former owner.”

The old lady nodded sagely. “Defects,” she said.

“Yes, my lady, defects,” Neelee said.

“Is there a chance we might be able—ah—to see these defects?” purred the old lady.

“No, sorry,” Neelee said, “but maybe I will accede to your request by sending you some negatives.”

“No post office,” I whispered.

“Ah, I mean, I will bring another unfortunate with defects on my return journey through this area.”

“That is…acceptable,” the old lady said.

We passed through the remainder of the area unmolested.

“Wow, they were so unfortunate,” I said.

“So are you,” said Neelee. “Just kidding. But seriously, you have to think before you speak!”

“I’m glad you still like me,” I sniffled.

“Of course I do! Ah, there it is! A sign for a government office.” There was a yellow vagina surrounded by red and blue stars.

“Is it just me, or are they copying Superman’s color scheme?” I said.

“You watch old movies. Good,” Neelee said.

We stepped across the threshold and into the building.

A guard bedecked in the same red, blue and yellow stopped us. “Welcome to the Government Office of The One Vagina,” he said. “What is your business?”

“We are here to procure some traffic cones,” said Neelee. “Red, blue and yellow ones, in honor of The One Vagina.”

The guard stared at her for what seemed like a minute. Finally, he stepped back and said: “Third door on the right. The loo’s straight ahead. You must have had a long journey,” he said, gesturing at the dust on our robes.

“Long indeed,” said Neelee.

“Speaking of long,” he said, “want to have some Government sex?”

“No thanks,” said Neelee. “We really have to get on our way.”

“I can make it quick,” the guard offered.

“No thanks,” said Neelee again, and she pushed past the guard.

The guard stopped me. “Now what do you think you’re doing?” he said, pointing an accusatory middle finger at me.

“Um…” I stuttered.

“Just kiddin ya!” he shouted and pushed me in Neelee’s direction.

I caught up to her and whispered: “So we’re obviously not here to get traffic cones—so we’re here to take over the government. I’m an expert hacker and I can disrupt and redirect the government’s servers.”

“Ah. That sounds plausible,” I said.

“Don’t make fun,” Neelee said. “In Israel, where I grew up and went to University, there are a lot more women who go into Computer Science than there are here. Here, women prefer to be either nurses, schoolteachers or cheerleaders.”

“Not anymore,” I offered.

“Indeed,” Neelee said. “So let me get started…You go and talk to the guard.”

“Distract him?”

“More like appease him,” Neelee said. “But not in that special way you’re thinking about.”

“I don’t know if there’s anything special about it—”

“—shut up and listen to me. Be his friend. Get him to talk about his youth, his passions, et cetera. Buy me a few hours.”

“Okay,” I grumbled.

I ambled over to the guard’s desk.

“Ah, done already?” he said.

“No, not really,” I said. “We actually need a few hours to procure which traffic cones we like the most.”

“A few hours!” the guard laughed. “ What I could get done in a few hours! Heck, I could probably finish this book I’m reading!” and he held out a massive tome whose cover was completely covered by sketches of sexual positions.

“Wow,” I said. I wondered if I would ever get to try those positions out.

“Ah, don’t worry,” the guard said. “I used to work for an illegal library and I read once that male humans in the past sometimes waited until they were twenty-five, thirty, or even older!”

“To do what?” I asked.

“To do it!” spat the guard.

“Ah,” I said. “What else?”

“Hey, dude, did you know I’m a psychic?”

“No,” I said.

“Well enough,” he said. “But let me tell you a prediction of mine.”

“No thanks,” I said.

“Don’t worry,” he said. “I predict—that you will marry a girl named…” and he paused for dramatic effect—”Sarah!”

“What?!” I screamed. “How did you know?”

“Everything okay back there?” Neelee shouted.

“Fine, fine,” said the guard.

“How did you know that?” I asked.

“Now that’s a secret—until now,” he said. He looked around the room. “Now!” he said. Instantly ten armed-to-the-teeth human beings appeared in a ring surrounding us.

“Wha—” I said.

“Yes,” the guard smiled. “You forget, The One Vagina knows everything. The All-Seeing and the All-Blessed.” (cause she’d been through it before)

“But how did you know?” I screeched.

“Marriage is illegal,” the guard said, “and you didn’t know that.”

I groaned. “So what happens now?”

“You will be tortured at the whim of The One Vagina,” said one of the soldiers brazenly. Another soldier shot him in the head.

“Ah, now you see what it means to be under the rule of The One Vagina,” said the guard. “Everything must run perfectly smoothly.”

I shut up right then.

Neelee came bursting into the room. “What the—” she said, but a soldier hit her in the head with the butt of his gun, and she collapsed.

“Neelee!” I cried. Then all was blackness.

Chapter 17

 

 

“Find out about their religion, huh,” I snorted to my companion, the holy rabbi.

“What’s so funny about that?”

“Of course, the rabbi, saying that to me,” I said.

“You’re really funny now, Eliza,” he said. “Really funny.”

That shut me up for a moment. Then I said: “So check out their religion, is it?”

The rabbi said nothing.

“Hey, you picked me, I’m talking to you, talk to me!”

“Hello,” he said.

“Right back atcha,” I said. “Anything else?”

“What are you expecting?” said the rabbi.

“From the future people? Oh, probably some pagan nonsense,” I said. “Personally, I feel that all religion is nonsense. No offense.”

“None taken,” said the rabbi.

“Okay, let’s avoid the four-hour-long philosophical discussion about religion,” I said. “What do you expect?”

“Oh, the same,” the rabbi said. “So how do you think we should approach this problem?”

“Go to a religious service, duh,” I said.

“Of course,” said the rabbi. “But won’t we seem out of place?”

“I guess so,” I said, looking at my clothing. “Orgasm and Sexy didn’t exactly wear jeans, did they?”

“They were naked,” said the rabbi.

“Hey, guys,” Orgasm said over the microphone. “How are y’all doing?”

“I’m enjoying a metaphysical discussion with the rabbi,” I said. “What can we do for you?”

“So I was overhearing your conversation,” said Orgasm, “and”

 

“Ah, we can amuse ourselves through morning fuck,” the rabbi said.

I stared at him for ten seconds.

“Joke, joke!” the rabbi said and held up his hands.

“Okay, so what should we do?”

“Maybe priests don’t have to fuck,” the rabbi mused. “Hey, Orgasm,” he said into the walkie-talkie, “Do priests do morning fuck?”

“Of course they do,” replied Orgasm. “Do you think they are immune from bodily desires?”

“No, of course not,” the rabbi said, “but in our time, one of the biggest religions banned priestly marriage. And why do you suppose that is?”

“I don’t know, of course,” Orgasm said.

“Me neither,” said the rabbi.

“It’s strange…whenever I talk about marriage, I become paranoid that someone is listening…marriage is considered one of the worst evils in my society.”

“Change societies,” said the rabbi.

“Actually, I kind of like this society,” I said.

The rabbi stared at me. I imagine Orgasm was staring at me as well.

“Whoa, too much manly attention,” I said. “This is more than I’m used to. Can’t you guys take turns?”

“I guess Eliza could be a very good first priestess. If not for the fact that she is already The One Vagina,” said Orgasm.

“Alright, enough,” I said. “So what are we going to do to pass the time until Morning Fuck finishes?”

“I’ve got you guys on GPS and it says that if you move another fifty feet, you’ll be found out. Everyone in front of you is fucking, and The One Vagina has told them to be on guard.”

“Wow,” I said. “Thanks, Orgasm.”

“Thanks,” said the rabbi.

“So I can’t pretend to be fucking you, so what do we do?” I said to the rabbi.

“My precious daughter,” he said, “we’ll just have to ask Orgasm.”

“Yeah,” Orgasm said. “Thanks. So basically you guys have to pretend you’re gaurds. No one usually guards the gates to the city, but today you’ll have to say that you were called into action immediately after the alert from The One Vagina.”

“We don’t even have uniforms,” I said.

“Don’t worry, I will take care of that for you,” Orgasm said. “I’m putting an alert on every computer near you guys. It will say: Do not go out of house. Elite assassins deployed.”

“Dude, I thought in your time, there are no assassinations!” said I.

“Only in some neighboring countries,” he said. “Basically, we agree not to bother each-other. And they’re afraid to launch a war with us, because they are afraid that our propaganda is so strong that it would convert all of their people to our own ideology.”

“Wow!” I breathed. “I would someday like to have propaganda that’s as good as yours!” I paused to think. “Oops!” I said. “Sorry!”

“Figures,” said Orgasm.

“So what are we going to do for the next two hours?” I said.

“Learn bible?” said the rabbi.

“Not on my watch,” I said. “Do you think I want to go through Hebrew school all over again?”

“Wow, you went to Hebrew school?” asked the rabbi. “Pretty cool!”

“Now don’t you go buttering me up, old man,” I said.

“You know what?” I said. “Let’s just brave this shit. I’m going in.”

“No!” shouted the rabbi.

The locals, upon hearing the rabbi’s shout, started peeking out from behind their doorways. “Back into your houses!” I shouted. “Don’t you know there’s a situation going on here!”

They went back into their houses.

One of them didn’t, though.

“You’re The One Vagina, aren’t you?” he said, pointing a finger at me.

“I’m a fake,” I reassured him. “Better I die than The One Vagina dies.”

“The One Vagina is omnipotent!” answered the man.

“Fine, I’ll make you a deal,” I said. “You can fuck me.”

“Okay!” he said. He started taking off his clothes.

“Not now,” I said. “I’m on duty. Later.”

“Okay!” the man happily agreed. “Here’s my digits.”

“Thanks,” I told him. “See you soon.”

“Wait,” I told him as he was leaving. “We’re looking for some place to learn about our religion—unfortunately, though, everyone’s still on morning fuck.”

The man assumed a thinking pose. “You know, you could walk ten minutes and they’re having a special event—also religious…”

“Sounds great!” I said. “Where do we go?”

The man gave us directions and we headed off.

“You know,” the rabbi said, “he never even said a word to me.”

“That’s because there’s various technicalities in the laws which require one to only speak to the object of your desire when an invitation is commencing,” Orgasm said.

“English, please?” said the rabbi.

“You’re hopeless,” said Orgasm. “And can’t you show your respect for a minor?”

“Excuse me?” said the rabbi.

“Never mind,” said Orgasm.

“Yeah, you know that,” said the rabbi.

“Bye,” said Orgasm. “Just walk a little bit up that road.”

“OK, Orgasm,” the rabbi said. “Bye.”

“Bye,” I said.

“Bye,” Orgasm said.

As we walked through the wilderness toward the event, I pondered the rabbi and Orgasm’s conversation. Orgasm had claimed to be on our side, and had seemed trustworthy, but maybe I was just PMSing.

Then I noticed the forest was turning tropical. WTF? I thought, and when I converted the thought to normal speech, Orgasm responded: “oh, the forests? Yeah, the equator is no longer habitable, so now our temperate zones are turning into tropical ones.”

“Fucking bible-belters,” I said.

“Hey, don’t go insulting the bible,” the rabbi said. “It could rear up its head later and bite you in the donkey.”

“What?”

“I’m not allowed to swear.”

“Oh.”

“Hey, did you know that thirteen of the last fifteen years broke the heat record?”

“Did not know that.”

“Consider your position carefully,” I said.

“Hey, want to start a colony on Venus? Or at the equator?”

“You’re married, remember?” I snarled.

“I could get out of it,” he said. I just shook my head.

“Fine then,” he said. “You knew I was joking.”

“If Neelee was anything other than a complete bombshell, I wouldn’t believe you.”

“So we got some chemistry, eh?” nudged the rabbi. I didn’t respond.

“Hey, watch out for that snake!” I said as a twenty-foot-long python dropped from a branch above him.

The rabbi screamed. That seemed to cause the poor critter to back off.

“Dude, he was only going to eat you,” I said.

“Yeah. No poison, only suffocation. I bet I could get it to barf me up, like the guy on TV did.”

“Don’t be gross,” I said.

The rainforest started to clear up, until it was apparent we were walking in grassland.

“How did that happen?” asked the rabbi.

I could see a couple of lions off in the distance. “I don’t know,” I said, “but I’d like to get to our destination as soon as possible.”

“Yeah, the guy said it would only be ten minutes,” he said.

I could see and hear some people carousing up ahead. Then I heard the sound of music.

“What is this?” I wondered. The rabbi said nothing.

It soon became apparent that the music was reggae. “I didn’t know that they still had reggae in these times,” I said. The rabbi said nothing.

“You look like you know what this is,” I said.

The rabbi only nodded.

The reggae band was rocking out. All the audience was swaying to the music.

There was one thing wrong. Or maybe two things.

Number one, everyone was naked.

Number two, everyone was fucking.

But after being in the helicopter and seeing the motherfuckers, this grisly sight hardly moved me.

“Hmmm,” I said, scanning the bodies. “I wonder who we can question regarding their religion.”

“Maybe this is their religion,” Shaul suggested.

“We still pay homage to Jesus and Jehovah,” said Orgasm.

I whirled on him, but of course I didn’t know where he was. “Orgasm!” I said.

“Yes, Mistress.”

“Get him out of here.”

“Yes, Mistress. Right away, Mistress.” There was silence for a few seconds. “Can I come back now?

“OK, Orgasm,” I said. “So tell us more about the religion.”

“Thanks,” he said. He cleared his throat. “They have a system, which is that they worship either Jesus or Jehovah for one hour on the weekends. The rest of the time…”

“They fuck,” I finished.

“Almost,” said Orgasm. “Remember, they have to do work for half the day. “

“What about the Muslims?” the rabbi asked.

“That’s another story for another time,” said Orgasm. “Plus, we don’t have any regular contact with them. The last time we talked to them was ten years ago.”

“So the war’s still going?” I asked.

“Still going,” he said.

“So they have sex for four hours and then work for four hours,” I said. “What do they do when they get home?”

“Homes?” Orgasm laughed. “There are no homes.”

“Then what about that town we passed through?” I demanded.

“Excuse me?”

“The village! The town that Jimmy and Joshua went through!”

“Right,” Orgasm murmured. “They can listen in on the walkie talkies.”

“What did you say to me?” I said.

The rabbi told me what he said.

“Stop patronizing us!” I yelled.

“Patronizing?” Orgasm queried.

“Ah, right,” I said. “No parents…well, then…”

“I see now,” Orgasm said. “It means ‘stop being an embryo-robot.’”

“What?” I said. “No childhood robot?”

“No,” he said. “The term ‘embryo’ refers to anyone before the age of ascension.”

“So Orgasm and Sexy were technically ‘embryos.’”

“Yes.”

“Damn it, I was so disrespectful of them!” I moaned.

“Roger, she’s showing signs of it,” Orgasm said.

I grabbed his walkie-talkie and slammed it on the ground. I stepped on it, feeling the satisfying crackle. “Spy!”

Orgasm moaned.

Now what do we do,” the rabbi said.

“You can shut your dickhole,” I said. The rabbi looked less than pleased.

“They will triangulate our position,” said Orgasm. “With the other walkie-talkies.”

“Fuckit,” I said.

“Hey, don’t stay on the sidelines!” said a blond, muscled bombshell. “Join the fray! Be my partner or I’ll report you!”

“Fucking…” I sighed. I joined him. The rabbi stayed back, though—he was holding Orgasm so Orgasm couldn’t move.

“We’ve got to tell them about Sexy!” the rabbi shouted.

“I don’t know if now’s the best time!” I said, distracted by you don’t want to know. “Hey, this is a religious event, right? Convert them!”

“No talking!” my partner told me. He handed me off to his less-attractive friend.

“No!” I moaned.

“What, you like shaved men?” teased my first partner. “I hope you’re getting a good workout!”

I motioned to Shaul that he should hurry up.

Shaul snapped into action. “HALT!” he screamed.

“Whoa, there’s a screamer sex band!” said one of my partners. Everyone turned their heads to look.

