unmarried man over the age of nineteen is a danger to society."
On the rim of a bay in the South China Sea, the proprietor of Telestial
Deep Sea Fishing Expeditions Co., Inc., was ensconced in his villa-style
courtyard that doubled as an open-air rumpus room.
This man was called, of course, LaMar, and
he was delighted to be surrounded by beanbags and bongo boards, exploded
pomegranates and his pregnant wife, who flopped among the honeysuckle
trellises planted instead with peas (security against the Armageddon that
his religion had plagiarized from actual Christians).
Tykes swarmed everywhere, a jumbo-sized
passel of once-every-year-and-a-half kids, all blond. They strangled each
other with the red neckerchiefs of the communist Young Pioneers, which
had been misrepresented as scholastic achievement awards in the press
back home. The youngsters were too many to count. Mommy evidently short-shrifted
each of them in the breast milk department, the better to get an early
start on the next, according to the immemorial custom of their 160-year-old
faith. Green jello with tiny marshmallows was the Simulac of this household.
This was the sort of domestic scene that
requires great temerity and a strong stomach to infiltrate--the very qualities
which Bachelor Biff positively oozed, for he was a self-starting kind
of guy (given a small nudge from the local power structure). And LaMar
seemed willing to semi-welcome Biff, for the moment at least, as a misguided
tourist, accompanied by an evidently ungravid, therefore unimportant female.
In fact, the whole family, following the lead of their patriarch, looked
askance on Biff's "wife" at first.
"She's over twelve and under fifty-five,"
they whispered to one another. "So where's her dacron polyester maternity
Then Biff realized that he hadn't presented
his credentials yet. The words of the prophet Brigham Young denouncing
all wifeless men as dangers to society still rang fresh in Mormon ears;
and, for all LaMar knew, the two of them could just have been a pair of
unmarried adventurists looking for a free feed, trying to impose themselves
in the name of compatriotism.
So Biff flashed his "Temple Recommend" (forged
by one of the more compliant calligraphers this side of the Yangtze River),
and began, in medias res, to tell rehearsed lies in a creditable Latter-Day-Saint
"Golly-dang, LaMar. I and the little missus
are wrapping up a two-year proselytizing mission. Hushy-hush, of course.
You know how these Maoists are."
LaMar couldn't help but roll his eyes in
sympathetic exasperation and say, "Oppressive totalitarian regime with
contempt for human rights such as freedom of religion."
"Yeah," said Biff. "Stuff like that."
"And which of our many fine seminaries were
you dispatched from?" asked LaMar, starting to smile in a friendly way.
Biff thought fast and said, "Um...the one
in Salt Lake City?"
He risked incurring Babylon-fear in exchange
for the near certainty that this obvious Provo partisan wouldn't know
anybody in such a decadent sinkhole.
LaMar looked sad. "Oh, well. Lots of Tongan
converts up there, playing softball and eating Shetland ponies." It was
as if Biff had said he was from Iceland.
But there was a way to get past the mistrust.
Biff made a gesture of the head, a wordless, Reaganesque nod, signifying,
"Gee, I'd really like to talk to you...alone."
He suffused it with the slightest lip- and
eyelid-pouting fluidity, just enough below-the-waistband appeal to make
the request for a private audience irresistible to someone who would rather
spread his genetic material thinly over an obscene number of tiny carcasses
than admit he'd experienced some variant impulses inside his human pants.
So the two men headed out together for the
porch and the sooty sea panorama it afforded, leaving their better halves
to stare at each other in repulsed silence while the freckled kindergarten
shrieked around their feet.
"Don't nod off till I get us established
or you can kiss off the fucking bonus," Biff hissed to his "wife" in Foo-Chow
gutter dialect as he passed grinning out of the rumpus room. Evidently
it had been beyond the capability of the Public Security Bureau to dig
him up a floozy without a severe opiate addiction.
LaMar was on the topic of sex before the
screen door could shut. "Flip!" he whispered in a croaking falsetto. "My
LurBobbie hasn't touched a Tampax since we got hitched in the Temple!"
This was too easy. Without burning any calories
at all, Biff heard himself reply, "Well, I haven't even had a chance to
baptize my wife yet. And the only reason she hasn't touched a Tampax is
that none of them ever do."
