impromptu bath in the ocean had turned out to be just what I'd needed.
I welcomed the glistening water beading on my skin as I made my
way back down the beach under the warm rays of a setting Carribean
sun. Gnothi walked a good pace ahead of me, carefree of the rising
tide that intermittently brushed his ankles.
little silence was golden at that point. I followed behind with
nothing but the sound of a gently pulsing surf in my ears. There
had been a lot to wrap your brain around in those days. A lot of
the notions that people held about life had flown out the window
since everything had changed.
mind drifted back to the early days of the first Wanderers. The
very first small group of Wanderers was nothing more than a gang
of local punks who occasionally commited petty crimes in the town
where I grew up. The town of the tinkerers, inventors and dreamers.
They were high-school-age kids back then. They were not bad by nature.
They just caused the kinds of trouble that adolescents do when they've
got too much time on their hands and not enough stimulation to keep
them constructively occupied.
extra curricular activities basically amounted to breaking windows,
taunting the local girls and, every so often, breaking into the
back of a small shop and stealing a few things. Nothing major, but
still enough to keep the small three-man force in the sheriff's
office engaged. The punks suspected actitivites, whether real or
imagined, were the frequent agenda at PTA meetings. Some of the
more hot-headed citizens would bellow in outrage, demanding that
something be done to fight what they liked to call, "the rising
scourge of organized crime".
acknowedged leader of the punks, and the kid who took the most flak,
was David Alexander Mince. Everyone just called him Chipper. Chipper
lived in a run-down house with his elderly and mostly-deaf aunt.
Both his parents had died in a car accident when Chipper was four
years-old. I hadn't really known Chipper that well, because he was
older than I was. He was a senior in high school when I was in the
fourth grade. All of my friends back then, we all thought he was
pretty jazzin'. He seemed to come and go from his aunts' house as
he pleased. And he was one of the few kids in town who didn't have
a Cherry bike. He had a small motor scooter of some sort, and to
many of us kids back then, Chipper was about as cool as it got.
But he did have a mean streak, and my grandfather, Boomer, didn't
really care for him. So, I usually avoided direct contact with Chipper
was a tall, skinny square-headed kid, who actually played a pretty
mean trumpet. He had what was considered long hair back then, which
he kept permantly greased back with polmade. I never saw Chipper
with a coat on. Even in the dead of winter, we'd see him scurry
around town on his scooter wearing only dark, long pants and his
trademark white, v-necked t-shirt. He seemed impervious to pain,
and this gained him a reputation with the local kids as something
of a Superman. I'd heard gossiping grown-ups call him everything
from a bastard to an evil Nazi sympathizer.
Chipper was or had been, I'm sure the town assisted him along his
way to being what he would become. He became the scapegoat for all
the ills of a small, local township. If something was percieved
as bad or not-just-right, Chipper was always the first assumed association.
many people, even after all these years, David Alexander Mince is
considered to be, by some accounts, a hero. No one even those
who don't agree on his heroic stature, actually consider that Chipper
was ever really evil. He was a curious kid who had some tough breaks
dealt to him early in life. Whether Chipper was a sinner or a saint,
or a bit of both, he was the one who started the fourth-dimensional
was the one who changed everything.
was common knowledge. What was not so common, was the knowledge
of how a very particular set of circumstances and events had transpired.
I had long known quite a large portion of the puzzle, and after
Gnothi had filled in the remaining pieces back at the mooring, I
could now see the whole picture. Obviously, Chipper had not orchestrated
the changes alone. Had he been a troubled kid in any other small
town, he would have had little or no affect on the world-at-large.
But, he had moved in with his aunt in his youth, whether by chance
or cosmic design. His aunts' address was in the town of the tinkerers,
inventors and dreamers.
very moment and interval, the exact nanosecond in the timeline of
humanity when the very first thread in the fabric of space-time
began to fray, has been calculated to be at 20:01 hours on the evening
of the 10th day of October in the year 1947. For those running to
check an old calendar that was a Tuesday.
nights, at seven o'clock sharp, the regularly-scheduled temple meetings
began. Beginning in the autumn of 1947, they had also become the
nights of the dream sessions. Those early dream sessions were boosted
with Remington Boomer's invention to aid in the recall of
dreams. On the night of October 10th, after thirty minutes of old
business, and thirty minutes of new business had been addressed,
the Blue Men adjourned to the secret back rooms. That night, there
was an uninvited guest hiding behind a large bookshelf undetected
by the men. For the first time during their dream sessions, the
Blue Men were not alone.
saw it all that night. The Tray, the cots, the snoozing men and
something else. He saw the Remington, and it's secret hiding place.
