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Eureka!

another pSecret pSociety pshort pstory

Eureka! by Mike Bozart (Agent 33) | DECEMBER 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eureka!

by Mike Bozart

Copyright © 2016 Mike Bozart 

 

Manuel Oscar Ortiz, a 26-year-old, struggling Hispanic American actor, opened the coffee-stained, crumpled, dingy, return-address-less envelope in his cramped and cluttered East Hollywood (California, USA) studio apartment. The three o’clock December sunlight slithered through the old Venetian blinds into his kitchenette and illuminated the sheet of notebook paper. He read softly aloud:

Man, oh Manuel! Yes, finally, ‘Daring’ has successfully formulated Mysterium! [sic] And boy does it enhance neurotransmission inside our 3-pound [1.36 kg] intracranial jelly lobes – our brains. Dude, I inhaled a big blast last week, and let me tell you, I’ll never be the same. No, I haven’t become a homicidal rapist, but I have become painfully aware of humankind’s fate. I won’t spoil it for you; I’ll let you ‘see’ for yourself. You won’t believe it! Anyway, since I no longer trust USPS, [United States Postal Service] I hid a small container for you in Eureka. [California, USA] Let me close with these clues for discovery:

*
p<>{color:#000;}. from the Canadian Atlantic he came

*
p<>{color:#000;}. easier to fell trees than find gold

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Queen Anne would be proud

*
p<>{color:#000;}. waterfront is worth the walk

*
p<>{color:#000;}. where the rain trickles out, I put it in

*
p<>{color:#000;}. on a line between turret and sign

Manuel then carefully folded the note back into thirds and re-inserted it into the right-edge-torn-off envelope. As he held it in his right hand, his mind began to race. I wonder who sent this. Probably Charles. Yeah, it has to be Charles. He’s too paranoid to own or even use a cell phone. That’s why he sent this letter anonymously. I wonder if there’s anything to this Mysterium stuff. Charles claims that he’s seen the fate of humankind. What an outlandish remark! But, that’s just like Charles. Well, I probably won’t have any work this weekend. Maybe jump a flight up to Arcata. Yeah, why not?

Next Saturday morning found Manuel at LAX (Los Angeles International Airport), boarding an Alaska Airlines flight with just a backpack. Once in his window seat in the middle of the coach section of the Boeing 737, he looked at the cracks in the tarmac. His mind meandered. Have to go to PDX [Portland International Airport] first. A nonstop would have been nice, but it’s just too expensive on short notice. Well, the extra time can be used to start deciphering the clues in that letter. Oh crap! Where is the letter?! [It was in his left hand.] Oh, there it is. Gosh, that letter has got me so hyped-up that I’m losing my mind. Need to relax. I wonder how impressive that Mysterium mist is. Hope I can find it. Clue 1: ‘from the Canadian Atlantic he came’. That could be any one of a hundred thousand gents. Hmmm …. Let’s start with the third clue, a proper noun – Queen Anne. Let’s do a Google search on Queen Anne and Eureka, California together. Bingo! The old Carson Mansion. The first two clues further confirm this. But, what does the fourth clue – ‘waterfront is worth the walk’ – happen to mean? I’ll just get a hotel room near that Victorian mansion and find out this afternoon.

The flight to Portland was relaxingly uneventful, save for a small boy who lost his tiny toy under his seat. Once inside the south terminal, Manuel went to a newsstand that proudly stated that they sold ‘everything from porn to granola bars’. He drifted over to the map section as Nick Lowe’s Christmas at the Airport suffused the dusty air from a ceiling-tile speaker. A cute, petite, raven-haired Latina in her early 20s looked at Manuel and smiled. Well, there’s an opening. Should I talk to her? I’m single once again. Hell, why not?

He walked up to her, feeling insouciantly assure of himself. “Did you find something to read?” he asked prosaically, sounding a bit tired.

“No, they don’t have the romance novel that I’m looking for,” she said, sensing his interest in her … or her body.

“Which novel is that?” Manuel asked, and then realized that he might be prying. Romance novels can be like porn for women. Why am I asking her for the title? I wouldn’t know it anyway. Would she ask me for the title of my favorite porn site? Let’s wake up, boy. / He sure is feeling bold.

