The odd and perplexing story reaches its even odder and perplexing...er conclusion in this installment of Steve and Lefty. Part one can be found here, along with two and three. I just wanted to say, thanks for playing along with my (possibly mindless) self indulgence. I know how devastated ya'll are about not hearing unnecessary history facts.
Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever had your nose broken, your nose reset, and been slammed in the head with a wrench by Bigfoot with a nasty disposition all in the same day, but it’s not a fun experience. I had never been knocked out before, so I can’t tell you which one of these factors brought on the space that managed to be fluffy and empty, light and dark, comfortable and off-putting all at the same time. The only one thing I was sure of was that I was not alone in whatever space I now resided. It wasn’t that I could see the other person, but there was a definite sense of another person inside my special little unconscious hole.
The time spent wondering how best to avoid the touchy subjects of strangers in my special holes could have best been used waking myself up, but I can’t change what happened.
Suddenly, a figure materialized out of the mist inside my mind. Guys, please don’t be mad at me here, but it’s almost impossible to describe how everything except me and this new figure could be pitch black, and yet still be obscured by a mist the same non-color. If you want, I can come over and hit you in the head with a wrench, and then maybe you’ll see. I’m sorry, I’m getting confrontational. I hope you can understand I’m going through a stressful time at this point.
The figure that I’ve been avoiding talking about stepped closer. He was a deeply black man, with an unlined face that didn’t match with his aged eyes that looked as if they had seen everything the world had to offer. He was about my height, as if size had anything to do inside of the non-area I now occupied.
I raised a hand. “Hey,” I said, amiably if awkwardly. Squinting for a moment, I looked down at the hand I had just used to wave to the stranger. It was my left. Eager to test the limits of this new ability, I wiggled the fingers, still staring at the back of my hand.
In my outside vision, I saw the stranger also raise a hand in greeting, my mirror image in motion if not skin tone. He also looked at his hand with a little bit more than normal enthusiasm, which would have been none.
“Hey,” he said almost as an afterthought, like he was simply sparing a greeting my way in order to avoid a major confrontation.
He didn’t have anything to worry about, because I was still enamored with the new control over my body. Now I was picking up my left foot and twirling it to my heart’s content. Never did I think that I would get the sudden urge to Hokey Pokey, but I felt it was time for shaking it all about.
Finally, after I had taken my left side for a test drive, I looked up at the stranger, who looked up at me.
“So this is weird,” I said, somehow finding a way to be more awkward than my “Hey”.
“You’re telling me,” the man said in a voice that seemed better fit for your high school English teacher. I don’t know what that means either, I just know it was true. Like the mist. “As always,” the man continued, “I seem to be a guest in your house.”
“But that must mean,” I said, “You’re Lefty.”
“I’m Lefty,” he said, overlapping my startled conclusion.
For awhile I couldn’t think of anything to say. Here was the force that had, for lack of a kinder word, infected my body piece by piece, depriving me of a normal life and forcing me to remain in my home for fear of damaging myself or others. The force that, amidst all this tragedy, had become my best and only friend over a considerable amount of years, and had remained concealed away inside my own body, shielded away from any sort of investigation. I’ve had dreams before, and Lefty has appeared in none of them. Apparently it took blunt force trauma to my frontal lobe to finally free him enough to appear to me incarnate. Well, as close to incarnate as he can get, I suppose. The force that had started in my toes and now resided in everything left of my breastbone was standing in front of me, calmly waiting for me to overcome this overload.
“You’re black,” was the profound, symbolic, and wholly well spoken statement that sprouted from my mouth like a cactus from a clay pot.
“Yes, I am.” I had to commend Lefty, he was remaining remarkably calm throughout the whole ordeal. I, on the other hand, was left with my mouth slightly open as I tried to work my way through the labyrinth of thoughts and feelings that had now entered my mind. “Why wouldn’t I be?”
“Well, I mean, I’m not.” It’s true, I’m not. I’m so pale I have trouble tanning at a leather hide shop.
“I think it’s become pretty clear that I’m not you,” he said. I could only nod in agreement. Lefty was a pretty good arguer for being mute all these years.
“So, uh,” I stammered, eloquent as always, “How are you?”