He waved his arm out across the town-encrusted
foothills, to make it clear who "them" might be, and continued. "Gol,
LaMar, we been married three weeks already and she's not even, um, you
"You bet," said LaMar before the naughty
word could be spoken. His face wore an expression of condescension disguised
as commiseration, as if to say, "Serves you right for intermarrying, doesn't
it? As if the world needs more hybrids. But, considering your point of
origin, I guess I can't blame you. From what I've heard it's well-nigh
impossible to unearth a virgin in that Gomorrah-on-the-Dead-Sea."
There was a moment of silence for Biff to
repent of his own poor judgment. In deep sadness, he scanned the nearly
deserted waterway of this languishing Special Economic Zone.
"Of course," he moaned after an appropriate
while. "You're right. Too bad I don't have several little sons to share
your wisdom with."
Childlessness in a coreligionist, along
with all its political implications, would certainly seep into LaMar's
secret dewy places--especially here in the land of the one-child policy.
Biff glanced at his host's trouser-bulge with wistful, younger-brotherly
admiration. That would give him a feeling of alpha-male superiority, which
might lead to even more fundamental indiscretion.
"By the way, Brother LaMar, are you with
"You mean the Bonneville Corporation?" He
smiled smugly, arched his back and bounced on the balls of his feet. "Well,
Telestial Deep Sea Fishing Expeditions Co., Inc., has received some financial
backing in exchange for--"
"No, no, no." Biff oozed a little closer
on the veranda, in a splash of poinsettia-haunting lizards with green
suction cups for toes. He whispered, in a babyish voice, "The Company.
"You bet!" chuckled LaMar, displaying two
huge upper incisors.
Did people from anyplace else say you bet?
Utah, the You Bet State.
"That's a secret, m'kay? But, seeing as
how you're a good brother of the church and all, well--" He smirked a
bit, surveyed the bay with crinkled eyes, and spilled his guts. It was
almost more than Biff cared to hear.
"I'm just a minor operative, keeping a secret
tally of the comings and goings of boats like that one there."
He pointed out across the harbor in a non-specific
way useless to Biff, who was trying to align his nose with the blond forearm,
when LurBobbie, or whatever her name was, appeared toting a couple huge
bowls and a half-gallon of something with green and white stripes. She'd
probably chosen to break it out at this early hour as an excuse to leave
the rumpus room/courtyard for a breath of air, away from Biff's opium-scented
traveling companion. The label on the carton seemed to say Dental Cream
Swirl Frozen Dessert Product.
"Shipped just a whole bunch of miles by
diplomatic pouch," beamed LaMar.
"Gol, Lammy!" she giggled before demurely
excusing herself and withdrawing. "You're not supposed to tell nobody."
When she was gone and they could resume
talking man-to-man, LaMar forked over a pair of binoculars and said, "That's
a cadre out of Vladivostok, here for some kind of high-level lefty shenanigans
nobody knows about. See? You can tell it's a Roosky craft by how tacky
the skipper is dressed. Like Pete Seeger."
"Flip!" cried Biff. "All he needs is a banjo."
"When the wind's just right for our little
backyard sound dish to operate efficiently, you can hear that most of
the tunes they play on their cheap Hong Kong ghetto blaster are in minor
keys. That's a dead giveaway. Nobody but a morbid polar totalitarian would
prefer that sound. Except for 'May there Always Be Mommy,' which they
play occasionally. I kind of like that one. It's probably on their tape
"A pirating error," sniffed Biff, wondering
vaguely if he'd ever heard a tune by that name.
"Yeah," giggled LaMar, who was really loosening
up now. He began to get a little theatrical, mocking their accents as
he spoke. "They love Ze Bittles and Aunty Villiams." He held out both
hands and signaled for Biff to join him in a mock group-sing, which Biff
did, once he'd caught the gist:
Ve had choy
Ve had fan
Ve had sissons in the sun
Then LaMar caught hold of himself before
too much profane hilarity could seep into the conversation. He began to
look a little guilty for crooning a secular song on a Sunday afternoon.
As if in compensation, he got even more maudlin than he was accusing his
seagoing adversaries of being.
"After a while eavesdropping tends to, um,
sort of humanize these people," he said, tentatively; and when Biff conjured
up his most horrified gasp, LaMar hastily added, "But not enough to endanger
our national interests, you know, Brother--um, Brother--?"