“The title is Kathy’s Barbarian. It’s girly stuff.” I am sure that it is. / I wonder if he’s a speedy pumper.

“Would the barbarian in that novel happen to be named Ingomar?” Huh? Ingomar? What a name!

“No, I don’t think so. Why?”

“Oh, it’s a long story,” Manuel said with a slight sigh. I need to hear it.

“Tell me this long story over a tall cup of coffee, mister. I’ve got twenty minutes to kill. There’s a coffee shop next door.” Hard to pass up an offer like this. She’s very cute and incredibly sexy. Just don’t tell her about the Mysterium.

“Ok, sure. Why not?”

“Exactly! Why not? There’s no harm in it.” I hope not.

They then moseyed over to the espresso stand, ordered and took opposing seats at a 4-top table.

“Oh, by the way, my name is Lucia.” She then put her large brown handbag down in the chair beside her.

“I’m Manuel. Do you speak Spanish?” I guess that I look more Hispanic than I thought.

“Hardly any. I’m second generation. My family came to San Diego [California, USA] from Guatemala back in the 1980s.”

“I see. My roots go back to Costa Rica. I attended Humboldt State University in Arcata – studied acting. I’m headed back to Eureka now.” Another movie-star wannabe.

“Going to link up with the old college gang and burn a few blunts?” [hollowed-out cigars filled with marijuana]

“Uh, no, just going back for old time’s sake.” That’s a lie. He would suck as a politician.

“Oh, stop with the coyness, hombre. [man in Spanish] You’re going back there to bang your old girlfriend. Am I right?” Wow! Why did I have to start talking to this woman? Must not be like that David character in ‘Gold, a summer story’. [the 2013 novel by yours truly] Should have never struck up a conversation with her. Need to watch my tongue.

“No, nothing like that. So, where are you off to?” He’s quite evasive. Something is up. It’s obvious. I should track his sly ass. I’ll drop a GPS [Global Positioning System] chip on him.

“Actually, I’m flying down to Santa Rosa to visit a college friend. She graduated from San Diego State last May.”

“I see.” Is she lesbian? If so, she’s definitely the femme.

“Flying to Portland saved me $300.”

“Same with me. I’m just here for the price break. I like Portland, though. Last time I was here, things got pretty wild.” I’m sure.

“You were going to tell me about Ingomar.” Be vague.

“A brutish fellow, I’m afraid.” It’s useless.

“Well, I’ve got to go now. Nice talking with you, Manuel. Safe travels.” I’d love to see her again.

“Likewise, Lucia. Take care.”

She then got up and walked behind him. His bright yellow backpack was almost completely zipped. Almost.

They both got on their respective flights without incident. Lucia landed in northwest Santa Rosa at 2:39 PM. Manuel had already landed at ACV (Arcata-Eureka Airport) in McKinleyville at 1:43 PM. The weather was much nicer in Santa Rosa: mostly cloudy and 59º (Fahrenheit; 15º Celsius); it was nonstop drizzle and 48º (Fahrenheit; 9º Celsius) on the Humboldt County coast.

Manuel took an uber (ride-sharing car) to the Town House Motel, a modest inn at 4th and K. He and the 30-something, red-bearded, brown-haired driver were silent the whole way until he stepped out of the car. That’s when the uber driver solemnly announced: “Good luck going forward.” Do I really look down on my luck?

Manuel got a room on the upper floor of the two-story building. He quickly settled on the queen-size bed and took a nap. When he awoke an hour later, it was still raining and quite gray. I’ll search for that Mysterium first thing in the morning. The rain will have moved out by then.

At 7:05 AM, Manuel jumped out of bed feeling refreshed. He actually had a good night’s sleep on the budget-motel bed. After a quick shower and coffee, he was out the door. The sun was rising over the southeastern ridges at 7:31. This is going to be a life-changing day. I just know it.

Manuel started walking north on K Street. The sidewalks were vacant. When he crossed Opera Alley, K Street became a brick walkway. And when he emerged at 2nd Street, he looked right and saw it: the impressive Carson Mansion towering just two blocks away. Wow! What an edifice. That dude was the kingpin of the village. I wonder how he treated his workers.

