Sunday, December 12, 2004


Beyond the Sea

"So, uh, Jonah," I say. "Tell me: where are we going?"

"What do you mean, 'going'?" Jonah says vaguely.

"What do you mean, 'what do you mean'?" I say. "I mean, where are we going?"

"We're not 'going' anywhere," Jonah says, as if to a precocious but overimaginative 13-year-old. "This is a virtual whale. Get it? It doesn't exist in clock-time or yardstick-space. There's no 'where' to go to."

"Uh huh," I say. "Sure."

"What?" Jonah says. But his tone is off. There's something he's not telling us.

"Do you guys still need me?" Bill says. "Cause, you know, I've got some emails to--"

"Go," I say, rolling my eyes. Bill goes. Jonah and I both watch him waddle back to the blog.

"Nice guy," Jonah says. He despises Bill. I can tell.

"We're going to Iraq, aren't we?" I say.

"I don't know what you're talking about," Jonah says, busying himself with his laptop.

"Oh yes you do," I say. "You know exactly what I'm talking about. You're hiding in that laptop so I won't see your complicity in this whole red-herring Iraq War in your eyes, you big faker."

"You're crazy," Jonah says suddenly, glaring up at me with a strange mix of fear and resentment. "Who sent you here? What are you trying to do to us?"

"'Us'?" I say.

"Abraham Lincoln sent you, didn't he? I knew that old quack couldn't stay out of world politics for more than a month at a time."

"Abraham Lincoln," I say stiffly, my voice sounding pompous even in my own ears, "is a great man, and I had the tremendous honor of serving him in the White House this time around. But I haven't spoken--"

"Spare me the histrionics," he sneers. "You fish-lovers make me puke. Where is he? Is he in the trunk?"

"I don't," I start, but Jonah is already in motion. He grabs some sort of prybar from the debris and takes it over to the blog, pops open the trunk.

"See?" I say. "Nothing."

"Oh ho ho," he says, reaching far into a back corner and pulling out a piece of paper. "Looky what we have here."

I come over to see what he's found. "So?" I say. "It's a movie poster. Big deal."

"It's a movie poster for Beyond the Sea," Jonah says significantly. "Now do you want to tell me who sent you?"

He holds out the poster. For a moment I think he's handing it to me, but his arm is out at an angle away from me. Then, out of nowhere, thousands of cockroaches swarm up his legs and torso, flood out his arm, grab the poster, and make off with it, clicking and chittering.

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