“What do siggorts do?” Max asks.
It’s 1979 and Max is 18 years old. He’s wearing jeans and a jacket, but he isn’t an angel. He’s a young Republican.
Sid’s walking with Max, like he does now and then.
“Yeah,” Max says. “Like, fairies reflect the chaos, and As bring you hope, and ghosts cling to your memories, and stuff. What do siggorts do?”
Sid thinks for a moment. Then he points.
“There,” he says.
There’s a siggort, down a few streets and over.
It has one hundred hands and the parts of it move like clockwork gears. It is in constant orbit around itself and it is subject to a chaos of form. Wings spread behind it, metal wings, folding and unfolding. They reflect the sunlight so that it seems like the air is a riot of feathers. Its central portion is bulbous and smooth, roly-poly, round, like Santa’s stomach or God’s eye. Its legs are long. It has a wheel of knives. Its hands open and close and a singing rises from it like the singing of seraphim. It is vivisecting passersby. It is leaving their corpses for investigators to discover.
It is pure and it is bright and it is innocent and clean.
“Wow,” says Max. “. . . That’s a siggort too?”
Max frowns a little. “Hey, is it vivisecting that guy?”
“It’s just like in Scanning Things!“, Jane says proudly, pumping her fist, with a shocking disregard for whoever that guy who is being vivisected back in 1979 is.
“Not quite,” Martin says. “See, you tend to notice the singing before the vivisection in this history, while you had it the other way around back in the legend.”
There’s a silence.
“Maaaan!” Jane exclaims.
“So you vivisect people?”
“Yes,” Sid says.
“I am currently reviewing my life to figure out whether there have been more vivisected people in it than an objective observer would expect,” Max says.
Sid makes a face.
“But I’m only coming up with that one,” Max says.
“Yeah,” Sid says. “I haven’t actually felt like vivisecting anybody yet.”
“But it’s your nature?”
They walk on for a little bit. Neither of them stops to help that guy whom the siggort is vivisecting, since, after all, siggorts happen, and there’s not much anyone can do.
Max is deep in thought. His brow is really furrowed.
Then he says, “Oh!”
“It’s because you’re an isn’t,” Max says. “You aren’t. So even though you’d think, having a nature to vivisect people, that you would, you don’t. Actually. Instead you just hang out with me.”
“I am so,” Sid says, wounded.
“You’re totally an isn’t. I bet that guy getting vivisected was an isn’t, too. That’s why I don’t feel at all concerned about his fate.”
Sid looks aggrieved. “That’s ridiculous,” he says. “Siggorts have been around since the dawn of the world. We’re totally not isn’ts.”
Sid stares at Max for a long moment. His wheel of knives spins.
Max looks really uncomfortable. “Wait,” he says.
“You know,” says Sid bleakly, “in a lot of fairy tales, I’d have been waiting for you to say just that. I’d have been hanging out with you since you were seven so I could vivisect you, and then you’d ask me to, and I would, and as I cut open your chest I’d find the magic that was taken from me long ago and I would finally be free.”
Max shifts. He’s thinking about running, except, well, running from something like Sid doesn’t help.
“Is . . . is that going to happen?” Max asks.
Sid shakes his head.
“No,” he says.
“Then you are an isn’t!” Max says.
“Look,” Sid says. “I’ll . . .”
He tries to think of something he can do to prove he can have a substantive effect on the course of events.
“I’ll . . . I’ll get Ronald Reagan elected President. Through grassroots activism!”
Max stares at him for a while.
Finally, Max says, “Okay?”
“It’ll prove I can have a substantive effect on the course of history,” Sid points out.
“Do it, then,” Max says.
And so Sid does.
“So that was you,” Martin says.
Sid hangs his head.
“Man,” Martin says. “I was so sure it was Dr. T.”
“Multiple citizens can participate in grassroots activism,” Sid says, stoutly.
Reversing himself with the suddenness of humor becoming outrage, Martin says, “That was so not you.”
Sid opens his mouth to protest, but . . .
“Sh!” says Jane. “Jigsawing!”
“So,” says Max.
Secretly, he’s starting to hope that Ronald Reagan will lose the election.
But the numbers aren’t good.
They’re at this little comic shop by the beach where they hang out sometimes and there’s a newspaper right there and Sid’s pointing at it and the numbers just aren’t good for President Carter.
“See?” Sid says.
“Yeah,” Max says.
He looks unhappy.
“Fine,” Max says. “You’re not an isn’t.”
And Max almost hits him; and he says, “That’s not good, Sid.”
And Sid’s grin drifts away.
“That’s sick, what siggorts do.”
Sid pulls in on himself, just a little. He doesn’t look like much right now. Just a Sid.
“But still,” Sid says, “I’d rather be.”
“Is it relevant whether Reagan won?” Jane asks. “I’ve got this bit about the three fairies visiting him on the night before the election here. So we can probably figure out whether he got to be President.”
“I think we can skip it,” Martin concludes.