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Chapter Two

BREAKFAST IN THE PARK

Know yourself
Know the dogs
Know the kitties
And know the fog

Know the moon
Know the sun
Know the birdies
They like to have fun

I woke up to the sound of singing. It took me a minute to get my bearings. Park. Man. Laughter. As my eyes moved into focus, I could see a white, linen-covered service tray in front of me — the kind whisked through finer hotels when room service is ordered. On top of the tray was a silver serving set and a crystal vase holding a stemmed yellow tulip. Gnothi was flicking the silver trays and the crystal goblets with his fingers. Each item on the tray rang out in a different musical note. He was singing again, Any way the wind blows, doesn't really matter to me.

"Breakfast is served," he announced, as he removed the silver lids from the trays- revealing a full breakfast for two that included coffee, orange juice, poached eggs, english muffins, bacon, grilled new potatoes — and something I hadn't seen in a long time — grits.

I still wasn't fully coherent. "Sir," I exclaimed in bewilderment. "Where...,um."

"Where'd I get this," he broke in . "Does it surprise you that carts, linens and eggs exist? They're everywhere, really. We're not exactly talking rare commodities here. Let's eat first. The where's and how's are merely technicalities. We can discuss all that later. I got grits here, too. You like grits, don't you?"

I couldn't argue with the man, or the fact that a bountiful meal was sitting in front of me ready to be enjoyed — and I was hungry. The small glass of freshly-squeezed orange juice was the first to go, and seemed to bring me back to life. I followed that with a few cautious sips of steaming-hot coffee.

The rest of the breakfast was so good, we ate in silence. As I was wiping the last bit of egg drippings off my plate with the last piece of muffin, he asked, "So, do you have have any big plans for the day?"

I had to remember. Today. Sunday. "No plans," I answered.

"Good," he blurted. "Because I have big plans, and I'd like to include you." I stood up and stretched the previous night from by bones and muscles, and thanked him for the breakfast, "I don't know how you did it, but I thank you and my stomach thanks you — those grits were delicious — haven't had them in years."

"So, you're Boomer's grandkid, huh," he mentioned. "I've heard a lot about you. You're a big name in some parts." Gnothi's eyes were so full of kindness, that once I really got a half-decent look at him, my nervous system went off auto-pilot surveillance, and I relaxed. Whoever he was, he was a good man. I had always been able to detect trouble and kindness in a persons' eyes. I trusted my instincts, and somehow, I trusted Gnothi. From then on, I never really questioned his motivations — even, if sometimes, his actions were strange. He instantly gained my respect, and has retained it for as long as I've known him — which has been quite a long time now.

"So, what are the big plans?" I asked.

"First, we have an after-breakfast smoke — to warm up the pipes," he said. "It'll get the lead out."

I was not a big smoker, but I did enjoy smoking various herbs and substances on occasion, and this morning was one of those what-the-heck kind of mornings. He fired up something hand-rolled, puffed the tip into a bright-red cherry, and handed the white cigarette over to me as he exhaled a cloud of blue smoke.

"Do you mind if I ask what this is?" I chimed, as I pinched the filter end between my fingers. "I don't recognize the smell." Gnothi laughed. He said, "To ask what something is, doesn't make any sense, nor does it provide an effective way to truly discover anything."

He was trying to "E" me. "I know all about the verb to be," I said. "And, anyway, I heard you ask me last night, "Are you related to Barnum, the dreamer?"

"I did nothing of the sort," he said. "I said, 'You, by chance wouldn't be...,' he stopped and laughed. "OK, you got me."

"So, what is this stuff?" I asked

"It's called shizzlebot," he chuckled. "Something a few of my old friends whipped up in a lab a long time ago."

I had heard about "shizz" for years. It was something I'd heard about from Boomer, and occasionally in certain circles of speculative gossip. I figured it for something between a rumor and over-active imaginations. If anything, it wasn't for kids, and by the time I had grown old enough to really learning about it, shizz had basically vanished from people's lips and minds. They had developed other dreaming boosters since then. Shizz was to dreaming what a Ford Model T was to automobiles — a throwback and something of an obsolete relic. I didn't even know it was still around.

I drew the rice-paper-rolled shizz to my mouth, and pulled on it. The smoke was actually pleasant, and tasted of almonds. So, this is shizz, I thought. Holy smokes.

