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The 90 Percent Solution

September 7, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

Bart slumped back in the booth of Starseeds a smirk on his lips. The cracked blue leather poked him in the back.  Midnight, and the conversation was finally getting good.

“Of course the Pentagon framed him.” He gestured grandiosely.  He knew exactly what he was talking about.  He read it on the Internet.  “He founded Wikileaks for Christ’s sake.  Here he is standing for truth, justice, and the American way, but, sorry, pal.  We have copyright on that.  They go off making deals with terrorists, and when he publishes the evidence, all of a sudden he’s a suspected rapist?  Right.  That happens.”

Across the table, Jim nodded.  Bart wasn’t telling him anything he didn’t already know.  They read the same Internet, of course.  And they have had this same discussion three times this week.

“Wouldn’t it be funny if the poster boy for transparency was guilty of a crime and covering it up, though?  And if he is guilty, I hope they gut him.”

“Publicly.  And they could post the video on his site.”  Clearly, someone who demeaned women like that should be taken out.

He finished the dregs of the coffee in the cheap plastic cup, and looked around for Sheila, their waitress.  Some guy on the other side of the dive was giving her crap about how his eggs were scrambled.  N00b.  He’d regret that.  If the graffiti-based décor, sticky floors, and high face-piercing to wait-staff ratio weren’t enough context clues that you should not give your waitress shit, there were multiple signs tacky taped around the poorly lit diner stating, “Welcome to Starseeds.  If you want it your way, go somewhere fucking else.” He’d learn.  And never be back.

Sheila made her way over to them after stopping to talk to Bruno, the ex-Navy Seal short order cook.  He left the kitchen wiping his hands on his filthy apron and began to engage the patron in some light yelling about how one prepares “scrambled-fucking-eggs”.

“Sorry, boys,” she said, not meaning it, and them not expecting her to.  “Would you like more coffee?”

“Yes, please.” Bart gestured with his cup.

Jim winked at her. She smiled back.  For Jim, this represented a full and complete relationship with a woman.  He’d never actually make a move, though he was likely to go home and jerk off.

“That guy is a prime candidate for the 90 percent solution.” Jim nodded towards the guy now sullenly eating his eggs as Bruno stared on, hands on hips.

Bart chuckled.

“90 percent what now?” Sheila looked at them blankly.

Jim settled back in his seat.  He knew this was Bart’s rodeo.

Bart removed his glasses, rubbed his eyes, and began tapping his glasses on the linoleum tabletop.  “The problem, as I see it, is we have a world filled with douche bags.”  He waited for the acknowledging smirk.  “We have an overpopulated planet, too few resources, and too much pollution.  We are destroying our home and being assholes to each other while doing it.  I figure, the only real way to solve this problem is to eliminate 90 percent of the people on the planet.  If we save a few hundred million people… only the best, most talented, and least douchey people… we’ll make the Earth a better place to live.  All while improving our gene pool and making our limited resources much more bountiful.”

Sheila raised an eyebrow.  “So… you think we should kill 6 billion people?”

Bart nodded, happy she grasped it.  “What’s more, I think people would undertake it willingly.  Look at Nazi Germany.”   He leaned back, arms behind his head. “No one thinks he’s going to be the one singled out.  Everyone is perfectly happy to think he is among the best on the planet, while his neighbor is a scum sucking nerf-herder.  I think someone could run for office with the slogan: ‘The 90 percent solution; if you’re a part of the problem, you’re a part of the solution.’ People would eat that up.”

“You think you could run on a platform of worldwide genocide, and people would agree?”

“Sure.  Look, everyone hates someone.  The Muslims hate the Christians and Jews, Russia hates Europe, China hates Russia, Africa is already killing itself, and everybody hates us right now, even us.”

He brushed the crumbs from the front of his shirt which depicted a rider-less horse facing a windmill; he hoped she’d ask what it meant.  No one ever did.

Sheila looked quizzically at Bart, then at Jim.  “Seriously? You’re more of a nut job than the egg guy.”

Bart frowned as she walked away to grab more coffee.

“Dude, she doesn’t mean it.” Jim twisted one of his belt loops between his fingers.  He did this constantly but was always surprised when he pulled a loop off entirely.

Bart put my glasses back on, and began rubbing his beard.  His favorite thinking pose.

“Dude.”

“Dude?”

“Dude. I think it’s time for the check.” Bart removed my overstuffed wallet from his back pocket.  Detritus fell to the floor.  Receipts from previous meals or groceries lay worn in the folds.  Loyalty cards, library cards, and forgotten business cards abounded. He remembered and then quickly forgot his plan to clean his wallet.  He let the fallen receipts land where they may.  They’d be replaced.  He got my credit card and placed it on the table.

After paying, Bart stood up and adjusted his pants. His belt was too long now, and his pants tended to wrinkle and bunch in the front, when they weren’t just falling down.  He considered, again, that he needed to make the time to buy new clothes.

