(We last left our hero leaving Deirdre's party to examine the mysterious Valentine's day chocolates)
I woke up suddenly sitting next to Deirdre at a lab bench. I was in Steve's room and had nodded off for a bit. Bass from the upstairs rumbled in through the ceiling. A lone desk lamp glared at us in the darkened room. Deirdre had already opened the box carefully with a razor, dissecting six of the chocolates inside. Their individual paper wrappers were carefully flattened and laid against an artists light board, glowing like little brown flowers. I watched as Deirdre took the corrugated cardboard backing out of the box and examined the little corrugations, poking at them with foreceps. I felt happy and tingly, flushed and drunk. I put my arm around Deirdre.
She shrugged me off. ``Not now darling, we're working,'' she giggled, then frowned, putting the foreceps down. ``I've been at this for an hour, David. Nothing. We could try the microscope, or open the other chocolates. They're delicious, by the way...'' She looked suddenly pensive. ``I should go back to the party before they think I've deserted them. I'm not convinced this isn't just some strange druggy paranoid delusion you're having."
She looked at me, at once serious. ``You should shave, David. Shower, put on some nice clothes for a change. Really, It's not hip anymore to wear so much black. Lay off the alcohol and drugs for a month or so. Take a vacation in the country, get some fresh air. This is my advice to you.
``Crash here if you want, just lock the door when you leave. If you want to come back upstairs, you can use Steve's bathroom. Swipe some of his clothes, he's about your size. Okay?"
I looked at her serious face, entranced by the cute little vertical line bisecting her brow, the small double parentheses framing her mouth, and all the little sparkles dancing in her eyes. ``Thanks Deirdre, sorry to bother you. I guess I'll crash here, it's cold out."
Deirdre left me sitting at the table as she rushed back to the party, leaving a palpable trail of light and health and beauty. I looked at the pieces of chocolate, threw them all into a plastic bag along with the box, and left the apartment. I felt buoyant.
The night was bitingly cold, the sky that awful soupy color you only find in coastal cities at night, but the lights from the skyscrapers were lovely and warm and cheerful. Ten thousand eyes of man winking at me in the night, comforting me in the confusing cold.
I got home, the bums asleep on their gratings, the doorman gone. I went upstairs. Polka music still played on my stereo, trapped in infinite repeat. Black lights lit the glyph covered walls and undulating lava lamp. I dumped the bag of chocolate on my television. Something flashed bright purple in the bag. There, written on the cellophane wrapper around the candy box in bright ultraviolet purple: ``MEET MICKEY NOON 2 DAYS USUAL PLACE"
Jeanine, my dead ex-lover, who these chocolates had been intended for, had a black light in her apartment too.
Meet Mickey! Mickey! Alex took the negatives, but I still had proofs over by the developing trays. I grabbed a bottle of tequila, and rushed over to examine them. I couldn't see them very well. I took off my shades. Not much better. I sighed, turned off the black lights, and turned on my overheads. I swilled a bit of tequila, and squinted at the proofs. Vacation photos. Disney World. One had Princess Di holding hands with Jeanine, smiling. Another had Jeanine and Mickey Mouse standing next to a hotdog stand.
That's it! That's where I would go! Disney World! In two days! I laughed and drank more tequila. I no longer thought Jeanine's pimp had killed her. It wasn't that simple. Maybe the royal family had discovered some sort of affair between Di and Jeanine and Elizabeth offed her to avoid further scandal. Maybe Jeanine was supplying designer drugs to Walt Disney's brain, supposedly in cryogenic suspension, to keep it actively producing block busting animated feature movie plots and a competitor, movie, or drug, had done away with her.
Now all I had to do was call up whoever gave me those negatives and get the scoop from them.
Who gave me the negatives... Ah yes, negatives...
Alex? No. He stole them from me.
That closet transvestite cop I had under my thumb? No.
My contacts in the Weekly World News? No.
I drank more tequila for inspiration. I stood on my head. I did a jig. I snorted some coke and sang ``EdelWeiss'' a quarter note off key in ancient Sumerian. I couldn't remember! I snorted methedrine and drank absinthe and ran outside screaming ``Negatives! Negatives! Who gave me the goddamn negatives!'' until the winos woke up from their grates and applauded and windows opened and people shouted at me in sleepy Boston accents to shut the fuck up you jerk.
I went inside and collapsed dizzy on my floor, staring at the worms crawling on the ceiling.
I had no idea who gave me those negatives, or even when I got them. Sometimes I miss having a coherently connected net of synapses that can fire without constant outside chemical stimulation.
I ran outside again looking for my car. I knew I had several, stashed in odd places. I knew that for all my rough manners and appearance I actually had a lot of property, and a lot of money, in numbered swiss bank accounts, in my mattress, in the Vatican.
I ran around the area for a while and found my black Porsche a few blocks away. Panic suddenly seized me. I hadn't packed! I ran back to my apartment, flew up the stairs, and threw the door open. I stuffed a black medical bag full of the myriad little bottles and film containers and foil squares that I keep in my freezer. I found my works in the bathroom and threw them in too along with a toothbrush and toothpaste and a comb. I stuffed bottles of tequila into my big coat pockets and, just in case, stuffed a wad of hundreds in my pants. There, packed. I travel light.
Much relieved, I went for the door but couldn't open it. I tried to collect my squirming brain together. I felt afloat, brilliant, motivated. I had a purpose. Genius-laden plans swept blindingly through my head, wave after wave of them, crashing on my frontal lobe, washing up bits of mice and black ears, styrene yoghurt containers, guns and all-night diners, frantic french waiters in blue overalls plying arc welders to customers' faces, desperately screaming out orders in polyglot alliterative prose. I stood quite still, waiting for the perfect plan to congeal.
Sweat slowly dripped off my brow onto the floor, where mice and insects gathered and licked it up and danced around insanely to the polka beat, finally collapsing in hysterics, convulsing in their last fevered hallucinogenic thoughts. But this did not concern me.
My planning intensified, plans incomprehensible to mortal men lashed and foamed at hurricane forces through my head, images of satellites and cosmonauts, central heating and hot dog stands. Ten thousand years of spam frozen in the outer atmosphere of saturn, the pyramids, pyramidal saturn spam franchises! Yes! Pyramidal saturn spam franchises! No, I realized, that was an old plan, not appropriate here.
Finally, the winds died down, leaving only broken corpses of planets and wieners, ashes of rebels and ruins of obelisks. And there, in the midst of it all, in the very middle of this plain of entropy stood my plan, solid and gleaming like gold, in letters a hundred feet high, and three hundred feet wide: DRIVE TO DISNEY WORLD. MEET MICKEY AT THE HOTDOG STAND. FAKE IT.
My god, I am a genius.
I found the door. Went to the Porsche. I looked for keys in my coat. Not there. I heaved a rock through the passenger side window and let myself in, feeling vaguely criminal though I was breaking into my own car. A shrill car alarm went off. Damn, my own goddamn car. I disabled the alarm and hot wired the ignition. Damn it, I was too tense. Two valium, a xanax, and a swig of tequila should do it.
I drove off, keeping the north star in my rearview mirror. I should be in Disney World in a day and a half. Just in time for the meeting. I popped a tape in the stereo. It wasn't mine. None of the tapes were mine. Some idiot left their tapes in MY car!
(stay tuned for the stunning conclusion next issue)