Danyel: Wait a minute… If Lenny is your imaginary friend, couldn't you make him whoever you want him to be?
Charlye: No. Lenny wouldn't be happy 'bout it. And that's not how it works.
Recent activities have been recorded in a penalty book*. Repetitive writing of a hundred lines, a forfeit unsure of its worth—for now, for the actions intended yet undone. What are you talking about? This is not about the 4 pre-schoolers who were punished for opening the damn door for a stranger on the street and humiliated by the class of 20 adolescent accomplices, having to re-enact with the bathroom?? door as of a hundred times. No. That was a ridiculous counter-action, too much a rightist. This, on the contrary, is voluntary; believed not that, of the thought that counts. More than 700 lines hitherto, a short story that may well be too indulgent for a proper reader. The ending yet unknown, the story can not be continued as the subject of the writing seemed to have vanished and banished from the author's castle in the air. Could the subject not been real, real as of alive and of tangible existence, after all? Úna Elfred anticipates the conclusion but all she can do is, wait. And wait.
"Kim and Jessie, they have a secret world in the twilight.
Kids outside worlds, they are crazy about romance and illusions"
If Kim and Jessie be neighbors at Walker House or friends at The Book Club, she'd love to hang out, chat about the outside world and be invited to their hideout. Úna had ready the-run-for-it-sack, in the last 2 decades it sat in the blue painted built-in wardrobe of o-eight-o-six on Coco Hill. In case of emergency, she had in mind, packed were the precious ones; death was a constant query and has recently returned. What were in the suitcase? Cutesified trolls with bright-colored hair in a themed land printed on both sides. A juvenile she was, ironically in defiance of death, she'd not realized until now. Little ponies and po-la-la-la-polly pocket paradise, some pencils, the best outfit and a pair of socks. No diary, no money, no worries. Always ready, just not today, she thought. Left alone. To the lighthouse, safe at sea. She needs a name, at least.
Úna Elfred did it again. Today, she ran away. Hold that thought.
Recent activities fed onto this other world, coded in ones and zeros, it is quite bizarre. As is with using the bluetooth device and having your digital files transferred from the mobile phone to the computer. Without blinking your eyes, you still couldn't see, except the presence of creepiness felt. Got ghost. No. Maybe. To be fed on the computer screen, the private lives of friends-once-strangers, or more likely of strangers-once-friends. Zuckerberg's design of this social platform is plausible and questionable. You know what I am talking about, I hope. A strangers' reunion, rather than a high school reunion. Some of these people, no longer who you thought them once to be. A is married to B, and so did C to D, E has a newborn F, G is all grown up, H has broken up with I, J must have been stalking abouts K's, L no longer on M's list, N poked O: vice versa, P is having a party where Q, R and S were invited except T, U had a bad day and V is ecstatic, W is now at X's while Y was tagged in Z's. The edited versions of A-Z, people she'd known from places they'd been in different phases of her life, now all kept uninvited to her birthday party. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em; such a theory kept Úna dwelling in this crimson whirlpool of cynics. Though not all bad, Úna caught up with Eryc last summer after a decade thanks to that and recently, daily updates of Bob-the-ranger-cat recovering from multiple death threatening surgeries. A documentary-soap-drama. But what do we know about how Bob really feels? And all those pictures of what they had for breakfast, lunch and dinner? Oh come on! Grey, it is! Though not all bad, she'd love being fed updates of certain people on her list, 4 or 5 in particular she'd like to know if they are kicking on, the others being closest friends who live in different cities, thumbs up for random funny feeds and information regarding shows not to be missed. What a hypocrite, I know.
The first time Úna Elfred met Bob, it was 11ish one evening. She sat, on the wooden picnic bench table outside a 24hours bistro, as she watched Bob scouted the grass patch on the other side of the road. Sniffing around in the dark, the lone ranger strolled his turf. Looking, looking for something. "Bob!" Ty shouted for him as Bob was ready to roam further down into the alley behind the motel. "Back here!" Of which he hesitatingly did. Bob is a grey tabby, not a regular stray you bump into on the streets but the adventurer, amongst the 7 or 8 cats that Ty+Bllr took in from the streets. Bob gets to wander outside in the day and returns promptly at dusk. His buddy, a blind feline, walked by an elderly; they started talking. The cats did. An unfamiliar conversation went on. We waited and care not to stare. Something about nothing we know of. The second time Úna Elfred met Bob, it could have been 11ish one evening. She was waiting for Ty as she watched Bob came down the stairs; from inside the car she spied. Bob snooping around and down the 5-foot pavement, making his rounds. Looking, looking for something. "Bob!" Ty shouted for him and he came resting on the passenger seat. They talked. Úna and Bob. 'Bout everything and nothing we know of. "How's the bladder doing?" she asked. "Not good," Bob replied. Both took a sip of the stout and quenched their thirst in unison as Úna took the wheel and drove through the pitch-black heath. The headlights were off. The accelerator held down further as she lit up the cigarette. It was quiet. Too quiet. "Life sucks but it is short," Bob advised. "Dude, you've got 9!" She retaliated. It was a slight bump, onto a gravel road and within seconds, they felt the plunge. The tires on no ground felt, they were falling, not floating. On the next beat that their hearts skipped, Úna opened her eyes and all she could see were the converging lane markings illuminated by the headlights. They chuckled. Úna took the next exit and drove Bob back to Ty's. "Hey, what were you looking for?" Úna shouted out of the window from the driver seat as Bob walked away. "I found it tonight actually thanks to you," he answered. "You're not answering the question… Hey!"
