I don’t remember Dakota. Dakota is not a memory for me. Dakota is a secret – and a memory for someone else, perhaps my friend Diane, who knew her better.

Even so, that doesn’t stop me from thinking about Dakota amen.

Of course since it is not my memory, I have to make shit up. For instance, I think that Dakota had very long very red hair. I think she was smart as a whip. I believe that she was religious but also, in her own way, an atheist.

Dakota had a room full of guns, but never ever bought any ammunition. She kept the door locked up tight, she said, because that kept the guns out of the hands of the bad guys. The more guns she kept in her safe, the fewer guns found there way out into the small town she lived in.

Of course one could make the argument that buying the guns put more money into the hands of gunmakers. “Oh no,” she’d say. “I only buy guns from sellers at flea markets.”

What did she use to protect herself and her family and her home?

If you took a walk with her around her house, she’d tell you that there were weapons everywhere. That shovel for example could be used to bash someone’s head in. She had a vast collection of knives in the kitchen and she had a uniquely complete understanding of human anatomy. She could also slice onions more swiftly than anyone else I’ve ever known. Once she told me that if I saw a knife in her hand and I was threatening to her, I’d not have much time left to live. And I was her friend in these manufactured memories. Imagine what she’d have said to an enemy.

She had a collection of drones, some of which she’d outfitted with a simple but effective system for deploying very precisely fired darts. Once she’d demonstrated it for me by attacking a very dangerous ringed target in the backyard. Every one of the fifty darts she fired from her array of drones found its numbered mark (she had labeled each dart with a number and placed a matching number on the target). I was suitably impressed.

She wore a beret with razor blades sewn into it, invisible to the casual onlooker, but deadly in the right circumstance. She had a sign which she hung over her door and, ironically, directly above her “Welcome Home Sweet Home” mat. The sign said “If you enter my home uninvited, you will never leave.” She was very proud of that sign. She also had a sign that said “Politicians spit the shit out of your mouth before entering.”

It was like that with her.

Diane knows her much better than me and she says that its true in fact: I made all that up about her. In reality, Diane was far more lethal than anything I could imagine. “And don’t you forget it!” Diane says, every time we talk about Dakota.

In my head, Dakota was born on a motorcycle, driven by her mom and bigger than any other bike on the highway. It was a Harley Davidson, but through some miraculous acts of mechanics, it was also an Indian and a Vincent Black Lightning Special Edition. It was an artisanal motorcycle and was crafted with a singular seat devised solely for the purpose of allowing the rider to give birth while riding across some beautiful expanse such as the Painted Desert, which is, in fact, where Dakota was born.

When Dakota was growing up, her mother was incredibly vigilant. She’d say to Dakota “I’m watching you, I’ve got eyes in the back of my head,” then she’d lift up her hair to show Dakota that she wasn’t kidding. Years later, I found that extra set of eyes to be fascinating – though not nearly as fascinating as the extra pair of arms and hands, or the vestigial wings which, she said, might some day grow out into a full set of wings.

“Who knows?” She’d say. “They might be like wing versions of wisdom teeth – only showing up late in life. Maybe we could call them wisdom wings.”

Dakota’s Mom had a lot of things to say like that.

She once had me and my own Mom over for lunch and while we ate an excellent chicken curry with rice and home made garlic naan, she told us that God was, in fact, not a being at all as we know beings.

God, for Dakota’s Mom was a virus that infected us when we read books. God was the written word. In the Bible, she’d explained, the word was with God and the word was God, so literally the Bible revealed that God was not a creature like us, but rather a virus that infected us with itself through our eyes, entering through the eyes and sometimes when read aloud through the ears. In fact, the folk tradition had been a way of transmitting the virus before writing was introduced by God. God was very good, she said, at replicating itself.

She also explained that other forms of virus inhabited the world of words, not all of them as benign and sometimes helpful as the one called God.

Some of them, she explained, are evil and carry evil ideas and harbor evil wills against us that they wish to accomplish. Most of the time those evil thoughts are contained via the building of churches – there is a secret, hidden spirit in the word kingdom that comes forth when an evil one expresses itself and it pair bonds with the evil thought to self limit: people exposed to such viruses become convinced that their virus is the only one, and that there are secrets which must only be shared among members.

Sadly, in recent years, with the advent of the internet, some of these self limiting mechanisms have been suppressed and so the evil viruses have spread unchecked.

That is why Dakota’s Mom taught her to use all the weapons that I described previously – because eventually the churches infected by these viruses would try to cleanse the good viruses from the world and thus be permitted to enact their evil plans.

It was an interesting lunch.

As the years went by, I forgot this stuff, but Dakota never did.

She had a collection, a secret collection in her home, of words written down in holy formats. She had become an illuminator early in life, and was expert in the fabrication and binding of books.

She kept a concordance, many volumes in fact, of all thoughts both good and evil that had entered the human wet work, as well as including diagrams and illustrations of the various struggles throughout history between the various tribes of viral language. It is Dakota’s theory that there is one great and true Uber virus that will infect the world in the coming century to eradicate all of the evil ones. “This one,” she says, “Will clear our minds and reveal to us the absolute truth. We have to be ready.”

And willing. Sometimes, she adds that we have to be both ready and willing.

One day she said that the proper word for these word viruses is plasmate – the cross bond with us in a kind of symbiosis. They do not exist in the world unless we take them into ourselves. There are plasmates and there are homo-plasmates and all of them are of varying degrees of good or of evil.

Dakota is also a great lover of animals. She lives with a variety of such companions: three cats, a dog, two iguanas. She has a large aquarium with an octopus, a great purple one that loves to linger at the bottom of the tank in a revert. Dakota claims that the octopus has a pure form of intelligence, entirely un-touched by homoplasmates or other viral language things.

I don’t pretend to understand this stuff, I’m just telling you what I imagine about poor Dakota.

Because the version of her that I carry in my head is a tragic figure, batshit crazy and probably headed towards a horrible and violent end. I tell you this now because she is lurking in the back of my mind, she is like a virus of my own, a secret homoplasmate who lives deep down in my dark mind, where those others (like the Banana Queen and Live Doug, and Billy Oaks and Betty Daniels live, all the ones who speak up every now and then or write when I’m wandering in some revery but still have a word count to accomplish.

You will never see Dakota without a book. She keeps a book with her, or more precisely, she keeps a manuscript with her, at all times. In it, she writes out everything important which the homoplasmates impart to her. This morning she was writing about metanoia, and protonoia. She was collating a chart about how these things interacted with a node of consciousness that was even now spreading out in a new collection of fortune telling cards, soon to be published by a company in Massachusetts which had only before printed playing cards.

The artist, she explains, was infected by a particularly virulent strain of an ancient virus that expresses as a kind of witchcraft. If the cards are printed, she fears the world will be profoundly changed because this one will, quite simply, get into everyone. All you have to do is see the cards, even the backs of the cards transmit the protonoia. It’s like calling the evil thoughts on the telephone, but once they are on the other end, you can never ever hang up.

“Promise me,” she says, “that if you see those cards you won’t look at them.”

I don’t have the heart to tell her that if I see them, it will be too late, if they are as powerful as she claims.

When the first small creatures from Proxima started to appear, Dakota was among the first to buy one and to nurture it to live inside her knapsack, where she could interface with it periodically. It paired with her and as a result she has a natural buffer against the intrusive languages so that when she writes in her manuscript, she is protected from contracting any viruses that are not wholly beneficial to her.

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