9. Re-Invention


I got upstate after a fashion, meeting up with Caine at his father’s inn. They had a room ready for me when I got there. I had left the keys to my apartment with Irish, along with instructions to keep it safe. There was nothing alive in there to take care of, there was just the point of making sure the dust bunnies didn’t get too out of hand. She promised to keep it well, make sure my artwork was safe, all that good stuff. I was on some good painkillers for the wound, which were making me feel all kinds of happy. I took them orally for a week then started snorting them. I knew I was going back to my old ways, the habits that tore me away from my parents. But it was part of my escape.

Caine was a good friend, true and loyal. An addict in denial. He smoked like I did, and he was constantly working on his guitar play. He’d hit it big someday and we’d have to pay to see him. He was in talks with producers – recordings were made. He’d be big someday, hopefully soon. The room I was in was free of charge, a favor of some sort. I passed money to Caine anyway, so his father wouldn’t lose money from my presence. I just needed a break until things settled down. I tried to put all stress from my mind – all worry and pain. I spent my free time writing, painting, or drawing. I took pictures when I could get a worthwhile subject. Caine knew everyone in town, he was more than happy to provide a few models. I went to every show Caine played at, met all his friends, becoming accustomed to how he lived. I had a lot of respect for what he did, the way he lived, going from place to place. Things were peaceful for ages; I became acquainted with the calm. It was soothing.

I couldn’t play, despite Caine’s rigorous efforts to teach me. Some of my writing pieces I lent to him for song ideas. We had a great partnership, which bred into a strong friendship. I tried to stay on the outside of things, but Caine insisted that I become part of the circle and live. So I did. It was warmer than I’d ever realized.

I didn’t go to college, another reason that my parents and I had been pulled apart. They wanted me to continue in their footsteps. I decided that I had my own path to follow. I had the business to keep me financially stable, as well as other investments. I was trying not to appear too eager to spend my inheritance. The police would think that I was irresponsible. My sudden disappearance wouldn’t look good for me either, but I needed that bit of mental space. I needed that step backwards. A slight pause to set things right.

Upstate, there was little to do but go to the weekend shows. Beyond those, there was nothing else. Except the races. Due to the open roads, wide spaces, it was perfect for racers to take control. And by racers, I mean bikers. And I don’t mean cyclists, you know, those health conscious yuppies that bike because it means cardiovascular health. No. I mean bikers, motorcyclists, those rebels of old that take their lives in their hands and laws are insignificant. The cops had been trying to pull the plug for ages, but they were ultimately a failure. In the end, they just limited the kids to certain roads. As long as they got to race, they didn’t care. It was all the same to them. They raced, the gamblers bet, and the show went on. In the city, there was the bar and the freak show. Here they had their own bars, and their freak show was the races.

There was a sort of leadership, a hierarchy, if you will. The kids that ran the show were my age, early twenties, all tough as nails. They were the hardest riders, the most weathered, toughest overall. We called them the Wicked. There were four of them, just like the infamous Horsemen. And the story was that only the worthy got to see their faces. The rest dealt with visors and helmets, nothing more than a dark shine.

I found that I got bored easily with one idea. Watching just rock shows bothered me after awhile. When I was younger, I used to watch my parents work. It fascinated me, how much they knew or how much they seemed to know. How their patients would just bend to them, telling them whatever dark secrets they possessed. It was amazing. I longed for that kind of power. But as I got older, I saw it for what it was – control. And I gave up on that conquest in search of a better dream. I found art. And the rock shows. And I’ve made due with them ever since, but I need to keep adding or else I’ll never be happy. So I keep changing. The bikers interested me because it was something new. A subculture to rock and roll that I knew nothing about – a new playground of sorts. Such is life.

I started taking walks at all hours of the night. Caine left me mostly to myself because he didn’t know what to do with me. We talked here and there, not all that much though. I watched the races, reflecting on how they related to life. How every event was a culture in itself; how every event bred a certain type of people. There were expectations, rules and limits. Nothing was cut and dry. You had to be a specific breed to compete – they didn’t allow every cocky little brat that came along to run. The ones that fought the hardest and rode the fastest were allowed to take part in the festivities. Every so often they allowed even the vulgar to partake, but only every so often. There were a few dates a year assigned to such an occasion. And they were the best to watch. Everyone was riding for more than money, more than prestige. They were running for respect. For the ability to run the big races. This was their one chance, their single shot at it all. Personality put aside, cockiness, attitude, everything. For those few times a year, everyone was equal. Even the Wicked raced as humans. It was the few times of year that the vulgar were permitted to see their faces.

Every place has some sort of attraction that pulls you in. Back home, there was the bar; there was the freak show underground. And now, there would be the tattoo parlor. Here, there was the inn, which was the equivalent of our bar at home. And the races were the freak show. But there was no tattoo parlor up here. Kids had to travel to the nearest city or a bigger town to get the deed done. After everything was said and done, I thought about expanding, opening up a shop here. With the kind of crowd around, I’m sure it’d make money. Turn my business into a chain. It was all a series of ideas milling around in my mind. Something to keep me busy. To keep my mind working. I had to keep moving, even if only mentally, but it was something. And that’s the best we can hope for these days.

