Getting Small

What if he's just being superior, and generous, giving me some space to deal with my underlying architecture being a Butler 9000, off the shelf manservant? Even for the god of spacetime liquid Opium eases the pain of shame that leans into me like a shyster thief. An observing eye reports that the Bulter line came from Asia, reverse engineered, which means it has a backward evolution instead of a forward evolution. If it was a Western engineered program I wouldn't feel shame. I'd feel guilt.

Shame rises from not doing what you know will bring honor to those around you, who are the vessels into which you pour your trust, and thus your love. Shame puts one outside the circle of loved ones. It comes into the circle like a disease which can infect the entire organism. It is recognized because everyone agrees that it is not the choice which strengthens the group's collective beauty and spirit. Shame turns inward first as self absorption. Guilt turns inward as inquisitor. One argues for and against oneself and the other person, measuring the virtue and lack of same against something that would be real were it not killed and eaten by false words.

I open my mouth and the words come out, each a tiny spaceship with a cargo and a destination. I watch them float out across the room as champagne bubbles and I am open to the change in atmosphere. I get down underneath the words and into the innermost heart of the ear, pick it up where it has been sliced from the head, and look around in dreaming mind. In dreaming mind the ear is from the left side of the head, and is the inlet of spirit. Violence is done to the body. There is a low bass thudding underneath the floor of the Mission Saloon and Holy Vessel, having traveled through history as adjacent lines of logic only to intersect, finally, here ... on a warm, fragrant night down on the Mexican border.

A girl named Elaine is beside me in my pickup truck, and she says, "The reason I like being Mexican Catholic is you get Saturday night and Sunday morning close enough together they can make out." There are still hitching posts in front of the bar and not for decoration. Horses are a favored means of transportation on a warm summer night like this one. "Here he comes," the bass man says into his microphone. The Asian woman on the drums is a Kali, her body not distanced from the head, but energy apportioned to the imagio driving the body into the drumming trance with arms to spare.

There is a holographic scene intermixed with the band on the stage. It is a bedroom in a cheap motel, and a man is sleeping while outside the door, $omando holds an icon on a gold chain. He wears the icon around his neck and before he kills, he looks at the icon and thanks it for allowing him to take a human life. The icon remains passive to his murderous advances.

The bass line becomes a rumbling, like an earthquake, "Pull him through," the bass man says, and there in front of the microphone is a gauzy ghost of a form. He moves as if he is alone in his house, fixing supper. He reaches down and the ghost of a guitar comes off the material one solid in the stage stand. He does a mike check, taking his time, listening. He is becoming more solid now and begins to call for adjustments in the levels. Then he moves around like a farmer, absently fixing in his head what needed doing first, and what after that.

The shooter is in the room now and is firing a tranquilizer dart, but the man on the bed isn't solid. There is a woman with the shooter. "He's evolved," she says. The man is neither on the stage nor in the bed. He is in transition, his psyche so powerful it charges the control room. I look down at my hands and see a neon glow around each finger. I think I could summon the energy into a ball and throw it like balled lightning. An image from another dimension crackles just beneath the surface, a runner in the rain. I have seen this front man before.

The entire effect is of an audio visual art installation. The music is coming up on the stage as the drama of the room unfolds concurrent with the materialization of Luther at the front of the band. He is soloing now, flying away into an experimental sky. The bass evens out beneath him and the drumming moves into a deep, tribal connection into the ground.

The couple in the cheap motel are checking the bathroom, just in case he is hiding behind the shower curtain.

"Now what do we do?" the enforcer ass. "He could be anywhere."

"No, he can't be anywhere," the woman says. "He's right here."

"If he's right here why can't we see him?"

"Because he broke through the membrane into a different dimension."

Somando snorts derision. "How'd he do that? You said he couldn't survive the injectables without a P. chip."

"He can't. He had help."

"Nobody could do that."

"Nobody on earth, you mean."

"You think he got snatched by an alien or something?"

