I have a problem. I have become stuck inside a event continuum. I cannot escape it nor can I perceive it until the unavoidable and final turn. By that time there is no escape from the repetition.
Therefor I have written this account in piecemeal. But, perhaps not. Because if the continuum is real, which I have now accepted that it is, then time is most defiantly not real. At least for me. So perhaps this segment of the continuum, just before the turn, is one continuum itself. Every time that I sit down to write this I am in fact sitting down to write this the first and in effect final time.
It occurs to me that most people don’t know what a event continuum is. Imagine Ground Hog day and I am Bill Murray. That’s it more or less with two very specific difference. One being that everyday I wake up with no recollection of the fact that I have been living an event continuum for some time. Two being that the events that happen over the course of the day are not repetitive. This is not one singular day itself. Time outside of myself moves normally. The external continuum which is predicated on macro-terminal interactions based on a variety of extenuating circumstances change constantly. Although certain details remain constant, or nearly constant, the larger range of external experience changes. It is a handful of very specific event that drive this continuum. This series of other events and revelations eventually cause me to realize that I am experiencing the continuum. Then there are these few minutes that have compiled into a short lifetime, where I am writing this until the end (or perhaps begging) of the cycle.
Allow me to typify the experience for you. This morning, like many but not all mornings, I woke up at 8:23. A beam of light cascades in through a window and lands directly onto my eyes. I wake up in a state of utter calm, almost serenity, with the impression that I have had the most restful sleep of my life. This is the last true comfortable experience of my day.
I notice I am alone and become confused. I know that I should not be alone. I recall that just the night before I was sleeping with a girl whom I had spent many nights with… but who’s name or face I can not remember. I feel something hanging around my foot and pull it up to my hand finding the tiniest pair of woman’s panties one could imagine. Proof that I had not spent the night alone or at the very least that I had developed some strange undergarment habits. I smile at this though which should be the first hint that something is terribly amiss. The fact that a person has been stripped from memory. A woman I have shared my bed with. In retrospect it seems preposterous to allow this detail to go unchallenged but one does not wake up everyday assuming that they are trapped inside some sort of alternate universe. All things considered though I do find this part of my day confounding. Because there is a moment, just before I get out of bed, where I sit up and contemplate the structure of my reality. I try to pull at some inkling of though that will lead me in the correct direction to solve the obvious inconsistency of my current expectation. I find it troubling, no I find it terrifying, that I cannot assume I am stuck inside the continuum. For if I were to realize at that moment all of what would follow, perhaps I could escape it. But as for now that is a pipe dream because it never happens.
Your probably asking yourselves one of three questions right now.
1. How insane is the author of what I am reading? Well, I have considered this myself and come to the conclusion that regardless if this event continuum is real, which I assume it is, or some sort of construction of my mind, which I assumed it was, I am probably at the very least relatively insane. I am not a physicist or a neuroscientist but I assume that if the former is true then I have somehow fallen into some sort of worm hole or cerebral repetition to which I alone a cognizant. If the later is true then perhaps I am sitting in a little padded room somewhere drooling comfortably while this slide show plays out endlessly in my mind. Regardless I have had this experience and one way or another it has certainly adversely effected the way I see the world.
2. How long have I been stuck inside this continuum? To the day I am not entirely sure because at the start I wasn’t sure that I was actually in one. Once I had the inkling I was in one I didn’t count days. Then I started to count days and I lost count. So with all that considered it is something like sixty or seventy years, but it could be over one hundred. The only definite stretch I could really keep track of lasted thirty two years to the day. At the final night of the thirty two years, where now I find myself sitting down and write this, I put a gun to my head and pulled the trigger. The next day the continuum rolled on as if nothing ever took place.
