Exploring The Multiverse: Parts 1–24

Part One

As a means of reaching a point in life where regret is nonexistent, I often contemplate the decisions of my life, and try to grasp at the affects of my decisions, as well as what could have been. Yet, the human mind does not have a full understanding in the works of parallel universes, so most of my thoughts ended in a place of solace; I felt I made the right the decision. Most of the time, my contemplation regarded whether harness racing was the right industry for me or not.

Back in 2012, a pal of mine had appeared as a member of the cast for the movie Jack Reacher, working alongside the movie’s star Tom Cruise. Tom Cruise, a noted member of the Church of Scientology, was an idol of mine back in those old days. Even though it was two years ago, there were four iPhones released since then. Four. And that’s not including those “innovative” ones that shattered even better when dropped on the ground.

Back on topic, I had a chance to meet Tom Cruise. He told me that I reminded him of L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology. I laughed, so that he wasn’t offended. Yet, he sensed my chuckle to be insincere, and he countered.

“What, do think we’re ridiculous?” he inquired.

“No? Well, maybe, perhaps, possibly, but, no, well, maybe, perhaps, possibly, but, no, well, maybe, perhaps, possibly, but…” he eventually interrupted me.

“Well, what do you believe then? A flying spaghetti monster?” I was offended by his remark, solely because I was a Pastafarianist at the time — a member of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. I had very lenient parents.

“Yes,” I replied. He paused and stared at me, like that scene from the War of the Worlds remake. Yup, that scene.

“Well, we’d still love to have you at the Church of Scientology,” he said to me. I considered it, and remembered it for another day.

Part Two

Remember how I remembered Tom Cruise remembered L. Ron Hubbard the moment he met me? Remember?

Well, I remembered. I had to remember, because remembering meeting a member of the Church of Scientology is a moment to remember. It was something I proposed as a member of the Remember club, which met every September, November, and December, because, well, screw February. Yet, remembering meeting a member of the Church of Scientology wouldn’t be as memorable if it were with a different member; I’m talking about you, John Travolta.

In the summer of 2013, I had ventured on a cross-country road trip, with the ultimate destination being California. Because California is the home of Hollywood, and because Tom Cruise is a member of Hollywood, and because Tom Cruise is a member of Scientology, through the transitive property of psychosis, Scientology must be based in California. Since we were traveling to California, as I remembered, which reminds me, perhaps it’s time to cool it with the member, remember, and the suffix –ember jokes?

Since we were traveling to California, I wanted to make a stop at the Church of Scientology.

“Mom, could we go to the Church of Scientology?” I asked, as we crossed the border into New Mexico, after a God-forsaken trek through northern Texas. Seriously, there weren’t even tumbleweeds. What the hell were we supposed to look for to see we were driving through a baron land of nothingness? Perhaps the “Welcome to Texas” sign was enough.

“What, is the Flying Spaghetti Monster not cool anymore?” my mom replied.

“Well, duh. It must not be, I don’t like him anymore. Although, I’m more of a Flying Linguini man.” Little did I know that my brother would use that as a defense for throwing his pasta at me when we ate at an Italian restaurant later that day. Little did I also know that I was a trendsetter. Seriously, the Flying Spaghetti Monster never became popular. Maybe that’s why I didn’t in high school?

Upon reaching California, which, I might add, was twelve days since we had departed Pennsylvania (not really a significant factor to the story, but man, America is big! Hear that, Republicans? This story involved America).

Upon reaching California, after attending my grandmother’s funeral, we traveled to the Church of Scientology (sorry about that, grandma). My parents dropped me off there, leaving an ominous feeling soaring up my spinal cord. Not only because I was at a place where a Hollywood celebrity treaded, but because my parents left me in the middle of California. Not a good call, guys.

I entered the church, and the first thing I noticed was its uncanny resemblance to the dentist’s waiting room. Even the secretary was wearing scrubs. Okay, maybe it was a Scrubs t-shirt, but it worked. Because, you know, Hollywood? Well, now that I explained it, it isn’t funny. Way to go.

I approached the secretary in the scrubs clothing, excuse me, Scrubs clothing.

“Hello, I know Tom Cruise,” I told her.

“Oh, do you know,” she sassed to me.

“Did you just sass me?”

“No.” I felt relieved that she did not come off rudely to me. “Now, if you know Mr. Cruise, you’ll make a left and head through those doors,” she added.

“Thanks, Mrs. Lady!” I replied in my best Jerry Lewis impression. I soon figured out that she pointed me to the exit. Yet, this wasn’t the end. I had traveled all the way to California just for this, wait, no; it was for my grandmother’s funeral. Talk about some dark humor to think about.

Part Three

Just as I had given up all faith, which I should have done before my Flying Spaghetti Monster phase, I saw Tom Cruise approaching the church in a totally non-coincidental event that is totally not meant to progress the plotline.

“Mr. Cruise! Do you remember me?” I asked him.

“Yes?” he said, quizzically.

“What, do you take fan names for $400?” I asked him.

Silence followed.

“Really? You’re from Hollywood, and you don’t get the Jeopardy joke? Wow, I am totally embarrassed right now,” I said, laughing at myself. “I’m the L. Ron Hubbard kid, remember?”

I feel it should be stated that, while I forgot the memory jokes, I’m still allowed to use the word remember, remember? Well, I remember. Dammit, I’m doing it again.

“Oh yeah, your that kid,” he replied.

“Hey, listen, one of the church’s secretaries wouldn’t let me into the church just because I know Tom Cruise. Could you help me?”

“How much cash you got on you?” he asked.

“I have a potato chip shaped like Abe Lincoln I paid $100 for in my pocket.” I replied.

“How the hell did you not chip it? Better yet, why didn’t you get the one shaped like George Washington?”

“It cost nearly a quarter more,” I said.

“Well, okay, gimme’ the chip.” I obliged, gave it to him, and, wait.

“Why’d you eat it?”

“I always wondered what the Emancipation Proclamation tasted like.”

“Wait, what, no, okay, no, just, wait, no, just. Just get me in the church,” I said to him, annoyed he ate an allowance’s worth of President-shaped potato chips.

He escorted me into the church.

“This boy is dying of liveracle-eye-bowel-anolisis. It’s a rare form of cancer that has very few cases internationally. He would like to see how Scientology works,” Cruise stated to his secretary, surprisingly nonchalantly. “Isn’t that right, boy,”

“Yes?” I said out of force, infinitely confused on what words just spewed from Cruise’s mouth.

“Aw, you poor thing,” the secretary said. “For a rare cancer, you have a great head of hair,” she continued. I didn’t know if that was discriminatory against cancer patients, since, well, cancer is a terrible, terrible disease.

“Thanks?” I said, once again out of force.

“Now, c’mon son. Lemme’ show you around the church,” Cruise said to me. I could not fully tell at this point, but I already knew this was going to be a crazy ride.

Part Four

As Tom Cruise led me through the halls of the Church of Scientology, which felt like a labyrinth due to the complexity of its structure, there were these nuances that gave me feelings of vulnerability; I had no idea what was going to happen next.

There was a moment where I felt I was having a stroke: I swore to God, or in my case at the time, Xenu, or would it have been the Flying Spaghetti Monster? You know, they weren’t lying when they said adolescence was complicated. Who are they? They are they.

Strolling through the halls of the Church of Scientology with Tom Cruise, I felt I was having a stroke because I was seeing the famed Escher Stairs painting, except in reality! Relative reality made my brain feel clotted, or more likely confused, especially when I found out that they were the actual Escher Stairs.

“Tom, can we walk around the Escher Stairs?”

“No,” he replied sternly.

But I wanna’ see the stairs!” I said in my best child voice, just to piss of Tom Cruise for saying I had cancer earlier.

“Fine, let’s go see the Escher Stairs,” he agreed. We walked over to the trippy, and I mean trippy, set of stairs. All of a sudden, we could only hear the theme from those well-known Benny Hill scenes. Maybe they were embarrassed because of a cliché song being used as a cliché reference. Either way, I didn’t feel my life hyper lapse before my eyes, so it was a real crappy reference.

