Once upon a time I wrote a story about Celine Dion the Anarchist for a college writing class. I still think it’s a miracle that they let me graduate. Here it is.
The silver form of a sea lion sinks into the sea’s velvet. A boat of shooters high-five and glass-klink, a funeral party. Charlie’s heart drops from his chest, into the sandy mound he watches from. He vomits into his sea-brined hands. It’s time to take action. The sea lions need Charlie’s help. Charlie loves sea lions too much to stay silent.
Charlie sends one hundred letters to one hundred celebrities, urging them to take action. He receives only one response, a response that comes from a woman whose love for sea lions rivals his own. Her name is Celine Dion, and she is a black bloc anarchist who yearns for passionate protest alongside a young, muscular Sea Shepherd like Charlie. Celine Dion mails Charlie a glossy headshot, a penciled-epistle on its back: I wish I could do more.
Celine Dion finds Charlie’s activism dangerous and sexy, and Charlie just loves the way Celine circles her As. The singer’s perfumed poetics fall through his mail slot daily and Charlie ends a letter with I Love You. Celine writes: I need nothing in this world but sea lions you.
Six months after Charlie saw a sea lion murdered at the hands of a monster, a limousine with Celine Dion inside of it bursts through the stomachy Portland morning haze. The singer steps out of the car, sundripped, ball-gowned, and collapses in the arms of her young lover.
Charlie drops his lover’s luggage into months of floordust.
“Activism is exhausting,” he says. Celine Dion laughs at his witticism but would rather not sit on that sofa. Instead, she leaves mauve mouthmarks on Charlie’s beard, which he finds arousing. Charlie lifts Celine Dion onto the dining room table: a fat metal teacher’s desk that he found curbside. A single light bulb dangles from waterworn drop-tile inches from their heads. Celine feels uneasy. Charlie takes her hand and leads her to a half-sheeted futon mattress in a whitewall bedroom. “It’s down-alternative,” Charlie announces with a presumptuous wink. Celine Dion does not feel ready for down-alternative. Before that, she needs coffee.
Charlie microwaves a demitasse of instant while Celine shakes loose onionskin from her heel. Charlie watches the singer’s eyes dart over canola-stripe and coffeesplotch countertops. The faucet drips a dying metronome for refrigerator-buzz. “I cannot make love in this apartment!”
Celine Dion starts to cry. She mourns the museum collectables she left behind with her husband in Quebec. This is a fresh start. “I want to outfit this place from wherever the radicals shop. Where is that?”
Charlie is on the spot. He begins to explain the value of community free boxes and reuse centers, but those options make Celine sob harder.
“There’s also Ikea.”
Celine Dion has not heard of Ikea.
Her face fills with sun.
At Ikea, Charlie’s arm aches in the ghostknuckle grip of a socially anxious Celine Dion, who doesn’t remember Europe looking like this.
“Are all of these people here to buy furniture?” Her voice is crumbling rock. Charlie is positive that Celine Dion will love Ikea, because after all, it is European. And then he sees it: a giant plastic display-bin, tall as the ceiling, filled to the brim with stuffed gray sea lions. “I have a surprise for you, baby.”
But Celine Dion does not want to see sea lions in captivity, their tiny faces pressed against glass. “How dare they. How dare you!”
Charlie thinks the toys are adorable. Celine wants to speak to the manager.
“Let’s just get out of here.” Charlie leads Celine Dion to Bedrooms, an array of plastichrome in primary colors, foam with memory. “Live a little,” says Charlie as he tosses Celine Dion’s angry body onto springy bed, a bed that bounces her back up into the air. “This one’s called Hultsvik.”
Anger has fled the face of Celine Dion, who kicks the heels from her feet before bouncing from Hultsvik to Hansbo. Charlie watches her muss pillows and bend balsam, his smile a canyon wide. Celine bounces back to Hultsvik and comes to a low-breath stop. “We’ll take it!” A dozen We’ll Take Its later, a smiling Celine Dion says to Charlie, “I don’t ever want to leave!”
“Wait til’ you see the café.”
Charlie fills a tray with Scandinavian delights. Celine enjoys the meatballs but finds the jam lacking. She cannot wait to get home to her new furniture, for after sex with Charlie they can head to the bay to protest the merciless killing of sea lions! Charlie and Celine Dion are teenagers, sucking on each other’s necks once their plates are empty.
Celine jumps from the table, without warning. “I have to use the ladies room, and it has to be right now.”
Time passes, too much. Charlie wonders, Where is Celine Dion?
He kneels on the ladies room floor in search of her aquamarine pumps. He sees only gym shoes. He shouts her name across four departments. Shoppers stare at poor Charlie, the strange man who shouts “Celine Dion!” in the middle of a European furniture store. She must be in Kitchens.
Charlie follows the glowing arrows through Bathrooms, then Cellars, then Foyers, then Attics, to Nurseries.
In Nurseries, Celine Dion is frantic. She is liberating stuffed sea lions from the captivity of a plastic display bin as tall as the ceiling. She screams, “You apprehend! You brand! You kill! You monsters!” She is used to spectators and is untroubled by the crowd of laughing teenager gathering around the spectacle that is Celine Dion with stuffed sea lions. Charlie doesn’t want Celine Dion to be arrested by the police who work inside the furniture store.
Celine Dion is a volcano erupting from a gown of iridescent blues. Charlie tries to pull Celine away from the area but is pushed aside by two yellowclad Ikea police officers. The officers restrain Celine Dion and drag her screaming bones down a long hall to Ikea jail.
Hours pass before Charlie receives permission to speak to Celine alone in her cell. Her mauve-manicured talons are tightwrapped around the bars of her cell. She is a sea lion in bondage, eyes bound to the barrel of a gun. “Set me free,” Celine Dion howls to Charlie, who never should have suggested a trip to Ikea. Set her free he must! Charlie finds a long white-sheet with pictorial cell-building instructions. Using the provided Allen wrench, Charlie disassembles Celine’s cell using Ikea’s foolproof wordless instructions. Celine Dion is nobody’s prisoner!
“Get on my back,” Charlie says. And then Charlie is a superhero, smashing through a particleboard wall, a cape made of Celine Dion flying in his wake.
“But our furniture!” Celine is not ready to leave.
“Another time,” says Charlie. They make it all the way to the store’s front door but find the doors locked.
“Not so fast.”
It’s the Ikea police, a solid yellow line standing in the way of freedom. Celine Dion screams as she’s plucked from Charlie by an Ikea officer. Celine surrenders, frail wrists pointed skyward. “I give up.”
The Ikea police phone the real police, who send two officers who are fond of her work. Celine Dion is under arrest, but she signs autographs for her uniformed fans through her handcuffs.
“Don’t do it, Celine! Don’t give yourself to the enemy!” Charlie cannot believe that Celine would abandon her anti-authoritarian beliefs to provide personalized gifts to pigs.
“My fans are everything to me,” says Celine Dion, eyes shining.
“It’s time to go home, Ms. Dion,” says an officer for whom Celine Dion signed three separate autographs. “To Canada.” Celine Dion weeps. Charlie tries every disarming tactic he learned at A-Camp but the police will not release Celine Dion from their submission hold.
“It’s no use,” Celine says, “They’re sending me home.”
Charlie watches as Celine Dion, black bloc anarchist, is deported to Canada before they could have sex on clean, solid, European furniture that is not only innovative but also built to last.