UNDERGROUND VOICES: FICTION - 08/2012
TIMOTHY BEARLY


THE TRAGEDY OF DICK ELLINGSWORTH

         By around the year 3030, cryonics—although still fledgling—had become a practical application. No longer merely a topic for science fiction, we now had the ability to preserve humans and their biological systems at low temperature—with the expectation that a particular ailment could be remedied in the future. Unfortunately, not unlike other fields of cutting edge technology, there were only a select few who could afford it. Indeed only the upper echelons, only the uber-rich plutocrats, were awarded this life prolonging service.

         Although the manipulation of the human genome and genetic engineering—which had been going on for well over a century—helped to eradicate many diseases that were once thought incurable, viral evolution, namely the evolution of particular RNA viruses, still made certain conditions difficult to treat. Consequently, some—like the affluent philanderer Dick Ellingsworth—saw cryonics as a viable alternative.

         Dick was your archetypical greed-is-good, laissez-faire, unbridled free market adherent. He was a kind of guy easily satirized as a rotund schlep with man boobs (C-cup), who falls asleep with Machiavelli's The Prince by his bedside, right before wanking off to the picture of Ayn Rand—in the inside jacket cover of The Virtue of Selfishness. The only thing more massive than this behemoth of lard was his inflated ego. Proportional to that was his 10,000 square foot mansion and a net worth somewhere around 500 million. Notwithstanding his inherited trust fund, he insisted that his fortune was obtained through hard work and perseverance–an all too familiar semblance purported by members of the privileged class.

         A staunch advocate of Social Darwinism, Dick scoffed at safety net legislation and the concept of the welfare state, which to him was resulting in indolence and "the degeneration of the human race."

         "Just as nature culls the herd and weeds out its manifestly inferior organisms, so too should the human race, yet we spend countless tax dollars on the 'less fortunate' only to insure the perpetuation of the contamination of our gene pool," Dick contended. Fortunately the sentiment was only shared by a small faction of well-to-do partisans, innocuous blowhards, and fortunate sons. Most of whom would be obliterated wholesale–like defenseless bacterium, in a pool impregnated with chlorine–if ours was a society in accordance with natural selection.

         In the realm of politics, what one says in public and what one does in private is seldom harmonic. Dick Ellingsworth epitomized this phenomenon of hypocrisy. He was a latent homosexual who condemned homosexuality. He talked incessantly about strong work ethics, although he never really had to work a day in his life. He championed family values, though he had been divorced three times. And what he said fervently about the concept of "survival of the fittest" apparently did not apply to him—unless of course it is amended as "survival of the fattest." Moreover, when Dick was told that he had just three months to live—because of his congenital inability to fight the RNA virus that infected him—he was not about to let natural selection run its course.

         Yep, Dick had the means to access the best health care in the world, but even the best medical equipment and personnel couldn't save him. And after months and months of ineffective treatment, doctors informed him of the high probability that a cure would be found in the next few decades. So Dick eventually opted for cryopreservation.

         A month later the medical procedure was set to begin. "I hope you're all Republicans," Dick said in jest to the doctors hovering over him—a subtle reference to his beloved "Dutch" icon. Dick loved Reagan, he had a 24x36 painting of the former president in his living room–in which he was added as a fifth face carved into Mount Rushmore.

         "Is this going to hurt?"

         "Don't worry Dick, you will be given some general anesthetic drugs, fade to black and wake up in a few decades when we can better treat your condition.

         "Last words?"

         "Excuse me," said Dick.

         "Well, we assure you that cryonics is relatively safe, but it is not without risk; a small percentage of our patients are unable to be effectively revived. The mind uploading process is the tricky part; some subjects seem to respond better to it than others. Cognitive impairment is also a concern, some of our patients awaken in a state of severe catatonia. The risk is minimal, but just in case things go wrong, we ask that all of our clients offer their last words."

         "All I can say is that, after I am thawed out, I hope that the state I wake up in is not a welfare state," Dick Quipped.

         The medical personnel all responded with laughter.

         "Good one sir."

         Dick was accustomed to amens and kudos, even more so among his own staff. They seem to have more of a propensity to laugh at your jokes when you can easily fire them on a whim if they don't.

         "Ok Mr. Ellingsworth, we are ready to proceed."

         Dick took one last look at a photo of himself—a picture of him posing with a rifle—atop a moose carcass that he had found on the side of the road. A suitable metaphor for how he feigned responsibility for his immense wealth. He then gently pressed his lips to the rosary that was given to him by his father, along with the quarter billion dollar estate.

         "Ok, I'm ready."

         "Now, we need you to count down from ten," the doctor said in a soft voice.

         "Ten. . .nine. . .eight. . . seven," and Dick went limp.

II

        "Mr. Ellingsworth."

         "Can you hear me?"

         "Can you hear me Dick?"

         Dick's mouth began quivering and his eyelids started to flutter. He began whispering inaudibly, as though he was speaking in tongues.

         "I hope we don't have another episode of glossolalia," said the nurse.

         Shut up and get me a dose of ammonium carbonate," the doctor responded.

         "Mr. Ellingsworth?"

         Dick's eyes finally stopped fluttering, and slowly opened.

         "Wha. . .?"

         "What happened?" Dick muttered in a hoarse voice.

         "Where is the other doctor?"

         "Don't worry Mr. Ellingsworth, everything is fine, we are going to get you taken care of."