Gnothi and I finished the shizz cigarette. "I don't feel anything," I said.

"Feel anything," he questioned, ponderingly. "Why should you feel anything? Let's take a walk. It takes some time to kick in, and, anyway — I have an idea."

We walked through the deserted park. The sun couldn't have been up for more than an hour or so. The "Q" indicator on my personal communicator told me it was later in the day than I had realized. "Q" stood for "quite early". I had expected to see "V" — very early.

We walked abreast out of the park and headed north, in the opposite direction from my apartment, towards the Toland district — an old neighborhood with artists' lofts and rows of small import shops. If you needed a white elephant, spices or exotic mushrooms — you went to Toland. Toland, as a matter of fact, had been the start of Cherrys' father's big international transport empire. After Two Teeth Deliveries had prospered so well in Butler years ago, they had moved away to bigger cities and into franchising their operations. The company was renamed 2T Transporters — and had worked its way into becoming the largest transport service. It was something close to a monopoly. Cherrys' father, or Big Red, as he was called, was the man and the company to use for moving things around. Big Red moved the headquarters for 2T into this neighborhood years ago when it was basically run-down, deserted warehouses. Somewhere along the way, people started calling the area Toland. Although, Big Red and Cherry were probably still around somehwere, I hadn't seen either of them in years. Not since things changed. Not since everything went ape-shit.

I looked over at Gnothi as we entered the first streets of Toland. The sunlight was hitting his face, and I realized I was actually getting a good look at him for the first time. This was definitely not a man who was homeless and without friends. He was a little shorter than my tall frame, and stockier than me. He had thick, silver hair that grew strong out of his head, in the fortunate fashion afforded by Greeks and other cultures of the Mediterranean. Had he been of Irish decent , like me, surely he would have lost some hair by his age. He appeared to be in his late-fifties, probably twice my age, and was quite physically fit — and even had a refined air about him. This was no bum.

"Mind if I ask where we're going?" I inquired.

"We're going to see someone I know and try out his new movers," Gnothi informed me. "And we need to step on it before this shizz kicks in."

A few minutes later we were standing in front of what looked like a candy story. The sign above the front window read, "Tootie Frootie Candies." While it was not general knowledge, I knew that this was probably one of Big Red's establishments. He'd opened other businesses, and had a humorous ways of playing on the original "Two Teeth" name. I'd seen his entrepeneurial antics. I really hadn't kept track over the years, but I always got a chuckle when I saw or heard of a company that was probably the suspected doings of Big Red.

Gnothi walked first into the small shop. There was a young woman behind the counter. The shop was bursting with an array of brightly-colored candies carefully lit and displayed for maximum mouth-watering effect. "Do you carry any of those Big Red candies in this fine establishment?" asked Gnothi. The woman seemed to look at him knowlingly, and replied, "Just a moment, I believe we have some in the back."

She disappeared into the back of the shop. A few moments later I heard laughter coming from behind a screaming-yellow door marked "office". She reappeared and said, "Would you please come in," with a motion of her hand.

I followed Gnothi through the door. It lead down a long hallway smattered with posters of different candies with names like Movers, Shakers, Pizzles and Jumpers. Just as we turned a corner that opened into a large, high-ceilinged area, I distinctly saw a poster for a candy called Shizzles. The animated image on the poster had a person with three heads moving around in a spinning motion.

As we entered the open area, I saw what looked like old, open MRI machines all around the room. A large man was sitting at an old roll-top desk with his back to us. A moment later he spun around in his wooden swivel chair. It looked like Big Red, but I hadn't seen his face in years.

Gnothi and I stopped half-way and stood in the middle of the area. The large man rose from his chair, as he balanced a pair of bi-focals on his nose. He stopped for a moment, and seemed to be squinting. Then he let out a laugh. "Barnum Arman! Boy, oh, boy — been a long time," he snorted. "How the fuck are you, you little shit."

It was Big Red, alright.

___________________________________________________________

 

"Hello, Mr. Farthington," I said. Big Red was still John Farthington to me. I had known the man all my life, and addressing him by his surname was all I'd ever known.

"Please, call me Red," he offered. "We're all grown-up, big people now, and we can chuck the formalities."

"OK, Red," I said. It felt funny on my tongue, to call him that in his presence.

