I was pointedly hard-nosed about Jipo Jarg in the first version of The Soul Institute as I strove to delineate Jipo and Derrick’s bitter corporate marriage. Maybe Jipo was all shadow-projection on my part, and the below excerpts probably reinforce that. Then again, the hysterical Derrick is shadow stuff as well. But it was a surprise to me that both their pastel portraits, emerging during the first draft of the novel, point to much deeper psyches. Jipo in fact comes off as a beautiful woman, which is why her pastel is entitled Jipo Jarg Reconsidered.
The reimaged Jipo might explain why, towards the end of the book when she goes about seducing sophomore TSI student Dorrington Caldwell, she can gush, “Oh, I’m mad about art. Always have been. I’m going to do it myself one of these days. When I get a little time. With some pushing, I suppose I could be one of the premier artists. I’d do sixteen-by-twenty-foot canvases. I’d have a whole chapel of them, like the Rothko Chapel in Houston. All this mystical passion flowing out of me!”
So from the novel, here is Jipo Jarg, Vice President for Academic Affairs, member of the ruling circle of Overcrons, Derrick’s wife, and disinherited heiress to the Jarg family’s oil fortune:
“Sorry I’m late! Had to finish my run!” Jipo Jarg, who looked to weigh sixty pounds, still wore her running togs after pounding her daily fifteen miles through the streets of Linstar. Her teeny boobs jutted from her tight black shirt like the armored ridges of some deep-sea crustacean. Her arms and legs were strained, yellow, and wet, like something Derrick might find in his basket beside the coleslaw at Clampers Chicken. He’d nearly run her down at a stoplight last week when, obsessed with her runner’s high, she’d ceased noticing traffic. Derrick had screeched to a horn-honking halt to avoid the idiot, then recognized who it was. But she never turned to acknowledge him and in disgust he hadn’t bothered to call a hello.
“Where’s the OrganoWater?” Jipo cried, moving towards the wine table, the bright red key cord around her neck slapping across her bony chest.
Later, at his welcoming party, newly arrived and thoroughly drunk writer in residence Himal Steina encounters both Jipo and her husband Derrick Dexter. Derrick is cousin to the director’s wife Debbie, their daughter Lisa Melinda, and Moolka Waxtor, the former writer in residence who’s changed her mind about quitting and now begs to stay at TSI. Like Moolka, Derrick is also a shellshocked refugee from the Waxtor Carnationist College debacle decades ago. From The Soul Institute:
The toilet flushed from inside the bathroom. Faucets worked, the door flew open, and out charged a skinny wedge-faced woman in a red-checkered dress. “Excuse me,” she snarled as she sliced between them and marched into the living room to grab Burlcron’s elbow.
“That’s one of ’em now,” Richardson declared. “I figure every educational institution has a quota of ’em. Power tripping bureaucrats. You know the type.”
“Uh … well …” Himal didn’t want to think about politics in paradise.
“Jipo Jarg. The worst asshole you can imagine. She’s Vice President for Academic Affairs, and she sticks her nose into everything on campus. She can think of ways to fuck you over you couldn’t even conceive of. Moolka told me she has this two-year timetable for fucking up the History Department. It’s thirty pages single-spaced! Sometimes I even feel sorry for that twerp Derrick.”
“Uh … Derrick …” Himal said, not quite remembering.
“He’s the poor bastard married to her. Over there.” Richardson pointed to the medium-sized man in a sport coat with no tie. He had a bland pouting face. Funny, he’d looked teary-eyed when Himal had been introduced to him earlier. Maybe he liked to cry. Dexter’s face was so smooth he seemed to be wearing makeup, and his lips protruded so much they reminded Himal of a duck’s bill. Derrick Duck. Now he recalled Burlcron telling him that Dexter was virtually orphaned as a child and was sent to live at Waxtor Carnationist. That after he’d floundered at various menial jobs after college, Burlcron had rescued him and made him Chair of the English Department.
copyright 2016 by Michael D. Smith
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