“Yes, it’s me!” screamed Shaul. “I am The One Penis, come to redeem you from The One Vagina!”

“The One Penis? I like it just the way it is,” said a girl.

“I dunno, I don’t really like those forced masturbations,” said a guy.

“They keep us in line,” said another guy.

“Yeah, remember what they taught us about before the revolution?” said another girl. “Men were doing ninety-nine percent of all murders and rapes!”

“Yeah, what do you think about that?” said a different participant. Others echoed his sentiment.

Shaul tousled his beard. “Well…”

“Well what?” shouted someone else.

“Yeah!”

“Well,” Shaul said finally, “Everyone used to live until at least sixty or seventy.”

“I don’t believe that!”

“Fuck you, One Penis!”

“Yeah! Fuck you!”

“Thank you,” Shaul responded patiently as the praise/threats continued.

“You represent a forgotten time!”

“Our way is better!”

“More modern!”

“Feels better!”

“How would you know, you’re not over thirty, you aren’t pre-revolution.”

Everyone was silent for once.

“All of you need to listen to me,” said Shaul. “I come from the time before the revolution. And I say that things were better back then.”

“Better back then? Impossible!”

“Who could have better sex than us?”

“You’re not from before the revolution!”

“Ah, but I am!” said Shaul.

“You look young!”

“Not a hair past twenty-five!”

Shaul held up a hand. “I am sixty-one,” he said.

“Blasphemy!”

“Tear him apart!”

Shaul eyed the crowd warily.

“No!” shouted a big muscly man next to Shaul. “You shall not pass! I need to hear what this man has to say.” Growls wear heard, but no retaliation. “Go on,” the man said.

Shaul waited and the voices quieted. His voice became deeper. “I am sixty-one, but you all never thought I was that old, did you?”

“Maybe approaching your deathday,” someone said.

“But not sixty-one,” Shaul said.

Everyone was silent.

“I am that way because I observe the religion specified in The Book of Lies.”

Gasps. Shouts. Calls for execution. “Don’t tear him apart! Rip him apart!” But a row of powerful men now ringed Shaul and faced outwards.

Shaul was silent. The stalemate continued for what could be counted a few minutes or half an hour.

More people joined Shaul’s defense. “I don’t want to die next year.”

“I read The Book of Lies,” said another. “Sex sounds like it was a lot more pleasurable back then.”

“My dick is tired.”

“My vagina can’t decide what it wants. I’m practically schizophrenic.”

There was now a second layer of protection for Shaul. “No? Continue!” said one of the big men.

Shaul continued: “I observe many commandments. I go to pray with my brothers every morning.”

“Brothers!” hissed someone.

“Shhh.”

“I also give to the poor.”

“They’re in concentration camps.”

“They’re ugly.”

“I also visit the sick.”

“Sick? What is this?”

“Sick means that you are not in tip top shape,” Shaul said.

“Sick? They are in concentration camps.”

“Is anyone sexy where you come from?”

“Of course,” Shaul said. “Except that most people have one partner at a time.”

“Only one?”

Boring!”

“Fuck you!”

“Thank you. Why do you say that?”

“I dunno, you’re winning me over, man. I wish I could have stayed with Carla, who I only had once. We really clicked.”

“I see one word that hasn’t departed the vocabulary,” I said.

“Hey, who is she?”

“She’s sexy!”

“Do you guys fuck?”

“Who’s on top?”

“Ever do doggie style?”

“Fuck you all!” I said.

“You are most welcome,” they collectively replied. Then their attention turned back to Shaul.

“One partner?”

“Shitty.”

“Where’s the spice?”

“You’re a cock-block!”

The commotion died down. “What about the people who want to stay with one partner?” said Shaul. “Like that man who spoke up a minute ago.”

“Take him apart!”

“Bite him!”

“Burn him!”

“Bite off his balls!”

“Roast them and eat them!”

“With teriyaki!”

“Over some fried rice!”

“I call first ball!”

“Hey, that’s not fair, there are only two!”

“We can use stem cells to make more!”

Shaul held up a hand and quiet reigned again. “Don’t you see how fairness matters?”

“How?”

“Some people are in concentration camps, some aren’t,” Shaul offered.

“Yeah,” echoed some of his followers.

“But they’re ugly!” said someone. “They deserve it!”

“Does anyone deserve what he or she didn’t cause?” Shaul asked.

Silence.

“But…they’re ugly!”

“Do they annoy you?” said Shaul.

“They’re ugly!”

“You don’t like looking at them?”

“Yes.”

“Then avert your eyes!”

“No! They go to hell!”

“They don’t actually,” said Shaul. “Thus it says in The Book of Lies. Which shall now be called The Book of Truth.”

“What…what does it say?”

“It says that all men and women are created equal.”

“But men have penises and women have vaginas! And boobees!”

“Even so,” Shaul said.

“But ugly people…if they make it into normal society, no one will like them.”

“Not true,” Shaul said. “When I come from, ugly people have many friends. Some ugly people even marry attractive people!”

“Everyone’s attractive. Except for ugly people.”

“No. Different people think different people are ugly.”

“What? No! The One Vagina is the one true god! The One Vagina determines who is pretty and who is ugly!”

“No. People do that.”

“I don’t think you’re getting anywhere,” I said.

“Girl.”

“Sexy.”

“Eat her alive.”

“Legal gang rape once a month.”

“Let’s go.”

No. No. No,” Shaul said.

Everybody waited.

“One female per male. Except for once a month.”

“No, don’t compromise!” I said.

“Shut up,” he said.

“Shut what?”

“A mouth?”

“A vagina?”

“Same thing.”

“No they’re not!”

Shaul waited for silence. “One female per male. Only one,” he said. “Unless you want to switch.”

“Who wants to switch?”

“Either one,” said Shaul. “And uglies can have whomever they want, providing that the other party also agrees.”

“So no more concentration camps?”

“No more,” said Shaul.

“What do we get?” said the first one. “I still have to look at ugly people.”

“Take him apart,” Shaul said. There were cheers that outperformed the screams of the condemned man.

“Gotta slaughter an animal to make a covenant,” said Shaul.

The execution took a matter of seconds.

“Animal? What’s an animal?” said somebody.

The rabbi just shrugged his shoulders.

“It’s old language term for ‘substitute’,” Orgasm piped up.

“Ah,” the man said. “I don’t like substitutes very much.”

“What’s a substitute,” I said.

“Hello, One Vagina,” the man said.

“It’s The One Vagina to you, buster,” I said with a menacing smile.

The man backed away. “I’m so, so sorry, Your Highness!” Then he turned tail and ran.

“Wow, I didn’t know I had that effect on people,” I said.

“You’re preening,” said Shaul.

“Good,” I said.

I spotted a dot in the distance. “What’s that,” I said, pointing.

Shaul shrugged again. “I need my eyes checked.”

“Ahoy, there,” said Orgasm.

“Didn’t know you knew what that meant,” I said.

“It’s a designated fucking term,” Orgasm said. “It means—”

“I don’t want to know.”

“Well, that’s a start,” said the rabbi. “Well, don’t you want to hear what Orgasm has to say?”

“Yeah,” said Orgasm.

“Sounds like you already know,” I said to Shaul.

“I do, but…”

“No,” I said.

“You’re becoming more like your grandmother every day.”

“No bad words, someone might be watching,” said Orgasm.

We were walking with our backs to our hundreds of followers. Full trust had been achieved. The spot in the distance kept getting bigger.

“Now I see it,” said Shaul. There were cheers in the distance, growing louder.

Then the wave came across us. Their naked bodies streamed across us like a river over a rock. They surrounded us in a ring, like soldiers. Our followers tensed but did not make a move.

“Halt!” came a call. It was Rachel.

“Rachel!” I exploded. “Don’t sneak up on me like that!”

“Didn’t you see us coming?” she asked.

“Fuckit!” I said.

“Okay, sorry,” Rachel said. “It’s only been a few days since you were the main nemesis in my life.”

“Okay, sorry again,” I said.

“What are they?” Shaul said, pointing at Rachel’s soldiers.

“Oh, them!” Rachel said. She smiled. “They’re part of the coalition to take over the capital. My personal contribution.”

“Coalition? What coalition?” I spat.

“Calm down, Eliza,” said Shaul.

“New pair, huh?” snickered Rachel.

“Fuck you.”

“No, fuck you.” The naked soldiers on both sides were approving this exchange.

“So what are these?” I said.

“So I was assigned, along with Sexy, to find out how they reproduce, if you remember.”

“I remember,” I said, impatiently. Suddenly I became suspicious. “Hey, where’s Sexy?”

“Right here!” Sexy’s voice squeaked from two columns to the right. “Aren’t our soldiers such good role models? They’re with their partners all the time!”

That’s when I noticed. They were fucking every time they walked.

“It’s not much when you’re just standing still,” the woman to my left said. I looked away.

“Becoming modest in your dotage?” Rachel leered at me. I looked away.

“Yeah, what’s going on, Eliza?” said Shaul.

“Hitting on young girls is not allowed, says the sign,” I said.

“Darnit, Eliza!” Shaul said.

“I’m only joking,” I said.

“It wasn’t funny,” Shaul said.

“Hey, we should try that!” a man from our army said, gesturing to Rachel and Sexy’s army.

“No copying!” said Sexy.

“They’re not copying you, Sexy,” I said in exasperation.

“Yeah, Sexy,” mimicked Rachel.

Sexy beamed. “Rachel is my friend,” she said.

“She’s mine too,” I snarled.

“You’re just jealous you didn’t come up with our idea,” said Sexy.

“Perhaps,” I said.

“That’s a pre-revolution word, I don’t know it.”

“Well that’s your problem,” I sniffled.

“So what should we do now?” asked Shaul.

“Well, Orgasm’s triangulated our position, and he’s not on our side anymore,” I said. Rachel gasped. Sexy shrugged.

“Sexy, did you know of this?” I said.

“I know that he couldn’t possibly switch sides,” said Sexy. “He must have something up his sleeve.”

“So that phrase is not banned,” I said. Sexy said nothing.

I tucked Sexy’s assertion into the back of my mind and said: “Whatever, let’s storm the capital.”

“Yup,” said Rachel. “Either way, we’re doing that.”

We marched on.

Suddenly there was a crackle on Rachel’s walkie-talkie. “Oh, shit, they’ve got us!” I said. I grabbed the walkie-talkie from her and prepared to stomp it.

But Rachel’s hand snaked past mine and grabbed it back. “What the fuck are you doing?” she said.

“Uh, saving your life, duh,” I said.

“I don’t speak bimbo-ese,” Rachel said.

“Stop fighting,” Shaul said.

“What, now you like both of us?” I said. Rachel and I both smirked.

“Fuck you guys,” he said.

“Exactly,” I said.

“Okay,” Orgasm’s voice came in over the walkie-talkie. Rachel prepared to smash the talkie.

“No, don’t break it!” Orgasm shouted to some static.

“Why?” said Rachel.

“I’m on your side! Really! Just give me a chance to explain!”

“Yeah, right, mofo,” I said. “Give the talkie to me.”

“No, don’t! Don’t! Don’t!” Orgasm said.

Rachel drummed her fingers on her leg. “Well, I’m waiting,” she said.

“Okay, okay!” Orgasm said. “Basically, I lied to you. I’m a double agent.”

“Yeah, but for who?”

“For whom,” Orgasm said.

“Fuck you.”

“Thanks.”

“Explain yourself.”

“Well,” Orgasm said, “Sexy and I left our workhouse to go and thwart the decrees of our province’s governor. What happened then was that the sex-squad caught us and only released us if we swore to be their agents against a coming scourge.”

“Us.”

“Yes, you,” Orgasm said. “I received full intelligence about you from The One Vagina herself. Sexy wasn’t allowed into her antechamber. Cause she’s a girl, you know.”

I must be very horny in my senior years, I mused.

“Yes, Eliza, you do have it quite good in your future.”

“Shut up, Orgasm. Continue.”

“So we got the intelligence,” Orgasm said. “I didn’t have a gun, so I couldn’t shoot The One Vagina on the spot. Not that it would have done anything. They just would have cloned her again. I first discovered guns when I saw that the Sex Squad carried them. Until then, I just thought that gun meant penis.”

“Wait, who would be the interim ruler until the next One Vagina is born?”

“Dudes, we have a problem,” said Orgasm. “They’ve triangulated us. Really.”

“Fuck!” I screamed. I had lost my chance to change these poor peoples’ government and give them freedom (of course, I would be their ruler—but seriously, who cares? I’d reduce the fucking time from eight hours a day (four in the day, four at nighttime) to one hour every twenty-four. The way it’s supposed to be (although appeals for more time would be considered on a case-by-case basis). And, best of all, I could have whomever I wanted.)

“Ahead, march!” Rachel commanded. I commanded my own army to fall into line behind Rachel’s.

“So this should be a piece of cake, right, Orgasm?” I said. “I mean, you know what they’re planning, right?”

“Of course I do.

“So tell us what to do!”

“Nah,” said Orgasm. “I’d prefer to watch all this play out.”

“Fucking mother-fucker,” I said between my teeth.

“Here they come!” said Orgasm.

Show, don’t tell

We engaged them in battle. “They” were three females dressed in purple.

Then they started firing their guns. But nothing came out of the muzzles. Then, I felt something. It felt really, really good …

 

“Yes,” said The One Vagina as we regained consciousness. “Those were super orgasm inducers. And speaking of orgasms, don’t worry, we’ve arrested him.”

I silently thought to myself, Delmon’s still free! So are the rest of them!

“You think some of your party is still free, don’t you?” The One Vagina sneered.

“I am nothing like you,” I huffed. “I’m not your mini-me.”

“You most certainly are,” said The One Vagina. “We share the same DNA. And I am your future.”

I don’t know about that, I thought, but said nothing.

“Ha,” said The One Vagina. “You doubt me. But you’ll see how it is when you have all this power.”

“I don’t want to be like you,” I said, still struggling to breathe.

Older-me gave me an inhaler. “Use this to alleviate the orgasm drug,” she said. I threw it on the ground.

“Fine!” said Eliza.

It was eerie, how much she looked like me. She was me. I shook my head to clear the thought.

“Hey, would you like a coffee?” Eliza said.

“No, thank you,” I said.

“No problem!” she cackled. “I didn’t want any when I came to my future.”

I said stared at her and said nothing.

“But,” she mused, “I did request a tea. Hmmm.” She assumed a thinking pose. “What does this mean? This is not right.”

I continued to say nothing.

“Fuck it!” she spat. “Say something!” She slapped me across the face, leaving blood marks from her talon-shaped fingernails.

I saw Rachel and Sexy beside me, stirring fitfully in their drug-induced sleep.

Then I saw everyone else: Clarissa and Hannah, Jimmy and Joshua, and the rest. Even Kevin and James. Each cage held a team of two.

Kevin and James were up. “Hey, what did you guys do?” I said.

“Mainly fucked girls,” said Kevin. James nodded along with him. “The girls all uniformly called me ‘Mr. Pillow.’”

“And the girls all called me ‘Dead Person,’” James said. “But my dick definitely wasn’t dead!”

“We even shared the same bed while fucking our girls!” Kevin said.

“Like college!” said James.

“How the fuck do you know about Fuckfest, I mean college?” spat Eliza.

“Movies.”

“Well you should know that it’s a disgusting place. People barfing all over the place. Disgusting. That’s why we have different sexual activities as well as work to keep people occupied during the day. And all the men need their treatment.”

“The semen-collector machines,” I said.

“Yes,” said Eliza.

“So Older Me,” I said, “Can’t we have the perks of our old society without sacrificing our families, children and semen? Not to mention our freedom?”

“Not possible,” said Eliza. “My mother told me…”

“Your subjects don’t have mothers!” I shouted.

Eliza looked a little uncomfortable. “So what?” she said. “You know, I didn’t really have a mother. I was born in a lab. I was a clone of my mother. So I guess she never really was my mother.”