"Gnothi, my friend," said Red. "What can we do ya' for."

Gnothi laughed, "Red, I've had the good fortune to finally make the acquaintance of Barnum here. We're well-fed and shizzing, and we'd liked to move. By chance, could we employ the services of the new movers?"

Red laughed, "So, you want to go to the movies on shizz, huh. How long you got?"

"Not long," Gothi said.

Here's what I knew about shizzlebot. The primary effect of shizz, and all boosters, really, was to remove the element of chance. It also distorts the space/time continiuum. Essentially, shizz works before, during and after ingestion. To put it in another way, it was not a coincidence that I had converged with Gnothi the previous night. He had moved me, himself and the location of the park, all to a single event. He knew I was coming. He had moved me there. Dreaming is a bit of an antiquated term these days — moving is the vernacular. Boosters like shizz primarily set-up a local gravitational field. Objects, events and even people can then be attracted to the "sweet spot". When a person uses shizz, they become the sweet spot.

Put another way, you've certainly experienced events in your life that seemed outside the realm of chance. Someone would call you just as you were thinking of them, or something you needed manifested. Some people have called that syncronicity. Shizz, essentially boosts the process.

People who shizzed and used other boosters without the aid of movers were called Wanderers. Unaided boosting was very dangerous, as it manifested all sorts of events and objects to the sweet spot of the one boosting. Free associations materialized instantly — often with disasterous effects. Wanderers were bascially the junkies of dreaming and moving. Luckily, they were few in number. Boosters were not easily obtainable. One had to have an association with the Blue Men in order to procure boosters.

A crude version of shizz actually made it into the general population towards the latter part of the 20th century. It was know as MDMA, Adam, Eve — but mostly as Ecstacy. It was kid's stuff compared even to shizz.

Transporters, or movers as they're called, lock in on the coordinates of mental concentration made by those boosting. The problem with shizzing and boosting in general, is that as it starts to enter the phase in which the gravitiational field is strongest, all sorts of things and events can manifest — and if the mind and thoughts are wandering, as they do so well, a lot of undesirable effects can occur. What movers do is to capture and amplify the vibrations occuring in the general thought pattern. Once the mover has locked in on the predominant thought-patterns, it amplifies the desired images, and compresses undesired images and thought associations. In many ways it's not dissimilar to watching a televison program, except that you become the producer of the show.

If you concentrate on a dozen roses for one mintute, chances are the thought of roses, although occuring for most of that time, will not be the only thoughts in the mind. Free associations occur. The roses may trigger thoughts of a person or place, and those thoughts may easily be undesirable. Movers map the predominant wave of mental concentration over a selected, short period — and then allow for an extended period of locked frequencies.

Movers basically move space/time rather than things or people. The commercial applications of movers are such that, if a box of oranges was needed from a distant place, instead of moving the oranges to the desired place, the mover collasped the space/time continuum, and created one place and one time where the oranges and the destination existed simultaneously. Once the mover had the oranges, it was switched to a lower power mode, and the oranges were "delivered" in tack to the destination. The one oddity, and ultimately very interesting aspect of this process — was, once the box of oranges arrives at their destination, the original box of oranges still exists, and in perfect, undisturbed condition, and in their original location. Movers, in effect, make exact clones of objects and even events.

It was also the introduction of the technology of movers that caused everything to change — and that's also when everything went ape-shit.

The older way of looking at time and space was that every point in space would have the same time. That anything happening at some other place would be simultaneous with what is happening here. When it was realized that the velocity of light was the same for all observers, then it meant that all points in space do not have the same time. It also means that you would disagree with someone else who is far away about the sequence of events and you could not agree if two event were simultaneous. What this meant was that time and the three directions in space are very much like four different dimensions of space, that time was really very much like one of the x, y, or z directions. Relativity effects arise mostly out of the mixing together of these different directions in a four-dimensional space. I think I took too many words and may not have helped you. Ask again if that is the case.

If some of this is confusing you, you are not alone. Confusion was a major problem for a while until people got use to the fact that they were no longer required to live and exist exclusively in local space/time. Everything was different after that. Real estate markets virtually collapsed, and a lot of other things changed.

The idea that people could essentially create a world of their own choosing, without moving in physical space, was a tough nut to crack for some. Of course, everyone could still walk around and enjoy what there was in their every day three-dimensional reality, but life in a four-dimensional world became all the rage.

