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Saturday, March 29, 2014

Take IV: Once from a Dream: Scene III

Scene 3

Needless to say, seeing that drinking billboard freaked the hell out of me! When the others finally realized what I had, everyone started their babbling stream of frantic questions to no one in particular.

"How are we still not home?" "Will we ever get home?" "What are we gonna do from here?" "Were the suits still after us?" "Did they still have pomade in the 30's?!?" That last one was Sid...

We regained composure a bit faster this time around than we did when we arrived in 2159. I took a look around the rooftop for that same device that brought us out of our time to begin with. I scoured the floor. There was nothing around but old cigarette butts, broken bottles with unfamiliar brands, and gravel. Adam stood at the ledge and looked down onto the streets, intrigued by the sea of old cars and confident rich folk moving swiftly below. Reilly seemed to be over his hangover. His head was up and his face wasn't in a constant state of holding back vomit. While searching the roof he was still clearly unwell...probably fiending. He was usually either drunk, high, rolling or hungover for most of his college life. Being sober a while was definitely throwing him off.

All the while, Sid and Renton were talking amongst themselves. Tired of our fruitless search, the other 3 of us looked at the 2 lazy bums quizzically. 

It looked as though it were getting late. I walked up to the two shitheads. "What the hell are you guys talking about? Help us find the stupid thing so we can get us home! #crisismode" 

Renton smiled a wry smile. "Craig, for real: We won't find anything on this roof. It's getting dark. But..." His smile suddenly got toothy. He looked over at Sid. "Why don't you tell him, bud? It was your idea."

Sid did a fake sigh, scratched the back of his neck, and nodded acknowledgement to Renton. "If you insist...so we're in 1933, right? We should...well...hit up one of those speak-easys!" Sid's countenance showed a subtle excitement, while Renton started pelvic thrusting the air like he just don't care.

Adam jumped for joy. He was terribly excited, by the looks of it. This was fairly unusual for him, seeing as he exclusively preferred social events where he knew some people. When the rest of us stared at him judgementally, he explained "I've always wanted to go to a real speak-easy, guys! The flappers and barrels of booze and swing music and..." He took a breath, exasperated. "I watch a lot of old movies and read old books, okay? And this sort of thing gets me out of mind right quick! History and stuff! But it's happening to me!" 

Reilly scowled. He spoke to the rest of us, with a voice as cold and calm as the surface of a small pond on a winter's evening. lol. "Adam...he's not usually this peppy, is he?" We shake our heads. "I need a drink or something...even my boys are twisted now."

I got over my frustration at Sid and Renton's laziness long enough to consider their proposition. "Well, since everyone else is for it, I guess I'm game." 

It was settled then. We moved down the steps of the fire-escape. This building was only about 3 stories tall, and from the looks of things we were right about in the heart of the East Village. Everything seemed so familiar, yet so different. The people, the feel, the walks, the fashionable top hats. We were all in such awe of the scene. We collectively put all of our worries into the back of our skulls, for safe-keeping. At that moment, it was time for debauchery. 

Adam led the way once we were on the sidewalk. He knew about a famous speak-easy in the East Village just a few blocks down and a little to the west. The rest of us followed anxiously, painfully aware that we did not belong to this decade. The stares from the initially unassuming pedestrians saw to our awkward walk of shame. Hell, we didn't even belong to that century! Our clothes were still from 2159. Adam was too hulled up in his own mind to give a rat's ass about the people around him, but we managed to convince him to stop off at a tailor. Here, we traded our random future clothes(which the tailor was extraordinarily interested in) for some second-hand suits. I managed to keep a silver-and-crimson wristband I thought looked cool, hiding it underneath my sleeves. Sid and Renton managed to look dapper after the excursion...but the rest of us looked fairly scrappy. Those two were just lucky, being all tall and fit. They had swag enough to carry themselves successfully in the tailor's better available suits.

Adam once again led the way. He stopped in front of a book store, where he motioned for the rest of the crew to follow him in. The 4 of us were extremely confused. He put on a monocle he bought at the tailor and he went inside. We followed the man with the monacle, of course. The entire party looked around, thoroughly unimpressed. These boys had no interest in reading. It was time to get weird! Adam, on the other hand, was glowing since we entered. He went straight to the store clerk: an older man who had definitely spent some time in uniform. "Good evening, sir. May I inquire about the Valkyrie Dulcinea Chronicles?"

Rielly looked rather ticked off by this question. That goddamn perpetual hangover. "You seriously trying to get a book right now?

The store clerk gave Adam a cheeky smile. Then the smile faded as he left his counter to examine Adam and the group. I felt violated when the clerk stared me up and down, paying particular attention to my firm buttocks. I was almost flattered, but was mostly freaked out. It felt better to know that he was checking the rest of the boys out the same way. Well, only slightly better.

Upon sitting behind his counter once more, the store clerk asked Adam sternly, "Are you a cop?"