3. What happens next? Well I will tell you.
After I sit up in bed and silently contemplate the idea that something very strange is going on for a few moments I come to the same conclusion every time. I will figure it out later. Which in fact is true but also terribly unfortunate. I go through my morning routine which is always exactly the same. I make coffee, eat toast and eggs, I listen to sports radio, I shower, I realize that I have nothing to do all day, I sit and read the same goddam story in the paper. (This portion of my life, from the moment I wake until the moment I walk out of the house is always the same. I assume this is a closed loop and part of the larger loop. But this is just conjecture.) I take my dog for a walk. It is then that the first variations begin. As I walk my dog there are no people anywhere. All the cars that drive by drive in a direction that I cannot see faces. Children play off in the distance and then disappear somewhere before I can see them up close. A single man with a golden retriever walks on the opposite side of the road at one point but neither the man nor the dog seem to notice us. Which to anyone with a dog can attest is very odd indeed. Although the man and the dog, or the children playing are not always the same as this exact incarnation of this specific day some variation always exists, and I always seem to be invisible to them. But I do not notice this at that time. I am still comfortably numb to the existence of a continuum.
On my walk I stop at my friend Gerry’s house. Gerry can often, and in this case always, be found in his garage adjacent to his house working on something. Be it a car or a weed-wacker Gerry is always working on something. On this particular day Gerry is working on a furnace, a blast furnace. Gerry has long been obsessed with alchemy and now he is building himself the ultimate alchemist tool. For those of you unaware of alchemist or blast furnaces allow me to elucidate for you. Alchemy is the ancient practice of trying to turn simple metals, copper, tin, hell even stone, into gold. A blast furnace is constructed in a specific way that fuel and ore are added continuously at the mouth of the furnace (the top) and fall into the bottom of the furnace where air is blown into it. That Is all I really know about blast furnaces. You would think that after having a conversation with Gerry for one hundred years I would get more than that out of him, but he is always building something new. Unfortunately he never finishes anything. Our conversation always ends the same way. With me asking about the girl I have been sleeping with.
“Gerry do you have any idea who I slept with last night?”
Gerry’s facial expressions now range from deadpan confusion, to mild ironic amusement accompanied by a snort and a head nod, a slight opening of the mouth where he begins to say something, a revaluation of my facial expression where his eyebrows raise and his mouth closes and then slowly back to deadpan confusion.
“June. Calvin, you slept with June last night. Sometimes I worry about you. And then you sleep with a girl like June and I envy you. Then you wake up and don’t remember her and I really worry about you.”
At this moment everything comes at me like a wave. June, tall but not uncomfortably so, brunette but in the way that girl would still call herself a blond, eyes so strange and multicolored that Pollock would be proud, shaped like some sort of goddess, with a voice the echoed through me like a goddam church bell. June, how could I forget June. Yet, one hundred years over June is forgotten. At that moment I can recall the slightest detail of her being. The ring on her pinky finger, her two different color socks, the slight bumps on her areola, the sent of her lips. I must smile the biggest, wettest, glossiest smile ever smiled because I elicit the same response from Gerry every time.
“And now I am no longer worried about you. But I do hate you a little. Did you take any pictures?”
Gerry and I talk for a little while longer about a few innocuous things, things I cannot remember, because my mind now becomes obsessed with June. But not June specifically, rather how I could not remember June. It is an uncomfortable reality that I could drawn such an apparent and prolonged blank. Then upon the recitation of a name her whole being is again apparent to my mind. This, again, should be a moment in which I would hope clarity is achieved. Where I suddenly grasp the essence of the continuum. Yet again, fresh with new distraction, I allow myself to solve the problem later.
Walking back towards my basement apartment fixated on the task at hand, so fixated in fact as to not realize there are now faces, there is a friendly neighbor raking leaves, a disgruntled police officer eyeing me cooly. The bare ambiance of the morning has evaporated and given way to the normal bustle of everyday life. Variation begins it’s exponential and unstoppable growth of daily activity. It is at this moment specifically that I wish I could come to the conclusion that I was trapped inside of a continuum. Because at this moment specifically there are no very serious implications to this disaster that is unfolding, everything about my reality at that moment is very concrete and although a little strange not utterly irreconcilable. This will change abruptly.
I let Barkley back into the house and fill up her bowl. I named her after Charles Barkley because as a puppy she was loud and obnoxious and hogged all my rebounds; Bark-ly. Get it. I know, I know… Anyway. I am now determined to find June. For some reason I feel the overwhelming need to apologize to her, for forgetting her. As I pick up my phone from the counter, where my empty plate still sits unwashed, it rings. I am stunned for some reason, I feel the eerie twinge of premonition creep up my spine. I answer.
