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The Raven




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01-21-2020 06:33 pst

The hexagram which has graced each page is gone. We have opted for a different appearance for symbolic meaning beyond chaos. Small changes will pop up here and there in the coming months, should this endeavor continue. Other than that, the site rolls along with no other developments.


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Fast Water


"Again I see the slipper glowing in the lighting across the street. In my hand is the bag. Here we go again.

There is no group of people, only a few singles and couples milling about the hotel. For whatever reason, the main entrance is larger and more elaborate, kind of like Caesars Palace yet different. More medieval. As the moments pass and I try to compose myself after being shot a short time earlier, the meanings of some of the features and actions of the past day are swirling. Who was that woman and why did she give me a wrench? Is it going to be like the key that Julie used to open and subsequently lock the door on my balcony? Or perhaps it will be another puzzle, like in 'The Game'. As usual, there are just too many questions. The only fact I know is the man... That was not the gunslinger who offered support and advice during my most difficult time. I just cannot see the correlation between the past journeys and the present. Something has to happen soon to answer for this shit or I am going to get my own gun and do some fucking damage. In the meantime, and before I decide to throw another temper tantrum, the hotel must be explored again. I need to know. Across Las Vegas Boulevard on the massive bridge and a stop in the center for posterity. Others are there, shooting images up and down the Strip with their phones. I am immediately reminded of being there with the other goddess and standing outside the Venetian marveling at the dramatic lighting all over the visible resorts. We were headed to the bus stop for a trip to Fremont Street, and took a few moments to the side of the main pathways. She was beyond beautiful and being there at a difficult time felt like a privilege. We enjoyed the sights before boarding and I thought my head would explode like a grenade at the overwhelming joy. Every single fucking day since being there with that stunning, caring beauty has been a trial. I have missed that trip like nothing else. The dream of going a second time spins me into a froth of wonder. Unfortunately, I am all by myself this time. Dying, carrying items I do not understand, and trying to live with all of the shit in my head makes that recent wonderful outing so much more beautiful to remember. Damn it. I wish she was here with me now. Nope. I am fucked, in so many words. And alone. Time to let the memory go and enter that place of fear.

The goddess, Julie or even Julia would be so nice right now. I feel very alone. And more issues...

Christmas trees on the street. Fuck.

That time has arrived. I do not like it one bit because seeing them discarded and disregarded means the best time of the year is over. The line is behind me. Season gone. Now what? I made it through all other lines in the sand in past years. I am here now. I found a way through it every time. Last year the thinking was this: All those long months from the outset of the year and into the fall are uncomfortable enough to make the last three months of the year look that much better. The difference is the key. Standing here now on the cusp of the routine feels awful, like the end of the world. The months ahead look the same. Just the little weekends shine a tiny bit and represent the only saving throw in sight. The long road leading into fall began when I saw those trees this morning. Lights are disappearing, the season is over, and I need to hide. This year will not be as the last. At least there are still some football games left. Right in the middle of playoff season is my Goddamned birthday. Fuck me. What a nice way to add insult to injury.

I take to the street and move around the south side of the building to avoid making an entrance that is wide open and very exposed. I do not wish to be noticed by too many people if I can at all get around it. The restaurant is right there inside the front, and the main corridor from both halves of the resort is dead in front of the same. I have to stay hidden, just in case. And I could use a rest from constantly trying to figure out what I may or may no be doing wrong. I am tired. Off to my left is an opulent high-roller lounge with no one inside and a key card entry. Hmm... Do I have a players card? A quick check of my things shows me only a room card, but that must be the one to open the door. Yep, it does. I must be royalty in this nut house of a resort. Gaining entry to the lounge is ideal right now. I need to sit and think a while.

One hour.

The revolving door is cruising along with a sweeping sound and push of air. I cannot see outside, nor can I see if the slipper is still there. The lobby appears mostly deserted. Only a few people are milling around or moving through the large space. The restaurant is closed and dark, but outside appears as night so I do not know why it would be closed. Is it night? Or am I so goofed up that time is not as I expect? Quiet, warm air flowing, and me standing alone with the heavy bag containing my wrench. No gunman in sight, thank the maker. Something off in the distance... A crowd? No sooner do I spin to take a gander, and along the wide passage from the main casino strolls a huge group of women, all dressed very well. I have to get out of sight, and fast. Off to the restaurant, and with haste.