Biff pretended to be unwilling to reveal
his secret name-in-religion to a potential turncoat, a fence-straddler.
Almost in despair (would this be reported to his neighborhood Bishop back
in Provo?). LaMar tried to redeem himself by casting further aspersions
across the waves.
"You can also tell Sovietsky yachts because,
while the other foreign pleasure cruisers have your half-nak--um, well,
half-undressed skinny young girls, the Rooskies prefer your chunky fifty-year-olds
in black rubber one-pieces."
At the mention of the word "rubber," LaMar
got slightly out of control. He sputtered, "And all of them, male and
female, got fifty percent rag bond-white skin and juicy Khrushchev warts
nestled in the crannies of their faces between vodka-pickled skin flaps,
He reached up and wrenched a Gogol grimace
out of his face. He inserted thumbs up both nostrils and dragged down
his lower lip and eyelids with the other fingers, in the efficient manner
of fourth graders that Biff had never quite mastered, though not for lack
of earnest effort.
Then LaMar seemed to realize he was being
infantile. He switched gears once more, this time into a more somber speed.
"But I suppose that, hard-pressed, the prophet
Brigham Young would've admitted our Slavic brethren to the elevated ranks
of the White and Delightsome, huh?"
Biff let loose a burst of air, deftly dissipating
all tension, and said, "Gosh, I never thought of it that way. But, I guess
He glanced meaningfully back through the
matrixed gnats of the screen door at his high-yellow "wife," who'd dozed
off despite the warning and was sprawled in the middle of the floor with
her legs wide apart, providing a show for some of the older boys.
But LaMar didn't get it. He thought Biff's
glance was intended to switch topics from pale Russians to tan Chinese.
He said, "I fig they're fixing to fall back into the hug of the polar
bear. Just look around you at these docks, spanking new and completely
idle. Modernization is a failure. So it's hi-hi Roosky-wooskies! Scarlet
monolith time!" He actually pinched Biff's ass.
"Flip, LaMar," croaked Biff, trying his
best to gag down the old primordial sodomite-horror which, in his case,
manifested itself in elevator stomach. Undercover intelligence work is
a bleak and sordid business.
LaMar got close and whispered breathlessly
up against his withering earlobe. "I'll tell you a secret if you promise
not to tell anybody, not even the old ball and chain, m'kay?"
By this point, LaMar had entered into that
talkative mood peculiar to Mormons who, by some clerical error or ill-considered
board decision, have been allowed access to sensitive information. (And
there are lots of them; the U.S. intelligence community is bottom-heavy
with Latter Day Saints.) It had taken so much effort for LaMar's Heavenly
Father-blasted brain to absorb this data that, in order to call it back
up, he was obliged to allow his personality, such as it was, to be subsumed,
so as to make room. He was giving a strangely accurate impression of an
Associated Press Wire Service machine.
"Did you know the Soviets nuked Xinjiang
in the early sixties? Yup! Forty thousand dead, but they were just your
Uighur nomads and other Turkic types, your brownish little Allah-babbling
tribesmen and like that, so Beijing didn't get too ticked, except for
the face-loss deal, don't you know. It was just a tank-deployed tactical
weapon. I saw the seismic reports at Brigham Young University. Flip these
socialists, you know?"
What security problem? thought Biff. Our
country's got a security problem?
"Yeah-boy," he marveled aloud, carelessly
slipping a Mayberryism among the Utahisms. "Wouldn't that be a tale to
tell your blue-eyed son as he sat on your knee in front of the fireplace?"
That got this Latter Day Saint right where
he lived. For the first time he looked directly on Biff as another sentient
"To what degree in the Melchizedek Rite
have you attained, Brother?"
Boy, oh boy: more Mormon lore, from a level
even a post-DeVoto expert like Biff hadn't bothered to penetrate. He drew
a complete blank and had to fake it.
"I'm lax. I'm remiss, Brother LaMar. Please
"That's all right. Don't feel badly. Since
we've been cast together on this remote shore and you have displayed such
a right-minded attitude toward everything, I think that I might see my
way clear to initiating you into some of the higher mysteries of our Melchizedek
Order--um, perhaps in return for services rendered?"