Adam smiled widely. "Yeah, so what if I am?"

The store clerk reciprocated the smile. He gave a loud chuckle. "Follow me, gentlemen".

We continued to look at each other confused. Sid mouthed something to Renton, but reluctantly followed the old store manager. Reilly kept looking around and biting his nails, all nervous-like. I, however, couldn't handle the mystery anymore and finally let it out. "Adam...old store man...what is actually happening here?"

The old man walked us over to a brick wall out back behind the shop, still not responding to the question. He took out two bricks that were at eye level. He whispered something into the space where the bricks had been. Suddenly, the bricks opened up. As if by magic, a solid brick wall turned into a gigantic doorway, at least 15 feet tall and nearly as wide. What I witnessed beyond this door, though, was beyond anything I could have expected.

He finally responded. "Welcome, to an island of dreams"

The space beyond the wall was controlled chaos reincarnated into a spectacle of colorful flapper dresses. The dresses were filled in by gorgeous women dancing to the swing of the big-band playing near the back. Gentlemen in suits much nicer than ours sat by the bar, eyeing the girls as they waved their bodies around. The place was small enough to feel packed with just under 100 people. The bartender was pouring drinks from a barrel into the cups of men who drank them proudly. The lighting was dark, adding mystique and maintaining the expected air. The distinct haze of cigarette smoke filled the atmosphere of the room. 

This was the coolest bar I had ever been to. 

...I needed to get out more.

After the door opened, everyone scrambled into "The Turning Point". 

Reilly took his place at the bar. He grabbed one of the whiskeys from a gentleman at the bar. The man looked pissed when Reilly gulped it down. This particular gentleman wanted to get tough with Reilly, and raised a fist at him. Without missing a beat, Reilly grabbed the gentleman's wrist mid-swing and scowled. The rest of the rich men at the bar took this as a sign not to mess with this boy's drinks. All of the men parted from the bar and soon the speak-easy, leaving their drinks...leaving Reilly to proudly wallow in his absurd drinking. He was finally at peace.

Renton went straight for the girls. There couldn't have been a second thought that went through his mind when he saw the dancing.  He approached the floor with no intention of dancing. All he would do is chat a girl up and bring her away. But the girls would not move away from the floor unless he danced, too. Renton was no expert at the charleston, and it was very extremely obvious. Sid came up to the crowd of girls surrounding Renton and proved fairly impressive with his feet. Although imperfect, Sid was a hell of a lot better than Renton. I caught a glimpse of the situation and was astounded. Sid wasn't ever a dancer...he never let loose...he was supposed to be the uptight one! 

"Could you not blow that smoke in my face? kthanks" said Sid to a cute flapper who was clearly interested in him. She turned away in disgust and went toward Renton. Now that was the Sid I knew.

Another girl approached Sid in the first girl's place. Sid and Renton looked at each other in acknowledgement. They knew their dynamic. They were good as each other's wingmen, about a 79.58% success rate. 

Oh yeh, I counted. Not proud of that, but it's done.

Adam and I sat at a booth. We were approached by a couple of really sweet girls. They sat with us and offered to buy us drinks! Lucky us, since none of us had the money. We let Reilly hold on to anything we bartered for at the tailor. Figured he'd probably bug us for it anyway when we were out drinking.

We spoke for quite some time with these 2 ladies. Unlike Renton and Sid, though, we couldn't get each other laid if we had fuckin' cupid arrows. Adam could feign confidence for about 20 seconds before he descended into his "adorably innocent boy" phase. It worked for him only sometimes, but even if it did, he would have the girls fawning over him and completely ignoring me. 

This was the case at the speak-easy. Adam was enjoying attentions of both of the girls, but did nothing about it. He was such a little pansy. It usually almost hurt to watch how bad he was at hitting on girls. Whatever sheepish stunts he was pulling this time seemed to be working, though! They actually thought his awkward advances were cute. They were used to more brusque approaches, so a bit of reservation was like night-and-day. 

I sat there next to him, thinking. I couldn't help but think of the future. Our future...where we come from. How were we getting back home? This was cool and all, but the life of a time-traveller was starting to get daunting. How long had we even been at this? Hours? A day? I'm such a grouchy old man...

Then there was the future where I met with Loretta again. Loretta...

I pictured us on a huge airship. We would look out and see the expanse speckled with futuristic cities. The surrounding lands would be a beautiful mixture of painted green and silver. She would stand at the bow, still in her labcoat. I recreate the iconic "Titanic" scene where Rose stands with outstretched hands with Jack standing behind her, both in awe of what they see. She would tell me super high-density scholarly crap I don't understand. I would fall asleep drooling for the 30th time...

Cheesy, yeah. Whatever. It is admitted.

I heard a voice. "Craig..."

The airship started to lose altitude. Everything was shaking. The perfect scenery became filled with an intense darkness. 

