SUMMARY REPORT TO THE COMMITTEE BY THE PROCUREMENT GROUP OF THE LOST VOICES OF FRESH KILLS LANDFILL AUTHORIZATION ACT FOR FISCAL YEAR 2082
APPEAL FOR ADDITIONAL FUNDING TO CONTINUE MANUSCRIPT ACQUISITION
UNTITLED FRAGMENT #4
– handwritten, three ring binder, many pages badly damaged and unreadable, date unknown
Keywords: politics, mystery, travel, fantastic tales, agents, unnamed women, kinky sex, state secrets, undercover
“She was messing with me. Leading me around like a toy on wheels being pulled by a string. Did I know the difference between communism and capitalism? Of course I knew many and I was about to educate her, but I never got the chance. Under capitalism man exploits man, she said, under communism it’s the reverse. That’s when I thought you put her up to it, Peter. It was your pathetic humor. What were the possibilities? She had to know me or know about me, live around here. We shared the same airspace. I knew that much. Or, and this crossed my mind, it was the wife of one of our old college pals who despised our politics and was working for the Bureau, or maybe someone gone mad with the latest release of the alumni directory.”
“That’s potentially a long list,” I interjected.
Gordon said, “I can shorten it to about five.”
Here Martin’s improbable story screeched to a halt and he didn’t appear disappointed. Nothing he’d told us explained his four month disappearance. Why did I expect it would? Without another word he pushed his chair back and headed toward the bathrooms. He must have needed some time to decide where to take this absurdity next.
The empty mug was warm in my hands. The cigarette smoke had glazed over Gordon’s eyes so they appeared to be tiny skating rinks. I refilled my mug.
“You know the name of the game he’s playing.” Gordon asked the question I knew was building in him. “It’s not charades.”
I met his eyes and read my own interpretation on his face. “He’s having a nervous breakdown. You know he’s always been on the verge of one.”
“Do we ask the names of his prescriptions and the doctors signing them over to him?” Gordon said.
I had the fleeting thought Martin was going to do something horrible to himself in the bathroom. He’d put the blame on us in a note he’d tape to the mirror, citing years of verbal abuse. I didn’t say anything to Gordon. And just as well. Martin was back in no time, “Refreshed,” he said. More surprises were on the way. Another pitcher was delivered to our table in response to Gordon nodding his head. It’s arrival didn’t interrupt Martin, already back into it.
“I know this isn’t easy to believe,” he said. He put a hand on the manila envelope he’d set on the table as if a bible he was swearing an oath on.
“Certain circumstances aren’t possible.” I said. “Such as free love. Honesty from you.”
“Months ago I thought that too,” Martin said. “There are situations, realities…” He went out searching for something he couldn’t find and put a stop to it by taking a gulp of beer.
“You can tell me until you’re blue that this building and the Empire State are the same size or that certain dictators were good men with honorable intentions, but you’ll never convince me,” Gordon said.
“People once thought the Earth was the center of the universe,” Martin said. “I may not have been able to convince you back then it wasn’t, but I think I could now.”
“You’re going to tell us you can make people come back from the dead?” I said.
“Very perceptive, and no longer impossible you know?” Martin said.
Gordon and I threw our heads back and rolled our eyes.
“It’s against reason,” Gordon said. “We’re organisms with natural life spans. With hearts and brains that stop functioning when we die.”
“What do you think you’ll sound like by the end of the next millennium?” Martin said.
“So everyone living and born from now on will occupy the planet forever?” Gordon said. A finger circled the rim of his mug.
“They’re all going to retire to Brooklyn too,” I said. But my attempt to lighten the mood failed.