The Father, The Son, and The Walkperson

by Michel Méry

Free Sample Chapter

Chapter 1


Where are you running like that, Murdoch? You look so
hurried and you're putting on such a face! Today, though,
the Dow Jones Industrial Average went up to its daily
record high: 577,693 points at the bell, up 36 points
from yesterday. That alone should lift your spirits. So,
take a break. Otherwise, we will have to fetch the Great
Skrumpf-Skrumpf. Do you know the Great Skrumpf-Skrumpf,
     Come on, remember, when you were small... You had
forgotten him? Did he cease to scare you because you
thought you had other, more serious things to fear, such
as terrorism and the rise of interest rates? Well, there,
he is really going to get you and munch on you if you
don't keep quieter. You don't believe it? You're dead
wrong, Murdoch. Because now he exists. Considering what
you finally did to the landscape, you and all the
hustle-pushers, you sure made a place for missing
childhood nightmares, didn't you?
     But as for the Dow Jones.. no, on the contrary. Are
you going to believe in it much longer? Because, you see,
this afternoon, while you were performing your ritual
dance in the southern part of Manhattan Island, the
alternative reality of an investment bank office was on
the verge of appearing to us all around you. Collective
hallucination? Possibly. At any rate, you at that moment
seemed to be on the verge of making us believe that we
could have visions, simply because your visions were
being seen. Come on, Murdoch, enough is enough. Just wake
up. Your dreams are obsolete for everyone but you --
everyone except for children sometimes, when we've been
going too far with our stupid stories about freak
characters like Great Directors, Great Brokers, or Great
Secretary General.. Anyway, all those people who could
have those dreams just like you are lost memories. Dead?
Possibly. But that's not exactly it. They have never
existed or, if they have, then, rather like a myth, or a
dismal legend. So, stop busying yourself like that,
shuffling your cards alone like a gambling addict
forgotten in a closed-down casino.
     Unless they are still here for you after all? Do you
see them, Murdoch, scurrying about within and without the
walls of the headquarters and their subsidiaries? Do you
see them like you once did from out of the window of your
office across the street, you know, when the sound was on
mute, busying themselves at palming anything off on each
other provided they could keep on palming off again and
again? Come on, tell us, Murdoch. We love horror stories.
Don't worry about your Dow Jones game. Leave it alone a
minute. Nobody will mess it up.
     Hey, are you going to stop, Murdoch? You're going to
make us dizzy. Seeing you like that, it looks as if
everything else around you was sliding and jolting, thus,
perhaps, making you believe that there is still a
sidewalk. A sidewalk! You get the picture, Murdoch? Why
not taxicabs, curbed dogs, huge sales, cashier receipts?
... Hey, be careful Murdoch! Look what you're treading
     You shouldn't think that we hold anything against
mad people and visionaries, though. We don't call them
schizophrenics and force them to gulp down tons of
medications. Because it's thanks to them all, such insane
ones as Lovecraft, Tolkien, Edgar Poe, even Sam Pekinpah,
that you never completely succeeded in making us forget
the Great Skrumpf-Skrumpf. Besides, we had all done herb,
more or less, and we had often even inhaled... Maybe you
thought we had all been recycled by Colgate Palmolive and
Mitsubishi? Maybe you thought we all deplored economic
slumps and lay-offs, that we were all indignant at the
bombing of the World Trade Center? Only in your dreams
and in the New York Times, Murdoch.
     You know what? We can tell you now since you didn't
wake him up. You just trod on the tip of the huge tail of
the Great Skrumpf-Skrumpf!
     And who are you talking to now on your cellular
phone? Do you really want us to believe that somebody is
talking to you on the telephone right in the middle of
the sidewalk?
     Yeah... That's what we almost believed for a
second... Do you know what you're really holding close to
your lips, Murdoch? You don't? Guess what?.. You give up?
It's the tip of the thirteenth earlobe of the Great
     Anyway, good for you if you haven't noticed
anything. It was when they noticed and realized that they
all started panicking and scurrying away into general
forgetfulness, like cockroaches when you turn on the
light. It was then that they lost themselves in their own
memories. Neither the r‚sum‚ writing workshops nor the
job interview rehearsal sessions could have prepared them
for that. But go try to explain that to them! Utterly
useless, especially when they were all watching the
Olympics on TV. In the first place, too few of them had
included courses on quantum physics or maybe a workshop
or two on shamanism in their college curriculum. And even
those who had -- you know, it probably just flew over
their heads. The only difference between them and you,
Murdoch, is that they eventually lost confidence and
their faith in the great economic recovery.
     Yeah. When you think that it had gotten to the point
where you could see bustling legions of them begging at
the doors of unemployment offices with nothing in mind
other than their passport photo on a company ID badge!
CANCER INCORPORATED, they'd take anything, provided they
could be part of it. A secure retirement plan and the
