“Everything starts from somewhere,” the two men said. “But tonight, you belong to us.”
The voices were discerned as vital characters in the four guys' imaginations. The act's unbridled performance was taking the audience; it created a subliminal sense of authority that made them feel they weren't being had.
There was also a rhythm to their movements that was hypnotic. They were all glued down to the dock, like the feeling you get before the big drop on a rollercoaster. Their minds were being torn from the present location and lifted into the ether. But it wasn’t like they were feeling dubious or bemused. They were marooned together with these mystery men, but they weren’t being abducted.
At least not yet.
Jasper dropped to his knees. “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven…”
The other three joined him.
“Who are you?” Ralph asked.
“We’ve met before,” Mr. Blonde said. “Don’t you remember?”
An explosion of thoughts that weren't his entered his mind.
“The creek... the rocks... we had so much fun…”
He turned his attention to Jasper, who was still reciting the Lord’s Prayer. “Do not be afraid of what you are. Listen to The Girl by the Trees.”
Jasper looked up into the man’s mesmerizing blue eyes. “What girl?”
He didn’t respond. Mr. Brown moved next to him, approaching Doug and Vern. "It's going to be okay. Go forward and wonder.” He place his hands on their heads. “And believe me. You'll use everything you ever know."
A squawking noise came from the marsh. Two bright blue lights emerged, slipping through the trees like a moccasin. Below them was another boat, painted black and white, resembling a holstein cow. It was vibrant and vivid.
The car lights dimmed behind them. When the crisp, ice-blue spotlight illuminated center stage, in anticipation of parting curtains and grand entrances, the four of them looked north into the moonless black sky, shimmered in the aurora borealis.
Richard Dawkins once said that some things are far grander and more comprehensible that we can possibly imagine. But this was beyond all of that.
For these four, it had become a reality.
The Girl by the Trees appeared in a jumpsuit, with soaking wet hair and large, almond-shaped blue eyes, an oasis of make-believe. She revealed an indelible, ethereal presence, with the same colored hair as Mr. Blonde.
“She looks like me,” Doug and Vern thought. But she was different in the eyes.
“Where are you?” She asked.
“We are right here,” Doug said.
“No... where are you?”
The question didn’t make sense, but they were all befogged with desire.
“I'm lost... take me home...” She grabbed Vern by the wrist.
Ralph broke from his trance. “Let him go!”
“It’s okay, man,” Vern said, consoling him with his free hand.
But Ralph had a premonition; the same one he had earlier when he ran up the hill. He overpowered her, but she had a sense of repression that he couldn’t escape.
“Where are you from?” Doug asked. Her blue eyes beamed him closer to his brother.
“Look outside the box.” She pointed to his head.
“There is another side.” She squeezed Vern’s other wrist.
“We are powerful spirits in these physical bodies.” She grazed Jasper’s right leg.
“But there are... higher dimensions. There are other worlds that these.”
She looked at Ralph, smiled, and tapped him on the head.
His mind went on a march through the gallows.
Ralph was overwhelmed with a rush of sadness, remembering every painful memory, all frozen in amber. His body was on the road but his heart was elsewhere, traveling with every excruciating footstep. It’s as if he were overcome by the feeling of today being pressed into yesterday, sedimentary layers of ephemera making him feel like flotsam.
“Being abducted must be harrowing,” The Girl thought for him. “But so is isolation.”
He was screaming inside his head, but it wasn't coming out of his mouth. Unbeknownst to Ralph, he tackled the two men standing at the edge of the dock, all three of them descending into the lake. A crashing splash followed as they disappeared into the deep, dark water.
“Ralph!” Jasper screamed. He wanted to save him. But he couldn’t.
The Girl had latched onto him like a leech. Lasers beamed from her blue eyes, drilling five vertical holes down the side of his right leg. The pain jarred into his body was worse than any of the bouts from that bastard, Mr. Guillain Barré. And unlike Ralph, his screams were heard by everyone.
Doug and Vern lunged to Jasper’s rescue. “Get off of him!” they both yelled. But their youthful valor was useless. They weren’t going to pry this princess away.
“Please... let me stay with you.” Her eyes were filled with guilt.
Yeah, like they had any other choice.
“Stop hurting him!” Vern said.
“Stay here,” Doug said. “I have to go help Ralph!” He beelined to the spot of the plunge. Before he could swan dive for his super uncle, two huge, sculptured cherubs ascended, hanging from the corners of the proscenium. Wings flapping like hummingbirds clipped together behind them. It was the two men again.