Eh, it was a real crappy reference all together.

Strolling through the corridors, I noticed a hallway dedicated specifically to the celebrity members of the church. There was Tom Cruise, John Travolta, and, surprisingly, other people, like Isaac Hayes (Known for Chef on South Park), Nancy Cartwright (voice of Bart Simpson), and Greta Van Susteren (I didn’t turn to stone when I looked into her eyes, either.)

I looked through a door in that hallway, and I swore I saw a giant poster labeled “Target” with pictures of Trey Parker and Matt Stone beneath them.

“Tom, why do you have pictures of Trey Parker and Matt Stone surrounded by the words ‘kill, kill, kill, they must die, bigotry blows?’” I asked.

“Why the hell did you call me by my first name?” he returned, swiftly shutting the door behind their master plan. That plan will likely work like every screenplay written in a coffee shop: incomplete.

I peered through another door, and saw people bowing to a “leaked” video of the Roswell, New Mexico alien dissection from 1947, chanting, “I’m not worthy, I’m not worthy.”

“Wait, it’s just a guy painted green,” one man said. As we walked away from that room, a sharp sound shot down the hallway, perhaps of 21-caliber.

The final room I gazed into, because, well, you know, rules of three, was a Battlestar Glactica support group watching episodes of Star Trek. We strolled by right at the end of an episode, hearing some exclamations from the viewers.

“I’m not lonely!” one said.

“Shatner, Shatner, Shatner!” said another.

“What the hell do you guys want?” said William Shatner, somehow coming into the picture in his ninety-years of age. Priceline may be more spectacular than their commercials advertise.

We finally departed from that corridor of obscurity, with ambiguous nuances that would last a lifetime. Well, for me anyway. Tom Cruise sees this every day, and I still contemplate how the hell he does so.

Part Five

“Tom,” I said softly.

“Yes?” He replied.

“What is Scientology?”

“Why the hell do you want to know — ,” he paused. “I mean, of course I know why you want to know, you know. Where do I start?” I braced for a long montage of stupidity and curiosity, mainly originating from the stupidity of the matter.

“Our God is L. Ron Hubbard, born Lafayette Ron Hubbard. He was birthed in Tilden, Nebraska.” Oh God, Nebraska.

“He was a pilot, eagle scout, college graduate, adventurer, philosopher, author…”

“Psychopath, lunatic, Mr. Crazy-poopy pants-McGeearthy?” I interrupted.

“Didn’t the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster teach you manners?”

“It’s a church about flying pasta; what do you think I learned?”

“Not as much as you could with Scientology,” he replied, following it by mumbling, “If only you’d let me finish you little son of a.”

“Excuse me?” I countered, offended by what I nearly heard him say.

“Son of a Hubbard, son of a L. Ron Hubbard. Yup, that’s it.”

“You did not just use your lord’s name in vain? Passtahole.”

“That wasn’t even creative,” he shouted at me.

“Hey, Pastafarianism is far more interesting than Scientology. Their god is a floating dish of pasta, with googley eyes!” I shouted back, louder.

“Googley eyes!” I reiterated. Cruise just let out a massive sigh.

“L. Ron Hubbard discovered the sole principle that connects all living things: the Dynamic Principle of Existence. Yet, he opted to represent his country as a naval officer in World War II.”

“You know they were drafted, right?” I replied.

“He opted!” he said, perhaps pissed.

“Can you get to the point?”

“Not if you keep acting like a snot-nosed brat you rude, inconsiderate, dirty…” he paused. “… Dirty, white, uh, dumb, piece of human garbage.”

“I go to public school, and they’re more creative than you,” I came back, sad that there was no one around to high five.

“Fine then, if you don’t want to learn about Scientology, then get the hell out of this church! I don’t care anymore; you’re a dick! You come in, feeling all superior, and just dump all over our belief! I’m done trying to convert you; it’s like you only did this for a stupid joke you can tell all your “friends” at school next year. Go to hell.”

“I don’t think I made this any more of a joke than you guys did,” I ended. I walked out of the church, daring not to look back at Tom Cruise for purposes of dramatic effect and to show I had no regret. Why should I have regret? They’re the psychopaths. I was dragged into Pastafarianism due to peer pressure, just like the kids of lesser intelligence in schools that are dragged into Rastafarianism. My decisions aren’t any that can truly reflect myself, or…

Dammit.

Part Six

Did I feel guilty about insulting a religion? No, but I did feel weird. Firstly, do I even classify Scientology as a religion? Does it make sense? Is it really a scam?

Those were questions I would have answered, but I had important high-school work things to attend.

“Wait, but I thought it was summer? What kind of high-school things do you need to do?” one reader thought. “This kid’s story is a joke, this kid is a joke, my kids are a joke!”

“What the hell…” he stalled. “Why is he reading my mind?”

“Well, for purposes of progressing the story? Possibly,” I replied. “To show that I am truly a unique person? Maybe. For the total comedic aspect, which, since I now revealed it to be a joke, won’t be hilarious? Near definitely.”

“So, are you some sort of omnipotent deity? Is that how you will explore the Multiverse?”

“Stop ruining my story! I bet your kids hate you,” I said.

“I hate them, but they can’t hate me. I’m their dad.”

“…” I said. Okay, technically I didn’t, but you would say that, too.

“Look, go to hell, kid. Your story isn’t funny, it doesn’t make sense, and I can’t tie it back to whatever kind of sport your supposed to be talking about. What the hell are you supposed to be talking about, anyway?”

“Life,” I replied, in a narcissistic and poetic manner.

“Once again, go to hell.”

Maybe that guy was right. Maybe I am a god? Maybe I am an all-seeing being of omnipotence? Well, after calling myself an all-seeing being of omnipotence, I’m starting to question it.

Hell, why am I questioning it all together? Can’t I just believe my gut made the right decisions? That the fuel it provided to my body influenced the right choices on my part? I just don’t know at this point.

I finally exited the church. Yes, it took a whole part to exit that church because they have

damn Escher stairs to every floor. I did not know what to do from here. It was four o’clock in the afternoon, and I had to do something. I called my parents.

“Get me the hell out of here,” I said.

Part Seven

As I waited for the arrival of my family, I explored what the actual front yard of the church had to offer. Gazing around, I never noticed the magnificent garden residing on the side of the building. I decided to walk toward it.

Over a bridge, I found myself mystified like the kids when they discovered the room of chocolate in Willy Wonka’s factory (you know, before they were murdered). I was surrounded by petals of flowers, displaying the artistic side of the church with shades of morning glories and sunflowers.

I continued forward, only to find magnificent topiaries in my path. One was of Earth, which also included shades of blue to represent the oceans. There was a second one, which resembled the church’s founder, L. Ron Hubbard hoisting a light saber and the decapitated head of a being from Glaron-7. Finally, and perhaps most impressive, I saw… a regular bush?

Hold on, I’m confused.

I walked over to the bush, which was a contrast from the aesthetically-pleasing garden, and I was surprised to discover the actual depiction of the bush. It rustled a bit, and I dismissed it at first, but then it sneezed, and I instantly knew.

“Hello, Daniel Day-Lewis!” I said.

“Geeze, my allergies blew my cover, didn’t they?” he asked.

“Perhaps,” I replied. “What are you doing disguised as a bush?”

“I’m preparing for the ultimate role!” he exclaimed. “I’m playing as a non-conscious being whose existence is our life force.”

“Whoa,” I replied.

“Right?” he said, slightly smugly, but in that Daniel Day-Lewis’ey way that doesn’t and shouldn’t offend anyone. “It’s a metaphor.”

I suddenly got a text. “We’re here!” it read.

“Well, you let me know how that works out,” I said, giving him my phone number, which in no way made me any cooler in high school (damn football).

I walked away from Day-Lewis and back to the front entrance, where my family was waiting to pick me up. Walking by the topiaries, I heard a strange rustling from the one shaped like Earth. It startled me, causing me to peer behind me, but nothing was there. I moved on, hopped into the car, and left.

But, for some reason, I felt it wasn’t for good.

Part Eight

We drove away from the church, but I still carried uneasiness from my departure. I only knew of one way to truly take my mind off of reality.

