Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Question, Aurora, Marv from Sin City and more: Basin City Blues conclusion

He recalls her cursing, and saying, “people will die, Marv. At the end of the day, what do you think you will accomplish, my friend?” She swore. “I hate it when you won’t listen to me, Marv. Now I want you to take me back to my apartment---I carpooled with Rhona, I never have to worry about driving my own car, at any rate...so am I in the will for the Caddy, Marv?”
He looked at her and gave a little smile.


The tall brunette from the other night---Diamond Lil, was it? ---struts on stage to “Poison” by Alice Cooper. She keeps it simple---she is not the technically accomplished dancer---she is playing a game, savoring the sound of the man dramatically opened as prey.

When he unlocked the door to his lonesome hovel, the rustling envelopes jammed beneath slithered in the moonlight licking the floor. A tired yellow burst of lamp light from the end table revealed a call for campaign contributions for Senator Rourk. Inside the pamphlet, he explained how he needed to raise funds to continue with his re-election bid in light of his steadfast stance against health reform. “From day one, I have opposed the efforts of this current administration to saddle the future generations of our nation with a prescription of astronomical deficit spending!”

“Rourk. The senator, the cardinal, the family farm...truly the spine of the Basin City community,” he muses dryly. He looks over at Nancy, who frowns at him sadly just before turning to greet Dawn Angel, already in costume and ready to go onstage.
“Sometimes I wonder why she keeps living in Basin City. Myself? I never wanted anything else. Which is best, because I don’t suppose there is anything else for me.”

Diamond Lil’s double-shot song of the day, “Poison” by Bel Biv DeVoe, pumps over the speakers. Something about her makes him think of a girl strutting all over her bedroom beneath her posters. Sheer pleasure emanates from her, as surely as she doesn’t care at all how anyone would judge her. As she finishes fiercely, he wonders if she might not indeed be poison.

Watching for responses to Dawn Angel, Marv notes another pair of men, who stand out only in that they look less hardened, though blessed with heroic good looks two bottles of whisky couldn’t give Marv on a new moon lit night. Detectives? FBI? Not in Old Town! Could this be the pair Nancy found so out of place, the ones she mentioned the first night since he’d returned from Tombstone?

Marv’s eyes fix on a table close to the stage, at virtually the other side of the room. One, to judge by his bomber jacket and patches is a Canadian war veteran. The other one looks seriously shell shocked. Possibly running in the same gang---loyalty to a casualty, perhaps. The one who walks up and joins them, with long hair and freakish fingernails, looks ready to dine on knives and sleep in the skins of innocent bystanders.

Behind him Marv recognizes the voice of the other new girl Nancy was talking to the other night---“Jenilee,” overhears. She asks someone, out of sight: “is it true what they say? That your name is Wilhemina, but I could just call you ‘Will’ for short?”
“Oh, I see. You’re Jenilee? Yes, I am a little black man trying to find some place safe to change into a little black woman. Welcome to my life!”
“Aren’t you afraid? If they found out?”
“Well, they ain’t, but I’ve been in just as much danger in places that aren’t considered dangerous for anyone. It’s a way of coping with the long change and making some money, however long I stick around. I just style myself as sly---and believe me, more of those guys are curious plenty, shed of their pals long enough. Least I can be myself, what’s up with you playin’ wallflower, this ain’t no women’s shelter, baby!”
“I had a normal life, I mean, one where I worked for a guy and his wife in their small business, and took care of my little girl...”
“Uh huh?”
“Some freak with no face stormed in one night and took it all away!”
“Mmm! Listen, sorry to step on your narrative, but I’m up after this one! If I had a place where I could have some family and raise’m in a country house just back off the highway, I’d be out of this sin city like *snap*!”

Dawn Angel and Nancy Callahan crawl out into the middle of the stage as “She-Wolf” by Shakira begins to throb over the house system. They interpret the sounds; some inner transformation takes over two bodies topped by libertine smiles and eyes like a child at play. Marv briefly notes the absorbed crowd; regulars, another large circle of semi-regulars, whoever’s got the money to get sucked in a while. Here, for people who never wanted to wake, and those abandoned by rest, dreams are naked for a while, the visions of the players and dreams of the wanna-be ballers, and the dreams dance and strip away inhibitions, and the dreams churn feverishly just out of reach, and the dreams make sure the world outside stays peacefully asleep.

When they walk out of here, whether to an actual straight job or the usual business of Basin City, there will be few comforts, little change...little beauty. And the temptations are oh so likely to lead to bitter venom...here is one place you will not be killed for showing what you like, fiercely defended from the violent games men play, replaced by the exotic world of pretend such as only the women can bring. The women come, and make a palace of their power, and open the gates for crowds of men, throwing money at the sexuality vortex, sucked into the vacuum where there is no sex.

