The following is the first two chapters from the novel Sky Island by Travis Spencer
Sky Islands are isolated mountains surrounded by radically different lowland environments. This has significant implications for natural habitats. Endemism, altitudinal migration, and relict populations are some of the natural phenomena to be found on sky islands.
-From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT!
Paul ‘Odie’ Wodanski was larger than life. As his granddaughter, I believed that he was a superhero in every way imaginable. To this day, hanging over the giant ash desk in the old cabin hangs a picture of him at 33 years old with gloriously long blond locks protruding from his purple helmet, the purple jersey tightly hugging his shoulder pads and a humongous grin covering his face as a tiny glint of madness sparks from his left eye while the right is covered with a shabby black patch.
“Grandpa, who is that?” I asked him one afternoon as he typed slowly but methodically at the manual typewriter in front of him. I was 10 years old at the time, spending the summer with him at his cabin in the mountains of eastern Arizona.
“Never met him.” He said letting out a big laugh and then he went back to punching letters.
“Is that you Grandpa?” I asked and watched as his face lit up and he stopped typing. He looked up at the photo and let in the absolute joy coming from the photo of his former self. As he looked at the photo I watched his face become distressed for an instant as the trials of time passed over him, his eyes closed tightly and he said,
“Those were the greatest days of my life Elli.” He pulled a cigar out of the box atop his desk and moved toward the door. “If they ever build a time machine, we’d get in that thing and go back to October 17th, 1982…” He looked at me longingly, and smiled warmly.
I fell in love with the old cabin the very first time I saw it. A quaint A-frame with a tiny bedroom upstairs overlooking the fireplace in front of the old leather couch. His desk tucked up to the window looking out at the tire swing hanging on the gnarly ash tree out front. I’d spent hours on that swing as he pushed me and told me many stories; about life and love, about myths and magic, and even sometimes about his glory days on the gridiron.
He lived for the competition, the camaraderie, and of course… the carnage of the game. He told me that it was the game of football that was the first thing that ever woke him up as a human being, he needed the action, the bone jarring hits in order to actually feel alive in an otherwise slow and dull world. I was never a fan before he told me these stories. Mom and Grandpa didn’t exactly see eye to eye on this or any other topic, and thus I didn’t really spend much time with him until I was almost ten years old. She simply had no interest in ‘silly things’ like football. I don’t remember her ever saying anything about the fact that my grandfather was a professional football player…and beyond that, some kind of folk hero in the ‘Great North’ as he called it. I’ve never been to Minnesota, but even down south in Arizona, people would sometimes recognize him and approach for a handshake to which Grandpa would give them a big bear hug. Then other times they would simply shout out,
“Ooooooodie the De-strooooooyer!” and that would cause him to make some kind flexing maneuver that he did to celebrate tackles on the field. He was always quite the showman. I’ve seen some of the old video now, he was pretty good as far as I can tell. He had an unmistakable magnetism on the field, even in the old videos it is hard to take your eyes off of him. In the midst of every play, on top of the pile, talking trash, he was everywhere. When he hurt his right eye (it was poked out at the bottom of a scrum near the end of his career) and was forced to wear an eye patch, his legend grew. He became an icon for select crew of diehards who loved to watch him bear his heart and soul every play on the field.
Never an All-Pro, or even a household name, he flew under the radar in the burgeoning National Football League. He bounced around from city to city until he landed in Minneapolis. There, he became a mainstay with the Vikings for several years. It was also in Minnesota that he met the love of his life, Paula Iris Jones who had moved there not long before with her transient ‘hippie’ parents from California. Two years later, they were married and bought their first home on the outskirts of the Twin Cities.
It wasn’t long before Paula was pregnant, and in April of 1974, their first child and my mother, Mary Anne Wodanski was born.
Even though Grandpa was a football hero, his daughter always hated the sport. She often called it “a dumb game”, and the easiest way “to get crippled or to get brain damage”. Even though I never really heard her talk about it with him, I knew it had to hurt him deeply that his only child had no real respect for the legacy he was so proud of. Maybe Mom was right, to think of it as a dangerous game, but Grandpa had an answer for everything,
“Men, no… in fact ALL people, were stronger back then. The very air was cleaner, the grass was greener, and the sun was brighter. Sure we got our bells rung, but nobody got hurt like they do today. The Golden Age is over.” This quote was taken from one of the thousands of pages of his writing, notes and letters he wrote to my Grandmother post mortem that I have been compiling and editing since his passing.
After several seasons playing in Minnesota, he was finally cut from the team right before the 1981 season. He took an entire year off and despite his popularity as a player in Minneapolis, he couldn’t make another team despite a few tryouts in various cities across the US.
The players went on strike in 1982, he had his opportunity to get back into the NFL as a player in the AFC-NFC ‘All-Star’ Game in Los Angeles which the majority of the players were sitting out. The decision to play was a tough one, but with a wife in college and a daughter to support along with a mortgage, he decided that he must cross the picket line and play in the game.
“I remember it like it was yesterday,” he wrote later, “I called my former teammates and I apologized to each and every one of them profusely, I even cried when I talked to Bobby and Doug. I had no choice. I got to wear the purple again, but this time as a ‘scab’. My honor was broken, my ego was shattered, I was a mere mortal. I was drawn to the booze which in turn led to emptiness and then in order to feel I started gambling. I had to get back to the game that was full of raw emotion and passion. I just needed to feel something… to win, to lose, anything one more time. Football was my only life, I had no other discernable skills, no other experience, and even the WWF wasn’t returning my calls! Honestly, I just needed the check and I truly would do anything for you (Paula) and for little Mary.”
Early in the second quarter he took a skull crushing hit on a ‘crack back block’ in what was supposed to be a “friendly” game. He blacked out on the field, but got up. After a vomiting session on the sideline he told the coach he was okay and finished the game. A few hours later when he walked into his room at the Disneyland Hotel with his wife and daughter, he collapsed to the floor. Mom recalls,
“He just fell right on his face and lie there for a few minutes before coming to with Mom and I weeping, holding towels of ice on his head. He finally came back and as if nothing at all had happened, he asked for some aspirin, some whiskey and for Mom to draw the blinds. He wouldn’t let her call the ambulance, wouldn’t let this ‘little scratch’ ruin our vacation. Then he turned to me and mustered a smile,
‘Mary,’ He said to me, ‘the teacups are calling!’
He wouldn’t let us stay, he said he was fine. So Mom and I went to Disneyland without him… and we had a blast!”
Mom and Grandma flew back to Minnesota the next day as he lay in that hotel bed for another week, refusing any doctor or nurse to visit. By all accounts, he was always an extremely stubborn and iron willed man. Later he wrote to Grandma,
“And somehow, as time passed in that week of despair, of darkness, a ball of white light… no a ball of hope slowly built up and grew inside of me. Despite the reality that my career was over and the very real reality that permanent damage was likely looming… I knew I had get up and get back to Minnesota to see you. I was literally blind for three days after the hit, but you… my sweet, my darling, you were the only thing keeping me going in that pit of hell. You were always there for me. Your strength, your desire, your passion held me up in my time of greatest weakness. I never could have done it without you!”
With little fanfare, he walked away from the game he loved so much. The man bled for two things: the Gridiron, and for the ‘Great North’ as he called it. The debilitating damage to his head ended his football career, and then came heavy abuse of alcohol and various narcotics used in order to escape the pain of his playing days over the next few years. His body had deteriorated enough that suddenly in the winter of 1986, he began having serious respiratory problems. He couldn’t work, he barely left the house. The football money had all but dried up so Grandma was going to school full time and supporting the family as a cocktail waitress at night. Over the next two years things got worse and worse, finally one night Grandma came home to her husband passed out on the floor and barely breathing. She called the ambulance and he was rushed to the hospital.
In the end, it was his failing lungs that ended his reign in the ‘Great North’. The doctors diagnosed him with Chronic Asthmatic Bronchitis and recommended he move to a warmer climate.
The Sonoran Desert was calling. So he and his wife, along with their 14 year old daughter, sold their house, packed up all of their stuff and moved to Tucson, Arizona in December of 1988. My mother was plucked out of school and transplanted to a new one some 1600 miles away. As she put it,
“My life was ruined! I was forced to leave my boyfriend and all of the people I’d known and grown up with since Kindergarten! I didn’t have a choice in the matter. All because he couldn’t take care of his own damn body! Sometimes I have a real hard time feeling sorry for him at all.” This began a contentious chapter in their relationship.
The move to Arizona wasn’t a complete disaster, while Grandpa toiled in pain and alcoholism post football, Grandma was hard at work and earned her Ph.D. in Astronomy at the University of Arizona, becoming a very important figure within the university as well as the community. Her hard work and dedication led to a nomination in 1992 for the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society for her work on the increasing the size and overall optic capability of telescope mirrors. Soon she became one of the top astronomers in the nation! It was an incredible honor for her to be named to the initial research team responsible for planning and supervising the monumental construction of the record setting (and controversial) Large Binocular Telescope (LBT) atop Mt. Graham.
That is when Grandma and Grandpa decided to buy the old cabin. It allowed him to get away from the city and she could be close to the planning and eventual operation of the telescope site. Grandpa had finally returned to the trees, his drinking and painkiller problems subsided and he found peace in carpentry as he worked on the old beat up cabin. Things were really starting looking up. Trees made him happy. He always said that he picked this particular cabin because of the giant ash tree out front. He wrote:
“Little Yggy, my favorite tree in the world. I knew when I first walked upon this place that we had a future together. Deja Vu, or a vision, or maybe some kind of strange waking dream pulsed through me as I touched the weathered bark of my new old friend. It’s not that I don’t love the pines, the junipers, the ponderosas, but the ash, THE ASH is the tree of my people, the tree of the Great North! My very blood flows through the roots of this tree and is let out through oxygen to Valhalla above!”
Some might say that Grandpa’s grip on reality was loosening at this point. He was very into Norse Mythology and tied many of the characters and traditions into his day to day life. I guess with a nickname like ‘Odie the Destroyer’ you are required to read the Prose and Poetic Edda’s respectively. Yggy was short for the famous tree of life, Yggdrasil in the mythology. He loved that cabin, he felt as though it was the only place in Arizona that he could really breathe. I remember him telling me,
“The desert air is for snakes, like that old bastard Jormungand, and other vermin like those damn Gila Monsters! We are a warm blooded people you see, and the gods have blessed us with opposable thumbs. Unlike them we need fresh air that comes from the top of the world!”
In 1990, my mother was head of her class and in fact skipped a year began her senior year at 16. As a responsible and goal oriented young woman, she was often left alone at the house in Tucson. She had money and a vehicle and understood that she was responsible for herself. Grandpa spent the majority of his time up at the cabin renovating and prepping it for winter living despite doctor’s orders, and Grandma was busy commuting back and forth from the university in Tucson to the telescope construction site some three plus hours away atop Mt. Graham. Mom really gained her independence then. This gave her a certain drive that remains with her today. She kept her grades up despite being left alone and became very determined to leave Tucson. She never liked it there, she’d been forced to leave all her friends in Minneapolis and although she did make new friends, she always knew she was destined to leave for bigger better things ahead. She was accepted to the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, and no matter how much it cost, she was going to make it happen. Naturally, as a Northerner and a University of Wisconsin Alum, Grandpa hated the Trojans. Once she left Arizona, she never looked back.
It was July of 1991 that at 18 years old she set out on her own and moved to a studio apartment in Los Angeles. She left before anyone knew she was pregnant with me. (I guess she was doing more than just studying without her parents around to supervise her…) During this time, Grandma was trying to get back to Tucson as much as possible to teach classes on campus and back to the telescope site, this required driving up and down the Swift Trail Parkway that winds up Mount Graham almost daily. It is a very steep and windy road with scary switchbacks and endless blind corners.
One Friday night, after a long week at the university, Grandma was driving back up to the cabin for the weekend to be with Grandpa. She was hit by a passing vehicle and it knocked her truck off the road enough that it careened over the edge and the truck tumbled and flipped over 150 feet into the valley below.
The coroner declared her dead the next day after paramedics in a helicopter were able to retrieve her body from the truck. She suffered “a crushed skull with avulsion of cranium and brain" as the immediate cause of death; her other injuries included "closed fracture of right humerus" and "multiple lacerations to her hands and lower extremities”, taken from the official report.
Grandma died October 18th, 1991.
I was born 142 days later on March 7th, 1992. Mom told me that Grandma’s casket was closed at her funeral.
The driver nor the other vehicle were ever found. Grandpa went into an extremely destructive and dark place after that. They had just celebrated their 20th Wedding Anniversary. He went to alcohol for answers and started getting back into painkillers of any kind he could find to help keep him numb.
