(Continued...) experience the (interactive) first part of the story here.
I found my hotel and entered the lobby. After speaking with the receptionist, I checked into my room and took stock of the place. It was pretty standard. But during my inspection I noticed the bottom of the bathtub had textured footprint-stickers to add traction and prevent slipping.
“Nicely done,” I said past the arm that was holding the shower curtain away from my face.
I felt finished looking around, so I lay on the bed and picked up the t.v. remote. I began flipping through the t.v.’s channels, came across the adult pay-per-view, ordered some, masturbated, and fell asleep.
I slept well. Because I always sleep well after ejaculating. But I awoke suddenly. My torso jerked into an upright position. Once my senses realized it was dark, my hearing sharpened. After several seconds of silence, the noise I awoke with repeated.
“What was that?” I thought to myself.
I got off of the bed and looked out the window. At first, there were no signs of disturbance. Then, I heard something. A rustling sound. It was light but heavy enough to allowed its location to be pinpointed. With my face pressed against the window pane, I could see something moving in a nearby dumpster. My eyeball was nearly touching the window’s glass when a flash of white light made me step back.
I returned to my relationship with the glass and asked, “What the fuck?” to myself. The water vapor from my breath condensed on the glass. I backed away, looking at it. Once it cleared, I closed in again. I saw a cat dart into the distance from the direction of the dumpster I’d been looking down on. The action prompted me to scan all I could see from the window. Nothing happened in the next few minutes, so I retreated back to bed. I jumped onto it, stretching my arms and legs. The flash I saw occupied my mind for some time, but I soon forgot it and fell asleep.
That night I had a dream about my patronage to a pirate ship. Whilst sailing the seven seas, my ship and its crew came across a clan of shark-man bandits. The details are foggy, but I remember an adrenaline filled fight between me and a sharkish creature with legs. It was intense. The creature would try to trip me with its tail. And bite me. With huge jaws. I also remember sailing through the shallows of a Caribbean sea-swamp. We dodged tree-stumps and gnarled knots of wooden growth. But I awoke when we got sucked into one of the tree-stumps. I scrambled to find my dream journal so I could write down my latest faust.
Scraping my memory for details, I turned on the t.v. to trigger the flash-scene section of my brain. The pay-per-view channel I thought I’d left the t.v. on had been switched to a local news channel. The reporter was speaking about the disappearance of several homeless people.
“How do they keep tabs on all the homeless people in New York?” I asked the empty room. “There’ve gotta be thousands and thousands.”
I became disinterested, so I changed the channel. Surfing the digital tides, I barreled into a cartoon channel.
“Cha-ching,” I said.
I finished writing all I could remember of my dreams and laid back to enjoy the cartoons. After half an hour I turned off the t.v. and went for a shower. It was a good one. The shower head had a range of stream-settings and good pressure. After the shower I put on my pants and a v-neck t-shirt. Then I went out the door to get breakfast. On my way past the reception desk, the receptionist called to me.
“Mister Calhoun. You have a message.”
I changed my direction for the reception desk and lifted an arm onto it. “Oh yeah? What is it?” I asked.
“A Mister Dillinger called a couple hours ago with the message, ‘Try eating soup with a fork’,” she said, looking up from a sheet of hotel stationery. Her facial expression was casual. I guessed she was used to strange messages.
“Mmmhm..Thank you kindly, ma’am.” I lightly pat the countertop and continued my walk for the lobby-door. I went out the door noticing the sun was bright enough to make me squint. So I pulled out my sunglasses and put them on. With my rumbling belly guiding me, I searched the streets for a café or restaurant.
After walking for about 10 minutes, I saw a sign that read, ‘Best Breakfast in Brooklyn’.
“I thought we were in Manhattan,” I said to the handwritten sign. I admired its balls so I went inside. I found an empty table and took a seat. There was a menu in the holster at the center of the table so I grabbed it and opened it. While I looked through its pages, a waitress approached me and asked, “Can I get you something to drink?”
Lowering the menu I said, “Yeah. Can I have a sparkling water please?”
“Sure,” she said spinning on a heel and walking away.
I relifted the menu and continued looking. Just when I’d made up my mind on getting the ‘Manhattan Madness’, the waitress came back with a frosty bottle in one hand and an empty glass in the other. She set both on the table, pulled a bottle opener from her apron, and popped the top.
“Ah. Thank you,” I said as I read her name tag. Iris. I thought about adding her name to my statement, but didn’t.
“Mmmhm,” she returned. “So, what’ll you have?”
“I’m thinking about the Manhatten Madness here,” I said, pointing to its description in the menu. “Does that sound like a good choice?” I asked after turning to her.
“Yeah. Definitely,” she said.
“Alright. That’ll do it then.”
She lifted her notepad and scribbled a few letters. Just as I expected her to leave, I could see her leaning toward me in my peripheral vision. “I want to recruit you for a secret mission,” she whispered above my head.
“What’s that?” I asked, turning to face her breasts. They were at eye level.
“I want to recruit you for a secret mission,” she repeated.
“Huh…A secret mission..And what would that entail?” Her statement had some sex to it, so I gave her a scan. Mentally undressing her. She was fairly foxy.
“Come with me and I’ll show you,” she said, turning to walk through the tables dotting the restaurant’s floor.
Her proposal didn’t sound too bad, so I pushed away from my table and followed her. She reached the door to the employee-only area of the restaurant and paused. She turned to face me and made a beckoning hand motion. I nodded so slightly she probably didn’t notice. But she did catch my smile, returning it.
She pushed through the door. I followed, finally catching up with her as she reached the freezer door. I stopped four inches behind her. She lunged backward in gathering enough momentum to open the heavy door. Her body knocked mine with the motion. Once the door was open, she silently entered the cloud of freezer fog. As I followed her, the door swung shut behind me. Seeing the door move by itself sent a bolt of nervous energy through my body.
“Uhhhh…So what’s the-” I started, but was stopped by two fingers put to my lips. With one hand on my mouth, the Iris’ other hand grabbed a box of frozen food and lifted it. The room around us spun away and was replaced by another. Like a 1960s superhero-serial scene-change. My skin didn’t even register the sensory-strength of a wind’s gust, but I found myself standing in a completely different place.
The freezer space we’d been in changed to a room fit for a king’s feast. It felt monstrous compared to the tiny freezer. And it was empty except for a large oriental rug and a wooden column close to where we stood.
“Hmmm,” I said. “So what exactly, the fuck, is going on?”
“What do you mean?” Iris answered.
“Uh..What do you mean, what do I mean? You asked me to help with some secret mission then you wiggled your nose and magically wisped us to this charming old place,” I said, finishing with a look around the room. “What’s the story? Where are we and what’s this mission?”