“Mom, can you please put in that Tyler Perry stand-up CD?” I asked.

“Geeze,” she said. “What happened to you there?”

“I don’t wanna’ talk about it,” I replied.

“You know, if they did naughty things to you, you should tell an adult.”

“Mom, they’re Scientologists, not 1980s Catholics, or Boy Scouts, or just grown men with daddy issues.”

“Since when did you become such a cynical schmuck?”

“Since I hit puberty.” I hadn’t registered the fact that my mother called her own son a schmuck. I felt slightly proud once finally realizing it.

“Well, all we got is Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas.”

“That’s my favorite!” I said.

“Where did we go wrong?” my mother asked philosophically, as no one in their right mind could endorse any act by Tyler Perry. But remember, I branched off from Pastafarianism.

IMPORTANT SEGUE

Hey everyone, hope you’re enjoying the series, I know I am! But since our plot is heading towards a long drive through California, let’s get ready for a montage; everyone sing along!

We’re driving through California. We’re driving through California. There’s more driving through California. More and more and more.

Down the 405, past the 101, with the 5 in the distance, then the 178, 809, 908, 560, 471, 10, 78, 64, 23, 230, 257, 873, 91, 62, 430, 86, 68, 709, 901, and the 102,938,780,275,174,209,389,478,295,473,827,827 in the distance of the 178, 809, 908, 560, 471, 10, 78, 64, 23, 230, 257, 873, 91, 62, 430, 86, 68, 709, and the 901.

We’re driving through California. We’re driving through California. There’s more driving through California. More and more and more.

Where are we heading towards? Maybe LA, which is full of whores. That is, well, if you can actually see anything through the smog because the carbon emissions, while forcibly making Al Gore, who should’ve been the 43rd President of the United States, cry, are shrouding the atmosphere due to the massive density of the population. Or maybe to Hollywood? Either way, one thing’s for sure…

We’ll avoid the hooooooooooooooooood.

We’re driving through California. We’re driving through California. There’s more driving through Califrornia. More and more and more.

Whoa, a homeless guy!

Whoa, a car crash!

Whoa, my dignity.

This. Is. Californiaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.

Thank you for your participation and wonderful harmonic ability. We now bring you back to our regularly scheduled story, just farther into the future.

Oh, and some weird stuff is about to go down. Lots of people are going to die!

Part Nine

“One more time,” a voice said. “We’re driving through California. We’re driving through California. There’s more driving through Califrornia. More and more and more.”

“Shut the hell up!” shouted the audience, provoking the voice to run off crying.

After passing an odd number off highways, some of which aren’t even in California, we arrived to our cabin in the middle of Sequoia National Park. We were surrounded by other camp goers staying in aesthetically-similar cabins, but hey, we had the best one.

After an afternoon of watching my brother skateboard up and down the streets of this campsite, my family and I gathered around a campfire for a relaxing evening, which soon turned into me and my brother realizing that fire makes for cool pictures if the shutter speed is adjusted, among other modifications.

So the evening turned from a family outing in the middle of the woods to two Caucasian teenagers performing what appeared to be Native American rain dances around a fire with cameras.

“Can we join you guys?” one man said, walking up to our campfire after observing the odd gestures my brother and I were performing. “It’s rare to find other people who practice voodoo,” he followed.

“Like the dolls?” I asked.

“No! They’re action figures, gay-wad,” he replied.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa. Why the hell would you say something like that? Aren’t you a little more mature?”

The man walked closer to the fire, and soon his body became visible. He stood 5’6” and appeared to be fifteen years of age. After noticing his backwards OBEY cap, as well as the notable 2 Chainz (I wish that was a typo) around his neck, and a t-shirt that said

“Please hold while I’m loading my swag, please don’t hang up, as I want to prove how much better I am than you after the download is complete”, I realized this kid was a total tool. Yet, I feel I could use a better word.

“Hold on kid,” I said. I pulled out my cell phone to call my lawyers.

“Hey Mort, am I allowed to use the term ‘douche canoe’?” I asked.

“Well, for obscene purposes, no, but for purposes of parody that aren’t meant to incite any kind of physical reaction, it’s totally up to you,” he replied.

“I don’t know, Mort. I don’t think my audience will like reading that word.”

“Well, then it’s probably not a good idea to use it then, but that’s just my advice. You have to know your audience.”

“I trust you, Mort. I feel you must have died yourself, figuratively, of course.”

“What? Sure. When do I get paid?”

“I’ll pay you on the 21st like I do every month, Mort.”

“Geeze, I have to hold out for another two weeks of legal work like this?”

“Don’t be a douche canoe, Mort.”

“You’re right. I can handle it.”

I hung up the phone to realize the kid was walking away from us.

“Wait, where are you going?” I screamed at ten o’clock in the evening, not realizing the implications that will come upon me by the single dads spending a weekend with their kids in the woods.

“Somewhere cooler than this,” he said, as if trying to hurt my feelings.

“Why must you hurt me?” I screamed to him, adding onto the implications already put upon me by the oddly massive number of single fathers spending a weekend with their kids in the woods.

So the kid walked away, and I felt as if I had seen him somewhere before, but as a blurred image of which I overlooked. Of course, this hunch totally meant nothing, so I punched myself as hard as I could in the gut…

I couldn’t get up for a few hours after that.

Oddly enough, once the pain subsided, I got a call from an organization deemed the PAUDCRBS. I answered.

Part Ten

“Are you Ray Cotolo?” a voice asked.

“Of course, this is me, Ray Cotolo. What can I do for you?”

“I am a representative of PAUDCRBS, or Parents Against the Use of Douche Canoes in Really Bad Stories.”

“Lemme’ ask you lady, how long did it take you to create that acronym?” I thought for a second. “Wait, how did you know I used it?”

“We Google douche canoe periodically to make sure our children have no chance of stumbling upon that disgusting phrase.”

“So, you read this series?”

“Yes.”

“How do you like it?”

“Not anymore because you brought douche canoes into the picture.” I actually thought people would be more offended by gay wad, but to each their own I guess.

“Now lemme’ tell you, I’m willing to take you to cour-.” I hung up the phone as I got tired of this whole douche canoe joke, plus that lady didn’t have any sense of humor.

Am I right? No? Maybe? No? Maybe? No? Maybe? Am I right? Maybe? No? No? No? No? No? No? No? Maybe? Am I right?

After dealing with an organization that felt the best name to represent their cause sounds like the word paudcrib, which isn’t even a word; until now.

paudcrib

noun

/pawed-crib/

1. A person, usually of adult age who has already bared children, who seems to have a large, pointy object lodged into their gluteus maximus, which forces them to exert their discomfort towards people rather than looking at the solutions for their own problem.

2. A doghouse

I also made sure that the lady, who I discovered was named Natalie Leiftenstein, had her face printed right next to the definition, solely for the practical jokes and ridicule that comes from having a face printed next to a derogatory word in the dictionary.

Exhausted from dealing with that paudcrib, as well as my punching of myself in the gut, I felt it was time to go to bed. As I went into the cabin, I heard a rustling in the bushes, which I dismissed, until I thought I heard someone sneeze outside. Paranoid, but soon comforted by the lack of people outside, I returned towards my room where I would slumber.

Little did I know… no. No. I cannot use that cliché phrase to introduce this piece of suspense. No. I can’t do it. I just. I can’t.

“C’mon, Ray, don’t make our lives harder,” said the writers within me.

“I hate to, but, ya’know, you guys should come up with better material.”

“C’mon. The douche canoes, the word paudcrib, Scientology? What more do you want from us?”

“I want you guys to continue to be original.”

One of the writers dragged his hands across his desk in cubicle 34-C of my prefrontal cortex, then followed by slamming his hands on the table, dumping his coffee, and slamming his hands on the table again. “We just can’t, don’t you see? Being original is too difficult.”

“That’s because you think it’s difficult! It’s much simpler than you think, just take the time to sit back, relax, and think about it.”

“Fine, if that will keep our jobs.” After a few moments, he continued. “I got it!” he said.

“You better.”