Mom went off to college and he burrowed himself deeper in sorrow. It wasn’t long after I was born that the riots hit Los Angeles. Grandpa had already been pleading with Mom for her to move back to Arizona. He wasn’t there for my birth, in fact he didn’t even know I existed. Mom did it all on her own. The darkness and depravity he was emitting scared her from him. In fact he didn’t even know I existed until I was six months old when Mom arrived unannounced to surprise him on a Friday evening. This is how it went according to her,
“When you were only five or six months old, we drove from LA to Mt. Graham, and when we got to his cabin, all the curtains were drawn and the only light in the place was coming from a single candle that had probably been burning for hours on his desk. There we were, you in your carrier in one hand and our luggage in my other, after a nine hour drive calling for him. I had knocked on the door probably, I don’t know, fifteen times before I finally I set you down and fished out the key from the bottom of that stupid wooden squirrel he kept on the porch. I remember you were crying bloody murder when we finally went in and I called his name. I set you down on the couch and climbed up the ladder to the bedroom and he was sitting in his bed, under a blanket, wacked out on… only God knows what! My father, the BIG BAD football guy, the alpha male, the man's man, hiding under a blanket, afraid of the world!"
The story goes that we rushed back into the car and drove down the mountain in a horrendous storm, down the very same road that Grandma had just died on. Mom was furious and vowed to keep me away from Grandpa forever. We found a hotel in town and stayed there. Mom didn’t talk to Grandpa for several years after that. Despite multiple letters and checks that he attempted to send over the years, she went so far as to change her phone number as well. I found out later that when she received his letters, she’d written ‘return to sender’ on them and dropped them right back in the box without reading anything. She was determined to keep me away from him.
Mom already wanted to make it on her own, in ‘a real city’. She wasn’t going anywhere, and she pushed herself further and further away from him.
Over the next few years she finished her bachelor’s degree and got a job working different jobs in the film industry. She’d tried acting as well and started spending a lot of time with a group of like-minded people who introduced her to a book called Dianetics.
It wasn’t long until our lives were consumed by Scientology.
It was about that time that Grandpa had sold the house in Tucson and bought an RV. He was determined to keep trying to make contact with the baby granddaughter he was not permitted to see. I must have only been only six or seven years old when I remember first seeing him pull onto our street in Burbank.
I remember that day vividly. The first time I laid eyes upon my own grandfather. I was studying at the table when I was distracted by a big loud vehicle as it zoomed back and forth on our street trying to fit into different parking spots. Mom looked out saying something under her breath and then froze. Her jaw dropped and before I knew it, she was on the phone muffling her conversation from me as I watched in curiosity. Finally, after several attempts, the RV parked and a minute or two later there was a knock on the door and she slowly crept to it and barely cracked the door as I looked up from my studies.
“Mary, baby...” A man’s deep voice boomed through.
“How did you find us?” she said, barely opening the door.
“Darling, can I have a hug before we get into all that? Where is my grandbaby?” She opened the door and reluctantly let the man in, keeping her arms to her side as the he hugged her. I was hiding behind the kitchen counter, peeking over at the spectacle as it unfolded.
“Eleanor,” Mom called to me, “Come meet your Grandfather.”
I approached slowly. I’d only seen a few pictures and heard a couple of stories about this man.
He was a big and happy man, he wore a smile as big as the sun and he swept me off my feet as I approached him. I laughed and was turned upside down. He wore flip flops, shorts and a tank top. His shoulder length blondish white hair fell over weathered and bronze skin. He really was larger than life. In his hand he had a box wrapped in pink wrapping paper. He had to duck his head as he walked through the doorway, I felt as though he barely fit into our tiny little apartment.
“Elli, you are the prettiest thing I have ever seen!” He set me down and kissed me on the forehead.
“That’s not true,” I was wide eyed and blushing.
They talked for a bit as I stood in awe. Finally, I interrupted.
“What’s in the box Grandpa?”
“It’s a present for my little princess!” He handed me the box. I looked at Mom and she nodded.
He laughed and I tore off the paper, it was a “Viking Princess” doll named ELLI! I shrieked in excitement.
“Elli! You are wise beyond your years I already know.”
“No grandpa… my name is Eleanor,” I said blushing, “and besides, anyone can succeed at Delphi Academy if you master Study Tech, everyone knows that…”
“Sounds fancy, I bet you don’t even know, but I bet you are a one hell of a wrestler!” His booming laugh shook the windows.
“What’s a wrestler? What are you talking about?” I felt compelled to punch him, so I did, in the kidney. He groaned playfully and then started laughing, it was contagious.
“Paul.” She said sharply.
“Mary Anne Wodanski…” he smiled, looking back at her, “we’re just having some fun… and besides, it’s all in her destiny…”
“We do not speak of destinies nor do we rely on fake old relics to predict the future in this household.”
I sat on his lap as they continued to talk and I only remember pulling on his beard and noticing that he had one eye that didn’t move in unison with the other. I was thoroughly fascinated by the giant man. I’d never seen anything like him.
Then something happened that I’ll never forget. Two men came to the door and just stood there. Mother nodded at them and they remained outside. The conversation went on for a bit before Grandpa noticed,
“Can I help you?” he turned and asked in their direction, “Mary, who are these guys?”
“Paul, it’s okay, they are just my friends… they are making sure I am okay.”
“Okay?” he got up from his chair, “What do you mean, okay?” he raised his voice.
“Paul,” she took a very stern tone, but remained calm “you cannot just waltz in here and pretend that everything is okay between us.” He fell back into his seat. “I let you in because I think Eleanor needs to meet you, but the question remains without me responding to your calls or letters… how in the… how exactly did you find us?”
“Are you in witness protection or something?” He replied only half kidding.
“Paul, ever since the day I saw you all whacked out on whatever it was, I knew there had to be a better way than to follow you down your path of destruction.” She started crying, “Do you think I was going to allow my baby into that void of darkness?” Grandpa reached for her, she pulled back from him. “We met some really nice people who have only the best intentions at heart. I read The Way to Happiness and it unlocked something in me that had been away since… since Mom died. I found purpose again.” Mom wiped her eyes and continued as Grandpa sat back with sunken, reddening eyes, “I found a lot of amazing principles and ethics I could follow in the writings of LRC that have truly led me to become a happier and more fulfilled person than I ever was when you were in my life.” She blinked and corrected her posture, suddenly free of tears.
“The Way to Happiness? What phony tradition is that?” He asked with a crooked grin.
“It’s not a tradition, it’s not a religion, it is not a rainbow fucking bridge!” She said emphatically, I had never heard my mother curse. I watched in awe as the conversation unfolded.
“LRH would say that the toxins you exist in are fatal to your soul and any chance you ever have of really growing in this life!”
“Well… shit, suddenly I feel like I need a drink.” He laughed, she did not. “Mary, I’ve been sober for two years now. Do you think I would bring that world to you and your baby? Honestly, I had no idea you were coming to the cabin that day, and I was completely lost. Can’t you understand how lost I was? How alone…”
“You weren’t alone! She yelled, you always had me, you had us to worry about! How could you be so weak when I needed you more than ever?” This went on for a while, my six year old brain lost focus and I moved onto opening the Viking Princess. As I played I remember looking up to see them hugging and both sobbing uncontrollably.
Mom went outside and had a conversation with the men on the front porch, they left and Grandpa slept on the couch that night. The silence between them had finally been broken and over the next few years I got to see more and more of him, but she never really saw eye to eye with him.
I spent my first summer with Grandpa at his cabin on Mt. Graham just a few years later. Sure, I missed my Mom and my friends, but I remember having so much fun! I loved spending time with him, he was so relaxed and fun while Mom was always so stressed out. She seemed to always have somewhere to be, something she or we had to do, always some place to drop me off. I could listen to him talk for hours as we sat out by the old ash tree and he spoke of the glory days on the gridiron. Before his “bell was rung” for the last time, before his lungs “betrayed him”, and before he was “forced to leave his kingdom”. He was an earth mover, a canyon shaker, but knew when it was time to be still. My fondest memories of him are of him lifting giant chunks of trees and rocks up over his head and throwing them farther than I even thought was possible. Looking back, I wonder if what I thought I saw actually happened. Time is funny like that. He had a way with stories, I can only remember him through his own gruff and bold voice that sometimes still reverberates in my head… especially when I read his letters to Grandma, I hear his voice booming and it warms my soul.
I first saw that he had a weakness when one summer night, I woke up and went to the kitchen for a glass of water. I heard him coughing and wheezing though the window in the dark outside. My eyes focused to see him sitting outside smoking a cigar. He was puffing on an inhaler in his left hand while holding the big fat brown cigar with smoke rising from the end of it in his right. He’d never been a quiet sleeper, I often heard him snoring and wheezing through the nights. Sometimes I wondered if he was breathing at all when it finally stopped.
The next few summers I only got to spend a week or so with Grandpa, and it seemed less and less after that. Mostly, I had to stay in Burbank with Mom, and I hated it. She left me at her friends’ houses or at Scientology buildings for hours at a time. They taught me how to audit, to read the audit reports, and constantly I had to study the writings of L. Ron Hubbard. I never liked it, not for a second, I remember daydreaming that I was with Grandpa fishing, climbing rocks and trees, skipping stones in the pond or riding my bike next to him on a perfect mountain day. I never felt like I learned anything when I ‘studied’, but on that mountain, there was so much to learn. How to chop wood, to tie a line, to string a bow, and the list went on and on.
It was my sixth grade year, he drove his RV out and visited us. I remember he took some of my friends and me to the beach. In all my years in Southern California, I’d only been to beach a few times with Mom. Even away from the mountain, in a world where his magic didn’t seem to exist, he found a way to make it seem all so much better, so vibrant and alive! That was the best beach trip I’d ever had, some of my friends talked about it for years to come. We built sand castles and flew kites, he taught us to take on the power of the waves through the soles of our feet, to breathe in deeply the air that they brought. I loved every moment that I ever spent with Grandpa, he truly was one of a kind.
He was the only person that called me Elli. “Eleanor is great name don’t get me wrong.” He told me, “but Elli, El-Lee, now that has some real history to it, some ancient power encoded in the very syllables!”
As time went by, I went to less and less audits, less and less study sessions and Mom allowed me to slowly pull away from the church I’d always known. Although we’ve never really talked about it, my mother really did seem happier with her father in her life, but she was focuses as ever on her work and doing well in the community. They’d had a ton of late night talks that I wasn’t a part of that seemed to break the spell on her. As I got older I never judged her for following the path into Scientology, I could see how someone in her place would get involved. I don’t even really have anything bad to say about my upbringing, other than it wasn’t for me. And meeting Grandpa and learning his crazy theology made it even clearer that I didn’t need it to survive. It just wasn’t for me.
She was still active, but had loosened her stance. First off allowing me to go to public high school, and one night when Grandpa was in town and drinking whiskey she even had a glass of wine.
Public School was very scary at first, but it didn’t take long for me to make friends, I was a kid after all. Little things would pop up here and there that I had no idea about, things that were kept from me. But it was So Cal, everyone was so relaxed and allowed you to believe what you wanted. That’s when I really became Elli. I had a new lease on life, new friends to meet, and a whole new world to learn about. I started telling my teachers and friends to call me Elli, it just seemed to fit me better than Eleanor. I felt like with this new name, I could maybe, possibly, actually be a normal kid for once.
Time was moving fast now and I didn’t always have time to talk to Grandpa on the phone. The visits became less and less and summers were now filling up with activities and trips faster than ever before.
The very last time I stayed with Grandpa at the cabin, I got the concrete evidence I needed to know that he truly was a mythical being living in the skin of a man. We were in the cabin and for some reason I woke up real early one morning, it must have been before my sophomore year, my friend Jane had come to the mountain with me and we were having a blast. I was so glad to finally be able to share the magic and wonder of this amazing place with a friend.
Grandpa would always wake up well before we would, usually by hours, the cabin would smell of coffee and bacon when I finally rose and I would come down the ladder and see him reading through a book or a newspaper. But not this day, I got up, the sun was just barely rising outside and I was wiping the sleep out of my eyes, feeling my way down the ladder through the dark headed for the bathroom. I heard the water running, but walked in anyway, not awake enough to realize what was going on. I looked up and my vision had finally focused enough to see an eyeball staring at me from atop the sink. I screamed and ran out of the bathroom terrified. I scurried back up the ladder and into bed and dove under the covers. Jane barely moved and I peeked out wondering what demon had overtaken Grandpa. The shower turned off and I heard IT come out of the bathroom.
“Elli.” Grandpa said in a hushed tone. “Was that you honey? Jane?” I heard the footsteps and the creaking of the ladder as he ascended. I stopped breathing as the giant figure approached. Then, his hand reached up with the eyeball pinched in his fist.