assured prospect of dying with tubes shoved up every
hole, that was the best you could promise them, for it
felt even better to them than the experience of a good
fuck or the vertigo of a profound question. So, when they
lost their faith, when the industrial average didn't feel
itself slide, they went on plucking out each other's eyes
for a while, even more fiercely than before, fighting
over the leftovers of the fruit of their bustle and
calling each other names like coloreds, faggots, illegal
aliens, liberals, nazis, faithless dogs, serbs, machos,
abortionists -- then what? Well, they lost themselves,
along with their streets, sidewalks, corporate
headquarters, pizza parlors, private clubs, multi-media
centers, re-elections, curbed dogs, cellular phones. They
must have finished each other off in some other place, or
maybe they perished of exposure and deprivation, far away
from the solace of air-conditioned airports and
microwavable TV dinners. Et voil…... But you, Murdoch,
you were probably still too busy to notice anything.
     It is not that anybody has changed the world, you
know. It's rather that all those who never saw it
anymore, other than through the eyes of TIME/WARNER, and
those who didn't read anything other than activity
reports couldn't see themselves leave along with it,
that's all. As for us, all those who expected nothing but
that -- we sure had an easy time letting the world redo
itself. Each one of us did it in our own way, such as
we'd never ceased to redo it in our heads. Your problem,
Murdoch, or rather your strength, is that you didn't see
yourself go, to such a degree that you just stayed.
     Or else, we're the ones who have visions. You're not
really here. Normally, we shouldn't have been able to see
you. Not any more than you could see goblins, trolls,
fairies, Voodoo emanations or the Great Skrumpf-Skrumpf.
Hey, Murdoch, you're not going to spoil everything and
force us to wonder again about so-called alternate
universes, are you?!
     What in the world did you finally manage to convince
yourselves of? Yes, at some point, you almost managed to
convince us of the same. And we felt we somehow had to be
wrong. The only possible reality consisted of business
cards, credit cards, r‚sum‚s, secret services, new
markets, jobs creation, restructurations, a thaw in
bilateral relations, and the saga of lady Di. And we
would finally have to comply with it all and join the
club if we didn't want to die out on your sidewalks
without medical coverage.
     No. It's hopeless. If you could see, you wouldn't be
standing here, on a semblance of a curb, hailing a memory
of a taxicab...
     If only you could see... You would at last realize
that it's for the better as it is now, and that it was
you, all of you, who were mistaken. It was a dead-end
street, a Monday morning congestion under the Lincoln
Tunnel, you understand? Of course, it wasn't only your
mistake, Murdoch, since everything started as long ago as
the day when two frumious bundersnatches had clung
together after they had freaked out from facing their
solitude and the unbearable figments of their
imagination, and then tried to distract each other from
their fears. Later, it was already too late. It soon
became difficult to safeguard one's own visions of the
world against those of the gurus and priests, until it
became virtually impossible to do so against commercial
messages and the Superbowl. You had become too opaque,
too callous, Murdoch. The world had to shed you to move
ahead. We had been waiting much too long, playing the
game half-heartedly, all of us small time bustlers, Gross
National Product dilettantes, strangers to congress and
congregations, all of us who sought vainly for answers
not listed on multiple-choice questionnaires!
     No, Murdoch. No taxi will ever come. There aren't
any more taxis, just as there are no more cellular
phones. Because no one other than you expects a taxi to
pass by. Just as you didn't expect to see the vertigo
elicited by profound questions to reflect in the eyes of
those who were only curious about the unemployment rate,
or about the ambience of the trendy nightclub where they
end up alone in front of an omelette on Sunday morning at
three o'clock, fleeing sleep and its procession of
nightmares. Sorry, but it was high time to move ahead,
Murdoch. That general consensus of yours was deep-seated
and tenacious, not unlike conservative male fashion and
sincerelies at the bottom of letters, but it did break
eventually. In other words, the zones of calm and
stability that you had created on the edge of the
entropic current that flows toward the ultimate decay of
things have now formed elsewhere. By mutual agreement,
you had succeeded only in creating more chaos elsewhere,
more uncertainty about other possible worlds. Then, by
losing yourselves, you let other zones of stability
emerge. And tomorrow, the Dow Jones will break another
historical record high, but for you alone, Murdoch. You
     Hey, watch it, Murdoch! Watch your step -- come on,
you probably never had to cross a street in London! Now,
look what you're sitting on! Watch it!


     That was not a taxicab that just went by. Too bad
for you. And too bad for the Dow Jones Industrial
Average. And too bad also that you won't be here tomorrow
morning to witness the ultimate plunge. Anyway, it wasn't
very clever of you to sit down like that, into the vast
and malodorant mouth of the Great Skrumpf-Skrumpf.

(New York, London, Jan/Feb 1994--Translated from the
French by the author)