"The Voice of Interplanetary Parliament"
by Andie Bottrell
Joe Charmano and I go way back. And I’m not just talking this lifetime either. When I say we go way back, I mean prehistorically. I mean our atoms were formed in the same millisecond, two light-years from the left of mars. And since this time, we’ve hated each other’s guts. That’s a long time to hate someone’s guts. You’d think one of us would have gotten bored and given up the feud, but what can I say? When a feud’s as old as time, it begins to seem like it’s just the nature of things- like the sun and gravity and the higgs boson.
Now, somewhere around 18 hundred, I started seeing a shrink. I was having another one of those decade long depressions and decided enough was enough. It was time to do something about it or just end it all already. So, I went to see Dr. Mizrahi. He suggested something I’ve been considering ever since, which is that perhaps my depression is fed by my hate for Joe Charmano and that my hate for Joe Charmano is really a projection of the hate I have for myself. Which seems like a long, round about way of saying what I already knew- except that in all these Millions of years, I’d never considered that my hate for Joe Charmano was ever caused by anything other than his stupid, ugly face with those hundred pockmarks and his smelly, fishy feet which he delights in sticking in my face and his baby-talk voice when he whines or gloats and the fact that one Million and half years ago when our atoms were formed, a voice boomed out across the cosmos that Joe Charmano was to become the next voice of Interplanetary Parliament- the most prestigious and richly paid job in the universe- the job that would ensure that Suzy-Anna Baklova would run off with me to thee wed.
It’s now the year 2034 and after centuries of thinking on Dr. Mizrahi’s words, I think… poppycocks! My hate is my hate and nothing more. Except that, maybe it’s not, because it’s now 2034 and my 18th century depression is still kicking around, keeping me down. So, what do I decide to do? I decide to look up my ole pal Joe Charmano to see if I can settle the feud for once and for all.
Bouncing into Joe Charmano’s Galactic Space Palace, I thought I’d find myself stifling a volcanic rage, but instead found myself at the center of a peaceful, if horny, calm- like a surging river, before a waterfall. Things may have felt very differently had Suzy-Anne Baklova not been holding my hand, leading me down the anti-gravity hall. As we slowly floated along, more than once our eyes caught each other’s gaze and time slowed to the slowest known speed in history. I could feel my heart beating- it felt like a comet shooting out of my chest and twice I had to stop myself from warning Suzy-Anne to duck for fear it would succeed in breaking free and off with her head.
By the time we reached the end of the hall, a year had passed, but not one word had left my mouth beyond my initial, eager introduction and statement of the intent of my visit. As I realized this, my gaze began to fixate on the fast approaching door and the more I panicked the less I was able to think up some winning words to say to sway Suzy-Anne. Then, just as we reached the threshold, just as Suzy-Anne’s hand left mine and reached for the door handle, I thought of the perfect thing to say. It was so amazing- the most wonderful sentence ever concocted in the history of romance. It was equal parts charming, witty and sincere with just a touch of vulnerable and a hint of daring. I opened my mouth to grace her with the words of the deepest part of my heart, but was instantly cut-off by none other than that smarmy Joe Charmano saying in his whiny baby-talk voice, “What is this? 10 Million Dollar chewing gum? I clearly asked for the 12 Million Dollar kind. Why is it so impossible for you to simply do as I say?”
He was talking to Sir Robert, the most advanced robotic slave in the history of robotics.
“Ter-ri-bly sor-ry for the in-con-ven-ience ,” Sir Robert said, “I shall go jump off the edge of the ga-lax-y now.”
“Oh, don’t be so dramatic, Sir Robert,” Joe Charmano said, “A simple knife will do the trick.”
Sir Robert hung his metal head and beep bopped himself out of the room and into the adjoining Kitchen.
*Fun Fact: In Joe Charmano’s Galactic Space Palace, every room from the Bedroom to the Control Room, the Grand Theatre to the Comet Observatory, the Bathroom to the room that housed ten thousand space hounds, had an adjoining Kitchen- even the Kitchen. Joe Charmano loved to cook. Even more, he loved to eat, which was how he now managed to weight over 900 thousand pounds. He was proud of each and every pound he gained. In fact, he’s been quoted as saying, “10,000 pounds is the ideal weight.” Often he bellowed the words of the Interplanetary Parliament in the nude- just because he could.
All of these things made me hate him, but none as much as the fact that he had just interrupted me from saying the most romantically winning sentence in the history of the romantic world to the most beautiful woman in the history of women, Suzy-Anne Baklova. And, like that, the sentence ran away like a frightened earth squirrel, never to be heard, seen or thought of again.
Suzy-Anne announced me as George Lee Carmichael, but Joe Charmano, that ass, cut her off before she could even finish uttering the first syllable of my last name. I would pay to hear her say my name. I would pay 12 Million, had I it to pay, for that simple, erotic pleasure. Joe snapped his fat fingers, which made Suzy-Anne leave us, and the room darkened in her absence immediately.
“So, George Lee Carmichael… to what do I owe the pleasure?”
“Pleasure?” I scoffed, but then remembered that I had come for closure, to settle the score- No, to bury the hatchet. That’s the one. I smiled, “I’ve come to settle the- I mean, to bury the hatchet.”
“Hatchet? What hatchet?” He asked- the dunce.
“The metaphorical hatchet. Which is to say, the feud.” I explained.
“Oh! The feud.” He laughed.
“Yes. The feud.” I said,” Do you think it can be settled?”
