was now ascending inside the buildings bathysphere station. As I progressed
further into the building, more posters advertising that strange liquid began
to appear. Plasmid this, plasmid that, evolution in your fingertips that. It
seemed like the only thing this city was selling, all from Ryan Industries,
quite a monopoly this fellow has.
I jumped in disbelief, thinking there was an Englishman here hiding all this timeina claustrophobic submarine. I looked around to see where the source of the voice came from. How did it know my name? Unfortunately, that was the least of my worries, especially considering the series of events that have just befallen me.
“Hello?” Said the English voice again
This time I caught the source of the voice. It was a radio, shortwave frequency most likely, hanging on the wall of the bathysphere.
“Hi, yes I’m here”, I said nervously
“To whom am I speaking to”, Said the voice
“John Buchanan, are you expecting me?” I said
“Ah, very good, I will be with you shortly Mr. Buchanan” he said
“Okay where should we meet?”
There was no response from the radio this time. He most likely left wherever he was at to find me. But how did he know my name? Up until a few minutes ago I never seen or heard of this place. Maybe the one who led me here told them of my coming. Who knows, maybe I will get some luxury VIP treatment. Or they’ll send a hit squad after me for intruding in a secret lair of sorts.
The bathysphere stopped and then turned ninety degrees. I looked out the window and arrived at my entrance to underwater Manhattan. The hatch opened and I stepped through another red carpet in a narrow hallway. Only this time, the hallway was not covered in any sort of metal alloy, but rather plastered in red marble all around the walls, the floors, everywhere. It was quite beautiful actually, the colors of the marble were vivid and there were lights focusing their gaze on particular areas that helped give contrast to the gaudy red. In the distance I started to hear music; vibrant, vivacious jazz music. This is something I have not heard for a long time. With that I also heard a large number of people murmuring nearby. It was a combination of noises; the clinking of glasses, laughter, small talk; all in a large scale.
I was about to head to the direction of the noise, then a door suddenly opens from the other side. A short, proud looking man came out. He hadpiercing sideburns and a clean cut haircut. He wore a flamboyant white suit that drew attention away from the rest of the room.
“Ah Mr. Buchanan, so delighted to have you, step into my office and your orientation can begin”, He said. His physique was not that impressive, nor his taste in style. He seemed to be in his early 50s. But he had a sophisticated mannerism and an accent with a rich voice. His entire image was a spitting contradiction.
“Of course, thank you…. What type of orientation exactly?”
“Why, for citizenship, of course, you must meet certain specifications before you are allowed to go any further, a necessary precaution we must take for all newcomers as of late”. He said
“Oh, I see”, I said nervously, I didn’t know about any specifications. Then again I didn’t know about any of this.
“Will that be a problem”, He said
“No, God no, by all means interrogate me”, I said laughing. To my bewilderment, though, he was laughing with me. That’s a first! Finally someone who understands my sense of humor! Five minutes and I already find this place more accommodating than anywhere else at home.
I stepped into his office, which I was completely baffled by. Red marble covered the entirety of the office, different pieces of abstract art hanging on his front wall. Even his office desk was impressive; it was made of rosewood and not a scratch or even a hint of dirt on it. I took a seat in what seemed to be a judge’schair; it was upholstered in leather and had the ability to rock. He took a seat in his own chair, also a judge’s chair, took a few sheets of paper and a pen out and then started my orientation/interview.
“Before we get started, I must inform you that the length of each question mainly depends on your response. This can be a relatively simple matter that takes up a minuscule period of time. Or it can be a long and arduous process that takes hours on end, based off how stubborn you are with certain beliefs. It is all up to you”. He said
“That’s…. good to know” I said confused, not fully understanding what he meant by that
“Wonderful, let’s begin” he said smiling, “What is your name?”
“John Patrick Buchanan”
“When were you born?”
“December 23rd, 1928”
“Do you have an education?”
“Yes, I went to Duke as engineering major”
“What changed your mind?”
“Didn’t find the field particularly fascinating”
“Good”, he said while writing down his analysis of me
“Why did you become a musician?”
“Good wages and good company”
He looked at me with a disappointed glare, continued writing his analysis and then said, “A full answer Mr. Buchanan, you ought to be aware of why you chose such a field.”
