Geoffrey Long


The Kingdom is the story of two brothers living on the West Coast. The younger brother, in San Francisco, has fallen in with a group of guerrilla artists who take the "guerrilla" bit a tad too far. The older brother, in Seattle, is trying to get over his ex-girlfriend and failing miserably. When the younger brother gets into trouble and heads up the coast to seek refuge, chaos ensues.

Work in Progress

This is where I'm posting excerpts as I'm going along, so keep in mind that everything on this page is very Rough Draft. --G


Chapter 7


Overlook Hotel

Washington, DC


            Vince is snoring loudly.

            Victoria is in the bathroom.

            The frog still hasn’t croaked.

            Victoria stares at herself in the tiny yellow mirror. She tugs down on the bags under one eye, stares at the red workings there, and then pulls her finger away. The skin makes a halfhearted attempt to return to position, but gives up about midway through. It has not been an easy 24 hours. One of them has had to remain by the phone at all times, just in case The Call -- Vince had a way of forcing capital letters onto some quasi-important things, and it just kind of stuck with this one -- came through, and so they’d taken shifts at the phone, one watching daytime soaps on the tiny TV while the other wandered around the city for a couple of hours. Neither of them came back with anything on any of their excursions. Well, that wasn’t exactly true; Vince had returned with a laser pointer keychain that he had listlessly whipped around the room for a while. “We can at least get a little tech out here while we’re waiting,” he had muttered while making the little red dot dance from one crack in the ceiling to another. She could sympathize, kind of. Back home they’d been hotwired all the time, cell phones, laptops, direct satellite uplinks to the HUDs in their Rav4’s, real digerati. That’s who they were, dammit. Vince was known in the circles as NoVi and she was known as Jade; real-life avatars, if you will, the ones who strutted around and were just paid to be seen by all the software and hardware companies to make their product seem like it was actually worth shelling out for. Theory was, if hacker-artists hung around your opening, you were something, because that meant that there was a meme going around about your company. If no hacker-artists showed up, that meant no meme, and thus no interest, and therefore your product was destined to suck. It’s just the way it worked. There was a time when all the hackers that showed up really were hackers; now it was just important to have enough people that looked like hackers to impress the media. So, natch, the trend of rent-a-hacker expanded from security software into PR. Victoria likened it to the whole rent-a-bohemian craze in Greenwich Village in the late 50’s, or at least to her mother’s stories of what that had been like. Everything old is new again, and when something’s new, there’s profit. Words to live by.

            Victoria stares at herself in the mirror. Behind her, through the open bedroom door, she can see that cute little frog telephone she’d picked up yesterday. Boy, she thinks to herself. I love that little frog. She gives it a little wave in the mirror, and it just smiles and smiles and smiles. Well, it was smiling anyway, but that’s what plastic’s good for, right? Reliability. Plastic didn’t let you down. Once something is set in plastic, you were good to go. Frogs, cars, bodies, it’s all plastic now. Even money is plastic, in its basest forms. Paper money? Victoria shudders involuntarily at the imagined feel of that oily, greasy green paper, at the thought of where all that money could have possibly been. Eeeew. Just give me my Visas and my American Expresses, buddy-O, and we’ll be getting along just fine, you betcha. Victoria smiles at herself in the mirror, but the smile weakens as she stares at the bags under her eyes, at the red blears that stretch across her corneas. Money can’t buy you love, she thinks to herself sardonically, and it can’t buy you sleep, either.

            On the sink there is a thick pharmaceutical brown plastic bottle of Prozac with a white child-safety lid. Victoria picks it up and weighs it in her hand, staring at it thoughtfully. She unscrews the lid and, yawning, shakes a couple out into her open hand. She replaces the lid, pops a few into her mouth, dry-swallows them, and then walks back out into the room, turning the bathroom lights out as she passes.

            Vince is still snoring like a chainsaw.

            Victoria walks over to the little nightstand. In her right hand she’s still clenching a few pills, and with her left she squeezes the top of the frog’s head; obediently the frog’s head flips open, revealing the red froggy-tongue handset. Humming softly to herself, Victoria sprinkles a few of the Prozacs down onto the red plastic, where they clatter about for a second and then settle on the frog’s tongue, at the bottom of the little red-plastic depression meant to be a mouth. Victoria gleefully shuts the frog’s head, pops the remaining few Prozacs into her mouth, and then eases herself onto the bed, where she can lie back next to her brother, and simultaneously watch him sleep and watch for the froggy phone to ring. 

            That ought to wake you up, little froggy. Don’t you think? Victoria thinks happily to herself, and settles back on a pile of cushions to wait.