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Chapter One


As I had a thousand times before, I entered through the gates to West city. Something was different this time. Something was new and dawning. It hovered in the air all around, and filled my nostrils — filled my being and even filled my pockets. The denizens of West city had never had it this good, nor had they ever known prosperity in such a total and complete way. It had been a long-time coming, this magic. This time it was real. This time it would take.

To know a little bit about my latest walk through this seemingly new land, a little history lesson is needed about West city — how it started, and all the years of no-goodness that plagued its people. West city was not always called by that name. It used to be called the Plains, and even accrued such nicknames as the Pains, Painland. People from the Plains were even known of as Plainers or Painmen. And that wasn't too long ago, either. In fact, the worst offense was to simply be called Plain. And Plain is not what people had wanted nor intended. Actually, everything was to have been quite grand. The plan had been simple, noble and utterly ineffective. The people who had moved to the Plains back in the first days of its creation had expected something altogether different. The problem may have been in their expectations. The problem may have started the day someone didn't realize the new land, the new idea, wasn't going to yield boundless resources and expect nothing back in return. The world had never worked like that.

Let me start with this. Let me start at the beginning.

I am 426 years-old. My name is Barnum Arman. Although the year is recorded as 3021, it is not the future. The future never came. Let me go back to another beginning.

I was born in a year called 1961 in a city called New Orleans. I was adopted by a nice, well-to-do family soon after my birth. My young years had been good ones, with all the yipping-it-up, fun and atomic wedgies needed for a proper childhood. I had been well-schooled and had a penchant for chess, design and music, due, I think in large part, to my grandfather's influence. My grandfather the tinkerer, the inventor, the dreamer. His name was Barnum, and I was his namesake. There had been no Barnum Jr. — a generation had been skipped over. I had been glad about that. I had never fancied the idea of being a Jr., a second or a third. I had always been the first. That too, I imagine, was my grandfather's doing.

To understand me is to understand my grandfather. And being that things are so good now here in West city, there's time enough for yet another beginning. Back to the earlier days of my grandfather's tinkering. Back to the days before everything went absolutely ape-shit.

My grandfather was known to his friends and associates as Boomer. He earned that nickname from his habit of blowing things up. He'd had a small workshop in the back of his blacksmith's studio, and in that back room, he tinkered. He invented and he dreamed. Explosions on any given day were par, and to many neighbors — even expected. People from the neighborhood called him the Boom Man, and that somehow evolved into Boomer.

Boomer lived in a small factory town called Butler, not too far from a city called Pittsburgh. Butler had attracted more than it's share of tinkerers, inventors and dreamers. Its Elk lodges and Masonic temples were filled to over-capacity during meetings. There was a hardware store on what seemed like every block. Independent delivery services flourished, which basically was comprised of kids on retro-fitted bicycles that some of the inventors had designed. They called the delivery bikes Cherries.

The first Cherry was designed and built after Boomer had awakened from a short afternoon nap, or what he liked to call Dream Session. He always solved his problems in that manner — dreaming. The problem that day had been this: A neighborhood kid had been badly injured the day before while carrying a heavy section of wrought iron while riding his bike. The wrought iron was to have been delivered to Boomer. The end result was a lost piece of wrought iron for Boomer, and two lost teeth for the neighborhood kid.

The problem had obviously been one of balance, and improper weight distribution. The kid only weighed 80 lbs, the bile weighed 40 lbs, and the wrought-iron bar that he had rested on his shoulders weighed 25 lbs. The kid was top-heavy. The kid had crashed. The kid's name was Cherry.

So, the first Cherry bike was born out of a crash and a dream. The solution arrived in a retro-fitted bike design that started with removing the front forks of a Schwinn bicycle. New, extended front forks were fashioned that moved the axle of the front wheel forward two feet. A 2' x 2' metal plate was then welded on to the front of the bike at the height of a pedal in its lowest position. The first Cherry was essentially a pick-up truck version of a bike. It allowed for heavy loads to be safely rested on the plate. The new-fangled bike was bottom-heavy, effective, and by most accounts — a hit.

Within a month, every kid in town either had a Cherry or was scheming how to get one. Cherries were made in garages, front yards, back yards — anywhere there was space, light and an electrical outlet. Kids parents would even gladly pony-up for a Cherry retro-fitting, because delivery had turned into big business in Butler. Most kids could earn back the cost of a Cherry in two months. And the deliveries soon extended past just a clientele of inventors, and included shop owners, housewives and even churches. If you wanted something delivered across town, just call a kid with a Cherry.

Before too long, there were stables of Cherries, and delivery services with phones, and addresses and business cards. Actually, the owner of the most successful Cherry-based delivery service turned out to be Cherry's father. The kid who crashed and inspired what turned out to be something of a craze, he and his father ran the largest and most successful place around. They called it Two Teeth Deliveries. The town was swimming in Cherries, and Cherry's father was soon swimming in money — and before too long, Cherry even had two new front teeth.

All this was the result of a dream my grandfather had, mind you. His Dream Sessions became the speculative talk of the town. It gave people a whole new dimension to their usual weather ruminations. "What do you think Boomer will dream about?" became as hot a topic as, "Do you think it's going to rain?"

