11

THE PAST

"Offensive, in the extreme, is this idea that clones are abominations, when Nature has been making carbon copies unassisted since Life first dawned. Cells divide. In doing so, they replicate, duplicate, quadruplicate, etcetera—every one identical to the cell from which it split. Even when it comes to reproduction, clones are 'second nature.' Every sex cell churns out countless incarnations of itself. And once combined with another sex cell, as in the sperm-meets-egg continuum, double-making is verifiably commonplace. Are twins abominations? Are sextuplets monstrosities? So what’s this hullabaloo about Reproductive Cloning?"

(Chance.)

"Chance my ass! Must humans flip a coin to mix and match their genomes? Why choose random breeding over methods offering quality control? What’s so sacrosanct about sex with genetic strangers?"

(It guarantees variety.)

"How, by passing on our defects? Hemophilia, Diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, take your pick. Roll the holy-roller dice and let the offspring count their losses."

(All the major faiths…)

"You mean the major superstitions; one man’s parish priest is another man’s witchdoctor."

(…teach that God alone creates.)

"By fabricating a female from the rib of a male? Oh, please, let’s skip the fairytales. If religions wrote our textbooks, Man would still be whittling the foreskins of little boys. Whoops. Do you have yours?"

(Do you have yours?)

"Deleted."

(Ditto.)

"Peachy. Just imagine where we’d be if sex took brains instead of balls."

It is a downpour outside Stuyvesant Fink’s top floor apartment. Heavy wind plasters raindrops against a solitary window pane, causing its teary surface to mimic the fluid that glass genuinely is (albeit flowing infinitesimally),  obfuscating details when looking out / when looking in... at Stuyvesant loitering in his bathroom—tile and fixtures white, reflecting light, at the loft’s farthest end—clad in only his boxer shorts, leaning toward a mirror, into which he gazes, spectral features fixed, mesmerized by himself—or so it would appear—ruing the retroactive loss of him whom he addresses sight-unseen.

"Bunglers. Look at what they left after you and I were severed. An ugly patch of skin grafts."

(Not to mention psychic scars.)

"I gained lonesome independence, whereas you gained R.I.P."

(Irrespective your unrelenting efforts to resurrect me.)

"Be that as it may, you bit the dust too soon."

(I was the sicklier.)

"You also were the smarter; I’m a halfwit next to you."

(Too true.)

"Which is not to say devoid of certain certifiable shortcomings"

Stuyvesant sheds his briefs and views the 'carnage'—thigh to ribcage—that he reckons marks the spot where he and Rockefeller once were joined, their separation a 'success' (if acknowledged by one hand clapping).

"Anyway, what galls me is the unabashed hypocrisy of a species that pretends its selfish interests are basically benign. Why not admit we’re competing with all the other major predators and dispense with paltry qualms about what we do unto prey? We kill and torture other creatures in our research labs routinely, give them cancers, make them mutate, keep them caged until they croak. If that's called ‘stewardship,' those we tend, then, are absolutely screwed—save the all-too-few that stray. We’re not stewards, we’re exploiters. If it’s good for human beings, it must be ethical, moral, and right because what's ethical, moral, and right is determined by human beings. We set all the standards—then break them with impunity."

As if the Heavens second Stuyvesant's point, a thunderclap shakes the shingles, skylights incandescing with an eye-wink blue-white flash. Rain drops drum. The roof resounds with rat-a-tat-tats of the raging storm’s percussion.

(Stuy, you’re ranting.)

"Maybe so, but who can hear me, with Henry Hudson playing nine pins; you remember? Mom’s description of thunder?"

(I was gone by then.)

"Quite right. She told me after we were separated; after you were lopped off like some useless piece of gristle. Awakened in the night, I was—the sky resounding mightily. I was scared. Mom came to comfort me, to tell me all that noise was a silly game, 'Henry Hudson and his men ,' she said, 'up there bowling.' Nonsense."

(Quaint.)

"Cock-‘n’-bull like that is what inhibits human progress."

(Ban all myths and fairytales; that the ticket?)

"Yes; if it helps us face the facts. You know what Mom told me when I asked her how my entire left side got mangled? I was born, she claimed, like all God’s children, with a Guardian Angel. Only mine was so protective that it grew attached..."

(Psychosomatically speaking.)

"... at which point God recalled it. Out it tore and up it flew and I was given a replacement—plus an extra-special 'sign' of the Good Lord’s loving vigilance."

(Amen.)

"Extra-special sign or the mark of Cain."

A POP from an outdoor power line makes the indoor lights blink black.

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