Wednesday, November 30, 2011


This is an excerpt from my novel Eudemonia, launched on Amazon



A. P. Schmitt


“I grew up worried that one day I’d give birth to the son of God and no one would believe I was a virgin. I had a whole speech prepared for the moment the Chosen One started to germinate, and the only thing I now find weird is that I never thought I was the Chosen One himself, and only because at the time I didn’t think a woman could be more than the container of the elect. One time I had an aspiring zit smack in the middle of my forehead, and I know I should have been embarrassed and I tried to hide it and all, but while the other girls called that my uni-horn, I thought that was my third eye finally making itself known – my uber wisdom was becoming physical.

I’m like that. I assume things happen to me for a reason, and they have a cryptic, supernatural meaning. A zit is not a skin problem – it’s the corporeal manifestation of unbound insight. I see purpose related to my person in every little detail, the universe has a plan for me and I can feel it. Even if part of me thinks that’s stupid, the other part retorts no, you stupid. Later in life I was sure I was going to die at 33. That was my connection with the Divine, our magical integer, I thought that number was beautiful – if you put 3 and 3 together side by side, not like they are doing it doggy style but like they are french kissing, you get an 8, which if you lay to sleep becomes the infinite. Life was written in ciphers and I was anxious to crack my code. Some of it was probably hidden in my talents, but they had so many purposes I got confused. What to do with the striking traits I share with cyborgs, like my superhuman sense of smell? Bionic woman or sniffing bitch at airport security?

Confronted with the burning doubt of what the hell I am good for, I sat thinking on lesser conundrums like the chicken, the egg and the incessant quest for the origin of poultry. Meanwhile, I waited for the stars to reveal their plan for me. Yeah, I meant exactly that: stars with the ability to plan and with an eye on me.

That’s the thing about knowing and believing – the first requires reason, validation. The second doesn’t require shit. It just takes some unbalanced hormones, the wrong amount of dopamine and voilĂ , suspension of disbelief. People with extra dopamine become so credulous they take up gambling or religion. I myself have no dopamine to spare. My disbelief is widespread, deeply ingrained. I’m the unwanted child of the cynic and the nihilist when they were both drunk on half-empty glasses. I doubt almost everything with one nagging exception – my sainthood. When it comes to self-awareness, I am the first to know I’m nuts and the last to question my sanity. This duality could be a type of schizophrenia but I have it on good authority that if you call it first and say you’re crazy (I’m crazy), then you’re sane, because a crazy person never suspects herself to be crazy.

So one day I woke up and decided to do something for the world, something meaningful, a thing that could change people’s lives. Don’t get me wrong, I feel sorry for those afflicted with messiah syndrome and I’m often annoyed by their lack of efficiency. People are so bent on making the world a better place they hardly worry about their sidewalk. I mean, yes, ok, go ahead and try improve the world, halt global warming, stop war, free Tibet, save the fucking whales, but we’ll be happy enough if you just help the elderly cross the street, recycle your damn bottles, learn to fucking vote. But of course, not me – those were way too small for my mission. I did some of those things and was rewarded with instant gratification, but then I thought:

Am I not being selfish with the world?

How could I limit the scope of my interference when I had more means than the average Joe and could thus do more for the world than recycling my bottles? Even my physical beauty, always searching for a tangible purpose – how could I confine it to the emptiness of fashion just for the hope of saving a bunch of seal cubs? And how best to join these two powers together, attractiveness and intelligence, into something truly useful? These two unmerited gifts must come with a burden, I thought. With a point. So I pondered: what do I want to do? And then I re-pondered: what must I do? Because the problem when you get the calling is that you may not unscramble it well. I knew I was being called, I just couldn’t tell what I was being called for. It was nothing small, that much I knew. Having a baby? Riiight. Planting a tree? Nah. Writing a book? Too much trouble. I thought I should do something meaningful, far-reaching, and yet something that didn’t require much work. (That’s when my reason always kicks in, by the way, in applying the law of the least effort, the only law I really bow to.)

