What we must have, instead, is total
separation of medicine and state.
June 28th, 2017: A Dialogue
by Giovanni Martelli
Attribute to L. Neil Smith’s The Libertarian Enterprise
Part One available here at Patreon: May 23rd, 2017 (strong language, strong adult themes)
Leo Fruosino: Hello my friend! What are you doing today?
Dieter Sulzbach: Not so much. I'm taking a day off, lying on the couch; the markets are high. How goes it, Leo?
Leo Fruosino: I have a dilemma.
Leo Fruosino: I have too much weed, and no one with whom to smoke it.
Dieter Sulzbach: Oh
Dieter Sulzbach: Is that an invitation?
Leo Fruosino: It has been many months, and it seems to me that much has happened! I would only like to hang out with you.
Dieter Sulzbach: I see. Well, I won't refuse. Your place or mine?
Leo Fruosino: Mine? I have just tidied up. It is still a mess. But we will have to sit on the patio anyway.
Dieter Sulzbach: Cool. I'll see you in about twenty.
Leo Fruosino: Take Drake, Prospect is closed. See you soon!
Leo's apartment was high-rent, high-style, and highly cluttered with a massive number of eccentric items: a few anatomical models, some handmade, sat on the kitchen counter; a turntable near the sliding glass patio door played saccharine Italian pop music; and in the corner, on its short end and bowing in the middle, was a huge sketch, half-finished, of a tumultuous clash of men on horseback.
Mi dispiace; it is a home well-lived-in, " Leo said with a sheepish smile as Dieter toed his shoes off in the entryway. "I have many hobbies and not enough room to keep them all organized." He shrugged, then opened the door of the guest bedroom, which was empty save for a single futon. "But... it is mail day. So at least this room has been reclaimed. For the moment."
Dieter frowned, peering into the room. "Mail day? Wie meinst du das?"
Leo shrugged. "I sell my, er… various and sundry creations on the internet. Andrea mails them for me. I buy him nice things. It is a good deal."
With a chuckle, Dieter put a heavy hand on his friend's shoulder, then paused, feeling his deltoid for a moment. "You have been working out," he observed, smiling down into his eyes. "You are looking good, mein Freund."
"And you as well," Leo noted. "You did not look so good a few months ago."
Dieter only nodded, lifting his shoulders slightly. "Ja, well, life has a way of happening. I might tell you more; maybe we should go outside and see what develops."
Leo smiled obligingly, picking up a small nylon bag from the kitchen counter, and tossed his head toward the patio door. "Andiamo, then," he said, and Dieter followed him through the kitchen and out onto the smallish patio, just large enough for a weatherproof couch and a rectangular glass-topped coffee table which had a few conspicuous splotches of paint on its top and legs.
It was a cloudy day, the sky to the east almost white and the breeze from the west warm; Dieter sat against the arm of the couch, slipping a hand into the pocket of his soft, worn blue jeans.
"Leo, do you mind if we use my piece?" he asked with a little smile, holding it up: it was a spoon pipe, blown glass; a little smaller than his thumb, it was swirled with vibrant red, bright white, and deep blue.
Leo smiled, holding out a hand as he sank into the couch beside him, and Dieter placed the pipe in his palm. " How cute! È così americano, no?"
"Be kind to him," the German said warmly. "His name is Seth."
Cosa?" Leo tilted his head to the side, looking up into Dieter's eyes with a frown. "You have named your pipe?"
Dieter chuckled. "Ja, it is a thing. But he has a story. Would you like to hear it?"
Leo nodded, setting the delicate pipe in his lap and opening the black child-safe container. "Ma certo. I like stories."
His blue eyes sparkling with mischief, Dieter folded his arms over his chest and leaned back to observe him. " So, Seth. He was twenty-seven years old, he was working for the DNC, in the tech staff; it was ostensibly his job to aggregate data on polling stations into an app. He was shot not quite a year ago— early in the morning—and he was taken to the hospital, conscious and talkative."
He watched Leo as he spoke, and he could swear the very tips of his ears had turned pink. "And then," he continued, "he died. Immediately, the media tried to cover it up; to say it was a botched robbery."
