Jeffs Ongoing Fugue of Pain
A History of My Life
By Jeff Somers
PART ONE: in which I eat dogs and become acquainted with Jesuit cruelty.
Where to start? I was born in Jersey City, New Jersey to an Irish-German family of thirteen: six brothers, five sisters, two parents. Only four survived the great bratwurst famine of 1974, two of them being my parents, who mourned the deaths of my siblings by dumping the surviving kids in private school and taking a cruise around the world. In private school my brother Yan and I learned to sing songs from The Sound of Music and tap dance, skills which have saved my life on more than one occasion. After the cruise, my parents went on an extended tour of Europe, from which they have yet to return.
As a result, Yan and I returned from the 1981 semester at school to find the house abandoned. A pack of wild, rabid dogs had broken through the screen door on the back porch and made it their home, and my poor brother Yan was mauled quite badly before I could Tap the dogs to death. I set about nursing Yan and scavenging our ancestral home for foodstuffs and potable water. It was, after all, a long summer. We survived it by eating carefully salted dog meat and drinking rainwater which had so much lead in it I went temporarily color blind in August. When Yan had regained enough of his strength, we set about repairing our ancestral home and plundering my fatherâ€™s abandoned stocks of pornography. The summer passed quickly, then.
In the fall we matriculated into high school. Our parents maintained a long arm and enrolled us in St. Peterâ€™s There But For the Grace of God Academy, which was a pseudo-religious-slash-military establishment stressing Latin and self-mutililation. We awoke one fine September day to find the ancestral home surrounded by Jesuit Commandos, who piled us into an armored truck along with several other frightened boys. Yan and I cheered our fellow kidnap victims by singing The Sound of Music (Yanâ€™s voice indistinguishable from Julie Andrewsâ€™) and we plotted a brisk escape from the truck; but once the rear doors were thrown open Yan and I were inexplicably ratted out by our fellows. My brother and I entered St. Peterâ€™s as prisoners, and spent our first weeks there being beaten on a daily basis by a burly priest named Father Hump, until we could speak perfect Latin, although we could no longer remember our own names.
St. Peterâ€™s There But for The Grace of God Academy was designed to instill in its charges a sense of discipline and a love of God. Towards the first goal, we were enrolled in classes such as Sewing Leather Sneakers for Nike Inc. and Kathie Lee Gifford Clothing Line 101. These classes taught us to be patient, to endure hardship, and to manage complex and minute tasks with broken and bloodied fingers. Towards the second goal, we were beaten unto insensibility, at which point we often hallucinated that Jesus came down from heaven to deliver us from our living hell, which certainly made us love him….until we awoke for Cooking for the Jesuits 101 at 5am the next morning, an advanced class that often resulted in failing grades and thrown food, at which point we started resenting Jesus all over again.
Yan and I look back on our years at St. Peterâ€™s There But for the Grace of God Academy fondly, of course, or at least Yan would if he had not perished in the Great Failed Escape of 1989 (or so I thought), in which thirty-one boys lost there lives attempting to tunnel under the fences surrounding the campus. His loss was doubly senseless, since we were set to graduate later that same year. Perhaps the looming specter of the final examinations (which are rumored to have cost more than one senior his life) had driven Yan to this extreme, or perhaps it was simply the girls academy situated across the way from St. Peterâ€™s, where nubile and uniformed young women often spent the hot afternoons washing cars in cut off T-shirts.
At any rate, I did manage to graduate with only a few broken bones and permanent scars in the spring of 1989, and as I said I look back fondly on my years at St. Peterâ€™s; so fondly that when I returned some years later to burn the place to the ground in a blaze so hot it liquefied windows in surrounding buildings for miles, I shed a tear or two as I sipped a strong Martini on an overlooking hillside. Or perhaps that was just the dry air and the heat.
Thatâ€™s a story from another part of my life, however; My years as a child were over and it was time to strike out into the adult world. My Jesuit training had left me tempered and prepared, and I struck out for my college years in good cheer.
Part Two: in which the Government convinces me to use my powers for good.