He watches Nancy peel away from her dancing double and spin from the beautiful dark-eyed girl’s light skin as she pops her torso in celebration of her muscular core strength. When she enters a crouch on all fours, she is an animal, free from its life inside her, free from her reaction to the anticipations of others. She rolls herself smoothly, returning to the poll, locking eyes with some nemesis to her concentration unseen by the many who watch the best show in Basin City.
The hard earned paycheck, the pay-off from a fresh fence, the smuggler’s filched bonus, the bribe laid on schedule, the off-shore dividends of those with too much to ever really lose, the heist celebration, anonymous traveling financiers out for kink, the lucky long shot at the track: working man comes to live it up, fat cats come to slum it, gangsters come to show off, and the bar rolls in survival every night, because the girls themselves make sure it is straight: turf wars are checked at the door, badge action stays out of Old Town, and grudge-baring heavily armed hotheads are told point blank: there’s more time to die later...”
Marv’s observation-based reverie breaks when feels a hand rest on his shoulder gently, but hard to the touch. He looks up as he feels the hand reaching, to find the invitation in the eyes of the brunette from before, who leans in and whispers:
“I’m Diamond Lil. Do you see the girl sparkling there on the stage? I have been thinking you could help the two of us out with something.”
Marv’s gaze remains unperturbed, his ugliness shrouded in the granite-like surface reflecting the strobe lights.
Diamond Lil rubs his arm one time, and says, “I was hoping we could work out some hang ups together after work...say, over at your place...”
She backs away, and mouths, “think of me,” before turning and descending the steps to the main floor below, as Dawn Angel twists up the poll in one athletic move, and the lighting becomes a fixed spot light separating her impressive strength and her form both wild and perfectly controlled from in deep, restless darkness.
Madison Jefferies, who’s rejoined his Canadian government-trained Omega Flight team mates with much curiosity and, honestly, a lack of convincingly malicious intent, recognizes the Puppet Master. “Is that really the Puppet Master?” he says aloud, leaning over to the apparently dazed Smart Alec, who moves as though recovering from a stroke. “That is the single creepiest thing about this case.”
“It’s more like bodyguarding for us, because we have his help,” says Wild Child. ‘With the shambles Omega Flight is in these days, I’m glad we’re not taking on Aurora with her super powers! Oh, no...I like her Much more this way...I love her this way! I hope we never have to move her...this is the best place possible to keep her!”
Wild Child talks on the phone: “You are missing her pole routine, Flashback! She’s going on now!!! You can sit there afraid ‘cause you have a future self that’s going to die. Guess what? Everybody dies!!! It’s my place to help some of ‘em, so I know!”
“Sasquatch,” says Smart Alec.
Madison Jefferies notices the first emotional response in his stricken team mate’s voice---“in, how long?” he thinks---now he spots Diamond Lil, (who he has a real thing for, the worst kept secret in the team). She nods subtly towards Langkowski. Jefferies crouches in his seat. “Blast it!” he whispers, “better update the intelligence on this one---that’s Sasquatch! He’s gone toe-to-toe with the Hulk himself!”
Jefferies plies at the arm of Wild Child, rising, and saying, “No mistake, Department H drilled us on hours of field action and test footage, to someday join him in Alpha Flight!”
Wild Child ignores Jefferies, who speeds for the doorway, walking but not running.
The Dawn begins to spin several feet off the floor, quickly, around the pole. The pole begins to rise into the ceiling mechanically, disappearing from her grasp in a matter of seconds, yet her spin continues as though by some power not of this world.
Wild Child shouts into his cell phone: “And I know I’m going to die, and it could be just as soon as you will, so I ask you...why are you sitting off on the sidelines?
Dawn’s gravity defying spin continues when the pole has vanished. The sparkles ignited as though by crystal sequins and hot lights stand out as the house lights fade.
“You have got to howwl !!!”
Wild Child punctuates his phone call with a savage, inhuman sounding growl, before throwing back his head to howl. When he smashes his phone into the floor in front of the table, Walter Langkowski’s eyes are drawn to its flying fragments.
Wild Child smashes his glass into the floor, then shatters the beer stein left by Jefferies. This draws Langkowski’s complete attention. When Wild Child begins to writhe in his pile of glass, even the dancer notices the blood beginning to run from the growing number of slivers. “I’ve always loved you!” he screams pitifully from the floor, before crawling up laughing like a maniac.
Jefferies scans the room as he backs out the exit, thinking: “Us, Puppet Master---we must be here because Roark’s ready to move her. Keeping an eye on her was easier than holding her hostage could ever be, thanks to that sick doll man, I’ll bet. Sorry, old Walty-boy, if I’m going to figure this thing out while keeping an eye out for Lil, I have to play this hand through!”
“Dream A Little Dream of Me” by the Mamas and the Papas plays to a more old-fashioned style of burlesque, while Nancy comes out to bring the crowd down a bit after Wild Child’s manic immolation.

Walt finally approaches Dawn Angel, agonizing from a distance awaiting some glance his way, some look of recognition that might become a spark. Marv cuts his eyes over the approaching figure.
“Some Like It Hot” by the Power Station pumps over the speakers as Nancy returns, tricked out in chaps with a twirling lasso...
Dawn Angel, however, decides to ignore him like any other overly eager customer, and quickly she decides to ascend the steps and take refuge, without a word, at Marv’s table.

“Jeannie, babe, it’s me!” Nothing. “Aurora. Aurora!” Nothing. “Ms. Beaubier...” he yells, losing heart, waiting. The minutes crawl by awkwardly. Diamond Lil decides to begin a strip tease in front of Vic, taking off his tie and beginning to stroke her behind with humorous sweeps to the beat. Vic looks around, uncertain as to where Walter is. Just over his shoulder, at Marv’s table above the floor, Walt rushes forward, saying “please!”; the dancer stands and begins to hurry away. “You’ve got to remember! We need to talk!” Marv wonders how their personal history might work, but he decides to quietly watch, and should things go outside, he resolves to accept a place in the shadows and motor oil cans and cigarette butts and mud, within earshot...
“Workin’ Day and Night” begins thumping as Wilhelmina comes out dressed like girl dressed not unlike Off the Wall era Michael Jackson, playing up to another girl’s tease before cleverly stripping away choice elements of her wardrobe.
Lil immediately sweeps over to the exit, eagerly anticipating what transpires in the poor lights hanging sickly over the backstage door to the parking lot. Marv brushes beside her, stepping out quickly; “sorry,” he offers the hard-to-the-touch woman.
Puppet Master recognizes Marv, though only as an anonymous threat; “I had noted his ugliness...a certain nobility, even...” he thinks, leering malevolently after the stark silhouette of the departing figure.

As soon as she is three steps out the door, three mobsters approach her, one of them, a balding man who greatly resembles Bernie Madoff, cordially offers: I beg your pardon, miss, but I would like to offer aid and services of the Wallenquist Organization.” He proffers a car gently, which she takes, as he asks her to come with them. “I don’t know you.”
“To the Beat Y’all” by the Utah Saints booms out the back door of Kadie’s; Marv starts down the alleyway from the other side of the dressing room when Vic Sage suddenly puts out a hand and says, “what’s your interest in the girl?”
“I don’t answer to you,” Marv glowers.
“You don’t understand what’s...”
“Back off, man! Is this a lousy distraction?”
He bulldozes right past Sage.
He shoots Sage a cold look over his shoulder...
Down the alley, at the street light’s edge, the consigliore for the Wallenquist mobsters continues his pitch to Dawn Angel. “Be that as it may, you may be in grave danger. You need friends...I’m not threatening you, miss, you are free to go your own way.”
The air crawls with snarls from above. “Wild and free!” sing-songs a taunting voice. Bestial, horrific, Wild Child descends like a human Sword of Damocles upon the mobsters.


Wild Child’s attack leaves Aurora stands frozen, her face splashed with blood, screaming in the lightless night. One gangster manages to run for dear life, leaving the other two to their uncertain fates. Wild Child steps up to Dawn Angel first, while she is alone beside the shrouded alley.
“You knew that I always loved you, didn’t you?” he begins, smiling. “But I hardly had your number...at my finger tips,” he says, creepily brandishing his gore-flecked talons. “So crazy for you, so into what it would be like with you...I always said...you’d like something WILD in you, wouldn’t you?”
Seeing the fear in her eyes, Wild Child relents in a moment of restraint. “Think about it! I’ll be watching over you...” he says, stepping back out of the light as Walter Langkowski comes barreling out to her side. Unfortunately, the scream and Walt’s appearance give Marv an impression he should quickly shove this unknown suitor in the chest and continue the interview after he picks himself out of the fetid, dented garbage cans. Marv takes on Walt, who resists transforming into Sasquatch and uses a judo throw to hurl him into the strewn garbage lying vagrantly in the alleyway.
Seeing the closest thing to an ally he has attacked by the larger man, Sage takes a kick at the back of Marv’s leg, seeing no obvious openings. Marv simply leaps onto Sage, who desperately tries to twist out from under Marv’s strangling forearm. Marv rolls right over the top of Sage’s prostrated form, coming up in a crouch, springing up and staring down the alleyway as he hears the scream...of a man.

