Hello Everyone. Here’s a deleted chapter from my memoir, Losing My Mind in America. As of now, I’m doing a thorough edit, from front to back. And, well, this was one of the darlings that had to go, for the sake of word count and fluidity. Enjoy.
A Clockwork Origin
Just outside of Reed Park was Astral Mundo—an amusement park. Families took their kids there during summer for wooden coaster thrills and speed-crazed lightening loops. It was a place for them to entice counter-comfort within the regulations of safety. The only suspects of upheaval at Astral Mundo were the emboldened red lines reading MUST BE THIS TALL TO RIDE THIS RIDE. The cast of Looney Tunes came to life at Astral Mundo, and served as an extension of childhood innocence. Bugs Bunny and Marvin the Martian walked around tirelessly by the day, giving boredom the boot. People went there to let loose their worries given to them by weasels and kangaroos. It was a haven for leisure, a breath for the restless.
“Hey Dad…” he’d said one day.
“Yeah Son?” said his dad.
“I think I wanna get a job at Astral Mundo.”
“A’right then. Work is good. Work is good,”
“Yeah. And I think it will be a fun place to work.”
“Well, that’s a’right Jake. Just remember though. Work isn’t always about what’s fun. Astral Mundo might be a fun place to work, but fun is what ya do after you work. Work hard. Play hard.”
“Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I’ve heard that a thousand times,” he said. “I don’t think I wanna work if it’s not fun though. You know, why would I wanna work, if I don’t like it?”
“Son, it’s not about what you wanna to do,” his dad said. “It’s about what you need to do. The sooner you learn that, the better off you’ll be.”
“I know. I know,” he said, halfheartedly at the adage.
Astral Mundo wasn’t only about themed mountains and glorified valleys though. It was also about food. It boasted funnel cakes laced with enough powdered sugar to keep an army awake for a fortnight. Slushies chill enough to freeze a brain in the heat of the Texas sun. Burgers greasy enough to encroach the red lines of upheaval. And ice cream. But not just any kind of ice cream. Astral Mundo was a proud purveyor of Dippy Dots, the one and only ice cream that’d traveled from the future to soften the tongues of the spherical-dairy-quenching alike. This seems like the perfect place for me to begin this new chapter, he’d thought to himself.
And so he did.
But even Astral Mundo had its dark web of parasites floating in its ethers, looking for something or someone to latch on to.
Jake’s tussle with the rings of Saturn had erased his initial imprint from D.J.’s Lawn Care, but the seeds of his labor had sprouted a 1992, silver, Ford Ranger. Due to the stipulations placed upon him, his range of motion was restricted to Astral Mundo. He’d drive to and from the inner and the outer, with the windows down, and freedom on a leash. He’d continued his quest for sonic gratification and discovered bands like Rage Against the Machine and 311. He’d play the steering wheel drums without relent. He’d jerk his head like a rag doll on a roller coaster. He’d pump his head full of renegade notions and warm air, just enough to set himself higher than his wheel. I feel like a badass when I drive and listen to music! he’d think to himself, obliviously. If his inner rhythm absorbed poet was prompted to prep him for production, he’d listen to the likes of Tupac and Snoop D-O-Double-G, and he’d sing along.“Ain’t nuthin’ but a motha fuckin’ gangsta party!”
Back when Jake used to ride in the passenger’s seat of Jefferey’s truck, he hadn’t much reach to grab any daggers for self infliction. He hadn’t much exposure to the world beyond his social-status woes. There wasn’t much that could’ve turned the righteous into ragged, the smooth into jagged. The warning sessions Jefferey had given him had stuck like a grain of rice on fly paper—part of Jake truly did listen. Jefferey’s words would even echo in his head from time to time, Do not, and I say, do not, start messin’ round with that other shit. Ain’t nothin’ wrong with a lil nawdi. But you gotta be careful. Seriously Doody Poop. You gotta stay away from that doo doo butter. Keep it natural.
But then, we all have that other part of us that can be counterproductive to our well-being, like the third cake in a four pan series that has been sitting on the table for a week. And has begun growing life of a different nature…life invisible to the naked eye, but not so much to the mouth of a glutton. That part of Jake didn’t listen to his big brother.
I’d been working at Astral Mundo for about a month. The serotinal arm of the summer had been taking steroids at this time…
I’d clock in with reluctance every day. I’d set up shop in my isolation station with dread. And I’d wait. And wait. And wait for the end of the day with eye gouging impatience. Over. And over. And over again. Working at Astral Mundo hadn’t been all it’d cracked up to be. The more the milky path unfolded, the more the frozen ice cream would numb my mind.
