(no subject)
upside down besties2
xambush_bugx
I did homework pretty much all the way through my spring break.
I took, i'd say 36 hours off this past weekend to go with Lace to the Madonna Inn again, which was, of course, really really awesome.
But despite all the writing, I landed back at school somehow still not caught up, or caught up in some things and behind in others. I've been going to classes underprepared and just winging it. I had totally blanked on registration and showed up at school monday to find that I had an hour to sort through the webadvisor course catalog and figure it out at hyperspeed before my registration appointment.
So yeah, shooting from the hip.
Been down on my work lately. I feel like I just started out here and I'm already stressing about completing my final projects. It's stupid, but it's really not, like....I really should be planning ahead.
Anyways, I'm in the home stretch for this semester, that's surreal. Don't know when I'll be back east yet, but i'm guessing mid june, right after the Rev records anniversary show, though really, I want to see the avengers with philly nerd crew.
Sigh.
Lace might take a job a couple hours away, and that makes me nervous-nervous. I really like what we have going right now, I'm not in a rush to change it.

Grad School Update.....
zoned out/winter
xambush_bugx
Up the tooth grinding.

workworkworkworkwork. work. more work.
I'm feeling kind of behind the 8 ball lately. Someone order me one of those sweet jackets, like sinbad used to wear....seriously.

Ok, so, this semester is feeling pretty damn cray. Juggling way too many projects and I just pretty much feel like there are a zillion things in my life right now that ALL deserve and demand a lot of attention, but there just isn't enough time to go around.

1) awesome girlfriend. We went to portland for 5 days. She had work in an art show and as the show was the weekend before her birthday I wanted to go and support and be part of the festivities with her PDX friends. I also wanted to see Nishat and visit Portland for the first time since moving there for 6 months in 2002 (see previous LJ entries) It was really cool, but also exhausting. I didn't get as much work done on the trip as I would have liked and I didn't even realize how behind I would feel getting back to it. But the real shitty part is, even with the slackage, I felt really behind when it came to making an extra special B-day celebration for Lace. I know I have grand creative romance in me, but this occasion i certainly felt kind of asleep at the switch. It has totally resulted in a "the dog ate my homework" feeling which fucking sucks.

2) TOO MANY GENRES. TOO MANY WORKSHOPS.
Here are a list of the things I am currently working on for school:
- Rabbit, fiction novel. 100 or so pages in, but the thing might be a 500 pager. I don't know.I'm simultaneously writing ahead and showing those chapters to a mentor who I started the project with, and re-writing and revising the earlier part of the story, and expanding it with new chapters, these I'm showing to the mentor AND to my monday night fiction workshop, where the teacher does not take to genre work and despite some praise on the last chapter I submitted there, I always feel like I need to prove myself there.

- Cleaning stories...So, My Creative Non-Fiction workshop has sort of spawned too many personal projects. I mean, they are growing out of my assignments, but I find I often write a piece and then realize that it would be great to expand on them. I had started writing a funny story about a weird cleaning client I had, but it has since grown into like, a weird memoir class discussion where I go into all the weird ass shit about how my mom was a housecleaner too...for my grandparents, and then weaving in and out of my weird ass homeworks experiences. It's totally a good framework to tell this fucked up family story around, but shit,I feel like I can probs spit out 40-50 pages about that easy.

- Punch comic....this is also from CNF, a profile piece about the band PUNCH. Now, i could have just written a 2 page little researched infobit, bibbity bobbity boo, but no, i think it would make a good comic, ala' my previous ifyoumakeit.com efforts, and now it is tacked to my wall, lettered but not fully penciled or inked. I missed the class where the script would have been workshopped and figured i could just take my script notes and get to it when i get to it, but no, the teacher is cool and wants to talk about it, but is asking if the art will be done to talk about it in class next tuesday....5 pages, finished, inked. sure, cause i'm fast like that.

- and speaking of comics, i'm working on another...like..comics essay....about the past year. It's going to be my final project in my graphic novel seminar. i'm building it around a little depressing two-pager about my dad that I did last term, 2 pages for each month from january-january. sort of weaving present tense diary stuff with weird family memoir flashbacks. I need to write a full script and thumbnail the comics pages...well i'm supposed to have that done by monday, but really it's just not going to happen.

- oh yeah, in my OTHER fiction workshop...which started with these pretty fun, loosey goosey exercises...I kind of started writing another novel....don't tell anyone.

3)Friends....i miss them. I miss you. And I don't really keep in touch except for frienzied insomniac livejournal updates, or those rare occasions where the planets fucking align and i see friends online AND have time to chat. In theory, it would be nice to be calling and emailing and maybe REAL mailing, but i'm not getting it done...but I know it's fucking important.

4) OTHER friends...like....ok, I don't REALLY hang out with anyone here. Besides Lacy, I mean. I have ONE friend from CCA who I might hang out with outside of class with...once every couple of weeks? But like...Me and Lacy and our housemate Lauren met these really nice nerdy punk boys at the Punch show and they showed up at Lacy's BDAY house party with MORE nerdy friends and they all stayed later than the art school folks and it was SO nice to like, feel like I made hangouty time with punks. Only...like I don't know how to budget the time to make sure I water those friendship plants.

What else deserves attention that's not getting its share?

I am starting to fade out, but off the top of my head there's
5) eating right
6) exercise
7) FREELANCE FOR IGORS EGG (don't even get me started)
8) I'd also really love time to just...do absolutely nothing and not worry about the things i'm not doing. That would be fucking tops.

Oh, last bit of the rant.

So, Lacy and I applied for this residency in SEATLE. As always when i apply to things I don't expect to get them, but Lacy seems confident. It's a really cool idea, but it also means I would be living in a store front in Seattle for most of the summer, NOT NY and Philly. I guess I'll spazz out over that possibility when I get word about if we got it.

Halleluja, Holy Shit,
pass the tylenol.

xxx K

(no subject)
upside down besties2
xambush_bugx
As of today, I've been officially dating Lacy J. Davis for 6 months.
Half a year back I got this letter.




Would I like to be her boyfriend?
check yes or no.
It was scary and exciting moving to a new city and a new relationship, not knowing how I would land. Hoping to ace it coming out of that triple axel of a cross country move/gradschoolathon but knowing in the back of my head that it was possible I could faceplant.

She's a really awesome friend. I feel like we do a mostly good job of being excellent to one another(as Bill and Ted have decreed.)
Sometimes though, school is stressful and we aren't always in top form. School has been a particular grinder for me lately, and Lace is gearing up for a big show in portland in a couple of weeks. Juggling of all our responsibilities along with the time to make us feel like normal humans with lives and free time...can be pretty tough.

I had a diaper-baby moment a few days ago, with the pile up of responsibilities and like, the fact that I really miss my friends. Its not that I haven't met cool people in grad school, but I don't have the time to put into lots of new friendships and so i've been really missing the folks on the east coast who I could regularly destress with, talk REALtalk over shirley temples, or who will want to sit around and watch a whole season of spartacus blood and sand with me...

Life is moving fastfast. and it's scaryscary. I've been posting some of my work in this journal because, well i don't often find the time for more personal updates, but there is at least some of the stuff that's in my head, I'm sure it's not what a lot of people come to LJ for (if they come to LJ anymore) but fuck it.

anyways, I'm off to juggle todays tasks, between finding a photobooth and doing my taxes/FAFSA

XXX
K

first draft of part one....
upside down besties2
xambush_bugx
The Woodsman’s Box
Part 1.
The bronzed shrunken head of Sigmund Freud is staring me down. He’s tacked precariously above the door, about ready to tip. Inside this dim & grim hallway of the Old City Philadelphia condo playfully named “The Chocolate Works”, other residents have decorated their doors with standard welcome mats, or maybe a simple holiday sticker, a wreath, a plastic Santa. Yeah, Merry Christmas, neighbor. I mean, if I had the bank account to live there I probably would have tacked an Oompa Loompa to the door. But it’s hard to sell Christmas cheer or twee candy-land frivolity in a hallway painted the precise color of the inside of a sick person’s mouth.
But this door, the one with Siggy, doesn’t even try to mask the puce creepiness. No. It cries out, “I WANT to be a set from The Shining”, and goes the extra mile to make the atmosphere even more repellant. There is an antique three-legged wooden stand balancing a porcelain dish of loose hard candies. You know, the kind grandma likes? They’re being kept company by a couple of “precious” porcelain doggies, and at the foot of the door is another delightful piece of bric-a brac: a painted red Buddha, I guess to prop open the door. Or maybe induce a lil’ moment of Zen every time you stub your toe, I dunno.
Above his doorbell, in case you weren’t already running for the hills, is a golden placard drilled into the plaster: Dr. George Bernato: JUNGIAN (!!!)

