July 23rd, 2023 10:56am pdt

If you are visiting for the first time, go to the beginning.




Door Three

 read ( words)

"‘What the fuck is all this accomplishing?’
‘Calm down, mister grumpy pants. The train is your trajectory in life.’

Marvelous. Another fucking riddle. We derailed and ended up right back in the fucking desert again. I fail to understand the motivation behind killing Julie and me over and over, especially when it always seems to end at the beginning of another journey. I’ve gone over my past relationships with Maggie and the beautiful Laura (of my dreams), been forced to revisit the shit from late ten, and was punished after each occurrence. Hold on a second... Regardless of all the destruction and Julia’s fucking words, I just remembered that when Julie was Miramanee she appeared taller than when we were together prior to the mountains. Huh? Something is wrong there and I have to know because she is right next to me and standing nearly eye-to-eye.

‘Why did your height increase when we arrived at the lakeside?’
‘I’m tired.’
‘Me too. Maybe we can find a hotel again.’
‘Okay, dearest.’

Just what I needed. Another mystery. I guess we have to scan the landscape in case there is a destination off in the distance. The train derailment really took a lot out of us and a rest would be ideal right now. As I turn my head to see if there is anything on the horizon, the sight of yet another structure catches me upside the head and I know we must walk again.

‘I see it. We can make it. Take my hand, lover.’

Julie wraps herself around my left arm again and I notice that my strength is necessary to hold her somewhat upright. This is not good. She’s always been there for me no matter the circumstances, but now I fear she may lose herself to exhaustion. This is very different from past journeys. Whatever the case may be, I have to keep Julie with me, and that means supporting her along the way. I can do it. We turn to face the distant target and step with purpose. I love that girl. I have to make sure she is safe. The desert can kill anyone given enough time. Ever since seeing the mountains and recalling the Colorado road trip from more than forty years ago, my brain has been defining the differences between varying periods ranging from my earliest memories dating back five decades and the wondrous time spent embracing the wonder and excitement of the old theatres and electronics stores, along with everything in between. The glowing years always stand out, too. I fully expect to be hit soon with some specific scenes from the glow via those fucking dioramas. I want to see them but certainly don’t need more reminders of the vast gradient that separates then and now. The second and third shows already slam me enough.

1211, same day. The routine is out of the way and I am considering options for lunch. The house is very quiet, too, meaning I can think about both worlds without issue for a while. Hopefully, more than a while. I see that the weather outside is cool and overcast, so perhaps after lunch I can break out the saw and ladder to further thin the growth from the tree in the front yard. The trimming I did two days ago did not require much time, either. I can cut more without issue if the ambition strikes.

Friday, July the seventh, 0656. Coffee. The usual. I didn’t do much of what was originally intended yesterday. The caring fell away toward the early afternoon and I failed to rise. As for today, I just don’t know yet. The only motivation I seem to have lately is to generate cash; never a bad thing. Sometimes when I don’t know what to do in life, one of two ideas can often help. Selling or buying, neither of which is more enjoyable than the opposite. I’ll see what I can come up with later. On another, very unpleasant note, I am going to discuss the ‘void’ very soon. That topic has been overtaking my sense of reality and causing more falls from graceful dignity than I could possibly count. This is something I have begun to label ‘graphic solitude’ because there seems to be no other aspect of life which can compare to such a dramatic loss. Nothing else in the world has had the power to send me through more emotional states than the void. The simple fact is that I can only take so much and still don’t fucking understand the whole shitaree. In and around whatever else I do today and beyond, I need to consider broaching the void as best I can for the future. Solitude is very unhealthy, especially when combined with massive amounts of anger. For the time being, I need to leave it alone. Today’s focus will be a continuation of selling as well as my typical housework. Little things can add up to big things.

Malfunction. Again.

I desperately need something to ease these feelings of dread. I am not well. Such words have been here before, but believe me when I say life is slipping further away with each passing day. This is not a quick process, either, and one which is seemingly unstoppable.

The object in the distance is growing too quickly to be anything very large. I see a rectangle instead of a resort and it is still unclear. Julie is pulling at me as if she knows of our destination. Um... Her hair is longer now. Huh? That’s the second change I’ve noticed since we were in the mountains. I don’t understand why her appearance continues to be altered a little at a time. Maybe I should focus upon the object in the distance. Hopefully, Julie will remain at my side through this shit. Damn, the weather is so hot in this place. I don’t like it at all.

‘I see a door.’

Ah, fuck. Not another door, please. I don’t need any more fucking dioramas. Julie is correct, however, because no sooner did she utter the words when I pulled focus on the same object. Shit. The door is dissimilar to the first two on the beach in that it looks like two, or a double-door. Very ornate, as well. As we approach, the nervousness I feel through Julie’s grip is beginning to take over my body. Tension. Concern. Fear. This is not good after being thrown from the rails in the worst derailment imaginable. I’ll never forget the horrible sounds of that train coming apart. Whatever the emotional damage, we have to enter and learn of what may be on the other side. Oh, wait... The doors are slowly swinging inward to reveal the mountains again. Huh? And holy shit... The trees are on fire. What the fuck is Julia doing right now? Maybe I don’t want to know.

Up close, I see that the door is yet another passage to a different world (or dimension), yet behind it is nothing but desert. Ugh. Why is everything burning? I don’t want to step through. And now a sound... Rumbling; uneven. I spin halfway around to see a locomotive (the big six-thousand horse UP again) idling just behind us with no other cars and rails leading north, but not south. The engine is parked and waiting at the end of another line. Julia said the trains represent my trajectory in life. Hmm. Does that mean after all this time in the netherworld that I have learned nothing? The locomotives continue to appear and entice me into driving or riding in the beautiful cabooses. Right now I just don’t know what the fuck to do, although between stepping into a burning world versus boarding the engine and pressing north, I believe the latter seems the better option. I still have the lovely little Julie with me, er... Taller now and with longer hair, so perhaps ‘little’ is no longer appropriate. I feel more comfortable with that girl at my side, whatever she is (or represents). Julie is gesturing toward the locomotive. Yep. Not surprising. We go...

And everything is familiar. The cab is like all of my previous engines in that it sports many controls and comforts not actually available in the real world. There is a computer interface with touch screens and displays of every aspect of mechanics and electronics, along with sensors everywhere, both outside and inside. Like always, the seating is larger and more plush, and there is much more space in the cab than the real thing. And? I know how to unlock and haul ass, likely the best part of being here.

‘Let’s just roll and see what happens, ok?’
‘Sounds good to me, lover.’

God damn do I ever love the sound and feel of this machine doing nothing more than idling. Such power. Maybe we can just relax and take some time to enjoy the feel of the engine and discuss possibilities. I didn’t like seeing our beautiful paradise on fire, so a bit of ‘deflation’ may be in order. One thing Julia has rarely torn away is time to think. And that is precisely what I need right now.

Here I am at the keyboard again at 1012 with a cocktail and the third series keeping me company. This program is one of two that brings me back to the glowing years, mostly toward the trailing end. By the time ninety-three was in the eyes, we had relocated to the Midwest. Prior to that, the summer proved to be one of the most wondrous and enjoyable periods of my entire life. I often wish to go back and live through those months all over again. And the feeling is not entirely due to the television shows, but the amazing time leading up to the release of Jurassic Park. That was when I had the opportunity to watch the E! Entertainment channel via satellite while I was working. The film industry fascination was born during that beautiful summer. Ugh. Everything is so different now that the shutdown stretch of the glow appears better than ever. And yes, I’ve been employing drag racing terms for reasons of good form. Live with it. The wonder of life did not resume until the bleach box of ninety-six; the second of three distinct eras which stand head and shoulders above every other part of my life. Believe it. The present continues to degrade as those time periods grow in importance. Anyway, I have half of my daily routine out of the way and no idea of how the remainder of this day will progress. The morning has already been a disaster of epic proportions, meaning the rest of the day will be better in at least one respect. I suppose that’s ok, all things considered. Today may find me in the front yard for further tree trimming. Right now I just don’t know, though. ‘Allamaraine!’ Oh, boy. As has been said in the past, ‘Star Trek is a little like sex; even when it’s bad, it’s still pretty good’. Heh.

Saturday. I have to drive to the City for a short visit and then return home. Less than an hour from now, too. This is very different from my typical morning schedule, for sure. Eh... It won’t matter because after heading back into town I’m going to slide into the cheapy market for a few items and then return here to get on with my usual stuff. I had a disturbing dream early this morning that’s been recurring for months, but not terribly often. I’ve experienced the same dream so many times that my only reaction anymore is anger (big surprise, that one). Faces appear and taunt me, pianos and houses fade in and out of a black landscape without end, and then I try to get away or otherwise disrupt the scene. One of the people always seems to leave me without much strength and I become overly pissed off trying to effect some change that feels satisfying. Nothing ever works, though. More anger; awakening. That’s all. At least now that I’ve been out of bed for a little bit I feel better and much less angry. The drive to the City will smooth everything even more, so by the time I get back to my comfortable place, no issues will be present. 0755 is on the clock right now. I’m tired of feeling this way. Almost time for a drive.

