Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Serial: "The Meeting" Part I



Boss Eggers just arrived in New York City speeds in a dark blue limousine, the Ogre as bodyguard beside him. The limo disappears into the parking entrance of a gigantic skyscraper. A speeding elevator whisks the Boss to an uppermost floor while the Ogre waits back at the vehicle.

The smug publisher of one of the giant book companies takes Boss Eggers on a tour of his company's office suites. The publisher is a smarmy preppy type wearing a dull gray suit with a yellow polka-dot bow tie. Eggers endures the man's in-born condescension. In five years Boss Eggers will own this building. In their eagerness to cut publishing deals with him, the conglomerates are ensuring their own destruction. He is the vital life force embedding itself into the declining body of established literature.

"How does one combat the underground?" the preppy announces to him. "Why, we buy them out!" (He could add, "The same way we bought you.")

They turn into a hallway and stare at a display of a man washing dishes. "One-way glass," the publisher murmurs. "An underground favorite. He's now fully ours."

Boss Eggers smirks. They move down the corridor to another display. A dark-haired, slope-shouldered man is ranting to the walls.

"Chuck Palooka," the publisher states. "Our creation. He will be the leader of a new Underground-- an underground controlled completely by us. It's 1984 all over again, for real. Palooka will be our O'Brien. He's ours through and through. He goes where we tell him, speaks to who we tell him to speak to. He speaks what we allow. It's perfect co-optation. Palooka writes about the underground without being part of the underground himself. Through him, we the literary Establishment will become our opposite."

Boss Eggers sees that this doesn't fit exactly with his own Master Plan for takeover of American literature. That these decrepit publishers are thinking for themselves after decades of stagnation isn't a factor he's allowed for. Are these moves coming truly from the man before him? Or is someone with greater power, who Eggers had taken to be his friend-- his dupe-- about to betray him?

He'll find out at the meeting tomorrow.

At this same moment, Lindsay the rookie cop (Literature Police Department, the patch on her uniform says) is again on her rounds.

"Click." She runs fast to the next key station, in a minute stands before the forbidden steel door to the utility closet. Three minutes to spare. She allows the seconds to click away. She stares at the door. Tomorrow night, she vows, she will open it again. She'll investigate its depths to discover, for good or ill, its well-guarded secret.

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