Consequences, and results of actions, and events, and perhaps the times — lead to a world that was largely the result of Boomer's Dream Sessions. And as it turned out, my unusual and eventful life had been one of his dreams. And that world I mention was not a local, small-town world. What I meant by the "world" was The World. The Earth. The third planet from the Sun.

You have to understand something about Cherries, my grandfather and his dreams. As a tinkerer, inventor and dreamer, Boomer had a lot of booms before things began to go right for him. It's the nature of the profession. A lot of trials and errors, and still more errors.

At first the dreams yielded sometimes catastrophic, and some would say, tragic events. Some of Boomer's earliest attempts resulted in two workshops being leveled to the ground by explosions. In the second explosion, Boomer had even lost part of a finger. Those were what he called the Black Days, and losing part of his finger got his attention, and the attention of my grandmother — who in a classic Lisastrada-style protest, literally withheld her womanly pleasures from him for a whole summer. In fact, her tactics caught on with other inventor's wives. For a time, this did not not earn Boomer good-favor with many of the other inventors and tinkerers. The summer of 1947 was not a good summer for Boomer and his "associates" as he called them. There was an unusual amount of drinking, fights and generally irritated and short-tempered men in the town that summer. It became known as the Blue Summer, and the inventors who, in the disapproving eyes of their wives, continued on with dangerous experiments became known as the Blue Men.

In the Autumn things were getting desperate. The lodges and temples all called meetings to discuss the problems that the, then, completely-frustrated Blue Men were causing in the town. The matter even made it to the Mayor's office and the local courts. A new law was passed henceforth making it illegal to experiment with dangerous chemicals inside the town's limits.

The town soon returned to normal. Seen on the streets, were the faces of smiling women and their inventor husbands. Laughter and gayety filled the town's evening air in the Autumn of 1947. There were parties and potlucks. And on the evenings there weren't festivities, married couples seemed to spent a lot of time behind closed doors in the privacy of their own houses and their own bedrooms. Every time I listened to my grandfather talk about the Blue Summer and the resulting pressure-releasing season that followed, the biggest grin would grow upon his face and his eyes would sparkle. I didn't quite understand all this when I was a child. But later, when I myself matured into a young man and enjoyed the rapturous fruits of a woman's passion — I understood.


I understood the power of women over men. We could say that dreaming creates the world, and that would be true. Or that Cherry's accident inspired something noble in Boomer. The world we know is still largely the result of Boomer's Dream. But how and why Boomer perfected his dreaming, and the motivation behind it — that is another story — or, at least another beginning.

Yes, Boomer dreamed because of a needed solution to Cherry's crash. But, let's get this straight. Boomer perfected his dreaming because he did not want, and could not be, a blue man. A blue man was a frustrated man, who's psychic energies were scattered and disturbed. A blue man, for reasons of his own stupidity and stubbornness, did not enjoy the full pleasures of his woman.

Even after the Blue Men were not so blue anymore, the name somehow stuck. The inventors, tinkerers and dreamers were all referred to, thereafter, as the Blue Men. To be a blue man was one thing, but to be one of the Blue Men was quite another.

The catalyst for the new beginnings of a new world were, in fact, not Boomer's dreaming, nor even the accident of a top-heavy kid on a bike. It was something more powerful.

In 1947, the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered, giving yet more clues and information on the cannonized book that had become the pinnacle foundation of Western civilization. And it was not a coincidence that Boomer began dreaming the same year. And it was not a coincidence that Boomer was a high-ranking freemason. Nor, was it a coincidence that UFO's sightings began to appear in great numbers during that period. It was not chance that UFO sightings began on the eastern coast of a country called the United States of American during dates recorded as 25 June to 15 July in 1947 — during the height of the Blue Men's frustration. This was an exercise in power and creation.

All those times Boomer talked of the summer of 1947, I had understood as a child, dreaming to be a great power. Before that, I figured the power of curiosity and invention, and the drive to discover held the key. I learned something as I grew older — as I began to know women intimately — and it was that women held the true power. Be it in their hearts or between their legs — but somewhere in there, lies the power center of the creation of the world.

Now, this is not so far-fetched to think or see that the world moves from the loins of women. And I thought for many years that the center of the world was there. Later, as I grew older, and I began to know men in a different sort of way — through their dealings and business agreements — I learned of yet a greater power than even that of the charms and passions of women. I learned that the greatest power was the deception of men. And not just men. Deception works on women, too. The superior gender is not without their own set of drives and notions that are gullible and receptive to deceit.

After the town law was passed prohibiting dangerous experiments in the Autumn of 1947, of course the Blue Men got laid, and, of course the men and women were relieved and happy to be back at the submarine races. And, of course, the dangerous experiments continued. They were conducted in secrecy. They were held under the shroud of deception.

It's a simple fact that the women of our species need to understand. I thought for many years that woman held the greatest power, and I thought for a long time that the experiments had actually ceased. For a long time I, too, had been duped. Until I learned about the great art of lying and deception.

