Chapter one of a story about flaws, social withdrawal, unlimited potential & consequences.
******Gray the Kid******
I know exactly why I said it. I know exactly what I did.
I know exactly why it’s wrong, even though I’m just a kid.
When I scored my second goal and my mom just looked away
I couldn’t help but wonder how to hold onto her gaze.
Knowing how she functioned, I turned against my dad.
Fibbed when he wasn’t listening about all the ‘fun’ he had.
“How come they were talking”? embellishing the harmless shoulder touch.
I knew since it was mother, she’d scream it was too much.
Late at night without him, I knew that did the trick.
I had my mom’s affection but the cost just made me sick.
“A good boy to your mommy.” said with light and gentle strokes
A paltry minute of attention, for almost splitting up my folks
Mom cared not one iota, the girl was clearly just a friend.
Over the tiniest attention, she demanded that it end.
Another ultimatum, not knowing this to be the last.
Didn’t know for dad that the act was getting old… and fast.
Wish I’d known that doing this would illustrate the charm
Of dad risking his marriage for another set of arms.
Wish I could erase it but there is no going back
I indirectly walked up and kicked my own life in the sack.
An obligation to observe proves to be an awful obligation to uphold just as often as it proves to be a positive one. At what point does the experience of a simple observer morph from an obligation into a burden?
Desperate for attention, a boy tries to appeal to his mother’s demonstrated need for control by carelessly mentioning that a woman touched his fathers’ shoulder. An uncomfortable stranger sitting right beside them overhears this and ever so slightly twitches. Another casual observer smirks with the kind of shit eating grin that would infuriate even a long-time lover. One man’s uncomfortable moment was another grinning idiots’ gain but in both cases, neither man suffered any kind of loss.
The benefit to being a truly detached and objective observer is that the unfolding of events cannot really affect the observer in any sort of tangible way. Think of a film crew safely documenting the progress of a young calf as it walks blissfully unaware into the waiting maw of a camouflaged predator.
The unfortunate downside is that the observer has to also be ready to bear witness to actions that could illicit feelings of sadness, confusion, frustration or anger. For these reasons, inheriting the role of an objective observer is often both a blessing and a curse.
What is an observer supposed to feel when, mere moments after spending a few panic stricken seconds all alone, this is what a man like #66 thinks of?
In this case the feeling would be outright, unmitigated, utter and complete… fascination. Indeed it is fascinating because of how appropriate and prophetic his thoughts would turn out to be.
Both during and after the unfolding of an observation such as this, an individual is left to contemplate a great many things. Not the least of which is the question of why the initial thoughts of the man are so perfectly predictive. Unfortunately speculation is all most of us have when it comes to discerning what motivates the thoughts of men. That speculation is often as useful as painstakingly searching the undersides of thousands of rocks, one at a time, hoping to find a small bit of gold embedded within one. Except the possibility remains that it is fool’s gold, if it exists at all.
The underside of one such metaphorical rock suggests that the answer is this:
He may have known himself all too well.
Try as they may, even the smallest, most brutally flawed aspects of his own character fail to avoid being prominently, shamefully displayed center stage whenever he decides to shine a self-reflective spotlight inwards. No crack in the stage floor is wide enough, nor is any prop tall enough to obfuscate his own demons from the withering gaze of his own self-awareness. When given such a marvelous gift, it is possible that #66 instinctively applies his knowledge of his own flaws to the situation, in order to immediately think of a movie that perfectly encapsulates what could happen to him.
Another speculative, hollowed out rock posits that a person can have a rich life and a life can be well spent. Invariably, another individual may have mere pocket change. This pocket change might be spent experiencing the very best ways to screw up moments both mundane and extraordinary alike.
One particularly ugly, jagged, rock juts out prominently. The underside of this rock suggests that perhaps his prophetic thoughts are thoughts born from what is simply a broken, defeated mind. After all, once a mind has familiarized itself with the taste of catastrophe it becomes that much easier to imagine disaster surreptitiously stalking from just around any nearby corner.
Yet another rock, weathered and yet smooth. The underside suggests that an appreciation for tragically flawed heroic characters might have made himself feel like even he wasn’t alone in the realm of failure.
Whatever the reason, with over 500,000 movies existing in the world, most of them over an hour long, and with the recommended length of a scene being 3 minutes, that comes to roughly 10 million movie scenes in existence.
It is likely impossible to determine why, out of all the scenes that have ever been put to film, his mind drifts to one scene from the movie: Army of Darkness. At the very least, after events unfold, it may be possible to at least understand why it is so appropriate that his mind did so.