Even considering Marv’s uncanny strength, taking a hit is something Langkowski used to do for a living. Though surprised, he struggles all the way to the ground in an effort to turn the bigger man’s momentum against him. Once beside him on the ground, however, it is nothing like football, as Marv kicks him hard in the bread basket, then again in the knee. This gives Marv the advantage to lay a devastating right cross, and he keeps jabbing, not providing his foe any leverage nor useable momentum.
Reasoning Aurora’s life is at risk---and perhaps, having had enough ass-whipping---bloodied Langkowski makes a guard with his forearms, and gives in to metamorphosis that will exchange his body for a Great Beast of the North, a more evil match, in spirit, for dangers of Basin City.

Sage opens his cartridges of special vapors onto his trench coat, imbuing it with a blue tint, as a flesh-colored material once again envelopes his head, leaving, on the face of it, a Question. The central figure of concern in this snafu runs off at this first opportunity...in fact, to the naked eye, she vanishes.
Marv turns to see the faceless man standing in the doorway, and just as quickly, said man is dispatched with a direct blow to the back of the head from a wooden baseball bat. Astonished, he sees Jenilee still holding it, hyper-ventilating. Then a strong hand grips Marv’s neck, while the altering throat of Walter Langkowski gurgles forth, “I’d like to settle this as a fair fight, in principle...”

Another gang of Magliozzi mobsters pulls up, talking rapidly with their buddies who happened to be by to enjoy the show, while the bass beneath “Respiration” by Black Star (“keeping it real will make you a casualty/ of abnormality normality/ killers born naturally, like Mickey & Mallory...not knowing the ways’ll get you capped like an NBA salary..”) makes the car shudder with 808 urgency. From across the parking lot, they watch the fight erupt. Walter begins to deform, grow long white fur, transform, and expand, so Marv furiously beats him in an effort to win before he finishes. Watching Marv batter and kick the changing freak is great sport; nevertheless the Magliozzi gangsters stay away, taken aback by the freakish, out-of-place elements that threaten to smash anything fragile enough to be human; they spin out of control, like lusty flames aroused in a tinder box. Marv finally takes out his Colt, “Gladys”, saying, “I’d like to settle this as a fair fight, in principle!”, and fires point blank beneath the fanged mouth into the howling beast-man’s chest.
“Man, Raul was right to cozy up to those ghouls last night,” offers Izzy, one of the thugs. “Magliozzi wants a say, they gonna need a big stick!”
“Call in special help?” responds Fashion Plate Lee. “We’re muckin’ wit’ dark powers, Izzy!”
“Shut up! Last night, your soul was the least of your cares.”
He’s after the girl, too! Stomp him!
Smart Alec attempts to use a taser on Marv; quickly is it apparent--- it’s going to take a lot more than that!
Just as Wild Child springs into the melee and he and Marv begin to mix it up, Marv slams Wild Child’s head into the lamp post. However, while Wild Child lies beneath a stained boxing poster, his beady eyes filled with stars and black shutters in a crumpled heap, Marv simply walks away, his stare fixed blankly ahead. Like a marionette, he walks without body language towards the parking lot.
Seizing the advantage from Marv’s savaging, Wild Child chooses to ignore Marv and go for the ever-growing threat of Sasquatch by attempting to shred his underbelly before he can complete the change. Seeing he is dealing with Omega Flight, Langkowski finally completes the transformation, bleeding profusely but free of Marv’s constant battering. Sasquatch is snow white, capped by thick fur with a bestial head with grim yellow eyes beneath shaggy brows, with an almost primate-like disfiguring of the torso and lengthy, massive arms extending in a span as long as his ten foot tall body. The imposing Great Beast is contained by a contraption previously generated by Jeffries, clutching the eruption of his stomach, slashed open by Wild Child, who then attempts to rip Sasquatch’s vocal chords.
The Dawn Angel, a.k.a. Aurora, runs away, finding herself speedily transported to her own apartment, with no recollection of how she did it. She thinks to go back to the church...Reverend Candela...thinks she should be able to get to the bottom of this, how she is being manipulated...she will attempt to keep herself from going anywhere, then. She takes an unwise amount of sleeping pills and begins to swig a bottle of red wine, swearing she will not let anyone have control of her again so easily.
Jefferies’ contraption binds Sasquatch in a formation like a super-straight jacket, equipped on back with shifting, telescoping tentacle legs, constantly contracting and expanding from one center of gravity to the next, pitching the monster man off balance as he struggles with each tip and turn. Sasquatch forces one of his arms out of socket, then uses his hand from the bottom of his confinement to slash his restraints, gripping them in his massive talons. Sasquatch begins to burst his lever-shifting manacles and attend to his opponents and his wounds, when he becomes frozen in place, controlled by a doll from the now clearly revealed Puppet Master. But much to the Puppet Master’s dismay, the enraged Sasquatch proves difficult to keep in control. Fearfully, Puppet Master paws at his radioactive clay doll, etching the anguished face with his Exacto knife in an effort to subdue Sasquatch with his voodoo-like power.
All is lost for those who would stand, however, when a man with half his face completely covered by a duo-toned mask and navy body-stocking, armed to the teeth with fantastic weaponry, steps forwards and tells him “nice doll, but someone already thought to call Deathstroke the Terminator for the save. Isn’t that right, ugly?” Deathstroke fires a gas grenade straight into the beast’s face, as he explains: “Now that there gas I invented causes oxygen atoms to cluster in ways that make the air molecules impermeable---respiration is impossible. Not to mention, what with the concentrated oxygen... “he says, hefting a lit Zippo lighter at Sasquatch’s head seconds later, “if you’re not careful, it has a way of blowing up in your face!” Sure enough, in addition to asphyxiation, the weakened monster’s face is caught in the arc-welder style flare that results in his helpless collapse.
“That’ll put him down!” remarks Deathstroke, who snaps up the Zippo (engraved with a bullseye) and lights a Cuban cigar, before shoving back his mask to reveal the craggy, white-haired assassin adorned with an eye patch and a self-satisfied smirk. “Amateurs, I swear.”
“Shut up!” The Puppet Master holds his Sasquatch doll in one hand, and now lets drop another doll, shaped like Marv. “While you took your prima-donna time getting the lead out, that local brawler nearly eliminated everyone at hand.”
“So what’d you do?” asks Deathstroke, puffing.
Puppet Master gleefully continues. “I had earlier decided he might make a useful puppet, what with his grizzly-like qualities. Before he could jeopardize the operation, I simply directed him to his car...”
Marv is shown cranking his El Dorado, mindlessly, before Puppet Master finishes:
“I told the cowboy---time to ride off into the sunset!”
The Docks: Marv’s Cadillac guns to his highest gear, smashing a crate on its way to a brief flight out over the waters, before sinking out of sight.