But there’s no turning back from this shit show.
It’s my job.
I’m here to clean house.
I hesitate, looking at the Buddha, attempting to achieve that hasty moment of Zen I hypothesized. First visits to new clients are always a drag. There is the tedious grand tour, where I must politely nod and assure the client of the quality and thoroughness of my work when all I really want them to do is point me to the Windex and get outta my hair. I hear the bark of what I’m sure is the most annoying animal ever and before I can even knock, the door swings open.
Dr. George Bernato: He’s a short man, about my height, mid 60’s, bald on top with salt and pepper trim all around and a pointy beard that I guess comes standard issue with a psychology degree? Whatever. “Hi, I’m Jim.” I start, all forced smile. The dog is yipping at my knees, the perfect height for punting. George is unconcerned. “Oh yesss, come in, Tony said you were very punctual” Normally I wouldn’t be expected at a client’s house until 10 am, but George runs a tight ship. It’s only 8:30 and my morning coffee has yet to affect its daily miracle on my disposition. He steps aside pulling the little beast back and leaving me barely enough room to squeeze by into the (surprise!) extraordinarily over-cluttered hallway.
The narrow entrance is plastered in diplomas from every imaginable institution/weekend seminar/wellness program/3-day intensive chakra alignment that George has ever attended. I will later discover, hidden in with the many quack-pot psych certificates is a 1979 diploma from a beauty academy complete with photo where he’s sporting a bouffant with a ponytail. But I’m getting ahead of myself. George’s house induces such sensory overload, it takes repeated visits to really appreciate just how nuts it is, but even at first glance this is the most eccentric client I’ve met yet in my tenure as an employee of Homeworks: Urban Cleaners.
I’m looking down to the end of the long hallway where a wrought iron gate blocks further entrance. I’m unsure if it’s to keep people out or prevent them from leaving. It didn’t have an “ABANDON ALL HOPE” sign, but I like to imagine that you could see one if you squinted hard enough. I shuffle ahead, my winter layers and messenger bag making me perilous to the academic paraphernalia. “It’s unlocked”, he says and the gate squalllllks open to reveal a wall covered floor to ceiling in framed movie stills of various celebrities: Diana Ross, Giovanni Ribisi, Mark Wahlberg (from his “Marky Mark” days). Smokey Robinson coulda been there too, but I can’t be sure.
“Now, I’m very particular. The last boy Tony sent over here, huh! Left streaks on the mirrors, missed corners. Do you know how embarrassing it is to have your client touch your bookshelf and come up with a handful of dust?”
No, but I do my best to reassure him of my attention to detail. He leads me to mirrored sliding door closets wherein lie a healthy supply of paper towels and a kitchen sink well stocked with all the chemicals one might need to make sure your shit can shine. As he prattles on with nit picky requests I can barely pretend to pay attention, because…
This. Guy’s. House…WOW.
Imagine if you will bookshelves stretching high toward a 20 foot ceiling, decked out with ominous tomes of the occult, secret societies, queer magic, the psychology of serial killers, saints & monsters; walls festooned with baroque mirrors, photographs of Mother Theresa, a creepy looking plaster death mask with a jingle bell hanging from its neck, side by side with photographs of his mother and I wonder if there’s a connection; a complete collection of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves bobble heads and in fact, a wealth of Disney memorabilia, sharing space with polaroid snapshots of erections, next to photos of various religious figures, one in particular of a dead pope (and I mean ACTUALLY dead, the guy was in a coffin) makes several appearances throughout his condo. Everywhere I turn Chinese vases threaten to tip over into nude sculptures balanced precariously on miniature Doric columns, and BIG ol’ books of gay porn like fragile X-rated dominos. Tiny crystal animals, a plastic St. Francis, an eastern orthodox crucifix, stuffed animals and prints of William Blake, Jung’s RED BOOK on his office’s grand piano. And what home wouldn’t be complete without a marble bust of Ludwig Van Beethoven? There are only so many saints and bat wings and boners I can process at once.
George is still talking, criticizing the previous representative of HomeWorks while I remove the supplies from underneath his kitchen sink and organize them (blue shit for glass, scrubbin’ bubbles for tile, 409 for kitchen grease).
“Now, I’ll usually be up to let you in, and you can get started while I shower and then I’ll take her (yip! yip!) out for a walk, but I’ll you’ll need to be finished before eleven because that’s when I start taking appointments.” Got it, do an extra special good detailed job but don’t take more than 2 hours doing it. The kitchen is early 80’s pastel colors, pinks and powder blue. Another Snow White poster hangs over the dog’s water dish, and on the fridge are a bunch of magazine cut outs, underwear models, and what I first mistake as a sports article. SOCCER SUCKS, it reads in block yellow font, until I see that the athletes in the torn magazine page are in fact giving each other head. Oh, sucks. Clever.
Finally He leaves with yippy the dog and I can get down to business. Screeching Weasel on the I-pod, and I attempt to blast through the work as fast as I can, starting with George’s “problem areas”, like behind his enormous four-poster bed. George doesn’t have a bed ROOM per se. His bed is sectioned from his office by a mirrored accordion divider. A dark lacquered step stool leads up to this fluffy monstrosity with tasseled everything. Giant mirrors line two walls, and behind the bed are shelves displaying stuffed animals, religious iconography and a penis pump.
Now, I’m all for letting your freak flag fly and George is not my first client to display his porn collection, but on the wall to the left of his bed I find something weird. He has a collection of jpegs from the interweb, clearly printed from his home computer hanging in expensive frames. They depict male celebrities in various states of undress from movie and tv sex scenes. There’s Chris Meloini from Law&Order:SVU, there’s Daniel Craig in a bathtub, and best of all, there’s David Duchovny’s HEAD photoshopped onto a naked muscle guy, oh, and it’s signed. (I immediately question the legitimacy of Marky Mark’s autograph). But the most unusual part is that these photos are interspersed with his own antique BABY PHOTOGRAPHS. “Yipes”, I think about how all his patients can plainly see this stuff on their way to their appointments. You know, I see a therapist, but whether or not she has a crush on Colin Farrell is still a mystery to me.
I finish with the dusty corners of the bedroom nook and continue to his office, windexing his mirror topped coffee table with it’s collection of crystal bowls and candlesticks. Amidst this junk is my first glimpse of the box.
I immediately recognized it. (I mean, hey, I grew up with Disney movies on VHS.) It’s the woodsman’s box from Snow White. You know the one. The wicked queen gives it to her woodsman to hold Snow’s heart after he cuts it out of her, ensuring the queen would be the fairest in all the land. It fit in with the rest of his Disney crap, but my thoughts lingered on it. This place was jam packed with all manner of creepy Grimm’s fairytale shit in plain sight so what kind of grizzly secrets would George hide in his lacquered purple box?
Something holds me back from snooping though; maybe I just don’t want to see any more than my fair share of weird for the day. Besides it was almost eleven, and there were two more dirty houses waiting for me. I didn’t feel like being there when George got back. I was sure he’d break out a magnifying glass and white gloves or some bullshit. No thanks. So I cram his relic of a vacuum back into the closet, pull my winter layers back on and hop on my bike for a chilly ride to a three bedroom in Fairmont.
Housecleaning is really repetitive work, the better you get to know a place, the faster it goes. After a few months of visits, a stranger’s home becomes just as familiar as your own. So despite my hesitation, I knew solving the mystery of the woodsman’s box was only a matter of time.

round 2...
upside down besties2
xambush_bugx
Rabbit
Chapter One: draft 2

Eugene ate shit on the corner of First and Davis, a calamity of tangled limbs, wet rusty steel, and two flat tires suddenly blocking the tracks of the Old Town MAX station.
“Holy shit, is that kid alright?...Hey! Hey? You alright?”
He was mostly all right, though if anyone on the corner was actually THAT concerned for his well being, none of them were in any particular rush to come into the intersection and help him up. Eugene only half heard the murmurs of the people waiting for the commuter rail as he freed himself from his slippery jalopy of a bicycle. One of his headphones was still looped around his ear blasting that last Song Of Zarathustra record, basement noise polluting the clean city streets. One of his wheels was still lodged in the concrete groove next to the rail.
Fuck a trolley track.
Eugene looked up, and saw that the faces of the worried onlookers appeared suddenly irritated. Yes, we’re all very glad you didn’t get yourself killed but could you please get out of the middle of the fucking road now? Thankyouverymuch?
Portland was so weird; at least in New York people had the decency to shout obscenities at him if he was fucking up their day.
His ass cheek throbbed and the back of his left hand was scraped up real good. He tugged his front tire loose and limped out of the way of waiting traffic, pushing his deflated steed.
It was that fucking helicopter that had distracted him, it was the wet tracks, it was his I-pod’s fault! It was the fact that in his head, he wasn’t riding his bike at all, he was already home, warm and in his bed, another shitty day of wait-service behind him. Sucha’ dumbass, Rabbit.
As he reached up his arm to stretch out the muscle, it began to rain in earnest and he resigned himself to a long miserable walk. Eugene had to remind himself that truly shitty days like today were, to him, their own kind of mundane micro-miracle. He should really just be grateful. Being a fuckup wasn’t always this simple for him, and if he waaaannnted to call it quits on bad days, he could. Easy street was only one (magic) word away.
But how boring would that be?