“In a word?” The smarm posed back.
“Sure.” I said.
“No.” He said, “Because you envy me too much and I have too much to be envious of.”
“Well…” I tried to keep my calm, “My life’s going… pretty okay. I mean, I’ve got my taxi job… and I can … You know, my-“
“Oh, for the love of Jupiter, George Lee, let me put you out of your misery-“
Suddenly, there was a medium sized explosion in the adjoining Kitchen. Joe Charmano didn’t even flinch, he simply pressed an invisible button and said, “Sir Robert II, initiate life. First task: Clean up on Kitchen 5 of Sir Robert I.” Then, he looked back at me and I saw that old, familiar, stinky twinkle come back into his eye. He moved his feet over to the machine that removed his 21 Billion Dollar shoes and ripened his feet for a face sticking. I bolted out of there as fast as a gravity-less person could.
When I got back to my home in Michigan, Earth Planet, it was the year 2042 and I found myself in the kitchen hovering over my $50 collection of fine cutlery. I picked up the smallest one and ran the smooth side of it across my palms. It felt cool and comforting, like the shadowy side of Mars in the morning, after a meteor shower. I decided it was time. Time to end the charade. I wasn’t going to ever get to be the voice of Interplanetary Parliament. I wasn’t going to ever get Suzy-Anne Baklova. I was never going to chew 10 Million Dollar chewing gum, much less the 12 Million Dollar kind.
I put the knife to my throat and began applying a gentle pressure. Then… I stopped. I had no real reason to stop; I just had this unbearable, nagging feeling that I was forgetting something- something that could change everything. I decided to try a shrink again. This time, I opted for one of those hypnotic types, for some emotional time travel to jog the old noodle.
Dr. Rocksford was nothing like Dr. Mizrahi. For one, she was attractive. For two, she was a she. The first thing that she had me do was sleep, which was nice. Then, she had me pay her $300 and said that I should come twice a week- we had a lot of work to do.
Walking home I had the vague feeling of having been conned, but ignored it to give her the benefit of the doubt. Good thing I did, too. The next day I went back and she sent me back in time to 1954. A cold Saturday morning in March. I was washing up the dishes in my room in Maida Vale, London, where I was living on exchange through the Interplanetary Rotary Program. While I was scrubbing the moldy scone off my roommate’s plate, a voice boomed out from nowhere that said: “Prepare yourself. You are to become the voice of Interplanetary Parliament.” Then, I passed out.
When I awoke I summed up the whole event as an hallucination. I’d been experimenting with hallucinogenics during those years, like most people on exchange. Another reason I didn’t take it seriously was because the booming voice wasn’t Joe Charmano’s- the voice of Interplanetary Parliament. The booming voice I heard was, instead, my own. So, obviously, I wasn’t going to listen to it.
But, when I woke up and told Dr. Rocksford what I had remembered, she explained to me that the booming voice I’d heard was the voice within.
“The voice within what?” I asked- the dunce.
“You, silly.” She replied, sweetly.
“Oh. Right. I knew that.”
She smiled and leaned in closer than a professional normally would. I panicked and laughed nervously. “So, uh, what do I, uh, do, uh, with… that?”
“With what?” She asked, millimeters from my face. I could smell her shampoo. I could see the one blackhead on her entire practically perfect head.
“The voice within. If I ignore it will it go away and stop bothering me? I mean, I haven’t heard it since 1954, but if it ever did decide to speak again, I can’t guarantee I wont pass out again, and that could be, you know, sort of, dangerous.”
“George,” She closed the last bit of air between us, so our noses touched- my ten thousand blackheads to her one, “You have to listen to it.”
“Listen to what?” I said, keeping my lips as closed as possible while still trying to remain audible, so as not to stun her with my onion breath.
“The voice within.” She said, “It’s the voice of your third eye. It sees the future. It sees beyond the visible, the conceivable. Follow in the light it throws and you’re sure to find yourself sitting in the throne of your deepest dreams.”
“That sounds wonderful.”
“It does. It really does.”
“Yes. It does.”
She kissed me slowly. So. Slowly. Then, she stopped.
“What’s your third eye telling you now?” She asked softly.
I instinctively looked down at my aroused dick. Her gaze followed mine and then her hand followed it. She pumped me like a dairy cow until I was spent, charged me another $300 and recommended we increase our sessions to three times a week.
“We have a lot of work to do.” She said.
Walking home I began to seriously consider that inner voice, voice within, third eye crap. Sure, I knew it was crap, but you don’t understand how bodacious she looked when she said it. I’d describe her body to you, but then you’d imagine it and I’d get jealous thinking about you looking at her. That’s the problem with beautiful people, the rare times they say something potentially wise, they immediately erase it with sex and the message gets lost in the sweat.
But this inner voice thing. I don’t know… I keep thinking about it. Maybe, somehow, in some unforeseeable way, I am destined to become the voice of the Interplanetary Parliament. Maybe that’s the reason I couldn’t stick that knife in my throat. Perhaps the universe got it wrong for once. Perhaps I am destined for greatness. Perhaps there was a simple mix-up, a typo in the paper work, and Joe Shmo Charmano was supposed to get my lot in life and I was supposed to get his. Were our atoms simply ill crossed? And, if so, how do I find out? How do I set things right? How can I settle the score?
My head was exploding with questions and possibilities. For the first time in hundreds of years, I had hope. My spirits raised a thousands paces straight up. And I slept like a baby with a gallon of Mother’s milk digesting in my tummy.