09-14-2020 10:34 pdt

The archive has been reconfigured for better organization as per section. Soon the 'diary' which makes up most of the titled essays will become a simplified 'dated' format. Titles are no longer necessary outside the realm of the fiction/nonfiction. They are merely intervals.




Send in the Clones

Part Eighteen

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"'That was necessary, my love. Face it.'

Julia. Damn her loving, ferocious manner and voice out of nowhere. She echoes within me. No sooner do I hear her words when I find the yacht is gone again. I am on that golden sectional and sitting in front of a large, console television. The entire family is present. What a fucking slam. No Jaime in the past, I guess. If and when I get back to the huge yacht... Well, I swear to Christ it had better have a bar. I need it.

Her voice follows me everywhere... Ethereal, haunting, and beautiful.

Unsatisfying, worrisome, and unending. I do not want to be here again, but at least by knowing the differences between the later years and my time in this house, I can see the appeal. The sectional, the enclosed patio, the dog there lying on the floor as he always did. So cute. I see it all but do not believe I am really here at this moment. I seem to be detached, floating, or otherwise unable to be fully involved in the events I see playing out. There is no knowing. I can see, I can feel the air, and this may merely be a reminder to cement the fear I have felt ever since realizing that six words could have destroyed any chance of me being comfortable in my own skin.

The collision of three worlds has me spinning. If I am going to continue changing places and switching timelines, can I at least appear back in the pyramid and wrapped around Jaime? Please? Anyone? I guess not.

And back on the couch again. Coffee. Will Smith on the television. Warm outside. Cats quiet. I have gone from one place to another and then another so quickly that I cannot get my head around it. If I can pause for a few minutes and get myself together, maybe I can figure out what Julia is trying to show me. One thing for sure is that I am going to sit here and think for a while before something else happens. I still can't believe that the world of fiction and the world within which I am now mired are switching places, as if they have converged somehow. I just don't get it. And I know that since I am here in the living room with my coffee and computer, nothing is under my control. In the other places I can effect change but here? Nothing. I already know so I plan to sit tight until such time as I am taken elsewhere. Not a lot of choices right now. That woman brought me back out of the story for a reason, though. Hopefully I can find it. In the meantime, I have to request that returning to that day on the sofa is not something I would care to repeat. The feelings run deep and I haven't even fully analyzed their impact upon my life. I doubt anything will go as I wish, but I have to try.

'Please don't send me back there again. It bothers me.'
'Tell me.'
'No.'
'Please, lover... Try.'

Fuck. I cannot say no to her.

Julia asked once before of my past, and I ended up completely screwed. The most difficult situation imaginable played out and I still don't like everything which happened or my reaction to what she placed before me. Well, if she was the one responsible. I still don't know. I suppose I have to do as she asks, though. If I am to get out of this never-ending world-switching fucking mess, she will be the help. Nothing I can do is isolated, nor can I control what has been happening. If I want Jaime back or answers as to all these events since the desert, I had better make nice with the tall, beautiful, and scary woman. I don't like it, but here goes...

'Sometime during the early eighties I was taking guitar lessons from a gentleman in the local music store. I honestly never did well, and ended up switching back to drums, as I had practiced since roughly fourth grade. The guitar was too much for my dexterity at the time. My parents had picked up a used acoustic guitar from the same store. Those nylon strings and what is referred to as 'high action' combined to make it difficult. They didn't have much to spend, so anything was fine. My teacher played an electric without effects. The sound was amazingly full and clear when compared to my instrument. I wanted to graduate to such a level which meant lots of practice between lessons. Most of that was at home or my friend's house. He was versed in guitar and bass. Since my guitar was acoustic, there was no playing through headphones. It was quiet, but could still be heard throughout my house. That meant others heard my playing. On one particular occasion, being overheard turned my day upside down. Bad, but not right away because I did not fully understand the implication for many years. Now? I have realized the full weight of what seemed so simple at the time. I have recalled the afternoon in question and what was said several times throughout the years, but not until just recently have I begun to relate it to other situations and my subsequent reactions. I still don't know if it means anything.