“I can see you!” he called out in a funny high pitched voice and then bellowed out a muffled but contagious laugh. I caught it and laughed away the fear as Jane snored next to me with drool coming out the side of her mouth. I walked over to see him on the ladder in a robe. I was looking at him now for the first time with only one eyeball and one empty socket, the other in his hand as he moved it closer to me. I’d noticed that sometimes his left eye didn’t move with the right eye, I’d seen the pictures of him playing football with a patch, but I didn’t know until then that it was indeed a glass eyeball.
“Grandpa,” I asked, “What happened to the real one?”
“When I was playing football, I was a real piece of shit out there! I called a lot of people very bad names. One day one of those guys got really mad at me and chased me down and dug for my eye at the bottom of a pile.” he laughed and then continued as I smiled, “You know what is a shame?”
“I never learned my lesson! I kept calling those old bastards every name in the book. Getting under their skin is where I got my edge.” He chuckled as he put the glass ball in between his fingers and showed me how he put it in place and I watched morbidly enthralled.
“Ewww… Do you still have the real one?” I gritted my teeth as I asked, not wanting to see it, but hoping somehow that I could.
“Are you some kind of weirdo or something? Who would ever want to see that?” He asked.
“No!” I said emphatically,
He shot me a happy grin, loving my weird sense of adventure.
“Is your last name Wodanski?”
“Yes…” I replied,
“Then you are a weirdo, come on I’ll show you!”
We both laughed and he pointed and walked down the ladder and looked out to as the sun began to illuminate the ash tree out front.
“When I moved down here from the Great North, I took the eye out of the pickle jar I saved it in and buried it down with the roots of a much younger Yggy out there!” I squinted to see if I could somehow see the eye under the tree. “Now, you see, I have the wisdom of the tree. I have the visions that it sees, I have the vision of everything that is happening around it, and the tree has my vision as well. We are eternally connected… like you and I, so by default, you can see what the tree sees!” He said with a big smile.
We went outside and I analyzed the tree with suspicion, not knowing whether or not he was pulling my leg. We sat out there and watched the world change colors as the sun came up and over the ridge to the east. Now when I look at the knobby dead ash I think I see his eye at the center of it all.
Later, when I was looking through one of his old books, I saw a picture of the mighty Odin with only one eye and I knew instantly that it was true… my grandfather was indeed the reincarnation of the Great God Odin… not that that was possible or anything…
I was accepted to the University of Arizona in Tucson during my junior year. When I told Grandpa he cried, not only was I leaving the hustle and bustle of LA, but I was following in the footsteps of the greatest woman he had ever known, my grandmother. Time flew after that, before I knew it I was packing up and leaving my mother. She was sad, but of course played it cool, like she needed the extra space without me.
My freshman year had only just begun, but I was easygoing and transitioned easily to the lifestyle of a college student. I had planned to escape to the mountain in the mid October to see the leaves change on Mt. Graham and of course to see Grandpa… But literally the day before I was to leave, on a Thursday, after English 101, a man in a suit was waiting outside of the lecture hall and he asked me,
“Are you Elli May Wodanski?” he asked already knowing the answer.
“Yes,” and suddenly I was worried about everything, I knew I didn’t have family in the military, but maybe I’d seen this scene on a TV show or something before.
“I am terribly sorry to inform you that your grandfather has passed.” He said, his face was plain and his suit plainer, “There will not be a funeral, he has donated his body to science in order to study the effects of CTE caused by professional football. He has left you with his cabin on Mount Graham. The lease with the university will expire in five years…” the man kept droning on about the details, but I was lost in fear and pain, I slumped to the ground and sobbed.
“How could Odin die?” I chortled out, I knew how stupid it was to say aloud, but it didn’t matter. I cried, I cussed, “How?”
“Self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest.” He said coldly, as if I wasn’t a kid anymore, as if I was suddenly a grown-up who could take this kind of factual knowledge.
“Noooo!” I screamed, I got up rushed him, flailing my lifeless arms at the man as he held me off with stoic reserve, he had clearly done this before. Then he apologized for being the bearer of such terrible news. Eventually, I gathered myself and in turn I apologized to him. After he attempted to console me for a moment, I thanked him and told him he should go. He asked if there was anyone I could stay with tonight and for the coming weeks, suggesting that I go home to see my mother. I said I would and I assured him I’d be okay. I convinced him to leave, and then he did, and suddenly I was all alone in a strange place, in a strange town, in a strange state, all alone.
I just started walking. I walked campus three or four times before I found some bleachers and I sat alone and watched the seemingly never ending game of Ultimate Frisbee, I watched the cars drive in and out, the sun went down and I sat there all alone. There were so many people on campus buzzing around and yet I felt all alone. There was only one person I could talk to, even though I didn’t want to call her then, we’d never exactly seen eye to eye on him. I called Mom, she had just found out as well via a phone call from probably the same man I’d just shooed away, and while not as distraught as I, clearly she was broken up.
“Eleanor I’m so sorry,” her voice cracked, she cleared it and remained strong “you should come back and stay with me for a while, school can wait…” we talked and talked, we shared stories and memories of him and we finally laughed a little before she said, “Can you believe he only left me with that stupid RV?”
I pulled the phone away from my ear and looked at it as she kept talking, I pressed END.
I thought of her often as I stopped answering her phone calls in the days after that, I thought of how she had done it to her dad when her mom had died, of how she left him and joined a new group of people, a new world altogether. I’d do that, I thought, but only for a second… No, wait, I was better than that, I could see both sides now. I was free of her pain and I was my own person, I didn’t have to be her.
I answered her calls again, and told her I was thankful that she was still calling and I was. I tried to be the best daughter I could be, but I couldn’t stand the way she talked about him. It was always about how crazy his theories were, about how dumb all that Norse mythology was, how silly… Many of the conversations we had with him near the end were of him prophesizing this or that, telling us of visions he had of Grandma, how he knew she was still there with him.
I got through my classes, worked my job serving tables and I asked her for nothing. School was taken care of, a grant took care of all of that as long as I kept up my grades, but I couldn’t live on campus, I had to have my own apartment, I had to be alone. So I worked and studied, worked and studied, went to class and tried to stay away from the partying scene that seemed so inviting, so... well, fun.
Four years later I finished my undergraduate degree. It wasn’t long after I walked with my cap and gown that I received a letter, handed to me personally by the same man in probably the same suit who had told me of Grandpa’s death.
My little pumpkin head, you will always be the apple of my eye, the Hershey kiss in the center of my snickerdoodle…
I am sorry.
I didn’t know what else to do. My mind was going into a place that I couldn’t return from, I had run out of time. The pain was deeper and darker than I could bear. Your grandmother was appearing in my dreams almost nightly, with more and more intensity. She walked me further and further down the path until finally, she showed me the ‘other side’ and after several attempts to show me, I finally got it…it being that we will be together again when I pass. I simply could not wait any longer. The blackouts were happening more frequently, my mind was altogether crumbling and lost in the numb space between madness and a relative reality.
When your grandmother first came to me, I was shaken and scared. What did it mean? It couldn’t be true. It was a miracle! Was I sick? Had the life I lived finally caught up to me? I started telling everyone, she was still here, still in this cabin, and of course they all called me crazy. I felt her presence all around me, and the more I made it evident, the further away the doubters, including your mother went.
Paula was suddenly everywhere. In the very clouds in the sky and of course she was reverberating all around me in times of deep meditation and contemplation. The more I believed her to be around, the stronger her presence and deeper my understanding became of the state she was currently existing in.
One afternoon I fell asleep at my desk. Suddenly, I found myself with her at this very cabin, just like it always was, her presence warm and loving. The sensation overwhelming me, it was so real. I watched as she prepared breakfast. My senses alive, I smelt the bacon and coffee. Love emanating from her once again. It was all so warm, everything so comforting, so… absolutely perfect! She floated over to me and set down what I assumed to be my eggs and bacon, kissing me on the forehead as I punched at the faded keys of the old typewriter. I smiled and was suspended in motion as she faded away and was swallowed by the light.
I looked down to see that it was not a plate of eggs at all, but rather a snow globe that had been shaken furiously. I was transported from my body and my soul zoomed through the glass dome and I took shape again in the new dimension. I could feel the cold and the chaos of a blizzard coming down over me. From the haziest of white, everything went completely black, and I floated as the summit of this very mountain materialized in front of me.
High atop the mountain I hovered, and I watched as a construction crew moved into place on the untouched land and broke ground on the highest most sacred and beautiful peak of the mountain. I’d been to this place before, I knew exactly where it was. The very first telescope built on the mountain, the Vatican Advanced Technology Telescope. I zoomed around realizing that the trees had already been chopped and rooted, the tractor was out now, leveling the ground. I recognized some of the guys on the crew, as my eyes scanned the faces… I saw myself. I experienced a flash of memory showing me everything leading up to that point.
It was 1989, I was merely a helper, at the age of someone who should have been a full-fledged contractor. We were scurrying to get the day’s work in as the snow began to fall, it was early September, to that point it had been warm until the sunset, but suddenly a cold chill quickly came over the mountain and the snow began to fall much earlier than any forecast told.
I was with them now, in my former body I guess. We all stopped and watched as a caravan of seven or eight large black SUVs zoomed up the Swift Trail and stopped suddenly after surrounding the area we were working. Four men from each vehicle jumped out all dressed in black suits with earpieces and quickly whisked us all away. I floated up from my body and watched from above as a younger version of me was led by one of the men into a trailer along the last stretch of the dirt road. As I remember, we were told of a possible security breach and a lock down for our own safety. We complied of course and quickly we piled into our temporary trailers as the men in black suits with .45s in their belts stood outside. I floated up, high above in a state bereft of the four other senses and watched as there was a moment of beautiful calm on the mountain below. The sun was setting to the west and the snow sifted through the air peacefully in the golden hour. A long moment passed as the men communicated to their devices signaling that the area was secure. Slowly, the back door of the middle Suburban was opened by one of the men and out stepped a man in a finely crafted white robe and a big ridiculous looking pointed hat on his head and a wand or scepter in his right hand.
“Holy shit, it was the fucking Pope!” I said aloud somehow, yet nobody reacted.
He walked out and surveyed the area, breathing in and crossing his chest as he did. Eventually he reached a spot and pointed to the ground speaking in Latin I’m assuming. Then he turned around and waved his scepter over the broken ground and spoke again in the language I don’t know.
“Opus hodie incipimus ut vivificent nos gratiam et fidem.” I had no idea what he was saying, I wondered why the extensive security detail for a prayer, but he was the Pope after all. The thing that really gets me is why did he not bless this thing in public? Like any other great “prayer” that a ‘Pope’ might perform around the world.
As soon as the question formulated in my mind, I was whisked away through the power of the snow globe to an insanely deep and dark canyon. A tiny stream of water trickled through the stones below me and the canyon was barely illuminated far in the distance by flickering light I assumed to be a fire.
My eyes adjusted and as I moved forward, I realized I was not alone. Huddled in the corners of the canyon walls were groups of beings. I couldn’t define what, or who they were, but knew them to be alive in some sense of the term. I crept forward, realizing that I had some kind of body. I looked down to see a slithering, scaly, yellowish colored torso extending to the rocky floor of the grayest of gray canyons below. It appeared as though I was a snake or serpent of some kind. I slithered forward, following the deepening width of the canyon and realized that the water had become red in the stream below. I turned my head and saw the depth of time behind me. I had come from the tiny stream as a single cell and had grown through the long process of evolution into this… this body. I knew what it was at the time and moved forward with recognition and confidence.
I looked around to see that the beings had multiplied, they were spilling out of the depths and almost into the light. They scurried as they huddled closer and closer, trying to see my face before I passed. I stopped and looked around, turning a full circle. They scurried away into the depths and it was silent.
“What do you want?” I screamed aloud, realizing for the first time that I had a mouth. Suddenly appearing before me was a beautiful face. I thought it was you, then your mother and finally I realized it was my wife’s face, but in some kind of strange geometric approximation. I focused on her perfect symmetry, her astonishing beauty and put my head down and trudged along, knowing not to question her power in this vision that was beyond my knowledge of this world.
“We are all stuck here.” I heard her voice say, not seeing her anymore, but knowing she was there. I moved forward through the canyon, the huddled masses still lurking and multiplying. A ray of light hit the giant mountain above and I realized at once that it was responsible for the dark shadow laying over the canyon. At the very highest peak, barely visible were tiny rotating lights, or reflections of lights.
“The passage is blocked.” her words rang in my head, in my heart, in my soul. I was at the base of the mountain looking up on a moonless night. The Milky Way was visible overhead. “It can only be removed by one…” the winds picked up and she was moving away from me now, I could feel it. Barely audible I heard, “the Passenger in the Night” as the voice reverberated slowly through the giant canyon.
