[Some more serialized fiction, starting at the beginning with no end in sight. Look, ma. No hands! This one, at least, has an actual title. Enjoy.]
* * *
Hate pays handsomely if you hate right, hate deep enough.
Do you hate deep enough?
Do you hate deep enough to earn enough?
Mr. Lucian, surnames on a need-to-know basis, founder and creative head of The Cleft, a.k.a. Hate Inc., a multi-tentacled ‘conglomerate of uncomfortable and unnerving ideas’, digital media purveyors, information disrupters, event planners, teaching academy, The Cleft School, back to the classics, ‘where the antiquities never go out of style’, that Mr. Lucian, leading a seminar for carefully vetted initiates. How to Stuff A Pocketful With Hate: Embracing Your Inner Antipathy.
“Hate is the natural order of things, yeah?” he instructs, an almost imperceptible Germanic modulation to the last word. He stands rigid-still at the front of the class, the agora, his preferred term. As if dictating the rules we must memorize. No notes taken. Nothing to write with. Our phones and any other communications devices confiscated at the door. To be collected at the end of the session.
“No amount of indoctrination can change that basic fact,” Mr. Lucian tells us. “That biological fact. An evol-ooo-tionary fact. An undeniable fact. Just look at the world out there!” he commands us with an intensity that compels everyone in the room to timidly glance around the room, making no eye contact with anyone. “Hate dictates.”
“Love,” he spits out like a hairball. “Sells movie tickets. Love is creative fiction, concocted in Master’s Program writing classes to emasculate the male urge to hate, the species’ need to hate.”
Mr. Lucian smiles in a way that suggests he just told a joke, but not one we should laugh at.
“Hating comes easily to those of us willing to acknowledge and embrace that genuine human instinct,” Mr. Lucian continues. “Entrepreneurial hate, however, must come from here,” he points to his head, his first movement since assuming his stance, “not here,” same finger points to the heart area of his chest, a chest buffed out from what has to be a lot of time spent in the gym.
“You hate from your heart,” he clarifies. “Your hate gets paid with your brain, from the brain, only your brain.”
Mr. Lucian returns to his fixed state. Statuary.
I hate. I hate a lot. My hate is too indiscriminatory, I have learned at the Cleft School. Too scattershot to be of use, to myself or the cause. Hate Inc. Spewing hate tends to put people off which I didn’t need the Cleft School to learn.
Applying to the Cleft School was a longshot, I knew from the outset. I had no online presence to speak of, no more, no less than any other random hate-fueled spew machine. I just churned out angry bile and contempt indiscriminately. Indiscriminatory. Indiscriminately. Indiscriminate discrimination. Nobody found that as funny as I did.
“You’re an alright troll,” the screening interviewer informed me, scrolling through my social media feeds. “Willing to put in the time and effort, obviously. What do you do that allows you so much time to pursue this?” He’s waving my cellphone in front of me.
“I find the time, is what I do,” I tell him.
It’s wary, this selection process. They’re looking for infiltrators, snoops searching for scoops, maybe even official undercover moles trying to bring the organization down. I’m suspect because I’ve got this far along the official candidate assessment. I’m obviously committed to the cause. Exactly what cause is the matter trying to be determined here.
The ‘appraiser’, he calls himself, has been accompanied to my apartment by two ‘executive assistants’, he calls them, beefy, burly guys who mill around the place, clearly looking for clues to my true identity. Books titles, I’m guessing, art on the walls, pets, a girlfriend. I figured they would. That’s why I swept the place clean, to the barest minimum. If I didn’t know what they would be looking for, why give them anything at all? Besides, there’s no way I can know right now if these people are who they claim they are. Maybe they’re the cops, the feds, getting eyeballs on me.
“You’re not that interesting, my son,” dad said with that wheezy laugh of his when I told him once I thought I’d been put on some official watch list. The old man, the only one who found his jokes funny.
That’s why his kids hated him, his students. Two generations of them subject to his lame jokes and rote approach to teaching them the finer points of social sciences and humanities, whatever the fuck that is, and I should know because it was the kind of shit I got shoved down my throat at school and at home.
And I think he actually believed it, like, two-thirds of the time.
“You must’ve been a terrible teacher then,” I told him not that long ago. “Barbarians running amok out there.”
That made him laugh at least.
I don’t know if he actually thought it was funny. Knowing him, probably not, probably laughing at me not with me. Like the current state of the world is somehow my fault not his. With all that Back in my day bullshit. Hey, pops, I’ll say to him. You’re the son of the Greatest Generation. You’re the one who pissed it all away.
“Mothers birth us,” Mr. Lucian will pronounce later, after I’ve been accepted into The Cleft. “But it is the Fathers who feed us. And they either raise us on gruel or filet mignon. It is my job to teach you here how to distinguish between them. Have you been gruel-fed or filet mignon-fed?”
Mr. Lucian smiles a venomous parting of the lips, equal parts thrilling and shit yourself terrifying. The leering grin of Death who flosses twice a day.
[Part Two of Hate Inc. here]