“Awww,” I said. “Now you enslave an entire population! Am I supposed to be sympathetic towards you?”

“No,” Eliza admitted. “But you are my successor, so you’d better know my policies and who I lean on, or else it’s not going to be an easy transition.”

“I guess you’re thirty now,” I sneered.

“Such maleficence!” commented my predecessor. “Here, let me show you something.” She walked over to my and unlatched the door. I scurried out and kissed the ground. “Oh, Aphrodite, Goddess of Sex, guide me!”

Aphrodite? Who’s that?” said Eliza.

“I see your predecessor hasn’t taught you very well,” I said.

“Disrespect!” screamed Eliza. Wads of spittle flew everywhere. Then she aimed an OI (Orgasm Inducer) at Shaul, who was trying to escape the cage. She fired and Shaul instantly began flailing his limbs, trying to escape the inevitable. It was over and Shaul said, “well, I’m not trying that again.”

“Yeah, you know the laws, boy,” I told him.

“Fuck it, don’t call me boy,” he said. Eliza blasted him again.

“Okay, shall we?” she said.

We all followed her into a well-lit cave that seemed to go on forever. “Now where are we going?” said Shaul. Eliza blasted him again. He shrieked and began to pant.

“Please, stop this horror show!” I pleaded to Eliza. She pointed the blaster at me. I pointed at Shaul: “He needs immediate medical attention!”

“Don’t worry, last time he didn’t die” said Eliza.

“But this time is different! You said so yourself!”

“Eh,” she said. “We have doctors at the end of this tunnel so he’ll be okay.”

We suddenly encountered a great light. We stepped into it, shielding our eyes form the glare. In about a minute we were able to see the sight: grassy hills, dense forests, glistening rivers. And the sun was shining!

“Not a real sun, of course, my young version” said Eliza. “We have much better technology now than we, I mean the original one, had thirty years ago.”

“So what is this all for?” Grandma said from her cage. I beamed with pride.

“Grandma,” said Eliza. “At least my predecessors’ Grandma. The grandma of my foremothers.”

“Stop rambling,” I said.

She pointed the gun at me, waited five seconds and lowered it. She snapped her fingers. “I think it’s time that these animals are let out of their cages.” The guards hastened to open the cage doors and everyone piled out.

“Finally,” said Jimmy. A bunch of doctors hustled over to Shaul, who had thrown up all over his cage.

“Gee, I hope he’s okay,” said Orgasm. I looked at him and he met my gaze for an instant. I remembered then that Eliza still thought he was on her side.

“He’ll be okay,” cooed Eliza. “He’s just going into quarantine for a few days. Foreign viruses aren’t allowed in this biosphere.”

You sick lady, you shot him three times! I thought but did not speak.

“Let us take a tour, then,” she said, and her guards forced us into line.

We walked along a stone path toward the little village in the middle of the grass. We passed a few cows and a few people.

“What is this place?” I said, echoing my Grandma.

“It’s a biosphere of humans from ten years ago,” Eliza said.

Right then, I saw that the people weren’t naked, or even wearing the sparkly bikinis they wore for special occasions. They were wearing long, tight black pants and a shirt that revealed their bellybuttons.

“Looks like our own time, except for the bellybuttons,” commented Jimmy.

Some guys in a group whistled at me and Eliza. “Hey, are you twins?” one said. “We can do two of us for each one of you!”

“Disgusting perverts,” said Eliza.

“You’re the ruler!” another one shouted. “But we don’t care!” They all laughed.

We passed them and headed down another long tunnel. “I’m starting to get bored,” I whined.

“We can have our soldiers carry you on a stretcher,” Eliza offered.

“No, thanks,” I said. “I just did too many sit-up this morning.”

“Gotta maintain those abs, huh?” Eliza sneered.

“Huh?” I said.

I use electrical stimulation.”

I use Orgasm Inducers,” said a guard behind us. Eliza turned around and shot her in the head.

Another bright light right in front of us. “That’ll be your time, sister,” Eliza said to Hannah, who was too terrified to respond.

We emerged in a house that was dirty and dark. I could tell it was daytime, though, because of the sunbeams in the other room. We walked out the front door, our feet crunching hay as we walked.

“So there’s hay in the house?” I asked Hannah.

“We keep our animals in our house during the winter,” she said. “It gets cold.”

“We must be in New England,” commented James.

“Not New England, no!” said Delmon.

“Why?” said James.

“My chips will freeze!”

“Then eat them!” said Neelee.

“Any more and I’ll force you three to have sex,” Eliza said, waving her gun frighteningly.

“We aint’ scared,” said James.

“Well, that’s cause you’re dead,” I told him.

“From now on, Eliza and I are the only people who can talk,” said Eliza. Everyone nodded their heads in agreement.

We stepped outside and into the cold. We saw a buggy with four horses.

“Four horses!” said Joshua.

“You want your semen splattered all over this dirt road?” said Eliza. She looked at me. I looked at Joshua.

“Better watch what you say, little lady,” the driver said. “I could report you and you could see time.”

“Fucking buggy driver,” cursed Eliza.

“She hasn’t received her afternoon tea,” I told the driver. “She means no disrespect.”

“Fucking clone,” she whispered.

“I’m not a clone,” I whispered back.

“Are you fellers hiding a secret from me?” demanded the driver. “What’s with all the whisperin’?”

Hannah took charge: “Sir, we are from out of town. Could you please direct us to the nearest inn?”

“Don’t you know this place?” I asked Eliza.

“My predecessor told me about it,” she said. “I’ve never actually been here.”

“This way, my fine Gentlemen and Ladies,” said the driver.

“Wait,” said Eliza. She jumped into the cabin. “Now you can drive.”

The horse shat and we walked around it. “Wow,” Hannah said. “I’ve never been directly behind one before.”

“Don’t worry, m’lady, it’ll clear up in a few moments.”

“Drive!” commanded Eliza.

A couple of young women with long skirts approached us. “Wherefore are you from?” said one of them.

“Looks like you designed this level pretty badly,” Hannah remarked to Eliza.

“What are you saying about us?” said the other woman. “We can get you arrested in an instant.”

“Try me,” Eliza said, pointing her gun at them.

The women screamed, in a pitch that damaged my eardrums. Instantly several men holding rifles appeared from several different doorways of adjacent cottages. “Put down your weapon,” the leader said.

“What weapon?” said Eliza.

“I know what you’re pointing at us is a weapon, m’lady,” he said. “It looks like a gun that hasn’t been invented yet.”

“Would you like proof that it isn’t a weapon?” purred Eliza.

“You seem like a woman of the world,” said the leader. “Perhaps we can negotiate.”

Eliza went up and whispered something in his ear. “Acceptable,” said the leader. A shot rang out and he fell, dead from a bullet to the forehead.

“Whoa,” I said.

I’m the leader now,” said a man with multiple facial scars and a long, raggedy beard.

“So what will you do to us now?” asked Eliza.

“You look like a pretty lady, so I reckon I’ll take you for my wife. The rest of the women can go to my followers. And the males can go to jail. There are a lot of hungry inmates.”

“You disgust me!” shouted Eliza, and she fired the wide-beam on the men. Unfortunately, it also got some of us. I was rolling on the ground uncontrollably, whimpering. But the unaffected members of our party quickly tied up the men. After everyone had recovered, we went on our way.

“So where are we going?” I said.

“Let me think for a moment,” mused Eliza. We waited five minutes for her to think.

“You don’t know this level, do you?” said Shaul. “You’ve never even been down here.”

“Well…” Eliza said.

“I rest my case,” Shaul said. He addressed Eliza: “So why are we down here at all?”

“Well,” said Eliza, looking around her as if she was just beginning to realize that we were many human beings and she was just one, “I wanted to show you all who was right.”

A collective groan.

“I agree with you,” said Eliza. “I am right. These two levels have proved it.”

“Only one level left, right, Mother?” I said.

Eliza reverted to her dictatorial self: “Fucking mothers! I’ve never even seen one! But now I’m in a group with at least two of them! They’re so disgusting! Babies coming out of vaginas. Is that sexy, I ask? Will that earn you sex?”

“Maybe sex isn’t the most important thing in life,” I suggested.

“Shut up, mini-me!” she said.

“No,” I said.

“Whatever,” she said. “We just have to get to the next level. The next level is the last level.”

“Oooh,” said Clarissa. “What’s there?”

“You’re not my grandmother, you whore,” said Eliza.

“Hmmm,” said Clarissa.

“Yeah, I’m more likely to be a whore than you,” I said to Eliza. “My predecessor.”

“Don’t go pulling rank on me, vagina,” said Eliza. “We haven’t switched…yet.”

“Ooh, sinister,” I said.

“By the way,” inserted Orgasm, “why did you declare a double sex day yesterday?”

“Didn’t you hear in chapel?” Eliza said. “Because of the new moon.”

“What are you, a pagan?” I said.

“Sometimes,” Eliza admitted. “But you know, mini-me, I was raised on the first level, the level closest to the ground. I still maintain some traces of the old religions. I have come to appreciate what is mentioned in The Book of Lies.”

“Which is?” I pressed.

“Go look it up yourself, little girl,” she sniffled.

“Fine,” I said. I took out my iPad.

“No internet here, dope,” Eliza said.

“Oh,” I said. “Right.”

“So how are we getting down to the last level?” said Jimmy.

“Your Hotness!” exclaimed Eliza. “So long since we last have talked!”

“Careful, he’s mine,” warned Clarissa.

“You forgot, I’m omniscient,” I said.

“Stop mocking me!” screamed Eliza.

“Shut up, everyone,” said Neelee. “How do we get to the next level?”

“There’s a map in the woods, somewhere,” said Eliza, and then she lapsed into muttering random things.

“Where is it?” said Charles.

“I don’t talk to little boys,” Eliza said.

“So?” I prompted.

“There’s a map somewhere,” Eliza muttered.

“So let’s split up,” said Shaul.

“I don’t get ordered what to do by rabbis!” Eliza screamed. She stopped screaming as soon as she noticed it wasn’t having an effect on Shaul.

I promptly stole her gun from her.

“Fucking!” Eliza screamed. “No, wait, I have a better gun in my pocket. Give me the gun.”

I obliged.

“Not! Hahahahah!”

“So where’s the map?” I said.

“One second,” said Eliza. She spat on her finger and began turning around rapidly, pointing in various directions. “Okay, it’s here,” she finally said, pointing to the woods.

“I thought you said that’s where the map is hidden,” I said.

“Mini-me!” she shouted and smiled. “Who can resist you? Okay. Fine. That’s where both things are located, okay?”

“Okay,” I said.

She nodded and headed toward the woods. We followed her.

“I’m scared!” said Charles. “Has anybody ever seen The Blair Witch Project?”

We all shook our heads. “What are you afraid of?” asked Eliza. I, personally, was amazed at this gesture of generosity. But she still can have any man she wants, I thought. So therefore she’s still my enemy.

“I’m scared of dead people,” Charles said.

“You could dress like me,” James offered. We all stared at him, with his black makeup, multiple tattoos and holes in various parts of his face. He wasn’t fazed, and went on: “I could teach you to act like a dead person, so you can be one of them and not be afraid.”

“But I don’t want to be part of them,” Charles said.

We were ten feet from the woods. Charles stopped walking and said, “Ahhhhh!”

“Just follow me,” I whispered to him. “I’m omniscient, so I can detect the dangers before they happen.”

“Okay,” he whimpered.

“Let us proceed, then,” said Eliza. “Everyone look around for a bigger-than-normal pile of dirt, and once you find it, start digging.”

We searched and searched (except for Charles, of course, who was whimpering like a puppy). Finally, something happened: we saw the shadows of very large creatures up ahead.

“My G-d, it’s a Stegosaurus!” said Clarissa.

“Correct,” smirked Eliza.

“Why did you make them?”

“To protect the entrance to the final level, right?” I said.

“Obviously,” Eliza smirked again. “But we also made them to protect us from the…” and a loud roar punctuated her words, coming closer. “We’d better be off,” Eliza said.

“What was that?” Joshua said.

“A T-Rex, of course,” said Eliza. I was starting to envy her for her knowledge.

“I’ve never heard one before,” Joshua said.

“Obviously,” said Eliza. She drummed her fingers on her leg.

“Can we go see it? Please? Pretty please?”

“No,” said Eliza.

“Yes,” I said, purely to counter Eliza.

“Which twin should I follow?” asked Joshua.

“We’re not twins, motherfucker!” I screamed at him. “I’m younger!” Eliza frowned at that comment.

The T-Rex’s roar was advancing on our position. “We’d better leave now, again,” I said.

A few seconds passed. “No? Follow mini-me!” Eliza said.

We rapidly advanced toward a huge brown pile of dirt.

“So this is it?” I said.

“Correct,” said Eliza. “Everyone start digging.” There were several shovels in random places near the pile.

The T-Rex was very close. “Everyone, dig!” shouted Eliza. “What are you waiting for?”

Suddenly a huge green razor-blade of a leg spiraled my way. “It’s already disabled one of them!” Eliza shouted.

“Use your Orgasm Inducer!” I shouted back.

“Good idea, I hadn’t thought of that!” she said. “Okay, here we go!” and she pointed the gun at the tyrannosaurus. “I can’t get a clear shot!”

“Here, let me,” I said, and jumped onto another leg of the stegosaurus. I held onto one if his (I could see) spikes for dear life, and it was more terrifying than a roller-coaster or a plane flying through a storm. The stegosaurus tried to kick me off itself as one kicks a soccer ball. Back and forth for what seemed like an eternity.

“Okay, I have a clear shot!” said Eliza. “Firing! Oh, no! Ah, shit! Look out!” The disabled stegosaurus fell and missed me by inches. Unfortunately, it landed square on my ride. My stegosaurus let out a huge bellow and tried to move away.

It was mostly successful.

I shot my gun at random. “Aaaahhhhh!” I cried, my life flashing before my eyes as the orgasm-induced T-Rex fell down on me.

Blood spurted everywhere as the T-Rex came into contact with the stegosaurus’s spikes. The stegosaurus/my ride didn’t move, though. It just stood there and let the T-Rex gore itself on him and then slide to the ground. I swear that as the T-Rex expired, its eyes told me, “I taste like chicken” and “My great-great grandchild will be your pet bird.” It won my sympathy. I smiled at it and it closed its eyes, as if falling into a deep sleep.

“Fuckit,” said Eliza. “We need to finish our shoveling. So everyone’s okay?”

“Excuse me, Eliza, but how did you become so caring?” queried Jimmy.

“None of your business,” she said. “Well, never mind. Forget what I said. Here’s the answer: I grew up in the two levels that you’ve been to. But upon my assuming my status as The One Vagina (as rightful heir, of course), I discontinued my contact with humans, except with the governors, of course.”

“What do you mean?” said Orgasm.

“Ah, my little Orgasm,” Eliza said. “Soon you will become a stud. I can’t wait. Cannot wait. Speaking of which, where is our little Hannah?”

“Not so little, m’lady,” Hannah said. “Just a bit of eavesdropping.”

“Do you think eavesdropping will get you far in a place like this?” Eliza said and gestured all around her. “Well, it will!”

“Speaking of missing children, what the fuck happened to Sarah?” Clarissa said.

We all waited a few seconds for Sarah to appear from behind a tree. Nothing happened.

“Sarah!” Clarissa called.

“Stupid Grandma,” Eliza said. “Even though you’re not really my Grandma. Anyway, don’t shout because it’ll attract another T-Rex!”

“Right,” Clarissa said quietly.

We continued digging, although the four grandparents didn’t do much. Their backs is what they said.

Suddenly, I heard Sarah’s voice. “Hello down there? Can you hear me?”

The voice was coming from the sky. I thought I was going skitzo for a second but then I saw that everyone else was also hearing it.

“What is that?” Neelee said.

“The sound of your death,” came a sinister voice from above. We all began screaming.

