About the Book: Atlas Slugged AGAIN

Atlas Slugged Again

This is, supposedly, the “secret sequel” to Atlas Shrugged, the monumental best seller by Annyn Rant. Written in 1968 (ten years after the original), it was suppressed by its publisher, and ultimately by Rant herself, because one of its main characters was thought to be too obviously based on a person from real life, who would sue the publisher and the author, and win.

To get a taste of this hilarious novel, read on…

Chapter 2

Be a Do-er, Not a Viewer

The apartment occupied the penthouse of the Johnsonwood Building, the most indomitably proud and heroic skyscraper in New York, considered in the consensus of top experts to be the greatest building in the world and, therefore, in the universe.  From its four immense windows Dragnie and her husband could, and with unfailing regularity, did, look out in all directions at once, in steely indifference and unchallengeable certainty.

Her husband was John Glatt.

That they were not legally married, had never been engaged, had never formally been lavoliered, or ever gone steady, was of no importance.  He was her husband because no one else was or possibly could be.  And Glatt’s understanding was identical to hers.  Openly he professed in the privacy of his mind that she, to him, was his wife no less than he, to her, was her husband, and equally so was he her husband to him, just as she was wife to him to him no less than to her.  Consumed with hatred for her by his love for her, he never spoke of it, nor of anything else.

Yet Glatt demonstrated every day his approval of Dragnie: with every cold glance with which he acknowledged her existence each morning, every slit-eyed smirk with which disdained her over cocktails in the evening, every hand-written card he proffered on the anniversary of their first meeting (“I despise you more than ever, dearest.”), and even that one time, when they had engaged in sexual intercourse, when he demonstrated his admiration and respect by brutally degrading her into a humiliated submission as he sneered his contempt and she laughed out loud in silent mockery.

They were husband and wife because they considered themselves to be so in their minds.

They now sat across from one another at the beautiful mahogany table in their elegantly-appointed dining room as the sun slowly set, as it had done for billions of years all over the universe.  Pierre, their footman, had just served the night’s meal, a repast of gourmet food possessing the highest deliciousness, impeccably complimented by an excellent wine that John Glatt had decanted, opened, chosen, unpacked, shipped, aged, bottled, fermented, stomped, picked, and planted himself with cool, swift precision.

Glatt’s eyes skimmed the evening newspaper, affording him the opportunity to see the words printed on it and transferring the information they conveyed to his mind.  Then his lean, sardonic face lifted from the page.  He surveyed the platters of steaming, perfectly-prepared meat, healthful garden vegetables, and taste-tempting side dishes arrayed before him.  In a single silent act he shifted his gaze from them to Dragnie until their eyeballs silently beheld one another’s.  “You who claim to serve no one,” he said.  “You for whom the very idea of granting a favor is a metaphysical chimera, an imaginary creature possessing no reality; you whose sole allegiance is, not to some comforting but fictional construct called ‘society’ but, simply and utterly, to existence; you for whom life itself is rational and self-interested or it is nothing; you who, without shame or boasting, call ‘self-reliance’ what the mass of men call ‘selfishness;’ you who ask nothing of any man for which you will not, at once and without cavil, give some other thing of equal value; you, who know in the deepest recesses of your consciousness that to perform the slightest kindness to others, without the promise of reciprocity in a manner that is meaningful to you on your own terms, is to collude in the enslavement of both them and yourself; you, who ask nothing of the world apart from its consent to leave you to freely pursue your desires in a manner consistent with your own values and morality—will you, not so much in violation of these principles as from an unthreatened position of strength afforded by them, pass the brisket?”

