Footsteps thunder on marble floor. A phalanx of men in red-and-white striped shirts stride purposefully towards the beautiful woman at the librarian's desk. At the tip of the phalanx is THE OPTIMIST, nemesis to Yellowjacket Greenapple.
"Can I help you?" The librarian smiles.
"Most certainly." The Optimist takes a small cage from his jacket and places it on her desk.
"What's this?" The librarian is curious.
"Feel it." He opens the cage with a flourish and a snail slowly begins to glide out onto her desk.
The woman is entranced by the snail. The spiral of its shell is mesmerizing. She touches its head and it recoils. She smiles and slumps in her chair. The thugs drag her away.
"Quickly now, he will be here at any moment."
An angry buzz of trumpets like a wasp and a crack of thunder. Yellowjacket Greenapple throws open both doors of the library and takes in his surroundings. A confusing jumble of signs point the way to various departments. A red-and-white clown statue indicates the main information desk. It giggles as Yellowjacket walks past.
A man is seated at the desk. He regards Yellowjacket with disdain.
"Books. Information." Yellowjacket lights his cigarillo.
"Books are free, information is costly." The man taps a "no smoking" sign.
"Leave now, never return."
"LEAVE NOW!" The man bellows.
Yellowjacket turns, as if to leave, and then spins back around to lunge at the man. A flash of white. Yellowjacket is walking away from the information desk. The man is bound to his chair, spinning slowly, his mouth taped and his face completely red with blood.
Yellowjacket walks beneath a sign that reads "AV ROOM" with an arrow pointing straight up. He ascends a spiral staircase and enters a darkened room. A single light illuminates the same man he just left bloodied in the chair, only this man seems perfectly intact.
"Books." Yellowjacket produces the list given to him by The Dauphin.
"Interesting." The man nods. "Sit down."
"Books." Yellowjacket reiterates.
"We have millions." The man steps forward. "Enhanced books. A heightened experience."
"Microfilm?" Yellowjacket sits casually in the indicated chair. A screen behind him shows the silhouette of his face.
"Something like that." The man produces a remote control. "This may sting a bit."
Lines to Yellowjacket's eyes appear on the screen. Yellowjacket begins to glow faintly.
"This is commerce, Mr. Greenapple."
"I didn't tell you my name."
The man laughs.
"You're in a library." The man taps his temple. "Information."
"Yes, it is commerce. What will you trade for these books?"
"Very good, but now is fleeting, Mr. Greenapple. Transitory. We want what was. The past. History. It's indelible. It is information."
Greenapple nods. There is an accelerating clicking like a film reel starting. Circles begin to move along the black lines and into and away from the silhouette on the screen. Greenapple grinds his teeth.
Flash of white. Greenapple is a child, smartly dressed. He turns a turtle onto its back.
"More." The man's voice is distant.
A flash of white. Greenapple is a child, smartly dressed. He holds his hand over a candle's flame, crying silently.
"More." The man's voice.
A flash of white. Greenapple watches an elderly woman approach the top of a staircase. He darts from the shadows and shoves her, the woman cries out and falls down the steps.
"Forward. Fill our books."
A flash of white. An adult Yellowjacket stands on a yacht. Ocean spray patters on his face. The world seems to vibrate around him. He stands in a shower. Blood spirals down the drain. A woman's hand is visible.
"Winona." Yellowjacket whispers.
"Yes, see it all. Remember it all."
Water beads on a lifeless arm. The shower is so terribly red.
"Enough!" Yellowjacket abruptly rises from the chair.
"A pity." The man says. "You had only three books left to read."
Yellowjacket trembles and looks down at the list in his hand.
Wee Shaker and the Mighty Meringue
The Heuristic Scribe
The Turgidest Klansman
William Shakespeare's "Grunt"
452439: A Novelization
Azimuth 6: The Fight for Blood Neutrality
Windows and Worms
The Bleeding Clock
In Seven of Eight
Scooty the Poppet
A Practitioner's Guide to Daemonic Entities
The Dog that Came Back
Her Immaculate Pleasure
"Where are the others?"
"I can give them to you." The man's smile is cruel.
Yellowjacket lunges at him.
A flash of white. Bare feet on white linoleum floor, tracking blood. A burly man in a white uniform. A pair of scissors in his throat.
A flash of white.
Yellowjacket Greenapple throws open the double doors of the Children's Department. He stands, waiting for his eyes to adjust. He lights a fresh cigarillo and enters. A larger version of the red-and-white clown statue looms out of the darkness. It giggles.
Yellowjacket regards it dispassionately.
"The world is wrong." He remarks and puts the cigarillo out in the clown's stone eye. It giggles.
Yellowjacket slowly removes his silk necktie and wraps it around his hand.
