Jerry Was A Man
by Robert A. Heinlein
©1947 Better Publications, Inc.
Don’t blame the Martians. The human race would have developed plasto-biology in any case.
Look at the older registered Kennel Club breeds—glandular giants like the St. Bernard and the Great Dane, silly little atrocities like the Chihuahua and the Pekingese. Consider fancy goldfish.
The damage was done when Dr. Morgan produced new breeds of fruit flies by kicking around their chromosomes with X-ray. After that, the third generation of the Hiroshima survivors did not teach us anything new; those luckless monstrosities merely publicized standard genetic knowledge.
Mr. and Mrs. Bronson van Vogel did not have social reform in mind when they went to the Phoenix Breeding Ranch; Mr. Van Vogel simply wanted to buy a Pegasus. He had mentioned it at breakfast. "Are you tied up this morning, my dear?"
"Not especially. Why?"
"I’d like to run out to Arizona to order a Pegasus designed."
"A Pegasus? A flying horse? Why, my sweet?"
He grinned. "Just for fun. Pudgy Dodge was around the Club yesterday with a six-legged dachshund—must have been over a yard long. It was clever, but he swanked so much I want to give him something to stare at. Imagine, Martha—me landing on the Club ‘copter platform on a winged horse. That'll snap his eyes back!"
She turned her eyes from the Jersey shore to look indulgently at her husband. She was not fooled; this would be expensive. But Brownie was such a dear! "When do we start?"
They landed two hours earlier than they started. The airsign read, in letters fifty feet high:
PHOENIX BREEDING RANCH
Controlled Genetics—licensed Labor Contractors
" ‘Labor Contractors’?" she read. "I thought this place was used just to burbank new animals?"
"They both design and produce," he explained importantly. "They distribute through the mother corporation ‘Workers’. You ought to know; you own a big chunk of Workers common."
"You mean I own a bunch of apes? Really?"
"Perhaps I didn’t tell you. Haskell and I—" He leaned forward and informed the field that he would land manually; he was a bit proud of his piloting.
He switched off the robot and added, briefly as his attention was taken up by heading the ship down, "Haskell and I have been plowing your General Atomics dividends back into Workers, Inc. Good diversification—still plenty of dirty work for the anthropoids to do." He slapped the keys; the scream of the nose jets stopped conversation.
Bronson had called the manager in flight; they were met—not with red carpet, canopy, and footmen, though the manager strove to give that impression. "Mr. Van Vogel? And Mrs. Van Vogel! We are honored indeed!" He ushered them into a tiny, luxurious unicar; they jeeped off the field, up a ramp, and into the lobby of the administration building. The manager, Mr. Blakesly, did not relax until he had seated them around a fountain in the lounge of his offices, struck cigarettes for them, and provided tall, cool drinks.
Bronson Van Vogel was bored by the attention, as it was obviously inspired by his wife’s Dun & Bradstreet rating (ten stars, a sunburst, and heavenly music). He preferred people who could convince him that he had invented the Briggs fortune, instead of marrying it.
"This is business, Blakesly. I’ve an order for you."
"So? Well, our facilities are at your disposal. What would you like, sir?"
"I want you to make me a Pegasus."
"A Pegasus? A flying horse?"
Blakesly pursed his lips. "You seriously want a horse that will fly? An animal like the mythical Pegasus?"
"Yes, yes—that’s what I said."
"You embarrass me, Mr. Van Vogel. I assume you want a unique gift for your lady. How about a midget elephant, twenty inches high, perfectly housebroken, and able to read and write? He holds his stylus in his trunk—very cunning."
"Does he talk?" Demanded Mrs. Van Vogel.
"Well, now, my dear lady, his voice box, you know—and his tongue—he was not designed for speech. If you insist on it, I will see what our plasticians can do."
"You can have your Pegasus, Brownie, but I think I may want this toy elephant. May I see him?"
"Most surely. Harstone!"
The air answered Blakesly. "Yes, boss?"
"Bring Napoleon to my lounge."
"Right away, sir."
"Now about your Pegasus, Mr. Van Vogel . . . I see difficulties but I need expert advice. Dr. Cargrew is the real heart of this organization, the most eminent bio-designer—of terrestrial origin, of course—on the world today." He raised his voice to actuate relays. "Dr. Cargrew!"
"What is it, Mr. Blakesly?"
"Doctor, will you favor me by coming to my office?"
"I’m busy. Later."
Mr. Blakesly excused himself, went into his inner office, then returned to say that Dr. Cargrew would be in shortly. In the mean time Napoleon showed up. The proportions of his noble ancestors had been preserved in miniature; he looked like a statuette of an elephant, come amazingly to life.
He took three measured steps into the lounge, then saluted each of them with his trunk. In saluting Mrs. Van Vogel he dropped to his knees as well.
"Oh, how cute!" she gurgled. "Come here, Napoleon."
The elephant looked at Blakesly, who nodded. Napoleon ambled over and laid his trunk across her lap. She scratched his ears; he moaned contentedly.
"Show the lady how you can write", ordered Blakesly. "Fetch your things from my room."
Napoleon waited while she finished treating a particularly satisfying itch, then oozed away to return shortly with several sheets of heavy white paper and an oversized pencil. He spread a sheet in front of Mrs. Van Vogel, held it down daintily with a fore foot, grasped the pencil with his trunk finger, and printed in large, shaky letters, "I LIKE YOU."
"The darling!" She dropped to her knees and put her arms around his neck. "I simply must have him. How much is he?"
"Napoleon is part of a limited edition of six," Blakesly said carefully. "Do you want an exclusive model, or may the others be sold?"
"Oh, I don’t care, I just want Nappie. Can I write him a note?"
"Certainly, Mrs. Van Vogel. Print large letters and use basic English. Napoleon knows most of it. His price, nonexclusive is $350,000. That includes five years salary for his attending veterinary.