Mr. Brown talked to Doug, mind-to-mind. “I heard what you said.”
“You always do,” he thought back. “You’re the one that gave me this long dream. This sad farewell, hanging in the air in the world between.”
“I know. But it's time to shape your own story, create your own glory. Entrust your body to the soothing waves of your memories. Your fleeting rest will end soon, then everything will begin. And I promise we’ll meet again.”
Doug shrugged. “Yeah. In the next life.”
All of a sudden, The Girl relinquished her grip on Jasper. Vern caught him before he tumbled to the ground; his limbs felt like spaghetti noodles. But he now had more strength than he ever had before.
“Follow me.” The Girl usurped them by the wrists again. She led them to the concomitant at center stage, the usher in this unconventional theater.
Mr. Brown swiveled to Vern. “You’ll do everything I wanted to do.” It looked like he was weeping.
“What are you crying about?” Vern thought.
“For all the love I received and couldn't return."
Vern breathed in deep. “I’ll do it for you, then.”
“No,” he corrected him. “You’ll do it because of me.”
The last part of the act was Mr. Blonde, probing Jasper of anecdotes.
“There used to be more Tinsel in you; it seems that my Ice had melted it away. Now all that’s left are these lights.”
The blindness had dropped from Jasper eyes, no longer flying false colors. He’s was bright and shiny, but never all the way there, like a ghost from the old movies.
He was shredding his silver, undressing his false regalia attached to a personality that wasn’t appropriate for him. For the first time in his life, he was really sparkling.
Tears dripped down his face. Jasper finally understood what he was missing; he wanted to be up there with them rather than down here.
“Fix your leaks,” Mr. Blonde said to Jasper. “Besides, a smooth sea never made a skillful mariner.”
Ralph surfaced from the water, arms flailing, his head bobbing like a buoy. Vern, Doug and Jasper all clinged to the edge of the dock and reeled in their missing link. He thrummed for air like a pregnant woman, but he didn’t spit anything out. Their vessel was all patched up again.
“We want to thank you for working together so well and for the trust that you have shown,” Mr. Brown said to the group. Miss Blue weaved through them to the front of the stage to give her encore. The three of them triangulated together, standing below the starry sky and a broken piece of moon, shimmering like a Nativity scene.
“Something inside of you is always telling a story,” she said. “Every single thing that you see and hear is talking to you.” She pointed to all of them. “There is more than what’s on top. Deep below is an underground ocean, one in every head, where strange creatures swim when the ships go down. The only way to balance that off is to make the most of every day afloat.”
“Float on,” they all said in unison. “Forward, to victory.”
Sometimes less is more. Maybe for the others it is.
The Lighted Trio had exceeded their setlist. They entered their shuttles, conferring everything that their audience needed to see, hear, know, and feel. Miss Blue attached her flying cow to the middle of the men’s vessels, a prism refracting white light into a rainbow on a black background. They were reentering the atmosphere through the Dark Side of The Moon.
And like that, they were gone. All that was left was a vestigial, faint flicker from a higher point above the treeline. From a distance, it looked like a lighthouse.
But it wasn’t. They now had credence that they were more than just flashing lights. They had meaning. Every one of them painted a canvas for them, one filled with the ultimate colors that you’ll never be able to reproduce. A performance, like any piece of art, is meant to convey feelings, emotions and thoughts that you never knew existed, those strange creatures floating at the bottom of your barrel. Sometimes it takes years to figure out what they all mean, and sometimes they hit you when you least expect it. That’s the funny thing about time: it can move faster than the speed of light, but it also can freeze and stand still.
But no matter what, the ultimate colors will shine one day. They always do.
Because colors are life.
A long silence hung in the air. After a few minutes, an owl broke it, hooting around the eaves of the pergola. The four of them took it as a calling card to head back to the house.
As they ascended up the hill, Ralph broke into a random spasm of laughter. He turned into a cackling, delirious hyena. It was the first time laughter was created out of absence for them.
“What’s so funny?” Jasper asked. Doug and Vern, silent but lucid, were curious, too.
“You’re not going to believe what they told me,” he said.
He had an entrenched sense of glee about him. He used humor as a gentle way of speaking difficult truths, and even though his name was Ralph, it was easy for him to be frank, too.
“I knew it all along. We knew it. I swear, we really are a bunch of dumb-ass White boys.”