“Before I answer your questions will you drink this for me?” she said, handing me a cup that’d appeared on the column.
“What is it?” I asked, putting my nose over the cup’s rim and smelling its contents.
“It’s green tea with a special blend of herbs.”
“A special blend of herbs..That sounds potentially diabolical.” She didn’t answer, she just matched my stare. “How do I know I can trust you?”
She puckered her lips, shrugged her shoulders, and made the denunciated version of ‘I don’t know’-“Mmmmmm.”
“Right,” I said, drinking the cup’s contents like a shot of alcohol. “Aaah.” The heat made my eyes water. I got an erection instantly. “Hm. That’s interesting,” I said, adjusting my penis so it had a little more breathing room.
“Well, well..It’s working quickly,” she said, looking at the crotch of my pants.
“Working? You want me to be aroused?”
“Of course. How would we fuck if you weren’t?”
“Shit. You get right to business,” I said, slightly surprised. “That’s an excellent question. But sweetheart, I have a girlfriend,” I admitted, intimidated by her sluttiness.
“Haha..Well, I want you to be relaxed for what I’m going to tell you...And it’s not cheating if this isn’t real,” she said, lifting a very large knife. Without a word she put her left hand on the column and chopped off nearly three fingers. Two fingers fell to the floor, while the third hung from her knuckle, tickling her wrist. In a couple of seconds, three new fingers grew from the stumps. The finger still hanging on dropped as the fresh produce pushed past.
“Good god,” I finally said. “You really know how to turn a guy on.”
“I can see that,” she said, glancing at my crotch.
She dropped the knife, put one hand against my chest and the other on my inner shoulder, planted her mouth on mine, and pushed me onto the bed I could’ve sworn wasn’t there a minute before.
We made the grade.
As she was buttoning her shirt she turned to me and said, “That was relaxing, right?”
“Well,” I said, lifting myself with an elbow. “..it depends on what your definition of relaxing is. My heart is still racing like a jockey,” I said, putting my left hand to my chest.
She leaned toward me to put a hand on my chest. “Yeah, definitely,” she smiled.
“Regardless of relaxing, it sure felt nice for not having been real.”
“It’s all about perception,” she replied.
“Mmmhm..Right. So what’s this secret mission you wanted to soften me up for?”
“Do you want another cup of tea?”
“Uuh. What kind do you have?” I asked.
“Any kind you want.”
“Really?..Do you have ginger tea with honey?”
“Sure do..Here you go,” she said, handing me a steaming cup.
“Ah, thank you,” I said, accepting the cup with both hands. I smelled it. It smelled like ginger tea with honey.
I looked at the porcelain cup to see it was decorated with a variety of sunglasses. “Cool,” I said, slightly raising the cup while smiling. I couldn’t tell if I was being sarcastic or not.
“So we want to recruit you for the mission you’re already on.”
“Oh yeah? What mission is that and who’s we?” I asked.
“Killing this man,” she said, handing me a photo. She’d gotten it from the podium.
I took a quick look and saw it was Boregard. “Why would you want to hire me for a job I’m already gonna do?” I asked.
“Because we know you probably won’t do it,” she retorted.
“Oh? And why’s that?” I said with squinted eyes.
“Because we know this man’s your brother.”
“How do you know that?”
“We have our ways.”
“You keep mentioning this ‘we’. Who exactly might that be?”
“That’s not really important. Let’s just say the royal ‘we’,” she answered with a grin.
“It shouldn’t matter. Just know you’re doing it for me.”
“Uhu…So if I do do it, what’s in it for me?” I asked with a mild smile.
“More like what’re you in if you don’t do it…,” she returned.
“I don’t get it.”
She picked up a small cage from the podium. “You’ll be imprisoned in this for eternity,” she said, putting the cage on display. It was a classic looking iron cage not much bigger than a toilet tank.
“Tsss,” I scoffed. “That’s not possible.”
She didn’t make a verbal response. She put the cage back on the podium, took a step backward, and snapped her fingers. Instantly my perception shifted significantly. The first thing I noticed was that my vision was blanketed by a fabric of static. Everything looked grainy. Then, I could feel that my entire body was influenced by differing degrees of displeasure. They ranged from the sharp ache of my internal organs to the dullish intensity of my skull pressing against the cage’s iron bars. I realized that my chin was in my belly, so with the right adjustment I’d be able to suck my own dick.
My ears weren’t at 100% so it was difficult to hear. But I caught Iris asking, “How is it?”
An incoherent “mmmlmmmimmmim” was all I could get out.
“What’s that?” I heard. It sounded like Iris had come closer.
I repeated, “MMMLMMMIMMMIM.” But louder. A wave of pain coursed through my body.
“Sorry, I still didn’t catch that.”
I heard what sounded like a finger snap. Boom. Back on my feet in front of Iris. My body ached with soreness. Like I’d recently gone bowling for the first time in a while.
“Holy fucking shit. What the fuck was that?” I asked.
“Your future if you don’t play ball,” Iris insisted.
“And why mine? Why did you choose me?”
“Because my employer is a fan of your work,” she answered.
“Oh yeah? Who’s your employer and how do they know about my work?”
“We’ve already been through this. I can’t tell you,” she said.
“Hmmm. Interesting..You know, this thing is starting to look pretty good,” I said, lifting the cage to eye level.
“Alright, fine. It doesn’t really matter anyway,” she admitted, rolling her eyes. “It’s Steve Buscemi.”
“Steve Buscemi? Are you serious? Is he here?” I asked, failing to hide my excitement.
“Nohaho,” she said, laughing. “He’s off shooting a Tarantino movie in Reno.”
“Huh,” I said, nodding. “Cool. So I’d be doing a hit for Buscemi..How do I know you’re not fucking with me?”
“You’ll just have to trust me,” she said, raising an eyebrow.
“Ha,” I laughed. “This coming from a girl who’s already fucked me twice.”
“Twice? I only remember the once,” she said, getting close, pressing her loins against my leg, and lightly lifting the hairs of my arm with the underside of her fingers.
“I’d say putting me in that cage was a pretty solid fucking,” I said, slowly nodding to the cage cherrying the podium.
“Right…So how do you have beef with my brother? Why do you want him dead?” I asked.
“He took something from us that didn’t belong to him.”
“You’re in the habit of asking far too many questions, Mr. Burk. You should learn to control your mouth better.”
“I’m just curious,” I said.
“Curiosity killed the cat,” she replied.
“Cats have nine lives.”
She paused. “Okay, okay..All I can tell you is that he stole a technique.”
“A technique…Huh..Alright…So do I get to meet Buscemi if I do it?” I asked.
“When you do it,” she returned.
