and Jack Gorman is about to find out just how much.
by Nancy DiMauro
Regardless of the time line, dealing with a jerk is a challenge. Adding beer to the jerk is a recipe for disaster. In Jack Gorman Got Cut By A Girl, Jack’s cursed after his drunken harassment of Goldie, a sword wielding-teenage girl. Then Karma drags Jack’s sorry ass from one universe to another, and several women show him the point of Karma’s lesson. Today, five of Jack’s women (doesn’t he wish?) meet at Goldie’s house to discuss their time with him.
Raven: Well ladies, I’m glad the Goddess gave us this time. I won’t go as far to say that she owes us for inflicting Jack on us, but . . . it’s nice to commiserate. When I’m not crossing dimensions for this little discussion, I’m a shield maiden tasked with protecting my world from inter-dimensional threats. How about the rest of you?
Teen Goldie: I’m the one whose fault this all is. It was my sword that did the first cutting. I normally sit at home, peacefully writing fantasy and science fiction, and I sleep with a sword under my bed. My story is the story of how I got to use it, and the scary thing is how little of it I had to make up.
Adult Goldie: I’m a parallel universe version of the kid. Lived in this house since I was a little girl, likely die in it as well, but that's still a few years off, assuming Death will humor this old woman.
Lashira: I’m a bartender at the Acme. It’s on the edge of the Two Feathers National Forest - a place of magic and monsters, of which I’m the Guardian. Like my Grandma before me. I love Two Feathers, and will never leave. My fiancé, Raz, and I care about the people here. And, well, the monsters, too.
Sonia: I've been piloting space ships since my second decade; originally I started on the little 47-553 engines, powering up every year with the usual pilots exams. This was my second run on a cloner ship, but the first with my own clone. I rather like Sonia#1, but she's evil when it comes to playing chess! I was born on dirtside in the Hellion Quadrant, which Mum says explains everything. I'm not entirely sure what she means.
Raven: Where I come from men are scarce. When Jack came through the stone circles, I wasn’t sure if the Goddess had blessed, or cursed me. I figured it out pretty quickly though. [Chuckles]. What about you?
Teen Goldie: The first time I met Jack, I was understandably alarmed. I had no idea if he was a serial killer, or a rapist, or maybe even a zombie! Now I’ve come to learn that he’s just a good-for-nothing that’s too fond of booze. Looking back, I’m amused.
Lashira: He's a giant pain in the ass. He's always in trouble, one of those people who thinks with every body part except his brain. He’s my best friend's brother. Didn’t miss him when he left town right after he turned eighteen. Only, he suddenly turned up again, moved into his mom's basement, and now my friend Petula has to deal with him.
Adult Goldie: I met Jack for the first time when I was five. He smelled like stale beer and didn't look too smart. Didn't realize it was the same dumb drunk that came around the house when I was a teenager. As teen-me said, I just wanted him to go away. The last time ... well, the last time I encountered Jack Gorman I knew exactly who and what he was.
Raven: He had a way of jumping on my last nerve and making me want to do violence to him. I was just defending myself when I cut him, but my sister, Maeg, cut him on purpose. Oh, and my mare. Jack could not get along with anyone female.
Teen Goldie: This is something maybe not everyone will believe, but I never actually wanted to cut him. I just wanted him to go away. But, as my story shows, he left me little choice.
Adult Goldie: Isn’t she sweet? [Pats Teen Goldie on the arm.] Jack’s a belligerent ass. And if someone as slight as myself stood up to him, three times no less, perhaps he'd have second thoughts about bullying someone else.
Lashira: I didn't want to cut him either, but the stupid idiot couldn't tell a sharp object when he held it in his hand. All I wanted was for him to back off!
Sonia: I did. The way he calls me “Captain” when he wants to get under my skin. The incessant lack of respect, and disinterest in working as a team. His inability to do anything right! Damn it, my fingers are itching again! Paperwork! Oh goodness the paperwork.
Raven: I managed to get him through the stones before I had to report his presence to the Council. But I swear he had a death wish, or maybe he’s just too stupid to live. What’s the worst or dumbest thing Jack did in your timeline?
Teen Goldie: I think it can safely be said that the biggest mistake Jack made was surprising me in the middle of the night.
Adult Goldie: I heard he hurt a coyote. As if he didn't court enough trouble, he had to go and kick Karma. Not smart, sonny, not smart at all.
Lashira: I can't even begin to list them. [Starts ticking items off on her fingers.] Going on a bender on my watch. Being drunk and running into the forest. It's difficult terrain even when you’re sober. Carrying a firearm into the forest. Shooting whenever he thought he saw his quarry, even though he was barely walking straight. I could go on. And on.