I attended Rutgers University, which is the largest university in the world, graduating over six million men and women each year with fundamentally worthless degrees. I financed my education by overseeing a mail-order bride scheme, supplying the Internet-geeks and academic shut ins of the world with timid, short women whom they married legally. I imported the girls from a Thai broker named, as far as I could tell, Twee. He was squat and had too many teeth, making his frequent grins a bit unsettling. I was paid huge sums to arrange the marriages. I told my customers glowing tales of respectful, quiet wives who scrubbed and cooked and never complained. The girls were instructed, however, to run away at first opportunity, which was usually directly after the vows were exchanged, and I enjoyed many a wedding reception toasting Twee as another of our white-clad imports fled the scene, sometimes chased by not only the hapless groom (invariably photosensitive and easily winded) but by his family as well. This generally left Twee and I free to delve deeply into the unnecessary stocks of champagne.
Times were good. I had no real interest in academics, and carefully chose a major that wouldnâ€™t require any actual attendance of classes: English. Along with several other academically unmotivated men and women I rented a house and spent my days sitting in a lawn chair on the roof, drinking White Russians and composing poetry. Tweeâ€™s girls, while waiting for their assignments, were able housekeepers and brought a steady supply of fried foods up to the roof, grinning and saying rude things about me in their native tongue. I didnâ€™t mind.
Of course, all St. Peterâ€™s graduates are watched closely by several government agencies, the alumni being involved in such an alarmingly high percentage of post office shootings and religious cult suicides. I wasnâ€™t necessarily surprised when several men in buzz cuts and dark suits crawled from my bedroom window onto the roof. I briefly considered diving over the side and making a run for it, but I was on my fourth white Russian and Iâ€™d just eaten a bucket of shrimp egg rolls supplied to me by Tweeâ€™s inventory. Feeling bloated and hypertensive, I elected to see what the G-men had to say.
â€œJeffrey Somers?â€ one fellow asked. I opened my mouth to reply, and unfortunately I overbalanced and fell off the roof and never heard the original reason the CIA came to visit. I strongly suspect it had to do with my parents, who were by this time guests of Fidel Castro in Havana, making the G-men uneasy. By the time the G-men made it down to me, however, their agenda had changed, because they had witnessed the one palpable gift given to me by St. Peterâ€™s and, especially, Father Hump: I was unable to feel pain of any kind. Broken and bloodied, I got up, brushed myself off, and protested all the way to the hospital. I was in traction for three weeks, and when they finally released me, I found myself inducted into the CIA There was a small ceremony involving Masons and a sacrificed cow, and I was issued a standard ill-fitting dark blue suit and several deadly weapons.
For the next few years I infiltrated drug cartels, assassinated rock stars, and impersonated Ronald Reagan on several occasions. All the while a short Chinese woman attended school in my stead and even ran my business. I think Twee suspected the ruse (I certainly hope so, since he ended up marrying my imposter) but otherwise it was seamless, and I graduated with a degree and little else from Rutgers University. At this point in my young life I yearned to once more see the Somers ancestral home, where for twenty-five years my family had barely set foot. I yearned to begin the laborious task of making a name for myself. I yearned, mostly, to stop working nine to five.
And so, I decided to leave the CIA. By force, if need be.
Part Three: Wherein I fake my own death and start a new life as Per Lyutefisk, Esquire.
Leaving the CIA turned out to be easier than expected, mainly because they were convinced that breaking your dark oaths to the Agency would result in some instantaneous punishment from the nether spirit world they secretly served. Through some patient and circumspect conversations with my fellow agents (over mugs of blisteringly caffeinated coffee and unfiltered Marlboro TarLungs (not for public sale; the government confiscated millions of cartons of the things back in the fifties)) I discovered that slipping away from the Agency was as easy as changing your name and taking a long lunch (say, forty years). If they never heard of you again, they assumed that a pride of Jackals showed up at your door and tore you limb from limb for betraying your oaths.
I did have a run-in with a pride of Jackals a few nights into my extended lunch, in the parking lot of a Motel 6, but I fed them some Slim Jims I had in my pockets and they went quietly on their way.
The name I chose for myself was Per Lyutefisk. You have to understand that I had to choose a name that was not in the CIA computers, in order to avoid inconsistencies in the records that would lead them to me. While there are some forty thousand unfortunate men named â€œPerâ€ in this world (explaining, I think, the higher suicide rates in the Nordic lands) none of them have ever had the last name â€œLyutefiskâ€. I was home free. I set up shop as a Manicurist in Amsterdam and looked forward to living off the Swiss bank accounts Iâ€™d formed with the Contra money the CIA has lying around in Warehouse Six in Area 51 (just bags and bags of money left over from the Reagan years, forgotten by the Gipper and by just about everyone else, except sticky-fingered recruits like myself). I buffed and polished and hummed Beatles tunes and thought I might drink myself into an early, peaceful grave there. I began reading poetry at the various coffeehouses (until they barred me forever in 1994 after my reading of â€œ101 Silent Poemsâ€ caused a riot in downtown Amsterdam) and became quite famous for a while, as far as obscure Nordic poets/manicurists can be famous.
