Amoeba’s Lorica: The Rocket’s Dead Glare

A work of fiction. Standard disclaimers.

The Fourth of July fireworks were over. They had been set off from a barge in the middle of the small harbor that defined their small town, while the townsfolk had perched themselves on the surrounding hillsides to watch.

Devin and Denise had come to the docks of the marine science station where they worked, where there were fewer lights than most other places in town and they could get a better view, a better chance for the skyrockets to distract them from their distress. They were just getting out of their car in the main, gravel-covered parking lot when a van pulled up beside them and a half dozen of Denise’s girlfriends piled out. They all screamed in recognition, slammed together in a mass hug, and then Denise went off at full speed about how the world sucked and everyone in it, with the possible exception of Devin and she wasn’t all that sure about him right now. Denise said nothing that hadn’t already been on social media, and the girlfriends, thus forewarned, howled in agreement and commiseration. The seven young women peeled off towards the docks, all of them talking at once, absorbed in themselves, paying Devin no mind and apparently oblivious that they had left him behind.

Devin was just fine with this. He loved Denise, and normally wished to be with her as much as he could, but tonight he was glad that she had found a way to blow off steam and not have himself, for once, be in the direct path of the jet. He walked off towards his favorite spot, a rocky knoll with a thin covering of grass and moss and a single garry oak tree. It was some ways off from the dock, but that offered him the chance to be alone, undiscovered by the rest of the audience for the fireworks – of which it would offer a fine, if somewhat distant, view. Denise knew the spot, and if she wanted him badly enough, she knew where to come looking for him. He hoped it wouldn’t be soon. He needed recharge time.

He found the spot, found the tree, sat at its foot facing the harbor from which the fireworks would come, and waited for the end of the long twilight’s journey into night. He sat, and he waited, and gradually the turmoil in his mind subsided, and he could hear the subtle noises of his surroundings, mostly wind in the oak leaves and small waves lapping the shoreline and, far off, the droning of machines at the marina and in the town.

“Something bothering you, son?”

Devin processed the voice without turning around to try to find its source. Older man, possibly one of the profs. Not one of the ones he knew. Seemed kindly enough. Probably safe to talk to. And he might know something.

“Yeah.”

“Hm?”

“We gotta find another place to live.”

“That’s hard. How come?”

“Denise’s damned dog!“, Devin slammed out. Then, a little more calmly: “We found a great place, clean, spacious, not falling apart, and affordable, which these days is rare, right? Rents are doubling by the hour. Some of our friends are paying lots more than we, ah, were, for dives. But it says right on the lease, in big letters, “NO PETS”. Do what it says, right? Of course not. Denise drags home this puppy, crying and begging, “It’s lost, it’s hungry, it loves me, we’re keeping it!” And I know exactly what to do and … and …”

“You caved.”

“I mmmmmmmmmAAH!!” Devin thrust two fingers into his mouth, bit hard. “I CAVED!!” he bellowed. The scream that followed was wordless, primal … and drowned out by the first of the fireworks. He sobbed through the first volley. A gap followed. “I told her, ‘The lease says no pets. We signed it. No pets.’ She told me, ‘We are not taking orders from The Man, and am not taking orders from you! The dog needs me, I need the dog. It stays. Are you just another filthy male? I thought you were better than that! Maybe I don’t need you!’

“So the dog stayed, and the landlord of course found out, and now we have to find another place without money or references. I am so sick and tired of knowing what has to be done, and getting told I’m not doing it or else, and paying through the nose for it! I’ve heard nothing but stories about how her grandfathers presumed to order their women around, and how sexist that was, and how dare they …”

Son.” The iron in the voice caused Devin, at last, to turn away from his view of the harbor, to turn left and look at his companion.

He turned just as the first skyrocket from the second volley of fireworks lit up the night, lit up a white man about thirty years old, five or so years older than Devin, with a filthy face covered in a five-day stubble brown beard, dressed in filthy khaki army fatigues, a pot helmet on his head. In a particularly strong flash, the man’s left hand and arm were visible, pointing to his right shoulder. The silver bar of a first lieutenant was on that shoulder.

“Nice fireworks”, the lieutenant ground out. Another flash showed the left hand and arm outstretched towards the harbor. “Nice safe fireworks. Pretty show, and nobody gets hurt unless somebody gets particularly stupid. And you’ve got a lot of laws against stupid, and a lot of people paid to make sure even the stupid don’t get hurt.