The cat was out of the bag.
had known, as some others had known, at least about the existence
of Rem. Even when I was young I had heard references to it by Boomer.
Although no one outside of a certain circle had ever seen it, it
was generally regarded as a harmless dreaming aid. Since dreaming
had gained some degree of respect in the town, and the dangerous
experiments had disappeared from the public eye, Rem wasn't something
that busy-bodies gave much attention. There were other fish to fry.
Chipper had secretly witnessed the proceedings of the men that night,
he became the unseen fly-on-the-wall for many meetings.
some point, not too long after Chipper's initial discovery, he snuck
into the temple late one night and procured for himself an infinitesimally
small amount of Rem. He had already shared much of his new-found
information with a select few of his punk friends. Together, they
had already fashioned a version of the Tray. They had brought a
few sleeping bags to an old abandonded warehouse that served as
their HQ and hideout. With Rem in hand, he had all he needed. It
was the beginning of Chipper's dream.
the early months of 1948, Chipper and his aunt suddenly moved into
a large Victorian house. They filled the place with beautiful, expensive
furniture. His aunt bought a new top-of-the-line Oldsmobile, and
Chipper bought a brand-new Triumph motorcycle. Word on the street
was that after years and years of a drawn-out court case, a large
cash settlement had been awarded to Chipper from the insurance company
of the car that had collided into Chipper's parents and killed them.
aunt, whose name no one can remember for some reason, was suddenly
asked to all the society ladies functions. She went to some. She
liked coffee and crumb cake something always present in abundance
at the afternoon society meetings. She didn't talk much, but she
smiled a lot, and she was apparently quite wealthy. Apparent wealth
and a smile were the only two qualifications needed for membership
in the Ladies Society Club.
never did see any signs that Chipper had bought a coat or even a
wind jacket. He could still be seen, and heard, cruising bare-armed
through the streets on his Triumph. Even after all the material
wealth in the world had appeared out of nowhere and dropped in his
lap, I still never saw him in anything other than a white, v-necked
t-shirt, dark pants and boots. Chipper had also taken up smoking
cigarettes in public, which essentially propelled him into the ranks
of adulthood, as far as we kids were concerned. Back then, from
the point-of-view of our youthful eyes, Chipper had every outward
appearance of living nothing less than the ultimate life. He dropped
out of high school, and began playing lead trumpet full-time in
a local professional jazz combo. I didn't know much about the music
they played back then, but they were generally considered to be
of very high quality. Later, they even made road trips to New York
City. They were called the Wanderlusters, and were for all intents
and purposes famous.
after fortune had knocked on Chipper's door, the local acts of theft
and the general shenanigans of the punks in the town all but dried
up that year, almost in the blink of an eye. For part of that following
spring the sheriff's office and the PTA meetings had little in the
way to do, complain about or enforce. There were no problems
at all, really. The town's people soon began to redirect their unchanneled
energy into all sorts of community activities and projects. The
PTA began working feverishly on planning bake sales and car washes.
The sheriff's office began coordinating the production of the Policemen's
Ball coming up that summer. The amount of baked goods produced that
summer was astounding, and every car in town was show-room clean.
All the Cherry bike delivery services were booked solid, sometimes
days in advance. The Policemen's Ball, which in previous years had
always been an evening of pot-luck dinners and bingo, ended up being
a grand black-tie event that included valet parking, a massive fireworks
display and even exotic circus animals. They even hired a live band
for the event, none other than the Wanderlusters.
house that Chipper and his aunt had moved into was one of the biggest
and most beautiful houses in town. I passed it on my way to and
from school each day. Towards the fall of that year, the house became
a source of real entertainment and curiosity. Big, fancy cars were
parked outside on the street, and some of them even had New York
license plates. I saw finely-dressed women and sharp-dressed men
going into the house. The wailing of jazz music and laughter could
be heard from a block away. The house seemed to breath and pulse
to the rhythm of the music, as if it had a life of its own.