And then time slipped and I was shot forward to sometime in the next ten years. Yggy was dead. I watched sadly as the squirrels climbed up and down its gnarled branches. I watched them as I always did when my attention was distracted by movement far off behind the tree line. A giant figure, hooded and lurking through the trees and snow approached and I opened my top drawer, watching out as I felt for the .357 revolver I kept there. As he got closer I realized he wasn’t a giant at all, but rather was wearing a big backpack on his otherwise slumped but tall body. It was a lost hiker. He approached the cabin and suddenly I knew, I knew what your grandmother was trying to tell me.
This was the ‘Passenger in the Night’!
We are all energy… literally each one of us is made of stardust. The energy within us is the same as the sun, we have chosen to come down to Earth and live in these bodies as a grand test, to save it. Planet Earth, Gaia, the Great Mother is in one of her many cycles. It is hard to say how many times it’s been here, or happened because it could simply be that time doesn’t actually exist and it’s all happening at the same time, in this very moment!
But, as of now, something has happened here on Earth that has blocked the energetic flow into the universe, and it is not recycling our souls through reincarnation or transmigration that should usually operate when all is well.
Apparently the Vatican, along with possibly the US Military and who knows who or what other elite and nefarious operations have taken over node points on the world grid. This is the path that we see, ‘the white light’ when you pass. But now, it is not there due to human action, and these souls wander around aimlessly hoping for the light to show them the way. Now some people may say this is Purgatory, but is it possible that the Vatican and the Catholic Church created Purgatory??!!?? (Literally and figuratively, ha!) Did they have the knowledge of the ancients? Of course they did, they are in possession of most extensive library in the history of humankind, and that’s after they (or others) burned so much of it. Every tradition has its own Valhalla, call it Zion, Heaven, Jannah or whatever you like. Feel free to call me crazy (plenty of people have), but I think that someone is coming onto the mountain in the next few years that will open the portal so that your grandmother and I along with countless others can cross Bifrost aka the Rainbow Bridge and all be reunited in Valhalla!
After receiving this message from above, I woke up at my desk and looked up to the old cuckoo clock on the wall. Its hands pointed to 2:17, and then that damn little bird flew out and did his thing. Impossible I thought, I had maintained that thing myself and watched it for twenty plus years. It went twice a day, at 6 am and 6 pm, except now. 2/17 is of course your grandmother’s birthday! She left me with yet one more sign to know that this was real and what I must do with the rest of my life and beyond.
I apologize for leaving this burden upon you, but you are my only option. Unfortunately, as you well know, your mother never really did attempted to understand my philosophy and blatantly disregarded me and constantly referred to me as ‘crazy’ for thinking this way both in public and in private. I always will love her with every ounce of my heart and soul, but I felt that this job was much more suited for you than her.
I believe that after all is said and done the university will offer you a very nice sum of money for selling the cabin to them when the time is right. My lawyer, or his descendant, is to give you this letter when you graduate, and in the likely chance that you graduate early or for some reason this letter gets to you before, please respect my wishes and follow the outline as I’ve planned it for the future of this property and cabin.
I’ve signed a 10 year lease with the University of Arizona. Since you are the only surviving name on the deed of this cabin, you will have full control when the lease is up. In the agreement, they are putting away rent into a fund that will in turn pay for the property taxes. The university is responsible for maintaining and upgrading the cabin’s sustainable state with current technology through the end of the lease. It’s all in the contract, which my lawyer has and will make sure they abide by it. This will include snow melting solar panels, heated water lines and the like for winter living.
I assure you they will offer you a large sum of money to buy this property from you as soon as it is fully yours, but I beg that you honor my last wish and hold onto the property for ten years, after that it is yours for selling or to do with as you wish. I have also left detailed instructions on supplies and equipment to keep in the cabin. This is not something you have to do yourself, my lawyer has been instructed to find help for you if needed in this situation, his contact information is also on the supplies sheet along with any other information that you will need.
My dearest Elli, I love you so much and hope that this is not too great of a burden to put upon you. I always knew that you had a special spark in your eye as your soul truly is ancient and all knowing. I know in my heart that I can trust you with the knowledge of the true existence we live in. We will all be saved soon, you are already protected by the forces of good and never need to worry that we are not with you at all times.
I put the letter down and couldn’t help but to cry uncontrollably.
“What the fuck?” I said aloud. All of his stories were great when they were his, but to drag me into his world of chaos and the fact that it could possibly lead to a point that my credibility and ethics could be questioning as a scientist? I wondered what kind of quandaries Grandma found herself in when she brought him to cocktail parties with other faculty.
I took a deep breath and decided that of course I would grant him his dying wish, but I couldn’t help but be a little skeptical. So I enrolled in grad school at the university and began a program observing the endangered red squirrel atop Mt. Graham. In a way, it always was my destiny.
In the second year of my program, I moved to my cabin. It was so amazing to be able to live there and to study at the same time! I lived there full time in the fall and spring, with only occasional trips down the mountain for supplies and outings. I would close it down, being sure to stock it fully per grandpa’s wishes, during the winter.
As part of my study, I set up cameras in the red squirrel reserve area, they were attached to a streaming computer at the Ranger station that had solar panels and staff ensuring that it would be maintained and receive power year round. The feed went to a website that I could watch at any time. As amazing as this technology is, I have to admit that watching squirrels for hours upon hours is kind of boring. I thought of Grandpa often as I did and in fact once I even bought a big fat cigar to emulate him as I sat on the porch and smoked it from my porch in Tucson. While the squirrels don’t do much during winter, I’d still scan for anomalous audio waves throughout the copious amount of data I was collecting. How can one truly say what red squirrel communication is if you haven’t at least attempted to observe their behavior during the winter?
I found a way to personally analyze the maddening hours of tapes as background noise when I’m doing something else, and when or if something actually does happen, I would go back and take notation. Usually it would end up being a gust of wind/or and the occasional chirp of a bird braving the elements, but one night as I was preparing dinner I heard muffled voices. The system I used records 12 hours of data at a time and then holds that data for 12 hours before automatically deleting it. So the next day I dumped the file onto a card and imported it into an audio editing program. After a few failed attempts and a few Youtube video tutorials, I was able to isolate the conversation and amplify it to the point where I could hear it quite well. Although the original was a video feed, the men are never seen in any of the video.
The conversation of two men. One is clearly Father Manuel Gonzalez that works atop the mountain at the Vatican Advanced Technology Telescope (VATT). I have met him several times. He is a kind and gentle man of the cloth whose love for science is in fact a search for God. The other is unknown, and in fact I tried to reach out Father Gonzalez to ask about this conversation and he politely declined to comment on any of it, other than confirming that it is indeed his voice on the recording. This area of the mountain is closed off to anyone without the proper clearance, so it is assumed that this man was intruding on the property. This is the exact conversation I heard, transcribed to the best of my ability.
(A rustling sound, like a person walking through thick brush)
“Oh, ahem. Wow, you scared me.” Father Gonzalez said,
“I’m sorry, I was just…” the second man’s voice was a bit hoarse at times.
“What are you doing here? Do you have clearance to be here?”
“No, I, uh, I was hiking and I got lost. Where am I?”
“This is the MGIO.”
“Mount Graham International Observatory. But this area is blocked off to the public because it also houses the endangered red squirrel.”
“So what are you doing here? Aren’t you a Priest?”
“I have clearance, and yes, I work for the VATT?
“Vatican Advanced Technology Telescope.”
“You work for the Vatican?”
“Yes, my son, but you should really be hiking elsewhere. How did you get up here, aren’t all the roads closed off this time of year?”
“I hiked all the way up.”
“All the way? Well that’s quite an adventure.”
“Yes, I’ve always wanted to see the peak of this mountain.”
“You look distressed.”
“Yeah, well, it’s been a tough couple of weeks.”
“I don’t suppose it would be easy hiking all the way up here without a vehicle. Most people drive at least part of the way, and all usually respect the boundaries put up by the Parks Department.”
“Do Priests usually meditate like that? In the Lotus position?”
“If by meditating, you mean praying, then yes.” Father Gonzalez sounded defensive.
“It just seems like something a yogi or a hippie would do, but not a Catholic Priest? Wouldn’t the church frown upon that?” The man laughed.
“I don’t think there is any one way to pray?” The Father Gonzalez said beginning to sound amused.
"No I guess not…” there was a long pause and a strong breeze hit the microphones for almost fifteen full seconds and made it impossible to discern what was being said, “ …the energy?” was all I could make out what the man said. There was a rustling of leaves, and a tense moment of silence. The men’s volume got quieter.
“What is this energy that you speak of? The sunlight? Or do you speak of the light of God?” said Father Gonzalez.
“I don’t really know. It’s in the dark, sometimes when I close my eyes and really focus, I see it. It always starts as a ball or a wheel, spinning in space. It flashes and moves, it changes shapes, but it never stays still. Like lighting in a bottle.”
“No, I’ve never seen this myself. I’ve felt the inner light, but when I close my eyes, all I see is darkness. God’s light does shine upon us all.”
“It’s too real, the more focused and calm I get, the more vivid it becomes.”
“Ezekiel speaks of Yahweh as a flash of lightning. He also spoke of the giant wheels of his chariot?”
“Yeah, that’s it, it’s rotating sometimes, shifting, changing shapes. I’ve seen a giant portal that is moving and shifting from shape to shape in geometrical patterns. All surrounded by circular patterns on the outside. Writings and symbols that I can’t understand, but know is trying to tell me something. The detail comes and goes, but the light is always there.”
“What about colors?” Asked Father Gonzalez.
“Yes, they’re always shifting and interchanging continuously to different shapes and sizes. But they stay close to the energy, so it’s hard to really tell them apart. It’s as if the entire color spectrum is moving through the energy as it shapes and shifts and molds from faces, to animals, to constellations.”
“And when did you first see these shapes?”
“It’s a long story, it goes back to my childhood.”
“I would love to hear it, but I don’t think we should be talking here.”
“Yeah, I guess you’re right. This is some real Holy Land huh?”
“I suppose so,” Father Gonzalez said laughing, “but that’s not why we can’t talk here. The Park Rangers don’t take too kindly to trespassers up here. The construction of these telescopes was opposed by many groups. Eco-terrorists are always a threat. No offense, but people that look much like yourself.”
“Yeah, I met a Native man once who spoke of this place, he called it the Big Seated Mountain and that it was actually a sky island.”
“I guess it’s a scientific term, he said that because the ecosystem is completely unique from the area below the mountain it is considered to be just that, a sky island.”
“Hmmm, yes, it really is amazing that we are only a couple of miles above the desert. Anyhow, you should go. Please don’t trespass again. I advise you to write down your story and send it to me here. I’d love to correspond with you in that manner.”
“Uh, yeah, sure. Where do I send it?”
“Here is a card with my address and email my son. And remember, no matter how bleak things seem, God is always with you. You need to get off of this mountain before the snow comes.”
“I wish it were that simple. I’m in a lot of trouble.”
“What kind of trouble?”
“I don’t think you want to know. I should go now.”
Then there was some footsteps, and that was it, through all of the data that I collected, I could find no more conversation. I searched and searched through the rest of all of the files I had saved and I could find nothing. It took me hours. I looked at the clock and realized it was 4:00 a.m. I had done none of the observation on the communication of the red squirrel that I needed to and instead I had become obsessed with this wayward hiker. Of course I was rooting for my grandfather to be right, was this the ‘Passenger in the Night’ that my grandfather had always talked about? The snow was coming.
I simply passed this whole thing off as a coincidence, and despite the possibility nagging at me from every angle, even looked up Father Gonzalez’s phone number and started to dial it before stopping and telling myself I was going too far.
I focused on school and on work and stayed strong against all my intuition to drive up to my cabin and see if someone was actually there. It was a few weeks later that I got a call from the head ranger of the squirrel reserve area.
“Hi Elli, this is Ranger Thomas,” we’d met several times before, he was always very nice to me despite his run-ins with Grandpa. “I’m calling to inquire about your cabin. We noticed smoke coming from the chimney last night and were wondering if you were aware of someone staying there? Last I heard, you weren’t going to be back until the spring?”
“Oh…” I pulled the phone away from my mouth as I gasped. “Yeah, uh, yeah… no, I mean, that is my good friend. He’s a bit of a loose cannon and he decided the best way to finish his dissertation would be to confine himself in a cabin over the next month or so.”
“Huh, that’s a bit strange, but I guess that is the reason your Grandfather worked so hard over the past few years”
“Exactly. Oh and I guess I forgot to contact you because he wanted to hike up and we didn’t need the road plowed. I really did think of it as an honor to Grandpa.”
