Chapter 14: THE CIRCLE
As far as Jeff Easton was concerned, New York City was the only place to liveif you didnt count Brooklyn or Queens or the other "Detroits" it contained. As the president of Condor Broadcasting Inc., and second council to The Circle, he didnt have to count them. He had only to be aware of their existence and to tinker now and then with the social machinery that kept them from spreading their poison to uptown Manhattan.
His part of Manhattan was, of course, a metaphor for every part of America where people could live the American dream, just as Detroit was a metaphor for all the cancer cells that infected it. Easton was fully cognizant of his responsibility to the real America and did all in his power to keep it as free and clean as the founding fathers intended. But he saw no reason to dwell on it. The mechanisms for insuring peace and prosperity in the America of the Constitution were firmly in place and pretty much running themselves.
Easton stood at the rail of his penthouse apartment in a white satin robe with a martini in his hand overlooking the clean, uncongested city. He didnt particularly care for martinis but he loved the idea of drinking them, of having them mixed and stirred and handed to him by naked female servants eager to satisfy his every whim. He had the best of everything money could buy. Hed earned it. That was the important thing. That was the American way.
He drew in a breath of satisfaction with himself and his world and turned to admire his most recent acquisitions, identical Korean-American twins approaching the age of consent. Kiko sat back in a sumptuous recliner combing her long blond hair while her sister knelt at her small white feet on the wall-to-wall chinchilla carpet giving her a pedicure. Sumis head turned with her masters movement and her round blue eyes smiled lovingly up at him. So lovely, thought Easton; so soft and delicate and desirably oriental in manner and so erotically Scandinavian in appearance. Exactly what he wanted.
In another few months or, perhaps a year, he would want something else. It might be a brown maiden, an earthy black girl and a mystic red one, or a voluptuous German blonde, a svelte French brunette and an Irish redhead built somewhere in between. Those things could be arranged as the immediate pool of candidates allowed, or concocted with a minimum of lead-time as their absence from the pool demanded.
A man of lesser virtue and lesser means would have hired prostitutes and discarded them like used condoms when they had served their purpose. Eastons vision for his girls extended well into the future where they would supplement the critical shortage of white women of child-bearing age. Not everyone could have a useful role in the real America. Thats what disposal zones were for. But whatever role the girls played with him following their upbringing in true American homes, they were decent, God-fearing white women when they were finished, with healthy white genes to pass on to their offspring.
It was a good thing for him, a good thing for the girlsmost of whom where black and ignorant before their special tutoring and surgical alterationsand a good thing for America. There was always room for women who changed their race to white or beautiful girls of other races who were willing to make the change before they started having babies.
The trick was to identify potential candidates early in their social development and to get them into environments where it was normal to speak standard, white, Midwestern, American-English. Such environments were rare for lower class New Yorkers in general and middle to lower class blacks overwhelmingly throughout the country, including the highly segregated Midwest. The foster care network he sponsored in New York and other members of The Circle sponsored in other major cities accounted for most of them. With the values and assumptions built into the grammar and the imagery of the dominant cultures standard dialect it was easy for them to go anywhere they were needed.
Second generation Americans of Asian descent, like Kiko and Sumi had no special immunity to the pitfalls and limitations of improper American-English. Had they grown up in a Korean-speaking household and neighborhood, it was unlikely that they would have learned standard American-English well enough to affect a subtle Swedish accent. If they had known, as Easton did, that their given names were not Kelly and Susan, it was unlikely that they would have adopted the Swedish sounding names of Greta and Inger with so much ease. The branches of success in America grew from a strong American root and the sound it made was as much a part of its essence as the way it looked.
Easton lifted his big toe. When he did, Sumi lifted the pointed silver nail file and, with the merest hint of a Swedish accent, asked Easton if it would please him to have her do for him what she was doing for her twin.
Kikos pretty face came to life with an addendum to her sisters idea. "Me too!" she cried, springing up and out of the recliner, nearly knocking Sumi over to get to the gaunt, sandy-haired man in the white satin robe. "Come. Come."
Easton laughed, allowing himself to be pulled along as one girl tugged on his bony wrist while her sister scooted over to make room for him to sit down.
"How did you know what I wanted?" he said, leaning back in the seat and bringing the martini to his lips.
"We know," said the girls in unison with Sumi adding "these things" as though her sister had forgotten the rest of what she was supposed to say. They all laughed as the girls playfully, yet respectfully, kissed and caressed his gnarly feet.
Easton looked down at their chiseled, features trying to imagine what it must have been like for them to have their skulls split down the middleto have the bone below the nose and above the chin knocked in, their teeth and pallets rearranged and their natural skin color changed forever.
He did not concern himself with that kind of trivia as a rule and may have never given the procedure that much thought if it hadnt been for the Mina Foski fiasco in that Alpine VRS. He was trying to understand the reluctance of anyone with her apparent abilities and aspirations to rid herself of an unnecessary handicap. It was no more comprehensible to him than the refusal of someone with a clubbed foot to get it fixed or the refusal of someone with huge, ugly breasts, like Margarets secretary, Beth, to have them fixed.
He finally decided that there was no good reason. Not in America, where anyone with talent and ambition and a willingness to make short term sacrifices for long term gains could rise to any station in life they chose. The only possible explanations were irrational fears of the unknown or fanatical disregard for community standards of decency and good taste. People like that were either useless or dangerous. The thought of them made him angry. They were not real Americans and the country was better off without them.
A chime sounded three times and a disembodied female voice said, "VRS conference in seven minutes."
