A brief segment, little more than a shattered fragment setting the stage for…something new.
[Joe Cocker \\ Feelin’ Alright]
Intermezzo – Madness and the Desperate Flight of aquaTarkus
Part III: Madness
His dreams came in numbers, just as they always had.
Then he found his way to music and he had hoped, for a while, that the numbers he dreamed might lead to something new, to some new way of seeing, and being, in this life.
But maybe it really had all come undone out there at the house perched above the cliffs. He still wasn’t sure, because in the aftermath none of what happened had made the slightest sense. When he returned to school after that weekend nothing was as it had been, yet everything was the same, even after Susan got angry and left.
But no, that wasn’t quite right, because one thing really had changed. The spheres came to him after he met that detective, and they had been with him ever since. But the thing he had first seen in the other girl, the girl with the odd last name, he had also seen in the detective, and in the woman always by his side. They were closed off to him, like there was nothing left to solve. Their music had disappeared, and he desperately wanted to know why…
He found he missed Susan, sometimes so much that he began to feel her absence. Like a gut punch, when he thought about her he doubled over to hide from her pain. Then he would find himself thinking about the chameleon, Tracy, and all the ways she had used him to get what she wanted from him. But the pain she gave was different. The hurt he felt, the pain she gave him, was easier to solve, if only because the pain she gave him had been bought and paid for with such an easily found currency.
But then he thought about Debra Sorensen.
Her pain wasn’t really pain at all. She’d never done anything to hurt him. She’d simply been. Alive. And in the days after Sea Ranch there had been times when he’d looked in the mirror and he’d found her there, looking into his eyes, asking questions she’d never had the chance to ask. He wanted to talk to her so much but silvered glass wasn’t good for that. The equations he saw there were little more than reflections of echoes that had faded into nothingness a long time ago.
He flew home one weekend and he saw her with a hulking jock and he had felt betrayed. It was too much.
So he sat under their avocado tree and words came to him as new equations formed in the bitter juice he had swallowed, and his father found him out there barely clinging to life. He had not wanted to come back, so he had clung to the darkness. When he came-to he felt betrayed, again, but his hands were tied to the rails of a hospital bed. He was being fed through the veins in his arms and things in that food began dulling the world he had known. The equations he had relied on to see his way through life began to fade and soon everything felt unfamiliar and hostile. Soon he only wanted to die even more than before, and as all these new, unwanted sensations coursed through his veins he felt himself dissolving.
His minders wanted him to play their game. They wanted him to swallow their magic pills and paint pictures after he made his bed and he had to eat their dead animal flesh or they would tie him to the bed again and anything was better than that. Wasn’t it? And yes, there was. He decided to sleep, because the pain went away when he closed his eyes to their world. And so he slept. And he slept and he did his best to turn away from all their poking and prodding and he longed to just fall away from the light.
But then they strapped him to a gurney and wheeled him to some kind of procedure room. They strapped electrodes to his head and chest and wrists and ankles, then they forced his mouth open and put some kind of cold rubber in his mouth just before the hard sleep came. He never felt the cold, hard shocks of their electro-convulsive therapy, but he came out of the fog for a few days and he saw their strange, dull world – while it lasted.
The next time they used insulin to shock his system and when he came-to he felt exhausted. His muscles ached. He was so hungry it hurt. But the fog had lifted. Again. A week later they used electricity again, then insulin the week after that and on and on it went – until the fog seemed to lift one time, and it didn’t come back.
He began to talk. And people listened to what he had to say. They helped him cope.
Yet none of these people could account for his dreams of the blue spheres. He simply had to have some kind of schizo-affective disorder, so they labeled him again and started all kinds of new medicines to treat his hallucinations.
And then one night a nurse came into his room and what she saw made her scream.
Brendan Geddes had been covered with swirling blue spheres, and his body seemed to be on fire – on the inside. But worst of all, his glowing body had been hovering several feet above the bed in his room, and the other nurses who answered the screams they’d heard and all of them reported seeing the same thing. So the dutiful physicians discontinued the anti-psychotics they had just prescribed and they spoke of starting over, of going back to square one.