"Craig..."

As the ship falls, Loretta (my Rose) began to disappear into the darkness in front of us. I grabbed for her, but could not feel a thing. She looked terrified as she sank into the black. Soon enough, I would be next.

"CRAIG!! DUDE, WAKE THE FUCK UP!!"

I awoke with a start. All a dream. It was too strange...I still felt her. 

Reilly, Adam, Sid and Renton were all there surrounding me at the booth. The air of brevity was gone. They were very serious.

Meanwhile, the girls at the speak-easy were all running frantically. The bartender was scurrying them all toward a back room. The book store owner stood by the brick entrance, pacing back and forth.

"I'm ruined...I'm ruined" said the old store owner, "...and we have you 5 boys to thank. I knew you were trouble from the moment you came in!"

Adam looked at the old man quizzically. "What do you mean? How is this our fault?"

"There's some suits looking for you 5 in particular! You gentlemen are connected, are you? You brought the pigs on us! I'm ruined..." said the book store owner. 

The five of us exchanged confused looks. With me at the head, we walked to the brick wall. In the slits where the two bricks were first taken out to let us in, we peered out into the book store. What we saw sent us all sprawling backward, falling flat on our asses as we pushed each other away. What we saw was much worse than the police.

...it was the 3 suits that chased us back in Pittsburgh. Reilly fainted, and passed the fuck out. They were back and they were here for us. 



Monday, January 20, 2014

Pause: Would you watch this movie?


Sam feels the softest ripple trickle through his toes and on back into the ocean. He looks at the knife that lay next to him, unbloodied and sinking under the waning pressure of waves. He lets the calm sea breeze overtake him. There would be no more thoughts. No more sunken hopes of being normal. No more hurting words. No more clouds over his fragile mind. Evermore a new light.

Sam closes his eyes and breathes in deeply. He opens them to the morning sun, slowly warming his skin and laying a shimmering path atop the vast expanse just ahead of him. She reaches for his hand. Sam grabs hold and smiles. The kind that holds tight to a face and never lets up. He turns. To look into the guiding light of her eyes. To look at the girl who saved him.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Take III: Once From A Dream: Scene II

Scene 2

I finally get over the shock of seeing my TA with her hair down and without her usual stressed look. Loretta saw my somewhat egregious state and motioned for the Savannah and the 5 boys to move quickly into the next store. 

As Loretta moved, her confidence bounced with her in stride. She was gorgeous, in a Catherine Zeta-Jones sort of way from "The Rebound". I was clearly in a different age group than she was. What was strange was she was clearly still a genius, with a pair of glasses that said "come at me, nerds" and eyes that showed how much she desperately needed a break from the microscopes. Every single pre-pubescent boy in that trendy boutique we found staring at Savannah, presumably because of her youthful defiance and striking beauty.

But it was Loretta who had me stunned. She must have been about 25 last I saw her in her office. Now she seemed to have aged about 15 years. This was beyond strange. 

Fuck, everything about this situation was strange. The fact that Loretta has a fainter smile and hints of wrinkles should be the least of my concern! So many questions...with still no answers.

It was Adam who finally broke this Mexican stand-off of tense awkwardness. He always seemed to love breaking awkward moments, ever since his freshman RAs showed him his first icebreaker. Yeah, he was that one kid who actually enjoyed every moment of those things. He was really introverted, back in those early college days. He still wasn't really out of his shell, but it was obvious he was trying...

Anyway, he asked "Loretta, why don't you shed some light on this situation...I feel as though we're a bit out of the loop on this"

Loretta turned to look at him, caught off guard by the sudden intrusion on the group silence. She smiled slightly, and then scratched her head a few times in a moderate frustration. She didn't seem to know where to start this conversation.

She starts. "Well, you're in the year 2159 like I wrote to you on the roof. You guys are probably like, 'whoa, that's freaky, #timetravel'. I would react the same if I were living in 2014 like the rest of you up until a few moments ago. But then I would be like the rest of you, because I was also there in 2014. Well, a version of me. Well, it was still me but not really me. Do you guys get it? You look sort of confused..."

Of course, nobody got most of what she started talking about. 

She starts again. "Okay, okay. So it was definitely me back in 2014, but this me you see now..."

Reilly was definitely still hungover from the night before, so he had no patience for this explanation. He interjected. "Dr. Sinclair, no offense, but can we just skip to the part where you tell us how the fuck we got here?"

She acknowledges him and fumbles with some solid silver-colored pants in various sizes. "The truth is, I brought you guys here by a happy coincidence! You were all standing by our bi-linear coordinator (or BLC for short), and we were running a communications test to make sure the device worked in both instances in time! The engineers just never figured that properly calibrating the timing sequence was important."

Savannah took a good, hard look at her boss. "Are you kidding? You never figured it would be important. You had all of the engineers ignore that part because you..."

