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Ridden By a Nightmare
The Imposed Premise of Timejacker: Sunday, 6:54 AM, 1/22/23, Selek, Washington
© 2023 James LaFond
SEP/7/23
Yesterday, after completing Can, which took me away from my normal writing cadence, I fielded one email:
“Hello Sir,
Recently reread a comic series I grew up on, 100 Bullets. I was surprised by how much it reminded me of your writing. The premise is that a cabal of thirteen houses control America, and to keep peace between themselves, they keep a little unit of “bullfuckers” to police them. I was surprised to see how, instead of these guys being the usual ex-SOF types you see a lot in fiction, they were much more like your type of apex predator. All comfortable in prison, pretty nihilistic, colorful characters in general. If you ever get the chance to skim it, I’d be interested in your thoughts on it.
Take er easy
Michael Corman
I then got drunk winning 3 out of 5 cribbage games against The Captain and retired bone tired. I had hauled log rounds by way of paths that I cut and raked into the cedar wood, then beat down by rolling rounds, then staggering to the wood shed holding the wood to my guts to keep them from bursting. I did this with the Norwegian Orangutan, a tall man with the wingspan of George Foreman, who cut down the damaged trees and hauled two rounds at a time more easily than I one. He was a Major of Special Operations, in the Army and for his last year an acting Colonel. Helping him I reinvented the wheel in the form of rolled log rounds too heavy to lift, the ones flared and awkward having split with hammer and spike in the driving rain.
The weird ferris wheel in the sky that rose every night in September and October in the Rockies, rises here too. I saw it last night after out drinking with The Captain and staggering down the stairs we built so I did not break my neck skittering down Grandma’s handicapped ramp when it freezes over by wintry night…
That thing is in the same quarter of the sky in the Pacific Northwest as it was in Utah. No one knows what it could be. I had decided to skip church and walk back to Pages Flats, to the watershed gate and think on the next novel by dawn, either Timejacker or Slave. The dogs are getting too old to make the hike and I’m too broken to carry a lame German Shepherd into phone reception range. I am having a hard time deciding and feel lame and broken myself.
It was 10:50 PM, the cozy bed beckoning.
Dawn comes here at 7:00 AM, dark and murky until the gloomy grayness arrives.
A half hour ago I had the dream, so shall now record it.
“Hey, LaFond,” says Major Wingspan, “thanks for the help. Here is something I’ve been meaning to cash in. But I think you should have it.”
That something was a coupon good at any Fred Myers supermarket. I walk out of the two acre stand of towering cedar and Douglas Fir, and, instead of appearing on The Captain’s 5-acre compound, as I had yesterday afternoon between rain storms, I found myself upon a commercial parking lot in Enumclaw, Washington, at the foot of Mount Rainier.
The sun hid behind the clouds cloaking the massive mountain in the late afternoon.
A Fred Myer rose before me. The coupon now read $5.06. I could purchase The Captain’s angelic wife a box of chocolates. Her husband had decided not to take her to town for a date night to instead play me in cards while smashing a case of beer down our gullets and listening to Irish Shanty pirate music.
I was upset last night after reviewing a fight video of Sean’s next opponent, who can hit really hard and will outweigh him by a half ton, so had went along with the gaming revel at her smiling expense…
The store layout has changed, indeed changes while I am in the store, from a GC Murphies style Five and Dime from the 1970s, to a 1980s box store, to a maze like 1990s superstore, into a weird department store layout where the food was hidden in back alcoves among administrative offices. I begin to panic, thinking I’ve lost my mind, or worse, that my last five years as a hobo did not occur and that I still work in one of these god forsaken retail food outlets.
The layout solidifies into the weird department store administrative offices set up and I locate some chocolate almond bark among gift cards and return to a back register, that is surrounded now by easy chairs, the cashier and book keeper closing their station and the janitor blocking my egress.
The cashier says, “You will have to check out up front. I’m closed.”
