Poof - Chapter Two
POOF - Eric Foster's Happytime Hot Springs and Unusual Event Center
Boulder Colorado Summer Adventure © 2022 tenderbastard.com
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This novel is fiction, except for the parts that aren't.
Inspired by Jack the Hot Spring Dog and some other stuff that actually happened.
“Never be afraid to trade your cow for a handful of magic beans.” - Tom Robbins
“When rock turns to air I will be there.” - Jack Kerouac - Mexico City Blues
“We are each alone with our ritual. Lettuce should be torn not cut.” - Rima Miller, actress and yoga instructor
“There's a Starman waiting in the sky. He'd like to come and meet us, but he thinks he'd blow our minds. - David Bowie - Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars
"If you want to make an omelette you have to break some legs." - Osiris the Alien - Happytime Hot Springs and Unusual Event Center
Other titles by tenderbastard - Two Chimps and a hump — Sticks and Stones ~ How the West Was Wonderful — Thank You for Being My Boy ~ A Dog's Memoir
CHAPTER TWO – What's it Take to Escape Spirit Lake
HOW DO YOU GET TO CARNEGIE HALL? “Practice, practice, practice.” Eric got from Spirit Lake, Iowa to Boulder, Colorado in the 2008 Hyundai Elantra he'd bought for a hundred dollars. Yeah buddy. It had two hundred thousand miles on it, but the timing belt had been changed and the price was right. There were two repairs it needed and Eric wasn't in the mood for either. The rear driver side passenger door wouldn't open. That ruled out Ubering and Lyfting as a second job. Eric thought he'd watch a DIY youtube video, but it needed a special tool he didn't have and didn't want to buy so he passed. The other issue was the CD player always said, “Loading” although it was perpetually not loading. Eric decided he'd be perpetually good with the radio. The gods were looking down upon him favorably.
The Elantra had been a neighbor's, a friend of his grandparents who wanted Eric to have something safer and more reliable for his trip to Colorado than that blasted Blazer he'd been driving, a farm vehicle, which meant before Eric got it, it had never left the farm. If it broke down or something went wrong it could be towed to the barn and worked on there. It smoked like a fish and guzzled gasoline like a sailor. That was like something Osiris the Alien would say when he checked in to Happytime, began instructing humans in Higher Awakening, and started studying English at Boulder's Language Academy for Aliens, never realizing they meant foreigners from around the world and that he was the only student from another planet. Eric told his neighbor he'd return the favor when he got back. He wasn't coming back to Iowa, or earth. At the time of Eric's departure from his hometown smartly at the dawn of June, nobody was selling space travel insurance, not even his neighbor who was an insurance agent and half alien on his mother's side and a quarter on his father's. Spirit Lake had always been a refueling and re-staging area for aliens in this part of the galaxy, especially the ones that enjoyed fishing and boating. The new clerk at the grocery store? Alien. The guy at the bait shop up for some rest and relaxation? Alien. Judges, cops, lawyers, county commissioners, city council members? Alien, or half alien, having married into the social fabric of Spirit Lake's quaint midwestern charm and extraterrestrial layover culture.
Nobody knew what the somethingness of nothingness would be like. People thought Marley was the sun with a hangover, Aurora Borealis, the Northern Lights, with no sleep because its neighbors were partying in the parking lot behind their apartment building all night. You'd've wished that's what it was. If it'd been the Northern Lights they would've appeared fifty to a hundred miles above earth's surface, energized particles from a solar storm causing upper-atmospheric gases to glow. Marley was coming to slap the crap out of humanity.
Labor Day celebrated the American worker, put out of business and imprisoned in their homes when the Laughing Disease Shelter-in-Place Order was imposed, nailed to a cross in the highest standard of living on the planet. More people were put out when Osiris the Alien showed up looking like Jesus. His fashion choices were Jesus, Elvis, or some other guy named John Wick. Tisk, tisk. Labor Day begged the question, “If labor was so great, why didn't everybody work a double shift?” It was the symbolic end of summer and start of the school year, celebrated with partying, barbecuing, domestic violence, and racial profiling. There was to be no school that September. Anything on anybody's calendar after August would just have to wait indefinitively.
Labor Day was signed into law as a legal holiday in 1894, by President Grover Cleveland. He John-Hancocked the document, passed out a few pens, then told everybody, “Get back to work.” Spoken like the alien he secretly was.
Buddha's detractors were ignorant and intolerant. They hadn't worked anything out with or without meditation and yoga, chai tea and tai chi. The Buddha knew he was beaten so he followed the wisdom of Charlie Chan. “Smile when your heart is aching. Smile when your wind is breaking.” That was like something Osiris the Alien would've said. The Buddha had moxy. Better he'd had a hand gun. He never saw his homeland again, but he did get an amusement park named after him, Dahliwood.
