Sidney purposefully tries to not pay attention to the many storefronts they pass on the way down to the Sawblade end of Mane Road, but one detail jumps out at him in a way that he simply cannot ignore: damn near every venue, if not every single venue, has some variation of the moniker Stewart O. Bashby in the name. Stewart Paint and Building Supply, Bashful Bashby’s Beautiful Boutique, O’Za Pizzeria, Stewey B’s Pet Supply ; the name is everywhere, as ubiquitous as ubiquity itself, and it’s giving Sidney the kind of vibes he felt that day in the forest when the Dark Tower books seemed to prophesize his life in a way totally and completely unconnected to the story, almost as if his mind was making random connections based on the words alone.
Huh, he never thought about it that way. Sidney’ll have to journal about that later if he remembers to do it. Or mayhap not; the wheel of ka spins upon an axle all its own, and as far as his writing goes, the movements of Albey’s hand rarely feel guided by his own free will.
“Yo, turn around real quick,” Sidney says, pulling himself out of his head.
“Because, we’ll have to come back up the road to hit The Furnace, and the guy’s probably down there anyway.”
Harrington obliges, pulling right into the parking lot of Bashboy’s Kickboxing Clinic and not swerving to avoid any of the cars parked in the lot because there are zero cars parked in the lot. Dang, packin’ ‘em in at Bashboy’s Kickboxing Clinic.
As they’re pulling back onto Mane Road, “Why do you think the guy’s down in Dantez Furnace?”
“It makes the most sense,” Sidney explains as though he’d been thinking about it the entire time when, in truth, it just barely occurred to him a moment ago as he rose from the depths of his subconscious. “The turnoff’s practically right across the street from Bogspekti Park, which is where the library is, as you know, because your dad built the library, and also, because your name is the name of Bogspekti Park.”
“Yeah, man… sure is…”
“Sorry, I’m just riffing. So like, if the man in black–
‘oh Jesus fucking Christ not this again’
–I mean uh, if the guy who slashed my tires wanted to disappear and make a clean getaway, he would probably duck into The Furnace and hide out until the tow trucks came, then go about his merry way.”
“Why wouldn’t he just get in his car and go?” Harry asks as they turn into the neighborhood of Dantez Furnace.
“He didn’t have a car, dude, I told you. I would have seen it at the library.”
“He didn’t have a car parked at the library, I think you probably mean,” Harry explains as a man might to a woman. “He could have been parked at any of the businesses along Mane Road, though.”
“I… fine, maybe, but then how would he see when the tow truck came?”
“You’re assuming he wanted to stick around and watch the tow truck take your car away,” Harry says. “Why are you assuming that?”
“Why else would he slash my tires if not to see me miserable?” Sidney offers seriously. “Like, we bumped shoulders on the staircase, that’s the only interaction we had, and that was enough to eviscerate my tires like they owed him money. He’s clearly deranged.”
“Yeah,” Harry agrees. “Clearly deranged.”
“So if the guy had so little shit to do that he would go through the trouble of ruining my tires just because we bumped shoulders, don’t you think he would want to stick around and watch the aftermath? Like, he thought to slash my tires, so he clearly knew that it would be expensive for me to get ‘em fixed. I doubt he knew who I was, I’m not famous or anything, that would just be weird… but wouldn’t he want to make sure that I was horribly inconvenienced by his actions?”
Sidney didn’t ask that question because he wanted an answer, but Harry goes ahead and answers it anyway. “I don’t know, man, cutting your tires up was probably enough for the guy. Considering there’s a guy in the first place.”
Considering there’s a… “Wait, what?” Sidney looks over with his entire body, not just his head. “What the hell’s’at supposed to mean?”
“Are you sure you didn’t just, I don’t know…” Harrington shakes his head, maybe he shouldn’t have said anything… but yet he did, the cat’s out of the bag, it’s all out in the open now, so he might as well just keep going. “Look man, I’m just go’n’a say this, a dude in a cloak sounds pretty far-fetched.”
“You should have seen his hair,” Sidney exhales, falling back into his seat.
“What was up with his hair?”
