Chapter 1 - MasterCard Marxists and 403b Feminists
Auggie and I had resolved our differences, and now we had a common purpose. With Jonny, we had a team captain, a take-charge guy who knew how to execute a crime. Organized by our leader, the plan took off.
I began to count soft green dollars. With Auggie and Jonny, I’d stumbled upon a way to escape the itinerant teacher’s life. I’d be out of the adjunct game and on my way to the good life. Who could know how my life would change with this burst of moral and economically advantageous murder? I imagined a decent apartment and a quality pre-owned automobile. Would I even want Melony if I had the funds to attract some age-appropriate competition?
I knew my money wouldn’t come from teaching in the fall. Between Melony and the plan, I’d forgotten to fill out my course-request form and had been abruptly shuttled to last in queue. There’d be no classes for Professor Vittinger unless multiple philosophers were to croak, catch mono, or land full-time gigs. None of which was likely, so it was my last lecture then, or at least my last class for the foreseeable future. I droned on about some crazy shit, ignored the precocious inquisitor in front who had a bad habit of sounding smarter than me, and collected the final essays. Then, I dismissed the class twenty minutes early and flipped the bird to the ceiling’s corner security camera before heading out the door. I tossed the papers in an imposing green dumpster on my way to a faculty meeting on retirement planning. With our plans and Auggie’s promise of a generous share in the winnings, I knew I’d be retiring soon, and I wanted to make sure my plans were in order. I was tired of taking philosophical positions on not working and looking forward to living it.
As I strode across campus, I was interrupted by loud yapping and yammering. I heard shouting commotion. I looked up and saw stinking, old Shalamov with his head and torso halfway out the window. He’d been an adjunct in philosophy since I was an undergrad, and he reeked of tobacco and unwashed wool suits. Oversized outfits he’d wear even during summer session. Now he was screaming at a woman below in the courtyard.
“I’m doing this!”
“You coward! You couldn’t do it if you tried. Stick your head back in the classroom and teach those kids.”
“Fuck you, bitch.”
“Don’t talk to me like that!”
“To hell with our marriage. It’s been a disaster since day one. I’ve reached my limit!”
He was out on the ledge. He was off it! Head first. Swan dive down. Splat. Blood and body parts all over the courtyard. A foot dangled from a leg with a femur high in the air, almost perpendicular to the thigh it belonged to. Arms hung limp from a torso as if the limbs hardly belonged to the body at all. I blinked twice, twisted away, but couldn’t not look long enough before staring back again. I felt horror, delight, disgust, and pain, all the extremes that make us so.
His wife screamed. Her “help!” and moans and cries of “bloody murder” sounded like five hundred women, an abrasive cacophony of menstruation and genocide.
A few moved in to help her and attend to the body, but I had to press on. So I moved at a brisk pace, a fast walk faster than a jog. Inside Antioch B, I was the last one seated in a room full of aged professors. It stunk of baby powder and urine. Stale decades and Depenz diapers. How could anyone reek of so much age and decay? The incontinent crowd had a way of ruining retirement for those of us who’d never see it. Or at least we’d never see it as it appeared in the television ads for annuities and long-term care for the affluent capitalist.
At the front of the room, a foppish fellow in fine threads, my age or so, was discoursing thusly:
“You see, you have several options as to where you can donate your organs. Three local hospitals are partnering with us, but we also have an eye on the international community. Organs can be safely transported and installed in impoverished bodies all over the world. Whether your fetish is for the Asian subcontinent or sub-Saharan Africa, we can help your organs make a difference overseas. . .”
As Mr. Fancy Pants droned on, I looked around the room at all the sad, meaningless, and soft professors. It was all desiccated vagina and limp, leaking cock. These were my would-be sort-of colleagues’ privates were I to remain at Urban State.
It occurred to me that I was mistakenly attending a meeting only for regular faculty. Tenured faculty. Job-secure cows with retirement and dental. Nearly dead 403b feminists and MasterCard Marxists who would never think of me as a genuine colleague.
I quickly searched the room for any signs of unattended or rotten teeth. I felt a sinking inside, a realization that I was the sole man among them without a substantial retirement plan. Years ago, I’d opened a Roth IRA, and I’d managed to add a few hundred dollars every other year before growing weary of this plan to fund the retirement of my high-fee broker. After that, I resumed my weekend routine of throwing my contribution down on the bar. In Philly’s dive bars, fifty bucks bought ten drinks, tip included, enough for an entire weekend for me.
