Friday, November 16, 2012

The Actuators by OD Hegre

A council of angels debate over who is best placed to help Trevor make a tricky decision, by O D Hegre

What to do... what to do?

Trevor continued pacing but something deep inside spoke to him: the time had come to make up his mind. A comfy looking chair, with an ottoman, sat empty by the showroom windows. He'd go over there, sit down, put his feet up, relax and come to a decision.



"All right. All right." The Colonel raised his hands above his head. "Come along now folks, let's bring this gathering to order."

Soft murmurings from the crowd accompanied the gentle fluttering of wings.

"Ladies and gentlemen, please. This session is going on line in about five minutes. Let us get ourselves organized." The Colonel took his seat.

"Hua-in-da-hella put you in charge?"

A couple of folks were tugging at the coat sleeves of the little old man, standing in the middle of the crowd.

"For Pete's sake, Mr. Johansen." Colonel Charles Latham rose from his chair. "Try to remember where you are." Latham pointed a finger out at the shrunken figure. "Arnie, we all know you and Olga, there," Latham's finger moved to the woman sitting next to the old man, "are his paternal grandparents."

The elderly woman rose to join her husband.

"Yah, for sure, and a Hans and a Gertrude are here as vell," Arnie said.

The Colonel motioned for the couple on Arnie's right to stand.

There was a smattering of applause as the two maternal grandparents slowly rose to their feet, nodding appreciatively.

"You, and any other family, are always welcome at these proceedings. It is tradition.

The Colonel looked beyond the grandparents at the rows of great and great-great grandparents behind them. "You folks provided the building blocks for our boy Trevor - the basic structure of his body and that of his mind as well. While familial distance dilutes out your individual influence, our boy Trevor is, in fact, built out of the sum total of who you all are... uh hmm," the Latham cleared his throat, "were, as is the case." The Colonel paused for a moment. "Except for those occasional cosmic rays and a few other extraneous factors - but I digress."

Latham pointed to Arnie. "Short in stature but standing tall with a sense of purpose and self control."

Then to Olga. "A fair complexion but never afraid to let his personality shine - like you, Olga, Trevor is an extrovert by his... your very nature."

Hans raised his hand.

"Yes... yes. You are there too, Gramps. Like you, our boy has lost his hair but not his thirst for adventure and growing his intellect."

Gramma Gertrude's eyes met the Colonel's.

"And Gertie. Blue eyes but always a happy with an optimistic outlook on life's challenges."

The Colonel sat back down. "A few of you ancestors had some time with the boy but it was short... the majority of you had no time at all. As I said, enjoy the proceedings but please don't be disruptive." The Colonel stared at the little Swede, Arnie. "There is no doubt as to the impact you all have had on Trevor; you wrote the boys code and that is, no doubt, the strongest of any influence in this auditorium." The Colonel opened his notebook. "But our job today is to build on that. So, those of you who had real time with Trevor will take your place in the actuator line."

"Okay, then," the Colonel now speaking to the assembled crowd, "you have all been through this before." Latham glanced down at his notes. "A thousand times for some of you. You know the program and you know the rules."

"Colonel... sir?"

Charles Latham looked up. He recognized Trevor's Drill Sergeant.

"May I go first, Colonel? I have a nephew up in Boston who's contemplating suicide. He lost his job yesterday and with the Red Sox season in the tank... well. I need to be there for that session... in about a half an hour."

"Holy crap, Fred. Your nephew was on the edge last month when his wife took the kids and ran off with that animal trainer from New Zealand. Doesn't look like you're having a lot of positive influence on him. I am assuming you are being positive."

"For Heaven's sake, Bill." The Colonel ran his fingers through his gray hair. "What did I say about that kind of language... and you a Boy Scout leader and all? It's just out of order. You know the rules. And I am sure the Sergeant, here, is being just as positive about the future as one can be with an alcoholic, drug-dealing felon like his sister's kid. If the mom were here, they might be making more progress in those sessions. But... well you know the living... always focused on themselves."

The Colonel shook his head. "Okay, okay. Let's keep the focus on Trevor, shall we? Fred you can go first. Anybody else in a hurry?"

Gentle murmurings arose from the crowd.

"That's settled. We will start with Fred and then who wants to go next?"

A chubby man raised his hand. "I was Trevor's minister when he was young. I will present him with the moral aspects of this."

"Now wait a minute." In the back, a tall man with a clerical collar stood up. "He converted to Catholicism when he married his first wife. As his one time priest, I think I am better suited -"

"Okay, okay. You both can have your say. Though I am sure Chris Hitchens would have more influence but," the Colonel drummed his fingers on his jaw, "then that guy has enough to worry about.

