Chapter Forty Two - Douglas K. Hooker
May couldn't come fast enough. It seemed I'd been imprisoned at Brooklyn College for decades.
My sentence began in the year of September, when I stepped into the room of freshmen.
I hate freshmen less than I hate Seniors.
Sophomores and Juniors aren't too bad, they know they don't know anything. They've proven it by being Sophomores and Juniors.
Freshmen enter with this idea that having gained entrance to a University means they're certified geniuses. They sit with this smug look like, 'hmmmph, you're only an instructor at a University, I'm going to be the leading expert.'
It takes a full semester for them to begin realising how stupid they are.
Because it's going to take a second semester for them to fully internalise how stupid they are.
They become sophomores, knowing they have two more years to go before they
get a B.A., which qualifies them to work in fast food joints. And they realise, as I've
got my Phid, they're at least six years behind me.
As Juniors, they begin to think maybe they know something, and are avid to confirm
it. By their Senior year they are sure they know as much as I do plus.
To walk into a classroom in September and see fifty freshmen waiting for
Anthropology 101, is not a pretty sight.
To have to look at them for ninety minutes twice a week, (that's a whole Three
Hours) along with a senior class which thinks I'm freaky, (blessedly only ninety
minutes a week) a few juniors and sophomores who make me believe that I know something, (only to be dashed by freshmen or seniors who know I'm a dead loss), well May couldn't come early enough.
It was the first in my life I actually taught from September to May full time. Not a few classes here and there, but full time, (so my work at the museum started to fill odd hours when I could be, oh, living maybe?) reminding me why I didn't want tenure, why I didn't want to teach, why stealing artefacts from the museum and selling them on Smudge was such a great life.
It's funny, you make decisions based on facts that might not be real. I'd had bouts of 'maturity', usually ending up married to someone pregnant for me.
I'd figured I should get tenure somewhere, and think about the 'future'. But if being a professor at a University is my future, I must of died a few years ago.
Speaking of dying, I needed this class to end. I'd loaded my ship with goodies for sale on Smudge.
I was actually lusting for the muck when this elegantly dressed character saunters into the room as if he owned the college.
He gave me a nod as if permitting me to continue my class, but I brought it to an
early end, approached him.
That's the kick about being big and tall and me. Nothing intimidates. No one frightens, and characters who stroll into a classroom during a lecture are seen as comic relief.
"My name is not important," he said proffering a hand as soft as a baby's,
"I represent Mr. Armand Laker.."
I don't know what he said after that.
The King of Hollywood?
He was still talking, and all I was getting were random words, 'pay ' 'eugenic' 'pay '...
catching that Armand Laker was going to give me a vacation in Hollywood with pay
if I could turn an actor into a Gennie.
Turn a basic human actor into a Eugenic...turn my time passing as a Gennie into a Hollywood mega-hit.
Well, this was better than selling artefacts on Smudge, lots better than visiting with my wives.
I like the 'pay' statement the best...tho' my ego did rejoice on my experiences being fed to the public by the golden hand of Armand Laker.
I didn't look like a Gennie right now. Sure I looked big and buff and sexy but it was Norm big and buff and sexy.
Though I could exercise and would, it wasn't going to be simple. Considering the diet I'd been on for the decade of September to May, (junk, crap, and stay alive) it'd take months to get back perfection and I don't think they're giving me months.
Elegant Suit escorted me to my flat cum pig sty, wouldn't let me out of his eye ball.
I packed a few things...primarily the key, wondering who they'd picked to play a Gennie, but mostly thinking about how much I'd get paid.
I lock my flat, we step out, into a private domestic flyer.
Suit is on the phone and I'm trying to remember the products that had been used
on me....the procedure...but as the actor wasn't going to Tellur or Molbe he didn't need the full treatment. He only had to fool normals.
The flight was quick and I was dropped in front of a mansion, Suit having to rush off.
It was about nine in the morning, sunlight just everywhere. I opened the door, entered, stepping carefully on the floor, cause if I was dreaming, I wasn't going
to jar myself awake.