Geronimo's bible. There's something Antique Road Show would've liked to take a gander at. Interviewers always wanted to know how the G Man fought the US and Mexican armies simultaneously, to which Geronimo casually replied, “When we fought the Americans we used bullets. When we fought the Mexicans we used rocks.” Geronimo went to the reservation nine times and skedaddled as many. The G Man wasn't fond of living confined to a reservation. If you've ever lived on one you know why. “I'm having reservations about going to the reservation.” He'd learned the art of walking away from a bad deal. Years of dogged pursuit and soul-crushing standoffs against the two militaries left Geronimo's leather-worn skin cracked all around, along with his will to carry on as a free agent against Western White Expansion and Hispanic Domination. Each time he arrived at the white man's fortress, he was quick to announce, “This is some hairy-legged bee-ess right here.”
He could read the writing on the teepee even though his English wasn't so good. Shortly before he died he became a Christian, specifically a Catholic, his reasoning, “I fought 'til we were none. I went from savage outlaw to featured player in Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, cavorted with white women like David Lee Roth in the early 80s, and despite my horning in on their women-folk, was lavished with the white man's smug praise after they decimated my people and our culture. What's a good kicker to get out on?”
Given said bible, he was asked why he converted. Thinking to say, “Cavort, convert, you-say-poh-tay-toe-I-say-poh-taw-toe,” with a wink-wink and a nudge-nudge he explained, “I think your gods are better than ours” concealing a wry smile. Like the Buddha, enough had become enough. Reflecting on what he'd said and done, having never allowed his conquerors to make him feel conquered, he sat cross-legged on the ground before his Sears and Roebuck wigwam, sighed, bowed his head in reverence to the sacred earth he'd previously worshiped, turned to page two hundred and one in his bible, and passed to the Great Beyond, his last words, “There's a star man waiting in the sky. He'd like to come and meet us, but he thinks he'd blow our minds.” Years later David Bowie put those words in a song. Many a white woman weeped for Geronimo, skirts above their knees and blouses off their shoulders, flowers in their hair, a tearful twinkle in their eye.
Who or what was there to greet Geronimo in the Happy Hunting Ground? Not the Buffalo. Their numbers had been extremely discounted. The faithful warriors who followed him until only nine were left? They were gone too. His welcomers were a greasy band of naked Viking warriors yelping, baying, and beating their shields, to which the G-Man responded, “Put some clothes on. You're embarrassing your parents.” Knowing Geronimo to be a great warrior, they put on some pants and slunked home.
Eric also owned the hand mirror Cleopatra gazed with self reflection upon her countenance and beauty one final time. She'd heard Marc Antony was in town, petitioning her devoted affections and unwavering loyalty for his plan to gain complete and utter rule of Egypt. His best come on was, “We've got 5G.” In earth's final twelve-month cycle, some surmised Laughing Disease might've been caused by that cellular networking fifth generation phenomenon. Some things were forgotten then found again as if for the first time.
An example of that theory, one evening in the early 1960s struggling songwriter Willie Nelson was sitting in famed Nashville music hangout Tootsie's, downtown on Broadway, sipping a beer, his first wife, Martha, tending bar. Ferlin Husky came in, higher than the temperature in Juarez, Mexico in July. His career as a popular country singer was in full swing. So was his beer buzz. Martha said, “See that guy,” referring to Willie. “He's a great songwriter.” Husky waved her off. Willie went across the street. Ferlin ordered a beer, slammed it down, went across the street, and half an hour later came back with his arm around Willie.
“Everybody. This here's Willie Nelson. He's a great songwriter, which I am the discoverer of.” Depending on how they dangled their participles, Ferlin's were dribbling in his beer mug and Antony's were dragging on the ground. Cleopatra wanted to smash the Roman general's with a Wack-a-Mole mallet. Willie wanted a job in the Nashville music business so he put up with Husky's stultifying ego and overpowering breath. It wouldn't be the last time someone in this story displayed a heinously heaping helping of halitosis.
Marc Antony had been racing around the base of the Pyramid of Giza like Zero Mostel in the musical A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, calling Cleopatra's name into the inky darkness.
“I never should've encouraged that guy,” she confessed, knowing early on the relationship would've never worked. He didn't believe in aliens. She let them take her into outer space. Potato, poh-taw-toe.
“We'll rule the known world, our empires combined, Rome and Egypt. Whatta' yuh say?” Marc Antony blathered. We now know the known world he was referring to wasn't all the world there was to know. Some things took time to get off the ground. When Marley struck, earth took about five seconds to get off the ground.
Cleopatra was seated atop the Pyramid of Giza like a potato waiting for its growth spurt to sprout. From what we know she was no potato. She had it goin' on. If she'd been alive in the 1980s Parliament Funkadelic's George Clinton would have heralded her as being funk-a-licious.
Night-workers labored around Cleo like lobbyists trying to get their pitch in to any Senator who'd listen. Generations of workers had slaved twenty four seven, three hundred sixty five days a year before the calendar had three hundred and sixty five days, for three hundred years. The Egyptians had the manpower. Alien engineers had the mental gymnastics to bring it together. Into the air, up the stones flew.
Under the tutelage of those Alien Engineers on that particular evening workers were amassing their brain power in a unified levitation-meditation to lift an eighty thousand pound stone vertically four hundred feet, placing it exactly-compactly next to an identical stone so that a piece of parchment couldn't fit between them. That was cosmic craftsmanship, what Osiris the Alien would refer to as Higher Awakening.