“I’ll see what I can do…But remember, if you don’t-” she punctuated her statement with a sharp nod to the cage sitting on the podium.
“Wait. You, yourself, told me this isn’t real. So how do I know anything will happen to me if I don’t?” I asked.
“It’s real enough..Hold out your arm.”
“I’m not carrying,” I said.
“Your body part, not your gun,” she said, sighing.
“What? Yeah right. After you just cut off your own fingers? I don’t think so,” I said, clenching both fists.
“Stop being such a wimp,” she commanded. “Look.” She held up both hands. “I don’t have anything. Now, here,” she said, grabbing for my right arm. “How long have you had this mole?” she asked, looking at the mole on my right wrist.
“I don’t know. As long as I can remember,” I answered.
She put her thumb on it and gently pressed for 2 seconds. When she removed her hand the mole was gone.
“Impressive,” I said. “I’ve been wanting to get that thing removed for years, but my insurance refuses to cover it..Thanks.”
“Sure..Just remember,” she said menacingly.
I looked down at my missing mole. While staring at the empty skin my vision twitched and I was looking at a plate of food. Eggs, bacon, toast, and parsley were organized to look like a face on my plate. After I ate the ears with the eyes, I put my fork down and looked at the mole I’d had on my wrist since birth. It was gone. Just then, a middle-aged woman wearing a serious amount of red lipstick walked up.
“How’re you doing over here, sugar?” she asked.
“Uh..Fine, fine. What happened to I..ris?” I asked, losing steam as I saw the woman’s name tag read, ‘Iris’.
“What happened to what?” the woman wearing an ‘Iris’ nametag asked.
“What happened to, uh…” I started, looking down to see if my mole was still missing. Sure was. “..the bathroom-I mean, where’s the bathroom?”
“Right back there. To the left,” she said, pointing to the back of the restaurant.
I pushed my chair back and stood as the updated Iris went to the next table. I entered the restroom and splashed cold water onto my face. I looked at my dripping face in the mirror then took a couple of paper towels from the dispenser to dry it off. Once my face was dry, I walked back to my table. I picked up the bacon from my plate and put it into my mouth as I pulled a folded 20 dollar bill from my pocket. I put the bill on the table then left the restaurant chewing the bacon.
“Hey,” someone called to me.
I didn’t pay attention. I just continued walking until I found a low wall that looked like a good sitting spot. I sat and pulled out a pack of rolling tobacco to roll up a cigarette. I shifted it to a spliff by sprinkling some marijuana into it. The first exhalation produced a broccoli cloud of smoke and a light lung tickle that spread to my fingertips. After my third drag, I pulled out the piece of paper with my brother’s address. I read the letters and numbers, applying them to memory.
I extinguished the spliff and started walking in the direction of West Broadway and Walker. Along the way I passed a corner store. An old man was sitting on a stack of crates out front. He was staring at his hands. When I first noticed this from across the street, I slowed my pace to casually watch the old man. The entire time he was in my window of vision he made no movement. He seemed to be mesmerized by the fact he owned a pair of hands.
I turned down Walker Street and came across a locale matching the address my employer claimed was my brother’s. It was a pretty typical slim brick building of about eight stories. It had the impression of an upper middle class residence. So I assumed I’d be in the proximity of a few boy scouts.
I made a quick swing by the building’s front door. It was locked. I noticed a small restaurant next door, so I walked into it. The person behind the counter didn’t notice as I went to the back of the restaurant. I passed the bathroom and entered the kitchen. There were a couple of cooks making conversation as they leaned against the preparation table in the middle of the room. The one facing the opposite direction to me was large enough to block his coworker’s view, so I slid to the sidelines and slipped out the back door. It led to a small area separated from a large courtyard by a wrought iron fence. The fence was about 7 feet high.
I climbed onto a trashcan and hoisted myself over the fence. I tried to maneuver with stealth but was only able to get by with an awkward performance. Regardless, I checked the back door to my brother’s building, found it unlocked, and entered without being seen.
As I entered, a person unlocking their mailbox stood about 20 feet from me. I was able to dart into the stairwell before they looked my way. Double-stepping the stairs as quietly as I could, I slowed when I’d made it up a couple of flights.
I was a bit nervous. The logistics of the mission were weighing heavy. My breath started to shallow and my palms started to sweat. I thought about my options. They were shit so I took a deep breath, closed my eyes, found my happy place, got a boner and my appetite back, then continued climbing the stairs.
I opened the door to the 10th floor and crept to apartment number 8. I pulled a spherified cube from my back pocket, pressed a membraned-button on the bottom, and set it on the floor next to my brother’s door. When the device was activated, it emitted a combination of white noise/ultrasonic sound vibrations to create a mind-numbing hypersonic effect. As the issuance of activity from the device increased, I pulled out my lock picking kit and got to work. I was inside in less than 20 seconds.
I took a look around. I did so with caution ‘cause I didn’t know who would be in the flat. It was the middle of the afternoon on a weekday. So I assumed my brother wouldn’t be there. But I didn’t know if he had a girlfriend or flatmates.
It didn’t seem anyone was there, so I relaxed. In investigating, I found the place to be kind of empty. It had a very minimalistic decor.
The entryway had dark-wood flooring and a shelf set into the wall. Above the shelf was a window. Through the window I could see 2 x 4s of wood sandwiching cream colored insulation.
“Hm,” I said to myself. “That’s..original.”
I passed the kitchen’s entrance and walked into the living room. As I went deeper into the apartment, I noticed the floor changed color. At the entrance it was a deep brown color while further into the flat it was a shallow brown color. The process was so gradual it could’ve been overlooked. I thought it might’ve been an effect of the sunlight coming through the window, but couldn’t say for sure. So I decided to crouch down and inspect the change. Subtleties are the backbone of life. The difference between North and South Korea. Between H and HCl. Between a potato and a potatoe.
I crouched to the floor and put a section of its wood into shadow with my hands. I looked at it closely and committed the color of the shadowed wood to memory. Then I stood up to walk to the entryway and repeat the process.
“Aha,” I mildly exclaimed, standing. There was a difference in color. Slight but obvious.
I continued looking around the flat. The living room furniture was basic. Other than a leather couch, a standard wooden-chair with cushion, and a slim coffee table, there was a plant stand with vines spilling from its sides. And a rug covered 20% of the large room.
Another book shelf and a set of speakers had been mounted into the walls. The only art or otherwise hanging from the wall was a framed blueprint of a building. On examination I found it to be a 7 story apartment building with a date at the bottom that read, ‘April 29th, 1982.’
“Oh. That’s tomorrow,” I said, pulling out my cell phone to look at the date. “And shit, I think that’s Boregard’s birthday.” I cocked my head in thought.