1145. The morning was fairly eventful. We drove to the City, took a short pause in the usual alley, and then returned to town. After a brief stopover at home, we ventured to the cheapy market for a few items and then back home. Everything is now out of the way for this day including my morning routine. Very nice. I have a cold glass of whiskey and the vampires on the right-hand display, like always. I am going to try avoiding a long tirade about the multitude of stunning women that I saw during our short visit to the City. From the alley to the drive along Van Ness, there was no shortage of picturesque goddesses dotting the landscape, two of which walked right by me as I waited by the car. Shit. Whatever. I am usually prepared just in case there is something special nearby, and today was no different. Steeled. My mind pushed them away so the morning could move along unimpeded. I did not fall, believe it or not. Now the day is wide open for whatever seems best. The visions in the City did not affect me as much as the memories and knowledge of the current period and my lack of understanding. Not good. At least I do not have to leave the house again today. Sunshine is peeking through the fog. Curious, despite our proximity to the ocean, I still find it amazing that the news has been reporting heat in so many parts of the country that those dealing with extreme temperatures now total in the tens of millions, while over here on the coast, the mercury has yet to top seventy. There has been a very cool breeze each morning and evening, as well. We are most decidedly exempt from the heatwaves plaguing so much of the nation. I hope nothing bad happens due to the weather. I don’t like to see people in bad situations, ever.

‘I am so tired.’
‘I’m sorry. Can I help?’
‘Power.’

Ho-ly crap. I just realized the reason for Julie’s recent changes and why she has been hanging on me as if I’m holding her up. She is a machine. Wow. Julie was never a machine before, so why now? Does she represent all those control aspects I’ve explored in the past? Is she a replacement for the wonder that was Jaime? I don’t know, but whatever the case, I need to make sure she gets whatever she needs, and right now that is power. Sure enough, I no sooner realize the change when Julie lifts her shirt to reveal a charging port. Unreal. Thankfully, this cab has everything we need and more power than we could possibly exhaust. The fuel cells are full and due to the advanced nature of the locomotive’s electronics, I can simply plug Julie into one of the outlets and allow her to rest. I did not expect anything like this; not in a million years, netherworld or otherwise. All I have to do now is learn why she is an android. I have watched far too much science fiction in my life, and unfortunately, there will be no end to the matter if I have any say whatsoever. I need what I need and have demonstrated as much throughout the last thirty-plus years. No one has the power to pull me away from what I love.

Once the lovely Julie is comfortable and connected to the massive power of the locomotive, I return to the controls and roll this machine into whatever may be on the horizon. We are again heading north, the meaning of which may become apparent up the rails a piece. Right now I don’t know, and am thankful for the time and space to consider what’s been developing in this strangest of worlds. The landscape is frightfully void of anything noteworthy as I push the throttle toward fifty. Julia stated that these trains represent my path in life, yet her words seem meaningless if I see nothing on the horizon or some turn into a tunnel for another set of dioramas. The deserts of Nevada are some of my favorite places, and for me to be rolling along through the barren landscape in control of one of the most fascinating aspects of my personality, the feeling inside is wondrous. Much like that first ride on a freight train many years ago, experiencing the power of the machine and sitting ten feet above the rails cannot be overstated right now. I fucking love this to no end. Maybe the ride can last a while before we are either killed again or thrown into another circumstance. Moreover, I don’t want anything changing until my companion is able to fully function. Damn, that sounds strange... Even to someone as fucked up as me. After all these years, I'm sure anyone aware of my personality would understand. I need a machine both here and in reality. A machine. This is what I have become.

Sunday morning. Yesterday was ok except for the breasts. All over the place. Going to the City and then the market was plenty, too. There were all sorts of beauties during the morning and I kept myself at a distance (mentally) as well as could be expected. But? Later? Two. One tall, gorgeous woman strolling by and then the breasts. I had to avert my eyes more than once in order to avoid staring. Now I can’t get all that shit out of my brain long enough to concentrate. I was the same during the afternoon yesterday and pretty much failed to do anything except reheat dinner. I just don’t know what to think anymore when I become so fucking tormented due to seeing beauty. What a fucking maroon. Everything is pressing me into a mold and the feeling is quite unpleasant. I don’t know what to do with myself. The upside right now is knowing the housework and my friends await. Sunday means business. And one more auction listing. Perhaps two.

I am beginning to feel the authority of rolling this huge machine, much like when Julie and I decided to slam the explosives into the hotel. A massive wall of steel rolling along and pushing a pressure wave unlike any other vehicle. Prowess... Something otherwise nonexistent in my life. I may as well enjoy the power in the netherworld because on the outside I have nothing at all. I am just a tiny person with a keyboard.

The landscape is not changing, nor does the angle of the sun seem to be decreasing. Maybe there is no time here. The main display is much like a small computer, complete with a clock down in the lower right corner, and the time displayed is 1656. That means there should still be a few hours of daylight, yet I see no shadows without poking my head out the small side window. I don’t know how long we’ve been cruising, either. Maybe two hours? Julie is perched comfortably on the rear bench and completely motionless, still. I guess I’ll just have to wait until she comes back to life for a bit of conjecture regarding where we may be headed. The view is beginning to worry me, too, because never before have we gone in circles without actually turning. This is very strange, yet still not surprising.

1059. My routine is finished and I have a head start on the garbage business. Very nice. I also sat here and learned how to remove and replace the plastic scales on a SAK, meaning the newest treasure which previously held marked and scratched scales now sports themed parts from my favorite small knife. The process was very straightforward and resulted in a beautiful, one-off knife which I have sought for years. The exact model is very rare, meaning I had to wait for a very long time to find one, and when I did, the scales were very much used. Now? The Swiss theming on the new scales has propelled the knife into the territory of stunning beauty. I fucking love it. My previous pocket-sized SAK had been damaged due to a mistake last year and I had been looking to replace it with the much rarer model. I am so pleased with the results that much of the difficulty this morning has faded away.

Monday, 1045 in the morning. My neighbor and his girl took off earlier to board a cruise ship. We had a little meeting prior to them leaving, too. That was nice, although the situation brings back memories of our trip from years ago. I loved the ship to no end. Anyway, my daily routine is out of the way and the two typical pieces of my morning are in place, the show and the cocktail.

Tuesday is here. Coffee... You know. All the usual stuff going on here in my office. 0849 is on the three little clocks right now. I already have laundry in the washer and a load of dry cleaning to do afterward. In less than two hours I will head over to the cigarette store and then back home. I really don’t have much going on these days because my head is all fucked up due to the past and the netherworld. I keep thinking about Laura and how nice I always was to her. Julia took issue with the mass of desire I felt for that woman, yet I am having a hard time believing there was anything wrong with wanting her since I never said a word about it to anyone. There was no apparent outward sign that would have given away my feelings. Maggie, as well. I’ll move away from this when the coffee is gone and begin my daily housework, but all the while I will be trying to compute why she has such a problem with the way I think.

‘Where is the horse and the rider? Where is the horn that was blowing? They have passed like rain on the mountain; like wind in the meadow. The days have gone down in the West behind the hills into shadow. How did it come to this?’ – Theoden, King of Rohan

‘How did it come to this’, indeed. I ask that question at some point every fucking day without fail. I really do. And I will say right now that I am fucking sick and tired of the reasons such a question arises in my mind so often.

1138. My routine is out of the way and the laundry is finished. All I have left to do is a load of dry cleaning and one auction that needs to be listed. One of the current auctions – with over five days remaining – has surpassed what I paid for the item a few years ago, and by a wide margin. I guess it has become either rarer or more sought-after. Either way, that one item is helping to offset the massive purchase of my favorite knife. I searched for such a model for years and passed on a few listings which were overpriced. I still paid a lot for it, but the acquisition has been worthwhile to me. I am still trying to decide whether or not to list one of the big knives. There is redundancy between two of them, so perhaps one can go. I am not a collector, just an enthusiast. Anyway, the rest of the day is up to me. And yes, I am already drinking alcohol due to a disastrous mindset earlier this morning.

I need... Something.

A weapon. I’ll have to look around and see if there is anything in the tool box or cabinets while Julie is charging. God damn that sounds odd. This is the second time I’ve been coupled with a mechanical woman so I shouldn’t be surprised. If I can find some sort of implement to use in defense of us just in case we get in a scrape, I’ll feel a bit more secure. The urge to take issue with that woman is analogous to yelling into a fucking mirror, honestly, and probably not a very good idea, but she has killed me (us) so many damned times that I am beginning to lose the ability to care. The only shit Julia has thrown at us (me) for years which has tremendous power to scare me is when a train or other source begins to go crazy; mechanical destruction can be frightening, especially when it is on a slow, inevitable path and pointed directly at a person’s head. If I can find something here in the cab, I’ll smack Julia with it the next time she appears and see what develops. Yep, I am that insane right now. Nothing to lose. Dangerous.

