ADVENTURE THE 36TH: MYTHS & LEGENDS
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Therefore, if you scroll down or visit the archives in future months, you will be able to read this continuing drama in the manner and order it was intended to be read. For this reason and purpose each subsequent adventure in the ‘Eddie Mars’ serial will be marked by a number. If you follow these numbers marked at the top of each chapter in their numeric order - eg ‘Adventure the 1st’ - you will be able to follow this continuing saga.
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ADVENTURE THE 36TH:
MYTHS & LEGENDS
When I was eleven the world was such a simple place…or that is, I was too simple to realize how complex everybody else was and just went along for the ride. I’m not a philosophical guy. Hell…as far as philosophy goes I couldn’t care less about the meaning of life.
Mama used to say, ‘Life’s a gift, boy. You shape up or you’re gonna be on the outside of it lookin’ in.’ But what did she know; equating her life to mine, spreading her unhappiness like thick raspberry jelly across my unsuspecting wide-eyed optimism and hopin’ that the seeds would get stuck in my lids.
She was a bitter, frustrated old hag who didn’t see anything but life’s misery staring back at her. Serves her right, actually. She looked for the worse in all of us and found it. No law against that. No cosmic fate either that says everyone’s entitled to their fifteen minutes of greener pastures before being yanked from the cud like a steer roped at the rodeo.
Ma’ had it all wrong. Life’s not a gift – unless you count used coffee grounds and bloody razor blades among your most cherished stocking stuffers. No, life’s a curse – a big one Oh, maybe not for the Rockefellers and Trumps of the world with their power broker best and shiny new patents pounding the rest of us minor-leaguers into the dirt – wiping their greedy Wall Street asses with the soft woolly fur of all those boggled sheep doing the real work at the bottom for their bottom line.
No. I’d say that the Paris Hilton set have it made. What with nothing to do and a whole lot’a time to do nothing with – the only concern from sun up to sun down is whether their asses get tanned at San Simeon or San Moritz. I suppose if I were there with them now instead of hurling through the air toward parts unknown I’d have a different perspective on things. I’d be happy – or, at least, confused but with enough cash to make it seem worth while.
Mark my words, the fella who said ‘money won’t buy you happiness’ was a rich bugger sitting in back of a chauffeur, staring out his backseat at a bunch of depression era nobodies looking back in angry resentment from the soup line. They would have lynched him too if he hadn’t been so clever to spin his great lie into their personal philosophy. ‘Money won’t buy you happiness.’ Okay then, let’s just say it’ll buy off unhappiness. They’ll buy that. They have too.
People in general are dumb…and not just when they haven’t eaten for a few days. ‘Money won’t buy you happiness?’ My ass! Even if you’re miserable and heart sore about not finding the right diamonds to go with the latest dead animal hanging off your shoulders, you sure as hell have enough cash to buy something just as good without a second thought for that single mother of two who’s still wearing her patch-worn tie-dye denim from the eighties.
America doesn’t have royalty. We’re not a classicist society either. But we keep ourselves in check just the same…measuring our worth by someone else’s yard stick – cooing and fawning over celebrity culture, mindless as it is, and thinking we’re somehow ‘less than’ by direct comparison. I hate the American rich. Their thoughtless about everything and everyone but themselves.
By my way of thinkin’, there doesn’t seem to be much to recommend most of our brief spans on this planet – mine included. Think about it. When you’re a baby you don’t have any free will or enough good sense that God have a lemon to realize you should break out’a your crib and tell mama to go to the devil – which is just where she’d send you if only she had been smart enough before hand to realize that your arrival’s made her own obsolete for the next eighteen years.
Now, she can’t very well say that or do anything about it except let her own level of frustration grow. So, instead you end up getting spanked for things that aren’t your fault and taught that a swift smack on the ass is the way to get most progressive ideas across to someone who just ain’t processing the daily data on your level.
Then comes youth; wasted on learning the nuts and bolts of what everyone else did before your sorry self was even a twinkle in the Petri dish. It’s a warped training period we all go through – encoding with hand-me-down prejudices and weighted from the misery and suffering in historical record…set up for the failures of the universe. “You’ll never be as bright as Einstein, as talented as Pollack, as gifted as Bach in his undies so why try? Just learn the ropes without sticking your own head in the noose.”
Oh…and be happy. Yeah…what the hell? You can try. No harm in trying. Or is there? Because for each dream you aspire to, there’s a million brick walls you have to hit first…walls strategically designed to keep you out and unhappy…but with enough fair-weather brainwashing to convince that trying is the key to success. It isn’t. Not in America.
No, the real key to success in America is to be born into that five percent whose inherited bloodline already laid the groundwork for happiness back when robber barons reigned and personal income tax was just a naughty word…back when this country really was a land for entrepreneurs.
There’s only one other way to get into that ‘in crowd’ today and it ain’t through hard work. You can try. No law against it. You might even go from clerk to general manager in forty years. But you’ll never be one of them – never sit in the executive boardroom or make the kind of decisions that could really turn this country around. No. You’re not allowed. Not even through your vote. It doesn’t count. And neither do you. But you can try. No law against it…not yet.
Wanna know my key for success? It’s through the boss’s daughter or son – the ones who didn’t pull themselves up by their own bootstraps but had daddy do the heavy lifting for them; weak-minded, bored and fairly dull lot – but ripe for the picking of some social climbing call girl or greedy stock boy.