After re-looking at the painting, I realized it was a blueprint for my brother’s building.
“Huh,” I said.
I walked to the living room’s bookshelf. It had three shelves while the one in the entryway only had one. I looked through all the books before taking a Thai cookbook called, “A Taste of Thai.”
“Hmmm,” I said while walking to the couch. My head was down and my eyes were drooling as I flipped through the book’s pages. They were filled with delicious looking food. I sat on the couch, noticed its high quality, and continued flipping. I stopped when coming to a recipe for banana pancakes.
As I came to the end of the recipe, I heard keys rattling in the front door’s lock. My eyes stayed focused on the product of a banana leaf, a few flattened bananas, butter, and some grated coconut. I heard footsteps walking my way.
“Who the fuck are you?” someone called to me.
I looked up. My brother wore a facial expression that I hadn’t seen since I peed on his bed in middle school. It was a combination of confusion, disgust, and whirlwind ass-whupping preparation.
“-Holy shit..Cornelius,” he said, quickly walking over to me.
“How the hell are you?..Shit. I thought you were dead.”
“An Indonesian embassy called mom and dad a few years ago and told them you were killed in a bar fight,” he explained while powerfully shaking my hand.
“Yeah, well..I pulled through,” I said.
“We tried to have your body sent back, but there was some problem with the delivery. So we never got it..I guess this explains why,” he said, motioning to my presence.
“Yep. This would do it.”
“Why didn’t you tell any of us you were still alive?” he asked. “My god. I can’t believe it..I haven’t talked to you in ages.” He grabbed my shoulders, then closed in to give me a slap on the back.
“It’s kind of difficult to explain,” I said as he pulled away.
“Well, where’re you living? What’re you doing?” he asked rapidly.
“Uh. I live in Lysteria and…I’m a hitman,” I answered.
“A hitman? Really?..As in an assassin?”
“Yes. That’s correct.”
“A hitman, huh..How many people have you killed?” he asked with a furrowed brow.
“About a baker’s dozen.”
“Really?..Wow,” he said, sitting on the arm of the couch. “Thirteen…Who do you work for? Who assigns you these jobs?” he asked, turning to me.
I sat down. “Generally the U.X. government. But I’ve been doing some free-lance work lately.”
“The government..CIA?” he asked, burrowing further into his furrowed brow.
“No, no. The CIA is so hindered by bureaucracy it takes forever to do anything. And there’re a lot of mouths to feed in the process of performing a hit,” I said. “That’s why my position was created.”
“Mmmhm. Which is what?”
“I operate under a special sector of the secret service that doesn’t exist on paper. I have no title and I answer only to the very top. Verbally,” I disclosed.
“Who’s at the top? The president?” Boregard asked with a tone that told me he suspected other parties were at play.
“Haha,” I sarcastically laughed. “No,” I said, shaking my head.
“Well, long-story-short, it’s a small group of politicians and otherwise who own the patent on oil and bought up the majority of shares on several corporate conglomerations,” I revealed.
“The patent on oil? What do you mean?” he asked.
“Hhh,” I half-laughed, half-exhaled. “..About 40 years ago a research company called RD Corp developed a way to produce oil from not much more than water and biowaste. It’s a hell of a lot cheaper and easier than either buying oil from foreign economies or drilling for oil in foreign countries. So now that’s where we get our Texan tornado juice,” I said with a small emphasis on the second ‘and’.
“Hm. Do you know what the production process involves?” he asked.
“No, not really. I haven’t exactly been given a powerpoint presentation.”
“I see..So if this is true, then why all the focus on global oil exploits?” he asked with a raised eyebrow. “It seems to come up pretty often.”
“Think about this. How are these oil companies supposed to jack up the price in times of scarcity if there will never be anything close to what could be considered a shortage of water or waste?” I said.
“Actually water is a very limited resource, and it’s becoming more and more difficult to find decent water,” he told me. “Countries like Egypt and Sudan are on the brink of war and the Palestinian region is going to get hotter than ever pretty soon.”
“Hahaha. Thanks, Reading Rainbow,” I said, laughing and slapping Boregard’s knee. “But Boregard, you’re thinking clean, fresh water. I may not know details, but I do know that polluted water isn’t a problem processing..It’d prob’ly make for a better candidate, actually. And the process isn’t picky about saltwater either..Shit. There’s a whole world of salty and, or polluted water out there. Shouldn’t be a problem.”
“Hmmm. I see,” he said, squinting his eyes. “But how is it possible for these people to conduct such a massive orchestra of deceit? The oil situation is monopolizing the media.”
“Well, like I said before, the people holding the oil patent have become majority shareholders for several corporate conglomerations. Including a giant media conglomeration that makes up more than 85% of the news outlets in the country. And for those outlets outside of their trickle-effect-control, money talks and has the ability to either make others shut up or sing the same tune,” I explained.
“Hm-. That’s bullshit. Fucking monopolies. Talk about a conflict of interest,” he said with a shaking head. “Why don’t you do something with this information?” he asked, looking at my eyes.
“Like what? Start a petition,” I snorted.
“I don’t know..Take it to public access..Or foreign news agencies,” he said.
“To what end? I don’t think you understand how much power these people wield. We’re talking mega multi-national businesses and damn near the whole of the U.X. government. If anything happened it would only be because they let it..Maybe if you would’ve burned your bra thirty years ago something could’ve been accomplished. But now it’s too late. It’s set, bro. Just sit back, relax, and thank your lucky stars you don’t live in North Korea.”
“You said almost all of the U.X. government is under these people’s control. How is that?”
“Money. Huge, disgustingly huge, amounts of money,” I said, rolling my eyes back. “And the government consists of people. People can be bought..Don’t get me wrong, there’re definitely some Dudley Do-Rights with more important things than money on the mind. But for the most part the pampering package on a five star cruise in the Caribbean opens just about all of those old windbags’ ears.”
“I would hope our government officials aren’t that superficial,” he said with a face like he’d just inhaled expired milk.
“You’d be surprised,” I said with a sigh. “Shit, the elected officials are loyal from the ground floor. Where do you think they get their campaign money?..The people in charge always positively influence the team player’s funding and negatively influence the ones unwilling to play ball. And sadly enough, there’s a direct correlation between electoral ad campaigns and numbers at the poll..U.X. citizens, I’m sorry to say, are easily influenced.”
“Ugh,” he said, revolted. “That’s horrible…How do you know all this? Are these just theories or do you know what you’ve told me for a fact?”
“Yep. Straight from the horse’s mouth..You mingle at the right cocktail parties and you hear some pretty interesting stuff.”
“We’ve got to do something. I’m going to contact my friend. She’s what you might call an activist so she’ll have some ideas. Will you testify?” he asked.
