Enter Jackie, With All His Chansons

(Editor’s note: the following Jack is not to be confused with the inimitable Jack Terricloth, star of stage and screed, and currently slumbering beside me in a muted pinstripe suit and tall motorcycle boots, lovingly restitched together out of deep respect for the cattle which laid down their hides for his footwear. Whatever version of Jack that was being described to me, if any, was in name only. As someone who has troubled to imagine situations to get embroiled in with Herr T’Kloth which we have not already experienced together, I feel I am somewhat uniquely qualified to comment: these are hardly the sentiments of the Jack I know. He is demure, despairs jejune behavior, he wants what’s best for the Society, and that means he wants what’s best for you. If he seems selfish, it is self-preservation only, and if he is ever short, it is only for lack of sprits, never spirit. So as a character in a legend not his own, this Jack has every right to whatever fictitious thoughts might pass through his fictitious mind and out of his fictitious mouth. Besides, there are plenty of people named Jack. Why would we presume to know this one in advance? It seems I’m going to get to know him a great deal better, regardless.)

Sure, I take responsibility for all of it, everything that seems so hip now: nightlife, opiods, borderline abusive relationships…I pretty much ruined the neighborhood, not long after I built it, culturally speaking. You listen to me, Mister Kitty or whatever it is you go by, I made you too! So when I say I’ll keep secrets, I damn well mean it. I’ll keep your secrets for you, I’ll keep my secrets from you, and every person in this room will keep their secrets as well, not that I care so much about those. If I sound angry, then I must apologize, because I am not angry at all. I am glad you chose here to show your feline face; people on the block were talking, and it’s best we get to know each other sooner than later.

People say this place has a strange reputation. Well, I suppose if people say it has a strange reputation, then it must have a strange reputation. For coincidences, you dig? Like you coming here. You should have come here sooner, but you’re here now, that’s the important thing. So the best way to get acquainted is over a drink, and the best place to do that is at a bar. You know, it’s good to be around the people. Oh, I realize you’re in some trouble, but this place is safe, I assure you. I’ll show you some of my best pick-up lines, and we’ll hatch a plan. Oh sure, they’ll all come. And we’ll make some more friends along the way, I’m certain.

Here’s one of them already! Well if it isn’t Billy One-Shoe, you old one shoe-wearing son of a gun. I suspect there was a time he wore two shoes, and I honestly hope that time comes again, but for now, he’ll wear one shoe and he’ll get to keep his name. Yeah, I saw him get a cut on it once, it was bad. The hazards of one-shoedom. Two shoes would almost certainly have prevented it. Some amateur physician suggested he pour lysterine on it. Yep, it went exactly as poorly as you’d expect. Billy One-Shoe just hopping about, howling like a trapped animal and laughing through the tears at his predicament. Heavy wears the shoe, as they say. Still, just think about it: who would you rather meet, Bill, the guy who covers both his feet all the time, just like everyone else, or Billy One-Shoe, good-natured man of mystery? That seems like an easy decision to me. So tread lightly for Billy One-Shoe, because Lord knows he does the same for you. At least he always has for me.

“You know, you can’t cross running water…”

“Has anyone ever thrown a drink in your face? Me neither.”

“So, screw up a relationship with an offhand remark lately? Me too. Did you then compound it with denial? Oh, it’s great…”

Yeah, so: anarchists. That’s right, all that stuff. Respect is kind of central. But man, if you’re trying to raise the rabble, we’re in for a bit of that. I myself am my best observing from a great distance or else right in the thick of it, and it’s been too long since I’ve done the second one. Well sure, we’ll discuss every detail. But I’m going to need a bit from you as well. Money? That we can figure. ID? Easy. A party? Ah, recruitment! I very much like the way you think, Mister…what was it again? Mister In The Hat, yes. I have every certainty we can get this worked out, there’s always a way.

What do I know? That’s an interesting question, I think I know plenty. Ah, to teach you. I don’t think I’ll teach you much of anything, that doesn’t sound like me at all. I can tell you some things. Share a little secondhand or second-secondhand wisdom if you like. But I can’t tie knots or anything like that. You see, I know people who tie knots. Don’t laugh, I definitely can recommend a knot guy. Hell, I know two femme morticians, and that’s just in this state. Yes, like an undertaker with more schooling and all black. Even their shirts are black. Unless they wear a lab coat, but that could be black too. You see, we’re learning together? I’ll just try to avoid asking or saying the obvious, although my saying that will probably suggest to you what I think is obvious anyway. It seems you don’t understand. That’s fine, I don’t really either. If we get out of this thing understanding, that would be a surprise and a bonus.

But first I’ll let Sparkles tell you about his alternative, musical burial practice. Mmm, I think he wanted to call it “Vinyl Resting Place.” Turn your remains into a record which could play out all of your ‘Greatest Hits.’ For me, it might be a single. But man, if it’s really great, like “Janie Jones” great, then what else do you need? Sure, I always thought about dying young, but here we are and what can you do? No one could accuse me of not trying.