…the fall was approaching.
There was a girl working at the Henna Tattoo station across my way. I’d approached her one day to strike up conversation. “Hey,” I said. “How’s it goin’?”
She had pale skin and talked with a ghetto slur. “Ah. Yuh know how it be rounnnd’ hurrr. Same shit diff day,” she said.
Luckily, I’d been exposed to a bit of Ebonics through my recent musical expansions. ‘I hear that,” I said. “I hear that. So, what…you paintin’ hennas?”
“Yeah. Somethin’ like dat.”
“What you paint?”
“Ahh shitt,” she said. “You knoww. Lotta dragonns. Lotta Chinese stufff. Yinn-Yangs. Things like dat. It’s aiiight.”
“Ying-Yang? What’s that?” I asked her. It sounded obscene to me.
“Yin-Yang,” she corrected me. “Ah you know. Jus those black and white circles, with black and white circles inn emm.”
“Oh that’s cool,” I said. But there was something about the Henna Tattoo Girl that made me examine her with more prying words. Her eyes were slightly drooped, mouth a little too lax. Her words a little too slur for me not to churn the butter. I wanted to know what was going through her head. “So, um, you smoke?” I asked her.
She looked at me with not much reaction. “Bud?” she asked. “Swishaas?”
“Um. Yeah,” I said.
“Eh. Not too much,” she said. “I got dem handles though.”
“Huh?” I asked her. “Handles?” She was speaking slang beyond what I knew of the English Literary Canon and Ebonics combined. “What’d ya mean? Like, you don’t smoke…but you got a handle on some or somethin’”
“Nah foo. I got dem barz,” she said.
“Hmmmm,” I said with curiosity. “Bars?”
“Yeah. She said. Dem handlebars.”
“Interesting. What are they?” I asked, churning the doo doo butter with a sloppy hand. “They make you relaxed or somethin’?”
“Yeah. They make you chill,” she said. “Dey barz. Man. Don’t you know bout dem barz? They only stay in your system for three days too. Thass why dey good.”
I immediately thought about the new drug test manifesto my dad had set forth. Anything to make work more fun, I thought to myself. And I can get away with it. If she can paint henna tattoos on these things, surely I can scoop ice cream on them…
And so, shortly after my prying, like frozen ink, four white rectangle pills had solidified in my hand. I took them back to my isolation station, and dipped in with the nose of front line cannon fodder. I think I’ll start with a half, I thought to myself. And I put it down the hatch.
Twenty minutes later, I don’t feel anything. Another half.
Within a few hours, I’d moved from the hatch to the flat glass surface of the ice cream freezer, where I’d begun using a quarter, heads down, eagle smothered, In God We Trust snuffed, to crush up the chalky rectangles, and snort them.
And then, like magic, I found myself sitting in a strange office, next to my mom and dad, and a crew of Astral Mundo employees, who were wearing Astral Mundo hats, and Astral Mundo shirts. Bugs Bunny was nowhere to be seen. Neither was Henna Tattoo Girl.
How am I hear? I wondered. I thought I was at the Dippy Dots stand. What’s goin’ on? Why are my parents here? I was baffled by my whereabouts. I was dumbfounded on houzenwutzenwyz. I was bewildered at how I’d gone from Saturn to Astral Mundo, and back again, like quicksilver through a bullet hole. I felt as if my eyes had caught the droop, and my mouth had caught the lax. My brain felt like it had been thrown in a blender with the doo and churned to the max. My mom and dad did not look happy either. “What’s goin’ on?” I asked them, with utmost concern.
But they both just stared through me with piercing eyes, without saying a word. I didn’t feel a thing though. I was hardly grazed.
Turns out I’d been plowed over by the cannon balls, and lost the capability to function and provide quality assurance—a customer had reported me for being incapable of returning her change from a five dollar purchase. Apparently, I’d taken the form of a rabid creature from a guttered world.
I didn’t lose my job though. I was merely suspended for two weeks.
When I returned, I wasn’t allowed to return to the Dippy Dots stand. Instead, I’d been condemned to selling turkey legs at King Excalibur’s Castle until the end of the season.
His curiosity had imploded. His flesh was slightly rattered, slightly tattered, and slighty burned. BUT, the the wounds didn’t suffice in ebbing his balloon head to the ground. I got webbed toes! he’d think to himself. I know how to swim just fine! I don’t need to watch the weather forecast! I’m Magellus Maximus! I’m JAKE!
Some say there’s nothing more dangerous to one’s self than being a cocksure novice behind the wheel…