So I considered my multi-purpose task:

1) help the world be a better place;

2) inspire people;

3) perpetuate my teaching.

How can I do all of that at once, with one single strike? And it dawned on me, at dawn no less, that I should kill someone.

Yeah, I know, killing is not cute – it’s messy and it horrifies people, who then go to the movies to see people being killed. But I was never horrified. When it comes to death and killing I always felt very natural about it, even as a child. For a long time I thought Thou shall not kill was a statement unfairly singling out this guy, Thou, and I just wanted to know who did Thou kill to deserve the mention. I can’t lie about it: I looked up to Thou. Later when I saw the other commandments I had to ask my dad what drug was Thou taking – the guy was on a rampage. I was eventually very happy to know he didn’t exist, because the murderous Thou I admired would never bear false witness. Never.

I imagine most people think the power of killing is one that should not belong to men. But, please, let us not be so adamant about killing, will us? There is a taboo against murder that’s very boring, it makes me yawn. Like death, killing is just part of life, yet try telling anyone something that includes the phrase ‘when you die’ and see the reaction. It’s rather poignant that humans cannot accept the one true certainty we are born with, that all those eons of guaranteed ending haven’t managed to make the ending any more acceptable. And if death is taboo, killing is an even bigger one, because it’s death by design. But then, consider this: What human would have objected to my attending a parade of the Third Reich and putting a bullet into the fuehrer’s head? It’d be very hard to find someone who’d blame me if I had chosen to kill Hitler. Now, if that is the case – and I believe it is – then we have established that people are not so inflexible against killing – it’s just a matter of finding the right target.

So I figured killing would be my way of helping the world. Of taking a stand, making a few things right. I had this feeling I could be fairer than most judges I knew of. And what do judges do? Well, for one, they sentence the criminal to prevent him from repeating his crime. But, more important than that, the punishment serves as a warning to future criminals, something that will pre-emptively hamper similar crimes. ‘Hmm…’ I thought, ‘what type of crime do I want to hamper?’

But I didn’t need think too hard. There is one crime that is almost never discouraged here, on the contrary – it’s mostly praised, rewarded, and serves as an inspiration. The criminals usually make it to the cover of magazines, Man of the Year type of thing. People grow up wanting to be exactly like that. It’s practically taught in universities. What is the crime? Corruption.

Surely I don’t mean small-time corruption. Yeah, yeah, corruption is corruption in any form, with any amount, and you may even want to include in the definition things like jumping the line and bribing the maitre d’. But as I said before, I think big. The people injured by those misdemeanours are so few, and the harm is so small, that I say just go soc the jumper on the mouth and send him to the end of the line. What I’m talking about is not that type of corruption, that you can fix yourself. Let us optimise my powers here, please, I hate waste. (It’s like that managing-editor I had, who paid me a fortune to research and write, and one day he sees me asking the assistant to make photocopies. He then makes a Marxist face, the bonus-stuffed bastard, and says, ‘In this newsroom we all make our own photocopies, we’re equal’ (some damn weird definition of equality) to which I reply ‘Then you must be a stupid manager, and this must be the most expensive photocopy ever.’)

Yes, I was fired, and no, he is not on my death list. Digression.

When I say corruption I mean corruption of the worst form, corporate-political thievery, the one that is part of the rules and regulations, the sort of crime that makes dishonesty legal with the strike of a pen or the swift rental of a judge. I wanna get those guys who know they will never enter a courtroom through the right door because they are the very ones making the laws, squeezing, stretching, bending them forward and fucking them from behind.

