I do try to be polite, Castiel, but just think about those poor men. They lugged all their heavy-duty equipment to that restaurant, just to protect you, and you didn’t even show. Would you believe, someone saw the rifles on them and called the police? They were promptly assumed to be terrorists and were thrown into holding cells for three days with nothing but a rusty sink, a latrine and an endless supply of ice cream sandwiches. They didn’t even have WiFi, Cas.
Unfortunately, complaining about this egregious violation of human rights would imply my involvement, and I can’t afford to have any skeletons dragged out of my closet right now. Opinion polls show that interest in Raphael has begun to decline, potentially due to the recession, and also because the Daily Portent discovered his secret love of buddy cop movies. I think that I’m set to run in this election with a fighting chance.
I digress. My point is, you should have phoned to cancel the meal. Or, for that matter, logged onto Skype. I know that I’m nagging, but you haven’t even responded to my comments on your blog.
Subject: common sense
Cas, leave those brainless mundanities and join me in Nepal. I’ve had my mind’s eye opened, as Luce and I discussed via fax. Although, he did seem to feel that spiritual progress is inextricably tied to listening to looped Beatles songs layered over Vaughan Williams’ Sancta Civitas, a notion towards which I am ambivalent.
You are still occluded, but there’s another path.
Subject: “cashew nuts”
Oh, Balthazar. Balthazar, Balthazar, Balthazar. You were never my least favourite. In the expansive menagerie that is the youngest generation of Miltons, you are like the capybara. An interesting curiosity, not unpleasant to the eye, with a name that’s impossible for my secretary to spell on Christmas cards and the kind of bite that leaves your victims with pus-encrusted sores for the next twelve years of their miserable lives.
The thing is, Balthazar, sometimes capybaras get sick. Sometimes they get rabies. And rabid animals must be put down.
I’ve been dipping into Gabriel’s emails for years, and I’d never expected anything to come of it. I usually just take a peek when I’m having a bad day. It cheers me up to have a good old chuckle at the expense of whatever deteriorating relationship he’s incompetently trying to pretend to refuse to salvage. Recently, though, things have been a little more- shall we say, “lively”?
You should have taken your boss’ advice and stuck to the pig latin, Balthie. (You don’t mind if I call you that, do you? It’s better for you if you don’t mind.)
We know what was in the box. We intend to retrieve it. Unfortunately for us, Gabriel had the foresight/inane good fortune to think of mailing it to Castiel, who appears to be well-guarded.
But, you’re going to be in Lawrence soon, aren’t you, Balthie? Castiel trusts you.
You know what you have to do.
Before you attempt to bargain, recall that we have other methods. But this way, no one gets hurt. This way, you are not the capybara. Don’t be the capybara, Balthazar. No one likes a capybara.
Your favourite uncle,
To: Import contacts list=”Entitled Asspollocks”
Raph, Mikey, for creative purposes, I just need to know something. I haven’t asked you anything like this since that time when we were kids and I found Dad’s printed drafts of his newest Doctor Sexy fanfiction on the kitchen table. So, bear with.
Here goes. It’s stupid, I get that. But I gotta know. Kinda stumped, here.
How exactly do you go about apologising to someone?
To: Import contacts list=”Entitled Asspollocks”
Subject: ignore that last one
I worked it out. I just sent her a piece of modern art made by one of my fans. I even forked out for next-day delivery! It’s a sculpture of the Grand Canyon made entirely of photocopies of the leaked casting sides for my TV show. Did I tell you how well that's going? I haven't written any of the scripts yet, because my team assure me that I'm at my best when I improvise.
Attached is a picture of my face as I await her reply.