“What? Fuck no,” I exclaimed. “What are you talking about? I already told you this is out of our hands. There’s nothing-”
“How can you be so apathetic? Of course there’s something that can be done. There’s-”
“Bor’g’rd, Bor’g’rd, Bor’g’rd, listen to me. There’s nothing you can do..Don’t worry about it, these people-”
“Don’t worry about it? Fuck you.”
“How can you just sit on this information and do nothing about it?” he asked, with a rising temper.
“Because I know better.”
He paused then said, “Let’s see. Clementine will have some connections that…” He trailed off into a self-contained mumble.
“Bo, if you keep it up you’ll be targeted,” I said.
“Targeted? What do you mean?”
“Well first they’ll destroy your life and your credibility. Then if you persist with any notable affect they’ll kill you,” I told him.
“Kill me?” he asked.
“Yeah. Definitely,” I said.
“Is that who you kill? Freedom fighters?” he asked angrily.
“No, not really. I mostly kill foreign competitors and researchers who develop alternate fuel sources..And general enemies of the state,” I admitted.
He sat staring at the coffee table in front of him. He opened his mouth and inhaled as if he was about to say something. But he didn’t. Just then a phone in the kitchen rang with the classic brass bell tone.
“Hold on,” he mumbled, and walked into the next room.
“Hello,” I heard. “Oh, hey darling. How are you? How’s Kroton?...Yeah?...Good. Are you seeing all the...” Boregard’s voice trailed off as I assumed he was going further into the kitchen. I couldn’t be sure ‘cause I couldn’t see him.
I took the Thai cook book from the table. It was still opened to the banana pancake page. Feeling finished with that, I began looking through the other pages. I found one with a recipe for coconut cake. “Alright…Yeah,” I heard my brother say. “I love you…Alright. Bye.” I heard him hang up the phone, then his footsteps coming closer. I looked up to see that his face was positive.
Before I could ask him who he was talking to, he asked me, “So, Cornelius, how did you get this job? Last I knew you were teaching English in Taiwan..Seems like a pretty big leap to me.”
“Yeah, I would agree. Kind of a long story,” I said with an exhale.
He continued looking at me with no sign of objection or will to change the subject.
“Alright,” I said. “I’ll try to keep it short..So an Indonesian embassy called mom and dad and told ‘em I was dead, right?” I asked.
“Yeah, that’s what they said. But I couldn’t believe that because you emailed me a few days before and you never mentioned Indonesia.”
“Well, I did go to Indonesia. It was really spontaneous. Some of my fellow teachers and I had a few days off work and we’d heard about the full moon parties in Bali. Tickets were cheap, so we decided to go. I didn’t tell anyone ‘cause we decided, like, the day before leaving.”
“Uhuh,” he said.
“So I’m at this full moon party. And we meet a group of French people. Sooner or later we head to some bar. We’re having a good time. You know, just pounding drinks.” I examplified with a loose hand-gesture. “One thing leads to another and I end up kissing one of the guys’ girlfriend,” I admitted.
“Whoa,” Boregard said.
“So the boyfriend’s sitting on the other side of the table at the time, talkin’ to someone. He notices me kissing his girlfriend, circles behind me and grabs my arm to pull me up. He starts giving me shit, so I’m leaning on him trying to pave things over by yelling into his ear like a drunken bastard..You know ‘Hey, man. I’’s cool. I’’s cool.’,” I said with my best ‘drunk voice’. “He wasn’t really into it, so he starts pushing me saying, ‘Fuck you. Fuck you,’ or whatever. He starts pushin’ me pretty hard so I try a defensive move and take him to the ground. Whoa. He got fuckin’ pissed..I was a little smaller than him. And I was kissing his girlfriend. So I guess a lot of pride was at stake. He scrambles up and starts circling me, throwing punches. I’m blockin’ ‘em pretty well. It’s a little sloppy, but he didn’t land any on my face. Shit. If that would’ve happened I’d’ve been out for the count. After a few deflections, I realized he wasn’t ready to let up. And with each block he was getting more and more pissed off. So I started trying to do a wrist grab-”
“Nobody in the bar was breaking it up? His friends? The bartender?” Boregard asked.
“Nah. Not really,” I said.
“That’s strange. I would think someone would try to do something.”
“It was a full moon party in Bali, so that could’ve factored in..And also, it turned out to be setup.”
“Setup? By who?” Boregard asked.
“One of the organizations I work for.”
“How many organizations do you work for?”
“I’m not sure.”
“Okay..So keep going with the fight. What happened?”
“Right. So, I try grabbing his wrist. After a couple tries I lock it and start putting pressure on it, asking him, ‘You done? You done?’ He answers by trying to kick me so I broke it.”
“Yeah,” I said. “And hey, I’m sorry. I know I’m an asshole. I know it was my fault. I was in the wrong. He was just trying to protect his woman or whatever. But when push comes to shove people’s wrists get broken. Ya know?” I asked, looking for justification.
“Yeah, I guess so. You’ve got to protect yourself,” he agreed.
“After I broke his wrist, the guy went apey. Flailing his good arm all over the place. Shouting. Just really loosing it. He grabs a beer bottle from the table and does the classic table break. He starts waving this thing at me, jabbing. Trying to see if he’s got the balls to stab me. Turns out he probably does, so he lunges at me. I dodge and try to trip him, but only make him stumble. He turns around and starts coming back slowly, sizing me up. When he gets near enough I grab one of those cork beverage coasters from a nearby table and plant it on the broken bottle he’s holding. Then I do a spinning high kick and land it on his face. With the spin I lose my balance and crash to the floor.”
“Hh. Those hapkido classes you were taking came in handy I suppose,” Boregard said.
“Yeah. Definitely. And luckily this guy was slow as hell..The drinks loosened me up pretty well too...So anyway when I hit the floor I lose consciousness. I don’t know if I hit something on the way down or just the floor, but I come to a couple minutes later and a few people are standing around me. Someone helps me sit up. And dude, I was fucking wrecked. I couldn’t focus on anything. Everything was a blurry whirl of movement, so I vomited.”
“After my cleanse I could feel myself being hauled up. But I think people tried stopping whoever was carrying me. There was some commotion so the person holding me pulled a gun.”
“Holy shit. Really?” Boregard exclaimed with elevated eyebrows. “Man, that’s intense.”
“And I’m glad he did. Otherwise I would’ve been fucked.”
“Because the guy I was fighting died,” I told him.
“Well, when I kicked him he came down pretty hard. His temple hit the corner of a table and that was that,” I said, pointing to the upper side of my head.
“Oooo.” Boregard made a face that looked like he was going to whistle angrily.
“So thankfully, this guy carrying me got me outta there pretty quickly. I was pretty fucked up so I don’t remember how long it took or how we got there, but I ended up on a private boat.”
