New short story by Doug Yurchey contains a message for some.
Have you ever been to a restaurant, theater lobby or particular type of room where acoustics were just so that you could overhear a conversation you normally should not have heard? Like a sound-Wormhole, the perfect vibration reverberates off walls or ceilings and lands in another part of the room? No? Well, it happens. Certain ‘audio-vortexes’ are marked and part of tourist attractions around the planet.
One such unknown ‘acoustic-bounce’ happens in the lavish Hollywood restaurant called ‘Palomino.’ Few knew of the oddity, outside of passing busboys who were never employed long. The exclusive restaurant with a main room half the size of Wall-Mart opened sharply at 5PM. Yet, no self- respecting patron ever entered the establishment before 6:30.
Two computer-animators, Mike and Amit, walked in as ‘early-birds’ without any kind of discount. They worked in a studio directly across Highland Avenue and always wanted to dress up and check out the Palomino. They were unaware of the unspoken, snobby rule of not-before- 6:30. Mike and Amit boldly entered the empty place and sat on one end of the amphitheater. There was not a greeter or waiter in sight.
Actually the place had two other guests. They were at the far end and, initially, were not seen by the animators. A minute passed before they realized a really early couple just finished their meals. The computer artists heard every clink and clank of silverware as well as every word of the conversation seemingly a mile away.
Normally, the busy restaurant is a congestion of sounds and the ‘vortex’ is never heard. But, if two parties happen to occupy the right spots before evening rush hours when it was quiet…they could hear each other as if speaking into cans with attached string.
First complete sentence they heard was, ‘Klix, should we have placed the Treasure out in the open for Earthlings to see? Should not such a great Gift have been harder to find?’ The words were electronic as if spoken through a device.
Mike eyed Amit with wide eyes and expressed, ‘did you hear…’
‘Ssssssh!’ Amit immediately understood the ‘audio-bounce’ phenomena and realized it was a 2-way vortex. Both froze and noticed the couple way on the other side turned. Did they hear the young men’s outburst? Amit was sure they had. He reached into his shirt pocket and pulled out a notebook and Sharpie.
Amit wrote [SH - they can hear us – jus lissen].
Mike grabbed the Sharpie and wrote [earthlings? putting us on] quickly.
[TREASURE!] Amit responded.
They went to another page of the small notebook. [OBVIOUS prank…] was written by Mike. Before anything else was written, more words bounced off the reflective ceiling.
The other one answered in a higher, electronic voice; possibly female. ‘Boor, the Treasure was for them to find. They need the Power. Twenty-four sector teams chose the special location…for our ‘Crickets’ to decorate Quantum Lines…’
Mike and Amit each made funny faces.
‘…and for them, the Earthlings…to enjoy it also; every facet of the Gift. It can heal them; give them vast knowledge; lengthen LIVES. They only have to use the Power wisely.’ The female electronic voice ended the information, clearly understood by the animators.
Boor, the first voice, said excitedly, ‘we have to see the Treasure…one more time, Klix! One more time again, Klix, before we leave. Where was it? Valley streets all look the same.’
‘We have to get back to the Mothership soon. It is off ‘train-tracks Bridge’ at Reseda and Parthenia; with the wood, remember?’
‘Right…I should have marked it with the wood.’
Amit lit up and reacted. He knew exactly where the location was because he quickly scrolled [know where that is – lived near].
Mike took the pen and scribbled on another page [it’s a joke].
‘We are off.’ More sounds of chairs sliding echoed and then nothing. The ‘alien’ couple made their way to the other side of the amphitheater-like restaurant in the direction of two dudes from the Valley.
Amit and Mike argued about what to do; was it real? This was Hollywood. Were they running lines for a film? Were they being punk’d? Where was the waiter? Time seemed to have stopped during the short, overheard conversation.
By this time the odd couple walked right by the two boys in nice suits. The walking aliens were the most beautiful, stunning, attractive, glowing, brilliant (and any other ‘perfect’ adjective) couple anyone had ever seen! He was a golden god and she was a golden goddess. They were OBVIOUSLY not produced on this planet. Nothing that faultless ever came from here!
The dudes were speechless. The alien couple’s appearance only confirmed they were ‘not of this Earth.’ Whatever Power was in the Treasure, the boys wanted it also. Mike was skeptical until he saw the ultimate Victor and Victoria Secret walk by their table. The golden god may have winked at them. Mike was too blinded by the girl’s beauty to remember.
