It’s the 27th and time for “De-Cloned” by Nathaniel Tower.
[cryout-pullquote align=”left|center|right” textalign=”left|center|right” width=”33%”]The Ramey Ramble: “Put it in a pickle jar, Samford, and close the lid tight.”[/cryout-pullquote]
Samford is lying in a comfortable bed, a woman’s arm draped over his chest. He wakes up stiff , unaccustomed to sleeping on his back. He glances at the woman and smiles to himself. Gently, he removes her arm from his chest and scoots himself off the bed, trying not to wake her. Clothes and used condoms are scattered all over the floor. Samford tiptoes around the room like he is maneuvering through a mine field.
Samford Versus the Clones has been maybe the strangest series I’ve read in a while. For months, Samford has been in a life or death race to escape the clones he believes are using him as some sort of lab rate in a vast conspiracy to overrun the human world. At first our main wonder was whether he was truly bonkers or only temporarily insane. As his adventures became more threatening and intense, as more objective evidence began to mount, we were forced to re-evaluated. Could it be that Samford was right? Indeed, he made progress in solving the mystery, and in the process of that journey learned that he too may be a clone. Part and parcel with these discoveries was the realization that he really had no say in his life. He was here for a purpose and the purpose was not his own. His duty was not to wonder why, but to procreate with every clone-Sarah that came his way. The world would soon be overrun with little Samfords, and he was powerless to stop it, ruled by hie erection rather than his mind. Besides the obvious commentary on male priorities, the series is actually an exploration of the human condition as our world becomes ever more overcrowded and impersonal. In a world full of us, how can we possibly stand out? Our lives are regulated by social expectations, duty, responsibilities, leaving little room for exploration of identity and deeper purpose. That’s one theory, anyway. Another is that the series is simply a fun adventure involving clones and lots of sex.
Last month, Samford reached the end of his tolerance, and tried to kill himself by drinking drain opener. Fortunately, one of the Sarah’s-the first Sarah-found him in time and performed mouth to man-part resuscitation. We were left to wonder what actually happened, but it was clearly a turning point. This month, in a scene reminiscent of the opening scene in the series, Samford wakes up next to a woman with whom he has just had sex. In that very first scene, he learned to his dismay that the woman, Sarah, had somehow cloned him. This time we discover that whatever Sarah did to him last month has had an opposite effect.
Samford steps to the sink, his boner starting to shrink back to its small flaccid counterpart. Instead of washing his hands, he reaches for a pickle jar sitting next to the soap dispenser. He holds the jar up in the light, staring at the long metal chip inside. His lips mouth the long string of numbers.
The ending is eloquent if somewhat confusing, and we do leave the series feeling a sense of resolution, even if we do not fully understand what that resolution might be. One could read this ending to mean that the series has all been some sort of nightmarish dream, or we might read it as I prefer to, that Samford has indeed been freed from his cloned state, and is now womanizing of his own initiative. It’s lost on him that he’s actually performing the same function (as a sex toy to women) with or without the cloning imperative hanging over him. Maybe that’s the point of the series. So while I’m left with more questions than I’d like, I do admire an ending that invites me to think. And I certainly admire a series that manages such an intense absurdity through twelve installments without losing my suspension of disbelief. That’s one impressive feat.