Loretta kicks Savannah in the shin. Hard. As Savannah limps to the checkout counter, Renton follows her to ensure her safety and good favor. She returns the gesture of good faith with a scowl and a finger wag pointing in the direction from whence he came.

Loretta puts a big pile of clothes onto the counter. "In other words, you guys were caught in the middle of a time travel test gone awry. I'm so terribly sorry. But I'm gonna fix it! There's a whole set of public BLCs in Pittsburgh. I'm going to bring you guys back to your time. I'm working on this. While we're here, though, you need to blend in a bit more."

Sid, who always seemed to reek of do-gooder, offered to pay for the clothes. Loretta ensured him that that was impossible, since the currency of 2159 was international and had no physical shape to it. Sid was both in awe and a little bit ashamed.

We set off toward a store that seemed to sell exclusively clear, plastic footwear. Adam asked Savannah why everyone in this time period wore that material for their shoes. Savannah explains that the smooth roads and walkways would likely be dangerous without them. She then showed Adam what she thought was the cutest pair of clear pumps. Adam did nothing to hide his apathy and walked toward a bench to sit.

While selecting the shoes we would wear, Loretta explained another few key points of confusion in her own quirky, half-assured way. The boys took turns asking some things that were bugging them...

 The BLCs were in Pittsburgh for about 50 years, ever since the start-up culture that made it the most technologically advanced city in the United States. We could not go back with Loretta's BLC, because the coordinator on the Brooklyn rooftop was destroyed as the building collapsed. Without one coordinator, the future equivalent becomes desynchronized and useless. The discovery of time travel occurred in a Berkeley particle physics lab in 2020. Its first successful human time leap was in 2023, conducted by none other than the rookie professor Loretta Sinclair. She quickly realized her dreams of becoming the world's leading expert on time-travel when Loretta preformed a successful time warp on herself. Upon arriving in 2156, she learned a great deal about the future. This information could never be allowed into her own time, so she was prohibited from ever returning to the year 2023. Her name was soon forgotten from the history books.

Loretta continued her research privately in a small laboratory outside of Philly. The boys appearance gave her that glint of hope that her experiments were working, and she could sneak back to her own time to reclaim her glory.

As for those of us who got caught up in this whole testing business (a.k.a. the boys), Loretta would take us back to the BLCs in Pittsburgh as quietly as possible. There was no need to alarm any authorities...so we would have to drive the full distance rather than use any other mode of transportation.

Now I finally understood the whole age thing. There were still plenty of questions I wanted answered about the future, but we were finally done shopping at the mall. 

We got back into the mini-van we came in. We boys changed into whatever clothes were just bought for us, and we headed for Loretta's place to pick up a few things before we headed out for that long drive. 

Loretta had asked me to come inside the apartment with her to help her grab a few things. Sid offered to help, as the usual perfect gentleman that he was, but Dr. Sinclair insisted that she only needed one. The 4 boys were left to wait in the car with Savannah, who was sandwiched between Renton and Adam and was clearly uncomfortable. Renton really should have tried to be more subtle, because Savannah was getting increasingly annoyed by his empty charm. Adam on the other hand was looking down and away, ignoring the girl next to him along with the rest of the world. In reality, though, Adam was simply drowned in his own thoughts and stuck in a trance as a result. 

When I walked to her door, Loretta said to wait there. Apparently, there were many things inside her home that I shouldn't be looking at. I wouldn't understand. I would wait outside for her to bring things out, and I would load them into the mini-van. The whole apartment building looked as though it were built in the Jettsons, but without all of the hovering nonsense. There was definitely a robotic doorman who looked as though he didn't fuck around (he was more of a robotic bouncer, in many ways). 

While the dormant robotic servant scared the crap out of me, Loretta came back outside with what looked like boxes of cereal. Closer inspection told me that there were various foods in those boxes, all of which were labeled "ready to eat in 300ms or less!'. She handed me a couple of the boxes and gave me a good, hard look. She seemed so composed on the ride over to her apartment, but after staring for about 15 seconds started to weep. Her weeping triggered a compulsion of mine that seemed to come out of nowhere to hug her. It was almost natural to console her at that moment. 

Loretta looked at me through her tears and whispered in fragments "You really don't remember, do you Craig? You don't have to answer that. Your eyes say it all..."

Okay, what the fuck just happened? One minute I was the bag boy at her personal supermarket, and the next she's resting on my chest, sniffling. Loretta regains composure and we return to the car to make our way back to the present.

The trip over to Pittsburgh was rather awkward and strange. I had the co-pilot's chair next to Loretta, and after what had just happened, it was hard to follow up. Reilly complained about his splitting headache for the first hour, but eventually he got to sleep. Not even the 2159 has a proper cure for hangovers yet, apparently. Sid offered to switch seats with Savannah. She graciously accepted, hoping that this would put enough distance between her and Renton to force his silence. It didn't really help, and just ended up causing even more noise in the back. Adam stared out the window pensively for the greater portion of the ride. He seemed to be disquieted by the whole scene. It was just natural, I supposed, to lose yourself trying to wrap your head around what had just happened.

