In June I began writing a new original story every two weeks and posting them to this website. Much to my surprise, one of those stories, Second Choice, spawned a second story, then a third, then a fourth and so on until it became clear to me that this was actually one novel length story coming out of me in installments. This was all fun and good but now that seven months have gone by since the first story it has become clear that a brief refresher course is needed for me and many of my readers. Therefore, leading up to the publication on this site of Part 7 on March 6th I will be interviewing a number of characters from this work here on my blog.
(In a sparsely furnished room the interviewer sits across from Kyokutei. Kyo is dressed in a cheap lime-green suit that that doesn’t fit very well and doesn’t seem very comfortable. His face is suggestive of Asian descent and he has high cheek bones and thick dark eyebrows as well as tufts of hair sprouting from his chin. There is a wavering quality to him, as if he is more than one thing at once. At times he appears as a ratty imp, at other times he looks like a great lord or powerful leader from another era who has woken up in the body of a used car salesman, and who has continued on in that role, partly out of curiosity and partly out of an inability to figure out how to get back to his old life.)
Joseph Devon: Kyokutei, I’d like to welcome you.
Kyokutei: Thank you, Mr. Devon.
JD: Now, we’ve been chatting with testers all this week…but (pausing to choose his words carefully) you’re not quite like them, are you?
K: I prefer direct questions.
JD: What are you?
K: I don’t exactly know.
JD: So you are different in some way from the testers I’ve been talking with?
K: That much is certain.
JD: Now (looking through his notes) Epp once stated that you have never once pushed, and that you made a conscious decision to live that way once you came to know the tester’s world.
K: Epp likes to see the best in people. I’m not sure I would have phrased it that way, but, yes, I have never pushed out of choice.
JD: Okay. Right, but, we’ve also heard from any number of people that testers who don’t push will slowly decay, or I think the word “rot” was used as well.
JD: You’re not rotting. You just don’t have an abundance of…energy, I guess I would say?
K: I shop at thrift stores, yes.
JD: Right, but you don’t rot.
JD: (Clearly wanting Kyo to take the initiative and begin talking on his own) So how does that work?
K: How does what work?
JD: How is it that a member of Epp’s world is able to never once test a human and yet not become a rotted permanent visitor in a graveyard?
K: I’m different.
JD: Yes, but how are you different.
K: Why does it matter?
JD: I’m curious. We’re all curious. How are you different?
K: Well, it’s like this. I’m different in that I’m not the same as the other testers.
JD: (Pausing for a split-moment before realizing that Kyo hasn’t actually answered anything) You don’t want to talk about this, do you?
K: Not very much, no.
JD: So how am I supposed to let my readers get to the bottom of Kyo?
K: You’ve got a two-thousand year old Roman slave who can toss people to the far side of Mercury and I’m the point of interest?
JD: Epp answered all of my questions. You haven’t.
K: You wouldn’t understand my time, you wouldn’t understand my culture, you wouldn’t understand my life.
JD: How do you know what I’d…never mind. (Shuffling quickly through more of his notes) Would you describe your relationship with Epp as a friendly one?
K: I would, yes.
JD: Even though you’re out to destroy him.
K: (Shaking his head) Everyone phrases it like that. I like Epp. Epp has a unique problem that most people can’t understand, he has no method of measuring himself. Other testers? They can try to do what Epp has done. Epp? He has nothing like that. There was a period of time a few centuries back when he came to believe that he was slipping as a tester. He was focusing on the wrong things, like putting together the Council. He asked me if I would figure out ways to challenge him. That way, he could be sure he still was on track and wasn’t simply believing his own, I guess you could say his own hype.
JD: Now, the Council-
K: Was a complete disaster from top to bottom. There was no need for it, but Epp thought it would be nice if there was a central, how would I put this, location, I suppose, or base of operations. I believe his idea was simply to allow testers to congregate and share ideas. Maybe set up some systems to facilitate the training of new testers or to answer questions. I think that was what he had in mind, but with Epp it is hard to be sure. I do know that the end result was more formal than he was looking for. It became a governing body of sorts, for those without bodies. Silly, in my mind, but some people went for it in a big way. And they jumped all over Gregor. Starved him out. Then it basically imploded. Now the Council is probably closer to what Epp envisioned, but it’s very lackluster. Not a lot of real power.
K: Not particularly.
JD: And you helped the Council to prosecute Epp recently for Bartleby’s disappearance?
K: Correct. Not my finest work.
JD: Because you turned on Epp like that?
K: No, because it was an ornamental gesture with no real backing. I felt like a paper tiger up there. But I hadn’t thrown anything new at Epp recently so I went along when Gregor wanted to put him on trial. There’s not a lot they were going to be able to do. After the Council punished Gregor all those years ago most testers finally got it through their skulls that it was just too much damned work to uphold a punishment like that. I mean, they starved Gregor out. They had gobs of people following him around, making sure that he was never able to push, and they did it for decades. Truly idiotic. Was never going to stick. And, as I said, after that the Council just became more of an informal club. But Gregor wanted to put Epp on trial and, as I said, I didn’t have anything better to do.
JD: I see.
K: Do you?
JD: I think we’re going to end this now. We’ll just work through the questionnaire created by Bernard Pivot and used by James Lipton from “Inside the Actors Studio.” You ready?
K: Are you?
JD: What is your favorite word?
JD: What is your least favorite word?
JD: What turns you on creatively, spiritually, or emotionally?
K: Very little.
JD: And what turns you off creatively, spiritually or emotionally?
K: I’m not a big fan of being given too much instruction.
JD: What sound or noise do you love?
K: Footfalls crunching in the snow.
JD: What sound or noise do you hate?
K: Fax machines.
JD: What is your favorite curse word?
K: Go fuck yourself.
JD: What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
K: A monk studying Zen Buddhism.
JD: What profession would you not like to do?
K: Government work.
JD: If heaven exists, what would you like to hear god say when you arrive at the pearly gates?
K: We serve rice wine.
JD: Okay, we’re done.