“Not too good, and that leads me to what I wanted to talk about. Right after you passed out I managed to punch the guy that hit you in the head with a wrench. Unfortunately, he simply hit us again until I passed out too. Not my proudest moment.”
I didn’t know all this. I blinked a couple times and wondered two things; 1. Had all those blows to my head purged me of all conversational skill? and 2. What the hell had Lefty and I gotten into?
“So right now what you’re saying is,” I began, “I’m double unconscious.”
“You’re double unconscious,” he finished, repeating my similar conclusion at the exact same time.
“Stop doing that! It’s getting really annoying.”
“Sorry, but we do kinda have a special connection. Hell, I’m your other half whether you like it or not,” he said, taking a step closer to me. Lefty began poking me in the chest. “And right now, Steve, there is a very big man that is most likely about to do even worse things to us when we double come to.”
“I’m double scared crapless.”
“This is no time for jokes. We need to figure out a plan. I think I might have something, and since I’ve got you here in front of me, this is the best and possibly only time to put it in motion.”
I’ve always said Lefty is the more instant action half of me, while I’m more of the “Let’s just wait and see if everything works out” persuasion. This time, I could see he was right, although I have to say I think the scoreboard was still in my favor from the time he was demanding we go to the doctor to check out a rash on his leg. It went away like I said it would, and it should have gone away sooner if he hadn’t been itching it all the time. But that’s neither here nor there. I asked him what his plan was and he started talking.
After explaining the whole thing step by step, Lefty held up his right hand, and I matched him with my left. As he reached out we gave each other the slowest high five in existence, and imagine my surprise as the hands failed to stop as they came into contact with each other. Instead, they continued in their motions, melting together while still retaining their own shape. I was able to distinguish which part was my hand and which was his, but hell if I could tell just where exactly each began or ended.
I looked up with alarm, and saw Lefty looking back at me. He shrugged, and seemed to take the whole thing in stride.
“Did you know this was going to happen?” I asked, slightly panicked as our hands finished their melding and our arms started disappearing into their counterpart.
“No. Frankly I don’t know why reached out in the first place.”
“You really think our plan is going to work?”
“Hell no.” Our bodies now connected at the shoulders and we had to look sidelong at each other. Instinctively, I drew my head back, afraid of getting too close to another man. “But still, let’s do this thing.”
Our heads met despite my best efforts to keep them apart. There was a split second feeling of uncomfortable melting.
I opened my eyes. Immediately I noticed three things wrong. I was on my back, my head hurt, and I was thinking too many thoughts. Two of these things, I understood. However, how a person can think too much for their own good is beyond me.
This may sound weird (although what doesn’t anymore) but bear with me. Think as many thoughts as you can. Perhaps you can conjure up what you need to buy at the store coupled with a song and an unrelated mental picture. There, that’s three thoughts. Now, imagine trying to concentrate with almost double that going on inside your head. Also, you’re surrounded by gangsters. Mean looking ones.
That was the fourth thing I noticed that was wrong. The gangsters, that is to say. I expected them to look mean.
All of these thoughts bouncing around inside my head weren’t all mine. Lefty had taken up residence past his usual borders and was now a full on player in my conscious. I had unrestricted access to all his thoughts and mental processes. At the moment, he was alternating between wonderment at the sensation, and a slew of expletives at our current situation.
I know I’m asking a lot of you in enlisting your participation, but try and realize how non-sequential all of your thinking is. It’s not till you really start looking for it, or have another person shoved into your mind, that you realize how cluttered our mental processes are. We all imagine them as one single rail-road track, straight and narrow, with the ability to see where it came from and perhaps where it’s going. But in reality, they’re more like a child’s drawing of a tree. Thoughts are mostly scribbles, looping redundancies, and a total lack of sequential organization.
“Stop thinking about trees. We’ve got so much more going on here.” Sorry, that was Lefty. He was right. We had bigger worries on our hands. I know I just got done explaining how thinking doesn’t work as neat and tidy as a back and forth conversation, but putting into words the true act of conscious reasoning would be impossible.
