M.A.D. 2

by

B. Blank

Chapter 1, “Tourism”

Five tourist busses disgorged themselves along Queen Elisabeth Drive, Bondi Beach; Japanese, Germans, Chinese and Americans. On time as always for the late morning fake mini surf carnival. It was a great Monday, good for business.

I watched from about 200 metres at sand level. The same routine with the same fake competitors. Even against the South Easter I could understand the loud hailer commentary, or maybe I knew it off by heart.

First the surf ski race around the string of buoys that were too close to the shore. The dozen or so competitors each had their cloth cap on. A colour to mark each out. The swim race, then the long board. A ride for the brave tourist in the out board motor driven inflatable, through the waves. Usually a big German or an American of that extraction. Every bounce he made would cause the appropriate loud hailer commentary. Time to make my move.

I left my hollow in the sand and walked up to my club house. In the patrol box I found one of the red and yellow quarted patrol caps. Turning it inside out bought out its white inner liner. I now had my white fake competitor’s cap and strolled down to the water’s edge in my bathers.

The final event was underway between of volunteer tourists and a team of elite life guards. It simply consisted of bounding truck tyre inflated inner tubes along a straight sandy track. The tubes would bound out of control into the tourists lining the track with all the thrill of a Grand Prix where a car crashes into spectators but with inner tubes no one gets hurt.

I stood between the waves and the farce. The loud hailer gave its farewell speech. My cue to dive in the water and come straight out. Our bronzed life guards had finished jumping through hoops for the tourist dollar so it was time for me to get my share.

All the fake competitors split up and mingled with the bus loads. If they stayed in a knot the pickings would be spread too thinly. Dripping wet I headed for the Japanese.

“Konichiwha” I nodded, causing smiles all round. The Japanese are such humble tippers and never give any cheek. Makes a man feel proud.

Needing empty hands for the Germans I stuffed the bank notes down the only cleavage a man has in bathers, the crack of my arse.

“Guten Tag, wie geht’s?” I’d smile.

“Sehr gut. Das Boot war wunderbar.” If I was lucky to get the galah who went out in the rubber duck. Usually his hair was wet and his clothes and sand clung to his wet body.

More down my cleavage to be empty handed for the Septics.

“G’Day mate. A great day.” I’d offer.

-“Yeah, not bad. I didn’t see you out there”

-“I always come last.”

-“That’s not the sprit. Winning is everything.”

My shrug would make him feel bad so he would tip me more. I would smile a thank you then clench my raised fist around his donation and say: “Winning is boring. Every race has a winner. The real challenge is to take on the system.”

The great thing about mechanised tourism is despite the many they are never going to see you again.

Back in my sandy depression I was pleased with my morning’s pickings and thought of giving that afternoon’s fake carnival a miss. Did not want to push my luck. The women had started coming down to Bondi so best to watch. One p.m. and with day light saving the sun was still high. Maybe it was time to get out from under. I was thirsty and a dip would fix that. I panned my close surroundings for a woman who might like to take the plunge and saw this man.

He was, like me, in his mid twenties and making awkward progress in the soft sand on the wide circle he was steering around me. That was not why I was looking at him.  It was him looking at me with a distorted question on his face. I raised my straw hat and lowered my sun glasses to give him a dirty look, only to cause a smile of recognition and an out stretched hand.

“Mr. Blank, I presume?”

I said nothing.

-“Mr. B. Blank?

“Who’s asking”, I replied.

-“I am Bruce. Pleased to meet you at last in person.”

-“Bruce who?”

-“Just Bruce as it is dangerous, for me, for you to know my full identity.”

-“Great, so if it so dangerous why have you come up to me?”

-“I need your help to make my escape that I made yesterday.”

-“That sounds easier done than said. Was it from a nut house?”

-“No it wasn’t and it was far from easy. I could not have done it without your help.”

-“I knew I was clever but how did I exactly help without knowing it? I don’t even know who you are. What did I do? Get to the point.”

-“You’ve done nothing yet. You’re yet to do it.”

-“It does sound dangerous. So why don’t I tell you to rack off?”

-“I need some time to tell you the whole story.”

-“You’ve got five minutes.”

-“O.K. you will use my story to write a book to gain fabulous wealth and notoriety. This allows you to be interviewed on prime time US T.V. thus allowing me to make my escape, yesterday and the others too.”

I looked about and asked: “Others? Have you got some more escaped maniacs here with you? Does my T.V. interview distract your guards?”

-“The others have gone to their place and time. There aren’t any guards, except one but he is a train guard. I’ve convincing evidence to show you and you will be rich.”

-“I do have a pressing need to be rich but why did you pick me of all the people on Bondi Beach?”

-“From your T.V. interview.”

