Жанр книги: Научная Фантастика
Robert A Heinlein To Sail Beyond The Sunset

‘Who rubbed my lamp? What'll you have, Ish? '

‘Ask Justin for a print-out in English of the memoirs he prepared on the Senior, will you, please? '

‘No need to ask Justin; I've got ‘em in my gizzard. You want them bound or scrolled? '

‘Bound, I think. But, Teena, let Justin fetch them here; he will be delighted and honoured. '

‘Who wouldn't? Mama Maureen, are they treating you right? If they don't, just tell me, ‘cause I do all the work around here. '

After a while a man came in who reminded me disturbingly of Arthur Simmons. But it was just a general resemblance combined with a similar personality; in 1982 Justin Foote would have been a CPA, as Arthur Simmons had been. Justin Foote was carrying a briefcase. ("Plus ça change, plus c'est ta même chose. ") There was a degree of awkwardness as Ishtar introduced him; he seemed about to fall over his own feet from excitement at meeting me.

I took his hand ‘My first great-great-granddaughter, Nancy Jane Hardy, married a boy named Charlie Foote. That was about 1972, I think; I went to her wedding. Is Charlie Foote any relation to you? '

‘He is my ancestor, Mother Maureen. Nancy Jane Hardy Foote gave birth to Justin Foote the First on New Millenium Eve, 31 December, year 2000 Gregorian. '

‘Really? Then Nancy Jane had a nice long run. She was named for her great-grandmother, my first born. '

‘So the Archives show. Nancy Irene Smith Weatheral, your first born, Ancestress. And I carry the first name of Nancy's father-in-law, Justin Weatheral: Justin spoke excellent English with an odd accent. Bostonian?

‘Then I'm your grandma, in some degree. So kiss me, grandson, and quit being so nervously formal; we're family. '

He relaxed and kissed me then, a firm buss on the mouth, one I liked If we had not had company, 1 might have let it develop - he did remind me of Arthur.

He added then: I'm descended from you and from Justin Weatheral another way, Grandma. Through Patrick Henry Smith, to whom you gave birth on 7 July 1932. '

I was startled. ‘Good heavens! So my sins follow me, even here. Oh, of course - you're working from the Foundation's records. I did report that case of bastardy to the Foundation. Had to keep it straight there. '

Both Ishtar and Tamara were looking puzzled. Justin said, ‘Excuse me, Grandma Maureen' - and spoke to them in that other language. Then he added to me, ‘The concept of bastardy is not known here; issue from a coupling is either genetically satisfactory or not satisfactory. The ides that a child could be proscribed by civil statute is difficult to explain. '

Tamara had looked startled, then giggled when Justin explained bastardy. Ishtar had simply looked sober: She spoke to Justin, again in Galacta.

He listened, then turned to me. ‘Dr Ishtar says that it is regrettable that only once did you accept another father for one of your children. She tells me that she hopes to get many more children from you, each by a different father. After you are rejuvenated, she means. '

‘After, ' I repeated. ‘But I'm looking forward to it. Justin, you have a book for me? '

That book was titled The Lives of Lazarus Long, with a secondary title that started ‘The lives of the Senior Member of the Howard Families (Woodrow Wilson Smith. .. Lazarus Long. .. Corporal Ted Bronson. .. [and a dozen other names]) Oldest Member of the Human Race -‘

I didn't faint. Instead I teetered on the brink of orgasm. Ishtar, aware somewhat of the customs of my time and place, had hesitated to let me know that my love of 1918 was actually my son. But she could not know that I had never felt bound by the taboos of my clan and was as untroubled by the idea of incest as a tomcat is. Indeed, the greatest disappointment of my life was my inability to get my father to accept what I had been so willing to give him, from menarche till lost him.

I still haven't been able to do anything with Lizzie Borden's disclosure that this city I'm in is Kansas City. Or one of its permutations that is. I don't think I am in one of the universes patrolled by the Time Corps, although I can't be certain. So far, all I have seen of the city is what can be seen from the balcony off the lounge of the Committee for Aesthetic Deletions.

It's the correct geography all right. North of here, about ten miles away, is the sharp bend in the Missouri River where it swings from southwest to northeast at the point where the Kaw river flows into it - a configuration that causes big floods in the west bottoms ever five or six years.

Between here and there is the unmistakable tall shaft of the War Memorial. .. but it is not the War Memorial in this universe; it is the Sacred Phallus of the Great Inseminator.

(It reminds me of the time Lazarus tried to check the historicity of the man known as Yeshua or Joshua or Jesus. He had not been able to track him down through census or tax records of that time at Nazareth or Bethlehem, so he went looking for the most prominent event in the legend: the Crucifixion. He did not find it. Oh, he found crucifixions on Golgotha all right - but just common criminals, no political evangelists, no godstruck young rabbis. He tried again and again, using various theories ‘to date it. .. and got so frustrated that he started calling it the ‘Crucifiction'. His current theory involves a really strong Fabulist of the second century Julian.

The only time I've been outdoors here was the night of Fiesta de Carolita. .. and then I saw only the big park in which the Fiesta was held (Swope Park? ), with many bonfires and flambeaux, endless bodies wearing masks and body paint, and the most amazing gangbang I have ever heard of, even in Rio. And a witches' esbat, but you can see those anywhere if you hold the Sign and know the Word. (I was stooled in Santa Fe in 1976, Wicca rite. )

But it is amusing to see one held right out in public, on the one night of the year when correct dress for a sabbat oresbat wouldn't be noticed and odd behaviour is the order of the day. What chutzpah!