The janitor says, “You will have to wait until the floor dries, I’ve moped it.”
I don’t feel as old and broken, snarl, and walk by him. He follows me, touching me and I say, “Save it for outside. No sense in you getting fired over taking care of this.”
“Really, you’re a champion,” he says as I walk up front.
“Hardly,” I snort.
“Your shirt, it says you won JASOC challenge—that’s badass—2001, I mean that was like War On Terror time, right.”
I Look at the shirt and am kind of surprised to see that the loose skin around my shrunk gut is gone and replaced by thick abdomen, and that I’m wearing a military obstacle course award shirt—didn’t even know there was such a thing and figured Major Wingspan gave it to me for the help along with the coupon…
“Oh, this is a gift, not my shirt, I can barely walk let alone run and climb,” I say, and continue to the counter where there are two pretty, smiling girls there.
A tall blonde security guard, who looks like the late Heath Ledger, then grabs my arm and tries to turn me. I pull my arm away and snarl, “If you must, take it outside. Not in front of the ladies.”
The kid, very young, stands glaring at me and paces behind me, making some kind of security call, talking in code, peeking at the coupon, which I present to the ladies. The prettiest one says, “Hurry up and sign it, Major, its almost expired.”
“Expired? I just got it today. I can pay cash.”
“Oh,” she says, “it loses value every six seconds, you have six seconds left to sign it.”
“Where do I sign it?”
“On the back, top.”
I flip it over, the security guard behind me placing a pen in my hand and I see that it is a Pentagon Service Voucher. The value is currently at $4.06 and changing, the paper some how being magnetic, not paper at all but a thin metal that folds like paper. By the time I sign it, it reads $3.96.
The almond bark was $5!
“You know what ladies, it looks like you’re closing,” as I see the janitor hanging around waiting for me and executives in suits locking up cases of military weapons from various historical periods—“what the hell?”
“Oh, we never close, Major!” smiles the lead babe.
“I’m out, over and out,” I say as I step away.
The woman smiled, “Thank you for your service, Major.”
The security guy grabs my arm again and I go for a shovel hook to his solar plexus and then stop as he winces, hold up my hands, and say, “No, I’m good, I’m gone,” set down the almond bark and the coupon and turn to walk outside.
On the lot, the janitor is shadowing me yammering about what a fan of mine he is and the security guy grabs me. I’m so old and small and he’s big and young and tall. I’m afraid, so I slam a right into his spleen and he winces, then a left into his solar plexus and he buckles, then a right into his floating rib and it cracks, then a left into his sternum and it cracks, then I go up with the left, which I can’t do because that shoulder cannot handle a double hook or a high hook, and break his nose.
‘I can’t do this,’ I thought.
“Holy shit,” says the janitor as the security guy stands and sags, his nose gushing and I walk past the janitor and say, “Could you please make sure he’s okay. He doesn’t seem like a bad guy and I’m having a really bad day!”
And, as I walk away, the clouds blow away from Rainier and a man in a gray suit, blond hair and silver sunglasses walks right out of the cart corral with the coupon I signed in his hand, “Fury’s thigh’s, Major, I thought you’d never reenlist.”
I didn’t feel broken any more and could see in the reflection in his glasses that I look like quite the stud, like I could have been a contender, like I could be an ageless male poster boy. I looked like I wished I had been when young, having attained maximum fitness that had somehow eluded me as I broke my body as a grocery clerk. The man in the sunglasses looked, perhaps 40.
I look at him the Suit and try and think of someway out of the situation, and I find it, opening my eyes in the dark, underlit by a gray murk through the two pump room windows at the foot of this bed.
It is now 8:09, the grass green, the sky blue, the cedars a deeper green and the ferris wheel in the sky, out of sight but not out of mind, somewhere out there in the northwestern sky.
Timejacker it is.
So, Michael, I’m blaming this one on you.
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