I was alone, though people walked the streets all around me. It was only nine o’clock, exactly two hours and eleven minutes away from when I would surprise Mr. Janglehorn. I decided on a whim that I would go ahead and pay him a visit. My day had been fairly boring until now anyway. I wasn’t under the influence of anything but myself. This was really happening…at least I think it was. One can never really be sure of anything. I was alone because I didn’t want to be accompanied on this mission. Some time had passed since the ketamine day and Scéléra and I were definitely ‘legal adults’ now. Eighteen…
Life with Vera and ‘Your Malevolence’, as Scéléra had called him a few times, had been alright so far. I felt so much more alive there than I ever felt in Tranquility Acres. I had ridden in the back of the Crown Vic once to observe a day in the life of Heffalump Woozle and Malevolent Mal. I was sure I would gain or at least learn something from this experience. Woozle was an experienced businessman.
I suppose that you could call me an experience junkie. I wanted to have them all before I returned to the soil. Death was more frightening to me than any person or group of people, no matter the odds. People can hurt you, torture you, shame you, criticize you, but death is the greatest danger. It will take away your ability to experience anything else in this world of living, breathing, nasty polluting super-animals. There really is much to be experienced, in spite of the angry overrated monkeys. What exactly do I mean?
“Consume existence before time consumes you. Consume existence before time consumes you.” The message sounds from somewhere deep inside my soul. A day in the life of these two was how you might have expected it to be. There was lots of cocaine but never much weed, not while they were driving around outside of the house.
“It leaves a smell and slows you down. I’m not gonna slow down while I’m cruisin’ ‘round my streets! I’m not slowin’ while I’m rowin’, man. Heffalump Woozle doesn’t slow down for nothin’.” Heffalump was awesome.
We continued to speed up and down the city streets as the day wore on. I met at least fifteen different ‘questionables’ who I could now call if I wanted some excitement, something intense to experience. This had been a good thing overall. I could now help Heffalump by delivering some of his confectionaries to these people from time to time. I had already done it twice. It seemed fair to me. He paid well.
But I was still thinking about the politician. His arraignment had passed and his following court date was only two days away. The courthouse was less than three miles from our place, and only two miles away from the courthouse was the hotel where Janglehorn was staying. He would check in at seven p.m., two days before he was expected in court.
Scéléra and I were still happy together, and had become pretty experimental in our sex life, with everything from floggers to furries to macaroni and cheese. We did have to pay exactly $175.78 for rent, but I made that in about three days working for Heffalump. I started thinking about my actions more critically than I had before… paranoia, if you will. One day I thought a door to door saleswoman was a secret agent sent to the house to spy on and document all of us…better safe than sorry.
Anyway, this was the night. Seven p.m. had come and gone. While J.J.J. checked into the hotel I was in my bedroom, mentally preparing for the night that stood ahead of me.
“Ah, ha, ha-ha, ha,” Scéléra goofily sung while skipping in circles around me. “You must look perfect tonight, and you really do! Your plans for this after-evening are stupendously amazing.” Were they?
It would at least be fun, and almost certainly a learning experience. That was good enough for me. Eight p.m. quickly came and the evening’s ‘experimenting’ was finished…those poor stuffed animals…Two miles, that’s how far I had to go. There was no need to rush things. I would begin my walk in twenty minutes. I decided stepped outside to be alone with the darkness of the night.
“He is your father in nearly every way. They’re practically the same person. Don’t allow him the opportunity to damage more young minds. This is a positive action that you are taking, friend. The end result will be good for all, yes?”
‘Friend’? Shadowshade had been calling me ‘child’ up until now, but he wasn’t anymore. Did he see me as an adult now that society did too? Why eighteen? Why did America choose that number to call the ‘age of majority’? The number was different in some of the other countries. I found it absurd that the human race had still not evolved past state of being robotically systematic like a bunch of little fucking animatrons.
I felt this way because on my birthday, that single day, I was finally seen as an adult. But the day before, I was a child. What happened overnight? Magic ‘adult juice’? No…that sounds more like what happens during puberty. What happened overnight was perhaps ‘Structural Functionalism’, a.k.a. ‘robotic systematic society’. Anyway, it was time to set out on my journey. I had already bid the people inside adieu.
It was still fairly early in the evening. A sea of cars drove all around me, most of them racing to wherever they were going like some macho man from The Fast and the Furious. Sometimes I could see where they were headed: home, work, church, meetings, a night out…so many different stories. Street after street I walked, taking my time. It soon became nine p.m. I was facing Hotel Obscurité from across the street. I had been here before at that wonderfully horrible party. This place was surely haunted…by my own personal ghosts.
It seemed like the right time to add a few more to their ranks, so I crossed the street and entered Obscurité through her swinging glass doors. It was an intimate thing. A large group of people was hanging around in the lobby. It looked sort of like an expensive Cinderella dinner. It was a good thing that I had decided to wear a black vest. It went well with my black shirt and tie and my black slacks and shoes.
“Black slacks,” I said out loud, just for the fun of it. Holy shitting cows, there he was! John Jacob Janglehorn. Was he a criminal? He certainly wasn’t being treated like one. He ate his filet mignon piece by piece in peace at one of the many tables that were set up around the room. There were three other people at his table, all three of them engaged in conversation with him.
John looked quite similar to the Mormon who visited us a few weeks ago. Was he? No…but nearly. He had the same brown bowl-cut. He wore a blue suit jacket, white shirt, red tie, because of how much he adored the lovely Lady Liberty. I decided we’d play a game while the crowd of people was still around us.