“It was… okay, if you thought I was crazy going into this then this is only going to seal the fuckin’ deal, but after we bumped shoulders he took his hood down and… he had really long and curly blonde hair, but that wasn’t it. It like…” The novelwriter struggles to come up with the words. “It… it like… grew up, you know what I mean?”
Harrington Bogspekti doesn’t have the foggiest fucking clue of what Sidney might mean, and expresses as much with his silence.
“Like, it was really long, and when he took his hood off it shot up into the sky like a–”
‘Tower like a Dark Tower except not Dark but Blonde’
“–like a skyscraper, right? Like, I had to bend my neck back and I still couldn’t see the end of it, it totally defied gravity and physics and it was… it was kind of beautiful, to tell you the truth. Beautiful in a horrifying way I don’t understand at all, but beautiful nonetheless. Almost makes me wish I could have looked into his eyes…”
“Uh… Sidney?” Harry asks. They pulled over to the side of the road at some point, Sidney realizes. It was probably only a couple seconds ago, he can still see Mane Road in the mirrors. “Am I going to have to talk to Tori about this?”
“No, jackass, you are not,” Sidney barks. “I’m serious though, the dude’s hair just kept growing up and up and up, and then…” He shakes his head, this part even Sidney doesn’t believe. “So he put his hood back up, right? And when he did, the edge of the fabric, like, the hem, it… seemed to cut through the hair like it was a razor. But the hair in the sky, it kept floating up, then it turned, like, a silvery gray, then it turned pitch black, then it disappeared altogether.”
Sidney looks at Harry. Harry’s looking dead at him with a face neither straight nor crooked.
“I told you it was going to sound weird.”
“You said no such thing,” as Harry folds his arms together. “You just said I should have seen his hair, which, honestly, I wish I did, because it sounds like some shit you made up for your book.”
“No, I swear to god it’s not. I don’t have anybody like that in The Hillside Commons. Like, there are folks who wear cloaks – hey, that rhymed – but the rest of his clothes were all off.”
“What else was he wearing?”
“Black, all black everything. Black combat boots, black pants of some sort – could have been jeans, hard to tell, would have had to be a dark-ass denim though – black long-sleeve shirt. The inside of the cloak was purple, too, don’t know if I mentioned that.”
“Ah,” Sidney says. “Well I did now, yeah?”
“Yeah, sure man…”
Harrington faces forward and lets loose a long sigh, gripping the steering wheel with both hands.
“Listen,” he says, facing the windshield. “I need to be honest with you, kid. I’m about ninety-nine percent you’re bullshitting me right now.”
“You’re fucking with me, you have to be. Like, I believe somebody slashed your tires, I don’t think you’re zonked enough to do that to yourself, but… fuckin’… a dude in a cloak with blonde hair that grows into the sky? Come on, even you need to admit that that sounds far-fucking-fetched.”
“I know it does,” Albey states flatly. “If anything that’s how you should know I’m telling you the truth, because of just how strange it is. Trust me, I’m not sure I could even make something like that up. It wouldn’t fit with my story at all.”
“Yeah? What’s this story about, anyway? Tell me about it, right now.”
“You–… wait, why?”
“Because you’re asking me to taxicab your ass all through Dantez Furnace, and then when we don’t find your fuckin’ cloaked crusader you’re go’n’a have me taxicab your ass all through Iiron Heights and then probably to the end of Sawblade Lane so I could drop you off at home. Hell, I wouldn’t be surprised if you wanted me to bring you all the way back to the library so you and your girlfriend could yuck it up about wasting my day like this.”
“No, Harry, that’s no–”
“So tell me about your little fuckin’ story, and then we’ll see how the rest of this day is going to go, a’ight? Then we’ll cross the bridge, because we’ve come to it, Sidney Blake, and from where I’m standing, it doesn’t look very sturdy at all.”
Taken aback is not quite the right words, because Sidney feels more insulted than impressed, although he has to admit that he’s a little bit impressed that Harry thinks so highly of him to assume that he would put together this entire plan just to waste the dude’s time. He’s impressed at how arrogant and narcissistic Harrington is too, for thinking that he and Tori pay him so much as a single thought when he’s not in their immediate presence – Sidney didn’t even recognize Harry’s voice at first when he came up to them in the library earlier, like, what the shit?