"Well I'm here instead." A woman stepped out into the aisle. "I was his philosophy professor in college." The woman folded her arms across her chest. "Trevor has moved beyond all that superstitious bull... sorry Colonel... nonsense."

"Really Professor?" The Colonel smiled. "Have you forgotten where you are?"

"Well, what I mean is that Trevor needs to think logically and -"

"Yes... yes," Latham motioned for the woman to sit back down, "you will get your chance, Professor."

A bit of snickering ran through the crowd; the professor's face glowed redder and redder by the second as she retook her seat.

A young beauty giggled as she popped to her feet. "I was his first love." She placed her hand over her mouth and giggled again. "He needs to feel once more what it was to be innocent and unknowing." She swayed back in forth. "To remember how fragile we all are."

A giant of a man rose from the crowd, knocking over the two attendees sitting next to him. "I was his football coach in college. He needs to remember it's all about competition. Either he gets the yardage or someone stomps on his face." Then the man reached down and yanked the poor souls lying on the floor back up into their seats. "Sorry about that, folks."

A guy in an Armani suit spoke up next. "I was his financial advisor in the early days. The big oaf over there is right," waving his hand in the coach's direction. "Trevor needs to remember that it's a dog eat dog world out there." The banker smiled, straightened his tie and sat back down.

For the next few minutes, each in the multitude of actuators claimed their turn and that included Ralph Nader (because Trevor was a freak about safety), Leonardo da Vinci (the boy appreciated the subtleties of color and the elegance of design) and Jack Benny (Trevor had a sense of humor but more so because he was conservative by nature... particularly when it came to spending money.)

Then a familiar voice rose from the crowd.

"For the love of God, who's idea was this in the first place... to gather us all here to badger this poor young man in his decision?"

The Colonel shook his head. Every time some poor misguided right-winger got in a quandary, Latham could count on a comment from his old friend. "You know full well whose idea this is, Richard. You had almost two terms as President, why do you always have to be so much of a contrarian? The boy is a hard nosed Republican, been one all his life. You were a great influence on him. It makes all the sense in the world to have you here for him."

"I always made my own decisions, Latham. You know that. I took in what others had to say but in the end it was up to me. Blast it. Why can't this young lad understand that?"

"No wonder you ended up resigning. You just never will get it, Dick. Once more then: they can make the routine decisions in their lives without our help... get up, eat their meals, go to the bathroom, have sex, go to sleep. The rest? Well they are just not capable."

The Colonel motioned for Nixon to sit back down.

"Why the Boss allows them to suffer under the impression that they have free will... that they make the choices in their lives on their own, I will never understand. It just isn't so." The Colonel sat back in his chair. "But then it's just my job to get this show on the road," Latham looked down at his watch, "and we are down to the wire."

"Colonel?"

"Yes. Yes, who wishes to speak?"

"I am his mother. I think I should go last."

The Colonel found the speaker... small, relatively young looking woman sitting in the front row, just below him. "Ahhhh, yes. Mrs. Rierson. Please." Colonel Latham stretched out his hand to her.

"Trevor is in such a state over this issue. He will be all in knots after all this input. He'll need the gentle assurance of a loving mother or else I doubt if he'll be able to process any of this."

"Good that's settled. Mrs. Rierson will wind things up."

The Colonel stood up and straightened his jacket. "Okay only one minute till show time. We have the order. Stay within the rules. Keep it short; you know their attention span. In the end, based on your input, we know Trevor will make the right choice." The Colonel smiled.

"Oh and one more thing. I know you are all busy with dozens of commitments but those of you that can stay - in about ten minutes we will need to go back to work, again this morning. This Trevor is a busy man."

"Okay Fred. You're up."



"You just sign on the dotted line, Mr. Rierson and we'll have her ready for you in about twenty minutes."

"Thanks... and call me Trevor, will you Slade?"

"Sure, Trevor. You're goin'a be real happy with your decision, Mr. Rierson... Trevor. The Lexus RX 350 with the F sport package is the top of our line in the "almost luxury" class. Stylish, excellent gas mileage for a high performance vehicle and a top safety rating."

"You made the sale, Slade. Relax."

"Sure Trevor... sure. Just that it's the end of the month and I - Well, I appreciate your business and tell you what I'm going to do. There's a restaurant just around the corner. Precision Toyota is buying your lunch today, pal."

"That's not necessary, Slade."

"We won't take no for an answer."

Trevor smiled as he made his way through the restaurant doors. It had been a long morning and hunger pangs dominated his thinking. No better place to satisfy that need than his favorite - a Chipotle Mexican Grill.

He had decided on the car but now his mind churned again. He rubbed the stubble on his chin as he eyed the menu board. Should it be the chilled Taco Salad or the steaming Chicken Fajitas?

What to do... what to do?

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