The crew arrived at the Point in Pittsburgh, where the three rivers still met. Although, everything seemed a hell of a lot cleaner than when I was growing up there. There was an arc of 10 small machines that looked like larger and more user-friendly versions of the machine I tripped on in Brooklyn. Savannah gave us instructions on how to use the devices to return back to our time, although we would find ourselves on a different rooftop in Manhattan. She was very quick when teaching us these instructions, since she was eager to go home after the absurdly long work week she'd been having. 

We all began to give our goodbyes. It had been too short to really get to know either of the two women, but our were words and embraces were heartfelt enough. Especially since we would likely never see them again. 

The boys had just turned away from the mini-van and toward the BLCs, when suddenly, we all hear something. The sound would zip past my left ear and zoom past my eyes. It was an air-vehicle of some sort, but I had no idea what the thing could be. It had stopped and landed about 200 yards away from the mini-van and us. Two women and a man dressed in silver suits and wearing high-tech  sunglasses started running in our direction.

Loretta and Savannah scrambled back into their car. The boys and I screamed at the van, trying to figure out what was going on. The girls left before any of us had the chance to reach them. The three suits in silver were still running toward us. I wave everyone toward the BLCs, seeing them as the only viable escape from this situation. 

Sid punched in some of the necessary information to travel back to our time. The other 4 of us stand on the transport platforms and motion for Cid to hurry the fuck up. He bitched quite loudly about how he's an actor, and why anyone would ever entrust him and technology with his fate. 

The 3 suits were less than 10 yards away when Sid pushed the solid blue button and scrambled to his transporter. The familiar balls of light enveloped us as I saw a hand reach out to grab Reilly's shirt. He elbowed that hand violently and the rush of cocaine white consumed everything. 

This time, the boys stood awake on this new rooftop. Similarly to the first time around, everyone was bewildered. We all looked around. We were definitely in Manhattan. But something was still not right...

I looked at the billboard across the street from us. "The Good ol' Days are Back Again!" There was a picture of a happy people drinking beer at a bar. But wait...

It wasn't just a bar. It was a speakeasy. So...prohibition was still a thing...

...And we were in 1933.





Saturday, January 4, 2014

Take II: Once from a dream :Scene I

This story literally came to me from a dream. As if my subconscious actually asked St. Nicholas about my thirst for inspiration. I woke up on Christmas morning to the house bustling with kids and adults preparing for breakfast. There must have been around 20 hungry mouths running all over the place. It was loud, too, since my Dominican family really only knows one decibel level for any occasion. But, I found myself a moderately loud corner of my house with a couch, and tried to relive my dream on paper. Only once before had I ever been able to so vividly remember my dreams. I ended up writing a song about that dream...that should probably be revisited! Maybe a new old love story will reappear. 

Anyway, here is a plot summary of the sci-fi thriller translated from personal motion picture...


[The Boys in Time]

Scene 1

The boys were just hanging out around Brooklyn late in the evening on their usual summer visit to the city. These boys usually like to live the Manhattan life until the reality of their commute back to their friend's apartment brings the night to a close. 

Seriously, though, that night was pretty wild. It was Renton who showed us all what the fuck was up that night. He was mackin' on at least three girls at once from like 11 pm on. I'm pretty sure he got head from that bartender...she was kind of hot. Just like the rest of them. Reilly puked all over the same bartender's tits, as was common practice since he usually drinks too much and thinks too little. All in all, it was a pretty successful night.

Most of us had just turned 21 recently, and we were celebrating our friend Adam's coming of age. He was the last of us to finally cross that border into the adults-only world. By the end of the night, Adam and the rest of the boys were ready for some rest. But not before we smoked our bogies on the roof. It's simply a thing to have a cigarette on the roof for these boys. Except for Sid. He was always a little upset about the rest of us smoking bogs, but for the birthday of our boy, he could spare to be less uptight. 

Then there was me, looking around at the Manhattan skyline. It was so perfect without ever trying to be. These wonderfully familiar icons, these buildings...juxtaposed with the somewhat acrid smell of the dirty, dirty East River. But I was always quick to love. I loved that scene.

With my eyes fixed above the rooftops, I couldn't tell that I was about to trip over a box. When I finally did trip, it was incredibly horrifying for a brief second. The horror subsided quickly when a couple of the boys said "Well, fuck..." and picked my ass up. 

Upon trying to focus my sudden vertigo, I noticed the ridiculous lump that caused my (quite literal) downfall. Seemed to me that this lump might actually be something interesting. I rested the bogie firmly on my lip and looked to see that the box was not actually a box. It was some sort of device.

