“YOU’RE GOING TO HAVE BEAUTIFUL LIVES” – BILL COOKE, ADVANCE MAN
Shortly before his death, Raf House Thirty-One (pre-Honeycomb second name unknown) gave this letter to Sam House Seventeen (second name also unknown) for delivery to Ronnie Cooke. Sam must have been unable to find the necessary privacy to complete delivery, as he died with the letter still sewn into his shirt for concealment. My father, who inherited Sam’s shirt upon his death, never detected the letter, but I did when I inherited the shirt from my father in the same fashion. By this time, the war was well underway and I did not see the Governor in Coral Settlement for another two years.
Don’t tear this up. At least read it. Brain like yours, it’ll take you two seconds. Take the two seconds, and then tear it up.
It’s weird to be vindicated so fast. It usually doesn’t work like that. But your Dad and Abbie and me had only been back from our new-six-legged-sheriff-in-town world tour, we’d only been working on the farm a few days when I saw Perry Mays. I’d say Google him, but nobody thinks that’s funny. I decided to borrow a few moves from Bill. Walked right in his face and started yelling to everyone around him, telling them the exact, publicly reported dollar amount of his bonus the same year he laid off forty thousand Floridians. This was supposed to be it, you know? We were right. Look at him hacking leaves off a spongetree in the sun. It’s not his world anymore.
Everyone stared at me. Of course they did. What the fuck are you talking about, man?We’re thinking about the beetle the size of a Winnebago at the top of the hill? What are you talking about?
That was something like six months back. Today I saw Perry Mays again. He’s with the Chinampas. Like I used to be before I fucked up too many times. But he’s with them now. In fact, most of them are taking orders from him.
Here’s how Bill broke it down for me: there’s me, there’s six other guys we trust. We wait for dark, deep dark, middle of the night, when more of the bugs are in the fields ‘cause they don’t need the sun like we do. They idea is to get our gas chainsaws into the Honeycomb when the fewest number of them will be there. We make a beeline (‘cause I’m a funny motherfucker) to the level right under where we think the Queen is (we’re pretty sure there’s enough air), cut the floor out from under her, and then we have our hostage.
And then we start issuing our demands: six-hour workday, one day off, keep the remaining buildings, and, oh yeah, put the families back together. Bill just made the other ones up, really. He only cares about the last one.
So that’s the plan. There’s pretty much nothing that can go wrong, except for the few hundred things that could go wrong. So I’m definitely gonna see you again. That’s why I’m writing you this letter, ‘cause I’m definitely gonna get another chance to talk to you again.
I guess for some people, their experiences are real. The feelings they have are feelings that just happen to them. They didn’t decide to believe them, they just believe them. Your Dad’s like that. How do I know? ‘Cause he’s dying. Like, I’m not a doctor, but you don’t have to be. He’s dying in front of my face. He’s dying from not seeing you and Abbie every day. He’s dying ‘cause your mom can’t pretend she forgives him anymore. When your Mom won’t look him, it’s like he’s a dying battery with nowhere to plug in. Shit, we need new metaphors, right? It’s like all bars on his phone… see?
It’s like he’s a plant without the sun. Like he’s a bee without a Queen. He’s dying without you. He’s dying without her love. He’s forgotten what he believes. It’s not about ideas anymore. He just needs to be with you all again. He needs it like an animal needs things. He’s not the same. He’s just what he needs now.
I’m not like that. I’ve never cared about things like your Dad does. Just move from one thing to the next. Maybe Conor. Maybe my friend Conor. Maybe I cared that much about my friend Conor. But he’s so long, long gone. Last seen on another planet, there’s no more gone-away than that.
So now things are pretty simple for me: The things that just happens to your Dad are things I have to choose to happen to me. Whatever I’m going to feel between now and then is whatever I’m going to choose to believe I feel. I’m gonna pick out a feeling and just have it. So, I’m picking, I’m picking, I pick:
I pick that I’m in love with you. I pick that you’re different than all the other. I’m just deciding that I can’t live without you. I’ve decided I need the way you hate me the way I used to need the brown stuff in the gone-away bottles of the dream world I’m not sure really ever happened. I choose that I need to be near how angry you are. I’m saying, just for the fuck of it, that the murder in your eyes gives me life. I pick that my new plan us to be near you always.
I’m sure I have a chance. You think I’m worried about that Peck guy? You call him a big idiot, I’m not worried. In fact, you call him a big idiot all the time. You call him a big idiot when he’s not there. I definitely have a chance.
So, new plan. I’m laying it out in bullet-points. Twelve steps, that’s what they told back in the dream world. So here’s my twelve steps.
• Your Dad and me and the guys take the Queen. • We make our demands. The bugs say yes. They give us everything we want. • The bugs fly away. They put the Earth back just the way you want it. • I carry your Dad, hurt but not too bad, out of the Honeycomb. • I bring your Dad to your Mom. • Your Mom forgives him. For actually real this time. • I bring your Dad to you. • You forgive your Dad. • You forgive your Dad. • You forgive your Dad. • You forgive me. • You send the lug packing and we go away forever.
You might think I cheated to get to twelve. I didn’t..
The plan’s perfect, Ronnie. You’re perfect. I’ll see you tomorrow.
Post-script: I had the opportunity to present the letter to Governor Cooke personally when she returned from the war. I was honored to be in her presence when she read it. She perused the contents briefly, gave me the authorization to make the letter part of the public display in the Hall of Heroes, but made no other comment. –Pilar Rivera, Formerly Pilar House Seventeen