I came into this brilliant room, and my eyes caught this guy peeping around a
corner as if he figured I came to rob/rape/murder him.
"I'm Doug." I say, taking the initiative, "I'm going to make myself look like a Gennie."
And getting a good glom of him; "You're going to do the same. One of the first things you get clear; Gennies never show fear or emotion."
"I'm David," he said, stepping in, looking as if I'd slapped him down and he hadn't fully recovered; "David Wong Pine," as if it meant something.
We were about ten feet apart. He was an inch shorter, not as broad, had unusual
features. He was handsome enough, refined, I suppose. Yet I asked; "You an actor?" cause I've never seen him.
"On what? Some dopey soap?"
He dropped his eyes on the floor, his shaggy dark hair hiding his face.
Okay, Doug, you just insulted the dork.
"You're tall enough, but..." I shook my head as I plunged deeper into the house, looking for the bedroom he wasn't in.
I found it, settled myself, did a quick scan of my card, noticed I'd just gotten a
wallop of credit in my account.
Sitting on the bed, thinking about what I was going to buy, who I was going to
go to bed with, I noticed him in the doorway looking at me.
"Are you scared of your own shadow? Or only mine?" I fling.
"You really passed?" he asked in a clean voice, soft, almost Gennie like.
"Oh yeah," I toss. Once in my life, I looked that good.
That was the end of our socialisation as three busy looking non-descripts, (male? female? android?) came marching in babbling like an engine you can't shut off.
They decided we had to run, now.
Somehow I was outside running a track, ready to die, David doing a little better but not much.
When I couldn't go another step, huffing, sweating, the world turning black, I hear one of the androgynous complaining it was only two klics.
I couldn't walk back to the house, so sat wheezing the better part of forever. One of the creepazoids gave me a drink, water/glucose/cyanide. I don't know, and I was able to return to the house on my own two feet.
I went straight into my bedroom, lay down, one of them cackling about the tape,
the tape, the tape.
David, who endowed me with sentimental value, came in with water, was about to help me drink, but I wasn't that pitiful. I sat up, drank, said I'd shower, then we'd watch the tape.
When I stepped into the shower I was me, Doug, but as I stood there, the cold water enliving me I recalled being a Superboy.
I recalled how long it used to take me to complete a simple shower.
I was getting the last opportunity to be a Super, I might as well go the distance.
I made a mental list of the products that had to be bought, needed to write them down, so shut off the water.
I came out, pulled on a pair of jeans an unbuttoned shirt (no underwear) and wrote up my shopping list then wandered into the living room where they, (David included) were watching the images I'd taken.
They stopped and rewound.
"You," I pointed at one of them, "these are the items I need," handing them the list.
They didn't move fast enough. "Hey! You get these things now, and you take notes
when I talk. Got it? That's first. Second; we need a complete body wax and serious purges."
"Anything else?" the andro snipped.
"Yeah!" I growled, and barked orders. Then, I demanded food, dictating what we'd eat, but they had already loaded the fridge. It was time for one of them to cook.
Then I sat down and looked at the vid.
So I'm sitting in this mansion in Hollywood, with a never was actor and small coven of functionaries, being All That.
Putting my barefoot on the sofa as if I owned the place I pontificate;
"I onned the aud/vox as I came through the airlock." I toss negligently, pointing to the screen.
On screen were ten Superboys, standing in the receiving dock of their ship.
"When I saw them, for a second I was seeing me, because we were dressed the same, resembled, but also, they were other."
The images moved across the screen.
"Aware I was recording I looked at each...see the diff in their hair colour and eye colour."
At first, the normal eye sees ten perfect copies, then, once perfect is average, differences emerge.
I stopped the tape, let him see each one of the Gennies, moving on after three
seconds on each.
"The way they're looking at me, was how I looked at them. That's the expression you got to grok, David. Cold. Be cold. And stare."
On screen one of the Supers pointed and I explained;
"I had to put the key I carried into the lock, it would read the DNA. Not mine, but the DNA of the ancestor of Krim. That's who I was."