The cabinet holds lots of possibilities, the most prominent of which is a fireman's axe, likely there in case of some emergency, yet still somewhat out of place because the entire locomotive is metal. Strange, but whatever... I’ll take it. The engine is rolling us along at fifty right now and Julie is still out cold and resting beautifully on the bench at the rear of the cab. I am reminded of Jaime almost every time I look at her, too. That woman was a great help to me in the other netherworld. I don’t know why Julia often provides me with a loving companion, but at the same time, I’m thankful. I’ll have to weigh the situation further before doing anything rash. The landscape ahead has not changed, nor has the position of the sun. The feeling is that time has stopped in this place and the motion of the locomotive is nothing more than a distraction. Something will happen. I know it. When? No one knows, but we are not going to be cruising the rails forever. That much is certain. For the time being, I’ll relax here in anticipation of some necessary conversation with Julie. I will say that the axe has brought a measure of comfort to my mind. If that means I haven’t learned much, so be it. I need power, real or not. And one important note regarding this trip and my sense of deference, history has proven that I am at my best when escaping. I dream about escape every fucking day.

‘Becky Eubanks is a stuck up whore who let Jace finger her in the church!’ – Leon (yelling), under duress and Jessica's amazing influence. I wish I could flex such power.



19

Thursday is here on the heels of shit. Yesterday disappeared into a haze because I was in no mood to do work around the house or improve anything. I even left the garage door closed throughout the day. I didn’t care. Today I am feeling much more productive and ambitious, so I can leave the shit from yesterday behind and push forward without issue. I have to visit two stores today, although I may opt for just one because I don’t know if I feel like driving over the hill and shopping. I’d rather place an order for pickup tomorrow to ease the trip.

1036. The daily stuff and dry cleaning are out of the way and one load of wash is in process. I still haven’t gone to the market, but I placed an order at the big wine store for pickup tomorrow. I will head over to the market within the hour. Leaving the house while the washing machine is running makes me nervous. Even after many years, I still don’t trust the fucking solenoids that control water flow. All the plumbing issues to which I’ve been exposed for a decade are ingrained. I’ll break up the laundry work today. I should head to the store before lunch, too, because once the restaurants open, the parking lot seems to suffer. Unfortunately, there is a nice, fat cocktail next to me that needs to be consumed prior to doing anything else. If the parking lot is crazy, so be it. I need what I need these days. On the other front, my auctions have been bearing much fruit lately. I’ll have to keep this train rolling and squeeze out the cash. Very good.

Wow... Sophie-Anne was eleven hundred years old when she met her true death. I had no idea. I always thought she was younger. Very interesting. And good God... I was in love with Evan a decade ago, all five-seven of her. Shoot me; I don’t care anymore. I’ll do the math for you, too, because I am feeling a tad generous right now. She was twenty and I was forty-six. And there is Debbie again, jonesing for some V juice. Yikes. Her shoulders make the entire affair worthwhile, though.

Julie is awake and my axe is gone. I should have known that Julia would remove any advantage. Fuck. Well, I still have the throttle and my druthers, so it’s time to slam the situation and swing whatever power I hold at the moment. We go... Sixty; sixty-five. Seventy. Eh... She is going to kill us anyway, so why should I even give a shit? If we derail, we’ll die. If we don’t, we’ll end up standing in the desert. Julia will slam the point no matter my intentions. Fuck the axe. I don’t need it. I only need my words...

‘I am fucking sick of the mystery. Fuck off, woman.’
‘You are not in control here.’
‘Maybe not, but I can still resist.’
‘Do what you will, mister.’

And there it is... Julia’s intention is to continue removing whatever little edges I find, only to leave me here suffering. Perhaps I should embrace Julie and cease the idea of responding to Julia’s bullshit changes. I feel reckless right now, both in this netherworld and the real one. I can’t leave the house until the mood subsides. Julia doesn’t care. The locomotive pays no mind. No one pays mind. I am alone regardless of the apparent connections. These worlds had better not converge like last time or I will end up hurting everyone by disappearing.

Friday morning, 0658. No matter what I do in this life, be it virtual or real, something bad will always happen. I don’t understand how this is possible if I do nothing more than sit here trying to learn about myself. I go shopping sometimes, too. Is that a problem? Unbelievable. Maybe I’ll work on a few ideas for resistance. That’s always enjoyable. My auctions are going well, I’ve been limiting what I spend and taking better care of the house, yet all the while I don’t say much to anyone because I don’t see the point. Well, now is the time to say even less. Splendid. I don’t like these types of developments, but I still have the ability to resist. If this is what is required, so be it. I don’t have the energy or inclination to go with the flow anymore. This road was constructed as the inevitable result of years of experience and is not going to improve, ever. The more I interact with people, the less I want to be connected at all.

Today is going to be one of those in which I relax after completing the housework much earlier than usual. Right now, for example, the time is 0814 and more than half of the routine is out of the way. I need to run to the big wine store for the order, but I won’t be leaving for more than an hour. Well, I may not go today. I have to run to the City tomorrow morning (like last week), and I can save both time and fuel if I swing into the store on the return trip. It makes more sense since I’ll be very near that area anyway. I just made the decision. I will stay home today.

1101. God fucking damn it do I ever miss Ashley. Yes... Her again. I can’t help it because the memories represent every aspect of love and affection above all other people and periods in my life. Oh, believe me when I say that Andrea is right there with Ashley, but the truth is the latter was symbolic of feelings that go above and far beyond anyone else. I’ve been proofreading and aligning the text of the three-period tale of love and damage which began in the year of eighteen and continues to this very moment. The story ended some time ago, yet inside me is a massive need to recall the details and compare where I’ve been to the present. The main issue right now is knowing I can never be there again. I’d rather strip off my clothes and slide down jagged rocks into a volcano than continue to wallow in the knowledge that there is nothing even remotely close to that level of bliss on my horizon. I miss her so much that the pain is severe beyond words. Ashley knew and understood more in the space of a single day than anyone before or since. I need her and wish every day to be held within the embrace of her long arms. I need her more than the Passion, believe it or not. Trust me when I say the Passion has been one of the most powerful pulls I have ever experienced. Multiply it by n and you may reach a sense of understanding what Ashley represents to me after nearly twenty years. This entire line of thinking is so depressing that I can’t even express the full extent. I still love her more than life itself.

Julie knows, naturally.

‘You still need her.’
‘Yes, my dear. I need her like oxygen.’
‘Let us continue, lover. Roll our six thousand horses into the future. We may yet find the reason.’

I think I already know the reason, but since my gorgeous, mechanical companion wishes to carry forward in this place, I may be wrong. Julie is but one of many that have been created by my subconscious. Perhaps I’d be better off not questioning her right now. And? Throttle. Fifty-five miles per hour. The landscape is unchanged, as is the angle of the hot sun. I don’t know what to think right now, but if Julie’s nature is any indication, I am compelled to trust her judgment, just like Jaime all those years ago in the goblet. I am sitting in a chair listening to music in a little house and at the controls of a powerful locomotive at the same time, all the while trying to understand why I became this person. Read that again. The worlds are blurred right now because I am weak and in need of much more than that which is available in life. So sad.

Low brush, rocks, sand... Rushing by but guiding us nowhere. Maybe my life is going nowhere at high speed. I’ve been trying to find comfort in this house for a very long time and nothing has changed. Oh, there are little things here and there, but for the most part, I have not lifted a finger toward larger alterations or improvements. Once in a while I take a left turn and affect some aspect of the house. That’s all. Those are not the left turns I have enjoyed in the past, however, and instead have become improvements. As I watch the landscape forming, focusing, and then falling away in the wake of this massive machine, my mind continues to return to those times when I so badly needed the scenery to spin a one-eighty for a little while in order for me to feel alive. I had to find a very unique and elusive (difficult) type of comfort and understanding. I found the same in this netherworld, too, although no matter how mired I’ve tried to become in this place, everything is eventually ripped away in order to teach me a lesson. Julia is always right, too. The train is me. My life at present has no turns, hence the straight rails ahead. Something inside me has to be altered before anything changes within the landscape ahead. Left turns, right turns (not as enjoyable), or whatever... I need to think. Maybe I should not have brought up the doll. Julia already knows everything and came from inside my head, so typing the words only makes a difference on the surface. I miss her and the way she saw me; life. Everything. Ashley was unique and I still don’t understand how that girl could have been created in this backward world. To this day, I am flabbergasted over her demeanor, caring nature and deep levels of understanding. As we roll into whatever future (or end) may be ahead of us, Ashley remains cemented just behind my eyes. I have no doubt such a fact will cause trouble somewhere down the line. The landscape remains unaltered as if we are on an old stage and perched atop a treadmill for simulating motion. I don’t understand.

Maybe I do. This is to teach me (slam home) the idea that my nature is bad. That is to say the way I think after all these years has been combined with past shit situations and crafted my mindset into something against which the world will grate for as long as I draw breath. Not only that, but I will also grate against my own way of thinking. Maggie is now a reminder of the way I perceived certain forms back then and the subsequent damage resulting from my obsession. Recalling Laura is another lesson... One which will continue to haunt me unless I take the path Julia is attempting to lay out before me. She is trying to illuminate the idea that I am holding myself back in life by clinging to the memories. I am beginning to think that some otherworldly force came along during the early aughts and created Ashley for no other reason than to make me suffer. I can’t be certain of such a thought, however, because anything not actually tangible is typically beyond reason to someone like me. My locomotive is slowing, but I have not touched the controls. Eh... Here we go. Julie has moved to my side and is now connected to my left arm. Shit. Have I mused something in error?