END OF CHAPTER ONE, “Basin City Blues”

Friday, October 23, 2009

Sin City, Alpha Flight, the Question, Marv and more: Basin City Blues part two

“Basin City Blues, pt. 2”
Vic Sage watches a person in priestly robes on his knees, hands open in supplication as though he seeks complete surrender and communion with some higher power, his gaze facing above the pulpit, while at the back of the 1000 seat chapel Sage stands silently stock-still.
He sits with bated breath into one of the pews, as the apparent priest asks clearly aloud: ‘How will I know this Lady of Light? When will the world twist as before my eyes? How do I know, I am not still bound in purgatory?” Vic bows his head very low, listening inquisitively to this private soul searching.
But the soul for which he has sought---which, indeed, brought both of these unrelated men to this place---walks in from the vestibule, the lady tall, slender, yet demure, in black, her cuffs and closely-drawn neckline all in white lace, as is her belt. She is near to tears, stepping forward quickly, then pacing gently, releasing her sobs, staggering towards forgiveness.
Now newest friar of Cardinal Rourk’s parish, who stabbed the air with desperately pointed questions, turns allowing himself a slight smile. “There is no need for doubt, my child,” he says, for his own benefit as much as hers, “faith has brought you here for solace. Come to me, ye heavy laden.”
“I—I have sinned with such abandon, and I don’t remember why.” she says, softly, “I must be confessed of this cross I bear.” Sage places her accent as French Canadian.
“Then take up your cross,” he says, turning towards the confessional booth, gesturing grandly to the left wing of the cathedral,” and follow me.”

As Sage furtively takes leave of the chapel, he begins checking the church for online stories on his Blackberry. He walks nervously down the hallways into an adjourning wing, as his brain connects the image of someone he saw casually snooping around outside.
“Linebacker for the Packers,” he recalls, “Bartkowski? What was it...Langkowski!”
His phone finds the story in the previous week’s paper, how longtime parishioner Rev. Enock Fell was leaving this cathedral after twenty-two years of service, to be replaced by a Rev. Candela. Fishy thing about the priest’s transfer to Hub City: where’s any follow-up announcement about it in Hub City?
He peeks into a window, from a couple of feet back, and sees a classroom-type setting entirely packed with women: Thai, Filipino, Russians, Brazilians. He is suddenly not sure if this is a Sunday school class; there was nothing to keep the public away... but he surreptitiously slips into a broom closet as two tough-looking guys in pin-striped suits in keeping with church come down the hall.
As Sage shifts quietly inside the back of the closet and watches from a quarter inch of cracked open door, the two men pause there to talk about their problems. “I’m losing valuable time...” he thinks, as he releases the gas from his belt to bond to his face as his featureless mask.
“You been awfully open about your family situation today, Mac.”
“It’s the stuff that makes me, you know,” Mac replies. “All I know is, I got into this to pay the house off quicker, then I got caught up in the poker games and the late nights...but I’m still doin’ this for my kids! I’ve got good money sitting at the table every week to keep us afloat, and Martha shops for the stylish clothes.”
“You gonna try’n quit for them?”
“Might as well as Wall Street to stop stealin’! Once you figure out what you deserve and you know how to get it, what of it? ‘Sides, how’m I gonna quit now? I’m in the hole for services rendered, if you know whut I mean!”
The Question steps out of the closet and delivers a roundhouse to the chin of the one guy while punching Mac, saying,
“At least then you could see your own face in the mirror!”
He kicks Mac out cold while Mac kneels before him; “but for what it’s worth,” he says, parting, “here’s your absolution.”

As the Question rushes out the nearest exit, he peels off his mask, asking himself, “what am I doing here? I don’t need the Question or Vic Sage giving these guys a heads-up...but the girl herself is my only remaining clue, and I don’t need a clue to feel uneasy about this chapel. I can’t take chances, she’s in incredible danger. But I still haven’t seen anything that couldn’t be explained away...did I serve my own impatience and thirst for violence?”

Running out to the lawn beside the church, Vic Sage sees blond, broad, serious-faced Walter Langkowski. Vic continues at a more casual pace, jogging, attempting to conserve all energy and not startle the object of his attention, who he reaches while Langkowski successfully flags down a cab. Ahead of him, another taxi is departing, to his apparent consternation.
“Excuse me, you’re Walter Langkowski?”
“Who are you?”
“Vic Sage, reporter for...”
“I don’t do interviews. This is my cab, excuse me.”
“Aren’t you looking for someone?” Sage blurts out, desperate to keep conversing.
“Isn’t that why you are here at this church? Maybe why---both of us are here?”
Walt puts up a hand like a level, smooth chop, divorcing himself from contact. “Like I told them inside, I’m considering a chapel for a wedding.”
“That’s good. Maybe I should’ve thought of that myself, because I assure you I am in no way affiliated with this organization. You have every right to distrust them, in my opinion.”
“I want this cab following her,” Langkowski says to the cabbie, handing him a hundred dollar bill. He turns to Sage: “All in, or all out.” Sage climbs in beside Langkowski.
“I could see it in your eyes, you care for her,” Vic says point blank.
“Yeah,” Walt replies tersely. He keeps his eyes ahead on the road, crouching forward.
“So what’s the connection with the church? Help an out-of-towner connect the dots here.”
“She was raised in a convent by the loving grace of the state department, who let her brother be adopted by a couple who really could only take one child. I played a longshot, a hail Mary, because all my question have yielded zilch---I went back to what I knew about her, in case she went back to what she had known in order to find herself. In case she was free, but lost.”
“Lost,” Vic says, tentatively, then shifting his line of inquiry. “What do you know about kidnappers?”
“I am no gum shoe, in fact professionally I’m a trained scientist,” Walt replies. “I have wallowed in this town, gradually putting out interest in whoever trades in human beings. I’ve put my feelings down inside, so my mind could analyze things as a process. Only one name came up more than once; most of the other times, they decided to blow me off. Do you know anything about a white slavery business run by Manuel?”
The cabbie laughs snarkily. “Mister, Manuel you talking about, and his brothers? Dead, man. Been dead! Gunned down! Pkrr! Brat-a-tat-tat! Ha Ha! You lookin’ for a ghost, dude!”
Walt exhales in disgust. “Then just don’t lose this girl.”
“What, you want me to follow this girl home?” he replies. “What you do is your business, man, but at least appeal to my sense of decency!”
“More money?” snaps Vic.
“There’s no need to insult my chivalry,” he replies.
“Okay, okay, maybe this isn’t the best idea,” says Walt. “Have you ever given her a ride to work, then? Some place public I can meet her?”
“For all I knew, you was a stalker,” the cabbie points out. “I mean, considering where she works! Heh-heh!”
“What about it?” says Vic.
“I can almost remember the name of it,” says the cabbie, taking off his hat to scratch his head. Tiny flakes flutter out the window, many lighting on his shoulder as he continues. “I ain’t gonna lie to ya, I don’t try to get mixed up in people’s bidness. I must work eighteen hours a day; I have to sleep in this thing with no air conditioning when gas is too high! I am fuzzy about my log when you ask me about fares from, three, four months back? Maybe longer!”
“Sigh...does this help?”
“Don’t sweat it,” says Walter. “Money, I got! Green Bay was very generous back in the day. Can’t remember the last time I begged for anything...except from Aurora, heh.”
“Mmm...” says the cabbie, in mock contemplation. “I appreciate you trying to encourage me...hold on, where do you guys want to go now?”
“Might as well take us to the place, if you can remember it...”
“Well, if I drive around a bit, maybe it’ll hit me...” the cabbie says, becoming the background while Vic asks, “Aurora---is that her name?”
“Why don’t you know?” says Walter.
“All I know is people smuggling animals in Hub City got tied up in moving a person of interest around safely, inconspicuously, with the rest of a rather expansive slavery operation.”
“Damn! Jeanne-Marie Beaubier is her given name...she once shared an apartment with me in Vancouver, where I continued my research after I retired from pro ball.”
“I’ll just start with going to Old Town,” says the cabbie. “We should be able to figure things out from there!”