I was freaking out in my head as we exchanged cordialities and said goodbye. Finally, I hung up the phone, my heart was racing. Grandpa’s prophecy was actually happening… or… some mad man had broken into my cabin and I just told the authorities to do nothing.
I sat there and deliberated with a glass of wine what to do next. I got into my car and then got out, and then back in again. Finally I decided to make a phone call, the cabin phone was a land line connected to an answering machine. Even if this person did not answer the phone, they’d at least get the message I left.
I dialed the number, took a long sip of wine… and then hung up the phone. After an angry moment with myself, I picked up the phone again and dialed.
“Hi, this is Elli, I’m actually the owner of this cabin so this is really kind of weird to be calling my own place, but… well, I guess I’m just calling to say that you’re safe. You can stay there until the spring. Feel free to use any of the food, water and there is plenty of firewood in the shed. The power will work fine as long as you scrape off the snow from the solar panels with the big broom looking thing on the side of the shed. The rangers noticed you already burned a fire and that’s how I know you are there, I told you that you were my friend so don’t be worried about them. I guess I would just advise you to stay off of the squirrel reserve and away from the telescopes. My grandfather actually…”
The phone went dead. The recording time had finished and there was a dial tone sound on my end. I thought about calling back to finish that statement, my grandfather actually prophesized your arrival. And then of course, I decided not to.
Over the next three months I lay awake most nights weighing the implications of this all. I wanted to call Ranger Thomas and have him plow my driveway so I could go see who this ‘Passenger in the Night’ really was. I knew if I did that, it’d end up being some escaped felon from on the run from the law and I’d get raped and killed. So I waited until spring.
When I finally did arrive, I called Ranger Thomas and requested for him to meet me there, just to be safe. He happily obliged, sending one of his underlings instead of himself of course. As I pulled up to the cabin, it all seemed normal, the ranger pulled up behind me and nodded as I got out of my truck. Nothing out of the ordinary, windows and doors in tack. There were no burn marks or holes in the wall as some of my fantasies had taken the vision of what I would show up to.
When I stepped in, the place was pristine. The only thing I noticed different about how I left it was a stack of papers next to Grandpa’s old typewriter and on top of that stack was a stack of hundred dollar bills. Ten of them to be exact.
The first page of this stack of papers said:
“Dear Cabin Owner,
Here is $1000 that should hopefully make up for the resources I have consumed during my stay. I cannot thank you enough for your hospitality and good will. This is truly an amazing mountain that has taught me lessons beyond my possible conception at this point in my life. I feel as though I was brought here for a reason and indeed I received the answer I was looking for. I have left on these pages the story of what brought me here.
James Maxwell Jones”
And what follows is the manuscript in its entirety…
Reality slowly and shakily crept back to me as I stood in front of the mirror in the bathroom of my West Hollywood condo, the white lights piercing my very consciousness like a trillion tiny needles. A single red droplet of blood slid down from my nose onto my lip.
“Fuck.” I muttered as it all came rushing back to me…
I looked at my phone, it was 3:47 am. Exactly six hours before, I had I stepped out the back door of the Italian restaurant I managed. The broken hydraulic arm skidded and screeched before the heavy door slammed shut. Shit, I thought, one more thing to add to the list of things that needed to be fixed when I got back.
Loosening the paisley tie around my neck, I walked through an alley and then up Fairfax toward the Kibitz. Not my usual hangout, but I’d been there enough to know what to expect.
I sat down at the bar and nodded to the bartender as she pretended to give a shit about some old dude talking to her. Her brown eyes glinted in recognition as she looked at me, and I, at her name-tag that read, Chrissy. She was cute, fair skinned, and blonde from a bottle. Maybe a tad bit chubby for my liking, but the extra weight helped to keep her breasts supple, and they by themselves made her an above average bartender.
“Hey,” she said walking over, “How was work?”
“We had an early rush, then it cleared out pretty fast. Nothing great. How about here?”
“Slooooooooow.” She held her pink lips in the ‘O’ shape for what felt like forever. I laughed nervously, pretending to not think of them wrapped around my cock.
“The good news is that I do not have to walk through those doors for the next ten days!” I gave her the best happy to be here look I could muster. It was January 3rd, the chaos was finally over.
“Oh yeah? What’re you going to do with all that time?”
“I’m getting out of town, some camping, climbing and backpacking!” About this, I was actually enthusiastic.
“Ohhh, wow! Where are you headed?”
“Oh my God, I love Joshua Tree! The stars are amazing out there!” She smiled, “What can I get you?” she leaned over just enough to give me a good glimpse of cleavage, a gold Jesus Fish in the crevasse between them. She knew exactly what she was doing. Damn. I blinked trying to stay focused. It’d been so long since I’d touched a woman…
“How about a shot of Jim and a Coors.” I smiled, “and a menu… Please.”
She poured a beer from the tap and then set it in front of me along with the shot and famous yellow menu.
I took the first sip of the beer and threw back the shot. I finally relaxed and the reality that I was actually on vacation came over me, I smiled and nodded at a familiar face standing over the jukebox. Couldn’t tell you his name, but I’d seen him around the neighborhood a hundred times. Appropriately, Welcome to the Jungle started playing. I don’t exactly know why, but I ordered a burger, had I gotten the pastrami, maybe everything would’ve played out differently that night.
Before my beer was finished I was already thinking of what to drink second. Drinking the Banquet beer at the Kibitz felt right, but it never tasted right. The James who-didn’t-give-a-shit inside of me wanted to take over, he wanted to start pounding whiskey and walk out with Chrissy under an arm and a bottle of Jack in hand, he wanted me walk into the bathroom and ask for some coke, he wanted me to tell the world to fuck go off and to keep going until it all faded to black. I’d stopped doing that shit though. I had a mortgage and a car payment. I laughed as I told myself I was responsible now.
I sighed as I sipped the beer, the blur of surrounding conversations was all too familiar, all too pathetic. I’d spent too much of my life in places like this. I had to get out of there.
I finished the last little French fry. I washed it down with another sip of beer and then placed my debit card next to the receipt in the glass in front of me. Chrissy grabbed the card and smiled,
“One more before I close you out?” she asked with a smile.
I shook my head,
“Nope, better get home and get some rest.” I smiled, and she turned to her register as I enjoyed the last few drops. I was literally setting down the glass and about to get up out of my seat when a slender, blue eyed goddess walked into the bar and kept moving right toward me. Chrissy set the card down in front of me with the paperwork,
“Thanks! Have fun on your trip!” Chrissy said, as the incoming blond approached me.
“Thank you, I will. “ I smiled.
The blond kept coming. I felt her presence as I filled out the tip on the receipt. She came toward me, right next to the empty bar stool next to me.
“Anyone sitting here?” The blonde’s beautiful blue eyes sparkled or maybe she had glitter on? Either way, they were crystal clear blue and her face more symmetrical and flawless than I thought possible. Even in LA she stood out, and especially at the Kibitz. The old dusty bar suddenly smelled fresh, like she’d just stepped out of the shower. I breathed her in as I shook my head,
“Nope, all yours.” I said, as cool as possible as she sat down. She was simply stunning. What the hell was she doing here at this little dive?
“Are you all done with this?” she asked, pointing at something between us. I only saw the two of us, everything else was suddenly out of focus. Her white blouse, a v cut showed a glimpse of her perfect body.
“Huh,” I replied dumbly.
“This menu?” she smiled. Maybe it was the dim lighting but I noticed a hint of mysterious gray in her otherwise perfectly blue eyes. I was mesmerized.
“Oh, no, go ahead.” I smiled back, “Don’t waste your time with the Foie Gras though, it was awful.” I leaned back keeping my nose up.
“Huh… that’s weird, but I have heard this place has the best caviar around.” She asked, looking appreciatively at the dive bar.
“You cannot believe everything you read on Yelp.” I replied.
She laughed, I was thoroughly warmed with the sound and vibration of it. She had a great smile and an even better laugh. Chrissy approached with a fake warmth to the new apple of my eye.
“Hi! Can I get you something to drink?”
“Do you have Belvedere?” The blonde asked.
“No, top shelf is Stoli.” Chrissy raised the edges of her mouth, but I wouldn’t call it a smile.
“Okay, that’s fine. On the rocks with lots of ice, a splash of water and a lime, please.” She gave Chrissy her best fake smile back. I couldn’t help but laugh.
“What?” the blonde asked, turning to me.
“Isn’t that a Skinny Bitch?” I asked.
Chrissy laughed uncomfortably as she started pouring vodka in a glass,
“What are you saying?” She raised her eyebrows.
“That you are skinny…” I gave her a crooked smile.
Chrissy set the drink down in front of her, then turned around to her computer to ring it up. The blonde took the glass in her hand and pulled out the two small sip straws and set them down on the bar top. Then she grabbed a big straw from the caddy, dropped it in and squeezed the lime wedge. Then, in one very impressive long sip through the straw, she sucked up the liquid finishing with a tiny slurp.
“Whoa!” I said, laughing. “Why not just get a shot?”
“I’m much classier than that.” She smiled, “It’s been a loooooong week, and, well…” She stirred the rocks around with the straw as she nervously looked around the bar.
“Well shit, I’ll drink to that…” I motioned to Chrissy and ordered another round, “I’ll have another beer and a Skinny Bitch for the lady.” I said and Chrissy smiled turning away.
“It’s been a loooooong damn month, actually!” We watched as Chrissy set the drinks in front of us. I held up my glass to her, we clinked, and I took a long drink of the cold beer as she took a tiny sip from the glass. “So what brings you to this little dump tonight?” I asked. “Judging by your attire, I guess this isn’t the final destination.”
“I’m meeting an old, uh… friend I guess.” She said.
“An uh… friend huh?” I asked.
“Well, okay, it’s all kind of weird…” She took another sip, swallowed and continued, “So I’m meeting up with this guy who used to be the son of the asshole my Mom used to be married to.”
“So, he was your… step-brother?” I was puzzled. “What’s so weird about that?”
“I don’t know,” Taking another sip, she focused on her drink and barely looked up as she talked, “his dad turned out to be a total creep, and… well, he’s a nice guy, I guess… I don’t know, he… uh,“ she was rocking back in forth on the stool as she talked, “he totally acts normal when we talk and text and then the last time we got together he… got kind of weird.” She shook her head and closed her eyes, “I don’t know, I shouldn’t be telling you this.” She smiled, finally looking at me, “To be honest, I probably shouldn’t even be here.”
We laughed, her tension lessening.
“Did you grow up together? I mean, how young were you when your parents got married?”
“He was sixteen and I was eighteen. I’m pretty sure he always had a thing for me.”
“That’s not crazy or weird. A sixteen year boy liking a very beautiful eighteen year old girl? If he’s so,” I made air quotes with my hands, “weird, then all dudes who are attracted to you are weird.”
“Are you saying you’re attracted to me?”
“Of course not,” I winced playfully, “You’re a disgusting monster.” I said quickly.
She laughed, and then continued,
“Okay, do you want to know what’s really shitty?” She leaned in. “He’s been texting and calling me a bunch, like ‘Hey big sis, let’s hang out sometime’ and I never respond, but now I found out that I kind of need a recommendation letter from his dad to get into UCLA, so….” She laughed nervously,
“So… you’re just an asshole?” I said sarcastically,
“No!” She slapped my shoulder with the back of her hand, “He’s a big time lawyer with connections everywhere, I’m trying to get into nursing school and it is super competitive! You’d do the same thing.”
“You’re right, except that I’m pretty sure you’re already a nurse.”
“What?” she was confused.
I finished my beer.
“Look how you’re nurse-ing that drink!” I obnoxiously laughed and motioned to Chrissy. “Can we get another SB for the RN.”
The blonde laughed.
“Ha Ha.” She said dryly.
“Another beer as well?” Chrissy asked me,
“Sure, he’ll have another.” The blonde said with a smile. “Okay, so here’s where it gets crazy.” She stopped and looked around again. “I really don’t know why I’m telling you this.” She laughed nervously, “but the last time we hung out, we had a few drinks at some bar, and he followed me into the bathroom and grabbed my ass really hard and pressed me up against a wall trying to kiss me! I had to really fight to get away.”
“What? Crazy.” In my best monotone.
“Nothing happened, it just felt so wrong, and then, after that… when he came back to the table, and he started full on fucking crying!”
“Game recognize game.” I said pounding the bar. “How drunk was he?” I tried to hold back more laughter.
“I don’t know, we were both a little tipsy, but he’s been known to pop pills and do other stuff too. You never really know how fucked up he is. You know when someone gets that crazy blackout look in their eyes?” She crossed her eyes terribly attempting to mimic the look.
“Oh yeah, unfortunately. I know that look all too well.” I sighed, turning back to my beer.
