“How you doing, big guy?” Kitty asked, with what seemed to be genuine good humour, “You still with me, poker face?” Kitty would love to get King into a game of hold ‘em, or anything else; he was a tellaholic. She could find and push every one of his buttons.
Stephen broke into what looked to be a good natured smile, and nodded, but said not a word.
“Good,” Kitty smiled back. “I applaud your ability to endure this, without succumbing to the temptation to interrupt, or return fire. Thank you for that. Bear with me just a bit longer, while I conclude, then you can have at me.” The Kaboodle girl let those carefully chosen, tantalizing final words – “then you can have at me” – hang in the air for ten seconds before beginning her closing statement.
“I want to remind you that you picked this fight. I was perfectly happy to eat my meal, joining in a group discussion, wherever it might go. I had no desire to go here, but you insisted, and here is familiar territory for me.
“I am not in the habit of proselytizing veganism. I keep my veganism to myself. I don’t shove it down anyone’s throat. I don’t even mention it casually, in passing, from time to time. But word gets around, anyway, and some people just can’t manage to resist the temptation to take some cheap shots, or even mount an all out frontal assault.
“You’re experiencing what they get when they choose to make that mistake.”
Stephen admitted to himself, silently, that it had been a mistake. He didn’t care about losing the money, or the argument. What he was worried about was losing the respect of the girl, and also that of his son, who may not have had any respect left for him, once Kitty told him that he was his bastard. He knew that he would have to scramble to get their respect, if they were to move this mighty important mission forward, and he would discuss exactly how he might do that with Madonna, when this was over. For now, he was more than happy to see how Kitty finished the show.
“The first couple times I had to defend myself against the Neanderthal meatmouths, I wondered why the Hell they were attacking me. Clearly, they had failed to realize that I was holding a royal flush. I knew it was latent guilt. That was confirmed when I read about how Einstein had had the same problem throughout his life, before finally repenting, as he was about to go knock knock knocking on Heaven’s door, just in case God is a vegan. If God exists, which I seriously doubt, and he is vegan, like me, he’s heard it all before from the meatmouths at the door.”
King smiled as an image of God, surrounded by smirking animals, all of them laughing at poor, dumbfounded Albert, and pointing at the down escalator, flashed into his mind.
“As I pulled that thread more, I came to understand that the guilt you all feel is very, very visceral. Meat is murder, after all. While violence is deeply rooted in our reptilian minds, compassion is what we are evolving into. Compassion and love. Love and humanity. So, a schism erupts in the heads of people who have been raised to believe that meat is not murder, but just something you eat. Something that comes from a store.
“And the impulsive reaction of the caveman side of less spiritually evolved creatures is, naturally, to fight. Not to reason, not to discuss and debate, but to fight.
“When he studies the arc of human evolution, the caveman inside us knows that he is losing this battle to our higher selves. But, one look at the world we live in will clearly show that we are a long way away from becoming what we can become, what we are, perhaps, meant to be, if there’s any such thing as meant to be. Judging by what he sees in the world around him, every day, the caveman doesn’t know for sure that he is doomed. He will not give in without… you guessed it, a fight.
“So, when the ever diligent, to the point of paranoia, caveman spots activity that is a threat to him, he strikes out. The least spiritually and intellectually evolved among them object the most vehemently. But they usually make a huge mistake in their calculations; they don’t conduct a threat assessment of who they are attacking. They are mired in the dumb beast prison of the reptilian mind, so that is not surprising.
“The dumb beast doesn’t know he’s a dumb beast. He thinks he is mighty, invincible, even. He is top of the food chain, after all. He has conquered all comers along the evolutionary path. But he has failed to realize that the creatures walking far ahead of him have earned their positions at the front of the procession. And the caveman doesn’t like where we’re going, because he will die before we get there, he, in fact, has to die in order for us to get there.”
Kitty Kaboodle, all five feet, two inches, one hundred and five pounds of her, stopped moving, and spoke softly.
“Being an impulsive, violent creature, based more in brawn than in brain, the caveman doesn’t realize that he’s picking a fight he can’t win, when he starts up with those of us who have outgrown him, both spiritually and intellectually. And he thinks us weak. So he picks fights, not understanding that we, too, are warriors. We have to be, in order to lead us in the rigt direction. He thinks we’re out there in Lalaland, singing Cumbaya, a bunch of weaklings who never would have gotten us as far as we’ve gotten, if we’d had to battle it out with the dinosaurs. And so he picks fights with us… and gets his ass handed to him.”
The girl shook her head from side to side, then ran her fingers through her hair, and finally cracked her knuckles one last time. This time Madonna was too engrossed by what she had just witnessed to be titillated.
“Now, to bring it all into the rigt here, rigt now of it all, consider this. The collectivist agricultural policies of Communist Party of China have failed dismally, and repeatedly, over the years. And though they are evil, they are not stupid. They are, at least, smart enough to understand that when dogs go hungry, they attack.
“Being mostly meatheads and meatmouths themselves, the CPC politburo members didn’t understand that they can feed more veggies on an acre of land than they can carnivores. The commie meatheads never did clue into the fact that they could feed more of their people – keeping them all fat and happy, instead of hungry and lusting for blood – by outlawing livestock farming in favour of crop production. Unable to produce enough murder for every table, the braindead meatheads said, “Let them eat dog. And cat. And rat. And bat. And anything else that bleeds!
“And with that, Stephen, King of Horror, I cede the floor to you. Whad’ya got?”
Stephen, King of Horror, clapped his hands slowly, breaking into a smile as he did so. After ten seconds of fawning, he stopped clapping, and answered, “I got nothing… but respect.” He turned to Lance Lear, bastard son, and asked, “You vegan, too?”
Lance looked at Kitty, awestruck, and said, “I am now.”
Kitty walked over to the boy, ran her hands through his hair, kissed him on the top of his head, and said, “Good boy!” Then she whispered into his ear, “You get a nice, sweet cookie for that… when the time is rigt.”
Taking three steps back, the girl announced, “If you will pardon me, then, I will take my leave of you. I am going for a swim. I thank you all, in advance, for respecting my desire for privacy.”