Leo grimaced. "Oh, no, Dieter," he said softly as he packed the bowl, his eyes downcast. "Has Ray been right again? He claims that this fellow was the—"
"Allegedly," Dieter reminded him. " Ja, he was allegedly the source of the DNC emails."
With a sigh, Leo put the cap back on the bottle and handed Dieter the little pipe. "Prego. You know, I am coming around to your way of thinking. I have been doing some work for a friend—in my copious free time—and … well, I cannot disclose much. But you told me about the things… the things they do that are not like the things we do. " He lifted a hand to absently scratch his jaw, his eyes focused on a piece of star stuff, as it were, somewhere near his left knee. "Senti," he asked as Dieter took a long, thoughtful hit on the pipe, "what are the things that matter to you?"
Dieter grunted, mulling over the question as he held his breath in his lungs, his eyes tearing; he coughed softly into his shoulder, making a sour face, and sighed out a cloud of smoke. "Why is it always the most important things…." He held the pipe out for Leo and cleared his throat, humming softly. "The same things that matter to most people, I think. It is no big mystery."
"Humor me," Leo pressed him, lifting the pipe to his lips. "Please?"
Ja, ja, okay," Dieter said, leaning back to gaze skyward. "The basic things. Food. Shelter. You know. But the other stuff… well, love. Which is a bigger deal than popular culture makes of it. Sex—good sex, especially with … well." Dieter paused, and Leo gave him a little shy smile as he held a hit in his lungs, so he continued. "A consistent partner. I've already done the… 'hook-up ' thing."
Leo exhaled smoothly, like a pro, but his bright blue-green eyes were already red. "Do you prefer this? I… well, I have been with Andrea for a while now. Two and a half years or so. It is different." The bowl was still smoking, so he drew in half a hit, taking his middle finger off of the carb, then handed it over. "I would have liked to see you use one of my pipes; they are left-handed."
Dieter smiled, taking the pipe in his right hand and rolling it over to hold it as Leo had—his palm curled under the little piece, his thumb and middle finger on opposing sides of the bowl, and shook his head. "It would not be pretty." He paused for thought, his mind still on Leo's question. "You know… there is also money to be considered. Like it or not, it 's important. And I very much like it when I'm making a lot of it."
Ma certo, it is nice to have what one needs —and nicer to have what one wants." Leo met his friend's eyes and smiled, picking up an empty glass from the table beside the sofa. "May I get you anything from the kitchen? "
Nein, danke—I am so cool right now, " Dieter said with a chuckle, setting the pipe down on the table for the moment. "I will stay out here?"
Leo nodded. "I shall return," he said cheerfully, starting for the apartment; Dieter reclined on the couch, draping his knees over the arm and taking his phone out of his pocket to check Reddit.
It was a party every day on his feed, but today was a bacchanal if ever he'd seen one—and he didn't need to scroll down far to find out why.
He giggled to himself with glee, tapping on the link, and folded an arm over his chest to support his elbow as he opened the video.
Apparently that dumb idiot on the Pyramid News Network, that race-baiting so-and-so who had somehow kept his job all this time, after accusing white Americans of ungratefully rejecting the progress bestowed upon them by the former Messiah, had done it. He 'd opened his mouth and inserted his foot, and that brilliant bastard James O'Keefe had caught him, like he'd caught all the others.
Dieter grinned, and he heard the door slide open. "It looks like the PNN may be headed for the garbage heap," he said, hardly able to contain his delight as his friend approached. "What a shame."
Leo tilted his head to the side, admonishing him with a frown. "What have you found, amico mio?"
"This… this… Schlappschwanz Johnson from the Pyramid. He has said now, on the hidden camera, that this Red Scare bullshit is—and I quote—' a nothingburger.'" Dieter laughed to himself, his blue eyes twinkling merrily. "Wherever that phrase came from. "
With a little grimace, Leo sat on the arm of the couch behind Dieter's head, watching the screen of his phone over his shoulder as Johnson said it—he said those exact words, on camera, for all to see.
He took a sip from his water glass, mulling it over; Dieter was delighted, a boyish smile on his handsome face.
"This," he said slowly as the video ended, "this is big."
