The Incredible Life of Mr. Pim
The first story in the Medium Series, Augustine’s Pear: Short Fictions for Smoking, a collection of short stories that, in their folly, wrestle with time, death, and the labyrinth.
Imagine a world in which people don’t celebrate their birthday, but rather their deathday, a world wherein everyone born knows the day in which they’ll die.
Mr. Pim’s deathdate was March the 21st, thirty-three years after his birthday. Like everyone else, he was supposed to die. But the most remarkable thing happened, Mr. Pim didn’t die, he lived.
West Haven Chronicle: “Letter from the Editor,” by Charles Ling
It is a little-known fact that Basil Wallace Pim retired in West Haven. It is a lesser-known fact that four days hence marks his sixty-sixth threshold convergence, thirty-three years after the events that propelled him into international stardom.
To mark the occasion, the West Haven Chronicle will release — one each day — a four-part biographical account that it researched with Mr. Pim’s help over a period of twelve months.
Cora Malbert, who will be leaving us soon, has written the articles with all of her characteristic wit. It is that same wit, in fact, that first endeared her to our little town.
We, the editorial board, could think of no better way to offer our gratitude for her services than to allow Mrs. Malbert the opportunity to converse with Mr. Pim.
He graciously, if unexpectedly, accepted our invitation and agreed to appear in the West Haven Chronicle. Please do make sure to read the four-part series, starting tomorrow, and say a fond farewell to Mrs. Malbert.
On behalf of the entire West Haven Chronicle team, I remove my journalistic objectivity and don the first person.
I have never worked with someone so professional, critical, and driven. Your time with us has been too short. I wish you the best of luck in your next endeavor.
You will be missed.
West Haven Chronicle: “The Incredible Life of Mr. Pim,” by Cora Malbert
Basil Wallace Pim, thirty-three years ago, shattered history. He lived. The magnitude of his continued existence has plagued scientists, priests, and talk-show hosts ever since.
We know little of either the why or the how, but we do know that the original threshold calculations were accurate.
In his book, The Chariot of Icarus, the celebrated Dr. Frederick von Planck has conclusively shown that Pim’s threshold was, in fact, precise. But he argues, as he has for much of his scientific career, that entangled fluctuations could and should be present in any theoretical threshold — so why not the real thing?
While this intellectual, heady stuff makes for poor reading, what it clearly, if drably suggests is that Pim is an anomaly. He was born with a threshold like the rest of us but failed to meet the convergence.
Pim lives in an unassuming, turn-of-the-century home. When opened, his door swivels smooth and clean, but his floors creak with age. Dressed in denim and flannel, Pim can usually be found sitting at his kitchen table, drinking tea — black, not herbal. He does not often host, however, and so much of his home is sparse, threadbare, and silent.
With neither radio nor television, Pim’s home lacks the modern current of electricity to which the majority of us have long since grown accustomed. He has, in his way, much in common with those ancient hermits closeted in dark, glimmering caves. But Pim has not always lived on the periphery of society.
Pim grew up in the rural flats of Hillsboro, Texas. His father, Wallace Taylor Pim, was an Army Corps Engineer at the nearby Whitney Dam. Pim’s mother, Vickie Mae Pim, was a third-grade teacher at Hillsboro Prep.
He was born at the Hill Regional Hospital at 6:03 AM on December 25th. The doctor overseeing the delivery, Dr. Omar Fareed, now deceased but interviewed after the resulting events, assured governments and reporters alike that Pim’s DNA scan had been carried out as accurately and normally as possible. All subsequent scans have proven this to be true.
With little fanfare, Pim’s heel was stamped: March the Twenty-First, Thirty-Three Years Hence, which placed him squarely in the mid-range of Maslow’s, “Hierarchy of Appropriate Professions.” Pim would be allowed to attend either a community or a trade college and assume the role of a blue-collar worker.
The papers were filled and filed at the Hill County Courthouse by one Zachariah Jedediah Pim, Pim’s uncle. All were accounted for. All was at it should be. And so, three days later, Pim was carried home by his loving and, by all accounts, beautiful mother.
Pim’s upbringing was uneventful. He had two brothers and four sisters, of which he was neither the first nor the last.
His earliest memories, he recounted, were of spending summers with his father and brothers along the banks of Lake Whitney and the Brazos River or playing with his sisters in their small, Victorian playhouse. He fondly recalled the heat of Texas noondays and the itch of Saint Augustine’s grass. “It was prelapsarian,” he said, “a time of innocence.”