“Just continue from the suspenseful paragraph,” he said.

Exhausted from dealing with that paudcrib, as well as my punching of myself in the gut, I felt it was time to go to bed. As I went into the cabin, I heard a rustling in the bushes, which I dismissed, until I thought I heard someone sneeze outside. Paranoid, but soon comforted by the lack of people outside, I returned towards my room where I would slumber.

That uneasiness never left my being, though. I carried the anxiety with me to my bunk, where I would dream my dreams from the night.

“Great job, guys!” I told my writers.

Part Eleven

‘Twas the night of Christmas, and all through the house

not a creature was stirring, they were all passed out.

Mommy had too much eggnog, alcoholic by choice,

and grandma fell asleep watching The Voice.

Grandpa laid on the couch, schnapps in hand,

or maybe he lain, I can’t tell off my head.

Or maybe I snuck I slurp or two

of daddy’s magic elixir, causing my head to turn blue.

Of course there was our uncle, hammered in sight

waiting, just waiting, to engage in a fight.

His brother, a religious man, sat with his hands

clean in his lap, waiting for the ‘fam

to awake from their slumber,

so they could pray with their hands.

“Well how else would you pray?” a reader would question.

“Shut up, and continue with the passage.”

“You’re stretching the rhyme pattern,” the reader continued.

“Then watch the Grinch steal Christmas, or you I will rue.”

Remember that drunk uncle? He was at it again.

He moved to the TV, watching it instead

of keeping his fists clenched for battle

in the kitchen where you’d hear him rattle

about how awful his life is, and his wife too

If we were awake, we’d tell him “Screw off, Stu.”

But alas, my family lay drunk in their quarters,

which so happen to be in the living room’s borders

for nothing brings together a family more

than gathering around the TV for an hour or more.

Okay, I get it, you can’t rhyme with the same word.

But hey, you be creative, that’d be quite absurd.

So, lemme’ continue with this arbitrary tale

of a family, whose foundation lies on the table.

Oh who am I kidding, we are all right.

We’re just a little drunk, we rarely fight.

Of course exempting Stu

who is a douche canoe,

but we can’t control that.

‘Twas the night of Christmas and all through the house

not a creature was stirring, they were all doused

by the magic of booze, making the heart grow fonder

only for a little does the pain go yonder.

Then they will awake, hung over as always.

“What time is it?” is what echoes down the hallways.

“It’s still Christmas?” we question at night

as the clock read midnight.

“Close enough,” grandpa says,

then he high-tails it straight to bed.

Now it ‘twas the morning of Christmas, and all through the house,

all creatures were stirring, except for myself.

I dreamed of fame, fortune galore,

then I went to answer the door.

“Wake up!” I heard someone scream, as I gently regained consciousness. “We need you,” he said in the most ambiguous way he could.

Part Twelve

“Can it wait another five minutes, mommy?” I said.

“I’m not your mommy, son,” the man said.

“Then why’d you call me son? That’s something mommies would say?”

“Will you just open your eyes so you could see who I am?”

“Don’t end a sentence in a preposition.”

“Just wake up.”

“Oh, Daniel Day-Lewis? What are you doing here?”

“There isn’t much time, sonny. We must rendezvous with the others.”

“Who are the others?”

“They are the others.”

“Why can’t you explain?”

“Look kid, it would ruin the suspense, and you should know a thing or two about suspense.”

“I peed my pants in the first grade?”

“Good enough. Now, let’s go.”

I still felt drowsy as Daniel Day-Lewis grabbed hold of me and carried my wakening body into his vehicle. I was confused to see Ben Affleck in the drivers seat, and more confused to see it was the Bat Mobile.

“Do we really have to take this car?” I asked Danny, because I felt we were tight now.

“What do you have against this car?” he asked.

“It’s. It’s just not the same.” I was hoping Ben Affleck didn’t hear me, especially since he was dressed in that tracksuit from the movie Good Will Hunting. Danny and I got into the Bat Mobile, and then he began to explain our mission. I felt after seeing Mr. Affleck that this was about to get rated R. I was never so excited; the dream of a fourteen-year-old boy is to sneak into a rated-R movie, and I was getting into a rated-R situation.

“Alright, here’s what we’re going to freakin’ do,” Affleck said. “We will take this freakin’ car to our freakin’ rendezvous point where we will meet up with the freakin’ others.”

“Mr. Affleck,” I started. “You don’t have to censor yourself around me.”

“Kid, I don’t want to be rude, but I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about.”

“Did you leave the others alone?” Danny asked.

“Yes. Was I not supposed to?”

“No, I was just wondering.”

While I thought we were in a hurry, we ended up taking three hours to get to our destination, with a nonchalant stop at a Poop and Snooze, a famous gas station where we were apparently, to “piss and snack” according to Mr. Affleck. I felt embarrassed to walk out of the car as there were a bunch of jocks from their local high school loitering and smoking in front of the convenience store, calling us virgins for riding in the Bat Mobile.

If I wasn’t mistaken, these jocks were in their mid-forties. Mr. Affleck happened to walk out of the convenience store during these jocks’ twenty-minute rant about how virgins suck and how the Bat Mobile is for “kids who won’t get any”, which shed light into these forty-year-old jocks’ sad lives.

Part Thirteen

“What the freak are you freakin’ guys doin’?” Affleck inquired aggressively towards the forty-year-old jocks in his awkward Boston accent.

“We’re laughing at the virgins in that baby car. Is that your car?” the leader asked Benny, which I called Ben because I felt we were also cool.

“And how much are you gettin’?” Affleck asked.

“Obviously more than you,” he replied.

“Will you give me a moment?” Affleck requested, then he walked back into the Poop and Snooze. In his Good Will Hunting tracksuit, he approached a lady, perhaps in her mid-thirties and pretty attractive, and they began talking. They continued talking. They were talking a lot.

They were still talking. Geeze, I hope I didn’t leave the oven on before I left. Better yet, where the hell was I when I left? Where the hell am I now? Were they, oh my god they are still talking! Did he leave; no he didn’t leave the keys in here. Great. We’re in the middle of summer, in a black vehicle, and I am here, with my buddy Danny D-Lew, starting to build up a sweat. Fantastic, it’s like I’m trying to meet weight for the next race.

(Let’s take a moment to savor the first actual racing joke in this series. This would be flashier, but stories aren’t as cool as anything edited on Adobe Premier Pro or other video editing software. Damn, you know what, just keep reading.)

After about fifteen minutes of Affleck talking to the attractive lady in the Poop and Snooze, the forty-year-old jocks were getting fidgety. They had already finished a carton of Newports, mind you we saw them with a full carton when we first pulled up here. A carton. What the hell did their parents do to them? Maybe at this point it should be what they aren’t doing to them. You know what I mean?

“What the hell is he doing?” the leader questioned aggressively, of course with a cough in between every syllable he pronounced. Finally, and I mean finally Affleck walked out of the Poop and Snooze, carrying some sort of notepaper in his hands.

“Do you guys like apples?” he asked the jocks.

“Does it look like we do?” the leader replied. Oh yeah, the jocks were all fairly overweight. Was that important?

“Well, how about these apples!” Affleck exclaimed, rubbing the notepaper in the leader’s face, I saw that there was an eleven-digit number on the paper.

“Hey Danny D-Lew, did Affleck just get some?” I asked.

“What did you call me?” He asked.

“Never mind.”

Affleck continued to rub the paper in the leader’s face, covering his nostrils and mouth. He began to wheeze, but Affleck did not hesitate. He was milking the moment opposed to his counterpart Matt Damon, who absorbed the moment in its organic occurrence. The leader then fell to the ground, and Affleck’s hand followed, as he was still rubbing the paper in his face.

“Uh, I think boss passed out,” one of the jocks said.

“I too agree,” another said.

“Boobies,” the third one said.

“Shut up, Frank!” they all replied.

“Yeah, boss man out cold,” the one jock said. “Get off man.”

The jocks gathered around Affleck, and then used their brute strength to rip Affleck off of “Boss Man”. He was clearly unconscious.

“Duh, what we do?” the one jock asked. “Is he dead?”