“He was really sorry after that though. He wouldn’t stop apologizing, he knew he was in the wrong. I guess everything has been pretty cool since... So, here I am, waiting for him like the good big sis that I am!”
“So… it’s a date!” I gave her a sly smile.
“No,” she shook her head, and then punched my arm. “NO! It is not a date! He’s like… my little brother,”
“Ouch!” I rubbed my arm as if she’d really hurt me.
“But, I feel like I need to hang out with him, to check up on him. It has been at least six months since we’ve seen each other... Maybe if he has a good female influence in his life, he won’t turn out like his dad.” She held down the straw with her index finger took a long sip of the new drink Chrissy set down in front of her, her red lipstick marking the glass. I was giddy with excitement, I hadn’t even looked at anyone this beautiful (excluding the Internet) in quite some time, “Anyway, he’s got a girlfriend now and it sounds like he’s really into her, so…” She took another long sip.
“I’m James, by the way.” I held out my hand.
“Rebecca. Nice to meet you.” She smiled, we shook hands. “So, what’s your story? I’m sorry, I’ve just been blabbing on about myself.”
“Oh nothing much, just a working stiff. I just finished my 21st straight day at my shitty job and I am now officially, on vacation!”
“Yay!” she said,
“This little dive was close, so I decided to stop in for a quick meal before I get the hell out of town.” I offered another cheers to Rebecca.
“To vacation!” She said.
“To vacation.” I replied.
We clinked pint glass to highball glass, our eyes met as we drank. There was a comfortable moment of silence as I thought about how to keep this going. This was going better than I could have ever imagined, I had to at least attempt to get her number.
The door swung open, and I saw the uniforms before the faces. The white shirt, the colored tie with the long black apron and black pants…
FUCK! They were my employees!
It was Rob and Sherry, two of the most annoying ones of all. I’d actually liked Sherry, until she got with Rob. He was the guy at the restaurant that thought he was Don Juan. And somehow despite all the drama, they kept falling for him. I knew I should have been long gone by then, this was bound to happen. The filthy walls of the dive bar were closing in on me.
“Fuck.”, I whispered under my breath as Rebecca turned to see them.
They saw me immediately and walked right over. I started to turn, feeling forced by their movement toward me to greet them, and they passed right by...
“Hey big sis!” Rob called out too loudly somehow in the loud bar, it was his only volume setting. Oh shit I thought, all the air seemed to be sucked out of the room and my lungs. I looked at Rebecca and had to hold back the huge terrible smile that wanted to explode over my face. “This is my girlfriend Sherry.” Rob gave Rebecca a big hug and then the two girls exchanged awkward greetings. I took a long sip of beer, putting it all together.
I didn’t know too much about Rob, I’d always tried to stay away from him, but I did know this: he seemed to be a real piece of shit. Short and squatty, dark sunken in eyes, he somehow oozed with confidence and a real darkness beneath the surface. He was a girl with low self-esteem’s worst nightmare. Rumors were that he’d slept with the majority of the women on staff, minus the religious and/or married ones (not due to a lack of trying). I often found myself in the middle of the constant ’middle school drama’ between them as they were apparently all vying for his attention. From 18 to 40, he didn’t discriminate. He’d even allegedly slept with the Jamie, the twice divorced, mother of two who was the restaurant’s General Manager aka my direct superior. He was one of those people that always looked fucked up, no real evidence whether or not he was, but he looked the part.
But I will say, that at least he showed up to work, almost on time. He was a con artist, so naturally he was a good sales person and consistently won sales competitions much to the chagrin of myself and the other managers, except of course Jamie. He seemed to have a very ugly dark side, and of course, the younger girls were drawn to this darkness. Maybe I was jealous, maybe I saw my former self in him. I just knew to stay away. If I did see any of my former self, my former life in him, his dark side was much darker than mine ever was. Their conversation had faded as I was deep into thought about slipping out of the bar. Then he noticed me,
“Boss?!?” he said, I finished the last few drops of beer.
I turned slowly,
“Hey.” I nodded, “Sherry.” I nodded again.
“Holy shit man, you never come out. What is up?!?” Rob smacked my shoulder excitedly.
“Empty fridge at home, just popped in for a quick bite.”
“Cool! Hey, aren’t you on vacation?” He was getting excited.
“Yes. Much needed!” I nodded and smiled calmly.
“Fuck yeah, seems like you’ve been there every single day over the holidays.”
“Just about.” I retorted.
“Oh hey, Rebecca, this is my boss, Jimbo.” Rob pointed at me while looking at her. I made eye contact with Rebecca and we both smiled knowingly, she blushed and I laughed at how appropriate it all was.
“That’s funny, because he told me his name was James…” She said.
“It is James actually.” I assured her, “And I’m very impressed! Rebecca is a very lovely and interesting young lady!” I talked to Rob but kept eye contact with her as I spoke.
“Trust me Becks, his name is Jimbo.” Rob shot me a big grin as he leaned over the bar and started ordering from Chrissy.
“So Jimbo? Are you from the South? How’d you get that name?” Rebecca said in her best southern accent and her face lit up, she really thought she was being funny.
“No!” Rob butted in, making air quotes with his hands, “James Jones in his former life used to be a bad-mother-fucking D-J, named Jimbo Mofo Jones! Check his Wikipedia!”
Rob turned from the bar and set down four dark purple shots in front of us.
“I had all three of his mix-tapes back in the day! Right about the same time I started rolling and getting fucked up!” Rob expounded proudly. “Let’s all do a shot to Jimbo Mother Fucking Jones – a bad motherfucking DJ!” He handed Rebecca and Sherry shots, then held one up to me. Jaeger… blah, not my favorite.
“I don’t know about that Rob, I’ve got to be up early in the morning.” I held my hand up, trying to pass on the whole thing.
“Oh come on Jimbo Mo-Fo!” Rebecca said playfully, “a corporate management type can turn down a shot, but a baaad motherfucking Dee-Jay cannot!”
“It’s getting late.” I said.
“Hey Rebecca.” Rob said, looking at me. “Remember when we ate that X at your friends’ apartment in Old Town?”
“Yeah, of course.”
“Remember how you were dancing your ass off all night?”
“Yeah it was so fun…”
“Well the music we listened to that night, was the one and only Jimbo Mofo Jones!”
“What? No way! I remember I felt like I couldn’t help myself, those beats were incredible, they were really speaking to me that night!” she was clearly playing it up now, even if it was true. Her eyes big and bright.
“Yeah right, I doubt it was really my shitty old mix-tape!” I rolled my eyes.
“Seriously bro.” Rob had suddenly amped up his intensity.
“Well, what if it’s a body shot?” Rebecca carefully took the shot glass from Rob’s hand and leaned back on the bar at a 45 degree angle. Then she pushed her perfect breasts up and together, wedging the shot glass between them. “It should be tequila, so you cold lick some salt off of me… but Jaeger will have to do.” She pouted her lips.
It felt a little cheesy, the whole thing now, was this some kind of sting? Did Rob set this all up to get video of me drinking with them? But I couldn’t think rationally, I’d been way too long, her breasts called to me… goddamned boobs I thought.
“Fine, you’ve convinced me!” I laughed nervously as she pressed her boobs together against the shot, I bit the glass and leaned back and drank down the deer’s blood. They took their shots and then Rob and Sherry cheered loudly as they hugged and Rob threw up his hand for a high five, which I reluctantly supplied. Rebecca gave me a big hug, pressing her beautiful body up against me. Damn, I was doomed! I knew then that I’d do whatever it took, including hanging out with fucking Rob and Sherry in an attempt to get closer to her.
“Alright, I’ve really got to get out of here. I’d love to hang and chat, but…“ I was looking directly at Rebecca now, “Anytime you want to come to the restaurant next door, I’ll buy you dinner. I owe you one for that.” I reached out for her hand and she took it and then pulled me in for a tight hug.
“I’d love to hear you spin! I want to be one with the music like that night when I first heard your mixtape…” she whispered, but somehow Rob heard and butted in.
“Yeah, man, when are you going to spin for us Mofo?” He said with a big shitty smile, knowing fully that I was losing any and all resistance because of the beauty of this woman that was his former stepsister.
“I hung up the old slip-mats a long time ago…”
“Come on man, you’re on vacation right? My roommate has a set of tables at our place, why don’t you stop by and spin?” He grabbed my shoulder. “It’ll be totally chill. Like ten fifteen people max.”
“Please!” Rebecca squealed, I realized she was a little tipsy. “It’s been forever since I’ve danced!”
A flash of Vegas went through my head, the Electronic Daisy Carnival, over 100,000 people tripped out dancing and having fun. I was behind the tables on stage, I looked down to see a silhouette of beautiful blond dancing with to a gorgeous brunette, my loves, they faded as I blinked long and hards, I took a deep breath and sighed.
“Oh…I don’t know, I was really planning on getting home…” I had to at least try to resist.
“I’m sure Sherry has never even heard real records before!” Rebecca said with witty smile, “Are you even 20?” she asked as Sherry laughed nervously sipping from her drink. Then Rebecca pulled me in close again and whispered in my, “Don’t leave me alone with these two!” she smiled.
“Alright.” I looked around, “but…”
“Don’t worry bro! I’ve got this!” Rob chimed in, I didn’t think he heard what she was saying to me. “Let’s go back to my place, I’ll invite the crew over, shit, I’ll even pull out my old CD-Js!” he was suddenly very loud, and his excitement was ramping up.
“Uh, no, that won’t work.” I shook my head, “I can’t party with the whole staff. The only way we can do it is if you three come alone to my place. I’ll dust off the old Technics. We’ll have a few more drinks and I’ll do a quick set.” I looked at my watch, it was 10:15. “We’ll hang for a few hours and be done 2ish…cool?” I felt my authoritative boss mode flair up, then I looked over at Rebecca and it melted away. I knew I was screwed, I’d do whatever she said, she was hot as hell and at this point, I was definitely thinking with my other head. It’d been quite some time since I’d followed a bad idea, and to be honest, it was starting to feel good.
“Wow!” Rob exclaimed, “Four more shot!” He called to Chrissy,
“I’m good. Give me a bit, I’ve got to get home and clean up. So take this,” I handed Rob a fifty dollar bill, “and get some vodka and some beer maybe.” I started think about the whole plan and was losing steam. Then Rebecca pressed up against me and whispered into my ear.
“You’ve got thirty minutes, Mo-Fo! You’d better be ready to make this ass move!” she said a little drunk in her sexy whisper voice. I could smell her lip gloss and felt the hot vodka breath on my ear. I got up and pulled away from her before I was suddenly rock hard. I put Rob’s number into my phone and told him I’d text him my address. I was walking toward the door right as another wave of my employees started filtering in.
“Please just the three of you!” I looked at Rob sternly. Then I slipped out before being seen by anyone else.
I got into my car and took a deep long breath, knowing I’d already had way too much to drink to get behind the wheel of the car. It didn’t matter, I had to get home. I would be careful. Unfortunately I had done this way too many times and was despicably good at it. I popped a mint into my mouth and started the car and put on Roni Size – Snapshot, the perfect getting focused to drive track.
I raced home and started cleaning up the disaster that was my house, in the last 21 days I’d lived like a fucking pig. I found it impossible to give a shit about cleaning up after myself at home after a ten hour shift of kissing primordial slime ass. The stress of work had always led me to drink, especially since my drug days were in the past. The number of alcoholics that work in the service industry is way more than you think. When you serve a fresh drink, over and over again, you see the ideal image of what it should look like, over and over again. You are psychologically predisposed to want exactly that, over and over again, but you can never satisfy that craving.
In my kitchen, there were pizza boxes stacked up everywhere, beer bottles adorned each corner, crevice and ledge of the condo. I grabbed two big garbage bags and just started throwing shit away, no time to recycle, the hardworking homeless of LA always end up sorting that shit out in the end. The bags filled up quickly and I took them out to the garage and just set them down. I grabbed a spray bottle of cleaner and grabbed a towel, a quick spot clean of the counter top and the real scummy spots on the floor. A few sprays and suddenly, it no longer smelled like the underside of my scrotum.
I knew this was a bad idea from the beginning, I was fucked. Those eyes, her perfect fucking body, I’d do anything to touch her, to get her naked, to... I pulled out some vinyl from the crate below my turntables that stood on a desk above the stairway. I flipped through, each record had a memory attached to it, mostly good memories, but all paths eventually led to the same memory. The blond and the brunette. I tried to focus on the task at hand, getting their faces out of my mind.
