66. This is Stone Age Stuff

“Generally what happens is what’s supposed to happen,” I told Jen. “You got your day, your hour. Pre-ordained. That’s that.”

“I’m hearing a ‘but.’ Like this isn’t written in stone.”

“In certain cases.”

“Certain cases?”

“Mostly the dead don’t care when you die. Any of them can tell you when you’re going to pop off. But they’re not really interested. 

“There are people the dead want to kill, sure, but it’s the same old revenge and retribution deal. They got a beef from their time on Earth, they want to settle it, preferably by twisting your head off, except there’s nothing they can do about it because they’re trapped in the underworld. Powerless. Meaning they’re bitter, full of complaints.”

“I know the feeling.”

“In fairness, Jen? You’re not squatting in the gloom and dust all day and all night.”

“Still. What’s with Interventions?”

“What I know is what Duke tells me. You got the deadest of the dead guys in a cave way off the main room. Sitting in the dust like everybody else. They don’t have any idea when they were born, that’s how old they are. You sneeze around them, they’d fly to pieces. They hum at each other. They’re on a different plane.”

“They don’t talk?”

“Stone Age stuff. Grunts. Yodeling. Noises you can’t make out. You need layers of interpreters to get down as deep as these guys are. Then it’s like playing Telephone. Who knows what errors creep in? You’re going from the Stone Age to Bronze Age to Iron Age. And even then you’re just getting started. You want to build an accurate system but it’s based on approximate knowledge.”

“What a mess.”

“But these are the guys. They’re one step removed from the Garden of Eden. You want a rewrite on the day and the hour, they can make it happen.”

“Just because they’re old?”

“Because they’re in tune with the beginning of everything.”

“Charles. This sounds nuts.”

“What isn’t nuts, Jen? We’re here. I say the things I’m thinking and those thoughts enter your mind. You carry those thoughts to different places through time. Maybe you tell other people. Then I die and you die but those thoughts…”

“Excuse me for asking, but are you high? I used to have this kind of conversation often. But in the Seventies.”

“The world is strange, Jen, that’s my point.”

“Back to nuts and bolts. I want the oldest guys to rewrite Leo’s history, what do I do?”

“You give them a name. When they’re ready, if they feel like it, they make modifications. The day, the hour.”

“This is the premium product? It sounds like a crapshoot.”

“What are your alternatives? Put a pillow over Leo’s face?”

“How different would that be?”

“It would be murder. To name one difference.”

“This isn’t?”

“This is engaging the cosmic forces. We’ve all got to die. Leo will die of natural causes. Nature gets a little rearranged.”

“I keep asking. What do I have to do?”

“You’ve got to make it worth their while.”

“How do you make it worthwhile for the deadest guys in the underworld? What do they care about anything?”

“Here’s the deal,” I said.

Monday: There goes the course of history

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