Only no one knew how to account for what those nurses had seen and experienced.
So there was no square one.
In fact now these very same physicians wanted nothing more than to get this most peculiar patient well enough to be on his way and out of their hospital.
Because, frankly, if they had been forced to admit the truth they would have had to admit that they were all now quite scared of Brendan Geddes.
The unknown did that to some people, and he understood that kind of confusion…
Yet Brendan thought that fear was kind of funny and pointless. Because in the equations he built, like castles in the clouds, he always solved for the unknown.
So he went back to Stanford and resumed his studies. And though the spheres came with him they only came out at night.
And he began to see again. People, reduced to equations. People, as equations to be solved.
And soon enough he knew he would have to go back up to the house perched above the cliffs, because that was where it had all come together. Before it had all came undone. But he saw a great pain coming. Pain he might be able to stop.
But first he wanted to make music. He wanted to make sense of this new old world – and music seemed to be the best way to find his way back. He started taking his guitar over to the Shumway Fountain and playing what he saw, watching and waiting for unsolvable people to drift by. On sunny afternoons he might pick his way to In Her Shadow and people would stop and listen; some even recognized him and waited for more but more never came.
But then one day Susan walked by while he was playing and she stopped and listened for a while – before the pain became unbearable – and then she walked away. Yet he’d seen her. And her equations were still cool blue stone cold simple. Even so, when the sight of her rekindled memories of Charlie’s masalas he had smiled.
A few days later she walked by again and this time she stopped.
She wanted, she said, to talk. About all the things that hadn’t happened.
He watched numbers form in the cool blue air over her stone cold heart and he smiled as new chords formed to answer the questions in her eyes.
“Is that my song?” she asked as she watched him watching her.
And he nodded.
“Do you hate me?” she wanted to ask, but she couldn’t summon the courage so he answered for her.
“No, I don’t hate you. But why would you care what I think?”
“How did you know what I was thinking?”
He had shrugged. “Does that matter?”
“Yes, it does. Do you think you know me so well?”
“I thought I did. Once.”
“You loved her, didn’t you?”
“Yes,” she cried. “Liz!”
“No, not really. But she was…interesting.”
“Interesting? What does that mean?”
“She was complex.”
He nodded. “Yes. I saw layers of time unfolding beyond the sky, and she let me see inside.”
“What?” Susan said, now completely befuddled. “See inside…what, exactly?”
“The past. I could see her past, and for a moment I felt like I could see her future.” He looked into the air over Susan’s downturned eyes and he found the chord he was searching for, then another and another.
“Are you writing a song?” she asked.
“Always,” he replied.
“Is that how you see me? As…music?”
“That’s how I see everything, Susan. It’s how I feel my way through the pain.”
“And that’s how you saw Liz?”
He nodded his head slowly, then he smiled as new chords formed through her understanding.
And then she came and sat beside him, and she started to cry. “Oh, God no,” she said through her tears, “what have I done to you?”
“The doctors tried to take it all away, but they couldn’t. The Others wouldn’t let them.”
He shrugged. “When they want you to meet them they will let it happen.”
“Brendan? What are you talking about?”
“Look up. Straight up.”
She did – and at first she couldn’t see anything, then she rubbed her eyes and squinted into the sky.
And she saw the faintest outlines of a blue ball overhead, the color almost a perfect match to the sky beyond. “I think I see something,” she said.
“A blue sphere, right?”
“I think so, yes.”
“Don’t be afraid. They won’t hurt you. The Greens hurt, so leave them alone.”
“What do you mean, they hurt?”
“Sometimes they come in the night and even the Blues leave. The Greens hurt, but they understand me.”