Before long, Pim started school with his mother at Hillsboro Prep, where he proved himself to be rather average. He played sports, had close friends, and, due to Trigger Alpert’s influence, learned to play the upright bass.
Graduating high school in the middle of his class, Pim attended Hill Community College, where he continued to play the bass while majoring in vocational nursing.
In the spring of his sophomore year, however, former President Fulton Eric Mitchell signed the PERMA act. All able-bodied males between eighteen and twenty-two with a threshold convergence between thirty-three and fifty-three years of age were henceforth corporately drafted into the United States Military.
Within the year, Pim found himself on the ground in Thailand, a corpsman in the United States Marine Corps, waging a war against the neo-communists of Chanchai Aromdee’s day.
There was little of this time that Pim was comfortable recounting. Through previous documentation and some journalistic digging, however, it was discovered that Pim served with a battalion that was stationed in Chang Mai, the hotbed of neo-communism, and where tension was most fierce.
His commanding officer, First Lieutenant Andrew Tuck Gellibrand, once said of Pim that not only did he serve with honor but also with an “invaluable subservience.” Pim was discharged honorably six years after the war.
At twenty-seven, Pim returned to Hillsboro, where he was hailed as a war hero and quickly hired by Hill Regional for his expertise in vocational or, as they called it, “applied nursing.”
With his six remaining years, Pim settled down to a life of ambulance driving and emergency medicine. In his twenty-eighth year, however, he met Ruby Lynn Smith, a night-watch clerk at the local Brookshire’s, whose threshold convergence was a middling thirty-seven. They married hastily, birthed two children (Jane Lothian Pim, threshold twelve, and Douglas Basil Pim, threshold forty-eight), and lived out their remaining years in peace.
By all accounts, this story should include only one further line: The End. When his wife was thirty-five, however, and his children were five and three, the most remarkable of things occurred.
On March the twenty-second of his thirty-third year, Pim opened his eyes to the rising, orange glow of the Texas sun.
West Haven Chronicle: “The Shadow of the Valley of Life,” by Cora Malbert
Falling asleep on March the twenty-first of his thirty-third year, Basil Wallace Pim claimed to have felt nothing. “Threshold takes us all,” he said while sitting in his meager home tucked within the far, wooded hills of West Haven. “I knew my day, obviously, but making it that far I assumed it would happen in my sleep.”
Rising the following morning, however, both Pim and Ruby Lynn were shocked. They phoned the hospital and then a psychiatrist. An ambulance was sent to their home. At Hill Regional, tests were conducted, but with no helpful or conclusive data. Pim was alive the day after his verified, DNA-scanned threshold convergence.
It wasn’t long before former President Laura Dean Anders was notified of the situation. In an interview conducted after her time in office, she admitted that the majority of her staffers had suggested a forced threshold. But, she claimed, “I didn’t want to set that precedent if that is what Mr. Pim represented.”
The events of March the twenty-second in the thirty-third year of Pim, however, were unique events in the spacetime continuum. The thresholds that govern our society and day-to-day lives had been broken.
By May, Pim was an international celebrity. He was interviewed, recorded, and tested. He was on every talk show and newspaper from Hillsboro to Mumbai. He became an icon to some, an abomination to others. Sects formed and then worshiped. The president dispatched a personal security detail. Within the year, Pimzianism was a full-blown religion.
“I didn’t know how to handle it,” he admitted. “When a person arrives at threshold, he or she makes peace. Like everybody else, that’s what I did.”
Fidgeting with the handle on his teacup, he continued: “For those of us in the middle of Maslow’s Hierarchy, threshold is a release. We live simple lives with simple dreams. And look,” he shifted in his chair, “after all this time, I’ve still never found the words. It was like stepping into a void. I bumbled into uncertainty. I no longer had a place in the hierarchy. My threshold would be — spontaneous. I couldn’t work. I couldn’t play. I couldn’t do anything. Hell, in those early days, people would come from all over and camp out on my lawn. Just waiting. To see if today would be the day.”
Former President Anders subsidized Pim and his family, but a year went by and then two and then four.
Ruby Lynn arrived at threshold convergence and, at twelve, Jane Lothian.
Pim packed his bags, left Douglas Basil with a caretaker, and began to travel from one Pimzian congregation to another. He read and studied and wrote. He returned to the upright bass. He started speaking, first about threshold convergences and then about nonlocalities and Peircean tychism. Crowds followed him from grange to grange and across the country.
