S. G. Browne Big Egos: A Novel

ISBN 13: 9781482926873

Big Egos: A Novel

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9781482926873: Big Egos: A Novel

[Read by Tasso Feldman]

The brand-new novel from S.G. Browne - the author of Lucky Bastard and Breathers -- ''one of today's very best writers'' (Jonathan Maberry)

A young man is having an identity crisis while working as the head of the Investigations Department for the Los Angeles bioengineering firm Engineering Genetics Organizations and Systems. A quarter of the way into the twenty-first century, EGOS has developed and produced a groundbreaking technology in the form of a consumer product called, oddly enough, Egos. This product allows customers to become a fictional character or a dead celebrity for six to eight hours by injecting a DNA-laced cocktail into their brain stem, revolutionizing the concept of role-playing games. When a colleague stumbles upon an anomaly in a group of Egos that the unnamed protagonist has been injecting regularly for the past three years, the brass at EGOS waves it off as nothing to be worried about -- except he is exhibiting behaviors that are in line with the reported anomaly. The truth is, he's started to lose the ability to separate fact from fiction. The more he continues to play the role of someone else, the less of him remains, as the lines of reality and fantasy continue to blur.

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About the Author:

S.G. Browne is the author of Breathers, Fated, and Lucky Bastard, and the Breathers sequel I Saw Zombies Eating Santa Claus, as well as the eBook story collection Shooting Monkeys in a Barrel. He lives in San Francisco.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Big Egos CHAPTER 1


I’m at another party, this one in a Beverly Hills brick Colonial Revival mansion just off Wilshire Boulevard. It’s not exactly Graceland and this sure as hell ain’t Memphis, but I have to remember that I didn’t come here to indulge my own fantasies.

It’s a select crowd, lots of familiar faces and everyone wants to shake my hand. I get stopped by Dick Clark, Jackie Kennedy Onassis, Liberace, and Starsky and Hutch, among others. Fairly white-bread gathering, though I run into Richard Pryor every now and then, so chances are he’ll make an appearance.

The party is a typical L.A. gathering, lots of pretty faces and everyone looking around to see who else there is to see. The DJ is playing seventies-era Top 40 and disco that everyone’s heard on the radio at one time or another. I think about suggesting he spin “Jailhouse Rock” or “Hound Dog” instead, but I don’t want to get too self-absorbed. It’s bad form.

I wander through the house, offering an occasional smile and a wave and a “thank you very much” as I check out the other guests. Bruce Lee is hitting on Hot Lips Houlihan. Evel Knievel is attempting to jump over half a dozen of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. Daisy Duke and Farrah Fawcett are comparing their breasts while Andy Kaufman officiates.

A huge banquet table of catered food sits in the middle of the dining room. Cher and Deborah Harry, both apparently high on devil weed, are scarfing down petits fours, while John Belushi sculpts the pâté into the shape of a penis. Fonzie sits in his trademark leather jacket near the head of the table, alternately eating from a tray of puff pastries and sucking on a half-smoked joint. He looks at me and says, “Nice lamb chops,” then laughs. He has crumbs and a yellow stain down the front of his white T-shirt.

I’m tempted to bring up the whole “jumping the shark” thing but my momma always taught me to take the high road, so I just smile and keep my thoughts to myself.

Belushi offers me some of his artwork on a cracker but I decline. Maybe if they had a platter of Twinkies or some deep-fried banana and peanut butter sandwiches I’d reconsider, but I didn’t come here to indulge The King’s appetite. At least not for food.

Deborah Harry breaks into a rendition of “It’s Now or Never” as Cher stuffs another petit four into her mouth and laughs, spraying food across the table. Cher and Blondie don’t belong here, at least not legally since they’re both still alive, but neither one of them appears to be in any kind of distress, so I let it slide.

I walk up to Blondie, tenderly brush the hair off her forehead, ask her if she’s lonesome tonight, then give her a kiss that distracts Belushi from his pâté sculpture. When Blondie’s knees buckle, I catch her and lower her into a chair, then turn and walk into the kitchen.

Joey Ramone and Sid Vicious are doing shots of tequila while Andy Warhol raids the refrigerator, which looks more like a walk-in closet than a Frigidaire. I reach past Warhol and grab two bottles of Coors, then wander down the hall and head upstairs.

The mansion has half a dozen bedrooms, each of them bigger than my own and half of them occupied. In one bedroom, I find Vinnie Barbarino getting stoned with George Carlin and Freddie Mercury. In another room, Rocky Balboa is having sex with Annie Hall. Finally, in the last room, a bedroom so enormous I could park both of my cars and still have enough space to stage Jesus Christ Superstar, I find who I’ve been looking for.

David Cassidy stands naked in front of a full-length mirror singing “I Think I Love You.” His head is shaved, along with most of the rest of his body—his hair in a pile on the hardwood floor at his feet. He still has his pubic hair and his eyebrows, but he removes the eyebrows in the time it takes me to uncap the bottles of Coors.

“That’s an interesting look,” I say.

He turns away from the mirror and regards me with catatonic indifference.

“Are you from the party?” he asks.

I assure him that I am.

He eyes the two beers I’m holding in my right hand and asks if he can have one. I figured he’d be thirsty, so I hand him a bottle. As he tilts his head back and starts to drink, I remove a single liquid-filled capsule from my pocket and drop it into my own beer. The capsule dissolves within seconds.

He finishes his beer and drops the bottle, then wipes a distracted hand across his mouth. “I was thirsty,” he says.

I offer him my beer. He takes it without a word and drinks it down in half a dozen gulps. When he drops the bottle, it shatters on the hardwood floor.

“How about I find us a couple more brews,” I say.

“Okay,” he says, then turns to the mirror and starts to shave his pubic hair as he breaks into The Partridge Family theme song.

Come on get happy.

I walk out of the room and close the door behind me, then I find the nearest bathroom to take care of business. Out of vanity and because it still gives me the giggles, I check my reflection in the mirror. The sideburns and hair are mine. The white jumpsuit and glasses came from a vintage clothing store. I look enough like Elvis to have groupies. I walk like him. I talk like him. Hell, if someone brought out a karaoke machine I could probably even sing like him. And as far as the other guests at the party are concerned, I am The King.

Which is all that really matters.

Perception is reality.

And after taking care of business with David Cassidy, my reality has a yearning for some hanky-panky.

I check my reflection in the mirror one more time, then I walk back down the hallway toward the dining room to see if I can interest Deborah Harry in some burnin’ love.

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