When the magic couple exited the plush restaurant area, it seemed as if time started up again. Faint, background sounds were heard. A waiter approached and was ready to take their order.
Amit felt courageous enough to ask the well dressed waiter, ‘excuse me…’
‘Yes, sir?’ was replied in a French accent.
‘Do you happen to know who the couple was; before us…the ones that just left?’
‘Oh, no, no…you two were the first today.’
‘But you had to have seen them…they passed you when they left, didn’t they?’
Mike turned to Amit so only he heard, ‘oh, we gonna git some of dat treasure.’
‘Seriously? You used to come up here and drink?’ asked Mike after they ditched the car and approached the lumberyard on foot. It was night, hours after the ‘encounter.’
‘Yeah, ha…it wasn’t that long ago,’ confessed Amit.
‘Sometimes neighbors threw loud parties, with DJs! Drove me out of my own home; plenty o’ times. I’d come up here with a bottle of wine and howl at the Moon! Or, yell FATHER, YOU NEVER LOVED ME! Ha, ha!’
‘Yeah, no one’s up here; where I’m taking you. Oh, occasionally, there’s a homeless guy; not often. I have a spot. Perfect for watching fireworks on the fourth; can see over most of the Valley.’
‘There’s the wood, they said,’ Mike said as they crossed Parthenia and headed north. ‘C’mon, man…we have no idea what kind of treasure they were talking about.’
‘The weird voices also said Power; it’s a power we have to use wisely; it heals and does…what else?’
‘EXTENDS LIFE!’ Mike yelled as he followed Amit from the intersection up a path along the wall of the lumberyard. ‘That’s all. Maybe we can sell it.’
One computer-animator told the other one, ‘they said it’s a Gift we need; a gift for the world. Hey, here’s the spot.’
Amit saw that much had changed after considerable deforestation off Reseda Boulevard. A fast-moving world sped by below while miles of Metro train tracks split lonely industries up here. Nice view; it was probably illegal to walk the tracks. Powerful spotlights shined on piles of lumber landscape on the other side of barb wire fences. The light also made its way onto sections of tracks. You could get away from the craziness of life and escape to your own private industrial park. Only problem was avoiding the speedy Metro trains that whizzed by.
‘Train-tracks Bridge she called it.’ Amit said as he looked in every direction.
Mike pointed, ‘well, there’s the bridge…and we’re next to it. I see nada treasure or any sign of a tremendous GIFT for Earthlings. Hey, didn’t they say it was right out in the open?’
Amit suggested, ‘then, let’s really look around.’
‘Should I have brought a pick and shovel?’
The boys scratched along track rocks in the darkness. Near objects could be clearly seen under a half Moon and the spotlights. They found sticks and poked the rough ground not sure what the ‘treasure’ could be. Twenty minutes passed of solid searching. Did someone come along and take their treasure? Was a UFO going to appear and drop off the wonderful Gift? Were the perfect couples’ names Klix and Boor?
Suddenly, Mike and Amit heard a ‘hoot.’ They turned to the west and observed the approaching Metro train. In a short time, it flew by at a very fast speed. They could feel the ground shake and power in the force of the train cars. Then, the train disappeared into the east.
‘Let’s look again.’ Amit was slightly optimistic.
‘We been HAD.’
The terrain was littered with debris; mainly, garbage and empty spray cans. Graffiti-artists covered the high walls topped with barb wire. From cement slabs near the bridge where the tired guys sat, only a small section of the sprayed walls could be viewed. From the look of endless spray cans in the darkness, the defacement of Northridge Lumber fences was extensive.
‘Treasure, right,’ Mike scoffed. ‘Well…this has been fun, Amit.’
‘He said, sarcastically,’ Amit mocked Mike.
‘The Gift, ha.’ Amit was lost in thought for a moment. He saw a shooting star.
Mike resigned and said, ‘guess we should go. Hey, we gave it a shot. Maybe…’
Mike finished his strangely intuitive thought. ‘Maybe, it’s not for everyone? Maybe, whatever it is…not for us.’ He took a breath. ‘So…we’re not going to find it…’
They saw another train approach. This one came from the east and moved quickly westward. Metro trains that traveled west moved on tracks near where the boys were. They made sure to stand back nowhere close to the tracks. The train will pass them in the next minute.