“This is officer Arnold, do you have a minute.”
“Yea sure, I guess.”
How the police get peoples telephone numbers, call them, and then ask if they have a minute seems absurd to me. Although I am sure there are people who automatically, perhaps smart people, say they do not have a minute. I find it hard to believe that anyone has the balls to commit such an act. Because honestly who doesn’t have at least one minute to spare.
“We found your vehicle running on the side of the road, did you realize it was missing.”
Up until this very moment I had not realized it was missing, I had not even realized I had a vehicle. But now, looking out the back window above the kitchen sink, at the spot where my 1999 blue Ford F-150 always sits, I see nothing.
“No sir I didn’t realize it was missing.”
“Are you at home?”
“Yes sir, I just got home, I took my dog for a walk. It has been a strange morning.”
(Why would you say something like that?)
“Strange, how do you mean?”
(Unavoidable word vomit.)
“Well for one thing I woke up alone.”
The officer pauses, as if waiting for more information. Then laughs.
“Are you pulling my leg kid.”
“Well did it occur to you that whomever you did not wake up with might have taken your vehicle for a joy ride and then dumped it on the side of the road.”
“Not until this moment sir, no.”
“Well do you have a name we could use in order to try and figure any of this out?”
There is always the same pause where I feel this terrible urge to lie, say some name that I have never hear of, make up some story that I could never back up. But I am not a good liar.
“Do you know the full name?”
“Not off the top of my head, no.”
“You mean your sleeping with this girl and you don’t know her name.”
“I told you it’s June.”
Another pause. I can hear cogs turning in the officers head. Things are suddenly not going very well for me.
“Ok Mr.Wake. Your vehicle is down here at the station. I will be here for another couple of hours. If you can stop by and pick it up come talk to me.”
“Ok. Thank you.”
“And Calvin. Don’t do anything stupid.”
As officer Arnold hangs up the phone I think of what a strange way that is to say goodbye to someone. Specifically someone you don’t even know. But given the information that he does know about me I cannot really blame him. As far as he knows a woman, who I am sleeping with but don’t really know that well stole my truck and I didn’t even notice. The way that he said it though didn’t feel like he was drawing a conclusion, it felt more like he was genuinely concerned for my safety. For good reason.
I look at myself in the reflection of the fridge and see a stranger. My mind does not spin, it does not search for answers, I feel no frustration or concern. As I search my face for some sort of emotion to find only the faint hint of a smile. The only though I have is of June and how pissed she is going to be at me. Perhaps I should be pissed at her. Did she roofie me? Am I caught in some sort of drug induced joy ride scandal? Am I still dreaming?
I walk over to my phone and call my older sister Brin. Brin always knows what I should be doing. It is as if she constantly maintains my life parallel with her own. She is often disappointed to find out that I have not kept up my end of the bargain.
“Can you drive me to the police station.”
“Oh god. What did you do?”
“Someone stole my truck.”
“Was it June again?”
I am sitting outside smoking a cigarette and drinking my third cup of coffee for the day. My hands shake a little. Partly from the caffein and partly from the story Brin has just told me.
Two cardinals, one male and one female are looking for food a few feet away from me. You can always tell the male from the female because the male is brightly colored and the female is smaller and more dull. The male sits perched on a branch just a few feet off the ground and the female is digging in the dirt periodically bringing up her head to look around. The male just stares at me, motionlessly, silently.
Apparently June and I have been carrying on in a semi-torrid love affair for a few months. She is something of a free spirit. This is the third time this month she has stolen my truck and left it running somewhere. Usually, she says, she returns and brings the truck back. But sometimes she walks off and leave the truck there for someone else to find. The real problem with this being that the truck is always running so if anyone equally insane and inclined were to find it they would also be able to take my truck for a joyride. The fact that I do not remember any of this does not seem to surprise Brin, which I find surprising. As I sit smoking and slowly sipping coffee I watch the two birds equally as motionlessly and silently as the male intently watches me. When Brin pulls up they fly off.
“You love crazy woman.”
“Your right, because I love you.”
“If you found a woman like me you wouldn’t have this problem.”
“But a new series of problems equally as dramatic.”