Suddenly, as if on cue, from behind Biff's
shoulder came the semi-articulated belching noises of LurBobbie. She was
requesting the withdrawal of her larger sons from between the black-nyloned
knees of his comatose bride.
Biff felt the millstone dragging him down
already, small intestines first. He asked himself, deep in his heart,
"Do I really want to buy into this sort of thing that badly?"
"No!" screamed the me-generationist inside
But there was something round and solid
about the youngest one still on the tit, the one who hadn't quite walked
or talked or swallowed the Heavenly Father puke yet. It charmed Bachelor
Biff's dream-self, and also scared the shit out of him in an ambiguous
way that resembled nothing he'd ever experienced. He decided to think
of it, tentatively at least, as the indeterminateness of real life, and
try to let it go at that for the time being.
But why the sheer numbers of little lumps
of indeterminateness? Two or three, or just one, seemed reasonable even
to the territorial beast that snarled in him.
Then he noticed something proprietary, like
a cross between the leer of the butcher and the pimp, in the gloating
look LaMar sent forth whenever he patted a few of his spawn on the heads
or asses. Biff had lived among these people for whole sad chunks of his
life, and had unwillingly driven through minuscule towns like Lehi, Utah,
where two-thirds of the population had been implicated in the organized
mix-'n-match/swap meet-style sexual molestation of their own children.
LurBobbie belched again.
Nausea and flight nearly overtook Biff's
sense of duty. Somehow, he maintained enough presence to choke out the
words, "S-s-services rendered? Well, um... Gol-dang, you just name it,
"There are several Palestinians abiding
in your neck of the woods, I'm told. Scolarshipped medical students chained
to a conveyor belt in the municipal abortion mill."
Biff's jaw went slack with release of tension
and hung down as the rest of his body soared with the angels. It seemed
the Latter Day Saint wanted a camel jock or two to service LurBobbie,
not a coreligionist. Biff emitted an inconclusive schwa sound, which was
misinterpreted as affirmation.
"Well," said LaMar, "you could sort of buddy-wuddy
it up to these Philistines. It's not supposed to be all that difficult.
Sure, they want to see Americans hemorrhaging in the sand with their noses
slit up the side and all that; but when it gets down to practicalities,
these little goat-hubbies usually turn out to have a sentimental admiration
for us, which can be manipulated into the kind of emotional attachment
that lends itself to major indiscretion." He rolled his eyes, clucked
his tongue and moved closer. "You could just, you know, report back to
me occasionally on your little P.L.O.-buddies' thought processes. Simple
as pie. M'kay?"
Biff was so busy analyzing his attitudes
toward his own Judeo-Christian background that he didn't hear that last
"M'kay?" and said nothing in reply.
"Very good, a silent consent. With a little
practice you could go to work for The Company--and I don't mean Telestial
Deep Sea Fishing Expeditions Co., Inc."
LaMar made a move to pinch some ass again,
which, even in his reverie, Biff was able gently but firmly to repulse.
"Oh, that's right. We're into serious business
now," said LaMar, swallowing a smirk. "Melchizedek stuff. M'kay. Now,
the higher Priesthood does have some amazing capabilities in the promotion
of fertility, as you can plainly see. As a matter of fact, some of our
techniques, which date way, way back to the early days in Nauvoo, Illinois,
share a broad archetypal and conceptual base with the splinter-Taoist
semen retention isometrics as practiced by the aboriginals of the southern
Thai mountain ranges and--um, did you say your wife hadn't been baptized?"
Biff oozed out a sheepish, self-castigating
kind of moan.
"Well, then! Let's all board my boat, both
our houses, my future fellow patriarch, and sail to a select spot in this
oriental ocean. I shall show you some deep secrets of the White Salamander
Brotherhood and provide you with a foolproof fertility amulet and rite,
all combined with a bona-fide full-immersion baptism for your lovely life-mate.
You'll be in possession of a fetal Biffy, Jr., within the month, I guarantee.
Sort of a celestial package deal."
tykes included, wallowed out into green fluid and splashed away until
everything began to get orangish and darkish, and they anchored off a
desolate island, which the whore kept eyeing with definite revulsion,
as if she knew something about the place Biff didn't.
They underwent a kind of plagiarized Freemasonry-type
bare-naked fertility rite involving fervid prayer-in-tongues, the donning
and doffing of the secret white Temple garments, and LurBobbie's marshmallow-palms
cupping Biff's testicles on deck while the dumbfounded little prostitute
had to go swimming with LaMar.
