“Why are you looking at me like that?” Elanor asks.
“I’m thinking about sex.” Actually I’m not. That conversation doesn’t happen until I’m ready for it and, right now, I’m happy being here alone. I push Elanor and that conversation away into the future for a while. I’m quite content being a formless me drifting around minding my own business.
This is a beautiful place, with planets and other things all seeming to float in a, possibly, infinite place. They keep their distance from each other; at least I haven’t seen any collisions so far. There is uninterrupted air between them all. I don’t understand the physics here but I don’t understand it anywhere.
I’m sure if a physicist came they’d say, “Ah yes, this was all predicted within the theory of blah, go on to explain lots of blahs and describe rules previously, and happily, invisible to me. I like dragons spouting fire, not facts.
Niggle, niggle, niggle… Oh, all right then. Here goes… I do like Elanor: she’s a laugh. Let her come and do her worst.
She appears before me: female as always. Hair a bit wilder than usual … no, strictly controlled but in a spiky sort of way which gives the impression of wild to men but wouldn’t fool women. Her lips press in a tight moue as if she’s pondering a weirdness or going to say something I won’t like or… I have it… “You’re about to ask me to do something, aren’t you?”
“Maybe,” she replies, guarded, but totally pinging with some mad idea.
“Is this one of your journeys? You know, the sort you take me on that mess with my poor mind?”
“Possibly.” She tilts her head, eyes seriously twinkling.
I groan, “I knew it. Go on then.”
“I want to meet you or actually be you.”
“Fine, go ahead.”
“As you are, or were, when human.”
I snort. “You mad bugger. Do you realise what I was? A typical human. A mess. Someone who did horribly regrettable things and failed to achieve anything very impressive at all. At the most extreme, I believed in all the mad things like death and morality, and reality and success, wealth, status: I even believed in time.”
“Oh morality, the great morality. You chose to be good – if you were anything like you are now – why?”
“Not good: kind. It seemed like the only way to stay sane. You’ll see when you get there.”
“Brilliant! I thought you’d say no.” Elanor claps her hands in delight.
“Your idea of no is ‘yes but not yet’. I may as well give in now to save myself the hassle of you banging on at me, wearing me down until I crack.”
“Good, that’s sorted then.” She grins. “Oh, there’s one slightly more thing: I want you to be there.”
Really? As another human? I have to be another human meeting myself or what? Oh, does she want some sort of human relationship with me? This is utterly bonkers. I wonder if she’d want me as female or male?”
“Why are you looking at me like that?” Elanor asks.
“I’m thinking about sex.”
She looks vague for a moment. “Weirdness lots. I just had a déjà vu moment there.”
“They happen from time to time.”
“One tiny nuther thing…”
I sigh. “This is the final nail in my cross, isn’t it?”
“Only a little bit.” she says, “I want you to be you at the same time.”
That has me stumped. “Describe this to me very, very slowly in short words.”
“I want you to be there, as you are now, in your head, as he was then, so you can explain his thinking as he thinks it.”
“His? … you want to visit me when I was male and not when I was female?”
“Oh, I’ve only been female; I didn’t realise you could do both.”
“You haven’t lived.”
Elanor groans, “Oh, haha. Now shut up and take me there. I’m interested in morality so I need a time when it controlled you. Maybe I can work out where I went wrong.”
“You went wrong? What makes you think anyone ever got it right? Morality is a disaster. What went bad for you in particular?”
“Just about all of it. I thought I was morally superior to Mhairhie by not applying an industrial vacuum cleaner to her tongue. I thought … I thought … well, you do, don’t you?”
This is exactly why I am here right now, in a me called Jim I’d rather not ever revisit or want other people to even know about. Yes, in Jim, spying on him, and accompanied by Elanor who, by dint of getting into Jim’s senses – and therefore head – is going to learn more about how I used to be than is healthy for either of us: her sanity or our friendship.
“Interesting,” says Elanor, “Jim is thirty four, has three children by two women, is attempting to get a third into bed and has fourth and fifth lined up just in case a slot falls free. Busy boy.”
“You’ve no idea.”
“Where does morality come into this?”