Arriving at the Atlantic Ocean, he uttered those now famous words: “In triumph, I have come to your shores. No longer will the threshold of earth bind me.” If legends are to be believed, then Pim entered the warm waters of Coastal Virginia, swam around the Horn of Africa, and up to the Indian sea-town of Kochi. He began his life anew, reborn as Guru Pimsy.
Pim spent the next seven years of his life in deep meditation. A support system arose and helped him with his daily necessities, which by all accounts were few. Eating only one cup of rice a day, he supplemented his diet by chewing on imported kava root while discoursing on the metaphysics of deeply emergent thresholds.
If this all sounds too fanciful, then that is because it is. Western reporters have found little to no evidence to corroborate the claims made by Pimzians during that time.
Nine years ago, however, a crude and elementary video of Guru Pimsy surfaced. Thin and marked with three diagonal tilaka marks, Pim can be seen sitting cross-legged before a large gathering. Midway through his oratory chant, Pim levitates to what appears to be two or three inches off of the ground.
Sparing you the exhaustive scrutinization that this video has undergone — much is inconclusive. Western experts can neither identify the truth or falsity of Pim’s mystical suspensions.
“I cannot speak to the levitation or what many consider an astounding advancement in visual effects,” Dr. Frederick von Planck has commented, “but I can speak to the content of Guru Pimsy’s speech. I do not know what happened to him or where he studied during his ‘swim,’ but it is clear in the video that he comprehends theoretical thresholds in a way that very few people in the world do. In fact, that video has on many occasion pushed my own research in new, fresh directions.”
Guru Pimsy traveled throughout India and Southeast Asia, planting loosely affiliated communes that sought to embody the Beatitudes of Guru Pimsy. Occasionally, accounts of healings and exorcisms surfaced, but there is no reason to believe that these claims were factual.
Humans cast their heroes, all too often, in beatific light so that others will come to see the man or woman standing before them as something else. To be frank, it is nothing more than that ancient narratival trick of defamiliarization. Through the story, we come to see something old as something new.
Guru Pimsy did not work miracles, but his followers wanted people to see something of the miracle worker in him. And for them, he was a “real” truth actualized. But it didn’t last. Thirteen years after his arrival in Kochi, Guru Pimsy removed the mantle of Guru and returned to Hillsboro, Texas as Pim.
“Why did I return?” he mused, standing in the doorway of his home. “Well,” a sad smile overtook his dark face, “my granddaughter had arrived at threshold,” he said. “And I hadn’t even known that I had one.”
West Haven Chronicle: “The Darkest of Intervals,” by Cora Malbert
It was high summer when Pim reappeared in Hillsboro. He was not sure if it was the town or his perspective that had changed. It was different, he said, and in a way that he did not like.
His parents and old friends had all arrived at their threshold convergences, and his son refused to see him. “He left,” Douglas Basil said. “He left me and never even met Nimmian Rose, my daughter, and his grandchild. At the time, I just wanted to get on living. Not rehash the past.”
Pim, at first, handled his son’s request with grace. He respected Douglas Basil’s choices. But in time he began, very publically, to fall apart.
Once word spread that the one-time Guru had returned, Pimzians from all across America came in pilgrimage to pay homage. Pim conducted three services a day at the Hill County Third Congregation of Reformed Pimzianism. In the way of most systems of belief, there were splits, un-doings, and reformations. But in Pim’s choice to attend a Reformed Pimzian congregation — rather than a Congregation of the Orthodox Pimsy, a Collect of the One and True Pimzian Science, or a Branch of the Twenty-First Day Pimsy Pimzians — he created a national controversy.
Once again, Pim found himself on television, radio shows, and written about in newspapers. He obliged the public for a year. And then in the fall of his fifty-first year, he made a disheveled and very drunk appearance on, “This Is Your Day America!”
The host, Roberto Constantine Benedict, refused to play ball and asked Pim in front of an audience of two hundred and twelve million people: “Are you potted?” To which Pim responded, “Bliggity.” It was a national and religious scandal.
He who had surpassed threshold convergence and communed as a Guru had become an insufferable inebriate. He fell from nirvana and was discarded. Many Pimzian congregations closed, but not all. Over a third remained open and, as the post-threshold transcendence of indeterminacy had left Pim, began their long search for a Pontifical successor.
When asked what made Pim take to drinking, he did not answer at first. He sat and examined West Haven from the comfort of his front porch. Birds chirped and bees flitted past. Pim was quiet — he was always quiet.
“Everyone dies,” he finally said, “except me.”