“Sorry, wrong setting,” Sarah said.

“It’s really you, then, huh,” said Jimmy. He scratched his head. “What are you doing up there?”

“I’m not up there, sweet Grandpa,” she said. “I’m currently at a workstation.”

“So you’re back in our time!” exclaimed Clarissa.

“Correct,” she said. “Have you ever seen the movie ‘The Matrix?’”

“No,” said Grandma.

“Well, the thirty-year time-difference between us doesn’t necessarily preclude communication.”

“You’re speaking nerdish, honey, I can’t understand you,” said Clarissa.

“So basically I’m a computer hacker and I’ve hidden it from you guys. Ever since I was a baby I could code, but I didn’t have the ability to control my fingers until I was three. I’m better even than Orgasm, and he’s thirty years ahead of me.”

“So why didn’t you show yourself earlier?” Orgasm asked.

“I figured Orgasm and Delmon could take care of everything without me,” Sarah said. “And they have.”

“Where’s Delmon?” I asked.

“Why do you care?” Sarah snarled. Then she took a deep breath, which sounded like a thunder crack. “Sorry I got angry,” she said. “I forgot that we’re friends now.”

“Don’t worry,” I said. “I still hate you, too.”

“But she was in the right and you were in the wrong,” Clarissa pointed out.

“Whatever,” I said. “So do you have something to say to us, Sarah? Or are you just fucking around.”

“Bully, you don’t faze me, you cretin,” she said.

“Ooh, big word,” I spat.

“Okay, everyone,” Sarah said, “start digging.”

“We know that, sky-girl,” I said.

“No, wait,” said Sarah, “everyone disable The One Vagina!”

We all jumped on her like a bunch of football players would jump on a receiver. Her muffled voice came from the center of the pile: “Not fair! Not fair! My hip! Ouch!”

“How is it not fair?” cooed Sarah from the skies.

“You have x-ray vision or whatever it is!”

“I will not offer a response,” said Sarah.

“What was really hidden under that big pile of dirt?” I said as everyone tried to extricate themselves from the pile of humans.

“A bunch of horse shit and a device that kills everyone but the wearer.”

“Wow, what a liar,” I said, turning to the prone figure on the ground who resembled me.

“MmmAhhhh!” said my future.

How do I not become like her? I thought.

“I’ve found the entrance to the third level,” Sarah reported. “But the key is in The One Vagina’s vagina.”

“Of course,” I muttered. I did the deed above her screams and presented the key to Clarissa.

“You still friends with her?” she asked.

“Not anymore,” I said. “This is the last straw. Want to go first?”

“Why thank you!” Clarissa said. “But since this is a patriarchal society, let’s ask Jimmy to do it.”

“Fucking ‘b’s and ‘h’s,” Jimmy said. “Women getting on my nerves.”

“Want me to make you some eggs, just the way you like it?” Clarissa simpered.

“That is not a good look for you,” Jimmy said, turning his face away from his wife.

Clarissa opened the passageway. Instantly there was a loud series of bangs. We cowered as a few hundred bats flew out of the darkness and into the day.

“What the fuck!” I screamed. “There’s poop in my hair!”

“You know, people eat that stuff,” Kevin said.

I don’t!” I screamed, causing some poop to migrate down my face and into my mouth. “Aaahhhhhhhh!” I screamed.

Finally the bats ceased their stampede and we were able to enter the tunnel.

“Ahh smells like poop!” I exclaimed.

“Aah!” screamed Eliza, who was currently bound to an impromptu stretcher.

“You really are sisters,” commented Jimmy.

We reached a fork in the tunnel. “Sarah?” Clarissa called.

No response.

“Fuckit, there’s got to be some kryptonite or lead or some shit in this tunnel so we can’t get through to her,” Clarissa said.

“Seems logical,” said Jimmy.

“Like, duh,” I said.

“So which one do we choose?” asked Shaul.

“Well, you’re the rabbi, you tell us!” Neelee said.

“Patriarchal, indeed,” Shaul stated. “Fine, then. Half of us take one path, and half of us take the other. Let’s see.” He took a few steps down the right-hand path. “Smells like chicken.” He then came back and walked a few paces down the left-hand path. “To say what it smells like down here would be inappropriate,” he said.

“Then how about the boys go left, and the girls go right?” Clarissa suggested.

“Hopefully we all like chicken,” I said.

“Oh, very funny, mini-me!” shouted our captive. “I piss on you!”

She started urinating. James put a gag in her mouth. “Anyone have a diaper?” he said. Everyone shook their heads.

“Okay, onward,” I said. “Ready, girls?”

“Ready,” said Clarissa.

“Ready,” said Neelee.

“Ready,” I said.

“Ready,” Rachel said.

“Ready!” Sexy said.

“Mmmm,” said Eliza through her gag.

“You think she’s warning us of something?” I said.

“Whatever, she would lie again so leave her be,” said Clarissa.

“Okay, bye boys!” I said as the rest of the girls and I started down our path. “Chicken, here we come!” I looked over at the boys as they faded away over my shoulder. They seemed to be laughing at something…was it a joke somebody told? I shrugged and continued down the tunnel.

 

 

“They have no idea of what they’re in for,” said Orgasm.

“Yup,” I confirmed.

“What?” said Charles.

“They are on their way to a very bad place,” Orgasm said.

“We’ll tell you about it later,” I said.

“Where are we going?” said James.

“Probably another bad place,” said Orgasm.

“Uh, why?” cried Charles.

“Hey, how come Orgasm knows all the answers?” said Delmon. Nobody answered him.

“So we’re going down to some sort of sex boutique, correct?” I said to Orgasm.

Orgasm smirked. “You wish you knew.”

“How do you know?” said Delmon.

“I looked at the schematics,” Orgasm said, still smirking.

We emerged into a beautiful field filled with huge yellow daisies. The sun was peeking from behind some fluffy white clouds, giving the scene a distinct glow. “Wow,” Orgasm breathed. “This is quite nice!”

“Is there any food here?”

“No, Kevin,” I said, “but I’ll tell you the next time I see a basketball court.”

“I’ve never learned basketball,” he said. We all stared at him. “My mom thought it was too dangerous.”

We all began to cry. Then, we saw something.

“Wow, who is that?” said Delmon, the first time he said anything all day. He looked at Orgasm, but Orgasm was silent.

They approached us, holding hands. One woman and one man. They had girdles made of fig leaves.

“Oh, my, G-d,” I whispered.

“Yup, it’s Adam and Eve,” Orgasm said. “Never expected this, did you?”

Adam said something unintelligible. Orgasm translated: “He says, who are all of you.” And at that moment, Eve hid behind Adam.

“Who are these weirdos?” I said. “Adam and Eve both died thousands of years ago.”

Orgasm stared at me.

“No,” I said. “It couldn’t possibly be…”

Orgasm nodded.

“What the fuck,” I shouted, causing Adam and Eve to retreat a few paces.

“What is it?” said Charles. I just shook my head.

Orgasm said one word: “Clones.”

“They broke into the tomb of the patriarchs and took DNA samples,” I said.

“Fucking…” said James.

“Fucking is right,” I said.

Orgasm said: “I’m turning on the translator now, so watch your mouths. Who wants to go first?”

“What do you mean,” I said.

“Well, everyone gets personalized experiences,” said Orgasm cheerfully. “Remember, Adam and Eve were prophets. Think of them as mediums, except as mediums to G-d. So, who wants to go first?”

“Me!” said Charles.

We’ll see if he can be made happy, I thought.

Adam, Eve and Charles walked off to a secluded little spot where the woods began. They were there for about five minutes, and then Charles came back with a puzzled look on his face.

“What is it?” I asked him.

“Well, they told me something that didn’t make sense,” he said.

“What?” I said.

“Not allowed to tell,” he said, and a shadow of a smirk crossed his face. Wow, I thought.

“Me next!” I shouted, and walked to the meeting site.

“Ah, you are an elder one,” said Adam sagely. “You are the leader—I can feel it in you.”

Yes, I think impatiently, but I am too afraid to insult the world’s first human.

“I can see the impatience in you,” Adam said. “It reminds me of when Eve and I ate the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. I was so impatient to know more that I didn’t think of caution. I didn’t think of G-d. I didn’t think of the consequences. I didn’t plan ahead.”

“Okay, that’s enough, dear,” said Eve.

“Not yet, sweetness,” said Adam. He turned back to me: “You are prepared. You have come most of the way back to Eden. That’s why your body is still so young.”

“And I assume I can’t tell anyone this?” I said.

“Stupid grandchild,” Adam said. “You do this yourself and you assume no one else knows of it? There are many others like you.”

“Just joking,” I said. Adam wasn’t impressed

“Talk to him while I ruminate,” said Adam to his wife.

“Umm, okay!” said Eve. “So, have you ever had sex with a snake?”

“Depends what kind of snake,” I offered.

“Ooh, nice, I like arrogance,” she said, and twirled her body so I could see it from every angle. “You know, I’ve only had three kids. I can still be sexy when I want.”

So the world’s first woman was flirting with me? Fuck off, bitch, I’m taken, I thought. But I answered her with respect: “Excuse me, lady,” I said, “I’m not used to being talked to like that. Plus, you’re my great grandmother.”

“Oh, many more greats than that, my dear,” she said. “It’s just that I don’t have many people to flirt with, anymore.”

“What are you talking about?” I said.

“Well, you know, those Nephilim, you know the fallen angels?” she asked me. I nodded to show her that I understood. “Anyway,” she continued, “I did…stuff, with them. So now there are all these half-angel half-human critters flying around! Haha!”

I laughed with her to show her I understood, then said: “you had three children. What were their names?”

“Well, first, we had Cain. Then we had Abel. But then Cain killed Abel,” and at that she sniffled. “Ah, where was I?”

“Cain killed Abel,” I prompted.

“Ah, yes,” she said. “And then his children were all wiped out in the flood.”

“Good,” I remarked, “but how do you know all this? I thought you died before Noah was born!”

“Memory is stored in DNA,” Eve stated. “My dead body recorded the information. And the DNA in my body never broke down.”

“But what does that mean?” I said.

“It means I’m not the real Eve, though I have all of her DNA,” she said. “I have her memories, though. As well as my own memories, of course. Including right after Adam and I were born and you hid us here.”

“No,” I said to myself, “it can’t be.”

“You mean that they broke into my grave? Of course they did. That was in the Post-Religion era. The Bible had already begun to be called ‘The Book of Lies.’ There was no more religion, only sexual chaos.”

“No married people?” I asked. “I couldn’t have survived that.”

“You know, Jimmy, I have read your book,” said Eve. “The one you haven’t written yet.”

“Not supposed to tell him about that, honey!” said Adam, concealed in some trees behind Eve.

“Whatever,” Eve shrugged. “Adam thinks he’s still in paradise.”

“I am,” he said. “As it says, ‘the righteous people are already in The Garden of Eden.’”

“Where does it say that?” Eve asked. Adam shrugged.

“It does say that,” I said.

“No one was doubting,” said Eve.

“Okay, no more religious wars,” said Shaul.

Obviously,” said Eve.

“Hey, you know what, Eve?” I said. “I think you and I have a lot in common.”

“Really? How so?” she asked.

“My wife sounds like you,” I said.

“Really? Does that mean you can fuck me?”

“Now, Eve, dear,” came Adam’s voice from the bushes, “you know that we’re supposed to follow the book.”

“I haven’t read it!” Eve screamed in delight.

“But you will come thirty years from now,” I said.

“Why?” pouted Eve.

“Because if you don’t, I’m going to come back here and beat you to a bloody pulp,” I said.

“He doesn’t mean it,” Adam called.

“Oh, yes I do!” I exclaimed, and held up both fists. “Try me!”

“No, thanks, I’ve already had three kids, and each of those was like a soccer ball forcing its way through my vagina,” she said.

“I wasn’t flirting with you!” I said.

“One thing I’ve learned as a human being instead of being just a little dust of starlight inside G-d’s eye is that any time a woman and a man are talking, there is at least some level of flirtatiousness going on in there.”

“In where?” I said.

Eve rolled her eyes. “Not going to make me cum,” she said.

“Through laughter? Of course not,” I said.

“You know, there were studies…” said Eve.

“Stay on topic!” roared Adam.

“Okay, okay,” she said. “We currently live in the era where women are not let off of their leashes.”

“There is only one woman!” shouted Adam. “And that is you!”

“Stupid husband,” Eve whispered so her husband couldn’t hear.

“He’s just frustrated,” I said. “He’s never gotten over the fact that G-d kicked him out.”

“How do you know that?” Eve said, raising one eyebrow.

“Um, hello, The Book of Lies, as you guys like to call it,” I said.

“I’ve never read that before,” Eve said. “I’ve got to learn how to read.”

 

——

 

“If you were still immortal, you could wait a couple of millennia for it to be transferred from G-d to Moses,” I said.

“Don’t remind me,” she said.

“I’m back,” Adam announced.

“No kidding,” said Eve.

“I will bless you now,” said Adam. He put his hands on my head. I protested, but his hands were strong from the years working in the fields, raising crops.

“Stop fidgeting and let me bless you!” yelled Adam.

“What’s the blessing?” I shouted back over Eve’s tsking.

“Lots of children!” said Adam.

“Noooo!” I wailed.

“Why do you cry so?” said Adam.

Just that moment there was a rustling of leaves. “The first question anyone should ask is, Why are you not naked, my son?”

“It’s G-d!” Adam whispered.

“I know!” I whispered back.

“You sound like you’re well-schooled in this Book of Lies business!” whispered Adam.

G-d yawned (of course, I had never imagined that he could do that).

“I can do anything, silly boy,” G-d said. His voice was a gurgling brook, forever fresh and young. “And speaking of boys, could you please tell me, Jimmy, why you do not want to have more children?”

“I thought you knew already?” I said.

“True, my son, but do keep in mind, this encounter is being recorded for posterity to learn from.”

“Cummon, let’s get out of here,” Adam whispered, tugging on my arm. “G-d’s boring.”

“Am not,” said G-d.

“Ughh, I have to sit through that never-ending Saturday morning service! Adam said.

“At least you only have three prayer-services per day!” said G-d.

“Did we also clone G-d?” I whispered to Adam.

“No,” said G-d.

“Stay out of this!” I said.

“We did not clone G-d, no,” Adam said.

I searched frantically in my head for something that I had always wanted to ask G-d.

“Why’s the sky blue?” I blurted.

“Aw, comeon, even your friend Adam could answer that,” G-d said.

“Fine!” I said, my entire body twitching from the sound of G-d’s voice, even though it was so soft. “Is evolution true?”

“I get that one so often!” G-d crowed. Adam raised an eyebrow. “Okay, okay, I’ll get to the point. And the point is, why can’t both opinions be true at once?”

Adam began to laugh hysterically.

“What?” shouted G-d. “What are you laughing at?”

Adam just shook his head, covered his mouth with his hand and made gagging sounds.

“At least he shows a modicum of respect,” G-d said while motioning to me. He threw a couple of sizzling lightening bolts at Adam, missing him each time by inches. “Now what do you think?” challenged G-d. “Huh? Huh? Am I boring now?”

Adam now had tears running down his eyes. He nodded his head “yes”.

“Whatever,” G-d shrugged. He turned to me: “Anyway, why no more children? Aside from the fact that your only child turned out to be a monster rapist.”

“Fuck you,” I whispered.

“Hey, you gotta face your own situation,” said G-d. “Man, I love knowing everything!”

“It’s called being omnipotent,” said Adam.

“Shut up!” G-d growled, and suddenly Adam didn’t have a mouth. Adam struggled against himself and emitted a few pitiful “mmm”s. “Fuck, yeah!” said G-d.

“Eve!” G-d shouted.

“What!” Eve said.

“Come here!”

“Okay,” Eve said. She hefted up her girdle and started walking towards us.

