Monsters

Could what happened to me happen to you? In the BCE years I didn't think so. I didn't think to ask. I didn't know to wonder.

My father would have been a good teacher. Everyone asked why he never went into that, it was so obvious and perfect for him. Like my favorite movie back then, Jurassic Park. When I wanted us to watch it a third time he said OK, but let's switch it to Spanish. I learned more Spanish in two hours than I had learned in two years. We already knew what they were saying!

Later he used Jurassic Park to tell me about the monster ICHTA. He said ICHTA is like that dinosaur at the end that gets loose in a neighborhood of houses and eats the little boy's dog. Most of our wrong stories are high electric fences of Jurassic Park, built to keep ICHTA back. Like if a man is found dead in the park at dawn, with no marks on him and his wallet in his pocket and his dog sleeping against him. Everyone talks about it. Everyone is looking for signs and marks and explanations. Was he mugged but not robbed? Was he drunk? Did he take pills and leave a suicide note? Did a dead branch fall on his head? Was he off the public path? Was his heart bad? Did he go where a bad heart should know better?

ME
Speak No Ill of the Dead?

We laughed.

MY FATHER
Why do strangers care? How can they care so much about some guy they never knew?

ME
They're worried it might happen to them.

We laughed.

MY FATHER
I think so. They're worried ICHTA got him. If there's no explanation then it had to be ICHTA.

ME
ICHTA?

MY FATHER
It Could Happen To Anyone.

We laughed.

MY FATHER
They hate that worse than anything. Any explanation is better than that.

I thought a minute. We always quizzed back and forth with these riddle things. He got that from his father. They did it too.

ME
If half what you know about dinosaurs is wrong, how can you tell which half?

MY FATHER
I don't know. I guess you can't.

ME
Don't you have to get back to zero before you can start knowing anything about them?

MY FATHER
I think you're right.

ME
So you know less than zero about dinosaurs?

We laughed.

ME
And you're stuck there, below zero?

MY FATHER
Stuck?

ME
You don't know you need to find out. You think you already know.

We laughed.

MY FATHER
Like a hole you can't dig out of, because you can't see it's a hole?

ME
You can't see out. You think your hole is all there is.

He told me about the man who wrote Jurassic Park, Michael Crichton. He was a doctor, a medical doctor, so he was trained in the science that has advanced the fastest, and pushed back more pain and death for people. But Crichton was warning you. You don't know as much as you think. You don't control as much as you think. You can never know enough, but you can know less than zero trying. You can't explain everything, but you can spread confusion trying. Not every wrong can be put right, but any wrong can be multiplied. You can't defeat all the monsters, but you can become a monster trying.

My father said Jurassic Park was like The Book of Job, where ICHTA is the sea monster Leviathan. What happened to Job could happen to anyone. God said so at the start, but Job's friends can't live with that. Job's friends didn't come to comfort Job, they came to comfort themselves. Like the strangers trying to explain the dead man in the park at dawn. Job's friends are like police who want him to confess to something and say he deserved it. Otherwise it was ICHTA that got him, and ICHTA could come for anyone, you never know who or when or why. They hate not knowing. Nothing is worse.

ME
Like chickens!

MY FATHER
Chickens?

ME
How they peck another chicken to death if it has a sore.

MY FATHER
Yeah? Are they afraid the sore is contagious? It might spread?

ME
Well, everyone pecking at it would be a great way to spread it.

MY FATHER
Yeah, it would.

ME
You give chickens too much credit.

We laughed.

ME
I hear they're just bored. Give them some space. Give them a cabbage or a tin pan to play with.

MY FATHER
If you say so. So chickens can't help us out with this, right?

We laughed.

That would make ICHTA the mother of lies, errors, and wrong stories. When you're afraid, any sort of knowing calms you down. It gives you a feeling of skill and ability and control. Like the guys who built the fences of Jurassic Park, ha! That's why you're in such a hurry to know something. Anything. Wiring. Fabrics. Multiplication tables. Square roots. Paints. Soaps. Kings of England. Presidents. Rocks. Clouds. Dinosaurs. Chickens. Even if you're wrong.

ICHTA is the mother of all monsters. We are, I mean. All the stupid things we do against ICHTA, from fear.

That makes ICHTA the mother of law too. I don't mean law like the speed of light, I mean made-up law like can a retarded person be guilty of first degree murder because of premeditation. We don't really know that, do we? What's pre-meditation anyhow? Where did we get that word? Maybe it's just ether? What's guilt? More ether? A sacrifice you offer to ICHTA, along with a magic drum dance? Assigning blame the way the natives tie up that girl for King Kong, to keep him from breaking out and eating everyone? Like the goat they feed T Rex in Jurassic Park? The goat they tie up and lower over the fence into the jungle?

MY FATHER
What does the God of Job say to all that?

ME
He just laughs?

MY FATHER
Right. "Keep the goat. I don't do deals. Deal with that."

ME
Oooo, that's cold.

We laughed.

MY FATHER
Not comforting, is it? He's with Leviathan on this.

Could what happened to me happen to you? In the BCE years I didn't think so. I didn't think to ask. I didn't know to wonder.

[ $revision: 983 $]