Slowing. I hope there is not another door in our future.

Stop. Ugh. What the fuck?

Saturday morning, 0726. I am driving to the City early, just like last week, meaning upon returning home I will probably be overjoyed. Afterward will be the usual, I suppose, and perhaps more office work in support of my vision for the holiday season. I have another knife to clean and oil so it can be listed, as well. I have to keep this ball rolling through the month.

1047 on the clock means cocktail hour. For me, anyway. My routine is finished and I have a head start on tomorrow’s garbage and organization work. My garage is currently a mess thanks to several factors which have come about beyond my control, meaning I have once again inherited some crap. I’ll deal with some of it this afternoon, the rest waiting until production time tomorrow. That means just beyond the daily housework and cocktail. I have another auction to list and one load of dry cleaning, both of which will round out the morning efforts. The drive this morning was uneventful other than seeing the same gorgeous yet frightening woman that works in the wine store. Her hair alone is a universe and I will refrain from going into the way her legs appear when she strolls the aisles. I also swung into the dairy upon returning to town for a lottery ticket. The dream of buying a shitload of comfort never expires, and there would be few limits to such a situation. Believe me, I know how to be comfortable given adequate resources. Just trust me... I’ve done it, albeit temporarily. The permanent solution is very appealing after the last few decades of complete shit regarding money. I will say no more.

The time is now 1515 and I am curled up on the sofa with the third series keeping me company and a nice, cold White Russian perched to the right. I took care of some laundry that will be traveling back to the City this afternoon, straightened the entire garage, mounted a newly-donated neon sign above my toolbox, and moved the bike back to the lift. Once my routine was finished earlier today, I kicked into gear to get a head start on tomorrow’s work. Loud music accompanied my efforts, although part of the point was to head to the front yard and perform further tree trimming. I didn’t make it that far... Yet.

The most powerful and stirring aspects of life have disappeared, seemingly forever. I am not equipped to deal with such a truth. Not even close. All I’ve been doing for years is distracting myself from everything I am afraid to face, some of which has come to pass as a result of my actions. This is gospel, to be honest. I am missing out on happiness, but at least I know that I am to blame for part of it. Oh, there are others who should be in my sights, for sure. There really are. I am powerless to act upon any feelings, though. Powerless. All I can do is continue to pass the time and hope for some semblance of comfort within the same. One thing I will never do is lie. I know what I am and part of the reason I arrived in this barren, awful place, but at the same time I will say that I am not alone in such a situation. Not alone. I am alone in other ways. They do not know. Some are dead. Others are absent from my life for one reason or another. I truly do not know if I deserve to live this way. Not all of it, anyway. Ah, fuck... I just don’t know anything. The rest of the afternoon had better prove to be pretty fucking comfortable or I’m going to swing a larger hammer than I have in the past. Wait... Did I employ the word ‘deserve’? Scratch that shit right now. There is no such thing as ‘deserve’. None. Fuck it.

Sunday has arrived with zero fanfare for the common webmaster. I was up a bit later than usual last night due to a fire in the nearby court. We noticed emergency lights out the front window and went to investigate. Within minutes there were six fire engines and several other vehicles out there. Wow. No one was hurt, thank goodness. We spoke with a few others for a little while and eventually the area was cleared. This morning I am not in the best of emotional shape, either. The previous paragraph is taking its toll. My head has been on a vast highway searching for an exit for so long that I can barely remember the last one. I keep picturing that movie... Husband and wife... It’s funny and endearing. One scene in particular always comes to mind, too. She tells him that she ‘stopped taking the pill three months ago’, and his reaction was all imagination. He ended up strapped securely to some sort of machine on rails (like a train car of sorts) – screaming at the top of his lungs – and hurtling at breakneck speed into a barrier. Upon impact, his entire world exploded. It is hilarious, yet at the same time I feel myself on rails, albeit moving much slower and without end. Just moving. Rails... Highway... Doesn’t fucking matter. I am most decidedly out of control and missing life as it passes by. To quote one of my favorites, ‘I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired’. That is no bullshit. Just this morning I began to see that the rest of my life is going to be exactly the same. Nothing is going to happen. Every day is going to be almost the same as the last, with only the tiniest distinctions apparent due to things changing beyond my ability to control. That’s it. I have to sit here and fucking stew in the knowledge that no matter what dreams come along nor what I believe could bring me some happiness, the horizon is truly barren. I can’t do anything about this for fear of creating situations that have no resolution. That is not a choice, either, it is a result. Long or short duration as the future may be, this is all there is. Not fucking happy right now. Not a bit. My alone hours today should be ok, though. I may not do much beyond the normal scope, either. My mood is fragile.

I’ll have the usual work today plus whatever else seems appropriate. Garbage. Laundry? I can’t remember where I left off with that one. The garage is in much better shape after yesterday’s efforts, so perhaps I’ll have some down time to relax. I may even toss the laptop to my workbench and do some computing out there. Maybe.

Maybe not. Back to the netherworld.

‘You must forgive yourself.’
‘For?’
‘Everything.’
‘Fuck you. No way.’

Ugh. We are sitting at idle in the heat with nothing on the horizon. Julia’s voice is not helping because the issue she just raised is not something I am willing to entertain at present. No way. Not going to happen in this life or the next. Whatever that makes me or however I am viewed as a result will just have to be moot points because some hurdles are beyond reach. Period. Julia is not going to let up, either. Experience has shown me that once she begins to make a point of altering the way I see myself, only disaster can be the result. Well, fuck it. I will hold my lovely companion and care for her until the end of time. I don’t fucking care about forgiveness, and if that means I am the entire fucking problem, so be it. Idle.

The sound and feeling of the locomotive at idle feels wonderful. I am reminded of each occasion in which I was at the controls and feeling larger than life or unstoppable. Force was all I had and it got me nowhere. I was in charge of such power for a time and it went to my head on too many occasions. I never made it out of any of those situations, but still I am filled with the need to demonstrate my ability to hurtle us through the landscape. There is just too much mass beneath my feet and the sound is inescapable. Rumbling. I love it. Unfortunately, I did not stop this locomotive, meaning I probably can’t do anything except wait here with my girl until something happens. I will say that I’ve not been so inclined to rock the boat as I was in the past because I keep thinking of all the people Julia has brought up. Moreover, she continues to push for me to alter myself as if I actually deserve to be happy. I can’t agree right now, so she will probably continue to throw curveballs. I’m sure if I piss her off enough we will end up dead.

The landscape is still unchanged. The engine is at idle, the cab nice and cool. Maybe I should try to jump Julie... No. That’s not something which should be considered right now because I care for her too much and do not think of Julie as an object (although she quite literally IS an object; figure that one out). I have to relax and think about the reasons behind seeing those faces in the roundhouse and then being thrown visions of Laura and Maggie. There are obviously key ideas there which I have not fully considered as of yet. I keep thinking about ‘thinking’, for lack of another way to put it. I wanted both of them, but they were not the only people over whom I was goo ga years ago, or even more recently. I was always very nice, polite and helpful when needed. I was respectful and did not toss out excessive comments or compliments. The latter can be very nice, yet I have learned that gushing too much about a woman’s appearance often results in them becoming very uncomfortable. I never wanted anything like that despite the strong desire inside me. And wait a fucking minute... Ashley? How does she fit into this crap? Is it because our conversations altered the way I think overall? I didn’t see her as an object, either. Just an intelligent girl with a big heart who just happened to look like the goddess of the fucking universe. The other two? Maybe my weak self loved them (or still does) and the way I yearned for another like Ashley did not help me to deal with being close to such beauty. Ah hell... I don’t know. The first door led to being hit in the face with those of the past. The second door led to annihilation and all sorts of reminders which were trying to force me into thinking I was a bad person toward Laura and Maggie. Now the third? Fuck this. I was not a bad person, only someone constantly seeking someone who... Oh, boy.

‘Yes, mister.’
‘That feeling is not my fucking fault.’
‘Keep going.’

Motherfucker. I can’t talk about it, but I will say that being on the other train with Julia as we rolled through the frozen landscape in search of pieces of me was the beginning of this type of thinking. We discussed it and Julia began to understand why I turned out to be so fucked up.

1103. My daily routine is finished. This day has already been fucking disastrous, though. One up, two down. Such is the current period.

Ok, now the time is 1411 and I only recently returned to the house after another incident in the nearby court. Fire trucks again. I heard a siren while drying the dishes, and as it approached, I decided to peek out the front window. Lo and behold, three pumpers and the hook and ladder much like last night. Yikes. I spent a bit of time outside with the neighbors discussing the situation before finally moving back into the kitchen to pick up where I left off. Unbelievable, that stuff. I guess something flared during the morning and caused an emergency again. At least everyone was aware that no one was in the house today. That’s very good. I don’t like people being hurt. On the upside, at one point I saw something I will not soon forget. Jesus, Mary and Joseph... As much as I didn’t need any more visions directly before my eyes, the sight was fucking amazing and stirring beyond imagination. The morning had already been ruined, so no further damage was done, but at the same time I really do not need to see her again. I suppose if my mind is going to go insane, though, I may as well stand near the likes of that beauty for a few minutes. I will say no more. As for the housework, my timeline was interrupted but it doesn’t matter in the least. I still have plenty of hours left today to finish everything long before dinner preparations.

