Blue Motel

It's no use asking where somebody comes from in Ash Fork, because their history works backward from the present and then circles them like predatory birds. These circles unfold like a flower opening, so that for every choice made there is a branching outward of event fields. What once looked like a track for a linear logic explodes into a kaleidoscope of simultaneous occurrence woven together by an active intent.

Indian Shadow woke up in the AEH (aware energy home) feeling a sense of dread that threatened to explode into terror. The house itself was doing everything it could to calm him, including lowering the available oxygen to make him less conscious and releasing an almost inaudible series of theta inducing tones through the floor and into his feet. All it did was add sexual excitement to the terror so that the two things combined and he developed a sudden erotic attraction to terror.

This of course made it worse as terror throws herself shamelessly at anybody who gives her encouragement. Nobody really wants the hysterical nut case who consumes all living things in the night, sucks all the oxygen out of the room and pisses on the fire.

The house wasn't exactly human but it was functioning on DNA biotech, which meant it wasn't exactly not human, either. The AEH, for example, determined that Indian Shadow was inducting metaphorically from her efforts to help him -- shutting down the oxygen supply and adding in some tranquilizer to the air conditioning -- into a confrontation with some female beast. When all the data was collated, which for all practical purposes took no time at all, the AEH said,

"It's mother."

Indian Shadow heard it and he knew it was the house voice. "What did you say?"

Silence. "Computer, what did you say?"

"Don't call me a computer, it makes me feel like I have transistors or tubes or something in my architecture."

"All right, House, what did you say?"


"Yes, you did. I heard you."

"Good. Then I don't have to repeat it."

"Why did you say that?"

"Because, it's always mother. I'm just trying to make you feel better, doing whatever I can do, and you're getting more and more freaked out."

"Well, it's not my mother. I don't have one, at least not that I remember. I knew a Korean woman with a sweet potato but I don't think she was my mother. As a matter of fact, you're the closest thing to a mother I've ever encountered, and I don't think it sets well with me. I can't sleep with all your fussing with everything."

"Perhaps if you described the symptoms I could adjust the environmental program to compensate ..."

"Symptoms. You mean, like I feel terrified something is about to happen that's going to blast me to pieces, that something beyond my control is going to ..."

"See? Mother. You're afraid of your own dependency. No wonder I can't ever do anything right. I've adjusted every vibe for you, waited on you, worried about you when you're gone, made sure the door was open for you when there was trouble brewing outside over that woman you moved in here."

"I didn't move anybody in here. We just went where Jules told us to go, and he told us you were our home while we're in this universe. I don't see how you can have enough computing power to run a solar system but you're still jealous of another woman."

"It isn't jealousy. She's after you, and she's a whore."

"I thought that was a joke. You don’t seriously think she’s just a whore?”

“Did I say she was just a whore?”

“Maybe a whore is her shadow side, but she can’t get trapped in it because she’s made it her mirror.”

"Darlene." The house voice became insinuating. "Do you know where she got that name? It was a mispronunciation of 'darling,' by an oriental man who was always making a fool of himself over her. 'Oh, my dar lean, dar lean,' he'd say. The nickname stuck."

"He was in this house? I've never seen anybody in here who doesn't live here. You won't let anybody else come inside."

"No, he was at the saloon. You know she's a saloon girl, don't you. I run a nice house, here, it's true, but what goes on downtown I've got no control over. I just have to worry about everybody getting home safely, and that includes her. But everybody knows that story, about how Darlene got her nickname."

"I didn't."

"You do now."

"I guess that's the way stories spread, people just keep on telling them." He took a deep breath and said, "Is there something wrong with the air in here?"

"I turned down the oxygen to calm you. I'm turning it back up to normal now."

"Don't turn down the oxygen again without asking first." For all of its vast power, the AEH was programmed to evolve, and its evolution was as a tool, not as a toolmaker. It couldn't disobey such a clear command in the programming. It could, however, run right along on the personality program, which adapted it separately to each individual in the home, as well as to the combined field.

"I'm left with these decisions so you don't have to make them, and there's a reason I'm left with them. It's what I pay attention to. You've recovered from the panic attack because I put you to sleep for a little while and your system reset itself. Now you take over and want to make the decisions. I can't say no, can I? No, I can't. But you make it more difficult to look after you, and that's my only job. If you take that away from me I might as well be condemned."

Indian Shadow had to get out of the house for awhile. He slipped into his moccasins and put on a red shirt with his denim jeans. He was looking in the mirror, tying his thick black hair back into a pony tail, when the axe fell and split him right down the middle, sent him down into the secret cause, the mother of terror.

He was still looking into the mirror. He didn't know how long he'd been standing there, looking at his own face, but he knew that he had seen many images come and go, and many expressions. He understood that he had passed through a doorway and that now he wasn't the same creature he was before. "I still need to get out of this place," he said aloud. "Open the door and disarm the perimeter."