Walking his Schwinn over the Steel Bridge bike path, Eugene made a promise to reward himself with a hot shower and pizza delivery for enduring the whole mishegas with the bicycle. The contents of his wallet were discouraging. He had only seated three tables at the restaurant. Barely made enough to replace these fucking tubes. He had killed time wiping down the menu’s and refilling the takeout bins with those mini packets of soy sauce and hot mustard.
Billy still owed him money, but he didn’t think he was in any danger of reclaiming that cash anytime soon. His stomach groaned over the rain and his breakfast of pilfered fortune cookies was only a distant cardboardy memory. He could justify the cost of one pizza and maybe an order of garlic rolls too. The west coast didn’t have real pizza, but he could make due. Fuck it.
His innards gurgled in approval of his resolve in the face of brokeassdom, and he dug into his jeans for his phone to call the order in. If he hustled he could make it home at the same time as his pizza. But as he dug for his phone, Eugene realized it was already vibrating. (He had never met a ringtone he liked.) He squinted through the drizzle at the caller ID. Oh.
“Dude…”
“Yo, where are you?? You’re coming? Right?”
It was Billy Kellogg, Eugene’s hetero life-mate, though the hetero part was often called into question whenever Billy got to bragging and telling people they were ‘Partners’. As if such a thing would impress anyone, even if it were true.
“Uh, coming where?”
“Oh…you…you didn’t get my e-vite?”
“You know I never check that shit”
Eugene had met Billy shortly after his arrival in Portland in 2002, and the guy had stuck pretty close ever since he had put together who Eugene was. Eugene didn’t want the attention, especially not in those first months after fleeing Manhattan, and really, he tried his best to NOT like the hayseed. Buuuuuuuutttttt the kid was so persistent. He wore Eugene down with endless texts. (Eugene actually couldn’t recall giving out his number.) And when Eugene started to ignore him, Billy would find ways of just showing up wherever Eugene happened to be that day; digging around the nooks and crannies of Powell’s books, in line at Eugene’s favorite grease truck, or saddled up at the bar sipping a Shirley Temple (no liquor, thanks, he was on “patrol”) through a goddamn bendy straw, even. He was always in costume and it was always embarrassing. He grew on Eugene like a fungus. That was Billy, a bad case of athlete’s foot that had somehow become his best friend.
“Bill, I fucking wiped out again and got a flat before I even made it to the bike path. I’m walkin’ over the bridge now. You home?”
“No, no. I’m at the Triple Mug. You should get over here.”
The idea of a hot coffee didn’t sound too bad to Eugene, but it interfered with his plan to enter a ten to twelve hour coma after gorging himself.
“I left a note. On the fridge?...back at HQ…” Billy waited expectantly.
“Dude, I don’t know what you’re talking about, so why don’t you just tell me what you’re scheming this time, or if not, I’ll just see you back at the house, you know, ‘H.Q.’ ” What are we, in fifth grade?
Once he gave him half a chance, Eugene found that he really liked Billy; hell he loved the dingus. But there was some seriously misplaced hero worship going on that still grated on Eugene’s last nerve. The boy was stubborn, but Christ! Nobody could say he didn’t mean well. They had been sharing the same creaky house in North East for three years.
Then Eugene vaguely recalled a borderline legible note on the Best of Bombast calendar that lived on their fridge written in blobby red magic marker.
10/17 -GOLDENEYE/MUGMUGMUG. Billy had recently rediscovered Nintendo 64 thanks to a recent yard sale and as quick as you can say “It’sa me! MARRrrrIO!”,
turn of the century video games had become the most popular form of time wastage at their favorite coffee spot, where they were generously permitted carte blanche to occupy their TV corner. Billy had that kind of clout at the Triple Mug. He’d pulled strings early on to hold his meetings there, and as a result the Triple Mug had become a hot spot for…a very specific demographic. Billy had brought them business, so they cut him a lot of slack.
Billy was always doing this kind of stuff, organizing little events and trying to get folks to hang together. He’d use video game nostalgia, or vegan baked goods, or fucking Settlers of Catan in an attempt to assemble divergent members of the community. He genuinely seemed to love playing host and especially getting to be the one to introduce weirdoes from different parts of town. See them shake hands and know he was the one that made it happen. But really, all the games and group bike rides and midnight movies were just a flimsy cover for his ongoing recruitment exercise. Billy dreamed of making it big, and he seemed convinced that success hinged on just the right mix of crackpots. He kept beating the drum, hoping the vital missing ingredient would hear the call, But usually the new faces that did show up would just end up comparing notes on which local tailor made the best capes.
“C’mon dude! It’ll be fun!“
“Bill, no. I just finished my shift, made shit, got my eight zillionth flat, and I feel like a wet turd. I’m going home to take a shower and bask in the warm healing glow of the Internet.”
“Man…you really should carry a patch kit.”
The boy could be insufferable.
“What? You should!” he cried. “How many times have I told you? “
“I didn’ t say anything did I?”
The MAX rumbled by on the bridge above the path. Rain dripped down through the gaps in the slippery steel girders. Eugene stared down the remainder of the path. It was deserted. He could feel this day stretching out like a chewed up piece of gray flavorless gum. He should just hang up but Billy was still talking.
“Johnny and Anders’re here, we could get out the classic rig and do four player Gauntlet instead? How about that?”
But would I play as the elf, the valkyrie, the warrior, or the wizard?
“You’re missing the point, Bill. I’m just done today, ok?” The wet was really digging into him now. The hood of his sweatshirt clung to his face like a cold spongy caul. Done.
The phone crackled in the wet. “Diane, uh… She uh, said she would come. She RSVPeed!” Or not…
Eugene stopped in his tracks. “What does Diane care about fucking GoldenEye?” He somehow had trouble imagining her assassinating digital 64 bit superspies.
“She prolly just wants to hang out! She..she likes us, man! We’re cool!”
Yeah, a likely story, “She likes coffee, you mean…”
“Sure, that too!”
“You’re not fucking with me?”
“Dude! I invited her, she said she’d come…I was as surprised as you!”
How did he always manage the arm twist? Billy had hooked him, and behind all that beaming schoolboy enthusiasm, he fucking knew it too. That asshole. He was on the other end of the line now just waaaaaiting for Eugene’s inevitable cave in. Why hadn’t he just TOLD HIM she would be there?
“Sooooooo, you’re coming?”
“….Yeeeaaahhh. Shit.”
“Cool! Hey, stop by the shop on the way and pick up some donuts for everyone, yeah?”
“You still owe me twenty! How am I paying!?”
“I just got a check, I’ll pay you for the donuts AND the twenty I owe. Cool? Just stop at Voo-Doo for us. Please?”
“God! OKAYYY! Jeeez-us! “
“Ok. See ya!”
(click!) Fucking asshole.

There was a ten-minute line at Voodoo Donuts when Eugene finally made it there. He wrung out his hood, rainwater dripping onto the broken down cardboard box that was currently serving as an auxiliary doormat. The rain outside was letting up at least. There were three teenage girls in front of Eugene, little mall punks. One of them sized him up and Eugene tried not to notice. He wondered what kids that age were even listening to. Eugene felt so over the hill, at least in the context of the subcultures he inhabited. He hadn’t been to a show in weeks and weeks. He was becoming increasingly distant from both scenes but despite his gripes he couldn’t find it in himself to break from them either. He was only 25, where did he get off feeling this old?
He thought about his grandfather and strained his brain to imagine the weariness you must feel by the time you close in on 80something years dicking around planet earth. Come to think of it, he knew a couple even older bastards still kicking out there. Where did they get the stamina?
No wonder the San’en are so weird.
He examined himself in the display case of vegan and gluten free junk food. His hair had grown out from when he shaved his head last summer. It was a thick wavy mop that bordered on hobbit hair but the rain had plastered it flat across his forehead in an unintentionally douchey, emo-kid style. He fussed it, angrily. He was hardly in the state to impress the one girl he actually maybe had a crush on in this town. But then, he was so conflicted about even wanting to get involved with anyone, maybe it was better off that he looked like shit. A wet fucking turd.
Diane didn’t seem like the type that would really care about appearances though. Eugene had noticed her around since the end of summer. Punk can feel like a small town all on it’s own, and in Portland it was like one dead end street of that small town. It was hard to miss the other people in your tribe.
“Portland, that’s where punks go to die,” Eugene’s friend Meredith had once told him outside an abc no rio matinee, probably in 99 when Eugene had inquired about folks moving there. He wondered if that’s why he had showed up here after shit got bad. He didn’t want to “die”, settle down and raise kids in Submission Hold onesies, or anything like that, but he did want to…to what?
disappear.
It used to come so easy.
Eugene worried that having a crush just ran totally counter to his mission statement for being here. Those same anxieties had already derailed other potential romances, but he couldn’t help being interested in this girl. She actually made him nervous. (The good nervous.) He’d spotted her freckly face a few times and taken note. But it wasn’t until a basement show two months back (local legends Tragedy were playing and it had dragged him out of his showgoing torpor) that he got her name. She seemed to know everyone. He’d been asleep at the switch and this little crusty girl had shown up and gotten to know everyone. Eugene had overheard her talking about the Curmudgeon demo tape with Davies, this tall zine kid who sported the new gold standard in punk haircuts, the brain handle. She was funny. Twenty minutes of asking around revealed her name, (Diane) her zine, (Mind Bullets) and what she was doing here (getting her masters at PSU, though there were conflicting reports as to her degree program). He wasn’t going to just introduce himself, that wasn’t his style. If he waited around long enough someone else was sure to do the heavy lifting. So he was unprepared when, following the call of nature, he found her waiting (for him) outside an upstairs bathroom.
“Hey…”
“Hi, Eugene? Right?”
“Yeah…and you’re?”
“Diane…I’ve heard about you, man. You’re from New York, right?”
Eugene nodded dumbly. He hoped she hadn’t heard too much, when he felt something familiar. It wasn’t just the nervous pitter-patter of his heart (but that was there too); it was the dull buzzing he felt at the base of his skull, right behind his ears when she looked in his eyes with her deep brown ones.
“I passed through there not too long ago,” She said. “You know the folks at Jane Doe books?”
“I know Thera and Golnar, yeah.”
“Oh! They were so great! Terrific hosts,“ she showed a toothy grin. “I did a reading there…”
The bathroom door opened before Eugene could respond and a girl with facial tattoos and a purple skin-bird haircut squeezed past them.
“Hold that thought,” she said as she slipped into the bathroom. But as soon as the door was shut, Eugene turned tail. A band was starting downstairs but he got on his bike and rolled home. He had been around people like Diane before, and there were things about him he’d rather she not know. Not right off the bat. He had been thrown off by the encounter and basement small talk had suddenly felt too risky.
Since then, they had seen each other infrequently. Small doses, small doses and he wouldn’t let anything slip, nothing too deep, he hoped. He was sure his attraction was obvious to her, but for weeks he continued to wish that she would just decide not to notice. Hoped that he’d bump into her down on Belmont or someplace and she’d be arm in arm with some guy with an Aus-Rotten butt flap. He could go home and cry in his soup, but at least he could stop torturing himself, stop being so fucking nervous about it. It wouldn’t matter.
But it now seemed evident to Eugene that all the time he had been half-heartedly dodging her, they had been slowly circling each other. And maybe now, he was finally ready to risk something. Maybe.

