[LNH/ACRA] Adventures Beyond Comprehension #4

cabbagewielder at yahoo.com cabbagewielder at yahoo.com
Mon May 29 16:36:15 PDT 2006

   Crystal in:
   Adventures Beyond Comprehension # 4
   The Duct Tape Incident
   Plot by Jesse N. Willey
   Story by Tom Russell Jnr. and Jesse N. Willey

	The first time someone abducted me, there was a bright light.  I
thought, perhaps, that Jesus was coming to visit me, to commend me on a
the way I had lived my life in His steps.  I know it's improper to
think that I was any better than anyone else.  After all, I was a
sinner just like all the sons and daughters of woman born.
	But I wanted to believe it.  I wanted to believe that I was special,
and important, that perhaps Christ in His Divine Might had a task he
had chosen specifically for me to perform.  That I had some role to
play in the grand scheme of things.  That my small, insignificant life
counted for something.
	I was a little disappointed when the light faded and I found myself in
a dark, leathery room, seated in a massage chair.  There was a table,
and on the other side there stood not the Christ of my dreams, but a
tiny gray man dressed in a button-up shirt and gray pants.  He glowed a
little, dimly reflected in the leather interior.
   	On the table, there were two cans of what I assumed was soda.  One
was marked with a stylized, diagonally-slanted A; the other, B.
	"Ah!  You're awake!" the gray man said.
	"What's going on...?"
	I was groggy, my eyes were still adjusting to the darkness.  I was so
	"Drink this," he said.

	Somehow and against my will my mouth opened.  He poured a little bit
of Soda A into my mouth.  It tasted like some strange combination of
7-Up and Lemon Pledge.  I coughed and wheezed.

	"Would you describe that as 'unsatisfactory' or
 	"Uh, putrid."

	He did the same thing with Soda B.  It fizzled gently down my throat.
I had never tasted anything quite like it, and I haven't since.  I
quickly guzzled it down.

	Maybe I was in Heaven after all...


	The last time I was abducted was a different story. (This story, in
fact.)  It's about this guy I know, Dalton Asters.

	I'm not quite sure how to explain him.  He's something of a nut, a
conspiracy theorist.  The big problem is that, nine times out of ten,
he's turned out to be right.

	He rags on me a lot about the strength of my religious convictions,
and he gets to be a bit over-bearing.  Once when I was getting dressed
(Dalton waited in the bathroom, a gentlemen with an aluminum-foil
covered fedora), I caught myself hiding my crucifix behind my sweater.
I stopped myself immediately, and I've always been very conscious to
display it with pride.  I will not let Dalton compromise or define who
I am.  I will stand for what I believe in.  Just as, in his own way, he
always has.

   Dalton says I'm wrong.  Says that the Bible can be explained away on
a mythological level.

	"So, he's in a cave, right?  You do know what the cave is, right?  It
appears in lots of mythologies.  It's a metaphor for the womb, right?
Which plays into the whole birth/re-birth, resurrection theme."

	That's not the worse part, though.

	"Seriously, Crystal, look: Jesus, King Arthur, all the Old Kings on
the Mountain, they've all come back from the dead in caves, pits, or
other dark wet holes.  To save their chosen people."

	It's not even the way he presses on after I've made it clear (with a
"hmm" or a slight cough) that I'm not interested in having the
conversation.  It's not the way he keeps at it until I have to say
something in my religion's defense.

	"How many of those Kings in the Mountain were around two thousand
years ago?" I countered.
	"More than you could possibly imagine," he said, very off-handedly,
like he was tossing off gems. That's what pisses me off.  The way he
has to be smug about it, the way he has to be quotable.  We've never
had an actual conversation about anything: it's all just some game to
make Dalton feel and appear superior to me.  (He has more in common
with his old acquaintance Andrew Weinstein than he lets on.)

	Why did I put up with it?

	Well, he made me feel important, like I was a part of something bigger
than myself.  Like my life counted.  So I could ignore his smug
psuedo-intellectual act for the most part.

	And so I went on an adventure with him.  An adventure that was beyond
my comprehension.  And it all came to a head that dark night around
three a.m. when he had me stop the car in front of a wooden telephone
pole in Montreal.  We were there as a favour to Weinstein; that favour,
in turn, would save the habitat of a couple of Sasquatches
(sasquatchi?) that were friends of Dalton.

	"So, what's the plan?" I asked.
 	"You walk up to the lamppost.  Look for a piece of paper that says,
'Lost Dog, responds to the name Simon'.  It should be held up with duct
tape," Dalton said as he took a sip from his Big Gulp.  "You take the
duct tape and drop the paper in that trash can."

	He quickly pointed to a trash can behind the car.

	"And why do we need the duct tape again?"  I said again to be polite;
Dalton hadn't explained what it was for.