I was attending the party as James Jingle, a parody of Janglehorn. It would be lovely satire. I’d take on his attitude and opinions, only the attitude would be exaggerated for dramatic effect and the opinions would be delivered without their usual political ‘correctness’. How far was too far for Ivan the Terrible? Too far wasn’t far enough.
“Hello, Madame.” I greeted a woman around the age of thirty who was wearing a very expensive blue dress. Did her choice of blue mean something American too? I suppose that one can find an allegory in anything, Scéléra and I must have been right.
“Oh,” she replied. “I haven’t seen you before, sir. Who exactly are you?” She looked down at me with conceited sophistication.
“Don’t worry about that, dear. My father is very rich.”
“Ah! Brilliant! I’d love to meet him! You’re a very fine budding bachelor yourself!” Now she was in love.
“Well I do as the rich say so that I can get a little piece of the riches. Money is my only goal in life, you see. But I have no gold in my pockets tonight, so could you kindly stop digging for it? That would be much appreciated.”
“What? Asshole! The nerve!” She stormed off, like I hoped she would. I was done with her. I ordered a filet mignon for myself and a glass of champagne from the bar. They didn’t charge me a dime, nor did they card me. Maybe it was because I looked confident, spoke well, wore a vest and tie, and had been overheard talking about my rich father. I found a seat at a table where no one else was seated and decided to make a toast to the marvelous John Jacob Janglehorn, as James Jingle. So many J’s all at once can really start to tickle your brain.
“Hello, everyone!” I made myself heard as I stood up from my seat. “My name is James Jingle. I’d like to give a toast to the magnificent John Janglehorn!” I had everyone’s attention now, including his. That was the idea, after all. “I may have been ‘for sale’ for the entire length of my career…” I began my speech.
“…I may have allowed laws to be purchased, lied to the masses for years and years and showed no concern for the poor. I don’t really care about them anyway. I sent out decrees and told the sheriffs and chiefs of police what they were expected to uphold and abide by. I sent out the ‘state armies’ to keep the masses under the thumb of the government. I’m law for hire, sold to the highest bidder. But do you know why I’m toasting Mr. Janglehorn tonight? It’s because he is none of these things.” I laughed openly for a moment before continuing on. Keep it together, Ivan.
“Nope, he isn’t a single one of them! Here’s to John! May he continue being none of the things that I’ve mentioned.”
“Hooray! Here’s to John!” The crowd replied with glee. Everyone clinked their glasses together. They seemed to have missed the punchline, but I knew that John hadn’t. He stared at me for the next five minutes, but then resumed his conversations normally. At about ten-thirty, the dinner came to an end. Mr. Janglehorn retired to his sleeping quarters. ‘Floor 16, Suite 1603’, his key card said. He had taken it out for just a second while leaving the feast. But how would I get in? Come now, that was easiest part of the whole adventure.
“This is quite fun isn’t it? You’ve scared the poor fellow, but not too much, just enough to disturb him without making him suspicious. But he should be suspicious, shouldn’t he?” S. had come alone for the journey. For now, I sat down at the grand piano in the lobby. Music flowed from my fingers as I pushed down gently on the keys… it was a slow, calm nocturne. I had the tranquil demeanor of a praying mantis just before it strikes.
I imagined an actual praying mantis lashing out at its victim. It happened so suddenly. It came out of nowhere. 11:08, the screen on my cell phone said. I bought it the day before. Three more minutes…tick tock. I entered the elevator and began my ascent. Ding. Ding. Ding. Ding. I finally made it all the way up to floor sixteen. Ding. Ding. Ding. Ding. The elevator doors opened. I was here. I had arrived. This was his floor.
Everything was quiet. Maybe he was already in bed. No matter, he’d be awoken very shortly. The air around me felt grew much colder, but it could’ve been merely my imagination. This was going to be truly exhilarating.
Time to have a chat with the lovely politician. I rounded a corner to my right. There was only one room here. It was 11:10, only one minute left. The timing was very important. It was part of my routine. It would come together like magic. ‘1603’, here it was. Was I ready? Was I really going to do this? Of course I was. That filthy pig…I came prepared, and he was about to discover just how prepared I was. I knocked on the door.
“It’s me, James Jingle! I think we should talk! My very rich father sent me here to make you a multi-million dollar offer. You’ll be, um, contributing some services to our oil industry! We need to buy a politician so we can get rid of the environmentalists! Would you like to hear more about it? I have all of the certifications and paperwork necessary to legally collect your signature for him, no strings attached.” The door unlocked and opened.
“James Jingle! John Janglehorn. What a pleasure it is to make your acquaintance. Come in, and thank you for the toast earlier. I’m not sure if you were taking digs at me or not, but the crowd seemed to have a good time. So let’s talk business.” We entered a space that was both a living room and a kitchen. Certainly, John. Let’s… He turned on a lamp. “Sit down, Mr. Jingle! Take a load off!” He had closed the door leading out of the suite a few seconds ago. It was time to begin. I was more than ready to talk business, but I wouldn’t be sitting down to do it.
“I’m fine. I can stand. It’s alright, really. I won’t be staying long, I’d hate to keep you up.”
“As you wish, then. Standing it is.”
“Very good. You see, Mr. Janglehorn, I think that you possess all of the qualities to be a perfectly worthy contender for this rare opportunity. You could be exactly the man I’ve been looking for.”
“Oh, really?” His eyes brightened. “What kind of deal are you throwing at me? What are we talking about here? How do I know it’s not just another phony scam?”
“You get to be involved in an art project, John. You’ve actually just come upon a very serious misfortune, I’m afraid to say. You’re far too much like my father.
“Ready, set, go!” S. cried, quickly and giddily cackling away. So I went…