Eugene carried the soggy box of dunkable junk food the last few blocks to the Triple Mug. He saw an empty fire engine red van parked across from the café, RoadScorcher, he waved and the van beeped back at him. If RoSco was parked, that meant Nickey was hanging tonight too. This somewhat complicated his potential flirt. (If Diane actually showed up, that is.) Nickey Robo had been the only lady Eugene had actually dated for any length of time since moving to PDX, A six week fling a couple of summers back. They had managed to stay friends, and mostly it was a good friendship, but it wasn’t hard for Eugene imagine her getting a little territorial. He hoped that wouldn’t’ be the case tonight. Eugene set the box of donuts down and locked up his mangled bike. Pain in my ass. He gave it a final kick before pushing through the doors to the Triple Mug.
The Triple Mug or 3XM as it was sometimes called (The sign outside simply read MUG MUG MUG. You know, like the Descendents song?) was a two story corner building with big front windows usually filled with the usual line up of homogenous 20-somethings all sporting the same unwavering laptop-face, and right along side them were (probably) three or four people from The Community, also sporting laptop-faces…if you could even make out their faces from under their masks, their hoods, their cowls, etc.
Of course Eugene would end up frequenting a known Supers hangout. Even moving all the way out here to the hippie-dippie west coast, he couldn’t stay too far away from flying men or women who could lift howitzers.
They were, after all, his people.
But it was always just a seasoning, a couple of masks here and there in the mix with regs and muggles. And even then, they were mostly just tourists, you know? Poseurs who were only interested in dressing up. Sure, a handful of folks in town had real superpowers, or possessed some ludicrous skill set that somehow qualified them to pursue the career of a costumed adventurer. A few, like Billy, (A.K.A. the Cometeer) helped out where they could…here and there. But of all the places you could live, Portland, Oregon wasn’t exactly a haven for deadly and nefarious supercrime. Weird stuff could crop up occasionally; the Pacific Northwest was home to some truly creepy shit (Ever seen Twin Peaks? Then you know what I mean). But always, anything really dangerous would be dealt with by some larger peacekeeping organization, professionals. The locals here, they were just fanboys; small potatoes, Eugene preferred it that way.
“Wiz-Kid!”
Eugene winced, turned, and found his friends in one of the booths lining the far wall. Eugene saw Billy with Nickey, Johnny-C, Anders, and a blonde girl in a grey hoodie who he didn’t recognize. Another one of Anders’ girlfriends? No sign of Diane though.
“How many times have I told you to NOT call me that?” Eugene plunked the box of donuts on the Formica and crammed his soggy ass into the booth. “Hey guys.” The only space left was next to Nickey, who smiled warmly. “Hey there, soggy.” And she scooched to give him room to wiggle out of his hooded sweatshirt. “What?” Billy protested, “It’s your official codename; it’s even listed in the Wonder-Wiki!” Eugene did a quick look around to make sure Diane wasn’t hiding out in a corner or in line for a drink or something, all clear, then at his friends who were good-naturedly smirking. Billy always pulled this shit in front of new recruits.
“Wiz-Kid! The one and only son of The Empire Guard’s own mistress of the mystic ar-“
“Ugh, just stop, okay? You sound like a fucking cartoon.” Eugene looked at the new girl who looked both unsurprised and unimpressed. “I brought you donuts. Lay off.” Anders and Johnny greedily dug in and Eugene glanced at the blonde. She was cute. Fair complexion, a couple of loose curls hung in front of her ears.
“Ach-hem!” Eugene cleared his throat and held his hand out, palm up, to Billy, who cluelessly gaped for a sec before catching on.
“Oh, sorry, Wiz, I got paid, but haven’t deposited my check yet….but, but let me get you a coffee.” Eugene should have figured as much. “Yeah, fine.” He and Nickey cleared room to let Billy out of the booth, earning Eugene a temporary reprieve from the Cometeer’s usual song and dance in front of a new face on the scene.
“Hi,” the new girl said. “I’m Ashleigh.” She extended her hand.
“Eugene…” They exchanged a weak shake.
He didn’t notice any obvious sign of her being superhuman. She was dressed casually, but then again not everyone ran around town in full on super-hero drag like Billy Kellogg, whose own costume was a vibrant red, with black and yellow trim and an embossed pleather logo of a shooting comment that seemed to sail over his right shoulder leaving a jagged yellow tail, like a lightning bolt. He even wore a converted bike helmet with goggles that made him look like an X-wing pilot and somewhat obscured his aw’shucks farm-boy features.
The others at the table were only somewhat more subdued, but they were still easily Identifiable as so-called superpeople. Nickey also sported a red and black color scheme (a choice informed by her politics as much as WHIZ-BANG fashion) but her uniform lacked the spandex exhibitionism that Billy’s had. She wore a black mini-skirt and a red top with a black printed cog motif that started under her collar. She would also usually wear a shiny black PVC jacket like she was an extra from The Matrix. Eugene used to tease her about it constantly. She had on bright red gloves with strange sci-fi looking bracers around her wrists. Her hair was dyed a shocking red. If she wasn’t moonlighting as a super-hero she could easily have been in some overhyped electroclash band.
Johnny Cope wore a one-piece sky blue jumpsuit that made Eugene think he had gone AWOL from space camp or something. He could almost have passed for a more mundane weirdo if not for the ostentatious antennae festooned headgear that supposedly enhanced his extrasensory abilities. Finally, Anders, was ever the sharply dressed man in a nicely cut black suit that complimented both his heroic physique and his skin which had the look of molten gold, like a 24 carrot T-1000 which always reminded Eugene of his first schoolteachers. (Eugene was himself dressed in tight black jeans, black cons, a black t-shirt and the same patched up black hoodie he had been wearing since 96.)
She could still be hiding, holding her powers back…like me…like Diane.
“Ashleigh here is a writer.” Nickey offered. She was stirring her mocha and looking at the inscrutable lightshow that flashed on her tech-bracers, some sort of digital meta-language that Eugene never got the full workings of.
“That’s cool, “ Eugene said. “ Uh, short stories? Poetry?”
“No, nothing like that. I write for the Willamette Weekly.”
“Oh..Uh, neat.” Anders was eyeing the new girl, but it looked to Eugene like he hadn’t amped up the charm into high gear yet. He was just starting his golden boy flirt routine and Eugene figured they hadn’t come there together.
“Here’s yr’ coffee buddy”
Billy pulled a loose chair from an empty table and pulled it up to the end of the booth rather than cram past his friends again. Eugene took the mug and breathed deep, letting it warm his hands and face before taking a sip. By the time Eugene came out of his little caffeine reverie Billy was of course in the middle of another story, but at least the unfortunate facts of Eugene’s dubious celebrity were no longer front and center, Billy had moved on to his own exploits.
He leaned in at the table, accentuating his storytelling (an oft repeated early Cometeer adventure of having it out with a gang of strength enhanced skinheads back in his hometown of Yuba County, Ca.) with acted out phantom punches that came inches from the girls face. Eugene was positive the yarn was at least partially fabricated. On Ashleigh’s other side, Anders was playing a cool cat to Billy’s hyperactive puppy. He was casually taking the cap from his bottle of Stewarts and completely flattening it out between his metal fingers. Showoff. The poor girl was fenced in but seemed to take it all in stride. It was only then that Eugene noticed she had a little note pad next to her that she scribbled in.
“I’m sorry,” Eugene said, “are you?..are you taking notes?”
“I thought a profile on some of the local super heroes could be interesting.”
“Yeah, get a load of that Wiz! About time we got some recognition!”
“I was under the impression that we were just hanging out. I’m not trying to get in the paper.”
“Some of us don’t mind a little attention.” Anders said to her, giving a wink, as he theatrically flipped the flattened bottle cap between his fingers like a coin.
“She saw one of Billy’s blog posts and arranged contact.” Johnny had been spacing out like usual, fiddling with his headset. Even as he was talking he was turning a dial, his eyes focused somewhere far off. Eugene was never sure if he was keeping track of conversation or listening to a radio broadcast from Minsk. Or Jupiter.
For as long as Eugene had known him, Billy he had been posting in his blog “Comet Tales” where he recounted his lo-fi adventures. He’d post links to it on message boards and MySpace to get hits and he regularly flyered the town advertising it as a digital space for the super community to share their experience, plan actions, coordinate neighborhood patrols or post rent-a-cape jobs.
Eugene didn’t like this. hanging with a reporter, even if he kept his mouth shut all night he’d still get written about…his history, his family, invited commentary. But…Diane. He periodically craned his neck around, inspecting the mellow Wednesday night crowd and jerking to look every time the front door bell chimed. Where is she? Should I just bail?
“You’re jumpy.”
“Yeah, sorry Robo…rough day.”
“I know…sorry about your bike. I can you know, fix it in a jiff on our way out.”
“Oh, um, yeah, that would be really cool of you, but actually, I think I’m gonna head out as soon as I finish this.” He sloshed his cup and took a big gulp, downing all but the dregs.
“Wouldn’t it be easy for you to fix something like that yourself?” It was Ashleigh talking.
“With your powers, I mean?” She had been pretending to listen to Billy offer a half assed explanation of his powers when she spoke up.
“No…” Eugene stood and pulled his bony arms into his hoodie that was only just starting to dry off.
“You mean to say, you no longer use your powers?”
“I didn’t say that…” He gave Billy a scathing look, and the dope just looked up at him, helpless and hapless.
“Bill, she did say she was coming, right?”
“Are we waiting for someone else?” Ashleigh asked.
“Yeah, yeah dude. I-I wouldn’t lie. Maybe she got the time wrong.”
“Who?” Nickey said.
“Just a friend…but it doesn’t look like she’s showing up so I think I’m gonna head home.” Ashleigh shot Billy a look.
“No, don’t go yet dude, we haven’t even gotten to the games yet.”
“Yeah, I just..I decided I don’t feel like playing. Have fun, guys, I’ll catch you all later.” He was moving like someone suddenly lit a fire under his ass.
“Bu-But…”
Ashleigh sprung out of her seat and hurried after him, catching him at the door.
“Hey, sorry just…before you go, can I just ask one question? Just one?”
“No, look, lady. I haven’t worn a mask in years… These, these are just my friends.”
“Well at least ...just tell me…”
“What?”
“What was it like being a teenage supervillain?”
Eugene had to give it to her, underneath the cutesy co-ed exterior the woman had a pair.
“Maaan… Fuck you.”

Eugene stormed out, right past his bike. He was too pissed to deal with it anymore that day. He’d take a bus and worry about getting the flats fixed tomorrow. He was already regretting that last outburst and dreading having his name in the paper again after almost, allllllmost settling back into quasi-anonymity. Eventually he’d be hearing about it from his mother. “Fuuuuuuuuucccck!” He growled to nobody in particular as he stomped ahead.
Then, a familiar red van beeped and pulled up alongside him. It was empty, but that didn’t seem to hamper its mobility any. RoadScorcher.
“YO, HOP IN…” said the car, in a congenial (almost human) voice.
“I’LL GIVE YOU A LIFT.”
Eugene let go of some of the tension in his shoulders.
Good ol’ RoSco.
He got in and shut the door.
“Just drive, man.”