I tell Brin my whole story. About waking up alone, my morning ritual, going to see Gerry and his blast furnace, my lack of memory, my conversation with officer Arnold, and even the cardinals.
“Birds. Males always have the size and the plumage and the females are smaller and do all the work. Just like real life.”
“I tell you my whole story and thats what you come up with.”
“Well here you are self involved in all of your problems. Meanwhile the root cause of the problem is a woman and in effect the solution to your current and most innocuous problem is me, a woman. An furthermore through all of this you are utterly concerned with your own plight without considering the fact that June is out there somewhere possibly lost, injured, insane, and your only concern is the fact that you might be question and possibly detained by the police.”
So like Brin. I have a problem and she wants to tell me about how much of a pussy I am for having that problem.
“Thanks Brin. That really puts things into perspective for me.”
When we pull up to the police station there is a man standing outside. He is holding a baby and looks to be waiting for something. This is when I get my first real palatable sense of deja vu. This man is constant in all incarnations of the continuum, what he is holding is not. On this particular day he is holding a baby. I don’t know why. One day he was holding chainsaw, that was the most disturbing. Usually he is holding a coffee, or a file, or a cellphone, or an apple, but always holding something absentmindedly and waiting. Brin notices that I am looking at the man holding the baby and she always says the same thing.
“What the hell are you looking at?”
And I always say the same thing.
“Then get out of my car. Really Calvin its time to grow up. If you need anything else just call me.”
I get out of the car and the man is always gone. I always find it strange but Brin always pisses me off so I don’t pay to much attention to it. Standing outside smoking a hand rolled cigarette is officer Arnold. I don’t know how I know it is him but I know it is him just the same. He is old and black and wearing plain cloths.
“Yea, who are you.”
He looks confused.
“How did you know it was me.”
“I don’t really know. I told you it has been a weird day.”
“Ok, sure. Come with me.”
We walk into the station which is small and chaotic. People yell and move quickly. There is the smell of urine and sweat mixed with coffee and xerox. Not a terribly inviting aroma. The soft hum of halogen lights becomes audible as we walk towards the back of the station and into an interview room. I am disappointed by the fact that there is no two way mirror or tape recorder. Just a small twenty by twenty room with soft gray walls and a window with bars.
“Can I get you anything Mr.Wake.”
“No I am fine.”
He closes the door and sits down across from me.
“Do you know why you are here?”
It is now my turn to look at officer Arnold confused.
“Because you called me and told me to come talk to you when I wanted to pick up my truck.”
“Yes that is the reason congenitally for your visit. But you know why you are really here.”
“Because I am a cardinal?”
Arnold laughs out loud violently. He hangs his head back and puts his hand to his chest. He pulls his head back towards the table and with his eyes closed shakes his head apparently overjoyed by my response. This outburst is amusing but a little uncomfortable. I laugh a little and shift in my seat.
“This is your event horizon.”
I am struck cold by this term emanating from his lips. Just like when Gerry told me June’s name, giving birth to her being in my subconscious, so did “event horizon” give birth to something. But it was not the image of a beautiful woman. When Arnold told me I had reached my event horizon it felt something like… well. Imagine a girl takes off your pants and starts to move her head into your lap then runs away laughing. Imagine someone is trying to hand you a handful of hundred dollar bills that is suddenly blown away into the wind. Imagine you are taking the final shot in the championship game and you miss it by the subtlest of margins. Imagine these things and then also the rush of memories from a seemingly endless lifetime crushing you like an anvil. That is what an event horizon feels like. Standing at the edge of a giant sucking void knowing your about to fall in. The look on my face must be one of utter dread because Arnold immediately goes from painful belly laughing to consoling relative.
“Don’t take it so hard kid. Worse things have happened.”
“How the hell would you know. Your not stuck in this.”
“How do you know, maybe I am just as stuck as you are?”
“I just wish we had more time.”
“So do I son, so do I.”
Everything goes black.
