Albey the Mad Poet almost escapes the endless wood unhindered. He would have made a clean getaway, too, if it wasn’t for that meddling Gobon.
“Hey’hey’hey!” grabbed him by the back of the neck in a death grip not ten seconds after Sidney said goodbye to Tori and thanked her again for her help. Happy to do it, she told him, and wished him luck with his novel, and she even asked what the title was, and you know what else? She loved the title, and she told him as much. It could have been a perfect end to a phenomenal day, but no. Harry’s shit influence hangs over this library like a brown fog, just like the Bogspekti clan’s money keeps the rusty gears of Logger’s Pond a’churning. Things are supposed to die, nothing is meant to last forever, and when you keep things alive past their expiration date they soil, they start to rot alive… but the real-world incarnation of Gobon the In’Flu-Enz’a would know all about that, wouldn’t he? Albey thinks he would. Sidney’s a tad bit appalled that his brain is having trouble locking into the real world, just a tad bit, but he’s appalled nonetheless and so too is Harrington, apparently, evidenced by the shit-feeding tone of his voice. “And just where in the fuck are you going, Albey the Sad Poet?”
“It’s the–” he starts, then stops. Harry clearly said it that way on purpose. “I’m going home, Harrington. I got my work done, and I’m starving. We can do the tour another day ‘man, I’m probably going to be back here tomorrow.”
“Absolutely not,” Harry decides as he reaches up to drape an arm around Sidney’s shoulder. The clamminess of that arm is strangely exhilarating, but not in a good way. “No sir, you’re coming with me, right now, and you’re going to take what I have to give you.”
A scene from the movie version of The Shawshank Redemption flashes into Sidney’s mind. He’d much rather be flashed by an image of Victoria flashing him, but at this point that can probably go without saying.
“I don’t really have a choice, do I?” as Harry leads him away from the exit and towards the entrance of his newspaper racket.
“Oh, there’s always a choice, Sidney,” Harry says, looking forward. “And consequences always come with choices, no matter what you choose. I implore you, though, please hold all your questions until the end. There’ll be someone to answer them for you in the gift shop.”
Sidney does not for one second doubt the young Bogspekti had a gift shop installed into this backwoods library that doesn’t even have all the volumes of the Dark Tower series available for the lend. They walk through the doorway and Harrington takes his nasty arm back, leaving what feels like a stain across the back of Sidney’s shirt. He closes the door behind them.
“Why are the lights off in here?” Sidney asks, trying to ignore that scene from Shawshank in his head. Trying and failing.
“It’s a surprise…” Harrington growls like a pack of wolves circling around a wounded deer. He then hits the light switch, illuminating the empty space that is the newspaper racket. No tables, no desks, no printing press, nothing. Just four walls, two of which have doors, one of which is metal with a couple of buttons on the frame. “Close your eyes, would ya?”
“Fine, be like that. Just ruin it for yourself.” Harry presses one of the buttons beside the blank metal door and a sharp ding resounds from within it. The door slides open, revealing an elevator with rosy red carpet and wood paneling on the walls. Soft jazz music lilts from the speakers surrounding the single yellow lightbulb on four sides in the ceiling. Harry enters the elevator, turns around, and looks at the pathetic whelp who’s standing in the empty room, both hands in his pockets like the kid’s playing with himself, backpack hanging off one shoulder like he’s mentally handicapped and doesn’t realize wearing a backpack like that doesn’t make you look cool, just makes you look retarded. “Well, come on, then. I thought you said you wanted to get home.”
“I do, Harrington. Desperately, in fact. But you seem to be taking me underground, which is actually sort of the same direction as my home, but…” Sidney shakes his head, momentarily blurring his face. “That’s beside the point. Why can’t we do this tomorrow?”
As if he didn’t hear a single word of that, Harry says, “Well, come on, then.”
Sidney looks up to the ceiling and lets rip a guttural sigh. He then drops his backpack – evidence of his presence here just in case Harry decides to add a homicidal twist to this Shawshank scene – and steps hungrily into the elevator. The door slides shut, and the jazz music actually isn’t that bad, it’s got a nice lofi vibe to it that Sidney doesn’t hate, but the ride doesn’t last long enough for it to make the situation any better.
