That night it all sort of came crashing down on me. Things had been barreling forward at a frantic pace, and I hadn’t really had much time to think about it all. But it was a Saturday night and Layl’Annie was in Beaumont. Finals were right around the corner. And Arthur was about to die.
The last was the worst. The impending death of Arthur and destruction of Camelot lay on me like the USS Texas’s anchor. I mean, I knew all along what was going to happen. What the hell, I was a historian and every historical person who ever lived was dead. But this was somehow more poignant. More personal. More of a crying shame than most deaths.
Somewhere off in the distance, the failure of The Grail to project over the radio lay as a minor disturbance of the force. You couldn’t be President in the 1970s if you couldn’t project your charisma over electromagnetic media. Fortunately I had no political ambitions. Not to mention that I’d make a really, really bad president.
Hell, you couldn’t really even start a new religion. Back in Jesus’ day, word of mouth was all you had. But today, you were competing with television. Betterment of the human race versus a whiter, brighter wash and a better night’s sleep. People in the twentieth century who started religions armed with nothing but their own charisma ended up as the founders of cults. An insignificant following of people who had heard the master personally and put down their fishing nets and begged in airports to raise money. Everybody else just shrugged.
Not to mention that I didn’t have a message. As soon as I stopped talking, the devout adherents of Schusterism would wander off back to their poor, pathetic lives.
The one thing I could do is raise money. Stand up in crowded public places and convince people to give me the largest bill they had. I’d never have to work again. Except haranguing people for money was work. The worst kind of work—a door to door encyclopedia salesman with a little better schtick.
I’d loved every minute I’d spent with The Grail and her revelations. How bad could the death of Arthur be?
Abomination, sodomy, and perversion, as Victor Herman, aka Jimbo Bond, would say.
I could always fall back on the option of becoming a singer. But wouldn’t people figure out I was a phony once they listened to an album instead of a live concert and recognized my lack of real talent.
A totally off-the-wall thought crept into my subconscious. If the Boomer could build a time machine, I could go back and save Camelot. Grab Arthur by his ermine stole and give him a good shake. “Pick up the Holy Grail and listen to her, Sire.” Except what would happen if the future Holy Grail came into contact with the present Holy Grail? A rupture in the fabric of time? The end of our piddling, three-dimensional universe?
Not that he could actually accomplish such a thing. Time travel involved paradoxes that even The Boomer couldn’t overcome. Maybe.
I could have poured The Grail and myself a glass of wine and talked things over. Or just talked. But I didn’t really want to. She’d try to cheer me up and that would be counterfeit. Or she would manage the trick, which would be even worse.
And then suddenly it hit me. Now that Judy Blue Eyes was gone, I hadn’t gotten laid in over a week. And that had been a goodbye fuck so it only counted half. I wasn’t mourning the death of Arthur, I was morning the loss of regular sex.
I had to laugh at myself. Then I did pour us a glass of wine.
Pondering the fate of the universe, were we?
“Not really. Lamenting the impending death of Arthur and the demise of regular sex.”
Interesting. Need me to talk Annie out of her panties for you?
“That would definitely break my promise to her. So, no. Thanks the offer, though. Maybe if things get really desperate.”