(no subject)
upside down besties2
xambush_bugx
winter break is almost over. I head back to the west tomorrow night. It has been really great to have such an extended stay on the east coast and not feel like I needed to rush to see everybody. I was able to really relax and half slip back into old routines while at the same time having an absurd amount of fun with the people I love. I should probably make time to vent out the expected annual sum up of events along with goals for the new year. 2011 was jam packed with kind of frequent and constant change and breakage from old routines. I was kept on my toes and 365 days later my status quo is totally and completely changed. (and you know, for the better mostly)
Grad school can kind of pummel my brain, but it's made me want to create more and better and faster than I have in years. I had a few weeks to catch my breath but I'm eager to get back because there is a build up of creative energy that needs release. The past couple of days I've made frantic and scatterbrained notes for stories. I feel the disparate threads of different storytelling endeavors connecting, forming an invisible web, and it's my job to connect the dots (and hopefully in a way that is fun for readers.)
I'm stoked to see my girlfriend, and try for a series of west coast adventures when I'm not furiously writing and drawing. There has been talk of bands and grant proposals. seriously. So much rad stuff to do.
It's 2012.
I'm motivated.
XXX
-K

(no subject)
upside down besties2
xambush_bugx
Holy fucking shit. I can't wait to be back on the east coast.
Like...woah.
I coasted through today, but really have to push the next couple of days to clear away work so that i'm not mega ultra extreme stressed over break.

TWO people are moving out of my apartment, and Lauren and I are trying to move homies into the vacating rooms, but of course this is more complicated than I want it to be.
rooms are 410 for december and 450 starting JANUARY if any east coaster is looking to move to oakland (COUGH!monicaCOUGH!)
Lacy might move in. or maybe a school friend, or maybe a stranger from craigs list. who can say?


i am so so so tired. my novel writing has kind of hit a snag. story kind of got out from under me, I started one chapter and it turned into two, in the process I wrote myself into a wall creating characters who are interesting ideas, but not really fun to write.I went from a few weekends of intense 40+ page output to this weekend writing 8 pages. fucking fatigue setting in. it has been SO long since i just like...vegged out by myself. I have like 2 months worth of downloaded comics that i've barely read through. even now, this livejournaling is like the most i think i've given myself quiet time to assess shit. I am in the deharo street writers studio by myself. I kind of just want to put my head down.
yeesh.

at this rate i might sleep all the way through winter break.

(no subject)
upside down besties2
xambush_bugx
I am a total ball of stress lately, constantly tooth grinding, work work working, stressing about work. trying to freelance while trying to write a novel and shorts, and being an art director. I neeeeed to push ahead in this freelance illustration but so far today i sent a dozen or so emails to art galleries about their artists showing in eleven eleven, and then stumbled into a hardcore blog where i am indiscriminately downloading old NYHC comps. I need to relax. I can't thin of the last time i just sat quietly by myself and like...just read a stack of comics.

I'll be in philly in...what like a week and a half? I can't fucking wait. I'll probs be stressing about work then too, but whatever at least i'll be seeing faces i've missed a whole bunch.

it's weird to be so sunk into workmode, lately i have been worried about getting a full experience of SF. like, i like my program, i love my gf, but i think a lot about getting back to philly and jumping back into the scene there. Life here is mostly about the work, and i mean it's grad school dummy, that's the point, but I also don't want to leave the bay before really getting to ENJOY it.

I am trying to think about a whole summer in philly and figure out if I can make it work.

Things to do:

next 3 chapters of my novel before semester ends.
revise the complete PIMP story for zine publication, add drawings.
more of the journal comic I started.
finish drawing a 53 page graphic novel for igors egg.
drawing for my "website" that you know i'll probably never get to.

actually, making a list is not helping.
back to work.

Lying in the Gutters
upside down besties2
xambush_bugx
Rabbit
Chapter 3:Lying in the Gutters

Please note, the first section of this is not actual comic script format
and is meant to be read as prose while also evoking the style of
traditional super hero comics.
(Gutters = comics trade term for the space between panel borders)

Page 1:
SFX:
KRRRRrrraAAAA-THUNGk!!!

The hulking metal body of ROAD SCORCHER barrels through the bricks and mortar of the east wall of the TRIPLE MUG CAFÉ, smashing to the ground, his armored carapace crumpled, the green lights of his glass eyes flickering like a broken set of Christmas tree lights.
The assembled heroes, a luminary cast of the bravest souls of the pacific northwest, gathered here this night by that stalwart hero of stumptown, the COMETEER(!) to strategize-“how to best continue their battle against the forces of evil ?”, spring into action!

MAJOR MOUNTAIN:
STAND BACK, PEOPLE!

The COMETEER:
ON GUARD friends! Whoever could have done this to Road Scorcher is clearly a threat to be reckoned with!

The costumed heroes heed the call of warning from the more seasoned adventurers, respecting their natural leadership and strength of command.
In the Rubble, NICKEY ROBO and WIZ KID hover around the collapsed robotic form of their fallen comrade. NICKEY turns a dial on her wrist gauntlets and hundreds of microfilaments shoot out connecting to access points on ROAD SCORCHER’s wrecked body.

WIZ KID:
He’s a tough guy, Robo, he’ll be ok…
NICKEY ROBO:
I’m running a diagnostic... He needs to hook up to a power source soon or we could loose him!

The robot hero’s eyes continue to flicker, revealing the unexpected fragility of artificial life.

The space hero SPECTRA raises her arm and all the light in the room gathers to a point and shines like a spotlight into the cloud of dust and debris that lingers in the ruins of the former wall, illuminating the shadowy forms of monstrous hulking shapes.

UNKNOWN VILLAIN (silhouetted in the dust cloud):
You were a fool to leave your domain PARISH, your wards do not prevent me from troubling you when you walk in the world of men.



Page 2:

The light from SPECTRA’s beam silhouettes the shape of what appears to be an immense and terrifying BAT. Giant! But it also seems somewhat ethereal, ghostlike. Its wings seem to beat, but far too slowly to keep a creature of that size aloft. It propels dirt and grit into the heroes’ watering hole. A dull reddish glow emanates from the eyes of the great beast.

DEVIL BAT:
Now these mortals will pay the price…

Meanwhile smaller shapes on all fours scramble into scene taking to the edges of the broken wall, perching on piles of rubble, crouching on half demolished support beams, ready to attack. They look more beast than man, lithe and sinewy muscled bodies possessing snouts, talons, fur or scales, and yet troubling traces of humanity remain. A delicate ladies watch is fastened around the hairy forepaw of one of the beasts. It snarl-squalks, possessing both a lion’s snout and a toucan’s beak sprouting from the same ruined face.

SHE-BEAST:
QUUUUUrrRrrRRRAAAA!!!AAAHHHRRRRRRRAAaaRRRRRRRRGHGHGHGH!!!

It leaps at MAJOR MOUNTAIN, who despite his hugely muscled frame, moves with the speed of the mountain winds. His fist connects with the possessed things head, splintering its grotesque beak. It falls to the ground emitting a piteous whine, a forked tongue poking out of its face through the jagged ruins of the beak.

SFX:
POW!

SHE-BEAST:
Hoooouuuuuuuuuuuugh-hhgh-hgHghhh

MAJOR MOUNTAIN:
You came for me, Daemon, leave these men and women, I promise you a fair fight.


DEVIL BAT:
I think not, avatar, I have brought my legion forth, and now that they again possess flesh and bone, skins and souls, their hunger has returned for the same. I shall not deny them bloodmeal.



Page 3:

The twisted forms of the demonic beasts take their cue and swarm the room. Leaping after the assembled heroes, their clawed feat scrabbling on the hardwood floors as they run at their foes.

SPECTRA has taken to flight, hovering near the creaking rafters of the cafe. The room goes dim again as she gathers up the ambient light in the room, calling it to her fists, where forms a lance of piercing white light energy, which she then hurtles like a javelin.

SFX:
FLASHwooooooSH!

The bolt connects with one of the beasts, which was in mid air, about to leap onto THE GRAY WRAITH, whose cloak was tangled on a barstool. The beast alights and falls to the ground, sizzling and filling the room with the smell of burnt dog hair.
SFX:
Ssssssssssssssssszzzzzzzzzzzzzzzssssshhhhhhh

COMETEER:
Everyone gather up into attack formation! Circle tight! Hold your ground!

But The Cometeer sees most of the crowd in the Triple Mug Café is fleeing, WIZ KID is pushing back the crowd of younger and less formidable costumed heroes to the rear fire exit. NICKEY ROBO, distraught kneels at the side of her metal-bodied brother, his eyes dim and powerless.

WIZ KID:
Hurry up, run as far as you can! The cops’ll be here soon!

COMETEER:
What? No, Come on, we can TAKE THEM!

WIZ KID:
RUN! DON’T LOOK BACK!
Page 4

JACK STORM has taken cover behind the bar, and is picking off the pressing mass of beast-men with his high-tech gun. He blinks in and out of sight, appearing in brief flashes to halt the advance of man-monsters with deadly precision. But the legion of beasts creeps further into the space. MAJOR MOUNTAIN has his hands full trying to occupy as many of the minor daemons as he can, trying to disable them without killing them. The COMETEER fights back to back with the living legend, delivering punch after explosive punch.
The DEVIL BAT has pushed his giant ghostly form into the wrecked wall. His spined spectral wings reaching into the ruined café like hungry hands searching for food in a shelter of small, frightened animals.

MAJOR MOUNTAIN:
NO! Boys, get DOWN!

The Brave hero of the golden age steadies himself, flinging himself free of the grasping deformed beasts, and hurtles himself into the wings of his ancient and otherworldly foe. This man, this avatar of the ancient powers and spirits of this land, entrusted with the defense of the mortal realm has no fear of this thing from the pits, save for what it might do to the innocent lives he is pledged to protect. His mighty thews, like coiled springs send him hurtling into the waiting claws of the enemy.
The DEVIL BAT’s ghastly hooked wings, seemingly immaterial, spread wide inside the room as if to welcome its old enemy in a warm embrace, but then they fiercely swing down, swatting the mighty Major Jim Parish like a housefly, down into the rubble. His head connects with concrete.

SFX:
THUNK!

DEVIL BAT:
And now my minions, the meal I promised, the food of the gods, eat and be sated.

The bulk of the daemons heed their master’s call, and before the Major can recover, they descend, a gridiron pile on of muscle and hungry mouths.

DEVIL BAT:
Now no one stands to prevent me from taking a mighty form to once again walk in this realm. Mortals, you will once again have reason to fear the lands where I tread. My footsteps will be felt, my voice heard, and no sleep or death will be refuge from the terror I bring.

WIZ KID:
Billy, we need to get the FUCK out of here man.

COMETEER:
No, NO! this is our chance! This is the big event that will bond the team together! Every great superteam starts with facing down a threat together! It..it’s FATE!