What greets the ‘mans is a long room with a long table sitting in the middle. There are plastic chairs around this table, enough to host a Thanksgiving banquet for a sizable family, plus ample room for any extended members of that family who hadn’t yet run out the central family’s patience. There are a few doors leading out of the long room, one behind the chair at the far end of the table, two flanking the table on each side, and Albey decides right now and here that he doesn’t care to know what lurks behind those doors. He doesn’t care to know what this room is, he doesn’t care to embark on this tour Harry seems so hellbent on giving him, he doesn’t… Albey just doesn’t care. Sidney Blake is hungry, he got work done today and he deserves to go home and get himself a meal. So why the fuck is he beneath the Logger’s Pond Public Library?
“Harry, what the fuck are we doing here?” he says to Harry’s back (and the hands clasped at its base) as Harry walks out of the elevator and takes the seat at the end of the table nearest said elevator.
“Go ahead and take yourself a seat, Sidney,” Harrington Bogspekti says without turning around. “We need to have a little talk.”
“A little…” he says, flabbergasted, throwing his arms in the air like they were graduation caps. “Fine.”
Sidney walks around and takes the seat immediately to Harry’s left. Harry points to the chair at the opposite end of the long table by way of reaction to Sidney’s obvious corporate faux pas. Annoyed and honestly contemplating stabbing Harry with the pencil in his pocket (that way it might break and get stuck in the wound, unlike the pen, which would stay solid), Sidney gets up and audibly drags his feet to the other end of the table, whips the chair out like it was the chair’s fault this is happening, plops down, and does not scoot back in. He sees that Harry tucked in the chair Sidney originally sat in, and that only makes his vision that much redder.
“Sidney… I can call you Sidney, right?”
Is this actually happening right now? “Yes, Harrington, you can call me whatever the fuck you want. I thought this was supposed to be a tour.” Getting high with his adoptive parents was more realistic than this bullshit.
“Sidney… I like you, buddy. You walk around in here like you own the place, but I like you. I don’t want to have a problem with you.”
“Then,” let me go home, is how Sidney would have finished that statement had Harry not cut him off.
“I don’t think a problem between us would be good for anybody. Not for you, not for me, not for Keaton, and not for Karl.”
“What do they have t–”
“See, because Keaton and Karl, they’re friends with the both of us. They’ve known you longer, but they’ve spent more time with me over the past three years than they did with you. In fact, and these aren’t my words, but they feel like you abandoned them when you went off to college. They feel like you think you’re some kind of wizard, that you’re some kind of special because you decided to rack up a bunch of debt that I could pay off without batting an eyelash, without losing so much as a moment of sleep. Not that I get much sleep – Victoria up there keeps me pretty busy at night, as I’m sure you can imagine, which is all you’ll ever get to do with her – imagine – but… where was I going with… right. I don’t think a problem between you and I would be good for anybody, not even those who aren’t directly involved.” He folds his hands together and places them on the table. “Wouldn’t you agree?”
Well that was a lot. “Whose words?”
Annoyance stiffens the younger Bogspekti’s neck. “What did you say?”
“You said those aren’t your words. Whose words were they?”
“They… they were–”
“Because it sure doesn’t sound like anything Keaton would say. Karl, either – I know him well enough, the ‘man wouldn’t hurt a fly. Might try to throw a rope around its neck so he could drag it around with him like a puppy, but he wouldn’t hurt anybody, and neither of them would ever think I abandoned them.”
“You poor, naïve fool. Keaton hates your guts, you know that?”
“I talked to Keaton on my drive here. He was only happy to hear from me.”
“Yeah? Well Victoria likes it up the ass. You know that?”
That… is a possibility that Albey is not going to think about right now, for various reasons. “And how would you know that?”
Harry smirks. Hatred punches dimples into his cheeks. “How do you think she got this job? I interviewed her, and I bent her over my desk. My table, actually. This table, that you’re sitting at. We went at it for hours.” He inhales deeply through his nose then. “Still kind of smells like it in here too, if you know what you’re looking for. Spit, sweat, pussy juice. She’s a freak, real go-getter. Wanted this job pretty bad.”
Sidney is not exactly phased. “Seemed to me like she hated your guts, ‘man.”
