Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The Other Thing Is . . .

I forgot to tell you — the other thing holding me back these days is that two of my three Stenos (Opie and Big Cheese, if you're keeping score, and I'm not sure certain Shadowy people out there aren't) have had sudden bizarre accidental deaths in the family. So I gave them both bereavement leave, plus a few days to sort through estate issues.

No sooner had I dismissed Opie and Big Cheese, when Dead Eye came down with mono. So she'll be out for about a month. To her credit, she tried sticking it out, but on-the-fly stenography is a difficult job even when you're 100%. I'd say right now Dead Eye is functioning at about 15% of her estimable capacity. Her 15% is certainly better than most people's 30%, but I don't want to push her.

The upshot for me — not that I'm thinking about me, mind you — is that I have very limited Steno coverage these days. So I try not to do or say anything monumental. Dead Eye has loaned PePe her Stentura (who knew those machines were so pricey?), and he's slowly getting up to speed on it. You have to have fast fingers to play the pipes like he does, so I figure he'll be a natural once he gets a feel for how the machine works.

Anyway, these days I'm learning that there's more to being an employer than the simple pleasures of hiring, firing, and sexual harassment. You really have to look out for people. They get sick, they suffer losses . . . and now I'm hearing that I have to make all these periodic payments to Social Security and Medicare for them, and I have to fill out all kinds of forms. What a pain in the ass that is.

Expect all that government crap to change, Brother/Sister, once I come to power.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Springtime Is Here!

I know, Brother/Sister. You're demanding to know what's taken me so long to write another post — as is your right, since transparency and trust go hand-in-hand. And that goes double when you're dealing with a would-be World Hegemon. No doubt some of the more cynical among you will have read nefarious designs into my radio silence:

He's gone underground. He's planning a surprise attack.

I even got an email from someone alleging that I'd been spotted in Belarus, inquiring about an industrial-grade wood-chipper. I'll leave it to the Peanut Gallery to fill in the gaps of that mysterious plan.

The fact is, I've gone the Way of the Groundhog this past month, after it became abundantly clear, from an accumulation of cigarette butts and cough-drop wrappers on my front porch, that I had acquired one or more Shadows. Some of my Brothers and Sisters know what I'm talking about here. They've seen the men standing casually outside their houses and places of business, waiting. Sure, to the innocent observer they might look like they're delivering the mail, or the daily paper. But that's not what they're doing all the time. That's just the role they assume when a passer-by — a witness — happens down the road. They produce a mailbag, a stack of Boston Globes, change quickly into a government-issue uniform, and get suddenly busy.

But the rest of the time they're watching, waiting. Lurking. Like shadows, they do nothing independently. They fade into the background and are invisible at night. And like shadows, they attach themselves to you the moment you step out into the sunshine, and they follow you wherever you go. There's a perfect symmetry to their tracking efforts: when you walk, they walk. When you get into a car, they conjure up a car of their own.

I know they're out there. No, I can't see them — when I pry open an eye-slit in the blinds to look, they duck quickly under the porch overhang. But every Friday morning, when I take out the trash, I find their detritus on the stoop. I like to think there are at least two of them, because if it's one man, he's chain-smoking his way through a six-week respiratory illness. Unfathomable to me, but then I've never been addicted to nicotine. Or Menthol-Lyptus, for that matter.

Who are they? Who could say? I've made my share of enemies. Could be Ortega's people. Could be local muscle hired by Bobo the Intern Chimp. Could be the government — I am, after all, on a watch list (last I heard, anyway). And it could be a process server waiting to slap a complaint on me for any number of negligent acts, intentional torts, breaches of contract, property liens, quantum meruit, what-have-you.

Suffice to say, because of My Shadow(s) — and because it's frickin' cold outside — I'm playing it close to the vest these days. Sitting in the dark a lot, brooding, biding time, fending off PePe when he comes at me with these pills. So I don't have a heck of a lot to report. I've fallen behind with my daily training modules from the Master. I'm eating a lot of corn chips and ramen noodles. PePe keeps dropping hints about depression, paranoia, agoraphobia. But he just says that to undermine me. He doesn't know what's out there, and it makes me sad. I've got plenty of time to retreat inward and turn psychotic after I take over the world . . .

Kidding! B/S, I was kidding with that last bit. No, the bit about the retreating inward as World Hegemon. I was kidding about that. I mean, I can see how it would happen to certain people. The isolation of power, insecure personalities, all that. But that's not me. You know that. I mean, hell, does Kim Jong-Il have a weblog? All right, then.

In any event, tomorrow brings the vernal equinox — the First Day of Spring. Day and night — and with them the forces of darkness and light, good and evil — draw into equilibrium. The groundhogs, the bears, the Boston-based Internet Personalities shake off their Seasonal Affective Disorders and come out of hibernation. Any minute now I expect to spring open my door, take My Lulled-Into-Indolence Shadows by surprise, beat them down to the ground and demand some answers. I'm just not quite there yet.