Awful Aim
by KJ Hannah Greenberg



Book publishers became Teresa’s newest target. She didn’t want readers to suffer from indistinguishable plots. Often, ideas disseminated by popular presses were deceptive, fraudulent, or based on insubstantial data; they suited fiduciary prestidigitation, but not Truth. More exactly, masthead-driven assemblages of words frequently lacked value while academic twaddle remained as abundant as starlight.


Teresa opined over her social culpability while disregarding that rhetoric’s impact on her parents, mentors, friends, frenemies, cousins, teachers, and colleagues. After all, Liam had discarded her.


Had Teresa been a communications guru, she would have used Twitter or WhatsApp to inculcate readers into rethinking purchasing tosh, especially works whose linguistic tactics made them pick sides or support anomie. Unfortunately, Teresa was barely skilled in media use - she relied on the fact that her traditionally published books would slowly disseminate her ideas.


Furthermore, since she had amassed scholarly insights, she held herself accountable for improving society, for broadcasting “helpful” perspectives. Besides, Teresa could no more remove her thoughts from the public domain than she could change her eye color. Sooner or later, a major publishing house would offer her a multi-volume contract. While she outwaited industry lackeys, writers who inconsistently backed concepts, Teresa began to camouflage her newest work.


Entirely squirreling her wisdom didn’t suit Teresa since she was among the few intellects willing to snitch on popular theorists’ manipulations, i.e. on their foregoing entertainment and instruction to embrace wheeler-dealing. Incognito, Teresa warned the public against individuals who mucked with audiences merely for the intrinsic pleasure that such machinations garnered them. She served as an anonymous, albeit well-educated, tattle-tale, as a whistle blower who illuminated the stealthy deeds of deceitful persons.  


Although she was self-knighted, Teresa still shuddered multiple times a day when remembering Liam’s final ill-regard for her. He had: taunted Teresa that she would never be accepted to any academic peerage, laughed at her unemployment, and recommended that she flip burgers.


She had flipped him the finger, instead.


He had countered by scooping his clothes off of their bed, dressing quickly, walking out their front door, and never returning.


Since Teresa had ample savings she was able to use her time to assess how Liam had wronged her. There had been his sabotage of her research, her suspiciously and suddenly broken car motor, and the graduate student with whom Liam had been sexting.


It took only a few short weeks without Liam for Teresa to brighten. No one insisted she wake up early to: perform Child’s Pose or Cat Cow, choke down unneeded dietary supplements, or prostitute herself as a geriatric aid or lunch counter worker. It was nice not to have to wash Liam’s clothes or to walk his dog, too. Teresa had brought that miserable, yippy pet to the local pound, maintaining she’d found it on the street.


Most nights, Teresa luxuriated in long, warm baths. She allowed her cinnamon tea to cool to her liking rather than drink it hot as Liam had demanded. She became the sole master of their apartment and of their kittens (Missy Foo-Foo had recently given birth to a large litter), as well.


In an ideal world, Liam would have stayed away and Teresa would have been able to continue to focus on the travesties of 21st Century rationalism. She would have gotten another university job and become a successful blogger. Companies would have competed to buy advertisements on her pages.


Teresa’s fantasies went unfulfilled. Her idiot ex-lover never returned to: collect his soiled underwear, pay for his half of their apartment’s damage deposit, or remove his crusted dishes. He haunted Teresa on the Internet. On LinkedIn, he minimalized her most archetypal claims. On Snapchat, he posted charts deconstructing her arguments. On Goodreads, he noted the inconsistencies in her most popular books’ main premises.


Consequently, Teresa took to tilting at publishers. Sensibility needed to be enforced. The bazaar of ideas needed to be patrolled. Nitwits like Liam needed to be shot or shut down. The populous was becoming increasingly ill from kowtowing to ill-informed elites like Liam and she was once more growing weary from his verbal violence.


Teresa galloped into the media. On multiple sites, she puffed at duplicitous constraints for critical thinking. She loosened her canons and cannons, imploring audiences to develop judicious responses to stories and to shrug off merchants’ suggestions for buying related products.


Sometimes, the former professor weighted that she might be mistakenly providing the proletariat with a skewed worldview, but she placated herself that she was blameless for others’ existent ignorance. Other times, she considered that she might be mistakenly providing the masses with too much access to Truth, but she comforted herself that going public with insights into literature’s hidden agendas was a valiant act, not a traitorous one.


Liam tried to blackmail her. He threatened to post Teresa’s federally classified discourse analysis of presidential candidate’s speeches on various government listservs. He also menaced that he’d kidnap the kittens.


Teresa, who wondered how Liam knew about her little cats, ignored Liam’s intimidations while busying herself with the next part of her altruistic campaign, the routing of publishing houses lacking clear parameters for author promotion responsibilities. In the end, she bought Facebook and Amazon ads – it was vital for her to boost her message.


As long as the hoi polloi needed to be saved, the literary warrior refused to be stymied. Teresa depleted most of her funds paying book reviewers for illicit mention. Regardless, her gallantry went largely ignored. Little changed for Teresa, except for her: getting blacklisted by indie and mainstream publishing houses, suffering Amazon’s refusal to include her work, and agonizing Facebook’s freezing of her account.


Likewise, little changed for the public. People continued reading both self-proclaimed pulp and highly regarded, morally corrupt books.


Liam’s life changed in that he bullied other authors. Teresa no longer interested him.


Over time, Teresa’s kittens became cats. They inbred and then fostered generations. Hundreds of felines surrounded her dead body.



a line


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