He walked up to the short, black, wrought-iron fence that ran along the property’s perimeter. He stopped to read the letter from Charles again. Clue 4: ‘waterfront is worth the walk’. Well, the waterfront side is that way. The street down there is even named Waterfront Drive. Yeah, I need to go this way.

Manuel turned left and walked to the end of M Street. There he stepped over the barricade and waded through a sea of shrubbery. Then he came to the top of a concrete retaining wall that was six to seven feet (two meters) high. He leapt down successfully. The soft earth prevented an ankle sprain. He looked at the slatted, yard-tall (about a meter high) beach fence just in front of him that ran along Waterfront Drive. I’ve got myself into some kind of no-man’s land. Hope a cop doesn’t drive by. Where to go now? Clue 5: ‘where the rain trickles out, I put it in’.

Manuel looked back at the Victorian-on-steroids manor. He could only see the rooftop peaks and spires. Then his eyes drifted down to the seepage outlets in the retaining wall, from where water oozed out and dripped down. Ah, these holes in this wall allow the rainwater to leak out. I bet that Mysterium container is in one of them. But, which one? Clue 6: ‘on a line between turret and sign’. Hmmm … Which sign?

He continued walking in the lush, grassy strip until he saw a green sign to the left that read: KEEP DOGS ON LEASH

Manuel then looked back at Carson Mansion. He saw the main turret. Maybe this is the line. Maybe it’s in the hole right up there. Hope it didn’t get washed away by yesterday’s deluge. I guess it might be on the ground now.

He slowly walked up to the suspected seepage hole, searching the overgrown grass as he advanced. Once at the rectangular hole in the wall, he ducked down and looked in. There was a small, black, plastic spray bottle inside. Eureka! I’ve found it.

Manuel gently extricated it from the soggy earth and fine gravels. The spray bottle had a security-sealed clear cap. On the bottom, the word Mysterium was in raised, thin-font letters in a spiral pattern. Wow! This is it! I have actually found it. Can’t wait to take a mighty blast. Should I do it right here? No, just do it in the safety of the hotel room, you fool. Who knows how long it lasts? You don’t want to become discombobulated in this private planting strip. Don’t want to alight in the town jail.

He then turned back to face the channel known as Inner Reach and Woodley Island beyond it. A red sedan was stopped on the curb of Waterfront Drive. An unmistakable Latina was staring right at him. Oh, gosh! It’s her – Lucia. Holy crap! How in the world did she follow me here? Did she see me grab the bottle? How long has she been there?

“Come on, Manuel; get in,” Lucia entreated.

Manuel walked up to the passenger-side window. “How did you tail me?”

“Never mind. That’s not important right now. Just get in and we’ll go back to your motel room and get properly reacquainted. I couldn’t let you get away. We’re going places, baby.” She winked at him and salaciously licked her lips. She knows where I’m staying? Baby? Is she psycho?

Manuel slowly opened the car door and crawled in. “So, you planted a tracking bug on me. Is this your usual dating technique? How long have you been doing this, Lucia?”

“We’ll discuss it at the motel,” she said sans emotion.

They remained silent for the final three blocks. She’s nuts.

Lucia parked the rental car under the second floor. She then walked with Manuel up to his room. When Manuel opened the door, he was instantly conked by a long-handled rubber mallet and rendered unconscious. He would awake 28 minutes later with a splitting headache. The Mysterium and Lucia were long gone. However, his wallet was untouched. Ouch! What train hit me?

Five weeks later, back at his humble East Hollywood abode, Manuel was scanning the in-state articles on a weird news website. A familiar photo was next to this shocking headline:

San Diego Woman Claims Humans Extinct by 3000


Eureka!

A 20-something, struggling Latino American actor gets a strange letter in the mail on a desultory Hollywood afternoon. He then decides to act on the letter's invitation and takes a flight from Los Angeles to Portland (OR). In the PDX airport, he accosts a cute Latina, and they pass the dead time with some seemingly innocent small talk. Once in Eureka (CA), the actor's grand plans for future revelation become altered. Approx. 2200 words. Another tale in the psecret psociety pshort pstory pseries. If this story were a movie, it would most likely be rated PG-13.

  • ISBN: 9781370971138
  • Author: Mike Bozart
  • Published: 2016-12-12 17:20:08
  • Words: 2228
Eureka! Eureka!