Harrington Bogspekti, the long table concealing his status of half-mast, is phased. The smirk falling to a sneer, he tightens the fold in his hands and continues. “That’s an act, an act I specifically told her to put on. She’s just one of those hard to get types, is all. Holds out to ridiculous lengths just to make sure the right guy gets her, and when he does? When I got her, Sidney? I didn’t even need to bend her over. She did it all by herself. Sucked on my fingers, my tongue, my toes. My cock, all eleven and a half inches of it. Gagged herself to the point of tears. I had to pull her off me, but that didn’t stop her. We almost broke this table we were going so hard. That’s why she started today, she was still in recovery. Poor thing couldn’t walk, although she isn’t really a poor thing. Not the way she saw it. There’s a reason we were both late this morning, Sidney. Would you like to guess why?”
Sidney would like to guess what exactly Harry’s damage is, but he opts to let the boy keep talking. Because that’s what he is, a boy. A sad, sad little boy.
“It’s because we were fucking. In the parking lot. I met her here and we got into my car, and I’m pretty sure I’m going have to replace the shocks. But it was worth it. Shame you couldn’t smell my breath – or suck me off – this morning; would have been the closest you’re ever go’n’a come to knowing how sweet her pussy is.”
“Your car wasn’t there when I pulled in,” Albey says plainly.
Albey had leaned back casually in his plastic lunchroom chair at some point during Harry’s little diatribe there, Harry didn’t see when. He was too busy trying to imagine the gross fantasy he was speaking on, Sidney imagines. Harry doesn’t look like he knows what to say.
“Yes it was, you just didn’t see it.”
“There were four cars in the lot besides mine, and none of them were yours.”
“I parked around back!”
“There’s not a back parking lot, it’s just woods.”
Harry furiously slams his fist on the table. Doing so numbs his pinky and sends a jolt of pain up his forearm and into the depths of his elbow, but he’ll be damned is he shows it. “How the fuck would you know, Sidney? My father built this fucking building, if anybody would know it would be me!”
“No, it would be your father, who isn’t here right now, probably because he has better shit to do. I’m hungry, Harry, I want to go home and eat dinner with my parents. Can I please go? I don’t want this tour anymore.”
“You’re not getting the tour!” Harry shouts, springing out of his seat. He points to the door behind Sidney. “That’s the printing press!” He points to the door to his right. “That’s the kitchen and break room!” He points to the one door he’s yet to point at. “And that’s the supply closet! And you’re not seeing any of them!”
“So what’s this room, then?” Sidney asks with a smile he’s failing to hide, failing with flying colors.
“This is the editing room, you fucking asshole!”
“Well,” Sidney says, kicking his feet up on the table. “Seems to me like I just got the tour.”
Harry screams so loud the cords threaten to burst his neck open. It’s a good thing this room is soundproof, otherwise Victoria might’ve heard that scream… although, if it’s not plainly obvious by now, she’s never going to so much as entertain the idea of voluntarily engaging in smalltalk with Harrington Bogspekti, let alone sleeping with him.
“Are you okay?” Sidney asks seriously, which only makes Harry’s face redder, though redder isn’t really the right word. It’s verging on purple at this point.
“No!” Harry shouts, dramatically falling back into his chair. “I’m not fucking okay, Sidney! And you’re the fucking reason!”
“I’m the reason?”
“Yes! YOU! You have fucking everything, you have exactly what everybody else is looking for, what everybody else will be lucky to so much as catch a glimpse of in their lifetime, and you don’t even know it, or maybe you pretend not to because you’re a fucking asshole! ”
Harrington buries his head in his arms and begins to sob. Sidney, wishing Harry just let him leave earlier but understanding now why he didn’t, calmly gets up, walks across the room, and sits in the chair he originally sat in. He puts a hand on Harry’s shoulder, but Harry just lunges shortly and snarls at him, like an injured gray wolf might to a friendly ‘man who wants nothing more than to remove the bear trap from around the beast’s ankle.
“Harry,” Sidney says softly, trying not to enjoy this. “Look… I don’t know about everyone, but it sure seems like you’re of the opinion that I have something you want. Let’s talk about it, what do I ha–”
“Everything! ” Harry wails. “You have a purpose, you have friends, you have parents who’ve loved you and gave a shit since the day you were born, not to mention that hot piece of ass up there! Victoria was practically jerking you off when I came in, like, what the fuck? Why the fuck are you so perfect, you fucking asshole?!”