I had overheard a simplistic melody at some point -- probably the television, because the music to which I listened was too complex to recreate with my hands == and tried to find it on my fingerboard. I had been playing around with harmonics and octaves, and said melody involved two harmonics. Just messing around with no real direction, like when my buddy and I played our music in the garage later. We would just start somewhere and let it lead us. The melody in question hit my fingers and I was overjoyed to find it at long last. And then my dad recognized the song and spouted a line which made me recall the entire song, from the sixties, I had thought. I kept playing a little to become accustomed to the fret movements and sped up when I figured I could handle the changes. Then my dad made us all laugh by changing a line from the song to 'my dog has fleas', and the laughter ensued. That was right on cue and very funny. Years later I would be changing song lyrics to make others laugh and my dad pulling the funny out at the time may have prompted me to do the same. Not everything was funny that afternoon, though. One more line which rhymed with the previous was about to be uttered by my mom and stick with me for all time, possibly forcing me to question myself endlessly as the years have gone by. To this very second, as well.

"My dog has fleas."
"My son has a social disease."

The very idea of blurting something like that in order to make others laugh is something I would have expected from the schoolyard or possibly a bar atmosphere. From my own family? Reprehensible, yet I did not say a word. Nothing. I ceased the melody and switched to something different, and a tune I knew they did not know. I did it purposely and as a knee-jerk reaction due to being shocked by her words and not comprehending the reasoning behind them. I played, quietly, for a little while longer and then vacated the house in favor of the street. They would hear nothing from me for some time, and never did I take issue. Not then, not later... Never. I held on to the words and lived my life. Period. Many years later I feared that bringing up such a situation would leave me very angry and my reaction would be unpleasant. I also believe that the few occasions in which I had harsh words toward my parents were driven by that memory being buried inside. Every now and again it came out, just a little. One fateful day I really blew up at them, but it went nowhere and was unrelated.



857



The definition of those terms has changed quite a bit over the years. One mutation is an STD or STI, which has nothing to do with what was spoken. Having never asked, the assumption has been that I was identified with some issue which was tossed recklessly and without feeling. Unfortunately, the context and meaning at the time are forever buried. I was awkward, introverted, fearful... If that prompted her to speak in such a manner, I kind of wish she was in front of me right now. The reaction would be vastly different.

There have been numerous reminders of those words and not a calendar week has passed by in which I was not acutely aware of the lasting effects, although I did not fully understand. Still don't, really, but I keep trying. Combined with what took place a few years prior to the afternoon in question, I have become quite the product of too many fractures to list anymore. Day after day.

There you go. Does it help you?'

Nothing, as expected. She only wanted me to speak for myself. Splendid.

I am still sitting here in the warmth, and only eight in the morning. Yesterday was very warm and the temperature inside was very uncomfortable, although the fan helps. Part of the problem was the smoke lingering due to our wind changing direction as the heatwave came from over the hill, and that brought more smoke than usual. I had to close up the house early yesterday morning and run the ionizer. That means the moisture inherent in these little cracker boxes continues to build inside due to no ventilation. This morning is different, although still quite warm for the hour. I have everything open for whatever air movement develops, and if the smoke remains at bay the house will be drier than yesterday. So far, so good. The sun is bright already. Later will be hot but I can deal with it like always. As long as I can keep the humidity inside the house to a minimum, we will be much more comfortable. Unfortunately, I sit here expecting to either hear mysterious words from Julia or be transported yet again. If so, I am hoping to be in the goblet again with Jaime. All I ask is some decent time with her so I can get my head together. For Christ's sake... Please. Some calm for a change.

No voice, no nothing. I am listening to the neighbors as they reign in their garbage cans. I have no idea what is going to happen. All I can do is wait. I caused myself discomfort this morning out of weakness and I feel as if I have not the strength to learn or grow. Perhaps once I feel physically better the memory will help me to avoid such a situation in the future. Hopefully.

More garbage trucks, bless their work.

For some reason I am feeling hopeful today. Where did that come from? Six months of being home is right around the corner and I am still pleased with my decision to leave a job which was becoming too much, too difficult, and more than just the physical aspect. Something will come along. It always does.

