Frank and Gordon in: The Thing That Should Not Be Mentored

 

Frank’s jaw dangled open, barely letting out a garbled cry of shock intermingled with repulsion, as he stood frozen in place. Before him stood a family of three, whose son Frank had just been assigned to at the local Big Brother program: Sheila, who (due to the fact that she was the only one present with a wide, beaming smile) must have been the mother; Harold, the father, standing off to the side with a frown, arms folded; and their son. True, the boy did resemble a boy, he being technically a male member of the Homo sapiens species of a younger generation, equipped with the usual allotment of limbs, torso and head. Nonetheless Frank was so stricken by the boy, such a boy as he had never seen before in his life, that he momentarily forgot not only the customary social behaviors for introductions but most of his motor and verbal skills in general, until Sheila finally took up the slack for him.

—So, you must be Frank. I bet you can’t wait to meet our son.

Frank reached for the boy’s hand, offering to shake it, assuming that whatever limb was there near his shoulder was in fact an arm, but the boy flinched his left flipper away. Frank left his open hand in the air.

—Go ahead, you can shake his hand.

—You mean, the one coming out of his head there?

—Sure, that one. Go ahead.

Frank hesitated before grasping the hand protruding from the left socket of the boy’s face and shook it before snapping his own hand away.

—We’re so glad you’re doing this, being a mentor for our son. Even if it is court-ordered.

—Oh, this isn’t court-ordered. My therapist told me this would help with some anxiety issues I have…

—All the same, he doesn’t have too many friends, so it’s always nice when someone shows an interest in him.

Harold, deferring to his wife for most of the interview, finally cleared his throat and spoke up.

—He gets picked on in school. You know, on account of his looks.

—Oh, there’s nothing wrong with his looks! He’s my handsome little boy! He’s so handsome he’s going to be a supermodel. Isn’t that right, son?

Sheila let out a tense laugh and tousled the boy’s hair, as Frank tried not to imagine a set of webbed, duck-like feet plopping down a catwalk.

—Well, that’s a fine goal to aspire to. And I can see he’s already on his way. He has his father’s… uh, never mind.

—Oh no, please, go on. He has my what? My beak?!

—Harold!

—I’m sorry, Sheila, I can’t just stand here and pretend that everything is normal, that my son doesn’t have birth defects!

—Oh, here we go again! Birth defects! It’s all my fault, isn’t it?! It’s not that our son is just different and beautiful in his own way, it’s me and my no-good uterus, isn’t it?!

—We’ve been over this! I told you right from the start, you can’t put twelve fertilized eggs in at once! I told you, you only have so much space to take care of so many babies. Some of them are going to come up lacking!

—You know Father MacAllister told me not to get rid of any of them! A life starts at conception, that’s what he said!

—Father MacAllister doesn’t have to take care of a half-bird, half-fish, half… whatever!

—Well, I’m sorry you’re ashamed of our children, because I love my boy just as much as our other thirty-seven children!

—WAAAAAAAAK. WAAAAAAAAK.

—Oh, wonderful! Now you’ve got him squawking!

I got him squawking?!

—Well, it was, erm, very nice to meet you… I think we’re just going to go ahead and play some baseball or something.

He doubted the parents even heard him as he slipped away from their argument, mistakenly reaching for one of the boy’s flippers before catching himself and grasping the boy’s head protrusion instead.

*

            —All right, I’m going to count to three and throw the ball. When you see it come to you, swing your arm, or your head, I guess, and hit the ball with the bat. Okay? One, two, three.

Frank threw the ball as gently as he could. The ball missed the intended area and hit the boy square in the other socket, in the middle of his enlarged single eye.

—WAAAAAAAAAK!

The eye, able to protrude and retract at will, like a telescope, had receded into the boy’s head, perhaps to lessen the damage from the impending collision between eye and ball. The ball struck his head and lodged itself in the empty socket. Frank tried to look on the bright side: that probably would have counted as a strike. He did not have much time to gain any solace from this thought, soon realizing that a boy with a baseball stuck in his only eye, running around, squawking in pain and flailing an aluminum bat in a baseball diamond full of other small children made for an unsavory combination indeed.