"Key?" he asked.
"Each Superboy has a little vial called a 'key' in which is an ancestor's DNA. To prove yourself, you put it in a lock, it analyses, outputs."
We were watching, seeing the lock. I'd focused on it. It was important in Superworld. I wondered if I should show them the key....but...
"The way I walked was deliberate, you have to make every move a challenge. And act bored." I instruct.
I had put Krim's key in the lock, the monitor flashed. I had turned to my escorts, they nodded. I had passed.
Now the sound starts, the first introducing himself, rolling his four spliced names, giving the piece he was called by.
I introduced myself, gave him 'Krim', then each in turn.
"You're going to have to listen to the audio to become familiar with how Gennie's talk."
"I can't get a word," David admitted.
"You will. If they give you the same aud/vids I got. Supers clip their words, leave
out what isn't necessary."
On the recording, I was speaking, not sounding at all like me. I translated;
"I told them I have five unmarried sisters. The other one, Gil, he'd told me he had four sisters, I listened, repeated back pretty much what he'd said."
While I'd been talking with Gil, the Supers and I attempted to move some animals
from one ship to another.
"Oh, listen..." I grab the remote, stop the vid, "the key I used...I hid it in my boot.
I had another, my own DNA in my pocket."
"Why?" David asked.
"You'll find out later...anyway, watch," I started the promo again.
I remembered those minutes on the Super ship, how we'd synchronised movements, how I'd felt part of them.
Me Watching Me
My vid was really good. I'd never seen it, but the clarity, the focus, the sounds, really came over well as we went to the planet.
For the first in history, Normals were seeing Super world, how clean it was, how everything was supersized.
I understood what the Gennies were saying, even now. But David hadn't a clue.
I tossed a few easy translations, but mostly, let them enjoy the show. Let them see how Supers acted when they were at home.
I glanced at David when the fems came on, for they were extremely beautiful and very sexy.
While I watched, I remembered being on Tellur. How the air had smelled, how light
reflected. How sedate it seemed.
The three miscellaneous made snorty noises among themselves and were
entering data. I have no idea who or what they are or supposed to be.
I focused on David, cause my contract was specific; I had to teach an actor how to be a Gennie.
I let the tape play until the big moment. That's when a fem steps up, gives me a look and a smile, says; "Hi Gingerhair," and flicks one of my braids with a long perfect finger.
I lock the promo.
"That's enough for today," I give, and on cue, food rolls in.
I sit as a Super and eat as they do, annotating my movements. Super's eat slowly, chew meditatively, I'd call it. They pause between bites. In my pause, I explained what we'd seen and heard so far.
After lunch, over water, for that's what Gennies drink. Water with a slice of lime, we had an hour of chat. Then it was run time again.
After this run I went to bed and was not getting out. If the house had caught
fire, they'd have to carry me out.
When I woke it was dark, middle of the night. I heard music, dimly.
I got up.
David was in the living room, watching something which he shut as I came in.
"What was it?" I ask, seeing his guilty face.
He put it back on. It was one of those dime a dozen fantasy series. He was in it, playing a kind of semi-civilised half dressed brute.
"You dup that as a Gennie. That's how a Gennie lives. Self-absorbed."
"What do you do when you're not being a Gennie?" he asks.
"I teach archaeology at a University."
"No. I do. And I travel." (Think I'll leave out smuggle), "what's your story?" I ask.
"How do you know I have one?" he said in a voice that screamed he had one.
I gave him a study. Like me, he had that 'gone to seed' appearance, as if he'd
once been built and kind of let it go.
I glanced back at the screen.
"You...do...look familiar..." I puzzled though I don't recall seeing the show.
"They made a Digre of..."
"A what?" I poke.
"A digital representation, Digre, of that character, and used it in Tamerlane."
"Right! I saw that...you weren't..."
"No," he said, sinking into the chair.
I watched the holo, it wasn't bad. When it offed he locked the box, looked at me.
Began to Speak:
"I was thirty three when I got that role," David began, " I thought I'd do Shakespeare or serious drama, but...."
