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Hello again, fair reader! I, your titular trusted confidante, bring you another dose of the latest and greatest goings-on amongst the cheeky, well-heeled, and hie-thee-hither of High and Spry Society here in beautiful, downtown White Knuckle City.
IN FLAGRANTE DEFLECTO
Word on the street has it that confirmed bachelor Palaver Gadabout has been heard lately in the company of an especially amorous someone special. That conspicuous cooing in the bushes of Cinnamon Park in recent days? The whooping and screeching that follow, culminating in a most… shall we say, explosive… outcry? I’ve been assured it can be attributed to this pair of sweethearts as they court and spark amid the lush flora of lovers’ lanes and landmarks, making an audible spectacle of themselves. According to one reliable source, their public displays of affection have been so energetic as to embarrass even the most jaded of birds and bees.
At what point does love play become obnoxiously disruptive to polite society? Just ask the Gadabout Objectors, a team of citizens dedicated to silencing—or at least toning down—the unabashed operatic exuberance of Gadabout and his paramour. Word has it these hushing vigilantes refuse to be dissuaded from their singular purpose, though their initial entreaties were poorly received. Does it test the bounds of good taste to respond to a polite letter of objection by returning said communique soaked in urine?
Faced with such impolite resistance, the resolute Objectors resorted to extreme measures to achieve their goal. To that end, they awaited the expected reports of audibly active courtship in a certain infamous local copse, then rushed to confront the occupants engaged in their turbulent calisthenics.
Only then, to their great surprise, did the Objectors discover said occupants were singular in a physical sense. The expressive, harmonious performance could be credited to a solitary person.
Remarkably, both lovers resided within the same human body.
MÉNAGE À UN
Imagine, if you will, the impact of this astonishing revelation. The existence of split personalities has long been known, dissected, and documented—yet this particular permutation left an extraordinary footprint upon the social whirl of White Knuckle City. The reaction among observers consisted of equal parts scientific curiosity, puritanical revulsion, prurient interest, and offended jealousy. Sources tell me that more than a few local “catches” took it upon themselves to confront our Gadabout as to how he could possibly prefer his own “charms” over theirs.
A certain reckless momentum developed, making clear the need for a figure of social authority and public trust to confront the narcissist and lay bare his singular licentiousness. Only then might he see the error of his ways, curtail his self-affections, and extinguish the fires of public opinion banked so heatedly against him.
If you guessed that I volunteered to fill the role of the distinguished interventionist figure in this tale, you guessed correctly. Only this column, wielded in my adept hands, stood a chance of exposing the offensive tomfoolery of Gadabout and his belle de jour in such a way that all sides could attain a degree of satisfaction.
ROMAN À CLUTCH
An interview was scheduled to be conducted by yours truly… though who, save I, could have predicted just how telling said chat was destined to be?
Yes, this encounter would be most personal. For the rumors you may not have heard, dear reader, are quite accurate…and they do not shed the best of lights on my own past.
It is true that the scandalous nature of my connection with Gadabout informed my decision to expose his sordid secrets to one and all, inspiring aghast gasps from pearl-clutchers across the greater White Knuckle metropolitan area. To me, Gadabout was never just tabloid fodder or the subject of my latest crusade of moral outrage.
He was also, at one time, my husband.
CRI DE CŒUR, C’EST LA GUERRE
Imagine interviewing a raging grizzly, bull elephant, or great white shark. That should give you some idea of the general tenor of my exchange with Gadabout. Even his amoureuse came out swinging from the bell. All gloves were off, no holds were barred… and that was fine with me.
The three of us battled with spirit aplenty. Gadabout and his lover rebuked all critiques, insisting they had every right to happiness, however public it might be. I, for my part, stood up to them both, armored with the righteousness of the Columnist and all that vaunted profession entails.
When, finally, our lively exchange drew the attention of law enforcement, the three of us were too consumed by the struggle to notice. We could only soldier on, waging our personal war on the balustrades of indecency and disaffection as officers of the peace hauled us away.
And by “us,” I mean “him.” And by “him,” I mean Gadabout… his body, that is.
The body in which all three of us reside, all three personalities split by irreconcilable differences.
NON COMPOS MENTIS AD INFINITUM
And so, I write to you now from a most agreeable facility, one I am forbidden—for now—from leaving. A judge sent me here to rest and recover my sang froid, that I may soon rejoin the ranks of the well-adjusted.
If only I were genuinely free of distraction, perhaps my recovery could proceed apace… but I find myself subjected to the same romantic ruckus that so recently discomfited so many White Knucklers. I refer, of course, to Gadabout and his darling, with whom I remain in a state of unfortunate cohabitation. Sharing a single body with your obnoxious ex as he engages in perpetual yodeling fits culminating in tsunamic petites morts with his current inamorata is not conducive to reflective recuperation.
If not for you, dear reader, and the continued good graces of my benevolent publisher, I might well and truly go mad. Instead, with crayon in hand, I am permitted to continue writing my columns… though my exposure to the social whirl is somewhat limited. My latest news, for example, involves a certain Jane Doe, a patient under perpetual heavy sedation, and her relationship with Doctor X, head-shrinker extraordinaire. Word has it this affaire de cœur may go the distance, as unconscious Jane expresses no objection to sharing her beau with others on the ward… but we shall see.
Ah, and there is one bit of news of a more personal nature to share before we bid adieu. In spite of my reduced circumstances, I have found my own romantic interest, and things are going swimmingly. It helps that he and I have much in common, like journalism and an interest in juicy gossip. It also doesn’t hurt that we come from the same neighborhood—namely, my own little corner of Gadabout’s mind. You wouldn’t believe how easy it is, when the mind in which you live is already splintered, to whip up an inner companion with whom to while away the hours.
This just in! His very own column debuts next week… in the pages of a competing broadsheet, can you believe it?
Talk about cheek! Talk about pizzazz!
Just remember, don’t trust a word of what he writes. I should know.
Robert Jeschonek is an envelope-pushing, USA TODAY bestselling author whose fiction, comics, and non-fiction have been published around the world. His stories have appeared in CLARKESWORLD, PULPHOUSE FICTION MAGAZINE, ESCAPE POD, BLACK CAT WEEKLY, and many other publications. He has written official STAR TREK and DOCTOR WHO fiction and has scripted comics for DC, AHOY, and others. His slipstream novel, MY FAVORITE BAND DOES NOT EXIST, was named one of BOOKLIST's Top Ten First Novels for Youth. He won an International Book Award, a Scribe Award for Best Original Novel, and the grand prize in Pocket Books' Strange New Worlds contest. Visit him online at www.bobscribe.com.