Trumpets blare and the harpsichord plays. Explosive snares rattle in time to Yellowjacket punching and kicking the clown. His face is totally without expression, but with a palpable fury he unleashes impossible violence on the stone statue. Chunks of stone fall away from his hammer-like blows. Blood soaks through his necktie. The clown begins sobbing, the sound rising gradually above the music as Yellowjacket methodically takes the statue apart with his fists.END MONTAGE
A final scream. The clown crumbles to nothing. From the rubble Yellowjacket plucks a small black wine bottle. He turns the bottle to read the label. "The Dog That Came Back." He takes the cork from the bottle with his teeth and upends it over his mouth. Dark port runs out both sides of his mouth as he gulps down the wine. He finishes the bottle and throws it into the darkness.
Powerful lights suddenly illuminate the children's department. It is a huge amphitheater and from the stands comes a cacophony of wild applause. Hundreds of burly men in red-and-white shirts clap, cheer, and wave pennants with stylized Yellowjacket Greenapple logos on them. Yellowjacket calmly reties his necktie and then bows before leaving. A sign points to ROMANCE.
Yellowjacket opens a large sliding door made from corrugated illuminum. A house built within an enormous zeppelin hangar. White picket fence and all. Yellowjacket opens the gate and enters the house. The beautiful librarian from the front desk sits on a sofa, her eyes are fearful, her mouth is taped. Yellowjacket leans forward and pulls the tape off. She wets her lips.
"Her Immaculate Pleasure."
"A great book." The woman smiles. Her hands are still bound behind her back.
"Is that you, Winona?"
"Sometimes." The woman flutters her eyelashes. "When you'd like."
"I need the book."
"Take it from me." An invitation.
Slow motion. Yellowjacket Greenapple takes his cigarillo case out. He taps it. The woman bites her lip. Yellowjacket slides out a single cigarillo. He places it to his lips. She arches her back and turns her head against her shoulder. Flame bursts from Yellowjacket's silver lighter and sparks an ember on the end of the cigarillo. The woman's eyes roll back into her head. The ember glows as he inhales. She writhes with ecstasy on the sofa. His fingers pluck the cigarillo from his lips. The woman and sofa recede, pulling away as if on wheels. The house darkens. End of slow motion.
Yellowjacket Greenapple smiles. He takes one last drag on the cigarillo and then drops it at his feet. He walks away.
Distorted screams. A snail leaves a glistening trail across white padding. A growing buzz of trumpets. A hand seems to smash it flat. A flash of white.
A sign reads DANGER: KNOWLEDGE AHEAD. Yellowjacket slashes through jungle foliage with a machete. A heavy green sack swings out on a rope to slam into Yellowjacket. The horrible clown's face is emblazoned on the front. Yellowjacket side-steps the trap and hacks the sack open. Red sand spills out. An echoing giggle. Burly men in red-and-white striped shirts emerge from concealment and attack Yellowjacket. A desperate karate battle erupts. Yellowjacket dodges and weaves. He unleashes brutal attacks and ancient Eastern kung-fu maneuvers on his assailants. More than a dozen are knocked unconscious.
Yellowjacket finally dispatches the last of his attackers. He hacks through the remainder of the jungle foliage and reaches a modern white fire door set into crumbling Aztec ruins. He straighten his hair, his tie, his suit. He smooths out the wrinkles. He opens the door.
A flash of white. Yellowjacket Greenapple is alone in a large room. On a pedestal is a single blue book. The Incalculist. By Zipper Johnson. He opens the book. He flips through the pages. Page after page is blank. He flips faster. On the very last page is printed a single word.
Trumpets blare loudly. A harpsichord picks out the notes of the theme song. Yellowjacket Greenapple slams the book shut with a puff of dust and a whip-crack sound. He smiles.CREDITS MONTAGE
Ending theme plays over credits. Scenes of Yellowjacket Greenapple completing his mission. A well-worn tombstone. "Esther Cunningham. Died 1799. Now With God." A shovel smashes through the tombstone. Greenapple stands, dirtied, from the freshly-dug pit. He examines a yellowed human femur. Yellowjacket Greenapple applies the femur to a grinding stone. He examines its sharpened point.
Yellowjacket Greenapple arrives at a dinner party in a silver tuxedo. The beautiful Winona is on his arm. He laughs and talks with a balding man. They retire to the man's study to smoke cigars. When the man's back is turned Yellowjacket locks the study. The Optimist hammers for entrance. The Lieutenant Governor is startled by the commotion outside the study. Yellowjacket Greenapple places his hand over the Lieutenant Governor's face. He spears the sharpened thighbone through the back of his hand and into the Lieutenant Governors brain. The two slowly drop to the floor together. The Lieutenant Governor twitches. Yellowjacket pulls out the thighbone and escapes through a window. The Optimist and several men in red-and-white striped shirts burst into the study. Curtains billow in through the open window.
Yellowjacket arrives at the secret warehouse where The Dauphin is hidden. THE WORLD IS WRONG burns green on The Dauphin's screen. Yellowjacket Greenapple, pale, shaven-headed, without a mustache. He regards you with sunken eyes. He mouths The Dauphin's words.
YELLOWJACKET GREENAPPLE, PI LOGO
The Remains of Bidet (James Ivory, 1993)
We might find we have more in common than we think if we just stop fighting long enough to combine our bodies into a singular organism.
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