chapter 9


 - - - – - - -   - - –  - –-the other odd -- - -


Jesses phone was ringing. it sounded like wooden sticks knockin against eachother. that was sticks! the same ringtone i had on my first cellphone, an old nokia [ it was a great phone, i wish i still had it ]

it could be claire calling. i did call her from jesse s phone. she could be calling back.

deep breath.

remember to ask about her trip—


said the phone.

i was temted,

but i didnt anser.

Beebees basket was still parkd out front of that bar at the tableful of revelers. i checkd in on him as i walkt by.

he was in there alright, makin short work of a white russian.

hey— cat-whisperer!

said the fiery redhead.

thats the dude who calld me ma am.

sorry bout that, i didnt know how else to get your attention.

whats wrong with YO, BITCH?

she introduced herself, kathleen. and her boyfriend
dave, who lookd like a young stanley kubrik. when i told them my
name, kathleen said—


no, Al. A.L.

[ i hated to disapoint her ]

well, A-L

just Al.

sounds like you got suckerd into takin jesse s phone.

i have his phone.

he didnt make you talk to his mom, did he?

no. somebody calld. it said dont anser,

so i didnt anser.

nice move.  so you seem realy new. did you

juslike, get here?


like, today?

yeah. why?

where are your peeple?

what people?

y’know— your peeps?

i dont know anybody here.

dave and kathleen exchanged a look.

what? [ i said ]

dont worybout it, were just bein weird.

why did you look at eachother like that?

we lookd at eachother cause were in love bitch,

you gota problem with that?

[ i think she was kidding ]

dave stood up.

well walk with you.

to where?

where are you goin?

the hotel but

if were goin to the hotel we better geta move on.

kathleen scooted out her chair.

you dont hafta do that [ i said ]

all the more reason to do it. like terry-e said, the point is pointlessness!

who s Terry E.?

it doesnt matter.

realy, who?

terry eagleton [ dave said ]

see? [ kathleen said ] it doesnt matter.

ive heard of terry eagleton.

great! lets go.

I must of askd a million questions on that walk. i definatly askd about the misspelld street signs. kathleen said they werent misspelld, they were spelt, and thats all i could get out of her on the subject. at some point i got nervous and thrust my hands into my pockets and rediscoverd the bluesky punchcard, which reminded me what id been meanin to ask—

yall dont happen to know where blue sky is?

where d you hear about bluesky? [ kathleen ]

i dont remember.

no realy— where?

why does it matter?

maybe we should go there first [ dave ]

you think theyd go there, if—

thats where id go.

where who would go?

just some peeple...

[ kathleen rifled thru her purse, found somethin ]

here, take your medicine.

she handed me a pint of sailor jerry.

i dont drink.

you do now, your in athens.

no. i quit drinkin like three, almost four years ago.

your gona wana drink tonite dude, trustme.

why do you say that?

dave cleard his throat.

athens sometimes gives people... culture shock.

dont wory tho [ kathleen said ] soon itll all make sense.

like way more sense than over there.

then kathleen made a gesture i was to see repeated countless
times over the next sevral hours, by countless peeple. as she said
over there, she lifted an arm and flickt her wrist dismissivly.

over there? [ i said ]

you know— ‘the world’ [ dave ] wherere you from?


austin? [ kathleen ]

fort worth.

ohmygod how horrid.

[ there was no malevolence in her voice, only pity ]

its not that bad actialy.

she did not look convinced.

were just there for a couple more years. my girlfriend—

partner—got a realygood job.

its always a job.

its a good job.

im sure it is.

they ended up convincing me to walk with them to blue sky. theres no way id find it on my own, of that they were even more certain than the hotelnazi. plus it was on the way to the hotel. orso they claimd, and i think i believd em.

it took awhile, cause they [ kathleen, realy ] couldnt pass a single person without atleast exchangin a word, she introduced me to half of em, eventialy i stopt tryin to keep tracka names. this is where it was cemented that i would henceforth be known thruout athens as A-L.*  

we eventialy hit odd street and started walkin up it. atleast they were right about it bein on the way to the hotel. kathleen was tellin a story about some ancient injustice she had sufferd at bluesky, it had too many peoples names in it, i couldnt keep up, tho it was still entertaining, her impressions were especialy hilarius, she stopt in the midle of one and said—

oh, here we are— otherodd.