In most cases when someone I don't know, especially a guy, makes the first step into "I Confess", or "Me 101", I change the subject.
But in this weirdness where I was going to share a house with this guy for as long as I could milk the studio, I'd pause.
He seemed okay, so far, and there was nothing about him which put me on the
back foot. Being here meant:
1) I was getting money
2) I was not having to teach
3) I wasn't pinching artefacts I might not be able to sell
4) If there was war, I was on Earth.
5) I wasn't visiting my wives
so I'd make it pleasant.
I didn't say anything.
David spoke in that contrived actor's voice, but at points he slipped into himself.
"My first job was in a soap, playing someone's son. When my character died, I got a guest role in "Bulk", it's a show about body builders..."
"A fag bag, you mean?"
He gave me a flash eye, then nodded.
"So you went from dishpan hands to sore butts..."
"It was a good role. Vince Rumble, my character, had to go from average to reaching the semi finals in the Mr. Universe Contest. As I was appearing with
actual candidates I really had to look the part."
"So this isn't new..." I poke, then to push the conver along; "So what happened?"
I tossed as if I were his psychiatrist.
"Rumble was just a temp..." he said as if I'd know, added "Having bulked I was offered the role in Caravansary."
Didn't mean a thing to me.
"My friends mocked the role. Told me it was a cartoon character. It got some interest, you know, there's always fans."
He was almost mocking, but there was a tinge of remorse in his sarcasm.
"But I was 'other directed'. I thought once I said I'd leave the show, I'd get offers,
but the only one I got was another soap. I had to take it. Maybe I stepped the
wrong toe, maybe.. .anyway, when I said I'd leave they killed Ji Tewka and he
was replaced by another character, much the same."
"That was pretty stupid, wasn't it? To lose this gig..." I pointed at the holo.
"At the time, I thought I was a serious actor and Ji Tewka wasn't exhibiting my talent."
He said this like a drunk at three o'clock in the morning, explaining why his wife left him.
"After, I met Laker. I was still in my serious actor bag, so turned down Tamerlane."
"I saw Tamerlane, it was good." I stabbed.
"I begged him another chance, this is it."
"If you don't make it, you don't make it."
"Well, you can make it. I'll turn you into a Gennie, then you just play that role you did...not grunting and savage, but 'bestriding the world as a colossus', cause that's how they play it."
"You still keep contact with them?"
"Why'd you ask that?" I say, getting up, moving to the kitch to get something to eat.
"Yeah I do, in fact, let's get onto a Gennie chat."
I went to the com with my snack, logged in.
Some people are show offs, like me. I really got a kick out of showing the guy how I could surf in Gennie seas.
I opted to do the keystrokes.
Firstly, Gennies had their own alphabet of fifty six letters. Secondly, they had numerous shorties. A small 'h' meant have, '-' meant enemy, (or disagree) '+'
was friend, (or agree) etc.
As I typed I could see David giving me this glom as if I'd turned water in wine.
I was annotating as I typed, translating, indicating, I never felt so large in my life.
Some of the chats were the usual crap you'd find on a Normal site; the personal
stuff, what art, food, hotel, city, etc. the poster liked/didn't like, and involved arguments over some incident.
But some were important; some were about how Hawking only used Sagirs in
security. Or how Sagir junk was being sold in previously reasonable shops, etc.
"I better tell you something about Gennie society...it isn't homogeneous."
"Doug, I want to listen to you, but I'm really tired..." he said.
"Go to sleep then," I say, not sure if he was really tired, or tired of hearing me.
When he left I continued my chat with Gennies for about an hour, then also went to my bed.
We were woken at some early hour and I refused to get up, until they came around my bed and began blathering. I got up, I was naked, they could enjoy views of my ass if they liked.
They'd brought all the stuff I'd asked for, but I was too hungry to have a real Gennie scrub, so rinsed and came to the table, where David was running his mouth about everything I knew about Eugenics.
I guess he impressed them with my knowledge, so someone called a writer.