Before her head was pushed under, while
trying to scratch LaMar's radiant eyes out of their sockets and kick his
balls under the water, she shrieked three syllables of gutter dialect.
Biff took the requisite full minute and a half of her total submersion
to recognize this word: it could be rendered literally in English as "finger-droppers,"
and signified, for Christ's sake, lepers. And he realized they were floundering
within sneezing distance of an isolation colony.
LaMar came spouting up and trod water for
a while, mumbling a benediction on his new proselyte--for she was his,
not Biff's convert, though Biff had been the one to unearth her. She would
go on LaMar's tally sheet in the great Up Yonder and get him gold stars
off his neighborhood Bishop back in Provo. Red Chinks were at a premium
these days, what with the "open door policy" and the crack at tithing
a quarter of the known universe's population of economic animals.
LaMar followed Biff's gaze to the questionable
shoreline and volunteered some more information.
"I'm told that place used to veritably flutter
with tens of thousands of beautiful egrets. Now the islanders outnumber
any other life form."
The leprous types had already gathered on
their diesel-grimy beach to observe the small devotional service by moonlight.
Some of the weller ones waded out a few feet into the gray surf. Biff
saw gritty waves abrading at sallow calves and ankles, taking a mushy
He risked blowing his cover by politely
demurring when LaMar intoned a solemn request for him to disengage his
shriveling scrotum from LurBobbie's pudgy grasp and join his newly reborn,
newly eternalized spouse in God's boundless baptismal font, or something
"The natives are friendly," said LaMar,
by way of persuasion. "See how they light our way with the torches of
brotherhood? If your baptism quota hasn't been filled after these two
years in Red purgatory--and I have a suspicion it might not be, Brother
Biffy, seeing how your own wife is just now entering into the Kingdom
of Bliss--you wouldn't be imprudent to consider dog-paddling over there
later on tonight a dunking a few devils. They look ripe for the picking."
Biff must've been getting tired and incautious.
He made the obvious tithing joke about impecunious Hansen's disease patients:
single digits per annum, and so on. It was met with an outright suspicious
silence from the patriarch and his whole caterwauling clan. There was
a pause, and Biff had made it, at least, pregnant.
This was not the first time his piety had
come into question today. But Utahns are famed the world over for their
gullibility. Deng Xiaoping once sent a couple of his desert-reclamation
men to Provo to fetch a bunch of Mo-mo dowsing experts back to drought-struck
Xinjiang, under strict orders not to smirk when promising "an atmosphere
of free trade and economic cooperation." So Biff figured his latest gaffe
could be smoothed over, albeit with a drastic action: a suicidal strip
of the Temple garments and a plunge into the piss-warm South China Sea.
He came up gagging among bathtub toy-like sacramental paraphernalia.
Better to risk leprosy germs floating up
one's butt than to blow this whole assignment, lose the favor of the Chi-Coms,
and be sent back to rot behind the podium in the EFL classroom. Junky
flat-backers and hyperfecundant Utahns were not ideal company, but they
beat the hell out of students.
And so, the sins of the tiny oppressed worker-girl
were washed away in the yeasty waters off the Special Economic Zone, while
her red eyeballs floated uncomprehendingly in a vapor of stale opium.
And one might suppose that the Spirit of the Lord descended upon, if not
frankly mounted her at one point or another in the evening. But there
was no way of verifying this, for, in her idiolect and in the jargon of
her trade, there were no words to express such a notion.
During the entire orgy, little blond apes
skittered in and out of the yacht's turquoise superstructure, fighting
over the ample contents of the bulging Toshiba fridge and eyeing coolly
the various sets of multi-racial adult genitalia, which flopped on deck
and floated in the inky and lumpy sea.
"JazMynne, honey, could you go back inside
and close the hatch now, sweetie?" piped the mommy in her buttery mezzo-soprano.
"And take little Nilla with you? Thank yo-o-o-o-o-u! We call that one
Nilla 'cause it's her favorite kind."
Having said that, LurBobbie took a belly
flop right into the midst of the celebrants. The little whore eyed her
huge boobs in puzzlement as they wobbled lopsidedly in the fluid like
downed, mismatched zeppelins.