—AAAAAAH! GET HIM AWAY FROM ME!

—WAAAAAAAAK!

—HELP! HE’S HURTING ME!

—WAAAAAAAAAK!

*

            Frank stayed with the boy as the resident nurse removed the ball from his eye. While she treated the boy, Frank noticed several motivational posters strewn across her wall. One had a photograph of several baby ducklings gathered around a single baby swan. A caption beneath it read APPRECIATE THE INNER BEAUTY OF ALL THINGS. Frank tried to apply this lesson to his own predicament. The boy was certainly not a beautiful boy. On the other hand, Frank noted that he was not a particularly beautiful duckling, or fish-thing or whatever, either. He gave up this endeavor, apologized to the other injured children and left the nurse’s office with the boy. He decided to avoid strenuous physical activities for the time being. As Frank and the boy spent the rest of the day in the activity room, he tried to engage in friendly conversation while his young charge did a bit of coloring.

—So. How’s school been? Are there any girls you’re interested in?

—Waaaaaak.

—Yeah, that was a stupid question, wasn’t it? Anyway. Read any good books lately?

—Waaaaaaak.

—Okay. Well, I just got done reading the Republic. Have you heard of Plato?

—Waaaaaaak.

—It’s a philosophical defense of justice, of how a philosopher king can rule an ideal republic.

—Waaaaaak.

—Plato believes that there is an ideal version of the world that all humankind used to belong to. There’s a Platonic, if you will, version of everything, like a table, for example. And when we are born into corporeal existence we lose the knowledge we used to have.

—Waaaaaaak.

—Hey Frank!

Frank turned around and found his friend Gordon holding the hand of a plump boy of about seven years old, who was revealing a few missing front teeth with a bright smile.

—Fancy seeing you at the same Big Brother program! This is my little buddy Connor.

—Hi, Connor. What are you doing here, Gordon?

—The same thing you are, Frank! Doing my part to help out a few unfortunate, misunderstood children, who just need a sympathetic ear.

—Yeah, but I have to do this. Why are you here?

—Well, I thought I’d join you to make you feel better, but then I really just got into this whole community service thing. Oh Frank, you’ve gotta see my kid, he’s the best! Hey, Connor, say something precocious!

Connor batted his eyes, placed his arms behind his back, and bobbed up and down on his heels.

—My mommy says God is seventy-seven feet tall!

Gordon laughed and tousled Connor’s shiny blond hair.

—I guess you’re right. That was fairly precocious.

—Say, Connor and I are headed to the beach today. Do you want to come along and bring your little brother with you?

—Sure, whatever.

Gordon noticed the boy’s drawing and peeked over his shoulder to get a better look.

—Oh, that’s your whole family, isn’t it? Looks like you’ve got your father’s beak.

Frank was puzzled by this statement and took a look at the drawing himself. Sure enough, it was a crude representation of the boy and his family. What was strange, however, was the boy’s rendition of his father. Standing next to his mother, he indeed closely resembled the boy, beak and all. The individual Frank surmised to be Harold, however, was standing far away from the family proper, eyebrows drawn in a steep valley and mouth wide open, probably spouting some angry ravings of some sort.

—And my daddy says Jesus can bench press fifteen elephants!

*

            The boy once again needed to visit the resident nurse. After removing the water in his lungs, she had her work cut out for her for the rest of the day, as she lanced the myriad boils on the boy’s skin, a consequence of an apparent rare allergic reaction to external contact with water. Frank was not with the boy this time around, however. Instead, he sat outside the office of the director of the mentoring program with Gordon and waited for an impending employee/employer conference.

—Hey, Frank, I’m really sorry about this. I just thought your little brother might like to swim. You know, on account of his gills and all.