I needed music that would help me stay present, to not sink into memories of my past life. Something mellow to set the mood, Rob was so fucking loud and amped, my goal of the evening would be to keep him calm, he was a ball of compressed energy, tonight was not the night to unleash it. The needles on the cartridges had collected tons of lint and dust from years of inactivity. I hadn’t turned them on once since buying this house two years ago. In fact the tables themselves had been in the garage in a box up until just a few months before, but still I hadn’t the willpower to switch them on and take the dark path down memory lane. But for Rebecca…
The doorbell chimed and I took another deep breath before heading down the stairs.
“Here we go.” I said aloud and opened the door.
Rebecca’s smiling face led the pack, with a drunk Rob sloppily making out with Sherry who held black plastic liquor store bags in each hand.
“Nice place,” Rebecca gave me a big hug, her breasts pressing into me again. How I’d missed them. I greeted the other two and watched as they unloaded a handle each of Jack and Smirnoff, beer, wine, soda water and cranberry juice onto the kitchen table.
“So much for just a drink or two!” I said and Rob nodded in agreement,
“Come on Jimbo, you knew that was never going to happen!” and he patted me on the shoulder.
“Can I get the grand tour now or later?” Rebecca asked sweetly.
I smiled and offered my arm like a proper gentleman. She put her left arm through and held on with her right as we walked through the condo. It felt like I’d known her for years. I showed her around the kitchen and showed her the garage wanting her to see the beautiful black BMW 5 series sedan sitting there and then we went upstairs, Rob and Sherry were deep in a strange whisper fighting mixed with aggressive heavy petting so we just let them be.
Rebecca was all over me, she had her hand on my shoulder, then on my back. She smelled like fucking peaches. I wanted to throw Rob and Sherry out right then and just be with her by myself for the rest of the night.
When we got in the bedroom we embraced and looked each other in the eyes. Our mutual admiration coming to a head, the alcohol of course helped.
“Are you a Buddhist?” she asked, looking at the giant stone Buddha head on the corner of my dresser.
“I’m an equal opportunity employer.” I smiled, “I’ll accept all the gods and then I’ll find out who actually won in the end after I die.”
“So you haven’t accepted Jesus Christ to be your lord and savior?”
She smiled, getting closer to me.
“When he rides in on a dinosaur, I’m all in!” I said as we held each other.
“Your place is so beautiful!” she exclaimed, “You have such good taste with everything…” Then I went for in for the kiss. And it was everything I had imagined, he lips perfect and soft, her skin smooth and silky. I tasted her tongue, and then she pulled away. “You move fast.” She squeezed my ass and then turned away, grabbing my hand as she led me downstairs. I stopped at the turntable to change the record, when I looked over to see Rob pulling his hands out of Sherry’s pants.
“Did we miss the tour?” Rob shouted up to me, already drinking a beer.
I made drinks for everyone. They started talking about the drama of what had happened at the bar after I had left, Sherry almost gotten into a fight with one of the other eighteen year old hostesses that Rob had already banged.
“Fucking bitch”, and she kept going but all I heard was, bla bla bla, “I hate that fucking cunt.” Sherry said,
“Exactly why I broke up with her.” Rob chimed in.
Rob suddenly had a backpack on the table and he zipped it open and out he pulled a gallon sized plastic bag. The drug bag. It had several other plastic baggies inside of it. There was pot, various pills, a couple of powders, rolling papers, pipes, lighters and more.
“Man, it’s been since like, high school that I’ve seen anybody carry all their drugs together like that!” I laughed, “You need a suitcase like Hunter S. Thompson in Fear and Loathing.”
“Remember when you were excited about a Johnny Depp movie?” she said smiling.
Sherry laughed obviously too young to know what we were talking about.
“Blame Disney.” I said,
“Shit man, you just never know when you’re going to need something to balance you out.” Rob pointed the conversation back to himself.
“Balance?” Rebecca responded, “Is that how you stay up until 6am every morning?”
“That’s just a healthy sense of adventure, sis.” He kind of scowled.
We all laughed as Sherry got into the bag and pulled out a smaller bag with several round yellow pills. They had something etched into them. I picked up the bag and held it closer to my eyes to see the etching was a bat symbol.
“Dun na na na nuh nuh na nuh nuh na na… BATMAN!” Rob exclaimed then laughed hysterically as he broke out some nice sized buds of pot onto the counter top. I winced a little at the thought of what I’d gotten myself into, the booze was bad enough, but the drugs might someday cost me my job. I looked at Rebecca again, fuck it! I’d just have to figure out how to not be blackmailed by the fucks she was with.
“Is that E?” I asked.
“Yes and no, these pills are E, these tablets are Molly. The blue ones are Valium. These are hydrocodone, Xanax, oxys, and morphine. And this, my friend is cocaine!” Rob held up a snack bag half full of white powder.
“Jesus.” I said, “that is a lot to carry around! What’re you looking at, 25 years there?”
He laughed maniacally.
“This is nothing man. This is just my travel bag!”
We walked outside and I looked around to make sure none of my neighbors were out. I turned off the porch light and lit a little candle that on the table between the three chairs. I sat next to Rebecca and Sherry sat on Rob’s lap as he lit the joint with his zippo lighter with a skull on it. He let the lighter burn in his right hand as he hit brought the joint to his mouth with the left. As he sat back a wisp of Sherry’s hair caught on fire.
“Aaaahhh what the fuck man!” Sherry’s swatted at her hair and put out the flame as the smell of burnt hair filled the air around us.
“Hey, let’s keep it down. I don’t want to wake my neighbors.” I said, maybe more sternly than I should have.
“God. My fucking hair was on fire! I’m fucking sorry, okay?” She replied in a whispered yell.
Rebecca giggled and grabbed my arm as Rob started to pass the joint to me.
“No way asshole! Give that shit to me! You just burned my fucking hair! I’m next.” Sherry shrieked as we all kind of laughed quietly.
Rob lit a cigarette as well, then he pulled out the bag of E from his pocket.
“One for you.” He handed a pill to Sherry.
“How long does it usually last?” Sherry asked as I looked at the clock and seeing it was almost eleven o’clock.
“We’ve done these like before.” He said.
“When?” she replied.
“Uh… when we watched Twilight, that night at the theater.”
“Oh my god, I was so drunk I don’t even remember.” She laughed.
“Yeah, you definitely blacked out that night.” He said with a smile, “You were fucked up.” He grinned at me.
“So how long do these ones last?” I asked, reiterating the original question.
“Uh, depends, usually about an hour and a half to two. It’s pretty short, I always find it is best to smoke a joint, have a couple of drinks to chill out you know… and then I’ll pop a tab or do a line every hour or so till I get there. Then pop another!”
“There?” I asked. Rebecca laughed. Sherry looked at the wall.
“The zone.” He said, and faked shooting a basketball, “When the basket looks five feet wide.”
“Nice.” I said and hit the joint. “Cool…well let’s get started, I can’t be up all night. I am heading out of town in the morning.”
“Where are you headed?” Rebecca asked
“I’m backpacking for a few days, Joshua Tree?” I said to Rebecca, pointing east.
Rob sucked down the rest of the joint and then we all went back inside. I hadn’t smoked weed in quite some time. Instantly, the weight of my week was off my back and I felt light as a feather. I was high a lot in the old days. Suddenly I wasn’t as worried about anything. I just wanted to have fun for the first time in quite a while. I could use another drink, I thought, and went into the kitchen. They followed and I refreshed drinks as Rob was pulling pills out of the plastic bag. He handed them out and we clinked glasses.
“To Sherry, and her first memory of ecstasy, maybe!” Rob said smiling enthusiastically at his joke.
We all popped our pills as Rob proceeded to put the pill on the counter and smash it with his lighter until it was in powdered form.
“Really?” I asked.
He smiled at me as he pulled $100 bill from his pocket and his Lambda Chi Alpha ID Card. He put the powder into a line and then snorted half of it in his left nostril and the other half in his right. He came up and looked me in the eye.
“Thought you wanted to party….boss!” he smiled and slammed half of his drink, toasting me as he finished the entire drink on the second gulp.
Rebecca had taken off her shoes and sat with her legs crossed on the high barstool, I could see her short white skirt climbing up her leg and showing a little butt cheek. Goddamn! Her knees would knock into me as I sat next to her, she’d initiated contact from the beginning. If I played my cards right, I knew I was in. All I could think about were her long beautiful legs, and as we sat there talked we all got higher and higher, she pressed more and more into me.
Once I felt my stomach uneasiness, I knew it was time to get on the tables. It was my job to lead them through their path and keep them mellow, to keep them from freaking out. I missed having that responsibility, it truly was an honor to bring people through the gateways of perception. In the right setting Ecstasy, Molly, MDMA, whatever you call it, could truly be an amazing experience.
I got up to my turntables and it all started coming back to me. Like we’d never been apart. At my best, they became extensions of my hands, my way to speak to the world. When I was really on, I felt like I could read the people’s minds and know what they wanted, what they needed to hear to be happy, to move, to feel free. I loved mixing, it was something I had always really enjoyed. While I was spinning I tried to weigh the memories of the parties with the blond and the brunette, my sidekicks, Callie and Paige, the history of them going out in the crowd before me and setting them into a dancing mob with their undeniably contagious energy. I couldn’t have ever done it on my own, they owned the dance floor while I manned the decks. With the memories of the good, came the memories of the bad… cops, the open highrise window, the money, the drugs. I tried to lose myself in the music, to stay present, my set was still good, perfect for a small uninitiated crowd like this one, overall maybe a little outdated, but good nonetheless.
With each record down. Zero 7, Nicolas Jaar, Trentmoller, Thievery Corporation, Massive Attack, I went down the fuzzy memory road of down-tempo breaks. I was fucked up enough to enjoy it, my heart heavy with memories. The beauty of Rebecca kept me focused on the transitions, the breaks, the drops. I would impress her, she could be my muse.
They were all dancing now, really going for it as I increased the BPM a little at a time, Rob and Sherry would slip away every few minutes, come back with coke on their noses, licking their lips. Rebecca was dialed in. None of them were really good dancers, I might have been prejudiced, but it didn’t matter because she still looked so damn good no matter how she moved.
It was great to be back in the saddle, I felt right at home, the BPMs getting faster and faster. They were breaking a sweat now, the cocaine had turned up the intensity, I could feel their energy coming back up to me. I wanted to be alone with Rebecca, far away from the other two. I was orchestrating the night.
I built to a peak, dropped a new beat and they darted around happy and mad. As I brought the speed and volume down, my puppets came down too. A few more records and I then I finally put on an LP we could chill out with… DJ Shadow The Private Press. I walked down stairs to cheers and high fives. Sherry and Rebecca both hugged me and it felt great to be a hero again. It had been too long.
We made drinks, did some coke and a line of molly as well. Fuck it, I was all in. I was having fun the way I used to and Rebecca was eyeing me, so…
The first thing I noticed was time slowing, the long drip of life had been lengthened. I was inside of the reverberating wavelength. There was more time between beats in the songs, the earth seemed to be breathing with me, the space between words in the conversation allowed me to think of every possible tangent, with time to spare in between the response. I felt empowered. Everything was beautiful and unbearable at the same time.
Rebecca’s skin was the greatest thing I’d ever touched. I made more drinks, we smoked another joint. Rob laid out some more tablets. He emptied the contents of his bag and snorted it down one line after another. Sherry joined him often, Rebecca and I only twice. We were pressed up against one another pulsating together, lots of touching and feeling and pressing. Somehow this drug takes away all the pain and separation we have as we suffer from our separate bodies. Time was lost, it was all so beautiful. I fell into Rebecca and it felt like she was falling into me. We were one. I wanted to be naked with her, inside of her. We touched and talked and kissed a little. Conversation was fleeting at best, we’d start talking about something and then a wave of thought would pass and we’d move onto the next topic, never finishing the last. The endless wormhole alive and well in the room. Never knowing what we had just talked about.
After a while, who knows how long, we looked up from our little tiny interconnected universe at the reality surrounding us, we’d been so far into each other’s consciousness, we’d forgotten that there was anything outside of us. The door was wide open, Rob and Sherry were nowhere to be seen. A cool breeze came in through the door. Kanye West was blasting from my speakers. That’s funny, I though, I don’t own any Kanye… I shuttered a bit from the jarring change, I went up and saw that Rob had plugged his phone into my mixer, he’d dug through the drawer below and found the cable. How long had we been mesmerized? I put on something more relaxing and looked up at the clock, it was 2:30 am. Holy shit, I thought, I was thoroughly confused.
I looked around for my phone, retracing my steps… when I finally found it and looked at the clock, 2:32. Shit, this had already gone longer than I’d hoped, of course. We made another drink, I tried to calm down.
“Let’s take another pill. Or maybe we should snort one.” Rebecca said to me. I sat down next to her, wanting to be close again. “And then let’s go upstairs to your room.” She smiled.