Úna Elfred rode on. The regular route 4.5 miles southwest, to southwest. From the glass dome, along the serpentine, out of the park from the barracks, on to the knights' bridge, then the square, pass the river on Chelsea towards the power station, round about queen's town, up the damn slope on Silverthorne, freewheeled down Wandsworth and Walker House in a minute to two. She tried to catch her breath as she brought the racer into the flat. By routine, she managed in the dark; the bike stationed in the corridor, keys tossed on the chest of drawers, gloves and coat removed, still catching her breath and the sweat felt on her back and underarms, before she could blow her nose, lights first please. Never fails to crash her pinky toe against the steel legs of the dining chair, a lesson never learnt, slouched over for the switch and a cup of tea, she thought. "AAAHH! What the?!" she was startled by Ohl, lying on her stripy red couch.
Ohl: This book's… funny, funny brilliant!
Úna: How the hell did you get in here?
Ohl: Your neighbor's well nice. He let me in. Chrys, I think his name is.
Úna: You stood me up yesterday. I waited by the mews, forever. Damn it Ohl.
Ohl: I'm hungry. I love the part about how she gave swimming lessons to the grannies. It's hilarious.
Úna: Me too. I mean I'm hungry and yes, that story's well good. Listen to the audio version. She narrated it. Eggs on toast?
Ohl: Mmm, ok.
Úna: So what do you want?
Ohl: Tuna melt.
Úna: Not supper. What do you want?
Ohl: Tuna melt.
Ohl: I've got a message from Waltr. Here.
Úna: Quit teasing. What 'bout it? It's not funny.
/ Úna grabbed the note off Ohl's. She squinted through his handwriting, solemnly.
Úna: He found it.
Úna: I've got to go.
Úna picked up the keys and slammed the door behind her. Lowered the window of the Skybird and took a deep breath. She drove, she couldn't think of anything else. She headed further south east where Waltr would be, somewhere along the 3-mile coastline. The wind roared against the raging waves, yet chaotic it was ordered and rhythmic. The chalk cliff seen from a distant edge shimmered in the twilight. The lighthouse erected from the water slightly off the shore emitted the cone of light, in a waltz. There he was.
/ She went up and sat next to Waltr under the fleece.
Waltr: You made it.
/ She saw the bliss in his eyes and felt a lightness in his arms.
/ He woke her up from her nap.
/ A red dot rose above the horizon at the end of the world and the light reflected a line that separated the ocean in two.
Waltr: It is, but temporary. Every moment, everything changes. Every color, every thought, every fall.
Úna: And it holds it all up again.
Charlye: Len… Would you come to the party with me?
Lenny: No, I am fictional.
Charlye: But Dan said I can make you whatever I want you to be.
MEL, AND THE WALKMAN
Sometime in eighty-three.
Mahtr: Ron Isi.
The Walkman, he sang about a child who wants to be there yet not exactly, there.
Said if he is invisible, of all the wonders he can bring,
The child, not The Walkman, dear.
of all the goodness he shall whisper through—not from the wind nor a shake of that apple tree.
He shall grant wishes, none too absurd and nothing imaginable that is all too unattainable.
Beware not for him to be thought of a ghost nor a creepy voyeur
watching over your every step and making sure the toast fell butter up.
Yeah but no.
A fallen angel, a hopeless romantic.
If he had wings, he said, they got to be retractable and automatic.
Mark, yet undead and walking towards Ron Isi. A yellow-tip Marlboro slacked between his lips. The same sad eyes and his stuck up nod.
Why is he always around the corner?
Mark: I was thinking. Maybe you can make pictures of the family.
Mark: Family portraits. And drawings right here.
He lifted his shirt and pointed to the side of his ribcage down the side of his torso.
Ron: But, but my drawings are not accurate. Not straight. Not for tattoos. Not good for that.