Some hours later, Vic and Walt are cooling their heels in Kadie’s, nursing cold beers as the evening’s entertainment begins.
Vic asks Walter a personal question: “Why don’t you just walk up to her when you see her?”
Walter leans back, exhales, stares ahead, then looks Vic in the face. “Jeanne-Marie has what people used to call a split-personality. It’s been a lifelong issue for her. I don’t mention it lightly.” He scans Vic’s face for a reaction, but all he gets, of course, is an inquisitive blank, awaiting the words.

“One part of her is deeply repressed, always prim, proper, and frankly, not in touch with her feelings,” he continues. “Intelligent, a trained mind, disciplined, reserved. The next personality to come along was her using those brains to figure out she is a free spirit, very brave, a woman of her own choosing---but reckless.”
“And you love the second one?” Vic offers.
“No, not exactly...she integrated those selves into a more settled, responsible personality, a very capable person...the things I wanted to see in myself, exalted by her feminine form...and I don’t know if I’m ever going to see that person again. But I will do everything in my power to protect Jeanne-Marie.”

Also awaiting her arrival where she works, Marv sits out of sight atop the mezzanine level of the club, overlooking the tables from stage left. Marv recalls being picked up by Nancy Callahan the night he shadowed the Dawn Angel to her abode...when Nancy’s observations of customers of some particularly nasty nature inspired Marv to pay attention and find the petite bald man, who he happens to note has returned tonight, apparently drinking alone.

“It just so happens she lives at the address she listed on her application,” explained Nancy. “I always know where to find your spare keys...for moving it in your absence, in case someone wants to car bomb your Caddie or some other crime against the country...God knows no-body will ever have the nerve to strip it!”
“I recognize that guy driving off,” says Marv. “He’s one of Rourk’s fighting dogs.”
“Did this girl invite you to prowl around her apartment playing Secret Service?” asked Nancy sarcastically.
Marv recalls: “Just wondering if the two guys who pulled up are the ones Nancy didn’t like. She doesn’t want to help me explore any curiosity about the situation, either. She thinks I’ll die. She worries I’ll kill. She thinks I don’t listen, but I do.”

He recalls her cursing, and saying, “people will die, Marv. At the end of the day, what do you think you will accomplish, my friend?” She swore. “I hate it when you won’t listen to me, Marv. Now I want you to take me back to my apartment---I carpooled with Rhona, I never have to worry about driving my own car, at any rate...so am I in the will for the car, Marv?”
He looked at her and gave a little smile.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Basin City Blues: a noir/science fiction pastiche

Basin City Blues (introduction to the “dtoxiverse”, characters suggested by D. Whiteley)
Setting: Basin City; scene: Kadie's Club Pecos. In an out-of-the-way booth, while a very tall brunette dances a burlesque on stage with cruelly pursed lips, to Prince’s “You Got the Look,” Nancy Callahan is having the tail end of a conversation with a young woman who tells of her harrowing kidnapping/ rape and abuse at the hands of a man she lived with for the past decade. She'd been helping him with his shipping business, and he'd bring her tiny, exotic gifts from all over the world when he traveled. Why did she stay? They had a child together, she says, and eventually his heartless torture stopped. By then, she could not imagine another life...he loved her in his own way, found the truth in love. Not damn likely, Nancy thinks, but she asks: what happened? And would she care for a Smart Water (“they're good when you still have to dance”)? Deep in the back, some twelve feet away beneath no light, an ugly juggernaut of a man sits nursing a Scotch as the conversation drifts back to him. His eyes meet the dancer's; she is new, with willful, haughty eyes.

The girl replies she has been on the run every since the man with no face came and ransacked their home, saying her Charles was a criminal. No face? None whatsoever...she overheard the man accuse Charles of abducting a girl, with the same resources he'd used to smuggle highly-prized animal parts...she fled, and saw on the news where her backyard camping ground had been ransacked and picked over by investigators...Nancy insists she needs to go the authorities, and offers her the card of a cop named Hartigan, encouraging her to contact her family. The girl decides she has said too much, snaps at Nancy, then leaves.

Marv addresses her; she shakes her head, stating the girl is hardly the only mysterious case. A French-Canadian girl has started recently as well, but while she has been very demonstrative on stage, it seems as though she is a different person off. Her behavior doesn't fit the usual patterns of the usual addictions, but there is something about her that is worrying. She notes that a pair of men have been coming in repeatedly since the girl started---"Dawn Angel" is her stage name---and while they only watch and stay briefly, Nancy does not care for their vibe at all. "In this town," notes Marv, "that's saying something."

Then the Dawn Angel takes the stage, timidly at first, as “Black Queen Style” by Mechanical Moth plays. Her motions throw away all pretense of inhibition, and she erupts in a laugh as she spins. Little sparkles of light seem to flow from her sequins, and Marv notes that everyone seems hypnotized, especially the beady-eyed bald man furiously at work with both hands inside his trenchcoat. "Except maybe for that new girl," Marv thinks; "she is shooting daggers at her one minute, then eyeballing her like a cut of prime rib the next. So which is it?" He cannot keep his mind on anything else now but the dance.

When she comes off the stage, Dawn Angel seems very flirtatious with all around; Marv has a little trouble following her accent, nor, he reasons, is she of a mind to pay him any attention. But she defies his expectations by walking straight up to him, leering, almost. She smirks at him, only to have a sea change flash across her face, eyebrows arching innocently, sadly, and she looks lost. “Sexual” by Thaea plays in the background. She reaches out and brushes him. Then she stiffens, looks right through him, and walks away.

Marv asks himself: is she trying to communicate with me? What is her deal, anyway? The trouble in her eyes, the moment she looked helpless, stays with him as he pays his tab and walks out to his Cadillac El Dorado. He watches, though, as the beady-eyed little man furtively conceals himself in the shadows by the doorway to Kadie's, observing the Dawn Angel dancer as she leaves. Not liking the looks of things, Marv decides to join in by tailing the little man. He first reaches into glove compartment for some shells "to keep Gladys", his C.45 ACP Colt M1911, "company". He leaves a scrap of paper with the word "Nancy" scrawled onto it on the dash; "she's got a set of keys if she needs to move it...in which case I will have a whole other world of problems."

Marv follows the pair out of Old Town, to a brownstone tenement Marv notes "isn't much, but at least it's not the Projects like I grew up in." The beady-eyed doll-like man makes a phone call as she goes up the steps, then walks down the street, to a car Marv recognizes. The driver is one of Rourke's men; the last time Marv saw him, he was running for his life from Marv. Now Marv is sure he needs to keep an eye out for this girl, as something sinister seems afoot.