And... Flash! I am on the bridge, Jaime clinging to my arm, and there is that fucking haunted hotel from beyond the confines of the real world. Time to move south like always. If I can get us to the damned Luxor, perhaps we can sit together and try to figure things out. I already gushed the fucking shit story to Julia and am beginning to regret it. Very few individuals know of those words, and often I was seen as being overly critical of their possible impact. Those people were promptly told to fuck off, and I'll do it again. I do not know the answers, but I do know the power of that afternoon. If it had been trivial, everything would have faded by now. Nope, not a bit. I am still in a fucking hole and convinced that not everything is my fucking fault. Suck it, people. I am a good person, and must keep in mind that even the negative parts of my developing life had a hand in forming what I am right now. Bad things sometimes force good things.

Walking again, opposite the gorgeous Monte Carlo and its beautiful architecture. Damn, such a nice place. Jaime is like another appendage again. Her warmth is holding me up. And she looks like a dream... Absolutely stunning from head to toe in black stretch pants, booties, a sleeveless silk blouse and her hair is everywhere, flowing, wavy, and fragrant. I have to keep in mind that the last few times I lusted over her I ended up disappearing and heading away from comfort. I want to jump her shit every conceivable way right now. DAMN she looks good, all smiley and affectionate. Looking up at her profile drives me insane. Like Andrea, my instinct is to let go and fall behind to watch her walk, but again, I may end up someplace else. No sex. Not right now. I need peace and quiet to calculate where Julia has been trying to take me and why. The past is never easy, but there are many lessons to be taken from those times, and Julia has been with me from the beginning and trying her best to help. Whatever takes place from this point forward, I have to keep her intentions in mind.

Closer to the pyramid and my big spa room. I have to look back and see the big dragon... One glance for posterity. There he is, perched atop the huge carport and going through his motions with fire here and there, tail wagging. I really don't want him after me again. Nor the man with the guns. Ugh. Just Jaime, please. Further down the boulevard and directly in front of MGM's big lion head, we adjust to cross the bridges and head toward the castle. I have to recall that in the nineties the resorts were not connected as in the future. Once through the Excalibur we will emerge in the sunshine again. The whole thing is strange. First there was but one resort in the middle of nowhere, and then the entire town appeared, but as in the past when I first discovered all of the changes through the early part of the decade. My dad and I went there to explore the exotic new hotels and see the sights. That is how everything looks right now. I don't get it, but maybe the time I was happiest is the reason. There was possibility back then and the future was open to me. The last few trips in eleven were very down as I had been realizing that my life may be heading nowhere. The feeling was like a shadow following along at each step and ensuring my head did not forget that I had put myself in such a position. A constant reminder of all I had fucked up. No matter how many pairs of loving arms were wrapped around me, the knowledge that eventually I would be miserable stayed right there... Just behind my pained eyes. Whatever the cause, it worked.

Into the castle, hand in warm hand, and out the other side. Sunshine and cool air. And on into my home away from home for what seems the tenth time in very few days. Jesus. I keep thinking of the story I told to Julia and the possible impact it has had on me over the decades. Just a few years after the traumatic event which altered and affected every single thought in my head, and I was put down with a cold, insulting observation from a family member. As I see the massive, cavernous hotel opening up over my head, one wish is apparent: I want to go back there and change my reaction to her cutting words. I cannot. I was there for moments and did nothing, although the scene may have been nothing more than a flashback. Like Scrooge, I may not have been able to affect change, only see things unfold. I must learn. And I need to dive into Jaime's fucking pants. Bad. Holy shit, how can I be thinking of such things right now? Well, some comfort is what drove me to run out of town over and over, and whatever came along with it. At this moment I feel as if we are between events, changes, or lessons, and once again have been dropped across from the Dracorum, so why not enjoy some time together? Hopefully nothing dramatic takes place in the meantime. That could be bad.



868



The hotel is so beautiful with lavish greenery and all that desert-colored theming to transport visitors out of the concrete of Vegas and into a mythical, historic land. I always feel the same wonder when entering through the main doors. I recall the first time walking in with my dad as well as a trip to Disneyland in the later part of that decade. That was my initial exposure to the Indiana Jones Adventure, and something I will never forget. It was magical, from the long queue area and immersive beauty of the theming to the smell of the air conditioning inside the main show room. I was floored by what they had created and the experience drove me to design even more lavish and complex homes when I had the chance. I was in love with the look and feel of everything, and strolling into the front of the Luxor brings nearly as much wonder. And right there on my arm is the very definition of beauty. I need her so badly that the fear of disappearing again may drive me out of my mind. Maybe I can hold so tight that if I do move to someplace else she will still be against me. Maybe? Ugh. I just need her.

