READERS WARNING: TO FULLY UNDERSTAND THIS TALE YOU MUST BE AWARE OF TWO CRITICAL FACTS.  THE EVENTS DEPICTED IN THIS PASSAGE HAPPENED BEFORE THE MAIN PART OF THE STORY AND  THESE EVENTS PLAY A LARGE ROLE IN THIS STORY SO READ IT VERY CAREFULLY, OTHERWISE THE WHOLE TALE WILL SEEM COMPLETELY CONFUSING.
"I'm Geraldo Rivera and this is the Geraldo Show.
Since the recent events of zombies attacking the Vatican and the discovery
of Atlantis one man and his company have come to the attention of the public."
"Grave-Diggers International is a company said to be concerned with the discovery of historical facts and scientific theories. Is this company truly an entity whose goals are to improve the situation in the world or just a cover for a huge scam meant to rip off the planet? Because of the intense public scrutiny I intend to find out exactly what the answer is."
"In the last few weeks I have tried to interview the various members of GDI with little success. Most of them declined to talk to me and in one incident . . . roll the tape . . ."
A video flashed on the studios monitors. It showed a huge man beating up Geraldo with various implements. "I was assaulted by a Mister Ken Sledgehammer, a career criminal who has a record of drug abuse and violence."
RATINGS SHOT UP 20 POINTS
"The owner of this company, the so-called Professor Aaron Graves, has sent me numerous letters threatening me not to push my luck in my investigations and cease harassing his employees. He alluded to sending his gun toting bimbo and questionable psychologist Miss Mercedes Chance to ensure this . . . Obviously Mister Graves is scared of me."
"Before you sits a panel of respected experts in various fields: Doctor Hans Delvich of the Bern Institute of Modern Chemistry, Doctor Anthony Fingerholtz of the U.S. Patent Office, Professor Michael Anderson; Dean of History at U.C.L.A., and Raymond Krueger; a Beverly Hills psychologist."
"Professor Anderson, seeing that Mister Graves is an educator how do you categorize him on an educational standpoint?"
"Well Geraldo, Mister Graves is not what those in my field would call a reliable educator. His course of instruction, Obscure History 101, is not highly regarded by our field. It is generally taken by students looking for an easy social science credit. In reality most institutes of higher learning do not even accept this class for credit towards degrees. His associate Vince Hozler, who is also a professor at U.C.S.D, has taken his archeology class to various dangerous locations, often risking his students lives in the process . . . I'd hate to imagine how these two got their degrees."
"Doctor Krueger, being a respected man in your field and treating over 110 neurotic millionaires weekly, how do you analyze Professor Graves?"
"Well Geraldo, Mister Graves shows many of the standard signs of neurotic schizophrenia; eccentricies, arrogance, and outrageous theories plague his credibility. His grand delusions of omnipotence are carried over to his associates, jeopardizing their lives and ruining their less than impressive careers. His associates are a veritable cornucopia of mental instabilities; a woman who has a deep love for guns, a reputed psychic, a former member of the Hell's Angels who was addicted to LSD for over 11 years, and an inventor who has designed a solar-powered night light. I could retire a millionaire if I could get this group as patients."
"Doctor Fingerholtz, Graves' associates, Doctor Nagasaki Chen and Earnest Itchyfinger have in their association with Graves come up with some truly amazing discoveries; infrared sunglasses, exploding soda pop, and laser pencil sharpeners to name a few. Why doesn't this lend some credibility to Graves' company?"
"Geraldo, Doctor Chen is not one of the most reliable inventors around. In the time before he met Professor Graves he submitted 276,582 inventions to be patented. We could not let a single one of these inventions be approved for registry because the majority of the ideas had been coincidentialy submitted at the same time by military contractors. Others were simply too dangerous to be sold to the public. We at the Patent Office consider Mister Chen a cheap forgery of an inventor and a borderline criminal."
"May I interrupt Geraldo?"
"Certainly Doctor Delvich."
"As for Doctor Itchyfinger . . . His chemicals, many of which are considered deadly, still await over-the-counter release by the FDA. He is presently working on a sugar substitute and a diet soda that tastes good."
"Both of which are impossible."