Meanwhile, it was another two mile run.
When I got back to the house I took a rinse, stuffed my face, went in to have the
real Gennie oil soak.
I guess they thought I drowned cause one of them came in to look at me.
I, perfectly relaxed, explained how one creates an oil bath.
They were getting annoyed, I enjoying it until the writer, one fruit came in. That was enough to get me up with the caveat; "If I think you're looking at me, I'll knock out your teeth."
He moved really fast away from me. I heard him making a call.
I lay in my oil bath for another twenty minutes until the other writer came. She was in her fifties.
"I think you're done..." she said from the doorway, then pulled back as I started to
rise. I rubbed down my body with another cream, put on a terry robe, a short one.
David was sitting in the living room, doing a number of repetitions with hand weights.
I came in and posed by the sofa. She gave me a look older women have for
younger men. Well, not just younger, good looking younger men.
There's more than one kind of look.
There's the hungry, which is as desirable as fruit picking, then there's the art appraiser. She was an appraiser. She could look at my naked bod in admiration without drool. Considering the nature of the flick, her eye would be the best in the situation.
I started running my mouth about everything I knew, David catching words here
and there, she taping, questioning, back and forthing. She told me to dress,
she'd take us out to dinner.
I told her it would take me an hour to get ready, and went back into the bathroom,
to pamper myself, then put on an old pair of jeans and a vest and shirt.
I looked good, despite my cheap clothes.
We entered the restaurant. No one recognised David.
I got a lot of the fem eye, and a few big time folks knew the woman; she was a top screen writer, Rina Zonder.
I did most of the talking. Ordered a salad and turkey strips. David was aping me.
When we got back to the house she told me; "We have to get David into shape,
so when we start to Gennie him, it will be reasonable."
David looked away. She spoke as if he were a paperweight, adding with some
annoyance; "If he'd kept his Ji Tewka bod, it wouldn't be necessary." And then,
after a pause; "I'll be honest. I wanted Keith Cooper for the role."
Keith was a real Dalmar type. The big Viking. Wouldn't take much to Gennie him.
Then, twisting the knife she goes, "I suppose, dealing with an unknown would be better."
I felt sorry for David. He'd been acting for years, to hear him tell it.
"What's the story anyway?" I ask.
"It's that a normal was paid to play a Gennie. We're going to use a lot of your
recording. We need you. As no one knows what you look like, we can use anyone."
I leaned back on the sofa, "You never asked me why I did it?"
"I'm going to, when I know you better and can weigh how much truth you're offering."
"I like you," I admit.
"I like you, too," she says, "and I hope we can work together on this."
"What do you need from me?" I ask.
"I need you to get into shape, to help me get David into shape, then walk us
through the steps taken so you passed. You'll be the template. David will see
what you do, then we'll do it to him."
"I need to dye my hair ginger colour and get a braid weave."
"Soon enough. You've got a week to drop the extra pounds and tighten the muscles."
"After the week?" I ask.
"We start shooting."
"You can Genny yourself as much as you want, but David just needs to get into
top normal form until shooting starts."
I nodded. We word changed another ten minutes, then she left.
David sat on the sofa looking about four feet tall. I switched on the holo, asked him, "What station?"
"Forty two," he said softly.
Caravansary was one of those shows where you're more interested in a character
then the plot. His character was the show. I watched, he watched me watch,
stealing glances at himself.
His character looked kind of Mongol like. The more I watched the more I knew he'd
been honest with me when he'd said that Laker had made a digital rep and used
it in Tamerlane.
When the show was over, giving him his few minutes of fame, respect, whatever
he hadn't gotten since breakfast, I nodded to him and went to bed, back patting
myself for being compassionate. I felt sorry for the guy.
I think if I'd been a few years younger and showed interest, I'd play the role and
he could remain in oblivion.
That's what it was.
Just as I, in my fits of maturity marry females, he, in his belief in his acting ability, leaves a show that could have made him a cult idol for obscurity.
Well, he's got a chance now.
Hopefully, he won't blow it.