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Justin Campbell Justin Campbell
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'Sunglasses, Time-Travel, & Iced-Tea' Part 10

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Under the Double Star - Chapter One

10. – Jason

       After that horribly revealing and thoroughly humiliating lecture from the celebrated members of that iced-tea party, they focused on Leonard, who seemed to take what was given to him worse than I did, and then they adjourned to the interior of the house.

       “What was that?” John said. “They knew we were time-jumpers, they recited lyrics from songs that have over ten years from now to be recorded and released, and they knew every single little aspect of us and whatever circumstances surround us in our personal lives. All while drinking a sugary mix of flavor crystals and water.”

       “Plus,” Brian pointed out urgently, “they are people we recognize from our reality.”

       “Yeah, we knew that,” Leonard, obviously agitated and rubbing his eyes, scoffed. “Thank you for reminding us, Brian.”

       “You’re welcome,” he responded warmly.

       “There’s got to be, like, some supernatural context involved with this somehow,” I said. “They can’t just be your average organized debate group. They know of things at an impossible level…it’s like they’re omniscient.”

       “Do we know? No,” Leonard growled. “For the first time, I’m beginning to regret being a part of this first test. We’re sitting in the backyard of a garden home inhabited by these all-knowing, pompous philosophers in a year and reality we don’t live in. I just want to get in my Impala and drive around, maybe stop at Donald’s Foods and write down an order for a warm croissant.”

       “Now don’t be hedonistic,” Brian admonished. “We should listen to what those guys had to say. They are certainly here for a reason.”

       “Don’t talk to me,” Leonard responded, and jammed his Ray-Bans on his face.

       “Well, I really don’t know what to do,” I said. “And I’m beginning to think that retracing our steps back to John Wharton’s yard in Fisher Heights won’t get us anywhere. He’s not born yet, his parents don’t live there, and all we’re going to do is end up at a house inhabited by a stranger – or worse, another one of our friends.”

       “You got that right,” Leonard mumbled from behind his dark sunglasses.

       Just then, our hosts emerged from the house and settled themselves down on their respective seats.

       Tim checked his watch. “Ahem. All-righty then. It is 3:31, an excellent time, and we shall now return to our scheduled discussions.”

       “I don’t want to discuss,” mumbled Leonard.

       “Well, when you take a look at your life and your issues, you may feel like you want to close up to yourself,” Benny said. “As such, your Ray-Bans are an excellent shield.”

       “Excellent indeed,” Tim agreed. “So. Now we have to discuss what and how we should conduct ourselves here as we head into the future. Jason, you should really get your issues properly talked about with someone who is a professional…you have an extremely unhealthy hold on Mae. Why do you think we renamed this neighborhood ‘Maywood’ and ensured you ended up in May, 1978? It’s like she’s magic to you, in certain terms. You know she’s not, and while you worry about that spirited individual, she will eventually end up here anyway.”

       “Who are you people?” I asked, shaken again. “How do you know what you know, where do you come from, and why do you delve deeply into people to bring what you find to the surface?”

       Tim answered. “We are the High Society of Iced-Tea Drinkers. We focus on the prioritized topics of the world, particularly concentrating on high demand, output, and culture. For us, the world’s highest prioritized demand is helping people move on emotionally. Our biggest output is emotionally balanced, productive, happy lives. The culture we advocate is love, respect and acceptance. In fact, a lot of musical artists tend to write just about that in most of their songs – such as Barenaked Ladies, Madness, Pet Shop Boys and Pearl Jam.” I realized Tim had named all of our favorite bands.

       “Oh, yeah, I love ‘Dine’ and ‘Far Out,’” Brian said.

       “’Enid’ and ‘Our House,’” I corrected him.

       Brian thought that over. “Damn it! I’m hopeless.”

       “You’re not hopeless,” soothed Martin. “You just need to find an avenue of knowledge that readily engages and focuses you, something you haven’t merely heard from someone else.”

       “Yeah…that makes sense,” Brian agreed thoughtfully.

       “Now,” Tim said authoritatively. “All of you reality-seekers, at some point, heard a song playing within your heads. Is that correct?”

       “Yes!” all of us exclaimed, poised and excited at the prospect of finding out why that happened.

       “John. You heard ‘You Oughta Know’ by Alanis Morissett. Do you know why?”

       John thought about that. “I think so. I think I heard it because…well…maybe because I feel worried that, while things have always been okay with me, I will still have a lot of potential horrible times and heartbreak to look forward to. At least when I connect it to how you said I have a clean past”

       Martin bowed his head. “Correct, in most essences. You have led a very positive existence. But there is no such thing as a perfect life, a life without adversity and pain, loss. You will go through it. There is no exception. That song is a perfect example of how one may feel after a terrible, painful loss – rage and spite. You won’t be a stranger to those things anymore soon, I promise you that.”

       John looked pale. “I don’t like the sound of that.”

       “No one does. But everyone has to deal with it, otherwise they might as well spend their entire life hidden under a rock not knowing anyone, trapped in a shell, and a life spent in a shell is inevitably much worse than a life full of experience and inoculating adversity, wisdom.”

       Tim looked at me. “Jason, you woke up hearing ‘You Can Call Me Al’ by Paul Simon. Have you any idea what that means?”

       I said, “Obviously. I could never wake up with a song in my head thinking it had no meaning. It’s voicing my concern of my future, in that I’ll be depressed, lonely and full of regret and longing. Where’s my wife and family, what if I die here? Will I have either?”

       Benny smiled. “You certainly spend a lot of time looking inwards at yourself. And that’s why we’re here to tell you that you needn’t worry, that you are young, and that you have so much more to experience and live through before worrying about being lonely, which I promise you, you will not be.”

       “No?” I said, hopefully.

       “I guarantee you, it’s part of my storyboard for a future musical. You act like you’re already forty-eight. I mean, slow down man. It’s only Act II.”

       “Okay…alright.” Even though my high school friend was nothing like the person I knew, it was 1981, and we were sitting in an alternate reality where almost nothing made sense, his words made me feel more optimistic.

       “Leonard,” Benny continued, “You woke up listening to ‘Sowing the Seeds of Love’ by Tears for Fears. Do you know why?”

       Leonard finally removed his Ray-Bans and sighed. “Yeah, I guess I do. It’s all about love isn’t it? That song is kind of deep, commenting on political issues as well as emotional ones, and it’s championing the emotional ones over the political ones, sensual feelings over the hedonistic ways of style – kick out the style, bring back the jam. Be more meaningful, feel love instead of focusing on greed.”

       After a minute of silence, Tim said, “I see you’ve given that some thought. We have some very insightful guests here today. Benny, can you please pass me a spoon, I need to stir my glass to dissolve the crystals some more.”

       “Let me put this into some kind of order,” I said. “Are you guys the reason we’ve been skipping about different times and places, observing sentimental scenes and going through this thrill ride? Are you the ones that installed the songs in our ears when we woke up in that field?”

       “I wouldn’t want to give everything away,” Dean said, “but, in most essences, yes, we did. You guys either lead troubled lives or completely don’t, in John’s case. As for Brian, the way he grins about as if everything’s a tea party, he’s just like you said – an extra spot.” (Brian shrugged and continued to smile). “But in the main essences, you all need to move beyond your present states and feel better about your lives, accept what you need to accept, and move forward.”

       We all sat there, in dumbstruck silence. This was our final answer. Everything we’d experienced had come down to the decisions, and debates, and drinking, of these people.

       I could only stare for a few seconds, and then let out a sigh.

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