A vague river of a non-stop inner monologue running over the rough sand of unspoken meaning and intent, with the occasional stone of an imaginative portrait jutting out from the bottom is the true form of the human mind, and to put that to paper is to do the impossible. So in essence for your and my sanity, I’ve committed the gist to the dialogue between Lefty’s mind and mine.
“If you’re going to do this plan you told me about, it better be now,” I didn’t have to direct this thought to Lefty, it just wafted over to his side(?) of my brain. Our brain, now more than ever.
I could hear him unconsciously thinking his motions split seconds before he did them. It was odd. Hearing him think what he couldn’t himself realize.
“Gun. Grab. Look. Throw.”
He did all of these excellently. It was only a second after our eyes had opened, and he surprised all the gangsters surrounding us by instantly reaching our hand out, and upon seizing the nearest firearm in a waistband, chucking it at the light above us even as the gangster robbed of his gun was still comprehending how quickly our eyes had split open.
The pistol crashed into the lights hanging from the ceiling, and hit the bulb perfectly, shattering it. I felt the glass lightly peppering the backs of our hands and arms as all light fled from the warehouse. Several voices called out in alarm, too startled for actual words, instead settling on grunts of confused disapproval.
“Go. Go. Go. Away. Go.” That was both of us, the thought repeating and pounding from all angles in our mind. We didn’t have to coordinate our actions any longer, and moved as a normal person. We didn’t have to deal with the awkwardness any longer because we had become quite literally one mind. The feeling of fluid movement was something I never thought I would experience again, and even in the confusion and danger of the moment, a flicker of exuberance made its way out of the depths of my mind, infecting Lefty.
“We could do this. Just keep crawling.” I don’t know which one of us thought that. We were on our hands and knees and crawled like a baby as quickly as possible away from the grouping of dangerous people that we had been kept in. Finally we bumped into a heap of cardboard, reaching the racks of boxes that had surrounded the meeting place. Feeling safe enough to set the second part of Lefty’s plan into motion, we reached for our pocket.
“Gangsters took it.”
“Not part of the plan.” I thought. We had originally banked on finding our way out of this labyrinth disguised as a warehouse by using our cell phone to light our way. Now, that we had no MacGyver-ed flashlight, things were about to be a lot harder.
Just then, we saw lights flicker on, the nearest being only about ten feet away from us. The gangsters had recovered from their shock and had adopted our same plan to get their bearings, and maybe find us in the process.
“Phone being stolen was a blessing,” Lefty thought, “Look, you can see where each and every one of them are. We would have been one easy target.”
“Boxes next to us. Full of guns.”
“You really want-”
“Yes. Is there anything else we can do?”
We grabbed the nearest box, aided by our rapidly adjusting pupils and residual light from the gangsters’ phones that were currently focused on the last place they had seen us. That particular spot of concrete was only 15 feet away. It wouldn’t take long for them to turn towards our updated position.
Reaching inside the box, we grabbed the pistol on top. Holding what I hoped and prayed was the right end, we pointed it at the nearest source of light.
Thankfully for us, the sound of the gun’s firing pin striking stale air was quiet, hidden underneath the gangsters’ constant talking and calling out to each other.
“There’s another end,” Lefty thought, and we flipped the gun to hold it by the barrel.
Standing, we crouch-jogged to the same light that had been spared by the empty magazine. I could see the man’s head silhouetted by the lights behind him, and swung in a downwards arc right onto the crown of his head. His particular light dropped to the floor faster than he did, causing an uncomfortable amount of noise. All the phones, about seven in all, turned towards the noise. Luckily, Lefty and I were on the move again.
We had escaped the radius of the lights while the first man was still falling. Now we began to make our way around the entire group as they inspected the racking ahead of their downed colleague.
Another swing, another phone on the floor. Six left, and once again, the phones swerved to the sound. We began reveling in the hunt to a scary degree, circling our prey like a killer in a horror movie.
There was no indecision between the two of us. Each step, each swing, each slide back into the darkness, every single movement was perfectly executed by the two man team residing in the one man body.