Pim left the public behind and went underground. What followed is that which Pim refers to as his “dark years.” Traveling through the anonymous boroughs of New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, Pim sought a remedy for his situation. Various swindlers and quacks would dance their jigs and make their promises, but in the end, it always amounted to the same thing — life. No one was really capable of launching him into threshold.
In New York, Pim met a salesboy named Othin in a shoddy lean-to made from refuse, hide, and crumpled wrappers. Othin, threshold nine, claimed that he could remove Pim’s consciousness. When Pim inquired as to what manner of magic Othin had at his disposal to remove the consciousness of man, Othin replied by holding up a long, glimmering spike. Pim continued journeying.
In Chicago, he wandered from hovel to hovel, where all of Chicago’s lowest-tier hierarchies stumbled through their short existences. There was the usual fare of drug, sex, and holographic ecstasy, but there was also rumored to be that which was more unusual. It was the exorcisms, night braidings, and lobotomies that interested Pim.
He met a salesgirl named Friga outside of an expulsion joint. Friga, threshold six, claimed that she could correct Pim’s threshold convergence and place him in a top-tier hierarchy. When Pim inquired as to what manner of magic Friga had at her disposal to correct the threshold of man, Friga replied by unveiling her naked body. Pim continued journeying.
In Los Angeles, Pim explored ghetto after ghetto of Los Angeles’ many beach communities. Here they were fluent in séance, Ouija, and tarot. Here they were conversant in universes, vortices, and ceremonies of the moon. They were good people irrevocably maimed or birthed into poor tiers.
Pim met a salesman, an old man, named Hil beneath a flapping tent on the shores of the Pacific. Hil was blind and missing one arm. Hil, threshold ninety-two, promised that he could provide Pim with sweet release. When Pim inquired as to what manner of magic Hil had at his disposal to provide release from man’s threshold, Hil smiled and said, “Unlike the others, I’m not afraid to kill.”
When faced with it after nine years of searching, Pim’s confidence shattered. “I don’t want this,” he said. And then he wept. He traversed his way up and out of the lowest-tiered hierarchies, always walking east.
After a time, he arrived in the small hamlet of West Haven. He reactivated his identity, removed funds from Twin Mountain Credit Union, and purchased the home that he now lives in, quietly and patiently.
Pim stopped in West Haven six years ago because of its familiar feel and his exhausted soul. Rocking on his porch swing as the sun wheeled in the sky and began to sink, he said: “I met many people on my journey that had been burdened with a terrible knowledge. But the fault is not their own. In the higher tiers, many take their threshold convergences for granted. They know that for a set period of time they will have life, love, and freedom and so they acquiesce to threshold. In the highest tiers, there is no rage.
“But to threshold, before one can feel the pulse of life coursing through his or her veins, to converge in the midst of potentiality — that is the hidden shame of our society. In the dark places, there is the rage, but little power.
“And me? I’m something else entirely. I’m not mastered by time. I move freely through the world and towards my anonymous threshold. At moments, I have been staggered by this responsibility and at others, I have sought to do it justice. But I’m no advocate and I’m tired of speaking. If there is wrongness in a thing, then why should I be the one to reveal it? So I stopped, here, at the first town that felt like home.”
West Haven Chronicle: “At The End of All Things, I Found Only Him,” by Cora Malbert
It is inaccurate to think that Pim has remained solely in West Haven these last few years. While he has owned a home, it has not always kept him here. Two years after his arrival, he was asked by Former President Shelby Luna Minka to chair a committee that sought to foster a worldwide, interreligious dialogue. Pim reluctantly agreed and began traveling between West Haven and New York.
It was while on the WIDC that Pim developed relationships with The Magnificent Nic Thai Han, Her Holiness Ming Lai, Pope Gonzales III, and Bishop Lamar Jackson. For three years, Pim spoke not so much on behalf of Pimzians but rather as an expert on threshold convergences.
“As far as I knew,” he said, while once again fidgeting with his teacup, “Pimzianism had progressed. I was no longer its ceremonial head. The movement, and that’s what it was, took on a different significance from its founder. Those who adhered to it carved meaning out of Pimzianism’s basic matter. But I’ve always had little to do with absolutes and intentionalities. Since the beginning, they’ve constructed it, not me.” To a large extent, this is true, but there are those who are still angered by Pim’s collapse.
Brother Andersonsy, Arizona’s regional Pimzian director, is one such devotee. “The Guru formerly known as Pimsy is special to hundreds of thousands of people across the globe. He gave us hope and freedom in a life filled with certain hierarchy. He can’t just move on. He can’t just drop the ‘-sy’ from his name and think that all is forgiven. His followers deserve more than that.”
