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Keith Whitener was a great man. He was also powerfully good looking. If the world were in as good a shape as Keith's face, there would be no poverty or strife. Keith acted as though he thought he was constantly being filmed for television, which would mean that the introduction of his son was a ploy to boost ratings. How he got a son was unclear to Keith. It was illogical, even, for Keith to have an eight year old son at the age of twenty-two.

In his autobiography, titled The Ramifications of my Influence, Keith called his relationship with his son, who he named Party, "Fun." The book described Keith as an Italian seafarer that convinced the Spanish royalty to finance a westward trip to the Indies. It was later revealed that the book itself was a 1980s biography of Columbus whose cover Keith replaced with one of his own design in an attempt to backup his claim that it was he that discovered America.

Nonetheless, Keith did a fine job of raising Party, and anyone who disagreed was promptly dismissed by Keith, whose argument was, "Who better than a man with the mind of a child to raise a child?" There were many naysayers, however. They'd say, "Take for example the incident with the bully."

At the age of eight, Party was being harassed by an elephant of a boy that would antagonize him every chance he got. Unsure of what to do, Party consulted the filmography of Paul Newman. Should he kick his nemesis in the groin, stage an elaborate subterfuge, or receive an intense beating? Party went with the latter, the result of which was nine days of suspension for the bully and the nickname Peesinpants for how he reacted when his father found out.

Then there was the assignment in the fourth grade where each student had to bring in song lyrics and recite them in front of the class. Party choose 4st 7lb by the Manic Street Preachers. He got to the line, "I wanna be so skinny that I rot from view," before the teacher cut him off and requested to speak to him outside the classroom. There were many such chat sessions with Party, but he was not always so independent. During elementary school, Party once came home and presented Keith with a quandary.

"Keith, the other kids told me I'm not cool because I don't know about the music that they play on the radio."

"You just tell them that you don't need advice on how to be cool from nine year olds," Keith instructed, "Come on now. Nine year olds think that all it takes to be cool is to wear baggy pants, own a skateboard, and to buy whatever it is the DJ tells them to." Party, however, wore sweat pants all through elementary school and would go running with Keith in the evening, making a point to hold his hand as the sky turned from crimson to blue above them, which Keith insisted would be a funny visual.

It was Party's habitual exercising that earned him the distinction of being the first pick for each game of Manhunt, which was an ingenious combination of hide and go seek and trespassing. Most parents did not condone the game, claiming that one could be arrested by participating or shot in the face by a frightened homeowner. Keith, however, supplied Party with a black jogging suit.

There was one incident, however, where Keith did not approve of Party's behavior. Keith, excited to learn about a forthcoming concert, asked Party if he would like to join him. Party declined, claiming that he would rather see the show with his friends than with his father.

"You ungrateful puke," Keith retorted. "If it weren't for me you'd think that Thin Lizzy was some girl and that all Can is good for is holding your soda." Keith usually went running in the evenings, but his displeasure with Party forced him to go at three in the afternoon, which meant that he'd have to contend with children walking home from school. Keith was puzzled by the appearance of two youths; one looked like a girl and the other may or may not have been one. They were dressed like Gary Oldman in Sid and Nancy, which was weird because they couldn't have been older than eleven. At that age, the only kids Keith remembered liking music were a boy that brought in Metallica's Master of Puppets and girls liking The Spice Girls and Hanson. Keith's own musical experience at that time was limited to The Beatles. He acutely remembered The Beatles' Hello Goodbye making him sad because he thought that The Beatles were saying bye to him.

A lot of the parents were overweight, and some were even obese. Keith contemplated their ages, possibly mid to late thirties. Keith wondered if the parents, fifteen years ago, envisioned their future selves picking up their kids in a minivan. Such an act, to Keith, seemed more like selling out than a band letting their songs get used for a commercial. He couldn't fathom a young person wanting to grow up to be overweight, work from nine to five, and have a mortgage.

At that moment, a boy in a Fear Factory hoodie passed Keith, which was ridiculous since he had to be in the sixth grade. Keith couldn't imagine the boy sitting at home listening to Ministry or Coil in his footie pajamas. It wasn't even worth contemplating. Neither was the event that had just transpired with Party, Keith decided. Party, like all young people, was a fool. Furthermore, most people, Keith included, never outgrew their foolishness.