Vincent’s day was not getting any better. He thought he had a handle on the entire situation once he re-knocked out that freak with the unconscious boxing skills, but the boss had to call him out in front of the whole crew, and demand he go to work on the body, finishing the job. Now, it was pitch black, and people were being knocked out by that same freak that had woken up like he had only been playin’ asleep. Vincent tried to get some order to the panicking crew, but his thoughts were also clouded in anxiety. The dark did that to you. Every shadow was a threat, which made for a whole gallery of enemies when the only lights came from scared men’s cell phones, swiveling and prodding in the dark.
Another man went down with a soft “Urk,” and Vincent realized that it had been the one standing next to him. Jimmy Two-Bags was his name. Jimmy was going to need two bags of ice for that nasty bump on his head whenever he came to. If ever.
Now only Vincent and three others still stood in the dark, and each man drew his pistol. Of course it was wildly dangerous if they were to begin firing, but it offered a sense of moral support. So to speak.
Three left. It was beginning to get tougher to sneak around the back every time, as each one of the perps reflexively grouped closer and closer together every time a phone light went out.
“How are we going to get all of them? They keep getting more and more protective.”
Lefty had a point. We stalked around the circle of light that was being made. More than any other interval before, we bided our time. Finally, an opportunity presented itself, and we swung in that overhead arc once again.
Now it was down to him and Joey Fat-Tooth.
“Joey,” Vincent said, “Forget about them. Just shine your light on me and watch my back. I’ll do the same for you. We’ll be safe like that.”
Joey complied, although Vince could hear as much as see how scared he was. His breathing shook into and out of his body, and his cell phone arm was trembling, causing the light protecting Vincent to shiver all around.
“Now Joey, just calm down. We’ll be fine,” Vincent said in the soothingest tones he could muster, given the situation. He wasn’t made for very soothing tones anyway, and this only exacerbated it. Exacerbated, Vincent thought while watching over Joey’s shoulder. That’s a pretty big word for an old jughead like him. Come to think of it, he knew a lot of big words, and he was only considered dumb because of how big he was. Vincent realized had even began to think of himself as dumb, thanks to everyone’s treatment of him.
Joey’s trembling had not ceased in the notable seconds of Vincent’s mulling over his intelligence in silence. With each passing moment, the feeling of an attack looming over his shoulder grew in bounds. The shivering got to be too much for him, and he dropped the phone with a meek cry of surprise.
Vincent let loose a series of profane remarks, and turned quickly, ready for a blow. He figured let Joey Shakesalot deal with his own problems.
Suddenly, all the lights in the warehouse clicked on, save for the broken ones above him. Vincent had to squint at the harsh light that had returned to the facility..
Elsewhere in the massive building, a door opened, then slammed shut.
Vincent was alone with a still-shivering Joey, bending down to pick up his phone. Joey and six unconscious gang members, that is. The freak had left right after the third guy went down.
We burst out of the door in a dead sprint, putting as much space between us and all those nasty people as quickly as possible. Luckily there was a gas station right across the street, and we made our way to the desk.
“Can we- I borrow the phone?” I asked. I knew it was me asking, because I think I can recognize my own voice.
“Sorry, but no,” the clerk behind the counter said. I blinked in surprise. This wasn’t exactly how I pictured this going. I call police. They show up. Arrest perps. Get name in newspaper, and possibly parade.
“I’ve got to call the police, and I’ve lost my cell phone.” Now these words came out of my mouth, but I wasn’t the one who said them. Now it was the clerk’s turn to blink awkwardly as a voice totally different from the one preceding it came from my vocal chords.
“Uh, yeah, sure. Go crazy man,” the clerk said, still perplexed.
Go crazy. Sounds familiar.
After placing the call anonymously, by which I meant mumbling out an awkward series of non-words before hanging up, I thanked the cashier, bought a Pepsi, and walked out towards my car.
“I’m more of a Coke guy,” Lefty thought.
“Deal with it.”
We got to my beloved POS and sat in the seat. It wasn’t until now that I had the time, not to mention the inclination, to look at our legs.
They were both black, the color of Lefty’s skin in my unconscious dream.
“Huh.” I grunted, at a loss for words.
Just another problem I have with legs.
“Why is them being black a problem?”
Thanks again, and if anybody has an idea where an almost 19 year old can get half a chance at getting a short story published, you let me know.
He's going to start a watchmaking business so he can set his own hours,