Bart and Jim walked outside to the tiny parking lot nestled under the elevated section of I-35 in Austin.  They made our way to Bart’s beat up fifteen-year-old Chevy Blazer 4×4 and got inside.  Jim kicked the trash around the passenger side floorboard around until his feet were comfortable.  The originally grey cloth interior had become a stained brown, and most of the surfaces were varying degrees of sticky, but it was Bart’s.  Well, technically it was still in his mom’s name, but he used it.  And mostly paid the insurance.

Bart started the truck, pulled out onto the feeder road, and then immediately pulled into the neighboring Days Inn parking lot.  He found a spot facing Starseeds and after rolling down the windows, turned the engine back off.

“Really?” Jim shook his head and stared out at the traffic flying by in the cramped Beggar’s Canyon of I-35.

“Yes, really.” Bart smiled broadly. “Besides, she might be a cylon.  Oh, I forgot, we’re all cylons.”

“What? Fuck you.” His head whipped around, eyes daggers. “I can’t believe you even fell for that garbage.”

They spent the next hour debating the merits and flaws of predetermined endings in sci-fi tv series.  It was quite rousing. They landed where they always did.

Eventually, Sheila left Starseeds and got into her smog colored Prius.  When she slid behind an 18 wheeler on 35 South, they were not far behind.

Jim grimaced when Sheila exited onto Riverside.  “Dude, don’t you think this is a bit much?  She lives to close to us.”

“We’ve covered this; we’ll be fine.”

“I know.”

“Investigations are all based on motive.  Motive based on traditional ways of thinking. We, my friend,” He put my arm around the back of Jim’s seat, “are not stuck in traditional ways of thinking.”

“But I like her.”

“I know, that’s what makes it even better.  There’s no way our names will come up, except as frequent customers.  Brilliant!”

“Damn you.”

“Too late.” Bart turned up the Marilyn Manson.

They followed her into the gated parking lot of her apartment complex.  Drafting other cars through the rusted iron gate was common practice in this student filled part of town.  At 2 A.M. the lot was full of cars and empty of people.

“Hand me the knife.” Bart said as he parked a few spots away from Sheila’s Prius.  She was already getting out.

“We used the knife too recently.”  Jim pulled a bandana drenched in his chloroform concoction from a ziplock bag instead.  He was always thinking.  What a guy.

Bart took a deep breath, the choloroform made him a bit dizzy.  “Red 5, going in.”

He opened the door.  It squeaked obnoxiously.  Stupid fucking door.  Sheila was starting to turn around.  He hopped out, his black workboots crunching on the gravel and glass of the parking lot.  Sheila was clearly nonplussed at seeing one of her regulars coming at her. Her face was contorted with anger, confusion, and fear.  Bart’s long stride made short work of the distance between them. His legs, recently accustomed to running, exalted in the opportunity to exert themselves after hours of sitting and waiting.  Her hand was fumbling in her purse for something.

It didn’t matter.  Bart reached her, wrapped his right hand around the back of her head, and using his significant size advantage and the momentum he had just built up, he shoved the bandana into her face.  She struggled for a few seconds, trying to scream.

He held his breath and grabbed her body close.  To any potential onlookers, Bart hoped it would look like he jumped out of his car and wrapped her in an arduous embrace.

She stopped struggling.  Getting more light-headed from the quick activity and breath holding, Bart began walking her back to the SUV.  He laid her down in the back seat, stood up, closed the door, put the bandana back in Jim’s ziplock back, and exhaled.

“Good shot, Jackson.”

Bart grinned, goofily and got back behind the wheel.

“What are we going to do with this one?” Jim asked, stowing the ziplock bag in a hidden compartment behind the glove box.

“I think… we’ll do something, simple.” Bart pulled out of the parking spot, and they left the apartment.

Across the street from her apartment, ran the reservoir now known as Lady Bird Lake.  Bart drove down alongside the lake and turned off the lights.  They both looked and didn’t see anyone around.  Jim nodded his approval.

“Will you need weight?” He looked out at the black expanse of water.

Bart glanced at her inert form in the back.  “I don’t think so.  She’s tiny, wearing blue jeans, and not holding her breath.  Her buoyancy should be for crap.”

Bart got out, picked Sheila out of the back seat, and carried her alongside him like she was drunk down to the water.  He sat down with her on the bank for a bit. Then he pushed her faced down in the water and let go.  She floated for a few seconds and then sank.

“If you’re a part of the problem…” Bart sighed, shaking his head. “Well, now you’re a part of the solution.”

He walked back to the truck. In silence, he started the engine and pulled back onto Lakeshore.

“When does Cataclysm come out?” Jim asked, tugging at his belt loops.

“I don’t know man, it always takes them forever to put stuff out.  Besides, they’re just going to ruin their world, by fucking with things.”

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