I motioned for the other 4 to come take a look. They seemed fairly disinterested, as they were both tired and running low on their cigarettes. I persisted, though, and took out my army knife to tinker with a few loose items. The others thought it was silly, but of course there was that previously mentioned persistence of mine. As everyone was motioning to go downstairs and pass out, I typed in some number and pushed a solid blue button on the device. As if I actually knew what I was doing. I clearly didn't...

Suddenly, bright little balls of light started to come out of the little machine. As the balls moved, they seemed to be trapped by the friction of air. The 5 of us stood still as a sea of light enveloped us. The flow of light continued as the little balls multiplied and collided with one another. We could see the so-called newly-renovated roof crumbling beneath us. Before it could collapse, a huge wave of white consumed my person. Almost as soon as it started, it was over.

I opened my eyes to an early morning sunrise. The 5 boys got up and looked at each other in an exasperated search for assurance. It was soon obvious that none of the boys actually knew what just happened. What was crazier still...something was definitely off. Besides the fact that they all just passed out on a rooftop, of course. But wait...there was definitely something wrong with that, too! There was just so much weird surrounding us, who even cared that we fell asleep on the roof. The real question was: What fucking roof did we all just wake up on?!

Our entire world had just changed. In every god damned way possible.

The city was standing on risers, so to speak. There was obvious flood wreckage to the East. It seemed as though a great storm had passed a long time ago. So many homes swallowed by three stories of salt water. But everything to the left looked like the shiny metropolis from a kid's video game. The subway system ran under the water, yet there were above ground walkways and roads snaking through the air. Not gravel roads, no. These seemed more like a translucent silk laid gently on natural curves gently shaped by the wind. Familiar city hustle and bustle surrounded us, but with a lot less noise. The Comcast Center loomed in the distance. We were in Philadelphia alright, but not the Philly I knew.

Adam saw a note on the door to the stairs of the building and read it to the rest:


To Craig & company,

My assistant will be at the front door to pick you up. Don't be alarmed, boys. I'm just a friend who's trying to help.

Oh, and welcome to 2159

Dr. Loretta Sinclair


Was this real? Was this really happening? Were we really in the future being picked up by my particle physics TA's assistant? Where the hell does she get off calling herself "doctor" in a letter to me and my friends? How the fuck would she even be alive in 2159? In the middle of our delusion over the letter, we looked around at the city and found the future talk more and more likely. They all went downstairs to confirm the inevitable. Right outside of the apartment door was a young girl about our age in a mauve tactile dress, what seemed like clear plastic boots and a snug lab-coat. We opened the door to a quizzical look and an attitude of disdain. 

"C'mon, let's go. I'm already pissed off I had to wait for you boys to appear. On top of that, Dr. Sinclair told me I have to help buy new clothes for you! She doesn't pay me enough for this..." said the assistant. 

We climbed into the car that was parked in front of the building, and almost immediately Renton took advantage of the co-pilot chair. He asked her name. She told him it was Savannah. He stared hitting on her. She shot him down masterfully, and we all laughed at his dumb face when she burned the shit out of him (metaphorically). I noticed that that there were no bumps on the road, and soon after looked outside to see that there were no wheels on the vehicles, either. Every motion was flawlessly smooth. The ride was quick and easy to the largest mall in the east: King of Prussia Mall.

The mall, as expected, had also changed. Sid, being the little pretty boy actor that he was, got ridiculously excited at the sight of this mall. Most of us boys didn't give a shit about shopping, but were still enthralled by the idea of walking into a futuristic mall. 

Right there at the entrance of this mall, I saw something that I wouldn't report in any academic sense. Except for the fact that I had seen it with my own eyes. Savannah walked straight up to her and demanded a raise if she was going to be taking trips to the mall for her from then on. I, on the other hand was frozen still. There in front of me was Loretta, who just two weeks ago had graded my paper on meson interactions at absolute zero temperature. She was going through her first semester of grad school at Berkeley then, which I knew because I kind-of stalked her Facebook. As I looked at her in that mall, however, she was not the ill-adjusted student who just went to grad school for lack of a better socioeconomic alternative. This in front of me was a confident woman, roaming comfortably in her trendy casual-yet-business wardrobe with those same clear plastic boots her assistant was wearing. 

"Hi, Craig. Long time no see. Let's get you boys into something a little more appropriate" said Dr. Loretta Sinclair, calmly.

I was definitely not calm. Also, I was suddenly in dire need of new pants...




Thursday, January 2, 2014

Take I: From a movie and an argument

Let me preface this post by saying that this that is written is only a summary of what would eventually be adapted for a screenplay.

 I was watching "The Viscous Kind", one of those indie movies you watch on Netflix because you know that one actor. This time around, that one actor who caught my attention was Adam Scott, since I loved him in Parks & Recreation. I watched the beginning of the movie, and the negativity he personifies struck a chord with me. He was so very angry and frustrated when it came to his family, and I felt it congeal with my post-teenage angst. It was oddly pacifying to see someone act the ridiculousness I feel into a character. 