—Don’t worry, it’s my fault. I should have known they were vestigial.

When the director finally ushered them into the office, Gordon began the conference by immediately apologizing and claiming responsibility for the mishap that had occurred to the boy in Frank’s care. Frank, on the other hand, took this meeting as an opportunity to make his concerns known.

—Look, can’t I just take care of a different kid? It’s impossible to do anything with the one I have.

—Oh, really, he’s not so bad. Just because he looks different from other boys, and just because he doesn’t enjoy the same sports that other boys do…

—He doesn’t even speak! All he ever does is squawk! How am I supposed to mentor him if I can’t even communicate with him?

The director and Gordon exchanged shifty, telling glances, making Frank uneasy. The director let out a sigh.

—Frank, he’s deaf. Gosh, we all thought you knew.

—How could I have possibly known that?

—Maybe the parents might have told you.

—Oh, of course. They must have neglected to tell me that while they were warning me that he gets boils whenever he touches water!

—Well, I guess you just have to learn sign language.

—Just learn sign language?

—What’s the matter? It’s easy.

—What do you mean, it’s easy?! It’s a whole other language! It’ll take me years to learn, and I only have a few weeks with this kid.

The director nodded understandingly, then opened a drawer in the bottom of her desk and handed him a textbook that appeared be at least seven hundred pages. Frank looked through the book, titled A is for Apple. The first page showed a diagram of a woman holding an apple in her left hand. She held her right hand in a fist up to the edge of her mouth and rotated it up and down, using the tip of her thumb as a pivot. A is for Apple! Frank grumbled and leafed through more pages of the unwieldy tome. Each of them had the same woman signing common American Sign Language words such as horse, carrot, happiness, and quantum singularity.

—I can’t even read this! Why is everything written in diagrams? Can’t deaf people still read written English?

—Why Frank! What a thing to say about those less fortunate than you!

—You know what? If it makes Frank more comfortable, I wouldn’t mind switching little brothers with him. Besides, I think I might get the hang of this sign language thing.

—Well, if both of you are sure, then I don’t see why not. It’s just a shame you couldn’t appreciate the inner beauty of your own little brother, Frank.

*

 

—So the people in the cave, they only see shadows of life, reflected from the fire behind them. Which, of course, allegorically symbolizes the faulty state of perception humankind is trapped in at birth… Okay, never mind. So, what are you drawing?

—I’m drawing my family. Here’s Mommy and Daddy, and me, and my brothers Stevie and Adam, and here’s our dog, Shadow.

—Very nice. How original.

Frank looked at Connor’s drawing, and noticed the top half of the paper partitioned off by a series of spiraling blue lines. In this partition was a man with long black hair and a beard, wearing a pair of safety goggles, hard at work with a chemist’s set of tubes, bubbling chemicals and bunsen burners.

—And that’s Jesus in heaven, making AIDS to cure the world of the gays.

—…what?

—Mommy and daddy says God created AIDS to cure the home-a-sexuals, and breast cancer to cure the lesbians!

—Okay, wait a minute…

—Daddy says God hasn’t yet made anything to get rid of those media-running money-grubbing horn-headed cloven-hoofed Satanic Jews, but He’s working on it.

—Look kid, sometimes, your parents say things that…

—I was going to put Grams in my picture too, but she’s not alive anymore. She tried to get a new heart but it didn’t work. Mommy says they killed a guy in jail and took his heart, so they could give it to Grams! Mommy says he was in jail for touching seven-year-olds! I’m seven, do you think I’m going to be touched someday?

—Jesus Christ…

—Hey Frank!

In no mood to explain the social disadvantages of anti-Semitism to Connor, Frank was thankful that Gordon had arrived with his little brother, although still put off by the presence of his former mentee.

—How’s my little buddy been treating you, Frank? He’s real precocious, isn’t he?