“I guess he’s allergic to apples,” Affleck replied.

Part Fourteen

Danny D-Lew and I noticed that Boss Man was passed out and not breathing in front of the Poop and Snooze. Luckily, the manager didn’t mind, as he chose the other option the store allowed to occur. What’s awkward then is the amount of crap they must scoop from inside the store, likely near the Hot Food section where they serve the Other Meat Dogs, as Hot Dogs sounds too appetizing.

Danny D. and I got out of the Bat Mobile to see what was going on.

“Can I keep showing him these apples?” Affleck asked.

“I don’t know if that was a sex joke or you carrying on the bit. Either way, no.” Danny D. said.

“Well, then what should I do?” Affleck asked.

“Someone is going to have to perform CPR.”

“Do what?” the one jock asked.

“Mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.”

“What?” he asked.

“Put one mouth on the other guy’s mouth and breath into his mouth while also pressing down on his chest.”

“Are you saying one of us has to make out with Boss Man?” another jock asked.

“What, no…” Danny D. was interrupted.

“Haha, someone has to make out with Boss Man,” another jock said.

“Whata’ gaywad,” another said.

“Guys, your Boss Man is dying,” Danny D. warned them.

“I can’t help him; I’m not gay,” another jock said.

“For the love of Lincoln, this man is dying, and you guys won’t do anything because you’re afraid ‘it’ll look gay’?”

“Yeah,” another said.

“Jesus, Mary, and Abraham. Well, Ray, you’re going to have to do it.”

“What, why me?” I quickly replied.

“Do you want to save a man’s life and have him forever in your debt or be a…” he paused, “chicken.” He followed with some chicken noises while flapping his arms and kicking the pebbles of the sidewalk into the front parking lot.

“Fine, but I don’t need him in my debt or anything like that.” I knelt down and prepared to perform CPR.

“Hold it,” Danny D. stopped me. “Are you certified?” I had to think quickly of the right answer.

“No?”

“Eh, we’re in front of a gas station. No one here is going to do it.” I saw Danny veer his sight towards the jocks, gathered in a circle in front of the Poop and Snooze.

“Heh hey guys, Tim’s mom is hot,” one said.

“Shut up, Eric!” Tim said.

“Tim smells because his mom is hot,” another said.

“Shut up, Donny!” Tim said.

“What you guys talkin’ about? Tim’s mom is dead,” another said.

“Thank you Jonesy,” Tim said.

“Yeah, you’re this guy’s only hope,” Danny said to me, and I knew what to do.

I pumped his chest three times, and then followed by giving him three breaths. I cycled through this routine for about three minutes while the jocks continued to make fun of Tim’s mom, whom they claimed was very attractive. As I was giving Boss Man a breath, I felt him exhale into my mouth. I jumped up, not from excitement that he was alive, but because I felt like I inhaled half-a-carton’s worth of cigarettes.

“Is he breathing?” Affleck asked.

“No, I just took up a six-pack-a-day habit,” I replied.

We saw Boss Man open his eyes and we told the jocks that he was alive.

“Yea,” Jonesy said.

“Boss Man not dead,” Donny said.

“Tim’s mom is hot,” Eric said.

Boss Man wasn’t getting up or saying anything. Danny D-Lew went to investigate. He placed his finger on Boss Man’s artery, the one that runs down his neck.

“Oops,” Danny D. said. “Never mind guys, he’s dead.”

Part Fifteen

“No?” Jonesy asked.

“Boss Man is dead?” Donny asked.

“Tim’s mom is still hot,” Eric said.

“My mom is dead!” Tim said, erupting into a fit of rage. “And it’s because of you, Mr. Big-Shot Appleman,” he added, looking towards Affleck.

“He wanted to see some apples, and I showed him some,” Affleck replied.

“Enough with the sex innuendo,” Danny told Affleck. He paused.

“In your end-o.”

“Dammit, Affleck.”

“Enough!” Tim took authority of the conversation. “You boys better start runnin’.”

“You realize he wouldn’t be dead if you guys didn’t smoke a carton, a carton, of cigarettes,” I added, feeling that might change the direction of Tim’s hostility.

“Shut the hell up you douche canoe. You guys have five seconds,” Tim threatened.

“Let’s get out of here,” Danny said.

“No,” Affleck replied. “If I could show one guy my apples, I’ll show another.” Danny D-Lew took his sight away from Affleck, and he drew an expression of disappointment, which led his eyesight toward the ground. Affleck began to act on his own by shoving the notepaper with the phone number in Tim’s face. I got back into the Bat Mobile because I felt it was safer. Danny D-Lew joined me, and we watched as Affleck stood out there, shoving the notepaper in Tim’s face. We were more astonished by the fact that Tim was not retaliating and his jock pals were not restraining Affleck. We lowered a window to hear what was happening outside.

“How. About. D’ese. Apples!” Affleck was not relenting.

“Haha, that’s what you get for having a hot mom, Tim,” Eric said.

“My real name is Donovan,” Donny said.

“Who wants to smoke another carton?” Jonesy asked.

Tim laid on the sidewalk and continued to thrash as Affleck showed him some apples. This conflict ensued for about another hour, with everyone walking into the Poop and Snooze not questioning the apple fest happening in front of the Bat Mobile. It seemed too ludicrous, but oddly enough these civilians were used to it. Affleck eventually let up.

“Eh, this is pretty boring,” he said. “I think I’m gonna’ bail.” He socked Tim right in the face, and then left in the face.

Affleck walked into the Bat Mobile, and as he started the engine, we heard the final thoughts of the forty-year-old jock crew.

“Haha, Tim’s face is black and blue like his hot mom,” Eric said.

“What happened to Boss Man?” Donovan asked.

“Seriously, who wants to smoke another carton?” Jonesy asked.

The Bat Mobile departed from the Poop and Snooze, and from the forty-year-old jocks. Now it was onto somewhere less obscure than where we were previously. It was onto somewhere where we would rendezvous with “The Others”.

Part Sixteen

“Who ate the rest of the Cheetohs?” Affleck angrily inquired. “I’m lookin’ at you, Danny!”

“Now why would I eat your Cheethos?” he countered.

“Well, I looked at your fingers, and I think I caught you orange handed.”

“Oooo! He got you there, Danny D.,” I added. He just gave me a funny look.

“Great. Now what am I going to snack on. You guys know I need to snack. You wouldn’t like me when I snack.”

“Hey Ben,” I started, “wrong superhero.” We were traveling down a highway at about eighty miles an hour, and Affleck jerked the steering wheel to the right to perform a spinout while simultaneously slamming the brakes. I thought of the people driving by us seeing that and thinking we were total bad asses.

We came to a stop within a couple of seconds, with the Bat Mobile surprisingly defying every law of motion Newton concocted. He’d be rolling over in his grave if there were an outside force to move him, as he lived by his morals. Affleck turned his head to the right, as Danny and I were sitting in the back seats. His brow angled downwards, his eyes a void. Tension became the energy of the moment, then he spoke.

“Look here you schmucks,” he started. “You guys ate my freakin’ Cheetohs.”

“I didn’t eat any,” I interrupted.

“Look, just. Just shut up! I need a freakin’ snack or else we are not going to meet up with The Others. We will just sit here on the side of this damned highway and starve. Way to go, Danny. You ate the Cheetohs before they were even freakin’ useful.”

“Okay, okay. How much farther to the rendezvous point?” Danny D-Lew asked.

“How should I know, I didn’t get to eat my damn Cheetohs!” he screamed.

“Okay, okay. Here, take this,” Danny D-Lew handed him a Ding Dong. “I’m giving you a Ding Dong,” he said.

“Wait,” I was puzzled. “Where did that come from?”

“While you were busy performing CPR on that chain smoker, I managed to walk into the Poop and Snooze, buy a Ding Dong, then take a whiz, oh, and I watched the hot dogs roll on the turning cooker for about three minutes.”

“They are pretty entertaining,” I added. “Wait, was I really doing CPR for that long?”

“Maybe, I dunno’.”

