Emily zipped up her black sweater, with white bats on the sleeves. Michael did up a purple River Island Bomber Jacket, which was loose fitting now because of his abstinence from alcohol and consequent loss of body fat. They went to Michael’s garage where moving boxes were stacked. Emily popped a piece of Nicorette into her mouth and went to the passenger door. Michael waved at her to take the other side and asked, “Would you like to drive?”
“I still don’t have a license.”
“Oh… That’s right,” he retorted in a sing song voice.
“I guess I’ll drive then. That would be the logical thing.”
Emily chuckled, with a confused and drawn out, “Okay then.”
The Audi got onto 152nd street and headed to east Hastings. Like a tourist, Emily marveled at the marginalized transients in the open air drug market, and double checked her doors were locked as they made their way to the Pacific National Exhibit. Michael parked and took out his wallet.
The sun was bright and brought the world into focus, making every detail render more precise and visually striking. The couple walked hand in hand to the crowded entrance. Emily strained to stand up taller, and waved at someone who had reached the front of the line.
“Sue! Sue look this way! Hey!”
The high cheekboned woman turned her Japanese face and parted her hair when she recognized Emily and her far older accomplice. Sue had dyed blond hair but the roots were coming in black. She wore a high waist blue skirt over black lace leggings and a partially transparent black shirt. She also had a ruby amulet draped over a thin gold and decorative crown on her forehead. Sue slouched down and waved, smiling, and gestured quickly for Emily to come over: “Shit girl what up? Get your ass over here!”
Emily ran ahead, urging Michael to come along. The ex lawyer lagged, searching through his leather wallet, taking out cash for the door.
“…I’m working on screenwriting now,” the lady claimed, as Michael caught up.
“What about you?” Sue asked, “…Still writing?”
Emily shrugged, “Nah. I didn’t even finish that class.”
“Oh that’s too bad. It was good, Mr. Belserene really opened my eyes to how I could make use of my natural creativity. I now feel writing is my way of life. It’s become who I am.”
Emily smiled brightly, showing off her newly whitened teeth. The cluster of shoulders and heads, eager to visit the vacation destination, moved on ahead, and Emily cut in line after Sue. Michael followed, with a timid look on his face and awareness of being glared at.
“…Do you guys want to do some pure LSD I have?” The fashionable Asian produced a clear bag with multicolored paper tabs.
“Whoa!” Emily cupped her hands over her mouth and looked at Michael. He shrugged, “Okay.”
Emily’s knees gave in as she laughed, “Sure! Let’s do acid and ride rollercoasters!”
“Emily … Zip,” Michael said, noticing stares. Emily giggled, and did a kind of grind-core dance, then started skipping ahead with Sue. As she skipped she quoted Prince and sang, “Sue C… Suzie Sue C… I won’t pay the usual fee.”
The trio chose to start off with the towering suspension swing known by the park as the Atmosfear. Emily’s eyes lit up as the sky lit up; Michael clutched his handles, unsure what he would soon be feeling. From above Vancouver all the separate people were briefly visible before the world started spinning.
The ride ended and the trio clapped hands and laughed. The ground became unsteady as they walked off to find another ride.
It was on the Corkscrew that Michael began to see the tracers he’d always heard about. Emily by this point had eyes that were mostly black. As the coaster reached its zenith Michael exhaled a laugh that carried an unmistakable hint of madness. Emily quipped, “I am a golden goddess…”
Suzie C disappeared suddenly and with little explanation other than that she had a lot of laundry to do.
The inebriated couple watched her go and then Emily spontaneously clutch the taller man’s shoulder. Her balance was beginning to fail her. “Let’s sit by the plants,” Michael hushed, his face contorting in unusual ways.
“Michael it’s … It’s all a substance. All of one, this earth, isn’t it?”
Michael caressed a daisy and nodded at the pretty lady whose dyed blond hair breathed in rhythm with the plants, changing color and metamorphosing.
“…Michael, it’s not real. Time, the roller coaster, our skin. Is it a place? Our times stretched out on a strip, like a Mobius strip…”
Emily lit a cigarette and then leapt as someone shouted at her to stop.
Michael watched the discombobulated Emily, deep in his own inner thoughts. Then in an eerie voice he launched into a monologue on reality.
“Physics and consciousness complement one another. The world around us is just an illusion of our brain.”
Emily sat on the grass. A wasp landed on her shoulder then flew away. Michael’s soliloquy resumed.
“Decoherence… It’s all … Experimentation impacts the system. Our monkey paws! We light with lasers and installed measurement systems…You can’t take measurements without interacting with what you measure. Properties thereby modified. Neutrality is impossible…”
As Michael ranted Emily smoked her cigarette, tapping her feet, sitting with her legs crossed in the green. To Michael, Emily’s blood was humming hymns. “Go on,” She said, her head turning around and around.
“Well it’s when one system interacts with a larger system the quantum system loses its original properties and … Becomes classic … Like Schrodinger’s cat … He’s in such a massive system that it can’t be isolated from the world…”
Sounds began to alarm him. Coins dropping and buzzers beeping pounded in Michael’s skull and he clutched his slurpee in both hands and grabbed Emily. She grinned psychotically and followed the unshaved former drunk.
“…Remember Emily! Mental processes are quantum effects! Where does observation end and reality begin?”
Emily leapt into the arms of the noticeably distraught man and kissed him. Then they collapsed onto the grass, licking each other. “It’s all coming apart!!” She exclaimed.