WIZ KID:
You’re certifiable! If we don’t leave now, we’re going to get killed, we need to get Nickey out of here, make sure our friends are ok out there…



Page 5:

The COMETEER observes the room, WIZ KID, his partner, has his arm around NICKEY ROBO, practically holding her up. Tears streak her face, she appears lost in this fight. ROAD SCORCHER lays in the center of the café where he had crashed only moments before, seemingly lifeless. JACK STORM has vanished from his position behind the bar.
SPECTRA remains aloft, the sole remaining fighting force in this room so recently crowded with “super heroes”. She keeps at a safe distance trying to pick off the daemons with her light lances, they rain down in the ruins of the Triple Mug like a lighting storm, but the nimble beasts elude her, quick as cats. She divides her efforts, striking some of the beasts heaped on top of the Major and providing covering fire, preventing them from advancing further on WIZ KID and the COMETEER, but for how long?

SPECTRA(breathlessly shouting):
CLEAR THE ROOM! (huf), I’M GOING TO TRY TO FREE THE MAJOR. You guys don’t want to be these things next snack!

WIZ KID:
We’re leaving NOW, Billy, FUCK!

NICKEY ROBO:
No, wait, RoSco…He…He’s moving!

They turn and see ROAD SCORCHER’s form slump into a sitting position, but something is wrong, he is darker, as if seen through a veil of shadow. The trio of Portland Heroes realizes that the DEVIL BAT has in fact enveloped him, it’s wings wrapped around the fallen metal marvel like a shroud, gripping the cold metal in a tight and intimate embrace. It’s head turns, a grating sound as the metal plates twist out of accord with the body’s construction. His eyes begin to flicker again.
RED.



Page 6

The form of ROAD SCORCHER, now possessed, lifts itself, the broken body still twisting, the metal plates being mangled by the invisible pull of the malignant spirit. From His back sprout jagged metal wings, the metal of RoSco’s head crunches, like a half smashed beer can, mutilating his formerly benign features.

WIZ KID:
Nickey, don’t look, BILL, WE’RE GOING!

COMETEER:
No, no I can’t let this happen…I can fix it.

The young hero retrieves his helmet from the toppled table where it rested during the meeting. Quickly strapping it while SPECTRA’s rays of deadly light sizzle the monsters that move to attack him. They fall inert like mosquitos flown too close to a bug zapper.

WIZ KID moves Nickey to the back exit, practically pushing her out the door.
He watches, transfixed as the COMETEER faces down the standing form of their friend’s giant walking corpse. The DEVIL BAT makes use of the incendiary fuel in ROAD SCORCHERS body, and ignites from within. A flaming demonic husk of burning twisted metal. The white paint peels and fumes revealing the robot’s scorched black metal bones.

But our hero, the COMETEER, does not back down. He backs up to the rear of the café, as the DEVIL BAT approaches on its new heavy legs. He braces his back leg on a sofa, and crouches down like an Olympiad about to race, waiting for the starting gun. He glows, possessed of his own internal luminescence, and a corona forms about him, the air crackles like a firey shell of living energy. Then, with explosive force, he shoots like a bullet, like a COMET, careening at the ancient evil, a human projectile, the deliverer of swift sure justice. The COMETEER will make this monster pay.

SFX:
BANG!

He shoots ahead, his arms outstretched, double fists, ready to pummel this villain with superhuman ferocity.

But…the flaming robot sidesteps at the last minute, and the COMETEER sails straight through the front window of the Triple Mug, (SFX: SMASH!), and continues flying right across the deserted street, crashing his head into a telephone pole
(SFX: CrrrrRRACK!) which creaks and falls on his dazed form like a pine felled by a lumberjack, (SFX: yyyyyeAAAeeeCGH!).

As his vision fades he hears the sound of sirens approaching.

SFX:
weeeeyyoooooweeeeyoooooweeeeeeyooooooooo………..







“Billy…”
“Billy, can you hear us?”

“if he’s alive I’m gonna fucking kill him.”
“shhhh”
“Whatever, this is all on him.”
“Eugene, not now, ok?”

“How’s this one doing?”

Billy stirred. He heard voices. “Dad?” he tried to creek, but it came out “deeaaaa?” He wasn’t sure anyone heard him. What was wrong with him? He kept his eyes closed, trying to figure it out.

“We think he’s ok officer, he’s tougher than he looks”

“Oh, I’m sure he’s great, he probably doesn’t even have a scratch on him…”

“Eugene…Give him a second.”

Eugene!
Eugene was here! Billy opened his eyes. Red and blue flashing lights reflected off of brick walls and broken glass panes. He was lying on concrete, he was on the street, his head propped up on the curb looking back at an upside down storefront.


Billy saw the pair of 20 eye, cruelty free Ox Blood, Doc Marten style boots he had been wanting for his costume in the darkened window.

“Well you should let the paramedics have a look at him. They have their hands full but stay put and someone will have a look at him. Don’t move him”

“Ok, thank you officer”

Who was that? The voice was familiar, but Billy couldn’t think. His brain was mush for some reason. Hot mush, scrambled, side of bacon, crispy. Come to think of it, there was a burning smell…awful. He closed his eyes again and saw a twisted metal face adorned with jagged horns, red eyes.
Billy shot up, and promptly vomited in his lap. He opened his eyes again, his gaze meeting the soiled crotch of his pants. The red spandex of his costume covered in the former contents of his stomach.

(Let it all out Billy)

Where was that voice coming from? It was the girl who was talking to the cop, familiar, but…He didn’t hear it, it…it was in his head. Billy was confused, but he listened, and obliged. He scrambled to his knees and emptied himself into the gutter, coughing it all out until he was exhausted with the effort. He took deep heaving breaths. Was…was that RoSco? It couldn’t be.

“Get up, asshole”

This he heard, it was Eugene. He wanted to get up, but he couldn’t. He was so dizzy. He plopped his ass on the street and held his head in his hand. He was still wearing his helmet, but it was ruined, cracked right down the middle, it fit loosely now, the eye shield broken free somewhere. His gloved fingers fumbled at the straps. They were good gloves, expensive, he ordered them online from a super-gear depot, bright yellow (they went perfectly with his color scheme), but right then they may as well have been mittens.

(Let me help you…)

Billy saw two hands, small with tattooed wrists, reach underneath his chin and undo the nylon strap. The helmet fell away and Billy lifted his eyes to see a freckled face, brown eyes and curly brown hair poking out of the corners of her black hooded sweatshirt.
(You’re going to be ok)
The voice buzzed in the back of his head, but he was, calming down, he was remembering. The Devil Bat. Jesus H. Christ. THAT was the devil bat? In the old comics he was just, just a guy in a corny devil suit, red cape, bat winged cape, the whole bit. He could have been a mascot for your favorite hot sauce. But what he saw tonight in the triple mug, was something his comic collection hadn’t prepared him for.

“Diane?” His throat was a dry hoarse tunnel made roofing shingles. “You, you came…you do think we’re cool…”

“Yeah, Billy. You’re cool.” She had a soothing voice. She was patient, like a kindergarten teacher. “Just relax, ok? I’ll get you some water.”
As she rose and backed from his field of vision, Billy saw Eugene standing behind her in his familiar tight black jeans, black hoodie. He always made fun of superhero costumes, but he had his own sort of uniform. Diane passed him, putting a hand on his shoulder and stood on her tiptoes to whisper something to him. They matched, he realized.

Billy’s gaze followed her across the street; he didn’t want to look at Eugene.
Police and emergency vehicles crowded around the ruined corner building. He saw Jack Storm talking to a small circle of police officials and guys in suits. Spectra was sitting in the back of an ambulance. Her mask was off, she was crying. Her features were so pixie like, it made Billy think of Tinkerbelle weeping mutely, and slaughtered boys, truly lost.

“Nickey…?”

“She’s with RoSco,… and the Major.”

“They’re alive!!?” Billy finally met Eugene’s eyes. They were hard, unforgiving marbles.

“The Major is, RoSco…we don’t know yet. It’s ugly.“

“Jesus…”

“It’s your fault”

“I….I didn’t do this? I didn’t…I didn’t… ask a giant bat demon to coffee…” Billy thought of the billowing smoky wings, then of Rosco’s face, burning and crunched like a car that has seen the wrong end of a trash compactor. They were friends, had known each other for years. When Billy first moved to Portland from his nowhere life in Yuba County they worked together, catering.

RoSco had modified himself to transform into the fastest pick up van in PDX. Billy was the quite unnecessary driver, but he was the friendly human face that could unload the van of its trays of hot food, and set up serving stations in board rooms, and convention halls, scooping spaghetti & meatballs or chicken legs onto paper plates for white collar warriors. He remembered how hot he would get, wearing his costume underneath his white serving smock.

When they kicked off they would go on long drives together outside city limits. RoSco said he liked to stretch his wheels. He would tune his radio to his favorite station, he liked classic rock, and they would get into the redwoods. RoSco loved trees. He was fascinated with organic life, raised to, by robotic parents who themselves “built” a human girl to raise as their own, his big sister.

“I want to see Nickey…”

“I don’t think she could stand the sight of you any more than I can.”

“I need to see…help me up.”

“The cop said not to move you. Someone’s going to check you out.”

“I’m fine, help me up Wiz,…”

But Eugene just stood there. His arms crossed over his chest, his long face smudged, covered in soot.

“Come on, I’m sorry! Ok? …I mean it wasn’t my fault, but…but I’m sorry this happened, I mean…obviously!”

“That doesn’t FIX it, Bill! People are fucking dead!!, you clueless, selfish motherfucker!”

Billy was able to get his feet under him. He felt less….spinny. He steadied himself on a stump of a toppled telephone pole (did he do that?) and managed to stand. “You, you said the major was alive…”

“Who do you think those other monsters were, Bill?…They were people! Men and women, -children possessed by that thing’s …things! Its followers! How many of them got fried or broken or shot tonight while Spectra and the Major were saving our asses? “

“They…they’re all dead?”

Eugene shook his head. “Most.” He looked like he wanted to spit. Then he spat. “When the Devil Bat was exorcized the other daemons left the bodies they had taken. Their bodies tried to transform back to normal, some are still alive, scarred, or catatonic, most died of shock.