And Sidney thought Harry’s opening monologue was a lot, Christ on a fucking carousel. “All right, uh… not sure where to start, but uh… my parents didn’t love me.”
“What the fuck are you talking about?” Harry whines to the tear-soaked table.
“My birth parents, they didn’t love me. Or maybe they did, maybe they gave a shit, but like… they gave me up, ‘man. Ashley and Jeremy aren’t my real–… well, no, they’re my real parents, but… I’m adopted, that’s what I’m getting at.”
Harrington lifts his head up slowly. “You… you’re fuckin’ adopted, Sidney?”
“Sure am,” Albey confirms, showing nor feeling any shame about it. “I’m pretty sure I came from the orphanage down at the end of my street, not even kidding. And Karl and Keaton, yeah, we’re all really close. Admittedly, I did sort of disappear on them for a few years, but I… I was goin’ through some stuff.” About… probably about nineteen ounces of cannabis in total, specifically. “But I met those guys back in kindergarten, like, we came up together. That’s not the type’a bond that breaks very easily, y’know? And you said I have a purpose, what uh, what exactly did you mean by that?”
“Your whole, fuckin’… your whole Commons thing. You’re writing a fuckin’ novel, Blake, what the fuck do you think I meant?”
“I really didn’t know,” Albey says honestly. “Because, the way I look at it, I’ve done nothing but fail ever since high school ended. Like, literally, I flunked out of college after racking up more debt than I’ll ever be able to pay off. I’m over two hundred thousand in the hole, Harry, and I know that’s not a lot to you, but like… I don’t come from money. I don’t think my folks make that much in five years, their salaries combined, if they’re even paid salaries. My dad is, I think, because he works for the school, but my mom cuts hair. She was livin’ off tips when she moved in with my dad. Now her tips pay for their date nights, as infrequent as they are.”
“And Victoria, I don’t… I’m just going to say this: yeah, she’s really fuckin’ hot, but she’s not a piece of ass. She’s a woman, and… no, not even that. I mean, yeah, she’s clearly a woman, one of the womanest women I’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing, but she’s just a human. Just a semi-hairless ape like the rest of us, and I doubt, I highly doubt anything is going to happen between her and I.”
“You didn’t see the way she was looking at you,” Harry moans with self-pity.
“You mean how she looked me in the eye when she was talking to me? Come on, dude, that’s just because I don’t carry myself like I’m God’s gift to Earth.”
“You saying I do?!”
“I’m saying I don’t, and that’s all I’m saying,” even though he was, in fact, throwing shade at Harrington Bogspekti, heir to the multi-billion-dollar Bogspekti dynasty. “Nothing for nothing dude, I haven’t exactly been leaving my house very often lately. I had more human interaction today than I had in the past month, and quite frankly, I’m exhausted. I’m not even think–… well, okay, I’m thinking about sex, but I’m a dude in his twenties, of course I’m thinking about sex. I’m not try’n’a lay the girl. Not seriously, at least.”
“You’re so full of shit,” Harry rebuts, but he doesn’t sound like he believes himself. In fact, Harry sounds like he’s the one who’s full of shit. Funny how that works.
“I’m really not. Let me put it this way for you, dude: the way I see it, sex is a drug. It’s a drug, nothing more and nothing less, and my drug of choice is weed, and I’m not even smoking right now.”
“So you’re lurking around trying to find a fuckbuddy, to fill the void.” Harry suddenly straightens up. “See, I know you, Sidney. We’re not so different, you and I.”
“No, that’s not…” Sidney sighs then. “Tell me this: do you find that, when you’re in the vicinity of a particularly voluptuous woman, your eyes fly to her chest and her ass like they’re moving by themselves?”
“Obviously. What do you think I am, some kind of faggot?”
“Your words, not mine, but no. And for the record, I met a few gay guys at school, and they catch themselves staring at titties, too. Even girls do it, straight ones and lesbians alike.”
“Okay,” Harry says, not sure how this meeting got to where it is. “So what’s your point?”