My fame ruined this idyllic life, alas; a poem of mine called George Bush Eats the Big One (which made subtle reference to the former Chief of the CIA and several top secret Druidic rituals the Agency performed every Halloween) was published in the United States and became something of a hit amongst the expatriate Nordic population of New York, selling almost six copies in November of â€˜95. Sadly, one of these copies was purchased by my former coworkers, as the CIA keeps close watch on anything which mentions them by name. They recognized the hand of a former agent in the details of the work, and quickly ascertained that I was alive, and writing bad poetry to boot. I think they might have let me alone, if my poems were not the stuff of torture.
I was tipped off by a former KGB operative who was a friend of mine; I owed Yuri many millions of Rubles (almost $23, American currency) by this time due to my poor Canasta playing, and he knew that if I got whacked by the Agency heâ€™d never see it. $23 American currency was enough to retire on in his native Russia now that the Mafia ran it deeper into the ground than thought possible on a daily basis -Yuri was merely protecting his investment, but I owe him my life anyway.
My life was in danger. The most skilled killers in the world -United States Government Employees- were coming to kill me, and they rarely failed. I did the one thing they couldnâ€™t expect: I returned to my ancestral home in Jersey City on the next flight and resumed my true identity. I became Jeff Somers again, and buried Per Lyutefiskâ€™s fake beard and glasses in the back yard, next to Yan.
I did not do this without a plan, though. There was one way to assure my survival.
PART FOUR: In Which I Attend My High School Reunion and Foil Attempts on My Life by Founding The Inner Swine.
The Somers Ancestral Home had fallen into decay; I was forced to chase away several dozen homeless persons who had taken up a squatting residence there in the five years since Iâ€™d last been there, some by rather gruesome force. The foyer and front hall were filled to the brim with junk mail, dutifully deposited there day after day by the solemn and valiant postal workers of this grand country. I sorted it all carefully, and found to my satisfaction that I had, indeed, been invited to my five-year High School Reunion at St. Peterâ€™s There But for the Grace of God Academy. I quickly RSVPâ€™d in the positive and went upstairs to find something suitable to wear, or at least something which hadnâ€™t been eaten by the homeless people.
St. Peterâ€™s held its reunions for one reason only: they hungered for the liquid assets its graduates might donate to the schoolâ€™s trust. Now that we were adults, there were laws protecting us from Father Stump and the other strong-arm techniques the school had used upon us as students, so the faculty turned to silkier methods to separate us from our wallets: booze and hookers, in large supply at the reunion. As were hidden cameras, recording devices, and bugged phones, just in case you mentioned a bank account number or Internet code whilst chatting up one of the â€œSisters of Charityâ€ lounging around the bar. If you didnâ€™t make a slip of the tongue, the smiling Jesuit working the bar would eventually slip you a mickey, and youâ€™d wake up in a cheap motel in Tijuana, penniless.
I went to the reunion knowing full well their tactics, but that was okay, I was there with one plan in mind: to recruit help in my fight to stay alive.
I realized the only way I was going to survive would be to become famous. Plain and simple, the CIA is very good at murdering innocents and nobodies, but celebrities and the like scared them away due to the undue attention such deaths brought down on them. If I could become famous, and surround myself with a crack team of talented men and women to act as my staff, I might have a chance at living another few decades before I drank myself to death anyway and rendered all this pointless.
I selected my recruits carefully:
Ken West had been a ward of the state when enrolled in St. Peterâ€™s, the victim of Columbia House Records and Tape schemes. At an early age Ken had joined the club, purchasing a large number of cassette tapes for a penny. Then, as is the common tragic story, those mail-in cards had started piling in, two, three a day, twenty or more a week. Poor Ken couldnâ€™t keep up, got confused, and before long owed the Columbia people almost two million dollars in back fees. Naturally he fled the scene and lived for many years amongst the Eskimos. Amongst the snowed-in isolation of Alaska, Ken taught himself to be an expert computer hacker and electronics expert, and eventually hacked into Columbiaâ€™s records, changed the numbers so that they owed him millions, and sued them successfully. Newly rich, he was quickly identified as an orphan without guardian by informers in St. Peterâ€™s pay, working for the Alaskan government. Ken was quietly kidnapped and found himself learning Latin with the rest of us. Knowing his abilities, the Jesuits had not allowed him near a computer, but had forced him to do his math on an abacus.