“Hello? Don’t pull these asides on me. Gimme’ the Ding Dong!” Danny D. obliged and handed over the Ding Dong, and Affleck shoved it into his mouth as quickly as he could.

“Mime-riling lunch getter,” Affleck said.

“Swallow before you speak,” Danny replied.

“I’m feeling much better,” he said. “I’m not me when I’m hungry.”

“Ben, I gave you a Ding Dong,” Danny said.

“Yeah, and?”

“Do you not watch T.V. commercials?”

“I TiVo everything.” Danny rested his back against the leather of the Bat Mobile and peered out the side window. I sat with my hands clamped together in the standard church-boy fashion, waiting for the next conversation. I felt like I had caused enough trouble with my smart-alec behavior.

Affleck soon turned the ignition and the Bat Mobile started. We merged onto the highway to resume our venture toward The Others. It was going to be a long drive to wherever we were going.

Part Seventeen

I had decided to snooze while Affleck drove us to the rendezvous point. I didn’t know where I was or where I was going, but it didn’t worry me. I checked the time, which read 3:04pm and closed my eyes. Danny D-Lew did the same.

I could not tell where exactly we were, but I assumed it was somewhere where forests were ubiquitous. They stretched for miles along the highway, and we also passed through some mountains, high ones. I tried to spot some kind of landmark in order to decipher my whereabouts, but failed. My best assumption might have been that we were somehow somewhere on the Eastern seaboard. But, I had just been in California, so, it was unlikely.

I dreamt on where exactly I was heading and what exactly I was doing. Who were The Others? Where were they? Who was Andre the Giant? What was the average I.Q. of those jerks at the Poop and Snooze? Was their boss really allergic to apples? Who was I? Where was I? How the hell did I encounter Ben Affleck and Daniel Day-Lewis? Why exactly did I encounter Ben Affleck and Daniel Day-Lewis? Where the hell was John Travolta? I mean, oh my God!

I dreamt of more inquiries, but I didn’t remember them because, well, dreams work in funny ways. I eventually woke up at… 3:04pm? What the hell?

“Hey Ben, how long was I out?” I asked.

“For about three hours,” he replied. I looked around and the luscious forestlands were replaced by a metropolis, palm trees, and Prii. There were so many Prii, and I could safely infer that we reached the heartland of the liberal-hippy sector of California. No other state would be driving cars that get forty-five miles to the gallon, and that was a fact, which made the smog surrounding Los Angeles all the more ironic.

“Where were we three hours ago, Ben?”

“Jersey.”

“Jersey? We were in freakin’ Jersey?” The pitch of my voice raised in accordance with its crescendo. I peered to my right and saw Danny D-Lew opening his eyes.

“What goin’?” I muffled in his half-awake state.

“We were just in Jersey!” I informed him. He stared blankly at me, with his eyelids opened halfway, and his mouth opened the same length. He continued to stare at me, and continued. He still stared at me. Two minutes passed when he jolted back to his seat, closed his eyes, and commenced snoring as archaically as humanly possible. Hell, it probably was less civil than any orangutan engaged in a battle of the feces.

“Dan!” Affleck shouted.

“What, I’ll play the part!” Danny reacted.

“Wow, I should try sleeping at my agent’s meetings more,” Affleck said under his breath.

“What?” I asked.

“Be quiet.”

“But wait, you never told me how we got here from New Jersey?”

“Fine, but it’s a long story.”

Part Eighteen

“Well,” Affleck started. “Since we’re driving the Bat Mobile, we are able to do a fair bit…” I interrupted.

“You flew here, didn’t you?”

“No, we flew here. There’s three of us in here.” I was jealous by Affleck’s quick wit, so I chuckled.

“Good one,” I said.

“So, long-story short, we flew here from Jersey.”

“It wasn’t really that much of a long story, Ben.” I felt I was quick and clever by saying that. He just stared at me, oddly.

We pulled up to a parking garage in where I assumed was San Francisco.

“We’re here,” Affleck said. My heart was racing, pun intended. We were finally going to meet with the others, after five parts! There was no possible way I could be disappointed. We got out of the Bat Mobile and strolled toward two black figures, both average in height and in weight. One of them was wearing glasses.

“James, Seth, glad to see you,” Ben started.

“No.” I mumbled.

“Ah, Mr. F. and Mr. R. It’s a pleasure for us to meet once again.” Danny said.

“No.” I said slightly louder, but still slightly inaudible.

“How have you guys been? Did you see the Kings just won 4–1?” The man without the glasses said.

“No?” I mumbled.

“Well, good for them. Listen, Jimmy F. and Seth R., we brought someone along,” Ben said.

“No.” I said louder.

“Ray, meet James Franco and Seth Rogen.”

“Dammit!” I shouted. They stared at me, “Sorry, I saw that the Maple Leafs lost.”

“Hahaha, this kid’s funny,” James said. Thankfully I was able to dodge that bullet, but I was still disappointed.

Seth Rogen approached me, got on one knee and put his left hand on my right shoulder. “Listen buddy,” he began, “what we are going to do isn’t exactly standard.” I was interested. “It’s going to be very out of the norm and a little risky.” This plan said me all over, likely because it was checked by the United States Postal Service as they suspected there was a bomb hidden in this package, but they gave it their stamp of approval with their “me” stamp, and the guy who did the stamping was heavily inebriated, which made him proceed to “go to town” on this plan package. I had zoned out, and Seth snapped his fingers.

“Hello? Earth to Ray.”

“What does Earth need, Mr. Carter?” I said as I came back to terms with reality.

“Alright, you’ll need to listen to what I am about to tell you, as I will not repeat it.”

Part Nineteen

“We need to eliminate Kim Jong Un,” Rogen said.

“Why?” I asked.

“Because he’s evil, duh.”

“Can we get Rush Limbaugh next?” I requested.

“Maybe. Sure, I guess.” His tone seemed reluctant, despite the fact that he favors the liberal ideology.

“Here’s how we are going to do it: Jimmy,” he pointed at James Franco, “you see, Franco over there, has ordered a plane for us to fly over North Korea.” This didn’t make sense to me, since North Korea is deemed as a “no-fly zone”. “We are going to swoop down into the Un compound and finish the dirty work there.” I noticed a camera appear behind Rogen’s head.

“Who’s that?” I inquired.

“Who, this guy?” he started as he pointed sporadically at the man. He then pushed him off the end of the parking garage. “What guy?”

“I’m falling!” the cameraman said, falling. “It’s as if I’m flying but without control, which I guess is the definition of fall — .” Only a splat was audible after that. My senses were heightened from here on out.

“Anyway,” Rogen continued, “we will finish the dirty work there.” Nobody talked after that, and we all stood in the parking garage, staring at one another for nearly three minutes. I felt the need to break the silence.

“So, you killed that camera guy, didn’t ya’?”

“We better get goin’!” he said anxiously, sprinting to the slope leading down the parking garage. I heard running feet behind me, prompting my vision toward my backside. There were ten cameramen hustling after Rogen. Actually, there were eleven. There was a really fat one, two-hundred-fifty pounds with glasses and black curly hair. He was halfway through my vision when he stopped jogging, bent over, and gasped for air. I checked my watch, seeing fifteen seconds have passed since the stampede of cinematographers crossed through the garage. He eventually continued down the same path the horde of cameramen had taken.

“What the hell is going on?” I said.

“Nothing out of the normal,” Franco replied.

“Since when did you get here?”

“I’ve been here the entire time, but am only recognized periodically.”

“Yeah, I’ve noticed that. You better chase after your boy Rogen.”

“Yeah. I should.” He stared at me for a few seconds, then sprinted for the exit.

“What should we do?” I asked, looking for Ben Affleck and Danny D-Lewey-Lew Danielson. They were nowhere in sight. “Where did everyone go?” I looked out the parking garage, over the same ledge that Rogen pushed the cameraman. Besides his splattered corpse on the one end of the yard, I saw the overweight cameraman filming Affleck and Day D-Daniel Lewey-Lewison the First performing their rendition of Singing in the Rain under mostly sunny conditions. It was pretty authentic, though, as they were syncing their lips to the lyrics rather than singing them. I walked away from that ledge.