But now it sunk in. I was broke and penniless and doing the dirty work for these hairy, disgusting Foucauldian cow fucks; they’d been sucking on the teat of tenure for thirty years or more while the marginal, aka me, kept the mongrel hordes at bay. In a flash of brilliance, I saw myself with a couple of AK-47s hidden under my trench coat and Catcher in the Rye in my back pocket. No, fuck that shit. I gave myself some Nietzsche, Marx, or some other philosopher dicked over by his academic department, and in his name, the revenge would be mine.
And then, I remembered the plan. The justice I’d soon be serving to Auggie’s fucker of a stepfather. Compared to an actual molester, these tenured capitalists were innocent. What a bunch of redundant scholars and sedentary nobodies with nothing new to say, so they invented oppressions, juxtaposed jargons, smiled at each other, and pretended their lavish benefits and salaries were earned.
Their sins were financial—against entire generations of naïve parents and duped teenagers—but they hadn’t shoved their dicks up any ten-year-old asses. Not to my knowledge, not typically, at least. Alas, I had to admit this much, and I winced at the hypocrisy of my envy. But nevertheless, they lusted after that next closed-end fund to supplement retirement, no doubt one that looked the other way when crimes against nature or children were committed in the name of their holdings. And always, at school, their hands were out, greedy fingers eager to take more money for fewer students any chance they could get. There was guilt here, too.
They deserved to be fucked with a little.
So when Fancy Pants stopped speaking and asked for questions, I stood and delivered:
“I say, why not go for broke? Why wait when you can end a life now and society as a whole can profit to such a great degree? What this man is talking about is only the tip of the iceberg. Let’s face it. We get a lot more bang for our buck, and younger organs to boot, if we let go, say, a little earlier than expected.
“Voluntary euthanasia is at the cutting edge of retirement planning. Much more than a last lecture, it’s a way to ensure that your organs live on to help others. Which, presumably, is why you chose education in the first place. To serve society. Perhaps for some time now, you waxed ambivalent over the capitalist educational model; perhaps you merely want out in a well choreographed, professional manner? Well, we can help. By choosing immediate release—i.e. death—and signing all of the proper documents, we can help your organs live on. You will be dead, but your liver and heart will be serving the poor and disenfranchised.
“Just imagine what we can do for your money once we’ve removed you from the picture. All those erratic choices you made about stocks and bonds, the anxiety of selling high and buying low. Well, dear madams and sirs, we can put an end to all of that. Oh, some of you will say that you were indexing all along and using a retirement tool to match your age, and well, yeah, that may be true, but do you seriously think we would let you in on the really good stuff? Of course not. We can make far more with your money on our own than we’d ever allow you to earn.”
The old cows looked aghast, the ones who weren’t half asleep or dreaming about dessert. My speech was an eye-opener to these professors accustomed to staring at mutual-fund prospectuses with their GLO eyes.
But I knew I was leaving, and held no truck with any of these “benefits,” so as a final act, I cried, “Where do I sign?”
Fancy Pants produced papers, and I signed on the X everywhere it mattered. I saw to it that should they endeavor to track me down, they could turn me upside down, shake out my net worth, and donate my bloated bladder and failed spleen to the needy and darker-skinned classes.
Then, with alacrity, soon after I dashed from my retirement planning, I called Melony.
“I wanna fuck.”
I could tell I was improving already.
Alex Kudera's award-winning adjunct novel, Fight for Your Long Day (Atticus Books, 2010), was drafted in a walk-in closet during a summer in Seoul, South Korea. In March 2016, his second print novel, Auggie's Revenge (Beating Windward Press) and a Classroom Edition of Fight for Your Long Day (Hard Ball Press) arrived. Also, his e-singles Frade Killed Ellen (Dutch Kills Press), Turquoise Truck (Mendicant Bookworks), and The Betrayal of Times of Peace and Prosperity (Gone Dog Press) are available most anywhere books are downloaded. A lifelong Philadelphian until fall 2007, Alex currently teaches literature and writing at Clemson University in South Carolina.
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