"Give this gentleman a check, Brownie," she said over her shoulder.
"Don’t be tiresome, Brownie." She hardly looked up when Dr. Cargrew came in.
Cargrew was a chilly figure in white overalls and skull cap. He shook hands brusquely, struck a cigarette, and sat down. Blakesly explained.
Cargrew shook his head. "It’s a physical impossibility."
Van Vogel stood up. "I can see," he said distantly, "That I should have taken my custom to NuLife Laboratories. I came here because we have a financial interest in this firm and because I was naïve enough to believe the claims of your advertisements."
"Siddown, young man!" Cargrew ordered. "Take your trade to those thumb-fingered idiots if you wish—but I warn you they couldn’t grow wings on a grasshopper. First you listen to me."
"We can grow anything and make it live. I can make you a living thing—I won't call it an animal—the size and shape of that table over there. It wouldn’t be good for anything, but it would be alive. It would ingest food, use chemical energy, give off excretions, and display irritability. But it would be a silly piece of manipulation. Mechanically a table and an animal are two different things. Their functions are different, so their shapes are different. Now I can make you a winged horse—"
"You just said you couldn’t."
"Don’t interrupt. I can make a winged horse that will look just like the pictures in the fairy stories. If you want to pay for it; we’ll make it—we’re in business. But it won’t be able to fly."
"Because it’s not built for flying. The ancient who dreamed up that myth knew nothing about aerodynamics and still less about biology. He stuck wings on a horse, just stuck them on, thumb tacks and glue. But that doesn’t make a flying machine. Remember, son, that an animal is a machine, primarily a heat engine with a control system to operate levers and hydraulic systems, according to definite engineering laws. You savvy to aerodynamics?"
"Well, I’m a pilot."
"Hummph! Well, try to understand this. A horse hasn’t got the heat engine for flight. He’s a hayburner and that’s not efficient. We might mess around with a horse’s insides so that he could live on a diet of nothing but sugar and then he might have enough energy to fly short distances. But he still would not look like the mythical Pegasus. To anchor his flying muscles he would need a breast bone maybe ten feet long. He might have to have as much as eighty feet wing spread. Folded, his wings would cover him like a tent. You’re up against the cube-square disadvantage."
Cargrew gestured impatiently. "Lift goes by the square of a given dimension; dead load by the cube of the same dimension, other things being equal. I might be able to make you a Pegasus the size of a cat without distorting the proportions too much."
"No, I want one I can ride. I don’t mind the wing spread and I’ll put up with the big breast bone. When can I have him?"
"I’ll have to consult with B’na Kreeth." He whistled and chirped; a portion of the wall facing them dissolved and they found themselves looking into a laboratory. A Martian, life-size, showed in the forepart of the three-dimensional picture.
When the creature chirlupped back at Cargrew, Mrs. Van Vogel looked up, then quickly looked away. She knew it was silly but she simply could not stand the sight of Martians—and the ones who had modified themselves to a semi-manlike form disgusted her the most.
After they had twittered and gestured at each other for a minute or two Cargrew turned back to van Vogel. "B’na says that you should forget it; it would take too long. He wants to know how you’d like a fine unicorn, or a pair, guaranteed to breed true?"
"Unicorns are old hat. How long would the Pegasus take?"
After another squeaky-door conversation Cargrew answered, "Ten years probably, sixteen years on the guarantee."
"Ten years? That’s ridiculous!"
Cargrew looked shirty. "I thought it would take fifty, but if B’na says he can do it in three to five generations, then he can do it. B’na is the finest bio-micrurgist in two planets. His chromosome surgery is unequalled. After all, young man, natural processes would take upwards of a million years to achieve the same result, if it were achieved at all. Do you expect to be able to buy miracles?"
Van Vogel had the grace to look sheepish. "Excuse me, Doctor. Let’s forget it. Ten years really is too long. How about the other possibility? You said you could make a picture-book Pegasus, as long as I did not insist on flight. Could I ride him? On the ground?
"Oh, certainly. No good for polo, but you could ride him."
"I’ll settle for that. Ask Benny Creeth, or what ever his name is, how long that would take."
The Martian had faded out of the screens. "I don’t need to ask him," Cargrew asserted. "This is my job—purely manipulation. B’na’s collaboration is required only for rearrangement and transplanting of genes—true genetic work. I can let you have the beast in eighteen months."
"Can’t you do better than that?"
"What do you expect, man? It takes eleven months to grow a new-born colt. I want one month of design and planning. The embryo will be removed on the fourth day and will be developed in an extra-uterine capsule. I’ll operate ten or twelve times during gestation, grafting and budding and other things you’ve heard of. One year from now we’ll have a baby colt, with wings. Thereafter I’ll deliver to you a six-months-old Pegasus."
"I’ll take it."
Cargrew made some notes, then read, "One alate horse, not capable of flight and not to breed true. Basic breed your choice—I suggest a Palomino, or an Arabian. Wings designed after a condor, in white. Simulated pin feathers with a grafted fringe of quill feathers, or reasonable facsimile." He passed the sheet over. "Initial that and we’ll start in advance of formal contract."
"It’s a deal," agreed van Vogel. "What is the fee?" He placed his monogram under Cargrew’s.
Cargrew made further notes and handed them to Blakesly—estimates of professional man-hours, purchases, and overhead. He had padded the figures to subsidize his collateral research but even he raised his eyebrows at the dollars-and-cents interpretation Blakesly put on the data. "That will be an even two million dollars."
Van Vogel hesitated; his wife had looked up at the mention of money. But she turned her attention back to the scholarly elephant.
Blakesly added hastily, "That is for an exclusive creation, of course."
"Naturally," Van Vogel agreed briskly, and added the figure to the memorandum.
Van Vogel was ready to return, but his wife insisted on seeing the "apes," as she termed the anthropoid workers. The discovery that she owned a considerable share in these subhuman creatures had intrigued her. Blakesly eagerly suggested a trip through the laboratories in which the workers were developed from true apes.
