lost time incident 03 – something has gone wrong

by mercury something has gone wrong

lost time incident 03

Welcome, everyone, to the third installment of this sequence of words, most of which are spelled correctly. For recipients of the previous installment, we have one minor correction to run. When you are printing these lost time incident installments and binding them into hardcover volumes for your own future reference, please be sure to use scissors to cut along the dotted lines below. This replacement text can be glued in place for your archival version of lost time incident 02:

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Stood there a bit longer, couldn’t come up with a better idea, and shook her foot a bit more firmly.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Now, with all you archivists sorted, we should be able to continue with no further incident.

In this issue, we’ll see:

  • the conclusion of our teen lust anecdote
  • the results of poor planning
  • a list in place of a film review of “Turbokid”
  • very old news from the wasteland
  • an illustration that would be a spoiler if I described it

anecdote part 3

To refresh everyone’s memory: In the last few issues, I’ve been telling the story of this one time when I was 15 when my girlfriend-at-the-time and I came up with a scheme for an early morning sexytime rendezvous at her place while her parents were away.

Had I been more brave, it could have been a whole night together, but I was not a sneaking-out-for-an-entire-night variety of teenager. I was on Student Council. I read comic books. So I opted for just a shared early morning.

So on a Sunday morning, with the whole town asleep, I pedaled across town at 4:30 a.m. with a half-full 1 lb. bag of M&Ms and with half-lidded eyes. (The M&Ms were Chris’s. She left them at my place the day before and I figured she’d want them back. I don’t carry M&Ms every time I ride a bike, or for every date. That’d be weird.)

When I got to Chris’s place, everything went according to plan: A glass sliding door had been left open for me, so I smoothly entered my girlfriend Chris’s place, and I followed the sound of snoring into her bedroom where I set down the M&Ms and shook her foot. It was at this point that the owner of the foot, in a deep, masculine, sleepy and confused voice asked: “What do you want?”

We now rejoin the story in progress:

Time slowed.

I’ve heard that this can happen in a moment of crisis, like a car crash… in the body’s attempt to protect itself, it gives the brain all the time it needs to figure things out, adrenaline flooding in right on the heels of stark panic.

In a single heartbeat, I registered the following:

  • The person in bed is a man
  • This is not my girlfriend
  • I am not in the right apartment
  • I do not want to be here
  • If this guy gets up, I’m in deep trouble
  • But when I shook his foot and woke him up, he asked me a question, as if having someone shake his foot to wake him up wasn’t an impossible situation
  • He must live with someone else
  • Was that why the TV was on in the other room?
  • He’s a guy so he probably lives with a girl(?)
  • If he lives with a girl, then…

In real time, he mumbled “What do you want?”

And I pitched my voice up to what I hoped was a feminine register and said: “Nothing!”

I then slowly turned and forced myself to walk out of the bedroom at the slow, steady pace of someone who lives there and has every right to be walking around shaking the feet of sleeping people. Most of the corners of my subconscious brain were screaming at me to run. I bargained my way through the dark living room, assuring myself that if I heard the guy getting out of bed or coming after me, I would sprint– of course I would– but until then we were sticking with the game plan and forcing each foot step to casually follow the previous. No rushing. No making noise.

The pounding pulse ringing in my ears was enough noise. I didn’t need help from panicky feet.

The sliding glass door that had so kindly given me a silent entrance just a short time before now rattled entirely too loudly in its metal frame as I slipped back out. When the door slid shut, I finally allowed my feet full reign. A quick sprint to my bike and I was down the street, pedaling standing up, ears still listening for the sounds of pursuit.

He doesn’t need to chase me, I thought. By now he’s called the police. I should take the back roads home. And I did… winding streets with no homes on them, underneath railroad overpasses. I was sure that even from this route, I’d be able to hear sirens on the main drag, should they appear. I’d have some warning.

So desperate was I to put distance between myself and this accidental break-in that when I got home, I went upstairs, disrobed, and crawled into bed. After all, it was still 30 minutes to an hour until I would normally be up for my paper route.

I stared at the ceiling, twitching with adrenaline, miles from sleep. Wondering if I could keep it steady if the cops showed up at the door. Claim to have been sleeping the whole time. Just a wholesome paper boy.

