18| Chapter 13:
The Road Part 2 (feat. Mother)
The brained man asks if the suited man has any more Cannabis to smoke. The suited man marches across The Shifted Path to Bessy and climbs into the passenger seat.
The brained man follows. The asphalt gravel cracks under his feet. He slides across Bessy’s hood and climbs into drive.
The ride down the hill is silent; neutral is all Bessy needs.
The brained man and the suited man pull into the driveway. Cold wind follows.
The brained man hits the ignition button and Bessy sleeps, exhausted after a long journey.
“You ready for this?” the suited man asks, holding his right hand by the wrist.
“I suppose so,” the brained man says.
They get out of the car spontaneously after sitting silently for minutes on end. The gravel crunches underneath their feet until they hit the bottom steps, then mud fills in the grooves of their feet as dirt leads up to the front steps.
The get to the door. They don’t knock.
“Mother!” shouts the suited man, pushing the brained man down the concrete front steps. “Mother, I’m home!”
As the brained man scrambles to his feet, he notices the suited man’s voice sounds nothing like his own. His knees bleed as he climbs the front steps into his house, and his socks will get wet soon. He almost sheds a tear.
In his own voice, the brained man says, “Chuck, what ar–”
PSHEW from the master bedroom, and not another sound. The suited man walks into the living area, hands in his pockets.
“Chuck, did you…”
The suited man raises his right hand, gloveless. Only the ring is equipped.
“You wanna try it, Hilter?” the suited man proposes. His sunglasses melt away and their eyes meet. “It’s the most powerful drug in all of Existence, and you wrote a couple books about it. The Dif
Zoral Tryptamine. It’s only fair that you get to try it, right?”
The brained man doesn’t answer, only stares at the ring. The gemstone displaying all the colors of the rainbow and more, the almost opalescent shine of the thing; how could he resist?
“I accept, Chuck. Administer the space drug, my alien.”
The suited man hesitates for a moment, then winds his arm back and strikes the brained man in the forehead, right above the bridge of his eyes. The brained man reels backwards, in urgent need of a frontal lobotomy. The suited man isn’t sure whether the blood starts running from the brained man’s ears before or after it spouts out his nose, but the dent in the boy’s forehead doesn’t start leaking until he falls backwards and conks the back of his head on the plywood floor of the living room.
The suited man watches this with the knowledge that he has no joint stashed in his pocket. His lungs collapse, and only reinflate when he decides it’s time. His right fingers are sticky, he can’t stop mushing them together and drawing them apart, feeling the stickiness of what he has done. What he has caused. Of course it didn’t work, this is Universe W-63, the Universe where eating magnets lets you defy the law of gravity, the Universe where half braindead victims get possessed by dead wannabe writers and they combine their forces to create complex and ridiculous works of what might be described as art, the Universe where that very art becomes the undoing of the artist. The Universe where a man wrote a book and got killed by the main character. Dif
Zoral Tryptamine doesn’t exist here, the Zeroc don’t exist yet in this Universe. And he knew that, the suited man did. He knew it all along.
But he is just a puppet, his actions not his own.
Hilter Odolf Williamson rests peacefully now. His eyes have begun to seep into his shirt. He’s in heaven, or wherever he wanted to go. Or maybe he’s just gone, a flash of light in the sky, the ash of an incense cone on a windy day as the ember consumes the base. Only the suited man remains in this house now, a house so broken, a house so unfinished. A house incomplete, unassumed in its final form.
The suited man exits the door. This house is clear.
A new beginning awaits him.
At the bottom of the stairs the maned man waits, sat in lotus. A joint dangles from his lip. Smoke wafts into his hair and gets stuck there, the hazy aura of the Highest One Writing.
“Hello, Chuck,” says the maned man.
The suited man marches ahead.
He hits. “I’m going to go in there, okay Chuck?”
The suited man pauses, scent caught in his nose.
He hits again. “I’m going to go in there and give Hilter his directions going forward, okay Chuck?”
The suited man faces his mane.
He hits a third, enacting the chief. “Hilter Odolf, my first character, I’m going to give him directions. He’s still alive and well in there, right? In that old nineteen’sixties tri-level? Didn’t die a death so undeserving, a death so disrespectful? A death planned from the day he defined what it means to run, a death at the hands of the one from whom he runs? From whom he’s been running? From whom he will run no longer?” He hits, takes pause. “Because he is dead? ”
The suited man assumes the form of The Mongrel.
The maned man hits fifth, “Nice try.”
The suited man resumes his predestined form.
The joint goes unhit.
“What more could you possibly want from him, Hunter? What more could you possibly squeeze from the dilapidated udder that is Hilter Odolf Williamson?”
The maned man smiles, not about to answer.
“Like, SERIOUSLY! You invented him, which means his life was about a trillion times worse than anyone’s ever should be. Hilter’s life knew only pain and suffering and he knew it all because of you ! If you didn’t bring him into Existence, he never would have felt all that pain. The Great Spirit never would have had to–”
“That’s not how it works.”
The suited man stands stifled. “How does it work, then?”
“It doesn’t,” says the maned man, his tone discussing the weather. He hits the joint. It ignites all on its own. “Now, one of two things are going to happen: One, I’m going to go inside that house, reanimate Hilter Odolf Williamson for the third or fourth or whateverth time in this series, and I’m going to make him redo the first two books. He didn’t even proofread them, didn’t read the shit back to himself once. For that, he should be punished. Plus, his poetry is pretty awful, Lyme-Brained probably needs a re-write too… and Chuck, your universe? Doubleyou’Dash Twenty-Twenty?”
The suited man is familiar with his own universe, thanks a fucking million.
“The books Hilter wrote about your universe, the words on those pages… they’re horribly innacurate. A blinded deaf man’s translation of color into sound. So, yeah, I guess he’ll need to redo all the Doubleyou’Dash Sixty-Three books. All five of them. And then I’ll probably have him start the Doubleyou’Dash Twenty-Twenty series too, your universe seems fun. I’d like to see it explored. I’d like to see the events of the second half of the year twenty-twenty put to page. And the events of the first half of the year twenty-twenty-one.”
The maned man stands, then, “Looks like Hilter Odolf’s got a lot of work to do.”
The maned man hits his joint one last time, then crushes the roach under his shoe. A skater’s shoe. He probably doesn’t even skateboard. Probably pronounces it skaterboarding.
The maned man’s feet step Fricker Road.
“Wait!” the suited man shouts at the end of the drive, feeling weak and malnourished. “You said one of two things, what’s the other thing?!”
The maned man flees, hands in his pockets.