         Unbeknownst to Dick, it was now 3067. He had been hibernating in a Liquid nitrogen cacoon for thirty-seven years, and the world that awaited him was far different from the world he had previously known.

         Upon finding out that he had proverbially traveled in time, the first thing he wanted to know was what the political climate was. He didn't waste any time.

         "Who is in control of the house and senate," Dick asked.

         "A relatively new party called the Spartiate Caste took control of both the house and the senate about 10 years ago. They have been in control ever since."

         After seizing power the fringe right members of the SC immediately began creating new legislation that would help to 'rid mankind of its parasites'. The Eugenics act of 3058 was just one of many such laws."

         "Sounds good, it sounds like our nation finally toughened up," Dick responded.

         "Interesting to hear you say that," the doctor said under his breath.

         "What was that?"

         "Never mind, Mr. Ellingsworth."

         The Doctor then informed Dick that he was going to be transferred to another facility. After Dick voiced concern, he was subsequently told that he need not worry, and that the medical personnel at the new location would be better equipped to treat him. Two weeks later, after he was fully recovered from being frozen for almost 4 decades, Dick was on a tram headed to a hospital in the east called The Buchenwald Medical Center.

         Buchenwald was an immense 13 story medical facility that looked much more like a military compound than a hospital. Surrounding the fortress-like amalgam of buildings was a twenty foot stone wall with barbed wire. Dick began to wonder if he really was being taken to a hospital after all.

         "What's with the heavily fortified gate at the entrance?" Dick asked a guard as they pulled in.

         The guard then pointed to a sign on the front gate which read: "Keeping our patients safe is our number one priority."

         "Safe from what?" Dick wondered.

III

        After keeping Dick waiting for hours, a nurse finally escorted him to a dimly lit, enormous, concrete room. Were he not in a hospital he might have thought that he had just stepped inside of a gas chamber.

         "The Doctor will be with you momentarily," said the nurse.

         "Thanks sugar lips," replied Dick.

         Dick often made pathetic attempts to sweet talk the ladies, particularly the young ones, who would have otherwise been out of his league—had he not been rich. But because he had lots of money, he was used to it reciprocating, at least as a pretense. That’s why he was taken aback when the young nurse told him:

         "Go fuck yourself fatass, You have more chins than a thousand year old redwood has tree-rings."

         This type of treatment was completely foreign to Dick; he wasn't going to let that little cunt get away with it. Just as he was about to chase her down, to teach her a lesson, the doctor walked in.

         "Well Mr. Ellingsworth, according to your DNA results, you have a predisposition for obesity, heart disease, and a number of other various diseases. Your life expectancy is approximately 52 years."

         "Yeah, and at 57, I think it’s safe to say that I have defied the odds," Dick responded. "The good lord has blessed me," He followed up.

         "Well, I don't think that the flying spaghetti monster has anything to do with it. You have been kept alive because you were able to receive the medical care that others could not. You have been kept alive because you have had two open heart surgeries. You have been kept alive because you could afford the ten million dollar cryonic procedure. No need to invoke metaphysical, fairy tale creatures here."

         Dick was furious. "Nobody talks to me like that," he said, right before he was interrupted again.

         "Besides if God wanted to bless you, don't you think he would have just eliminated certain vulnerabilities from your genetic structure, so you didn't have heart disease in the first place? Because, according to the court ruling, your God appears to have cursed you."

         Dick was confused. Why was he, for the first time in his life, being treated like a second class citizen? Though incognizant of the fact, he was now being treated the same way that he had treated others his entire life. Because now he was living in a world where individuals are not assessed and quantified by their FICO score.

         "Court ruling, What on earth are you talking about?" Dick responded with ire.

         "I am sorry Mr. Ellingsworth, but the ministry of eugenics now has jurisdiction over all medical cases that come in and out of this facility. All citizens are brought before the tribunal to see if the are deemed "worthy of life." Unfortunately, in your case, the consensus was unanimously, "nay."

         "What the. . .I never went before any court, what kind of system is this?"

         "And what would your defense be? DNA does not lie. That is what was brought before the court, your DNA. That is all the evidence they need to determine a subject's value to society. After all, we don’t want to be taking care of any societal parasites. Wouldn't you agree?"

         Dick was finally living in a "survival of the fittest" utopian society. The kind of society that operated in complete congruency with the law of natural selection. The kind of society where the feeble, less fit, specimens are rooted out. The kind of society where the strongest organisms prevail and assert their will on their weaker counterparts. The kind of society he had ostensibly dreamed of living in. But this megalomaniac's idea of a darwinian shangri la was predicated on one important misconception, a delusion of grandeur: the perennial fallacy that those who possess the greatest amount wealth are those who are the most fit.

Timothy Bearly currently resides in Sandpoint Idaho where he likes to eat worms and sing songs. According to his teachers he has an insubordinate attitude (because he raises questions). According to his family he is a communist (because he doesn't believe in laissez-fairy tales). According to his fundamentalists peers he is the antichrist (because he named his dog darwin). Notwithstanding his frustration with the relentless and groundless ad hominem bombardment, he kind of enjoys his status as persona non grata, he contends that ostracism helps one to write unfettered. Ironically, personal attacks also inflate his ego, it helps him to realize that he is on the right track. He can be lambasted via email: thebearlys@hotmail.com







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