“Were you the only two people on the boat or were there more?”
“No. Some other guy was already on it. While this other guy started sorting us to make way, the first guy was asking me just shitloads of questions. Thankfully I sobered up pretty quick..It was really strange though. Some of the questions were pretty personal, but I was spillin’ it all. Pouring myself.”
“I think he may’ve slipped me something because I’m not usually that forthcoming with information about myself. Especially with strangers..I guess it could’ve been the situation. Adrenaline and booze and confusion could’ve loosened my tongue. I don’t know,” I said.
“Yeah, I don’t know either.”
“Even at the time I thought his method was a little off.”
“Well, it was the way he was asking questions. He was asking ‘em like he already knew the answer he was just going through some sort of formality. Like he wasn’t really interested, he was just trying to pretend to be. It wasn’t an organic conversation at all, but there was a mild attempt..And some of his questions were so specific he would’ve had to already know something about me to have gotten to that point. And I’m not sure but it seemed like he was reading something from his lap. Like he had a list of questions he was going through. Or maybe he was just making sure he had a boner,” I joked.
“Ha. Yeah, maybe..What kind of questions was he asking you?”
“Oh, you know, stuff like where I was from, how long I’d done this and that, family, old girlfriends and friends, hobbies, goals. That sort of shit. Pretty much all the stuff that defines a person.”
“So after about two hours of this question session and a cruise through the open ocean, he tells me they’d been watching me for a while and that they setup the fight.”
“Really?” he asked like he’d been told swimming causes wrinkles.
“What did he mean by watching you?”
“He said my emails and phone calls had been monitored. Bank records checked. And I think he said I’d been physically followed for a while too.”
“I guess to see if I was a good candidate for the job,” I answered.
“Uhuh. And I suppose you were.”
“I suppose so.”
“What makes you a good candidate?” he asked.
“I don’t really know. They never told me why they chose me specifically,” I said.
“Hm..So you said they set up the fight? I thought it was your fault.”
“Yeah, I thought so too. I’m not really sure how that unfolded,” I said, frowning. “Like I mentioned before, I was in a weird state. I was very forthcoming with information, but not very inquisitive. I just kind of accepted everything that was told to me without looking for a more in depth answer. Very Christian,” I smiled. “But I don’t know how they could’ve possibly set it up. Either way, the guy said it was a sort of test.”
“A test? Does it prove you can murder people by winning a bar fight?”
“Beats me..But he told me it was even setup so the guy died.”
“Really? Why? How?”
“He said he switched my and his identities, so it looked like I’d been the one who died.”
“How? By slipping your wallet into the guy’s pocket?” he asked.
“No, I don’t think so. I later found out that they had insiders on the local police force. So I think they got ‘em to doctor some data.”
“Of course,” Boregard said, shaking his head and rolling his eyes. “But why would they want it to look like you’re dead?”
“So they could give me this,” I said, pulling out my wallet. I pulled a card from the wallet and handed it to him. The plastic card showed a Jolly Roger which would regularly/independently change to an identification card. The identity was Karl Burk’s. It had vital statistics, a 3-D photo of me, and the words, ‘Department of the Part I Mint’.
Boregard looked at it with curious eyes and hands. “What is this?” he asked.
“It’s my get out of jail free card. All I have to do is give that to any authoritative figure in the world and it will change into the most appropriate document for that situation.”
“I’m not sure I understand.”
“You notice how the texture is a little grittier than your average plastic?”
“Yeah, I suppose so,” he said, feeling the card between his fingers.
“The material’s called divinyl. It’s kind of a mix between AI, Wikipedia, and silly puddy. It can not only change the information presented, but also the consistency and shape of the document. Anything from say..a passport to a..diploma to a...season pass to Disneyworld..This thing fucking rocks,” I said, pointing to it.
“Huh,” he said, looking at it.
“Shit. I’ve gone backstage for so many shows with this beauty..Aah. We’ve had some good times,” I said, reminiscing.
“Yeah, I’ll bet..When did they give this to you?”
“Right. So our boat’d been cruising for some time. A couple hours at least. We start slowing down and come to a stop in the middle of the gulf. I think there may’ve been an island about a mile away. I don’t know though..All of a sudden I hear this splashing sound coming from close to the boat. I look over the boat’s edge and there’s a square hole opening in the water. It was pretty weird.”
“Yeah,” he agreed.
“So the driver drives the boat into this hole and flips on the blinders. It was really strange ‘cause even with the blinders on you couldn’t see anything other than a patch of water a couple feet in front of the boat. It was like the surrounding walls absorbed the light or something. I couldn’t even see if there were walls at all,” I explained.
“Huh,” Boregard said again.
“So we raced through the passageway for probably close to half an hour. No sign of anything. No landmarks. Nothing. Just tunnel vision of a spot of water..Then, finally, the void leads into a room with a semicircular moat around some metallic-disk beach-thing.”
I continued. “So we pull around the disk and dock with a platform on the beach’s edge. We get out and they show me around this futuristic type facility..The whole nine yards. Ya know, blinking lights. Hand print recognition pads at the doors. Armed security guards with faceless helmets..It really reminded me of that movie ‘The Incredibles’. You ever see that movie?” I asked, raising the pitch of my voice.
“Yeah..It was good”
“Totally. You remember the bad guy’s secret lair?”
“It really reminded me of that. In the middle of the tropics. All tricked out. Paradise meets para-tech,” I said.
“Why was it there?..In Indonesia?”
“It was a kind of base of operations for the South Pacific. There’s a lot of activity over there. And there’re plenty of uninhabited islands, so they bought one.”
“What kind of activity?”
“I don’t know specifically. But probably stuff like trying to install puppet democracies. Suppress public uprisings. Keep phony oil fields running smoothly. That type of thing.”
“And why did they bring you there?”
“It was a handy place to intercept me. And I guess they wanted to wow me with all their shiny toys..Which I was.”
“Oh yeah? What kind of toys did they have?” he asked, interest thick on his voice.
“Hmm. Let’s see..Oh. One thing that was pretty cool was this face mask that had the size, heft, and overall look of one of those air filtering masks. The ones Asia was having a shit-fit over when SARS was around..You know the ones I mean?”
“Yeah,” he said, nodding.
“Well, they had something that looked like that that could filter water into breathable air..You’d just put it on and start breathing.”
“Really?” he asked, flabbergasted. “How does it work?”
“I’m not sure. Something about modified hydrogen bonds..They last for three days before starting to sputter. I had to push one to the limit once. A couple years ago I waited in this dude’s grimy fountain for three days. Shitting and pissing in the already dirty water I had to drink.”
“Not too pleasant. Got the job done though.”