Anyway, let's get back to the candy shop. Everything will become clear to you. These are not easy concepts to follow, at first. You'll get the hang of it soon enough.

The new movers Red was working on were down another hallway, and sitting in a room with a huge glass-domed ceiling. I could see and feel the day in the room. These movers didn't look anything like the MRI-like machines that had been in Red's office. These movers looked more like shiny, metallic self-contained flight simulators.

Suddenly, and seemingly out of nowhere, a whole pile of old books crashed on to the floor in front of me. Dust exploded into the air and covered me. I couldn't see. I coughed.

"We'd better get you into the movers," laughed Red. "You're starting to shizz-out. If we don't step on it, we might be swimming in a room full of cows or old girlfriends in a minute." I felt a strong, large hand grab me by the arm and guide me through the dust-filled air. "Watch your head," I heard Red say. "Here, sit down." I felt what seemed to be a large, leathery chair. I managed to sit back in it. Then I heard a door close.

"Gnothi, you in?" I heard Red holler from outside the mover.

"I'm in," shouted Gnothi. "In and comfy!."

The dust cleared from my eyes, and I could see inside the mover. It was low-lit in a bath of warm, amber light. There were no controls or buttons of any kind that I could spot. I ran my hands over the interior of the mover, and it felt like some type of soft acoustical foam. I noticed I could hear my own breathing. I knew from experience that the mover's interior was designed to be an anechoic chamber — which meant that it was acoustically dead — there was no reverberation of sound waves. None. Which also meant that any sound emitted in the space was greatly ampified. To say you could hear a pin drop would be an understatement. A dropping pin would sound like a gunshot in there.

The sound of my breath increased. I began to hear my own heartbeat. Soon, the sound of blood rushing through my veins filled the chamber. I even thought I heard myself blink. The sound of my eye lids closing together seemed to send out a clicking sound. I began to hear a whirling hum. It grew louder. It was mixed with what sounded like a drum beat of some sort. The hum lowered in pitch, and then began to change into a kind of rhythmic bass sound. Then, to my surprise, I began to hear a distinct guitar part that sounded like something Bob Marley might play. Soon, a chorus of singing filled my ears. As crazy as I thought it sounded, it was undeniable.

One love
One heart
C'mon all you people
Let' me hear ya' sing

The chamber began to darken, and my field of vision disappeared. The smells of a festive crowd began to fill my nose — perfume, sweating bodies, flowers, coconuts and fruits and the odor of what I recognized as ganja.

The feelings and nerves in my body faded away. I couldn't sense my body any longer.

The next thing I knew, my field of vision was returning. The bright glare of the sun stung my eyes. I could see the tops of palm trees swaying in the wind. I heard laughter of men and women, and the high-pitched giggling of children.

"Barnum," I heard Gnothi's voice say. "Barnum, just relax - we're here. And we'll be more here in just a minute."

I turned my head to find the source of Gnothi's voice. I could see him standing within arms reach of me. He had on a loud, flowered shirt, and a big shiny grin on his face.

The feeling was returning to my body, and I soon noticed I was standing. I slid my feet slightly to check the ground and get the body connections back. It felt like I was standing in sand. A spinning sensation that I was feeling in my body was subsiding. Then, in much the way everything had faded a few moments ago — everything faded back to real — and I was here — or there, depending on how one looks at it.

Gnothi and I were standing on a beach. It appeared to be an island of some sort, as there was an ocean surf all along the beach for as far as the eye could see. I felt warm air all around my body, and sweat on my brow.

Gnothi handed me something to drink. A drink with a pineapple slice and a little green umbrella on the top. I took a sip. It was rum and fruit juice. It was good and refeshing.

Just as I was turning to Gnothi to inquire as to our whereabouts and what was going on, a tall, dark-skinned man with long, flowing dreadlocks walked towards us.

"Welcome to Jamaica, mon", the dark man said smilingly, with his arms open.

Jamaica, I thought.

I turned to Gnothi, who was by then bursting out with laughter.

"Yes, we're in Jamaica," Gnothi said, as he began to move off in the direction of the music. He turned his head around towards me as he walked away, kicking up sand and waving his drink in the air as he went.

"What can I say," he laughed. "I needed a vacation."

<< chapter one

 

 
   

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