The place is different. I dash inside the waiting area in very dim lighting and behind the mass of vines for cover. As the line moves toward the opposite end of the lobby, I spy that same woman peering at me with a smile. And then a covert wave. On she rolls with the group until the tail end of it passes by and she is gone. Out of the dark as I follow along to learn of the occasion. Ugh. A show in the ballroom at the back of the hotel. A male revue from New York. Well fuck me in a thong, that is the last thing I need to see. U-turn to anywhere, please. My head is screaming to go outside and check out the valet again, just like before. I can search for the slipper and get some fresh air after being cut by those people’s destination. Deeply. Damn it, I didn't need that. Through the powered revolving door and into the night breeze. The time feels late. Doesn't it always?

And there is the fucking car.



713



A beeline for the valet. Holy shit, could I get my precious slipper back? As I approach the well-dressed attendant, he smiles and already has the key in his hand. I thank him profusely, hand him a nice tip and press the little button to unlock my freedom. Wow, what a rush. Into the leather glove of a seat and crank. My heart is beating so fast that I feel as if the world is once again under my control. Mirrors set, seat adjusted, tilt down. I peer around the driveway layout and ease the clutch. Good God, I have not felt such a rush in years. The interior looks just as I left it... My audio system, the tools in the console, and that dash cover with Kanji characters signifying happiness. That word is absent now, but at the time seemed like a good idea as I had achieved much in the years leading up to my decision to ruin everything. The car represented all that I had worked toward for years, and stood as a reminder that I maintained the dream of that exact model and color for nearly two decades before finally being in a position to acquire such a rarity. Never in my life had I fallen in love with something for so long and eventually made it happen. That first morning driving to work and almost tearing up over the subdued amber lighting making the shifter and console glow was something I could not forget. I see it and love it. I yearned for years just to be near a car such as this and finally realized that every detail seemed to be designed with me in mind.

A little wave to the valet and down the driveway I go. Two right turns and I'm hauling the mail. There is the fast water.

My thoughts are only partially into the slipper. I know there is something I need to see or do in that hotel, and there is the wrench. And the man with the rifle. The four-cam powerplant from Oklahoma responds smoothly to my commands, rolling the pavement up like an out-of-control spool of newsprint. The feeling of being in charge of that small, fairly cramped cockpit is unlike anything else on earth. I love it to no end and yearned to drive such a model for so long that it literally took months before I felt settled. In fact, I drove that machine to work for several weeks before realizing that the steering column actually tilted. So funny. I was squeezing in and out of the seat with quite a bit of difficulty before finding that little lever. God damn, what a tremendous high. My precious slipper.

Cut to months after finally purchasing the car and there it sat, in my garage, with the front seats removed, steering column balanced in the bench vise, and most of the driver's dash all over my work table. Oy. More funny.

As I roll north at high speed, something is wrong. I am not very familiar with the surrounding areas of the sprawling Clark County, but I do know that somewhere up here is supposed to be North Las Vegas. Nope. I should also be encountering a US highway leading from northern Nevada all the way down to the dam. That is not there either. For fuck's sake, Vegas is just that... One city surrounded by desert, kind of like back in the sixties when large casinos were beginning to pop up south of Fremont Street. All of the suburban areas are absent. If I continue north, where will it lead? All I see is darkness.

Yesterday the bat swung around and caught me upside the head again. I was kind of expecting it, but not at that time, I guess. No sooner did I begin to recover from such a blow when something less typical took place... I felt it. I saw the blade being drawn and readied for me. I saw it. The words were there and they took me down as always. In the beginning I had an open mind just as I try to maintain whenever out in public. Later? Slices all over me. I do not know how much longer I can do this. The more such things bring me down, the less I am willing to do anything expected of me. Each occasion finds me further down in a hole. The hits continue unimpeded. Every second of every fucking miserable day they carry on. One after the other, no matter my weakness and desire to silence it all. Society has done its job of driving the point home that the humor has dominion over a person's feelings. I get it. I follow. I understand in excruciating detail. From the late nineties until this very second, the point is made... Has been made. The one against the many cannot survive. The revolver will illustrate, the aftermath will be a punchline. So it has been demonstrated and I am now helpless with my words. There is no going back, no saving throw, no living on.

