Johno'd been eating lunch near Times Square when he'd decided to go ahead and take out the loan to have the computer installed in his abdomen. The drive's humming into his innards felt a little like too much cheese cake and beer, but he'd never miss getting ideas down, and in full length, not in illegible scribbles on notepads.
Johno and writing battled each other constantly. He had partially befriended the art form by the time he made his way up to the stage at Missouri University to snatch his diploma from the dean. Johno's yarnish, curly brown hair was thinning now. His dull, unoffending features were starting to show the age and life of a man who has never quite made a living at the caligrophied words on his diploma. Worse, a little inverse proportion always seemed to be following Johno around. The times of least writing potential were always the most mentally creative for him. Once, he'd accidentally locked himself in a cellar, crocked his head on the light bulb that protruded from the ceiling (breaking the filament), and somehow thought up a way to metaphysically connect the Koran and the Bible.
There wasn't much to write on in his musty, dark vault, and, as he soon noticed, writing in the dark is hard without ample lighting. He'd forgotten what exactly the religious keystones were by the time the burly janitor who let him out had finished laughing at him, and he wasn't sure if it had been the Koran or Alfred Kinsey's books.
Now, he could reach down, pull up his shirt, and capture his spontaneous thoughts no matter what the situation would be. The rectangular screen's internal light would insure hours of creativity, even in a cellar. He could pause and type while swimming, as his Abdoputer 686 was entirely water-proof (for showers and for baths). With the machine's up-to-five-thousand-feet capability, there would be nothing wasted while sky diving. It was all so beautiful.
Parts Is Arts fancied itself at the spearhead of cultural (r)evolution. An overly confident man named Aris Renzez had dreamt of the idea of accelerating the creative output of humanity to dangerous levels, by fusing the artistic tools with the body of the artist. He decided to start a company and sat back to watch himself get rich and famous. In the end he would only be fat and obscure.
The result meant that the word "competition" could no longer apply to the state of inter-artist relations. The Bureau for Language Correction began to circulate their latest invention as a result: a word meaning a kind of competition closely resembling that described by Darwin, only with artists armed with Parts Is Arts implants doing the biting, clawing, and jumping at each other to survive. And as a result of this, private publishing firms began to market their own words for the new competition.
Mr. Renzez and his company were set to employ the human race with the capabilities of finally subjecting everyone, every place, everything in the universe to artistic analysis.
Johno's musician friend Mabel had just purchased the newest creation by Parts Is Arts; her abdomen now sported a two-octave, eight-note-polyphonic keyboard complete with one TB of internal memory, ten different sound parameters, a headphone jack for composing in church or theaters, and programmable rhythm/oscillation functions.
The company was working fast. Just after the Abdokeys 810 they had begun to market the Abdoeasle 5, a small five-inch-diagonal screen featuring O-SO-SHARP! resolution (a Japanese invention), fifty colors, and a light pen that would switch hues with finger pressure.
There was also the LifeStyle 18, an installation of biogenetically grown human hair that popped out of the thigh upon pushing a button and which could be replaced at any time with a fresh batch. Hairstylists were so moved that they created their own religion and, embarrassingly for mathematicians, were rumored to have solved several paradoxes of mathematics, including Gabriel's Trumpet.
A similar thigh implant was the Sculpt?Sure! 600cc, a huge wad of clay fixated to the upper leg that allowed sculptors the anywhere/anytime possibilities as well. Both this one and the LifeStyle 18 implant created countless public incidents when first marketed. The owners found it hard to hide or explain the huge tufts of shaped hair and strange, sometimes amorphous, grey objects jutting out of their forward thighs.
So thus it was. Mankind was ready to enter a symbiotic relationship with art. Johno strutted shirtless and proud like a rooster with his Abdoputer and waited for all the new literary concoctions to hit him. One disk began to acquire a few possibilities, mostly due to his walks through Manhattan, but the expected surge of creativity hadn't found him yet. If anything, pressure to invent had come back forcefully.
One morning he spied several LifeStyle 18's while walking and noticed the very erratic and fashionably threatening shapes applied to the hair. Johno couldn't be certain if they were intentional and at the breakers of fashion or if the owners had all slept on them the night before. He also failed to recognize any sense of form in the Sculpt?Sure! implants. Had manual art rapidly moved into new areas dealing with chaos theory or something? It was all very depressing to Johno. One bearer of a Sculpt?Sure!, in an awkward display of vague self-mutilation, had three cigarette butts sticking out of his clay.
Later that day Johno grabbed a copy of The Times and made his way into a coffee shop and into the Living Arts section of the paper. The whole section was dedicated to the implants and to Parts Is Arts again but this time there were no extrapolations on the expected artistic heaven on earth.
The articles were full of dismay. Implant owners were complaining about a climactic drop in creative output. They were all having great fits over what to write, paint, sculpt, style, or play.
One article mentioned that The Church of Hair had just embarked on a crusade to Paris out of frustration, another that psychotherapists were getting rich, and a third that some Parts is Arts owners were performing self-surgery. Something had been overlooked by someone somewhere.
A week passed and Johno found himself falling into the rut that was landing on the owners of all of the Parts Is Arts contraptions. Johno went back to scribbling in notebooks and sitting in front of his desk word processor. The wads of paper piled on the unused disks from his Abdoputer. There was no more temporal discouragement, so what was wrong? Everything was discouraging. Instead of all of the universe holding beauty and posing for artists, nothing was beautiful, nothing posed, everything shied away.
Johno dreamt one night of gates, not gates of fences but of dams. He was standing with Mabel and some of his other friends on a white cement canal that fed into a monstrous dam that held back an ocean. Their hands and forearms were gone and their arms were linked at the elbows. They were writing and playing and sculpting with their feet, all in a line of connected flesh, while a caliph and a monk were slow dancing a promenade in front of them and pointing at the dam. The waves from the ocean lapped and licked the top of the dam and seemed to be waving to the artists and telling them things. But the gates of the dam opened with a rumbling belch and the building of water fell on them. They spun inside and through currents that fought each other and ripped them apart into separate people. Johno rolled across his bed, wiped his sweat on his covers, and saw that it was raining. He shivered at the urge to get his tool box and pry the computer from his stomach.
Parts Is Arts went bankrupt a month later.