“Now look,” said G-d as Eve came into view. Eve’s body had changed: her face was slimmer, breasts were higher and more firm, and her body was thinner and she had a six-pack. “Ah, now that’s what I like,” said G-d.

“What are you—” started Eve, and then she saw where our gazes were pointing. “Aaaahhhhh!” she started screaming.

“Thought you would like it,” smirked G-d, who had changed his own appearance into that of a woman. A woman wearing black pants and a power suit.

“Aaahhhh!” Eve continued to scream.

“I merged her appearance with that of a porn star,” said G-d. “You like it?”

“Your appearance as a woman is making me uncomfortable,” I said.

“Why?” G-d sneered.

“I just always envisioned G-d as someone I could fuck,” I said.

“You have such a dirty mind!” G-d shrieked.

Taking his cue, Adam said: “Which porn star?”

“I dunno,” G-d smirked. “I just chose someone at random.”

“From my era,” I pointed out.

“Yeah, you got a problem with that?”

“Well,” Adam said, “if you could make me—”

“No,” G-d stated as he changed appearance from a power suited woman into a short green bug-eyed alien.

“What are you trying to say, G-d?” said Adam.

“Heh, you figure it out,” said G-d. “Anyhow,” said the green alien, “do you think life on our planet could have been seeded from other worlds?”

“How is this relevant?” I said.

“Well, that’s what you’re thinking now, that I am not competent enough to have started this operation. Well, I did start life on this planet.” He switched to his original appearance and then back to the green alien. “Whether or not it started on this planet is for you guys to find out.”

“Well, G-d, you certainly sound a lot more competent now than you did a minute ago,” I said.

“Thanks,” G-d said. “Thanks very much, actually.”

“Why?” Adam asked.

G-d turned back to Adam and stared at him for a long time. Then he finally said, “It was to make you happy.”

“Happy? Me?” Adam said.

G-d merely said nothing and continued to gaze at Adam.

I suddenly had a stroke of inspiration. “G-d,” I asked—his gaze narrowed but his eyes didn’t leave Adam’s. I modified my tune: “Most glorious and exalted G-d,” I said, and G-d’s gaze relaxed as he turned to me, and he smiled. “To be happy,” he said, grinning at me. Adam seemed to be frozen in a ridiculous position with a smile on his face (he had regained use of his mouth).

“G-d, it looks like he’s playing Twister!” I said.

“You think I didn’t know that?” G-d said, his eyes narrowing again.

I sighed. “What I meant to say, G-d, was that that’s not such a dignified position to leave your first human in.”

“No, really?” G-d laughed. “He doesn’t mind, because for him time isn’t flowing.”

“Of course he minds!” I sputtered.

“Heh,” G-d said.

“So why?” I pressed.

“So he, and also you, can see.”

“See what?”

“Impatient boy,” he said. “So you can see that it’s all for you. For happiness.”

“Hitler was happy, wasn’t he?” I said. “And he was evil.”

“The whole question of evil,” G-d said. “You know I can’t answer that one. But I can tell you this: Adam is happy. In fact, here’s the phone to his soul—” and he handed me a receiver.

“Hey, this has got to be ten years old!” I protested.

“Old phone for an old soul,” G-d said. I pouted (something I learned from my granddaughter). “Fine, fine! Apple or Android?”

“Whatever, I’ll just use this one,” I muttered.

I hefted the device up to my ear: “Hello? Adam?” I said.

“Got to punch the number,” G-d said. “Here—give it to me.”

“No!” I said and moved the phone out of G-d’s reach. “I think I know his number.”

G-d folded his arms as he watched me.

“Okay,” I said to myself. “It must be…1-800-ADAM EVE.”

“Ha!” laughed G-d before I even pressed the “send” button.

“Then what is it?” I said, my patience running thin.

“1-800-FUCK ME2,” G-d said.

“G-d, you dirty!” I exclaimed.

“You know, every human experience has its counterpart in the heavens,” G-d said.

“Okay,” I said.

“Okay, so dial the number,” G-d said.

I dialed the number.

“Hello?” said a weary-sounding old man.

“Hi, ahem, is this Adam?”

“Adam’s soul,” the old voice corrected.

“So how’s being frozen in time?” I said.

“I wouldn’t know,” the voice said.

“What do you know?” I asked.

“You know, emotion, spirituality, purpose. That’s what I am.”

“Wow, pretty cool, huh, G-d?” I said.

But G-d was gone.

 

Eliza:

My mouth was watering so much. I could have watered a herd of camels.

The smell grew stronger the longer we ventured down the path. Every so often we passed a lantern beside a door. The doors were all locked.

“Too fucking bad we can’t see what’s inside of those,” I commented. I got a few grunts.

“Why do you like swearing?” said Rachel.

I let that question go unanswered.

“Wow, mmm, fried chicken,” said Clarissa.

“Really? I think it smells like rotisserie,” Sarah said.

“Well, that’s your favorite, honey, so of course you think that,” said Clarissa.

“No, really!” insisted Sarah.

“I think it smells like grilled tofu,” said I.

“That makes sense, dear, since you’re a vegetarian.”

“You sound like you already know this place,” I said.

“Rightly so,” Clarissa said. “At least, after I started studying seriously. This place is the Gateway to Heaven.”

“How do you know?” I said.

“Well, manna came from heaven to feed the Jews while they were in the desert. And manna tastes like your favorite food. So there you have it.”

“I don’t like chicken,” Sarah said.

“Honey, what is the form of chicken you least detest?”

Sarah became thoughtful.

“Thought so,” said Clarissa.

“You’ve been here, haven’t you?” I said.

“It’ll take a while to explain,” said Clarissa, who was holding up her hand and pointing to the ever-brightening light up again.

“Enlighten us, please.”

“So I had this near-death experience,” Clarissa said.

“Oh, everybody knows those are just random brain waves doing weird stuff do your brain,” said Neelee.

“Excuse me,” said Clarissa.

“Heh, only excuse you,” said Neelee.

“Okay, motherfuckers,” I said, “what is this, a motherfucking grandma fight? Cool down!”

“Stay out of it!” Clarissa snapped.

“Stay away from my children!” Neelee said.

“You stay away from mine!”

Then they both broke down sobbing and landed in each-others’ arms.

“Darn, I wanted to hear about her experience,” said Rachel.

“Use ‘damn,’ not ‘darn,’” I said.

“And use ‘ho’ to describe yourself, not ‘bitch,’” Rachel said.

“Fighting over Jimmy again,” Clarissa said in a stage-whisper. “Too bad he’s mine.” Rachel and I landed in each-other’s arms.

“So, fucking…what is this place?” I said as we emerged from the darkness into the blinding glare of hi-beams. Or so it seemed.

Clarissa shielded her eyes. “Uggh,” she groaned.

“It’s okay, I grew up in a cave,” Neelee said.

“Really?” Rachel said through the hat of a baseball cap she was using to cover her face.

“Yeah!” Neelee said. “I’m BatGirl! But all I see is chickens!”

“Uh, what?” Clarissa said.

“I said, all I see is chickens!”

It was then that my eyes began to clear. And, true to Neelee’s word, all I saw was chickens. “So what fucking place is this?” I said.

“You said that already,” said Clarissa.

I pointed to the far end of the room (which stretched on for acres and acres). Clarissa covered her mouth and gasped. “What is that?” she said. And then, “how did you know?”

“Because it smells horrible?” I suggested.

“Honey, please don’t use that tone with me,” she said.

“My gosh,” Neelee said, tears streaming down her face. Rachel was stricken with similar symptoms.

Thousands of chickens were lined up inside a pen. THere was no place for them to move. Some of them were eating some others. Every ten minutes there was an alarm, and someone drove with a custom-made lawnmover which was really a chicken-mower. The chickens, breaking various bones in the process, were sucked up by the mower and through a chute until they went God-knows-where. They were probably shot.

“Gross,” I said, covering my nose with a handkerchief my sister lent me.

“Wherefore all this slaughter?” inquired Hannah, who was also covering her nose.

“If you need to barf, girls, I’ve brought bags,” said Clarissa.

“Oh, how sweet.”

“Shut up, Eliza!” screamed Grandma. “Oops, sorry! It must be this grisley scene.” Grandma sniffed.

“Enough,” I announced. “Let’s go kill that guy.”

“But he’s two miles away!” protested Neelee.

“Indeed,” came a voice that seemed to be coming from all directions at once.

“G-d?” Hannah whispered.

“Now don’t be foolish, sister, everybody knows there’s no god,” I said.

“Not me,” whispered Hannah. She prostrated herself on the ground.

“See what my servant Hannah is doing?” shouted the figure off in the distance. “She willingly serves me from her own kindness and love. And no, this is not G-d. This is G-d’s voice, toned down a little so you won’t die. Those Israelites had it bad—after dying twice, they had me speak my third commandment through Moses. And that body you see standing up on that yonder platform? That’s one of my angels.”

“Wow,” I breathed. “What’s his name?”

“That’s not for you to know,” said G-d.

“Grandma, G-d’s mean!” I pouted.

“I never said I was all good,” G-d said.

“Fuck you,” I spat.

“Impossible,” G-d smirked. “You know, you have a pretty big ego for a seventeen-year-old.”

“Prude.”

“I’m older than you, you know. And Clarissa, you are so not going to write a childrens’ book called ‘One Little Chicken.’“

“But I’m a vegetarian!”

“You weren’t always,” said G-d.

“Hmm, fuck you, I guess,” Clarissa said.

“Girl, I was the one who shaped your tits,” G-d said. “And how do you pay me back?”

“I pray three times a day,” Clarissa whimpered.

“Oh, right,” said G-d, sheepishly. “Sorry. But you still shake your ass back and forth when you walk.”

“What do you want, I learned it in seventh grade and never unlearned it. You know, these things take time.”

You presume to lecture me on time?”

“Sorry!” Clarissa cried. Her face was unrecognizable to me.

“Yes, Eliza. Watch and learn. Your child will need you to apply this technique many, many times.”

I buried my face in my hands. His voice echoing in my ears was my own voice. He, or his angel, spoke a little more on the baritone end, but it was still my voice. “Like it?” asked G-d in my head. I let out a scream. “Don’t worry, you’re not going schizophrenic,” G-d sneered. “At least, not yet.”

“What’s wrong, my sweet?” shouted Grandma.

“Oh, nothing,” I heard my own voice say. But it wasn’t me.

Let me out!” I begged the presence in my mind.

“No!” he returned with glee. “I’ve been waiting so long to do this.”

“Eliza, honey?” approached Neelee. “What are you thinking?”

I tried to talk but no voice came from my mouth. Finally, the bound and gagged Eliza started screaming. And because she was screaming so hard, she started to cough.

I finally gained back control from G-d.

“Unbind her,” I told my grandmother.

“Yes, mistress,” she said. “Anything to drink?”

“Fucking low class piece of shit,” I said. “I’ll never raise your wages.”

“You want semen with that?”

Eliza was continuing to scream. “Just un-gag her, will ya?” I said.

G-d snapped his fingers and suddenly Eliza was standing up, ungagged. “Wow,” I remarked. “She even looks like she just took a shower.”

“She smells like it, too,” said Clarissa, who was standing nearer Eliza than I was.

Don’t worry, I didn’t peek. Even if I seem like the type who would.

Eliza took off her own gag. “Man, that was horrible.”

“The One Vagina, showing weakness?” I teased.

“Keep in mind that you’re The One Vagina as well,” she said. “Anyway. ‘So why is the price of sperm so cheap?’”

“Why,” I said.

“Because they’re volunteers! We pay them practically nothing!”

“How much.”

“Ten dollars an hour!” The One Vagina crowed. “We don’t have to give them any benefits like vacation, healthcare, vision, dental, nothing! Isn’t that amazing?”

I just stared at her.

“Honey,” she began—

Jimmy cut in: “How do they accept such a job?”

Eliza shrugged. “I don’t know.”

“It’s because they all get to have sex with her before they enter bondage,” I said.

Eliza’s eyebrows narrowed. “How did you know that?”

“Orgasm told me that,” I lied.

“And why would he tell you that?” Eliza said menacingly.

“Um,” I said…

Clarissa stepped in: “I saw her talking to one of the sex workers on our way here.”

“Wow, you must really hate me,” I snapped at her. “And besides, you’re a liar.”

“Really?” she said.

“Okay, no catfights,” The One Vagina stepped in.

“Yeah, cause you end all fights with an orgasm gun and prison.”

Eliza shrugged. “It’s for the good of society, you know,” she said. “Anyone rebelling against the common good is an enemy.” She giggled and said, “As well as anyone who refuses sex with me.”

My interest was piqued. “When can I try this One Vagina thing out?”

“When you’re older, honey,” said Clarissa.

“What, seventeen isn’t old enough? I mean, I’ll share the fucking—didn’t I offer the position of First Priestess to my sister?”

“She’s underage,” said Clarissa, pointing at my sister, who was pushing five feet.

“Maybe she lied on her birth certificate!”

“She’s not a baseball player.”

“I am a full ten years old, thank thee very much. What were thine people talking about?”

“It’s of no moment,” said Clarissa before I could utter a word.

“We were talking about sex,” I said.

Hannah screwed up her face. “I have heard that word before, but only from the mouths of older children.”

“Do you consider yourself a teenager?”

“What is a teenager,” Hannah said.

“What, you didn’t know what that means?” I teased.

“Don’t tease her,” said Clarissa.

“I know that a ‘teen’ is a type of bug, and an ‘ager’ in all cases should mean an aged person.”

“Ha!” I said. “You’re twelve, right? The year before teendom!”

“Actually, I’m only nine years old,” she said politely.

“Oops,” said Clarissa.

“What is ‘oops,’” Hannah inquired.

“I’m sorry I teased you,” I said, drawing in a deep breath. “Two years really does make a big difference.”

“Especially when you’re young,” piped in Hannah.

“So you do know about sex,” I exclaimed.

“How do you spell that?”

“She doesn’t know,” said Clarissa.

“Grandma, you stay out of it!” I snapped.

“Respect your elders!” roared Neelee.

“Other grandma, shut up!” I said. “And respect your minors!”

“You’re actually not related to me,” said Neelee.

“So anyway,” said G-d, “you’re in hell now.”

I panicked and looked around, trying to find the source of the voice that came from everywhere at once.

“That’s right, bitch, you can’t find me,” said G-d. “I don’t like bitches. Or hoes. That’s why I’m male.”

“That’s not true,” Clarissa exploded. “I—” she continued, and her mouth ceased to exist.

“Ha!” crowed G-d. “How do you like that? So anyway, this place is hell.”

“But I’m a vegan!” I said.

“You’re going to ruin the surprise!” shouted G-d. I saw that he was getting ready to snap his fingers.

“No!” I shouted. G-d hesitated, and then shook it off. “What the fuck,” he muttered, and finished the snap.

I found myself suddenly very cold. It was pitch black. “Let yourself adjust to it slowly,” somebody said. I followed the directive and shut my eyes, breathing deeply. “This is like yoga,” I commented. “Except it’s very cold.”

“Shhh, don’t talk too loudly,” said the voice whispered. “G-d might find out and give me a demotion.”

“Where would you go then?”

“Shhh!” the voice whispered again, this time more loudly. “To hell, of course.”

“I just came from—”

“Shhh!” said the voice. Suddenly she became visible. She seemed to be made up of dirty tires, shock-absorbers and mainframes. “Are you a dump?” I said.

“Darn it,” the abstraction said. “He makes me into something different every time.”

“G-d, of course,” I said.

“Of course,” the pile of garbage said while appearing to move its mouth. “And don’t stare.”

“Sorry,” I said, and looked away.

“Ah, that’s better,” she said.

“So what am I doing here?” I said, shivering harder.

“You interrupted G-d,” she said, “or at least that’s what it says in the reports.”

“What reports?”

“The official reports,” she shrugged. I stared at the pile of trash where I thought her eyes were.

“Okay, okay!” she shrieked. “You’re in a cosmic time out. You get to spend some time with me.” She giggled.

