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Sunday, June 11, 2017

Regaling Frequencies Open

Last night I was surprised by a FaceTime call from my old friend Steven Neumann, who dialed me in to briefly join a celebration of our mutual friend Jeff's 50th birthday. I was quite touched to be included in the celebrations at a distance, and watched as Susan lit Jeff's big 50-shaped sparklers. It was quite a festive conflagration!

Inspired by the call, early this morning I celebrated Jeff's birthday in my own way, with a silly email based on some shared in-jokes that go back over a quarter century...which means that Jeff and I have known each other for longer than we hadn't known each other--rather a sobering thought.

Here's the story, which will make little sense to anyone except for Jeff, his wife Susan, her brother Steven, and my wife, Sylvia, who you may spot in this story as thinly-disguised analogues of themselves. And after you read the story, be sure to visit Jeff's blog and buy some art!

*  *  *

Captain Wolverine's knuckles, white with fury, clung to the jewel-encrusted arms of his command throne. No other hint of turmoil crossed his Saturnine features. Coolly, he swiveled the throne to face his elegant yet disdainful - one would almost say insubordinate - communications officer, red-skirted, blonde-beehived, Lieutenant Feral.

"Repeat that last, Lieutenant!" barked Wolverine. It came out as a dare. Feral rolled her eyes.

"There's an incoming transmission from the U.S.S. Encounter," she said. "Admiral Woods has a message for you."

Resigning himself, Captain Wolverine turned his throne to face the bridge's main viewer.

"Put him on," he sighed.

The screen flickered from a starfield to the rakish, dashing visage of Admiral Woods himself, who was currently leaning forward in his own command chair, one eyebrow raised, his slash of a mouth forming an insouciant grin.

"Captain Wolverine," he said. "I hear congratulations are in order."

"Yes," Wolverine replied casually, leaning back in his chair, crossing his legs insolently. "You speak of course of our successful first contact with the Sequential Analog Loving Intellect Validator mark 8 machine culture. Really, the credit goes to my Chief Medical Officer, Commander Steadfast, and her brother, our Science Officer, Commander Ice. They're the ones who..."

"I wasn't actually talking about the SALIV-8 matter, though of course it was quite an accomplishment. No, I brought you something. Transporter room, beam over the package."

In the space just above Captain Wolverine's lap, a swirl of matter suddenly coalesced into a small paperback book, which plopped gently onto his crossed legs.

"What's this?" Wolverine wondered, opening the book to a random page. "'There no doubt existed computer dossiers in half a dozen capitals on the sexual tastes and proclivities of Jonathan Emeric Anderson. Whoever had selected Charla Boyd knew exactly what they were doing; she looked as if she had been literally materialized out of Jack's own sexual fantasies...'"

Wolverine put the book down and looked askance at the Admiral. "Message, Woods?"

The Admiral shrugged innocently. "None that I am aware of, except of course...happy birthday."

Wolverine grimaced. "How did you find out?"

"Well, I could be mysterious and say something like 'It's my business to know," but to be honest your wife and brother-in-law ratted you out."

Wolverine threw an annoyed glare at Steadfast and Ice. Steadfast responded by leaning in behind the command throne and gnawing on Wolverine's throat, while Ice chuckled dryly (his nickname was, in fact, "Dry Ice.").

"You run a tight ship, Captain Wolverine," Woods mocked gently and somewhat hypocritically, being no paragon of discipline himself. "Report to Starbase 50 immediately for R&R, and by the way, I'm poaching Lieutenant Feral from you; her transfer to my command will take effect as soon as you dock."

Feral rolled her eyes again. "It's not real, Earl."

Woods shook his fists over his head theatrically. "I'm doing a bit, Monkey! Also, down with metanarrative."

"I hate when you do this," Wolverine said.

"I wonder," Woods replied. "Anyway, happy birthday, and may you enjoy many more to come."

"Channel closed," Feral reported. "Can we wrap up this story so I can put on some real clothes and get out of these dumb pajamas?"

"Set course for Starbase 50," Wolverine said, making finger-guns at the viewscreen. Alexander Courage's trumpet fanfare rolled across the bow as the ship banked to port, credits superimposed over the VFX before the image faded to black. 

1 comment:

Jeff Shyluk said...

I am super glad you posted this, it made my day, week, month, maybe year! At first, I thought you'd somehow resurrected my own Captain Wolverine ramblings, but then I realized about halfway through that the material was new, a reboot, and I was grinning like a fool as I read and re-read it.

I'm reasonably certain this stuff predated the X-Men movies, so you can imagine Hugh Jackman in the role if you want, but it wouldn't have been my/our first choice. I dimly remember picking the name because I/we thought the Marvel character was obscure and that the animal was kind of a funny fit in the top-button-fastened Star Trek universe.

Oh, it's far from great literature, but some of my very favourite pieces are the ones that you show to a crowded room, but only one person in the whole bunch gets it. I don't know why that tickles me so much, but thank you for the gift of more Wolverine.