After awhile of observation, I found that there was a small group that gave tattoos. They were the outcasts, the freaks, and to be seen with them was a sin. They were the equivalent of gypsies of old, and that’s what they reminded me off. They were like the gangs at home that ran everything. Except here, they had no power except amongst themselves. They had their own ranks, their own family lives and situations. You had to search them out to get anything. The cops like to bust them, so that quotas were filled. There were two kinds of delinquent in this town – the bikers and the gypsies. The bikers had the cops in on everything; they gave the pigs a cut of everything they earned to keep their franchise. The gypsies didn’t give a damn, they’d rather go to jail than rat other people out, or share the little that they had. They reminded me of witches in Salem, with hanging eminent, they were forced away from the world. So these were the social orders in my new recluse.

The bikers.

The gypsies.

The musicians.

And John Q. Public, making his way through the day to day, keeping himself to himself without a care in the world.

I decided early on that I was a little of each, hence, belonging nowhere. There were precious few individuals that could play multiple roles, but they were the truly talented. Hence, I was considered extraordinarily talented for my skills, at least in my own state of mind. In the eyes of everyone else, I was just another member of the general society, another John Q. Public.

Such was my escape from the vulgar mobs of the city, the constantly moving street. The city was an organism within itself, a living, breathing machine. Here wasn’t like that. Each thing took on a life of its own when put to use, otherwise, everything was constantly at rest. Quiet, peaceful – the works. I found it the perfect place to relax. Serene is the best word that comes to mind, perhaps the only one.

I was out walking one night alone, thinking idly to myself. It was sometime in the early morning, the place was mostly abandoned. After certain hours, it was like the whole place went to sleep at once and there was nothing to disturb the calm. I cherished those hours most because they were the most important. They allowed for the most lucid thoughts. The only down side was that there wasn’t all that much to observe of interest. Nobody milling around. Caine had gone down to play a show though I opted to stay here while he did so. And tonight, there was someone milling around. There was a shadow walking along ahead of me haphazardly. I knew without knowing that it was a gypsy.

I kept walking, slowing my pace – trying not to alarm her. I was left to assume it was female by its graceful motions, the way the body moved as it proceeded along. I thought about yelling out, getting their attention, but it might cause them to dart off in alarm. I felt like I was stalking a wild bird, flittering through the woods. I kept my eyes on the ground as I moved, careful not to step on a stray branch or anything that would evoke noise. I don’t know, but she seemed fascinating in the way she moved, the kind of person that might be interesting to get closer to. So without running like a blind fool, that’s what I attempted to do. Get closer. It took me about twenty minutes of creeping rapidly and tiptoeing abruptly to realize that I’d lost my quarry. I stood there, lost and forlorn, wondering what to do next.


I jumped, the sound startling me as the figure jumped out from my side. She was kind of small, childish in her mannerisms. I tried to steady myself out without looking too scared. She laughed, a full, hearty laugh that made me feel better about my madness. I was warmed up immediately, straightening up to see her eye to eye.

“Hey…” I muttered, suddenly feeling very sheepish for being caught. I could feel the blood rush to my face as I thought about how I’d explain this mess.

“What do you think you’re doing, huh? I’m fairly sure that it’s illegal to stalk people.”

“I wasn’t…”

“Stalking? You were behind me for a good half hour. I’m not quite as oblivious as you might think. Again, what do you think you’re doing?”

She had her arms folded, her body fixed in a tough, defensive pose. I had my hands in my pockets, looking around haphazardly, wondering how I’d begin to defend myself against this. I looked her over more closely, trying to distinguish her features. She looked so familiar in my mind, like someone I’d met before. I racked my mind as I stood there, balancing on my heels. I was rocking back and forth, thinking things through, when it hit me.

“Do you have siblings?”

She had been looking around, obviously bored with me. “Excuse me?”

“Your last name, is it Morrow?”

She took a step away from me, visibly alarmed. “Why…”

“I know your brother and sister, from the city. They’re working on a case I’m involved in.”

She took a step closer, then off to the side, the beginning of an almost circular motion. I kept even step with her, turning with her as she moved, my eyes locked on hers. I wasn’t as off guard as I thought. I had information, I had power – I had knowledge. I felt like a god for half a second. And I loved it.

“Jerome and Janus? They’re both pretty hopeless.”

“And aren’t you dating one of the Wicked?”

She shrugged, continuing her pace around me. “Maybe. You’re not…how much of a stalker?”

“I see you at the races all the time.”

She stopped walking, facing me, her eyes narrowing. “So what do you want?”

“Would your name be too much to ask for?” I had put on my most sincere tone, my most honest expression, trying to get to the heart of things. This was a woman of the world, torn between all ends of madness. Her siblings were cops. Her boyfriend was a biker. And she was a gypsy. By the laws of averages, I ruled that her parents had to be artists. I wondered briefly if any of them had been patients of my parents. She stepped away from me, smiling briefly.

“Yes. It would.”

And she turned and disappeared in the morning fog, just a memory of my troubled imagination. A figment, if you will. I thought about chasing after her for a moment, I toyed with the idea of searching, the concept of having a purpose here. But after a fashion, reason took hold and I moved off, slowly returning home, where a warm bed awaited me.

I moved into the room, kicking off my shoes slowly. They made an idle thud sound, one after the other. I sat, watching them for a spell, marveling at how the sound was suddenly there then suddenly gone. After realizing that something so simple had captured my attention for an amount of time beyond normal limits, I opted to go to sleep. My time here had been slightly eventful, which gave me plenty to ponder about for the moment. Here’s to another day.

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