The Major

Observe the Major on a red carpet, and at any given moment three or four paws are on him. His heroism has been well received by the dogs, particularly those in dire need of lubrication and those that possess tongues the size of throw towels. The more feral members wanted to touch him, carve him up, put him on a platter with an apple in his mouth and masticate upon his roasted innards over a Sunday dinner.

He obliged, again and again, even after an exhausted publicist denied him the promised boudoir bounty of lanky debutantes after a long wintry afternoon of vapid interviews in which the same questions were asked and the same answers were proffered. There was always time for one more photo, one more backrub, one more comparative anecdote from some stranger involving an obscure relative that had little to do with the smoky chatter that regular people sequestered from all the madness still had the liberty to enjoy. He is known only for The Incident. He will spend the rest of his days answering questions about his role in The Incident. It will never occur to his interlocutors that he possesses interests or instincts outside this role, or that his heroism was, in fact, perfunctory. The biggest surprise for him is not that this attention has lasted this long, but that he has been continually subjected to this funny photosynthesis and that he is beginning to transform into a trailing plant. There are no other heroes for people to latch onto, although many souls who wandered too close have become trapped against his sticky anthocyanin housing. Relatives have become too occupied by his heroism to inquire about the shattered condition of loved ones. Those spectators who have not become throbbing canine-shaped insects continue to ignore the daily marvels before their eyes. Their notion of heroism remains static, even though heroism itself now requires extraordinary circumstances in order to draw attention. But they cannot see that his arms are metamorphosing into scaly vines and that he is beginning to cough up a curious green bile. Nobody thinks to water the Major or to expose him to proper sunlight. The handlers insist that the Major can find enough hale regard through constant camera flashes.

There were press releases instead of camaraderie. A few remaining sensible souls winced when developments in the Major’s personal life were reported by seemingly responsible news organizations, and when the very nature of heroism mutated with his increasingly convex form. When his tongue fell out at a SoHo House press conference, the journalists laughed at the apparent joke. He was soon reduced to lashing his remarks in crude semaphor. He deteriorated further. And when his spindly spavin withered and his dead form was contained in a pot and his remainders were trundled about across the country, the Major’s heroism extended to his sacrifice, which took several months to become fully detected by those with the keys.

This was the price of fame.

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