They were arranged in seven buildings, the seven "Days of Creation." "First Day" was a large building occupied by Cargrew, his staff, his operating rooms, incubators, and laboratories. Martha van Vogel stared in horrified fascination at living organs and even complete embryos, living artificial lives sustained by clever glass and metal recirculating systems and exquisite automatic machinery.
She could not appreciate the techniques; it seemed depressing. She had about decided against plasto-biology when Napoleon, by tugging at her skirts, reminded her that it produced good things as well as horrors.
The building "Second Day" they did not enter; it was occupied by B’na Kreeth and his racial colleagues. "We could not stay alive in it, you understand," Blakesly explained. Van Vogel nodded; his wife hurried on—she wanted no Martians, even behind plastiglass.
From there on the buildings were for development and production of commercial workers. "Third Day" was used for development of variations in the anthropoids to meet constantly changing labor requirements. "Fourth Day" was a very large building devoted entirely to production-line incubators for commercial types of anthropoids. Blakesly explained that they had dispensed with normal birth. "The policy permits exact control of forced variations, such as for size, and saves hundreds of thousands of worker-hours on the part of the female anthropoids."
Martha van Vogel was delighted with the "Fifth Day," the anthropoid kindergarten where the little tykes learned to talk and were conditioned to the social patterns necessary to their station in life. They worked at simple tasks such as sorting buttons and digging holes in sand piles, with pieces of candy given as incentives for fast and accurate work.
"Sixth Day" completed the anthropoid’s educations. Each learned the particular sub-trade it would practice, cleaning, digging, and especially agricultural semi-skills such as weeding, thinning, and picking. "One Nisei farmer working three neo-chimpanzees can grow as many vegetables as a dozen old-style farm hands." Blakesly asserted. "They really like to work—when we get through with them."
They admired the almost incredibly heavy tasks done by modified gorillas and stopped to gaze at the little neo-Capuchins doing high picking on prop trees, then moved on toward "Seventh Day."
This building was used for the radioactive mutation of genes and therefore located some distance away from the others. They had to walk, as the sidewalk was being repaired; the detour took them past workers’ pens and barracks. Some of the anthropoids crowded up to the wire and began calling to them: "Sigret! Sigret! Preese, Missy! Preese, Boss! Sigret!"
"What are they saying?" Martha van Vogel inquired.
"They are asking for cigarettes," Blakesly answered in annoyed tones. "They know better, but they are like children. Here—I’ll put a stop to it." He stepped up to the wire and shouted to an elderly male, "Hey! Strawboss!"
The worker addressed wore, in addition to the usual short canvas kilt, a bedraggled arm band. He turned and shuffled toward the fence. "Strawboss," ordered Blakesly, "get those Joes away from here."
"Okay, boss," the old fellow acknowledged and started cuffing those nearest him. "Scram, you Joes! Scram!"
"But I have some cigarettes," protested Mrs. Van Vogel, "and I would gladly have given them some."
"It doesn’t do to pamper them," the Manager told her. "They have been taught that luxuries come only from work. I must apologize for my poor children; those in these pens are getting old and forgetting their manners."
She did not answer but moved further along the fence to where one old neo-chimp was pressed up against the wire, staring at them with soft, tragic eyes, like a child at a bakery window. He had taken no part in the jostling demand for tobacco and had been let alone by the strawboss. "Would you like a cigarette?" she asked him.
She struck one which he accepted with fumbling grace, took a long, lung-filled drag, let the smoke trickle out his nostrils, and said shyly, ""Sankoo, Missy. Me Jerry."
"How do you do, Jerry?"
"Howdy, Missy." He bobbed down, bending his knees, ducking his head, and clasping his hands to his chest, all in one movement.
"Come along, Martha." Her husband and Blakesly had moved in behind her.
"In a moment," she answered. "Brownie, meet my friend, Jerry. Doesn’t he look just like Uncle Albert? Except that he looks so sad. Why are you unhappy, Jerry?"
"They don’t understand abstract ideas," put in Blakesly.
But Jerry surprised him. "Jerry sad." He announced in tones so doleful that Martha van Vogel did not know whether to laugh or cry.
"Why, Jerry?" she asked gently. "Why are you so sad?"
"No work," he stated. "No sigret. No candy. No work."
"These are all old workers who have passed their usefulness," Blakesly repeated. "Idleness upsets them, but we have nothing for them to do."
"Well!" she said. "Then why don’t you have them sort buttons, or something like that, such as the baby ones do?"
"They wouldn’t even do that properly," Blakesly answered her. "These workers are senile."
"Jerry isn’t senile! You heard him talk."
"Well, perhaps not. Just a moment." He turned to the apeman, who was squatting down in order to scratch Napoleon’s head with a long forefinger thrust through the fence. "You, Joe! Come here."
Blakesly felt around the worker’s hairy neck and located a thin steel chain to which was attached a small metal tag. He studied it. "You’re right," he admitted. "He’s not really over age, but his eyes are bad. I remember the lot—cataracts as a result of an unfortunate linked mutation." He shrugged.
"But that’s no reason to let him grieve his heart out in idleness."
"Really, Mrs. Van Vogel, you should not upset yourself about it. They don’t stay in these pens long—only a few days at the most."
"Oh," she answered, somewhat mollified, "you have some other place to retire them to, then. Do you give them something to do there? You should—Jerry wants to work. Don’t you, Jerry?"
The neo-chimp had been struggling to follow the conversation. He caught the last idea and grinned. "Jerry work! Sure Mike! Good worker." He flexed his fingers, then made fists, displaying fully opposed thumbs.
Mr. Blakesly seemed somewhat nonplused. "Really, Mrs. Van Vogel, there is no need. You see—" He stopped.
