Approx. 3600 Words Jonathan V. Post Emerald City Publishing 3225 N. Marengo Ave. Altadena, CA 91001 Return to the Science Fiction Index"
Form Without End by Jonathan V. Post"How can I fill out the damn Form," he screamed, "with your baby crying all the time?" "He's your baby too," she said, reaching across the ink-stained battered couch that gave him such backaches and giving him a vicious pinch just above the left elbow, almost making him drop the Form-U-Lay delible pen. "Ouch! How can I be sure of that?" "Because the section of the Form on lovers and one-night stands is too hard to fill out, but don't think I haven't been been tempted, you son of a bitch." She popped open her Mexican blouse, embroidered with cactus flowers, and shoved a sore nipple into No- Name's suction pump mouth. "If you could only agree on the scrawny bastard's name, I could get onto the next page of the offspring section," he said, and shoved a dry Japanese beer into his own mouth, shaped just the same, but larger, toothier, moustached, and twisted into a permanent scowl. (1.0001) NAME (Last, First, Middle #1, Middle #2, Title #1, Honrific #1, Hyphenation, note if pseudonym, note if alternate) Nellie Badcock Bacon-Tacon? Marmadukula Baglehole? Honey Bendova? Myrtle Berry Bignozzi de Bigot? Roberta Baby Buntin Fillerup "What's in a Name? That which we call a Rosaleevio Lucretia Grub-dbang Psychyrembel Grosskipper von Whipper by any other name," he thought, "would still need her diapers changed ten stinking time a day." He stumped out of the TV room, brandishing the section of Form like an accusation. "How did I ever get into this piss-poor marriage in the first place?" But he didn't need to look it up in the Form room. He'd met her at the HelpForm branch where her brother-in-law's dope dealer worked. (1.0002) Identity of Persons Answering These Interrogatories. State the name, Form Index, ADDRESS, telephone number, and relationship to you of each PERSON who prepared or assisted in the preparation of the responses to these interrogatories. (Do not identify anyone who simply typed, wordprocessed, recorded, transcribed, line-proofed, layed-out, page-processed, or reproduced the responses.) She had been like a breath of oxygen to an asthmatic with a collapsed lung. One moment he was just a poor shmoe from Tattersfield-on-Shoop with a hole in his wingtips and a nicotine- stained knuckle. The next moment, after a glimpse of her astonishing violet eyes above a battered copy of The History and Romance of Elastic Webbing Since the Dawn of Time (Clifford A. Richmond, Easthampton, Mass), and he was hooked. (1.0003) Variant Auto-Nomenclature -- State (a) your name, (b) every name you have used in the past, (c) the dates you used each name, (d) the name, Form index, ADDRESS, telephone number, and relationship to you of one PERSON who can verify each of (b) above, (e) the Form index, ADDRESS, telephone number, and relationship to you of each PERSON who you have met or been told of who has the same or very nearly the same name as any of (a) or (b) above. He flung down his own copy of Sturgeon Hooks of Eurasia (Geza de Rohan-Csermak, Chicago, Ill., Aldine Publishing Co., 1963) onto a smouldering cigarillo butt and squeezed into her personal space, frantically scrambling for an appropriate opening line. He started to babble about "Parallax", the pseudonym of Samuel Birley Rowbotham, whose series of experiments conducted along the "Bedford Level" in Cambridgeshire in 1838, in which cannon balls fired vertically fell straight down, thus proving that the Earth was nonrotating, and who, along with followers such as Lady Elizabeth Ann Mould Blount, had started the "Flat Earth" cult that continues to this day, but she cut him off with a self-deprecating "Come here often? I'm sure that a man as noble-browed as yourself is far, FAR ahead of where I am in The Form..." Before he really knew what hit him, he was on a honeymoon. (131.276) Federal Service, Foreign Travel/Connections (If "Yes" see detailed instructions). (a) Have you ever travelled or resided abroad for other than The Form Government? (b) Do you have any foreign property or business connections or have you ever been employed by or acted as a consultant or representative for a foreign government, firm, agency, or Form Co-op? Yes, see below: Edinburgh, Scotland, travel for pleasure, mother-in-law's residence, visit with wife to see relatives, address: 27 Duncan Lunan Road, Edinburgh, Scotland, dates: 23 December 1986 through 14 January 1987. Sydney & Melbourne, Australia and Fiji, attend World Science Fiction Convention, dates: 15 August 1985 through 1 September 1985 Acapulco, Mexico, Pierre Marquez Hotel, 10-17 December 1980, World Congress of Systems Theory and Cybernetics, no visa required, and he could still remember the smell of rotting tropical leaves, salt-air, sandlewood perfume, sun-tan lotion, papaya and guava slices under fly-buzz, sweat dripping from nose-tip to sandy-thonged flip-flips, burro manure, conch ceviche left too long in the sun, melon daquiris, strong coffee, and the sexual musk of crumpled bedsheets that the hump-backed maid with one gold tooth would whisk away in a three-wheeled cart when they finally left for the beach thronged with dark-skinned grinning boys asking "reeely cheap very fine silver