“Yes, John, I will,” Dragnie said.  “But I will do so, not out of some received and, thus, limiting sense of obligation as imposed upon me by centuries of unconscious habit transmitted by a corrupt, anti-life, mind-fearing culture, but because I freely choose to do so.  I will in full awareness of the fact that, as affirmed by laws of physics established over centuries in response to the sacred human desire to acquire knowledge, the brisket will not pass itself.  I will, not because I think you incapable of either rising from your chair and transporting yourself to a position from which you would be able to obtain the brisket yourself, or of extending your arm across the table to take hold of the platter from your current position, but, paradoxically, because you can do these things.  You, who’re the apotheosis of heroic humanity, the completely free man, ask nothing from me and, for that reason, deserve to have the brisket passed to you by me.  While the mass of men demand something for nothing, you offer everything: your energy, your attention, your consciousness, your mind, your existence.  You are the only man on Earth to whom I would pass the brisket willingly and in full awareness of the meaning of that act.”

Taking hold of its elegant china platter, she passed him the brisket.  Glatt used a pair of beautiful sterling silver tongs, a gift from a wealthy individual with excellent taste, to transfer several slices of the rich, delectable meat to his plate.  He cut through the braised animal flesh and impaled it on the tines of a fork—efficiently, pitilessly.  He tasted it, and a dark scowl formed on his face.  He rang for the footman, who hurried in from the kitchen.  “Pierre,” Glatt said contemptuously, “the brisket has gone cold.”

The footman took the platter and hurried off to the kitchen.  Dispassionately eying a basket of dinner rolls, Glatt picked one up in his bare hands and began to eat it.  “Oh, Dragnie, Dragnie,” he said.  “How was your day?”

“Mine?” Dragnie exclaimed.  It was not like Glatt to express an interest in her day; indeed, it was not like him to express an interest in any other person.  His independence, his self-sufficiency, his supreme individuality were the character traits for which she most admired and despised him—and for which, she knew, she would willingly kill him and be his slave.

She became suddenly aware, with a deep certainty, that the pressures on Glatt, his responsibilities–not to others, for he had none, but to himself–were taking a toll, as they would on any man.  Glatt not only functioned both as C.E.O. of Glatt Industries as well as its Top Breakthrough Inventor, but as Head Advisor of Governmental Bureaucracy Affairs for Economic Ideas for the federal government.  The international situation had been deteriorating for some time; no wonder, Dragnie now thought, Glatt looked vexed.  “My day was rather interesting,” she said.  “In fact, I met a most extraordinary young man at the Glatt School—“

The butler silently entered the room, stopped before Glatt, and said, “Excuse me, sir, but three gentlemen are down in the lobby and insist on meeting with you.”

Glatt chuckled and made a gesture of impatience and mockery and contempt.  “Who are they, Farnsworth?”

“Mr. Rawbone, Mr. De Soto, and Mr. Daghammarskjold.”

Glatt and Dragnie exchanged a look, a look of significance and meaning and shared visual contact.

“Send them up,” Glatt said.

Moments later, having ascended the 287 floors of the Johnsonwood Building in a streamlined supersonic elevator of Glatt’s invention, the trio where ushered into the apartment.

“Hello, John,” said Hunk Rawbone.  “Hello, Dragnie.”

Dragnie chuckled and Glatt chuckled.  That Rawbone had once been Dragnie’s lover was known to all present.  Tall, handsome, with the muscular build of an athlete and the brilliant mind of a genius, Hunk Rawbone had founded Rawbone Metals and single-handedly invented the miracle metal Rawbonium.  Stronger than steel, lighter than aluminum, cheaper than sand, one-hundred-percent gluten-free and packed with important vitamins and minerals, it had revolutionized the railroad industry, the aviation industry, and every other metal-using industry.  There had been a time, ten years before, when its manufacture, distribution, and sale had been strictly regulated by the second-raters and me-too-ers and so’s-yer-old-man-ers of the national government, when the entire metals industry had been hobbled and bound and gagged by men like Francis Pissypants, the Bureaucrat-in-Chief, and J.B. Mucklicker, director of the National Board of Caution.

That, however, had been before John Glatt had convinced various businessmen to hide out in Wyoming, and brought the entire world to its knees.  Now Hunk Rawbone was both President of Rawbone Industries and Head Business Person of the Department of Business.

“Hello, Hunk,” Dragnie said.  She turned to their second visitor.  “How are you, San?”