“Why do you think that is?” Sidney asks seriously. “Seriously, like, think about it for a sec’. Why do you think humans like staring at titties and asses so much?”
Harry seriously thinks about it for a minute. Then, “‘Cause of our mothers, right? Like, when we’re babies we breastfeed. Well, not all of us do, but we’re supposed to. We have titties ingrained in our mind from a very young age as a source of food and warmth and… of love. So we stare at ‘em, especially when we can’t suck on ‘em as often as we want.”
“What about asses, then?”
“Asses look exactly like titties except without nipples. Well, like, not exactly like titties without nipples, but they jiggle the same. If the girl knows what she’s doing, at least.”
Well that’s… Sidney tries not to chuckle and succeeds. “That’s uh, valid. You make some good points. I have another theory though. Do you wan’a hear it?”
“Not particularly, because I’m right. But uh… sure, go ahead.”
“I think it’s because of the shape. Like, literally.”
“Yep. The curvature specifically. It’s scared geometry, ‘man.”
“Sacred… what the fuck are you talking about?”
Sidney smiles. How did this tour get to this point? “Yeah, sacred geometry. Like I said, ‘man, we’re humans. We’re semi-hairless apes, but at the same time, we’re like… not. I’m not saying we’re divine or gods or anything like that, but we’re clearly operating on a different wavelength than most of the other animals on this planet. Look at our architecture, for example. Perfectly straight lines – nothing in nature exists in a perfectly straight line, but yet we build things that do. Sacred geometry.”
“But titties aren’t straight lines.”
“No, but curves and circles both exist in the natural world. That’s sacred geometry, too. That’s the reason an especially pubescent little perv can look at an orange the wrong way and get blood flow in his pecker. Sacred geometry. It excites us.” He shrugs. “I mean, I really don’t know, maybe we’re all just a bunch of horny little buggers. But I think the sacred geometry has something to do with it. This is just the kind of shit I think about all the time, ‘man. We’re not so different, you and I, but we’re not exactly alike, either. Yeah, I’m writing a novel, but you have to understand, I have this entire world in my head, this fictional world that exists totally independently from our reality, and it’s just stuck there spinning around. I’m writing a novel because I have shit to write about, y’know? You call it my purpose, but I call it playing the cards I’ve been dealt. You have this newspaper racket,” as Sidney gestures to the editing room and the various doors leading out of it. “If you feel like you don’t have a purpose, then what’s all this?”
“Who said I felt like I don’t have a purpose?!” Harry defensives.
“Sorry, maybe I phrased that wrong. What I meant was, why do you do this?”
“Because… I don’t know. My dad practically owns this town, he’s the only reason it hasn’t gone bankrupt yet. But he doesn’t spend any time here, he doesn’t know what’s going on. So I write about… well, I get folks to write about what’s going on. I write too, sometimes, but it’s mostly Denny and the other librarians. I wanted Tori to write, but she wasn’t into it.”
“So don’t make her write. She seemed pretty overwhelmed with the job when I was talking to her, don’t pressure her. Nobody likes to be pressured.”
“I don’t pressure her. When have I ever pressured anybody?”
“You literally forced me to come down here with you, Harrington,” Sidney says tiredly. “I’m not trying to be rude or anything, but you must realize that you pressure the fuck out of folks. Right?”
“I… I don’t know.” Harrington looks away, hiding his face. Sidney wishes he could be home already. “Maybe I do. I don’t know.”
“Okay, so just don’t from now on. It’s not a big deal, ‘man. Nobody’s perfect, and nobody expects you to be.”
“So what do they expect?”
That’s the question, isn’t it? That’s the fuckin’ question.
“I don’t really know… but I think – and stay with me here, because this is a doozy – I think most folks just expect you to try your best.”
“Try my best.”
“Yeah. Just try your best. That’s all, ‘man.”
“That can’t be all.”
“Perhaps. Perhaps some folks want more than that, but… I can’t speak for everyone, but uh, usually when other folks have inanely high expectations of you, it’s just because they feel like they’re falling short themselves and they don’t know how to deal with it. Life’s not about what other folks want, though, and it’s usually not about what you want, either.”
“So what’s it about, Sidney Blake?” Harry asks seriously. “I don’t know how we got here, this is not how I thought this talk was going to go… but we got here. I’ve listened so far. What is life about?”