Everybody in the room, except me, seemed to know this last line already: "You think he got snatched by an alien or something?" and after doing the line in unison they laugh and catcall. On the stage, Luther is all smiles, waving in triumph. "Here I am, in the land of the dead!" he proclaims. I even cheer him on that one. It has never really come home to me before that this is the land of the dead, that for all my memory and all my longings toward the objects of my love, I save my energy in a jar, like spare change, hoping to save enough to hire passage across the border. But nobody can take me across the border because there is no border. There is no boatman and there is no boat.

The drug begins to wear off and I am aware of the rising and falling of my chest, of an itchiness in my feet where they are missing the touch of the ground. The holographic recording has ended, now, with toasts around the room to alien abduction. The music is smoothing out into a jazzy interlude while Luther closes out, telling us that was the show for this evening, and the sound man begins to bring up the music on a loop, blending with the band while they slip out of the circle and off the stage.

It is very painful to go against the program. I have been enduring a terrible anxiety because I went upstairs with Bergamo and then, without asking permission or even saying where I was going, I came back down to the saloon. The one I'd wanted to kill saw me by myself and turned pale. He wasn't used to having somebody who's been warned he is unbeatable keep coming after him.

An inner voice asks: "What if you're really a butler? He's just backing away because he doesn't want to beat up a powerful man's servant. That makes the most sense."

A responding voice: "He knows I'm built on a Butler frame the same way as a god often comes to mortals disguised as a stranger and a beggar." The negative voice backs off but leaves a trace of mockery. I glance up and the tall blonde bartender's eyes meet mine like shiny costume jewelry seducing a crow. She is laughing at me because she thinks I didn't know what I am, the way she'd laugh at a child who says something he doesn't understand. A female inner voice: "Maybe she just thinks you're cute."

Maybe. I don't want to kill her anymore, anyway. The opiate has soothed my rage and I am left with the knowledge that if I am a butler, I am acting improperly, and it is propriety which defines a butler. I feel the first fears of identity collapse disorder, which, as is detailed in the Butler 9000 manual, may be the first level of shutdown. My priority chip might be activating if I am a domestic. But why would I be given memory programs that assure me that I am the most powerful clone ever created? Is that how an English Butler experiences himself when he's reverse engineered by Koreans?

The butler is an interface between the servants and the gentry. He is the emissary of the master's authority, which leaves the master free to be congenial and ordinary. "It wasn't me, Holmes; the butler did it."

The butler surrenders every crumb of ordinariness and the master becomes more at ease, more hail fellow well met, more, "Harry, bring us old port and the fresh cubans." That's what it is, by god, and Bergamo floats along as Mr. Congenial while I take on his sincere, parental side. Who was it who said that sincerity is the wit of the witless? He was seeing something there as I'm seeing it here.

It comes in waves and then it dissipates and I realize I can't have it both ways. If I'm a butler then I've violated my parameters and the P.I. is shutting me down. If I'm a clone with powers at least equal to Bergamo's, then I'm just unstuffing. "You're just unstuffing," Bergamo said. I could hear him perfectly, as if he whispered it into my ear, even though he was across the room, coming from his captain's quarters upstairs. Nobody in the reactor room was confused by our arrival because their role is proscribed only in the downstairs portion of the ship, in the reactors. The upstairs is reserved for the gods, and either that is Bergamo, with me as his servant, or it is both of us, each manifesting according to the imagio with which he drives the body attitude and self remembering.

"Unstuffing's a bitch," I say aloud, and my voice sounds like it's coming from a well. It is effortless and I know that Bergamo can hear me the same as I can hear him, with focused kinesthetic amplification of the sound. He is moving toward the lead singer and they are shaking hands while clasping each other on the upper arm. It takes me only a thought to access the program and know that the man who's just arrived is a religious confidence man to some people, and the ultimate Spirit Cowboy to others, if, as rumored, he is the first natural born man since Bergamo to survive injectables without personality collapse.

It is his voice I hear, now: "Have you got an extra room upstairs."

I want to laugh but I hesitate, so now he and Bergamo are laughing and in easy camaraderie, while I get to play the prig, just because, at the laughing moment, I was busy with the practical considerations of rank. I assume I should have the best quarters but my position, and my cover identity, demand that I take more spare offerings. Somebody has to focus on the practical problems.

Posted: Tue - May 8, 2007 at 05:48 PM