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Monday, May 31, 2010

Untold Stories

All I could think of was flipping, over and over in slow motion. There were suddenly a dozen buzzing voices with just one blurry face.

My last normal thought had been of a mysterious-looking woman in my psyche's rearview mirror with long, wavy hair, making her way across the lawn. My eyes must have wandered just long enough to take my focus off where I was riding.

Another female voice seemed to be attached to the face in front of me. "Are you dead or not?" she asked.

I looked at this face containing the soft but purposeful voice, and mustered a few syllables to demonstrate my consciousness, which at the moment was highly overstated. "Send a— to move... and hers," which I think was supposed to mean, "Get a physician... get me up..." followed by now omnipresent thoughts of the wavy woman. I did all I could to hold my hand up to shade the blinding sun, and for some reason this personified voice grabbed my hand and started shaking it back and forth. She mumbled something about my being an imbecile, which I thought was rather odd considering I had absorbed the brunt of the punishment. So I guess no sympathy from that corner.

And then came a masculine voice. I squinted and saw a gentleman bringing me a wheelchair, but then he wouldn't get out of it, and if I had enough energy then I would've said, "What are you doing in my wheelchair? I need it more than you." But instead, I couldn't make my mouth say what I wanted it to. There was a strange sensation that my intentions were not getting across. I tried motioning, but had little mobility and less strength. The man bringing me my wheelchair kept examining me while talking to the others, but he didn't vacate the chair. I was vacillating between being perturbed at him and managing the sharp twinges in my neck.

Would I ever see the wavy woman again? Was she getting away while I lie motionless baking in the afternoon sun? What cruel twist of fate would dance a dream in front of me one moment to but yank it away and taunt me the next? The dichotomies of life are the killers, I thought to myself. Nobody disagreed with me, locked in my cocoon. Then everyone went away. They had to go somewhere, but I couldn't go. I knew they'd be back, because the park would be closing before long.

In one version, I flip over the handle bars and the earth comes up to greet me. This is replayed often. In another version, a hairy beast grabs my bike and throws me to the ground, leaving me for dead. I can't stop the scene from unwinding. My mind races, but it can't get away. The repetition lends itself to full memorization of every detail, from every angle. I soon become a figment of my own imagination.

"You OK?" Now everybody has robes and gowns on. They must've gone away to change their clothes. "Huh?" What do they mean, am I OK? When are they gonna move me — oh, wait, I'm not at the park any more. This is a rather strange dream.

A woman with long, wavy hair is covered by a mask, and I have a mask too, but it's a bigger mask. This isn't right. I have to leave. But I'm not going anywhere. I've been strapped down and gagged. Meanwhile, a bear cub rides around the table on my bike. It looks in good shape. At least all is not lost.

“Sir, you've fallen and sustained significant injuries,” the woman relays. “Get some rest.” And then it was hazy again.

When I awoke, more people were standing around me. They looked at me like they knew me, half-smiling and half-pensive. A woman who looked sad approached me. “It's Gaston, right?” she asked.

“Uhh... I don't know what you mean...” was all I could think of.

The woman came a little closer and leaned over. “You said your name was Gaston after you fell off the bike. I’m Marcelle,” and she winked. And she waited for some validation of her suspicions.

I just stared. I looked around for anyone who was offering clues. However, it was a cadre of empty faces. They were all in this together. It was then I figured that it was me against them. I had nothing to offer them, and they had even less to offer me.

“I'm sorry,” I said. “I can't tell you what my name is.” And that was all I said. Minutes passed, but one by one they filed out, in a sorrowful march for the destitute. Heads hung low, casting long, dark shadows. I wondered where they were going. I wondered where they had just been. Everything still had a mysterious odor. Over the intercom, a soft but purposeful voice called out, “Doctor Jekyll to the critical ward.” Only later was I to realize that there was no intercom.

* * * * * * * *

“The gig is up. You heard me, the gig is most assuredly up.” No one moved for what seemed like eight seconds. Gunther, who had been staring at the ground trying to stay inconspicuous, looked up and asked sheepishly, “Just out of curiosity, what exactly can I infer from your declaration of the gig being up? And then later if there’s still time for some idle chit-chat, you could perchance enlighten us as to what all comprises a gig, in your humble lexicon, of course.” Olaf was not impressed. His eyes illuminated like a stoplight that had had one too many, and thick plumes of purple smoke began emanating from his flaring nostrils. “I absolutely hate when I get these sinus infections,” he bellowed. “OK, you — the one who thinks he’s on vaudeville — put down your walking stick and get over here.”

“The name’s P.J., sir,” he intoned.

“Is that capitalized or not?” Olaf inquired.

“No capitalization required, sir.”

“You’re lucky, because I’m a firm believer in capital punishment. It would appear that this is your lucky day.” He motioned for P.J. to stand over by the rest of them.

Meanwhile, Igor was remembering his previous breath like it was just yesterday. “Oh yeah, I forgot about you,” Olaf sarcastically confessed. And he eased up on Igor’s throat enough to let through tiny wisps of oxygen, about one molecule at a time.

“You don’t think I know the match was fixed? Gunther, you were duped.” Gunther, thereby having been duped, dropped his jaw melodramatically for effect. “No way.” “Yep. Tell ‘em, Igor. Oh, you can’t talk, can you? Hmm. That could be a problem...”