Yep, that’s it. Grab on to your piece, then theirs. Then tug and pull for all its worth until you step into it – but good…gold band, disapproving in-laws and a ten share in the family business. Inherit somebody else’s wealth. That’s the key to your happiness.
And if you don’t have all the answers, try a guidance counselor on for size. Right! Like those warped individuals, who never made it beyond a desk, telling other people what they should do with their lives, know which end is up. If they did they would have marked their own brains a long time ago or shot up the Five and Dime just for a chocolate soda and three square meals a day under some prison bitch named Toba.
…and what about adulthood? What about it? When you’re a kid you live for the day you’ll have enough clout to stick it to all those dumb bastards who’ve been riding you since pre-school. Only that day never comes – or it did and you just happened to blink and miss the moment.
Too bad, sonny. You only get a single crack at the apple – if that. Most are lucky to stand offside and watch as some other Joe Average – undeserving and unchallenged – gets what should rightfully go to the guy with more brain power. But it doesn’t. It goes to the moron with more guts to take it. Joe…you remember him – Average Joe: cross-eyed fool wetting himself in the corner who just happens to win the lottery because you were too slow stepping up to the counter of life.
So, Joe’s going on that cruise he never even dreamed. Yeah, that’s right. Fat, lazy hillbilly’s wet dream – Joe. He’s ‘the man’ now, because his wallet’s bigger than his tally-whacker and those two gold-digging Vegas bunnies with more collagen and silicon in their lips and grill know how the game’s played. With arsenic and a good shove off the port bow once that Carnival’s out to sea. Ta-ta, Joe. You dead, useless fuck!
“You’re miles away,” Migrya tells me.
So I am. What’s it to her? Besides, that makes two of us. We’re two lost souls heading into the night, and at the hands of some nut job who changed seats with our pilot somewhere off the coast of Sicily.
“You’d maybe prefer I charge the cockpit?” I suggest.
“Maybe I would,” she says with a hint of condescension.
“Great!” I agree, sarcasm returning, “Do you know how to fly a plane? Is that one of your many hidden talents?”
Migrya shakes her head.
“Oh,” I reason further, this time gritting my teeth, “You mean you want me to fly it? No thanks, Angel. I left my wings at home. But keep it up. I’ll fight you for the harp if things come to that!”
I’ll bet it’s snowing in America. Hell, it’s snowing outside my porthole right now, so why not back home where they haven’t figured it out yet?
We’re climbing, slowly but surely. The temperature’s beginning to drop. In the distance I can see a mountain range rising to greet us.
“I don’t want to die,” Migrya admits.
“It won’t be so bad,” I tell her, “Besides, I’ve come close to the edge a few times before. There’s some comfort in it.”
She knows I’m doing my best to make it sound better than it is.
“I must be a fool,” Migrya says.
“Must be,” I suggest, “To think whoever’s behind this would take the time to hijack us away from civilization only to put a period to the great mystery of the unknown.”
I pause. Either, I’ve gotten to her or she’s gotten to herself, because I can see a definite change in the way she looks at me – the glint, that tiny speck of perfection that used to resonate from behind the eye…it’s gone.
“Maybe I’m a bigger fool still,” I add, “Because I’ve had that thought myself.”
That doesn’t seem to bring her back.
“Oh, buck up, Angel,” I tell her, “You’re too precious to go this way.”
And now I’m starting to scare myself, because I actually start to make some kind of sense.
“Shit!” I reason, palms getting sweaty with a bit of egotist excitement, knowing that I’ve suddenly jumped two steps ahead of the game as I see it, “He could have done that back in Sicily with a pair of bullets in the back. Dump our bodies in the sea. No trace. No…this guy has plans.”
“Granted,” Migrya adds.
Oh…so she’s figured it out too.
“But where are we now?”
It’s a good question. I just don’t know – but I’m fairly certain that we don’t have enough gas to get us there.
At thirty thousand feet our number two engine suddenly gives out with a tired wheeze and sputter. I watch as the propeller comes to a frozen halt and feel the weight of the plane shift awkwardly to the right. I grab the overhead rack for leverage. Migyra tumbles like a limp rag to the floor.
“Buckle up,” I tell her, grabbing her tight by her arm and tossing her into the seat opposite mine.
I do the same, because I know what’s next. Our ‘number one’ isn’t up to the load.
There’s a loud grinding pitch that spreads through the pressurized cabin, then a thunderous explosion as ‘number one’ bursts into flames. The plane goes into a steep nosedive. I look into the cockpit. The pilot’s struggling like no hijacker I know. He could bail but he doesn’t…probably because he realizes there’s a fate worse than this if he can’t get his cargo to its destination.
The pilot manages to get the plane straightened – barely - but we’re in a severe free fall. Ranges of frozen rock above us only a few moments before are now rising like a craggy high tide on either side of the fuselage. We’re going down and it’s anybody’s guess if we’ll make it.
“This is it, Angel,” I tell Migrya, smiling a bit in reflecting on the colossal waste of it all.
What a way to end.
The last thing I remember is the deafening sound of our metal wings getting clipped on both sides. We sail between a pair of gritty stumps that aren’t about to make way for anyone. It’s every man for himself…only I suddenly realize something about myself; how chicken-hearted I am when the focus grows dim. I want to be the one who makes it through.
Wait and See!
Eddie Mars will return in his next great adventure
Across The Frozen Divide
on January 25th, 2008.