CC: “egregiuous dickss”, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, U.Milton@americanstorageandrental.net, RMilton@onestep.gov , email@example.com
Strictly speaking, this is only the second day of my Internet hiatus, but I had to get online in order to tell everyone what forty eight hours of intense cultural deprivation have inspired me to do. Gabriel responded to the news that I intended to write a novel with characteristic insouciance. I expect, had I told the rest of you, the reaction would have been similar, only with greater instances of last-minute invitations to restaurants where a spray of foam alongside a teaspoon of lemon reduction is considered to be dessert. And also fewer suggestions that I sexually harass married women. Generally I would just continue automatically diverting your emails to the spam folder, but I want you to know I’m not playing here. I am completely serious about what I want to be. It’s the only certainty I seem to possess these days, in a world where each day is filled with indecision; where all established meaning is void, and it turns out Starbucks don’t actually deliver outside of a two-mile radius.
Have any of you ever taken a walk through a meadow, with no destination in mind? Deliberately set aside time in which to do absolutely nothing? It was almost alarming, to lie down in the tall grass, trace the edges of the sky, and realise I’d dropped my wristwatch a mile back and I didn’t even care. I haven’t bought a new one yet, and it’s been practically four and a half hours. There are so many details of life that I missed. Did you know avocados actually grow on trees? And here was everybody thinking they were synthetic. We’re all trapped in our own inhibitions, scarcely aware of our own free will. All of us realise, but none of us care. Uriel even pays people to let him pretend that he cares, and Gabriel has an audience of millions to help him pretend that he doesn’t.
This is reality. This is something I would die to preserve. I told Dean I would die for him the other day. He spat out a mouthful of coffee, and said: “whoa, Cas, at least take a guy out to dinner first.” And smiled. It was one of those moments in which you realise you are exactly where you want to be, rather than where you should be, and I wanted to capture it down to the last fibre of colour.
So that’s what I’m going to do. I’ve already drawn up a plot outline – a practical quandary, seeing as I ran out of wall space and Magic Markers about halfway through Chapter Twenty Three – and I will email you the first section presently. Uncle was nothing more than a formulaic hack. I am going to make the Milton name famous. Paradise Lost notwithstanding.
- from Castiel
Subject: You arrogant, short-sighted, irresponsible buffoon.
Words cannot do justice to the extent of my current fury, Gabriel. I am literally incandescent with rage. How anyone can sustain such a consistent, nigh-stratospheric level of idiocy and survive without perpetual injury is thoroughly beyond me – and yet, you manage it. Oh, how you manage it. You are pure poison, Gabriel. Everything you touch curls in on itself and disintegrates. And yet, like some hideous, warp-faced catalyst, you always manage to evade the results of your incompetency. Other, less disgustingly famous people take the fall instead, don’t they?
You sent the package to Castiel?!
What was it about being trusted with a quadruple-sealed, highly incriminating, searingly illegal briefcase that possibly made you see fit to entrust it to dear little David Thoreau in his savage-spattered wilderness?
Where did he hide it, Gabriel? Tell me immediately. Else, I hope you’re happy with having ruined me.
Subject: My infinite appreciation
Many thanks for such a wonderful, personal gift, Gabe. Thoughtfully tailored to the event, eh? Nothing says sorry for years of rampant douchebaggery and wilful neglect quite like tacky fan memorabilia, after all. I’m touched, Gabriel. Positively charmed. Particularly gracious was the fact that you neglected to burden me with a letter, or even an identifying line. Can’t have tangible communication eclipsing all this friendliness and understanding now, can we?
I struggled for a while over how best to express my gratitude, and I think I hit on the perfect idea. Coming your way as we speak, first class delivery, is a ten-inch photo album and scrapbook, detailing all the milestones of my life you were fortunate enough to miss. Especially prominent are my high school graduation, my trip to Rome with Cas and Balth, cast photos from that off-off Broadway production of Repo! the Genetic Opera I directed, newspaper clippings of interviews about my blog – and, of course, mementos from my wedding. All those events you were too busy to attend! I’ve even drawn a stocky little stick figure in every photo, with wiggly eyebrows and misshapen hair. It’s almost as if you were actually there!
In case you have difficulty remembering: I’m the one with the long red hair. But I went to the trouble of circling myself in every picture, along with at least three arrows pointing towards my face, for ease of reference.
No need to thank me. Your love and affection is enough.