Downshift. Brake. Fuck me.

I have to go back to the hotel. There is nothing for me out here. Everyone appears hollow, like they are machines being driven by someone or something. They are blank. I cannot stay away in this strange world. I feel like it was created simply to add scenery off in the distance. Maybe the background for a movie, in which nothing is real but no one pays attention because they are focused upon the story and principal characters. Whatever reasons I may have for running away in the slipper are going to need to be shelved in favor of finding my purpose there. I grab a handful of steering wheel and turn myself around. It is a move I wish I could avoid. Freeway, throttle. We go. The fast water, once again. I need to appreciate every fucking second of sitting at the controls of this machine that I have loved for thirty years. I missed it, badly. I will never sit within the likes of such a beauty again. The fact breaks my heart to pieces, however I have to return and explore. The fear of dropping off my precious slipper and possibly never seeing it again grips me like the hand of Satan. Yep, that hand. Off the interstate with the stainless exhaust singing to me like the most beautiful soprano. Driveway. Ugh.

There is the gentleman who handed me the key. As I exit my precious, he approaches with a smile and an assurance that the slipper will be hidden away for me just in case.

'You may need to leave in a hurry, sir.'
'Ok, thank you.'

He directs a young man to care for my car and off it rolls with that fat ass looking sexy as fuck. God damn the tires look good. That was always my favorite view of those models. The wide rear end set it infinitely apart from the base package. Holy fuck does that blow my skirt up. Here I go again into the beautiful lobby.

Switchtrack.

The Lexus girl is a myth. Just like all those many nights spent sitting by the service bar and waiting for the phone to ring. Well, none of it was real. I sat and sat for months in hopes that something would come along -- I even pushed a few times -- and eventually gave up. The girl that morning and the one sighting as she exited the car right near my home have turned out to be nothing. She is not there. My head likely manufactured some of that out of desperation. Wonderful. The evidence against my dream mounted and I was lost. I think of her appearance that early morning as the doors part to allow my eyes to catch something similar. Like Julie. Or someone. I don't know anymore and the entire period of wishing to see the Lexus girl again has now become nothing more than another issue within me. Those nights at the service bar were equally nonexistent. The phone was never going to ring, no one was going to approach me, and I knew inside that I was destined to fail in my efforts. That little girl and the car have fallen into the same fucking category. I see the stretch pants waddling across toward the lounge and all of it swirls. Fuck me anyway. Might as well follow her and see if she leads me to some understanding. Or another death. Either is fine. In the meantime, I can stare -- as always -- and imagine the past when I felt as if I had it all.



714



Switch back.

As I pass the restaurant entrance, that moment when my bartender told me to turn and face the rifle hits me. I am obviously failing to find a way to survive over and over. The woman, too. She gave me something and stated that I will need it but I cannot see where or why. The lights are glowing and there is much activity. Lots of people inside the beautiful place, all dressed nicely, and seemingly happy. I wish I felt the same like in the past. I returned here to again search, but was it a good idea? Or am I going to stumble in circles until killed again? Fuck it... I will follow the little ass.

As I try to keep my distance along the wide pathway, I can smell her hair and see those radii changing position. My brain has already been soaked through with imagery and obsessive thoughts enough for a lifetime. As much as I already know that staring and following is going to harm me, I just can't avoid it. The girl is too picturesque for me not to indulge my deviant head and enjoy her beauty. The fact is that I will have to cease my leering in the lounge anyway. Politeness, respect. She is a person first and foremost. Maybe I can avoid the frustration that sent me flying last time. I threw a fit in the bar once in trying to shake things up and that accomplished nothing. I just don't know what else to do. Is the big group still in that showroom? Do I find a spot to wait? Hmm. No inspiration. And the show must be avoided. Walking toward the bar will place me far from the big exits. That is one good thing. I've been knee-deep in women exiting a show such as that and it was not good. Keep going. Watch her. Don't dream. Don't die.

