Abridged Chapter: The Mission of Marcus

They paused.

The afternoon was growing late. They had prepared for what seemed like months. Xanto had trained Marcus on what to expect. Now it was time for Marcus to begin his journey. It would take days. There was nothing left to say. Neither remembered the time long ago when Marcus had first run this type of errand for Xanto.

Xanto wondered if the greatest archers would pause like this after lining up their shot. It wasn’t that he was contemplating not sending Marcus. Now that the time was here and all that was left to do was set him off on his way, this pause wasn’t a validation as much as a taking in of the world before it would become changed forever.

Godspeed my friend, he thought as he smacked Marcus’ horse.

Now the waiting. Xanto pondered what could be done in this time. How would the journey change Marcus? What would transpire during this time? He wondered not if Marcus would succeed, he knew that he would. The world seemed to be changing, and not of Xanto’s design. He wondered how the world would be when Marcus reached his destination, if the payload he carried would be right or even adequate to the task. He felt a nervousness now that he hadn’t felt in a long time.

Perhaps it wasn’t the world changing that was so concerning, but Xanto changing his mind about poking a stick into such a dark place. Saxstonia certainly had other priorities and this move might throw the kingdom into a civil war.

If character is measured by the punches that you don’t throw, and regret is filled by the shots that you don’t take, humanity must lie somewhere in between.

Molting Is More Painful For Humans

Xanto stepped into the clearing, if you could call it that. There was a break in the trees that opened up to the sky which was gray and dark. He didn’t remember this place at all. It didn’t seem completely foreign but he wasn’t even sure that he had been here. Like a place seen for the first time after being pictured in a dream.

A stone bench stood above the grass. It was taller than a bench made for sitting, more like an altar really. He certainly didn’t remember this. How long had he wandered? Aged and weary from the journey, he disrobed and laid on the bench, arms outstretched. Facing the sky he closed his eyes and threw his head back. It started to rain. It was a cold, cold rain.

It seemed to take forever. Weeks passed, there was no day in this place, only night. Xanto didn’t even bother to meditate, what was to be seen here? The rain finally stopped, or maybe he just couldn’t feel it anymore. The sky was clearing. Stars were appearing in the night sky, and a finally a slight glow. Xanto wasn’t even sure if it was coming from him at first.

“This is so much more painful for a human”, Xanto remarked, “at least as a phoenix you molt quickly in a pyre of warm flames. You are finished and reborn within an hour and I am days even months.”

The Phoenix appeared suddenly but was perfectly still as if it had been standing there invisibly for some time.

“It may seem an unpleasantry Xanto”, it said, “but this is a miracle really, especially for a human. Try to dwell on the positive, it will help things along. Change is hard. I believe it must be painful for a phoenix but I never remember. At least you keep your memories.”

“The memories prove to be just as painful.”

Total BS

We spend all this time writing songs and plays and movies to convey the way we feel to other people, instead of just telling them how we feel, Mostly out of a fear that they don’t feel the same way about us.

So let’s apply some game theory here.

Person A likes Person B, Person B likes Person A, one tells the other = happiness x 2

Person A likes Person B, Person B likes Person A, they don’t tell each other = miserableness x 2

Person A likes Person B, Person B does not like Person A, Person A tells Person B = awkwardness x 1.5

Person A likes Person B, Person B does not like Person A, Person A does not tell Person B = miserableness x 1

Choosing to act yields a chance of awkwardness or happiness, but not acting at all assures misery.

Super Glue

Super Glue is one thing every dad needs to have in his junk drawer.

Every toy that breaks is instantly the favorite. Despite being literally ignored up until the moment before it broke, it is now something that life can not go on without.

Some people think that you need a freakish radiation experiment gone bad, a seemingly endless supply of money, and a cool exotic ride (unless you can fly of course) to be a super hero. All you really need is some fresh batteries, a screwdriver, and a tube of superglue.

Original Protection

The film starts, the film ends,
Just sudden moments from someone else’s story,
Hours filled with conversation, no attention paid.
Will it ever be the same again?
Too distracting convention, no need for friends

This girl I know needs some shelter
She don’t believe anyone can help her
She’s doing so much harm, doing so much damage
But you don’t want to get involved
You tell her she can manage
And you can’t change the way she feels
But you could put your arms around her

I know you want to live yourself
But could you forgive yourself
If you left her just the way
You found her
Will it ever be the same again?
You’re original, with your own path
You’re original, got your own way.
She’s a girl and you’re a boy
Sometimes you look so small, look so small
You’ve got a baby of your own
When your baby’s grown, she’ll be the one
To catch you when you fall
Because a dream starts, and a dream must end.
Will it ever be the same again?
I need to hear that again
Sometimes you look so small, need some shelter
Just runnin’ round and round, helter skelter
And I’ve leaned on me
Now you can lean on me
And that’s more than love, that’s the way
It should be.

Late to the Party

It could be said that I know enough about body language to be dangerous. That is to say I only know a little bit. I just don’t communicate that way. At least I don’t think I do. Maybe I do it without knowing.

There are many reasons not to be late to a party.

I walked into the room. It was dimly lit but not dark. A few shades darker than warmly lit. People were sitting around in a circle. Some of them were smoking, some were drinking, some were doing both. I was doing nothing. The vibe in the room was that they were having a good time. This was a good party, and now there was something new coming into the mix…me.

