Beyond the Island
by John W. Steele
Young Brian Mudd is proud of his ability to travel in the astral realms — until he encounters Lord Nagual, who prefers to be called “Max.” Brian becomes Max’s apprentice and finds him a harsh, even cruel master but nonetheless an effective instructor. Meanwhile, Brian is taken with Karen Frost, with whom he feels he has a karmic link. And Brian’s karma is trouble.
I sat in one of the chrome-framed waiting chairs outside her office and watched her through the huge picture window. She was cute... really cute, and I could see why Lord Nagual wanted her.
From what I could gather she was discussing a loan with an enormous simian-looking biker dude. The powerful man wore a black sleeveless Harley Davidson tee shirt, and his arms were covered with tattoos. His head was tiny and sat on his bull neck like the hood ornament on a Mack truck. He’d slicked back his long black hair with what looked like Vaseline, and it hung from his skull in loose greasy strands.
He flexed his hypertrophied biceps when he spoke to her, and I could tell he’d forgotten why he’d come to the bank. The idiot had made the mistake of losing himself and was caught up in the charm of her unpretentious sexuality.
Slick leaned far across the desk. He flashed a Hollywood smile each time he made a point, in an attempt to impress her with his animal masculinity. The guy was a bona fide loser. The thought of him with her turned my stomach. This platinum-blonde beauty was a fallen goddess, and he was just a couple of incarnations from a Neanderthal. But the spectacle was entertaining. I sat back and watched the show.
I could tell she was well accustomed to dealing with this type of primitive mentality. After all, this was Sanitaria Springs, a cow town in the middle of nowhere. People still smiled at strangers here and said “excuse me” if they had to cut in front of you. This little pocket of mid-century innocence was a world apart from the other places I’d been. It was kind of like taking an evening stroll down an avenue in the fifties, knowing there was nothing to fear but mosquitoes buzzing mindlessly in the incandescent radiance of the street lamps.
It was a beautiful little town. I wished I could make it my home, but it was not meant to be... It was never meant to be. Since I’d met Max, things had changed forever and would never be the same. I focused on my assignment. I knew if I failed, everything I’d suffered would have been in vain.
Much to my chagrin, Lord Nagual had revealed to me that the world is a canvas forever locked in the design and colors of the artist. The beholder is merely an afterthought. Still, I wished I could have been born here, so enchanting was the ambiance of this sleepy little town.
I studied her body language and examined the intricacies of her face as she maneuvered her way through the bulwark of the big man’s ego. She laughed and occasionally batted her eyes, culling away, one at a time, the illusions of this destitute angel from hell. She gave him just enough of her energy to bridle his fantasies but not enough for him to get ideas. Throughout the deliberations she remained cool, relaxed, and professional, her face tranquil, the gestures of her hands smooth and elegant.
I could tell by the overstated impressions of sincerity and goodwill expressed in the negotiations that Slick wasn’t going to get a penny from this bank. Yet this goddess incarnate possessed a grace and style so eloquent that she blew him off without assaulting the borders of his anima. She molded him with the skill of an artist forming a clay pot on a wheel.
A final chorus of laughter erupted from behind the window, and the cave man stood up. As he turned to leave, his arms ballooned out at his sides in a last desperate attempt to convince her of his virility. But I could tell she’d forgotten about him already and she’d busied herself with some paperwork.
I could read the sour expression on his face the second he hit the aisle that lead to the exit door, forehead wrinkled, eyes burning. His bloated pectorals were etched with angry red stretch marks, and his head bobbed from side to side when he walked. A menacing tactical knife in a black nylon sheath dangled from his belt. His earlobe was tunneled with a metal cylinder that formed a gaping crater the size of a ping-pong ball on the side of his head.
When our eyes met, he curled his lip, and I knew he was pissed. I didn’t like the way he looked at me and I stuck my feet out so he’d have to walk around them. As he grew nearer, the unmistakable scent of sawdust and horse manure permeated the air.
He probably didn’t like the heavy gold chain draped around my neck or my sparkling diamond pinkie ring. When the hulking mesamorph was nearly upon me, I pretended to scratch my ear and rattled the Rolex Navigator wrapped on my wrist. He glared, and I glared back. I was surprised how quickly he broke his gaze.
He stepped carefully around my custom-made leather boots, avoiding them as if they were land mines. After he passed by, he mumbled something under his breath, and I laughed out loud. Slick stopped dead in his tracks, flexed his lats for one final pose, then lowered his head and barged out the door.
It was no big deal, really. I’d learned to enjoy the feeling of arrogance and superiority that wealth can provide. We both wore the emblems of our mindset like totems in an unfeigned macho fashion statement.
The only real difference between us — the last time I checked — was that I was worth nine million dollars and Slick was looking for a loan. Other than this minuscule discrepancy, we were from the same human mold. We’d both do our time on this planet and then die.
Copyright © 2009 by John W. Steele