Marv walks past a diner where a curly-headed man in a neck tie sits before organized piles of paper and photographs, a virtual dossier. The man is Vic Sage, television reporter from Hub City, trying to go back to the beginning of this case that seems to connect important people to a kidnapping ring. It all began with a clumsy heist of a wild boar, with the stink of the rutting female taken before still in his nostrils. The animal buried his tusks deep into one of his tormentors at the same time Sage surprised the poachers in his identity as the seemingly-faceless Question. Ruthlessly taunting him with emergency medical care, the Question had gotten the names of two more people in the ring after skillfully subduing the boar. The poachers had been hired to help with a kidnapping as well, tied closely to slavers---some of whom have worked with the mob here in Basin City to coerce mail-order brides to work in their clubs.

Apparently, the mob does not have any influence in Old Town, the center of much of the city's prostitution. Why? And why are members of Senator Rourke's campaign staff linked with payments to a dummy shipping company used by the recruited poachers? Most unbelievable to Sage is the fact that he has been able to ferret out so much in so little time; it is as though the dirtiness and corruption go unchallenged. "Sometimes I'd like to just go join that boar on safari and leave human sleaze behind!" he muses.


Cosmic interlude: A light is born
Solar, the man of the atom, is a creature who was an inventor named Phil Seleski, who discovered he had recreated himself---me!---and his universe through the power of a black hole.
While now I partake in vast quantum energies, I am drawn to placidly observing the wonders of the heavens, for I realize I am, after all, a man, who must consider the consequences of his actions.
The effects of my “black hole accident” manifest across many realms of existence. In 4000 A.D. I noted contact from an alternative earth which had, during the time analogous to my own lifetime, spawned a race of star travelers, who mastered their own physical potentials in attaining ever-lasting forms of energy. As with any alternative reality, I am left with the somewhat egocentric sounding notion: have I participated in its very creation? None of which seems to win me a free pass wherever I go, but I’ve survived a black hole collapse; quoth Alfred E. Neuman: “what, me worry?”
Upon arriving, I found the atmosphere of what I imagine would be our own solar system iterated as a rippling corridor of time/space that happened to center upon my one sentimental planet, Earth. I traced a beam of light on a voyage of tachyons beyond human scope to another galaxy, at the edge of a great mirror that separated a limbo realm from the continuity of the local sector of space. That’s when I began the path of observation that has led to this moment, when two women of supreme power, titans in their own right, became entwined into a kiss that seems more at ease to one than the other. As a man, I find, I must return through the loop of concentration that led here to a moment that leaves me...well,reeling. For, all cosmic forces considered, I am just a man.
Take this perspective: a veritable dimension removed from not only the layers of space and time, but also the layer in which concepts and thought make up the mind and earthly perception, That is one reason I see the attraction in someone I now recognize as a super-heroine named Suprema losing the conflict to initial revulsion, at being greeted by surprise in the manner of a lover by this flying, tan-skinned woman enveloped in her own power of cosmic flame. I encountered Suprema once long ago with her brother, fighting the Spider Aliens in what you would chronologically call the future. She considered herself a polite but firm moral opposition to libertine, profligate ways. I think she is going to find her visit to this planet interesting. A subspace transmission I’ve received suggests this is a galactic throne world called Tamarand.
Apparently, Tamarand shares a quadrant with the limbo zone hidden behind the mirror barrier. The person of interest from that sector is the mastermind behind the light energy that centered upon the rippling Earth. My observations there led me to a mystery of a phenomenon of great consequence, which I have yet to grasp. Until then, I wish to ascertain the motives of any cosmic being so intimately intertwined with the miraculous changes I have seen, in the trans-ruptured world where my journey began. I feel some obligation to provide protection, though I know of no agency other than myself that so employs me to safeguard humanity. People work low-paying, crap jobs out of a sense of their own obligations, so if anyone in the cosmos can stick up for miserable, loveable humanity, it falls to me.
I believe a device invented by the Supreme family alerted Supema to trail the former denizen of limbo. Too bad no device could’ve alerted her to the affectionate embrace of Tamarand culture, I suppose, though, her discomfort aside, in my twinge of guilty pleasure I am reminded Solar is simply Phil...Phil is just a man.
But Solar---now that’s a super-hero, if I do say so myself. In space, no one can hear you brag...
The most praiseworthy achievement now is to inspect this part of the loop, where I was as I tracked Suprema and this light-fellow from this side of the black hole energy event. There I wondered if this was a different means of manifesting the quantum wish fulfillment machinery, inherent in this as well as my prime home universe. As I began investigating this trans-rupture upon the planet Earth, I wondered: did I cause it? Is it a natural process? Are both possibilities the truth? Was this permutation of the form of the world planted in deeds long before, plans long before the sun was imagined? Or does the moment now conspire to transfix its most curious occupant in the light of its ultimate transformation?
These things, I ponder, between the mirror edge of the non-apparent Limbo and planet Tamarand. But there where I see, at the level of people imaginary to those in conventional space/time, the light has reached beyond where there was no source of light to reflect a future to some self there depressed in lower dimensional seclusion of inactivity.
The being calls to Optilux, and declares to this non-entity that they are both Optilux, bringers of a new era of information and light, to all conscious beings within the lights of the stars. For ourselves, behold in the lights of this tiny city of your faith, the dream layer of those within which unveils the future of planet Earth:
Their geographical surface is razed in so many places; the four elements seem to take to the air like an army of ravaging dragons; the lives of humanity all over the globe reach a reckoning. The effects of the light from the cosmos makes the fates of many opaque to my extra-dimensional, phantom-like watch. I see billions of people choose their fate in that light. I marvel at those who remain, whose minds open to a tremendous empathy that binds strangers in the peril of the world, turned for some days into an anarchy of nature, while what some evangelicals I knew growing up would refer to as the rapture itself takes people from space and time on Earth in a vanishing wave. From a distance, I am able to see how, in the matter of days of human life, thousands of years of changes accelerate all around them. Far fewer now are those who remain, and they I believe are the source of what will be the star-traveler race. But I am a man, and my impatience calls me to curiously ponder the invasion, or intervention, of that beam, of the city of light made as a citadel in space for the travelers’ future congregations, wonders if Heaven has been visited, struggling now within the limits of metaphors to gauge the change, beyond description in any religious text of which I have learned. And simply because of a feeling, that something so far beyond humanity’s apparent control might need the eye of one of their own, I would not let this go, and so chose to speed to the light, some ways up the time stream from the chain of events begun on the edge of the hidden limbo.
From nothingness, I spring from the memory of hope, that I may avert some great terror visited upon humanity. I watch now as Optilux commands his lower self to take station in a basin of humanity’s bitter waters, and present himself there a man of the Almighty, for such is he below, as above, and beyond. “Go,” he says, ” and minister to the lady of the light, that she might heal the world to come with her wisdom, and so spread our good news amidst the razed lands, for unto them a Light is Born...”

