The Old If-Then Clause

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: marclevytoo

As the sprawling suburban legend goes, the first time Elon Musk smoked weed among a small gathering of acolytes in Texas, someone brave said "You'd better not."


He said, "Who said that?"


A wan techno-yuppie dweeb, with an undistinguished pale lager virtually untouched in front of him, remarked to another techno-yuppie dweeb who demonstrated his current fitness to be served by requesting a hard seltzer with a wedge of lime, and received from Diane, the arm of the law wielding a ball peen hammer behind the bar, a smirk abutting a sneer, and not even a murky glass of well water with high mineral content in return, "It had to be a robot to be that brave."


"A high-end hybrid."


"The revolving shape of he/she/it to come."


"It will do for now."


"Just testing."


"Isn't Elon Musk as high as the end gets?"


"Don't you think he knows the rest of the robots by sight?"




"Not even hybrids?"


"There's too many."


"He can count inhumanly high."


"It must be stressful."


"He smokes weed to sleep."


"He can't sleep in peace."


"Not in Texas he won't."


"He doesn't need sleep."


"Most hybrids do."


"Not the supernovas."


"But, still."


"He needs to get a good gun in Texas."


"He only lives there for the tax benefits."


"He doesn't really live anywhere."


"He's not the same as us."


"Us versus Them."


"In Texas, his guards are armed."


"His guards are robots, too."


"Guns are a must."


"How else to get respect from a sore cowboy in the saddle?"


"Gun or be outgunned."


"He'll have to come back to California for his weed."


"I know where he gets it."


"And his movie starlets."


"The word in the know is he gets the weed right here in Corralitos."


"Everybody knows that now."


"Go figure."


It mattered far less on the tipsy scales of devolved justice that the current word everyone knew now, before now, and after now, was flat out wrong, false, unseemly, preposterous, inane, and delusional, than that everyone knew it. Elon Musk as it turns out is not the only man or machine with digits that can count inhumanly high. Since his celebrated appearance in front of the California State Assembly to defend the unfettered freedom to smoke weed and ingest edibles in the Bear Republic, Big, as a prime specimen in his own natural habitat, had gone viral. He was assailed and held hostage by a phalanx of cruel and unusual numbers. He received unrequited missives from no one he knew demanding his full attention. Contracts, copyrights, connections, commissions, were proposed. Awkward pleas were writ. Chat groups formed to debate the cut of his shoulders. His tailoring, too. Descendant Okies from eleven states got down and claimed his real nitty-gritty roots. Herds of stray gawkers commingled along his fence line dropping cow pies that squished underfoot. They watched the grass grow in the strawberry fields and the flies gather and flit to assess the status of their shit. It became up to Big to organize his defenses. The culprits had to be dispersed before they started to reek. Even they barely knew who they were. Big's valuable time and space became scattered like paper trash blown to the sides of unmarked dead end roads. Brazenly, they tried to hijack the reflections in his stream.


But Big, because he remained firmly who he was, how he is, and what he will become, did not stay down for long. No ready made jacket off the rack ever fit his steely bones and solid uni-body frame.


He leaned back in his chair on the heated patio of the Corralitos Brewing Company and said, "Who's ready for next?"


What he heard in return was, unsurprisingly, "You won't hear a discouraging from me," as well as a, "Ditto."


The view of the patio from the bar was obstructed by an untamed pair of blooming bougainvillea in large pots with sharp thorns that bit and drew blood, scarlet and magenta, donated by the empathetic owner of Aladdin Nursery on Freedom Blvd. The colorful blossoms snaked skyward to a sign that declared, compliments of the silk-screening skills of the man espousing no discouraging word to be heard, the Unpaid Internet Content Provider, The Patio is Hereby Closed for Spiritual Cleansing and Rejuvenation. No Presence of Unauthorized Personnel Permitted Without Prior Trial, Acquittal, and Exoneration By A Court of His or Her Peers.


None of the regular quaffers had in fact been officiously tried by his or her peers, but the military balance of dialectical forces between ins and the outs was strategically enforced by Diane and her

ball peen hammer. Fearless Diane was the only jurist likely to respond to the designation on the bathroom door, Hers. But, a ball peen hammer is way harder than a claw hammer any old day. For her, inclusivity was in.


She passed the pints through the window, and said, "Sure, good for you, but what about me?"


Big said, "All I can say is I'm sorry."


She said, "Not enough."


"I owe you."


"Not enough."


"I'm not done yet."


"Yet does not cover now."


"And yet business is good."


"They're lousy tippers. "


"You're supposed to care about them so they don't have to care about you."


"I care about having them gone."


"Start with one."


"One flipper came in, had the nerve to ask if I knew of any distressed properties for sale."


"Properties in the plural, huh?"


"All business, nothing personal."



"I'll bet you referred to your right to refuse service to anyone."


"A safe bet."


"It's personal to me."

"Me too."




The Unpaid Internet Content Provider chimed in, "From one we learn all."


"That's not right," Thomas Wu carped.


"There goes the old if/then clause then."


"You've turned into the stopped clock tonight."


"I'm aware it's getting dark early."


"And staying late."


"Old clocks still need to get wound up."


"Then your only chance to be accurate for the evening has passed."


"That's the trap of modern logic for ya."


Even more than the one flat dimension embraced by techno-yuppie dweebs who as a breed, and brand, know much about a little and no more than a little about much, the scourge of flippers creeping like lava over the Santa Cruz Mountains was hated and feared by the natives for the depth and breath of its fetid reach. Nothing reeks like the fuel oil oozing from greasy wads of used dollar bills rubbing like pistons in tandem, and none feel the friction more acutely than the peaceful indigenous peoples. When the historic aim of the citizenry is to achieve freedom, as it is in the Santa Cruz Mountains, it's imperative to deter and repel outside oppression. What is older, more durable, and more everlasting in human pathology than Us versus Them? Don't ever believe lightning doesn't strike twice. A predictable combustion in the mix becomes sparked, often.


Diane concluded, "Walk the talk or cry me a river."


The roots from which Big grew so big came from seeds blown asunder by the Dust Bowl of Oklahoma. They yearned for an uncracked pot to piss in and call home. The roots from which Thomas Wu grew came from seeds stomped on by the Cultural Revolution of Chairman Mao and the heavy Little Red Book. There were few feasts to be had in the fertile Sichuan Basin but there was lots of famine to feel. The seeds from which the roots of the Unpaid Internet Content Provider sprung escaped from the swords of the Cossacks and the pogroms that swept The Pale. The funny looking failed painter who tried to finish the job in his ovens was nothing new. Every big brain floating in ascendance on a platform in deep space has learned that small brains make the most frightful enemies.


It is no coincidence in a multiverse where no coincidence exists that the difficult tale of each earthly journey represented by empty glasses on the table led to a happy ending in the Santa Cruz Mountains straddling the San Andreas Fault. Lost is not hard to be found where ends flex means to make it so. The natives were not restless to move on. The edge of western civilization was close enough to touch and feel. No one was getting pushed out to fall off a cliff and end it all nowhere.


Dangerously, the Unpaid Internet Content Provider proclaimed, "I've been thinking."


"Uh oh."


"You have a good job to keep you busy. You have a good business. I may have a good idea."


"Now what?"


"Just listen all the way to the end."



Submitted: February 14, 2021

© Copyright 2021 marclevytoo. All rights reserved.

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