"Thank you gentlemen . . . Hey! Look where all of the time has gone . . . Be with us on our next show where we'll have Senators who were once transvestite lesbian bikers."
OKAY!!! CUT THE CAMERA!! GERALDO YOU CAN TAKE OFF THE MIKE AND THE HAIR PIECE!!
"Thanks guys for coming on my show . . . just remember gentlemen, I thought that you were who you said you were, not guys I picked up in the studio cafeteria . . . We don't want another fake guest scandal."
"No problem Geraldo, we don't want to ruin your reputation any more than it has been, it wouldn't look good for a former Pulitzer Prize winning journalist."
"Hey! How was I supposed to know that it was Arnold Capone's vault and not Al's. All of the Capone's look the same to me. This time it will be different. I am going to uncover Graves for the charlatan that he is."
When you work with Graves, it's not often that something
extremely weird isn't happening, but when these times do happen, you take
full advantage of it. This happened to be one of those times.
Graves, Mercedes and myself were in Graves' office looking through some
of U.C.S.D.'s old yearbooks. Some of them dated back to its founding,
but others were more current to the times, including Graves' 1980 college
It was a sickening sort of relationship strengthening act that was going on in front of me. Several times throughout this book I may have mentioned the fact that Mercedes has a thing for Aarron. Early on she was keen to keep these feelings hidden. I have a theory on this, and that is for some reason she was afraid that Aarron would spurn her. That's psychiatrists for you. They can spend their time analyzing other people, often helping them, but they have a hard time getting their own lives straight. This is a woman who always carries firearms and basically has nothing to fear from anyone in the world.
Of course now she has stopped the whole masquerade and openly states her feelings for Graves. Fortunately for Aarron and, more importantly, the non-combatants, the Professor has apparently shown the same affection in kind.
So what was going on now was the next step in the whole relationship gig. The two of them were reminiscing over old memories, telling stories of their lives, and in general radiating warm feelings and a sense of hope in the ability of love to conquer all.
As with everything involving the Professor and his associates, nothing is normal. There is no such thing as hope, love, or even feelings in the GDI building, especially in the Professors office. It is for this that I was steadily drinking beer in a vain effort to force my motor nervous system to say "hey, I quit," and sitting in the La-Z-Boy Atomolounger. You know the chair I'm talking about. Remember when President Reagan stated that he had no memory of the Iran-Contra arms for hostages scandal. Let me tell you, he wasn't senile . . . it was the Atomolounger on setting five: Memory loss and possible kidney failure.
Unfortunately for some reason, probably due to the effects of alcohol combined with the calming nature of the chair, I was drawn into the conversation.
I asked Graves to pick out his picture in his yearbook, and he flipped through the pages until he stopped at a picture of a guy with a beard, wearing those round peacenick John Lennon glasses, and flipping the photographer the bird.
I was going to get a few shots in. "Man have you aged terribly, you didn't have those grey streaks in your hair. I do like the little Sigmund Freud beard. It made you look very rouge-like. Too bad you couldn't get that one on your drivers license."
"Are you through Craig?"
He reemphasized that his hate of reporters started early in life. As I paged through the book trying to find more photos of Graves, the Professor started to do something that he rarely does . . . he rambled.
"You see, I was pretty old to be in college, and since I had more than the average students experience in the world I was extremely opinionated. This made me a perfect member of the debate team. At that time, terrorism was just beginning to be a problem, and the current debate circuit revolved around the subject. I based my statements on what history had taught us on the subject."
Mercedes interrupted, "That's where I first ran into Aarron. I was a student at USC San Diego working on my masters and was on their debate team. I was basing my arguments on the psychological side of terrorism. Graves and me really went at it at those meetings. I wasn't even into guns back then so I used my mind to solve problems. I was very good."
Graves looked at the ceiling then continued, "Anyway, I told Mercedes that there could be terrorists in our college at that very moment. Funny, because not a day later, a group of pro-Iranian terrorists kidnapped her. It's a long story, but needless to say, I rescued her."
"Yes, and you nearly got me killed in the process."
"Hey, that's not fair, I had to choose between agreeing to their demands for the resignation of the president from his office, or you. Besides, there were no lasting scars from the ordeal."
