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Crimson Came Schechner

Let‘s say I’ve got a number.

That number‘s 50,000.

That’s 10 percent

Of 500,000.

Well, here we are, in French Indochina.

--D. Boon

“What amazes me more than anything,” said Hector Schechner, the droll 59-year-old comedian, “and I mean more than anything at all, is that. That,” he continued, “is one highly evolved pair of SUV skid marks.”

Schechner‘s been on this highly evolved binge for close to a week -- evaluating, out loud, random (and usually inanimate) entities in terms of evolution. He’ll point out something -- whatever‘s handy: a parked car, a sandwich in a trash bin, the Scientology Christmas display -- tell me that it’s highly evolved, maybe compare it to something that isn‘t, then pause and wait for me to write his comment down in my notebook. Which I don’t do, prompting Schechner to elaborate in some way and again wait for me to record it, which I still don‘t do. (I hate writing in my notebook, because I’ve been doing it practically nonstop since 1987.)

I, on the other hand, have been on a fucking moron binge. During the course of our interviews (in theory, I‘m writing Schechner’s biography, which was scheduled to be published in 2004; the publisher, however, backed out a few weeks ago, claiming that Schechner isn‘t famous enough anymore, so maybe I’m just interviewing some old has-been, wasting my life by taking notes on how he‘s wasted his), Schechner and I walk around quite a bit, mostly along well-lighted boulevards in the middle of the night. And for almost a week now, everywhere we go, after I point out a fucking moron, Schechner explains how highly evolved the fucking moron’s skid-mark configuration is.

“Who cares, Schechner?” I barked back from the curb as Schechner remained in the intersection, studying the patterns on the asphalt. “The fucking moron missed us by inches.”

He‘d read my last column, Schechner had -- he rarely reads the ones he’s not in, which is fine by me -- and he hadn‘t liked it.

“What the hell does a mudball fight have to do with prostate cancer?” was his essential complaint. His essential compliment was that the story had reminded him to get his PSA (prostate-specific antigen) levels checked, and the test results came back abnormally high, so he had them checked again. This time they came back abnormally higher, so the next morning I drove Schechner to his urologist for a prostate biopsy.

While I perused Urethra Today in the waiting room, on the other side of the wall Schechner rolled onto his side to receive the caress of a “highly evolved and extremely expensive-looking dildo,” hollow and rigged with ultrasound transducers, in his thickly lubed posterior euphemism.

First, a footlong needle was guided down through the dildo’s hollow and sunk three-sixteenths of an inch into his prostate gland to deliver the anesthetic. Then came the biopsies. Twelve of them, just to be sure.

“Take a deep breath . . . and . . . force it out.” Twelve times Schechner forced it out, and 12 times the thick, cylindrical biopsy needle plunged through the dildo and into the gland, extracting 12 perfect li‘l prostate sausages.

“Did it hurt?” I asked afterward in the waiting room.

“Yes, a little,” Schechner replied. “The prostate is a highly evolved gland. It doesn’t take kindly to 12 rounds from a nail gun.” Schechner said he was advised to expect blood in his urine, stool and semen for a few days or even weeks, and to clean out his plumbing by having sex or masturbating in three days.

Three nights later, the biopsy analysis came back from the lab, and Schechner‘s prostate was pronounced free of cancer. Schechner rang me up to tell me the good news, and to describe, thank you very much, the bright and robust crimson fruits of his first post-op masturbation.

“Sam Peckinpah red!” he exclaimed at 4 a.m. “It’s so fucking weird, Shulman. You should see this.”

“No, I shouldn‘t,” I replied. “Did you take a picture?”

“I don’t have a camera. But I should, shouldn‘t I?”

“Uh . . . maybe . . . not.”

“It seems like the sort of thing that one should document in some way, doesn’t it? Maybe you should write about it.”

“Or . . . maybe . . . not.”

“Come on, Shulman! Blood and semen are the two biggest box-office draws in town! You might not realize it, but semen is rarely used to make babies anymore. Semen is the single most highly evolved set decoration in porno flicks! Without semen, there‘d be no San Fernando Valley! The people need to know!”

“Take your pill, Schechner.” (I may not have mentioned that Schechner takes drugs. “I take a pill to go to sleep,” he once told me, “and another pill to wake up, three pills to stay awake all day and two more to make me feel okay about taking the other five.”)

“I already took my pill.”

“Take another pill, Schechner. Calm the fuck down and go to sleep. We can outline your red-cum-fetish Web site tomorrow. I’m sure it‘ll be very popular.”

A few days later, we met for lunch at a sidewalk cafe. Schechner looked depressed, even for Schechner. He mentions suicide at least once a month; flippantly, but still -- I get the idea he seriously considers it at least . . . annually. I asked him how the brief threat of prostate cancer had affected his desire to kill himself.

“No effect,” he replied. “I know I talk about suicide a lot, but it’s just out of, you know, loneliness. Desire for empathy. The only time I really feel like checking out is whenever I‘m driving behind a fucking SUV so I can’t see a fucking thing, and then the radio announces the next batch of terrorist bombings.” Schechner downed the last of his highly evolved coffee. “Murder,” he added, “is just suicide turned outward.”

“Fucking morons,” I added, though I wasn‘t sure to what.

Across the street, at a similar sidewalk cafe, the next terrorist bomb detonated, filling the air with Home Depot nails, glass and stucco; fire and blood blasted chaos; inhuman sounds coming from humans; a small child’s coarsely severed head landed on our table to stare up at us, one eye each.

Before we could fully react, the second blast arrived; Schechner and I were ripped to shreds. Good luck with the dental records.

“See what I mean?” said Schechner, as we rode the brimstone escalator to hell. “It‘s nice not to have cancer, but there’s always plenty to go around.”


DARPA‘s Self-Healing Minefield