Fuzzy pink handcuffs binding his wrists to the chrome armrests of the Barcelona chair, Michael Dukakis reviewed the events that led him here with mathematical precision.
Sometimes it was easy to believe the dwarf’s prophecy was true: that he would never become a real boy. But always within him there was a powerful voice that said, “Wouldn’t you really rather have a Buick?” Also there was a fainter voice, further in the back, that said, “You must believe in yourself.”
But who was he? The sleekly handsome millionaire playboy? The self-abnegating doctor who ministered to the poor in the jungles of Epsilon VIII? Or the wry and intellectual mechanic who lovingly restored antique motorcycles belonging to rich divorcées while—sometimes—mending their souls as well?
When the World Controller sent him to the Terran Federation for the first time since that ill-starred business in the Case of the Two All Beef Patties, Special Sauce, Lettuce, Cheese, Pickles, Onions on a Sesame Seed Bun, Dukakis hadn’t thought it would lead to a quagmire of mistaken identity and transvestitism.
“Try not to get distracted by the girls, Michael,” the World Controller had said, hammering a 300-yard drive down the fairway. “Keep your mind on the job, eh, old boy?”
How things changed! First the amulet went missing from the museum. Professor Tarantoga swore no one entered the Neo-Aztec Antiquities Chamber, but the Brass Head mounted above the doorway said differently. “The misplaced supernatural relic goes,” it intoned, “ as a dead letter for the Trysteros.”
As if that weren’t enough, his partner Geraldine Ferraro ran off with a fifteen-year-old boy she developed a mad crush on.
Later, fleeing through the tunnels below the posh apartments of the ultra-rich in the giant pyramidal arcology, the beautiful, tempestuous Scarlett stopped him and said, “In a universe of monist ontology, can any ethics ever be more than socially normative? Is the noumenal truly only a subset of the phenomenal, or does it possess an independent essence?”
Scarlett, daughter of the tyrannical ruler of Terra’s Northeast Quadrant and a dynamo in the sack, put a porcelain-white hand on Dukakis’s shoulder to steady herself as she straightened her Ferragamo sling-back pumps.
Now, as the prosecuting attorney began his summation, Dukakis looked about the courtroom. Flashbulbs popped from the upper deck.
The judge had authorized the death penalty. Could this be the end?
Coming Next Ish: The Noumenon versus the Tabula Rasa—Michael uses the hyper-phase distortion blaster to answer Scarlett’s questions in . . . Synthetic Judgments A Priori, Part II!