Humor! I have a deep and abiding respect for people who can “write funny.” It doesn’t come naturally to me—in fact, stand-up comedians say it doesn’t come naturally to anyone.
That said, “Locum Tenens” isn’t a laughfest, nor did I intend it to be. It’s dark humor, a tale that (hopefully) prompts a snicker or two and ends with a dollop of horror.
I drew inspiration for the Hedwigs from two well-known TV couples: the Bunkers of All In The Family, and the Kramdens from The Honeymooners. The Hedwigs seem to both love each other and rub each other the wrong way. It’s a bit of a coin toss as to which they really are at their center—until the end, where we understand what a complete ass Bing Hedwig is.
But “Locum Tenens” isn’t really about Bing or Willa; it’s about scapegoating. It’s about blaming others for our personal or societal shortcomings. Instead of owning our mistakes or embracing our ability to make things better, human nature prompts us to fault another person or an entire population.
I remember reading once that, in ancient times, a well-to-do family might have a servant or slave whom they would beat for the failures of a family member. From that memory I imagined an entire bioengineering industry to serve the same purpose—on a much larger and much more disturbing scale.
Of course, our modern reality is all the more bleak. Scapegoating is a way of life in our society, and that hit me hard when I penned this piece. “Locum Tenens” is my way of calling it out, with hope that we all might see it and change our ways.
“Locum Tenens” was another community literary awards winner, one that I’m particularly proud of because I think the dark humor works well. And there’s a whole secondary story to tell, isn’t there? What do the clones think of their sad role in society? It makes you think.