Thursday, July 29, 2010

My 15 minutes is up

It appears the former home online of my "366 Days" project has closed shop. The late great PCityLive.com, abandoned in 2009 by its creators in favor of eight5ifty.com, is no longer live to the interwebs. Since none of those stories is likely to see the light of day otherwise, I've decided to repost them here, once per week, as a sort of "best of" collection. Since my 15 minutes of fame passed away at PCityLive, we'll start with this tale of a future that's closer than you might think:

 
Andy, Where’s My 15 Minutes?

She answered the door in her rollers and housecoat. Who’d she have to impress these days? And the lights came up and she heard the familiar theme music, and even before she could cry, “Oh My Gawd!” the cameras pressed in on her, mics hovered, and androgynous people shook her hands, touched her curlers, pushed past her into the apartment.

Andy Warhol wore blue surgical gloves to shake the tips of her fingers. He threw the hand back over his shoulder and an assistant snapped those gloves off and a second pair onto his hand with practiced efficiency.

“Time?” he said.

“Fourteen fifty one.”

Andy swooped into the living room, pointing at the shelves of salt shakers arranged behind glass. He pointed at the 3V, where a smaller version of himself pointed at a 3V image of himself pointing at a 3V image of himself, into submicroscopic infinity.

“Look, I’m on the television,” he said. “I’m not just half-here, I’m here and a half!”

The cameras panned as he framed the woman of the house in his hands like a director framing a shot and said, “Agnes Ida Marzipan …”

“Mariposia,” she said.

“This is your fifteen minutes!”

Applause erupted all around from the speakers carried by some of the sexless persons now circling the living room. Agnes whirled and fluttered her hands in front of her face.

“Oh, I just love this show!”

“Of course you do.”

Everyone on earth watched the Andy Show. Every quarter hour an Andy-droid and its crew entered another random residence somewhere on the planet. Wherever humans were awake, and sometimes in places where they slept, there was always a chance of being the next person to claim his fifteen ticks of the clock. The machinery was always going, even when they slept.

“Tell me everything, darling,” Andy said, settling onto Agnes’ couch with a flourish and an assistant’s hastily-placed sanitary towel. “Quickly, though. I’m superficial.”

Agnes perched close beside him and giggled. She clutched the hems of her housecoat and straightened the cloth. She opened her mouth.

“I love what you’ve done with the place,” Andy said, and some of the assistants suppressed giggles of their own. “It’s so natural and historic, like a museum of things that people don’t need to have.”

“Oh, ah,” said Agnes. “Thank you?”

“You’re welcome!”

The speakers roared with applause, which echoed on the 3V. Andy stood and circled the room. He paused at the hallway and rested his chin on the back of one hand. He rested an elbow on an arm he wrapped around his chest.

“Time?” he said.

“Thirteen twenty.”

“Ida Marginalia,” Andy said, motioning her to come to him.

“Mariposia,” she said.

“What an interesting name you have dear. Show me everything.”

He indicated the hallway. She paused as she passed him, looking for the cameras, but they were everywhere. There was one floating in the hallway already. It tracked her as she led him and the entourage, pointing out the bathroom — “What lovely towels! So absorbent and functional!” — and then to her bedroom, where an assistant threw a white drop cloth over the bed and Andy flung himself down. He patted the edge of the bed, and Agnes blushed. She checked her housecoat, touched her rollers nervously. She perched on the very edge of the bed and folded her hands in her lap.

“Time?”

“Ten eighteen.”

“So, Mrs. Marijuana …”

“Marzipan - I mean -”

“Agnes. Don’t be so nervous. We’re all people here, aren’t we? And some more than others.”

“I guess so, Mr. Warhol.”

“Please, call me Andy. Everyone does.”

“I’m nervous, Andy.”

“I said don’t be. It’s not like we’re going to do anything. And not doing it is so much more exciting, don’t you think?”

She shook her head, not because she disagreed with him, but because she didn’t know what else to do. She looked around the room at all the beautiful people, the floating cameras, the lights, the hovering microphones. It was all too real. Her eyes landed on a photograph.

“Andy, that’s my husband there. He passed in ‘32.”

Andy rose from the bed like a specter and bent to look at the old 2D picture. A camera zoomed in to get the shot.

“The late Mr. Maharaja,” said Andy. “Are you sure he isn’t just out at a department store?”

“His name was Melvin,” she said.

“Is that what it says on his tombstone? I want mine to say ‘Figment.’”

She started to rise, one hand to her mouth. She was beginning to realize that this wasn’t what she had expected, though she had watched the Andy Show all her life. She felt a flash of anger.

“Time?”

“Seven twelve.”

Andy glided to the door and into the hall and the beautiful people swarmed after him. Agnes watched him retreating and knew her time was running out. What else would he ask? Where else would he pry?

“Kitchen!” he announced.

Agnes felt her embarrassment escalate. She’d not cleaned the kitchen since her supper, and he would find a mess in there to transmit to the world.

She reached in her bedside table and grabbed what she kept in there.

“Andy, wait! I have something else to show you!”

She pushed through the mass of pale, tall people in the hall and found Andy sitting it the little table in her breakfast nook. An assistant was dropping a white apron over his head. It had a Campbell’s soup can logo on the front.

“Yes dear?”

Agnes leveled the old revolver at Andy and pulled the trigger. Gasps and screams came out of the speakers floating behind her. A couple of the assistants fainted. She fired again and again, putting three holes in Andy’s chest. Fluids and sparks popped out, smoke rose from his mouth.

“Not again,” he said.

Agnes screeched. “You’re plastic!”

He patted the dripping fluids, and coughed a smoke ring into the air. “I always wanted to be plastic.”

One of the assistants took the gun from Agnes. “Fifteen!” he called, and everyone turned to the door.

Helped by others of the entourage, Andy stumbled past Agnes, trailing smoke and dripping something milky onto the floor.

“This must be what life is like,” he said.

The door shut behind them and Agnes stood alone in her apartment. On the 3V, another Andy-droid was walking into someone’s tent in the refugee camps outside St. Louis.

Agnes sat on the couch and reached for the remote. She turned the sound up.

It was her favorite show.

__
(c) 2010 by Tony Simmons
Post a Comment