The Unknown: The Red Line.
  In that blinding shaft of yellow light, Dirk sings from the Gospel of the Unknown, backed by the Kronos Quartet. Dirk sings “Someone’s Always Fucking With My Mirrors” and the crowd goes wild. We think the tensions between Dirk’s followers and the Secret Service have dissolved in the flaring harmonic murmurs of Dirk’s first platinum A-Side, but then we feel that the tensions are precipitating again. Chelsea Clinton and Uma Thurman are dancing cowboy style, then ballroom style, right up in the front row. I become suspicious of the intentions of one of the Latin Kings nearest them. (Though Dirk’s followers generally, or the very least “often,” give me the creeps, right at this point, I feel a sharp sense of identification with them). I am torn between my enjoyment of this mass lovefest (Spielberg is just backstage right, visibly beaming at my compadre Dirk) and a fear that things have simply gone too far, that something is likely to burst at any moment. Buddy Guy steps in midway through the song, which, in my opinion, just blows the roof off that joint (or would have if it had a roof, which it of course doesn’t). Who could not love each other and all fellow humankind when Buddy is singing with Dirk of the dangers of inappropriately adjusted mirrors and of Cartesian doubt of all known sensory apparatus(es?). It is 11:51. The holographic clock is 50 yards high and the heart chronometer’s pounding is drowned out only by the wail of the guitar and the floating noise of amplified violins, violas. Dirk’s voice almost sounds like that of a singer.

Then the song is done.

Dirk reads from the Book of Signs; a battalion of mimes takes the stage as the musicians exit. Is this really how He intends to end the show, and to end the Millennium? With good intentions, a decent gospel, and a mob of mimes? So be it. They (the mimes) are all dressed in purple (which seems both right and wrong). They are people of all nations, of all ages, of all hair colors and skin tones (Okay, none of this is, obviously, “all” of anything, there are only fortysome people up there on the main stage, but nonetheless, we’re talking about a worldwide diversity type of crowd.) None wears any makeup. Some of them turn out not to be mimes after all, but ballet dancers of the utmost grace.

Dirk’s followers mouth the words to his most famous gospel, and the mimes work the movements and enact his pastoral preachings, along with the ballet dancers, who dance stunningly well considering that there is no music outside of the telltale heart. It is more beautiful than Swan Lake. He finishes at 11:59. The holographic clock now fills the whole stadium. Steven Spielberg joins Dirk, as the mimes prance about circling them, kicking up their heels and maypole dancing. Together Dirk and Steven count down from

William is still in the coma. Frank is jumping up and down. We’re all on the big screen TV. It’s even bigger than the one in New York City on that famous corner which always scares me when I see it at the end of the evening news broadcast. It’s Orwellian.

Who could not think about time at a time like this?

The mimes and the ballet dancers form a tight prancing ring that whirls about Spielberg and Dirk. The holographic clock is twice the height of the stadium now; they show a shot from the Goodyear blimp. I think about that. It really was a good year, give or take a few serious injuries and a lot of mileage.

Euphoria. Fear of Y2K. Good riddance, foul century of my youth.
Whole lives spent and ended. Geopolitical arrangements solidified and removed. Ideologies played out, disrupted, man’s inhumanity to man, terrors.

There is activity on the monitors next to William’s gurney. Frank is laughing uncontrollably.


My thoughts turn homeward. My mother and father. My niece and my brothers and sister. My grandparents and aunts and uncles. The children I played with when I was young. The two dogs I knew and my cat. My beloved living and my beloved dead.


That circle around the director and my friend, this strange messiah, seems so tight as to be forbidding, so fast it spins to a blur of purple light.


Will all the machines simply shut down, whir to a halt? Will we return to an agrarian society? What are people really like “in a state of nature?” Do we really want to find out? Was William’s bungie jumping accident really an accident? A suicide attempt? A mur—

I’m feeling apprehensive. Something is wrong. Spielberg looks panicked. Thirty years on this blasted mound of rock. Men have walked on the moon, but not on Mars. People are more concerned with their President getting a blowjob in the Oval Office than the guy with no legs who asks them for change at 8 A.M., in front of the train station, and they walk by.


Here it goes. There’s still no cure for cancer.


Where will we be in ten years?


I can’t see Dirk or Spielberg, just a mass of purple palpitating humanity. The monitors next to William are going crazy. Did he move?


How many people didn’t live to see this?


What will we do after it’s all over?


Will I ever have children?


What kind of world would they make?

The exploding holographic clock, the fireworks, the champagne bottles, the flying corks, the screams of joy, the mass of purple bodies onstage, the flashing of steel, the flashing of steel, the flashing of steel blades, and Dirk’s scream rising above all other screams, not screams of joy, screams of pain. William is up and off the gurney. I are confused. There is the flashing steel, the flashing of dozens of blades. It is played out before my eyes and on the Big Screen. I’m rushing towards it, into it, but it is already too late. Dirk lies punctured, stabbed, bleeding from two thousand wounds. His eyeballs rolling across the planks. A body barely held together, chunks of flesh strewn from bones, meat where there was once a man, forty mimes with bloody hands and faces. A wicked smile and evil laughter. William, in his white hospital gown, is splattered with Rorschach test splotches of Dirk’s blood. Dirk, who we knew and loved. The murthered messiah. The poet lies dead. There are screams and screams and moans and screams. We are washed in his blood. There are billy clubs and hands on bodies. There are the sounds of small arms being fired. Purple shrouds shed and tossed into the air, clotted with blood. Discarded daggers with taped handles. There is pandemonium, and then there is weeping.

A shock of calm. Near silence, a gathered mass of humanity, weeping for its collective sins.

That was how that terrible century, the twentieth one, came to its logical conclusion. This is the end of my friend and brother. This is the end of the Unknown. This is the horror. The horror. The horror. And only the beginning of what it would become.



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The Unknown at Spineless Books.