I finished the movie, and immediately went upstairs to fall asleep (I was a tired boy by midnight, probably from my long day of getting high and watching television). As I lay in bed, my thoughts are racing. At first I thought I was just recreating the movie in my head. It turned out to be a new idea from both the movie and the the very real emotions that I struggle with daily. So I grab my lyric book and write this story until exhaustion kicks me down ...

[Meet me at the Wheel][Hello, Snoopy][A Tale of Loves and Lovers]

Stricken by his inability to make peace with his over-protective parents, Shannon Fitzgerald decides to leave his home in Portland, Maine to pursue his dreams of becoming an indie musician. He moves out at the age of 20, leaving behind his mother and his sister who is 7 years his junior. He loses contact with his family soon after and moves to Seattle to finally become a singer/songwriter.

7 years pass since he's seen or heard from anyone in his family. One night, early in the evening after finishing up a particularly lame & empty bar gig, he heads over to one of his favorite cafes. While Shannon is getting comfortable and greeting the barista with his usual familial tone, he hears his name being called out rather loudly. He turns to find his younger sister Heidi sitting at that very cafe, accompanied by a girl he somewhat recognizes. This girl turns out to be Ariel Silva, a friend of Heidi's since childhood and a witness to the debacle 7 years ago where Shannon left his family. 

Heidi absolutely loathes Shannon for what he did to her and her mother all those years ago. He left his mother to fend for herself when they needed him for support. He was supposed to get a job and help in any way he could, but instead decided to follow his dreams. Their dad had died the year before Shannon left from a car crash, leaving the family in disarray. It had been a hard road from then on for Heidi and her mother, notwithstanding Shannon's disappearance. The hatred and frustration from Heidi's troubled life comes directed straight at the brother who abandoned her. 

When Shannon approaches Heidi at the cafe, he is received with disdain and the misplaced apathy of a troubled youth. She speaks in heated circles, but is obviously flustered by the fact that her brother is standing right in front of her.Ariel, however, stays quiet, stealing sheepish glances and catching Shannon's eye for brief moments at a time. Heidi grabs Ariel to pull her away from the cafe and her pitiful excuse of a brother. Heidi walks away furiously, while Ariel looks back at Shannon and says "Bye, Snoopy".

That struck a chord in Shannon. He hadn't been called Snoopy since he first showed the girls Charlie Brown almost 12 years earlier. It was endearing, refreshing, and of course nostalgic. They called him Snoopy because of the way he would sit on the shed at home and sing. Shannon got to his tiny studio apartment and cried. He cried for the memories he had once cherished but had soon forgotten. He leaves his apartment to take a walk.

It was about 3 a.m. when he received a text: Meet me at the Wheel. The phone number was anonymous. Thoughts are racing through his head: "Is my sister playing some trick on me? -- Am I in some sort of danger? -- What could be happening?" Shannon grabs his bike and rides in the wee hours of the morning, headed toward the Seattle Great Wheel. 

He approaches the wheel with a skeptical caution. In the dim after-hours lighting, Shannon spots Ariel wearing an old Charlie Brown hoodie that she's owned since she was a little kid. It was clearly 2 sizes too small, so naturally Shannon notices the sweatshirt and asks why Ariel kept it all of these years. She explains that once when she wore it as a kid, Shannon smiled at her and said Mr. Charlie Brown would be lucky to see such a pretty girl around his parts. 

Ariel had been in love with Shannon ever since. 

Shannon sees this girl he used to know. She grew from being the quiet child who always hung around his sister, into this wildfire beauty with a sheepish smile and mysterious eyes like pools of silvery satin. Shannon thinks of his sister and how betrayed she already feels since his moving out. He grabs Ariel. As if to bring her closer. As if to hold her in his arms and fatefully kiss her dreams into reality. But reality kicks in. He looks at her deeply, but let's go of her, now settling his emotions. So, he leaves abruptly to a sleepless night in his tiny studio apartment.

He gets up the next morning and calls his sister's hotel. Shannon reaches her just before she was about to leave with Ariel for a guided tour of the city. Shannon offers to give them the tour himself; partially out of guilt for his sister, partially out of his sudden infatuation with Ariel. Shannon has lived in Seattle for years, and happens to have a show that night that he wants the girls to see. Heidi has her apprehension, but even over the phone Shannon can hear Ariel goading Heidi to make sure that this personalized tour happens. 

Shannon rides his bike over to the hotel and meets them out front. Once there, the three of them get on a bus. Heidi tells Shannon that this is their last day in the city. Ariel keeps up appearances, but between the awkward half-glances she seems afflicted. He invites the girls to come to his show that night, as their one last hoorah before going. Along goes the tour, and they reach the Wheel. While Heidi is bewildered by the attraction, Ariel and Shannon lock eyes passionately for some brief, fleeting moments. 

