"My attempt to recall the origin of "Body English" sent me rummaging through many old diaries and the memories they evoked. Finally I found the evidence: a stark entry for August 21, 1985: "Astonished myself by writing a story in *two hours or less*!" My first reaction to such an event at that time was to look askance at it, as if it was missing something, because it took none of the usual agonizing labour and doubt, but nowadays I'm just thankful for a small gift that comes so seldom." (Phyllis Gotlieb, Feb 2003)
"Body English" first appeared in Torus #2 (1986) and was later reprinted in Blue Apes (Tesseracts 1995)
Click here for Phyllis' MiC Entry
by Phyllis Gotlieb
Now what happens?
Just lie still sir, just, that's it, relax while I set the controls--don't move, don't move at all, one minute and you get the run of Chuck's body, you ca--
Easy, just stay. . .ready, ok?
Oh. Easy. Just easy. Ah, this is good, one step, two step. . . run now, not too fast. . .running. See Dick, see Jane, see Spot. Run. Oh my Lord this is good! Feet pounding, knees like pistons in oil, strong and heavy and the weight bearing itself, no pain in ankles, knees, hips, pelvis, spine, ribs, shoulders, neck, arms, elbows, hands, fingers, skull. None. Run!
Everything all--what? time?
Got your money's worth there, fella.
Time? I must have more! Please give me, I'll pay--
Sorry, mister, we're booked up. Maybe, uh, next month?
Hey, Chuck, that one really made you sweat. You ok?
Yeah. I guess.
Lemme wash you down....feel better?
I hurt, Jacko.
It'll pass, kid. Just take a few minutes.
Awright now. Ready?
You ready, Chuck?
Ok Missus, take it easy. Don't be scared.
There's no way I would be scared of losing this pain.
You got fifteen minutes. Enjoy.
One quarter hour. Ah, dear God, thank you for this much. No I don't want to run, you damned fool, I saved for this too long to waste....just let me sit and look and breathe. Just let me. Look around. Breathe. There is the sunlight. Breathe. In and out....oh yes, I know, time. And I'm not ready. I'll never be ready. And I saved. I'll never have another. I wouldn't last until. . .Thank you, young man.
I hope it helped you, Ma'am.
Oh yes—but you don't look very well. Did I do something awful to your body?
Not a thing, little lady, don't you worry about that! Chuck's fine.
Let him tell me. What is it, young fellow?
You didn't hurt me, ma'am. But I had to wait....in--in your body, you know.
Oh. I never thought of that.
You goddam stupid shmuck, what the hell'd you have to go and say that for? They're supposed to come for relief and go away happy! You'll have them reporting me for cruelty to dumb animals--for a thousand bucks a fifteen minutes!
You can go screw off. I don't care. I can't take much more of this.
What's the matter with you? Doctor says you're in good shape.
Yeah. And little old ladies ride me Sundays. Listen, Jacko, I don't just feel their pain when I'm in their bodies--I feel it now--and it doesn't stop.
That's all in your head,
I don't care where it is. I feel it all the time. The fella with canes, every joint screaming, old lady with the cancer eating into her shoulderblades, girl you couldn't look at with every part of her going wrongways. all she could do is cry--maybe I only got them up here in my head but they hurt me. I've got to stop.
Okay. Fine. You think I care? I got washed-up jocks waiting in line out there to do twice as much as you for half the money.
That's good. If they're dumb as me they deserve it.
Aw Chucky, we go back a long way, you and me. The machine's paid off, business is good. . .hell, we're free and easy.
Listen, do you think you could work in one more, now you're rested? Last of the day? Little crippled kid?
Why not? It's a living.
Hi yourself. Is this the whole machine? It looks kind of beat up.
It's good enough.
You got a license to work it?
Yeah I got a license to work it. Look, kid--
Hey Jacko, you're getting sweaty. What's your name, kid?
Barrie, with an i, e.
You scared, Barrie?
Yeh. A little, I guess. So many people put in so I could have this....
Ok, take it easy. Let Jacko fix the electrodes ....comfortable?
Uh. . .
Take it real slow at first.
Hey. . .awright, this isn't so tough.
Remember, easy. Step at a time. Just take it around the park, not too fast, smell the flowers. Ok?
Sure. Oh yeah, sure.
Yeah. You just lie there and be me, Chuck, right? Hey, goddammit, I can run! Jeez, I could live with this, I could have girls, I--oh hell, thanks Ms. Persons and all you jerks, why did you, oh God, scrape up all that money, gonna take my life away again in a couple minutes--shee-it I could take this, run and run, nothing in the pockets, don't care, sun and trees, people on the Ferris wheel and in the funhouse, and there's the gate. . .lost, hidden. . .a thousand dollars, nothing left for a ride on the Ferris wheel--yeah, yeah! I know it's time, you don't have to bug me!
Kiddo, you sure made every minute count.
Hey you, Mister Chuck, how'd you like being me?
Same as all the others I've been. Glad you had a good time.
Yeah, sure. I almost ran you right out of the park and got lost.
Nope. If you get much farther away the radio field breaks and just leaves you here and me staggering around kind of dizzy.
Oh. I see. Well, thanks for everything, Mister.
Hey Chuck, baby, that's it for today.
I got to get out of this while I can still walk.
You'll feel better tomorrow. Let's go have a beer and count the money. Look at it this way, Chuck, you're doing a real humanitarian service for these people.
Ah shut up, Jacko. Just shut. Up.