Van Vogel had been listening irritably. His wife’s enthusiasms annoyed him, unless they were also his own. Furthermore he was beginning to blame Blakesly for his own recent extravagance and had a premonition that his wife would find some way to make him pay, very sweetly, for his indulgence.
Being annoyed with both of them, he chucked in the perfect wrong remark. "Don’t be silly, Martha. They don’t retire them; they liquidate them."
It took a little time for the idea to sink in, but when it did she was furious. "Why . . . why—I never heard of such a thing! You ought to be ashamed. You . . . you would shoot your own grandmother."
"Mrs. Van Vogel—please!"
"Don’t ‘Mrs. Van Vogel’ me! It’s got to stop—you hear me?" She looked around at the death pens, at the milling hundreds of old workers therein. "It’s horrible. You work them until they can’t work anymore, then you take away their little comforts, and you dispose of them. I wonder you don’t eat them!"
"They do," her husband said brutally. "Dog food."
"What! Well, we’ll put a stop to that!"
"Mrs. Van Vogel," Blakesly pleaded. "Let me explain."
"Hummph! Go ahead. It had better be good."
"Well, it’s like this—" His eye fell on Jerry, standing with worried expression at the fence. "Scram, Joe!" Jerry shuffled away.
"Wait Jerry!" Mrs. Van Vogel called out. Jerry paused uncertainly. "Tell him to come back." She ordered Blakesly.
The Manager bit his lip, then called out, "Come back here."
He was beginning definitely to dislike Mrs. Van Vogel, despite his automatic tendency to genuflect in the presence of a high credit rating. To be told how to run his own business—well, now, indeed! "Mrs. van Vogel, I admire your humanitarian spirit but you don’t understand the situation. We understand our workers and do what is best for them. They die painlessly before their disabilities can trouble them. They live happy lives, happier than yours or mine. We trim off the bad part of their lives, nothing more. And don’t forget, these poor beasts would never have been born had we not arranged it."
She shook her head. "Fiddlesticks! You’ll be quoting the Bible at me next. There will be no more of it, Mr. Blakesly. I shall hold you personally responsible."
Blakesly looked bleak. "My responsibilities are to the directors."
"You think so?" She opened her purse and snatched out her telephone. So great was her agitation that she did not bother to call through, but signalled the local relay operator instead. "Phoenix? Get me Great New York Murray Hill 9Q-4004, Mr. Haskell. Priority—star subscriber 777. Make it quick." She stood there, tapping her foot and glaring, until her business manager answered. "Haskell? This is Martha van Vogel. How much Workers, Incorporated, common do I own? No, no never mind that—what percent? . . . so? Well, it’s not enough. I want 51% by tomorrow morning . . . all right, get proxies for the rest but get it . . . I didn’t ask you what it would cost; I said get it. Get busy." She disconnected abruptly and turned to her husband. "We’re leaving, Brownie, and we’re taking Jerry with us. Mr. Blakesly, will you kindly have him taken out of that pen? Give him a check for the amount, Brownie."
"My mind is made up, Brownie."
Mr. Blakesly cleared his throat. It was going to be pleasant to thwart this woman. "The workers are never sold. I’m sorry. It’s a matter of policy."
"Very well then, I’ll take a permanent lease."
"This worker has been removed from the labor market. He is not for lease."
"Am I going to have trouble with you?"
"If you please, madame! This worker is not available under any terms—but as a courtesy to you, I am willing to transfer to you indentures for him, gratis. I want you to know that the policies of this firm are formed from a very real concern for the welfare of our charges as well as from the standpoint of good business practice. We therefore reserve the right to inspect at any time to assure ourselves that you are taking proper care of this worker." There, he told himself savagely, that will stop her clock!
"Of course. Thank you, Mr. Blakesly. You are most gracious."
The trip back to Great New York was not jolly. Napoleon hated it and let it be known. Jerry was patient, but airsick. By the time they were grounded the van Vogels were not on speaking terms.
"I’m sorry Mrs. van Vogel. The shares were simply not available. We should have a proxy on the O’Toole block but someone tied them up an hour before I reached them."
"Undoubtedly. You should not have tipped him off; you gave him time to warn his employers."
"Don’t waste time telling me what mistakes I made yesterday. What are you going to do today?"
"My dear Mrs. van Vogel, what can I do? I’ll carry out any instructions you care to give."
"Don’t talk nonsense. You are supposed to be smarter than I am; that’s why I pay you to do my thinking for me."
Mr. Haskell looked helpless.
His principle struck a cigarette so hard she broke it. "Why isn’t Weinberg here?"
"Really, Mrs. van Vogel, there are no special legal aspects. You want the stock; we can’t buy it nor bind it. Therefore—"
"I pay Weinberg to know the legal angles. Get him."
Weinberg was leaving his office; Haskell caught him on a chase-me circuit. "Sidney," Haskell called out. "Come to my office, will you? Oscar Haskell."
"Sorry. How about four o’clock?"
"Sidney, I want you—now!" cut in the client’s voice. "This is Martha van Vogel."
The little man shrugged helplessly. "Right away," he agreed. That woman—why hadn’t he retired on his one hundred and twenty-fifth birthday, as his wife had urged him to?
Ten minutes later he was listening to Haskell’s explanations and his client’s interruptions. When they had finished he spread his hands. "What do you expect, Mrs. van Vogel? These workers are chattels. You have not been able to buy the property rights involved; you are stopped. But I don’t see what you are worked up about. They gave you the worker whose life you wanted preserved."
She spoke forcefully under her breath, then answered him. "That’s not important. What is one worker among millions? I want to stop this killing, all of it."
Weinberg shook his head. "If you were able to prove that their methods of disposing of these beasts were inhumane, or that they were negligent of their physical welfare before destroying them, or that the destruction was wanton—"
"Wanton? It certainly is!"