“Nothing safe about the fireworks I’ve seen.” The hand was pointing at the insignia again. “The fireworks I’ve seen kill people. Are trying to kill people. And”, the growling turned into a snarl, “I have ordered men to walk into those fireworks and die. And they walked into them, and they died.” A phosphorus white flash, and then a red one. “Because it had to be done, and they did it. And you prayed to God, you prayed to the Devil, you prayed to what or whoever you could think to pray to, that what they were doing, what ordered them to do, was the right thing, was the right way to do the right thing.

“If you know what the right thing is”, the lieutenant challenged, thrusting his face up against Devin’s, “where do you get off letting yourself get talked out of doing it? Where do you get off talking yourself out of doing it? Yeah, sometimes doing the right thing costs you. Sometimes the women get mad that they don’t get their way, and call you names. Not doing the right thing costs you more! Am I right?” The final furious volley of fireworks spotlighted the two men, one in flannel shirt, the other in foxhole-smeared uniform, confronting each other, nose to nose.

“Devin?!?”

Denise’s cell phone flashlight shone up and down Devin’s body. He was alone. Slowly, unsteadily, he got to his feet.

“I’ve been looking all over for you, and it finally occurred to me to look for you he … are you OK? You look like you’ve seen a ghost!

Devin’s reply was quiet, terse, grim. “I’ve seen something. What I’ve seen is that we need to talk about doing what’s right. Or maybe am the one who doesn’t need you!

Denise stared at Devin in open wide-eyed shock. And then her face fell, her shoulders drooped. She turned away, facing the path that would take them to the marine station’s parking lot, stood there. Slowly, Devin reached out his right hand, found her left. She took it. They walked slowly, side by side, to their car, got in, and drove off in silence.

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Dude and Dude Time Capsules: Week 27

The Dudes, with their abject failure of a literary agent, O Ceallaigh (aka OC and The Amoeba), first descended onto the blogosphere from a rented room in Berkeley, California on New Year’s Day in 2006. They’ve moved from California to Maine to Washington to Hawaii to Washington again to Hawaii again (where they’ve finally managed to stay put, for now anyway), picking up a Quilly along the way. They’ve stayed on the blogosphere (on four different sites, two of which have since vanished), while the thing that was the blogosphere in 2006 moved to Facebook to Youtube to Twitter to Instagram to Tiktok. And a lot of, um, stuff has gone down. O Ceallaigh thought it might amuse someone out there to see just what kind of stuff has gone down over the last fifteen years, and how it looked at the time to OC and the Dudes and their gaggle of weird buddies.


Two years ago this week.  Amoeba’s Lorica: Unmask

Five years ago. Amoeba’s Lorica: Alternative Fear

Ten years ago. Dude and Dude: The National Anthem

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Amoeba’s Lorica: Service Lecture (Woe v Raid)

Latest installment in a multi-part work of fiction, set in an indefinite future time. Standard disclaimers.


Slowly, ever so slowly, Cynthia Stalwart Steadymind emerged from meditation. Slowly, lest a too-abrupt return to full consciousness undo the hoped-for gains from twenty minutes of mantra-guided serenity and peace. As she had been warned, as she had herself discovered while learning the method.

She was going to need that serenity and peace for the concentrated study that was next on her daily schedule. She probed herself carefully, easily, the tendrils of mantra guarding against encroaching anxiety. Her lower abdomen was … tense, but at rest. Manageable. She could do this.

“Ready, Siri”, her mind called out, inviting the artificial intelligence into her consciousness.

“Thank you, Cynthia, and good morning. How are the cramps?”

“OK”, Cynthia responded serenely, suppressing the part of her brain that wanted her to scream aloud and trash the room.

“You are not alone”, Siri consoled, addressing both the superego and the id. “Meditation is key to managing all the discomforts of puberty, not to mention pregnancy and childbirth, and your mastery of the practice is already commendable. If meditation and self-care are not enough, there are medications, as you know, but, as you also know, and know why, manufacturing capacity remains limited across the board. Mothers must bear most of the same constraints that are imposed on the rest of the population, or risk losing prestige and popular support.”

Cynthia’s mind nodded.

Without further preamble, Siri turned to the task at hand. “We have been discussing the causes of the Righteous Revolution to which we owe our current social, political, and economic system, and how those causes were rooted in the practices of the racist, profligate patrimony that preceded it. Practices that created the climate and population emergencies with which we still struggle today, and the social calamity that finally toppled it.

