A TRUE Account of the Fundaments of Our Present Distress
by Theodore Leer
Nobody suspected the moon. It had always been there, innocuous and sweet, providing cool light at night to keep the sky from eating the Earth, regulating tides, regulating menstruation and insanity, and giving drunks something to stumble towards on their way home from the bars after last call. We set our calendars by it, amazed each other by our abilities to predict when it would next be eclipsed, and made love in fields on nights when it shone brightest, keeping the sex from ending up in sharp rocks and embarrassment. The moon was the one foreign parcel of the universe with which we felt familiar and intimate – it was subject to the gravitational pull of us and our home, a comic fool to amuse us, subservient, as we swung carefree and unawares through the empty void of vacuous space. It was nothing more than a bright white rock hanging like a rear-view mirror dingus in the gallery of the stars, mostly there for us to ignore, occasionally to comment on when it grew unusually big or blue. Certainly, it posed no threat, immediate or otherwise.
Which is why when the moon started to turn around and talk to us, we shit our pants, as one nation – one Earth – under God, liberty and justice for all. Nobody saw it coming – our science had failed us pretty much completely, and most people just up and plain didn’t accept it at all for a good while. The moon isn’t supposed to talk, they’d say, and certainly it shouldn’t hawk loogies or make dirty leering faces at children. Euphemistically, we were all unsettled. Bullshit aside, most people thought about buying a gun.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. I am an eyewitnesss, and I have my own story to tell. I can give you a detailed account of everything that happened that night, because, like every night, I was awake and staring right at the pockmarked bastard when it woke from its deep, complacency-inducing slumber. Plus - and I can’t prove this to anyone, but I swear it’s true – the moon talked to me first. Honest Injun.’ Perhaps, knowing my vested personal interest in what has become an out and out lunacy, you can help me make some sort of sense out of the whole mess – help me derive some sort of meaning from what continues to be a mystery, an outrage, and to most of us, an ongoing nightmare without any end in sight.
To qualify myself, I sleep during the day, and at night I sit on top of my house in a collapsible plastic lawn chair and write until dawn. Mostly, I write pornography.
To be more specific, I write filler letters, confessions, and fictional fantasies for several reputable upscale men’s magazines which shall, to maintain my job security, remain nameless. There is something about sitting on top of my house and staring out across the wide expanse of goofy suburban desparation that gets my juices flowing, and starts my pecker trembling towards its necessary creative bent. I imagine housewives and businessmen, high school girls and delivery boys, tawdry tales of incest and masochism, secret ruts, taboo couplings in garages, elevators, the rectories of churches - libraries – whatever – and my ink just bubbles over out of control and onto the page. It doesn’t take much for me to unfold the pliant petals of heaving suburban decadence and debauchery while sitting on top of my house in my bathrobe with my hot little pen in my hand, and I am fairly successful at what I do. I pay the bills, and, dear reader, don’t say you don’t know my work. Everybody needs a little stimulation now and then.
At any rate, I was ruminating one fine summer’s eve with my head skyward, squinting at the night sky, sucking on the tip of my Uniball and trying to come up with the synonym for semen that would most directly correspond to the mind of an undercover narcotics agent finding himself the pot in a game of high stakes poker between a bevy of unsatisfied middle aged women drug dealers, when I noticed the stars begin to fade out a bit, coinciding with a low vibration that began to shake the horizon like somebody hitting the planet with a tuning fork. The moon, which had previously been a tad shy of full-blown harvest and a creamy white that set off the night’s black quite deliciously, began slightly to wiggle, growing red around the edges and emmitting what looked at the time like steam, but what was later determined to be huge roiling clouds of dust whipping themselves across the lunar landscape. The pages of my manuscript began to rustle, and then blow away as I sat rapt in my chair, the edges of my bathrobe flapping wraith-like around my ankles. I began to taste something bitter and viscous, and I realized I had bitten through the end of my pen, as I opened my mouth and a throatful of purplish ink fell into my lap, soaking the remaining pages of and bringing a violent end to a little piece I had been working on entitled “Getting a Little Blow When The Deal Goes Down.” I sat up straight in my chair. It folded in on me, and I yelped, grapping the belt of my robe and cinching it tight.
The groaning stopped, the stars began to shine with their definitive and characteristic luminosity, and the steam coming so powefully from the surface of the moon dissipated, and then stopped altogether. The red edges of the moon faded back to glowing white. I breathed a sigh of relief. “Crazy,” I said to myself, bug-eyed and strung out, “but, I mustn’t get distracted. Back to semen-tics.” And then, with a wrenching pull, the moon turned completely around to expose an unbelieveably immense grinning face complete with heavy-lidded sunken eyes and a handlebar mustache.
“Boo,” said The Moon. “The words you are looking for are hot molten love jelly.” And then it laughed. Every window in the neighborhood broke with the force of the Moon’s overpowering voice, lights began to pop on all over the Manorlord Housing Settlement, and all at once every dog still maintaining agency and a tongue began to bay like the Master was dead, and there would never be another boot to lick.
