Namo amitabha Buddhaya, y'all.
This here's a religious establishment. Act respectable.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Jenz Last NaNo Post

Yep, this is it, kids. It cuts off in a really awkward place, but this is as far as I got before the trial started. It's over now, so hopefully I can get back to it, but for the time being I gotta get out as many query letters as possible before all the NaNo folks do. Yes, I'm mercenary that way. But hey, there's only about 160 literary agents in the U.S. (that I know of) what represent My Kind of Material. I've bugged 15 or so of them, so only 145 to go. Then on to the UK and Canada, I guess. Anyway, I hope you've been enjoying this weird little trip to La La Land. I know I have.

Everybody knows about the Stemmons witches, but since you’re not everybody and you might not know about the Stemmons witches, here’s the deal. They aren’t really witches, for one thing. They’re “Three Hooded Figures,” by some Mexican sculpture artist or other, and for years they’ve sat in front of the Market Center building on the I-35E Freeway, affectionately known as the Stemmons Freeway, the Freeway of Death, Land of the Speeding Motorcycles and half a dozen other less friendly monikers. They’re–well, they look like three hooded figures. They don’t even really have faces, which was what took me so aback when the elevator doors opened. They’re just kind of rough carvings into bouldery shapes of rock. I mean, this is the sort of art that when I see it I want to grab the artist by the lapels and yell something nice like, “EARN your frick’n hundred thousand dollar city contract, sculpture boy!” But, on the other hand, there’s truth in advertising. They’re supposed to be three hooded figures. They sure as hell are.

They’re also somewhat of a local legend. An urban legend or whatever the hell, which is what you believe in when you don’t get dragged into the middle of some crazy multidimensional adventure involving the gods of Asgard, a giant black hole, the end of all reality and, oh yeah, a guy named Loki. The legend is that if you come to see the Stemmons witches at midnight, preferably under the light of a full moon, then they come to life and start moving around. But only if they don’t know anybody’s watching. Apparently that’s important. This legend got started some time in the 1970s, when any number of illicit substances that could make you think that inanimate objects are moving around were in high circulation among local college students (who seem, for some reason, to start most of these legends). I heard it when I was a student at TCU in the early Eighties, though, by which time the consumption of illicit substances had moved up a notch and involved stuff that scholarship kids like me could not afford. I did, however, have occasion to drive over to Dallas after six on a Thursday to see if we could stay up until midnight and watch the Stemmons witches to see if they came to life.

What happened instead was that security chased us off the property and threatened us with arrest if we ever came back. Which, I gather, was starting to happen all the time, so the powers that be finally moved the Stemmons witches from the front of the Market Center building and put them in the courtyard of the World Trade Center, not the seven-towered masterpiece in New York City that shouted “We Are The Commercial And Cultural Center Of The Entire Civilized World And By God Don’t You Ever Forget It” but a weird little two-story job that was built around this big magnificent courtyard. I think the idea was to have lots of foreign embassies rent office space in there for purposes of, I guess, world trade. What happened
instead was the bottom dropped out of the economy the year after it was finished (but the year before President DiCaprio was elected) and the whole area never quite recovered to the high-end rents it was designed to expect. The World Trade Center was primarily leased by massage therapists, a court reporting school, and the Salvadoran Consulate which, I suppose, couldn’t find space up the street on Prudential Avenue. And through it all the Stemmons Witches stood in the courtyard, solemnly being hooded and standing around not coming to life except at midnight under a full moon when nobody was looking.

Well, they were sure as hell moving now. The one in front grabbed me by the shirt front and pulled me out of the elevator. I didn’t even know they had arms under those hoods. I was a few feet off the ground before Cheryl could start screaming and by the time she did, the other two Witches were picking her up and shaking her. The first one, which had me, said something to the other two that sounded like stones being ground together and they dropped her. Then they all converged on me, just as security showed up (a little late to save me from being eaten by statuary) and people around the lobby finally figured out something weird was going on and ran
this way and that.