"Some things never change Aarron."
Even though I had been paying attention to the two, (and for the first time understood what they were saying) I had continued going through the yearbooks. I had noticed a lot of scribbling's that remarkably resembled Graves' handwriting. I asked Graves if he knew what they were.
"Of course I do, those were notes from my thesis paper."
"In the 1934 U.C.S.D. yearbook?"
"Why of course Benson, that was the whole basis of my paper."
"What, was it on time travel?"
"No. My paper was on the theory that all things come back into fashion. At first glance, the subject didn't look too original, I mean thousands of history majors have done papers on history repeating itself in the form of wars and the like, so I had to come up with something different. You see, looking through these books was the spark that sent my mind ticking. Take a look at the 1961 book, and then the 1980 book . . . you'll notice that the men in the pictures happen to be wearing the same sunglasses."
I did as he said and he was right, but I didn't get the point. "So that was what your paper was about? Sunglasses?"
"No Benson. It was my hypothesis that the Bible was written by surfers. You see, religion is the bane of historians and true thinkers. So many things have been lost in the name of religion. Spanish missionaries systematically destroyed Mayan books, many said to contain references to extraterrestrial visitors. In the fifth century A.D. Christian fanatics destroyed the Imperial Library of Constantinople, obliterating over a hundred thousand books including one-of-a-kind manuscripts by Virgil and Cicero."
"To quote this "good book" to protest or condone anything is both hypocritical and stupid. Of course we can't overlook some of the good the proponents of this book have done; like the Crusades or the Spanish Inquisition. Let's not forget that it was in this book's name that massacres of the natives of Central America and American Indians were condoned. Even today advocates of this "good book" continue to kill each other in Northern Ireland because their beliefs don't agree. Don't forget that among those who espouse moralistic values from the Bible include larcenous televangilists, racist preachers and child molesting priests."
Turning a page, "Any rational and civilized human wouldn't use flawed data as the foundation for an argument and if both sides of the can quote this "good book" to defend their positions then it is flawed."
Graves paused to flip to page 45 of the 1966 yearbook and read from the chicken scratch in the margins. "But religion can't be truly blamed, these people are only doing what they have been told by their so-called leaders. The blame lies in those who have rewritten their holy text to fit what they believed to be right. You see, knowledge allows people to think freely and make their own decisions. The church didn't like that because when people began to question ideas, the truth of religious teaching is questioned. Back in those days, being a religious man was where the money was and just like any other job, you don't want to get laid off. When the people were kept stupid, the church was in control. What if the holy text of God had been written by surfers. Some of the more boring sections of it would certainly not be there."
I was pretty skeptical, not only by the fact of what Graves had said, but by the fear that a bolt of lightning would hit me for being associated with Graves. "So what you are saying is you don't believe in God or the Bible."
"Oh I'm not saying that the Bible is bad, it is probably one of the best pieces of fiction ever written, and I can quote it chapter and verse, but fiction is all it is. If God is real then how come he allows people to kill each other? How come he allows his "children" to starve. If God is real, I don't think he is as nice a guy as everyone thinks he is. I mean think about it, he lets his only son be pinned to a cross and he just stands by and lets it happen. Sorry, I would have blown the entire Roman empire to atoms if I had been him. It's not rational to think that he wouldn't either. It says that he created us in his image, well if he did then how come we have these thoughts. If he doesn't then neither should we and vice versa."
"But the Bible says he will not intervene in the affairs of man. Maybe God just has more self-control than you and knows that in the end the death of his son is better than the death of millions."
"That is a load of crap Benson, the Bible itself quotes many incidents in which he did exactly that. The great flood to kill off all of the sinners is a good example. Adam and that chick getting kicked out of Eden is another. Then look at the apocalypse stuff in Revelations. God is going to come down and take up all of the good dudes and leave the rest. He won't step in my left testicle. I don't buy it, and I never will. When you die, you're dead. No spirit rising to a higher plane, no angels with harps . . . just worm food. But then again, we are not here to argue theology, nobody, not even I can win an argument about religion, and I find that really annoying . . . it is to opinionated a subject with no hard facts to back up any points made by either side. This is what I mean by well written fiction. It is so good that science can't disprove it but it flaws itself by being unable to defend its own statements."