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Vanishing Wave Part Three





THE VANISHING WAVES
Part three, “Eye of the Storm Waves” : Johnny Storm, a.k.a. the Human Torch

Any time you can fly where the mountains stand and still smell the ocean...
It’s the same type of temperature here in So Cal that I choose to maintain. For me,
being hot is a state of mind.


Sky high sights roll to me over bits of the city poised in the mountain peaks that descend into the city, just as we do. Reed is a channel, I admit, I like to turn down when I can, so I can take in my own observations...
In every direction I look, there’s a beautiful girl. Every one else is okay, too. If no one needs the Fantastic Four today, why not find out what’s hidden in Escondido? We’re there from San Diego in 3 minutes. Ben is making some joke about visitin’ the wild animal safari. Sue, that look on your face tells me that somethin about this day is going to leave me with an achin’ back...and to tell the truth, I feel a little tension, too, like everything I know or previously thought of as my life is going into a freefall......with no bottom in sight.

I’ve flamed on as our craft decelerates in a freakishly efficient use of inertia. Typical inside California city limits, every space set out as space is already serving someone’s needs. Though in this economy, maybe an actual parking space...

I land in the shady little tennis court by the poolside of a hotel on Mission Avenue. The lady looked younger from five hundred feet...


She looked worried from about that far, too, which isn’t a good sign.

“Russ was just shaving, and I...I told him he missed a spot, and ...and we laughed...”
Oh, no, better lend her some energy...she’s trembling...

“And--- I could see THROUGH him! And then...he just...stopped happening.”

She feels like wailing. But we both know there’s something going on, maybe something that can be explained. How do you say that to a person?

“You mean he---just seemed to stop being there?”
“How? Why? He’s been with me night and day, and then he moves somewhere? *Sniff* Moves somewhere into somewhere out of plain sight?”

“Look, you’re helping me understand why we are here,” I say, putting a hand out to her fallen shoulder.
“You’re not alone, okay? Hang on, I gotta mr. fantastic twitter.”

Mmm!
“Listen, center yourself. You’re actually doing a great job of it. I’ll have to do it, too...but we’re looking for patterns. There are more forms of existence than you’d think about , as many as you can imagine. Just feel him with you. And don’t give up on yourself. ‘Kay?”

“Okay.” Wow.

No point in telling her the pattern’s breaking out all over Escondido; Reed’s telling me he calculates about eight percent of the city’s 150,000—from a glance--- or so people “seem to have disassociated with the third dimensional plane.”

Ben:”I seen it myself, Stretch. They wuz just bein there, when suddenly people started vanishin’ like someone running the Lou Dobbs Report in reverse! They just calmly dissolve into some bigger reality. How we gonna know the location of these cosmic potholes, chief?”

Reed: That’s an excellent question.
Sue: The people are delirious, but they’re pulling together. This problem’s hidden so deep beneath the surface, I think they are profoundly worried for each other rather than projecting their fear onto one another. Not vanishing is some kind of common bond!

Reed: That’s our one advantage, then, Sue. We can focus on identifying the conditions, which seem to be progressing. Torch, I need you about forty kilometres that way, it’s not a surge but rather something like the eye of the storm. We must know why.

Let’s get two more then, won’t there? Forty kilometres...If I see a Corner Gas Station I’ll yell.

Ben: Pick me up some oatmeal road cookies, why don’tcha?

Sue: Here's one thing we all know: matter cannot created or destroyed. I believe something's transforming the state of the people. We need to know more before the effects become irreversible.

You don’t need highway five to drive when you’re the Human Torch,

but it’s good for drawing


a quick bead on this
mountside lake.

I hear Reed babbling about
energy currents, satellite detection
and some gimcrack
he’s rigged in the past half hour,

and it’s like waves are rolling out a spider web towards people at intervals, and taking them like the tides. One side effect is seismic energy, which in Southern California could mean earthquakes. Let’s hope we figure out what’s going down first!

(~ comics page 12) Absolutely have to call in my heat energies tightly as I descend...last thing we need is a forest fire, too! Black leather jacket, red stripes down the sleeves---what can I say, a new friend felt generous and I lucked out.

This is the part I loathe. I’m not even sure which direction to run. Not the best use of my impulsive nature...‘till I get an update, the Human Torch is just a dude wandering the woods.

Never ‘just’ anything; Sue's always telling me I should be more empathic at times, let's try it with about half logic and half gut instinct...maybe the vanishing waves radiate outside this nexus...but you can feel the trouble concentrated out here in the nature walk... old habits tell me I’m in absolute danger...next thing I see is just a guy younger than me, sitting amidst some branches twisting like fingers to the ground, doodling on a sketch pad.


That feeling, though---it’s gone NO where.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

the vanishing wave part two


4-8-09 cld
Alicia: The ocean’s side is the finest place to envision one’s surrounding, when seen the way the blind person sees it.
Regular, rhythmic, yet constantly in flux; the visitors of every species across its shifting surface...
The smells so pungent and full of life, the awesome smallness of humanity before the face of its oceans can be felt beyond the hints to the naked eye: a smallness beside the passages of time, here to shape the land for a moment amidst its waves on one of the dozen San Diego beaches...
Franklin: Uncle Johnny!
Alicia: (in thought) We find the slight chill of the elements and a kiss of the love of the sun, while I hear the cooling man’s feet splashed with hissing kisses across the moist, clay-like slurries of sand.
“So how you like California, nephew?”
says Johnny Storm.
“I love it!” replies the little boy, “and I hope, hope, HOPE you still want to take me out to look for the sea life off the shore!”
“Inna minute,” Johnny replies, before flashing away again in flames.
Reed said, “We’ve been asked to consult about possible improvements to the proposed desalinization plant in Carlsbad; in times of draught, a city with a million-plus like San Diego could do with a greater reservoir of potable water. On the other hand, there is an environmental impact, such as with the older power plants pumping the Pacific.”
As Ben himself told me, “Everyone from the Governator to the local activists had weighed in on picking the site!” The time spent in careful consideration was being weighed beside project dollars on the ticking clock. “’Like sands t’roo the hourglass,’ you might say,” he remarked.
Reed and Sue were here dealing with two sides of one problem, and just for fun, he started brainstorming about energy possibilities for the upcoming fastrail between San Diego, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. When it’s finished, we could drop in on the X-Men by the Bay in two hours from here! Though if the need arises, my adopted family travels in their own inimitable fashion.