	He looked at me, not for the first time, like it should have been
obvious.  "Hidden in the duct tape is a nanofiber that contains
information on who-knows-what.  It could be some really advanced piece
of alien technology.  Or it could be the answers to every question
mankind has ever asked.  Maybe even the lyrics to 'Louie, Louie'.  All
I know is that Weinstein wants it."
	"I thought you said Weinstein could never be
trusted," I told him.
   	"He can't."
	"Then why are we here doing his dirty work?"  Well, I knew the answer
to that: our furry friends Pete and Jenn.  But I still didn't like it.

	I went to the pole and followed Dalton's instructions.  Briefly, I
glanced at the photo of the dog: scruffy looking buzzard.  I wondered
what happened to him.  Was he dead?  Did he come home safe?  Was he
never lost?

	Did he ever exist at all?

	As I reached to open the car door, I felt something
poking me in the back.

	The voice was muffled and ominous.  "Move one inch
and I'll shoot."

	Through the dim light of the street lamp I could
see Dalton slumped on the dashboard.

	"He was a wuss," said the voice before spitting.  "He went down easy.
He's still breathing, still alive.  For now.  If you want him--and
you-- to stay that way, I suggest you get in the car and do exactly
what I tell you to do."

	Briefly, I flashed back to my self-defense classes at the Y.  Most of
the gun role-playing involved handing over your wallet and hoping they
didn't shoot.

	For non-gun situations, there were a few judo throws he had shown us:
much as taxed my brain, I couldn't think of one that was applicable
when you were pressed against a car and a hoodlum's gun.

	I got in the car.

	"Drive," he said, climbing into the backseat, switching hands as he
did so that the gun's muzzle never left my back.

	"Can I check on...?"
	"He's fine," he barked.  "Now come on!  Move it!"

	My lord who art in heaven, hallowed be thy

	I drove until dawn.  He was silent the entire time. He let his gun,
now entangled in my hair, do the talking for him.  Dalton remained
unconscious, breathing shallowly.

	We reached a large field, some kind of nature preserve.

	"This is the place," he said.  I had forgotten what his voice sounded
like.  "Get out of the car."

	In the dim orange sun-haze I could make out five
shapes in the field: four were armed with pistols.  The fifth stood out
because he appeared to be armed only with a large suitcase.

   "Mister Carlos," said the unarmed man to my captor, his voice cool
and mildly surreal.  "What a pleasure it is to be doing business with
you once again."
	He looked familiar.  I couldn't place him at the time,
but I knew I recognized him from somewhere.

	Carlos handed the unarmed man the strip of duct tape he stole from me.
 The unarmed man put down his suitcase.  Keeping his gun on me, Carlos
reached down with his other hand and grabbed the suitcase.

	There was a long silence and I became aware of the fact that all of
the men were staring at me.  I grabbed my crucifix in my hand,
squeezing it until it bit my fingers.  Lord Jesus, tell me what to do.

	Jesus didn't speak to me.  Instead, it was Dalton's voice I heard
echoing in my head.  'Be bold', he said. 'Don't be afraid.  Worst thing
that can happen is that you'll die.'


	I remember Jake Hilsbury.  Red-haired kid, lots of freckles.  He was
in my Sunday School class.  When he was behaving himself, he reminded
me of Ron Howard back when he used to call himself Opie.  When he was
annoying-- which was often-- he reminded me more of Clint Howard.

	Funny thing is, when I was a little girl, I didn't even know who Clint
Howard was, probably never even seen him.  Funny how memory works.

	Jake asked the teacher once when he was going to get to meet Jesus.
The teacher said, not until the day he died would he ever behold the
Lord in His Glory.

	That night, my mother caught me trying to end my own life.  I
explained that I wanted to see Jesus.

	"People who die this way never see Him," my mother said, her huge
dumpling-shaped face quivering with fear and anger.  "Crystal, you must
never do this again."
	"But I want to see Him now.  Why did the Saints see Him before they
died, why were they blessed?"
	"Because they were good!"
	"But I'm good too!"

	My mother never gave me a satisfactory answer.  I came to my own
conclusion: the Saints were blessed because the Saints were blessed.
It wasn't so much that they were chosen at random, but that they were
chosen from the start, from birth.  They were intended to be important.

	Their lives were already given meaning before they were conceived.
What chance did I have?  I was born in sin.

	Over time, I lost my desire to meet Christ.  I was lucky enough,
though, to be important.  To be part of Dalton's work.


	"Since you two seem to be done," I said, breaking the long silence,
"can I go now?"

	Carlos tossed the suitcase at me, hitting me in the bread-basket.

	"Count it," he snarled.

	I stammered, gasping for breath.

	"What are you waiting for?  Count my money!"

	We heard a car door slam, and we all turned to see Dalton rushing out
towards us.  I was relieved.  At least all the eyes were off me.

	"Hello again, Crompton," he said.  He had a strip of duct tape in his
hand.  "Nice to see you too, Robbie."

	They stared at the duct-tape in his open palm.

	"Crompy, old buddy, I should have told you this before.  Carlos?  He's
an idiot.  Next time, check references."  He smirked.  "He assumed the
duct-tape my friend here had was the one with the nanofiber on it.
Actually, she just went to get this for me."

