Friday, January 17, 2014

LRH: The Target 2 Chronicles, Chapter 1, "Mrs. Eddy's Fodder"

This first chapter has been annotated with links for those unfamiliar with the astonishingly batty writings and life story of L. Ron Hubbard. The story as you read it, while based on the life and times of Hubbard, is entirely fictional . . . 

Mrs. Mary Baker Eddy and Lafayette Ronald Hubbard are seated in a filthy room at the Bulgravia Arms Hotel, a seedy flophouse across the alley from the service entrance to The Great Hoipolloi Amusement Park and Whole Track Sensorium in R6 City, the largest city in all of Target 2. Hubbard sits at a tattered card table beneath a naked bulb, a thin rope of smoke rises from a lit Kool (mostly ash at this point) in the heaping ashtray. Another cigarette hangs in the corner of his mouth, snowing ashes down the front of his stained sweater vest. He types furiously at an old, electric Remington with a "J" that sticks. When he was alive, he'd mutter every word out loud, acting out the scene with great flourish and self-satisfaction, eyebrows rising and falling with each feigned emotion. With LRH, everything was a performance. Now the face is blank. The typing rhythmic.

In the heat of the city night, the windows gape wide open hoping for a breeze. The din of traffic mixes with the amusement park barkers and the tinny the sound of a wheezy calliope playing Thank You For Listening on an endless repeat. This cacophony is periodically punctuated by the screams of terrified thetans as their rickety roller coaster roars to the bottom of the of the dizzying parabola, only to rocket them upward again, screams fading into the distance and their next sickening drop. In the distance, Scientology axioms blare from a three-story mechanical gorilla somewhere in the middle of the park, as it slowly rotates on its massive gears. Dozens of Sea Org slaves, trapped here between lives that span the countless quadrillions of years of The Whole Track, tend to the great machine's groaning, clockwork mechanism wearing nothing but shabby boiler-suits and glum, resigned expressions.

Over by the windows, across the room from the corpulent scribe, a tiny, prim figure sits stiffly handkerchief with the monogram MBE neatly stitched in one corner. She had carefully placed it on the filthy chair before deigning to perch on it. That seemed so long ago. How long had she been here? Days? Years? Time can be so dodgy in Target 2. The stern woman just kept staring intently at Hubbard as he typed ceaselessly in his cloud of minty, blue smoke. How did he do it? How could he write so much? So effortlessly? And what secrets was he writing? She was seething with envy. Her path would have been much easier had God given her the gift of such prodigious output. She didn't think this was heaven and she firmly denied hell, but somehow, it didn't really seem to matter now. She couldn't take her eyes off this great lump of a man for whom she felt such affinity and disdain.

Outside, in the trash-strewn alley, a chariot drawn by two exhausted, sway-backed mares drew up to the curb. In this once splendid conveyance, sporadically illuminated from above by the letters "BU G   VIA  A  MS" in block lettered neon, a tiny figure was talking to himself. In the faded elegance of the chariot, a fleshy cherub was chomping on a cigar (picture a rather unclean, 55 year-old baby with a bad attitude) while another small figure wrestled a cardboard box and a large satchel full of file folders and office supplies to the curb. He looked up at the outline of Mrs. Eddy in the dim light of Hubbard's window and thought about the three-story climb before him. He sighed heavily and dismounted with a flutter of his tiny, useless wings as another train-full of terrified thetans ripped by, sending a small tornado of food wrappers and cigarette butts down the deserted pavement.

Ten minutes later, the now thoroughly winded cherub stumped in the door, accompanied by a thin, sooty child in a filthy, gray boiler suit with "Stacy" stitched haphazardly over her left breast pocket. The odd couple entered the suite of rooms, set down their boxes and bags and immediately went to work. As if she'd done it a thousand times, the Sea Org slave busied herself collecting the five overflowing ashtrays stationed around the room and emptying them one-by-one out the window nearest the corner. She then proceeded to put them back precisely where she found them, lining them up with the dust shadows where they once sat. She then proceeded to open the large cardboard box she had carried in with her. The young woman carefully lined up 10 fresh cartons of Kools in a neat row on the coffee table, using a time-worn wooden ruler for precise spacing. Each carton was topped with exactly 10 books of matches (saucy ladies on the covers advertised an all-night Helatroban strip club down the street). The girl continued aligning her little cigarette henge, flinching with the bell of each manic carriage return.

Meanwhile, the cherub had busied himself rolling up the long ribbon of butcher paper that LRH had been typing on for the last 7 hours. All at once, the cherub shouted an unintelligible series of acronyms at the slave who immediately stopped work on her tabletop tobacco temple. She pulled a pair of safety scissors out of a tattered tool pouch she wore around her tiny waist and began the painstaking work of cutting the the continuous tome into individual pages at precise 11 inch intervals and putting each page into carefully numbered manila folders in the correct sequence.

With things under control, the cherub approached the mountainous writer, climbed up in his lap and suddenly slapped his face with his fat, little palm. "Stop!" he commanded. Hubbard went still, his eyes focused on some distant, unseen reverie. The cherub removed the last of the paper from the humming Remington, and climbed down to replace the roll of butcher paper on an iron spool under the table. After some struggle, he managed to feed it back up into the ancient typewriter. He then made his way across the paper-strewn table to face the writer once again. The little figure reached out and touched Hubbard's pock-marked cheek, straightened some stray wisps of red hair and whispered something into his ear. The cherub lit a fresh Kool, lovingly placed it between LRH's obscene lips and jumped down with a thud. There was a series of loud snaps, and the lights went out for what seemed like an eternity.

When they flickered back to life, MBE and LRH were alone in the room again. The cacophony had resumed. Everything was as it had been before. The city roared. The calliope tooted. The trains clattered. He typed. She envied. He indulged. She abstained. And so it went on in the breezeless night, for what felt like a trillion years.

3 comments:

sugarplumfairy said...

Lol.. Target 2 or hell? Best last paragraph ever..

Jojo Thewonderdawg said...

Smoking cherub baby with an attitude :) Jo

markfretless said...

I´m hooked. Reading on...