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The International Writers Magazine: Dreamscapes

The Correctors
• George Sparling
Another one hadn’t lived up to expectations. In my RV, I gave the teen two shots of anesthetic, placed the ice pick in the upper eye socket and, with a surgical hammer, knocked it three times.

ice picks

I swept the pick through the permeable layer of skull to damage the frontal lobe. Then the other eye, making sure the pick pierced the layer of skin and slurried this boy’s brain beyond repair. I put the pick into the autoclave. He would never regain his yearning dreams.

    My father taught me the trade. Mother was about to tell him about my obstetrician obsession, how I threw away my dream of birthing children. Father knew nothing about my expectations. My mother ran away, thinking leaving would protect me. She couldn’t bear sleeping in the same bed with an ice pick man and chattering in her sleep about my ambition.

    I was an adult when I began practicing lobotomy, its long history, with historians playing hobgoblins, falsifying and censoring our reach through the ages, figuring our profession would die if people had no knowledge of our skills.

    For someone who never went to med school, licensed doctors and I in different ways do no harm. What, you say, why you’re nothing more than an incompetent butcher. My clients, like the boy’s parents, having gained a degree of success, they’re the ones I inflict no harm. Fuck Hippocratic Oath’s do no harm mantra. I protect the nation’s accomplished citizens from regret, sorrow, shame and guilt because those close to them had sloughed off their projected performance level. Aspirations must mature and be realized or else the pick.    

    Persons who failed earlier promise must not stand in the way of others who reached the productive plateau which they hoped to attain. Yeah, we should blame others for our current discomfort, persons who never attained fulfillment in our midst. What was wrong with that? Nothing.    

    I drove the RV back to the boy’s home, his parents beaming when they saw the dazed and stupefied look on his face. A son who had such a poor showing on his SAT exam, they were glad I deleted his alleged higher functions. After the procedure, he tried to pronounce my calling, Expectations Auditor. “Expecle,” he said. “Great job you did,” his father said proudly.

    They paid me for the service plus the fee if I helped the husband’s brother. He, the boy’s father, explained his niece couldn’t hold a job though she had a Ph.D. I decided to drive a few hundred miles to her home. Let her rip, I said to myself.  

    My appointment book filled with names of discouraged people gave my adrenaline a boost. Disappointment expanding around the nation, my profession ensured until I no longer could hold the ice pick steady. My clients abhorred people with auspicious beginnings, but no follow through. Tell the world non-achievers were no longer welcome. I spared not them but their families, friends, acquaintances and associates. I wanted blood on my supply of ice picks of those holding jobs far beneath their self-perceived abilities.

    I verified the woman’s backwardness by interviewing her brother, the old-fashioned ice pick method still viable, its nostalgic value impossible to calculate. I looked forward to lobotomizing the dud. America had an inexhaustible amount of expendable ones, those who ended up stuck at home, living with their parents or friends who thought they had to endure them forever. Not with Expectations Auditors who chose the pick to rid persons with the disappointed scourge of lost prospects.

    But, when I arrived, her husband told me another adjuster had done the deed. I asked for his description and it fit Founder of the Fourth Generation, F-4; a gangly man whose hands were strong and steady, legend of forbearance for an old man doing this service for fifty years. His work with the traditional wooden mallet was renown.

    “The nation’s awash in fixers, some lobotomizing other adjusters,” F-4 said.

Adjusters? F-4’s words were told to me by the woman’s partner.

    As I tried to drive away, a van pulled up in front of mine. I asked him, “What’s going on?” my head stuck out of the window. He was F-4, having driven within hearing distance. We stared at one another through opened door windows.

    Lines of traffic appeared on the highway, hundreds, thousands of vans converged on the plot of land at the edge of the desert where the woman lived. Lots of men and women adjusters left their vehicles and walked toward my van. There must have been thousands, maybe more, and I grew scared. Their vans circled me, headlights glaring, vans making hundreds of rings around my van.  

    “You tossed a fine career as an obstetrician away to become an adjuster,” F-4 said. "Your mother told me before she abandoned me.”

