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LJ Idol - Week [15] - Trying Times

“Some say money is the root of all evil.” Frank Martin began, not waiting for the TED talk audience to end its opening applause. He posted a slide with stacks of Dollars, Euros and other international currency. Martin roamed the stage in his bespoke suit, and shoes that cost more than his first used car.

“Some say LACK of money is the root of all evil.” Martin changed the slide to a picture of himself being held on a sidewalk by two members of the NYPD. “Yes, that’s teenage me, ‘detained’ for suspicion of being a shoplifter in 1981. It got me my first appearance in the New York Post.” The audience laughed.


“Seems like another planet.”

“Still others say BOREDOM is the root of all evil.” The slide changed to a gif of a man, attached to a kite being towed by a small motor boat using a bungee cord. The kite is struck by lightning and falls into the water below.

“It’s okay! He was alright. Eventually.”

The audience laughed. “Of course he had to pay royalty fees to the estate of Ben Franklin.” More laughter.

“That boredom idea is pretty close, in my opinion. But there’s still one more element and it involves THIS man.”

Martin put up a slide with a man wearing a straw skimmer, pince-nez glasses, mustache and goatee, pressed collar and blazer and a bow tie.

“Anton Chekhov: Author, playwright, doctor. He handed us a convention which, in my opinion, helped to place the world in the precipitous place in which we are perched. I’m putting him on trial…”

The image fast forwarded to a slide of a revolver sitting on a table. Martin continued, “’Chekhov’s Gun’ is a concept most English Lit majors know, but for the rest of us, it means that if something in a play, short story, novel exists, it is going to be used. So if, as a writer, you place a gun into a scene early in a story or play, that gun is going to be used. And not as a paperweight.”

A bit of nervous laughter from the audience.

“The problem is that people have taken Chekhov’s stated convention and applied it to their daily lives! I mean, yes, when we have things in our lives, we use them: our cars, our phones, our brains, hopefully.”

The slide changed to a black screen.

“I was told I could not post a photograph of a rape. And I understand why. It is one of the most violent and abusive acts there is. But the point is, if the woman wasn't born a woman, this wouldn't have been an issue! If the man didn't have an anus, then that would not have been a problem. If the child were of age, the interest would have been lost. The rapist had a penis and it had to be used!”

The slide changed to an evidence photograph of a man lying in the street in a puddle of blood. “I was told there was no problem showing this however.” Martin paused and looked up at the screen.

“That is a picture of my brother Eric who was shot seventeen times and killed in a routine traffic stop in 2005 by some Police officers that felt the need to use their weapons. Eric never even held a gun, let alone shot one at someone.”

“But THEY have guns so they must use them!”

“That’s part of the confusion of why rape is so difficult to discuss and dissect. On one hand, it is a method of control, of having another person trapped and forced, without their consent. On the other it is a sexual act, with all of the elements that go with that.”

“The parallel between rape and the death of my brother is one word: power. But even beyond that, there is war, there is terror, there is…”

The shuddering sound of a massive explosion filled the auditorium, the visual of the blast of a nuclear bomb, the mushroom cloud forming at the top of the screen.

“Hey. We have ‘em. We have to use ‘em. Or, no. We have ‘em so others won’t use theirs.” Martin stopped. “Anton Chekhov probably didn’t imagine anything like this. But, this is his gun, gone to the extreme.”

“If I have anything, any message for each of you, tonight, it’s that we have to care about each of us, collectively. We are not statistics. We are humans. And we, as humans, must protect…”

Jailee hit the stop button on the remote and thought for a moment, cupping her shoulders with her hands and touching her freshly bald head with her fingertips. How did that world, the world of 2000 something New York, become this world, where she was living?

In some ways she was thankful that she didn’t live in that previous world, a world where all of Frank Martin’s worst fears were still to come. A world filled with far too many people; a world destined for disaster. And even if The State, the current government, sometimes got too involved in the lives of its citizens, there was a sense that it was for the best, for help, for protection.

Jailee nodded at the screen and removed the old disc from its tray. She was happy to be back at home after her ordeal with the Courts. She always paused a moment to think about the jurors in her case and hoped that The State did not punish them for their decision to release her and render the thoughtstreaming evidence void, a decision that would impact many other trials.

It was then that Jailee remembered that Conroy wanted to meet for a chat. She realized that if she left right away, she would make it on time.

She went to her drawer to get some fresh clothing to wear and spotted her large vibrating dildo next to her undies.

Conroy knew to expect her late, anyway.

//

*This entry was created for LJ Idol using the prompt "Chekhov's Gun."

Comments

( 24 comments — Leave a comment )
penpusher
Jul. 25th, 2014 11:57 pm (UTC)
Additional Background on "Trying Times"
Frank Martin – a combination of the first name of my friend, former LJer, and current YouTuber, Franchesca Leigh, and the last name of Trayvon Martin.

1981 – The year President Reagan was shot.