Leo nodded, chewing his lower lip thoughtfully. "You know, after our conversation—back in January—I began to wonder what it was that Russia had done to put off the, er … former administration." He scratched his jaw, his eyes distant, staring unseeing at the ground. "Have you looked into this at all?"
Dieter shrugged, turning his phone off and setting it down on the table to pick up the pipe, scratching his ankle with the toes of his other foot. "The annexation of Crimea was unpopular, I gather. Likewise the debacle with that band, the girls—?"
"They were hardly a band," Leo said, making a face. "Have you watched their 'act'? It is simply indecency for indecency's sake." He turned to watch as Dieter took a hit, a frown creasing his brow—it had been weeks since he'd talked to Giorgio, but he remembered their conversation as if it were yesterday, and the words stung, but he understood them all too well. "Did you know that Russia ceased adoptions of children to the United States a few years ago? Why do you think this is?"
With a frown, Dieter cupped the pipe in a big hand and exhaled, shrugging. "Because they don't like us very much?"
Leo tutted softly at him, taking the pipe as he offered it. "No, no. The real reason, amico mio, is always much more interesting." He turned the pipe over in his left hand, studying the intricate design in its stubby, capsule-shaped stem: a thin double helix of white, like lace, ran in bands between the thick red and blue stripes. "It seems that they found out that the Russian children were being trafficked upon arrival here. And when he did this, when this law was made, he addressed this—and before Sochi, before the Olympics, he addressed this again: he claimed that there are systems worldwide in which there is open talk of legalizing pedophilia."
Dieter grunted. "Ja, this comes as no shock to me. What on earth has he said in defense of the law before Sochi? This is the 'propaganda' law?"
"Indeed," said Leo, idly flicking his lighter. "His public claim was that the intention of the law was to stop the spread of sexual material to minors. And this is the title of the law as well." He hit the pipe, and Dieter watched him quietly from where he lay on the couch, considering this.
Finally the Italian grimaced and exhaled a cloud of smoke, coughing into his shoulder. "Uff. Anyway, this is his claim. And I watched a few videos about it; it seems to hold up. There is a young fellow with attractive hair on the YouTube who did, er… sort of a summary of a white paper and a few other things. I can try and find it for you, if you like. It is long, maybe fifteen minutes, and he stands in front of a large atlas—"
Laughing softly, Dieter lay a hand over his mouth, and Leo stopped to frown at him indignantly. "I'm sorry, Leo. It is not what you say. Only that you have been watching Paul Joseph Watson." He reached over his head to pat his friend 's knee. "I knew about the adoptions. The trafficking. The, ah… the Russian 'nothingburger.' But you have taken this in a different direction. You are an interesting fellow."
Leo set the pipe down on the table. "Well, I do not know about all this. But I do know that you were right about the stinking criminal that the Democrats ran." His mouth was tight in a frown as he picked up his water glass again to take a drink. "Senti, did you see the time she passed out —"
"And got chucked into a van like a side of beef?" Dieter laughed, sitting up; he picked up the pipe, then took a look into the bowl and frowned, tamping down the ashes inside with a thumb. "Oh… we have killed it," he observed.
With an awkward chuckle, Leo moved off of the arm of the couch to sit beside him, holding out the little black bottle of weed. "Prego. I think that she is very unwell. Her staff was researching Parkinson's medication. She was wearing these peculiar blue glasses that day."
Dieter nodded, emptying the bowl of ash and opening the bottle. "Ja, anti-seizure glasses. There are people who claim she is sicker than that—with some bizarre Australasian malady. I don't know about all that, but you saw, did you not, what became of her running mate's son? Arrested for rioting?"
Leo sighed softly, watching as Dieter packed the bowl. "Yes, yes. You were right, Dieter: they are criminals. By all means, rub it in."
"Don't sound so excited about it," Dieter said, offering the pipe to Leo, who took it. "Anyway, does it make you upset that said criminals are facing justice?"
Shaking his head, Leo lifted the pipe to his mouth, then paused. "It is only… well… there is a certain amount of blind trust which we place in politicians. Do you fancy they are all like this?"
