The Unknown: The Red Line.
  The Unknown were getting ready to read at Bucks. The air was thick with testosterone and capital. The Unknown had two twenty-dollar martinis apiece. The venture capitalists were there in force. They knew it would probably be the last Unknown reading of the Millennium in the greater Peninsula area, and they knew that given their reputation, the Unknown would likely be asking them for cash. Frank was there and Dirk was in cult withdrawal. Frank was pissed that the market for dog-grooming articles had dried up, and felt that the capitalists were to blame. William was disappointed that there weren’t many women there, given the egalitarian pretense of the gathering. Scott was trolling for funding for the literature of the next millennium. The whale-watching had been good that morning. The Unknown approached the podium, a tasty Napa merlot in four cups, then, thus fortified, the Unknown began their presentation.

S: Hi guys,

We’re, uh, the Unknown and we’re worried about literature.

D: That’s right, we’re worried about its future, and what slim tidings from it you, who profit from technology, may have in future lives.

W: When you are dead.

S: Dead and gone.

D: History.

W: Or herstory.

S: As the case may be. We’re worried because, you know, if all you make is cash, you don’t make shit *cough* sorry, you don’t necessarily capitalize in the way that you could, in the best of all possible worlds.

D: Oh, Candide again, Rettberg?

S: *cough* Sorry. Think about yer grandkids *cough* Sorry. Think about yer neighbors’ grandkids.

W: The problem is with the possibilities that are being explored, and the distribution of capital towards said possibilities.

S: *cough* Sorry. Right, what we’re trying to say is, ah—

D: This place is shit for groupies.

F: Do I get to talk now—excuse me, you are on my turf, aren’t you?

S: We’d really like you to get some writers, you know, ah, working, on this, ah, Internet thing.

F: Fuck you. Like these people know anything about dogs in California.

S: Frank—

F: No, no. They’ve got dogs, but they don’t know how they’re groomed. They don’t have any-clue-at-all-about-that.

S: Now Frank—

D: May I interrupt?

W: I don’t know.

S: Right. So with no further ado, as a prelim to asking you for large amounts of cash, which, come on now, we’re all nervous about our options and shit, but, come on now, think about Venice, right, hey? OK, dis is de Unknown. And we want to thank Dave Winer—

D: Dave who?

W: Are you talking about Bernstein? Man, that guy—

S: No. No no no no. No no no no no no no.

W: I thought we were here to do a reading.

D: From the gospels.

W: Goddammit, you guys get so absorbed in every little—

F: This is my first time.

W: This has nothing to do with sex.

F: No, reading.

D: Is it really?

W: In public?

S: The Unknown


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The Unknown at Spineless Books.