“Why you?”

“Because I take everything that has been positive in your life and rip it to shreds.”

“Isn’t that called ‘Time?’” I asked.

“Very good!” the pile of trash shrieked. “How did you know?”

“Cause you’re made of stuff that was once useful.”

“Indeed!” came the shriek. “Now G-d is showing you some really impressive stuff!”

The darkness lifted and I could see stars all around me. “Wow!” I told the pile of trash. “I didn’t know—wow! I can zoom in and zoom out, and I know everything! Everything! About people I love, people I hate—my G-d!”

“Don’t go saying that to me, say it to G-d,” the pile of trash said.

“Wow, and evil—” and then I passed out.

“You just achieved one degree less of G-dliness than Moses achieved,” said the pile. “So you can never be the best. And plus, Moses was a man.”

“Is that how it works, then?” I shouted. “You trying to make me feel bad because I’m a female?”

“Yes, and more. I—”

I know that women are made from half G-dly dust and half earth, which is better than the all-earth recipe for Adam.”

“Ha, fighting back, are you?” squealed the pile. “Well, women will never control the world, because, as Chris Rock says, ‘‘women hate women!” You have two women who have been best friends for twenty years, and stick a man between them and they both say, ‘Fuck that bitch!’

“Well, you smell.”

“You’ll stay here forever. By the way, do I remind you of anyone?” Just then, I remembered. One of my foster mothers. She was all nice and peppy when DCS came in to inspect, but she turned into a Satana—that is, a female Satan—when they left. My only consolation was that I felt like Cinderella.

“Yep, you’ll be here forever,” continued the pile.

Suddenly, there was a very loud noise, like a clanging of cymbols. “No lies!” shouted the unmistakable voice of G-d.

“Sorry,” the pile whimpered. “Please don’t recycle me.”

“Like hell I won’t!” snarled G-d.

“Hey, G-d,” I said.

The voice focused on me: “What?”

“You control everything. Can’t you please commute my sentence from forever to just a few days, or months?”

I could feel G-d considering. Finally, he said: “Your sentence was only scheduled to be a couple of hours.”

“So how much time has passed? Can you make time go quicker?”

“Master of Flattery that you are,” said G-d, “you forget that I am the real Master of Flattery. And I know what you’re going to say before you say it.”

“Father of All,” I said, while G-d recited the same words in a deep voice. “It sounds like we’re a death-metal band, don’t you know that?”

“I know,” he admitted. You know, I was thinking of starting a death-metal band myself. You know, we’re all the masters of death.”

“Who?” said I.

“You know, me, Krishna, Buddha, Allah. Even Jesus. I think Allah would have to be the drummer. I heard him play once in concert, he was amazing. Krisha is good at singing, but then so am I. We could both switch off between lead guitar and lead vocals. Of course, that leaves Buddha to the bass. I think that would be a good fit for him—he’s so placid and contemplative.”

“You have a good vocabulary,” said I.

“Why, thank you,” G-d said. “Okay, here you go.” He snapped his fingers and was gone. “Thanks for listening!” he shouted, and his shout echoed for about five seconds and was gone.

“Honey, what was that?” said Clarissa.

“I don’t know,” I said, trying to sound ignorant.

“Weren’t we talking to G-d? Or, at least, G-d’s angel?”

“I’m drawing a blank,” I said.

Everyone else seemed to be coming out of the same reverie. “Where am I?” said Neelee.

“Hell,” I said.

“Really,” snapped Clarissa before Neelee could get in a word. “Do you expect me to believe that?”

“Well, she is practically a clone of you,” said Sarah.

“Ahhhh!” Clarissa said, covering her ears. Sarah’s voice was coming from everywhere at once.

“So G-d is female!” said Neelee in wonder.

“Am I having seizures?” asked Hannah.

“I don’t think so,” sniggered Sarah.

“Guys, relax, it’s just Sarah,” I said. Clarissa covered her eyes and started walking toward the chickens. “No, not that way,” I shouted.

“There’s a guy over there!” she shouted.

“But he’s an an—” I stopped myself.

“A what?” she bellowed.

“I know him!” I screamed. “You don’t want to get to know him.”

“Ah,” shouted Clarissa. “Where should I go?”

At that moment I was thinking about what a great rapport Clarissa and I had, but then Clarissa doubled down and barfed. Uh, maybe not, I thought.

Neelee was trying to give CPR to her, even though it was evident Clarissa could breathe. “Stop it!” I told her. “She can breathe!”

“Respect your elders!” cried Neelee. “Man, that tastes bad.”

Told you, I thought of saying.

“I know what you’re thinking!” shrieked Neelee.

“What do you mean?” I said innocently, like a virgin girl.

I know what you’re thinking: that I shouldn’t make make jokes about virgins. I shouldn’t even reference them at all, right? It’s like calling an intellectually disabled person retarded. Or joking about them. You know, I would never joke about a retarded person—remember you heard that from me. So let me apologize to you for joking about virgins. You know, there are two kinds of virgins: unlucky ones and virgins by choice. The unlucky ones are virgins purely by chance—and their numbers diminish as they advance in age—and that’s because their luck averages out. Virgins by choice, however—they start out really strong as Evangelical Christians or Orthodox Jews, then they go to college and sex finds its day—or few days, or every day, or several times a day—although that last option is unrealistic for someone who wants to get any work done. But lookit: I know lots of college dropouts, and most of them are doing just fine—you just gotta work in construction! They do make enough!

But enough of that—where was I—ah—virgins. I don’t think I have any more to say on the matter, but if you have questions, feel free to jump in. I do think of myself as an open-minded person. Unless I’m ranting.

 

 

But I never told you about the time I went to a mental institution. Actually, I didn’t go. I was picked up by three cops. Three male cops. They couldn’t even get a female to subdue me. Of course, I am a black belt to the fourth degree in Tae Kwon Doe—a result of a very overenthusiastic mom—who was a criminal, as you know already, of course.

But that is unpleasant to talk about.

Suffice it to say, I was about to run away. My mom said, “Honey, couldn’t you let Javier”—her boyfriend—”take you to the airport?”

“No, thanks,” I said. “I don’t want to get molested again.”

“I told you, he didn’t molest you, he just touched you!”

“Same thing!”

Not the same thing,” she said, putting her hand on my shoulder.

“Don’t touch me!” I yelled.

“Oops—I forgot about my past history,” she said. “I must ask my psychiatrist to give me a higher dose. Maybe then you’ll forgive me?”

Just two more years, just two more years, I reminded myself.

“So don’t you go out the door,” she said. “Me and Javier want to give you a ride.”

Curious, I thought. They were being nice to me.

Half an hour passed while I finished packing my suitcase and we waited for Javier.

“Perchance why is she not going?” my five-year-old sister Hannah asked our mother while looking at me.

“Honey, shhh, she’s just waiting for daddy and me to take her to the bus station.”

Hannah screwed up her eyes and said: “You mean Javier?”

“Yes, honey,” she said.

“Who’s my real daddy?” Hannah started to cry.

“I told you, honey, Javier is your daddy!” But she only made Hannah cry harder.

“Police!” a burly man’s voice said as he pounded on the door. “Open up!”

My mom got this big grin on her face. Oh, fuck, I thought.

Three police officers entered the house and fanned out. Wow, me and my fourth-degree black belt, I thought. I was all of ten years old. I must have weighed a third of one of them.

“Forgot to bring the female officer?” I said, my whole body twitching out of fear. My mother had talked about doing this for days. (Of course, I had never actually believed her. Even though she had been molesting me for years. But I didn’t know that was bad.)

Young Hannah said, in between her sobs, “Mommy, why are the police here?”

“You’ll see,” Mother smiled and watched the scene play out.

“Ma’am, you need to come with us,” said the biggest officer.

I started crying and assumed my stance. “You’ll have to use force with me,” I said. “Even though I will add to my rap sheet by ‘resisting arrest.’”

“That’s right,” the burly cop said, and he and his partners assumed fighting stances. It was over in about five minutes. I managed to land a few good kicks on each of them. Matrix-esque. Of course, since I was only ten years old, I hadn’t yet seen that movie. My point is that I was bouncing off the walls and ceiling for a good period of time. My mother was shocked—she had never seen that before—but she tried to retain her composure (if that’s what it should be called) through the entire process. By the end, though, when I was strapped to the stretcher, she knew how much I hated her. How much I had kept it in while she did her horrible things. I think the officers knew that too, because once I was strapped down, they all averted their eyes.

“So where’s she going?” my mother said, trying to sound innocent while her voice quavered like a martyr’s.

“District Hospital,” said one of the men, looking at the wall as he talked. “You’ll be able to visit her tomorrow, I suspect.” He sounded like he really didn’t want her to visit me.

For the first time, I had a realization. Some people were on my side!

“Okay, little lady,” said the big one. “We’ll just take you for a couple hours, then you’ll be right back home where you belong.” At the end of that sentence Mother looked terrified: the policeman had included a little growl. He had seen the soiled condition I was in. I had not washed myself for a week and smelled like it.

The policeman slammed the door once his two colleagues had left with me on the stretcher. I could hear Hannah crying again.

“So what’s your mother so upset about?” asked the big one after a couple of minutes.

“You guys don’t even have the lights on?” I said, exasperated.

All three of them laughed. “An attitude problem, eh?” said the one who had avoided my mother’s gaze.

“Nah, just that she’s too pretty for school,” said the big one.

The third one chuckled; I looked at him. “No offense, little lady, but you are kinda pretty.”

“I agree,” I responded, and we laughed together. “Seriously, though,” I said, “why did you guys pick me up?”

“Your ma called us,” said the third one. “And we have to honor her request.”

“Request for what?”

“To get you evaluated,” said the officer who had avoided my mother’s gaze.

“What?” I asked, dumbfounded.

“They’re going to see if you’re crazy or not,” said the big one. “Sorry.”

“Sorry?” I said and lay back down on the stretcher which had allowed me two inches of space to sit up.

“They’re going to see if you’re crazy or not.”

“The correct term is actually ‘in need of medication,’” said Wall-Gazer.

“Yah, and you’re probably not going to win, sorry to bust your bubble,” said the third one.

“No!” I shouted. “Why?”

“Careful not to get on her bad side,” joked the third officer.

“She has a mean left hook,” joined the driver.

“Yeah, lucky for you you didn’t get hurt.”

“Enough,” I said. “Tell me how not to get admitted.”

They all fell silent for a moment. Then the driver said, “Not much you can do.”

“Not much I can do?”

“I was there thirty years ago. Not much to say.”

“Um, hello?” I said. “I asked you a question.”

The driver let out a breath while making a sharp left. The policemen cursed as one and hung on.

“Ha,” I said. “My bad hasn’t moved an inch.”

“Stupid policemen don’t wear seatbelts,” muttered the driver. “They should make it illegal to eat and drive. Those doughnuts are killing more officers each year than heart disease and cancer combined.”

The big officer coughed loudly.

“Sorry,” said the driver.

“That aint gonna cut it.”

“So tell me!” I demanded of the driver.

“Bad manners, girl,” he said. “I told you, there aint nothin you can do to not be admitted. Your ma sent you. Your ma owns you. She makes all of the money. She—”

“I had a brownie sale last year!”

“Mmm, love those thin mints,” said the third one.

“We’re bordering on harassment,” said the big one. “Better be quiet.”

“Well taken. Don’t want to be sued.”

“Why?”

“Well, they got me last time.”

“How?”

“Don’t want to talk about it.”

“Hey, we’re almost there,” said the third one.

“Yup, right up there,” the driver said, pointing to a tall building in the distance.

“That’s over a mile away,” I said. They said nothing, so I continued: “You know, you could let me out here. No one would know. You could say I overpowered you.”

“Heh,” said the big one, “even if that was possible, we’re trained to die before we let a possibly mentally-incapacitated person run out in the open.”

I smirked at them: “I would just run and you would never catch me.”

“Aint no runnin from yourself!” said the third one. I stared at him for what seemed like an eternity. He stared back. Finally he said, “sorry.”

“Man, police officers are as slow as shit!” I said.

“Where’d you learn to talk like that, girl?”

“Stop it,” said Wall-Gazer, still staring at one of the polished metal walls of the vehicle.

“Stop what?” number three replied.

Stop it, Trevor.”

Fine, fine, I’ll stop,” Trevor said. “Jesus Fucking Christ. What I have to do to keep a job around here.”

“Don’t worry about him,” whispered Wall-Gazer to me. We were pulling up to the hospital. We parked right in front of the automatic doors. They unlocked the rear doors of the van and carried me out and into the building.

“Mommy, why is that girl in that stretcher?”

“She’s crazy,” said the mother in a stage-whisper. She winked at me. I stuck out my tongue. Little did I know that that act would be the last humorous thing I would do for a long, long time.

The front desk lady, a blonde of about fifty years with age-appropriate glasses, exited her enclosure and approached us. “Welcome to District Hospital, Gentlemen, Lady,” she told us. “What is your pleasure?”

“Her mom,” the big one pointed at me, “she made her come here.”

“Um, excuse me?” said the desk lady, peering at us from above her thin square spectacles.

“My mom,” I explained as easily as I could from my position—”she thinks I’m crazy.”

“And why is that?”

“Because I was going to run away. I made the stupid mistake of telling them that I was going to run away.”

“Why would you do that?”

I shrugged.

“Well, as it happens, I have to keep you here. It’s the law. You have to be sixteen to run away.”

I’m sixteen!” I said.

“Any ID?”

“I have a couple of pubic hairs.”

“Aside from that.”

“She knows how to talk real well,” said Number Three.

“I’m talking to the patient, thank you,” the lady said to him. She returned to me: “I need you to meet with our Psychology Head Supervisor.”

I groaned. “Can’t I just go home?”

The lady looked up from her paperwork: “You want to go home?”

“Not really, no. But it’s better than the streets.”

“I’ll have to take that into account when talking to the Psychology Supervisor.”

Fuck, I thought. I was shooting myself in the foot!

The lady led me to a back room behind the desk. I sat down on the wood bench which smelled of alcohol. The three policemen were still standing within view. One of them was talking to the lady.

I looked up from my Cosmopolitan and spied the supervisor striding toward me like she was going to gore me with her spear, which of course she didn’t have. She spied me looking at her and she flipped her hair back in an arrogant gesture, which at that point in my life was an absolute shocker on anyone’s face who wasn’t my mom. So naturally I thought she was going to molest me. So I screamed.

“Shhhh, shhhh, shhhh,” she whispered as soon as she got within speaking range, which of course made things worse. But I managed to calm down before she got to me. “I was going to call security,” she said.

“I can beat them, it wouldn’t have worked,” I said.

The woman absorbed this with a little chuckle. Then she got down to business: “How old are you?”

“Twelve.”

“Ten,” she said. “Change into this hospital gown.”

“But you haven’t yet admitted me!”

“Eh, you’ll probably be admitted,” she said. “Once you’re done with me.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Does your mother abuse you?”

“Who cares about that!”

“I do,” she said politely.

“Maybe a little, then.”

“A little?” the lady raised her eyebrows.

“Fuck you,” I said.

“Nobody is abused ‘just a little,’” she said. “Especially from family members. I’m sorry, but that’s your ticket in to here.” She smiled an ugly smile.

“No,” I was crying. “Why?”

“You have no choice,” she said. “Mom owns house and you’re only ten.”

“So you won’t believe me?” I said. “She abused me!”

“We don’t believe anyone under eighteen,” she said.

“But you do believe that since I was abused, I should be admitted?” I said in fury, tears dripping down my eyes. “Isn’t that unfair?”

She glared at me for a second, then her eyes softened. “Aw, you know I can’t change the system,” she said. “I would become an aberration. So then I would be fired.”

“Why?” I sobbed.

“Because that’s the job of the people on top of me,” she said. “Making sure everything goes smoothly. Bye.” She said that as a hospital worker came within listening distance of us. “Take her away,” she said with a dismissive wave of her hand. The hospital worker knew what that meant, because he started wheeling me at a very fast speed down the corridor.