Dieter shrugged, and Leo hit the pipe. " Perhaps not all of them. I would like to think that there are those who work in government to serve their country, rather than their pocketbook, ja? But I think that there is a culture of compromise—of blackmail. And I think that even many of those we would consider innocent have done things we cannot even comprehend. "
Leo picked up one of the throw pillows and lay it in his lap, settling back in the sofa, his eyes looking far away; he handed over the glass, then ruffled a hand through his hair. " Hmm."
The two men sat for a while in silence, and finally, Dieter leaned forward to set the pipe down on the table; when he glanced over his shoulder at Leo, he was not quite there, his eyes red from the weed but his face red from something else. " Are you alright?"
Sì. I am high. But I am low, Dieter —"
He was interrupted by the sound of a piece of brick crunching and a sudden heavy thump! in the bushes just outside the small enclosure; with a start, Dieter looked up.
Leo only sighed in sudden relief, getting to his feet. "It is only Giorgio," he said softly, squeezing past the table to peer out into the bushes; there sat tall, thin Giorgio, tangled up in twigs, irritation in his eyes. "Dio mio, are you alright? Have you fallen?"
Dieter frowned, first checking his lap for the pipe, then noticing it on the table, then standing up to lean out and watch.
"It has happened before, and it will happen again." Giorgio was pale and rake-thin, his long silver braid at least waist-length and impaled on a number of sticks, his eyes pale and grey like stainless steel; he wore a black track jacket and a pair of skinny black jeans, and his hands were scuffed and scraped. "I am uninjured," he said slowly, his voice a soft baritone with a hint of an Italian accent, his long, graceful fingers working to disentangle his hair from the bush. He must have been fifty-something, at least, but he was in excellent shape and his smooth skin looked much younger than all that silver hair.
"Were you climbing the building?" Dieter asked, bewildered.
Leo nodded. "Giorgio gets around in his own way. Senti, Giorgio, I have been doing as you have asked —"
"And you're planning to tell me as I' m being swallowed by the brambles?" Giorgio groused, hesitantly getting to his feet, but his hair snagged halfway up and he grimaced, returning to his work. "Who's your friend? Where's my godson?"
The tips of Leo's ears turned pink as he turned to look at Dieter. "Oh, I—er…." He chuckled softly, caught off guard, and reached out to help Giorgio with a particularly tenacious branch. "This is Dieter. He helps me with my stocks, I have told you—"
"Oh yes," Giorgio said, a light going on in his steely eyes as he clambered finally out of the bush. " And Andrea?"
"It is mail day. He is out." Leo glanced down at his watch, frowning. "Mi dispiace, I lost track of time. I assure you, Dieter is trustworthy."
Giorgio eyed Dieter for a moment, assessing him, then slowly climbed into the small patio to perch atop the sturdy twisted iron fence at its border. "Va bene. Leo tells me you're a bit of a political outcast."
Dieter laughed a little, his blue eyes crinkling with an amicable smile. "I suppose this is true. Giorgio, you look like a man who wishes to speak in private; shall I leave you to it?"
Leo frowned at him. "This… will be difficult," he said tactfully. "Senti, the floor is yours, amico mio; I am afraid that I have gotten you here under, well… the false pretenses. I want for you to tell Signor Giorgio what it is you've told me about Mark de Luca, when we ran into each other at the theatre."
"Mark de Luca?" Dieter blinked at him, bewildered. "The campaign manager of the Beast? That Mark de Luca?"
With a nod, Leo put a hand on his shoulder, encouraging him. "Sì, it is important."
Dieter hesitated, lifting a blond brow at his friend. "What is going on?"
Giorgio grimaced, rolling his eyes. "My apologies. Some things require a certain dramatic flair. This did not, " he said pointedly, narrowing his silver eyes at Leo.
"Who are you, exactly?" Dieter asked, leaning back into the couch cushions uneasily. "I am beginning to feel like Al Pacino in Donnie Brasco."
"This is the problem with unnecessary deception," Giorgio said smoothly, his voice almost parental as he frowned into his young friend's eyes. "Now he doesn't trust you. And by extension, he doesn't trust me. Would it have been so hard to say 'I'm having a friend over, you ought to tell him about Mark de Luca'?" He shook his head, sighing softly in dismay. "Dieter, I assure you, I'm only an interested party; I wear no badge and fly no colors."