“I still don’t know what the hell is going on.”

Part Twenty

I descended from the parking garage and walked toward Affleck and Laniel Lays-Dewison whilst they performed their rendition of Singing in the Rain. Before I grabbed their attention, I directed my sight toward the avenues connecting to the garage’s entrance. I saw the pedestrians on the L.A. sidewalks gaze derogatorily at Affleck and D-Lew Day Lew Lew Daniel as they danced on the sloped entrance to the parking complex. They continued this mimary [sic] in front of everyone, motivated by the overweight cameraman with pit stains so eloquently perspired that they outlined the shape of a horse head, and not the one the guy found in his bed. I couldn’t help but remember…

I was nine at the time, my parents divorced. And, for some reason, everything was in the western beige, but I guess that’s beside the point. I was sitting upstairs in my living room, with my father working on the level below. I could hear a yelling voice, but not one of belligerence, rather one of animation. It was audible over my favorite cartoon at the time Ed, Edd n Eddy.

“Buttered toast,” Ed would say. Ed was the unintelligent, but lovable, one of the group. Overall, “the Eds”, as they were called, were castaways, but they always had each other, and occasionally Johnny, the bald kid with a thing of wood named Plank as his best friend. I couldn’t get enough of it.

Yet, I walked down the stairs towards my dad’s office, and he had horses on his computer screen. I was never interested in them, as I would always loathe the day that I couldn’t watch television in the living room because the Kentucky Derby encompassed the whole afternoon. It wasn’t my GameCube or Ed, Edd n Eddy, so I didn’t like it. Yet, this moment was weird, it was as if something cliqued. Everything was in perfect stride, the storm was in full swing…

My consciousness reunited with reality. I noticed that the pit stains on the cameraman’s shirt were similar to that western beige from my flashback. Gross. I walked over to Affleck and Daynewis Lee-Daniel so that I could regroup.

“Hey, guys,” I said. They continued, so then I added a wave.

“Guys?” I said again. They saw me, but seemed to be committed to continuing their act in front of the camera.

“Guys!” I shouted, annoyed by the fact that they made eye contact with me but continued their act. I had an idea, and I felt it was brilliant. It was the most cunning procedure in which I felt confident. I was going to do it; I was going to get their attention!

I… pushed the fat guy with the camera over and he rolled down the inclined driveway. He didn’t fall as gracefully as those other overweight people that fall on the Internet, but it was equally as humorous. That is, for me anyway.

“What the hell was that for?” Affleck questioned, his voice filled with bellicosity.

“Yeah!” D. De Day Day Daniel… Daniel, uh, Daleson Dew Don Daniels added. Tears began to fall down his pores. “Why?”

“Didn’t it occur to you guys that you were dancing and lip syncing in the middle of Los Angeles in front of a camera? Doing stuff like that gets you shot!”

“Yeah, anything gets you shot here.” We heard a gun shot from behind us, it was a forty-year-old man in a panda suit on top of a unicycle. His motion halted and the unicycle threw him to the ground.

“You see, that guy in the panda suit was shot because he was in a panda suit!” We heard another gun shot. There was an elderly, barefoot, Jewish clown walking in pain toward the spot where the panda guy was shot and fell over onto the unicycle.

“You see, that elderly, barefoot, Jewish clown was shot because he’s a Ronald McDonald enthusiast!” We heard yet another gunshot. This time, we couldn’t see where it came from. Then, we looked up. It was a tall, white man wearing a Gary Coleman mask skydiving, with his parachute opened. He gracefully fell to earth, where he subtly fell on the exact spot where the Jewish clown and panda man lied. Another skydiver fell to the ground, and he was holding a gun. He gazed blankly at us, then ran away.

“Well, ya’ got me,” I admitted. “But, that doesn’t help me figure out where I need to go, especially since, you know, my house is about 3,000 miles that’a way,” I cynically commented pointing to the east.

“Alright, alright. We’ll get you a hotel. Is a Motel 6 okay?” Affleck offered.

“Ehh,” I replied.

“Super 8?”

“Ehh.” He sighed.

“Hampton?”

“Yes, yes, yes! They have the best waffles!”

“All hotels have the same waf — never mind.” We walked back up the parking garage and hopped into the Bat Mobile, where we prepared to leave for the outskirts of LA and for the closest Hampton Inn we could find.

Party Twenty One

We arrived at the Hampton Inn at sunset, parking the Bat Mobile and walking inside. Affleck led the three of us, throwing a credit card at the concierge as he set foot in the facility.

“I want two rooms, joining rooms, with the door in the middle,” Affleck yelled, walking into the elevator.

“Uh, wait, sir, can you come back here?” the woman working the front desk asked. The elevator door already closed and Affleck ascended toward some floor. I don’t fully understand what or why he just walked away, but he did. “Who was that, lil’ boy, your daddy?” she asked me.

“He’s not my dad, and I’m not lil’.”

“That’s great, but I need to know what you guys want.”

“Give us two rooms, whatever you have.”

“But I want my own room!” Deenial De Day Day Lewday whined.

“Give us three rooms,” I added. The concierge typed away on her computer, the sound of keys playing an oddly melodic tune, one similar to a percussion ensemble. I listened as each key was pressed down, feeling an odd pleasure with the sounds words can create.

“Alright, here are your keys,” she said. I paused. “Sir?”

“What, oh, great, thanks.” I grabbed the keys and walked away.

“Wait, I need a credit card for incidentals! Hello?” I heard her add, but I continued toward the elevator.

“I’m gonna’ jump on my bed as much as I want!” Danny Dan Dan Pro Ban Ban proclaimed.

“Why the hell are you a four-year-old all of a sudden?” I asked. The only reply I received was one of tongue noises with droplets of projectile saliva in addition. I felt it was a good enough answer at the time. D-Dew Dew followed on his statement by jumping up and down in the elevator.

“I’m going to jump on my bed like this!”

“That’s great,” I said in sympathy, fueled by complete apathy.

The elevator finally reached the floor of our rooms, level six. We had three rooms here, 604, 605, and 606. I took room 604 and D-Day Day Lew Lew took 605. I had no clue where Affleck wandered, but if he were to return, he’d stay in 606. I was not sure if leaving Danny Day-Lewis alone in his own room was a good idea, but I was only thirteen years old, and I wasn’t a big enough douchecanoe to have a family of four by then.

I had an opportunity to retire for once and entered my room. My only companion was my sub conscience, which wasn’t out of the norm in my regular life. Yet, I could ponder on my situation for once instead of coasting with it. I had no douchecanoes leading my path and no douchecanoes restraining it for once. Even though I didn’t want to be here, I felt control for once, and I liked it. It felt safe, my mind felt safe. I knew, then and there, my best friend would be my intuition.

I laid on the bed, not bothering to turn on the television. The silence was soothing, as well as thought provoking. I never really contemplated my life before, I thought to myself, so what better time than now?

Part Twenty Two

I wondered how deep I could venture into my mind. I thought the solitude would help, but it did not. Instead, it heightened my difficulty to regroup. I laid in bed for some time, trying to move the gears of my mind, even though my mind is more of a machine concocted by the famed Rube Goldberg. An interruption soon arrived.

“I want water! Can I have the one in my room?” Daniel D. D. asked.

“What, no. That’s Fiji Water, it costs like $4,000. Have you ever drank water from Fiji? It’s pretty polluted. Ya’ know, like all water,” I replied.

“But I’m thirsty!”

“Since when did you turn four?” I looked away to give Danny some money to buy middle-class water at the soda machine. When I turned back, the fifty-year-old man that is Daniel Day-Lewis turned into a four-year-old, diaper and all.

“Ugh, why did he keep is fifty-year-old face?” I noticed awkwardly.

“Vroom, vroom. Vooooooooom. Poopy!” He cleverly said.

“What the hell is going on?” Baby Danny soon crawled back through his door and it shut mysteriously soon after he reentered his room. I was with myself again, or maybe not.

I went back to the bed to lie down and think. Not a minute into resting and I notice a pit of smoke shrouding the area in front of me. When it dissipated, it was something washed up.

