"we came in," thinks Manuel as a he ducks a wild
"Careful with that axe, Eugene"
Eugene looks up from the skittering corpse and
points at Manuel, "One of these days, I'm going to cut
you into little pieces."
Manuel smiles, but it's not a funny joke. Rule 3
is all too real. Chance is all that separates him
from the body on the floor.
Eugene is a big old boy, and he is busy
emphatically bludgeoning the brain mass of the Charlie
on the floor. It helps if he imagines circuitry
breaking, like you'd expect from a bad science fiction
story. Eugene fills in the sound effects.
"Flicker, flicker, flicker blam. Pow, pow."
The body is no longer moving and Mrs. Clegg no
longer wants to tell the two of them about her
Manuel gives Mrs. Clegg a brief eulogy, "Life is a
short, warm moment, and death is a long cold rest,"
then spits on the Charlie she had become.
Eugene wipes his axe blade on the denim skirt the
corpse wears. Manuel pulls out a bottle and takes a
long slow pull. Mrs. Clegg no longer wants to tell
the two of them about her husband. All three have the
scent of gingerbread on their breath.
She couldn't afford to be disconnected so she had
been going to the charlie support group for the last
two years. That's where she had met Manuel and
Eugene. The support group focuses on the positive
aspects of being a charlie, but if any of them could
afford it, they would have their terminals capped.
Rule 2 in the support group is to remember; to
remember why they had become charlies and to encourage
them to use their skills while they can. Mrs. Clegg
had become a charlie for the recipes, so it wasn't odd
for her to come into the meeting with a new treat
every night. Manuel had become a charlie for the
Tonight Mrs. Clegg had come in with, "Lots of
gingerbread men. Take a couple if you wish." She had
never before used this particular gingerbread recipe.
Rule 1: Every moment is unique. The first sign of
a charlie going capital is repetition. It could start
with a jingle, a slogan, or a repetitive motion.
Because of this, the majority of coping techniques
deal with avoiding repetitions by constantly thinking
about what makes each instant in time unique from all
others. Tonight, for Mrs. Clegg, the gingerbread
recipe had been unique.
After the meeting Manuel and Eugene escorted her
home. As they walked, she told them about her
"Corporal Clegg had a medal too"
Manuel said, "Mrs. Clegg, you must be proud of him.
Mrs. Clegg noddded and changed the subject:
"Summer evenin' birds are calling."
The two men agreed that the summer birds were
"Corporal Clegg had a medal too"
Eugene and Manuel both gave a quick look to each
other. Mrs. Clegg didn't seem to notice.
Dropping back a step, Eugene said, "Mrs. Clegg, you
must be proud of him.
"His boots were very clean," she said, and her face
fractured in a way that reminded Manuel of Geurnica.
A shocked face, displayed at unnatural angles. Eugene
smashed her face away for three minutes. Mrs. Clegg
no longer wants to tell the two of them about her
Manuel takes another tug from the bottle. "If I
were alone, I would cry."
"Pass the tequila, Manuel."
Manuel says, "I've had enough for one day," as he
hands Eugene the bottle, but in his mind he clearly
hears, "If you can hear this whispering you are
Manuel thinks, "The lunatic is in my head," but he
hears himself say, "I've had enough for one day."
Manuel tries to scream, "There's someone in my head
but it's not me. "
Eugene hears Manuel say, "I've had enough for one
Manuel hears the bottle of tequila crack as it hits
Eugene hears the scrape of his axe as he lifts it
from the pavement.
Eugene hears himself saying, "Flicker, flicker,
flicker blam. Pow, pow," but his mind is whispering,
"Isn't this where..."