I wish I could understand the reason for the mountain scene. And then a glimpse of it through the door which told me it was burning pretty much forced me to think that I am not the only one out of my fucking mind. Julia keeps changing shit on me and I rarely get any clarity.

0812 on Monday morning. Nothing is well, although I am fairly pleased to have the house to myself, all quiet and comfortable. Pause.

1054 is now what I see on the little clocks. Everything is finished and I prepared some lunch which is waiting in the fridge. Nice. I need not leave the house today other than heading to the dairy to grab another ticket for tonight’s lottery draw. I may opt to walk over there because the parking lot is restrictive and unfriendly. I’ll probably pop over there just before lunchtime so the rest of the day remains wide-open. Ah, shit... There is Tammy. Jesus fucking hell would I love to show her how appreciative I am of her unique appearance. Fucking hell, anyway. That girl is a category all her own. Whatever. There will always be something. Tammy is one of those forms that appears every few months and always causes me to fall down a bit. Summer showed Hoyt her ‘best underwear’ and didn’t sway him at all. Had it been Tammy, I’m sure Hoyt would have connected with her immediately. What a girl. Anyway, all stupid, obsessive bullshit aside, the quiet within the house right now is wonderful. I have my show on the right-hand display and a nice glass of whiskey next to me. I also listed yet another knife for auction. The one which ended yesterday drew a mass of cash that was very unexpected. I more than doubled my money with that model, and I believe in the years between buying and selling, it increased in value without me knowing. Since I have redundant knives in the collection, I am glad I listed this particular model in the first place. I don’t need it, to be honest. I have two others which are similar and in better condition. Isn’t this exciting? Knives? No one gives a shit about my auctions. And there is Tammy again. I would give ANYTHING and EVERYTHING. Basket case; worsening.



20

Tuesday morning. There is a plan much like last Saturday which will kick off in half an hour. I am going to drive to the City again for a quick stop and then come back home. Afterward, I’ll feel much better because I need to be home as much as possible these days. Beyond this property are things I cannot control and concern abounds. I am only comfortable while here. I will have some hours to myself later, as well, and such a fact helps me to deal with leaving in the first place. A bit of reward, and all that shit. Switch.

1153 on the same Tuesday. My buddy stopped by earlier to borrow my bar key and then returned a few minutes ago to drop it off. Our conversation led to the idea of working, believe it not. There is a big job coming up which could yield lots of cash and I often feel the need to mire myself in the work in order to more fully appreciate all this free time and control over my atmosphere. He just laughed because the last few times I volunteered to help, the end result was me remaining home and avoiding being on the outside for a while. Hopefully my head can remain straight when the time comes or I’ll be labeled as unreliable, something I’ve tried hard to avoid. Anyway, it was nice to catch up a bit and now I am comfortable in my office with a cocktail and the goofy vampires. I’ll have lunch very soon, and I may run a load of laundry afterward. I may also opt to do nothing. The weather is warm and I have all the options in the world, but on the inside I am still worried and in pain. Memories interrupt my clear thinking almost every day. Everything continues to narrow, as well. The converging lines, remember? Death lies at the endpoint. When I need to be comfortable, nothing else matters.

I still don’t understand the fucking mountain scene. Why did she do that? Was her point the destruction of paradise? The entire scene was based upon the episode I mentioned earlier, and the operative word in the title is ‘paradise’, so perhaps she wished to force me to realize the value of the beautiful life in that place and then rip it away as a reminder of the fruits of my past decisions. Hmm. That had to have been the point. Usually when I realize something about myself she intervenes to confirm such knowledge. Nothing is happening right now, so I don’t know what the hell to think. At least I’ve tried to make an intelligent correlation. As for the current situation here in the locomotive, I still don’t know what to think because nothing has changed for a while other than Julie and I feeling the mighty engine slowing to a stop a while ago. Now what do we do? Sit here and wait? I don’t want to go outside because it is hotter than hell and knowing Julia’s haphazard behavior, the fucking locomotive may disappear. I guess we’ll sit tight and wait.

‘Do you know what you have to do?’
‘Shit. Go away, woman.’
‘I am a part of you. If I go, you go.’

Yeah... I really needed to hear that question again. I needed it like I need another fucking hole in my head. Julia has been posing that particular sequence for more than four years and I really don’t need to hear it anymore, although there is a compulsion inside me to seek the actual truth of the matter and filter out the answer. Once satisfied, perhaps both of us will be better off. If the answer to Julia’s question is forgiveness, I am in for a very long ride in this world. Julie is clinging to me, as usual, and thankfully. I need that girl close.

After all this time on straight rails with an unchanging landscape, the light is actually dimming. Maybe nightfall will be here soon. Julie has moved from my side to directly against me and facing forward. I wrap my arms around her just as I used to do with any number of women, most notably Andrea due to spending so much time together. This feels really good and is helping keep me calm during the dimming outside. I know something is going to happen, too. The joy in holding Julie cannot be overstated right now. Um... I now see a point of light directly ahead, as if some sort of aperture has begun to open in a circular pattern. The sun has all but disappeared; quite the odd sight considering I’ve been watching the sun melt into the western horizon for my entire life. Now? It is fading from the apogee of the sky. This is very strange. And... Gone. Darkness has taken over outside, leaving the cab’s gentle, indirect lighting to wash the interior as the point ahead increases in brightness. Something is going to happen and I sincerely hope it is not another diorama growing out of nothingness. I don’t need any more reminders of the past other than those I still desire. Nervous. Clinging. Julie is warm and wonderful up against me despite her concern.

‘Drive, mister negativity.’
‘Shit.’

I guess the controls await my commands to roll us into whatever is forming a great distance ahead. Unlock; motion; slow. I don’t want to cause anything crazy to happen right now because I suspect Julia is going to push the past into my head again. Twenty-five miles per hour seems fine right now. I don’t want the light ahead growing too quickly because I need to consider what she may want to show me. I am expecting another reminder of some damaging situation that I caused and I really don’t want to see it. Believe me when I say that I forget nothing through the long term, and only a few issues fade from time to time. The reminders don’t seem to help much anymore. I just end up feeling bad. Ah... Here we go... Her voice again...

‘The mountain fire represents that night. You know.’
‘Yes.’
Long pause.
‘I remember.’
‘The damage was and is chronic.’
‘I know. Why must you do this to me?’

Flash! Stop. Light all around.

I see everything now and am beginning to hate myself for being so cold and unfair. Damn it. Not a day has passed in more than twelve that did not find me lamenting my past decisions at one point or another, and each reminder (they pop up often) feels like another little blade scraping its way down my throat as I swallow what I did back then. I very nearly did it again, too, but that is another story. Julia should know that I went into all this shit with Andrea nearly five years ago on the site (more than twelve in reality, though), and to splay it all here again is only going to make me feel worse. One of the most troubling aspects of the passage of time is that it is one-way, meaning I cannot go back and fucking fix anything. I can’t move forward and perform repairs, either, so the topic only hurts me anymore. She has to know that. If Julia is trying to get me to release all that shit and let it go so I can live in peace, she’s in for a fucking battle. I deserve some of the suffering I go through each day because the damage was done and there is no going back. That was a massive shift in life. Laid out before us right now and clearly visible through the windshields is a yard full of people all happy and smiling. They are there for an important occasion that was more than a decade in the making, and one I figured would never take place. The sun is shining and the temperature is comfortable. Lots of food; lots of fun. Decorations are all over the patio cover. I can see the silly little antenna perched on the slope of the chimney that we had installed for satellite radio. The music followed along from day one as we painted and all the way through the current celebration I am seeing for the second time. I really don’t need this shit right now but it is in my head every day. I guess Julia is going to ask the question again soon, but if and when she does, I already know the answer. This fight will never end and I don’t give a blue fuck how many times she kills me.

Oh, fuck... This hurts again. I don’t like it, but I did it. I know everything now... No good is on the horizon because I won’t allow it. I can’t be good for another person because I am too far out of balance to understand why someone would want to be good to me. The imbalance is permanent due to my wish for chronic punishment for all time. There you go, woman. This is a red-letter essay for the ages. Wonderful.

‘This will not stop, lover.’
‘Bring it.’

The landscape is shifting again... Light dimming and trees pushing upward. The train is beginning to roll backwards and I’ve not touched the fucking controls. We didn’t even walk through the third fucking door, damn it. I was afraid, yet Julia threw me under the bus of memory regardless of my intentions. And Julie? I guess she is along for the ride if for no other reason than to provide a bit of comfort in all this turmoil. I avoided the damned door for good reason, but I guess whatever I wish just will not happen because Julia is in charge, like always. If that is true, what is the point of the fucking doors? I am damned either way.

Door three may still be there, though. I didn’t think of that prior to rolling the locomotive. Shit. Are we now heading back to the door? I am not in control right now and such a fact is making me very nervous. I’ve already realized that the worst damage I’ve ever caused seems to be Julia’s main point here. Shit. Door three... After knowing that I am to be hit in the face with the disaster of twenty-ten, I am scared to death due to what may be next. Fuck me, anyway. Such is my life.