Inclinator, hallway, one peek down at the obelisk, and into my big room at last. Or, sooner? Something? Walking in makes me feel as if I was just here a few minutes ago. Damn, that woman keeps moving me from place to place and I have lost my sense of time and direction. Thank the maker I still know my way around the strip. Way too much of my life has been spent either traipsing between resorts, searching for companionship and loving arms, or coming in on approach and staring at the hotels' sprawling properties. Way too much fucking time. I know it so well that whenever arriving in the goblet after being gone even a number of years, everything comes to me instantly and I feel as if I belong, unlike anywhere else in the world. Worlds? Eh... Not right now. I need her against me, and I need the peace of my room for a while. Please, for the love of God, let me remain here long enough to relax before I am thrown into the fire again. So tired of thinking.

Nice and quiet. Arms around the woman of my dreams and I feel like I am right where I must remain for as long as possible. God damn she smells so good, like a combination of fruit and flowers. Hair. Jesus.

'May we just lie down?'
'Of course, my love.'

Shoes off, and then onto the big bed. Holy shit do I ever need to remain still and appreciate the moments in which nothing is crazy. Only calm right now, and the machine holding me as if I am a newborn. Wow. I just hope it lasts. But it doesn't...

The sound of my electronic lock whirring. Someone is coming, and the last time I heard that sound was the fucking gunman there to kill me for the umpteenth time. I don't need that right now. I grab Jaime's hand and yank her into the bath as the door opens and then softly closes. My heart is racing and there is nowhere to hide. Into the closet, but damn it all my head bumps the wooden hangers and the sound is like cars crashing. So loud. I just gave away our location. There is nothing I can do but place Jaime's loveliness behind me and wait to see who it is. She whispers that we will be ok but I have no idea of her insight. Sometimes right on the money, other times all fucked up, and generally just before I flash into another place. Fuck, not now, please. Let me at least see who entered. And then the click of heels at the entry. And then quiet steps on the carpet. Wait a second... Heels? A woman? I have to see. Jaime wraps her arms around my torso as I poke my head out enough to see into the salon. There before my eyes is what appears to be another fucking Jaime. What the fuck? A smile and extended hand in my direction. Ok, this is a new one on my head. She is dressed precisely as the woman attached to my back. No more questions, damn it.

'Two Jaimes? What the hell?'
'I am not Jaime, dipshit. I am Jolene, and I am here to accompany you everywhere. Hold on tight, sweetheart.'

Fuck me running. Jaime pulls me around and grabs hold. The hug of dreams. And now I have to deal with ANOTHER fucking woman. Did Julia do this to me? Crap, anyway. We stroll back into my salon and take a seat as Jolene(!) perches her lovely self on the opposite side of the room. She sees my expression as I am about to speak and immediately raises her eyebrows and a finger as if to stop me. Ugh, what now? Another one telling me what to do? Jolene said she is going to accompany me. Hmm. That means I am not going to be remaining in one place for very long, damn it all. My head quickly descends into the idea of the new twins being nude and all over me. I just can't help it. Two of them, and they are identical. Does that mean Jolene is also a machine? Wow, the possibilities are spinning. Just as my brain computes all four breasts in my face, she speaks with a tone unlike any other.

'Get your head out of our pants, please. We have business.'
'Yes, ma'am'.'

Shit. That could have been one for the ages. Two at the same time without fear or intimidation. Oh well. Business. Splendid. I honestly don't want any more serious crap right now. The last several days have had me killed -- or at least running for my life -- so many times that I could use a fucking break and something enjoyable for a while, but I guess this new woman (or whomever) is not going to be what I am hoping. Jolene seems serious, and that means maybe I can get more information. Damn does she ever look good sitting there in the same outfit as the woman holding my arm right now. Back and forth my eyes travel and realize that Jolene has every detail. Next to me is the dream of a lifetime and something for which I have yearned over and over for a very long time. If Jolene is the same, I have to find a way of keeping her with me. She said we'd be together, and hopefully that does not mean Jaime will be going away. I need her and she knows me instinctively. Part of each moment in this place has me thinking of her and staying together. I love her.

