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The Author...Who Made a Difference!

Short story By: Angry Red Mark
Science fiction

A story making fun of Robert A. Heinlein's "For Us the Living: A Comedy of Customs".

Submitted:Aug 25, 2011    Reads: 6    Comments: 0    Likes: 0   

Robert A. Heinlein, on a hushed April the 2nd, 1939, sat froze in front of his typewriter. All over the world, everybody felt a queer, soothing calm about this day, but no one understood what made today of all days so special. Robert knew. After that moment of profound silence, he typed the words that would complete what was to be the world's most influential masterpiece. 'THE END', the keys clacked. It is finished.

Heinlein pulled out the final page of the manuscript he toiled and sweated so hard over.

"This book, that I have named 'For Us, The Living: A Comedy of Customs' will forever change the world! It's at least as good as H.G. Wells's When the Sleeper Wakes!" Robert A. Heinlein said out loud to his sometimes-wife. (He didn't just think this statement to himself silently, because he wanted to make sure that his first words would be recorded for posterity whenever a historian asks what he did immediately after completing the book.)

Heinlein took the whole priceless stack in his hands and rushed outside. A ray from the sun shined upon Robert as he left his home. This book is too important to proof-read and write a second draft. It had to be brought to a publishing house right now. Entering the closest one, Robert walked straight into the office of the editor-in-chief. He had no appointment, but the look of urgency, determination, and brilliance on Heinlein's face gave him no opposition from the secretaries.

Robert held the 274-page stack up to the editor's face and said, "Read this."

The editor, who wasn't doing anything at that moment that gave his life a sense of purpose and fulfillment, was relieved to be handed this ambitious manuscript. Dropping everything that he was doing, with thirsty eyes the editor plunged into this oasis of literary power. Then the editor, after awakening from a euphoric fainting spell, agreed to have it published immediately.

'For Us, The Living' shows up in bookstores, but at first the public is kept deliberately in the dark by the newspapers, because greedy and cruel bankers control all forms of mass communication. (Just as the book warns!) Those evil, heartless, puppy-kicking bankers believe they snuff out "The Truth That Will Destroy Us," but they were wrong when they started to mess with Robert A. Heinlein! As was bound to happen, President Franklin Roosevelt is alerted about this revolutionary book by his literary Secretary of the Interior, Harold Ickes. President Roosevelt slapped his thigh in surprise. "Brilliant! Why didn't I think of that… and that… and that… and that?!" the President exclaimed as he eagerly flipped through the book. "Announce a press conference, Harold. I have just discovered a genius that will answer all the country's problems, and the people must be notified!"

President Roosevelt walked gaily into the pressroom, with two bodyguards holding up both of his arms for security reasons. Reporters skeptically waited to see what big news the President had to say.

"My friends. I don't know how to express in words the way I feel right now about this book I read, called 'For Us, The Living'. So therefore I shall demonstrate it to you using interpretive dance, which Robert Heinlein proves in this book to be one of the highest forms of artistic expression."

The colors of the lights in the room melted together, then faded to a light blue and a single high clear crystal note impinged on the press's ears. The note trembled, then pursued a minor melody. The press felt a mood of sadness and nostalgia creep over them. Gradually, a pre-recording of an orchestra playing in the back somewhere picked up on the theme and embroidered it while on the podium the colors shifted, blended and ranged in patterns. Finally the colors faded and the room went dark as the harmony wafted out the music, leaving a violin alone carrying the theme in total darkness. A dim finger of light appeared and picked out a small figure of the President far back, lying seductively on the floor.

The President was prone, limp, helpless. The music conveyed a feeling of pain and despair and overpowering fatigue. The President glanced out thoughtfully as another musical theme encouraged, called for effort, and the President stirred gently. The press continued to watch with a whimper and had to exert self-control to refrain from going to the poor forlorn President's assistance. Roosevelt needed help, their hearts ached, go to him! But they continued to view him, knowing they were just being sucked into this unsurpassed art form. Watching Roosevelt roll around on the floor they realized they were being told a story of the human spirit, a story of courage, and hope, and love overcoming despair and physical hurt. From the side of the stage a copy of 'For Us, The Living' is flung at the President's knees. The President throws his arms out, face to the sky, eyes shining, and smiling in joy as a single bright warm light poured over his face and chest.

