Today, I turn over my blog space to the author of one of my favorite books this year, Tegon Maus. He has some great work, but perhaps my favorite so far is his book, Bob, published recently by Tirgearr Publishing and available here.
Take it away Tegon!
I think most of us have someone we looked up to as kids… someone that helped to shape the way we see the world. Someone that made us a better person. Okay, maybe I went a little too far with the word better… let’s just say influenced.
Personally I had two. The first… at the top of the list was Benjamin Franklin. An all around great guy… anyone who can fly a kite in the rain, just to see what lightning is made out of and live to tell about it is always at the top of my list.
The second was Reed Richards… okay, nobody said it had to be a real person. As a kid when I read the Fantastic Four I was held in awe by the wild machines that populated its pages not to mention by the man himself. He had perfect posture, broad shoulders, chiseled good looks and a generous swath of gray at the temples. Anyone could see he was one of the good guys. He was an unparalleled genius able to multi-task in a time that had never heard the term. He could manage the problem at hand and his relationship with all the other team members all at the same time. I had envisioned myself in his likeness a million times. I wanted to be this kind of man… but genetics being what they are and much to my personal disappointment I wound up looking more like Franklin. Happily, the trade off turned out to be the craving for knowledge and the feeling of kinship were machinery is involved.
I think this, above all else, is what Sci-Fi is all about. It makes you want more… not just for the sake of having material gain but to have and be more than you are… to become something better than you were in the beginning, even if it’s just for a little while. It makes you want to visit those worlds, see those creatures, have those adventures… see all those incredible machines and spaceships and ray guns and zapping arcs of energy from things we can’t possibly understand. But we want to, we really want to.
We want it to transform us in unimaginable ways so we can be part of something bigger than ourselves, something wonderful and good. Isn’t that why we read? To live a life not our own for however long that book will have us. We crave that kinship with our stories and Sci-Fi lets us live in those pages to its absolute fullest. We want a happy ending, don’t we? We want to wipe the tears of our involvement from our cheeks and say to ourselves… “that was really, really good.”
Down deep inside that’s what we all really want isn’t it? Well… that and chocolate.
A part of me was disappointed irritated that Fred hadn’t opened the door for me or at least for Emma. I pulled at the handle several times but it remained locked. To my surprise Emma place her hand over mine and the door opened instantly.
“Is belt,” both Fred and Bob shouted simultaneously, turning in their seats, before either Emma or I could get all the way into the car.
A new fear gripped me as Bob sped onto the freeway with the door on my side still open, swinging wildly back and forth. I leaned out as far as I could grabbing the door, wrestling to get it closed.
At last, the car swung in such a way as to allow me to pull it closed. Uncertain if the loud, mournful groan had come from the door or from me, I was just grateful we had escaped.
For several minutes the roar of the engine straining under the weight of Bob’s foot filled the interior. Then the sound leveled off and everyone broke into laughter at the same time.
“God damn, Fred, you were a maniac. I’ve never seen anything like that before in my life,” I joked, slapping his shoulder over the seat.
Everyone laughed again.
“Bob, you were great… I never would have stepped in front of Carl like that… damn, you guys are nuts.”
The laughter slowly faded as the car slowed for the first time in my experience with Bob to match that of the traffic.
Leaning closer to one another in the seat, Bob and Fred spoke softly in Russian, gesturing toward me and Emma.
“Bob?” I said, beginning to feel a little uncomfortable.
“They are saying, we need a place to hide… quickly,” Emma offered.
“Dude,” Fred said incredulously, pointing at Emma.
“By the way… that’s Russian for “is belt,” I said sarcastically.
“No, it’s not,” Emma protested with a hint of annoyance in her voice.
“Really?” I asked, happy for my chance to put Bob on the spot.
Bob immediately said something to her in Russian, his hand waving in the air.
“I stand corrected,” she said, easing back into her seat, a smile of self-satisfaction lifting her lips.
We rode along in silence for several minutes.
“You have a wonderful machine, Bob. What’s it called?” Emma asked, tracing a hand over the upholstery.
“Is car,” Bob returned a little confused.
“I know that, silly. I’ve seen one before but I had no idea that they could feel like… like this. What do you call it?” she asked, leaning forward in the seat to be closer to Bob.
“Is car,” Bob repeated.
“No, what’s her name?” she prompted.
“Bob not understand,” he said, looking into the rearview mirror.
“She doesn’t want to be a bath tub… she rather likes being a car,” Emma explained, leaning on the back of Bob’s seat with both elbows. “She loves you very much,” she said, softly.
“Dorota,” Fred offered in Bob’s place.
“It’s pretty,” Emma said.
“Means… gift from God,” Bob said, barely over a whisper.
“Yes. Yes, she is,” Emma said, rubbing an affectionate hand over the door, touching its metal.
Then the tips of her fingers seemed to melt, becoming part of the metal itself. At that instant the sound of the engine began to run smooth, strong and took off at an incredible rate.
We had flown down this part of the highway several times before but this time… something was different. The way the car sounded, the way it felt as it glided over the pavement was like a dream. If there was one day in its creation when everything that made it a car worked perfectly, then today was that day.
I had a thousand questions for Emma. As I tried my best to focus on at least one, music softly filled the car… John Mellencamp’s “Paper and Fire.”
As I laid back against the seat on one level I felt good… happy, very satisfied with life but had no idea why. It felt as if I were suddenly drunk or… I had no explanation for the euphoria that filled me. As I looked to Bob, it appeared that he and Fred were under the same spell.
It felt as though we were stuffed in a thick liquid, making it nearly impossible to move. My head turned slowly as I tried to focus my attention on Emma.
She appeared to be surrounded by a strange, pale blue light as she turned to smile at me, but I couldn’t be sure.
“Bob. I think we’re in trouble,” I called, trying to wrap my head around what was happening. I struggled to regain some form of control over my mind, over my senses. “Bob,” I strained, almost yelling.
“Is okay, I have cousin,” he said, turning in my direction, smiling.
I was raised pretty much the same as everyone else… devoted mother, strict father and all the imaginary friends I could conjure. Not that I wasn’t friendly, I just wasn’t “people orientated”. Maybe I lived in my head way more than I should have, maybe not. I liked machines more than people, at least I did until I met my wife.
The first thing I can remember writing was for her. For the life of me I can’t remember what it was about… something about dust bunnies under the bed and monsters in my closet. It must have been pretty good because she married me shortly after that. I spent a good number of years after inventing games and prototypes for a variety of ideas before I got back to writing.
It wasn’t a deliberate conscious thought it was more of a stepping stone. My wife and I had joined a dream interpret group and we were encouraged to write down our dreams as they occurred. “Be as detailed as you can,” we were told.
I was thrilled. If there is one thing I enjoy it’s making people believe me and I like to exaggerate. Not a big exaggeration or an outright lie mine you, just a little step out of sync, just enough so you couldn’t be sure if it were true or not. When I write, I always write with the effort of “it could happen” very much in mind and nothing, I guarantee you, nothing, makes me happier.
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