—Well, when he’s around you…

—My little brother and I have been having a blast so far! We just got done playing bocce ball. I figured out where you went wrong, Frank. The trick is to play a game where balls are thrown somewhere else, instead of toward the other player’s head.

—I’ll keep that in mind.

Gordon’s young charge interrupted the two of them with a loud squawk and several frantic gyrations with his single arm. Gordon nodded and signaled several hand signs back to his little brother, an act which Frank watched in angered astonishment.

—How do you already know sign language?!

—It was easy. After a while I didn’t need the handbook anymore. I really got the hang of it. You should give it a shot, Frank, you’d be surprised how simple it is.

—The hell it is. It’s a whole other language.

Once again Gordon’s mentee interrupted Frank with a frenetic single-armed sign.

—What did he say that time?

—Hm. I think he said: The one you see before me, though you regard him as a friend, is one I find repugnant and hateful to my eyes. Throughout his tenure of coerced stewardship of me he continuously regarded me as inferior, due to my differing physical appearances, which I inherited at my birth and was powerless to either prevent or control. My odd visage and limited physical capabilities were ever the subject of his unrelenting derision and ridicule. But soon he will pay for his insolence. Mark my words, though he is your friend, do not pity him when he earns his impending comeuppance, for soon the day will come to pass when you shall be rewarded among the Elect for your magnanimity, and he cast aside to suffer amongst the Preterite.

He said all that?

—I think so, but I’m still rusty in a few spots.

Wow. That’s pretty intense.

—Yeah. Who knew he had such a sophisticated vocabulary? Well, we’re gonna head out.

Gordon turned to his boy and asked in signs whether or not he would like to spend the remainder of their time bowling, to which he sign-replied I bowling enjoy, which Gordon, still rusty in a few spots, interpreted as bowling seems to me to be a most agreeable activity of physical exertion. As Frank watched the pair leave Connor tapped him on the shoulder without stopping until he got his full attention.

—Did you know that in five years a race of aliens superior to humankind will take over our planet and enslave us until they use up all our resources and abandon earth?

—I guess I do now. Why don’t you finish your picture already?

*

            Of course, little Connor’s prediction was grossly erroneous. In fact, it took five days, not years, for the aliens to arrive and seize power over the entire earth. It was a relatively simple task for the invaders to complete. The leaders of all the nations of the world met with the aliens and noted the remarkable advancements in technology they displayed. In exchange for vows of perpetual fealty given by the leaders of the known world, the alien race promised to share the secrets of their prodigious prosperity.

The foreign race identified themselves as the Waaaaaaaak, of the planet Waaaaaaaaak. They were searching the entire universe for what they referred to as their Waaaaaaaaaak, a Waakish word which closely resembles our notion of a God Emperor, the fabled one who displays all the perfect qualities of the Waaaaaaaaaak people, born by an alien mother impregnated from beyond the galaxies. It is said that this child will lead the Waaaaaaaaaak to the ultimate zenith of their civilization, in harmony with the civilization that joins them.

Gordon was clay-pigeon shooting with his little brother when he found out the news, and was further surprised to learn of the elite pedigree his young charge had inherited. As a reward for his efforts in ensuring the God Emperor’s well-being, Gordon was admitted to the Elect caste and appointed a minor Judicator. Sheila was exalted as the Grand Matriarch, and ruled side-by-side with her son, Grand Emperor Waaaaaaaaaak I of Earth. There was no love lost between her and her former husband Harold, as a handful of Elite Templar guards dragged him away to the Mega-Processor where all the Unacceptables were disposed.

—I knew it all along, I knew you were sleeping around with some half-alien, half-bird, half-fish thing! That boy looked nothing like me!

—I admit it, it’s true! Maybe if you knew how much a man with flippers can pleasure a woman like me, how his free hand dangling from his head can be capable of things you couldn’t imagine, then you’d understand!

—That does it, Sheila! I want a divorce! I’m leaving you for good!