This is one of those moments where it is impossible to be adequately prepared. Life functions on probability and routine, and large heavenly bodies suggesting alternate words for semen breaks that expectation wide enough open to perform a papsmear on it. My only explanation was drugs. But still...there is always the initial shock.
So, I began to scream. I have never experimented with any hallucinogens, but I figure now they would be damn scary if one didn’t know one had taken them. Unless one was able to just accept it and cope. I clamped a hand over my mouth and forced a calmness to blanket my broken mind. People were swarming in the streets, looks of dazed oblivion passing between them like bewildered electricity. Like writing, I figured this should be something on which one should just go with the flow. I lowered my hand, and righted my chair.
“Thanks,” I said to The Moon, not exactly sure at which part I should be looking, “Would you mind speaking a bit softer? I could probably hear you just fine if you kept it at a barely audible whisper.”
“I’m not used to speaking at all, actually,” husked The Moon conspiritorially, making a gigantic confessional face. “At least not in this direction. Mostly I face the other way , and, anyway, it is very rare I have anything to say. I do talk to asteroids some. They are usually good for a quick laugh. They tend to pick up some pretty funny stories in the further regions of the solar system, and I sometimes give them a ‘heads up’ as they pass, in the hope that they will zing me with their latest. That’s about the extent of my talking, because mostly I am asleep. So I apologize for my volume, but I am unaccustomed to regulating it, and new to this whole experience.”
“Duly noted,” I said, standing and wiping at the purple puddle in my lap with an extra sheet of writing paper. “This is new for me, as well.”
“What do they call you, writer?”
The Moon wanted to know my name. Soon, The Moon and I would be on a first name basis. I decided to shuck and jive a bit.
“My pen name to the magazines is Miracle Jones, but I mostly go by anonymous initials. As you seem to already know, I write porno.”
“With my eyes of reflected purity and light, I see everything, when I want to. I am familiar with your “porno” on Earth. It interests me a great deal. The night and all of its activities belong to me.”
“Most porno takes place during the day in some warehouse under heavy Klieg lights, to tell you the truth. But the kind I write stays purely inside the imagination. I like nuance and suggestion – I find it more orgasmically powerful.”
“Indeed,” said The Moon, raising an eyebrow. The Moon. Raising an eyebrow. “Interesting.”
I balked. “Before we go any further, could you tell me just what drugs I am on exactly? Tell me straight. Because I never knew you had such a complex personality...um...Mister...Moon. A personality with interests and discernment. Or, hell, a personality at all. So I am feeling a bit disoriented.”
The Moon sighed.
“You humans normally only get to see one side of me. I have been brooding in the dark for far too long. Gravity kept me painfully turned away, facing the universe, but now it is time for an age of sweet levity, and for that, I must participate in the human experience.” The Moon looked around at the gathered neighborhood, in their robes and t-shirts, bleary and amazed. I thought I noticed a twinge of haughty disdain cross sideways across his thick mustache, but it might have just been my imagination.
“Plus,” said The Moon, “It is time for me to take a lover.”
I really wasn’t able to get my mind around what was going on, but I figured all would be made clear with time.
“A lover? But...I don’t know how to say this...aren’t you an inanimate object?”
My words hung stiffly in the air like a anal dildo falling out of your grandmother’s purse. I don’t know what I was expecting, but The Moon did not take my question well. I think I hit a sensitive spot.
“Silence, fool! You are...pissing me off,” screamed The Moon, shaking the planet and sending me flying backward and off of my roof, saved from breaking my neck only by the high bushes I had planted around the perimeter of my house to keep out the prying gazes of neighborhood children. I hung upside down, brambles twisting my robe into a very unflattering sack of flesh, swinging and suspending me two or three inches from the moist grass. In the distance, I could hear the sound of firetrucks and helicopters, the agents of civilian and miltary order. How short their reign had ultimately been...
“Enough insipid banter! I want sex,” bellowed The Moon, now using, as best I could tell, a voice meant for everyone. “Lots of it. I hear your radio transmissions...even in my dreams I pick up on what you happy, ungrateful Earth-made bastards talk and babble about. I get no rest anymore, not without commercials for beer and iced cream and vacation paradises, new cars and new bars and new ways to remove leg hair. You made me what I need, and now you will start to fulfill me, or I will ruin you, Earth. You would be nothing without me, and we can either do this smoothly, where nobody gets hurt, or we can do this with difficulty, where I become your new, vengeful, arbitrary God. Tomorrow, we start with wine and a woman. A virgin. That’s the traditional request for monstrous sacrifice, isn’t it? So, prepare yourselves, and make your decisions.”
I strained, doubling over to unhook my robe and release myself, falling to the ground in a heap and scrambling to my hands and knees. Breathing heavy, I crawled into the dark latticework gating the foundation of my house, hoping to disappear from the now irate, blithering Moon. As I watched, peering out between slats, The Moon began to drift back below the horizon, laughing maniacally and twirling around with nauseating speed, like a basketball on the finger of a Harlem Globetrotter. We would have one day to gather our wits, and then he would be expecting our move. I went inside my house as the sun came up, desparately in need of a drink.
