Yesterday was release day for a book I wrote called Beacon, book one of the Nation of Five series. The book is about young men and an impossible task they set before themselves. Well, I know a lot about impossible tasks. I’m a DID survivor who suffers from hallucinations. I have bipolar and Non-24-Hour Sleep-Wake Disorder. Getting through a day where I make dinner, hang out with my kids, be a husband to my wife, and not end the day screaming, is the completion of an impossible task. Well, it may be an impossible task that’s undertaken in the book Beacon, but it’s only even considered because of the friendship between four boys. Four teenage boys attempt this daunting feat. Got me thinking about the boys and men in my life. And so this weekend to celebrate the release of Beacon, I will be dropping upon you chapters from Reality of the Unreal Mind. These chapters are from the unreleased third volume, titled The Keep. I start at 7:30 in the evening on Friday, and will end at 9 at night on Sunday. So follow me now into the story of the men who made me possible.
The plan was Denver for a year with Basic, then I am a Colorado citizen and I can get into a college. From there, writing. From there, a cabin in the mountains where I would write one best-selling novel after the next. Well, when things fell apart with Basic, I had no plans. I called my parents to come pick me up, and all the way home they chastised me for going in the first place. I talked to them about it before making the move, and they had loved the idea, but now I had in some way let them down and I needed a new plan.
I got my job back at Pizza Hut, but I was still part time and I needed to start making money. I needed to get my shit together, and after a few weeks of living at my parents’ under the close and watchful eye of my mother, it came to me. See, my parents had footed the bill to get me home, but that was a bill I needed to pay back. They had used a credit card, and I had a five-hundred-dollar debt growing interest that had to be paid.
Part time at Pizza Hut was not getting it done, and my mother kept a tight check on my life until I paid it back.
Harvard got us all an apartment across from the high school, and all my money went to my mother. But still, my life had to begin somewhere, and Mumble came up with a plan after a few weeks.
The Pizza Hut he worked at was a delivery store, and it had a huge delivery area, but still the profits were low and he needed to do something or his job was in danger. So when the trailer came available, he jumped at the chance.
The Pizza Hut trailer had an oven, a small make table, an even smaller cut table, and a big window. A massive white Ford dually would pull it to sporting events all around the state and they would sell. Mumble needed to get a crew to work it, needed to find a place to park it, and needed to make as much money as he possibly could in the running of it.
I had exhaustive Pizza Hut experience, so he came to me. We talked it over at Waffle House and I agreed. We were not allowed to work together because we were family, but with me out in the trailer and him in his store, Big Boss agreed to it. After a glowing referral from Business at my old restaurant, I was the new assistant manager at the delivery store, only to work the trailer.
We chose Richland, an extremely small town about twenty minutes from the delivery place, maybe thirty. Mumble went to the town, hired two girls to work it as window girls, and we were in business.
The first night he would work it with me. We drove out in March. When winter was about to concede it was time to go, and the trailer had very little in the way of a heater. All that could be counted on was the oven, and it was a disaster.
We got there and I saw that Mumble had hired the two prettiest girls in the town. They were Baby and Chevy, and they were so happy to see us. The entire town was happy to see us. Everyone had heard that they now had a Pizza Hut. The first night was insane.
The girls came in about a half an hour before the place opened and were walked through the details of working a register. They were warned that their drawers had better come balanced by the end of the night, and we divided up the jobs.
Mumble would work the cut table and oversee the girls. This was their first day and they had no idea what they were doing. I would work the make. Business had told Mumble that I was the fastest cook she ever had, which he grumbled about because he had once worked for her. And we were off.
“The entire town is so excited you are here,” Baby said. “So many people will come out to see us tonight. I hope you are ready.”
Well this was Richland, how many could they produce? We opened the window and the vacant lot we set up in had at least forty cars waiting.
Mumble cursed under his breath and we got started.
I made so many pizzas that night. And the oven and the speed at which we were moving around in there generated enough heat to keep the place warm. But the floor would not warm up, and by the end of the night, my feet would be aching from the cold.
The town was excited we were there. How excited? Well, I can show you how excited.
The oven was in trouble. It was not getting the pizzas cooked as fast and as well as he needed it to, and often Mumble would have to run the pizza through twice to get it cooked. We learned this a few minutes after we opened, when a woman came back to the window.
She had been eating in her car, had paid full price for her pizza, and she walked up with a box. Asked us please to put the pizza back in the oven and warm it up a little.
We looked at that pizza, saw it was a deep dish, and the center was raw. It was raw dough. The sides had cooked fine, but the middle had not cooked at all. She had eaten about four pieces.
They were excited to have us, and we worked nonstop with no breaks, running pizzas through twice and barely getting it done. I ran a tight table and we got about two hours into our night when Chevy called back to us.
“Holy shit, Mountain Man is here!”
“How long has it been since we saw Mountain Man?” Baby said.
“I think I heard that he came in for a belt and a few bags of seed about four months ago. He has been up in the hills since at least December,” Chevy said.
“Man,” Baby said. “Even Mountain Man heard about this place. That is crazy.”
Well, I had to see Mountain Man, so I turned and bent to look at this guy, and dude.