"Probably not in a legal sense, my dear lady. There was a case, Julius Hartman et al. Vs. Hartman Estate, 1972, I believe, in which a permanent injunction was granted against carrying out a term of the will which called for the destruction of a valuable collection of persian cats. But in order to use that theory you would have to show that these creatures, when superannuated, are notwithstanding more valuable alive than dead. You cannot compel a person to maintain chattels at a loss."
"See here, Sidney, I didn’t get you over here to tell me how this can’t be done. If what I want isn’t legal, then get a law passed."
Weinberg looked at Haskell, who looked embarrassed and answered, "Well, the fact of the matter is, Mrs. van Vogel, that we have agreed with the other members of the Commonwealth Association not to subsidize any legislation during the incumbency of the present administration."
"How ridiculous! Why?"
"The Legislative guild has brought out a new fair-practices code which we consider quite unfair, a sliding scale which penalizes the well-to-do—all very nice sounding, with special provisions for nominal fees for veterans’ private bills and such things—but in fact the code is confiscatory. Even the Briggs Foundation can hardly afford to take a proper interest in public affairs under this so-called code."
"Hmmph! A fine day when legislators join unions—they are professional men. Bribes should be competitive. Get an injunction."
"Mrs. van Vogel," protested Weinberg, "how can you expect me to get an injunction against an organization which has no legal existence? In a legal sense, there is no Legislative Guild, just as the practice of assisting legislation by subsidy has itself no legal existence."
"And babies come under cabbage leaves. Quit stalling me, gentlemen. What are you going to do?"
Weinberg spoke when he saw that Haskell did not intend to. "Mrs. van Vogel, I think we should retain a special shyster."
"I don’t employ shysters, even—I don’t understand the way they think. I am a simple housewife, Sidney."
Mr. Weinberg flinched at her self-designation while noting that he must not let her find out that the salary of his own staff shyster was charged to her payroll. As convention required, he maintained the front of a simple, barefoot solicitor, but he had found out long ago that Martha van Vogel’s problems required an occasional dose of the more exotic branch of the law. "The man I have in mind is a creative artist," he insisted. "It is no more necessary to understand him than it is to understand the composer in order to appreciate a symphony. I do recommend that you talk with him, at least."
"Oh, very well! Get him up here."
"Here? My dear lady!" Haskell was shocked at the suggestion; Weinberg looked amazed. "It would not only cause any action you bring to be thrown out of court if it were known that you had consulted this man, but it would prejudice any Briggs enterprise for years."
Mrs. van Vogel shrugged. "You men. I never will understand the way you think. Why shouldn’t one consult a shyster as openly as one consults an astrologer?"
James Roderick McCoy was not a large man, but he seemed large. He managed to dominate even so large a room as Mrs. van Vogel’s salon. His business card read:
J. R. McCOY
"The Real McCoy"
Licensed Shyster—Fixing, Special Contracts,
Angles. All Work Guaranteed.
Telephone Skyline 9-8M4554
Ask for Mac
The number given was the pool room of the notorious Three Planets Club. He wasted no time on offices and kept his files in his head—the only safe place for them.
He was sitting on the floor, attempting to teach Jerry to shoot craps, while Mrs. van Vogel explained her problem. "What do you think, Mr. McCoy? Could we approach it through the SPCA? My public relations staff could give it a build up."
McCoy got to his feet. "Jerry’s eyes aren’t so bad; he caught me trying to palm box cars off on him as a natural. No," he continued, "the SPCA angle is no good. They’ll be ready to prove that the anthropoids actually enjoy being killed off."
Jerry rattled the dice hopefully. "That’s all, Jerry. Scram."
"Okay, boss." The ape man got to his feet and went to the big stereo which filled a corner of the room. Napoleon ambled after him and switched it on. Jerry punched a selector button and got a blues singer. Napoleon immediately punched another, then another and another until he got a loud but popular band. He stood there, beating out the rhythm with his trunk.
Jerry looked pained and switched it back to his blues singer. Napoleon stubbornly reached out with his prehensile nose and switched it off.
Jerry used a swear word.
"Boys!" called out Mrs. van Vogel. "Quit squabbling. Jerry, let Nappie play what he wants to. You can play the stereo when Nappie has to take his nap.
"Okay, Missy Boss."
McCoy was interested. "Jerry likes music?"
"Like it? He loves it. He’s been learning to sing."
"Huh? This I gotta hear."
"Certainly. Nappie—turn off the stereo." The elephant complied but managed to look put upon. "Now Jerry—‘Jingle Bells.’ " She led him in it:
"Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the day—", and he followed,
"Jinger bez, jinger bez, jinger awrah day;
Oh, wot fun tiz to ride in one-hoss open sray."
He was flat, he was terrible. He looked ridiculous, patting out the time with one splay foot. But it was singing.
"Say, that’s fast!" McCoy commented. "Too bad Nappie can’t talk—we’d have a duet."
Jerry looked puzzled. "Nappie talk good," he stated. He bent over the elephant and spoke to him. Napoleon grunted and moaned back at him. "See, Boss?" Jerry said triumphantly.
"What did he say?"
"He say, ‘Can Nappie pray stereo now?’ "
"Very well, Jerry." Mrs. van Vogel interceded. The ape man spoke to his chum in whispers. Napoleon squealed and did not turn on the stereo.
"Jerry!" said his mistress. " I said nothing of the sort; he does not have to play your blues singer. Come away, Jerry. Nappie—play what you want to."
"You mean he tried to cheat?" McCoy inquired with interest.
"He certainly did."
"Hmm—Jerry’s got the makings of a real citizen. Shave him and put shoes on him and he’d get by all right in the precinct I grew up in." He stared at the anthropoid. Jerry stared back, puzzled but patient. Mrs. van Vogel had thrown away the dirty canvas kilt which was both his badge of servitude and a concession to propriety and had replaced it with a kilt in the bright Cameron war plaid, complete to sporan, and topped off with a Glengarry.
"Do you suppose he could learn to play the bagpipes?" McCoy asked. "I’m beginning to get an angle."