Again.

Straight into the lounge she goes, and a direct line behind the bar. Ah, okay. She works there. That means yours truly is going to sit and stare, for lack of another plan. And fuck me in a shot glass, there is the fucking blonde hair at the opposite end. Answers? Lectures? Who cares? I am going to ignore her this time. I have nothing to offer and expect nothing from her. I plop to a stool and try to relax. Booze, dim lighting, and a gorgeous bartender. I'm home. Do I hit on her? I have little reason for sense in this world. To hell with the search for answers. Maybe I'll just do as I please and live here forever. The last two visits to this hotel have shown me that my advances are welcomed, so I dive.

'You are lovely.' A smile.
'Thank you, mister.'

Jessica drops a drink and I pull half of it in one slurp. I'd like to slurp her ass.

'How late do you work?'
'Come here at midnight.'

Wow, that was easy, just like the others. Still no motion from the hair under those red pendants. Now I have something to look forward to and that helps me to relax. I recall being very nervous in asking Juliette to dinner while standing at her teller window. She did not hesitate to respond in the positive, and our connection led to us purring all over each other for days and in two states. God damn that woman was beautiful. Jessica slides by again and drops her elbows in front of me. She inquires as to what brought me here. What? She doesn't know? Hmm... maybe I found someone who can be an escape from all the bullshit I dealt with whenever trying to seek answers. I am hoping we can spend some quiet time together and escape the thoughts of avoiding dying again. Honestly, I am sort of tired of getting myself in deep enough to find nothing more than confusion as the lights go out. Each visit has led to death, and right next to someone I figured was there to help me. I even destroyed the fucking hotel, yet here it sits. Again. The only reasonable conclusion is this: I do not believe I can get out and make this disappear until reaching something significant, like a realization or massive lesson. So far, nada. I am still completely lost and exhibiting the same damaging behavior which has ruled my life for years. I have no answer for the young beauty and tell her as much. Jessica responds with no help.

'Another?'
'Yes, please.'

This exchange and my thinking is not easy. The back of my mind remains filled with all the other exchanges which led to my spending time with any number of attractive women. I could not change my behavior at all. Years have gone by without me running, but inside I am the same. That world still exists, and as bad as it may sound, I am sitting here mired in the routine at this very moment because of resources. Nothing more. Suck it. Even way back at the service bar when I was waiting for the impossible, I knew that I would run given the correct circumstances. I demonstrated that by taking off with Michelle. Ten minutes of conversation and she was packing her shit.

Ok, too much of that. Here comes the female herd exiting that fucking show. Great.

I turn my attention and vision back to Jessica’s pants. Jesus Harold Christ on a fucking rubber crutch does she ever look amazing. Every motion, each movement which causes her hair to swing, and those beautiful legs gyrating to and fro right before my eyes. I'm losing it. Nothing new there. Heh. The more I stare, the smaller I feel. Half a man, at best, but does it matter? I cannot possibly live up to society's standards in these late days, no matter how much I soul search and try to push. I just cannot be that person. All of the sensitivities, past trauma, fear of others, and those moments when I am threatened beyond belief by the simplest wording or imagery have left me without the strength to rise above it. The keyboard is my world, the screen the sun. Being any more is impossible. The image is unreal, and it still scares me. At my age? Yep... scared.

Still nothing from the freaky, blonde version of Julia. Good. Leave me alone.



715



Jessica asks if I am staying in the hotel. Oy, do I get a room? Will Julie be in the shower again? I tell her that I would rather stay elsewhere, to which she suggests the fucking pyramid of all places. Wow. I have a bit of experience in that resort. Fuck me, why there? I love it, of course, but the memories may end me. Am I going to do it anyway? Yep. I need comfort like never before. The world is most decidedly not my fucking oyster. Not even close. Third scotch. Julia doesn't acknowledge me. Jessica may help. Fuck it. Slam, blown kiss, out the door like my ass is on fire. But where am I? Time to get a bead on the location of this resort so I can plan accordingly. To the main entrance. The goddess is in front of that fucking restaurant as I stroll to the restroom. Yep, a smile, wave, wink, and through the door I go. God damn fuck is she beautiful and mysterious. I have to keep that fear close while using the bathroom. Never good, always analyzing. I feel as if something has been removed from my insides never to return. Fear, discomfort, difficulty. I fucking hate it to no end. Seeing her there dredges up too much shit for me to remain looking upon her beauty. Parts of me... Gone. Get the hell out. The doors. The darkness. Better.