—Fine, go ahead and leave! I hope you’ll be happy spending the rest of your life in the Mega-Processor! I’ll be just fine without you, lording over all the world as the Grand Matriarch with my son, to whom you could never give the time of day!

—We signed a prenup! Half of that world belongs to me, goddamn it…

*

            It all made sense to Frank, as he sat in the Waaaaaaaaaak classroom, hearing the familiar, faint cry of an Unacceptable plummeting five hundred feet into a pool of corrosive acid where the Waaaaaaaaaak Beast swam, waiting to suck out the bone marrow of his next victim, all in a pit underneath the High Palace. It wasn’t that the boy was an ugly duckling, goose, human, fish, whatever. He was a beautiful alien, the ideal example of handsomeness within his entire race.

Frank tried hard to pay attention to his lessons. The Waaaaaaaaaak were requiring all humans of a lower caste to enroll in a Big Waaaaaaaaaak Program, where prominent members of higher castes tried their best to mentor the potential Unacceptables in the error of their ways. They started out by teaching the humans their favorite pastime, Waaaaaaaaaakball, a sport the Waaaaaaaaak people regarded as Waaaaaaaaaakish as Waaaaaaaaaak pie. Unfortunately, Frank had difficulty with this activity, as the Waaaaaaaaaak baton, meant to be swung by a head-arm, was far too heavy for his feeble shoulder-arms to carry. He swung once, threw his back out, and struck another player with the bat, giving him a concussion. Next, the aliens tried an afternoon of swimming in a pool of Waaaaaaaaaak fluid. However, this liquid proved to be disagreeable to Frank, who lacked the proper modified gills to breathe in it, along with the special scales needed to withstand the protean temperatures, ever shifting from shockingly cold to unbearably hot within minutes at a time. These conditions, along with his back still being sore from the last activity, almost caused him to drown in the fluid, as well as a Waaaaaaaaaak lifeguard who had difficulty rescuing Frank due to Frank’s frantic flailing of his shoulder arms and non-webbed legs to keep himself afloat.

These, along with several other blunders, eventually caused Frank to develop a reputation as being difficult to mentor. It was only a matter of time before the Board of Judicators would schedule a hearing for Frank and decide his acceptability. Frank sat in his holding cell, contemplating what he could possibly say to the aliens to explain himself, or even what he could possibly say that they would understand. He was pondering a poster hanging in a room, which had a group of alien infant children, the appendages on their heads barely grown to thumbs, surrounding a human baby, and said APPRECIATE THE INNER BEAUTY OF ALL THINGS, when Gordon, dressed in his regal Judicator robes, entered his cell.

—Hey Frank. So, today’s the big day, huh?

Gordon led Frank to the Grand Hall of the God Emperor, and before ushering him inside, pulled Frank aside and whispered to him.

—Listen, you’re in a lot of trouble, but since you’re my friend I want to help you. Try speaking in their language. Trust me, they’ll appreciate the gesture and overlook your other problems.

—I have five minutes. How do you expect me to do that?

—You just have to learn Waakish. It’s simple, really…

—How in the hell is it simple, Gordon?! It’s a whole other language! It’s a language that’s not even from this planet!

—Well, they really only use one word. It all depends on the inflection. So, if I wanted to say, ‘Where is the bathroom?,’ that would be Waaaaaaaaaak. ‘Did you happen to catch Jay Leno last night?’ would be WaaaaaaJayLenoaaaak. And if I wanted to recite a sestina from the poetic works of Elizabeth Bishop, I would say, Waaaaaaaaaak, or in my case, Waaaak. You know, because personally my favorite is ‘Miracle for Breakfast.’

—Okay, Gordon, I appreciate your help, but I don’t think…

—Time to go, Frank! Remember, it’s all in the inflection! Trust me!