"Mark de Luca," Dieter said reluctantly, "is a high-level operative for the DNC who was hired by the Washington Dispatch… he is using his clout to push CIA-authored propaganda pieces."
Giorgio nodded. "Veramente. But Leo tells me you have more than that."
Dieter sighed, scratching the back of his head. "There is talk on the internet that he is, er… at the least, involved in the cover-up of the abuse of children."
"This is what I'm looking for," Giorgio said. "His father was a dentist in Omaha—"
Omaha," said Dieter with a grimace. "Why is it always Omaha? Seth Rich was from Omaha."
Humming thoughtfully, Giorgio wrapped his long hands around the fence. "Who was this?"
Dieter shrugged, indicating the pipe, then offering it to Giorgio, who held up a hand to decline. "A victim of the Democratic National Cartel," he said. "And the alleged source of the WikiLeaks—well, some of them, anyway. Do you mind if I do?"
Giorgio shook his head. "By all means. Dimmi: Leo has been looking at the Mark de Luca e-mails for me. He tells me there's some interesting information in there, and that you had some additional insight," he said, his pale eyes watching as Dieter hit the pipe. "Something from a conservative journalist, and some other things—"
"Oh… that?" Dieter said with an incredulous laugh, his voice tight as he held his breath in his lungs, then finally exhaled. "Ja, well, these people are morally bent, some of them broken beyond all possible repair." He offered the pipe to Leo, and he took it. "It is as I have said before: the tweet from 2011, from well before all of this broke, accuses him of covering up for these atrocious things. It is all public information, you know."
Leo shrugged. "He wanted to hear it from you. "
"Hmm." Dieter frowned at his friend, and then turned back to Giorgio, eyeing him. "Do you know about his brother Peter? He is an art collector."
With a huff, Leo let the flame of his lighter die, holding the pipe to his lips. "If you can call that art ," he said indignantly. "Thinly veiled references to the abuse of children and nothing more. Hideous."
Giorgio raised an arched, grey brow at the two of them. "Leo, you didn't tell me this."
"You said you wanted to hear from him!" Leo said, wounded. "Dieter, honey, show him."
Bewildered, Dieter produced his phone and unlocked it with his thumb. "Leo, this is the most convoluted thing," he muttered, obediently scrolling through his gallery until he found the series of images. "Ja, okay, here you go: this is the piece that hangs above the stairway in his parlor. Swipe right, there are, like, twelve of them. Creepy shit."
He held out his phone, and Giorgio took it with a frown. "Good God," he said, eyeing the golden statue: a headless man, with his arms and legs curled beneath his arched body, that hung suspended over the stairs. "That's unpleasant. "
"So, go on," Dieter urged him.
Giorgio scrolled through the images of Peter de Luca's art collection: a dozen strange and unattractive pieces of sad-eyed kids with reddened hands and backsides, wearing little other than underwear and colorful tank tops; of decapitated paper dolls; a score of dazed-looking naked adult humans in an office, looking more like livestock than laborers; a pair of black-eyed women lying dead in a stream; statues of strange fantasy creatures with long claws and big teeth luring in small children; and a handful of photographs of a pale, red-headed girl in a snow-white bathrobe, looking lost and disoriented inside a cluttered, derelict morgue.
"The last one," Dieter said, " hangs in his brother Mark's office."
"Is that so?" Giorgio asked, swiping right until he found the last one: a man in a suit lay on a table with two others hovering over him, clutching forks and knives with voracious appetite in their eyes. "Christ, in his office? Who are these people?"
Dieter grunted softly, rainclouds in his blue eyes as he considered the question. "They could be demons for all I care. I am only glad that they do not run the country anymore. "
Giorgio chuckled softly, opening his mouth to speak, but Dieter's phone began to vibrate in his hand: a beautiful young man, Mediterranean and olive-skinned with curly dark hair, smiled back at him from the screen.
