But wait, I was talking about Knopf. So let’s go back to Knopf.
As I was saying, Knopf was running and running until one day, he stumbled on this blog and fell flat on his face. Then the next thing I knew was Knopf flashing cash in my face. Vicariously. Through instant messaging.
I went into a trance, where I seemed to see Knopf standing in a shining doorway, a cigar stuck between his fat fingers, smoke lazily curling everywhere. I seemed to see him saying, “There are few things we have to learn about this planet. The first is how to conquer it.”
Knopf was saying, “Show me the Skirmisher.”
And I just snapped. I almost burst a blood vessel. I was gulping down a tumbler of fruit sherbet and I almost choked with that question.
I was telling him there has never been any Skirmisher, that this blog has never been real. Okay, it’s real because for some strange trickery, you can read it. Heck, you’re actually reading it now. But it’s not real in the sense that I couldn’t honestly say a human being has been writing these posts.
That was the first volley of crap I served Knopf’s way: You will never find the “Skirmisher.” All the shit this blog contains is a thick fucking illusion. It’s a tangle of lies and complex deceit.
“I don’t understand,” Knopf said.
I said, “Let’s pretend for a moment the character I’ve been calling ‘Skirmisher’ is actually five different individuals, all leading their crappy little lives, contributing these stories you read once or twice a week.”
“No, let’s stretch it,” I said. “Let’s imagine ‘Skirmisher’ is the pseudonym of a secret organization whose job is to go around and do nasty little things and blog about it. Say this secret org is actually the protector of the yet-to-be-famous Holy Spit, as opposed to the fact that Audrey Tautou is the Holy Grail and Tom Hanks with that roadkill-toupee is her knight-in-a-boring-movie.”
“Let’s take it further, just to be really crazy. Let’s pretend the one who’s doing this blog is in fact somebody like Keyser Soze, the ‘usual suspect,’ the sum total of everybody’s suspicions.”
“Or he’s a web bot, a spider that crawls the world wide web to ‘understand’ the darker side of the zeitgest, then ‘composes’ useless bits into a blog post that roughly seems comprehensible. That all these things you read here, even this very post, is not a product of a person, but merely the sputterings of a very sophisticated code.”
“Can you shut up already?” Knopf said. “I know you’re intriguing, but I just realized you’re actually a first-class, high-up-in-the-clouds retard.”
“Oh, don’t put me on a pedestal.”
“I shouldn’t have contacted you.”
“Exactly,” I said.
“Jesus,” Knopf said. “A retard who loves saying ‘exactly’ to prove a non-existent point. What can be worse than that?”
“Let me try this,” I said. “Worse is a retard who says ‘Sure’?”
“&^^%^%$#*()#!!!” Knopf calmly said.
“By the way, why do you ask,” I said. “What are you, a publisher?”
“Let’s just say, yeah,” Knopf said.
“New fucking York?”
“Let’s pretend that, yeah.”
“Oh my… Gaaaaaa!!! Why the hell didn’t you tell me?”
“Nah. Never mind.”
“No, no, no, let’s talk. I’ll be serious now.”
“You know what,” Knopf said. “Wait a gazillion years, grow up a little, then maybe when I’m in the mood, we’ll talk. But right now, I’m having a headache. I think I’ll go home and stupefy myself with hard liquor.”
Then the guy disappeared, signed out, kaput.
I was left staring at my computer screen, full of regret.
Regretting that I didn’t tell Knopf I also have the habit of walking down peopled roads with my hand dripping with wet, warm dog turd, then flinging the poop at weak-looking people who’d meet my gaze. Then I’d run; I learned to run fast that way.
Too bad I didn’t tell him that. It would have been fun.