But still, Harry is asking to hear about Sidney’s novel, and Sidney will tell him something. Not much, because he doesn’t want to jinx his own process, but he will tell him something.
“It’s about my character Albey the Mad Poet,” Sidney says, boxing a section of air with his hands. “It picks up right after the Battle at Jericho Tower, both of his friends are dead and he just buried them, so he goes back to his house because his friends told him there’s a secret he needs to protect. When he’s there, he runs into this dude who’s actually the bad guy, who’s actually the reason his friends died, and to keep it simple, the dude burns his house down and teleports him to this clearing in the middle of a pine forest – Albey calls them burnwood trees because of how flammable they are – with a cabin, but the cabin’s locked. So he has to find a way into the cabin and he also has to survive, so he explores the woods looking for water and food and stuff… the long and short of it is that there’s something weird in the woods, he doesn’t know what it is but he knows it’s trouble, so he goes looking for it and he finds it and then there’s going to be a big conflict at the end, and yeah.
“That’s basically the extremely undetailed synopsis, but as you can tell, there are no dudes in cloaks, no slashed tires, no none’a’that. It’s just a ‘man who lost all his friends trying to live in the woods, and there might be monsters out there.”
Harry is silent for a moment. “Okay… well, I believe… well, I’m not sure about the cloak guy still, but I don’t believe you’re fucking with me. I’m curious though, what are the monsters?”
“Bigfoots, or something like them. I haven’t exactly gotten there yet, I’m only halfway done with the story.”
“You don’t know how it’s going to end?”
“No, I do… well, sort’a.” Albey laughs sheepishly. “Like, I wrote out this whole ten-page synopsis of the story, like, ten pages of notebook paper written out by hand, but so much has changed in bringing the story from the summary to the actual novel that I hardly even look at it anymore. The general storyline is still the same but the details keep changing, like, in the summary I had Albey catching fish on the first day. In the actual book he doesn’t get any food until the second day… or maybe… I might have that backwards, actually, I’m not sure right now. Once it’s written it kind’a leaves my mind to be honest. Actually, to be really honest with you, ‘man, writing this thing is the strangest experience I’ve ever had. It just, like, comes to me. It almost feels like the idea is a living thing and I’m just putting into human words so we can understand what it’s all about. It’s really fucking weird.”
“You said it, not me,” Harry says defensively. “What happens at the end, though? Do y– I mean, does Albey die?”
“You know, I’m not sure. I know there’s a conflict, and I know this other character – he’s called The Dirtbiker, he rides a uh, a dirtbike, uh, obviously – but I know he comes across the cabin in the epilogue and sees the aftermath of the battle. I’m not sure if Albey’s going to survive it, though.”
“Huh, no shit,” Harry says with a slight interest. “That’s actually kind’a heavy, not go’n’a lie.”
“Yeah dude, you sh–” –ould read it is what Sidney was going to say, but he refuses to be that guy (at least not until the book is out) so he corrects with, “–ould uh, you should try getting into reading, it’s really cool. Like, I like my story, but it’s nothing compared to some of the shit Stephen King wrote.”
“Like the Black Tower?”
“The Dark Tower, but yeah. Like the Dark Tower. I draw a lot of inspiration from those books, like, one of the main villains in the Dark Tower is a sorcerer who… well, he goes by many names, but the best one is the man in black. My bad guy has a couple names too, and he’s often referred to as the ‘man in white, but ‘man as short for human, not masculine.”
“Oh, I get what you mean.”
“Yeah, like, I’m not directly copying King, but I’m drawing from him.”
“Oh no, you’re directly copying him, but… like… you’re using his stuff differently. It’s like an artist sampling another artist’s beat for a song.”
“Yeah, kind’a,” Sidney grants, although he doesn’t really think it’s the same thing. Harrington doesn’t read though, he’s not into books, so that’s probably as close as he’s going to come. “But anyway, do you believe me now? Are you ready to cross that bridge yet, so to speak? I want to find this asshole and fuck him up.”
“You’re going to fuck him up,” a question stated as statement.