“Congratulations,” he said, sarcastically.
“..Oh. Another cool gadget they showed me was an invisibility suit,” I said.
“Oh yeah? How did that work?”
“It was made from metamaterial.”
“Metamaterial? What’s that?”
“It’s a general name given to a group of materials which’ve been designed with very specific composition coordinates.”
“Composition coordinates? What do you mean?”
“I don’t know how to explain it exactly. But basically metamaterial is defined by how it’s composed, not what it’s composed from..So its properties are specified by the shape its molecular compounds take, not what the compounds consist of.”
“Interesting. But how does that make it invisible?”
“Well the way the material is structured, light is unusually affected by it. It can bend light around it. Or bend light into it..I’m not 100% on the physics.”
“Apparently it can maneuver light so well, you can look at things incredibly microscopic. Like DNA. Or incredibly telescopic. Like light at the farthest reaches of our universe. Thirteen billion light years from the beginning of our time and space.”
“Our. Right,” he said, lowering his head in thought.
“But that’s beside the point. The invisibility suit is still in the testing phase. It should be fully operational soon though..Can’t wait to get my hands on that baby,” I said, rubbing my hands together. “My job’ll be like eating spaghetti for breakfast.”
“Spaghetti for breakfast. I don’t-”
“Oh, that reminds me..Bo, there’s something I need to fill you in on.”
“Oh? What’s that?”
“See that case over there,” I said, nodding to a small black case that was leaning against the wall under the room’s window. It could’ve been mistaken for a leather-bound book.
“Yeah,” he said, once he saw it.
“Well..It contains a syringe filled with a substance that’ll stop your heart in less than a minute. The beauty is, the substance has a half-life of twelve and a half minutes so once it leaves the vacuum-sealed syringe it’s in, it’ll be completely undetectable within three hours,” I said with a stare.
“Interesting. Why do you have it?
“‘Cause I was sent here to kill you, bro.”
“Kill me,” he said to himself as he stared at the plant in the corner of the room. “Why does the government want to have me killed?” he asked.
“HNo, no, no,” I laughed/said. “Remember how I told you I work for a few different people?”
“Uh. Yeah I guess so.”
“Well actually, I’ve been contracted twice for this job. Two different parties want you offed, brother.”
“Huh..Who’s contracted you?”
“Haha. I’m not sure I can tell you that..Unless I decide to kill you. Then it wouldn’t matter.”
“Aha. So you haven’t decided to kill me?”
“No. Not yet. But memories of our childhood keep popping into my mind and I’m definitely tempted.”
“I can imagine why,” he smiled.
“Yeah.” I returned the smile. “But I guess it won’t matter if I tell you..So I was first assigned to you by my girlfriend’s father’s friend.”
“Your girlfriend’s father’s friend? Why does your girlfriend’s father’s friend want me killed?”
“Because my girlfriend’s father’s friend is a shady businessman who says your chivalry is messing up one of his building sites on the lower east side.”
“Oh yeah? Which site is that?” he asked.
“No idea. He just said you’re hitting him with some historic landmark bullshit.”
“Oh, right right right. Well the building he wants to demolish was designed by Edgar G. Garrison in the early twentieth century.”
“Who’s Edgar Garrison?”
“He was an architect who pioneered the Joint-Pivot System.”
“Hm. Cool...Holy shit, get this. The second contract on you was put out by Steve Buscemi..Well, supposedly. I never actually saw him.”
“Really? Is that right? Steve Buscemi?”
“Yeah. An assistant of his approached me,” I said.
“Aha. Why does Steve Buscemi want me killed?” Boregard asked with widening eyes?
“Uh, I don’t really know details. The assistant only said you took something from him..A technique, I think.”
“Ah,” he said. He stopped to think for a minute then said, “About a year ago I was commissioned to design a house for Buscemi.”
“Alright. Nicely done,” I said.
“Thanks..So near the end of the project he started moving things into the house. It was basically complete, we just had to put a few finishing touches on it.”
He continued, “It was the last day of production. I was walking from the living room to the bedroom, making sure all the baseboards were properly fastened to the wall and I spotted a scrap of paper on the floor. I picked it up and saw the words ‘right, left, up, up, down, left, center’ written on it.”
“Sounds like a video game cheat code or something.”
“Yeah. Exactly..So after studying it for a minute I decided to copy the directions down. I’m not sure why. I guess the presentation really caught my attention. Even though the material felt like paper, the edges were frayed like cloth and the print was really bizarre. When I shifted its position the black ink would alternate to a shade of blinding white,” he said. “At first I thought it was just the ink catching the light of the room, but realized that wasn’t the case after seeing it didn’t matter which direction I held the piece.”
“So I copied the words down and put the paper back where I’d found it. I finished my final check of the house without problems then went to have a late lunch. While I was eating I couldn’t help thinking about the directions. I kept looking at the paper I’d copied them down to and eventually, for some reason, shifted my eyes in the code’s directions. When I did that there was a flash of bright white light and the man eating a couple of tables in front of me changed into Mario from the Mario Brothers,” Boregard said softly.
“What? No shit. Why? How?”
“I guess I was relating the directions to some sort of video game code. Like you said. And Super Mario Brothers was on my mind. So..”
“Was he all cartoony? Or was he realistic?”
“He was cartoony. It really freaked everybody out. Let alone me,” he said.
“Shit. I can imagine”
“I figured the eye-movement code might be tied to the transformation, so I looked at the man then moved my eyes in the same sequence, trying to remember what he had looked like..It worked. Once I’d done the sequence he turned back..I just hope I mentally pictured how he really looked.”
“Yeaah,” I said slowly.
“Looking back on it, I think I remembered him a little thinner.”
“Oh. Well hey, everybody wins. Sweet,” I said.
“Yeah. After I turned him back I was pretty shaken up so I threw some money on the table and got the hell out of there..I think everyone in the place did the same thing.”
“Right. I can see why. That’s a pretty absurd circumstance.”
“Indeed. I went straight home after that, trying to understand what’d happened. Once I got here I tried it on myself in the bathroom mirror a few times.”
“Oh yeah? How’d it go?”
“Well..It went well,” he said, tilting his head.
“Who’d you turn yourself into?”
“Oh, a few people. First my good friend, Victor. Then my girlfriend, Isabella.”
“I’ll bet that was weird..D’you get aroused?” I asked with a smile.
“Actually I did,” he admitted. “I was standing there looking at myself, or her, in the mirror and I couldn’t help but get a little wet..And, man, that is an odd sensation. Completely different from getting a boner.”
“Mmmhm. I can kind of imagine,” I said, trying to imagine.
“Then I turned myself into Stanley Kubrick. That was interesting because my mental picture of him is pretty old.”
