Selected Transcripts from the "Hard Time Chronicles" of "Billy Budz"

Section 10 (20Apr2034)

10.01 (From Billy's "blog")

I am far too old to climb over walls -- and, anyway, sneaking around Asile Sûr without a visitor's pass wasn't likely to do me much good. I tried to remember if I knew anybody who lived there. Well, in my line of work one gets to know a great many people, and three came to mind quite quickly. The best choice, I decided, was Edwina Bellocq.

Back in the old days, Edwina and I were sort of in the same line of work, except that her pleasure business managed to stay on the safe side of legality. Edwina sold "enhancements" at her Clinique de Beauté et de Santé, where her staff of surgeons and pharmacologists were famous for reversing the ravages of age and hedonism, but also for building the equipment and stamina needed to be a successful sexual athlete.

Frankly, some of the drugs she dispensed were no less addictive and debilitating than the cocaine and heroine I provided for my customers -- many of whom also were her customers -- but she managed to keep hers outside the scope of government regulation.

Edwina was surprised to hear from me when I called -- it had been years -- but happy to have me come for a visit. "I'll meet you at the main gate," she said. "We had a little security problem last night, and the gendarmes are overcompensating a bit."

10.02 (From Edwina's narrative)

So Drew Parks became a Free Radical? Well, that's higher education for you, but if anyone deserved to have a son go off the reservation, it was Gregory Parks. You know, I was there at Drew's twelfth birthday party. Strictly business, of course -- no progeny for this old bird. Greggy wanted me to invest in that boy farm he was running in one wing of his house.

Obviously, I wanted no part of it, and he's lucky I didn't turn him in to the Association. It's bad enough he was engaging in commerce inside Asile Sûr, but... but... agriculture? Dreadful. And despite what Greggy told Drew, it wasn't just agriculture. It was a bloody brothel as well. The minute I walked through that door I saw Byron Arkmagian sprawled out with his nasty old dick in some boy's mouth, and that's a scene I'd just as soon forget! The old bastard didn't even have the self-respect to take the kid upstairs to a private room -- or maybe he was just too cheap. Greggy probably charged more for the use of his "historical" settings.

Anyway, the whole thing was just too creepy. Did you ever see a film called "The Stepford Wives?" They showed it for a film course I took at UCLA, back in the old days. Well, Gregory's farm raised boys were much creepier. If there's such a thing as a soul, he'd bred it right out of them.

Then again, maybe not entirely. They say it was a boy from Greggy's "farm," all grown up, who came back and blew the place to bits last night. So, goodbye to Greggy. And goodbye, as well, to the current crop of unfortunate Stepford Boys. And if Miranda -- that is, Mrs. Parks -- and favorite son Greggy Junior are somewhere in the rubble, goodbye to them as well.

And, for all that, if Drew was responsible, well -- may he rot in hell. If he had good reason to want his father dead, he should have done it himself.

10.03 (From Billy's "blog")

Asile Sûr's management company maintains a private intranet for residents, used mostly for things like reserving banquet halls and other common facilities or getting up foursomes for bridge or golf. Today, though, I'm sure the item of greatest interest is the security force report regarding the explosion at the Parks mansion. Edwina already had the page up on her monitor when I asked about it, and it updated when she hit reload. People like to know all about it when their neighbor's mansion is blown to bits.

It must have been a very, very powerful explosion to bring down the whole house, and based on the information in the report, all that was left was rubble. It was believed to be the work of a suicide bomber, a young man with a backpack seen by a gardener who had been working far enough away from the structure to survive the blast. According to the gardener, the bomber was strikingly handsome, and had long, golden blond, rather curly hair. More important to me, though, was that the gardener said the young man was alone. There's hope.

But if the bombing was carried out by one man -- possibly Edwina's "grown-up Stepford Boy" -- then where is Joe? If he's still inside Asile Sûr, he'll have a hell of a time getting out. The security boys are out in force, all over the place, and they've brought in reinforcements.

I read more of the report. They'd been pulling bodies out of the wreckage. One had been positively identified as Gregory Parks, Drew's father. There were eight other adults, most likely servants, although it was not impossible that one was Miranda Parks or that another was Gregory Junior. It was hard to say, due to the condition of the bodies. Also, there were five unidentified children.

I hit reload, and suddenly there were ten adults and six children. There was also the face of a woman I'd never seen before. She'd been captured while trying to escape over the outer wall -- almost certainly the third Free Radical on the team with Joe and the Bomber.

So, what am I supposed to do now?