I think Reed diagnosed the situation and had some range of specific answers twelve minutes after he was asked, based on factual data about the area and the process. I’m glad Johnny suggested “we should check out the situation in person!” “Time permitting,” Sue responded, “that is an excellent idea.”
When Ben asked if I’d like to go spend four days in Southern California, suddenly this standstill in my sculpting and shows pointed to the right time away: to feel the grains of the beach, and make sculptures here that will wash away sometime after I am home in New York, with my adopted family, as Franklin frolics in the fragrant foam.
Reed’s hand is stretched out half a football field, judging from his voice; his son’s hand held tight as Franklin splashes in the trickling down tide; I believe I hear Susan’s shield hover invisibly some yards off the shore, in rhythm to divert a large wave, and I feel the shape she creates to gradually disburse the waves rolling at angles to the beach.
“The director of the state Department of Fish and Game, wrote that mitigation plans were sufficient,” Sue is saying. “But they know expanding the water intake of a de-salting plant will have further impact on the food chain of coastal animal and plant life, starting with the fish and their larvae.”
“The letters sound similar,” Reed responds, “ and say Poseidon's plans do enough. Schwarzenegger wrote that the situation in San Diego, a county nearly 90 percent reliant on imported water from northern California and the Colorado River, is equally dire.”
I hear the wind fan the tips of Johnny’s flaming aura as he returns snickering conspiratorially and runs up to Franklin. “Ready to go whale watching? Hey! There’s a beached one right over there!”
“That’s Uncle Ben,” giggles Franklin.
I hear a retort from a massive heap of sand resembling a turtle with orange arms and legs, the color of shale stone with a sand shell, some yards away: my boyfriend’s booming Brooklyn basso bellow: “Ahh, I hope a U.S.O. grabs ya and takes you ta visit the Submariner!”
“Sorry, Ben, I’d take you too, but if I dropped you I’d be fined for polluting.”
“Beat it, ya blond banned-beach bonfire, I’m sunbathing!” he says sleepily.
and I feel hear Franklin laugh with highest of spirits and Johnny take him hovering straight off the cusp of the foam rushing into droplets nearby, and the laughter carries the arc of the flight, and I marvel at the power and the wonder and the amazement that might await in the sea beyond...
“I think it’s a matter of time before a reclamation plant capable of processing 30 to 50 million tons of sewage a day will be necessary...”
“Yech!” says Sue. “But it’s true, in the desert you’re not really near a pristine source of water...”
I hear them passing by, the conversation interrupted by Ben’s yelp.
“Hey, sumbuddie buried a crab in here! Youch! How’d that get between the places on my craggy ol’ custom-made carcass?”
I watch a veritable castle of sand, covered generously with seaweed and starfish, crumble around the waving mittens that are his massive hands. He stumbles from beneath his afternoon “burial mound” in a bumbling sort of way because the sand gives way beneath his feet, too; I delight in his actions, because I don’t have to see to sense the ruckus in his wake; it’s such a yin to my yang, life without Ben would probably bore me to death early. I hear every shifting step as he makes his way to me beside the seafoam.
“Let’s walk together, Ben,” I say, as I take the most massive arms of the Hero of the Beach.
“You wanna go for a stroll with a jabberin’ gypsum jettie, I guess I got nothing better to do,” he says in a gruff, self-deprecating tone. I can feel the delight in his chest just being with me here. “But do me a favor, babe, and don’t let anyone mistake me for a souvenir shell and take off with me in their beach bag!”
“Sue,” I hear Reed say, with his head bent forward, over what passes for Mr. Fantastic’s phone, ”not to disrupt our delightful reprieve here together before it’s begun...”
Sue sighs. “What is it?” she says in a serious tone.
Ben tries to ignore them, but we stand still. “Lemme know when you’re ready to go horseback riding down in Rosarito---though I imagine I’ll give it a pass, myself, less they got a horse for people of the quarter ton persuasion. With my luck, it’ll be a corral a’ Shetland ponies!
“One of the cities near the early construction sites for the speedrail is experiencing some type of focused increase in ambient radiation, of a sort the researchers at Mount Palomar say they’ve never seen except in the distant reaches of space...”
“Have we?” she asks.
“Actually, it’s not at all different than the chronal interface matrices involved in powering the points of access in the time travel platform formulated by Victor Von Doom.” He becomes silent for about seven seconds, making Sue shudder.
“You don’t think that it’s Doom?” she remarks.
“It’s developing a pattern that intersects with a steady flow of energies such as exist at the portal to the Negative Zone, as well,” he says, punching buttons furiously. “Do you remember when Central City vanished some years ago?”
“Then, is it your father?” Sue says.
“If it is” replies Ben, who also overhears them by this point, “why don’t he just come crash us at Turkey Time like family oughtta, catch the Macy’s Parade and snooze through the football games onna couch?”
“There’s this emission detected by Seasat 57 from space,” Reed says. Sue has her own F-phone out to read the same data feed Reed skims over, and then I feel her hand on my arm. “Alicia,” she says, “when my brother gets back with Franklin, I think we may need to take you two back to the hotel.
I feel something with her at this moment; Reed has always been no less than kind to me, but I feel Sue’s passion, her zeal for the unknown and the inextinguishable campfire that smolders in the back of her mind about the incalculable dangers and her love for her child and her family and her man, poised in a balance, knowing any mission could result in one or more of them never returning, and because they are in my hearts, I know that feeling, too...and as fragile as I feel before the majesty of the sea, so too do the men and women sometimes feel as they face the perils of the Fantastic Four...
“Sheesh, Stretcho, I ain’t even hit Tee Jay yet!” says Ben from beneath a huge version of one of the brimmed hats favored by the local beach boys. “ And me with my gorgeous passport pitcher!”
Back at their hotel room, Alicia sits down in the floor with Franklin as Sue steps off the balcony onto Reed’s hovering Fantastic Car with Johnny and Ben already seated behind windshields in booster-rocket like portions of the tub shaped vehicle.
They can count on me to be strong for them, and be here for Franklin...
Alicia: (aloud to Franklin, who holds a homemade deck of hand-colored cards)
We can play until it’s time for your nap, then, okay? We’re going to have a great time.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Sun Strike, Valkyrie Maid, and their triangle with Lord Dragonvayne came up over birthday dinner with our friend Smorg, whose articles can open your idea of Southern California, and can be found at Associated Press. Unable to sleep, I zipped out this e-mail, presenting a very strong idea that serves to pastiche her comment (inspired by observing modern geo-politics) into expanding lore---thus meeting this blog's requirements to cross-over creators and universes! This time with all original ideas:


I found the zest to fire off an editorial page-style rejoinder to one of Caryl's mails, when I then recalled I needed to thank you for understanding the vampire to be 3000 years old rather than the thousand I associate with this hold-out from the coming of Christianity (shamed by his name "David" I believe). Either before you said that or since, I thought it well there be a more ancient vampire remaining in the shadows. As it was, I had considered not simply assigning Lord Dragonvayne the characteristics of brutality, though he has truly walked alone and apart regardless of his company. More nuanced motivations allow a fuzzy morality that lends him utter unpredictability, good for extended stories. Meanwhile, the 3000 year old vampire was nearly a Jewish prince turned during Babylonian captivity, (just came up with the setting of his' turning'), when I started thinking of David and Goliath of Gath and his giant size...and then the idea of a three thousand year old Philistine, much less a giant, began to insinuate his presence behind the scenes in the Muslim world he predates...and while he may potentially be the finest character yet, I, who once simply found vampires selfish assholes worthy of my fictional contempt, now believe that Jewish prince or even priest (!) should be changed by Babylonian/Assyrian sorcery...I wonder if he is the one who turned the Philistine into a vampire, now? Another back story to drop in behind Dragonvayne, giving him a serious nemesis who just may require he turn to his almost-love (the only kind!) Valkyrie Maid and her skeptical husband Sun Strike...