“It was kind of offputting to look in the mirror and see such an old man,” he said.
“Yeah. Offputting. Sure.”
“Oh and get this. I was able to turn myself into a lion..That was pretty cool. I could really feel my resources expanding.”
“Your resources expanding? What does that mean?” I guessed. “You were getting a boner?”
“No, no,” he said. “I could feel my power growing.”
“Hah. That sounds cheesy as hell. Like some cartoon villain would say that..I can feel my powers growing,” I said with a raised and cupped hand.
“Yeaha. Right,” he said. “But it’s like my muscles were supercharged. Of course I was bigger. But it felt like my body had this significantly heightened stockpile of energy to draw from. All I did was walk around the apartment for an hour and a half flexing. Feeling my muscles. I had to change back before Isabella got home though..That would be a welcome surprise, huh?”
“Yeah, definitely..‘Oh don’t mind me, I’m just flexing my muscles.’” I said, loosely waving my hand.
“..Could you talk? Did you try?”
“No. Yes. I tried but not much more than I expected came out. And ah- Even though it was me producing and controlling the growl made, I got a heavy dose of the willies. The sound of a lion’s growl is very unnerving. Especially in close quarters.”
“Hoo yeah.” I got prickles on my neck with thinking about it. “Very guttural, eh?”
“Exactly..So after I discovered I could change humans’ forms I decided to put it to use,” he said.
“Well I figured the homeless situation here in the city is getting pretty rampant, so I thought I’d try to curb the numbers.”
“I didn’t want to tell them I could turn them into a different human because then everyone’d want to be Johnny Thunders or someone,” he said.
“He was a sexy bitch.”
“Yeah. So I told them that I could only change ‘em into animals.”
“Hahaha,” I laughed. “You just walked up to homeless people and told them you could change them into animals? What was their reaction?”
“Well not exactly. I asked them what their favorite animal was and whether or not they’d like to be changed into it. If they said yes, I told them I could do it for them. Some did. Some didn’t,” he told me.
“Do you think they understood what they were agreeing to?” I asked.
“I told them to run off if they were happy with the transformation. And if they weren’t, they should stick around and I’d turn them back..I changed quite a few people back because they were just confused. Most of the time they wanted to be retransformed into an animal.”
“Huh. That’s the weirdest brand of humanitarianism I’ve ever heard of. Help humans by turning them into animals. I guess it works. Cool”
“..But, Bo, what’re we gonna do about our situation?”
“What situation is that?”
“The one where either you’re killed or I face an eternity of imprisonment in a super-cramped cage by Steve Buscemi.”
“A super-cramped cage? What do you mean?” he asked.
“Don’t worry too much about it. But Mr. Buscemi is organizing some pretty serious shit if I don’t off you.”
“Serious shit, huh?..Yeah, I could see him getting ugly. Some of his roles definitely represent his real-life survivalist nature. He’ll won’t hesitate to stay afloat..Good guy though.”
“Yeah well, whatever..Hey maybe you could go into hiding or something with your cheat code there,” I suggested.
“Yeah. Yeah maybe..But what about you? Don’t I have to be dead for you to be in the clear of whatever Buscemi’s got in store for you?”
“Maybe you could change too,” he said.
“Hmm. That’s a thought,” I said, thinking. “I don’t know..Is it possible to change back?”
“Yeah. Absolutely. I changed forms several times, and I was always able to change back to my original self.”
“Riight,” I said slowly. “And I could do it myself, couldn’t I?..In the mirror?”
“Yep. You just have to memorize the directions.”
“What are they again?” I asked.
“Uh..Here. Let me write them down for you,” he said. He stood and walked to the kitchen. He returned to the living room, writing on a notepad. “Here you go.” He tore a page from the notepad and handed it to me.
“Thanks,” I said, taking the sheet to study it. “Right, left, up, up, down, left, center. Right, left, up, up, down, left, center. Right, left, up, up, down, left, center,” I repeated to myself, trying to memorize the directions. I’d decided to transform. And pockets weren’t possible with what I was going to change to. So I’d have to remember the directions if I wanted to reuse them.
“I’ve always thought it’d be cool to fly on my own,” I said. “I think I’ll change myself into a bird at first.”
“There you go. That seems like a good choice.”
“What about you? What’re you gonna do?”
“I don’t know. I’ve been batting around the idea of becoming a gangster rapper. I think that might be a pretty worthwhile experience,” he said.
“Yeah. I imagine the triumphant rise from the dead of Ol’ Dirty Bastard would be pretty good. Head over to his old stomping grounds in Brooklyn and see what turns up.”
“Hhh. I don’t know, Bo. You’re pretty square. Don’t get yourself into a situation you can’t handle,” I said with a tone between laughter and concern. “Just watch youhrselfhuu…But whatever you do, you’ve got to essentially cease to be Boregard Birch. I’m sure if he popped up once and again it wouldn’t be a problem. But remember, he’s being hunted. By more than one party. Just because I wasn’t up to the job doesn’t mean someone else won’t be. I wouldn’t recommend passivity.”
“Yeah. You’re right,” he said, staring at the floor. “You too though,” he said, looking up. “You’ve got to take care too.”
“Yeah. For sure..Anyway, I think the time is ripe. It’s heavy on my mind, so I better get to it,” I said, leaning forward in preparation to stand.
“Alright,” he said. “Sounds good…So a bird, eh. Yeah, that’ll be good.” He stood and held out his hand. “There probably won’t be much opportunity for this later.”
“Very true.” I matched his stand and took his hand, shaking it.
“Until next time,” he said.
“Yes, sir..I think we’ll figure this whole situation out.”
“So see you around, Boregard,” I said, hugging him. “A nice brotherly smother here.”
“Naturally,” he said. “We’ll meet again soon..Good to know you’re still alive.” I couldn’t see his face, but I could hear the smile on his voice.
I patted his back then released from the hug and walked to the bathroom that was next to the living room. I looked at my eyes in the mirror. After staring at them for a few seconds, I performed a right-left-up-up-down-left-center eye movement. I could feel my body tightening and lightening. A strong desire to flap my arms came over me.
Flight was awkward at first, but I quickly got the hang of it. I stared into the mirror, watching my bird-body hover. It was mesmerizing. I landed on a towel rack and continued looking at myself in the mirror for another couple of minutes. Satisfied, I flew out the door and into the living room. Boregard was staring at his hands. I flew to him and hung in the air by his head. I tried to say, ‘Happy birthday’, but all that came out was an ‘Eeeeeaa.’ Boregard raised his head.
“Yeah. This’ll be interesting,” I thought to myself. I circled him once then flew out the open window. The air was warm and the moon was bright. Good conditions for my flight to Lysteria.