The kids went back under duress, whining,
"When we going back to 'merica? There's nothing but poot-cakes on television
When it was over, closing prayers groaned,
the boat started puffing up a good head of steam on the way back to the
harbor, under the competent pilotage of Dorcas or JonBenet or Krystle
or one of the other ambulatory spawn. The grownups dried off in the cabin
and enjoyed the latest Donny and Marie Family Home Evening video, followed
by Marie's workout tape for expectant mothers.
The whole time Biff's bride was either nodding
off or sneaking into the head for a few tokes. He was expected to palm
her little black pewter canister pipe on demand. She would come out all
warm and sort of bony-cuddly, and she'd try to imitate Mrs. LaMar like
a chihuahua flattering a walrus. In her longing to enjoy a few last minutes
of domesticity, the whore attempted to play and snuggle with a few of
the Mo-mo kids who were small and unindoctrinated enough not to have contempt
for her slanted eyes. She revealed the depth of her maternal instinct
by calming the fussiest suckling infant with an oily bolus of poppy tar
slipped between its boneless gum and lip.
Biff put the kibosh on that, with the only
means he could think of on such short notice: a diversionary tactic. His
lunge for LurBobbie's hubcap-sized nipple was met with "Why didn't you
do that at prayer meeting, Bro? Too late now! And you can tell your bride
to keep the chocolate, thanks. We don't start them on that till they're
In other words, things had settled down
to normal for an evening of socializing among American expatriates in
Biff chose this moment to sidle up to the
gracious host--one last time, thank God. He steeled himself and intoned
seductively, "Gol, Brother LaMar. The last time they shook down my prayer
closet, the darn Public Security Bureau confiscated my Book of Mormon
and my Pearl of Great Price and my Doctrine and Covenants."
"My goodness, all three?" He seemed genuinely
concerned. "You know what they say about a Latter Day Saint without his
Three Good Tomes?"
"Yup, I know: 'He's naked already.'"
"Oh, why won't they let us get on with it
and fetch souls to Heavenly Father?" cried LaMar. "It's not like as though
we're superstitious self-fricasseeing heathens like the Foo Long Bing
Bong, or whatever."
"Yeah," said Biff. "Um, anyways...Do you
happen to have extra copies I could borrow? My own were red leather bound,
of course, with the raised spine--"
"A dead giveaway."
"Yes, that's quality binding. But the missus
and I'd be mighty grateful even for some dog-eared paperback editions.
I have a lot of work to do with this little lady, to strengthen her position
within the fold."
Biff looked fondly down at his spouse, whose
few brunette pubes were evidently starting to itch, even through the narcotic
that polluted her bloodstream.
LaMar stood watching her scratch for a full
minute, then said, "Well, you know, Brother, I am a businessman. I'm not
one of you heroic underground trench-fighters, whom I admire so deeply.
To wangle my invitation from the central authorities, I had to sign an
agreement promising not to proselytize, distribute tracts, or even hold
Family Home Evening out on my veranda with my own kids, if you can feature
that--on pain of strappado, followed by summary deportation."
Biff made his face fall to belly button-level.
"But," LaMar continued magnanimously, "since
you are already a good brother of the church, well, sir--"
He opened up a sea chest brimming with scripture.
Biff beamed, "Wonderful! Say, could you
inscribe the books to my wife? The dedication of a full-blown Melchizedek
is not without value in the spirit world. And she's going to need all
the points she can get. In Chinese, please, so she can appreciate it."
And LaMar, proprietor of Telestial Deep
Sea Fishing Expeditions Co., Inc., grandly obliged, filling in the date,
the place, and his own full legal name, in the boxy yet studiedly legible
calligraphy of the outlander.
come ashore and fondly parted company, Biff pledging to deliver Palestinian
guts on a silver salver A.S.A.P., the damp couple took their solitary
way into the foothills, smoking like mismatched chimneys. Their provincial
government-provided Red Flag limousine was waiting. The moment Biff's
weight hit the shock absorbers, the venerable V-8 started up with a joyous
Before the pipe could completely dull her
brain once again, Biff turned to the Foo-Chow whore and told her, "Next
time there's a shakedown on Stalin Square, let the cops confiscate these
three books and they'll leave your scumbags and cigarettes alone."