Sonia: I’d have to say that was stealing bananas from the chimps. What sort of a person does that? Really? The fruit and vegetables from the galley weren't enough?
Raven: Jack did have some good points though. Goddess knows, he was almost heartbreakingly vulnerable when he asked to stay with me. Was there anything endearing he did on your timelines?
Teen Goldie: Well, apparently at first he thought I was a gay man. That’s kind of cute, isn’t it?
[Laughter from the group.]
Adult Goldie: Don't know that I would call it endearing, but the look upon his face when I cut him on my porch was quite special. [Chuckles].
Lashira: Endearing? Well, I guess he didn't set the forest on fire. And he didn't die on me. I'd have hated to take Petula to the morgue to identify his body.
Sonia: ...Well... he... ah... he ... endearing is a rather odd word, isn't it?
Raven: One thing I found fascinating though was his colorful way of speaking. I learned all sorts of new words while he was traveling with me. What was your favorite Jack phrase?
Teen Goldie: I recall he kept calling me “sissy boy.” That was pretty funny, even at the time.
Sonya: “I'm outta here!”
Lashira: When I think of Jack, he's mainly going "Ow!" And "Fuck!"
Adult Goldie: "Whadda fuck?" That phrase alone gives you a clear picture of that boy's intellect.
Raven: That’s mine too. We didn’t have a comparable word to “fuck.” Now all the shield maidens use it.
[Green light shimmers in the room.]
Raven: I think that’s our signal to wrap things up. So, one last question; if you could change one thing about Jack, what would it be?
Teen Goldie: Oh, you know, probably the whole getting near-blackout drunk and bumbling around outside people’s bedrooms thing.
Lashira: Give him a sense of responsibility? If he'd just think about other people, that would fix everything else. Maybe he'll grow into one, not like it seems he's in any hurry.
Sonia: His presence on my ship.
Adult Goldie: You can't go changing people. They have to want to change themselves. If I had to guess, I'd say Jack isn't going to be changing himself any time soon, no matter what trouble he gets into.
Raven: I don’t know about that. When he realized the curse was taking him again, he was in full panic. I think he finally understood that he needed to change. And I’m not sure that the man young Goldie met would do what Jack did on Sonia’s ship either. [The green light gets brighter.] Looks like we’re out of time. Ladies, it was a pleasure to meet you.
The women vanish in a flash of emerald green light, returning to their worlds and times.
See what they had to endure in Jack Gorman Got Cut By a Girl.
Two days later, the Sheriff’s Deputy came by our house. He is a big man, not easily flustered.
“I’ve got a few questions about the report you sent in,” he said, holding up a printout of my email.
“Yes sir,” I said, all cooperation, and launched into a recount of my misadventure. I had barely got to the part where I encountered the unfriendly drunk when he stopped me with a wave of his hand.
“Wait, wait, wait,” he said, shaking his head. “You mean to say this happened here?”
“And… it was you with the sword?”
The deputy slapped the email printout against his thigh in frustration. Shaking his head, he said: “That Jack Gorman, I’m just sick of him. He came to me, you know, saying he was attacked by a gay guy with a sword outside the Waterwheel!”
I remained silent. The Waterwheel is a bar almost a mile away. And I am most definitely not a guy.
My mother, who had been listening from the front door, came out and stood behind me. “Um, no,” she said. “It happened here, on our front porch. I heard it.”
“Yeah, yeah, I believe you,” said the deputy, rubbing his face. “Look, clearly you did nothing wrong, but the fact that he filed a report—even if it’s a false one—means I may have to confiscate that sword as evidence. You’ll get it back,” he assured me, “don’t worry.”
“That’s okay,” I said, grinning. “I have two more as back up!”
Ultimately, even though my sword was confiscated, I had the last laugh. Walking the dog a few days later I was stopped by my neighbor and asked what the commotion was last Saturday night. I told them.
“Aw man, Gorman messed up bad,” he said. “He’s been going around bragging about how he got attacked by a man with a sword. I’ll never let him hear the end of this: he got cut by a girl!”
What I didn’t tell him, what got left out of the email and my official statement, is what I did after I wrote that original report.
Before I went to sleep that night (and it was a difficult thing to do), I cast a little spell. I had never tried to cast a spell before. I have a friend who is a witch and she tells me I am probably a witch too, just untrained.
So that night I cast a spell. A spell to make sure that if this Jack Gorman was ever going to cause trouble again, anywhere, any time, there would be a girl with a sword (or something similar) to stop him. I also imagined him going away—preferably far away. I imagined him, very clearly, walking away down a dark and deserted road, toward a door made of light, and a sound like a sword being wiped clean with a cloth.
It probably won’t work, I thought as I went to sleep. But one can hope, right?
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