The lights went up. The dance was done. The press applauded wildly, and screamed like women. They felt happier then they had since their arrival-happy, relieved, and accepting of this powerful new novel. The bankers' control of the press broke that very moment, and the press was now willing to report the truth about how completely right Robert A. Heinlein is, even at the cost of their reputation and jobs from those robber barons. (emphasis cannot be added enough!)

The response is sensational, as Robert always knew it would be someday. Huge lines form to buy 'For Us, The Living', the cultural event of the century. (The "BUY OR DIE!" praise from articulate book critics didn't hurt sales either.) Every one of Robert A. Heinlein's radical economic and social ideas is adopted without question. And why not? Robert already answered every possible concern there could be to them in his book, with math even!

"Wow!" yelled a happy patron, as he slapped his thigh in surprise reading the futuristic novel, "Just like in real life!"

Of course, there is that small, Neanderthal minority that was, shockingly, non-cooperative with Heinlein's tidal wave of truth, but they will be dealt with soon enough.

The first immediate change to occur is the acceptance and common use of Heinlein's superior system of spelling that appears in his book, which uses all caps, and approximate sounding letters. For example, the sign that read "Public Phone", now reads 'PUBLIK FOUN'. With this more accessible English, LITERASY SORS!

Meanwhile, President Roosevelt wasn't through yet. He had to get all the programs from 'For Us, The Living' implemented in order to save the country from the economic turmoil and organized religion that plagued it. (Heinlein was too brave to mention Christianity by name in the novel.)

There is a problem, however. His 2nd term is nearly up. 'For Us, The Living' wisely predicts that President Roosevelt loses the 1940 election, and the election will be won barely by the Republican nominee, Senator Vanderburg. Robert Heinlein then predicts that Vanderburg's presidency ends up a do-nothing failure, resulting in the Republicans winning barely the next presidential election in 1944 with Senator Malone. (Malone also beats New York Mayor LaGuardia, the candidate from the Progressive party, and Robert A. Heinlein's preferred choice for president.) Then Heinlein calmly, rationally predicts this next Republican term to proceed as it usually would under any typical, old-fashioned conservative who spent the campaign speaking on lower taxes and limiting federal power, with President Malone banning free speech, declaring himself absolute dictator, and overthrowing the constitutional government with a violent, fascist, third-world style military coup.

Thankfully, Republicans are more incompetent in holding together a dictatorship than Progressives would be, and it peters out after three years. After this, which easily surpasses the Civil War as America's worst disaster, the country repents of its past voting error and elects Robert A. Heinlein's original choice, LaGuardia, to continue on as the new president. He rebuilds the country and serves two successful terms.

President Roosevelt didn't want to risk fulfilling Heinlein's realistic prophecy, so in response he declines to run for a third term, and throws his support to the man Robert A. Heinlein anointed, LaGuardia. He explains to the American people in his latest fireside chat that the reason is because a convincing science fiction novel by the name of 'For Us, The Living: A Comedy of Customs' told him to.

New York Mayor LaGuardia, inspired by the faith a novelist had in him, chose to carry on this responsibility. Heinlein's influencing book casts the deciding vote at the Democratic Convention in LaGuardia's favor. In his acceptance speech, LaGaurdia, standing behind a podium that reads, "DEMOKRATIK KONVENSHUN", models his program step by step from the Heinlein novel:

"As we have all learned from a certain special book, all the problems we have in this world; crime, war, and poverty are due not to the silly concept of a "fallen world" and "original sin" (LaGuardia does the little quotation marks with his fingers), but rather due to a slight economic imbalance. If all we do is restore this balance, Heinlein assures us that human nature will simply correct itself of all its ancient vices.

"How do we restore that balance? Heinlein provides us with a system under the name "New Economic Regime" (Not to be confused with the Soviet Union's "New Economic Policy"). The first thing is to pass a bill eliminating the Federal Reserve and establishing for the first time in history a National Bank. I intend to jam this bill through congress by a combination of personality and intimidation. With the government in the loaning business, the banker's disastrous, high-interest control on our money supply will be finished. (The audience applauds.)

"All depressions, including this great one, are caused by over-production and under-consumption. The private sector is not managing their affairs to avoid this outcome. As 'For Us, The Living' states, "A country is worse off when it exports more then it imports, for it is surely evident that a country that ships out more then it takes in gets poorer every year." This blindly materialistic insight must be the guide of our economic policy.