McBain excused himself, patted the girls on the head as he climbed out of the chair and strolled past his tastefully arranged sculptures and paintings to a smaller room. He entered the comparatively austere office, closed the door and sat in the seat behind an empty, polished wood desk. He looked at the other four seats and smiled, thinking of the wild virtual reality trips he had taken with his girls to underwater hotels in the Caribbean and other exotic locals.
He sighed, and rested the tips of his fingers on the edge of the desk. The desktop began to tilt like an easel. When it reached an angle he liked, he lifted his fingers and the top slid forward to reveal a one-handed computer keyboard flush to the surface on one side and a telewindow on the other. A yellow light was blinking inside of a frosted white button. He ignored it for the moment and pressed the power button next to it.
The telewindow opened to a space station lounge with the Earth glowing in the starry black background like a bright blue bauble special ordered for the occasion. Fourteen tan leather seats ringed a large, black marble table, its wide, gold border creating a conspicuous circle.
So, this is where the meeting is going to be, thought Easton. Good.
It was too bad that he couldnt select his own Virtual Reality Persona for meetings of The Circle the way he could for recreational excursions or regular virtual reality conferences. But he could see why it was necessary for all of The Circles senior officers to see each other the way they were and would have insisted on it if the decision had been his. One day he was sure it would be.
A figure began to materialize in one of the seats, a blonde man in the white, Softglow suit and gold silk tie that all top level members of The Circle wore like uniforms to top level meetings. It was Phil McBain, who was always the first to arrive. And he always arrived a few minutes early although the old man always arrived more than a few minutes late.
Normally, Jeff Easton would have beamed into the VRS a minute or so after it was scheduled to start. But he was eager to talk to McBain about the unexpected way in which the Alpine conference had developed.
He checked the list of things he wanted to appear on cue in the conference and pressed the flashing yellow button. The room went black for three seconds, the time it had taken for Phil McBains white-suited VRP to materialize in his telewindow. At the end of those three seconds, Easton found himself in the space station lounge, one seat removed from McBain. "Hi Phil," he said.
McBain nodded politely, "Jeff."
Before plunging into the conversation he wanted to have with the former Negro, Easton tilted his head back and looked through the clear bubble above him into the endless depths of space. Stars were scattered everywhere like diamonds on black velvet and the most precious jewel of all was a big, glowing blue orb wrapped in a tattered shawl of swirling white clouds; Earth.
"Magnificent, isnt it?" said Easton.
McBain nodded, looking at the flawless facsimile of Earth from a high lunar orbit, the moon hidden from view by the floor of the space station. "Yeah. Thats what its all about."
Easton knew what his colleague had in mind. It was a feeling they shared, a feeling of enormous power tempered by humility in the face of a greater power. They knew their place in His plan. They were lesser beings sent by Him to put things right, to restore Christian values and Christian leadership to the heart and mind of the planet, the United States of America.
Easton didnt believe in angels and certainly didnt think of himself as one. But he was comfortable with the idea that some men were chosen by God to cull the herd of humanity and to make from its better stock a better world. Thats what The Circle was organized to do. That was the natural order of things.
"It makes you wonder," said McBain, "how a bunch of niggers and a whigger who should have died of old age fifteen years ago could come up with a cheap little telewindow talk show and have the audacity to call it, God."
"It may be cheap," said Easton, "but its big enough to reach a lot of the wrong eyes and ears. Hell, we cant even be sure about our own execs at Condor."
"I know," said McBain with a derisive snort, "Now weve got one more to worry about."
"Hold it, Phil," said Easton, "Youre the one who hired Mina Foski and none of us had reason to believe back then that her sister would be a threat to us. We didnt know she existed until Hector Clays name started cropping up in all the wrong places and we had to start paying attention to his show. It was your idea to move Mina up in the company to get her name on some network credits. Dean and I agreed to it because she looked like a great prospect for the party. For all we know, she still israce change or not. Some of our biggest boosters are as black as you used to be and proud of it. The Negro strategy could still work."
McBain heard the last of the words without the sound of conviction that would have made them credible. He lowered his head for a moment and smoothed back his flaxen hair. "I dont want to argue with you about this, Jeff. Plenty of things happened in that conference that none of us anticipated but I dont see why you and Dean had to vote the way you did."
Easton looked at him incredulously. "Thats what I wanted to ask you about. Werent you paying attention to anything that went on in that conference other than the things you wanted to say? Hell, man, neither of us wanted to vote for her. Like you said, we had to."
"You heard what our time track guy said about her before we went into the conference."
McBain scoffed, "Peters. Just because some asshole with a computer program thats supposed to see the future tells you that some things have to happen, you dont have to make them happen."
"We didnt," said Easton, "Jerry Spurgin did. That one stupid crack of his about Margarets perfume set it up and it was all her show after that. Peters didnt tell us about that. He just said that we wouldnt be able to stop her without cutting our own throats. He was right. He was right about that little slip-up with Walter Judds bare-assed model of Mina on the table, too. He didnt tell you about it, but he told us."
"Why didnt you tell me? If you had..."
"Phil, thats the point. Dean or I could have. But we didnt. I dont know why the old man kept quiet. Maybe he wanted to see if it would happen. Me, Ive never seen you make a mistake like thatever. I would have bet my last ration of hard-ons that it wouldnt happen in a million years. To tell the truth, it sounded so dumb I forgot about it. By the way, why didnt you tell us that you were going to use that model?"
Before McBain could tell Easton that it was a spur of the moment decision, a third member of The Circle beamed his persona into the artificial room, followed in rapid succession by four more. The last of them was a smug-faced, dark-haired man of medium build in his early forties. His first name was Joshua, but everyone in The Circle called him Peters.Back to top
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Contact the author: Jasper Garrison