A sheer gauze of light. Conversation died. They were reading his thoughts on monitors as he stepped out. "Model," someone muttered. And he heard again the shiny word: "prototype."

A model on the runways of the world, the fashion world.

Scattered laughter.

"These delusions," explained a white coat man, center stage, "these delusions are programmatic. Derrick, will you have a seat?"

"Thank you, sir."

"Peerless sociability, as you see. He can smoke cigarettes, discuss film. He can look bored. All of the random functions are set to high, so that, ah, things are achieved by the most circuitous-seeming means. (For obviously this cannot be, like Peenemuende to London, a simple matter of parabolas.) Derrick, how do you feel tonight?"

"I don't know, Sir. Tolerably well."

"The language is deep-structured that ensures a restless, random, methodless method. A befuddling sense of some original insult--mother unlove, some vague loss--aleatory but of constant access. And at the necessary moment, fresh as a slap. You've come a long way, Derrick."

"Yes, Sir."

"And you have a long way to go."

"Yes, Sir, I do. I ought to get going."

(More laughter.) "There is, of course, one direct behavior for which we have allowed: departure. And in fact, yes Derrick, now is nearly the time. There remains a final installation. A certain piece of hardware, so to speak."

There it glistened, snug in the plush.

"A few of us here, I'm sure, think of Derrick almost as a son. And on the occasion of this, his launch, with thoughts of the momentousness of, ah, the trajectory of his final run--"

Derrick, interjecting: "Please, Sir--can I have the gun?"

Derrick's Trip - Launch