He wore a torn green coat. The fluffy kind with puffy squares covering everything. Many were torn, stuffing either gone or poking out and filthy. Man, that stuffing had briars and burrs stuck in it. It looked as if this man, or at least the coat he wore, had been drug through the wilderness. He was tall and his jeans were blackened in places. His shirt was missing altogether. His hair looked like a joke. It stuck up in every direction, filthy and stiff and spiking everywhere. He had nice boots but dirty. He was black-smeared with tar or sap on his face and hands, and he looked haunted. He walked with a bit of a shuffle, and as I watched him move closer, I realized he seemed to move and look around the crowded lot like a zombie.
No matter how excited everyone was about the trailer being in town, when Mountain Man approached, the crowd parted like water by the prow. Everyone pulled back in horror, and he walked up to the window and pointed.
Baby and Chevy stared, unable to speak, too terrified and shocked to hold any kind of professionalism together. Mumble stepped in the gap and smiled.
“What can I get you today, sir?” he said. As broken and meek as Mumble was, when he was working a restaurant, he was charismatic and friendly.
The man stared with vacant eyes and pointed in the window.
“Would you like to see a menu?” Mumble said.
Baby pulled in close enough to whisper in Mumble’s ear, not nearly quiet enough. “I don’t think he can read.”
Mumble named off a few pizzas and a few toppings, and all the guy could do was point again.
“Give me a pepperoni with sausage,” Mumble said. “Throw on some green peppers.”
I made the pizza as fast as I could, and it was a five-minute oven that took ten minutes to cook. Soon the pizza was in a box. The man dropped a twenty on a thirteen-dollar pizza and stalked off.
The crowd came back slowly, as if the ground the man had stood on needed a minute to recover, then the rush started again. More topping slinging and more money raked in. About three hours into the night, Chevy said, “I think we have seen about three-fourths of the town tonight. This is crazy.”
An hour later all business died. The lot emptied completely. We stood in a warm trailer with frozen feet and stared out into the night.
Cleaning, and the girls were sent home. Then we had to pack.
The truck had a great big system of wooden boxes fit against the cab. We loaded all the dirty dishes, the empty pans, and we headed off.
The truck was manual (ever after referred to as stick), and I had no idea how to drive it. I was the one who was going to have to take it back and forth to the trailer, and after Mumble showed me how to count and sort the money, after we both washed all the dishes and put everything away, he took me out to the empty parking lot and ran me through the basics of driving stick. After about ten minutes of backing into and out of the same parking spot, he considered his job done, and he went home. He sent me to the apartment with the truck so I had a ride to work the next day, and off I went.
Well, the parking lot was sunken and there was a big hill to get out. It was almost impossible for me to escape the parking lot. Every time I tried to get the truck into gear, it either stalled out or rolled back. I fought that hill for two hours before I got out onto the road. Stopped at a light and it took me twenty minutes to get the thing started again. The ride home was nearly impossible, and I cursed and cussed so many times. I promised myself I would kill Mumble, and when I got home, it was after four in the morning.
I dropped exhausted, and in the afternoon the next day gave myself an extra half an hour to get to work.
That was a mess that I will not take the time to describe, except to point out that this is about one in the afternoon and there was traffic. So many people cursed and cussed and promised to kill me, but I made it to work ten minutes late and got started.
I got the money, loaded the truck with dough and ingredients, and was introduced to my coworker.
Her name was Sin, and she had tiny bruises on the outside of her forearms from bumping into things. She was the clumsiest person I ever met and she was a nymphomaniac. She talked about sex from the time we left the restaurant until we got to the trailer. She described every act her husband did to her in detail and told me what she was going to do to him when she got home. She told me she had forced him to promise when she married him that he would give her sex four times a day except on the heavy day of her period, when she expected once. She was short and squat, and when I tried to get up the hill and out on the road that first day, she was more than embarrassed.
She yelled at me and told me again and again how to get it done, but I kept stalling and rolling back, and there was a car that pulled up behind me. After twenty minutes and him having to back up three times, he turned his car and left from the other exit. We got to the first stop light and I stalled out five times. That does not mean five times that means five lights. I stalled out all the way through five green lights. And she kept her head covered and begged me to get it together. I was near the point of tears when I did finally get away from that stop light, and there were two more on the way to the highway.
We showed up twenty minutes late after giving ourselves time to unload the truck, and when we opened there was a lot filled with cars. Chevy and Baby had waited outside and we began our night.
I worked with Sin for about two months. So much sex talk. I learned things from her that I vowed I would never try. I heard things from her about ice and heating pads that I will not describe, and when I was rid of her, I walked away a little scarred and a whole lot more informed. Mary started getting better sex on her weekend visits, and I was glad to see Sin go.
Around this time, D gets a job at the delivery store. He has a nice car and he wants to drive it. He finds out I am working in Richland and, after a short talk with Mumble, our summer begins.
Now this was a summer to remember because everything changed at the trailer. What had been the orderly work of Servant and Guardian was now replaced by Shadow. The driving became more intense as I learned how to get that truck moving, and the entire dynamic with the girls changed.
They both had boyfriends. The town had more boys than girls, and these were two of the prettiest girls I had ever seen. D chose Baby to hit on and dance with. He chose her to take into the walk-in cooler and make out with, and Shadow was left with Chevy to look at awkwardly and shake his head at.
D and I took over that town from a Pizza Hut trailer in an empty lot. The summer was one to remember, and I was never the same again.
This chapter is from Reality of the Unreal Mind, Vol. 3: The Keep.