no sign ofcourse. it didnt look like a street either,
morelike a driveway. a steep driveway. like, geo-couldnt-handle-it steep.

how much further is it? cause i need to get back to the hotel.

do you wana go to bluesky or not? [ kathleen said ]

like seven or eight more minnits [ dave said ]

the otherodd a street more fit for a burro than a car. come to think of it, i only saw one car, tho it was a memorable one. a red yugo, chuggin up the hill at like five, blastin hiphop—outkast it was, ATLiens [ great record bytheway ]— the windows were crackt and the smell of weed comin outa there, we were practicly hi just from walkin behind em, which we did for a while, the yugo was barely outpacin us.

at the top of the hill there was a bench with a cardboard sign taped
to the back—

the overlook

. we were relativly high up, so you had a nice view of downtown. there it was, still raging, you could hear em from here.

p o p p o p p o p p o p p o p p 0 p

i guess it was fireworks, tho it coulda been gunfire.

kathleen spokeup—

if athens was a chick, id hafta invest in a strap on.

yeah. . . [ dave said ]

they were waitin for me to say somethin, so i said somethin—

its startin to grow on me.

across the street from the overlook was this tiny
house. you know the end of down by law, the shack where roberto
benini meets his wife? like that, exept in athens, not a swamp.

there were a couple rickety metal tables out front. a bike leand
against the front stoop. two cars were parkd in the shade of an oak,
one with a cat sleepin on its hood. a sky blue vespa stood by the door,
and around the side was an old van the same shade of blue as the vespa.
lookd like the van hadnt moved in a while tho, there were weeds growin
up around it.

thats when it hit me—

this is bluesky.

not like i recognized it oranything,
none of this was familiar. atleast no more than the whole town sorta was,
in a weird way. its just, what else could it be?

So this is it, yeah. what were you expecting again?

i was gona ask dave and kathleen, just to make sure. but they were makin out.

i lookd around, i dont know what i was lookin for. anything to tell me what to do.

but i already knew what to do.

breathe in.

breathe out.

dont think, just walk up there.

grab holda the door.



more than just a smell. the air was filld with a fine mist, it was like walkin into a coffee cloud, i was already catchin a buzz.

didnt look as divine as it smelld tho. lookt like they bought some olladys house thatd gone to seed, stuck an espresso maker in it, and calld it a coffeeshop. the only thing that past for remodeling was somebody knockd a hole in the wall between the kitchen and the front room and put in a counter.

there were a dozen or so people in the front room, the cafe
i guess youd call it, tho it lookd more like a parlor. in a brothel. some a
the furniture you wouldnt believe it was still in circulation. there was a
piano, too, and somebody was playin it— a pretty litle barroom ditty.
familiar. real familiar. but i couldnt quite place it.

the guy behind the counter was a swarthy felow, kinda yachtish, like a badguy from RipTide, like hed worn a gold chain so long that now it was just implied. he had a menacing stare, thats for sure. and he wasnt afraid to use it.

right then a disturbance. or i thought it was
a disturbance at the time, it later turnd out to be par for the course.

a tiny chick pickd up somedude [ a big dude, he was nearly twice her size ] and lifted him over her head.

then, i kid you not,

s h e   t h r e w   h i m s h e   t h r e w   h i m s h e t h r e w h i m h e   l a n d e d h e   l a n d e d h e   l a n d e d 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

in a c h c h c h  air,

which promptly collapsd [ or re collapsd ]

evrybody seemd to think this was hilarius, including the dude who got thrown.

or evrybody except the badguy from riptide—


I’M BILLIN THE U N I O N ! 1 2 3 4 5 6 1 2 3 4 5 ! 1 2 3 4 5 !

thats when i recognized the piano tune— gardenhead, off avery island, but in double time.

[ it was like a whole new song. just as great as the original, but for difrent reasons ]

thats also when the riptidian villan redirected
his menacing stare—

at me.

i gave him the who me?

turnd around—

but there was nobody behind me.

he was definatly lookin at me, yall.

and he was definatly not happy.

then he spoke, and his voice dript with malice.

Al dixon, i presume.

i felt acused.

i dont remember if i admitted or denied it,

if i said anything at all.

but the next thing he said i do remember,

i will never forget it as long as i live—

keep scrolling

Your late.