Did I say bathroom? Don't ask. Just another notch.

The valet raises his gray eyebrows in asking if I need the slipper. A covert wave communicates to him that I will be on foot. Down the long, tree-lined pathway toward the mass of automobiles piled up on the boulevard. No matter what may be taking place in the hotel, the night atmosphere in the goblet is stunning.

As I gaze up and down Las Vegas Boulevard, the lights are like a drug injected into my arteries. I love the sights and sounds, the electric atmosphere, and all those wide-eyed tourists just itching to let the cash fly away. To my right I spy the NY and castle beyond, which means the Luxor is not far. Very good. I am not up for a long walk. The driveway path is a decent distance from my valet buddy. Along the way I feel all those trips -- including the fateful wedding weekend -- and drop a bit knowing that my lavish lifestyle is gone for good. Juliette, Andrea, Ashley, Eleanor the kitten, and that dream of a goddess who seemed to come out of nowhere are spinning circles in my heart like birds bent upon my destruction. Damn it all, memories are never good for me. Yes, I lived on high and was content in the arms of those women, but each visit and connection was tempered by the knowledge that a massive fucking hole would develop immediately afterward. And it did, every Goddamned time. The burning still affects me. Right turn, toward my hideous past. And then the corner of my eye catches something bright and brooding...

The hotel has a gigantic dragon atop the main casino. There is the red, yellow, and orange sign engulfed in flame. The Hotel Dracorum. What the fuck? It is animated, realistic, and breathing fire. Maybe it will torch me and end the fucking misery. Heh. Remember Back To The Future Part II? That giant 3D shark that came out of the theater? There you go.

I step with a brisk pace toward my old home away from home and the thought of walking by Aurora begins to eat my insides like acid. Easy solution... Take the long way around the barn and use the main entrance under my beloved Sphinx. Inside I see the same dramatic foyer which took my breath away more than two decades ago when my dad and I strolled into the pyramid shortly after it was built. And there is more... the main and attraction levels are exactly the same as they were in ninety-four. The fuck? The Nile ride, endless Egyptian theming, and three center attractions are in place as when the resort first opened. When the ownership moved away from the family-oriented look to a more adult atmosphere all the exotic areas changed. Flight moved in, Aurora opened off the lobby, and the infamous Cathouse appeared to entice couples instead of children. That might mean Aurora is not there. Hmm. After admiring the beauty of what was created so many years ago, I step to the big registration area and see that my instinct was correct. No lounge. That is both bad and good. Seeing that place cuts me deeply. I'm certain the Nile bar will be there and that was one of those Juliette memories, too.

The line reminds me of that Sunday when I ran out of Phoenix in favor of some time alone in the goblet. I was dressed like shit after driving all day and felt so uncomfortable around all those tourists and children. This is not as bad, although I would be much more at ease in my own element -- clothing included. All I need is a room to freshen up. Upon reaching the counter and a very typical agent, I grab for my wallet and see that it is loaded with cash and cards. Huh? I had very little upon leaving the Dracorum lounge, but I go with it. Stranger things have taken place so I am not surprised. One big room secured, a smile and thank you from the agent, and I am finally off to a place I know so very well. The inclinator is like a needle. Good God, what is going to happen? Jessica? Julia? Something?

Ok, now this is different. Just like that Goddamned haunted hotel and the crazy, backward room that was given to me, the clothing in the closet and on the big bed is all my size and my style. Here we fucking go again. Damn it. My initial instinct is to dash into the bath and see if anyone is bleeding in the shower. I wish that was funny. Nothing there except the little pyramid-shaped bottles of hair products. Everything seems normal. A stroll toward the angled window shows me that view I love so much. Lights everywhere, and in rainbow colors. Beautiful. Again I dream of that night with the goddess outside in the warm night air and our wonder at being in such a place. My room will serve me fine. First order of business -- like always -- I need to look the part. Shave, shower, clothes. Better. Now I need a fucking drink to kick off the wait for my return to the lovely Jessica. Door, hallway, view straight down, inclinator.

