Monday, May 21, 2018

Getting Dicked

It's been a good year for Eryk Pruitt. His novel What We Reckon is nominated for an Anthony Award, his first two books, Dirtbags and Hashtag are back in print and his first collection of short fiction, Townies, will be available later this year from Polis Books. Plus the investigation into the 1971 Valentines Day murder of a North Carolina couple that he helped re-open and work on is quickly reaching a possible resolution and his true crime podcast documenting that story, The Long Dance, will (hopefully) be released this summer.

Never mind the accolades and lesser accomplishments though, as far as I'm concerned, outmaneuvering the Chene-gang on a quest to get a copy of D*CKED signed by the Haliburton Hawk hisself is some heroic shit deserving Homeric retellings.

Here's his account...

Recently I flew to my hometown of Dallas, Texas, so that I could attend the George W. Bush Leadership Forum being held at the George W. Bush Institute on the SMU campus. Mind you, I’ve never fancied myself a fan of Mr. Bush, but I chose to attend for two solid reasons: First, the Bush family posthumously honored my mother, Jan Pruitt, with the first Trailblazer Citation Award for her lifelong fight against hunger as head of the North Texas Food Bank. Second, I wanted Dick Cheney to autograph my copy of D*CKED: Dark Fiction Inspired by Dick Cheney.

Going into it, I knew this would be no easy task. For one, security at the GWB Institute was pretty tight, on account of W’s constant presence. Despite the recent passing of his mother, he attended every meal, forum, panel, and lecture, and could often be seen walking the halls and shaking hands. Every entrance was manned by secret service personnel and metal detectors. Knowing contraband such as D*CKED might bar my entry, I was left with only one option. I won’t go into detail how I smuggled the book into the event, but let’s just say my dedication knows no bounds.

Also, Cheney was known for being particularly persnickety. The event had to be rescheduled three times, due to Cheney’s avoidance of a full moon. The menu had been altered so that no garlic could be served in his presence. A recent rash of children at local orphanages had gone missing, which could only mean that his arrival was imminent.

After a private audience with W and Mrs. Bush, my family and I took our assigned seats in the middle of the ballroom. No expense had been spared and, although I felt somewhat guilty enjoying such opulence, I remembered that summer when gasoline was over four dollars per gallon and reckoned I’d already paid my fair share. While it was overwhelming to be eating dinner in attendance with folks like pop singer turned activist Bono, or Karl Rove, Condi Rice, the Bush family, and dozens of other whos-its, I was only there for the former Vice President and his chair still remained empty by the time we took our seats.

However, no sooner had the first course—lobster salad—been served, than did the security staff erupt in immediate frenzy. They rushed from every corner to cover mirrors and reflective surfaces with table linens. The fiddle player quit her upbeat rendition of Where the Streets Have No Names and eschewed it for a slow, meandering dirge. Condi wept.

Dick Cheney had arrived.

He did not enter through a door, but rather with great cacophony, through a window. His tuxedo in tatters and freshly sprayed with broken branches, leaves, straw, and other detritus from the forest floor. His lips smacked of grease and blood, still fresh from a recent kill, and it took four Presidential handlers to wrest him to the floor so that he might be cleaned for dinner.

Heckuva entrance, Dick!” called the former President.

As luck would have it, Cheney's keepers positioned him to a table directly over my shoulder. I could hardly focus on my entrée of Herb-Crusted Lamb Loin. I fidgeted the entire time Laura Bush presented my mother's award to my sister, Natalie. I could barely contain myself throughout the hour long discussion between Bono and President Bush. Finally, when the festivities drew to a close, I made my move. I removed my copy of D*CKED from its hiding place and approached the man at his table.

"Mr. Cheney," I said with a shaking voice, "would you please autograph my—"

Then, it happened. One of the table linens fell from yonder mirror and Cheney caught sight of his own reflection. At first, it seemed as if little incident would pass. He considered it with only a glance. However, once his eyes fixed on his own visage, he let fly a terrible howl. Across the ballroom, wine glasses shattered. China splintered. Cheney leapt atop his table then to the President's table next to him. Before the Secret Service could make their move, he'd jumped to the next table, then the next, until finally, in a mad clamor, Cheney quit the room.

The silence that followed could have swallowed us all whole, but I was not to suffer it long. I was thrown to the ground immediately by security and whisked from the room. Whatever happened to my copy of D*CKED, I may never know.

Fortunate for us all, I was quickly forgiven. In this particular circle, Cheney was known to overact. Besides, my mother's memory had been so revered that evening, I had been given a pass. (Thanks again, Mom) My dad led me from the ballroom by the ear and, once safely inside the Uber, proceeded to lecture me just as he did when I was a child.

But the entire evening would not all suffer a loss.

For, once I reached inside the pocket of my tuxedo, I found quite the surprise:

Keep up with Eryk at his website and read his books. And buy D*CKED while you're at it.

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