“I suppose so”, I said letting off a rather large moan, “Music has a sort of spiritual essence, it enlightens the ears and makes us evoke emotions that we were not aware even existed. When listening to something aggressive, we feel invincible. When listening to something with a softer beat, it soothes our mind and we enter a zone of relaxation. When listening to something somber, we enter another realm of existence for a short period of time. Letting go of our comforts and exploring the tragic unknown. So you ask me why I became a musician. I wanted to make my mark, to create original pieces of music that would elicit that sort of effect on people, and it did for quite some time. But then things turned for the worst. One day the world decides to eat you up and be a part of its internal workings, then it shits me right out, all because of Federal regulation. That’s why I’m here; I had nowhere else to go. Is that satisfying enough for an answer?”
He looked at me for a few seconds, then gave off a smile and went back to writing. We took a short twelve second break and continued on with the questioning
“Are you married?”
“Do you plan on getting married?”
“Why is that?”
“Requires dedication and commitment to your mate”
“Have you ever considered the prospect of having children?”
I laughed a little at this one “God, no”
“Why is that?”
“Requires an insurmountable amount of commitment towards useless undertakings”
“What is your affiliation with God?”
I paused here, dazed and confused on why a question like this was of any importance?
“I’m sorry can you repeat that?”
“What is your affiliation with God?”
I had to think about this one, God really hasn’t been in my life for quite some time. Then again, whose life has he touched?
“I currently have no affiliation with God”
“Why is that?”
“We tend to have disagreements on a substantial number of issues”
He again gave me another glare of disappointment, accompanied with a little anger as well, he then said, “Look I’ve been doing this long enough to distinguish between the truthful heartfelt answers and the shit that’s coming out of your mouth. Right now I can be at a beautiful luxurious dinner party to celebrate the New Year’s but here I am stuck with you. Your youth has passed; you have no excuse. Give me a legitimate reason to stay and let you in to this city. Make yourself interesting, and for god’s sake tone down the arrogance.”
That was unexpected, that statement was so aggressive it seemed to contradict his mannerism. But he was right, I was bullshitting the hard ball questions. Instead of giving him genuine answers, I gave him smart ass remarks. He made me feel like a wandering child who is lost but is too proud to say so. It felt so demeaning that suddenly all the confusion in my head was gone and everything became clear.
“I don’t have any affiliations with God, he tends to limit the artists ability for creative thinking for the sake of duty”. I said proudly
He smiled again “That’s a fairly thought-provoking statement, care to elaborate?”
“I took an art history course in graduate school. We studied many different art styles and the impact that artists had in the world. The two major figures we ended up focusing on were Michelangelo and Leonardo Da Vinci. Both artists influenced the art world in ways we cannot imagine, but Leonardo Da Vinci is still the most recognized artist of all time, and this was because he created the most famous painting of all time, Mona Lisa. Now the idea of this in itself completely baffled me. How can a 30 by 21 inch portrait painting be considered the best piece of art in the world. I’ve personally seen many of Michelangelo’s work such as the Sistine chapel or the statue of David and the technical prowess of his works astonish me to this day. So I decided to do research of my own, going to many libraries and reading a multitude of books on both Michelangelo’s and Leonardo’s work. I quickly became bored of the subject matter presented in many of Michelangelo’s works as they were all paying tribute to stories in the bible, stories in which I knew all too well, leaving no mystery to be found in any of his works. This is what happens when you are subject to the whims of the church. But then I began to do an extensive study on the Mona Lisa, and to my astonishment, there was very little information on the subject matter covering her. It was almost all theoretical. I visited France and started looking at the painting for days trying to uncover her mysteries. Her essence was captured perfectly; from the subtle smile to her gazing eyes. It evoked more curiosity out of me and I continue to this day to try to understand the mystery behind her smile and who she is. Do you have any sort of explanation for this obsession?”
He looked at me again and once again smiled, only this time he was not writing anything, he put his pen down and gave me his undivided attention. A large amount of pride was bubbling within me; I could not explain how I pulled out that information so seamlessly.
“Well I think that’s enough for today, of course we’ll have to continue this tomorrow”, He said smiling at me, looking at me like I was a prodigy of sorts. “It was a pleasure meeting you John, my assistant is waiting outside to show you to your new living quarters.”
“Thank you, I really appreciate this”, I said trying to be earnest
“Think nothing of it”, he said with a smile. A smile I am actually growing quite fond of.
As he was about to walk out, I blurted out, “Wait, I’m sorry I didn’t get your name”
“Oh how silly of me”, he said laughing, “William Firth, at your service”
“Pleased to make your acquaintance William”, I said, shaking his hand, “Now before I go anywhere, you mentioned something about a New Year’s Party?”