A party is an evolving thing – a product of the partiers, their activities and conversations as they come and go. In showing up late to a party you are bringing a new element into something that already exists. Like an animal from the wilderness that happens upon a people-populated area. People typically do not like change. If they are happy with the group the way it is they may look at you with a frown. You stand a chance of not really being accepted into the mix, forced to circle the group instead of being a part of it. They will never tell you this, they just smile politely. I imagine there is a body language clue to this that I can’t pick up on because they all seem to do it in unison. What I can tell you that I see when this happens is that they practically ignore you. You feel invisible.

Or, maybe there are people that like that change and look forward to it.

“This party’s getting stale”, they think to themselves. I let them off the hook with my awkward entrance and attempt to lighten the heavy mood I’ve brought in with humor. Sometimes I try too hard to make people laugh and that comes across even more pathetically than not trying would have.

Whether they like change or not, someone new changes the mood of the room.

My girlfriend had been there for a while. Funny thing is I can read the chemistry of a room when I walk in even though I don’t know much about body language. Its like there is this residual energy that I can see. Its as if the laughter and energetic conversation from a party rises and turns into cloud that you can just barely see.

Her face was flush. She had been laughing, much of which could be credited to the guy sitting next to her. Their mood fell when I showed up. I took a seat almost opposite of them in the circle. I was accepted. Not that it mattered much, the party was about to change again as a few people were leaving.

You can get in late to a party and take advantage of a change in the room as some people are leaving. This way you are not directly to blame for the vibe changing.

I am grateful for this because I was considered a square by these people. I am fairly sure I was. I didn’t drink back then and I’ve never smoked. My saving grace is that I can be witty, and if I manage to pull it off without making it look like I am trying as hard as I am, I consider my presence at the party to be a positive addition.

Despite the wit I have the reputation of being a quiet, funny guy. This is because in groups I only say things that I feel contribute to the group. I am very conscious of not saying anything that would weigh the group down. Sometimes I think something I say is going to lift the mood but it actually backfires. These are the worst.

Shortly after my arrival the guy sitting next to my girlfriend had to leave and go to work. It must suck to have to work overnights. She called me over and I took his former seat. Odd that I didn’t find it warm.

This actually happened to me a second time. Years later, another party. I show up late. This was the kind of thing it was ok to show up late to. People weren’t sitting around in a circle, they were spread out around the house. Some were in the kitchen; some were in the living room – some were outside on the patio. The older you get the more parties tend to spread out as people are more confident in who they are and don’t need to cluster together in circles of mutual admiration and acceptance.

Walking into something like that you can act like you are just coming from one group to the other. I approached the garage where my wife was talking with another one of the party goers. I was acting like I had just come from the kitchen and as if the revalry there was boring me so I had now come in search of fresh party experience. Real breezy.

As I approached I noticed how close they were standing, this guy and my wife. Toe to toe. He was wearing her like a pair of broken-in blue jeans. An effortless and assuming posture existed between them. They were comfortable with each other like two people who have had a long standing affair.

Boy, did that take the air out of my sails like a strong wind that suddenly stops. The mood kite I was working so hard to project so high dropped like rock as if it didn’t belong in the sky at all.

I wasn’t the only one who noticed this chemistry. The guy’s girlfriend broke up with him that night because she thought he had “hooked-up” with that girl. His girlfriend was a nice girl too. She laughed at my jokes.

We still have to see that guy on occasion but whatever chemistry they had is gone now – at least when I’m around. You never know how I’m going to effect the party.

Xanto Epilog

Twilight was fading now and Xanto didn’t know how long it had been since he first sat down to watch the sunset. Darkness was falling across the land and gloom had settled upon him.

He looked over at the novels he had written. He would not be king. He would not marry the princess. This was not his destiny. His dream grew cold and distant like the now very faintly glowing coals of the previous night’s campfire.

There was a peace about it though, much like the peace an artist feels after putting the last stroke of paint on a canvas. He now saw with clarity and perspective the complete story.

At least to this point.

Teletext Vengence

Toomey rummaged through the box looking for a digital cell phone with J2ME. Found one. Powered it on as he walked outside.

CONNECTED

Started walking. Downloaded a java telnet app. Did this thing have T9? Installed. Started tapping out text through the keypad…

telnet mail.emarketer.com 25
220 mail.emarketer.com ESMTP Sendmail 8.12.10
helo vengence.emarketer.com
250 Hello vengence.emarketer.com [42.115.20.19]
MAIL FROM: justin@emarketer.com
250 2.1.0 justin@emarketer.com... Sender ok
RCPT TO: maillist@emarketer.com
250 2.1.5 maillist@emarketer.com... Recipient ok
data
354 Enter mail, end with "." on a line by itself
Subject: Ron is a prick

If you are tired of getting spam from Ron. His home address and phone is:

Toomey retreived a post-it note from his pocket and continued tapping…

Ron J Lift
2049 Deer Run Road
Provo, UT 82099

811 232 1951

Do feel free to let him know your frustration no matter what the hour.
.
Mail queued for delivery
quit

Wearing the slightest smile now, he powered off the cell phone and tossed it into a nearby trash can and returned the post-it note to his pocket.