Jeof Vita had been one of the few to tunnel out of the St. Peterâ€™s compound during my four year stay. Using a daring ruse involving his ridiculous haircut and a six-week supply of chipped beef saved up from one hundred and three cafeteria visits, he sculpted a lifelike dummy of himself which fooled the priests long enough for him to tunnel out (approximately three weeks). He made it almost twenty feet outside the gates and pulled himself from the muddy ground triumphantly, pausing to flip off the Jesuits and do a little obscene dance before running off. We all cheered, and most of us we starved that night for cheering. The next day a bloodied Jeof was back in class, awkwardly taking notes with both hands in casts. No one ever asked, and he never told.
Rob Gala had never attended St. Peterâ€™s. He was fifty-three years old and was working as an undercover vice cop, disguised as one of the hookers at the reunion.
With Kenâ€™s technical know-how, Jeofâ€™s artistic ability (only slightly dulled by his ruined hands and decades of inhalant-abuse), and Robâ€™s security experience, I knew I had the team I needed. We escaped the reunion and went out for drinks (I should admit that at this point I did not yet realize that Rob was an undercover vice cop and made several boorish attempts to seduce him) and there The Inner Swine was born. Almost immediately, the CIA stopped its plans to murder me (by sending a Troop of vicious Boy Scouts to garrote me in my sleep) and decided it was wiser to just maintain plausible deniability.
PART FIVE: In Which I Commence Publishing The Inner Swine and Become Wealthy.
So, in May of 1995 the first issue of The Inner Swine appeared in a few disreputable bars and living rooms across New Jersey, a first printing of almost 70 issues. My fame was not instantaneous. Of those 70 issues, most were not read, to be totally honest, although many were used in other, less natural, ways.
When my initial efforts met ennui and apathy from the public, I could feel the red eye of the CIA once again looking me over. The death of an unknown publisher would be easily ignored, after all; fame was my only insurance, and after 1(1) came out I was anything but. I turned to my crack staff, The Inner Swine Inner Circle, for solutions, revealing my past to them during an emotional Staff Retreat in August of â€˜95. There were tears. Jeof, Ken, Rob and I stood wearing only war paint and carrying only small drums and stood in the Sweat Tent at Camp Iron John in the Pocono’s and they swore to save my life if it killed them. I wisely ignored the irony and embraced them all. Paint was smeared.
Ken revealed privately to me later that for years heâ€™d been controlling his enemies through subliminal suggestion, flashing messages on their computer screens so fast that only their subconscious mind perceived them. In this way he changed urges such as I will ruin Ken West or I will make Ken West pay me that fifty bucks he owes me into I will bake Ken cookies more often or Boy, that Ken West sure looks good in those tight pants. Still sniffling from our emotional moment of a few hours earlier (and still wearing nothing but stiffening body paint) Ken pledged this technology to the cause of my salvation. We implemented the subliminals in issue 1(2), and the thingâ€™s been a juggernaut ever since.
So if you ever put aside an issue and wonder why the hell do I read this crap? now you know, huh?
At any rate, I became quite famous in Belgium and Panama. While the United States still yawns when I make public appearances, in Panama I have crashed the stock exchange three times simply by making offhand remarks, and in Belgium there is a national epidemic of teenagers starving themselves because I have not visited there recently. My former masters cannot risk the upheavals my death would cause in these areas, and so I am safe, for the moment. If they ever figure out a way to circumvent my fame, thereâ€™s always Per Lyutefisk.
Of course, my fame and money and power have grown large, and Iâ€™m free to finance whatever projects I choose. The Somers Ancestral Home has been rebuilt and refurbished; Yan now resides in a marble sepulcher in the back yard, or at least his spirit does -I have not been able to truthfully say where his body ended up. I may have buried him somewhere else entirely. The Inner Swine Institute for the Criminally Bored and The Inner Swine Laboratories have been funded and erected; we have invented a great many things that I plan to use to my own exclusive advantage. And, of course, this publication continues its glorious reign as the 67,456th most read publication in the United States, just below Government Form TY-998 and still beating out Urinal Drain Grates by a steady five or ten people every year.
The Swine abides, my friends.