Amit saw him first. There was a person in the middle of the tracks from the west walking east with a limp. This was the same track the Metro train ran on like a speeding bullet! Something had to budge in the next thirty seconds. The figure appeared oblivious to the oncoming train. Was he insane? Was the person playing ‘chicken’ with the train?
Then, Mike shouted at him, ‘HEY! Look at ‘m; he’s not even facing…’
Both computer-animators made a mad dash for the guy who was turned away from the eastern train! He walked crablike unaware of the moving mass and was yanked off the tracks with only seconds to spare! Train cars passed and the fellows were sprawled along the rocks.
The man was dressed like one of the homeless and was one of the homeless. His clothes were torn and very dirty. He appeared to not have showered in months. Clenched in his left hand was an expensive bottle of wine Amit recognized. How could that be?
‘My God, man!’ Mike yelled.
Amit tried to ask the guy, ‘didn’t you see it? What…what were you thinking?’
The homeless man in rags just sat on the tracks and faced north. He shook. Tears dropped from his eyes in the darkness. ‘Sure, I saw it…did you?’ The guy was dazed, but was he confused?
Amit changed from irritation to compassion. ‘Hey, hey, you alright? Everything will be alright.’
The bearded ‘bum’ shouted back, ‘of COURSE everything’s alright! Everything’s alright…NOW!’ He blubbered what they considered nonsense. Maybe the poor fool should be locked up for his own safety?
‘Here, let’s get you off the tracks.’ Amit, then Mike helped him move closer to the lumberyard walls away from harm’s way. The ground was not as rocky.
Suddenly, the track-walker found energy. He stood up straight and strong. The man with a foul odor saw that his left hand still held an unopened bottle of wine. He articulately and clearly stated in almost an English accent, ‘well, I don’t need this anymore.’ He gave it to Amit. ‘Here, you’ve had it before.’
The animators’ mouths opened. It was as if the ‘hobo’ homeless guy was helping the Valley dudes.
The bum now appeared very different than a ‘bum’ on the inside. He turned and marveled at what stretched out before him to the north and westward. His glassy eyes started with the bridge and slowly spanned a far distance. ‘Boys, don’t you see it? It’s right THERE.’
Amit and Mike looked at the barb wired fence covered in paint. The spotlight oddly showcased more than a quarter mile of track-fence where local kids painted extremely detailed murals for the Metro. ‘Yeah, it’s nice graffiti.’ The artists were impressed, but not as much as the man in rags.
‘How could I have ever imagined?’ The homeless guy removed a stained jacket and dropped it right on the tracks. It was as if he had seen HEAVEN and could never tell them what it was like. He changed his ‘skin’ and was reborn.
Both dudes looked around again at the painted walls; the tracks; the sea of empty spray cans along with garbage and debris. They did not see what the older guy in torn clothes experienced.
After minutes of reasonable conversation, the boys were assured the man had come to his senses; was not going to kill himself or needed to visit a doctor. They thanked him for the wine and left.
Mike told Amit, ‘no treasure, but I feel good; saved a crazy bastard’s life.’
‘And, we got a bottle of wine out of the deal. This is great stuff.’
‘Cool. Let’s celebrate a weird day.’
Back at the tracks, ‘Marshall’ was a changed man. Only a short time ago, he was a lost soul. He saved his money for months to buy the best wine he could find and drink it along the tracks…and end his miserable life. Then, as he limped eastward along the tracks…he saw the Treasure! As he walked and looked left, everything became crystal clear; he understood. It was so simple and he will never be the same again.
Marshall continued to walk up and down the long section of lumberyard fences lit by spotlights. He was not on the tracks this time. He thanked everyone up there for the great Gift. Marshall hoped others will come to the same understanding. He would begin to live. Everything will truly be alright.
He deciphered the spray can writing that appeared out of 1960’s Acid-Concert Posters or Zap Comix. ‘My God, these were Pleiadeans from the Seven Sisters and…and, these next guys were from the Centauri Nebula, Centaurans…wow.’ Marshall no longer limped. He was amazed at the truth. ‘And, ah…look at that; that’s from Clarions, they’re called…God, God, God; how could I have ever imagined it would be like…THIS? Wonderful…’