Sidney Blake shrugs. “I don’ow. Maybe it’s about nothing. Maybe it’s about whatever you make it about. Like I said, ‘man. Just try your best, that’s all. Listen to your gut.”
Albey’s stomach chooses this particular moment to rumble like a magnitude seven earthquake. Harry looks appalled at this.
“Speaking of which,” says Sidney, standing up from the desk. “I’m really, really hungry, dude. Can I go home and get some dinner now?”
“Uh… yeah. Yeah, of course.” Harry stands up quickly, eyes on his feet. “I uh… sorry. For keeping you, I mean. I just… I um… I…”
Harry feels Sidney’s hand pat him on the back. “I think we both needed this talk, buddy.”
“For sure. Wouldn’t have happened otherwise, trust me.”
They tuck the chairs under the table and call the elevator. It opens immediately.
“How are you so sure?”
“You said trust you. Why are you so sure that we both needed it, and that it wouldn’t have happened otherwise? Like, why are you so sure?”
“I uh… I don’t–” but he does. Deep inside he does, he’s just not sure how to say it without coming off as crazy, or without coming off as brilliant, either, because Albey knows he’s neither. He’s just a dude, just a hillbilly from the backwoods of New Jersey, and he walks that fine pink line between the Red and the White just like everybody else. He’s just trying his best. “Because at the end of the day we’re all just humans, right? We appreciate sacred geometry and long talks in the basement better than anything else on this planet. You follow me?”
“I do,” as the elevator slowly climbs the shaft.
“Well there’s a lot more out there than this planet, so naturally, it’s probably safe to assume there’s a lot more out there than just us.”
“Yeah… well duh. It’s an infinite universe, as far as we can tell. So what’s your point?”
“You just said it,” Sidney says excitedly. “As far as we can tell, it’s an infinite universe. Who’s to say there’s not something that can tell, like, for sure? Who’s to say there’s not a being who made our universe, plus whatever exists outside of it?”
“I’m not saying there’s a God,” Sidney defends hastily, “but I think it’s more likely that there’s something out there that exerts at least some kind of control over the universe than the alternative. Can you get on board with that? You tokin’ what I’m blowing, here?”
“So there’s the bottom, there’s animals, there’s us, and there’s that thing on top of it all, whatever that thing might be. We are between animals and the thing up at the top, and animals are between us and bacteria and the stuff at the bottom, all that little stuff that we can’t see with our eyes.”
“Yeah, tardigrades and shit. I’m with you.”
“So why wouldn’t there be something between us and that which sits at the top?”
The elevator dings and the door slowly opens. Sidney’s backpack is still waiting in the empty room.
“I… guess I don’t know. Maybe there is. You’re saying that controls us, though? Like, we don’t have free will?”
“I’m not saying that,” Sidney says as he picks up his backpack by kicking it up into the air and snatching it uncoordinatedly with both hands. “I’m saying maybe everything that happens happens because it’s supposed to happen. Like, maybe not everything that goes down needs to go down, but like, maybe some of it does. Like, if something needs to happen, it’ll happen, no matter how much we try to fight it.”
“And that’s why we had that existential-ass talk in the basement of the library,” Harry says without a blink in his eyes. “Because some higher deity needed it to happen.”
“Or maybe you and I just needed to talk to each other,” Sidney says with a shrug. “I don’t know, ‘man. All I know for sure is that I planned on walking right out of here to get some grub before you grabbed me, and that I’m still hungry now that you’ve let me go.”
Harry smirks then, folds his arms tightly. “Who said anything about me letting you go? That door’s locked for all you know.”
“Yeah, but what do I know?” Sidney says, gripping the handle. “I’m just a human.”
The door opens without fuss.
“Be well, Harrington. It was good talkin’ to ya.”
“Yeah, you too Sidney Blake,” Harry says as his arms unfold so his hands may find his pockets. “Take it easy, guy.”
Hello Commons, this has been the fourth subchapter of the third chapter of Untitled Bigfoot Project, a novel about a writer who writes a novel about bigfoot.
Untitled Bigfoot Project is part of the Third Spiral, an anthology of sorts called The Here and Now which is comprised of stories told from the various planes of Existence.
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