Now over the course of one hundred years I have figured out what happens next. After Arnold divulges that we are in fact in a continuum and have reached the event horizon, a man walks in to the interview room behind me and hits me in the back of the head in such a way to render me instantly unconscious. Arnold is shot in the chest and left presumably to die and my limp body is placed on a gurney and rushed out amid the chaos of an explosion that was set off by a perp the cops had brought in on suspicion of selling marijuana at a local elementary school. What they did not know was that this man was a pawn in some great scheme to get me out of the police station before Arnold could tell me what it was that he should have told me instead of talking about my stolen truck or laughing at me like an idiot. Inside the perps shoe was a small amount of C4. When the officer had him remove his shoes so he could be place in a cell the shoe detonated and blew off his foot causing general mayhem. At that moment my aslant and Arnold’s murder walked in the front door, through the chaos, into the interview room knocked me out and shot Arnold. All of this without the notice of a single officer.
How I have come to know all of this is through the sole character in this whole story that is in one way completely static and yet utterly original. His name is Tim and when I come too he is sitting on a toilet across from me with a shotgun on his lap. I am in a bathtub with my arms and legs handcuffed to large steel dowels that have been driven into the walls. It is at this particular point in my continuum that I now realize I am in a continuum. I realize all of this has happened before and all of it will happen again. Unfortunately I do not know what will happen next and this used to fill me with fear. But after so many versions of this even as soon as I see Tim I realize, for the time being, I am in luck.
Tim is something of an idiot. A tall balding irishman, with a nervous tick of chewing on his fingernails. Which he is always doing when I come too.
He puts the shotgun to my head with such for and violence that he almost shoots me. In fact a few times he has shot me.
“How the fuck do you know my name.”
“Come on now Tim, we are old friends, why do you think you are watching me instead of Fillmore?”
I have been practicing this with Tim for quite a while now you see. In fact this conversation with Tim is where I got the idea to start writing this memoir. It seems that the closer to the event horizon I am the more detailed the experience to my future incarnations. The cardinals, that are not always cardinals but sometimes squirrels, sometimes peacocks, or dragonflies, cats. The man with the baby, or the chainsaw, the smell of the police station, the interview with Arnold is always the same, the feeling of dread. Then Tim. I have been milking Tim for information for about thirty years. The things I have learned in the process have effected the way things happen in the future and given me hope to one day be able to solve this problem for good.
“What do you know about Fillmore?”
Tim lowers his shot gun from the place where he was driving it into my forehead with such force that blood flows down my nose.
“I know that Dan treats Fillmore like he’s in charge and you like a piece of fucking garbage. I know that Fillmore says he will take care of you but in truth Fillmore only cares about himself and leaves you in the bathroom while he is out there with her.”
As the words fall from my mouth I realize who her is. June. I have to get out of this to save June, everything starts to crystalize, there are only a few minutes now.
“See they told me if you start talking to go get them. They told me you would try to trick me.”
“I know Tim, but we both know that is bullshit, we both know that Fillmore is just out there having his way with here while you and I are locked in here. You know he want’s all the credit for himself.”
“I don’t know about that.”
“Tim, were friends, you know me. They are using you. They drugged you and told you lies. I am your friend, and that girl out there, June, she is your friend too and we need your help.”
“How do you know June?”
It is always June that turns him. You can see in his eye’s immediately that he loves June. I don’t know why I bother with anything else. When I come too I should just start telling him we have to help June. But I tend to stand on ceremony.
“That’s not important Tim. What is important is that you knock on that door and tell Fillmore I am awake. While Fillmore unchains me from this wall you go out there and tell June everything is going to be alright. You walk into the kitchen and start running the gas on every burner then call Dan. Once he is on the way Fillmore should be bringing me out of the bathroom. Tell him you called Dan and when he lets go of me with his left hand to hit you, you shoot him.”
I cant really explain why any of this works without explaining the complex nature of the relationship between our captors which I have slowly been digesting over the course one hundred years. This conversation between Tim and I only lasts about three minutes. In previous incarnations they have lasted as much as ten before Fillmore burst in and starts reprimanding Tim for talking to me. He hits him and curses at him and spits on him. Sometimes he even knocks him unconscious with the but of his pistol. After so many episodes I realized I had an opportunity to make up some lost ground and have been changing things ever so slightly since. The gas is a new wrinkle. It is my hope that if I can somehow kill Dan and things will change, but who knows really.
(to be continued…maybe)