For those of you who have not had the unmitigated pleasure, I feel an obligation to explain a bit about this scene. After all, it had the audacity to claw its way out of the swirling abyss that is his memory bank. A Herculean effort like that warrants and deserves a more careful examination.
Skipping a few chapters, or in the case of this trilogy series, skipping entire novels worth of story, brings us to a foreboding cemetery. The floor plan, obfuscated by an encroaching fog, is punctuated by the presence of a few standout objects. One is a bent, crooked pillar of wood so rotten that it could only pass for a tree in the wildest of imaginations. The second is a monument to evil idolatry or perhaps Satanism in general, manifested in the form of a blood soaked, stone altar. A carpet of dead or dying grass manages to gasp for air through a few holes in the white, floating mist. Locals competing to win the “understatement of the year award” may have opined that a few hundred dashes of spooky were long ago added to the seemingly ethereal environment.
In the center, rearing up on haunches too proud, defiant and stupid to crouch even at the sound of gunfire, is a thick chinned, broad shouldered, statuesque man.
Ah, there’s our man, the hero of this grand fantasy-horror-camp cult classic: Ash. Near the end of a long, arduous journey, Ash has to remember a specific command phrase in order to, get this, operate a book.
Remembering a phrase to operate a book? Is he daft? Why wouldn’t the man simply turn the page with his fingers? Last I checked it was a relatively simple matter to operate a book! What a fool!
Ah, but you see, this is no ordinary book. This is the Necronomicon.
Warning: This ancient, cursed tomb, its cover bound by the stripped flesh of murdered innocents, comes equipped with a malicious will of its own that is so powerful, it can corrupt even the strongest, purest of minds. Acceptable use of this product includes Wish fulfillment, necromancy, trans dimensional travel, demonic summoning and general information gathering as well as the disfigurement or outright murder of your enemies. Attempts to use or misuse this product regardless of whether you remember the correct phrase needed to operate the book, will likely result in the following in no particular order: Dismemberment, Disfigurement and Disembowelment of the user.
The makers of the Necronomicon gladly accept full responsibility in the completely expected event that you trigger a world ending apocalypse.
Many have tried to use its power in order to do good. All have completely fu- uhh…fouled up the world during the attempt. What of Ash?
Having always been a bit of a “fly by the seat of your pants/just wing it” type of guy, Ash figures, “Hey, I need to use the book, I don’t remember the stupid phrase and I’m in kind of a rush. What if I just remember the first half of the phrase? Ah, no one’s keeping score, it’ll be fine!”
He does what you’d like to think no one else would think to do in that situation…What situation? Ah, you know the one. The one where you’re confronted with a magic item that could alter reality?
Oh you’ve never been…?
Well, I suppose that’s fair. Reality altering books or gem stones seem to be out of stock in this life.
Until Ash found the Necronomicon you could have said the same for his mundane universe as well. Yet, even among a world of people inexperienced with magic, it becomes quite apparent that Ash is uniquely unqualified to handle things.
You see Ash…is not a smart man.
He walks to the tiniest corner of his own mind and reaches deep into a bag of cartoon trickery when he should have had the good sense to keep the bag stashed away. A moment or two is spent grasping absent-mindedly for a solution that would carry him away from his predicament.
What does he settle on?
Our hero puffs up his chest, coc...uh...raises one of his infamous eyebrows and lets loose with,
“Klaatu Barada nNNIISHSSrrrhrrr.”
Yup. He does.
He uses the classic: ‘sneeze at the end of a sentence to see if he can get away with not knowing a word’ technique. At a time when careful wording meant everything, he was careless.
It would be a struggle to trick most kindergartners with such a simple playground tactic. Yet, in his mind, it seemed like it would be fit to try on an ancient evil. Everything of course goes horribly wrong, as magical books, devices or items are not easily tricked by grade school playground tactics.
Were one to peer inside of the 1st floor, living room window of a peculiar, seemingly frowning, split level home, one would soon find a similar situation playing out.
A frankly boring, young...ish, panic stricken (More on that later) gentleman sits dangerously alone with his thoughts and a task far beyond the scope of his ability. This is a concept that is as familiar to this world as the concept of the corrupt politician.
Mind you the concept is familiar but for this to be manifested in reality? That’s something wholly unique to this world and its inhabitants.
Up until this singular moment in time, scholars and historians would be correct to describe the Earth as “bereft of individuals with world altering, magical powers” or they could describe the world as “supernaturally starved”.
Despite never having a supernatural, reality shaping individual in their midst, the previously alluded to conceptual groundwork is a tapestry of mud soaked boot prints. Countless books, shows and movies exist to provide evidence that this is far from a literary road less traveled.
