Chapter 1: Introduction
You may or may not have heard’a me from the news. Ah’dunno, I was kind of a big deal back in the day, when I was fresh and exciting. I was on TV a lot back then, and like any up-and-coming celebrity I was ready to do anything to become as big as possible. I sat in on talk shows, did countless interviews, hosted SNL, and I was even featured in one of those reality shows on Animal Planet. You know, the one where that Australian wingnut goes around poking dangerous animals in the ass with a stick and saying, “Crikey! I think he’s really pissed now!” Yeah, no shiitake Sherlock, I’d be pissed too. So that gets me thinkin’ that I should make a surprise appearance on his show; maybe teach the guy a couple of manners or something. So during that episode where he gets the genius idea to stick his entire arm into a hole in the ground and see what kind of animal he can pull out, that’s when I come in.
I hid inside the hole and waited for him. Then as soon as I hear him say, “I wonder what kind of wild beasty we’re gonna dig up today,” I jumps outta the hole with whipped cream all over my face looking rabid and such. Gave him quite a scare, let me tell you what. So I start chasing the wise guy and his crew all across the field, actin’ like I’m all crazy and whatnot; gnashing my teeth and snarling, zigzagging all erratically so as not to catch up with him so easily. Ah, those were the fun days: back before I had any real responsibility; back when I was free to tool around as I pleased.
But anyways, eventually the guy makes a dive into his Jeep and burns rubber outta there, almost careening into a bush while he’s at it. Sounds cruel on my part, I know, but it was just a little bit of harmless hijinks. And if that ungrateful prick knew what was waiting for him in that hole before I got there he’d’a thought twice about trying to sue me later that year. Yeah, good luck getting a cent outta me, ya bozon. If the military can’t even get me to come in for that court martial (I’ll tell you ’bout it later) then I’d just like to see that Aussie try and make me appear before a judge. In fact, if that larch somehow gets me to show up for court, then I’ll give him a million bucks right there on the spot, tax free.
Fat chance of that though. The day I start paying my dues is the day I die, and since that ain’t never gonna happen, I guess it’s safe to say he’s gonna be waitin’ on that check for a long time—but I digress. Where was I? Ah yes: the glory days. At first, when I first…changed…it was confusing and difficult to accept—I mean, c’mon right?—but I quickly warmed up to the idea of doing pretty much whatever I wanted, with nobody being able to do a dam thing about it. (Good thing I’m the good guy. And no, that “dam” was not a typo; again, I’ll explain later.)
Once I got out into the spotlight, and my presence in the world was no longer a secret, (or a legend) all sorts of agencies started trying to get me to work for them. First, before I could even leave the local limelight, the government caught wind of me; showed up right at my doorstep one day, trying to stop me from going global. They were exactly as you’d expect it: a few men in black suits with shiny hair and no personalities. They threw me in a cage and hauled me off to the regional Air Force base where I was to be held until further notice. I could have easily escaped at any time, but went along with it purely out of in-ter-est.
A day after I arrive some fancy-schmancy, tight-britched, general tells me that I’m being shipped to a certain pentagonal-shaped structure where it will be decided whether or not the military has any use for me. If not then I will most likely spend the rest of my life in a cage, totally isolated from the outside world in an effort to maintain the American peace and prosperity blahdy, blahdy, blah. So I shows him some of the incredible things I learned I could do, not because I had to, but because I liked showing off back then. Two weeks later I find myself a member of the United States Special Forces doing reconnaissance in Afghanistan. I figured what the heck? Why not? I always wanted to see the world, and you gotta start somewhere, right?
Well, my tour in the armed forces only lasted a month. After that I got bored and got a little, quote unquote, “disorderly.” I was sent back stateside to have a “serious talk” with my SSO, or special supervising officer. Otherwise known as the guy who was going to lock me up forever if I ever seemed to be getting out of control, which I was.
When the plane landed I found myself at a different Air Force base than the one I was previously acquainted with. This one was in the middle of the desert…the Nevada desert. Seeing as how I’d always dreamed of coming to this particular “area” of the Nevada desert, I took the liberty of showing myself around, an action which the SSO (and, frankly, the president) found “most unsatisfactory.” That’s where the court martial came from…and the threat of execution if I ever told anyone what I saw. Totally worth it.
Once the government realized they couldn’t do squat to restrain me, I really opened up to the world, and Hollywood came looking for a cheap buck. As you can imagine, the movie big-wigs came at me relentlessly with billion-dollar contract offers, saying I’d be Hollywood’s next biggest “thing,” whatever that was. I did a few gigs, but with all the recycled garbage Hollywood has been churning out lately, I quickly decided against continuing on that path.
Then came the mascot offers from the cereal companies, wanting to parade me around like some washed-up athlete out of his prime. Uh, no thanks. Next came the masses of religious nuts, thinking I was proof of the existence of Heaven. Who knows? Maybe I am, but if so I certainly never got the memo. (Okay that statement’s not entirely accurate; there was one time when I did see one thing, but I still haven’t concluded whether it was real or just a side effect of my partial insanity.)
After all that blew over I just wanted to settle down: lie low and stay out of the limelight for a while. I was old news by then anyways. But noooo: my buddy (this Mexican guy from work, a real cock really) says to me he says, “Nah pal, what you gots to do is write a book. An autobiographical novelization of your most fantastic life. Trust me, people are real chumps, especially your fans. You can shovel out the biggest pile of crap this world has ever known and you’ll still be makin’ millions. You’ll be rolling in the cash.” Yeah, like I need money, right? But whatever. Like the fool I am I listens to him and here it is: my book. The Life and Times of Walter L. Conley. That’s my name by the way, in case you were not aware. Most people just call me Red though, and no, it’s not because of my unique epidermal disposition. It’s really on account of my liking the Sox so much, and it’s kinda weird actually, ‘cause it’s not like I’m a super-fan or nothin’.