Jolene suggests we head down to my favorite lounge to have a drink. I can then listen to what she has to say. I'm not looking forward to it, though, because every time Julia wished to clear the air I ended up with more questions and pretty irritated. I need no more of that crap right now. Stuck here for days, shot, burned, fallen... Everything. Shit chasing me from all sides. All the while? Gorgeous women all over the fucking place. I just need to understand. We all stand and head out the door. I have not been to the Nile in some time. I loved that little bar. Either Jolene is misinformed or things have changed since entering the Luxor a little bit ago, because the Nile has no lounge. Only the steakhouse, so maybe that is our destination. Inclinator. Jaime is wrapped and I love it. Jolene? Arms folded in defiance. Still stunning, and I still want her, but she probably knows everything in my head anyway. I see little reason to give a shit about her sternness. As we exit the angled elevator, I see that we are not in the cashier corner of the pyramid anymore. Huh? We are on the opposite corner, and the very place where Nikki and I went up to my room on that nervous night. Things have changed again? Hmm. Lots of hmm.

Aurora.

Oh. My. God. Unbelievable. The time must have shifted because I see Flight across the way and the Aurora lounge jutting out and into the lobby, and a little further left shows me that the corridor which connects the Luxor to the Excalibur is there as well. We enter, up the steps by the rear of the bar, and after moving out into the big lounge I see in the opposite direction that the bridge to the Mandalay is also there. This must be current time, or at least as far ahead as eleven. Wow, my favorite lounge. Jolene hit that one right on the head. We take to the chairs and Jaime slides down onto my lap. Bless her mechanical mind. Love it. Jolene seems to disapprove. I can see it all over her face, and I don't give a fuck. Jaime is all mine and I intend to stay connected. As my hands wrap her tiny waist, Jolene's expression softens. Very good. At the very least I need to be comfortable. Telling me no to anything at this point will not draw a pleasant reaction. Maybe she knows that, too. Whatever. Jaime is a fucking dream right now.

No servers are approaching as Jolene begins to speak.



869



'You're dreaming.'
'What? Like... Sleeping and dreaming? No way.'
'Deeper than that, my dear.'
'What will bring me out of it? I'm sure you already know that I've had it with this continual business of changing places and times, being chased as if I've done something wrong, and then having my lover ripped away over and over. And that is putting it mildly.'
'Shut up and listen.'
'Okay.'

Damn, but her words are forceful. I thought I was going to take charge and get somewhere, but fuck me if she didn't shut me down. As Jaime places her lips to mine in a loving gesture of support, it's time to be quiet. Jolene has all of me right now.

'Dreaming, my dear. Everything with which you have come into contact is a representation of something else in your life. The fact that you were shot and either fell or jumped off high places without dying is because of the dream. It will continue to happen until everything ends. The gunman is you trying to affect deep change and realization that you can indeed rise above difficulty and maintain yourself as you've wished. He tried, but you did not understand. There you go. The dragon is a giant fearful figure which is inside you and trying to take over, leaving you afraid to reach or try something which can help you with the same. He is out there to get you to fall down and relent. Giving in to fear and walling yourself off even more than you already have.'

Deep breath. Somehow, I knew she was going to point the finger at me.

'And the train?'
'You have been gathering, compacting, and carrying so much proverbial baggage that it could only fit into boxcars, gondolas, and massive hoppers. Do you see? Baggage that you should be letting go a little at a time. All those memories which you continue to rehash and complain about are destroying you. Decouple, lover. Let it go. Let it all go, please. You are holding too tight.'
'Stop. I need a break.'
'Take whatever time you need.'

