Sunday, December 16, 2012
Coxli began swaying in unison with the light poles, which were throwing strobe effects and laser images on the river's surface. He started speaking in rhythmic alliteration, pumping out nonsense verse like a streetcorner hip-hop poet. Some part of Decker's mind activated in the lizard's rhythm; he sent a mental signal into the near-comatose mind of Cletus, who immediately arose and began beat-box-ing along with Coxli's rap. Decker found himself interjecting the occasional "Uh-huh" and "Yeeayuh" in time with the groove, shimmy-ing and shaking in his best white-boy approximation of a Harlem "break"; though his mojo was a little off, the physical prowess of the Degren body added some athletic aspects that the average streetcorner breakdancer might well envy. The rap took a turn for the "follow the yellow brick road" dynamic; the wildly tripping hip-hop trio serpentine-d along the stone boardwalk toward the double doors where Decker had first encountered Tut. They had only gone a little ways when a whole other level of colored light saturation appeared, just ahead and to the right. Decker felt a tingle of familiarity; he was in a very similar condition the last time he'd approached this slight bend in the boardwalk. Strange ideas shot across his mind like tadpoles in a mud puddle. Tut couldn't be here... could he? But Lizzie had showed up at Cradsell 4... and where was she now? If Coxli and he had generated those places, from thir memories, did they remain when they left? "Bug shit, shit biscuits, and head-shit-osis," he muttered in time to Coxli's unflagging epic of rhythmic blather. The doors were just as he remembered them, with one minor exception; along with the crazed lightshow streaming through the wriggly windows and around the gaps came the thunder of a full-on rave. There were no fashionistas, no strutting, pomaded chicken-walkers in or around the door's vestibule, but the noise from inside seemed to indicate their presence somewhere. The doorbell, which was no longer red but a swirling psychedelic pattern like some of those old 2x3 posters the hippies in his neighborhood used to have, was now ensconced in a giant peace sign. Before Decker could get his finger to it, the breathy doors whined open. Decked out in buckskin fringe and a leather drovers hat, bell bottoms with vivid wedges of fabric sewn in from knee to ankle, and multicolored prayer beads around his scaly neck, Tut stood before them, twirling an opaline turtle totem on a rawhide thong. "By the rippled lenses of Copernicus, if it isn't Deckren!" "Er... it's Decker, again... hiya Tut." the river's effects were just starting to mitigate, but Tut remained somewhere beyond Technicolor; the lenses of his glasses kept doing the back-of-the-comicbook hypnotic swirl and the flat of his shell was a dizzying altercation of Hawaiian shirt prints. The giant turtle seemed to be in a somewhat altered state himself; he was muttering what sounded like scientific equations mixed with Tantric chants. There was a beatific air about him that contrasted starkly with the Tut Decker had come to know. "Covalent solution oṃ āḥ dhīḥ hūṃ svā hā interrupted hyperbola oṃ a ra pa ca na dhīḥ... ah, Decker, what a copacetic karmic wonderment... begging your pardon, allow me to finish my hypothesis... oṃ sa rva bu ddha jñā na aṃ svā hā ectoplasmic interplay oṃ sarva buddha jñāna aṃ svāhā ongoing parabolic depth chart..." He wandered out through the double doors and slipped into the river, taking a great gulp of the water as he submerged. The still somewhat begoggled trio stood on the smooth stone, volcanic rumblings of laughter surging up in them simultaneously. A cool breeze of panic swept across the back of Decker's neck, and his belly hurt from laughing so much already; was this insane trip going to go on forever? Well, couldn't be any more ridiculous than serving breakfast specials to disgruntled, sun-crisped permanent tourist septuagenarians for the rest of his life... he succumbed to the laughter. They staggered back against the cliff wall and tried not to look at each other until the trip and the laughter subsided. "Well, we're going to be waiting a while for Tut, if we decide to wait," Decker finally managed to utter, "What do you guys think?" "I wonder if Aida is here," Coxli asked. "I've been chafing at having nothing but er, human company for so long now... it's going to be great to chat with Tut, but even a duck would be a nice change..." "Yeah, and last time I was here, with Degren, they had some righteous chow... and I've got a powerful hunger right about now." "Ayup, a nice pot'a beans, or sum sech vittles, would suit me good, too," Cletus chimed in. "I can try to find their apartment," Decker said, "assuming it's still where it was, and she's there." "Better'n doin' nuthin', I figger," Cletus said, and Coxli nodded in agreement. After a few wrong turns and a bit of step retracing, Decker led them to the bright purple French doors of Tut and Aida's flat. Decker banged on the frame, then the glass, to no effect. "Hm. Nobody home." Decker scratched his head. "Wonder if Tut locks the place, or if he'd mind that we went in and fixed ourselves a little snack." He turned the knob and the door swung inward. "Gents, do we dare?" There were nods from his two companions, so he headed for the kitchen. They had managed to clean out Tut's larder pretty well by the time he returned. He dug around in various shelves and pantries, finally locating enough foil-wrapped bars to satisfy his also-excessive appetite. Seated at the big dining table, Decker thought they looked like a troupe of down-on-their-luck street actors, late of a morning after a night's debauch. "Everybody could probably use some sleep before we try to figure out what's next, huh?" "Ahem, quite, indeed, my corpus colossum is perceptibly taut..." Tut's reply faded into a dull mutter, and he stood shakily, waving a flipper for them to follow. The living room was well-appointed in couches, so Cletus tumbled onto an overstuffed leather one, while Coxli leapt onto the top of an upright piano, dislodging ranks of knick-knacks from a deep patina of dust. A floral print Victorian sofa called to Decker and he staggered over to it, then did a weak Fosbury flop onto its cushions. Tut disappeared down the hall as Decker's eyelids banged shut like twin submarine hatches before an emergency dive.