Mark: I was gonna pay Zull 600 dollars to do it. You know Zull?
Zull? Amelyn's boyfriend who does not know Mark, does he?
The winter sun shone through the gaps of the wooden blinds. Chains of crystals patterned the grim English carpet. The room was dim and sure was busy on the road behind. The patterns faded in and faded out, yellow on brown, as the clouds shifted. Ron was going to be late for a scheduled meeting. She did not care much about it. Too late anyway. Lit and darken, as a child fooled around with the switch of the table lamp, as an adult did unable to go to sleep.
An unburned cigarette waiting to be relit. She felt strange on her head. On the top-left. Was it the scotch or the accidental bump on Cuz's head while they were in the car. It hurt and it did not. What is another word other than strange but strange. Unbalanced head, it was. The sound of the flame lit as the roller turned and held down by the thumb of the writing hand. Pptz sshrr, vvyhhss. Inhaled. Ashes fell like an undramatic London snow. The heat felt between the stained fingers and the lips as the tobacco burnt on the end of the filter. The smoke in the air, into the eyes, onto the light rays slipped through the gaps. The fumes remained as traces on the walls. The ashtray filled with pencil shavings, orange peels? yes, ex-filter tips plastic holders, smoked cigarettes and filthy ashes. The screensaver on the computer came on. Three lighters sat there, with too many other things on this cheesy dining table, multi-tasked as a work desk. Dirty dishes, drawing pens, color pencils, stained coasters, books, maps, trash, materials useful and useless, and more things unlisted. The room dimmed again and chills were felt on her naked legs. The pain was lightweight, not niggling. Still okay.
Another cigarette rolled on her lips.
I am embarrassed of her procrastination.
A cup of tea, not exactly the English way. An hour late alright, postponed anyway.
This was supposed to be about Mel and The Walkman.
Go away Mark. Stop haunting me already.
Ron found a spot up the slope on the fence and lock her bike up on the elevated ledge. Considered Mark's request—probably not. They left the room and went downstairs. The first bar passed was not ready to serve, they went to the shop next door. Orozco's pool table sat above the conventional. They sat around it but were too many suddenly. 4PM—she wrote on the back of her hand. I'M STILL ALIVE—printed on her oversized green jumper. Out of it and out of the stripy boy shorts, she'd a gold Casio digital on, not yet ready to go. Not yet ready for Mel. Already too many buses had stopped for boarding and departing. Move on.
Time flies so quickly, soon I will be—dead, anyway.
The room dimmed again. The stench remained on everything in her possession. It is disgusting. Someone whispered. There's a man lurking on the corner of her toilet tile. The spiders left. No longer there. Spring is soon to arrive and an hour back to the future. Stubbed out the filthy cigarette and the paper creased against the glass ashtray. Two sips of tea and 4 miles to ride. Is Ron's ready for Mel?
Mykr made it all so simple, like it was so easy, so easy to tell a story. He had it in him. His words, his voice, his posture. It's his character and it's clearly written all over his drawings. But where is Mel and The Walkman?
It'd been two weeks. Time goes by as time went by.
I don't know where to start, really. The guest room? The gallery? The bookshop? The walkman? The buddy burgers? The ER? The fish 'n' chips? Or the red jeep?
"Let me help you with this," a strange man said.
It was Mel's gallery, Ron remembered. A good day out, the street could be seen through the glass panels that were stretched from the ground to the ceiling and both ends of the gallery walls. On Sixth Avenue, it sat on the corner of the cross-junction. It was rather quiet out, almost a ghost town on contrary to the perfect weather. The gallery was busy, not too many people but too many canvases leaned against the walls of hung paintings. Ron was in an awkward and uncomfortable position, juggling the unpacked oversized drawings she'd brought for Mel who was not there then, and lost she was, a stranger gave her a hand.
Point is, Mel is family and Ron supposed she could pull all the strings she could ever find now that she did not know what to do with her life. Besides Mel'd always been supportive and encouraging. In fact while Ron was growing up, both of them had and needed each other. Mel is an Aunt and almost a friend.
Oh, because Bhraf has a gawdmahtr, Ron thought she'd like to have one too.
Bhraf has Aunt Ann, Ron has Aunt Mel. It was perfect and (just) fair, in sort of such a sense.
