The Unknown: The Red Line.
  What happened in Atlanta was that a very polite man in a chauffeur’s uniform met us after our reading at A Capella Books in Little 5 Points and whisked us cross-state. A few hours later, we were on Ted Turner’s yacht off the coast, near Savannah. I don’t think Ted trusted us to show. His personal assistant had arranged the meeting with Marla, saying Ted wanted to give us “a look-see.”

That was a long boat ride. William got seasick over the side rail. Ted and I talked about Bosnian war crimes. Jane Fonda still looks great. Ted married well. And I don’t give a shit what you say about what she was doing during Vietnam. She’s a looker and a real good actress with a mind that won’t quit.

Frank, awkwardly, kept referring to Barbarella. Jane got flushed and embarrassed. Ted scooped her up in his arms tickled and joshed her. They’re a real nice couple, always giggling like schoolkids.

Ted wanted to do a colorized version of the hypertext, which he would air on the USA Network. But he wanted us to take all the drug references out. We thought it over.

Jane picked up a phone and a butler appeared with a lid of grass.

Jane rolled a joint.

Ted said, “Better be Maui Wowie, son, or you’re in the shitter.”

The butler said, “But Dad, all I could get was Jamaican.”

Jane, sitting cross-legged on the deck in her steel-blue bikini, took a deep hit, and said, “It’s good shit, Ted, it’s real good.”

Ted unhanded the butler, saying, “Dammit, son, when I say Hawaiian, I mean Hawaiian. Jamaica is a whole other island. Am I wastin’ my money on all those maps?” He took a big hit and passed the doobie to Dirk, and with a furrowed brow appeared to be weighing matters of substance, then said, “This is good shit, son, so you’re lucky. But mark my words, sonny boy, the next time pull something like this, you go right over that rail.”

He said all this in a relatively calm, even good-natured, way, so you could tell that he was kidding, but that he was also simultaneously dead serious.

The butler said, “Sorry Dad, it won’t happen again.”

Ted said, “It had better not. Now go do your homework. Geography and Procurement.”

“Yes, Dad,” the butler said, and went back below deck, submissively. The waitress then appeared and we had five of the biggest lobsters you’ve ever seen with drawn butter, and a real nice zucchini, garlic and tomato side dish. We had slushy fruit drinks with Malaysian names. They had mangos and kiwi and pineapple and strawberries in them.

Ted gave us a little talk on the importance of vitamins.

We talked about metaphysics with Jane.

Ted gave us some investment advice.

We didn’t do the deal on colorizing the hypertext, but it was a real nice afternoon. The money would have been nice, but at that time we still felt that it was important for us to retain our artistic integrity.

Ted said he’d make sure the book got plugged on CNN.


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