Olaf towered over the rest of them. His aura of supreme dominance resonated like a radio station on steroids. “You see, P.J. here was being fed messages via a highly integrated signal containing various Old and New Testament scripture. We at first became suspicious when his knight captured three successive pawns in classic Tiberian strategy. But the clincher when we finally intercepted the messages six moves prior to checkmate came with the striking blow of 1 Peter 2:25: ‘For ye were as sheep going astray, but are now returned unto the shepherd and bishop of your souls,’ which was curiously followed by a bishop’s advance to the left flank, limiting the king to only two possible moves. Yes, it’s true, and—”

A shot rang out from the stolid air, catching Olaf in his only Achilles heel — his Achilles heel. This sent him spinning to the floor, and Igor was released from his grasp.

Ursula sprang down from the rafters with technotronic highbeam maple-powered phaser — complete with gamma ray photon equalizer — in hand, and stood in front of Olaf, who was lying in the fetal position and chanting passages from the Apocrypha.

“So… we’re not so smart any more, are we?” She pointed her weapon at his forehead. “I’ll give you eleven seconds to reveal to me the location of your hideout,” she said.

“Only eleven seconds? I can’t possibly—”

“OK, we’ll make it fourteen seconds, but only because I’m in a good mood. You’re on the clock.” And all eyes were on Olaf.

“Ah— OK, you win. Our operation… is at a concealed location that you can only get to by—”

Bang! And in an instant, Olaf was dead.

“Who did that?” Ursula asked. “Who shot him? That was only twelve seconds by my watch. What did the rest of you have?”

“I had thirteen seconds,” said Gunther.

“I had twelve seconds,” said P.J..

“Me too,” said Igor.

“Well then,” said Ursula, “it appears someone around here has got a bad watch.” And she looked around the room. Everyone was empty-handed.

Ursula crouched down next to Olaf. “Do you have any last words, my friend?”

“He’s dead, Ursula,” reminded Igor.

“Oh, right.” Ursula examined the wound carefully. “It appears that the shot was fired from that direction,” and she pointed toward the doorway. “It came at a 28° angle at a velocity of approximately 1100 feet per second. Based on those factors and the barometric reading on the wall, I’d say there are only two people who could have fired that shot…”

* * * * * * * *

Two years later

Gaston lived out his days in the Rockies, communing with nature and trying desperately to ditch P.J., who in his spare time had started a cult of nomadic paleontologists. One day, P.J. (which stands for "P.J.") set an entire mountainside aflame with a lighter and some aerosol cans. He claimed it was an accident, however 384 aerosol cans were found strewn about within a 5-mile radius. He was to be sentenced to three years in prison, except that there were no police and no legal system, which got him off on a technicality. Gaston eventually decided to change his own name to Charlie Chaplin (no relation to Scott Joplin), citing the cane he was given by P.J. at his 80th birthday party as his inspiration.

Marcelle became a legend that was told throughout generations. Eventually, she reached the stratus of possessing magical qualities. Her modus operandi was to shrink herself so she could fit through keyholes. She was also said throughout the land to have been given wings by the gods, she was so highly regarded.

Ursula started the Church of Rigmarole, revolving around an ancient ritual of sacrifice. Ursula became prophetess and prime henchwoman. This religion splintered out into the Church of Albatross, the Church of the Righteousness in a Bottle, and the wholly unrecognized Wax Museum of Churches. The one common thread in each was the invitation of materialism into their lives in order to fully appreciate its intricacies. The church proper's objectives included the conversion of every monk in the land, and they were quite successful. This also served to deplete the membership of competing religions, thus vaulting the Rigmarole faith to Biblical proportions. Baptisms were prevalent throughout the land, with shrines erected everywhere in honor of the revered Rigmarolio.

Igor went back to his home planet of Cobol, from where he found it safer to observe his creations. Since hardly anyone believed in him, he figured there was no sense hanging planet Earth much longer. His favorite pastime became the smite, which he carried out with reckless abandon, and often with great satisfaction.

Gunther started a ring of organized crime, which he successfully combined with youth soccer leagues — that is, until the Church of Rigmarole infiltrated it and had converted all the soccer moms. But Gunther persevered, personally bussing the children to their games while simultaneously masterminding racketeering schemes.

Ursula and a certain Mr. Hesselman had gotten married years ago, and had sailed eastward never to be heard from again. Rumor had it that they had started a new colony in Antarctica. Ursula called it the new world, though Hesselman had been dubious, leery of their true navigational abilities.

Civilization’s last great hope, Lenny, was one of the few remaining believers, and he grew weary of the ills of society. He wanted to join a monastery, but even those weren't immune anymore. He spent the rest of his days in virtual exile. On his deathbed, as a final protest against the decadence of the world, he shot Gunther and then quickly repented just before taking his last breath. Igor then brought Lenny into his kingdom, where all was glorious to behold. Lenny experienced a peace he had only felt glimpses of before. Igor looked him in the eye and said, "Well, bud, looks like you and I are going to get to know each other pretty well, beings that no one else has bothered to show up, and it doesn't look like we'll have any more good candidates for a while…"

1 comment:

giveemkel said...

AWESOME story, rusty. i recently had major surgery, when i woke up (thinking it was a dream), all i could hear was this woman speaking to me in some sort of thick accent. i couldn't understand a word she was saying. i thought, NO way can this be heaven. then she offered me some morphine. bwaahahahahahahaa...<8-}

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