Before Frank could protest anymore, Gordon shoved him into the Grand Hall. All the Judicators were present, and the God Emperor witnessed the hearing in his throne high above, with his mother by his side. When Frank took his place in the defendant’s booth, he was surprised to recognize the Chief Judicator presiding over the hearing, who happened to be the former director of the Big Brother program of which Frank was a former member. In an even more surprising gesture of inclusion, she had a lifeless human arm medically grafted to her head, where the left eye used to be before it was surgically removed. Frank would later find out that her operation to have her arms amputated and replaced with dolphin fins was scheduled to occur in two weeks. The director held a gavel in her head arm, but since she apparently did not have mastery over the limb at this point, she had no choice but to grasp the head wrist with one of her shoulder arms and rap on her podium with it, commencing the hearing. The Judicators rose from their seats and signed to the God Emperor, who gave a benevolent sign in return. Frank scowled at this display and turned to Gordon.

—How do the goddamn aliens know sign language?! They’ve only been here a week!

—Well, Frank, the Emperor is deaf, they have to communicate with him somehow. Besides, it’s not very hard to learn–

—It is hard! It’s a whole other language! It’s a language that’s not even from their own planet!

—Never mind that, Frank! Remember, Waakish! Inflections!

The Judicators finished their business with their God Emperor and faced Frank with the sternest of frowns they could approximate with their alien faces, waiting for Frank to provide them an explanation for his disagreeable behavior. Frank cleared his throat and nervously shrugged his shoulders.

–Waak?

The Judicators’ jaws all dropped in simultaneous shock. The Grand Matriarch gasped and covered her son’s ears, so incensed by Frank’s testimony that she forgot his deafness.

–Why Frank! What a thing to say about those more fortunate than you!

—I didn’t say anything! I mean, I just said Waak!

At this a torrent of outraged Waakish squawks filled the Grand Hall.

—As the presiding Grand Matriarch I’d thank you to leave me out of this!

—What are you trying to do, Frank, get yourself killed? Apologize!

—I’m trying to! Waak, waak! Can’t you interpret or something?! Waak!

The director silenced the squawks in the room and regarded Frank one last time. All single-eyes of the entire assembly were glued to Frank.

—WaaaaJayLenoaaaak?

Gordon groaned and buried his head in his hands. The rest of the assembly was speechless. The Emperor squawked out a demand that someone present relate to him what was said by Frank. The director signed the offending remarks. The Emperor was taken aback at first, and when he recovered after the shock of the insults he glared at Frank with his single telescopic eye that seared him to his soul. He let out the loudest, shrillest WAAAAAAAAAK Waakishly possible and pointed a finger from his head-arm at the offending Unacceptable, as a handful of Templar Guards dragged him away.

*

            Thanks to Gordon’s intervention, Frank was spared the Mega-Processor. However, his bigoted, inflammatory remarks could not be ignored, so Frank was demoted to the Preterite caste, forced to live outside, ostracized from the Waaaaaaaaak palaces, spending his days foraging for food in garbage dumps, squatting in abandoned buildings and engaging in turf wars with countless other Preterite gangs. This happened for a few years, while Gordon, Sheila, and the rest of the Elect enjoyed a Golden Age of Prosperity unheard of throughout the universe. But this age of prosperity, like all good things, came to an end soon. The Elect realized that they were depleting the planet’s resources at an alarmingly fast rate, and at the end of the year they would no longer be able to sustain themselves. They decided to abandon Earth and return to their home world, using the combined wisdom of humans and Waaaaaaaaaks to create an even shinier shining city on a hill.

But what about the Preterites? They were not bad enough to merit the Mega-Processor, true, but surely they must not reap the benefits accrued from the toil of the Elect. Those who have not, and see others who enjoy the reapings of their own hard work, grow to resent those who have, and actively work to destroy their achievements. The Preterites could develop means of intergalactic travel and ruin their grand civilization like the termites they were. Better to abandon the entire world and all the undesirable elements within it, and, just to be sure, destroy the whole lot in a massive, nuclear fumigation. It was nearly unanimously decided that the Elect leave the base caste behind, and the few voters of this decision who were responsible for making it not unanimous were demoted to the Preterite caste.