Marc Antony was so enthralled with his quest he didn't see enormous boulders flying off the ground all around him. He hadn't learned the concept of Optic Flow, viewing the world panoramically, being aware of parallel and coinciding thoughts and images while maintaining a centered mental focus.
The daily royalty grind had turned boorish for Cleopatra. She'd grown weary of dominating the masses. Wake late, let other people dress you, sacrifice someone to the sun, tell the army when and where to march to, lunch, sign some paperwork, take a stroll, wrap up loose ends, call it a day, milk bath, beddy bye, wake, repeat. There was no school for queening. She'd watched her mother do it and gave ruling a nation a twist of her own. Her proudest achievements weren't forcing people to succumb to the rule of Egypt, and it wasn't moving complex mathematical calculations forward. There were Eskimoes in the frozen Arctic doing that. And they had fifty five words for 'snow'. Her greatest achievements were founding a non profit for wayward concubines and a feline rescue shelter for cat gods that met the eventual fate of all gods. They simply went out of fashion.
“Let 'em eat cake, marbles, rocks, let 'em devour one another fer Chrissake.”
Not to knock it, it was good to be queen, people peeling grapes and fanning you, all that kneeling and bowing at your expense, not having to look at people when they talked to you, the fabulous massages, getting your toe nails painted while being told the crop yields and how many cows were in the kingdom. Everybody wanted something from you.
“Cleopatra this.” “Cleopatra that.” Give a girl a break.
And e-v-e-r-y-b-o-d-y wanted to tell you how to run the country. If one more person told her how to put her sandals on she was going to request her alien friends send a meteor to bust up the planet. That's why she was atop that pyramid, that and the fact Marc Antony wanted to play Gregg Allman to her Cher. Gregg and Cher made an album after she left Sonny, Allman and Woman.
Antony couldn't read the fine print on the papyrus in front of his face. In erroneously bad judgment he suggested, “Let's take a milk bath.” The onyx cat snapped. He'd peed on everything from Rome to the hinterlands of his empire. Cleopatra knew he'd urinate in her milk and call it Kool Aid.
What she didn't know is that she'd be gone in twenty four hours, before days had twenty four hours. She'd seen and done it all and was bored and ready for a new challenge. She would've worked the cash register in an organic food coop. The New Atlanteans took her off Giza, out into space. Noting her disappearance, Marc Antony sighed, “I have that effect on women.” He held on to her hand mirror until the flesh fell from his body. No one knew he'd had it so no one noticed it'd gone missing until it turned up in Eric's cosmic lunchbox. His artifacts had arrived in a blue orb he vaguely remembered until he arrived at Happytime Hot Springs and Unusual Event Center and rejoined Osiris the Alien.
“I've come to return this.”
Another significant item in Eric's possession was a lens from the telescope of Niklaus Copernicus, 1473–1543. Copernicus was a Renaissance astronomer/mathematician who'd announced, “The sun is the center of the universe, not the earth,” irrespective to Aristarchus of Samos saying the same thing eighteen centuries previous. Nobody listened to him either. Some things were forgotten then found again. The Polish astronomer had been 'getting to know the mystery', studying as much of the heavens as was known, discovering earth was round, not flat as had been popularly supposed for ages. The Church and State, which was just about everybody who was anybody, were not happy. Niklaus was right about earth's roundness and centrally locating the sun, but it was merely in the middle of earth's solar system, not the full scope of the Milky Way Galaxy or entirety of the universe. That anomaly was left for Al Gore to bring to light.
Imprisoned by religious leaders for telling the world the planet was round and not the center of the universe, Milky Way, or even the solar system, Niklaus further outraged the status quo by reporting that salami was the best lunch meat in a time when it was widely believed pickle loaf ruled the sliced meat department. Under the edicts of the Catholic church, pickle loaf was fully licensed, sanctioned, and blessed by the hand of God as the best table fare for the noontime hour. How dare Copernicus contest long held tenets certified by men in tall hats, taking a thwomping for his disrespectful revelations concerning the planet, getting nine years for that sacrilegious screed and another twenty for the salami thing. Most people removed the pickle pieces from the meat before they ate it so there was another example of what was said not being what was done by the majority of people who adhered to a belief until it came time to put it on the pavement and take it for a spin, or lay it between two slices of bread and chow it down. It was like saying, “Budweiser is the king of beers.” Who died and made Budweiser king? Everybody knew Guinness was the greatest alcoholic beverage in the universe, maybe just the Milky Way, or only a piddly solar system. Anyone who hopped in and took a bottle for a spin agreed. It answered that age old question, “What went well with hashish when you could find it?”
Here's a compulsory list of what Eric lugged to Happytime Hot Springs and Unusual Event Center. He didn't know he'd find the orb then go on to share a love divine and top it off with a trip out along the Milky Way with Osiris the Alien and his spirit guide, Andy the hot springs dog. An earthling couldn't have planned or prepared for that. There just wasn't enough cosmic knowledge in the five percent of brain power humans had been firing on in the final year of their earthly existence to see that sort of thing coming.
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