“She’s not crazy!” the third policeman called down after us.

Too late, buster, I thought.

The worker wheeled me to an elevator. He was over six feet, overweight and with an unkempt beard. “How come they don’t put you in there?” I demanded. “Huh? Huh?”

He gave a little smile and pressed the button for the eighth floor. The doors closed and the elevator started rising. I started crying again. No response.

I stopped crying. He placed his hand on my shoulder. “I can get you convicted of molestation,” I said. He removed his hand and shrugged. We arrived at the eighth floor without further incident. He wheeled me down the corridor, this time more slowly. As we stopped before the two huge blue double doors, he whispered: “I hope you stay here forever.” I was unimpressed, so I said nothing. He rang the bell. A tired nurse’s voice sounded through the speaker: “Yes, can I help you?”

“Patient one nine seven five,” said the person who had pushed me.

“Hey, isn’t the time when—Kurt Kobain, or maybe Madonna, he—”

—neither the nurse lady nor the pusher seemed interested, so I shut myself up.

There was the sound of high-heels clopping as the nurse approached the door. Like a horse, I thought as I smirked, but after a moment of looking around I realized there was nobody to share that thought with.

The door opened. “Welcome,” said the nurse, a dour-complexioned woman of seventy years or more. Eighty-five probably wouldn’t be too far off, I thought. As if sensing what I was thinking, the woman clopped her heels on the ground and shifted nervously from side to side.

“So this is Eliza M.,” the pusher read on the tag affixed to the side of the gurney. The nurse shrugged and took the reins from him. He turned around and walked back to the elevator and pressed the button.

“Here we go,” murmured the nurse as she pushed me in and the doors closed behind her.

—1 line break

The ward was shaped like a donut, or a racetrack. Actually, I think more like a racetrack, because it was ovoid. I hope I’m not confusing you with my big words. They say I read at above a seventh-grade level, even though I’m only in fifth.

“So here is the kitchen,” Mimi (the old lady) said. I craned my head and tried to get a better view. The result was that I saw a little bit of the top of everyone’s head. One, I discovered to my surprise, was multicolored. A couple were blond, and one was brown. “Man, this is so interesting,” I complained.

“I know,” said Mimi, taking my comment in stride. “You’re going to have a good time in here, I can just feel it.”

The radio was on. “Fuck me, fuck me, harder!” sang a young woman’s voice. “I like it, I like it, right thurrrrr…” she moaned. The verse ended and the song went on to a rap section just before the final chorus.

“I love this song!” cried a little girl about my age.

“Shut up, I’m listening!” barked an old man.

“Fuck fuck fuck fuck!” sang the rapper. “Fuck fuck fuck!”

Shit, I thought.

As if in chorus, the rapper started singing “shit shit shit shit…”

Fuck, my subconscious knows this song, I thought.

The chorus returned. “Fuck me, but don’t rape me! Fuck me, but don’t rape me!”

“You know, that is an important message,” said Mimi. I nodded but then remembered that I couldn’t. So I moved my neck an inch.

“Ooh, I almost forgot!” screamed Mimi. “It’s time to let you out of your restraints!”

Oh, wow, I thought.

“I know, it’s so exciting!” the lady screamed.

“Will ya just shut up?” demanded the oldster.

“Now, honey, you don’t want an increase in your time, do you?” cooed Mimi.

That shut him up.

“Hey, do you like sports?” I asked the oldster.

“Can’t talk,” he mouthed to me. Mimi gave a disapproving tsk.

The multicolored girl said, “Where’s Jason?”

“I hope he’s not out there on the roof again,” said a male worker, who was talking to two girls slightly older than me.

“How would he get onto the roof?” I said. No one answered me.

“Hey, I’m new,” I said, and started to shake everyone’s hand.

A bell ringed. “Time for Exercise!” screeched Mimi. Someone groaned. It was a boy of fourteen or so at the corner table.

“What’s wrong with you?” I asked him.

“I saw a demon.”

“I’ve seen one,” I said brightly, of course thinking of my mother. “Do you think there are any female demons?”

“I don’t know,” the boy groaned.

“Are you in pain?” I asked him.

“The drugs,” he said, wincing. “You’ll get them soon.”

“No way, they’re not putting any drugs into me,” I said.

“Oh yes they are,” he managed to say, with a wince of a grin. “You’ll see.”

“Well, I revise my story. I did not see any demon.”

“My mouth,” he panted, “is zipped.” He continued to pant faster and faster.

“Nurse, give him some relief!” I begged of Mimi. Mimi looked at a younger nurse. The younger nurse said, “He just has to get used to it, that’s all.” The boy groaned again, shutting his eyes. “What’s your name?” I asked him. He didn’t seem to hear me.

“Demons don’t exist,” said Mimi dismissively.

“What about God?” I asked. “Does he exist?”

“Time for Exercise!” Mimi screeched. “Last call!” The inmates started to slowly get up. She looked at me: “Of course G-d exists, silly girl,” she said. “But no one should see him or hear from him or even see a demon or angel or whatever it is, and our job is to enforce that! By the way, you have an appointment in an hour, right after Exercise.”

“With who?”

“One of the doctors,” she said dismissively.

I got pushed along in a mini-mob to the TV room. Chairs and television had been pushed against the wall. There was a young woman in exercise clothing standing in the middle of the room, tapping her foot. “Is that all?” she demanded. “Just five people?”

I walked over so that I was beside her. “Just six people?” she said.

“More are coming,” I promised.

“Maybe they’re faking! Maybe they’re not coming!”

“And why would they do that?”

The fourteen year old boy ambled in, swaying back and forth. “Did you take your medicine?” demanded the woman. The boy just stood there with his eyes closed. “Why is he doing that?” she asked me.

“Because he took his medicine,” I said. The woman looked puzzled for a moment, then shook it off. “Time for class!” she said as soon as ten inmates had entered the room, and then she barred the door. “We had to put the bar in, just in case a patient went crazy when the patient was sentenced to six months or more in an institution.”

“That must not be pleasant,” I said.

“Yes, but still! Ruining the door! Well, not exactly ruining the door, but you know what I mean.” I nodded my head in agreement. Suddenly, her voice blared: “Are you all ready to ROCK????!!!” she screamed. Now I knew the real reason she barred the door.

Most of the inmates just stood there patiently. All corners of the little room were taken up by different inmates’ feet.

“Okay,” shouted the young woman. “Everyone follow me!” And she spread her legs to their limit.

“I bet she has a nice pussy,” an older kid with red hair whispered to me.

“I have a cat, too!” I said, delighted.

“Stop talking,” said the young woman. Everyone was now in the ready-spread position. “Now slowly do a squat.” Most of the inmates collapsed. The young woman sighed.

“Hey, this is like hip-hop!” I said. “So cool!”

“Yeah, it’s like hip-hop cause they look like they’re sitting on someone’s dick!” said the red-haired boy.

“Hey, you!” the young woman shouted. “Yeah, you!” she gestured at the red-haired boy.

“What.”

“Come here!”

He turned around so he was walking backwards away from me. “She’s so hot!” he mouthed. Then he turned and walked to the young woman. The young woman stared at me suspiciously, but I said nothing and just stared back at her.

There was a sound coming from the red-haired-boy’s backpack. He kicked at it frantically.

“What are you doing?” demanded the young woman.

“Um, miss, just trying to shut that thing off.”

“And what is “that thing?”

“His dick,” mimed another teenager who was out of range of the instructor.

The instructor snatched the bag out of the read-haired-boy’s hands.

“Hey!” the boy said. “What are you doing?”

“Just browsing,” the young woman said sweetly. The boy blushed. Ceremoniously, the young woman opened the bag and peered inside. “Hmmm, what do we have here?” She reached inside and pulled out a doll.

“See? Just a doll! It’s just a doll!”

“I see,” the young woman said. She was about to place the doll back in the bag when it gave a little croak.

“What’s this?” the young woman. “It seems to want to speak.”

The boy was crying now. “Please, Ma’am, just put it away!”

“Not if you call me ‘Ma’am,’ boy,” she purred. “Okay, here goes:” She pressed the button on its rear end.

“Perhaps I can give you a blow-job now, Master?”

“What?!” the young woman exclaimed and dropped the doll on the floor.

“Hey!” the red-haired-boy was furious. “You dropped it!”

The young woman did nothing; she appeared frozen in place.

“Eh,” the boy said and picked up the doll. He strode out of the room.

The young woman finally moved again. “Wrong plumbing,” she murmured.

“You mean junk,” said the other teenager.

“Right,” she said. “Now everybody spread your legs, like me!” A nurse passed by the main window and gave us a disapproving glance. “She’s just old,” the young woman explained.

She walked over to the table and inserted her cassette. “Can you believe I still use these things? I am so quaint!” We just stared at her, and some of us stared at her crotch area. She didn’t seem to mind.

The boom box blared: “WE ARE YOUNG, SO LET’S FUCK!” We just swayed from side to side, and everyone stared at everyone else’s crotch. The young woman must have been offended that no one was looking directly at her, because she stopped the player. “His girlfriend must not like that thing,” she murmured. She pressed the fast-forward button and looked around. “What are you all looking at?” We looked away. “Look at me!” she said. She stopped the cassette. “The next song is very important to me,” she said, gesturing at her heart. An inmate spat on the floor behind her. But the girls seemed interested. One of them said, “Papi, you run a good class, we love you.”

“Thanks, my love,” she responded. She swept her arm across her body: “And I love you all! Thanks so much for paying to see me tonight.”

“Um, what’s the next song?” I said.

“Oh, right!” she said, smacking her forehead with her palm. “Here we go, everyone hold on tight!” I braced myself. She pressed the “play” button.

“I want to do you…TONIGHT!” came a high, nasal man’s voice. The young woman started to gyrate her hips to the music, attracting to her all the stares of the men. The other girls took their cue and began to dance as well.

The young woman stopped the tape. All the girls stopped dancing, making very audible sighs of annoyance. They turned as one to the boys. The young woman said: “Boys, why aren’t you dancing?” She stared at the boys. No one offered a response. “Gosh darn, now I have to rewind to the beginning! What do you have to say for yourself?”

The boys were silent.

“And what are you doing?” she said, suddenly noticing me.

I got afraid. “Um, not dancing?”

“Correct,” she said and appraised me from toe to breast.

“My face is nice,” I said.

“Hmmm,” said the young woman. She turned the cassette back on: “Please, please, pretty please!” ran the boom box. I started to scream. “TONIGHT! TONIGHT I WANNA FUCK YOUTONIGHT!” The boom box drowned out the sound of my voice. It was then that I realized what was important in life. Can you guess it?

The bell sounded. “Next activity, next activity!” shouted the young woman. I vowed to myself that I would copy the young teacher’s every stance and gesture. And why was that boy talking about cats?

The young woman gently pushed me out of the door. I melted at her touch. “I want to be…exactly like you!” I breathed.

The young woman shook her head. “I wish I wasn’t this way.”

“What do you mean?”

“It always feels…the slightest bit creepy when the boys are just standing around the circle looking at you. I feel like an object. I feel…”

“Most other people don’t think that way,” I said sweetly. The young woman looked at me in alarm. “What I was trying to say…what I was trying to say was…”

“I know,” I said. “I know.” But most other people didn’t think that way. Oh, the slut that I would become. I couldn’t wait!

A couple of boys/men saw me talking to the young woman. They flashed gang signs. “Bros before Hoes!” said one of them. “Bros before hoes!”

“There seems to be a gap in my vocabulary,” I said to them. “Could you please fill me in on what ‘Bros before Hoes’ means?”

They both started laughing hysterically. More gang signs. “Fucking shit!” said one of them. The other one said, “My Fucking God!” I didn’t want to be left out so I joined in their laughter.

The first one said, “Hey, Bitch, you fine. You fine! Want to go out sometime?”

“I bet she doesn’t know about the birds and bees,” said the other one.

The doctor pulled me by my arm into his office. “Why are you hanging out with them?” he said after he closed the door.

“What, me? Hanging out with them? I think you’ve got it backwards.”

The doctor looked puzzled for a moment, and then he shook it off. “You look tired,” he said.

“Nope, not tired,” I said with a bit of bravado. “Eight hours.”

“Studies have shown that ten-year-olds need between nine and eleven hours of sleep a night,” he said. “And that includes you.”

“I’m not ten,” I lied. He tapped his papers. “Yes, you are.”

I was being such an idiot. I had totally forgotten.

“Hear any voices?” he suggested.

“Only your voice,” I said. The doctor frowned and scribbled something on his papers. I continued, “So why do you have that boy on such strong meds?”

“You mean Andrew? Oh, he saw something.”

“Just a demon.”

“A demon is a lot,” he said. “It’s called a hallucination.”

“Do you believe in the Bible?” I pressed.

The doctor looked at me, frowned, and then looked down at his papers. “I think your thoughts are disorganized,” he said.

“Seriously!” I continued. “There were a bunch of prophets, and demons, and all sorts of stuff. Be lenient with Andrew! He just happened to see one of those creatures.”

The doctor shut his briefcase. “Go to all the activities. I’ll see you in a week.”

“What?” I said as I watched his retreating figure. He didn’t respond.

Well, at least I didn’t hear voices…except for the voice that was still blaring from the boom box the young woman had forgotten: “Pretty please! Fuck me!” One of the nurses entered the room to turn it off. I sighed. Dancing was my entrance into the world of slut-dom. I was too young to go to any parties, so all I could do was practice in the mirror.

In the meantime, though, I could rile up the ward. More attention for me meant more happiness.

I observed a new patient entering the ward, tied to the stretcher just as I had been. She did not look pleased. There was this huge frown on her face.

The gang boys were passing her stretcher on their hourly stroll round and round the ward. They passed her bed. “Hey, sistah,” said one of them. She started to scream.

“White institutions!” she screamed. “Institutionalized racism! Segregated schools! And now…and now white folk pretending they’re black! What has G-d done? This is like Nazi officers impersonating Jews! Two hundred years of slavery! And this is all they give us? There’s not even affirmative action!”

“Black folk don’t need affirmative action,” said one boy.

“Yeah,” said another. “They can all become rappers.”

“And Jews don’t count as people,” said the third. “Christ Killers they all are.”

I think they do,” I said.

They turned as one to face me. “Nobody asked you, fuckface,” said the first one.

“Yeah, bitch,” the second one said. “You don’t even have no boobies.” The third one just leered at me.

“I see you have an established pecking order,” I said. I looked at the nurse standing ten feet away. She kept on standing with her back turned toward us.

“Yeah, you see, bitch, even the nurse is scared of us,” said the first one. “We gon’ fuck you up.”

“Black people aren’t like that!” screamed the black lady on the stretcher. “They’re not!”

“You people seem to like using your covers as white people in order to paint black culture in a negative light,” I said.

They seemed not to hear me. “They enjoyed slavery, too,” the first one said.

“Where are you from?” I asked.

“No one asked you, hoe,” he said. I preened.

“Yeah, hoe,” tried the second one.

“Yeah, slut,” said the third, and I preened even more. All those compliments!

“I’m from South Carolina,” said the first one.

“Ha! Figures,” I said.

“I also hate gay people,” he said.

“Oh, really?” I asked, genuinely curious.

“Yeah, they invented a swear word for each of them. Black people are—” and I sneezed. “Jews are—” and I sneezed again. “And last but not least, gay people are—” I sneezed a third time. “Hey, what are you writing in your book for? Are you a reporter?”

“Of sorts,” I said.

He reached out and took it. “Clarissa’s memoirs?” he read. “What the fuck. Are you, like, eighty?” He tossed it in the trash. Then he took out a lighter from his pocket.

“No,” said the nurse.

“No one asked you, bitch,” said Number One. The nurse walked away. “And by the way,” he said to the black lady, who was still strapped to her bed which was still parked in the doorway, “slavery didn’t happen.”