“They…you said there was an exorcism? Who managed that? “

Eugene didn’t answer, just turned to walk back towards the ruined café, the lights and emergency workers. Billy stumbled, following slowly. He tried to remember his time studying hero-wiki, the webs greatest resource on the careers and abilities of the superhuman set. It was the only subject he ever really excelled in. He knew that, while Major Mountain possessed supernatural abilities, he wasn’t necessarily the type that could perform an exorcism; it wasn’t really in his power set. He was basically a magic powered tank, an avatar of nature spirits local to the region. Despite being room mates with Eugene, Billy’s understanding of how “magic” worked was pretty limited…but he DID know superpowers, and evicting an evil spirit from someone’s body was…well it was the sort of thing that Ms. Magika could do, and Billy couldn’t think of any witch or sorcerer in the hero scene out here with the chops to take out something like the Devil Bat.

“Is…is your mom here?”

“Of course not…”

Eugene didn’t turn around. Billy followed, eyes fixed on the silkscreened patch stitched to the back of Eugene’s hoodie, white thread on black. It was the CRASS emblem. Crass was one of Eugene’s favorite bands, old British punks, anarchists, but smarter, Eugene said, than most of the others. The logo, he had once explained had the marks of someone who is adept in magical writing. It was a sigil, an amalgam of symbols of corrupt authority, a cross, a swastika, a union jack, subverted and infused with the image of a snake eating its tail, an ouroboros. It was a symbol, Eugene told him, that power would destroy itself.

“It was you?...”

Had he done it? He said he never would again, but he must have. He said it.
His magic word, and somehow Eugene had saved them.

“It was you.”

Eugene kept his back to him. “Keep walking”.

Mystery, Alaska
upside down besties2
xambush_bugx
Rabbit
Chapter Two: Mystery, Alaska

When I was very small I remember, my grampa would sit me on his lap and do magic. A lot of people probably have memories like this. Pennies appearing behind your ear, the miraculous detachment and re-attachment of digits, “pick a card, any card!” you know, that kind of thing. Well, my grampa was really good at it.

He would sit in an antique leather chair in the smoking room of my mother’s suite. It was a cluttered mess of musty books, family relics; more of a big closet, really. My parents didn’t smoke there, not that I knew of. I liked the big old suit of armor in the corner. My grandfather didn’t really have a house, not that I ever saw as a child. But when he would visit us, this seemed like his room, though there was no bed or even a couch to lie on. This was just where he fit at my house.

I would sit on his suit pants. They were already a wrinkled mess, so no damage done. My curly hair would brush against the underside of his throat, and he would hold his hands out in front of me. It wasn’t like stage magic I would see later, with props and lovely assistants. There was no big flash to distract my eyes, no big show. There were just his hands, up close, and they could do impossible things. I would watch, and try to copy him, try to figure out the puzzles made by his knobby fingers.

Quarters would disappear, reappear, multiply, dance between his fingers and snap into halves and fours.

“What do you call a quarter of a quarter, Grampa? “ He would hand me the little pie shaped splinters of minted silver.

“That’s a good question, Genie. I don’t rightly know the answer to that one. How’s about we make something up?”

I agreed that this was the right thing to do. “They look like pieces of silver pie”

“Ha! I guess they do. Have you had pie, Genie? “

I did, I nodded, citing the previous Thanksgiving, and a recent visit to Klein’s Famous Deli as my most recent encounters with pie, pumpkin and apple ala mode, respectively. “Well then, you know that pie is sticky stuff.” He picked two of the pieces of coin out of my little pink palm. He scratched something, a letter I hadn’t yet learned in school, into one of the silver pies with the point of the other and dropped them both into my hand with their twins. Only now they were different. They were warm, and before I knew it they were half melted gooey slabs; they stuck to my hand. I looked up at him in amazement.

He had a warm grin, and despite the hound dog dark circles under his eyes he looked lively. He was slim and boney, but he reminded me of the Santa Claus that I had seen on T.V., the twinkle in his eyes I mean. My mom told me Santa was a fake, a Christian appropriation of pagan occult tradition, Germanic shamanism, and a mascot for insidious corporations. She still let me watch the cartoons every December though, if I asked nicely. Gramp wasn’t fake, though at times he was just as elusive as the celebrated holiday spirit. He would appear with no warning or invitation. Stay for dinner, laugh loudly, drink my mother’s wine, tell my father and I stories of her as a little girl. It was fun to hear stories about my mom being little, and stupid and fallible. That wasn’t how the world had come to see her, it wasn’t how she had come to see herself. When he disappeared from our home just as suddenly as he arrived, she would complain, threaten to put up wards against smelly old drunks.

If Gramp visited while my Mother was away, working, fighting, flying, he would stay til she came home safe. He’d keep me company, he would read me stories, fairy tales, from ponderous looking books with beautiful old fashioned woodcut illustrations. We would go though the ABC’s, 123’s and other rudimentary progressions of more exotic sigils and symbols that I didn’t really understand. He would perform magic. He sang Motown music. He was my only real friend at that age.
The fun wouldn’t end until my mother returned from a mission. Then,one afternoon gramp found me in my room. I was laying on the floor, mostly under my bed with my arms and head poking out, coloring in one of the many complimentary Empire Guard TM coloring books that would be shipped to our house. My mother wouldn’t let me have a bunk bed, so I would pretend my twin bed WAS a top bunk. The sleeping bag underneath was where I would hang out, play with my action figures, and read comic books by flashlight.
I liked to disappear into the shady secret world under my bed. I used to wonder about that space when I lay, trying to fall asleep on the top bunk. Was that where my dreams came from? Seeping up through my mattress and pillow? My young head was a sponge for the residual fantasies and adventures that had been played out in that dark place.

“What’cha doin down there, Genie?” I looked up from my coloring and saw my grandfather’s dress shoes. They were old, cracked leather.

“I’m coloring Mommy and Uncle Jake” The coloring book depicted Ms. Magic and Kid Punchout, both super-heroes striking dramatic poses on the cheap brownish paper.

He saddled down and sat on the floor, his back to my bed. He gently tousled my hair. “ Your Mom’s working? “

“Yeah..”

“Where’s your Pop?”

“He’s with a patient. In his office. He said to just play quietly.”

“Hrmph, well…you look like you could use some ice cream, yeah you’re practically wasting away under there. What do they feed you in this joint?”

I gestured to the box of animal crackers on the floor nearby.

“We can do better than that, kiddo…ya ever have a baked Alaska?”

The kitchen in my parent’s suite was state of the art for 1984, but nobody ever really cooked, except for holidays. The most frequently used drawer contained an extensive assortment of takeout menus that delivered to the upper east side.

Grampa’ surveyed the refrigerator. We had a jar of pickles, sour milk, two kinds of ketchup, and three kinds of mustard.

“This will never do at all. I thought your mom was rich and famous? How come there’s no food for you to eat? “

“She says I can always order whatever I want, It goes on the Empire Guards tab.”
“Well there should still be groceries, I don’t care if she’s busy. Don’t you have a butler? Where’s that damned Golem?”

“Helmut isn’t permitted out of the house” Helmut was, well he was kind of a prisoner, but also, our kind of, sort of butler. He had been a sorcerer. A nazi. Those were the worst kind of bad guys. Everyone said. My grandfather and his friends had fought him in a war, but he escaped and was still causing all kinds of trouble until my mom fought him and killed him. She couldn’t let his spirit escape and cause any more trouble, so she trapped it in the body of a clay golem she had created. He was always polite and formal, but he gave me nightmares.

“Hmph, fine, no matter. We’re magicians, Eugene, we can improvise. Like so.”
He stretched his arms out before him, his bony wrists momentarily escaping his shirt cuffs, cracking his knuckles. He re-opened the refrigerator, displaying the collection of condiments. Closed it again. His fingers did a dance on the stainless steel and he hop-skipped to the other side of the fridge, giving it a playful jab with his elbow. On cue, the door swung open, revealing a fully stocked larder. He swung out the bottom freezer compartment and tossed me one of about a dozen gallons of ice cream that had unexpectedly materialized in my freezer.

“What’s your favorite flavor?”

My grandfather had been a real showman in his day. I had seen faded black and white pictures of him; young and handsome in a spiffy black tuxedo and tails. In his white gloved hand was the same black top hat that he wore today, though in the photograph it was considerably less shabby. He was on a stage, next to a beautiful black haired woman dressed like Cleopatra. A banner behind him read: The Uncanny & Resplendent Magic of Sammy Sphinx.

Another time, when he had shown me his photos, I asked him, “Is that lady Grandma?” I had never seen my grandmother dressed in anything like that.

“HA! No kid, Nina was never nobody’s granny. Remind me to tell you about her sometime”

I was thinking of her then, when Grampa did his trick with the fridge. I imagined that she would help, that she was the one who would climb into big cabinets. She could really disappear.

We got to work on our dessert for dinner. Grampa had rolled up his sleeves and was scooping the ice cream with flourish. He cut the sponge cake and let me lay the pieces at the bottom of the baking pan. He taught me how to crack eggs, dumping the yolks and pouring the whites into a mixing bowl that he whipped up into a meringue, he let me dump in lots of sugar. When we had finished assembling the treat, I made my way to the oven to see how the cooking lesson would continue. He told me how we would heat the icing and keep the ice cream cold.

“Tut-tut, you can learn how to work the oven another time. I wanted to teach you something else. It’s actually really easy. It’s deceptively easy. Watch this.”

We looked ahead into the dining room. I watched his hand. He made three slow gestures with his fingers, then repeated them quickly. “Can you do that?”

I asked him to show me again, and he did. Exactly the same, slowly at first, and then quick. His fingers were jackrabbits. I didn’t want to disappoint him. I repeated the gestures several times, and at last we mirrored his hand to mine. He seemed satisfied.

“That’s great, Genie. There’s just one other part. A magic word. This one is an oldie, but a goodie. Merlin magik! That old coot knew how to keep things simple. Say after me; Bærne!”

“Barn?” No, he repeated the strange word. It was more like Bay-ern.
I tried again.

“That’s ma’ boy! Great! Now, watch the old man.” He cracked his knuckles again, quickly made the gestures and whispered the magic word. Three times.

Across the way, three candles lit in the candelabra on the dining room table. My grandfather blew the tips of his fingers.

“See? Presto-magic! You don’t have to do anything too fancy, we just need to set fire to your ice cream. Think yer’ up for it?”