in the town that summer and the fall were like nothing its citizens
had ever seen or experienced. Times were good, money seemed to fill
everyone's pocket. Chipper had made quite a name for himself, and
all the young boys idolized him more than ever. We'd seen him playing
his silver horn at some outdoor concerts thrown by a few of the
local business. Even though some of the music was strange to our
young ears, we all agreed that Chipper and his music made everything
feel magic. When the school year started that fall, almost
every boy in school signed up for band, an the most popular instrument
had thought about playing trumpet, too. I had already been taking
some piano lessons by them. I decided to stick with the piano, and
I'm glad I did. It has served me well over the years and has been
a constant companion and a never-ending fountain of inspiration
in my life.
the town approached the coming winter months, things started to
change. A strangeness was in the air. I would later learn the fabric
of space-time had begun to tear. The Rem had started fraying the
edges Shizzlebot was about to make it's first appearance.
The entrance of shizz on to the stage of life marked the beginning
of the end of normal life lived solidly in a three-dimensional world.
Remington had given life something of a nice, worn-in feeling, like
a pair of good, solid jeans that had been washed and worn twenty
times. Shizz was different. Shizz would soon begin ripping wide,
gaping holes in the fabric of the space-time continuum. Shizz was
going to change everything.
had known a good deal about shizz, Chipper, the Blue Men and how
everything went ape-shit but there were still holes. I was
sure Gnothi would be able to fill me in. As I continued walking
along the beach a good hundred paces behind him, the sound of the
surf began fading away to the pulsing rhythm of the music we'd heard
when we first arrived in Jamaica. The daylight and the sun were
closing up shop as the moon and the first hour of night were reporting
for duty. There must of been a thousand stars dancing in the sky.
caught up with Gnothi just as he was entering the Jammer. The Jammer
was basically a little hole in the wall. It was lit all around with
hundreds of little multi-colored lights. The kind of cheap lights
on a cord than people string up on trees and around their houses
during the winter holidays. The whole place seemed to be made out
of bamboo and driftwood. The wasn't much room inside, there might
have been ten tables at best, and there was a small bar in the corner.
The real business-end of the Jammer was all the outdoor tables and
seating overlooking the beach. There there must have been over two
hundred people out there that night. Reggie was standing behind
the bar. He was dancing and holding a big spliff of ganja. Gnothi
motioned me over to the bar.
mon. What your pleasure," Reggie said with a smile, as he took a
long drag on the joint.
laughed and answered, "Reggie, we'd love to stay, but we've got
to get back. Could you call Red and ask him to pick us up in thirty
minutes. And while we wait, some of those great rum and fruit drinks
might help take the edge off when we go through the mover."
got it, mon," sang Reggie as he disappeared through a little door
behind the bar. A minute later he returned and made a couple of
drinks for us, which he then set down on the bar. Next to the drinks
he placed a large joint that looked like it had been expertly rolled.
"Enjoy your drinks," he said. "And if you really wanna' take the
edge off, this smoke here will polish your edges an' buff your brain."
never one to refuse gracious hospitality," Gnothi said with a giggle,
as he lifted the joint and rolled it between his fingers inspectingly.
me," Reggie said, as he moved a flaming stick towards Gnothi's face.
Gnothi put the joint between his lips and puffed as the fat end
began to smoke and glow. He drew a few drags deep into his lungs
and then passed the joint over to me. It had been quite some time
since I'd seen or smoked high-grade marijuana. I had never been
a big smoker, but this had been one of those what-the-heck kind
of days. I took a few small puffs. It tasted sweet and smelled aromatic.
and Reggie were laughing. "That's not a soda, Barnum," Gnothi blurted.
"You don't sip it. Take a deep, long toke."
the heck, I thought. I pulled slowly on the joint. My lungs filled
with sweet, acrid smoke. It felt good. "How's that," I uttered in
a short staccato cadence. No sooner had I spoken, when a huge series
of coughs racked my body. My eyes began to water. I bent over in
convulsions as I quickly passed off the joint to Gnothi. Smoke rushed
out of my mouth and nose.
I ha-rkarrphh," I breathed for air. "Can I," I coughed violently.