“Later, when he grows up a bit … a lot later and not very much. Look, can you stop going through his memory? It has every possible warning sticker ever invented on the dungeon entrance – there, between the blackened iron death-head padlocks.”
“Maybe I’ll learn how to understand men.”
“Women love saying things like that but always from the assumption they will find evidence to reinforce their delusions of moral, intellectual and everything else superiority.”
“I wonder why? Wimp, you just don’t want me to know too much about your past.”
I sigh. “Neither do I. Look, getting access to someone’s entire life should not be abused.”
“Have you used social media recently?”
“That sort of thing is there to make it look as if you have a perfect life like you see on washing powder and toothpaste adverts.”
“So … not recently then. Anyway, I’ll listen to his thoughts while you give an explanation.”
“Well, here goes; anything to get this over with. Our man Jim is going out the door of his bedsit place to get into his van. He’s a roofing contractor.”
“Is it ladders and scaffolding and stuff that give him a bum and thighs like that … and those biceps?”
“Oh, I am.”
“He gives himself a negative moral judgement on the state of his van, the fact that he’s not checked the oil, water and tyre pressures – or even their legality – for ages. So he starts the working day with a heavy minus score on top of all the others regarding changing and washing clothes, smoking, etcetera.”
Elanor asks, “Does he regard himself as a good person?”
“Everyone regards themselves as a good person. That’s why humans have intelligence. Without it they can’t delude themselves convincingly.”
“Can you be serious? I mean, does he go to church?”
“He wouldn’t risk it – he did the roof. Anyway, he’s looking at someone driving past too fast in a thirty limit. He gives them a negative judgement, i.e. they are bad. Now he decides to believe he doesn’t drive like that – very often anyway – and gives himself a good judgement.”
“Does that cancel out a bad one?”
“Never. Morality is a system designed to send everyone into eternal torment. Look, let’s say a person runs through fire to save a child. They get a good judgement, but then they’re interviewed on TV and seen picking their nose. This is when the crucifixion process starts. They pick their nose, therefore they have no social skills, therefore they are inferior, therefore they cannot be as good a person as the one judging them, therefore they are damned anyway and that act of bravery was probably a selfish one linked to covering up the fact they are a despicable pervert and probably wear odd socks or drink beer. All those last thoughts are unconscious and totally uncontrolled until a person ditches morality and rewires their brain. Until then crucifixion always occurs – but…”
Elanor interrupts with snorts of laughter. “Oh I love you! You talk gobshite and think it’s bloody gold dust.”
“Don’t we all? Let’s get this over with. Now he’s…”
“Oh shut up for a minute will you? Is that it? Just that? Morality is a judgement system going nowhere but into a black hole?”
“Well, no. Sometimes it leads to hero worship in which someone can’t do wrong even if they pick their nose and flick bogies at passers-by. It’s equally insane and temporary and pointless.”
“Fine then,” Elanor says, “how did Jim, the testosterone cock-king, drop morality for kindness?”
“Ooh, I wasn’t expecting that.”
“Look, anyone who has lived a few years begins to distrust what other people peddle as facts – particularly if those people want you to actually believe them. Jim decided that everything he’d ever heard was bollocks and started again but this time trying to find the truth of things without trusting anyone – including his own judgement.”
“What? Wasn’t that a bit um…?”
“Totally insane if you ask me. All he really worked out was reality is belief based on ignorance, that all humans are fundamentally clueless and believe their own individual load of rubbish to create a fantasy they can call reality which is slightly different to anyone else’s so they end up hitting each other.”
“I’m floundering here. How did Jim the enlightened disbeliever develop into you?”
“Oh dear, Elanor. I’m still him.”
“Let’s go somewhere nice.”
“What? Is that all you wanted to see? I mean … really? Tell me, why did you actually want to do all that?”
She grins. “I’m beginning to like you and wanted to find out more.”
“Or you just wanted to learn about my past so you could gather information with which to mock me in future.”
“No, it’s not that … not just that. I’m making a point of never admiring anyone too much, you see. Now I can hold you in contempt too. It sort of balances out nicely.”
©Gary Bonn, 2021