Ok, I’ll admit it,” he said at one point. “I think it’s all an accident, cause and effect. There, I said it.” My heart sank, but I knew I had to face the music.”These, these…corruptions. It’s all in how you take them…all creativity is good, endless possibilities, but it shouldn’t be considered as fixed in any way or as a point. That’s when the imagination takes over.”
Willie had driven off about an hour ago, packed up his things and left forever the tiny office I had set up for him here in Grayson. But I was still talking to him in my head, replaying things we had discussed. In my mind, the memory of his other self had fully locked in, and mine as well–the blending of the red, green and blue to make a true picture, like pulling away from a point blank view of a tv screen. The beginning of the end of “Jordan’s Rule” if you will. I was admittedly fully ashamed. Carter County was pretty in many ways but obviously not agreeable to someone with such a warm-blooded nature. Willie was like a snake realizing he was tricked into coming out of his comfy hole on a cold winter day–not in a good mood to say the least. I dared not bring up Sophie’s No 9. At that point it seemed totally irrelevant.
“But you *saw* what happened in the cave,” I tried to counter.” I couldn’t understand why my analysis went right past him. He was an intelligent man for sure, but the emotions seemed to be shredding any reason.
“I don’t know *what* happened in the cave. I don’t know if something was slipped to me–maybe as long ago as that fake funeral. Dammit…I mean *darnit*…I can’t even remember why I *moved* to this place. Why would I want to find the S.M.S. again? You know now…you’ve read the uncompleted report.” He looked at me, shaking his head again in frustration. “There’s fantasy,” he continued, putting his hands together on one knee, “and then there’s reality,” moving his hands to the other knee to emphasize the difference. “You can’t just mash em together, and expect to get anything of value out of it. It’s all in how you see it.”
I then remembered back to reading the report last night, the one I originally requested from Willie concerning Sophie’s No. 9 and the potential interface with the S.M.S. Instead, what I found upon opening the folder was a detailed story of Willie’s involvement with a small, highly secretive clique of workers at a computer programming company he had worked at in Mobile, Alabama during the mid-90s. Their secret agenda: the creation of a primitive but readily demonstrable Internet program where observer (surfer) and observed (surfed web site) interacted as one. More than telepathy–closer to psychokinesis. A long story as it turned out, and quite bizarre, but the essential part was that this fluidity scared Willie, scared him real bad. It rubbed against his religion, creating an out and out conflict between his pursuit of pure science and his religious belief system. It was a realization, for the first time, that the two parts of his life didn’t jibe, that he was split. I realized I had been attacking this split mentally, highlighting the soft spot that I couldn’t understand because I didn’t have a similar emotional split. I was now identifying with Willie though, could *feel* his division. In feeling it I wanted to heal it…but I reminded myself that this was not my talent. I simply had to ride it out.
“Listen,” I said. You know where you want to go, and I wholeheartedly agree with you. You *should* go home…definitely. I know why I brought you here now but it seems totally irrelevant. It’s like…like I’ve created a Frankenstein’s monster. It’s my fault Willie. And I really wish you’d reconsider my offer to personally drive you to Georgia.”
Willie’s reply was terse. “I just don’t want to keep hearing explanations of this or that,” he said, “your contrivances going on and on all the time. I simply want some distance, and as fast as possible. As I said, fantasy *separate* from reality. This is reality, the pain I’m experiencing now. The other was fantasy, the setting aside of pain.” He looked at the tv and VCR with total disdain. I felt pain again myself. It was getting well into November now, and the office was obviously not properly winterized. Despite being augmented by a small ceramic heater, the electric baseboard simply was not doing its job. While not terribly uncomfortable myself, Willie was noticeably shaking. He also seemed on the edge of a cold.
“Ok, well, we’ll talk more about what happened when you get back to Georgia and your family and pets. Right now you need to get in your car and turn your heater on full blast. You’re shaking like a leaf! I promise I’ll call you when you get down there and settled in. Perhaps we can talk some more then, when you’re feeling better.”
Willie suddenly got up from his chair and begin walking to the door, facing away from me. I could see tears glinting on the sides of one of his cheeks, making me feel even more uncomfortable. Men don’t like to see other men cry. “All I know,” he said in a slightly shaky voice, “is that I came up from Georgia to attend this Dadaeque art happening you created, this mock funeral of a guy…a *creature* who never existed except in your posts–as a favor to you–and then it seems that suddenly I’m *here,* in this office, away from my loved ones, watching this infernal animation over and over. And *seeing* things in caves, impossible things. Just going crazy in general it seems. Plain *nuts.*” Still facing away from me, he paused to wipe his eyes. “It’s a fantasy: some type of drug or an incredibly elaborate joke or early Alzheimer’s…I don’t know, maybe all of them and then some.
I started to argue again that *I* created the fantasy, not drugs or mental disease or anything else, but I knew he wouldn’t listen. It’s tough when the separated selves come back together; I was feeling that dichotomy as well. I wanted to bring up all kinds of associations–contrivances as he called them. For example, that this very type of thing happened many years ago to me and another guy, named Carter ironically, and that it seemed to be, in a Freudian sense, the old Sherwood Anderson father figure being killed by the William Faulkner son figure all over again. Sherwood rolled up inside his tar roofing in “Carcassonne,” killed inside the confines of a selected county which seemed a prison to the father, a fantastic waste of time you could call it. Patricide, even of a purely psychological type, creates very heavy guilt. Witness the shame Adam and Eve felt upon expulsion from their perfect garden. I then pictured David and Permele running in the opposite direction, toward the garden and their father, joyfully shedding clothes along the way. A symbiosis of father and son; I hope he knows what he’s doing, I then think. A picture of the blind and corrupt prophet Paul Atreides from the Dune series comes to my mind, with me as his son Leto, bounding around him like a superball in a magical skin made of sealing sandtrouts. I guess I’m *his* son too then, I think.
My memory now skips to when Willie left. Obviously embarrassed about his lack of self control, something I’d never seen any *hints* of during our relationship, he apologized for getting mad as he shut the car door. “Totally all right,” I said, leaning into the window and gently patting his shoulder. “Very understandable. As I said, I feel responsible. Totally. You’re right on all counts.” I thought of a fixed game of Rhoshambo: no matter what you choose–rock, paper, or scissors–the other guy’s got your number. “All counts,” I reiterated.
But now that he’s been gone a while, and the harsh, merciless solar orb has finally set, I’m seeing things with a little more perspective. I can tell the situation’s not as bad as I feared. After all, we still have comedy, perhaps the ultimate salve–the opposite of gravity as I understand. And I know things will pan out for the best in the end.
Finally satisfied, I stick a tape of Sophie’s Place in the VCR, hit play, and turn off the lights. “Jordan rules,” I say aloud as the incessant hammer dulcimer begins once again.
END OF JORDAN’S RULE