So I made that decision, and was beginning to get ready for action. It had to be done in the right way, not only because killing was complicated but because I wanted to make sure it would become an inspiration, something to scare the bejeezus out of every white-collar criminal for years to come. I wanted others to follow in my footsteps. I wanted to create a precedent. I wanted future criminals to think twice before stealing money from senior citizens. So I had to do it in a way that was going to be easy, and could be easily imitated, something like finding one of those bastards at a restaurant, a Ken Lay type, catwalk up to him, purr a ‘Nice tie,’ or ‘Have you got a lighter,’ and thrust my butter knife right into his throat. Once the killing is done a manifesto is issued and fear will finally spread to where fear doesn’t reach. That’s what I want – I want those rascals to be afraid for once, to be terrorised. It’s the reason why looming punishment works so well – because it’s preventive. Only the guys who are never at risk are the ones who control us, who hold our money, our future, the guys who should in fact be terrorised, be kept on their toes. These are the men who have not one boss, they have millions – all of us – and yet they are never made accountable or compelled to perform. I want to slap one of those sons-of-bitches in the face and say ‘You broke my heart, Fredo,’ then break his neck in return and leave a note stapled to his forehead with a message to other evil-doers, ‘Truth is gonna get you, buddy, and it will smash your teeth, chop your pinky and break your kneecaps.’

Now, get this. I used to be against gun ownership. I thought only idiots bore weapons. But I was wrong. In fact, the basis for gun rights is so enlightened Jefferson would have an attack of cognitive dissonance if he came back today. The founding fathers believed that citizens should have the means to revolt against an unjust government. They believed the state should not be more powerful than its own people united. We must spread the word that guns are not only useful against burglars, they also protect us against the tyranny of corporatocracy and the government, its most obedient slut; that guns may help us equalise some stuff – not all stuff, some stuff. I don’t want to make guns seem more important than they are. We can also kill white-collar criminals with the right injection. With a heavy book. Something in their food. We can strangle them to death in their neckties. We just have to know how to infiltrate, enter their environment, climb the elevator in that rotten corporation until we reach the penthouse office and crack the crook’s head with a paper weight. I say let us all be potential vigilantes. Let us make them scared. Let the miscreants and their enablers fear the streets, traffic lights, restaurant tables, even the corridors of power – because there will always be someone with a bucket and a broom cleaning it. Let them fear every minion worker in the world. Let them be terrorised with the idea that they can never hire a nanny for their brat because she may have been inspired by the same indignation.

I know there is one glitch in this: who can know for sure who are the white-collar criminals? That’s a bitch, because the same papers that should expose the criminals are the ones usually owned by them. The papers may even try to throw us off course. So now the drag is to find the sources that would keep us reasonably informed of the crimes we want to curb. And I know it’s hard to find them. Even the well-intentioned ones have problems. They are often badly written, or way too passionate, and way-er too left-wingy. They think it’s wrong for corporations to fuck us but they assume it’s ok for the government to do it. I don’t get that. They also think the salaries of politicians and technocrats should be small by principle – objection! Get bloody real. If we don’t pay them well, we get only two main types of political candidates: the ones full of good intentions who can’t tell budget from revenue, or the skilled thieves who are there to become rich. The political aberration known as an honest-and-competent politician can hardly happen in our world, because the men with those qualities know they will not be fairly rewarded. So we’re left with the ones seeking the unfair reward.

Anyways, I want to go back to the killing topic because that’s my pet salvation of the soul. Who should I kill, I wondered. Then I wondered some more. And then I thought, wait, I know a guy who should be on my list. (It’s not you, Prof.) And I am ready to do it. But the method is still unknown. I imagine it will occur to me in a dream, or I will have a vision, or someone will read it in my coffee cup. Until then, I continue being a journalist waiting to strike. By strike I obviously don’t mean writing. Writing is tamed, it’s yet another way we deviate from action and stay in the realm of ideas, stuck in the brain fog, living a life of words and grammatical errors while real life is happening outside and we are doing fuck-all. So I thought, ‘Hmm… here is my opportunity to transform my work into some real achievement: I could kill someone I’m interviewing.’ Oops, have to postpone killing, my breakfast is ready. Breakfast of champions (and it’s not me saying it, it’s the cereal box. Uncanny.)”

Sophia got an F on that essay.

On top of a compulsory visit to the university’s psychiatrist.

She named her dissertation “On the Very Personal Responsibility to Punish the Wrong-Doer When the Justice System Keeps Refusing To,” but her professor called it “a narcissistic and rather infantile apology of assassination.”

Tomayto, tomahto.