We are still cruising slowly toward the origin of this latest adventure and Julie is as a part of me... Another appendage, albeit one which is stunningly beautiful. I mentioned before that her appearance began to change prior to the realization that I had been married to a fucking machine for more than a year. Well, as the moments pass, she is appearing more and more like Andrea of all people. Not that I have a problem with such alterations, but if her face eventually matches that of the angel from so many years ago, looking into her eyes will break me in half. Julia obviously has more than one lesson related to door number three. The locomotive is likely driving Julie and me toward that end. I don’t fucking like this very much, but at least the girl is attached to me, and the underlying comfort of knowing I have a loving companion certainly helps.

I have to get the hell out of this world for a while.

Another day has passed, and I can already feel that the arrival of Wednesday is going to cause issues in my brain. The time is early right now, yet there are memories and situations pulling at me. Ashley, too. She continues to come to mind because of the pivotal nature of our past conversations and the impact her mindset has had upon me; continues to have, really. Every day I think about those topics and the nature of life itself, much of the time both leave me feeling completely fucking empty and bereft of possibilities. My entire life has been boiled down to this tiny house and a few scattered enjoyments. Thank goodness for the latter, too. I need them more than ever. Thinking of the past brings up all manner of pain. I won’t go into the physical aspect which may soon find me in a prone position for comfort. Anyway... I had to close the garage just now because the gardeners are here clearing the yards, thank goodness. Once they are finished, I’ll open for business again and take care of some housework. Some other aspects of life have been creeping into my head of late, and yesterday pretty much cemented the idea that I am not heading in a positive direction, nor have I done so for some years. I can’t go into detail regarding such a topic (nor would I know how in the first place), but trust me it is something of which I began to dream of forty years ago while sitting on my bicycle atop Parkmeadow Drive and staring at a home. Cut to twelve years after that scene, and I was in a different house with much larger dreams. I identified with certain aspects of entertainment and fiction, often to the point of losing my way in real life for a time. And then two years after that image? The summer of wonder... Ninety-six. Two worlds combined into one and my dreams expanded yet again. Last night I was all over the map with this shit, too. By the time I fell into bed, my head was awash with impossible imagery. This morning I am fairly down as a result. Today will most likely amount to very little. I will try to avoid the ninety-six combination as it recently began to align with the media upon which I tend to focus daily. The sum is one of the most depressing aspects of my ability to think.

1024. The morning business is now out of the way and I have a nice, fat cocktail here on the table. The vampires are still running on the right-hand display, the cloud is here in the center, and the IDE to the left. All in good order, unlike my brain. I need to list another two auctions between now and Friday, the first of which will probably be this afternoon. One knife and one watch (cheapy watch). Ah, fuck. There is Portia and her unique facial features. What a fucking beauty. Across the table is Sookie. Not good. All she has is a pair of dark eyes. Everything else is pretty much annoying. Anyway, my plan is to offset the auctions enough to allow for shipping just one item at a time. During the cave period, I was boxing and shipping several packages for days on end, and that system meant I had to visit the big post office at the other end of town. I’d prefer to avoid too much at the same time. Jessica is eyeing a guy at the bar while dancing with Hoyt. Not good. At least I already know the outcome. Bad, but it’s fiction anyway. None of it matters. The rest of this day should prove very mellow. I have little good left in life, but being here during the day is still rewarding at times. I have to remember to appreciate where I am. It’s important. Oh... A priceless line from an idiot on the show...

‘I am a Christian, God damn it.’

Opposite thinking, dipshit. I just love it when a small-minded individual makes an attempt to rise to the level of those who are truly intelligent and well-thought, especially when the fuckstick is overly righteous. So funny. On an unrelated note from the same program, Arlene’s baby is one of the most hideous children I’ve ever seen. Some people push the idea that all babies are beautiful (much like ‘all brides are beautiful’), but the truth is they are most decidedly not. Some babies are absolutely ugly. Shoot me. I don’t have children, either, and if that disqualifies me from expressing my opinion, direct your attention to the person who owns this fucking website. Big smile!

You want pathetic thinking? I still need Ashley. I NEED her. There you go. Run with it. Not a single person in my life has come close to her beliefs. No one. I believe after all this time there is nothing I or anyone else can do about the mindset. Nothing. There is that word again. It is pervasive within the hallowed halls of this fucking site. I am quite certain the way I think in these late days is directly related to the way I felt about Ashley. No doubt. And? My distorted head is the key issue in the netherworld. And speaking of that fateful place, let us return.

Thursday morning is here and I don’t give half a shit. The only positives are the quiet house and lots of time to myself. Thus far, I have packaged an item to send out today and will be listing another once the coffee is gone. I may also visit the market later for a few important items.

1014. My daily routine is out of the way and I already finished a load of dry cleaning. One sold item is dangling from the mailbox awaiting pickup, too. This is very good for my afternoon. I will probably list the high-value knife for auction in a little while due to the aforementioned redundancy, and then see what else can go out the door. All of the typical aspects of a weekday morning are in place... Whiskey, vampires, and quiet. The cats are fast asleep. And just now I noticed that my neighbor is back from the cruise. I’ll have to go say hello and welcome them home. I see that the au pair is over there, too. She always smiles and waves to me. Very nice.

And... Fifteen minutes later and here I sit. I failed to mention my new flag routine, which is to fly Old Glory on its own right and the Norwegian flag to the left on holidays related to their royal family, today being the king’s birthday. This type of practice will make others wonder what the fuck is going on. Well, I don’t care. Norway is related to the forest in ways I will not spell out on the site. So, today is the first in a long line of holidays for which I will display that flag. I can’t disrespect the US, though, meaning the main flag will always be on its own right. I know of the federal flag code.

Soon I will leave this crap behind and have lunch coupled with the latest series I’ve been following. With some of the work out of the way for this morning, I don’t see any reason to avoid relaxing during the afternoon. The main cause of being here all the time is to care for the daily and domestic business of the home, and when I tend to my chores early, the reward is most often some comfortable time on the sofa with something on the big television. Oh, there are projects I could be tackling each day, but I must have the proper motivation and mindset to head in such directions. None of that has existed inside me for some weeks because the focus has been that of self-exploration and the seemingly endless search for understanding. Moreover, the aspects of life which have been completely absent for so long are beginning to release the hold this little house has on my willingness to continue in such a vein. That may be difficult to understand, too, so allow me a bit of lattitude with this shit. I can only spell out so much before the possibility of backlash becomes too strong. The point is that my attitude has been diminishing so much this year that I am basically pocketing even more issues than in the past. More shit shoved to the rear... Very bad. The afternoons are becoming as important as my thinking hours during the mornings.

Netherworld.

Julie is fucking beautiful beyond comprehension, and considering the way I think, one would assume that I feel like peeling off her clothes and indulging in those loving acts of the past. Nope. I need her to be here for reasons much higher on the scale than physical desire, most notably the idea of moral support. My rail journey through the frozen wasteland of self-discovery was more painful than anything I’ve experienced in decades, and I went through all that shit mostly alone. Julia was there with me for some of it, however at the time I did not know the true extent of her power. Now I do. I may end up stuck in this place forever, and no, I don’t mean outside the third door, the beach, or any other aspect of this strange world. I am referring to remaining the same on the inside. Nothing external. Or? Worsening despite the lessons being forced upon my psyche. I guess after so many considerations, Julie’s physical appearance or electromechanical nature really don’t fucking matter. Nice. I guess I’ll have to remain focused upon simply having a companion. Beauty means little in this place, whereas not being alone is a huge positive. I love and appreciate Julie more than I can put into words.

Backwards, still. We are moving slowly, and as is the custom in this desert, I see nothing more than low growth and sand in the rear view. No door; no movement; nothing else. Rails. I am assuming we are heading back through to the beach. Beyond the windshield in front is another story entirely... Mountains, trees, and a lake. Waterfalls. Birds flying. Nothing is on fire. I am beginning to think that Julia makes such changes to force me into seeing this world much like a dream, all foggy, haphazard and stirring. Much of what takes place here is unexpected to say the least, and watching a beautiful landscape growing in one direction as we head into seemingly painful territory in the opposite is about as jarring as anything I have dreamed while sleeping in the real world. That woman does not want me to forget anything. What she does want is something I cannot deliver, unfortunately. The other ‘f’ word. Nope. Kill me.

I see the door again as Julie clings to my back. Jesus... She can look over my shoulder while standing behind me. Tall? Much taller than mere hours ago. Taller than Andrea, too, so perhaps such a name will not be involved in this journey. Very good. I don’t want to hear it, anyway. The doors appear to be open as the locomotive slows on approach. Open? Last time they showed us an image of where we had been as destruction took over. Does that mean I will destroy anything beautiful and stable? We were there for a year, meaning stability. And then it was burning, much like the cause of so much trail smoke in my past. Julia is going to slam me with this shit forever, methinks. Not good. Neither of us can see any difference between the leading and following appearances. The ground and sky in front of and behind the doors are the same... Nothing but desert. We are slowing more; crawling.

Stop. Lock. Idle.

‘Let’s go see if the door is real.’
‘Ok, my dear.’