"Why, I don’t know. What’s your idea?"
McCoy squatted down cross-legged and began practicing rolls with his dice. "Never mind," he answered when it suited him, "that angle’s no good. But we’re getting there." He rolled four naturals, one after the other. "You say Jerry still belongs to the Corporation?"
"In a titular sense, yes. I doubt if they will ever try to repossess him."
"I wish they would try." He scooped up the dice and stood up. "It’s in the bag, Sis. Forget it. I’ll want to talk to your publicity man but you can quit worrying about it."
Of course Mrs. van Vogel should have knocked before entering her husband’s room—but then she would not have overheard what he was saying, nor to whom.
"That’s right," she heard him say, "we haven’t any further need for him. Take him away, the sooner the better. Just be sure the men you send over have a signed order directing us to turn him over."
She was not apprehensive, as she did not understand the conversation, but merely curious. She looked over her husband’s shoulder at the video screen.
There she saw Blakesly’s face. His voice was saying, "Very well, Mr. Van Vogel, the anthropoid will be picked up tomorrow."
She strode up to the screen. "Just a minute, Mr. Blakesly—" then, to her husband, "Brownie, what in the world do you think you are doing?"
The expression she surprised on his face was not one he had ever let her see before. "Why don’t you knock?"
"Maybe it’s a good thing that I didn’t. Brownie, did I hear you right? Were you telling Mr. Blakesly to pick up Jerry?" She turned to the screen. "Was that it, Mr. Blakesly?"
"That is correct, Mrs. van Vogel. And I must say I find this confusion most—"
"Stow it." She turned back. " Brownie, what have you to say for yourself?"
"Martha, you are being preposterous. Between that elephant and that ape this place is a zoo. I actually caught your precious Jerry smoking my special, personal cigars today . . . not to mention the fact that both of them play the stereo all day long until a man can’t get a moment’s peace. I certainly don’t have to stand for such things in my own house."
"Whose house, Brownie?"
"That’s beside the point. I will not stand for—"
"Never mind." She turned to the screen. "My husband seems to have lost his taste for exotic animals, Mr. Blakesly. Cancel the order for a Pegasus."
"Sauce for the goose, Brownie. I’ll pay for your whims; I’m damned if I’ll pay for your tantrums. The contract is cancelled, Mr. Blakesly. Mr. Haskell will arrange the details."
Blakesly shrugged. "Your capricious behavior will cost you, of course. The penalties—"
"I said Mr. Haskell would arrange the details. One more thing, Mister Manager Blakesly—have you done as I told you to ?"
"What do you mean?"
"You know what I mean—are those poor creatures still alive and well?"
"That is not your business." He had, in fact, suspended the killings; the directors had not wanted to take any chances until they saw what the Briggs trust could manage, but Blakesly would not give her the satisfaction of knowing.
She looked at him as if he were a skipped dividend. "It’s not, eh? Well, bear this in mind, you cold-blooded little pipsqueak: I’m holding you personally responsible. If just one of them dies from anything, I’ll have your skin for a rug." She flipped off the connection and turned to her husband. "Brownie—"
"It’s useless to say anything," he cut in, in the cold voice he normally used to bring her to heel. "I shall be at the Club. Good-bye!"
"That is just what I was going to suggest."
"I’ll have your clothes sent over. Do you have anything else in this house?"
He stared at her. "Don’t talk like a fool, Martha."
"I’m not talking like a fool." She looked him up and down. "My, but you are handsome, Brownie. I guess I was a fool to think I could buy a big hunk of man with a checkbook. I guess a girl gets them free, or she doesn’t get them at all. Thanks for the lesson." She turned and slammed out of the room and into her own suite.
Five minutes later, makeup repaired and nerves steadied by a few whiffs of Fly-Right, she called the pool room of the Three Planets Club. McCoy came to the screen carrying a cue. "Oh, it’s you, sugar-puss. Well, snap it up—I’ve got four bits on this game."
"This is business."
"Okay, okay—spill it."
She told him the essentials. "I’m sorry about cancelling the flying horse contract, Mr. McCoy. I hope it won’t make your job any harder. I’m afraid I lost my temper."
"Fine. Go lose it again."
"You’re barreling down the groove, kid. Call Blakesly up again. Bawl him out. Tell him to keep his bailiffs away from you, or you’ll stuff ‘em and use them for hat racks. Dare him to take Jerry away from you."
"I don’t understand you."
"You don’t have to, girlie. Remember this: You can’t have a bull fight until you get the bull mad enough to fight. Have Weinberg get a temporary injunction restraining Workers, Incorporated, from reclaiming Jerry. Have your boss press agent give me a buzz. Then you call the newsboys and tell them what you think of Blakesly. Make it nasty. Tell them you intend to put a stop to this wholesale murder if it takes every cent you’ve got."
"Well . . . all right. Will you come and see me before I talk to them?"
"Nope—gotta get back to my game. Tomorrow, maybe. Don’t fret about having cancelled that silly winged-horse deal. I always did think your old man was weak in the head, and it’s saved you a nice piece of change. You’ll need it when I send in my bill. Boy, am I going to clip you! Bye now."
The bright letters trailed around the sides of the Times Building: "WORLD’S RICHEST WOMAN PUTS UP FIGHT FOR APE MAN." On the giant video screen above showed a transcribe of Jerry, in his ridiculous Highland chief outfit. A small army of police surrounded the Briggs town house, while Mrs. van Vogel informed anyone who would listen, including several news services, that she would defend Jerry personally and to the death.
The public relations office of Workers, Incorporated, denied any intention of seizing Jerry; the denial got nowhere.
In the meantime technicians installed extra audio and video circuits in the largest courtroom in town, for one Jerry (no surname), described as a legal, permanent resident of these United States, had asked for a permanent injunction against the corporate person "Workers," its officers, employees, successors, or assignees, forbidding it to kill him.