Ron had a medical history of constant nosebleed (Epistaxis). Heatiness, Mahtr insisted; although the doctor said something about some tissue too thin, something about the nasal bones. Also, as on eMedicineHealth.com, it was recorded to occur more in Winter months and in dry, cold climates—strange for Ron, growing up on a humid tropical island. So often, then, it became natural, it was—normal. She would sit on the glazed ceramic tiled steps, the width of 2 regular doors, leading between the lounge and the dining room of Nana's, Ron would lower her chin down, when she was told otherwise, and watch her blood dripping on the double-ply paper napkin. Open out, she unraveled the beauty of those patterned stains, bright red blots, not exactly Pollock's, more of an organic geometry. Epistaxis is common in children aged 2 to 10 years and apparently for reasons unknown, they commonly occur in the morning hours. Like I said, it was a regular routine for Ron till that one fine night (not considered morning since it was midnightish) it got dramatic and frightening (as quoted from the first line of the description on eMedicineHealth.com). Her nose, with a mind of its own, could not stop leaking red. The smell of the blood and the taste of it… just like the taste and the smell of—blood. How can I describe it. Mental, the English would say. That night, the entire family was a bundle of nerves.
Was Bhraf worried as Mahtr and all of them were?
Okay, that's not exactly the point.
Anyway, too much blood lost = no good; Ron had to be taken to the hospital. They were on their way to Alexandra Hospital, which was 3 miles away. Ron laid on Mel's lap thinking she was going die, only because she was affected by everyone's anxiety in Pop's S-class (W116). Darhd was driving, Mahtr on the front next to him, and there was Mel and gawddarhd-to-be Ed.
Mel: You are going to be okay.
She remembered being comforted, as sheets of tissue paper were stuffed up her nostrils. A boxer in a ring took a hit on his nose and fell in slow-motion, face smacked down against the hard hollow ground. The bell rang and the spectators raised as they cheered for the good man won. Arrived at the ER and the bleeding stopped while waiting, too long. Doctor said it was—normal. No worries. No prescription. Ron could not remember when was the last time she had a nosebleed.
It was amusing, rather.
Mel: I am hungry.
From behind the tall blue counter, they sat, Ron popped out of the second-hand bookshop which was on the top level,with 2 golden coins; she ran down the single escalators of this gloomy aged Plaza, out of it then down again to BurgerKing in the basement.
Ron: 1 buddy burger, to go please.
In ninety-one, Mel was pregnant for the first time and Ron would spend her after-school hours accompanying her as a runner. Hourly food cravings and constant headaches, Ron was right beside her aunt: snack hunting, sharing it and finishing them; hand her over the ointment, painkillers and provide massage sessions; and everything else to make her feel better. Acting cashier, stamping due-dates on the book-slips, handling change and packing them in the bags. It was enjoyable as a child playing a working adult. Apart from that, Ron loved the attention she received from the owner of the shop next door who was also a charming television star. As Mel expanded her chain of second-hand bookshops over the years, Ron helped out with the artistic direction for her growing business. Ron'd always admired Mel's and Ed's partnership in business and in love. They had humble beginnings, as a florist she was and him, a lab technician, before their entrepreneurship flourished with ups and downs. On Teachers' Day during her pre-school, Ron would be praised by her teachers as she presented them with flowers Mel had selectively picked for her giveaways. And Ed, in his bright red Jeep Islander, would bring them the ever-so-tasty fish 'n' chips from the canteen of the technical institute he worked at, of those afternoons Ron would hang out with Mel and Ed's newborn, Nyck. In sort of a guest room, on the ground floor of Nana's bungalow, that was where Ron spent most of her sleep-overs. Not the biggest nor the smallest room ever been, a bunk bed set perpendicular to a single bed of wooden made frames under the likely grilled window with horizontal white vinyl blinds, a drawer cabinet doubled as a dressing table with a temporary sheet of mirror reclined against the wall, a 3-door beech finished wardrobe arranged behind the door next to the bunk bed, covered on speckled grey floor paper and bakelite light switches installed. A piece of batik hung from the ceiling with an attached coil spring—it was a baby cradle suspended in the middle of the room. The blinds drawn down, the room was dark and chilly with the cold air conditioner lowered in temperature. Ron gently shook the cradle up and down to coax Nyck to sleep as they got ready for a collective afternoon nap. The Walkman sang a lullaby, R for Ron and L for Mel. The PLAY button reset as the spools stopped turning...
Ron climbed over the drain on Darhd's D.I.Y. bridge, passed Black's grave, through the rusty gate in the backyard and ran back into that room from an unexpected safari. Captivated by its bizarre setting, she'd wanted to photographed it—the dusty land and the rainbow that fell behind the migrating parade. She rummaged through the boxes on the upper bunk bed but could not find her camera anywhere.
Ron: Did you see it?
Fast forward to the track after. Likely 5 to 6 by either ways, altogether forgotten.
The words printed on the pages of this book were once learned, now forgotten.
The Walkman rowed the boat, as the little one sat,
forehead pressed on the passenger seat window.
"What's on your mind?" he inquired.
"Nothing," Ron replied.