Julie won’t let go. I think she is concerned for my well-being as Julia continues to throw the past up in my face. I am trying to understand if the difficulties which keep piling atop one another will ever be enough to offset (possible bad word choice there, but fuck it) the damage I have caused other people. I may never know, so moving forward as Julie suggested seems the only choice. Every time I become angry and stubborn, Julia forces a change anyway, so what the hell do we have to lose? The weather is again very hot, much like at the other end of the rails. The beautiful doorway looms large just behind the mighty engine, and though I am at sixes and sevens due to all this shit, the sound of the idle still stirs me in a positive way. Hand in hand, we step toward the opening.

Flash!

One glance behind and everything is gone once again. The low brush appears just as my first visit to the negative material plane, meaning somewhere in the distance should be a resort. Ah... Yep, there it is. We must head for the only apparent respite from such searing heat. The door has once again placed us on the same plane, so hopefully the hotel ahead can provide us with some comfort as I try to figure a way to avoid Julia’s wishes. Maybe she will reach a point of realizing that I am far too resistant to change for me to entertain any more lessons or reminders. This has not helped me at all, to be honest, and the more Julia pushes, the less I feel like cooperating. If that is a failing in me, I don’t care. I’ve lived too long and plowed too much shit to just lay down and accept her wishes. Door three may have been nothing more than a return to the destruction from years ago. I resisted then and I will do the same now.

The hotel is growing and looks just like the backward, mysterious place where I first found Julie laying in the bathroom. I know what that was all about, too. Julia is not fooling anyone. The girl lying in a pool of blood in my hotel room was a literal representation of every relationship to which I have applied figurative knives. I already know. The difference now is that Julie is with me, alive. That much points to the idea that when we enter the hotel, things may be vastly different than last time. Hopefully it also means there is no gunman present. I wish that was funny.



21

‘Is my way of thinking wrong?’
‘Not to me, dearest.’

God bless her. Not only does she remain attached to me nearly all of the time, but her mind is as Ashley’s was, honestly. They could be sisters. Heh. The only downside to such an idea is that Julie, my little lover, is not real. Well, nothing in the netherworld is real except for what takes place inside my brain, so there is no point in such a point. Another ‘heh’ for that statement. Anyway, the hotel is growing ever closer and I find myself very nervous. Will it be a match to the other one from a few years ago, or will it be ‘normal’? There is no telling what is going to take place inside the resort. Julia is rarely one to provide us comfort without strings attached... Painful strings, to be sure. She has me considering the most damaging period of my life and I am very uncomfortable as a result. My stomach is upset. There had better be some serious comfort if the resort ahead is anything like what I’ve experienced in the fucking goblet, I swear to Christ. I need it, especially considering all of the reminders Julia has thrown at me recently. I fucking need it. For the love of God... Please.

I can see the structure more clearly now, and as we move toward the massive resort, I am finding that despite my mood, what I need most right now is hydration. Jesus. The weather is very hot and dry, much like all that time spent in the deserts of Nevada during the mid to late nineties with my dad. Whatever else may be inside the place, there had better be some cold water. Julie seems unaffected, of course, because she doesn’t need to intake anything but power. I still can’t get used to that shit. Oh, boy... If my eyes are not deceiving my brain, I am seeing the holy grail of memories ahead. That’s right... The Mandalay Bay is our destination. A place with both beautiful and hideous memories. Maybe we will be able to slide into Rumjungle for some quality food and drink. Not funny. Red Square, perhaps? Tons of vodkas from everywhere. Or? Holy fucking shit, Batman... Stripsteak? As I said, the recollections can be horrible. Two nights stand out in memory right now. Both the worst and best of my entire life were spent at the bar in that fantastic restaurant. I might lose my shit over this. And? I wish I could be there later this afternoon when the bar opens. Oh, what I wouldn’t give...

Fuck that. I need to focus because I know Julia is going to slice me open again, and that right soon. Julie and I have to get into the place and hopefully sink into the air conditioning and plush seating before I am hit in the heart again. And one more time for posterity and clarity, I am not feeling physical desire for Julie despite her fucking unreal and amazing appearance right now. Good God... I can’t believe that girl is fused to my arm. Onward.

I fucking love Julie.

The hotel is growing ever larger in the distance – much like the way Paradise appears while approaching from the south on Interstate 15; the resorts are so enormous that a driver cannot derive scale nor does the actual Strip feel as if it is closer no matter the miles rolling under their wheels – and I am anticipating sinking into a place more deeply embedded in my heart than almost any other when we finally arrive. That was a mouthful. All I need right now is Julie’s loving company and a distinct lack of that other woman’s voice for a while. Well, enough time to really find what we need before the inevitable slap in the face. Like a temporal causality loop, it has happened; It will happen.

How in the fuck was I supposed to know that all those trains represented me? My path? Everything I’ve experienced up to this point in time? That woman is going to piss me off. Eh, that doesn’t matter because as I’ve said on countless occasions, I am most decidedly not in control in this world. That’s too bad, because I’d love to grab my gorgeous companion and destroy something right now. Never mind. I must focus upon where we are and what may come next.

Wow. This place is as beautiful as the real thing, and believe me when I say that the Mandalay is one place I know very well. The lobby is a reminder of two exits, the second of which was very difficult because I did not intend to ever return home after running away. Right now? A very different situation is taking place because Julie is holding my hand as we cruise toward the desk. I see that everything around us – including the entrance and wide pathway into the south end of the casino – is as it should be. There are no half-this or half-thats, nor do I see anything out of the ordinary when it comes to people. I guess we are free to go check in. And? There is no need. When we approached the desk, the attendant simply smiled and handed us two key cards along with a small folio of information. Here we go again. This is like the last hotel. Ugh. To the room...

...and it is beautiful. Julie is as overjoyed as Andrea was when we rolled into the big room at the Venetian all those years ago, right down to the separated levels and huge bathroom. I was not expecting such an extravagant room, either, because the past has shown me that though I tend to feel like ‘someone’ when strolling the cavernous resorts of Vegas, the truth was I’ve always been nothing more than a dollar sign like everyone else. The only rooms which were above and beyond the norm were during the summer of aught-three and then the year of hell, twenty-ten. I think we can be comfortable here despite my concerns about the larger picture. Trust me, they are abundant and powerful. Julie just noticed that we have various levels of clothing in the twin closets, plus plenty of sundries spread across the big vanity. I guess we can lose any worry over looking loyally should we stroll the club later. Right now, I believe a shower is in order prior to anything else. I need to bend Julie’s ear for a little while and see if anything important can be gleaned. And she loves the idea of cleaning and primping so we can head downstairs and enjoy the lavish resort amenities. I have not heard Julia’s voice for some time now, yet I always expect it at any moment. We may as well sink into the gaming culture as much as possible because at some point all this may disappear... Again. As of this very moment, door number three has proven to be the most relaxed. Unfortunately, it is also the most painful. The shit I lit on fire almost thirteen years ago has been at issue and there does not seem to be any way around it. Not good. At least Julie and I can enjoy this place for a while.

Our elevator ride finished, we begin to walk toward Restaurant Row to find something cozy and warm for a bit of conversation and appetizers. This is right up my fucking alley, honestly. Nothing in life ever stirred me so much as being within the fold of the goblet and able to sink into whatever drew the most wonder. I am finally beginning to relax, thank the maker.

Flash! Ah... Fuck. Here we go again.

THE restaurant, and not one inside the Mandalay. Wow. Julia really knows how to shake the memories out of me, and this one is bad, but ‘was’ good (at the time). I very nearly wrote an essay about this place – solely about one particular occasion dating back nearly two decades – and never pulled the trigger. If my senses are acute right now, the fact may be that Julia is dredging up the most cherished memories from that period and throwing them in my face just to make me feel like shit. Well, it’s working. I know this place very well and the decor even better, for years later the place changed a bit – just enough to alter the atmosphere and nearly send me away the last time I visited (just four years ago). If my instinct holds, Julie and I might end up in another restaurant for no other reason than to slam the fucking point home and destroy me. Splendid. Maybe I should center my attention upon Julie’s choice of outfit and act out a different past. She looks amazing and is wholly aligned with everything over which I have obsessed for decades. Why not? Will I be hurt for such thinking? Most likely, I’ll be hurt no matter what transpires. Such is Julia’s modus operandi. I feel horrible right now and don’t want to grab a table. Fuck.

‘I want to trace all of you with my fingers.’
‘Anything you wish, my dear.’
‘Don’t tempt me, loveliness.’

If so, this would be the first occasion in a very long time finding me going after what I need most in life. Even while we lived in the mountains, I kept my desperate reach completely recoiled and allowed Julie to dictate the pace. At this moment, however, I am feeling very reckless and uncaring, meaning I’ll probably lunge and end up at the mercy of that other woman who is controlling everything. Part of me now believes she will allow only so much to happen – much like a wishful dream during sleep – and then snatch Julie away as if I’ve been awakened mere seconds prior to bliss. Julia has done worse, believe me. I am talking about being killed in one manner or another over and over until I fucking lost count. Whatever the case, I am quite certain that the fun will be torn away very soon. My brain just calculated dinner in our room, and at the suggestion, the beautiful Julie agrees. We are the fuck out of this strange place (I hope).