Great idea, I thought knowing tomorrow was shot, but she was worth every second.
“What about Rob? Where’d they go?” I poured vodka into a glass, then into another one. Every action was overwhelming, I had control, but struggled with each movement. I managed to get a few ice cubes in the glasses, a few more on the floor. The cold of the ice was amazing. I walked over with the drinks. Rebecca was crushing pills and intricately scraping out lines of the powder on the table. I went to the door and looked outside, Rob and Sherry were sitting in the grass that is the common for the complex.
“Hey you guys should come back inside.” I whispered out into the darkness, the mist of the night was beautiful, my eyes couldn’t get enough of the trees and the grass in the darkness with only a hint of light. Nature was truly amazing.
“Mofo!” Rebecca called to me. I stood there seriously contemplating my fate. I closed the door and went back to her. We did the lines and then went upstairs. Our shirts were off in an instant and we sat in front of each other, her arms were around me and she was rubbing a cold ice cube on my back as she was kissing me. It was incredible. Her bare breasts perfect, her skin, everything about her, flawless. I kept trying to slip my hands down into her pants and she kept pulling them away.
“We can’t do that.” She said, “It’ll ruin it for forever.”
“That’s an urban legend.” I smiled, “You can never ruin sex!”
She laughed and we cooled it a little, kissed, felt each other up, some heavy sensual petting. I looked at the clock, it was now 3:00.
Rebecca stared at me sensually, and then got up and headed into the bathroom.
I heard the water turn on in the tub.
My raging hard-on now harder. The pain and frustration of the last two years was about to erode.
We ceremoniously undressed each other, enjoying each swipe, each caress. Every breath, every pulse was magical as the bass-line thumped through the door barely audible over the roaring sound of water from the faucet. Now completely naked we got in as it continued to fill. She guided me to sit down as she pressed up against me from behind. She took a rag and ran it down from my neck, along my spine. I melted at her touch and I turned around to kiss her. She pulled back.
“Wait…” she said,
She was a master seductress, I was worried I was going to blow my load before I got inside of her.
We played this game and then switched, giving each other hot massages, then she stood up braced herself against the wall.
“Do you want a taste?”
I quickly had my tongue inside of her. The warmth covered my face and I inched more and more inside of her as she let out little moans of enjoyment, trying to hold herself back.
Before I knew it, I was on my feet and inside of her. It was beautiful and I paced myself as best I could until I started to hear her start to really getting into it, juices flowing. Then I unleashed, and we came pretty close to the same time. We held onto each other as tightly as humanly possible, our consciousness one, my legs weakened and she was there to support me as we slowly guided back down to a seated position in the tub, I slipped out of her and we just held each other there.
Breathing each other in through the steamy air, colorful explosions and bursts of energy in all directions. We sat in comfortable silence. Then, after the moment had passed, I sobered a little, thinking practically, I whispered into her ear,
“I hope you’re on birth control.”
“Yes, I am,” she said smiling, and I hope you’re not a dirty Mofo.
“Clean bill of health.” I said and we kissed as I reached down for her again.
KNOCK, KNOCK, KNOCK!
“Fuck.” I said, as Rebecca got up and grabbed for a towel. I did the same as I got up behind her.
KNOCK, KNOCK, KNOCK.
“Hey!” Rob’s voice through the door. “Hey! Sherry ran off! I don’t know where she went!”
“Hold on.” I said scrambling, trying to find underwear. “What the fuck.” I said, the terror of having to deal with them now seeping in over the pure bliss I had just enjoyed.
“What the fuck Rob?” Rebecca yelled, “Why don’t you go find her then?”
We dried off and dressed quickly. I put my clothes back on and I turned and embraced her before I left, I kissed her while she was still dressing.
“That was amazing!” I said and she smiled. I walked out of the bathroom and closed the door behind me.
The image of her in a towel, the bright lights above, she looked angelic. I closed my eyes wanting to hold onto that image forever as I walked down the stairs where nobody was present.
“Rob,” I called out, “Sherry!” a little louder.
The door was wide open so I headed out into the night where the full moon was illuminating everything from directly overhead.
“Did that bitch put out yet?” Rob was laughing as I saw him smoking a joint under the gnarled tree on the edge of my tiny yard.
“Did you see which way she went?” I asked, pretending not to hear him.
“Nope, I looked all over. She’s dead to me now.” He held the joint up to me.
“I’m good, I’m pretty wasted. We’ve got to find her before someone else does. My HOA are a bunch of family types, I’m sure they’d love to kick me out. I’ll go this way, you go that way.” I pointed him toward the community pool.
It was pretty cold that night, as cold as LA gets at least, temperature in the mid-fifties. I ran back to the house and grabbed a jacket from the rack by the door and my big old Maglite flashlight sitting on the ledge. The wind picked up and started howling against the trees outside as I closed the door behind me. I thought of returning to my room with Rebecca in bed. That was really all I wanted in the world.
As I walked around the different common areas of the complex, I called out,
“Sherry.” Over and over again. Then, with no sign of her, I cursed her name. But really it wasn’t her. It was all Rob, that fucking douche-bag. Whatever this was, I knew it was his fault. When I got to the major intersection outside of the housing complex to the west of my house, I saw Rob’s baseball cap. Classic Chicago Cubs blue with the red C. Rob was a bandwagon idiot, he didn’t know anything about baseball. I picked it up and walked down the road until I saw her sitting next to a transformer box behind the sidewalk leading to the intersection. She had on my t-shirt over her tiny skirt. I saw she didn’t have any panties on as she huddled her legs against her chest. “Sherry.” I whispered as loud as possible. “Sherry, are you okay?”
As I got closer, I saw that she was crying.
“He…he…”she started sobbing and shivering uncontrollably. Her face was down and she wouldn’t look at me as the tears continued to stream down her face. She wasn’t very cute anymore.
“You’ve got to be freezing!” I pulled off my jacket and put it over her shoulders, helping her to her feet. “Everything is okay. Come back inside.” She finally looked up at me and I saw her face was swollen around her eye, it was already a hint of blue under the light of the moon.
“Did Rob hit you?” I asked sternly, my grip tightened on her elbow out of rage and I could feel her cringe in fear as I loosened my grip.
“No, I just fell.” She started sobbing louder and it grew more and more uncontrollable with each step. “I tripped and hit a rock… I think.”
I led the way, anger quickening my pace with my arm around her as we walked. What the fuck was happening? All I could think was how fucking stupid I was to put myself in this situation in the first place! I was pissed, the rage was sobering me up. The absolute peak of beauty I had just experienced was all gone now.
We got back to my condo and the front door was locked. I instinctively reached down for my keys, nothing in my pockets. I must have set them down on the bathroom counter I thought.
“Fuck!” I rang the doorbell and we waited there, Sherry’s crying got worse and worse as the moment seemed to go on forever.
I rang the doorbell again…nothing. My rage was boiling over now. I pounded on the door.
“Stay here.” I said to Sherry and went around the side of the house to the window had been opened a crack by someone. I smelt the smell of a cigarette and saw the butt sitting on the ledge inside. “Fucking dick.” I said as I realized that the music had been turned up as well. This time it was some real high tempo industrial bullshit. I looked around to see if any lights were on at my neighbors. Luckily everything was still dark.
“Rob!” I yelled in the window. “What the fuck man! Open up the goddamned door!” I yelled a few more things to no avail. The blinds were drawn, I couldn’t see inside. I got the screen off the window and slid the window wide enough to fit in, then I jumped up and into my window. What a mess, I thought, I was breaking into my own fucking house! I should have never done this! Then I thought of Rebecca, and relaxed a bit…
“Still worth it.” I said aloud with a smile.
I was back inside, it smelled like cigarette smoke and Rob was nowhere to be found. I looked upstairs, the door still closed and dreamed lustily of Rebecca naked in my bed. I opened the front door, Sherry was not there.
“Sherry! What the fuck?” I called out. Turning around and grabbing my keys off the counter before I went out again. I ran her down just a few yards around the corner from my front porch. I brought her back into the house and sat her down on the couch.
“Relax.” I said. In the light I saw how swollen her eye was, she could barely open it. “Sit here, I’m going to make you some tea. We’re going to sober up, and I’ll get you some ice for your eye. Where the hell is Rob?”
I sat her down on the couch and as soon as she sat back, I headed for the kitchen. I filled the kettle with water put it on the stove, I turned the gas all the way up. I was fucking pissed, all I’d done for the last 21 days was babysit these little worthless shits, and here I was again, doing it on my vacation.
Fuck! I grabbed a bag of peas from the freezer and a cold water bottle from the fridge. Then I headed to the closet and fished out a blanket. I went back over to Sherry and gave it all to her as she sat and sobbed pathetically on the couch, legs ups, ass and pussy just hanging out.
“Put this on your eye, and try to relax. The tea will be done in a minute.” I said in my calmest voice possible, holding back all the rage.
I headed upstairs, I turned down the music and unplugged his phone, I really wanted to throw it across the room, but instead I set it down. I put on Herb Alpert’s Whipped Cream. The horns started to calm the very air in the room.
I looked down at Sherry. She was still sitting there on the couch wrapped up in the blanket and still crying, the bag of peas on her eye.
I turned to my door and grabbed the door knob, about to turn it and walk in.
The tea kettle started whistling.
I rushed back downstairs and fixed the cup of tea. I set it down next to Sherry on the coffee table.
“The tea is here, don’t kick it over.”
I rushed back upstairs, I reached for the door knob and it was locked.
“What the...?” I said to myself and then quietly I knocked. “Rebecca?” I called out, nothing. I knocked again. “Rebecca.” It wasn’t a normal keyed lock, just one of those you could open with a narrow screwdriver. I felt along the top frame of the door for the little flat head screwdriver. I turned it, then the knob. I walked in the door as I opened it and the first thing I saw was her face. Her eyes were closed and she had white powder around her nose.
I was still high and the colors were shifting around on me. The shapes were all foreign, it took a second for me to put together what was happening. Rob was holding her ankles, on his shoulders, her panties were in his teeth but still around her ankles, they were reverberating together back and forth. It was all happening in super slow motion and I blinked trying to figure it out.
I was ultimately still fucked up and very confused. He thrust again and again and she didn’t really move... I blinked again and held them shut for a quick second as I put it all together, suddenly I was back in Vegas, I could almost feel the hot air seeping from the wide open glass door into the air conditioned room. I blinked, coming back to present. When I opened my eyes he was still thrusting into her. I took a short breath, and blood started pumping to my head again. Fuck! As I came to, I realized she was out cold, and he was fucking her!
Holy fucking shit!
“Rebecca!” I called out.
Nothing. She was out cold. He kept thrusting, in his own world.
“What are you doing?” I called out as I started angrily toward him. He looked at me and then gave me a bit of a smirk. I’ll never forget the image of him in this position, her legs up on his shoulders, him thrusting, biting her panties, he let them out of his mouth and turned his head, brought up his left index finger to his lips as he continued to thrust,
“Shhhhh,” he said, “Don’t tell anyone! Sherry wants to suck your dick.” He gave me another smirk and continued thrusting as I moved faster and faster. He was oblivious to my rage.
I had to stop this, I had to do something. My fucked up mind finally put it all together. She was passed out and…
HOLY FUCKING SHIT, HE WAS RAPING HER!
Red, all I could see was the red of rage as my brow furrowed and at once I rushed him, looking down again to see Rebecca’s eyes closed, nostrils covered in caked powder. As I got up to him, I realized at once that something was in my back pocket, I felt back and pulled out the Maglite swinging it as hard as I could at his head.
I caught him right above the eye and he fell back in pain, grabbing for his face as dick came flopping out of her and he stumbled back as her legs fell to the floor and she shifted stiffly, but didn’t wake up. He fell back, tripping on his own pants and underwear around his ankles and hit the corner of the dresser.
The sound was terrible. Blood sprayed from his head across the dresser. He dropped to the ground and I followed with my eyes and watched as the pool of blood quickly doubled and tripled in size. The carpet was sopping it up but not quickly enough. I dropped the flashlight with a loud thud.
Buddha sat there looking at me with a speckles of blood on his stone gray face.
“Jesus!” I whispered to myself, in shock.
My breath stopped, I couldn’t go on. Suddenly, every object in the room was outlined in white, and vibrating, faster and faster and bigger and bigger until everything was gone.
It all rushed at me at once and I was swallowed by a wall of white.
Author's Note: If you've come this far, thank you for reading! I'd love feedback, not necessarily on formatting or grammar or typos but on content and big picture questions and the like. I've submitted this to the James Jones First Novel Fellowship and am looking for other submissions or possible publishers, agents, managers, etc that might be interested. Please send emails to travisRspencer@gmail.com or hit me up on twitter. Thanks again!