I caught just enough air. "Water," I muttered. "Water."
and Reggie were howling and snickering and banging their hands on
the top of the bar.
think he's on fire, mon!" Reggie exclaimed with loud laughter as
I bent over deeper clutching my gut. "And he's goin' down. Man overboard!"
raised my head to look up and get my bearings. I could see Gnothi
grinning and toking on the joint. A tall glass of water appeared
on the bar. "Here ya' go, mon," Reggie said. "Now, you can sip!"
sent Gnothi and Reggie into another wave of hooting and laughter.
I took a long drink of the cooling water. My eyes had teared and
were burning. I dipped my fingers in the glass and then ran the
water across my face and over my eyes. A few moments later I was
feeling a little better and attempted to regain what I thought was
my composure. I sat back on the stoll as I pulled it up to the bar.
there. Just relax," Gnothi said in soothing tone as he patted my
back gently. "Just relax into it."
looked around to see Gnothi and Reggie wearing empatheic smiles
on their faces. Their eyes were wide and sparkled. I could see the
hundreds of little lights around the club had begun to glow with
a vivid, deep brilliance. The wood on the bar, which I hadn't really
noticed before, suddenly felt cool and smooth as I ran my hands
over it. I felt the muscles in my gut relax as a warm current streamed
through my body. I closed my soar eyes to rest them for a second.
On the inside of my eyelids, as if on a movie screen, I could see
a kaleidoscope of colorful, rotating geometrical shapes appear and
morph into other shapes. The pulsing music which I had heard outside
of my body, begin to move inside of me. I began to feel as
though I was floating. I opened my eyes to see that the lights in
the club were dimming. My field of vision grew narrower. All I could
focus on were the winding curves in the grain of the wood on the
thought I heard someone say, "moving", but I couldn't quite make
it out. I could feel the hard, wooden stool I was sitting on begin
to soften and feel cushiony. The sensation of the cushion rose from
my butt and up into my back. The wood grains on the bar faded into
black darkness. I noticed the sound of my breath growing louder
as the music faded into a whispering beat. The sound of my heart
sounded louder and mixed with the rhythm of the distant music. A
rushing hiss filled my ears.
heard clicking and dull popping noises as I tried to focus on the
warm, amber light that was beginning to appear in my field of vision.
Small, square patterns began to blend in with the light. I could
feel myself supported by a big, soft, leathery chair. I relaxed
back, and let the chair hold my weight. I was still disoriented,
but I realized I was in the mover. One of the new movers that Gnothi
and I had used after the shizz had begun to affect us.
heard a heavy, metallic door unlock and open. As it opened, the
sounds generated by my body that I was hearing silenced immediately.
ashore that's coming ashore," I heard a voice say.
sat in the chair inside the mover for a few minutes until I felt
I could find my own way out the door. I grabbed the sides of the
door opening and pulled myself out of the mover. My legs felt like
putty. Rather than try to stand I decided it better to just sit
on the floor for a few minutes. I was still high from the ganja.
I looked up to see Red flashing a big grin across his face. I still
Barnum, you fished-eyed fucker," I heard Big Red say, as he looked
down at me. "What were you doing in Jamaica swimming in the
sea the whole time? Your eyes are as red as beets."
ten feet away, I could see Gnothi making his way out of another
one of the movers. He seemed coherent enough to stand. He stood
for a few moments and rolled the bottoms of his feet back and forth
on the floor. Then, seemingly satisfied with the connections his
legs were making, he walked slowly over in my direction. His eyes
were clear and bright.
am so glad my friend Barnum here joined me in my plans today," Gnothi
said smilingly to Red. "He's a most amiable travel companion."
rolled an old desk chair over near me. Then had grabbed me under
my arms with his massive Herculean hands and helped me up into a
sitting position. "This guy looks like he's been on a trip, alright,"
Red said, as he went to get another chair. "Take a few minutes and
relax. Can I get you gentlemen anything? Water. Soda.
remembered we had headed back to the Jammer for some food. Gnothi
and I had both been hungry. We'd skipped dinner to get back here.
Back to the candy store. "Candy," the thought flashed through my
mind. The ganja had dried my mouth into a cottony cave, and I suddenly
had a strong craving for something sweet.
I said to Red. "Could you bring me some water, please."
got it," he said. "Two waters coming right up. Anything else?"
I said. I looked up at him with my obviously stoned-looking, blood-shot
eyes, and with a big shit-eating grin, said, "Some candy. I'd like
lots and lots of candy."