“People are creatures of habit, and basic human nature dictates that people will typically be uncomfortable with change.” Steve Williams, Survival Is Not Mandatory
Jack P Rocket-Man Chronicle, REV.14.
Jack P Rocket-Man is FICTION. No warranties expressed or implied.
REM: The Four Visitors at THT International Airport had the Black Jet: it was a time-machine that compressed energy and matter, then supercooled it all to near Absolute Zero? That’s not a very clear explanation….
If the Time Visitors knew the end of The Earth was in 2103, why did they need you? Wouldn’t the solution be obvious to a race technologically advanced? What could you do that they couldn’t?
JPRM: The Four Visitors were in over their heads. Remember Angela, Visitor One, and her Quantum Physics explanation based on Schrödinger’s Cat? There are things that cannot be readily understood. I believe The Devil puts them in your head so you keep worrying….
Schrödinger was a twentieth-century physicist. He and the Four Visitors from the twenty-first were trying to explain the unexplainable, that’s Quantum Physics’s contribution to our planet. They were seeking an Occam. William of Ockham lived in the fourteenth-century, an English Franciscan Friar. He was satisfied that the best solution to a problem was the simplest one that worked!
The Four Visitors were sophisticated, but unimaginative. They were capable of running endless algorithms and iterations in search of a remedy for a diseased Sun, and dying Earth. The Four Visitors were virtually computers: Turing Machines!
In their process of evolving, coping with the Sun anomalies, something had been gained, something was lost. They believed that I, Jack Parsons Rocket-Man, was their “Missing Link.” My wife Louise says that too, but….
Inside the Black Jet it was getting colder and parched. Occam’s solution for time-travel was freeze-dry the Black Jet and its contents; compress the energy, matter, and life within: then fire it out of a BB Gun toward the Boomerang Nebula.
Visitor Two, Gracie, those eyes, their uniqueness…. The empathy, the guilelessness of Angels. Those dark fathomless pupils were my Quantum Universe.
My brain was being scrambled and dried in preparation for being propelled beyond the speed of time. I called that a good day. Then came darkness. Then came light.
In a ten-year old body, I sat cross-legged on the sun-bleached gray asphalt. The yellow sun in the azure sky warmed me, it made me forget the polluted river about two hundred yards down the end of that dead-end street. Later on that evening the big fat river rats would be out, tagging along the hostile townie hicks cruising on feet, bicycles and shiny inexpensive american cars made to be reliable for twelve thousand miles.
That uneven asphalt was the driveway serving the tiny yellow house with the added-on garage containing the turquoise Ford hardtop with dents and scratches. Dandelions and stalwart green weeds freshly manicured two weeks back. Shrubs populated the left-side edge of the dwindling driveway. The parents called them brambles. Occasionally the brambles sprouted flowers of pink and yellow-white.
Seated on the primo section of the drive, the part with the most contiguous paving material remaining undivided by cracks hosting small white-granulated anthills alternating with tiny cheerful migrated remnants of the original equipment patch of lawn.
The lawn proper had reverted to twisted, fuzzy green-red-purple vegetation, punctuated by bald spots and rocks. I was working on the red bicycle. Which was now black. Flat black.
The defective factory paint job, undoubtedly applied on the last hours of the last day of the week in a factory in Louisville or Latvia, had been stripped to bare metal. Then carefully primed and painted from spray cans. Flat, stealth black.
What was left of the bike, after the deletion of fenders, a pseudo fuel-tank they added to kid’s bicycles in the sixties, a D-Cell headlight with high and low beams, and an already rusting chrome-skinned package carrier, would have impressed the fourteenth-century William of Ockham.
Sturdy tires from Jenkin’s Hardware stuffed with thick heavy-duty tubes replaced the cheap factory skins with off-white whitewalls. The overweight pretend-motorcycle was now a legitimate trashy white-boy chopper bicycle.
Me and Paul Huffy (not of Huffy Bikes) had just been racing down that hill on the East-Side. A bicycle tune-up was in order. That day we picked wild blueberries on the hill and sold them: we had no idea there would ever be another way for blueberries to show up on dinner tables after the greasy hamburger patties and bleached vegetables from nickel-plated tin cans bought at the A&P.
Me and Paul Huffy were entrepreneurs. Twenty-one years old, combined. Little Kings in a sublime nation that was called America.
America, too, had a back-story. One that a boy of ten wouldn’t realize for yet another half-century.
That original factory paint job on the bike had pissed the boy off royally. Defective. Even before manufacturing became lean, then green, the seeds of financial and cultural destruction had already been planted. The perpetrators had been tracked, interrogated, then turned loose to continue their assigned task.
Time to adjust the spokes on the rear wheel. Engineering Work.
With the light (by contemporary standards) sturdy stealth-bike, and the fact that even at ten years old, marginally chubby but strong, the stealth-bike machine and I could race and beat Paul Huffy on his Huffy Bike. Our forté was the downhill race. Incipient insanity, lack of experience with arm casts, butterfly bandages, and bacterial infection from puncture wounds, the Bike Machine and the Young Lunatic ruled.
The Bike Machine, frame, tires, one-speed, one coaster-brake on the rear wheel — no front caliper brake, if there was, JPRM would not be alive now. Each race entailed being slapped silly by young green tree leaves encroaching the narrow two-lane road, while maintaining a general direction on and off the soft shoulder, which was studded with large smooth granite mica-flecked stones and gray ragged fractured slate chunks sharp as flint arrow-heads.
That was the process, if one wanted to avoided being skinned alive — or crushed by automobiles due to loss of control at forty-five miles an hour on a bicycle. Hence, time to straighten and adjust the rear wheel spokes. Somehow a wobble had crept in….
Spokes were easy, they stuck out of the hub, went into the rim, flanged on one end and, on the other, threaded with what I called spoke-nuts to keep them tight. I had purchased a spoke wrench at Jenkin’s Hardware. A bit obsessive, even back then, I’d remove all the damn spokes, perform a QA (Quality Assurance) check, and with a flat pine board and hammer, make any bent ones straight once more. Easy.
It was September, warm bright and perfect. However, I hadn’t counted on the days becoming so short so fast. After all, it was only my eleventh summer on Earth. I still had time before dusk to get the spokes re-installed because….
I was smart. I was an Engineer, although unfamiliar with the term, I knew I was gifted. My mind was superior to the stupid boys who could catch yellow perch in the polluted river. Bobby next door at Number Three Russell could recite the Boston Red Sox Roster by heart and hit a baseball a half a mile. But I was smart.
I didn’t even own a baseball bat, and when I borrowed one, it wouldn’t hit! I wondered why, but there was serious work to be accomplished that day. The sun was getting lower faster. There were spokes in batches of eights on the wooden pine board, waiting to be re-united with the host hub and the gleaming steel rim.
The nuns at the Catholic School told me I was smart. “Gifted,” they called it. They wanted to test for “Genies,” or “Genie-Us.” Hell! Smart, I was….
Then why did all those spokes suddenly not fit?