I had to admit that he was right so I turned Graves back to the subject of his thesis paper.
The Professor scanned through the 1972 book and stopped at the freshmen. "In the beginning there was no light . . . then God found the switch. It took God six days to create the Earth and in those six days he created the seas, the sun, and the surf. Oh by the way he created man out of dirt, and the waves were awesome. On the seventh day God threw a kegger and took it easy, that's why Sunday is a holiday and everybody barbecues and gets trashed except in the south which is a statement of their true disregard for the Bible's teachings. What made the whole thing really cool was that he only created one man, and this man's name was Les. Les had an awesome time because there was nobody else on the beach trying to shoulder hop his waves."
Graves stopped to flip to the sophomores, "But after a while Les discovered that he needed someone to impress on the beach. Seeing his desire God created Lisa out of a rib that Les had broken when he got barreled on some coral. Lisa was quite a buffed babe, but she was also a natural blonde so she was also quite stupid. You see, there was this snake who talked and he kept telling Lisa to eat the apples that God had said not to eat. Les told her not to because the med fly infestation was really bad that year, but she did it anyway . . . stupid chick."
Graves looked at me and asked if I knew Geraldo Rivera. I told him no, that no respectable journalist would be caught near him, not even me. This seemed to satisfy him, but left a hollow feeling in my stomach. Whenever Graves asks you a question and is satisfied with your answer, stand by . . . something is wrong and you are likely to suffer because of it. But since I am not psychic, I resumed listening to Graves.
"Well you see, this apple gave her a view of sin, and then Les ate it because even then peer pressure was pretty bad. The first thing that the two noticed was their embarrassment over being naked. It was more embarrassing for Les than for Lisa because when you're pitching a tent, it's difficult to hide it even with a blanket. Since there were no shopping malls yet, they covered themselves with leaves . . . Are you sure you don't know Geraldo Rivera?"
"No! Why?" Damn, I shouldn't have said that.
"I just wondered, because at this very moment he happens to be dangling outside my window on a rope with a tape recorder in his hand."
I started laughing because to me the statement was completely funny. Nobody would be stupid enough to be dangling on a rope, 13 stories in the air trying to get an interview with Graves. Of course when I completed my thought I realized that Geraldo would be stupid enough to attempt it. It was then that I turned around to see Geraldo Rivera dangling on a rope with a very agitated look on his face.
I learned to read lips in college (part of a unique liberal arts program that can only be found in California) and figured out that Geraldo was saying, "Mister Graves, you can't avoid the press forever! Sooner or later myself and the public will learn of your schemes . . . Woah! Hey be careful with that rope!"
Apparently Graves could read lips too because he said, "That's Professor Graves."
Now I have pointed out at various points in these tales that Graves hates reporters. Geraldo Rivera is number three on his list of reporters that he would like to kill when they make it legal. I myself had little respect for the tabloid journalist. It gave me great pleasure to see him holding dearly to his life.
I looked at Graves and though he'll never say it publicly, I saw the slightest smile creep onto his face. Geraldo was going to die and I had no problem with facing that fact. This is why I was surprised when Graves told me to open the window and let him in.
I did as the Professor said because I was anxious about what he was going to do to him. I imagined him having Mercedes break each of his fingers individually, or him shaving off Geraldo's mustache with a dull butter knife. Yes I'll admit it, even after our little talk about the Bible I had evil thoughts.
After the reporter was safely in the room, Graves addressed Geraldo. "What does a once respected Pulitzer Prize winning journalist turned cheap scandal sheet talk show host like you want?"
Geraldo straitened his fashionable wardrobe and answered Graves question with about the same arrogance as it was asked. "Mister Graves, I am here to get the real story on you and your company, you are no scientist."
Graves corrected him by telling him that it was Professor Graves then looked funny at me and said, "Did you two go to school together?"
He didn't wait for an answer from me. Instead he went through the same brief lecture that I had to endure on the student/mentor theory. Geraldo seemed sincerely interested in Graves' lesson, but when the Professor finished, the man shoved a tape recorder into his face and said, "Yes, that's all well and good but do you think that the public really buys your crack-pot theories. I mean you honestly can't expect anyone to take seriously your idea that the monoliths of Stonehenge were just a huge joke by the Druids?"