Brother Eric – Named for Eric Garner, a citizen New York City Police detained then placed in a chokehold, causing him to suffocate, leading to cardiac arrest and his death.

Seventeen times – A remembrance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, brought down by a surface to air missile over Ukraine.

2005 – The year of Hurricane Katrina.

Jailee – First appeared during LJ Idol - Week [3] “In Another Castle”.
eska818
Jul. 26th, 2014 01:40 am (UTC)
I think this was a brilliant use of the topic. Much applause from me.
penpusher
Jul. 27th, 2014 04:18 pm (UTC)
Thanks very much. It was a challenge!
eternal_ot
Jul. 26th, 2014 11:02 am (UTC)
Wow...I liked this inter-weaving..wonderful take on the prompt..truly well written..Hats off..Kudos!
penpusher
Jul. 27th, 2014 04:19 pm (UTC)
Thanks for reading and for your compliment!
bleodswean
Jul. 26th, 2014 03:26 pm (UTC)
Clever! I really appreciated the current event references.
penpusher
Jul. 27th, 2014 04:20 pm (UTC)
It just sort of seemed to fit as I went through the narrative. Thanks very much!
beeker121
Jul. 26th, 2014 05:02 pm (UTC)
I like the fictional take on a non-fictional discussion of the topic.
penpusher
Jul. 27th, 2014 04:21 pm (UTC)
It seems like there are a lot of Chekhov's Guns out there. It's a little scary to think who might want to act! And thank you.
roina_arwen
Jul. 27th, 2014 05:41 am (UTC)
Very intriguing. I like the first part better than the second, but it all works well together.

Thanks for the link regarding the prior Jailee episode, I think I missed it the first time around. :)
penpusher
Jul. 27th, 2014 04:29 pm (UTC)
Admittedly, I had wanted this to be a Jailee moment, but I also wanted to keep it under 1000 words, and I just made it.

My big pet peeve about the "Worlds of the Future" is always the inciting elements that got us to where those places were/are/would be. Why is everyone wearing silver space suits all the time? How did some autonomous regime get to set up shop? To me, there has to be some sort of logic to it, so I like to explore those elements, and peel them back so that they make sense, if only to me!

Thanks for reading, and for going back to look at Jailee's history. I know that this entry really wasn't a perfect stand alone, but I didn't think you had to read the previous to understand it.
ryl
Jul. 31st, 2014 03:34 pm (UTC)
My big pet peeve about the "Worlds of the Future" is always the inciting elements that got us to where those places were/are/would be.
I've always wondered that myself. What started the dystopia and why did it get so bad before anyone thought to stop it?
rayaso
Jul. 28th, 2014 08:50 pm (UTC)
Really fantastic. It was very imaginative. I loved the way you combined humor with seriousness. It was funny and thought-provoking. Well done!
penpusher
Aug. 1st, 2014 12:40 pm (UTC)
Thanks very much! It's what came to me when exploring so, just how my brain works.
adoptedwriter
Jul. 28th, 2014 09:46 pm (UTC)
Interesting and unique! AW
penpusher
Aug. 1st, 2014 12:40 pm (UTC)
I'm very glad you like it. Thanks!!
uncawes
Jul. 31st, 2014 12:32 pm (UTC)
This is far and away the most deep thinking entry I've read so far this week.
Really thought provoking stuff.
penpusher
Aug. 1st, 2014 12:41 pm (UTC)
Thanks for a fantastic compliment! Glad you liked it.
whipchick
Jul. 31st, 2014 03:11 pm (UTC)
My goodness! That's a lot of world there, and it's interesting to see Jailee back again!
penpusher
Aug. 1st, 2014 12:41 pm (UTC)
Thanks much, and I suspect we haven't seen the last of Jailee...
halfshellvenus
Jul. 31st, 2014 08:08 pm (UTC)
Or, no. We have ‘em so others won’t use theirs.
That's the argument, but we can never be sure that the truth will stay pinned to it, given how circumstances might unfold.

For those of us who grew up during the Cold War, that was a threat never very far from our minds. :(
penpusher
Aug. 1st, 2014 12:45 pm (UTC)
Certainly the current international atmosphere, with the Middle East, Russia and the Ebola virus in West Africa, it's difficult to think that everything is stable, normal and good... but when you look at the potential we have to just totally destroy ourselves, it's feeling like we're on the razor's edge.

Thanks for reading, and your comment.
i_17bingo
Aug. 5th, 2014 06:23 am (UTC)
Jailee! I was wondering what had happened to her! Frankly, I had feared the worst, so this is a bit of a relief.

I hadn't noticed the specific symbolism, but I'd, sadly, recognized many of the events (Oscar Grant, Amadou Diallo, etc.), and this was a really, really solid use of the prompt as a way to weave these troubling, modern images into a futuristic narrative.
penpusher
Aug. 5th, 2014 01:49 pm (UTC)
Thanks very much. A lot of this was weighing on my mind, and really still is, but it definitely informed the direction I went with the prompt.
( 24 comments — Leave a comment )

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