I woke up with a start, and found myself on the lamppost. "What a nightmare!" I gasped.

I noticed it was still nighttime, but as I looked up into the sky, I saw a white line dash across the starry heavens and land somewhere below the horizon. It went taut, and I could hear the old blind fisherman, somewhere, grumbling as he tugged and pulled, dragging the sun slowly across the sky to shine on the city. Although the sun was blaring brightly, everything still looked dark. But when I rubbed the lamppost, it gleamed underneath, and I realized it was only dirt that was coloring everything so grey.

My stomach was awake too, and while I whispered to it to be quiet, I couldn't help but overhear the thoughts that danced in the back of my head. "You're wasting your life away! You're supposed to be somewhere. Everyone has someplace they're supposed to be..."

"Who am I?"

"Where am I going?"

"Hey, you, eavesdropper, mind your own business!"

"I'm sorry," I gasped, and tried to listen to the sound of my stomach instead. I shook my head to try and make the thoughts disappear, but when that didn't work, I slid down the lamppost and tried to hurry away from myself. But my feet left black imprints in the pavement, and I found myself following behind.

I stopped in front of a phone booth. There was someone inside crying softly and pounding on the glass with feeble fists. But the windows were all black, and I could not see inside. When I tugged on the door it wouldn't open. The sobbing grew louder. I rubbed the soot on the glass with my sleeve. A face stared back at me through the hole in the black soot. It was me!

I gasped and fell back onto the sidewalk. Suddenly the glass exploded on all four sides of the booth, and when I opened my shielded eyes, it was empty. A quarter rolled out and hit my shoe. Reaching over, I picked it up, and walked into the glassless phone booth.

I put the quarter in the phone and listened to the voice on the other end of the line.

"Welcome to Nowhere," my own voice whispered from a future yet unknown. The wind rushed through the holes in the booth, prickling my skin like wisps of memories flooding my quivering brain.

I put the phone down and turned the page in the phone book and read the recipe carefully. "Add one life and mix thoroughly. Separate your feelings and stir. Simmer and bake on low flame until well done. Place on the shelf until stale, then sprinkle with holy water and bake in preheated disappointment. Voila, poof, magic..."

The phone rang. It was me again. "Hello, what did you call me for?!" the voice on the phone demanded.

"I think it's for me," someone whispered, and hesitantly held out her hand. I turned and looked at the pretty face and my heart skipped a beat or two. Our eyes met and a spark of hope flashed between us. My lips quivered, vaguely remembering hers. My heart began pounding. I opened my mouth to speak, certain that I'd known her ... somewhere, somewhen, but I couldn't remember where or when, and it was so important to both of us that I did. I stared in silence as panic gripped every fiber of my soul, and though my heart was screaming to be heard, I couldn't speak a word.

Helplessly I watched my silence crush the expectant hope in her eyes and she disappointedly looked down, breaking the connection. "Thank you," she sighed as I numbly handed her the phone and backed out through the broken door onto the windblown street. I kept stepping backwards, still hoping in vain to speak the words she longed to hear. But she quickly forgot about me and turned her attention to the phone.

"Crick..." I heard her eagely, hopefully gasp into the phone. The silence on the other end was deafening and she lowered her head, hope almost completely gone. "Crack..." she answered herself in a hopeless sigh, and a tear ran down her cheek. The phone remained silent.

"May peace prevail on earth," she whispered slowly and deliberately, as if desperately reciting a prayer or the last chance offering of a secret password to unlock her future.

The overheard words echoed in my mind, drifting and fading as she too seemed to blur into the distance. Her hopeful sentiment seem to unlock something in my brain, but before I could reverse my footsteps to tell her so, a newspaper blew into my face. The rambling scrawl on the scratchy pages of yesterday's news distracted me just long enough so that I'd completely forgotten what I thought I'd discovered. I didn't bother removing the pages as my footsteps carried me further away. I did think about cutting a hole to see through as I walked along, but decided it was best not to. My destination was probably clearer this way.

I reached into my pockets to warm my hands, and felt something soft and rubbery and squishy. It made me shiver as I rolled it between my fingers. I pulled it out to have a look.

"Yuk," I gurgled. "A piece of lint-covered ABC gum. Gross!" I gagged and dropped it into a half empty bottle of warm beer lying on the road.

A flower opened up, cracking the bottle, and its stem pushed out across the empty street, barring an invisible progression of yesterday's dreams. The beer label hung like a banner flapping in the breeze. I snapped the stem and watched tomorrow rush through, wiping away the roar of cars and buses and sirens and people's voices humming and hissing.


Welcome to Nowhere
( Chapter 9- MP3 song demo by Lyndon DeRobertis)


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