"Why not Mister Rivera, you went looking for Al Capone's vault and people still watch your show. I seek the answers to the questions that have plagued mankind for centuries. Just because they don't seem believable doesn't make them incorrect . . . it would lend more credibility to them because nobody would have thought of them. These are mysteries and since science can't come up with an explanation, conventional thinking must be bypassed."
"Show me some proof then Professor Graves. I can't just go on the air to 20 million viewers and say that you know everything, it would ruin my career."
"Actually you could do exactly that, and by the way I think your viewer estimates and career gauge are a little overinflated."
"Oh! Are you going to have your gun-toting, fashion model thug force me into doing it?"
Mercedes didn't take to being called a thug and conveniently made Geraldo aware of the fact that she had a large caliber revolver in her compact. It was strange, I would have figured that by then Graves would have thrown the reporter out of the window, or at least broken his nose with a chair.
"You seek proof Mister Rivera, then answer me these questions. How did the dinosaurs become extinct? What happens to that one sock that you lose in the dryer? How come McDonalds french fries taste better than the ones you make at home? And what exactly is feminine deodorant spray?"
"How should I know?"
"Precisely Mister Rivera, how should you know. Science doesn't but I do.  The Earth's gravity was quadrupled due to a freak lunar shift that only occurs every 20 billion years, and the resulting force of nature crushed the dinosaurs because their size was to great to withstand it.  When you press the start button on the dryer, a dimensional portal opens up inside. Since the inhabitants of the alternate dimension have no knowledge of sock making they steal them. The reason they only take one is due to the fact that their language consists of binary numbers.  Unlike McDonalds, your home is not always a good time, great taste place to eat. Since the harmony of cooking is disturbed by this the taste of the fries is diminished."
For the first time in history, Geraldo had nothing to say. He was completely dumbfounded by Graves' answers. In reality, I was a little stunned by the professors revelations (although I figured that was the reason I always lost a damn tube sock).
Unfortunately this didn't last long.
"These theories might just be lucky guesses, or even the creation of a writer of fiction who just wants to get some of his pet peeves off of his chest."
HA! No way.
"And what about the allegations against you and your associates? What about having an ex-drug addict in your employ? How is it that you are allowed to continue teaching your course of instruction at U.C.S.D.. What of Mister Chen's problems with the U.S. Patent Office?
That was when Graves started to look disturbed. I say disturbed in that he balled up his fist which is something he never does (that is what Sledgehammer is for). He took off his glasses and verbally opened fire on the reporter. "Doctor Chen has asked me to pose this question to you. How is it that there was this sudden jump of technology in fields that companies had been working on for over 20 years only months after his patents were disapproved? On the subject of Mister Sledgehammer, the key word in your question is ex . . . He quit. You should pose the same question to professional athletes or politicians. As for myself, I have tenure."
Geraldo didn't flinch after the stern rebuttal which led me to think that man was either truly brave or truly senseless. "You are not God Mister Graves you do not know everything! Just because you have an opinion doesn't make it right, we have to have proof."
The Professor stood up and picked up a notebook that had a pile of papers stuffed in it. Handing it to the TV star he said, "Then Mister Rivera, if you question my knowledge I suggest that you take this and study it. It will explain the answers to all of your questions. But no matter what you do with it, never, ever come within 20 miles of me or any of my associates. I am a rational man, I have to be to shoulder the burden of the worlds problems, but every man has his limitations. A man has to know what his limitations are and with you I have reached mine."
Rivera was escorted out of the building by Mercedes, though there was not much problem in doing so because a casual waving of weaponry convinced even Geraldo that it was time to go.
When everything had calmed down I asked Graves what was in the folder. He proceeded to tell me that it was his term paper, and that it would keep the journalist confused for at least five years trying to decipher the hidden message that it held. He added that it might even put him in a coma. At that moment I wished that I had been able to see the paper, but now that I have more wisdom in the ways of the world, I am too scared to see it.
"Only one question," I said to Graves, "What is feminine deodorant spray?"
Graves was going to tell me, but that was when Itchyfinger came in and told us about . . . .
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