bracelets for the lady? Very comFORTable hammock woven by my sister? Coco-loco? MariJUANa? Seenior, Seeniorita..." on the chaotic boundary between Gingo Hotel Fantasyland and the reeking crumbled streets of naked babies with puffy protein-deficient kwashiorkor bellies. The Third World. Where children are spawned and buried without ever being entered on The Form. The next week, he was hard at work, trying to earn enough to support two in the style to which neither had yet had the opportunity to become accustomed. (89.2126) Name of Employer. Military or Form Government employment should identify each unit, organization, or station to which assigned during the most recent 17-year period. List the name, Form index, and address of the business. If any period of employment was for a temporary help supplier, including Form- Assistance, list only the temporary help supplier as the employer, even though work may have been performed at different locations with client companies using temporary help supplier's services. If employed through a union hiring hall, list firms by which employed. DO NOT list the union as the employer unless the salary was, in fact, paid by the union. Inside every love there is a hurricane of hate. Inside every 9- to-5, or in his case really, including freeway commute and unpaid overtime, 6:30 antemeridian-to-6:30 postmeridian salaryman, there is an unemployed bum trying not to break forth into smoggy daylight. "What kind of stupid idiot do you think you are," she shrilled, dumping mashed turnips on his cracked trendy-black plate, "bringing home all that crap from the office, and thrusting it at me just when we're about to sit down for dinner?" "Toopid Eediot," trilled little Janys Poppy Camarillo Quattlebaum. "Daddy are a Toopid Eediot." "Keep your trap shut, you little whipper-snapper," he said, then turned back to his wife while squinching half a lemon in the general direction of his shark steak, 'that's not 'crap from my office' in any way, shape, or configuration. I'm doing my best to give you a reasoned analysis of why a grotesquely self-serving con-man should be appointed Director of the Advanced Special Projects Center while the Veep is still sitting on the ethics- violation entries of his Form, and exactly what it might mean for me, who after all has been plagiarized more than once by his half- wit Welsh-extraction sidekick who thinks that inflatable structures can be neat little cubes because they're easier for him to draw on the briefing charts." "Reasoned, shmeasoned," she said, stabbing a fork into her shark steak hard enough to send a blob of low-fat mayo onto the placemat of little J.-Poppy, which was promptly smeared into an amoeboid shape the very contours of which sent cold shudders up his backbone. "I say it's crap, and I say that if you keep dragging your problems home, I'm going to get a divorce, and the hell with (2.00341) Spouses, Ex-Spouses, Common Law Spouses and/or Ex- Spouses, Validated Triangles, Trial Marriages, Politically Correct Binding Homosexual Units, and Broad Definition Family Units Under the Re-Zoning Ordinance of 1994 needing to be redone from scratch. You're the one that creates the problems in the first place. What did I do to deserve you? Poppy, darling, whatsa matter, squidykins, you used to love Mommy's special Sweeet Greeen Peeeas, and now you only want to shove the muck up your dainty nostrils?" "What do you mean, I create the problems in the first place? Was it me that decided to merge the two departments, necessitating a reassignment of half-offices according to Member of Technical Staff level, my having to lug the damn cartons of papers and floppies, late, so that the Carton-Mover's Union wouldn't file a disapproving annotation in my Form, and mashing two disks in my lower back, only to get a desk just one doorway from the bull-pen, and me that refused to fill out the Medical Treatment Appendix properly so that the company wouldn't pick up the proper percentage of the chiropractice, and I had to work overtime last weekend to make up the difference? Well, was it?" "It was you, alright, you useless gimp. I wish I stayed in Australia. I wish I was still single. I wish I was dead. Eat your peas, before I mash spiders into them so you'll bloat up on the venom, sweeticakes." "Dead peas, dead peas, dead peas." (432.673) Offense or Violation. Any action that resulted in the placement of your name and/or Form index on a police or court record (give docket number or indictment number, if known) must be listed including any act commited while still a juvenile or if you were considered a "Juvenile Offender." List all Article 15, UCMJ, or Captains' Mast while in Military or Form Government service if they resulted in fines, restrictions, demotions, etc. When in doubt as to the necessity for listing information in this item, it is recommended that incidents be listed to preclude future questions regarding omissions from The Form. When his mother died, something inside him snapped. It wasn't from the time he had to take as leave-without-pay from the office, since bereavement leave could only be legitimate after the deceased had kicked the bucket or more likely the bedpan, and never mind Uncle Crossley purloining great-grandma's engagement ring while phoning to tell him he'd better