Through his attorney, the honorable and distinguished and stuffily respectable Augustus Pomfrey, Jerry brought the action in his own name.
Martha van Vogel sat in the court room as a spectator only, but she was surrounded by secretaries, guards, maids, publicity men, and yes men, and had one television camera trained on her alone. She was nervous. McCoy had insisted on briefing Pomfrey through Weinberg, to keep Pomfrey from knowing that he was helped by a shyster. She had her own opinion of Pomfrey—
The McCoy had insisted that Jerry not wear his beautiful new kilt but had dressed him in faded dungaree trousers and jacket. It seemed poor theater to her.
Jerry himself worried her. He seemed confused by the lights and the noise and the crowd, about to go to pieces.
And McCoy had refused to go to the trial with her. He had told her that it was quite impossible, that his mere presence would alienate the court, and Weinberg had backed him up. Men! Their minds were devious—they seemed to like twisted ways of doing things. It confirmed her opinion that men should not be allowed to vote.
But she felt lost without the immediate presence of McCoy’s easy self-confidence. Away from him, she wondered why she had ever trusted such an important matter to an irresponsible, jumping jack, bird-brained clown as McCoy. She chewed her nails and wished he were present.
The panel of attorneys appearing for Worker’s Incorporated, began by moving that the action be dismissed without trial, on the theory that Jerry was a chattel to the corporation, an integral part of it, and no more able to sue than the thumb can sue the brain.
The honorable Augustus Pomfrey looked every inch the statesman as he bowed to the court and to his opponents. "It is indeed strange," he began, "to hear the second-hand voice of a legal fiction, a soulless, imaginary quantity called a corporate ‘person,’ argue that a flesh-and-blood creature, a being of hopes and longings and passions, has not legal existence. I see here beside me my poor cousin Jerry." He patted Jerry on the shoulder; the ape man, needing reassurance, slid a hand into his. It went over well.
"But when I look for this abstract fancy ‘Workers,’ what do I find? Nothing—some words on paper, some signed bits of foolscap—"
"If the Court please, a question," put in the opposition chief attorney, "does the learned counsel contend that a limited liability stock company cannot own property?"
"Will counsel reply?" directed the judge.
"Thank you. My esteemed colleague has set up a straw man; I contended only that the question as to whether Jerry is a chattel of Workers, Incorporated, is immaterial, nonessential, irrelevant. I am part of the corporate city of Great New York. Does that deny me my civil rights as a person of flesh and blood? In fact it does not even rob me of my right to sue that civic corporation of which I am a part, if, in my opinion, I am wronged by it. We are met today in the mellow light of equity, rather than in the cold and narrow confines of law. It seemed a fit time to dwell on the strange absurdities we live by, whereunder a nonentity of paper and legal fiction could deny the existence of this our poor cousin. I ask that the learned attorneys for the corporation stipulate that Jerry does, in fact, exist, and let us get on with the action."
They huddled; the answer was "No."
"Very well. My client asked to be examined in order that the court may determine his status and being."
"Objection! This anthropoid cannot be examined; he is a mere part and chattel of the respondent."
"That is what we are about to determine," the judge answered dryly. "Objection overruled."
"Go sit in that chair, Jerry."
"Objection! This beast cannot take an oath—it is beyond his comprehension."
"What have you to say to that, Counsel?"
"If it pleases the Court," answered Pomfrey, "the simplest thing to do is put him in the chair and find out."
"Let him take the stand. The clerk will administer the oath." Martha van Vogel gripped the arms of her chair; McCoy had spent a full week training him for this. Would the whole thing blow up without McCoy to guide him?
The clerk droned through the oath; Jerry looked puzzled but patient.
"Your honor," said Pomfrey, "when young children must give testimony, it is customary to permit a little leeway in the wording, to fit their mental attainments. May I be permitted?" He walked up to Jerry.
"Jerry, my boy, are you a good worker?"
"Sure Mike! Jerry good worker!"
"Maybe bad worker, huh? Lazy. Hide from strawboss."
"No, no, no! Jerry good worker. Dig. Weed. Not dig up vegetaber. Dig up weed. Work hard."
"You will see," Pomfrey addressed the court, "that my client has very definite ideas of what is true and what is false. Now let us attempt to find out whether or not he has moral values which require him to tell the truth. Jerry—"
Pomfrey spread his hand in front of the anthropoid’s face. "How many fingers do you see?"
Jerry reached out and ticked them off. "one—two—sree—four, uh—five."
"Six fingers, Jerry."
"Six fingers, Jerry. I give you cigarette. Six."
"Five, Boss. Jerry not cheat."
Pomfrey spread his hands. "Will the court accept him?"
The court did. Martha van Vogel sighed. Jerry could not count very well and she had been afraid that he would forget his lines and accept the bribe. But he had been promised all the cigarettes he wanted and chocolate as well if he would remember to insist that five was five.
"I suggest," Pomfrey went on, "that the matter has been established. Jerry is an entity; if he can be accepted as a witness, then surely he may have his day in court. Even a dog may have his day in court. Will my esteemed colleagues stipulate?"
Workers, Incorporated, through its battery of lawyers, agreed—just in time, for the judge was beginning to cloud up. He had been so much impressed by the little performance.
The tide was with him; Pomfrey used it. "If it please the court and if the counsels for the respondent will permit, we can shorten these proceedings. I will state the theory under which relief is sought and then, by a few questions, it may be settled one way or another. I ask that it be stipulated that it was the intention of Workers, Incorporated, through its servants, to take the life of my client."
Stipulation was refused.
"So? Then I ask the court take judicial notice of the well known fact that these anthropoid workers are destroyed when they no longer show a profit; thereafter I will call witnesses, starting with Horace Blakesly, to show that Jerry was and presumably is under such sentence of death."
Another hurried huddle resulted in the stipulation that Jerry had, indeed been scheduled for euthanasia.