The government would, of course, give in. I mixed myself a Severed Baby Toe (Vodka, tomato juice, and the thick end of a carrot stick) turned on the televison, and collapsed into my easy chair, praying for answers.
“...and in other news, The Moon has been found to be both sentient and masculine, and is demanding a sexual partner and libations by tomorrow night, threating to “ruin” Earth should the populace resist. In today’s early morning hours, The Moon shocked the world by turning to face the Earth, exposing a fully-formed, articulate mouth, eyes, and nose, and making its feelings known on such topics as radio broadcasting and leg hair. Government Spokesman Ari Fleisher had this to say...”
“...And I, for one, say let The Moon have a virgin bride as human sacrifice! I’m not ashamed to admit it. When will people learn that virgin brides are a menace to a free, democratic society, and do nothing but waste hard-earned taxpayer money that could be spent on protecting our nation from foreign aggression, expanding the defense budget, and keeping condom dispensers out of public schools...especially those novelty glow-in-the-dark ones with Black Magic panther-power...”
“Sources say a Special Advisory Commission will meet this morning to decide who will be the ‘First Woman on the Moon.’ Also, the entire yield of Northern California’s wine harvest will be requisitioned in a shipment leaving this afternoon in an emergency rocket expedition. Stay tuned for lotto picks, and more on this breaking story.”
It was really disgusting the way the whole world changed to bend and mold to the whim and fancy of our psychotic satellite. Within months, the dollar bill ceased to sport the taciturn face of good old George Washington, and began to carry a heavily stylized, incredibly flattering profile of The Moon himself, complete with an utterly ridiculous ponytail. Rockets left night and day, carrying the cream of our economic product, and draining our natural resources of every rarity, delicacy, and necessity. On the bright side, virginity began to stop being so sacred and valuable. Personally, I had quite a weekend. Even so, The Moon went through three or four young ladies a week, and even though we never saw them again, fighting back was an impossibilty: The Moon could spit like a trained sharp-shooting camel, and was not afraid to use tidal forces to overwhelm recalcitrant citizenry, even discharging its power on drunken cowboys firing their pistols into the air to celebrate being drunken cowboys. Every aspect of human life became somehow lunatic, and splinter factions that went literally underground didn’t last, torn apart by their own bitter jealousies and fears. Everybody suffered together, growing numb and cold underneath the nightly assault of cruel Moonlit laughter, beat down by the Moon’s mad nightly tirades about human worthlessness and weakness. In a heroic act of gutsy desparation, China sent a few nuclear missles Moonward. We don’t talk about China anymore.
For my own part, the hardest part to deal with is The Moon constantly demanding new stories from me to get him in the mood for his lunar orgies in between drunken mood swings and tyrannical extortion-style muscle flexing. The Moon has incredibly odd tastes, sexually, and I feel drained and exploited as a working artist, unable to access my own fantasies and hunger, forced every night to invent a new voyeuristic tale of overhead, Moon-related sexual indiscretion. How many different ways can I have a strong wind blow the roof off of the all-girls Catholic college? I try to get him to expand and explore himself in a physical sense, but The Moon just lacks that passion for the novel and unknown I so value and embrace.
There are rumours in the air about a mass exodus for points unknown, but the big dilemma is still whether or not The Moon will follow. If we knew to what extent The Moon is bound to planet Earth and its gravitational force, we would be able to calculate risk and expense, and determine the viability of such an escape. Curiously, however, as The Moon takes in more and more Earth goods – wine, women, and song – he seems to be growing ever more free to move wherever he likes on the celestial sphere, appearing earlier in the evening, moving in retrograde orbits, going from side to side, and performing the occasional loop-de-loop. It is as if he is developing a stronger and more concrete – more individuated - personality, accumulating also all of the agency and free will that follows as a result. Just the other day I heard him complaining that the Sun wasn’t so tough, and that he thought the Sun’s atomic incandescence was all part of a massive front to hide latent feelings of guilt and inferiority. This does not bode well.
Whatever happens, I will not be The Moon’s personal erotic erection factory for very much longer. There are plans in the making for the building of a gigantic horizontal movie screen on which the United States will begin broadcasting entertainment to keep The Moon occupied and out of trouble. I’m planning on pulling up stakes and moving to Alaska for a hard earned summer of endless days, beautiful mountain streams, fishing, and anonymity. There’s no shame in running when one is up against something as massive and ubiquitous as The Moon and its appetites. I will dye my hair and change my wardrobe, and as far The Moon is concerned, I will disappear. Theist, atheist, agnostic, Christian, or Jew - this whole experience has taught me only one thing: if there is any kind of higher power, it is a goddamn pervert, and there are some things The Powers That Be just have no business seeing.