Shadilay, shadilay, la mia libertà! " the phone sang. "Shadilay, shadilay, oh no-whoa —"
"My goodness," Giorgio said with a laugh, holding the phone out for Dieter as it continued to ring. "Where on earth have you found this old relic?"
Dieter took his phone back, smiling bashfully. "Oh, Jesus. It is a… a meme," he said.
Giorgio regarded him warmly as he took the phone. "This is from my time. I am glad it has not been entirely forgotten."
"No, no. It is well within the public consciousness. Sorry; I'd better take this—hi, Liebchen ," said Dieter as he answered the phone. "Ja, I am at Leo's—yes, I saw the PNN drama. Okay." He paused, a warm smile slowly spreading across his face. "Oh, good —I am proud of you. This is how you—" He stopped, interrupted, and laughed aloud. "It is good to hear you say this. Ja, ja, ich liebe dich. See you soon. Okay—bye, Laz."
He hung up, pocketing the phone and shrugged sheepishly. "Sorry. He is—"
"I thought," Leo said, sounding indignant, "that you broke up. You were so butthurt."
Dieter raised a brow at him. "You are never on the Facebook anymore. We got back together. He apologized, and he is… well. He is on probation. But he has just called me to say he's gotten a job. To help with the, er… making America great again." He paused, turning back to give Giorgio a good, long look. "So, I have shared my information… I think it 's only fair if you tell me who you are."
Giorgio smiled, tilting his head to the side, almost bird-like. "Va bene. You are not the first to ask who I am; you will not be the last. I am part casual observer, part innocent bystander, and part master persuader. But in the end, I am only Giorgio."
"And what sort of a thing is that?" Dieter asked.
"I thought I'd just told you," Giorgio said, lifting one silvery brow. "But in any case, Dieter, who (or what) I am is of very little consequence. I am simply a party interested in the dirty doings of those in power. The rest, well… it's of no relevance at this juncture."
Leo chuckled softly, watching Dieter's smile turn to a frown. "Giorgio, amico mio, this is fascinating —"
"Hush," Giorgio admonished him, smiling at Dieter. "You don't accept this answer."
Dieter shook his head, looking up into his eyes, so strange, like liquid mercury in the shade of the awning above the porch, and pursed his lips. "Nein, I think you are something different from what you say you are. But I don't know what it would be… wait a moment. You're an actor … or a magician…." He mouthed his lower lip, considering him further. "Or a gambler."
With a soft, delighted laugh, Giorgio shrugged, lifting his brows enigmatically. "Sì, perhaps I am all of these things—and others. I am a bit of a Renaissance man, in my own way. I have my fingers in many pies, but I get bored at times and shift my focus; at the moment it's on a thing called the Grey Order. Have you heard of it?"
"That spooky art collective that sponsors the retreats outside of…." Dieter trailed off, scowling, his blond brow knitting. "Omaha." He huffed softly, folding his arms over his chest. "'Art.' Blood. Sex magick. The whole nine demented yards."
Giorgio nodded. "The very same, as well as numerous art festivals and gallery openings… you get the picture. Anyhow, I've a bit of an interest in them, for the time being. So I thank you for the information; it's rather closely related to my investigation."
"Hmm." Dieter frowned, scratching his shoulder absently. "Are you a journalist as well, then?"
A crooked smile materialized on Giorgio's face, and Dieter saw his slightly outsized canine teeth clearly between his lips. "Something like that," he said smoothly.
Leo giggled softly. "Giorgio… you have feathers in your teeth," he said, the skin around his sea-green eyes crinkling cutely as he smiled. "You think that you have caught the canary. What is it you have said to me about unnecessary deception? You are no journalist." He turned to Dieter and nudged him with an elbow. "He will not tell you. But he is, well… he is on his crusade. And he will never stop, until it is finished."
Giovanni Martelli is a twenty-something, left-leaning, anti-war/anti- corruption activist, living in Fort Collins, Colorado. She enjoys traveling (her favorite destination being Florence, Italy), collecting and playing unusual string instruments, and studying foreign languages. She wholeheartedly supports President Donald J. Trump in part because of his efforts to make good on his campaign promises, and in part because it deeply annoys her liberal friends. Praise Kek, all day, every day; meme magic is real.
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