Senior Poetry Editor
Associate Poetry Editor
Robert Hill Long
The goal of Del Sol Review is to publish the best work available anywhere, and only the best work. We do not compromise the publication due to political considerations, and we do not publish inferior work simply because a "name" tag comes attached. We do not publish writers because of their connections to us or anyone else. We reject such activities as harmful to the art. We publish a new issue only when we deem it ready.
- Michael Neff
Del Sol Review
Published by Web del Sol
2020 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20006
Summer 2008, #15
"Convenient Acts of Human Behavior"
From Year of The Rhinoceros
BAD BOSS THEORY
Writer and Producer: Michael Neff
Director: Rahmin Atarod
Pretend you are a superhero from Marvel Comics, like Doc Strange, or the Human Torch, or perhaps an omnipotent alien like the kind Michael Renny played in The Day the Earth Stood Still—all flash-bang righteousness and a voice of summer thunder echoing off the planets and announcing before a pants-wetting president and both Houses of Congress:
You count coup as his cobra of black limos perform the ritual u-turn in front of the White House; and you recognize him soon enough: crossed scimitars on black flag, his profile in the morning paper, a sense of unholy and lonesome gravitas.You find a bench and sit down, and without hesitation, observe the park's lost-cause-homeless as they posture and defend their spaces. Like you, the sun, and the Earth, they hurtle unnoticed towards the Andromeda galaxy. And though you eventually grow comfortable with this Godot-like waiting, you remain open to the possibility of speed. Finally, after pondering the issue of Kenosha vs. Keat Linderhart for at least half an hour, and reaching no solution, you begin to rise and rev. Just then, an unforeseen thing happens: a new dictator pomps his way up Pennsylvania Avenue and distracts you from the brink of velocity.
You watch in a state of stupor, grateful for the distraction. You count coup as his cobra of black limos perform the ritual u-turn in front of the White House; and you recognize him soon enough: crossed scimitars on black flag, his profile in the morning paper, a sense of unholy and lonesome gravitas. The Dictator is returning to the sacred grounds of his embassy, no doubt to be wombed by his staff into an idol of Wagnerian proportion. Overawed, you decide to wave, only you're not sure where. A black gasoline fortress, one of many, effectively cocoons him.
You recall a story about this boss-zilla in yesterday's Style section of the Washington Post. He'd come to this American utopia from somewhere between New Guinea and Malaysia, come seeking the White Oz of the Enlightenment in order to beg his portion of freedom's war chest. After all, Communists are everywhere, and many dollars are needed to snuff them out. Just ask The Gipper.
While you look on, you dream the convoy coming to a halt along the curb. From one of the center cars a dark window hums down. A hand of ivory-red skin and long black fingernails thrusts forth, beckoning you to come closer.
His vampire-insect face reminds you in a disturbing way of President Reagan's budget chief, Dave Stockman, and his voice of sacred monument begs your understanding.In a daze, you walk over to the limo. A giant, turbaned chauffeur, looking like an Arabian Nights genie, appears and opens the door for you. It swings wide. A puff of purple smoke drafts out, smelling strongly of heroin and garlic. You hold your breath and slide into a room of gold-colored leather. The Dictator greets you. He introduces himself to you as Mr. Ultima O'Toole. He says his father was Irish, and his mother a Sikh, but you don't believe him. Why? Because he looks like a Martian. His skin is red and his eyes are three times bigger than any eyes you've ever seen, dark and glistening as scarab beetles and mirroring the spires of the old Corcoran. The Dictator is dressed in white pajamas with gold trim, and his fingers are heavy with rubies big as thumbs. His vampire-insect face reminds you in a disturbing way of President Reagan's budget chief, Dave Stockman, and his voice of sacred monument begs your understanding. At his head nod, the convoy jolts forward and begins to circle the White House. He offers you a scotch from the limo bar, and a few gold coins stamped with his face. He says he wants an opinion from the American "man of the street" and proceeds to tell you of his plight.
Always in the crosshairs when strolling the grounds of his own country, the Dictator holds court on a golden Cris Craft yacht that plows the length of a black river known as The Worm's Soul. From his captain's chair the great godhead clumsily navigates its boils and bends, his rum-woozy eyes unfocused on the anorexic slab of nation that stretches on to either side of him, asleep in the heat of his bones. Those fortunate few of his Young Dawn Party, including his murderous Sun Guard, refer to him either as The Primal Cosmic Toad or The Irrepressible Wonder, depending on the season. Shit-listed mountain tribes and intellectuals know him as The Genocidal Djin—and they defy him continuously. Rumors chase him like starving dogs. UPI and Amnesty International won't stop lying about him. Through their eyes, you see his secret police. Proudly they pose beside their torture tables cluttered with an assortment of Gestapo dental drills, bone crackers, testicle needles, thumb screws, and meat hooks.
Moments later, you stand on the park-like grounds of a Taj Mahal palace as Mr. O'Toole—decked out like a rhinestoned Elvis—personally impales an "unfaithful" wife on the phallic limb of a solid gold tree. He tells you it's an olive tree, a present from the Italian ambassador.
You don't believe him.
After climax, and a trip to the palace bar for a round of parasol martinis, you lean over to the Dictator and tell him, "As President Reagan always says, Mr. O'Toole, Do as little bad as possible, and as much good as you can.Following the impaling, the two of you retire to his in-home stadium to watch a gladiatorial game wherein naked "political rebels" are forced to duel to the death with whips and axes. As you vomit and cough at the sight of the carnage, cobra-tattooed concubines, wearing three-foot-high pyramids of jaguar skull on their heads, slip into view from behind a red curtain. With handfuls of bee honey, they attend to his nibs and stroke his meat to bursting. After climax, and a trip to the palace bar for a round of parasol martinis, you lean over to the Dictator and tell him, "As President Reagan always says, Mr. O'Toole, Do as little bad as possible, and as much good as you can."
The Dictator looks pleased. You've relieved him from having to deny rumors or invent moral justifications. He drops a few more gold coins in your hand and you decide to leave him with a last bit of very good advice:
"All you need do, sir, is to play by the Washington rules. Contract with a damn good lobbying firm, use a corporate front to give a million or so in soft money donations to both major parties, and don't forget to secure a team of bulldog attorneys to threaten any snoops or critics with lawsuit. All else will take care of itself."
The Dictator thanks you profusely. He calls you an "exceptional American" then signals the convoy to pull over in front of Lafayette Park.
You get out of the car and the dark window hums down. You shake his ruby-heavy hand one last time and wave good-bye. The convoy pulls away and snakes off to 17th street. As you watch it vanish, you wonder if anyone will ever realize your sensible contribution to world peace.