Susan swallowed hard, and she was suddenly very afraid. She wasn’t sure if Brendan was simply insane or if he was speaking to some kind of terrible truth, but then he turned and looked into her eyes and she felt a little more at ease. His were not the eyes of insanity, at least not what she had imagined insanity might look like, so she took his hand. “If you’re not afraid then I won’t be either.”
And he smiled at her simple truth. “Sometimes I dream about your mother’s masalas. Those are the best dreams of all.”
Maybe you could come over this weekend. I know she’d love to see you again.”
“I’ve missed her.”
“My mother? Really?”
“Yes, of course. She’s the only mother I’ve ever really had, you know?”
“You should tell her that, Brendan. I know that would make her very happy.”
“Okay, I will. And could you ask your father to take me up to see Harry?”
“Harry?” she asked. “You mean – the detective?”
“Yes, just so. I need to see Inspector Callahan about a murder, and I want to stop it.”
[The Cars \\ Drive]
© 2016-22 adrian leverkühn | abw | and as always, thanks for stopping by for a look around the memory warehouse…[but wait, there’s more…how about a word or two on sources: I typically don’t post all a story’s acknowledgments until I’ve finished, if only because I’m not sure how many I’ll need before work is finalized. Yet with current circumstances waiting to list said sources might not be the best way to proceed, and this listing will grow over time – until the story is complete. To begin, the ‘primary source’ material in this case – so far, at least – derives from two seminal Hollywood ‘cop’ films: Dirty Harry and Bullitt. The first Harry film was penned by Harry Julian Fink, R.M. Fink, Dean Riesner, John Milius, Terrence Malick, and Jo Heims. Bullitt came primarily from the author of the screenplay for The Thomas Crown Affair, Alan R Trustman, with help from Harry Kleiner, as well Robert L Fish, whose short story Mute Witness formed the basis of Trustman’s brilliant screenplay. Steve McQueen’s grin was never trade-marked, though perhaps it should have been. John Milius (Red Dawn) penned Magnum Force, and the ‘Briggs’/vigilante storyline derives from characters and plot elements originally found in that rich screenplay, as does the Captain McKay character. The Jennifer Spencer/Threlkis crime family storyline was first introduced in Sudden Impact, screenplay by Joseph Stinson, original story by Earl Smith and Charles Pierce. The Samantha Walker television reporter is found in The Dead Pool, screenplay by Steve Sharon, story by Steve Sharon, Durk Pearson, and Sandy Shaw. I have to credit the Jim Parish, M.D., character first seen in the Vietnam segments to John A. Parrish, M.D., author of the most fascinating account of an American physician’s tour of duty in Vietnam – and as found in his autobiographical 12, 20, and 5: A Doctor’s Year in Vietnam, a book worth noting as one of the most stirring accounts of modern warfare I’ve ever read (think Richard Hooker’s M*A*S*H, only featuring a blazing sense of irony conjoined within a searing non-fiction narrative). Denton Cooley, M.D. founded the Texas Heart Institute, as mentioned. Of course, James Clavell’s Shōgun forms a principle backdrop in later chapters. The teahouse and hotel of spires in Ch. 42 is a product of the imagination; so-sorry. The UH-1Y image used from Pt VI on taken by Jodson Graves. The snippets of lyrics from Lucy in the Sky are publicly available as ‘open-sourced.’ Many of the other figures in this story derive from characters developed within the works cited above, but keep in mind that, as always, the rest of this story is in all other respects a work of fiction woven into a pre-existing cinematic-historical fabric. Using the established characters referenced above, as well as the few new characters I’ve managed to come up with here and there, I hoped to create something new – perhaps a running commentary on the times we’ve shared with these fictional characters? And the standard disclaimer also here applies: the central characters in this tale should not be mistaken for persons living or dead. This was, in other words, just a little walk down a road more or less imagined, and nothing more than that should be inferred. I’d be remiss not to mention Clint Eastwood’s Harry Callahan, and Steve McQueen’s Frank Bullitt. Talk about the roles of a lifetime…and what a gift.]