"Then," said Pomfrey, "I will state my theory. Jerry is not an animal, but a man. It is not legal to kill him—it is murder."
First there was silence, then the crowd gasped. People had grown used to animals that talked and worked, but they were no more prepared to think of them as persons, humans, men, than were the haughty Roman citizens prepared to concede human feelings to their barbarian slaves.
Pomfrey let them have it while they were still groggy. "What is a man? A collection of living cells and tissue? A legal fiction, like this corporate ‘person’ that would take poor Jerry’s life? No, a man is none of these things. A man is a collection of hopes and fears, of human longings, of aspirations greater than himself—more than the clay from which he came; less the Creator which lifted him up from the clay. Jerry has been taken from his jungle and made something more than the poor creatures who were his ancestors, even as you and I. We ask that this Court recognize his manhood."
The opposing attorneys saw that the Court was moved; they drove fast. An anthropoid, they contended, could not be a man because he lacked human shape and human intelligence. Pomfrey called his first witness—Master B’na Kreeth.
The Martian’s bad temper had not been improved by being forced to wait around for three days in a travel tank, to say nothing of the indignity of having to interrupt his researches to take part in the childish pow-wows of terrestrials.
There was further delay to irritate him while Pomfrey forced the corporation to accept him as an expert witness. They wanted to refuse but could not—he was their own Director of Research. He also held voting control of all Martian-held Workers’ stock, a fact unmentioned but hampering.
More delay while an interpreter was brought in to help administer the oath—B’na Kreeth, self-centered as all Martians, had never bothered to learn English.
He twittered and chirped in answer to the demand that he tell the truth, the whole truth, and so forth; the interpreter looked pained. "He says he can’t do it," he informed the judge.
Pomfrey asked for exact translation.
The interpreter looked uneasily at the judge. "He says that if he told us the whole truth you fools—not ‘fools’ exactly; it’s a Martian word meaning a sort of headless worm—would not understand it."
The court discussed the idea of contempt briefly. When the Martian understood that he was about to be forced to remain in a travel tank for thirty days he came down off his high horse and agreed to tell the truth as adequately as was possible; he was accepted as a witness.
"Are you a man?" demanded Pomfrey.
"Under your laws and by your standards I am a man."
"By what theory? Your body is unlike ours; you cannot even live in our air. You do not speak our language; your ideas are alien to us. How can you be a man?"
The Martian answered carefully: "I quote from the Terra-Martian Treaty, which you must accept as supreme law. ‘All members of the Great Race, while sojourning on the Third Planet, shall have all the rights and prerogatives of the native dominant race of the Third Planet.’ This clause has been interpreted by the Bi-Planet Tribunal to mean that members of the Great Race are ‘men’ whatever that may be."
"Why do you refer to your sort as the ‘Great Race’?"
"Because of our superior intelligence."
"Superior to men?"
"We are men."
"Superior to the intelligence of earth men?"
"That is self-evident."
"Just as we are superior in intelligence to this poor creature Jerry?"
"That is not self-evident."
"Finished with the witness," announced Pomfrey. The opposition counsels should have left bad enough alone; instead they tried to get B’na Kreeth to define the difference in intelligence between humans and worker-anthropoids. Master B’na explained meticulously that cultural differences masked the intrinsic differences, if any, and that, in any case, both anthropoids and men made so little use of their respective potential intelligences that it was really too early to tell which race would turn out to be the superior race in the Third Planet.
He had just begun to discuss how a truly superior race could be bred by combining the best features of anthropoids and men when he was hastily asked to "stand down."
"May it please the Court," said Pomfrey, "we have not advanced the theory; we have merely disposed of respondent’s contention that a particular shape and a particular degree of intelligence are necessary to manhood. I now ask that the petitioner be called to the stand that the court may determine whether he is, in truth, human."
"If the learned court please—" The battery of lawyers had been in a huddle ever since B’na Kreeth’s travel tank had been removed from the room; the chief counsel now spoke.
"The object of the petition appears to be to protect the life of this chattel. There is no need to draw out these proceedings; respondent stipulates that this chattel will be allowed to die a natural death in the hands of its present custodian and moves that the action be dismissed."
"What do you say to that?" the Court asked Pomfrey.
Pomfrey visibly gathered his toga about him. "We ask not for cold charity from this corporation, but for the justice of the court. We ask that Jerry’s humanity be established as a matter of law. Not for him to vote, nor to hold property, nor to be relieved of special police regulations appropriate to his group—but we do ask that he be adjudged at least as human as that aquarium monstrosity just removed from this court room!"
The judge turned to Jerry. "Is that what you want, Jerry?"
Jerry looked uneasily at Pomfrey, then said, "Okay, Boss."
"Come up to the chair."
"One moment—" The opposition chief counsel seemed flurried. "I ask the court to consider that a ruling in this matter may affect a long established commercial practice necessary to the economic life of—"
"Objection!" Pomfrey was on his feet, bristling. "Never have I heard a more outrageous attempt to prejudice a decision. My esteemed colleague might as well ask the Court to decide a murder case from political considerations. I protest—"
"Never mind," said the court. "The suggestion will be ignored. Proceed with your witness."
Pomfrey bowed. "We are exploring the meaning of this strange thing called ‘manhood.’ We have seen that it is not a matter of shape, nor race, nor planet of birth, nor acuteness of mind. Truly, it cannot be defined, yet it may be experienced. It can reach from heart to heart, from spirit to spirit." He turned to Jerry. "Jerry—will you sing your new song for the judge?"
"Sure Mike." Jerry looked uneasily up at the whirling cameras, the mikes, and the ikes, then cleared his throat:
"Way down upon de Suwannee Ribber
Far, far away;
Dere’s where my heart is turning ebber—"
The applause scared him out of his wits; the banging of the gavel frightened him still more—but it mattered not; the issue was no longer in doubt. Jerry was a man.