But other adherents to the world’s fastest growing religion aren’t so sure. Jason Heibertsy, who insisted that we drop his “Brother” moniker, thinks differently.
“Pimsy is a concept, man, not a person,” he said. “You can’t understand that. No one can. I can’t, man. And that’s the Pimzianism, right? I levitate. You levitate. We all levitate, man. It’s beautiful.”
For whatever time he has left, the role that Pim might or might not play in regard to Pimzianism is ambiguous. But what is certain is the role that he has played and continues to play on the WIDC.
When asked what made him the proudest of his time on the WIDC, he responded by saying: “Our work is good and stands on its own. But pride is something in which I no longer indulge.”
Pim continued that what he found most interesting was his service on the committee’s investigatory panel, which exists to root out false claims of threshold convergence and mystical ecstasy. “I saw a lot of crazy things,” he said. “People will try anything to get on the news.”
Understating his influence, it has been suggested by other members of the panel that Pim was responsible for resolving the now fated Griffon Affair. When asked, he only smiled and sipped his tea.
The last two years have been peaceful for Pim. He has, for the most part, retired to his home in West Haven. He wakes early, eats breakfast at The Branding Iron, and then spends the rest of his mornings walking around Midpath Park.
“I use the time,” he said, “to meditate, reflect, or work through equational processes.” He often stops and talks with the locals, too. Pim and Mayor Fran Margaret Bloomberg can often be seen sipping their respective tea and coffee on the park bench near the water fountain.
Pim never reconnected with his son, Douglas Basil. “I miss him,” Pim said, “but he has his own life.” Nothing could be truer.
Douglas Basil, now approaching threshold, is an elementary school principal in Hillsboro, Texas. When not working, he spends his days with his wife, grown child, or at the Hillsboro Backgammon Club where he is both president and treasurer. Douglas Basil’s last living child, Ruby Garland, has never met her grandfather.
“If I could do it all again,” Pim said, “I would have done it differently. Those living within the threshold continuum rarely, if ever, have doubts or regrets. Not me. I messed up. Ruined things.”
Where Pim is harsh, however, history has been kind. There is much for which Pim should be remembered: fighting against the neo-communists in the Thai Tension, founding Pimzianism, swimming the Horn of Africa, traveling the Asian continent, mystical levitation, bringing our country’s attention to low-tiered non-hierarchies, and the good work of the WIDC.
Pim, for all his doubts and uncertainties, has lived a good life worthy of celebration. And that is just what we plan to do. Join the town of West Haven tonight at 7:30 PM at The Branding Iron for Pim’s sixty-sixth threshold anniversary.
It is expected that the entirety of West Haven will be in attendance.
The interview was over. I stood and pushed my chair back. Thanking Pim, he walked me once more to his front door. We said our goodbyes and I turned to leave. The sun was beginning to set behind West Haven. Mayor Bloomberg, no doubt, was even now putting her final touches on the coming celebration. I could not help myself. And so I asked: “Do you mind if I ask one more question?” But Pim only smiled and said: “I don’t have the answer, Cora. I never did.”
West Haven Chronicle: “Obituary for Cora Malbert,” by Hawthorne B. Peters
As Cora Malbert’s replacement, the editors have chosen me, Hawthorne B. Peters — threshold forty-seven — to write Mrs. Malbert’s obituary. It is my great honor to do so. I hope that in the remaining twelve years of my tenure I can serve this town as well as she.
Cora Jane Malbert, survived by her husband — Edward Thomas Malbert, threshold fifty-one — and three children — Eddie, threshold twenty-seven, Jane, threshold thirty-two, and Louise, threshold seventy-four — was born to Elizabeth Anne Quinden and Luis Alfred Malbert with an established threshold of forty-three.
She graduated top of her class at Belmont College, where she majored in journalism and wrote her now published thesis on Basil Wallace Pim. It was called, Engulfing The Thresholds of Mysticism.
Upon graduation, she began her journalistic career in Wichita, Kansas before eventually moving to West Haven, Connecticut. It is common knowledge that she moved here shortly after Mr. Pim had resurfaced in our little town.
Among her top stories were: “The Bridge that Binds,” “Following the Cold Trail of a Deer,” and “Seven Myths for Seven Wonders.”
It was Mrs. Malbert’s threshold wish to write her ultimate story on Mr. Pim, a four-part series analyzing her hero’s life. As in all things, she did not disappoint.
If you enjoyed this story and would like to read more, then follow the Medium Series, Augustine’s Pair: Short Fictions for Smoking.