I was. I was ready, this was …this was real. My mom did this all the time. She could fly and fight and make spells, she could make her eyes glow and lift up cars with a flick of her wrists. I was sureI could set a little fire. I stared down the Alaska. I was ready to bake it.

I moved my hands like Grampa’ had showed me. I said the word. Nothing. I tried again. I knew I had to be precise. It was like my piano lessons, but when I tried the third time, I was really doubting my fingers. I couldn’t tell what I was doing wrong. Puzzled, I looked at my grandfather.

His bushy brows were furrowed and his eyes, usually so twinkling were dark, serious. He looked angry. I had never seen him like this before. I suddenly wanted to cry. I couldn’t look at him. He knelt and leaned closer, I could feel my throat begin to tighten. “Genie” I lifted my head to meet his eyes and got lost. It was like he was looking through me. My ears were ringing, I realized. His lips were moving but couldn’t hear his words and I couldn’t get a word out, magic or otherwise. I froze, still as a statue as my grandfathers usually gentle eyes worked me like a dentists hook, poking me for signs of rot. Finally, a feeble “…sorry” escaped my lips, and the spell was broken. My grandfathers demeanor, transformed again.

“No, Eugene, it’s not your fault. You did great kid. You’ve got good hands. Really. Buck up. Here”

This time he just pointed at the Alaska and it lit up on fire. He didn’t even need to say the word. The flames flickered, burning up whatever traces of tears had begun to creep from the corners of my eyes. Grandpa made a fist. The flames went out and the outside of the merengue was brown and crispy. He cut two pieces of the treat and gave me a fork.
As I ate, he just watched. His ice cream was melting. He was very quiet. I was so nervous I had upset him, didn’t know what to say, and so I just shoveled food in my face.
“Where in the nine hells is that father of yours?”

“I told ya, his office.” I realized then that he had been waiting for my father to appear. Was it him he was angry at?

“You stay here, Genie, ok? Be a good boy and finish your baked Alaska. You were a big help to Grandpa today.”

“Ok, but…” But my grandpa was gone, there was a bit of smoke in the air where he was sitting across from me at the kitchen counter. Across the penthouse, I heard another door open and close, the sound of high-heeled feet scurrying from my fathers office, and dimly my father’s voice. Then my grandfather’s voice, louder, angrier. The door swung shut again. Muffling their argument. It continued for a long time. The ice cream had melted, soaking the sponge cake and turning it into a mountainous chunky frozen stew. I sucked on my spoon and listened to the argument. I saw Helmut stride through the hallway; its clay face turned and looked at me on the kitchen stool, but said nothing. The Golem continued down the hallway and as my gaze followed it, I saw my grandfather’s hat. The magic, no “Magik” it had said in the old photograph. The magik hat. I hopped off my stool.

I crept towards where it lay on the dining room table. The magically ignited candles illuminated this familiar yet totally mysterious artifact from before the wars, from the photos, from the stage. What was in there?

I looked into the space between the brims. It was dark, so very dark. I couldn’t see the bottom. I thought about the men in my family fighting in another room, and my mother fighting some unknowable monsters in some unthinkable place. I thought about my grandfather’s beautiful assistant who vanished in his cabinet. As I brought my face closer to the open hat I began to feel a lightness in my stomach, like when grandpa took me to ride the Cyclone. I stood on my tippy toes, my whole head sunk into the hat,still trying to see the bottom, it shouldn’t be that deep.

I thought about that dark space under my bed where my dreams came from, and I disappeared.

~

It’s an odd thing to be without a body, that’s the first thing I noticed when I disappeared. I had always assumed that when a person disappeared in the magik cabinet, they went someplace else, and then got brought back, I didn’t think of them actually just ceasing to exist. I had expected that roller coaster feeling to continue, I thought I was going somewhere, but I was wrong, I was going nowhere. the ride stopped. I stopped.

I couldn’t feel the rush of movement, or butterflies in my stomach. I thought… (I mean, I thought, but I didn’t have a brain to think with.) I thought I had made a serious mistake. I couldn’t see anything; I didn’t have eyes, but it wasn’t like just being in the dark, there was no dark, there was just….thought.

For a moment there was the first inkling of panic. Was I dead? That would be an odd consequence of admiring a top hat. But the thought of…of crying seemed absurd. I couldn’t do anything about my situation that I could see, and it…It seemed oddly familiar. And I mean I guess we all have experience not existing. Was this what it was like before I was born? Did it really matter? I didn’t seem to have the hardware that was necessary for a legit fully blown freak out.

Was this what it was like for all those white rabbits? All those lovely assistants? Would I reappear someday to the sound of applause? I was found myself unconcerned.

I imagined I was in my sleeping bag, bundled up under my bed but didn’t feel the warmth of my cozy makeshift blanket fort…not that I was cold. But the idea was comforting. I thought of the games I would play when left to myself, which you know, was quite a bit. Sometimes I would lay blankets out on my bedroom floor and pretend that I was adrift on a raft on an endless diamond sea. I would pretend to drift to my bed, and climb onto the cotton sheeted shores of this new island, ready to explore.

Other times I would be riding a magic carpet…we had a real magic carpet in the house, mind you, but I wasn’t allowed near it. Mom kept it rolled up in her sanctum. But on my pretend carpet, my magic beach towel, I would imagine flying over the crimson sands of the Great Red Desert. I had heard my mom talk about that place; she had enemies there, treacherous Efreet. Villains cut straight from Scheherazade’s stories that grampa would tell. One time the whole Empire Guard went there to fight a war with her. The story was later collected and published as “The Red War Saga”. The comics that were made about my mom and her teammates often gave clarity to stretches of my childhood when she would be away. I mean I would hear bits and pieces. I certainly have a lot of first hand knowledge of lots of really famous Super Heroes, but they didn’t really talk about the dangerous stuff around me. If I lingered where she and her teammates were talking or in the hallway outside of my father’s office I would get sent to my room. (Nearly ALL of his patients were supers or their relatives and associates, both my parents held degrees in Psychology and Parapsychology, though at the time, only dad was practicing.)

“Son, could you go to your room please, my patients value their privacy, please respect that.”
“It’s just not appropriate for your ears, dear.”

My mom, Ms.Magika, Rebekah may have had a sanctum sanctorum tucked away in our penthouse complete with an Arcane Eye and Ioun Stones, but my bedroom, my imagination provided just as much sanctuary. And now, now I had this…this... asylum.

I screamed. There was of course, no sound in the dark, but I felt the energy release. I wailed. I felt like a fist, it’s fingers so long clenched tight into a dense ball fit for delivering a K/O, finally letting go and allowing its fingers to uncurl and stretch out as far as my muscles would allow. I thought of my grandfather’s nimble hands. The fine white hairs decorating his veiny flesh, his long fingers capable of such impossible tricks.

My mind wandered. Far. Fingers of consciousness suddenly freed stretched out and away, relishing their newfound breadth and strength, reaching for other worlds, other planes, finding mysterious shores, seeing or maybe sensing is more accurate, entire races of people, great civilizations built and lost, Five legged animals galloping over hard plains, the clank of their hooves on packed dirt, translucent tendrils of cosmic jellyfish, their slick gelatinous skins reflecting the vastness of the universe, a rainstorm lasting ten thousand years, the smile of an alien face, a child with white cracked skin and no eyes, the life cycle of a caterpillar.

I didn’t know if I was creating them with my imagination or simply observing. I got lost in their lives and triumphs, the drama of the places seen, in the unfolding of a vast unthinkable nature. I felt like an eyeball, but whether I was pointed into outer space, or the distant past, or within myself, I couldn’t tell you.

Then, without willing it the eye was pulled away from distant and alien observances. It pointed back to that room and the space under the bed and although it was still familiar, I couldn’t quite remember whose it was. There was a little boy that lived there. I could see his sneakers poking out from beneath the bedframe. Though only his feet were visible, I knew his face; He had brown eyes and a mop of dark curls.

Suddenly I was in shock. I felt, I felt hair being pulled, my hair. (I had hair). I was blind, I had eyes again and they were blind, blinded by the track lighting in my parent’s kitchen. I scrambled to cover my eyes and felt my arms rub against the brim of my grandfather’s hat, squeezing free of noplace. My grandfather had a firm grip on me. He was wearing his white gloves, like in the old photos.
His shirtsleeve was rolled up over his forearm; my eyes came to focus on his faded tattoo, a grey-green blur that used to be a mermaid.

“I gotcha kiddo…”

He had my belt now and then I felt my legs swinging in the air. One of my keds connected with the hat and it flew to the floor and I dropped onto the table. The candles had been blown out. My grandfather was laughing.

“Ha! Would you look at this rabbit!??” He mussed my hair. I looked past him and saw my father. He was wearing a brown sweater. His hair was a salt and pepper “sensitive guy” mullet. He looked considerably less happy.

“Eugene, are you alright? How do you feel?” I told him I was ok, but could they please turn down the lights. Grampa turned the dial and the kitchen got dimmer. I blinked.

“See! The boy’s fine. A chip off the ol’ block!”

“My five year old has just been confronted with nothingness, that’s a bit young for a first existential crisis. He’s likely to be in shock.

“Well you weren’t the block I was talking about, Lawrence. The kid’s made of sterner stuff, isn’t that right, Rabbit? “ I nodded dumbly.

This is precicely why Becky keeps dangerous Items safely away in her sanctum. If you are incapable of adopting a more responsible attitude about your power you will no longer be welcome here, Samuel. “

“Oh I’m capable, buddy-boy! Never doubt that. Just cause my daughter married a second rate headshrinker… “

“Eugene,” My father interrupted Grampa, who somehow gulped back down the words he was about to throw at my dad like a barrage of poison tipped darts,”I’d like you to go to your room. Your mother and I will be in to examine you later. “

“What? No, the kid can stay, Eugene, stay…I’m leaving. “ He snatched his hat up from the floor, giving it a slap to free it from imaginary dust, before donning it.

“I’ll be back to speak to Becky about the boy’s education…and, his safety” he said the last word with such distain. He gave the top of his hat a pat and he was gone. Faint wisps of smoke curling in the central air.

My father said nothing to me, he placed his hand on my shoulder as he passed on his way to his office. “Helmut.” The golem entered and began to clean the mess that we had made in the kitchen.

It was a long time before I saw my Grandfather again.

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