What is it to lie? Is it not telling the truth? Nonsense! Don't be duped.

Lying is the act of creating the world. Even God lies — right in the beginning of the beginning. Lying is the act of separation. In the Bible, in Genesis 1:1, it states "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." What is that? It's a lie, of course. God told the earth that it was not heaven — and the earth, being gullible, believed it, and became the earth. This pattern of events happens all the way down the line, and continues in the creation of night and day, water and land.

The God of the Old Testament made it for six whole days before he got tired and needed rest. Why? Simple. Deception.

The trouble with lying is that it breeds on itself, and one lie deserves another, and another. Lying is an art. But I am not here to lie, nor tell the truth. If there is absolute truth in the universe, then there is also an absolute lie — and they, my friend, are the same thing. This needs to be understood, or we can not go further.

In order to understand West city, you have to understand East city. You have to play the game. In order to understand either city, you need to understand me. And to understand me is to understand my grandfather and his dreaming. And when you understand Boomer's Dream, you'll know and understand yourself.

I am not here to bore you. If you are bored, then it is you who are boring. I am not here talk about God, or Bibles, or conspiracy theories, or to preach a new dogma. I am 426 years-old. I do not have time or the inclination for such things.

Let's dispense with such talk, and move to matters more entertaining and vital, like my friend Gnothi Seauton. Gnothi is a funny character and plays a role in all this. Gnothi fancies himself a Greek and a master trickster. He is much older than I am, and the funny thing is, with all his age and experience, the one thing he says above all others is, "When life throws you a lemon — make lemonade."

Let's move forward, to West city. Gnothi is the proprietor of the Lemonade Factory. The "Lem", as it's known to the locals, is the hoppingest, most jumping joint in the city. The Lem was one of the original establishments to be founded during the creation of West city. From the outside, the Lem is housed in a bright-yellow dome of Gnothi's making and design. It's an odd structure. It's not that it's large, but from the outside, no one can make out where the top of the Lem actually stops. It appears to go on forever, disappearing into the sky. Gnothi takes great pleasure in this, and the constant puzzlement of his customers is an endless source of entertainment and belly laughs for him.

Anyone who comes for the first time to West city, obviously believes that the seat of power resides in the main institutional-like buildings near the center of the city. Anyone who's been here long enough, knows that is not quite the fact. If anything is happening. If anything is decided upon that is an important matter — chances are, it's happening at the Lem. And chances are, Gnothi probably has something to do with it.

I first met Gnothi back before the creation of West city, when the area was still the Plains. Back then, the times were not what one would call good. I happened to be walking on my way home one late summer night, and had decided to take a short-cut through an old, run-down park. As I neared the center of the park, I could see a man lying face-down in a pile of old newspapers. I could tell the man had probably not seen the inside of a bathtub for some time. When he had enjoyed his last full meal was a question that popped into my head. The man was obviously quite alone, and from all outwards appearances, must have been miserable.

As I walked by the man on the newspapers, I was struck by what I heard as distinct laughter. Not crazy laughter. Not laughter born of nervousness or an exhausted bought of anxiety. No. What I heard was full-on belly laughter. The kind of laughter you hear from men around a table after a good meal — when the after-dinner drinks and cigars are enjoyed. A warm laughter, shared in the company of friends and associates. The kind of laugh made by those in-the-know.

As his contagious laughter filled the night air, I found that soon, I too, was laughing. Not just chuckling, but really laughing. This man had infected me with what seemed like the punchline to a great cosmic joke. My laughter must have been heard by him, because no sooner had I realized, the man stood up from his newspapers and was absolutley howling with delight. And I was laughing harder than I had laughed in years. Laughing so hard tears were swelling in my eyes. Here I was in the middle of a deserted park, in the middle of the night, standing within arms reach of a man I did not know — and who I greatly suspected as being homeless and pennyless — and I was laughing with him. After a time, it seemed we were laughing about each other's laughter. Laughter, in and of itself, and for its own sake, is funny. And like lying, self-replicates.

At some point, when the laughter began to make my sides hurt, and I could not see through my tears, I bent down to catch my breath. It was then I that I first heard his voice. "Hello, my good man," he said. "Allow me to introduce myself, I am Gnothi — and I am at your service." This took me into fits of more laughter. Here was a man, who apparently had nothing save the rags on his back, offering his services to me. He obviously found my laughter at his offer humorous, because it sent him into another round of gut-wrenching laughter.

A few minutes later, when I had again restored the breath in my body, being the gentleman that I am, I finally replied to him. "Hello to you, sir," I said. "My name is Barnum."

"Barnum," he asked through his laughter. "You, by chance, wouldn't be related to Barnum Arman, the dreamer?"

"He's my grandfather," I said.

This sent the man into such a violent fit of laughter, never heard or seen by me before. His eyes teared and swelled up. His faced turned the color of a pomegranate. Then suddenly, he passed out, crashing face-first into his pile of newpapers. He was still breathing, so I suspected he had merely hyperventilated.

I sat down on a nearby park bench to rest for awhile and to watch over Gnothi. And there, I fell asleep until the next morning.




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