Once again, the room is warm and inviting. On the inside, I am broken. No matter how unreal Julie looks in skinny jeans and a tank, I can’t get the past far enough out of my head to do anything about it. The shitty part is she is all mine, for all intents and purposes, and though this world is not real, at any other time I would not hesitate to connect with her beauty and demonstrate a mass of appreciation for the same. I just can’t fucking do it. Unbelievable. Julia’s plan seems to be working because I feel terrible right now. All I can do is try to walk away from her lessons in order to find some semblance of comfort for as long as it can last. Inside, though, I already know that Julia has won again.

‘Flash!’

Desert. Hot sun. Low brush. Sand everywhere. And Julie is gone.

‘I feel bad enough as it is.’
‘Do you know what you have to do?’
‘Shut up already.’

I can't do it, and if that means I spend the rest of my life in this hellhole, fine. And once again, I am completely alone.

Friday morning is here and the house is dead quiet other than the power supply fan running. I need the quiet more than I can say right now, too. The media has been paused for half an hour and will remain as such for as long as I need to think this shit through. Yesterday added up to nearly nothing once I had lunch. I am losing my way more with each passing day. The memories and past situations which provided so much happiness will not let up on my head no matter what may transpire on a given day.

1120. I turned off the video media in favor of the music of life. Sometimes the choice is easy and feels necessary for me to think clearly and find the strength to place difficult words on the screen. My daily routine is finished and I went to the market for some necessities, meaning the remainder of this day is entirely up to me. Dinner will be a straightforward affair and can be prepared early so that the evening is relaxing. I’m going to simmer some lentils in water and spices and then transfer them into pasta sauce once they are tender. There is leftover salad from last night, so by the time I need to get everything together, only the pasta will need to be cooked. Very nice. This is one of my favorite types of meals, one which is not time-dependent and can sit and meld for hours. Even after all this time being home every day, the evenings are still pleasant. Thank the maker for that shit. The music sounds as if it is being run through a slow noise gate and I have no clue as to the reason. This machine is powerful and processes information at lightning speed, yet the audio section is pretty much ‘factory’. I may have to take steps later in order to smooth out the playback and rid myself of a very annoying issue. Right now there is little I can do aside from researching the problem, and that idea is not a priority. My glass of whiskey is to the left, like always.

After making some adjustments to the audio output, I am still hearing some sort of muting, cancellation, or 'gating' and it is irritating, to say the least. I'll have to do something about this eventually. Right now my head is awash with other, more pressing concerns. To that end, I have closed the garage for the day and separated myself from connections to other people. I need to be alone, and despite the fact that no one can seem to understand such a position, I tend to isolate anyway. They can take a long walk off a short pier. This type of day is a perfect example of what society has done to me, as well as the importance of avoiding a second cocktail prior to evening.

What the hell have I become? I feel like an alien to myself. So unhappy. Saturday is here and it doesn’t seem to matter in the least. Yesterday went as expected, too. Big fucking surprise. At least I have some nice coffee on the table with me this morning. I am planning to spend quite a bit of time on the computer today. Another auction, some work in the IDE, and then a bit of reconfiguration for the site itself. The office is once again as comfortable as it was years ago. The main difference is a certain someone special missing from my life. She knew just enough, but not too much. I wish she had known more. Too much was left unsaid; the opposite of the lovely Ashley. Or? The other one. No... Not her. Never mind. I feel bad this morning. I really do. Yesterday I could not believe the difficulty inherent in relaxing on the sofa during the early afternoon. Imagery was flying through my head at a high rate of speed and I felt powerless to stop it. I basically saw everything from the last forty-plus years. Too much, actually. Just too much of it.

1129. My routine is out of the way and I spent a couple of hours dealing with the web-related issues I caused with the other site. Everything is fine now – albeit temporarily until there is more content to share – and I once again have full control over the site and server. What a fucking situation I created. Anyway, the point is that advertising can begin for the business and there should be no more concern over managing the server. This is good. Unfortunately, my head is pretty fucking heeled over today and the feelings are like a black cloud hovering just above whatever I may be attempting. The site bullshit worked fine after some research, yet inside me is a fucking bomb threatening to destroy my entire life. This is a very bad situation. On the minuscule upside, I am trying to restore my old phone (which has lived for the last few years as nothing more than a music player for the garage system) in order to list it for auction. The phone is in excellent condition and I really don’t need it anymore because there are so many options for playback these days, most notably the new phone. Oy... I think the software is stuck because the other phone is pretty old and its hardware may not be able to handle the newer operating systems. I don’t care. Worst case? Nothing changes. Anyway, from here to the close of business hours, I have control over what takes place. Such a fact is a tiny plus in my vast ocean of minuses.

1436 is what I see on the clock and I am on the mobile platform for a little while. This day has proven to be very haphazard, yet I’ve been able to adapt to each change thus far. Sometimes dealing with alterations and interruptions in my typical day is difficult, but I believe today is not the same. I felt my head becoming a wasteland of lament earlier, and after hours of my routine being put on its ear, I realized the differences have kept me clear of what seemed like impending disaster. I am so fucking tired of feeling this way after years of having to deal with all the losses, but lately I am finding such an issue two-fold in that I sit here every day trying to push the emotions away while simultaneously learning that anger actually helps shove away memories. It really does. This is not good, of course. Everything forces me to focus upon the converging lines off to each side. I don’t like them because the point ahead seems inevitable. Jesus fucking hell are my ears ever ringing this afternoon. Something must have affected my hearing without knowing. Damn. I wish I could install an active parametric equalizer in my head. Fuck. Whatever. Onward and upward, as my buddy from the eighties used to say. I may end up swinging the hammer for a little while. The jury is still out, however.

Sunday morning. My head is sideways. And back to that other place.

Standing in the desert again. This time there is no door. In the distance? Rails, naturally. She wouldn’t put me here without something to draw my attention. This time, though, I am pretty sick of the situation.

The rails are partially covered with sand, as if there has been lots of wind. Or maybe they’ve been here unused for a very long time. In any case, a train is absent. No signals, switches, nothing. Silence out here. Which way?

‘Do you remember Steuart Street?’
‘That was a long time ago.’
‘Think about it. That was the first occasion.’

Fuck. Julia has me going back in time to the glow. I really don’t need that right now. There are already three huge negatives present (not to mention the negative material plane itself)... Julie is gone, my locomotive – the only semblance of power (illusion) in this world, and our lovely and comfortable hotel have all disappeared again. I am fucking tired of being pulled out of wonderful places in favor of this wasteland. And the fucking woman asks about something that took place more than thirty years ago. I tried to go to work for the railroad in the City. The entire picture had to be considered during that period, meaning I almost immediately turned down the temporary position in favor of a steady income. That was a door, believe it or not. It opened and I turned away. The wonder of that industry never faded, though. It was a door. Julia is prying me open like a stubborn clam right now. Many questions remain inside me, as well as a ton of regret. Door one was on the beach, yet I believe the real door one was back there in the City, and I did not walk through the opening. This entire shitaree just took a left turn. Doors. Hmm. I thought she was going to throw other types of decisions at me, but now I am beginning to think that one type eventually led to another, and the guiding lights of my life have all been shut down by yours truly for only one reason.

Door one wasn’t the first. The beach? I don’t know. There seemed to be a choice... One direction or the other. And then the mountains? What the hell was that about? Giving us a beautiful life and adapting Julie’s appearance to suit my obsession? What’s the fucking point? Wait a minute... Halt. Ah, shit. I think I may know.

‘You do. You did it.’
‘What does that period have to do with the railroad?’
‘One door always leads to another. There is no end until you give up.’

I avoided the first door. Did that choice lead to another? The period was wonderful... The glowing years, and regardless of my decision, I still know I was happy during that time. I don’t fully understand this. Unless? Ah... Another step, methinks. I may know when the next door appeared before me, and it was definitely not on the beach. I’ve gone over this but never connected a bunch of seemingly unrelated dots, for crying out loud.

‘Do you know what you have to do?’

None of these fucking doors are going to lead me to the past, and I have about had it with that Goddamned question. Eh... I am not in control here. Maybe I'll be hit by a train again for being so abrasive and rigid. I can’t go backwards, so what the hell am I supposed to think? Hmm. The first door; I was afraid. If that was truly the beginning, what was the second? Third? There have been three here in this world, and if I know Julia at all, she is going to create analogies and representations all over the place, yet still just enough to make me curious; not the whole story. Two doors on the beach. One led to the roundhouse where there had been six locomotives with images of people from my past. The other led to the desert and a railroad line. This is all so fucking confusing, although Julia told me that the doors are in fact not doors at all. They are merely passageways to places from which I am supposed to learn something. The real doors are all in the past. Marvelous. Being reminded of Steuart Street and the morning I was so excited to find an opportunity to be a part of something wonderful and a career of which I had dreamed for decades leads me to believe Julia is going to focus upon the other two avenues on which I passed some years later, and she is going to do it very soon. My confusion over the doors is beginning to wane.

‘What the fuck am I supposed to do about those doors?’
‘You don’t know?’
‘I can’t think and I am sick of being here.’
'Try, my love.'
'I can't.'
‘Fine. Die in the desert.’

And Julia is gone."



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