"(Now don't interpret this to mean I'm insulting the integrity of the private sector for disregarding this principle. No, entrepreneurs and industrial leaders are ignorant and stupid, rather then innately vicious. And businessmen shouldn't fear us progressives just because we think they're callous and irresponsible. Progressives actually believe that, apart from their money, certain businessmen are good, decent people and are capable of some control over their hoarded wealth.)

"The government will just act to prevent any more over-production and under-consumption. I will initiate wage and price controls, as well as carefully dump new money into the economy. All retailers are invited to join in every New Economic Cycle. If the dealer joins, he agrees not to raise prices. He'll be required to sell all goods at a ten per cent discount, and the National Bank would hand him the difference on presentation of sales records. Then the government will give away $25 per month to anybody who would take it. Where can this new money come from, my Republican opponent asks? Why straight off the printing press, stupid! (The audience laughs. Some members in the audience slap their thighs in surprise that so easy a solution to mankind's poverty wasn't thought up sooner.) We'll just keep printing more money and giving it away, making the American people richer and richer. The wage and price controls on top of this will cause prosperity. As Heinlein envisions, this will lead to less unemployment, plenty of well-paid work for anybody who wants a job, and enough credit issued every month to anybody who wants to keep it.

"My Republican opponent, who doesn't agree with Robert A. Heinlein (The audience boos loudly at what can be considered the ultimate red meat line) fears that this solution will lead to double-digit inflation, high unemployment, ruined savings accounts, and gas lines. To that worrywart all I can say is don't knock it 'till you try it! (The audience laughs and applauds.) Of course the government will be responsible in controlling the economy. That's why it should have that control.

"In regards to foreign policy, as you know, a big war started by a slight economic imbalance and Hitler is playing out in Europe. America is staying out of that pointless war thanks mostly to the strength and character of one man: Franklin Roosevelt. (The audience applauds.) He has proposed and partially developed laws that are intended to keep us out of war. It was wise that he did so, since Heinlein is confident in his book that Nazi Germany will lose the war, not because of any victory on the battlefield, but because of its own economic collapse from expending itself militarily, which Heinlein implies is the way all wars end. And to make sure that America never enters any more wars literally started by bankers, I shall propose a constitutional amendment, worded after the novel, where entering foreign wars will be decided by democratic vote… (More applause) and a bill will pass congress to take over the entire arms industry and make it a government monopoly. That'll serve 'em jolly well right! Free health care for all!" (Cheering and standing ovation.)

LaGuardia reaches from behind the podium and pulls out 'For Us, The Living'. The noisy crowd quiets quickly in reverence of its sight. "This un-silly un-utopian novel, written by an un-pompous non-imbecile, with its un-ridiculous and un-idiotic reasoning, provides un-fake solutions to what ails us. Truly a book of such un-dated thinking will never be un-remembered!"

The Heinlein-littered speech was a predictable success. LaGaurdia was on his way to an easy win, and an administration creating the perfect world Robert wrote about.

Remember those Neanderthals I mentioned earlier? Reverend Nehemiah "The Scud" Scudder is the single undisputed leader of the entire Christian church. Scudder and the rest of his brain-dead followers had a bone to pick with Robert Heinlein and the paradise his book was now ushering in for the country. The first thing that got Nehemiah's attention was, naturally, his pocketbook. Heinlein revealed that the church literally had close ties with the criminal underworld, and the church just couldn't survive the devastatingly true scandal. Attendance for his sermons plummeted, and so did the money in the gold plate.

Scudder was a hypocrite through and through. He lied about having a healthy, faithful relationship with his wife. The truth is that Nehemiah is, in actuality, sexually impotent, and also constantly cheats on his wife uncontrollably. (Of course, Robert didn't need to probe Scudder's personal life to know he was lying. Heinlein scientifically proved that a faithful, lifelong marriage is impossible by testing the theory out on his own life and applying those results to the rest of mankind.) Scudder took sick, sadistic delight in telling people about doing the right thing.

Religion's lost grip on the nation's culture flabbergasted Nehemiah. Everywhere he went people had no clothes, liberated by Heinlein's assurance that there is no embarrassment in going nude. The weather was fair that day, so butt naked they went. And with Heinlein's prediction that science will perfect the controlling of contraception and the elimination of sexual disease (certainly possible by 1990), the fad of marriage was threatened with slowly falling out of fashion. And machines will release us from the curse of Adam, instead of just raising expectations on how much work we're suppose to get done. Hoo-ray!

