Where can you go when there is no where else for you to physically go? The crazy have a place. The lonely have no place…except crazy. So, in order for the displaced to delay insanity, they must freshen what they have. They must take something new to a fresh place and try to invent fire. Anyone of you can do it. Anyone, as long as you are neurotic. But don’t wait too long. Don’t sleep through this opportunity. All you’ll have waiting one morning is the over-long sleeves of a sexy straight-jacket or an hiatus of blood circulation and breathing with a one way ticket to hypothermia’s constant climate control.
Let me fill you in on this odd fellow before I turn this story over to him. Henry Peck was once just a beak in the pen. On the surface, no particular virtue, no particular vice. But, inside, a set of hand me down beliefs which guaranteed a life of being screwed. Not just screwed but humiliated while being screwed. Further, his beliefs would not allow either blame or revenge to rise above his reactive temper. Action and pursuit of rectification were not allowed. Well, it would be better said that they were being stored for later use. His emotional storage unit was over limit that day, when he got promoted out of the baby pool of impasse.
I couldn’t believe myself. Enjoying everyone and everything. No stress. No real responsibilities. No more oafish oppressors. It all started when I calculated that I could financially make it without working for someone else. I could also do without the burden of family – be that close, immediate or distant. And friends? Friends are just self confected zombies who transmute when the small “r” in that vile word dissolves. Those fiends have no Reason for a Relationship with a Reciprocity expectant sycophant.
I’m playing videos games and killing. Not only am I strutting my stuff in this game as Scooby-Doo, flailing a six foot link sausage like a chain weapon, destroying mercilessly everything in my radius, including my playing partner, but vanquishing the unwashed, teens who are obviously in awe of my strutting stuff. Later, oddly, I stand by the game machine un-partnered after my last over-celebrated victory in-your-face jump and strut. Those sneering punks and punkettes didn’t know who hit ’em.
The vanquished brood leaving suddenly didn’t really bother him. It wasn’t really on this old man’s mind. In its near recesses played an earlier game. She was stuck in his mind. It was Neytiri the Na’vi amazon princess from Pandora in Avatar. He saw her. Tending bar, an empty bar, an empty bar where she seemed to be waiting for his arrival. He knew it was her by the leading contraindications: her skin quite smooth, sort of iridescent but definitely not cyan – and no stripes. Tall – but under ten feet. Slender, however, just like the princess. The nose, definitely the nose, it was her. The clincher occurred when he paid his two beer tab and rolled off his bar stool. He turned to say goodbye and she gave him that genuine smile that vowed to him, “I will stalk you, and put an arrow through your heart, and feed your entrails to the viperwolves if I learn that you are less than pure”. All of that from gratuitous smirk?
That was no gratuitous smirk, she thought. Sheena Waderwicz launched a smart bomb with her intent gaze, choreographed pose and full display of near perfect ivory American teeth. He walked into the door, she remembered, his head turning almost Exorcist-like to look back at her. That was fun. The near reality that he would be seeing more of her teeth was something else. Nothing nasty for real. But this might not be all for real.
Guys are stupid and this one was perfect in that way. She would use her scarce assets, which seemed for some reason to captivate him, to manipulate a ritual rendezvous. It will be so easy to lure this gentle, naive, trusting man-child into a situation he would never enter consciously. But the spell, the spell almost any Delilah might cast will put his not so shabby tookus where she wanted it. She really did smirk this time. Maybe that’s what he’s seeking. Finality.
Old Henry Peck stumbled out of the dank video game room into a too bright late morning sidewalk. He fell flat on his face, missing the fact that a single step, just one, existed between his verticality and his being grounded. No one saw this, that’s the important thing. Doing careless and foolish things were normal for him. Getting caught in the act made it unforgettable and, therefore, it would have become another thing to ruminate about. With humiliation now unnecessary and the new freedom of angst now back in charge, he wondered, Is it was too early for a beer?
He’s baaaaaack, Sheena suppressed, as Henry maneuvered past the pesky door.
“Hey, stranger” Sheena said.
“Hi, ah, I didn’t catch your name last day, I mean time” said Henry.
“I didn’t toss it”.
This is fun. Arousing she thought.
“Sorry, I’m Henry, I was in here…”.
“Sure, I remember you vividly, punkin’. I’m Sheena and we talked about books and brothers and boy friends…my boy friend I mean”.
Embarrassed, relieved and confused. Boy friend?
“Sheena”, Henry started, in hopes of retaining her name, “you were telling me how you read lots of science fiction. I think you said you read, not because you liked the science fiction but because you liked the challenge of figuring out the plot twists before the author revealed them”.
“Exactly. You remembered.”
Alright-y then. How did he remember that? Henry hoped she would pick up the conversation. The unpunctuated silence made him anxious but he knew that the next person to speak would say something stupid…if that person were him. A mouth full of beer might buy him some time.
Sheena returned to his darkened end of the bar, rag in hand. She leaned forward, leading with her rolled up sleeve forearms, the naked limbs extended un-ringed and unpainted. Henry acted nonchalant but sensed something of importance, not stupid, was about to be spoken.
“I expected, the time before when I showed you the sci-fi I was reading, that you would take the paperback from me and feign interest. At first, I was disappointed, that you, you know didn’t feign. I quickly concluded that, perhaps, this old hound is off his game. Trying to be kind, you know”.
Feign? Old Hound? Kind? Henry suddenly felt vulnerable. He knew, he thought, she was waiting for a response, hence the silence. He knew there would be no one or nothing to twist this situation so that would not be compelled to say something stupid. And ruin everything. Everything? What everything? In any case, he was in over his head and sinking fast.
Sheena invoked that smile, that parting smile she gave him last week, which resulted in a bruise and a lump. She leaned in.
“It’s OK” she started, he exhaled.
“I have some others I want you to see, you’ll be more interested, I know that, for sure” she concluded.
“Show me ’em” said Henry. He felt like maybe he blurted it out, he had become so immediately anxious.
Sheena straightened and stepped back from the bar. She gave a different smile this time as she positioned her hands. Suddenly, her expression changed…deadpan. The blueish window tint, the half opened wooden blinds, cast a transforming hue and pattern on this statuesque enigma.
“You want me to ‘Show ’em to ya'” the Princess said.
“I meant…I mean…the books…the ones you said you wanted me to see” Henry sputtered. He wasn’t sure now to whom he was speaking, let alone being sure what they might be talking about.
“I don’t have them”.
“But you just said…”.
“I mean I don’t have what you’re inquiring about here”.
“But, how can I see…”.
“You’ll have to come visit me”.
“In Pandora” said Henry.
He completely captivated. She completely confused.
She began writing an earthly address on the back of Henry’s tab.