To keep the cover intact, I did my route that day, and with every hour that passed, so did my incredulity that I seem to have gotten away with it. Maybe the guy never even woke up enough to remember the strange presence at the foot of his bed.

It wasn’t until I was telling Chris the story of why I “never showed up” that I realized I had overlooked something important. I hadn’t escaped without a trace.

To this day, I still wonder what the guy thought when he woke up the next morning and found a half-empty 1 lb. bag of M&Ms next to his alarm clock.

poor planning

Yesterday, Amanda and I forced ourselves to leave the confines of our apartment to take advantage of the weather. We took along some postcards to decorate, and at a local organic yuppie cafe I practiced some lettering styles, writing nonsense phrases in whatever faux calligraphy or block lettering struck my fancy.

dynamite cain't hurt me none
“A Little Dynamite Cain’t Hurt None” is perhaps my favorite contextless phrase, though probably not the best lettering I managed. My biggest struggle is with slowing down. It’s tough to break the habit of going at one’s normal writing speed.

Afterward, we visited the organic market itself, once again visually confirmed that we can’t afford to shop organic anything, though we did find room in the budget for some beer.

Which was a mistake. I had one with dinner and, as an old man, now I don’t want to do anything. Maybe lay down and think about things. I think I’ve yawned in-between every sentence in this paragraph. Gotta make (another) mental note: alcohol is demotivating. It is not the right drug to pair with trying to write something. Not for me anyway.

a short list of films were perfect until the last scene messed everything up
1) Turbokid
2) Tucker and Dale Versus Evil
3) The film of my life that’s supposed to play before my eyes when I die

life in the wasteland

I’m not going to bore you too much with this, but when I’m able, I’ve been playing a lot of this video game calledFallout 4. In it, the player starts by designing what the protagonist should look like, then plays out an introductory couple of scenes before being set free to go explore a post-nuclear wasteland at their own speed.

I love it.

If I hadn’t told myself that nothing would keep me from finishing this newsletter on time, that’s what my sleepy-because-of-alcohol self would be doing instead. I created a female character and, because she looked kinda Indian to me, I named her after two vocalists who did songs for Bollywood: Asha Mangeshkar.

According to the game’s story, my character is a parent who’s on a path of vengeance, trying to track down their lost child. But in my game… eh. Who cares about that kid. The wasteland is entirely too full of stories and sight gags to care too much about what happened to my baby.

This morning, I went wandering through a fallout shelter that I found. In the game, a company called Vault-Tec sold entry into these shelters before the nuclear war. In each vault, unbeknownst to those who purchased berths there, a different science experiment was to be performed on the Vaut’s occupants.

In the Vault I explored today, I found rooms with self-help presentations, a circle of skeletons looking as if they had been in a support group, and computers with files on them about fighting addiction. As I journeyed deeper into the vault, I hacked into a computer that revealed that this Vault’s experiment was about the nature of addiction. On the five year anniversary of the sealing of the Vault, when all the residents would (presumably) have their addictions in hand, a sleeper agent was supposed to unseal a secret cache of drugs and monitor what happened.

I started finding bathrooms with skeletons sprawled near toilets or in showers, surrounded by drugs or bottles of alcohol. I found a few skeletons in a room with a discarded 10mm pistol that may have explained why they never left the room. And I found a computer with the diary of a poor addict who had locked themselves in their room when the chaos started, but didn’t know how long they could hold out. In their last diary entry, the loneliness had gotten to them and they announced they were going to see if anyone else was still out there in the Vault. It probably didn’t end well.

So yeah. In the year of 2016, I find that one of my favorite pastimes is to pretend to be an archaeologist of the weird, reading signs and interpreting chaos in a wasteland populated with Mad Max-style raiders, giant monsters, and radioactive wildlife. And somewhere out there, my kid, but he’s probably fine.

Or if he’s not… I hope he leaves a good story behind for me to sift through and put together afterwords.

final bit

Placed here at the bottom, so it’s not a spoiler: An amazing burglar M&M that Amanda drew for me, to contribute to the newsletter. How cool is that?


ending theme song

It seems like we only just got here, but it’s time to go. The floors must be swept, the bottles sorted into recycling. Thanks so much for reading. If all goes well, I’ll see you again in a week. But without the beer this time.

Don’t get me wrong. It was a Californian-style saison. Very tasty. But timing is ……………………………………………………………………….. important.

Later gators,

Michael Van Vleet