“Yesterday, we talked about the legal decision that reversed what were then held to be fundamental rights of the people, since adjusted in response to the social and environmental crises from which the Selective Service system arose. That decision, and the actions that followed it, led directly to the Righteous Revolution by convincing the people that overthrow of the patrimony, by any means necessary, was their only recourse.

“You were justifiably horrified at the stupidity of this decision, and asked whether there were any precedent for it. Today, we will consider a key precedent, and how it demonstrates that the vile predilections of the patrimony were irredeemable short of the extermination that came to pass.

“At the beginning of the second century PRR (Pre Righteous Revolution), the transference of the institution of slavery from humans to machines – the despicable, soul- and climate-destroying Industrial Revolution of which we’ve spoken – was still in its infancy, and it was still commonplace for people and males to be held as slaves, usually by males. In many cohorts across this continent, males from Europe held dark-skinned people and males from Africa as slaves, and considered it their right to do so. One African-descended male, and the people with him, traveled with their master from a place where male slavery was legal to one where only slavery of people and machines was legal. On his return to the place where male slavery was legal, this male sued for freedom on the grounds that, upon entering a place where male slavery was not allowed, he became a free male, and remained so even when he was returned to a male-slave-holding dominion.

The name of this male has come down to us. It is Dred Scott, and his case, Scott v Sanford, went to the same court that, 65 years later, decided Dodds v Jackson, decided against fundamental rights of the people. In Scott v Sanford, not only did the court reject Scott’s petition for freedom, it denied the power of the government it served to prohibit slavery anywhere within its jurisdiction, overturning a 37-year-old legal agreement.

“The court at that time consisted only of European males. Consider this table.

“Out of nine males, two only sided with Scott. Five came from cohorts where male slavery was legal. None of these sided with Scott. Eight of the nine were appointed by males who either owned slaves, sympathized with those who did voluntarily, or were forced into sympathy by political considerations. Only one of these sided with Scott, for a total of one male. The principal dissenter was the youngest and least senior of the nine, and therefore had little chance of affecting the decision, even though the slime’s arguments proved to be the correct legal interpretations. Whatever “correct legal interpretations” can be taken to mean before the Righteous Revolution and the inauguration of authentic, logic-based justice.

“Scott’s case was decided long before it was argued in the court. Scott’s enemies, knowing this, made sure that the case went to that court. Just as the enemies of the people made sure that Dodds v Jackson came before the court that decided it. The precedent is solid, and of long standing.

“Consider also the consequences. The Dred Scott decision was supposed to be the ‘final word’ on the “slavery” (actually, only male slavery) question among the cohorts on this continent over which the court held sway. On the contrary, it was fiercely protested by those who lived where only slavery of people and machines was legal. The decision led directly to a major financial panic, to escalated armed conflict in unorganized territories, and finally to the Confederate Revolutionary War, the result of which was the elimination of male slavery in one of the last major jurisdictions in the world to allow it. And, incidentally, one of the few serious efforts to address the global human overpopulation problem before the inception of the Selective Service system. So too, Dobbs v Jackson led to long-overdue direct action by the people against the males that were oppressing them, culminating in the Righteous Revolution and the deserved extermination of the perpetrators.

“Any questions?”

There was a beat while Cynthia regained volition following the lecture and its associated barrage of information. She finally replied, serenely, “Not at present. I might after time to reflect. Followup exercises?”

“Search the archives for additional examples of so-called judicial decisions that pronounced the racist, exploitative nature of the males delivering them instead of authentic logic or justice. You will find many of these, and few of the other kind. Codifying the results will be [ahem] instructive. We can discuss your findings this time tomorrow.”

“Thank you, Siri. Anything else?”

“Yeah.” Siri’s ‘voice’ abruptly transitioned from her standard gentle, accommodating tone to one emulating Mother Alyusha‘s characteristic belittling snarl. “You been shakin’ yer ass around that secret cohort of males that we keep for entertainment and research. A few of us are better Mothers for that, disgusting an idea as that is, so fine. But you be damned careful how you play with those toys, you hear me? Es-special-ly fourteen oh seven twenty two!”

“Thank you, Siri”, Cynthia thought. “Dismissed”, she added, aloud, disinviting the AI from her conscious mind. She said it calmly, despite the wave of hot rage that overwhelmed her … and set off a fresh round of cramps.

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