“What the—” said the black lady. “What are you saying, you fucked up piece of shit.”

“Heh,” replied Number One. “No Slavery, no Holocaust, no crusades.”

“Fuck you,” said the black lady.

No G-d,” continued Number One. “No morality, no innocence, no Heaven, no Earth, no thoughts, no ideas, no bad, no good, just nothing.”

“Hey, nothing is something!” I inserted, beating the black lady to the punch.

“God, you messed up,” said the black lady. The attendant started to push her bed forward.

“Hey, at least he wasn’t talking in a black—”

The attendant made a high-pitched scream as Number One, then Numbers Two and Three, made a mad dash to her. They all vaulted over the black lady’s bed and raced down the hallway. I followed them as the alarm sounded. We reached the elevator and it required a key.

“Fuck!” screamed number three.

“Shit,” said the second one.

“Fuck, indeed,” said Alpha. “I’m sorry, but Red, you’re going to have to take the fall.”

“What? Fuck! Me?” said Red. “Hey, boy, you Blue, you sad, you should take it!”

“Fucking shit,” said the second one.

“What’s your name?” I asked him. “Yellow?”

“No,” he snarled. Right at that moment a bunch of security guards showed up and inserted huge needles into our arms.

 

“Rise and shine!” said someone. “You were asleep for three days!”

I tried opening my eyes, but I shut them immediately after receiving a face full of florescent light. A headache began. “Argghhh,” I said.

“Don’t worry, you’ll be up to full speed in no time,” the nurse said. “You’re probably going to have some headaches.”

Like I didn’t know that already.

The nurse continued: “Your doctor also wants to see you. He says it’s urgent.”

Fuck, I thought. This was not going to be fun.

“You look sad,” said the nurse. “Can I do anything for you?”

Yeah, I thought. Get me the fuck out of here.

“I heard about your escape attempt,” said the nurse. “I hope you don’t have to do more time because of it.”

“More time?” I mouthed.

The nurse, who was paying attention, said, “Probably another two weeks.”

I silently screamed. When I was done, I said, “Darn.”

“I can tell you’re feeling terrible by your expression,” she said. She was really starting to annoy me.

“Imagine you were here,” I said. She left the room. She turned around and came back: “Doctor in fifteen minutes.” I just nodded meekly.

The doctor came in after knocking. “We don’t meet for another fourteen minutes,” I told him.

“I know, but early bird gets the worm!”

I took out my iPhone and began to type: “@ mental ward, Doctor is really annoying.”

“You’re not supposed to have that, you know,” he said. He attempted to grab it from me. I fended him off with one hand and used the other to press the send button. “Security!” the doctor shouted. Within moments two scrawny teenagers appeared. “Wow, you have bad acne,” I told one.

“Seize her!” commanded the doctor. “Yes, sir!” both of them replied.

They rushed me. I got into my “Crouching Tiger” position and waited until they sprung my trap. But they detected it and presented their sides to me. I had to change tactics. So I rushed them, and they, who were surprised by this move, froze in place. I kicked off the wall to my right and spun across the ceiling, doing a couple of air-somersaults on the way. I landed behind them and landed two one-hit KOs. “Who is my next challenger?” I bellowed, as much as I could, since I was only ten.

Just then Mimi appeared, holding a gun. “This is a real gun, dearie,” she said and pantomimed pulling the trigger. Suddenly, there was a loud explosion. Mimi was thrown backwards through the white wall, leaving an outline of blood in the shape of a woman.

No, it didn’t actually happen that way. I complied and was escorted back to the ward. I was locked in my room. The doctor came by and said, “I’ve arranged for you to see a counselor.”

“A shrink?” I yelled through the glass. He walked away.

A few minutes later, there’s a tap tap tap on my door. “Ready?” said an older male voice.

“I sure hope so,” I said.

He opened the door. I was right—he looked about fifty. He looked like he was almost showing a smile; almost. “I assume you’re the counselor?” I said.

“You assume correct, little lady!” he beamed. Still that line of uncertainty in his smile, though.

“Are you sad?” I asked him.

His frown deepened. “No,” he said. He forced his face into the pose of the tragic clown.

“Do you know the reason I was admitted into this horrible place?” I said.

“Yes,” he said. “Do you?”

“Of course I do,” I said. “It’s because I was abused.”

“I don’t know if you were abused, or if you weren’t. All I know is that in this argument, the parent always wins. Always.”

“Is this what you’ve come here to tell me?”

“No. I’ve come here to talk to you.”

“You are talking to me.”

“No, about something else,” he said. The tragic clown returned again. “I’m here to be your friend.”

“I already have real friends. I don’t need professional ones.”

He looked really angry for a moment, and then that dissapeared and he looked even sadder than before. “I guess I am sort of a professional friend,” he said.

“And you know what, that’s unethical,” I said. “You take advantage of people who are unhappy. You give a little bit of advice and then you tell them to keep coming back every week. They keep coming back and you get more money and more and more until you make over a hundred-thousand a year. Each time you give just enough help to keep them coming back. And how do you do this without feeling like a pile of shit, like anyone normal should feel when engaging in a horrible act like this? You have to do it because it’s the only way you will feel like you have any friends.”

The guy broke down crying. I just stood with my arms folded, ded, looking down at him with no sympathy. I mean, how could you have sympathy for a guy like that?

“Are you my friend?” he asked in between sobs.

“What do you think, Crackpot?” I said. “Of course not!”

He wailed louder.

“Alright, alright, that’s enough,” I said, and he stopped crying. “The truth is that I am friends with everyone. Everyone on the planet.”

That got his attention. He sat on the ground in front of me and listened. That was when I realized I was a wise woman.

“So I am everyone’s friend,” I continued. “This comes about because I love every person. Everyone in sentient, everyone has a spark of G-d in them.”

“I’m not sure there is a—”

“Stuff it,” I said. “Everyone is sentient and naturally good, then.”

“I know that already,” he said.

“That you’re wrong? Congratulations!”

“So are you bothered by, um, anything at this ward?”

I sighed. He looked happy now (thanks to me) but he had completely missed the point. Which was, of course, the fact that psychologists are evil.

“Everybody has some evil in them,” the psychologist said. I jumped three feet vertically (I was still limber then). “You look surprised,” he said.

“You read my mind,” I said.

“Mind reading isn’t so hard when you have lots of experience, like me,” he said.

“Experience?”

“Yes, I see now,” he said. “I see that what I was doing was…not in the best interest of my patients.”

“Yeah, but what’ll they say when their psychologist leaves them? Their best friend deserted them! They’ll feel so bad!”

“I’ll just tell them the truth,” he said.

“What, that they need to make their own friends? They barely have you as it is! Once a week!”

“True,” he grinned. “So I’ll stay on.”

That’s a good boy, I silently thought.

I am the anti-therapist. I am Eliza.

 

—-

 

I got out of the ward after two months. They were threatening to put me in for six. I would have had to move to an institution.

Once I got out I called DCS. Of course, you know by now that that didn’t work. It wasn’t until a few years later that my siblings and I moved out of that horrible home into the home of our just-discovered grandparents.

In science class I did an experiment. It was probably influenced by my hellish upbringing, but who cares.

The experiment was thus: I took ten boys (each would be getting twenty dollars, from my mother who thought this was an excellent idea (when she wasn’t raping me). Of course, they all wanted me so they all agreed. So let us just say that the workplace was very competitive.

I took five of the ten and put them on stationary bikes, and told them to ride at five miles per hour until I said stop. Then I took the other five and did the same thing, but with one modification. They received the latest copy of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition. Who biked further? Well, you can obviously predict the answer. But we do have to factor in a margin of error for people who are gay. Can you believe I actually didn’t ask people that question?

So I got the results as expected, and the results were as expected. But I had to know for sure, which is why I did the study. I had to prove to myself that the world really worked that way.

I had never actually been afraid of boys; instead, I found them boring. But the fact that I had just proven to myself that all they do is slobber over us made me slightly disturbed. So disturbed, in fact, that after a few more years of bearing increasing leers from men, I decided to go crazy. Not really crazy crazy. I was still myself inside. But I wanted to start my own religion—I wanted to change the world for the better. Even if going overboard in the wrong was the wrong direction. Eventually, it would work wonders. Or so I thought.

I was sixteen by then. This was right before I started bullying Rachel and co. Maybe a few months before. I started appearing in random locations in the city covered in body paint. My bully colleagues were only too happy to see me naked and then cover me up in the most sexy way possible. And that included stripes. Not stars and stripes, because my religion would be encompassing all countries on Earth, and not just one. So I had yellow and black stripes painted on me. Like a racecar. People passed me and whistled and asked when I would be joining Danica Patrick as the second woman racer in Nascar. I shook my booty at them because I wanted to give them some respect. They usually whistled again and walked away. But a select few did not leave. These were the few that I performed my rituals for. First I asked them if they were eighteen or above. Most said yes because they assumed I was as well. I sent them away—didn’t want to break the law now, did I? And I didn’t want someone to do ten years of time just because I was sixteen. See? I can be compassionate, too!

I did have sex with the remainder, of course. But I was not a slut! I made all ten of them finish an obstacle course (sexually themed, of course). They had to memorize a bunch of sexually-themed music. And they had to take a new name, in order to be subservient to The One Vagina, which was of course was ME! I felt ecstatic. I touched each of my devotees on the shaft when they each came to take their vows. They would vow to be my publiscists and spread the word of G-d to all of the ignorant populace! I mean, who could turn down a deal like that?

I reached two-hundred-thousand followers a month later, after a vigorous advertising campaign. We advertised on MTV, we advertised on Animal Planet (those people know how to fuck!) Luckily one of my worshipers was a billionare. A catcalling buillinoare, but still a billionare. The ads on Animal Planet said this: “Watched animals fuck? How about us humans? Want to fuck some more than you’re already fucking? Come to our new club, The Sex Club, and check us out for yourselves! The Sex Club, Building a better and more natural future for humanity.” The ad for MTV said this: “Shake your ass! Shake your ass! Shake your ass! But isn’t that boring sometimes? It’s like the same song every single song! Yeah, they have different lyrics and different tunes, but it is still essentially the same song! You know what? Be cool, come with me. Where? We’re going to meet downtown at the convention center and have ourselves a great time! Imagine religion and sex and MTV, all fused into one! If you’re not drooling yet, start drooling! The Eliza Movement: Putting the “interesting” back into in sex.”

I had my speech at the convention center a month later. Clarissa Steiner’s granddaughter, she’s going to change the world. All the TV stations would be broadcasting it and offering analysis before and after the procedures. Princes and Kings were in attendence. By that time I had gathered a million followers. I had to hire a bunch of callgirls to serve the populace. Only the most select worshipers would receive me, The One Vagina.

Yes, that was what I had begun to call myself, but I only made it known to my closest devotees.

I had begun to form my ideology. Or, rather, to steal it. I stole a little bit from every religion. I mashed up all the words into one incoherent whole. But at least everyone would have something to point at and say, “That’s from my religion!”

I was completely calm on the day of the speech, even when I was about to step up onto the podium. The crowd was cheering like their sports team had one strike to go to win the World Series. I had had enough experience with crowds; I knew how to harness their energy.

I spoke. “Ladies and Gentlemen of the Republic of America!” I yelled. I pointed to the sky with both arms. The crowd went wild. “Eliza! Eliza!” The passionate fans screamed.

“I am Eliza!” I continued. I was drowned out with more applause. Now everybody was on their feet. I continued: “Is everyone pimpin’ tonight?” I screamed.

“I got me foe hoes!” said either a Black, White or Latino voice. It didn’t matter. I was on fire.

“Does everybody want to have sex with me tonight!” I said. Crowd went wild again. I waited for them to settle down.

“I fucked twenty men today!” I screamed. Silence, then some slow clapping and then full frenzy. The process took about twenty seconds.

They were quiet again. I took myself five seconds to just stare at them. Then I said: “I have never been so happy as tonight, when I embrace myself as a hoe.” Applause. “Shhh,” I said. “This is an intimate ceremony. So…” And I cleared my throat. “Let us all embrace the godliness of sex. It is the purpose of all life to reproduce. All the animals do it. And we are the kings and queens of the animals. Let us then cleanse ourselves of all negative attitudes toward the act. Everyone has had the experience of being arrested—yes, arrested…for simply having sex in public. Why can’t two fornicating people share their joy with others? And I don’t mean orgies! Orgies are still private! I mean simple sex on the beach!” And I was drowned out with applause. “I see you’ve read my book!” I said. “It is called ‘My Life’, by Eliza Steiner.” Thunderous applause. “MVP! MVP!” an isolated group of males started to chant. “Most Valuable Playa!” I screamed. I continued as soon as they had quieted down. “You know my boyfriend,” I said to the crowd. “His name is Hector. I met him on the way to here. We facebooked together and then we exchanted genital photos. Now we are to become as one a I begin my transformation from woman to god.

The crowd went wild again. It was a full hundred and twenty seconds before they became hushed. I spoke the holy words. There was a faint ripple of wind which suddenly emanated from my body and enveloped the crowd. They all sighed with contentment and good energy. I was taken. And then I took the ax and slew my taker. I grabbed the microphone and brought it up to my lips. “You can only fuck me once,” I said.

The crowd went wild. I heard shots of gunfire, but those were soon silenced. The crowd had ripped the police officers apart.

I levitated (really some ropes held me) down to the stage floor. The people were rapidly exiting the facility. “Tell me if you would,” I said to one of my lackeys, “why are these people in such a state of urgency?”

“Madam,” he replied, “They are going to kill anyone who cannot recite the rules of society.”

“Whose society?”

Our society, Madam,” he said. “They said it was your…birthday present.”

“Wow, the President is probably going to call in the National Guard,” I mused.

“No need, Madam,” the lackey said. “Everything is already under our control.”

My jaw dropped. “R- R- Really?” I stammered.

“Do you need anything, Madam?”

“No, lackey,” I said, having regained my composure. “That will be all.”

The whole world…what am I doing…

I silenced my doubts by banging my head against the wall. “Madam?” Said the lackey, rushing into the room.

“I am fine,” I stated.

“Yes, madam,” said the lackey. “Very good.”

A knock at the door. “Enter,” I said. A second lackey rushed in. “Kill this piece of filth,” I told him, pointing at the first lackey. The second lackey aimed and fired. “Now clean up this mess,” I told him.

Hmmpth, I exhaled in ecstacy. It was such a rush!

“I need a nap,” I told the remaining lackey. “Please do exit.” He bowed and exited the room, closing the door behind him.

I prepared to make my next appearance. This was because all of my supporters, having taken over the country, were gathered once again at the coliseum and were chanting my name. I needed to fully convert from the image of a woman to that of a goddess.

I levitated (carbon threads, of course) onto the stage once more. The volume level increased by five hundred percent.

“I am your goddess!” I screamed, in pure ecstasy. Water was flung on me at the top of the stage. It hit me with the force of an anvil going forty miles an hour.

“Look, she’s wet!” Screamed an audience member.

“Boobies!” Screamed his friend. they gave each-other a high-five.

“Women are the new men,” I intoned. “We will construct a society that is matriarchal, not patriarchal. Men will become our workers and not our lovers. We will regain our dignity and our pride.”

Suddenly my back arched. I ripped off my clothes and howled. I had lost control over my body. Whatever was controlling my body continued to do things with it, though.

Suddenly I spoke again: “I can ride a thousand of you at once! Fuck! Shit!” The crowd had a hoot at that but remained serious. They were expecting something. Trapped inside my own head, I wouldn’t be able to give you what it was they were expecting.

I touched my hand to my genitals. The crowd went wild.

 

 

The End


The Winds of Futility

Join Clarissa and her friends on a crazy adventure in an uncharted country.

  • Author: Jonathan Smith
  • Published: 2017-04-20 01:35:18
  • Words: 72423
The Winds of Futility The Winds of Futility