Awesome by Jack Pendarvis

The following is an excerpt from Awesome (MacAdam/Cage, 2008) by Jack Pendarvis.


Man, I look fantastic in this derby. Everybody’s saying, Who’s the dude in the derby?

It’s so natural to me, I don’t even realize I have it on. I’m just walking around. If people can’t handle my derby, that’s their problem.

Hey, we live in modern times these days. That derby doesn’t fit into my view of the world, they silently complain. To which I reply, Exactly.

I’m going to go to that restaurant and show the girls my derby.

It’s breakfast time. I’ll have champagne to start off with. Hello, girls. I’m not going to mention my derby.

This is one of those restaurants where they hire waitresses with a certain affronted poise. Black t-shirts, black jeans. Willowy. One of those restaurants. Goat cheese.

A sunshiny patio.

The latter must be cleared of both customers and tables so that I may have room to eat. Trees must be shorn of their branches. The awning is rolled up and stored to accommodate my height.

Hello. Will you tell me your name? Janette? Janette, you have a smile as big as all outdoors. Seraphic. There’s a word, seraphic, that applies to you. You’re like one of the seraphim, do you know what that is? It’s a kind of an angel. Janette, I’ll start off with a crate of champagne, thank you.

Why thank you, Janette. This omelet looks delicious. Janette, can you guess my name? You’ll never guess. It’s Mama Junior. I’m a man, but I’m named after my mama. She called me Mama Junior.

Janette? Janette? Guess what. I’m pulling your leg.

That was a great breakfast. I’m stuffed. I’ll leave Janette a five percent tip.

I am a hale man with beautiful teeth. My doctor always remarks upon my superb physiognomy. I am strong and clean. This morning I put on a nice yellow shirt and some brown slacks, pleasant to the touch. I capped myself off with my lustrous derby.

Finder of lost kittens, fixer of potholes, I stride the sidewalks. I am a white American male of Scandinavian descent. I try to be a good citizen. I have all the money I will ever need. I go around seeing what I can do to help. I can lift an automobile if I have to. I can run fast. I am at ease with the lingo of the common folk, explaining complex truths in a down-to-earth slang accessible to all. I can leap one hundred yards from a standstill, if necessary. I have the skills to build a robot. Deep down I am just a regular guy.

I am a giant. My name is AWESOME.

Here is a normal day for me.

Wake up.

Look at my handsome nakedness in my big mirror.

My robot ward, Jimmy, is already up and making coffee. I could turn Jimmy into a wife robot if I wanted to. I could stretch him out to giant size and add some female-looking parts and a sluice of some kind where I could deposit my ejaculate. I could give him a different voice and name and put some eyelashes on him. But it wouldn’t seem right.

Aside from dining, sleeping, and a few other biological necessities, I strive to divide each day of my life into four exactly equal parts, comprised of, respectively, meditation, recreation, industry, and avocation.

Meditation takes many forms. It begins when I catch the morning bus with the regular people. Technically, I pick up the bus and carry it downtown. Everyone seems to enjoy the change of pace. When I have arrived I generally stare at the fountain.

I might invent a religion, or make mental notations for my dream journal. These may be records of dreams I have had, or speculations upon dreams I expect to have in the future.


Dream of a series of moustaches.

Dream of a father-in-law with a thin, forked sexual member listless on his chin.

Dream of magma.

Dream of a glass bubble half filled with explosive powder.

The aquarium is nearby. Its high ceilings I find appealing. I can crawl through the wide front doors and move about in a comfortable crouch.

Meditation may involve contemplating the beluga whale. He radiates in a key sympathetic to my own. Everybody’s saying, Check out that dude looking at the whale. Do they have some kind of freaky mind meld going on or what?

In their own way, my admirers are on to something.

There is a large viewing area, like a dance floor. When I sit there, there is not much room left over. The others don’t mind. They crowd around as best they can, enjoying my connection with the beluga whale.

The beluga whale twirls in the water.

The beluga whale is patched with rough disease. He has a scar indicating emasculation. Overall, however, his skin could be made into a nice suitcase, possibly the nicest suitcase ever manufactured.

His eye is intelligent and probing. When he rubs against the glass his skin becomes smooth and flat like rubber, plastic, or ice cream. He possesses gorgeous, supple leg-like muscles where his legs would be, were he to have legs. His leg muscles seem to validate the theory of evolution in a wholesome way. He is playful. He blows a kind of spit bubble, a water ring, which floats in front of his face for a moment before he swallows it. A recreational game. The varieties of twirling, swimming, floating, spinning, and whirling he demonstrates are slow and limitless. His value as an object of meditation is likewise slow and limitless.

The beluga whale, says the guide, was rescued from somewhere. He enjoys people as much as people enjoy him. He has a life expectancy of fifty. His skin disease is in the process of healing. Where he was rescued, the water was too warm. He prefers the icy arctic climes. Any questions.

I raise my hand and ask the guide his name. Steven? I had a cousin named Steven. He was killed in basic training. You’re so lucky, Steven. You have a wonderful head of hair. Is it naturally curly? People seem soothed by you. How about it, everybody? Don’t you find Steven soothing? You’re on top of your whale information. I have complete trust that I could ask you anything about a whale and you would know the answer. That’s a rare gift, I hope you don’t ever forget it. I know you won’t. You’re a special person, Steven.

In a way, Steven, yes, that is a question about the whale.


From Awesome by Jack Pendarvis. Copyright © 2008 by Jack Pendarvis. Permission granted by MacAdam/Cage Publishing.