Sanfrancisco Nabisco Alcoa D’Lightful D’Lovely De Soto chuckled in a mischievous South American way, a way outwardly suggestive of lighthearted frivolity and consistent with his former but faked-up image as a feckless, womanizing and girlizing playboy but now openly proclaiming his absolute fidelity to a code of values that held that the mind was the supreme expression of man’s intellect.  “I?” De Soto chuckled.

Like Dragnie, Sanfrancisco was a self-made man who had inherited an industrial empire.  Handsome, brilliant, dashing, and with a certain dangerous but appealing Latino flair, he had become director, upon his father’s death, of the fabled De Soto Talc Mines.  El Mino De Soto de Talco Incorporado was now the source of eighty-six percent of the world’s baby powder, which was daily administered to more than seventy-one percent of the world’s babies in both Natural and Springtime Fresh scents.  “I am well, Dragnie,” he said with an amused twinkle.

“Well, I am fine, too, in case anyone cares!” joked Regnad Daghammarskjold.

“And what if we don’t?” chuckled De Soto.

“Well, then, you can go to hell!” rejoined the boisterous Swedish-American Swede to the chuckles of everyone else except the servants.

Dragnie pursed her lips in amusement as her eyes glittered with appreciation for his rascally personality.  Handsome, blond, and attractively beautiful in a way that appealed to men as well as women, Regnad Daghammarskjold was a pirate.  He spent most of his time aboard his ship, the Fjord Fusion, with his rollicking but deadly serious and often lethal band of beautiful blond fellow pirates, plundering merchant ships from other countries and pillaging the state-owned vessels for loot, swag, and booty.  When not haunting the shipping lanes of the bounding main and asserting the supremacy of private theft and entrepreneurial swashbuckling over state-run maritime mediocrities, Regnad lived in a modest two-bedroom co-op in Murray Hill with his wife, Grace Adams, the beautiful movie star.

“Would any of you like a drink?” Dragnie asked.

“I would like a beer,” Regnad Daghammarskjold said.  “Do you have any?”

“I don’t know,” Dragnie replied.

“You might,” the pirate said.  “Look around.  Check your premises, Dragnie.”

“Let me tell you something about beer,” Sanfrancisco De Soto said, his eyes blazing.  Thirty-five minutes later, when he had concluded his discourse on the history, morality, and metaphysics of beer, Dragnie signaled for Pierre to bring three bottles.  She handed them around.  Each of the visitors gave her a ten-dollar bill.  There was no need for anyone to thank anyone for anything.  “I won’t insult you by offering you food,” Glatt said.  “You are all perfectly capable of obtaining your own sustenance.”

“I know it,” Regnad said.

The group settled in the living room and Hunk Rawbone opened the discussion.  “I don’t know if you’ve heard, John,” he said.  “But Goa has fallen.”

“I didn’t know it,” Glatt said.  “Goa be damned!”

“That’s the last one,” Sanfrancisco added.  “Now every nation on earth has become a People’s State of the People.”

“Every nation—save one,” Dragnie murmured.  “The United States.”

“Shall I tell you what the product safety boys are saying?” Rawbone asked out loud.  “They’re saying that the People’s States’re complaining that our manufactured goods’re dangerous.  They’re talking about an embargo.”

“Then we must meet with Mr. Jenkins,” Dragnie said.  “We should also alert the boys in the Pentagon, our nation’s most brilliant scientist boys, and our leading achiever-boys in industry, research, and engineering.”

“This is serious, isn’t it, John?” Regnad said with unflinching directness.

“Yes,” Glatt replied.”

The three visitors had gone, and Dragnie and Glatt were preparing for bed, when Glatt mentioned their earlier topic of conversation.  Standing in their elegant bedroom, clad in the simplest of pajamas whose clean design, quiet sense of style, and always-tasteful pizzazz made a striking statement of individuality wherever he went, he said, “You were telling me about an extraordinary young man you met today.”

Dragnie suppressed a smile of amusement.  “It’s of no importance,” she said, and only afterwards, while falling asleep, did she ask herself if that were really true.

 

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