As Robert Heinlein went for a leisurely stroll one day, a group of Christians carrying torches and pitchforks (standard issue for any religious believer), led by Nehemiah Scudder, surrounded the sage. They fashioned themselves the Knights of the New Crusade, modeled carefully after the Klu Klux Klan.

Nehemiah yelled at Robert, "Yer no-good teachings have corrupted our children! The teachers in my son's school don't wear any clothes, and my son had to look at his teacher's ass all day as he wrote on the board!"

Heinlein shrugged, "It's actually unhealthy for our children not to be continuously exposed to our adult naked bodies. Besides, the days of that unenlightened 'reading, writing, and arithmetic' are over. Instead of teaching that trash, the schools will now be made more useful by turning them into social experimentation laboratories outside the parent's control."

Nehemiah sputtered. He had trouble overcoming Heinlein's unassailable logic. "But, it's against our religion!"

So Robert says, stating almost word for word from For Us, The Living on page 272, "I look with disfavor on a church which fills children's minds with sadistic tales of a cruel vengeful tribe of barbarians (Jews) under the guise of teaching them the revealed word of God. I disapprove of exhibiting pictures and statues of a man spiked to a wooden frame and the nauseating myth of symbolic cannibalism it embodies. I say I disapprove-but I do not forbid, for the damage, though probably greater then drugs, is hard to prove, but I do insist on some years of instruction through the public schools to clean your children's minds of the sadism, phobias, simple misstatements of fact, faulty identifications, and confusion of abstractions that their preachers and priests have labored to instill."

"You believe the state should actively fight religion?" Nehemiah asks accusingly.

"Of course not." Robert said. Well, that settles that.

Scudder tried to use baffling arguments at Heinlein about how eliminating the traditional family will make sinful behavior common and acceptable, destroy the lives of children, cause our society to unravel and blah blah blah. Robert didn't listen, because he knew the real reason Christians hated his ideas. "They're just jealous of my sexy brain." Robert thought correctly. He smiled, shrugged again, and walked off.

The one possible flaw in Heinlein's character lay in his quick emotional sympathy, the ease in which he felt the pain and sorrow of others. Robert admitted to himself that he didn't feel any hate for those unenlightened, intolerant, oppressive, stupid, fanatic, raving, worthless pieces of sub-human Christian scum. No hate for them whatsoever. None.

Since they weren't powerful enough to use torture anymore, the Christians had to compete with Heinlein's beliefs. The hard part was that in order for Christians (or HolyRollers, as Heinlein called them in the novel) to stay separate and therefore relevant, they had to say the opposite of these attractive, libertine maxims. (Sucks to be them, because the opposite of being right is being wrong!) Those oppressive, old-fashioned values that that small, tiny, insignificant number of religious fanatics held no longer mattered. In desperation, Scudder tried and failed to convince politicians that religious members controlled enough votes to turn a presidential election. [I'm sorry reader, but I have to stop and laugh that such a preposterous claim could ever come true--HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!! Okay, I'm done.] Christianity disappears into obscurity under the tremendous cultural weight of For Us, The Living: A Comedy of Customs. After almost 2000 years of failed attempts, for Robert A. Heinlein it was just that easy.

Among other notables as all undesirables died off in the world, Baseball, Football, Hockey, Basketball and every other sport ceases completely, because Heinlein writes that sportsmanship is "the stupid exhibitionism of savages", and "all sports range from harmless, but pointless play to callous sadism." So athletes stopped playing games to pursue more Heinlein-acceptable activities like adultery, writing stupid techno-babble, and interpretive dance.

Heinlein is later credited with inspiring man to fly to the moon in 1969, a personal fascination he climaxes his great novel with. (Jules Verne may have thought of it first, but Heinlein thought of it better.)

Unfortunately, On May 8, 1988, Robert A. Heinlein escaped the surely bonds of earth before his magic science could find a cure for the common death. What last new world did this great explorer of imaginary realms discover himself in when he awoke from the dream of his life? Why it's Hell of course, where he will burn forever as an enemy of the church. Robert slaps his thigh.

The End


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