haul ass home if he wanted to see mater one last time to hear what a failure he'd been as a son compared to her even making the doctors and nurses nod and say what an inspiring woman she'd been before the radiation got to her. It wasn't the useless subway tokens in his pocket because they'd switched to new tokens after all to fool horders this time after having not switched token sizes last time they'd raised the fare, while he crunched though ice-crusts on the sidewalks to Memorial Sloan-Kettering Hospital, remembering how he'd need to wrap icecubes in a pillowcase and smash them against the windowsill to give her crushed ice through which to drink her urine-colored apple juice, when she couldn't even keep down jello, and still cracked jokes about the "elephant skin in gravy" they'd tried to serve her when the tumor got suddenly worse, cutting short her last vacation, but after all, darling, at least she'd had a chance to see Stonehenge. It wasn't the shame and guilt that he'd refused to give her one last backrub that time she'd sat in her bra and underpants on the edge of the fold-out couch-bed looking so out-of-place in the octagonal living room with its view that almost but not quite reached the Statue of Liberty, which you could only see if you stuck your head out the bathroom window, being careful not to pull the shower curtains down again because Lord knows the landlord isn't interested in repairs on a rent-controlled apartment, hence the peeling paint on the wheezing steam pipes and the streaks of crayon where he and his brothers had melted them on the radiator which crouched like a brontosaurus skeleton in the corner behind the door that used to have glass panes before he and his brothers had stretched a strip of latex from the "Things of Science" kit of the month across the legs of a kitchen chair, called it Big Bertha, and sproinged wooden blocks to crack a pane for a single or knock it out altogether for a home run; and who was to say at the time that the sore back was not from carrying exams on Form Filling Technique home to grade from school after cooking dinner and cleaning up by herself, but actually, since she hadn't mentioned the ailment to anyone but HER mother, who later died of the same malady, from the ovarian cancer secretly puffing to the size of a brussel sprout inside her, so that now he couldn't bring himself to refuse a back-rub for his wife when he was ready to pass out from exhaustion himself. No, the reason he ran amok in the Registrar's office when he got back and discovered that he'd have to accept a demotion as the only available alternative to being laid off for excessive leave without pay, since his Mom lingered weeks longer than anyone but Uncle Crossley's current Christian Science stewardess girlfriend thought possible, the reason he shoved his Department Head's desk through the window of the Corner Office with a view that showed the mountains floating detached above the asphalt parking lot, their bases lost in the smog that rose from the gravel-mining pits which he thought of as Mordor West when he took the San Gabriel Freeway for a change when the Golden State was jammed with yet another Sigalert from a jacknifed big-rig whose owner-operator had done one too many tabs of speed on the run from over the Grapevine; he had to admit that the reason was pent up frustration that he hadn't dared express to the family at the simple burial service outside Beth Israel, which his maternal grandmother had helped to build with her door-to-door charity work while grandpa wasted another long day trying one more tiny variation on the Bubble Machine he was building in the garage that made Lawrence Welk's look like a a spilled glass of champagne by comparison, when after all his Mom had clearly enough requested that her ashes be sprinkled in the sea, which she had loved so much as a Sea Scout in her unimaginable youth, and they'd gone ahead and buried her ashes in New Jersey, for crying out loud, in the same rectangular hole in the ground as grandma's, because it was against ocean- pollution regulations to dump human remains, and nobody wanted to add the waiver sub-section to their own Form, and then the relatives swiped all the good furniture and threw out Mom's precious books, including the Best of the Year Anthology with the story he'd never decided meant "liquidated" literally or as a political euphemism in the story where everybody died except the narrator, who finally realized that he was a military android and not really alive after all; well, anyway, the reason he finally showed his boss where he could shove the final timecard and got canned and had his wife leave with the kid for somewhere south of the border, still demanding her cut of his unemployment compensation checks, the reason was that he was so pissed off about having to finish his Mom's Form for her since she'd died before completing it. (3341.272) Family/Form Associates. List father, mother, spouse or pseudo-spouse(s) and former spouse(s). Also list children, guardians, stepparents, foster parents, brothers and sisters, stepbrothers and stepsisters, halfbrothers and halfsisters, and other relatives or friends to whom you are bound by affection or obligation, indicating IF or IF NOT such persons are residing in or are citizens of any foreign