    “I’m at your level. Don’t you think adjusting is a higher calling than making a mother suffer?” I didn’t like the anger in his eyes.

    “Your mother was heartbroken you never became a obstetrician. Our research archive is extensive, you know. For that you’ll pay.”

    “I love my vocation. Mother told me she left because of what you did for a living. You were away almost all the time.”

    “She cracked the security code and you escaped. May F-1 forgive me, I had too many customers and couldn’t stay home. I let down the League. ” he said.

    “I’ve never broken the League’s regulations. I always nail ones who’ve contaminated clients with depression and grief.”

    “Your mother ran away because she wanted to lobotomize you. She read my papers, nosed through my files, looking at photos of successful adjustments,” F-4 said, face flushed.

    “Where is she? Is she alive? Tell me if you know.”

    “She drank dioxin, one of the most lethal chemicals. I had a concoction made up if I blew it and my client hadn’t been properly treated, wobbly from the anesthetic, and broke the bonds on the table,” F-4 said.

    “You killed her, you mean, shithead.”

    “She had the security codes to unlock the bulwark where I kept the tools of the trade, and committed suicide. For that, you’ll pay. That was early on, when adjustments became my métier,” he said.

    “Don’t blame me for letting her access your office. Why am I here?”

    “We needed a huge space, this desert where tens of thousands adjusters from around the country stream in,” F-4 said. “Hundreds of millions see you on smartphones.”

    “That many? Not any clients left?” The joke died on him.

    “We have millions who marched and brought down the world’s governments, even the military surrendered. Correctors rule by decree.”

    “What about me?”

    “You will become a blank. No taints allowed. We’ll avert catastrophe and halt all lower callings,” F-4 said triumphantly. His voice strong; he’ll never die.

    “I realize apologies are forbidden. Get on with it.” If I had a handful ice picks and placed them on my chest, it would be the classic death of an Auditor.

    “That’s her ranch house. I hacked your appointment calendar and organized a mass rally to expose the pain and contempt you had for your mother.”

Such sentiment for an EA. But, I was the alien monster; he rules. How could I escape the jammed packed desert, a driver in each van hating me for breaking the taboo?   

    “Can I be saved?” I asked, playing on his melodramatic temperament.

    “You can’t, but the world can.”      

    Two burly adjusters strapped me on an operating table. One threw me onto the padded table, then both of them strapped leather straps across my ankles, just below the knees, across my waist, and around my neck. They forbade ice picks on my chest.

    F-4’s master hands hit the wooden mallet ten awful times into my upper socket, then ten pounded extra hard in the other socket.

    Before going under from the aesthesia, Auditors walked through my eyelids, traveling millions of miles in black vans, in search of holdouts, tracking down malfunctioning washouts, ones who never arrived at their claimed promise.

    Those who have found right livelihoods, Auditors, will emigrate, ice picking loser dullards, letting lobos sit in their own excrement. America’s shit-land now, so too the entire world. No longer a world full of cops, surveillance, poverty, racism, colonialism, capital punishment---a world of Expectations Auditors prevailed.
    Afterward, F-4 asked me something. I answered, “Expecle.”

© George Sparling December 2013

The Northwest Angle: A Fairytale
George Sparling in Paris
Back in 1964, after the fairytale but before we saw the movie on the Champs Elysees and went to les toilettes on Bastille Day, we ran with crowds down the Paris street

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Call me Tama. Or if you prefer, Tamari. I added the suffix, “ri,” meaning King and Emperor, and because of his almighty power he gave a wizard the power to turn me into a tamari-coated (ferment soy bean paste) sunflower seed.  
George Sparling

I’m under surveillance. Nobody believes me. I’m in a gigantic store, its hundreds of aisles: one could get lost here
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Jason figured his father Bret, an unrepentant gambler, won Maud in a high stakes poker game. “Hopping on one foot in lotus position is impossible, but the unexpected can happen, you and Maud might get together,” Bret said, as he waved goodbye to Jason.

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