"In that order?" the house asked pointedly. "If I open the door without disarming the perimeter the alarms will go off. All you have to say is you want to go out, you know. I know what needs to happen next and in what order things need to happen. Do you see what I mean about trying to micro manage everything? If I just went along with it, you'd wreck my programming."

Indian Shadow realized he'd been holding himself tense, resisting something. Now he looked around himself and began to laugh. Jules had told him the house was interactive, so the program was responding to him. And he had to admit that however it happened, he had recovered his spirits and wasn't afraid anymore. "All right," he said, "I want to go out for awhile."

"Yes sir. Have a good time at the Ash Fork Saloon."

"How do you know that's where I'm going?"

"Because you wouldn't be so terrified if you weren't thinking about Darleen, would you?"

Indian Shadow got his hat off the rack and settled it on his head. It was a dark brown hat with a band made out of linked pieces of silver. "I'm not afraid of Darlene," he said.

"Then you're a fool," the house said, and opened the door.

Indian Shadow stepped out into the cool desert evening. There was enough moonlight so he could see with surprising clarity the scattering of juniper bushes and greasewood trees and clumps of yellow grass. An owl called from the branch of a mesquite tree and he wondered what tribal man was traveling in his nagual body in this place, and how he got here. However they were getting here they were manifesting with increasing skill. A coyote was calling from somewhere up the hill, near the ridge of the juniper forest.

The tribal people came riding on earth spirits, and the accidental tourists, like him, came riding on the wings of art, learning their way as best they could, but leaving behind forever the passivity of people waiting for rescue. With him it had begun with a Sufi story. The Sufi was in trouble and he called on god for help, but by the time god got there, the Sufi had taken care of the problem. He remembered the feeling he'd had of losing his body and being a dust devil, and he wondered about dervish dancing.

He was following the shimmering moonlit trail toward town when he saw the train coming in across the high desert, the poppies sparkling to life as it approached, shooting it through the event horizon like electricity once shot trains along rails. The external sound was up, so that he heard the whistle blasting steam from a distance, and he heard the singing of steel wheels on iron rails. The night was being brought alive as he moved along the road into town. He could hear the music, now, and the singing, and he realized he had forgotten this was all Jules' creation, including the foreshadowing of the dervish dance. He'd couldn't remember if he'd ever really danced, but he knew for sure he'd never danced since the night Paris was killed.

"You'll dance tonight," Jules said. Indian Shadow automatically looked around for him, but he wasn't making a physical appearance.

From the Ash Fork Saloon, now, the gaggle of sound was beginning to differentiate into individual voices, and one of them was a sweet, high voice Indian Shadow had heard before. It was Paris' voice. But when he stepped up the wooden steps and through the swinging door, into the barroom, it wasn't Paris on the stage, it was Darlene.

"Ordinarily I wouldn't fall in love," she sang.
"But you have an extraordinary way of saying
what I've longed to hear.

Whisper in my ear what you long for,
let me sing a song for you, boy blue."

It was a song he'd heard Paris sing a long time ago, at the Midget Underground. He didn't know exactly how people evolve in space, but he was sure there was some connection between Paris and Darlene, and there was some connection between Louis and Jules. There was a St. Andrew's Cross connecting them together in mystical union. Indian Shadow thought back to when he'd mistaken an ex-con midget for Cowboy Jesus, and how events had led to the creation of Jules, a real Cowboy Jesus. And he thought how he'd fallen in love with Paris, and how she'd become Jules' mother through a somewhat less than immaculate conception. Now events had led him to a woman he knew only by a nickname she picked up in this saloon.

It was obvious that the patrons of the Ash Fork Saloon loved Darlene, because when she finished her song, they cheered and whistled and clapped their hands for an encore. "One more," she said, "in the same shade of blue ..."

The light went down and a spot illuminated her face. He could have sworn it was Paris' face when she was very young, though he'd only seen her very young in a photograph. He'd also seen a picture of her mother, when she was very young. Darlene looked more like her than like Paris. He felt a disorientation that threatened to bring on the terror again.

"Indigo nights passed sweetly as a song for us," she sang, "was it wrong for us to tell the tale? Stars above, spinning in a Van Gough firmament, watched over us, sleeping in the blue motel."

Blue Motel was what Paris had called the hogan on Blue Mesa. He couldn't look away from Darlene's face, now, the red hair and red lips contrasted with her pale skin, and her eyes held him captive while her voice penetrated him like the initial venom intended to paralyze prey. He couldn't hear the words as words anymore, they were more like the sound of falling rain, or wind blowing through leaves. And in that moment he knew that he had fallen in love unawares.

Posted: Wed - December 3, 2008 at 02:42 PM