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Spadina Literary Review  —  edition 18 page 03

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“I don’t get it. What is your science fiction story even about?”

“I already told you, it’s steampunk, not science fiction. The assignment is to write about a person overcoming an adversary.”

“How is a guy on a motorcycle driving on a messy highway overcoming an adversary?”

“He’s driving toward his arch nemesis.”

“Doctor Marigold?”

“Exactly.”

“Well, so far it seems like Doctor Marigold’s the one who’s facing adversary. Is that the right word?”

“Huh?”

“Well here’s this guy racing toward him on a motorcycle, this guy — this guy, Collingwood? — does he have a weapon?”

“Well, duh.”

“Okay, there you go. Poor Doctor Marigold’s just minding his own business. He’s not even coming toward Collingwood.”

“What the hell? Are you stupid?”

“No. What has Doctor Marigold done? Is he supposed to be the one that destroyed everything?”

“Yeah. Sure.”

“Well then how does that make him Collingwood’s arch-nemesis? Why isn’t Collingwood dead? Why didn’t he do anything to stop the killing?”

“He was off doing something else. He was…uh…a young man when all this happened.”

“Oh.”

“Yeah, and he’s getting revenge now that he’s older.”

“Well that still doesn’t explain why he’s his arch enemy.”

“Doctor Marigold killed Collingwood’s father.”

“So he’s Batman?”

“I mean, he killed Collingwood’s girlfriend.”

“He had a girlfriend when he was a kid?”

“Okay fine, his father. You know, just because Batman’s parents were killed doesn’t mean DC Comics has a monopoly on people seeking revenge for the murder of their parents.”

“It’s all really violent…”

“Of course it is. It’s dystopian fiction.”

“You said it was steampunk.”

“Whatever. It’s a classic story of a man — a lone man, who’s angry and is overcoming the forces of evil that have corrupted and suppressed the weak, those who cannot defend themselves. They need a hero. They need a real man.”

“That’s sexist.”

“Ugh! No it’s not.”

“Why can’t it be a woman?”

“Because that’s stupid.”

“You’re stupid.”

The giant humanoid machine turned around. Marigold’s dark beady eyes glinted and narrowed in on Collingwood. This was it. Their final meeting, they both knew it.

“What else is there about him?”

“About who?”

“Collingwood.”

“Right, sure. Well, he’s been after this guy Marigold his whole life: living on the road, eating scraps, raised by gypsies.”

“Is he Filipino?”

“What?”

“Dumas told me gypsies are Filipino.”

“No they’re not, they’re their own race. And I didn’t say he was a gypsy, I said he was raised by them.”

“He’s a white guy then?”

“I guess.”

“Can he be Cherokee instead?”

“Cherokee?”

“Yeah, you know — Gossip News says Brad Pitt and Johnnie Depp are part Cherokee.”

“Actually that’s pretty cool, I’ll put that in there.”

Collingwood could feel his Cherokee Indian blood boil as the distance between him and his source of hate closed.

“You’re not supposed to say ‘Indian.’ They prefer ‘Native American.’ Don’t you know that?”

<CONT...>