Party, however, would dwell on the incident long after Keith dismissed it as youthful capriciousness. Even in the future, when Party had more important things to do, like flee from terrible creatures, he still regretted disappointing his father. But, oh, what horrific mutants plagued humanity in the year 2065. Giant moths with tentacles, cubes with jaws and legs on all sides of their body, robotic spiders with flame throwers, pigs with shotguns, and heads that just floated about and spat fireballs. Heads! Do you know how intimidating a free-floating head is? Humanity rued the day it refused to pay Dr. Destructo's ransom, just as he said they would.

The situation was especially hard for senior citizens, like Party. So, when he was offered the opportunity to seek asylum in the past, Party agreed. He was sent to 2005 with enough money to finance a ten-year stay at a high-class retirement home, which was more than enough considering his life expectancy. Party's life was immediately simpler. No longer having to deal with deadly creatures, Party confronted deadly boredom. When one visits the past from the future, one realizes that all the past has to offer is a rerun. Party had already seen all of the TV shows, read all of the books, and learned that the elderly are envious of those that are free of ailments. Shunned by the community, Party decided to seek out the only person who he deemed a worthy companion: Keith Whitener.

How Keith would respond to such a visitor Party didn't know. Party also failed to take into consideration that he didn't remember Keith's exact address. He knew the neighborhood, but not the house number. An old man wandering through the streets would seem rather odd, even more so if he was rooting through mailboxes, which was how the police found Party. Knowing that if he told the truth he'd appear crazy, Party produced a seemingly normal explanation: he liked the design of the mailbox and wanted to see how much material it could hold. Such an answer would usually suffice, but not in the zero tolerance post 9/11 America. The treatment that awaited Party was far worse than the future he escaped.

Party was unaware of his future self's actions. He was too busy preparing for a sleepover to be bothered with such nonsense. Keith drove Party to his friend's house. "Call me if you need anything," he told Party.

"What would I need?"

"A ride home." Keith smiled and walked toward the car.

Inside, Party observed an unwatched television playing an episode of Access Hollywood.

"Your parents care about celebrities?" The friend claimed he didn't know. Party suspected foreshadowing and became apprehensive.

"May I use your restroom?" Party was directed down the hall and to the left. Once inside the restroom, Party was immediately surprised by the presence of a bookshelf laden with reading materials. "How much time do they spend in here?" Party wondered, "Do they come here when they don't have to?"

"Someone's in here," Party said, but then he realized that the entire back wall of the bathroom was a mirror, which made him a bit uneasy. Party was further discomforted by the absence of both ventilation and a lock on the door. "I gotta go," Party announced and left the house.
At the same time, Keith was investigating a knock at his door.

"Who is it?" Keith asked.

"Your brother."

"I don't have a brother."

"I'm adopted."

"Why do you sound like a robot, then?"

"Better a robot than a monster."

"A robot is a type of monster." Silence.

"Well, I'm going to open the door, but, just in case you are a robot, this sentence is false."* Keith discovered a pile of metal parts on his stoop. Kids got their jollies in the strangest ways, which was why Keith despised Halloween. He could opt out of celebrating Christmas or Thanksgiving, but choosing to not give out candy seemed to merit a house egging. Sure, he could chase the kids that did it and even catch one of them, but hitting was not allowed. And when Keith escorted the boy home, his father didn't even seem to care.

"Your piece of shit son egged my house," Keith explained. After a short exchange, a scuffle began. It was the sort of struggle where both parties look like their hugging each other, but really it's an intense battle. The overweight father of three was no match for the sprightly Keith Whitener, who subdued his foe, forced him to the ground, and then tickled him, which was very humiliating.

"Look what you've done," said Keith, "Seeing you like this will emotionally cripple your son."

Such shenanigans continued for another year, at which point Party graduated from high school and went off to pursue his ambitions, a development that puzzled the twenty-four year old Keith




to kill a mocking keith


ben kharakh