All my fault. I need a fucking drink... Now. I rise and gesture for the clones to remain where they are. Unreal, but I walk away from Jaime to whom I have only wished to be connected constantly. Well, right now I have been taken off my feet by Jolene's words and I need to let them sink in deep before hearing more. Will there be more? To the bar, directly, where the servers are gathered due to an empty lounge other than my party. I steer clear of the six breasts which are damned-near falling out of three dresses and round the corner to see my bartender smiling in wait. One scotch. Swill. Ahh. I am not going back to the table until I can steady myself some. A glance back to what appears to be a mirror and reflection of Jaime just on the other side of the table. Wow. There is no such mirror, but I could swear Jolene is a reflection. Exactly the same, right down to the eyelashes. Clones. Unbelievable, but I suppose if this is a dream, why not recreate the most beautiful woman I've seen? Right? Two of them. And despite the information catching me upside the head and likely the most important I will hear, my brain still wants both of those women all over my face. Fuck it. Why not? Swill. A smiling refill, healthy tip and shake of the hand, and now I must return to them and listen more. This is not easy, and exhausting in a way with which I am unfamiliar.

From a distance, the table appears as a dream in and of itself. Both of them sit there waiting patiently and representing more beauty than I can possibly describe. Incredible. I still drift toward snatching them and running back to my room for extensive experimentation, although the likelihood of such bliss is nil. I have to hold the fucking line and listen to all Jolene has to reveal. I have been waiting for answers all this time and am finally hearing things, but still I have little hope of ever leaving this place or ceasing the changes. For the moment, I have to hear her. To the chair, and between the clones.

'The train, my dear.'
'What about it? I hate that thing.'
'You have so much baggage that your stubbornness will not let go. The cars were never filled with your feelings, only shit from the past. You must rid yourself of everything.'

Fuck me on a roadbed. I have to go run the damned train again? Last time in the locomotive had me journeying into another passenger car and dealing with all of the 'J' women who told me they were representations of parts of myself. There were no other cars at that time, and the other train seemed to be in some sort of wasteland. I really have no desire to repeat any of it, not even Julia all over me with her nakedness. Not worth it. She needs to tell me more.

'What do you want me to do?'
'Take my twin back out there and dump all the cars. Spread them randomly and keep in mind that parts of your past are in there and in need of dispersion. You will not do very well in the future if there is no letting go. The result could be very unfortunate. The dream will never end. And I want you to think about everything, but not in the destructive terms you now embrace. Think about each item as you decouple. The times when you were hopeful and what took place in your life to cause the good feelings. The events, the little things in between which linger just behind your eyes. I know you. I know how you hang on. All of it, my love. Do your best. I have confidence in you.'

Damn. Deep inside I know she is right, but I fucking died next to that train. I had thought the incident was not my fault. At the time all I saw was low fuel, and shortly thereafter ended up stuck in the middle of nowhere without options. Could I have caused the locomotives to die off? Did I miss a switch or something? The last thing I want is to go out there into the wasteland again and traverse the rails without clear answers. Spread out the cars? Really?

'The last train did not go so well. I was scared out of my head, for Christ's sake.'
'I know. Just try. Remember my words.'
'Okay.'



855



Damn it anyway. The idea of going back out there is not something I had wished for. Even with my loving Jaime next to me, I cannot help but worry that it will not end well. Not only did everything go to shit in the snow, but Julia directing me into the fucking passenger car shook my life unlike anything in the past. I have no wish to repeat such a thing. And now I am prompted to ask because even all this time later I am still reeling from what took place there, not to mention the second fucking car full of women. Do I ask? Ugh. I have to try something. Information is good. I slide next to Jaime's side of the table and take her hand. As I receive that big, blue-eyed smile, my brain relaxes enough to push the words forth.

'Tell me about that car. I need to know.'

Jolene squares herself and leans to me. 'You are the one in control of where you're headed. Yes, you've taken missteps and made mistakes here and there, but look at you right now. Still intelligent and capable of anything. Both of the passenger cars were situations which illustrated your strength and ability to survive. You did, even when faced with something so damaging and frightening as the past which changed your life. You made it through.'
'I don't feel so great about either of them.'
'I know, but you must keep going.'
'Fuck me.'
'Your loving companion is here because without some measure of control, you will not be very cooperative. I know it. Julia's influence has been shoved aside more than once. You need her wisdom because it has been buried inside you for decades. The only way for you to survive is to follow along. Jaime can help keep you grounded.'
Gone.

Flash!

Desert. Scorpions. Heat."



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