But I’m getting off track again. Or am I? ’Cause this is a book about my life, so can I really say anything about myself that does not pertain to the topic at hand in some way? Well if I do somehow, feel free to keep it to yourself, because this is my book, and it’s exactly the way I want it to be. And don’t expect no literary masterpiece neither, ’cause I’m not the most ar-ti-cu-late type in the world; it will hardly be comparable to the works of Hemingway or Melville or whoever wrote Moby Dick.
I also have an annoying tendency to over e-nun-ci-ate words, so you’re just going to have to deal with it. Plus, having grown up in Boston before moving to the outskirts of Chicago, I have acquired a very peculiar dialect that’s some sort of a mix between the two. It’s an accent which you may find yourself unable to perfectly replicate while you’re reading, a’ight? But do not be dismayed, because you should always remember: I can’t hear you, and I really don’t care. Even so, I promise to try and be as literate as possible
Despite all the flaws though, there is one thing I can say for myself: I did truly and honestly put in an effort to complete this book with the wholeness of my heart and soul, so while it may not be a piece of literary genius, it is most certainly and perfectly me.
Now where should I begin? I mean really begin, because all that back there was just a whole lotta me ramblin’ on; a bunch of vague, backstory gibberish that’s not really central to the story. I suppose like any sensical author, writing any sensical book, I should start at the beginning. But what beginning, exactly? “When I was a young boy growing up on the south side of Boston…” Nah, that’s too far back. Hows about, “In my ad-o-les-cence, I was overburdened by the weight of the entire world coming down on me at once…” Nah, too cliché. Maybe, “Back in my college years I met this girl. At least I thought she was a girl…” Nah, too personal. (Nothin’ happened, by the way.)
You know what? Screw it; we’re just gonna start at the very beginning—no scratch that—the first beginning. The only beginning, really. Ahem: in the beginning there was nothing…yadda yadda yadda, you know the rest. There was light, and then there was the Earth: a festering swamp of volcanic lava and sulfuric acid. Nothing could live, and nothing could survive. But after a few billion years the Earth stopped being such a total, stinkin’, shih-tzu; a whole lotta water came from…somewhere, and life found a way to survive in the form of some tiny…little…germ or somethin’.
Then a few more billion years pass, and those germs turn into algae, and the algae turns into New England clams, and the clams turn into fish. And one day, some brave fish decides to take that first step onto dry land, and it is good. Millions more years pass and that single, brave, fish has turned into a vast, interconnected ecosystem, and next thing you know we’ve got the dinosaurs roamin’ around all la de da. ’Till they’re smashed to bits by a ginormous space rock (or aliens, as my uncle always maintained). Life though, it finds a way to desperately cling on to whatever is left in the wake.
Another hundred million years go by, followed closely by another, and now we’ve got somethin’ that kinda resembles a human being, ’cept they’re all hairy and rude and they smell and can’t really talk too good—kinda like those tooty-fruity hicks from Jersey, yech!
Tens of thousands of years go by, and human beings: we starts to form what is known as civilization. We come together, we build houses, we trade, we learn to speak, we create, we invent, we form cultures, cultures separate, cultures clash, we fight, we die, we build again, and all this time civilization grows! It grows and grows and grows, and we evolve! We form governments, we create religions, we form classes, and we evolve! Out of the Stone Age and into the Bronze Age, then past the Bronze Age and into the Iron Age. We build ships, we explore, we learn, and we evolve! Through the Iron Age and into the Medieval Times. Religion reigns supreme, but now science starts to take a hold on life and we evolve! We sail out of the Medieval Age and plunge straight into the Golden Age. We create art, we create music, we invent, we discover, we cure, we advance, and we evolve!
Next comes the Age of Industrialization. No longer are we at the mercy of the world, but the world is at our mercy! We build ships, we build trains, we build cars, we build planes, we build subs, we build jets, we build rockets, and we evolve! Now into the Age of Technology, where everyday something new is discovered and something new is created. This is where I come in; this is where I was created.
The Modern Age came and then I was born…er—for the first time…right smack-dab in the middle of it. When, you ask? Who cares? I’ve forgotten, and if I don’t know, then it’s none’ya dam business. The point is: we’ve evolved all this way, starting from absolutely nothing, and building all the way up into something truly incredible: into the irrational, illogical, perfectly imperfect, super complex human beings that we are. And across all that time—over the billions and billions of years that it’s taken us to get this far, the world has never stopped makin’ sense. One thing leads to another leads to another leads to another and everything makes sense. Every massive leap can be explained by a small step, which can be traced back to a very minor detail. All of our changes, all of our advances, all of our evolution, followed a very precise, well laid-out order, and it all made sense.
Everything we’ve become: it’s certainly remarkable, but according to what we know it’s not exactly…extraordinary. All that’s happened, it’s…predictable…explainable. Nothing that’s happened up to this point is beyond the reach of what science can rationally explain. Until finally, one day, out of the blue, something inexplicable happened. Something that even Darwin himself couldn’t see as anything less than an act of God. Because one day, a miracle happened, and a fox was born.
Act 1: The Beginning