“Eddie, who’s Carson Colt?” They were Seated at the dinner table, and he was eating his salad and reading a book on his iPad. She had come to sit with him while the kids played in the TV room. He’d recognized she was agitated when he arrived home; she has tried to smile, but her face fell. Mercy was the most expressive person in the world, and would have been a terrible poker player.
His throat tightened. “I don’t know, honey, is he that guy on UBIK? He’s got some catch phrase like “nobody fucks with Carson Colt?”
It was unusual for Mercy to be aware of Internet culture like this. She didn’t have an UBIK account. UBIK was short texts and pictures, “micro-blogging.” She and her friends used Karass, only. They talked to each other and their mothers and posted pictures of their kids and nails.
“Yeah, I think that’s the one. I went to his website today, and it’s full of porn.”
“OK.” Eddie tried to be as noncommittal as possible. Mercy was 100%, diehard Urizenite. They believed that sex should be saved until marriage. It should be between one man and one woman, and porn and erotica were degrading to women and God.
“Eddie, I know you’re Carson Colt. Sheena opened your laptop for her schoolwork, and all this stuff popped up. And I started to read his stories and those are our stories. You put our stories on the internet. I’ve been with you for all these years and then I see stuff and I don’t know what to do with it. There’s been … interactions that you’ve had outside of the marriage that I didn’t really know about. And there’s there’s pornography on there, there’s a lot of pornography! And I just don’t know what I’m supposed to do with that! I feel like my heart hurts. There’s a heaviness on me. I woke up this morning and I was shaking, and I think maybe I’m sick. I’ve never felt like this before. I don’t know what’s happening. It’s like the carpet has been pulled out from beneath my feet. It’s like I just keep finding things like this in our marriage.”
Eddie inhaled and pursed his lips. He’d been writing his pseudonymous blog for more than a year, talking about what he‘d seen in the Caledonian empire, his sexual fantasies, his ideas about art and culture. He’d stuffed every angry or crazy thought he’d had into that blog. All around the word, the weird and wild and horny people read his words, and they loved it. Chester Camullus had been so irritated by Colt that he was using his own UBIK account to address Colt daily. This only added to his notoriety. By day, he was a put upon physician in the wards, but by night, he was the voice of freedom and truth, of the resistance. This blog was his slim connection to the artist he’d once wanted to be.
“OK, you’re right. I should have been more forthcoming about my writing. But I did share my writing with you. I told you I was writing about sex. You liked those stories. I was waiting for you to take an interest and ask about the rest of my writing, and I was going to show you the site. But my writing is important. I connect with people who are feeling something they can’t articulate. I help them understand things that frustrate them. I help them remember the good parts of themselves when they’re feeling broken down and useless. Yes, there’s a lot of naked women doing sex stuff. Everyone wants to be seen. Everyone wants to be regarded and valued. Everyone wants to be attractive.”
Mercy’s face was quivering. “Everything I saw is so crude and crass and I think it’s beneath you. All I can think about is you getting off to all these other women. Am I not enough for you? I’m so disgusted. Do you want out of this marriage? Do you want me and the kids to go away? So you can be with your computer and your blog, tell your stories and talk to those women?”
Eddie felt his pulse quickening, but he pressed onward. “I want you and the kids here. You guys are the most important and most real part of my life. I don’t want to lose you. I just want you to know me better. And that’s all. I don’t want to keep things from you. You don’t think I know how to hide my tracks on the internet? I wanted you to find my website. There’s so much in my head and in my heart. I mean, how many of your friends get typed out and organized narratives of their husband’s inner thoughts and life. Wouldn’t you want that from somebody that you love? I have a right to my own thoughts. I have a right to my own life and I have a right to express myself. And you don’t get to take this away from me.”
Mercy turned her face away; a tear trickled down her cheek. “I’m just frightened, OK? I don’t want see you get hurt. “Eddie, those posts are dangerous! You’re talking about fomenting resistance against the government. You’re making fun of the president and his cabinet. It’s not safe. That’s the kind of thing that will get you in trouble, and you’re bringing all the stuff into our kid’s lives! Don’t you think it’s wrong? Don’t you think it’s evil? You’ve gotten addicted to pornography and sex!”
Eddie felt his poise slip. “I’m trying to give you and our kids a safe and happy life. I ask nothing of you. All I want is just to be able to tell my stories and talk to people and I don’t think that’s so fucking abominable. You will not make me ashamed of this. This is something beautiful that touches people and connects with them in a way that they need. I am doing something good with my talents, and if I don’t tell stories, that same voice devours me every day with anxiety. I went to hell for you. I get tortured every fucking day for the comfort that you find so oppressive. I’m sorry you find my voice so threatening, but you don’t fucking own me.”
Mercy stood up from the table, crying, furious. She began to say, “you listen to me.”
Eddie stood up. “No, goddamnit, you listen to me!” He slammed his fist down on the table and his fork propelled his dish onto the floor. He stood up and her face changed from anger to terror and she started crying and backing up, opening the door to the patio and running out, crying, “get away from me.” She didn’t have any shoes on.
He bellowed, “get the fuck out of my house!” He sat down and put his head in his hands. He heard the ringing in his ears.
He heard his son crying in the next room. Tommy was lying on the couch, his face down. “Where is mommy going?”
“She went for a walk, Tommy. I’m not sure where she is.”