“Is that… Rick Moranis?”

“That is… Rick Moranis!” said Rick Moranis, making sure someone in the state of California knew his name was Rick Moranis. It was not like I would be of any significance to him, especially since he’s, well, Rick Moranis.

“What are you doing here, Rick Moranis?”

“Other than proving I am, in fact, not dead, I was sent by Teesho-Xenube to help you think.”

“Teesho-Xeenube? Is this some weird National Treasure crap?”

“Oh, most certainly not. You see, I am an expert at shrinking kids.”

“Ahem.”

“What?”

“A. Hem.”

“… W-hat?”

“Dammit, I’m not a kid.”

“Oh, yeah, I don’t care. You see, I, being Rick Moranis, am perfect to help you reach the insides of your mind.”

“How?”

“Like this.” He shot me with a laser. I closed my eyes the moment he shot it, because if I can’t see it, it obviously doesn’t exist. Yet, I had a chance to reopen them. When I did, I was leagues underneath the bed I had been lying upon.

“What the hell.”

“You see, I shrunk the kid,” he said.

“A. Hem!” I said, but it sounded high pitch because I was small. I’m not sure if that’s really how it works, but I’m not a Shrinkologist. I was in need of a Psychologist at this point.

“Now that you are small, you can enter your mind, literally!” Moranis said.

“How the hell am I supposed to do that, you shrunk me, remember? This wasn’t the kind of shrink I wanted!”

“Relax, over here.” He pointed at the wall behind me, and I noticed a giant version of my head in place of the nightstand usually between the beds.

“Um, am I supposed to go in there?”

“Precisely, that way you can enter the deepest crevices of your mind!”

“What the hell.”

Part Twenty Three

I was frightened, as many would be, by the contents of my mind. I was also frightened by the fact that I was walking into a hotel replica of my head because Rick Moranis shrunk me to a size where I could do so, as well as the fact that a hotel had a replica of my head in their wall.

I strolled through the exhibit of my mind, noticing the diversity of attractions spread across the inside of my brain.

In one corner, I saw a midget version of my self dressed in a four-piece suit, colored like the United States flag. I waved at him and he waved at me. After he waved back, a diverse group of other midgets rode in on donkeys and began to beat the living pulp out of the midget version of me with cricket bats and chess boards.

“Ah, so you’ve found the area of your mind where your conservative values are oppressed,” a voice said. I turned, seeing nothing, and looked up, seeing a midget version of Willy Wonka descending with a balloon at hand. The Gene Wilder version, not the knock-off Johnny Depp version.

“What the hell goes on in here?” I asked Wonka.

“Oh, just pure, wonderful, delightful insanity. Your mind hasn’t been one for tourists lately, though. You see, you’re the first visitor we’ve had in the last three years.”

“But it’s my head?”

“Exactly.”

“Well, Mr. Wonka-.”

“Please, call me Gene,” he interrupted.

“Alright, Gene, why does it seem like I’m on one giant acid trip?”

“Well, I can take you over to the section of your mind that resembles an acid trip if you would like. There are some dynamite picnic benches there, cushions and everything!”

“Well, I don’t think I can turn down cushioned picnic benches.”

I followed Gene to the acid-trip section of my brain, oddly particular at the time. On our way there, I noticed many different exhibits around my head. One was titled “Innocence”, and it was covered with portraits of me as a toddler playing with toy trains. That Ray was so naïve…

Or was he?

I got sidetracked by another exhibit, this one title “Ambition”. It featured another midget version of me at his inauguration into the United States Presidency. There was an exhibit next to him, titled “Aggression”, which featured another midget version of me, just accessorized with a sweaty wife beater, mullet, and blue dungarees. Suddenly, the Ray from Aggression ran over to the Ray in Ambition and shot him in front of the United States crowd. I was petrified, but then saw an even bigger title around those two exhibits titled “Fear”. It seemed as if, despite the one exhibit, the Rays may be at war with one another.

“We’re almost there!” Gene said.

I was alert at this point and interested at the same time. My head was an anomaly, but it appeared so well crafted because of its complexity and convolution. Gene and I approached a hallway, and I noticed adjacent within this hallway were cubicles. I looked inside, and they were tiny little writers. I saw a massive bulletin board in one of them, noticing the term “paudcrib” in the center of it all. I knew these guys, and I knew where I was, but it was uncanny to see this as a reality. I did not know how, but I was literally in my own head, my prefrontal cortex to be exact.

We approached a door at the end of this hallway.

“Alright,” Gene said. “Through this door is the acid-trip section of your brain.”

“Really, or figuratively?”

“Duh, figuratively. You don’t know what acid is like, you just base it off of what you learn second-hand and from exaggeratory statements.”

Part Twenty Four

Gene and I walked through the door, and this section of my mind was literally a transitional bumper from That 70’s Show; a kaleidoscope concocted by a twenty-four year old parent-dwelling pot smoker. In the middle of this area, which, by the way, had no visible floor, ceiling, or any sort of surface what so ever, were the cushioned picnic benches. They were floating in this colorful area while Gene and I seemed to float towards it. The door was not visible, so I assumed I had to stay.

“You can see this place is one of a kind,” Gene said.

“Not with this rip-off backdrop,” I replied.

“Now, why must you resort to that speech?”

“I was trying to make a joke.”

“Well, you shouldn’t have to try, Ray.”

“Well…”

“There you go again.”

“What?”

“You’re so easily swayed by other people’s thoughts. You should have some confidence in what you’re doing, and with everything you’re doing.”

“I’m never confident because I rely on my audience.”

“No, you need to rely on yourself before that. Look, Ray, I’ve been in this place for years, even decades. Heck, this is why I never did a sequel to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, so they gave the role to some pirate. In my time here, I’ve grown to understand you, understand everything inside this museum of your mind and its symbolism. You’re a person who lacks self confidence, Ray, and it seems to get in your way from what I’ve seen.”

“Are you kidding? Do you see what I do? I’m totally self confident.”

“Because that’s the character you have to fall into, Ray, yourself lacks confidence. You can’t handle criticism or any defamation to your person because you lack confidence.”

“I don’t need to listen to this.”

“But you do-,” I began to interrupt him.

“No, I don’t! I understand myself better than any tour guide in my mind could! I have confidence, I am great, I am…”

“… unconfident.”

No! I was going to say tired of nobody recognizing it. All I ever received is praise.”

“Exactly. You’ve been raised into this.” Gene laid his hand on my shoulder. “It’s not your fault.”

“Are you really gonna’ do this?”

“It’s not your fault.”

“I know what you’re doing.”

“It’s not your fault.”

“What, am I suppose to cry now or something? Not happening.”

“It’s not your fault.”

“You’re not letting go of my shoulder, are you?”

“It’s not your fault.”

“Look, if I yawn, will you just count that as crying.”

“It’s not your fault.”

“Mother of God, is this how I act towards other people?”

“It’s not your fault.”

“You’re right, that’s your fault, then.”

“It’s not my fault.”

“Then who’s is it?”

“It’s not your fault…” He stood up off the picnic bench and began to float in front of me, putting his other hand on my other shoulder. “It’s not your fault.”

“Don’t screw with me, Gene. This is my head!”

“It’s not your fault.”

“Don’t you screw with me, Gene!”

“It’s not your fault.”

“You’re screwing with me, Gene! You don’t want to screw with me!”

“… It’s not your fault.”

“That’s it!” I raised my feet, and kicked Gene away from me. I jumped towards him, and on top of him, slapping him across the face. After a couple of seconds, I just sat there, realizing I acted on my impulses, which I never.

“You see, you’re at a constant war with yourself, Ray, and it’s all derived from your lack of self confidence. You feel you aren’t good enough, and it’s not your fault. Yet, you bottle up your feelings until you do things you are not proud of, like trying to physically harm me.”

I closed my eyes, as if ready to tear up.

“If it’s not my fault, then why do I lack confidence?” I opened my eyes, seeing Gene had disappeared. The acid-trip backdrop began to fade away, too. I began to fall into what seemed like an infinitely deep pit. I continued to fall, and I had no idea whether or not I’d get out of this.