	He threw a piece of paper on the ground.

	"A two-hundred dollar reward for a missing dog, answers to the name
Simon?"  Crompton's voice softly screeched like a nicked record.  "You
don't expect me to believe that, do you?"

	With his free hand, Dalton fumbled in one of his pockets.  Finally, he
pulled out a 7-11 matchbook.  He removed a match and, with some
difficultly, struck it.  I don't know what his problem with fire is
all about.

	"Where were we?  Oh, yes.  I don't expect you to believe that, do I?
No, Crompton.  I expect you to believe this!"

	He held the match up to the duct tape, the flame bouncing unsteadily
millimeters away from the strip.

	"Your move."
	"Fine," said Carlos.  He put the gun on my forehead
and clicked his teeth.

	Since I'm telling the story, you know that I survived.  So allow me a
moment to tell you what was going through my head then.  I came to a
realization in that split-second, barely coherent and nearly
overwhelmed by my screaming pulse.

	I realized that I wasn't really important.

	I wasn't here to be part of the action.  In fact, from day one, I had
never been a part of it.  As much as these events were happening to
me-- as often as I had had guns pressed against my head and bore
witness to countless wonders... that was all I was, and all Dalton
wanted of me.  He never needed me (or treated me) as a friend or an

	He just needed a witness.

	"Listen, gentlemen," Dalton said, turning up the charm past eleven.
"This is Weinstein we're talking about.  Come on!  Let's be serious!
It's Weinstein!
   "Whatever is on this nanofiber is pocket change to him, and you know
it.  He isn't playing to win.  He's playing to stalemate!
   "He doesn't as much want the information as he wants you not to have
it.  Let Crys go, and I'll hand it over.  But you keep waving that gun
at her head..."

	He brought the flame a little closer to the strip.

	"What about your precious bigfoots?" challenged
	"They'll just have to stay in their summer home in Queensland," Dalton
said with a shrug.

	Carlos started to let his guard down, started to back off.  Something
wild broke loose in me.  I was tired of bearing witness, of being the
damsel in distress.

	The Lord helps those who helps themselves.

 	I swung the suitcase at him, hard, missing his shoulder and hitting
him right in the funny bone.  The gun dropped.  I grabbed for it

	A shot fired.

	Carlos was bleeding.

	Dalton set the strip aflame, and the four men began firing.  Dalton
dove for the car.  I followed as quickly as I could, still holding the
suitcase.  One of the bullets hits the case, and I thanked God it
wasn't me.

	Dalton revved the car towards them.  I dove through the open door,
like some kind of action star, somehow dodging the hail of bullets.  It
reminded me of that day in the park.


   I was dating Miguel.  A nice boy.  But there were whispers.  Rumours
that he was messed up in the gangs.

   Miguel and Rico and I were eating some pizza.  I saw the black
Saturn out of the corner of my eye, but I didn't think anything of it
until the gunfire began.

   I fell someone pulling me down.  It was Jake.  The red-head with the
freckles.  He still looked like a kid, even though a good eight years
had passed since that day in Sunday school.  (Or maybe he had grown up
after all; funny thing about memories...)

	"You stay down here," he said.  "I'm going to check on Miguel and

	He stood up too soon.  One last shot.

	He smiled at me and called me Jesus.  He talked for
a few minutes.  Then he stopped talking.


	Dalton hit one of the shooters with the car; he bounced up the hood,
colliding with the roof.  He dropped his gun and, improbably, I reached
my hand out and plucked it out of the air.

	Forgive me father for I have

	I fired the gun at Crompton's kneecap, the record needle really
jumping this time.  Dalton spun the car around and tore the piece of
faux duct-tape out of Crompton's sweaty hand.  Crompton screamed more
at that then at being shot in the knee-cap.

	Once we had gotten away, I had the sinking feeling that the duct-tape
Dalton had taken from Crompton was the real one after all.  But,
falling again into the pattern of allowing Dalton to look smart at my
expense-- the pattern that defined our relationship-- I didn't confront
him about it, but rather played dumb.

	"Why didn't you tell me in the first place I was holding the wrong
	"That's because you were holding the right duct-tape.  I was
bullshitting them the whole time."
	"Dalton!  I could have been killed!"
	"They would have shot you anyway had they gotten ahold of the real
tape.  I did what I had to in order to keep your ass out of a casket."

	There he was again, smug and quotable and important.  I asked him to
stop the car.  He pulled over and opened his door.

	"No.  Don't get out," I said.
  	"Aren't we going to switch?  You know it's a bad idea for me to
drive the car when I could be abducted by aliens at any minute."
	"I know," I said.  "But I'm not your chauffeur.  And... I'm not your
partner, either.  I'm not even your friend.
 	"Good-bye, Dalton."

	I got out of the car and began walking.

All characters created by Jesse N. Willey.  This Document copyright Tom
Russell Jnr. Jesse N. Willey.

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