Then Loki, who I’d almost forgotten about in the confusion, winked into existence next to the Stemmons witches. He yelled something in Old Norse that sounded like a piano being tossed downstairs while fighting off a pack of rabid wolves and the statues froze again. Well, the three Witches froze, anyway. The ones outside, who were watching this through the window with fascination, didn’t seem to be affected at all.

“What the hell was that?” I demanded, picking myself up from the ground.

"Help,” Cheryl added from some distance above me. The Hooded Figure that grabbed her had frozen with its arms–I guess they were sort of arms–up in the air. She was suspended from the arms at around armpit level.

Loki reached up and yanked on one of her legs while looking up her skirt. She came loose and landed on top of him, which if you ask me was what he had in mind all along. In any case, he ended up with his head up her skirt and she ended up–never mind. Let’s just say I reached down and pulled her to her feet as fast as possible.

“Damn,” said Loki from the floor.

“Thanks,” said Cheryl, who had completely missed Loki’s attempts to grab her crotch.

“Welcome.” And, to the security guards and startled onlookers, I added, “What? Haven’t you people seen anybody attacked by the Stemmons Witches before?”

As I said it, another ripple went through the air. The nearest Witch lunged at me. Cheryl screamed, and I grabbed her and backed away. Loki, whose prurient interests were for once distracted by the much more exciting problem of saving his skin, skittered backward across the floor until he ran into me. “Don’t just stand there!” he bellowed as the Witch lurched after us. “Run!”

“Run?” I exclaimed, ducking a swinging stone arm. “Run where?”

“Just run!” Loki got to his feet and pushed us toward the main doors.

Cheryl came to this conclusion faster than I did. She ran – surprisingly fast in the high heels–across the big marble floor, ducking around security guards and pushing past the startled onlookers. I followed behind her, and we reached the main doors of City Hall just as the first swish of a stone arm went through the air above my head. We sprinted outside, the doors shut, and the first of the Stemmons Witches slammed right into it. The glass, which was bulletproof, didn’t break, but it did bow out in an alarming kind of way that suggested it would fail eventually, given enough time and enough impacts from a big concrete boulder.

Loki popped into existence next to me again. “Well, that was just great!” he yelled, flapping his arms for effect. “Why don’t you just walk up to Thor and punch him in the eye next time for good measure? And steal his hammer?”

“I think we already did that one,” I said, between pants. I was a little out of breath.

“What I’m telling you. Stop pissing off powerful beings.”

As he said it, the Stemmons-Witch-in-charge thudded off the inside of the door again. The other statues-come-to-life drew back. “We need to keep moving,” Cheryl suggested. “Where’s your car?”

“The usual place.” We all sprinted across the street toward the library, under which I left the car for my five-minute commute across the street after I dropped off Pandora (the better to be ecologically correct under the DiCaprio Mandate, you know.) We got into the lobby just as shrieks arose from across the street behind us. “Okay, that’s it. We’re getting Pandora.” I ran over to the elevator and pressed the DOWN button.

“Pandora?” Loki raised his eyebrows. “Cute little redhead, glasses, worked at TCU Library?”

“Once, a million years ago,” I retorted. “Now she’s a cute little brunette with glasses and I’ll thank you to keep your paws off her.”

“Ouch,” Loki said as we stepped into the elevator. “Do I detect a spark of jealousy?”

“We’re married in this incarnation of reality,” I said. “So paws off.”

“Mel Gibson’s going to be heartbroken,” Loki said.

Cheryl elbowed me. “You never told me you had a crush on that senator from California.”

“It’s a long story.” The elevator doors opened and we spilled out on L-1, home of the parking garage, the city print shop and, oh yeah, cataloging. I pushed through a door marked Employees Only and steered our little party of three through a maze of cubes.

Like I said, it breaks off in kind of an awkward spot. Sorry about that. If I finish it and stick it on Lulu for $4 a pop, will you buy it? My oral surgeon and I will thank you.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Everyone has their favorite way of using the internet. Many of us search to find what we want, click in to a specific website, read what’s available and click out. That’s not necessarily a bad thing because it’s efficient. We learn to tune out things we don’t need and go straight for what’s essential.