It is mid-afternoon of that day as Shannon drops the girls off back at their hotel. He rides home quickly and earnestly with a new vision. A new passion fills his soul: love. He is compelled to write a new song. He begins to write a song about forbidden love, but quickly throws that one away. That won't do. He instead writes about an unlikely love, and the path that two lovers take to find each other. He titles the song "Walks by the Sea", implying Ariel as the beautiful mermaid who entraps his heart despite their barriers to love. He just hoped she would understand.

He reaches the venue for his show and sits at the bar nervously, waiting to perform for the only audience he ever cared to impress. Shannon had always been calm before shows, so this was out of character and showed how much he wanted this performance to work. He readies his guitar and hums a few notes. He begins playing his set, while his eyes dart around the room in a fruitless search for Ariel & Heidi. Shannon reaches the last song of his set, the one he wanted to sing for Ariel. He had a backup song to play in the case they wouldn't show, but did not think he would need to play it. He was about to begin this alternative song, when he hears an obnoxious ringtone in the audience. But wait, the ringtone happens to be "Linus & Lucy" from Charlie Brown. It's coming from Ariel's phone. She smiles embarrassingly and apologizes profusely to the audience. While the crowd boos Ariel for her interruption, Shannon quickly shuts them up with the start of "Walks by the Sea".

Shannon departs the stage and approaches Ariel, who asks if the song is about her. She has a natural confidence about her when she asks the question, sensing that she already knows the answer. Shannon smiles wide and asks where his sister is. Ariel says it doesn't matter. 

The two spend the night wandering the city of Seattle like vagrants with no purpose or humility. They sit by the water. They goof around on the streets. They spend an amazing evening together, and eventually reach Shannon's tiny studio apartment. They finally kiss, and go on to spend a night of passion.

When the two of them wake up the next morning, they are in each other's loving embrace. Ariel checks her phone to see a string of texts & missed calls from Heidi. Suddenly, they are faced with the fact that the girls' flight leaves in 2 hours. Shannon and Heidi scramble, run and find a cab to make their way to the airport.

At the airport, they find a disgruntled and clearly hungover Heidi waiting impatiently in line at customs. Apparently Heidi got too drunk too early the night before and never made it out of the Hotel room. It is at customs that Shannon tries to convince Ariel not to go, but upon learning of this new relationship, Heidi is furious. Heidi beckons for Ariel. She is soon forced onto the plane with the small Charlie Brown hoodie sticking out from her carry-on.

A month goes by. Then a year. Then two years. Shannon was never going to give up on Ariel. Neither had neglected each other, and for the entirety of the two years they were apart,they wrote each other letters. These letters were full of loving nothings and romantic passages which all alluded to the same message. They wanted to see each other. Shannon wanted to hold Ariel in his arms more than anything he ever wanted in his life. Even his music was suffering. But Shannon didn't want to risk going over to Portland during the summers for fear of approaching his family again. Ariel was always in school most of the year, getting her degree in art at RISD. It also didn't help that Shannon was dirt poor, living as an indie musician. 

Shannon finally musters up the money to go to Rhode Island and visit Ariel during her last spring break, where she is staying at school and not in Portland. Heidi makes a surprise appearance just as Shannon arrives to hang out with Ariel. After some tense arguments and heated struggles, Heidi has her breakdown. All she wanted was for her brother to be there for her, but he left too fast and without saying a word of goodbye. Shannon realized how much he hurt his sister and wants to do anything he can from now on. Heidi and Shannon cry together in a moment of long overdue epiphany. 

Shannon spend the week at Ariel's apartment with both Ariel & Heidi, lounging in bed and checking out the local Providence scene. The three of them are finally merry. Finally at peace. 
Shannon receives a call from a small record company in Seattle. The night when he played "Walks by the Sea", a producer happened to be in the audience and was truly moved by the passion in his music. Shannon gets an offer to sign on with this label. With this crazy wave of excitement over his supposedly increasing fame & demand, he asks Ariel to move with him to Seattle once she graduates. He recounts to her his dreams of touring the U.S. with her. She is filled with happiness and is equally excited about the news for Shannon, but has a condition for this move. They must revisit Shannon's old home in Portland.

Shannon is of course apprehensive, but after resolving things with Heidi, family matters no longer seems to dark. It was a small price to pay for future happiness. 

All 3 of them get out of the airport in Portland and eventually reach the house. Shannon is uneasy at first on the ride over, but with Ariel's hand in his, he felt calm. He was ready. At the doorstep, Shannon squeezes Ariel's hand and smiles out of the corner of his mouth. The door opens. "Hi, mom", Shannon says calmly in his warm, loving smile. Mrs. Fitzgerald bursts into tears and tightly embraces her estranged son.  

Roger Rafael Romero