Odds and Ends
It started as a coming-of-age story, set in a university of buildings of cobblestone with a prestigious and arrogant presence. This particular man-boy was no ordinary one. The story started as most of these stories do:
He had a different life than the others; one they didn’t or could never know, and so, it was one they didn’t (and didn’t want to) understand. He worked nights at a nearby motel with his only friend, a large girl with facial piercings, beautiful hair and second-hand clothes. They were both maids. Pushing cleaning carts in their cyan-green uniforms (a poorly-enforced code with which they took liberties), they would often talk about their day, their hopes, the people they knew as they drank cheap hard alcohol hidden in some of the plastic containers.
Silver dazzled in the sputtering fluorescent light as a turquoise stone swung on the end of the long sterling silver wire. With every step, the turquoise peeked out from behind his thick, black curls. “I had to defend my jewelry today again,” he said as he took a swig.
Conversation happened, but was a bit more strained than usual. When things ‘got weird’ between them, the ritual to take the edge off was to inhabit an empty room for half an hour. They’d drink some more and talk, but use the room as a contained area, like a confessional or secrets’ box. Tonight they got into the double bed and sat upright, passing the plastic bottle between them. After some drinks he lied down and positioned his body to face the window as she started to speak. She felt distant from him, like he wasn’t telling her as much as he had in their past. She wanted to be closer; she wanted it to be like old times. Didn’t he trust her anymore? Pause. Or was there something else? He didn’t provide answers or assuage her fears; he remained quiet and motionless. He didn’t turn as she placed her hand on his shoulder. A shiny film of drool reflecting the stale orange lights from outside pooled on his pillow. She sighed in disappointment.
“I know y’all gonna change those sheets now before I get back with some ice,” said a strained deep voice from the door.
In her focus, she must not have heard the door open. She was greeted with an impatient stance from a tall, muscular body with a loud mini skirt and halter stretched across it. Long, red nails were being tapped on the door frame while hair extensions almost broke free from the headband as s/he shook her head in chiding. The queen’s eyes met the young girl’s as a righteous finger shook in the air.
“Wake that little boy up and get him outta my bed. Y’all two are lucky I aint tellin yo manager.” The queen huffed and made a small scene as she walked quickly down the hall.
The girl sighed again.
The movie cut to the next scene in school. In these scenes I began to transition into the man-boy’s place. Two things occurred, but I cannot remember their order. I’ll start with what I feel may have been first: The House (again, The House always comes before the critters).
He/I had cut school that afternoon. I slipped out while everyone was talking and eating lunch outside. My friend was still inside somewhere, and she was likely annoyed and still wanting to talk. I took the opportunity to get on my scooter and leave campus; no one else would know I was gone. It only took me about ten minutes to get to the city limits. I exited the city and followed a sense of urgency. The expedition was unplanned; I had neither a map nor supplies. Structure fell away once outside the city. Traffic lights were few and far between. Stretches of road were long and winding. Businesses were mostly long closed down or nearly empty. The air was fresh but buzzing in a different way than it does within the city walls, untainted by human thoughts. I traveled through rolling hills of green like an ocean swim.
And then I arrived. A small corridor between two stone walls overgrown with ivy was my way in. I parked my bike outside and slid between the walls. At the end, acres of land opened before me. This looked like a private estate. The lawn was well maintained and saturated green. A garden wrapped itself enchantingly around some small houses and sheds. Paths seemed to spring up right under my feet, and they led me to a hole in a wall, an empty stable and a tiny, furnished house. All of these were overgrown with ivy or honeysuckle. Looking through the hole in the wall, I saw more land of the same, with gardens and greenery and fruit. Though it may not have seemed so special, I found it difficult to avert my eyes. They felt stuck on the scene. Slowly a dewy haze crept in from my peripheral vision. I heard music on the wind and melodic voices singing.
If it was not for the raucous in the stable beside me, I would probably still be staring down that hole. I literally jumped at the loud noise, like a stable door being slammed shut. When I looked though, nothing in or around the stable seemed to have moved. I almost loss my balance as I examined the stable. I grabbed my head as it began to ring. With one hand on my head and the other out in front of me, I stumbled away from the wall with the hole, the tiny house and the full-sized stable. Walking back the way I came in, I saw some things I did not notice upon first gaze. So strange that I missed a large tan sign claiming this was an estate and the gigantic House many yards away. Unfortunately, my distorted vision did not allow me to read the name or address on the sign. An old man’s voice came out of nowhere, followed be his very presence next to me. His image was blurred, but I take it he was the grounds’ keeper. The House looked well-kept and full of life until the man touched me. My thoughts raced with him through a gutted-out House that barely stood except for its pretentious façade. I pulled myself free of his grip and charged to the corridor between the walls.
As I was running from The House a wind kicked up suddenly from the opposite direction that I was running. In a strange daze of pain and disorientation, I began to panic at this manifestation. If this was a magic land, well, then I’d fight back with its own rules. I called for my broom to come save me. My Will guided it right to my hands. I jumped aboard and blasted off to the walls. The House, angry with my attempt, gained gravity to distort space. I felt myself being pulled in by its force. To answer its threat, I shrunk myself and dissipated to avoid its gravitic grip. It seemed to shriek as the sky began to crumble, but I had made it to the walls.
My head pain was its worst just before entering the walls. As soon as I managed to slide myself in, I recombined into myself and the pain and ringing dimmed as my vision cleared. I stayed between the safety of the walls and rested until I felt more sober and in control. Looking back toward the estate, I could see none of what I had just experienced; it was just a wash of trees and green.
I fled back to the university on my scooter, eager for some normalcy of everyday life. My parking spot was still free so I took it. The face of the clock read a time that was virtually no longer than my scooter ride within the city limits; I was not even late for my next class, which happened to be “Wellness” (the college cop-out name for gym). I hadn’t been able to change so I showed up in my suit. The instructor made me play basket ball regardless. We had numerous courts, all on the lower floor of the gym. The design was such that a running platform was above the court and stairwells were at either side of the court leading up to the running track. I was on the stairwell when the instructor winged the ball in my direction. I caught it, but the instructor’s impatience and distaste was more than apparent.
My reaction was just that: a reaction. Without thinking, I shot the ball at the wall opposing him with the same gusto. The echo was like the thunder of Zeus announcing his displeasure. My plans to stare down the instructor were foiled by distraction. I heard two balls fall from the wall, one right after another. This anomaly immediately got my attention; a human vendetta was small potatoes compared to physics gone awry in the “real” world.
Indeed there were two balls on the floor, but neither of them was a basketball. They were about the size of one, but one was white and the other was black, and they both seemed to be growing. The balls unfolded into two creatures that stood about 10 feet high. They were both bipedal and had bodies similar in structure to humans. They were sexless and their appendages were malleable, morphing from arms and hands with opposable thumbs to tentacles to robotic cylinders with claws or clasps. Their faces were different, but both animal-like. Though these animals represented were no animals found on earth, the best likeness my human mind could grasp was a rabbit for the white one and a horse for the black one. They both greeted me and telepathically introduced themselves. The white one was Odds and the black one was Ends. They huffed and blew some smoke as their eyes began to twirl and flash. A speech seemed to be eminent, but was cut short by a ball that made contact with my head. They dissolved into the air and seemed to traffic back to the hands and face of the clock, with Odds filling the spaces of the faces and Ends bleeding back into the hands and numbers.
To be continued…