Anyone else who had any doubts about this course of action were soon reassured by the example of Frank. Even among the freakishly deformed Earthlings, Frank displayed an ugliness that seemed to mock Waaaaaaaaakish nature. His pale, skinny arms alone were downright offensive. And how, with his lack of flippers, his small, non-webbed feet with those stubby, useless toes, and whatever that snout-like thing on his face that he used to breathe out of, could he ever hope to survive in the fluidy regions of Waaaaaaaaak? His neck was comically short, nothing like the slender, snakelike neck of a proper Waaaaaaaaak. Worst of all, perhaps, was his head. Instead of a nice, long beak, there were two small pink flaps of flesh, hardly ideal for scooping out food within rock crevices. And of course, his utter lack of a head-arm. While the dual shoulder arms mocked this particular head-deformity, there was nothing on his head save for those two (two!) eyes. Even the eyes were notably freakish. Perhaps no bigger than an inch or two in circumference, and without telescopic abilities. Even among Earth standards his eyes were useless, and to make up for this deficiency he had to wear a laughable apparatus, a set of two pieces of transparent glass held together by wire frames. Of course, one could always look beyond physical appearances and appreciate his inner beauty, but what of that was there? Along with his outrageously ugly looks, Frank showed an obsessive, even hostile, resistance to appreciating the ways of Waaaaaaaaak. Frank certainly was an ugly Waaaaaaaaak, but he was not a particularly nice Earthling either. No, he was simply a Thing. A Thing that could not, and indeed should not, be mentored.

*

not fair

Frank woke up from the abandoned Starbucks and saw the palace, having been transformed into a mothership, launching itself into the atmosphere. In its place was a gigantic nuclear warhead, set to detonate in three days. Frank was upset about this as much as the next Preterite was, but what could he do? He had plenty to worry about, keeping his last can of corned beef hash safe from the latest gang. He was about to resign himself to his fate when he noticed a library across the street that piqued his curiosity. After shanking the leader of the gang who squatted there, and after the hangers-on of the dead leader finally scattered, Frank took a book off the shelf. The Republic. An oldie but goodie. This isn’t so bad, he thought. For the next three days I can read as many of my favorite books as I want. He opened the book to his favorite section, anticipating the allegory he had read countless times before: Behold! Human beings living in a man curling the fingers of his left hand in a semicircle while simultaneously spinning around the aperture of the curled fingers with the index finger of his right hand before finally pointing the right finger all the way through the aperture…

What the hell? Oh, of course, the Emperor’s language. What a bother. Frank took another book off the shelf, Notes From Underground. This time he found a man pointing to himself, then, with his open right hand, pointing to his face with his thumb and bringing the hand down. Afterwards, with a frown on his face, he puts his right middle finger near his forehead and his left near his stomach and rotates the fingers. He repeats the first two signs and ends this series of signs by frowning once again, crooking his index fingers and raising them up from the sides of his face. I man sick. I man wicked.

Frank scowled and threw the book on the floor. He ransacked the entire shelf for just one properly written book, just one piece of reading material he could enjoy for his last hours of life. About fifteen minutes later he found himself sprawled on the library floor, strewn with hundreds of sign-diagrammed books. He noticed an absurdly thick book with a rocket on the cover. Frank would never have given this book the time of day in any other situation, but at this point he was desperate. Surely not this one, he thought as he picked up the offensive book and flipped to the first page. Surely no one has the patience to transcribe…

Frank looked at the page. Looking back at him was a man in a sailor’s uniform with a paper bag over his head, indicating to him scream come across sky. He dropped the book on the floor, burst through the library doors in a fury and shook his fist to the heavens, to the Elect abandoning the Earth, to Jesus making something to cure the Jews, to whoever may have found it in their hearts to listen to him.

—IT’S A WHOLE OTHER LANGUAGE!

 

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