THE INFORMATION #829
MARCH 27, 2015
We’re born alone, we live alone, we die alone. Only through our love and friendship can we create the illusion for the moment that we’re not alone. –Orson Welles
WHEN THIS WORLD CATCHES FIRE
BOOK THREE: SAVAGE NOXTOWN
CHAPTER TEN: PART ELEVEN: KINGDOM COME
The Count was a man of many contradictions. He was a tall and slender man, but he could make himself look short and dumpy and completely spent as he sat upon a chair and allowed his face to grow slack, the better to meet his interlocutors face to face and convince him that he didn’t hold himself to be any better than one of them. He was a man whose hair was a glistering black, but in certain shades of light you could, if you stared hard enough, detect shining hairs of pure white. There was one fugitive chin-hair sticking out from his otherwise perfectly shaven face; there was one thread loose in the sleeve of his otherwise splendid sack suit; I noticed that one of the laces of his shoes was ever so slightly frayed. Did these flaws indicate a character defect—or a desire to be seen as human, even fallible in a way that other men were fallible? Were they the silent cry of a man who wished in his heart of hearts, in spite of all his palaver, to be regarded as Just One of the Boys? The formulation of such questions was barely within the grasp of my immature mind; I’m not sure if, howsoever long I live, I will ever be able to figure out an answer.
After Doc Ketman made his departure—I very nearly tried to follow him, but was glad I didn’t—there was an awed silence.
“Is all that accurate what you said was in his cards?” said Adam O’Day to Count Justin Victor.
“Of course it was. Do you expect me to say I made it all up?”
“No, but…” said Adam O’Day in a timid voice.
“No, But—!” he roared, laughing. And then he grew cold and serious. “Of course, there were some things that the cards had to say that I didn’t care to tell him.”
“Tell US,” said Adam O’Day.
“Give with the gen,” said Musky Dan.
“Ack! Tell us all about the Abbey Lubber.,” said Jim Whitey.
“I hear tell he’s a Buck Fitch,” said Pappy O’Day.
““Aww, get wise to yourself and stop your chaffing. It’s you who’s the lecher,” said Adam O’Day.
“Why, you brazen-faced Gollumpus–mind you don’t break the molasses jug,” said his father.
“He’s a real gooney-bird,” muttered Jack the Painter. “Him and his prayers.”
“What you got agin prayer, anyway, Jack?” said Jim Whitey, in a mock-kindly way.
“Don’t you get started on me,” said Jack the Painter. “You’re nothing more than a sundowner with snakes in your boots. If it wasn’t for the Doc and his liquor cure, you’d be cutting out paper dolls in some bughouse. I have nothing agin the Doc—I just wish he didn’t mumble his prayers over me.”
“Gwan, Count,” said Adam O’Day. “Tell us more about the Doc.”
“Nothing will induce me to divulge that information,” said Count Justin Victor, putting his pale white thumbs under his red suspenders in the manner of a farmer pondering the possibility of a thunderstorm.
“Suffice it to say,” he said, in a pompous voice, and then, remembered where he was, as good con men always do, he lowered his voice and spoke in a confidential tone. “Suffice it to say that he is a master of myriad mysteries; a nabob of hidden knowledge. I bear no ill will against the man, even if he reeks of the dust of the road and even if his toil involves treating the sick and coming into contact with people at their most desperate. I was trolling for a kind of a messianic image, here, but I don’t think it will do. Yes; he is a man of prayer, but yes, equally, he is a man accursed by destiny to lay down no roots but, rather, to wander the earth. You may think these are grand words to lavish upon a man widely regarded as nothing more than a mediocre medicine show quack, NOR a very prosperous one, but what I say is the genuine certified 100 per cent truth.”
Suddenly, he glanced over at where I was half seated, on a low bench near the bar, with a shoeshine kit in case Red Mary came in and raised hell about me being there; in which case I could say I had only stopped in to shine a gent’s shoes. “You there—shine boy. Would you like to have your fortune told? I usually charge ten dollars, but will do it in exchange for a fresh coat of polish on my footwear.”
That was the Count’s way—fancy talk where plain speech would do. But nobody begrudged him. He WAS grand.
The Count drew five cards from the tarot deck and grew very serious. “You will settle in a place. Word of your probity will spread throughout the town. People will consult you, even on matters which lay outside of your normal sphere. You will be well-regarded—even loved. Here the signs become less clear. I see…I see a woman in your future. Perhaps a child. Hers or yours, it is hard to say. But then the old cycle will begin again. You will have a change of fortune which will result in disappointment. You will seek to escape your situation, and you will therefore abandon your loved ones to their cold fate. You will achieve some success in your new location, but it will come at a cost. You will be challenged. You will be rescued by the powers of Divine Love. You will become intoxicated by it. It will be as though you have been reborn. But then your base and earthy desires will temporarily get the better of you, and you will be ruined. But, in the very process, you will finally achieve the wisdom you have so long been seeking. Finally, there will be another relationship in your future. For good or ill, who can say? The cards are far from clear on the matter. “
And do you know what? Every word he said came to pass!
“No,” said Count Victor Justin, “Old Doc Ketman is a sad case. A sad case indeed. Extraordinarily gifted. Well-beloved—but unable to show his own love. No wonder he grew so upset when I mentioned Red Mary. But it’s written all over his not unhandsome face. A lisping toddler could discern the truth in what I say in that regard. Hate can be well-concealed…but love is obvious to one and all. “
FEAR IN AMERICA: 9 Industries That Scare You Into Buying Things You Don’t Need
JOE E. ROSS: KING OF SLOBS
LATEST FOOD RECALLS
5*AVATAR OF THE ZEITGEIST
48 THINGS EVERY MAN SHOULD KNOW
STAYING ANONYMOUS ONLINE
6* DAILY UTILITY
Eight Ways of Looking at Intelligence
UNINTENTIONALLY HILARIOUS PROPAGANDA
The 30 Greatest Character Actors in Hollywood History
THE INTELLECTUAL CHARACTER OF CONSPIRACY THEORISTS
FIGURES OF SPEECH
11* DEVIATIONS FROM THE PREPARED TEXT: A REVIEW OF OTHER MEDIA
MAD 21 COVER
CONTROVERSIES IN POPULAR CULTURE.
788. Intellectual Hipsters and Meta-Contrarianism