“Well, I at least want to talk to him. See what the fuck his problem is. It takes a lot to slash somebody’s tire, let alone all four of them. Maybe he’s just having a shit day, maybe he just needs someone to talk to.” Sidney shrugs. “I don’t know, ‘man. I was really pissed off at the library, but I think that’s probably just because the testosterone was flowing.”
“Because the testosterone was flowing? What’d you do, fuck Tori in the stacks?”
“No, definitely not,” Sidney says, though it’s not far off from the truth. “We actually haven’t had sex yet, since you brought it up.”
“Are you fucking fo’real?” Harry asks miserably. “What the fuck are you doing? Didn’t you guys say I love you in the parking lot?”
“Yeah, but like, that was only the second time we had ever said that. First time was actually in the library before my tires got cut, but… wait, what’s that have to do with anything?”
“Why would you tell a girl you love her if you weren’t fucking her? Moving a little fast with the feels there, aren’t ya?”
“Uhhh… no, definitely not. Sex is a drug, dude, like I told you in that great talk we had in your editing room,” Albey bites verbally. “Sex and love don’t always go hand in hand. Honestly, I feel like sex just makes things weird.”
“Have you had sex before?”
“Yes, many a’time,” Sidney says, though his word choice makes Harry automatically assume otherwise. “I had a friend with benefits back in college, her name was Jocelyn. Chick was nuts, total elbow macaroni bitch.”
“Elbow maca-what? ”
“Elbow macaroni bitch!” Sidney says excitedly, channeling the spirit of Tech N9ne. “Met her once, fucked her twice; elbow macaroni bitch!”
They both break out into giggling laughter.
“A’ight man, whatever you say. I’m at peace with it, let’s go find your… wait. Fuck you; we’re looking for the man in black, aren’t we?”
“Okay, I noticed that too, but I swear to god it’s just a coincidence,” Sidney assures him. “Like, seriously, a few months back when I was smoking way too much pot I had a uh… I had a little episode where I thought the Dark Towerbooks were my life, in a weird way, but this isn’t that. Besides, the man in black’s cloak isn’t purple on the inside.”
The man in black’s power is also nowhere near that of the thing Sidney encountered in the parking lot of the Logger’s Pond Public Library; the powers of Randall Flagg are nothing, mere parlor tricks, a speck of dust hidden in the shadow cast by the infinite blonde hair of that strange cloaked figure who slashed Sidney’s tires and gave off the impression he was brained as a child, but Sidney doesn’t know that. Sidney can’t know that; even if he did he wouldn’t remember it. Sidney’s already written certain passages in his novel which he has been made to forget by powers higher than he, passages he will only remember upon reading them and then forget again when the page goes turned, but none of that is important now. Sidney believes his coincidental man in black is wandering through Dantez Furnace and daylight’s a’burnin’; ain’t no time to waste.
“A’ight man, let’s find this prick then,” says Harry as he slides his car into drive and pulls back onto the main thoroughfare of Dantez Furnace, better known as The Furnace, the middle neighborhood of Logger’s Pond in terms of wealth – at least, until Bogspekti Park was built and fenced off, but Bogspekti Park isn’t really a neighborhood, it’s just one huge house and a pair of campsites. Sawblade Lane, Iiron Heights, Dantez Furnace, they all… well, Sawblade Lane only houses a handful or two (six if you count all the poor souls locked up in the
asylums group homes), but the other two ‘hoods house hundreds, if not thousands of Loggers, along with (in the case of Dantez Furnace) the one sole institute which is responsible for the education of those Loggers, and… ‘Holy shit.’
Hello Commons, this has been the fifth subchapter of the fifth 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.
Untitled Bigfoot Project is available to read for free in its entirety on my website. Click here to check it out.
I’ve written a few other books, too. Click here to see the list.
If you like Untitled Bigfoot Project and would like to help support my work, click here and buy an autographed copy of the book (or anything else!) from my store. Alternatively, you can snag a cheaper (and unsigned) copy from Amazon by clicking here OR you can buy the ebook for even cheaper here.
If you’re there, hypothetical reader, thank you for being there. Be well Commons~