country or Form-Zone, and for which you have signed the Form-Fullfillment Clause, and have accepted manditory Form Completion duties solely or reciprocally for that family/form associate. "What kind of freaking world is this," he screamed through sore throat while they held him down across the console of the VAX 11/780 back-up spooling unit and shot him up with Thorazine, "where you got to spend your whole life, from kindergarten until the grave and beyond, filling out one humongous monster Form with every datum on your life, and on every spiderweb strand of correlation that linked you with anybody else's Form, page after page, paragraph after paragraph, table after table with the lines drawn just too close for your letters to fit without blotting or smearing, chapter after chapter, with every irrelavent detail of every stinking dive you've ever registered and every address that every relative and friend has ever lived, with hand-drawn map appended if the huts on the beach had no address? "Writing while you're writhing in pain, perfect penmanship when your ship never comes in, typewriting when you're not really that type at all, being more of a manuscript than a man, scribbling script as if scribbling scripture, going to special night classes for Form shorthand and stegosaurus stenography, reading the handwriting on the wall you bash your brains out against, sig- heiling the dictator of signature, making your mark on the page instead of on the world, adding your autograph to the bureaucratic auto-da-fe, so they can recognize your hand but not your face, your calligraphy when you have lost your calling, stacking one dull fact after another instead of practicing the freedom of composition, authorship, lucubration instead of lubrication of the wheels of Form Government, wasting ink that could be transmogrified into screed, article, essay, book, theme, thesis, novel, or poem, but instead just darkens another pointless entry, turning like a caterpiller into a wretched writer-fly, a screaming scribe, an amnesiac amanuensis, a lurking clerk, a pea-bained penman, whose family withers away and whose children grow to hate you while you waste your days on Earth copying, engrossing, scribbling, scrawling, scratching, notating, inditing, recording your life blood upon the blood-sucking page until your beating heart and throbbing brain are reduced to the merest trace, vaguest vestige, dryest relic, as nothing more than a scar on flattened wood-pulp, a cicatrix when there are no more tricks worth playing, a footstep fossilized when the foot's been amputated, toying with footnotes when you should be massaging your love's sore feet, leaving only a track instead of an attraction, a mark when all the others left aboard the ark, a wake without a drink, a trail without a trailmate, a scent without a smell, a spoor without a soul? "I ask you, you hideous whip-wielding supervisors of a wasted life, what kind of world is this where a record is worth more than an umbilical cord, where a note has no music in it, where a minute is without time, and a register cannot stir, where a roll can't feed the starving, and a list can't lift the listless, what kind of world is this that values the memoranum more than random moments of happiness, that values the endorsement more than the endorphin, that believes in reproduction without sex, inscription without inspiration, docket when you have nothing in your pocket, deed on paper rather than deed performed, document more than doctor, the deposition more than the position, the affadavit more than affability, the certificate more than certainty, the log more than the tree? "What kind of world is this," he blubbered, kicking spasmodically while they bound his legs together with half-inch magnetic tape, "where you can't saw through your jail cell bars with a file, or see the light of day in a daybook, or put a bullet in your head from a bulletin, or score for a scorebook but not an orchestra? "What kind of world is it where filling out the Form means more than fulfilling your destiny? Where you jump from a ledge rather than fill one more ledger, and would rather archive than swive, rather be a gazette than a gazelle, rather lick a chronicle than an icicle? Your annals are anal! Your registry is sophistry! Your entry has no exit! Your commemoration is comiseration! You fail the attest! Tick off the item and tick off yourself! Inscroll your scrotum! I've taken all I can stand of the rat race, and now I want to be erased!" And they led him away, past the slack-jawed lookie-loos, past the file cabinets and writing desks, beneath the hanging file folders, between the horizontal files, beyond supply cabinets bulging with mechanical pencils, gum-rubber eraser, and eskimo- free white-out. They put him in the highest security prison, denied his appeal, skipped his last meal, ignored his tearful entreaties, unplugged the phone in case the governor had second thoughts, and led him to the chamber of execution. "Sign here," they said, hit the switch, and then, thank God, at last his Form was done. -- The End -- Copyright 1996, by Emerald City Publishing. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced without permission. May be posted electronically provided that it is transmitted unaltered, in its entirety, and without charge.