-“I haven’t had a T.V. interview.”

“Well I’m talking about your future. I traced you back to here,” Bruce said with a look to try and play down the whole thing.

“You’re talking about my future?” I asked curtly.

-“Yep.”

-“I get the shits when people, who don’t know me, talk about my future.”

-“Look, do you want to be rich, yes or no? It’ll take me five minutes to prove it.”

“I don’t write books,” I replied.

“You’ll write this one. I read it,” Bruce said showing some exasperation for the first time.

-“Ha. You’re saying you’ve been in the future and read a book I haven’t written yet.”

-“You had written it when I saw it and before you say any more do we have to go over your future again without the proof I’ve to show you?”

-“Don’t get your balls in a knot but tell me why don’t you just get a copy, from the future and just copy it out without me?”

Bruce sighed and replied: “The book is confined to the future. I can go there to read it but cannot bring it to you before you write it and get it published.”

I thought on that for a moment and asked: “Does it have written all over the back cover that it is a multi-million dollar best seller?”

-“Yes.”

-“It would be damn nice to have that to show prospective publishers. I would give them the best of both worlds. Something new and I’m sure you will tell me highly original, with successful precedent thrown in.”

-“Sorry can’t do. You’ll just have to think of another trick to get a publisher.”

I did not look happy. That reflected the fact that nothing I said would get rid of this dead shit. Me, who lives by what I say. Bruce looked at me and asked: “Why so glum? You’ve been though nothing compared to me.”

-“You’re right. That’s the way I like it and what have I been through?”

-“Nothing yet. I suppose I got your future mixed up with your past. Still your future is nothing compared to what happened to me yesterday.”

“Is this story of what happened to you yesterday very long?” I enquired.

-“You’ll have to make a small paper back out of it.”

-“I don’t have to do anything. Anyway, that’s at least seventy thousand words. I’d have to borrow a typewriter and learn to use it. No publisher would accept my hand writing.”

“You seem to have a fetish about your publisher,” replied Bruce. “He is going to make you a wealthy man.”

-“By learning to type seventy thousand words I deserve to become wealthy. Where’s this proof you’ve to show me?”

Bruce stood up and pulled out of his pocket half of a thoroughly used handkerchief. It was so thoroughly used it stood out rigidly from the one corner by which he held it.

“Take a close look at it,” he said attempting to put it under my nose.

“Piss off,” I responded reeling back. “Why should I look ay your disgusting half of a filthy snot rag? Throw it away. It’s not worth washing,” thinking I got just what I deserved talking with this maniac.

Bruce looked at me with some amusement and said: “The handkerchief is all there, it’s just that you can only see half of it. It’s rigid because I’m tugging on it.

-“If you can see that snot rag is all there then you are not.”

-“No? Half of it is in the Dimensions, through a gate and tied to a hand rail just inside.”

“I don’t see anything,” I interrupted. “Only thin air and where your filthy snot rag is sliced clean through.”

“The Dimensions are from where I escaped. These Dimensions and their gates are invisible from out here.” On saying that Bruce jogged around in a wide circle, stumbling in the sand, towing his rigid hanky. “I can go very fast and not loose it.

“Really?” I replied then looked about to see if anybody was watching.

Holding the rigid handkerchief in the thumb and fore finger of his left hand, Bruce made his whole right hand and forearm disappear where the handkerchief ended. I was amazed. Again I looked around regretting such a public place. No one was watching. “Don’t do that!” I gasped. “Get it back.”

“What are the passwords?” asked Bruce. “I need them to get any living tissue out of the Dimensions.”

Throwing a towel over what was left of Bruce’s right arm and pulling down to the sand, I said: “don’t do that, someone might see. I don’t know any bloody passwords.”

-“Good, to know means torture and death but you’ll need to know some anyway.”

-“I don’t want to know nothing. Get your forearm back.”

Bruce mumbled something I didn’t catch, honestly and his forearm filled out under my towel. “Rack off,” he said to my face.

“What’s with the sudden compliments?” I asked.

“Rack off are the passwords,” answered Bruce.

“You bastard!” I yelled. “If what you say is right you have just killed me.”

“I’m sure you’ll think of something to stay alive,” replied Bruce confidently.

I just sat there. I could not get those “rack off” passwords out of my mind. Was this guy just full of bullshit? But how did he get his arm to disappear?

“This time,” interrupted Bruce: “I want you to put THE PARAGRAPH at the very beginning of the book. It was frustrating, to say the least, in trying to find it.”

-“This time? What paragraph?”

-“O.K. This time is the first time you write the book and THE PARAGRAPH is the one that tells me how to escape.”

I thought at what Bruce said for a while and then replied: “Sorry, can’t do, you’ll just have to read the book.”