10.04 (From Edwina's narrative)

He blamed me, the bastard -- said that I'd driven him to it. Which is not to say I didn't feel some pity -- you have to pity a man who could be so unbelievably stupid. The moron thought he was texting with a fourteen-year-old girl. I wish I could have seen the expression on his face when he showed up at that house and found a fat detective with a crop of nose hairs thick enough to use as a toilet brush.

Tell me, Billy, how does a woman drive a man into a fantasy affair with a little girl? A woman who looks half her actual age, and who supports him at a level he never could manage on his own? Well, maybe that was it -- I was just too successful to make him happy. I threatened his vulnerable, infantile male psyche. Maybe we all did it, all the self-confident, successful, high performing women. We were the ones who made pedophilia fashionable by becoming too strong to dominate. Men had to turn to children.

Poor Vincent. If he'd been able to hold out another fifteen years, he could have had all the little girls he wanted instead of dying in prison with a sharpened toothbrush in his gut. He was dead even before our divorce was final.

But you, Billy, you weren't like Vincent, you weren't threatened by strong, successful women. You were just a born pervert.

I can't help you find your boy, and I can't offer you much hope either. That silly Free Radical woman they captured is probably dead by now, or else she wishes she were. Last year, security caught a common thief inside the wall, and his body hung over the main gate until the Alberts, who live down that way, complained about the smell.

10.05 (From Billy's "blog")

I checked the Asile Sûr intranet two more times before I left. The second time, there was a picture of a woman's body hanging above the main gate. Joe, I told myself, is a clever little shit. He won't get caught like that.

Eventually I just gave Edwina the requisite kisses on each cheek and got back into the Caddy. The road among the various mansions was a single loop. A right turn would have brought be back to the main gate in less than half a mile. I turned left. If security stopped me, I could say I'd gotten confused, and gone the wrong way. I drove just below the posted 15 mile-per-hour speed limit.

I was just a little bit past the halfway point in the loop when I heard bare feet running next to the car. I slowed, a rear door was pulled open, and a small body vaulted into the back seat.

"Yo, Billy," he said, "I seen the Caddy and I guessed it was you. Coolest Caddy ever."

When we got to the gate, security checked the car pretty thoroughly -- the passenger compartment, the trunk, even underneath. They didn't find the compartment under the back seat, though. It's not a large compartment, but fortunately Joe is not a large boy. I let him out as soon as it seemed safe, about a quarter mile down the road.

"Shit, Billy," he said, "I pops me a boner I don't fit in there no more!"

"Look out the back window," I told him, "and don't complain."

The body was in plain sight, hanging over the gates to Asile Sûr.

10.06 (From Joe's narrative)

I never knowed BB was gonna do that. I never seen the bomb stuff. I figures it's just the big jacket makes him look fat. He never said nothing. Well, shit, he never ever said nothing. Just them moany noises when him and Stalin was going at it. And me, dumb ass I is, thinking Stalin really loves the guy. You loves somebody, you ain't sending him to blow his self up.

10.07 (From Billy's "blog")

It was all worth it to see the reunion. I made us all burgers and baked yams and a really nice salad. We ate. The brothers laughed and yammered at each other, nonstop. Afterwards, while José and I were cleaning up the kitchen, Joe and Robby disappeared out the window. I guess they'll come by for a meal every so often. Who knows? Maybe Robby will even convince Joe to come back permanently. I got the feeling Robby was really getting to like having regular food and a comfortable place to sleep and an old man who cared about him.

As I'm writing this, José is kneeling between my legs, licking the insides of my thighs. I think that's enough writing for tonight.

Last Words (29Apr2034)

I've pretty much lost interest in this chronicle, so I suppose I'll stop now. It's over a week, and I haven't seen Joe and Robby. Stefan came by a couple of days ago to tell me he was leaving the city and going to live with Jenny Two Streams and the Indians full time. I gave him my big old hunting knife as a going away present. He liked that.

Before he left, though, he went with me to the Free Radicals camp. I just wanted to make sure Joe hadn't gone back there, although I was almost certain he wouldn't do that. He wasn't there, and neither was Jacques. For that matter, neither was Drew. It seems his mother and brother were killed in the explosion, along with his father, and he'd come into quite a bit of money. Goodbye Stalin, hello J. P. Morgan.

José is here to stay, and I am very happy about that. He's cute and affectionate, keeps the house in tiptop shape, and he's great in bed. I'm teaching him gourmet cooking. I'm also teaching him American history.

Somebody should know what happened. Somebody should remember how it used to be.