Perhaps it makes a great deal of sense for the concept of wish fulfillment to have some degree of popularity. How many people would find themselves disappointed by the prospect of fulfilling their greatest desires?
Very few I’d imagine.
Imagine it for yourself! Unlimited wealth, fame, superpowers, omnipotence, omniscience, or better yet, get massive mounds of ice cream, covered in hot fudge, that rain from the sky!
Oh, what you could do with such power!
Blessed with such a power, you could solve the world’s greatest problems, save its most needy people, answer its most unanswerable questions and conquer its most perplexing challenges. You could be the hero you always dreamed of being, bringing true peace to mankind. Maybe, just maybe, you may even be lucky enough to discover that what you really needed…was right beside you all along (Aww.)
There are those of us who look beside ourselves and find all we have is disappointment. Perhaps you might be someone who just looked to the left and saw a barren wall, looked to the right to see another.
What you needed was right beside you all along? Ha! Yea, right!
Definitely not seeing anything you need right now are you?
Then again, imagine yourself suddenly surrounded by millions of adoring fans all screaming at you, grabbing you, touching you. Wild flashes of camera light make it nearly impossible to keep your head up as you attempt to simply walk to your car. Your anxiety heightens and a bead of sweat trickles its way down your cheek. Oh God, no.
Your gaze continues to remain transfixed on the pavement and you robotic-ally place your hand on your cheek to wipe away the sign of weakness.
At least you try to wipe it away but in the sea of hands, one decides to clamp down on yours. The grip is gentle, likely that of an excited teen girl but it’s just tight enough to prevent you from reaching the salty sign of discomfort. It’s just the right combination of unexpected, unwelcome and uncomfortable that it ratchets your level of worry from flustered to nearly panicked.
Worry, worry always worrying.
A wave of thoughts begin to crash into one another, turning your mind into a confused mess. Tripping, sweating, falling, turning pale. Too many eyes, too many hands. I have to leave, please leave me alone. Your hand is finally allowed to return to you and you use it immediately to cover the source of your concern.
Sweating. Worry about how you might be portrayed in the gossip rags.
Tripping. Is she strung up on drugs again?
Pale. The tagline screams: Gaunt, emaciated, is she truly over her eating disorder? Read the shocking discovery inside!
Who would have imagined how difficult it would be to become a household name! If only you had a quiet, silent place. If only there was just an empty room, disconnected from all the yelling and screaming. If only there were just a place where you could unwind and be alone. With some solitude, you could wait for the storm to blow over. A bit of peace and quiet would certainly quell the violent, swirling sea of thoughts, allowing the raging tempest to go quiet and still once more.
Suddenly, it becomes true that what you needed really was there all along! All you needed was that empty room, that quiet space and the freedom to walk, unmolested to your own car.
Perspective is a funny thing.
What is it that we all love about a good wish making story? For one, seeing some lucky schlep stumble onto the ability to simply make a wish and grant his greatest desires allows us to imagine ourselves in the same situation. Part of the appeal lies in the fact that wish making stories inspire escapism, perhaps at its finest.
Anything you would want is just a sentence away when all you have to say is, “I wish”. Speaking of wishes, I wish to bring us back to the gentleman in the peculiar, split level home.
How had this young...ish man come to inherit anything resembling a fantastical, supernatural power? Perhaps later, should he avoid abject disaster, he’d be able to find this out. For now, all he had to go on were theories and doubt. I say doubt because at this point, this man of an undetermined age, who seemed to possibly be kind of young...
You know what? Let me stop myself.
I’m clearly dancing around the subject of this individual’s age and should explain why. Though not particularly vain, several factors including instinct, nostalgia and regret have worked a magic of their own. They have now made age a sore point for this individual, if you could not tell.
To honor his...reluctance to consider his placement in the journey that has been his life thus far, I too, have chosen to tread lightly when mentioning the subject.
As for theories and doubts?
Well what would you have after the following series of events unfolded?
During one particularly lonely, depressing week in your life, you decide to click a rainbow ad that says “Have your every wish fulfilled...if you dare!”
Then, despite all common sense and logic, you actually respond to the ads request for personal information by sending an e-mail with your home address on it. (Oh God no! Tell me he didn’t! Sorry but I cannot tell you that he didn’t....because he totally did).
Finally, you receive a letter in the mail claiming that you were the lucky recipient of the ability to make your wildest dreams come true?
Wildest dreams, huh? He must have been jumping for joy when he found out, right? Yet, the words used to describe him earlier on were “panic-stricken”?
Why is that?