“A man who views the world the same at fifty as he did at twenty has wasted thirty years of his life” – Muhammad Ali –
The place once was home to Aleister Parker. Now Haunted. Seated at what was used to be their kitchen table — his and Emily’s, remarkably intact — willing The Monkey-Mind-Machine to materialize. That machine, its paranormal qualities of size-changing, mind-reading, and VISIONS. He wanted it. He had quit the drugs, illicit and sanctioned. Alcohol and tobacco, easy…
Death and knowledge were running a marathon inside his psyche. Would The Monkey-Mind-Machine present him a choice?
Vitor Weiss, sweet friend who Aleister had just met last night, seemed to be its (The Machine’s) intended owner, at least its keeper. Vitor and that adjustable entity had conspired to steal young Parker from death — hence a final stab at illumination.
Ashford Avenue ran parallel to Ocean Ave, which in turn was alongside the Atlantic Sea. Ashford’s traffic ran south toward the drawbridge that Aleister Parker had planned on jumping off. Smooth stones, slimy sea-beasts, and water sprites greedily anticipated his final event. Thanks to Vitor and The Machine, he remained alive… suffering. For what?
Parsing what once was, Aleister brushed aside nations of cobwebs. Reverently displaced the smoke-stained-yellowed curtains. Peered through cracked silica at the fractured day. In spite of the day’s diamond blue beginnings. A lingering odor… ‘Coon? Skunk? Rabid?
Dear Emily, his Wife and Friend and… Mentor. Stolen before her time by that runaway stone quarry delivery trucker on the highway in the oily rain.
He panned his view back indoors, examining peeling latex, wallpaper paisley patterns primarily viridian green and cadmium yellow — which had been Emily’s peculiar yet charming selection. Now overlaid with amateur vandalism, a collection of glyphs, Satanic? Luciferian Portraiture, shaky edgy paintstrokes, distorted colors — all wrong — a pug-faced beast.
The Artist had signed his work in precision block lettering — a drafting font — “VAN GOGH.” Subsequently scratched out, someone else replaced it with a yet more cynical, cursive “Crowley.”
That second embellishment resembled dried blood. In an adjacent corner a dusty pile of feathers. Black, red, and dull gold. Fragile bones, nearly white, unclean. Nearby, rusted razor blade glinting.
Aleister Parker shuddered. He was being paged! Inside his head. Harsh, abrasive entreaty. “Jimmy James Barrett…” His alias from darker days. A very exclusive private persona. Who?
Suddenly he became aware that he was hanging on to something resembling a chunky little brick, titanium-colored. It already began expanding in a familiar way, transitioning into a smallish UltraBook Computer favored by Software Geeks and Story Writers.
A billion pixels painted a familiar canvas, Parrot Cove Cliff Road, that carny-ride switchback black line of edgy death cheerfully designated PRIVATE ROAD STAY AWAY. The same one his pal Vitor Weiss had stormed in the fresh 2012 Corvette Grand Sport colored, appropriately, Onyx… in the black night.
It was daytime, realtime, now… Young Aleister sensed the wind being sliced to pieces by the granite and marble cliff-edges. Could hear it on the tiny perfect loudspeakers. A sea breeze emanating from the chiclet keyboard of the solid little entity, a dead ringer of the one Angela Weiss’s father, Erik Parsons was using there in their Cliff-Mansion.
Vitor Weiss, storming the Cliff-Road on a Road Bike, a “Fixie,” in it’s only gear ratio — tall. No bright spandex or decals or dewy water bottles. Vitor had on a light cotton t-shirt and incongruously soft dark wool dress pants. Street shoes… Vitor careening up the road’s very edges, taunting disaster. Sticking miraculously on thin dark rubber.
A man, albeit synthetic, literally born yesterday. Aleister’s savior from darkness.
Aleister ran, bolting down the stairs of Haunted Ashford. Clutching The Machine.
Vitor Weiss calling? Vitor somehow knew of Jimmy Barrett.