Bruce was impassive so pulling a face, namely his, I said: “I’m the mug who has to learn to type to write the book. At least you could read it. The paragraph is obviously the punch line of the whole book. No one is going to buy a book with no story or suspense.”

-“Then according to your logic there isn’t any suspense, in the book, because you write, at the beginning, that I escape.”

Despite knowing that I had not written anything, I strangely understand what he was getting at so I said; “Remember Sherlock Homes? Every one expects him to solve the crime yet the suspense is how he does it. The author, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle made a lot of money out of what was elementary.”

Bruce looked glum so patting him on the shoulder I said; “Look, I’ll repeat THE PARAGRAPH at the end of the book. No one will notice it there.”

-“I know. I’ didn’t.”

I sat up straight and said: “Bruce, you are giving me the shits. I don’t think I’ll write your book.” While I was saying this, Bruce became decidedly fuzzy around the edges.

“You can’t do that,” he yelled faintly as if he was far in the distance. “And speak up, I can’t hear you.”

The more I concentrated on the idea, the more Bruce seemed to become transparent. In fact I thought I could see right through him to a most beautiful pair of breasts gliding to the sea and indirectly attached, in the appropriate way, to a magnificently shaped behind and long lovely legs. Like all beautiful women, she was looking the other way. Had she not, she would have seen Bruce go all transparent and seen right through me.

I was mesmerised by this wondrous creation of natural selection when Bruce punched me in the shoulder and said: “Don’t dare do that again.”

After a long pause, lying on the sand, Bruce said: “It is obvious that the book must be written exactly as it was, with no changes, word for word. If not I would disappear from this beach as if I were never here. Promise me now you will do this.”

I said nothing so to encourage me Bruce said: “It’s even got rude bits.”

“What?” I replied unenthusiastically.

“Faeces and sexual intercourse,” he responded. A look of puzzlement came over my face so Bruce said: “Faeces are turds.”

-“I know that. Why do they have to go in?”

-“That’s the book. I’m not responsible for what Ralf did. Anyone would go crazy trapped in those Dimensions.”

“Those Dimensions again and who the hell is Ralf?” I demanded somewhat tired of this whole business but intrigued by the disappearing forearm followed by the transparency trick.

-“Ralf is a key participant in the escape. He worked the computers.”

“Well where is he now?” I asked, and then regretted it thinking one maniac was better than two to deal with.

“Still trapped or dead,” answered Bruce with sad conviction.

-“Was he your friend?”

-“No, when it came to what was mostly trivial I found him quite disgusting but he was very knowledgeable and when it came to the crunch was a better man than me.”

This conviction, along with all the disappearing was convincing proof of something but what? “What about this disgusting business of sexual intercourse and faeces?” I demanded.

-“Look the less said about that the better. We’ll only mention it in the book when it’s absolutely necessary. I misread you. I thought it would encourage you.”

-“Encourage me? What do you think I am? You know nothing about me. We only just met and I’m regretting it.”

-“I’m sorry to offend as I’m sorry to correct you but I do know something about you because I saw your T.V. interview. It’s now obvious that you gave a false impression for reasons that will be best known to yourself.”

-“Cut the bullshit. You’re confusing me.”

Bruce looked at me in a pleading way and pleaded: “Please promise me you will write the book exactly as you did or exactly as you are going to. I’ll help by suggesting you start the next chapter with the title “Into the Trap” and now finish this chapter with the words: “So here is Bruce’s story as he told me.”

-“What’s this “next and this chapter” crap? I haven’t written anything yet.”

-“All right, when you get to the relevant part of the book. Stop hassling me. You’re making today almost as bad as yesterday. Now get on ya bike, ride home and get a pen and pad. I’ll wait right here.”

-“With that attitude you can stick your book up your arse.”

Bruce gave me a rye smile and said: “It looks like me being Mr. Nice Guy is not going to work.” At that he seemed to do an about face twisting on the spot. I could not be sure as I started to feel very giddy to the point of nausea. Then just as quickly I felt better.

“Do we now understand each other,” asked Bruce.

“Understand what,” I yelled?

-“In front of you I just went into and out of the Dimensions. I’ve a gate at the end of the handkerchief, remember? In there I can put thoughts into the minds of anybody out here. I made you think you were ill but we are racing too far ahead of ourselves. We’ll come to this much later. Don’t you agree? So do as I say to avoid any further unpleasantness and I’ll wait here.”

What could I do? This maniac could control my mind. Yet I made him almost disappear. We both had incredible but different powers over each other. He was not going to go away so I decided to play along until I could defeat him. I looked at Bruce and said: “Give me thirty minutes.”

-“Sure but remember, I can always watch you.”

 

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