The Nile bar and a flood of shit into my weakened, broken brain. Damn. Juliette and her endless hair.



716



Again I have a male bartender. The other places all seem to be staffed by men aside from the lounge I have been frequenting. He drops his elbows and smiles.

'What do you need, my friend.'
'Glenlivet, rocks, please.'
'You got it.'

Now the thinking deepens. I have to figure out just exactly what yesterday meant to me. So much difficulty, references, and imagery held me down for hours. I continue to place myself right smack dab in the middle of those fucking situations which bring me to my knees. Others do not really notice much because I have become a wizard at covering, hiding, and shoving away any clues that I am in pain over the simplest of wording. No one sees. Nothing. Threatened and fearful, just like always.

And then I am interrupted by the bartender. With eyes wide, he points directly over my head and I spin. There he is, the man with the rifle. Damn it anyway. My insides twist again and the adrenaline kicks in. Still there are very few in the area so I can run freely. And I mean fucking running like hell. I have to get away if I am to cause a miss should that rifle crack behind me. Not a look back... Not even a peek. Keep going. Something else causes my heart to melt. I feel as if my issues are moving along at terminal speed to overtake and destroy me. I cannot let that happen. Oh God, please no tears. Just let me get away from all of it. Toward the northwest inclinator and hoping that I can get inside before being killed. I skin the wrench, the bag goes flying, and I am inside. Turning around...

The fucking inclinator doors move just quick enough for me to strike the man and slow him, and then retract the big wrench before they close tight. The hotel is moving at an angle as my head tries to learn and calculate. Why is he after me? Yes, I know who he is but cannot form clear thoughts due to my pulse. I reach the thirtieth floor and the doors respond as they should to an empty vestibule. I hit him pretty hard and see that the wrench is bloody. Fuck, I have to do something. I step out and quickly use the inside of my silk shirt to wipe the chrome clean and then immediately dash toward the opposite corner. The huge pyramid is very small at the top and only seconds pass as I reach for the call button. Half a minute and I am in the other inclinator and cruising smoothly toward the attraction level. Thank Christ this hotel is laid out in a fairly complex manner with lots of hiding places. At the stop I run out and toward what I believe is the big bridge leading to the castle. Nope, not there. Damn it... I forgot the lapse in time which means the hotels are not yet connected. Ugh, I have to go outside to the garage and avoid people. But wait a minute... There are no others anywhere. A quick scan of the level and I see no one, not even in the exposed hallways above. Huh? Where is everyone?

The garage is deserted. Holy shit. No cars, no nothing.

Easy. From here back to the Dracorum. Fuck it. I have nowhere else to go and must stay ahead of that man and his rifle. Across to the driveway, along the sidewalk, and past the back of that massive castle I go, all the while trying to figure out where everyone went. One of the most visited cities in the world and not a soul anywhere. Very strange, but whatever. I have to hide out really well to continue drawing breath. The path is clear, thank the maker, due to my being alone, and I know the way so well that I could probably get anywhere with my eyes closed. Across the bridge, and there is that fucking gigantic dragon swinging his head to and fro. I should probably avoid that, too. He is likely in cahoots with the gunman. Heh. I finally see the main entrance, no slipper to be found, and no valet behind the podium. I have to get inside and dash anywhere. I will not look back. From the idea of meeting Jessica to again running for my life.

The fucking doors will not open and the revolving door is motionless. Fuck me.

The woman is there, to my left and looking frightened out of her mind. She is pointing. The moat. The water. Maybe I can swim and hide where the stream goes in to the hotel. In a flash I dive into the moat, duck under in the cold, and a glow from above takes my attention. Eyes up and wide...

Here comes the flame."



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Random Quote:

"Any life, no matter how long and complex it may be, is made up of a single moment -- the moment in which a man finds out, once and for all, who he is."

-- Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986)


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