The Unexpected Return of Eliot Rosewater
Many people have wondered what happened to Eliot Rosewater after he adopted those fifty-seven children in Rosewater County and frustrated the Rhode Island Rosewaters and their greedy lawyer Norman Mushari.
Some familiar with Rosewater’s biography (God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater ) might have missed his brief inclusion in the book Breakfast of Champions, published by Rosewater’s erudite biographer, Kurt Vonnegut. I don’t know. It doesn’t matter. That being said, I would like to finish telling the story of Eliot Rosewater.
In a nutshell, this fabulous alcoholic philanthropist, after going through extensive therapy and getting sober, discovered the mental, physical, and spiritual results of group sex and orgies of all sorts. He was living inNew York Cityat the time. Three years into his sick and perverted experimentation, he finally got to meet his hero Kilgore Trout at the Mildred Barry Memorial Centerfor the Arts in a place called Midland City. That meeting turned Rosewater’s life around. It made him remember that constant and impersonal sex was not all there is in the world. He leftMidland City, returned toNew York, and proceeded to live a Spartan life in a basement apartment in theEast Village. He cleaned up his act. He bought vegetables every day from a local store and he sometimes spent hours alone inCentral Park. Once in awhile, he would balance breadcrumbs on his outstretched arms and invite pigeons to land on him. The great genius Nikolai Tesla did this in his old age.
Now, back to the encounter between Rosewater and Trout: Trout, having just had a life-changing spiritual experience, having literally spoken with his Creator and having traveled through the universe with Him, was rattled. In fact, he was literally in shock and belonged in a hospital bed, not on the stage of the Mildred Barry Memorial Center for the Arts. Trout was incapable of understanding the fawning nonsense spouting from the lips of Eliot Rosewater as the two of them shared a stage at theArts Center. He was partly in shock from having met his creator and partly in shock because earlier in the evening Dwayne Hoover had bitten the end of one of his finger.
Asked years later about meeting Eliot Rosewater, Trout declared, “I don’t remember much about that evening. Mostly I remember getting the end of my finger bitten off.”
Eliot Rosewater returned toNew York City, very much inspired by having met Kilgore Trout, determined to live a fully aware, centered life. He wanted more than anything to become a saint. He tossed the trash and litter from his foul apartment, scrubbed everything down with Murphy’s Oil Soap, decorated it sparsely with Mission-Style furniture, and he waited for something to happen. He would wait until July 19, 2014.
Back in 1967, the Summer of Love and the year of theDetroitriots, Senator Lister Rosewater had addressed the Rosewater Foundation at its annual stockholders’ meeting. He gave an impassioned speech warning that the world was changing and that efforts to raise money had to be more aggressive. He quoted a young poet that he called “Bobby Die-lin” and he informed his slavering audience that, indeed, “the times are a’changing”. He worked the crowd like an evangelist preacher, getting those stockholders excited. He ended on a high note, declaring, “My friends, you are the future.”
He stretched his large hands out and above his shoulders with the imperious confidence of a great orchestra conductor. As one, the stockholders leaped to their feet. Hypnotized by his showmanship, his precise intonation and rhythm of speech, the crowd clapped and clapped and clapped.
Even though every word he spoke was shielded with verbal camouflage, the investors caught his hidden message. This roomful of men, their fortunes invested in believing the Senator’s stories, they would joyfully follow him into the burning depths of Hell. And that’s just what they did.
The Foundation began investing heavily in munitions companies, in bomb factories, in helicopter manufacturing companies, and in a boat company the built something very much like the PT boat that President John F. Kennedy piloted during an earlier war.
Their lobbyists spent millions of dollars taking congressmen out for dinner and to meet hookers. The Vietnam War expanded. The Rosewater Foundation was awash in money.
Eliot, who had never taken any interest in the money-making end of the Foundation, was blissfully unaware of any of this. Oh, he knew about the war of course. Everybody knew about the war, back then.
In 1997, the Foundation created something called a hedge fund. By then, the Foundation was so powerful that it managed to nearly kill the economy of many Asian countries. By then, the Senator was dead. The actual transactions were so complex that it was more like horse racing than banking. All the investment bankers were so jazzed up all the time, it was like they were on crack.
Money was pouring in so fast that nobody could keep track of it. Running estimates of the worth of the Foundation determined that the Rosewater fortune tripled every year for three years. It was too good too be true. In 2007, the floor seemed to drop out of the income stream and the Foundation nearly went under. But it survived.
Then, in the hot summer of 2014, because the Foundation was over-leveraged or because it sold short or because somewhere, someone had pushed the wrong buttons, or just because it was time for it to stop existing, it went from being a giant financial success to a bankrupt nothing. That information set off a series of late-night meetings, you can bet.
Even accountants couldn’t fix it. The Foundation was broke. Three days after a sharp-eyed CPA had discovered this inescapable truth, the fact that the company was a crashing airplane and there was no way to save it, Eliot was scared out of his dreams at eight o’clock in the morning by a crisp, official-sounding knock at his door. Eliot rolled off his Murphy Bed, wrestled his way onto a motorized scooter, untangled his blanket from the wheels, rolled over a pillow, and went to the door of his tiny apartment.
A thin, fortyish gentleman dressed in somber black twisted his hands and stood sweating heavily in the early morning sunshine on Eliot’s doorstep.
“Come in, come in,” said Eliot, putting his scooter in reverse to allow his guest entry.
Eliot moaned involuntarily as he looked over his shoulder and put his scooter in reverse. The scooter beeped purposefully. Eliot backed skillfully around a stack of old newspapers and called over his shoulder, “What can I do for you?” asked Eliot.
“Mr. Rosewater, sir,” the suffering man mumbled as he shuffled inside the cramped and monkish apartment.
“Mr. Rosewater,” the stranger continued, “the Rosewater Foundation is bankrupt.” He waited for that stink bomb to fill the room.
“Would you care for some coffee?” Eliot asked him.