Jun 9, 2014

Subliminal pudor --- This is heaven (teaser)

We've met Professor Barbette Bienpensant in an earlier teaser, here, when she walks her sister across the festival venue and hits upon Alex. But John had already made her fateful acquaintance at that point, in a non-meeting of the festival jury. Here's the story.


Local volunteers (we’ve mentioned them already) are prepping the stage for very local artists, mostly by tripping over cables, shoving boom boxes, and bonding; fist bumps are exchanged excessively. Some local artists are already present, very present, and the dividing line between artists and volunteers is fading already. A few sun-burnt tourists are hanging around on the bleachers, swilling beer from oversized cans or kicking them (the cans) across the tufty asphalt surface of the overflow parking lot that the Surfside Field once was. Some pony-tailed redneck revs the engine of an antique, improbably-polished bike next to the trailers next to the canal, another redneck (bald) revs another less-polished bike in reply. The troupe of morning vampires has arrived and mingles with creatures from other undead tribes. Two kids are engaged in a fang-flashing contest, other kids join. There is much hissing and cape-flapping, but no declared winner. The anticipation of boredom is palpable. It’s a crowd of five dozen people that will grow to a few hundred during the evening (if history is any guide; last time I attended was years ago). The satellite dish of TVToo is nowhere to be seen. Nothing seems to symbolize, let alone represent the importance of an event supposedly backed by prize money of a hundred-thousand dollars.

The bride

So, we’ve just arrived. We assist two kids clad in Calvin Klein briefs and low-hanging jeans to put our market stand together, other kids in Calvin Klein briefs and low-hanging jeans are testing the sound system to its limits, and some voice seems to pronounce my name. John Lee. John Lee the third or John Lee III. Rhymes, I think. The voice on the pole mike fighting the reverb appears to be the handler from the City Club, yes, I recognize the tie, it’s the guy who delivered the fateful paperwork this morning. “Can I have your attention,” he repeats and pages (again) the names of Professor Barbette Bienpensant and Raphael Urban Beeblebrox. Would they be so kind to be available, by happenstance. Would they be so kind to join the mayor for a brief parley in the green room behind the stage. In five minutes. He’s too far away to make out the notes from which he’s reading, but I will discover soon, when he’s leading us into the shed behind the stage, that he’s holding a printout of my blog in his hand, black on white, the printout, the way I arranged the color scheme to make printing easier.
___________________

She’s sitting opposite to me at the conference table; we’ve never met. We still haven’t met, and each ticking second of not having met makes it more difficult to meet. I feel guilty.
____________________

Next, I’m sitting in a blind room that has seen it all, table tennis competitions, irate impresarios, casual sex, serious drinking habits, lost or found bicycles (one of them still leaning against a wall), a “conference table” that really deserves the apostrophes and the mismatched plastic chairs around it, the whole arrangement breathing a message of “impoverished municipality” or “the government is the problem,” depending on your stake in the culture wars. The room is part of a prefab structure that made the local news ten years ago as the object of a very minor corruption scandal. There’s another room adjacent to this one that once was a locker room, or still is, leading to a wet section with two defunct shower stalls and one malfunctioning lavatory. I know this because I had to pee urgently, and because I had the opportunity to contribute to the “casual sex” aspect of the dwelling’s history in the distant past. The heat is stifling. There’s no ventilation to speak of, and a familiar stench from the toilet appears to tickle Professor Bienpensant’s nose. She’s sitting opposite to me at the conference table; we’ve never met. We still haven’t met, and each ticking second of not having met makes it more difficult to meet. I feel guilty.

The governor

The handler had handed his festival printout to her (“here”) and vanished without further explanation. She presently turns her attention to said printout, studies the pages superficially, feels for her cell phone, googles (apparently), and asks: “You are Raphael Beeblebrox?” I’m not, I say, I’m John Lee.
“John Lee the Third?” she asks---I’m not dressed for the part.
“Why are you on the jury?” she asks.
“I’m family” I say, “or at least they think I am, family of Christopher Lee.”
“Christopher? The actor?”
“Yes.”
“And, are you?”

"Barack Obama and Dick Cheney are ninth cousins." Marc Debauch (2009)

“We’re distant cousins,” I say. She’s not convinced. “Barack Obama and Dick Cheney are ninth cousins once removed,” I explain (I know those things because my blog used to have a political angle). She looks alarmed.
“Don’t worry,” I add, “I think we are not related, you and I.”
“Neither do I.”
“You are Professor Bienpensant?” I ask.
“Yes!”
“I’m a professor, too,” I say (idiotically).
___________________

She has another look at my skimpy T-shirt. There’s some subliminal pudor in her glance, as if she’s undressing me in her mind. Now she’s done undressing me, I didn’t pass muster.
  ___________________ 

She has another look at my skimpy T-shirt. There’s some subliminal pudor in her glance, as if she’s undressing me in her mind. Now she’s done undressing me.
“Hah,” she says (shrieks). There is silence.

Perhaps we could share our frustration about being kept waiting, but that would entail a shared sense of commonality. There is more silence. What would Alex do in my place, I wonder. Alex would try to be productive, make something out of this, use the occasion to learn about her plans, her doomsday is the wild card of the festival.
___________________

“If I may transgress,” I say with all the false modesty still left in the room, “how can one predict the end of the world more than once?”
____________________


“But I don’t teach metaphysics,” I try.
“Good for you,” she says. “It’s a challenging field. It’s not for everyone.”
“You are an accomplished forecaster of doom.”
“Yes,” she affirms.
“If I may transgress,” I say with all the false modesty still left in the room, “how can one predict the end of the world more than once?”

The rapture of May 21, 2011



“You are asking the wrong question, see? The end-of-the-world is a new model of time, it’s not the end of the world. It’s called dialectics. That’s what metaphysics teaches us. See?”
“But on Thursday,” I say, “What do you do if nothing happens.”
“Never apologize,” she says, “and never explain. It’s a matter of sticking to your principles.”
“They predicted the end of the world for 2011, didn’t they?” I say.
“You are asking the wrong questions, see.”

We’re interrupted by the tie-wearing handler. It’s all a misunderstanding. There would be no need for the jury, today, since today is the mayor’s day. Tomorrow then, tomorrow. Tomorrow, please. Our email addresses are written into a crumpled address book. Bienpensant shrieks and disappears.



Are you still there? Then you'll possibly like the GREEN EYES. The first part is out now, available as Kindle book on Amazon, under this link:


Night Owl Reviews
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Go here for the previous teaser, here for the next one, and here for a choice of chapters of the Green Eyes. 

While we are at it, we had initially another bride-picture in mind...



...but we can't have Barbette with tattoos, metaphysical professors with evil intentions don't wear tattoos.

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