The crowds went by relatively uninterested. Then out of the crowd came Lena, wearing a black tank top over a sport bra and cargo shorts, hand in hand with Stephen, who wore a grey Diesel sweater and jeans, and cologne from Paris.
Lena looked at Stephen and cocked her head.
“is that your father?”
With reflexes worthy of his judo training Stephen grabbed Lena by the wrist and pulled her with him through the crowd until they were hidden from Michael’s view behind the lineup for the Hell’s Gate ride.
“Oh my God did you see their faces?” Lena doubled over. “And who was that skank?”
Stephen took out his Iphone and opened the camera app.
“What are you …”
Stephen snapped photos for two minutes while Lena leaned back and shook her head, smiling at Stephen as he obsessively documented Michael’s public display of affection with a woman half his age.
“Sir you and your … Lady friend … can’t stay here. This isn’t a place for what you’re doing,” accused a reverberating voice. Michael thought he detected an accent but could not say what sort, region or demographic. An enigmatic face was rendered invisible, obscured by shadow, hidden in shade cast beneath the brim of a patrol hat.
Michael had no voice. The face turned to brick. Unable to talk, the disgruntled man inched closer to Emily and away from the swelling monstrosity that kept shouting inquiries and orders. “Sir, I will call the police if you don’t leave voluntarily.”
Michael struggled against the chemical assault on his neurons, trying to make sense of his perceptions. He managed to grab the skinny girl by the arm, and drag her a matter of inches, then stopped, his robot arms malfunctioning. Emily became a trembling, vibrating little woman, and shrunk into a ball under a scarlet Oak tree, with her fingers coiled tight around her knees. She hushed unintelligible solipsisms. A wasp buzzed nearby.
“…I can’t find my daughter. He’s not looking at it right. Around the wrong way backwards. Around the wrong way, it’s him I’ve seen.” The shaking woman perseverated on hallucinations and babbled to imagined beings. Frozen, Michael entered a torpor, drowsy and practically catatonic.
Watching from the wall of the Asylum of Terror horror show, Stephen told Lena that he had decided it was time for them to bail on the joint.
“Why is he acting like that?” Lena asked, leaning against his strong rower’s chest, half mocking and half concerned.
“High on what?”
“… Psychedelics of some kind.”
“Jesus Stephen. Is he going through a midlife crisis or something?”
Stephen squinted and shrugged, then started to push on Lena’s shoulder, urging her towards the gate.
“He’s further along than midlife,” Stephen quipped as he reviewed the photos of debauchery.
They walked on. Near Hastings, the lawn lit up red and blue. A pudgy officer in dark matte glasses begrudgingly stepped out of his VPD Squad car and lumbered in towards the park. A second officer with youthful and handsome Arab features and a dark mustache followed.
“Hey can we just wait out here until they take them away? I still want to go on the flume.”
Stephen chuckled. “I’ve got a flume you can ride.”
“…We’ll … Do that later …”
Under a Sitka Spruce tree of tremendous height she dropped to the grass and tugged Stephen by the elbow to sit down. Together they waited for the police to remove Michael and Emily.
“OFF ME! HELP! NO!!!” Emily let out a blood curdling scream as the pudgy officer dug his knee into her back. Metal bracelets snapped on her thin wrists. She bit at his arm and he pushed her face into the ground.
“SIEZURES DREAMS AND SULLEN THINGS!”
The second officer hung back a few meters, lazily writing on a notepad, tending to Michael, who despite his UFO inflated pupils, placidly watched Emily’s failing struggle with the other officer, his face sinking into despair and defeat.
“Are you able to walk?”
Michael said “yes.” He stood up, but then a look of panic came over him and he sat back down.
The officer sighed and walked over to the paramedics who had just arrived.
Michael sunk into a darkness, and became essentially incapable of responding to anyone for the next hour.
Time passed and Michael became conscious of his surroundings. He had somehow ended up sitting on a bare, abandoned trail of train tracks, hauntingly alone. He felt a hollow feeling in his bones. Concentrating, he identified a sign: New Brighton Road. As he slowly pieced his surroundings together, shaking off a fugue, he discovered himself to be in the middle of a talisman statement: “…What is aware…”
Collecting his faculties, he took the time to freeze himself still, and looked around. City commotion caught his attention and he focused his vision towards the bridge to North Vancouver where traffic had backed up behind a six car accident. The distance of a football field away he strained to see; he cupped his hands over his still whirling vision and saw paramedics pulling a limp mangled victim from a burning vehicle. A monster reflected off the broken windshield, and from the bridge, Michael saw his father’s eyes, and a chill went down his spine.
It’s lonely in hell, it’s lonely in hell!
“To rehab I won’t go!”
Weary feet stomped, and Michael staggered over a swing set and scraped his knee. Out of the corner of his eye Michael noticed the outline of a man. The figure got closer and a champagne glass clinked, as teeth chattered. Suddenly struck with panic, Michael took off running.
He sprinted down the closest street, which was Renfrew, bouncing off the concrete with adrenaline fueled oomph. As the Coliseum approached the voices in his head got louder and venomously accusative.
He covered his ears but the voices would not stop. A symphony of chattering demons raged.
Bitches bones faces in stones
I always make mistakes
I’m not a winner
This is my life and I’m dying
The Pacific Coliseum came into view and the heat took the wind from his lungs; he heard pink. A park bench emblazoned REST IN PEACE beckoned him to sit. Then he tried to remember what had happened and felt guilt, somewhere in his insanity, for not knowing where she had gone.