Disengage Quickly or the Seams Will Become Transparent
Part Five of The White Darkness series
Back to Part Four: Don't Miss Me Until I'm Dead
Or where it all begins: Guided At Night by Factory Lights
"In light, they say, absence of all color is black.
In paint, they say, presence of all color is black.
Somewhere between the two is the truth.
Or something like that."
Miles' father was entertaining a guest. It was his brother Larry, so Miles did not have to worry about anyone reporting his behavior to the local nut house. He knew his father was far from being a pistachio. That had little impact on the opinions of people who felt they were experts just because they sat through years of repetitive and boring classes where they became convinced that the opinions and deductions of those who came before them and wrote things down were the foundation of truth in their chosen fields.
"A man could walk out of his skin if he so chooses.
No man in his right mind would, but...
Does it matter?
What is a right mind, anyway?"
Miles wasn't sure if his father was talking to him or his uncle, so he walked out of the room, knowing full well his father would keep talking regardless. He was past the point of even noticing if anyone was listening. He had risen above the circle.
In any circle there are people who grasp common goals and beliefs.
Once someone steps outside of the circle, some validation is always lost.
Jayne had stepped outside the circle and so had Jeanne. Miles felt like he was standing alone, staring at a giant neon sign that told him he had stepped off the path his life was meant to take. He was wandering into the weeds and undergrowth that would slowly devour him and turn his life into an aimless journey through nothingness. Everything had a purpose, and everyone had dots to connect in life. Miles didn't know how to connect his. He could not even feel the pencil in his hand any longer. He left the house, got behind the wheel of the Buick, and went off in search of the pencil he once thought he had.
Not being certain of his destination made it much easier for Miles to get there. A straight line is never the best route between two points. The distortion that convinces one that the straight line is in fact straight is a matter of perception. Two steps forward may not really be more prudent than four steps around the light pole and five steps to the right. Things have a way of sorting themselves out by their own rules. Miles realized that and in doing so saw his level of opportunity growing.
Jerry, the unpleasant man who had interrupted Miles' train of thought and conversation with Jayne at the diner, was sitting on his motorcycle in front of the fountain at the center of town. He was holding a tuna fish sandwich is his left hand and drinking from a gallon of milk he held in his right. Once he noticed Miles driving past in the Buick, he wiped the milk from his mouth and unshaven chin and chuckled while pointing in Miles' direction.
Miles hit the brakes. Hard.
"What's funny? What exactly is it that you think is so damned funny about me?"
Jerry swung his leg over the top of his motorcycle and put himself in a position to menace. He stood a good six inches taller than Miles, which made doing so easier. He flashed a wide, yellow toothed smile, and cracked the knuckles of his left hand. Then he put his left hand on Miles' shoulder and pulled him in close enough to kiss.
"What, do you feel strong?
I'm just fucking with you, sweetie.
Don't take it personally.
I'll only kill you if you really piss me off."
Miles' wrenched Jerry's hand from his shoulder and tossed it back to Jerry for repositioning. Miles began breathing heavily, which caused Jerry to laugh again before pulling a bottle of bourbon out of his camouflage pseudo-military jacket. Miles tried not to let Jerry realize how relieved he was that the bottle wasn't a gun. He failed.
"Lost two broads in one week, didn't cha?
Don't worry about shit like that.
Plenty of pussy in this city to keep us all fat and happy."
Miles grew disgusted, and wanted nothing to do with Jerry and his view of life. However, walking away was not a simple choice. The best route between two points is often the long way around. Jerry was a curve that society taught its polite members to avoid. Miles could not avoid the curve. There was something to unearth here. There was something that would point him in a direction that would take him where he needed to go. The mountain told him it was true. The darkness became very bright when Miles looked directly into Jerry's eyes. The path was dangerous, but the path was dark enough that it illuminated almost an entire highway of options.
"Anyone could die in the next five minutes without upsetting the balance of the world."
Miles knew he had to prove himself, not in the ways he was accustomed to, or in the ways he had been taught were right. To cross into Jerry's circle he had to prove himself on Jerry's terms. It was the only way. With a quick snicker, Miles grabbed the bottle of bourbon from Jerry's hand and quickly chugged down three-quarters of it before tossing it back to Jerry with a grin.
There had been a girl. Now there was a path. The path was not clear. The path was dark, but not yet dark enough for Miles to see where it led. He realized it could take years. Still, he knew he had to commit himself. Without a true commitment, he would stumble on the path and never find out where it led. He would be left to living by the standards and realities of others, drawn forever into their circles and letting them make the rules and suggest the paths to be followed.
"I can show you things that would blow your mind, shit for brains.
Do you feel strong?
Can you handle it without running home to your mommy?"
Miles got on the back of Jerry's bike. "Fuck me up," was all he said.
He knew Jerry wouldn't notice if he closed his eyes when the biker pulled off down the road. Miles knew Jerry wasn't interested in things like speed limits, right of way or common sense. He took his motorcycle to top speeds, nearly laying it down every time he took a corner, and threatening to scrape the tires against every curb. Jerry laughed like a madman, audible even above the loud roar of the engine. Miles did not close his eyes. He could not bring himself to. He stared straight ahead, feeling death at every turn, and feeling the darkness getting whiter and whiter with each passing moment.
The vision of Jeannie standing in front of the mountain appeared in the field of vision of his mind's eye. She held out her arms, and then crossed them in front of her breasts. She turned her head slowly and deliberately to the right, staring up at an ever powerful sun that drew energy away from the darkness that separated her from Miles. Then she began to split apart, like fibers from an old shirt disintegrating in a turbulent washing machine. Within the span of a thousand million instants, she was gone.
"She never walks alone."
Jerry piloted his bike into an old boathouse on the river. It was made of slowly rotting, badly aged pine planks. It had once been used by smugglers who used the river to run booze into the major cities on the flip side of the horizon during prohibition. It was now a place where Jerry came to inherit their traditions and blaze his own trail against the grain of rules and regulations.
"My last partner is floating somewhere at the bottom of the river.
I hope you aren't half as stupid as he is.
If you're smart, we can make a shitload of money.
If you're stupid, you'll only need enough to pay for a decent burial."
They were on the other side of the river, downstream several miles from the reservoir, but Miles could still see the mountain. He looked up at it with greater reverence than he ever had before. Clouds collected in the afternoon sky, warming him as they worked to dim the sun's ungrateful light. The mountain spoke, in its own non-verbal language, and told Miles to follow the path. Even as he watched Jerry unload large, clear plastic bags of cocaine from a waterproof box inside the boathouse, he listened to the mountain. The path would become known. This was just a stepping stone to a future path. He had stepped inside of Jerry's circle with the greatest of ease. The bourbon was making him lightheaded, but it did not keep him from thinking. Miles could do this. Miles could repair the future before it began spiraling out of his control. The only way to do that was to sacrifice the present to those who would sacrifice the future.
"Put eight of these babies in the saddle bags.
We're going up to the motel across the street from the fucking disco.
Punk ass motherfuckers buy it up like candy.
They think they impress the bitches that way.
All we do is get rich off their dumbasses."
Miles closed his eyes, and in a flash of white he saw the vision of Jayne standing in the playground. He heard her talking about her baby, about its father, and how she had to go and live a life she had no interest in living. She was sacrificing the present for the future of her child. Miles nodded at the image and began loading the cocaine into the leather bags that hung from the side of Jerry's motorcycle.
To Part Six: Most of the Men were Disillusioned Long Before They Met Her