Episode 10 --Navajo Wisdom

Episode 10 —
Navajo Wisdom

 

Episode 10:
Navajo Wisdom

 


Someone went way past berserk with the color red when designing this casino, and you cannot escape the color of blood no matter where you may turn your head. Wavy strips of neon lights above the slot machines glow iridescent red. What a surprise, even the carpet screams scarlet. You easily can find the wallpaper surrounding the brilliant creamy white urinals in the men’s restrooms echo red, red, red.

But, this is not a real casino with actual slot machines. No, this is a fictional casino on movie set located in Los Angeles, California in the year 2001. It’s supposed to appear to be a real casino, but there’s too much red everywhere. Maybe you will see things differently when you see the film. If you ever see the film. Beyond the director, the crew members and the large camera on a crane you see a dozen or so fictional gamblers seated at fake slot machines, mindlessly inserting currency and pushing buttons. You won’t hear the slot machine sounds because those will be added in post production.

At one particular slot machine you see a handsome, muscular, 20-something Asian male in tight blue jeans, open-toed sandals that show off his beautiful toes, and a revealing white string tee shirt that clings to his torso. He is grinning, obviously enjoying the experience of winning. But when he taps the big button again to spin the machine’s reels, there is a jarring buzzing sound accompanied by bright white sparks and billowing black smoke. He looks right into the camera with a horrified, helpless look on his face. He knows that’s not supposed to happen. He suddenly shouts out in pain as he jerks both hands away from the slot machine, coughing as smoke begins to surround his head.

The director yells out, “Cut! Get him medical help right now! Is he burned?”

The production may be doomed. This is only the first day of the first week of filming. An actor gets seriously burned while working on camera on the set.  You see the screenwriter with a horrified look on his face. He is around thirty, but he is unafraid to cry like a young boy whose dream has been stolen from him suddenly. He fears that his career certainly is over before it can even begin.

The burned slot machines just sit there in that red casino movie set. The decision is made to reuse this set to shoot screen tests. The studio wants to save money while auditioning replacements for the handsome, muscular, 20-something Asian male. So, the writer is left with nothing to do but watch a succession of Asian male actors.

They each are seated at the burned slot machines but are expected to act like they’re sliding dollar bills in and pushing a flashing button to spin the wheels. Each has but two sentences to deliver in a frustrated and angry voice almost mindlessly as if he were talking to nobody but himself. You see the writer watch each of several Asian men repeating the main character’s name in this film delivering two sentences in different and often contradictory renditions: “Big Danny West.  Real generous.”

“Big Danny West.  Real generous.” Again. And again. Over and over.

Eight Asian men who each participated in the screen tests as one character enter a men’s restroom together. They each remove their white string tee-shirts and toss them in a pile on the floor. Then they each start embracing one another in pairs as if merely in friendship.

But, their hugs and displays of affection suddenly morph into overtly sexual behaviors. The pairs of hot Asian men start kissing and grabbing crotches. They kick off their sandals. Some remove their tight blue jeans.

The writer looks ashen gray. “What am I doing?” he says aloud to himself as he stands alone in a men’s restroom looking into the mirror after having fantasized about the eight Asian men. It’s a very real possibility that he will start vomiting at any moment right there on that sound stage. So, he makes vague plans to drown himself.

You see the tall writer who is only age 33 with curly brown hair and a disarming smile throw himself into a large swimming pool. This is how he wants to end it all. From his vantage point, the sensation of approaching death feels so good—especially when you’re being fully clothed in blue jeans and a long-sleeve shirt as you stretch out your arms, allowing the warm water to soak into your clothing.

Because the writer is also wearing cowboy boots, he easily sinks feet-first into the deep end of that swimming pool overlooking Los Angeles in late afternoon. His black cowboy hat floats off on its own but he keeps facing downward towards the bottom of the pool. While welcoming death, he realizes that he could become a dead narrator, just like William Holden’s character in the original Sunset Blvd. movie from the year 1950.

But, no. This Hollywood writer is not going to die today. And he won’t get the opportunity to become a dead narrator.

He musters the strength to kick upward from the pool floor and splash to the surface so he can climb out. The sun is setting and he is dripping wet. You can tell by the look on his face that he scared himself with the suicide attempt. “Maybe fear will help me survive,” he says aloud to nobody and then he starts vomiting on the redwood deck of the pool.

He will never forget how and where he got the idea for doing a film. He remembers when he was driving on a lonely two-lane highway crossing the vast Navajo Nation in Arizona. It happened very early in the morning of the  summer of 1999. He is there on State Highway 160. According to his crumpled map on the passenger seat of his faithful old, blue VW Beetle, there are few communities on the Reservation interrupting the 300 or so miles between the Four Corners Monument and the Grand Canyon.

In the western states the vast distances between cities and towns are unlike anywhere else in the country. The loneliness can sneak up on you easily, especially when you drive all day. This is what happens when you choose to travel off-the-beaten path so you can visit Four Corners, a unique American location that simultaneously occupies a place in Arizona, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico.

You start longing for a brightly-colored, lively fast food restaurant to appear out of nowhere by the side of the desert road like in the TV commercials, but that never happens in real life. You try to find companionship on the radio, but the auto-search struggles and only finds only one station across the entire dial: A female announcer speaks in a complex, unfamiliar language.

Yesterday’s sweat remains in the fibers of the driver’s tee shirt. He has no time for cleanliness. He just keeps driving west towards Los Angeles without a shower—an earthy man’s way to travel. Besides, his goal is being a cowboy now.

A cowboy smells good and natural like this first thing in the morning. A cowboy refuses to live in falsehoods like other men around him will do so readily. Not this driver. He shuns what some call safety and security, especially whenever such things only sink his soul and handicap him. Cowboys seldom stay cowboys in captivity. You must ride out where nobody can fence you in.

But, he is not a real cowboy. He’s a character in a Hollywood movie that is one-part autobiography and several parts science fiction. The character looks forward through his VW Beetle windshield at the edge of the highway ahead of him.

A tattered billboard says, “Visit Monument Valley with a Navajo Guide.” A local telephone number is positioned over a scene of the Navajo Reservation’s famous, most photographed locale. The two-lane highway gently slopes and curves through desert land not suited for driving too much above 60 miles per hour—especially just a few minutes after sunrise.

When he obligingly slowed down due to the sudden slope of the highway, the driver notices faint lights dotting the horizon. He squints to get a better look, but the skies are not bright enough yet to allow anybody to make out the source of the lights. The driver locates a Farmington, New Mexico FM station that offers some country music that will keep him awake on that quiet Sunday morning.

Down around a bend in the shallow hills, the highway opens up and changes into a perfectly straight section without the usual curves. First light illuminates this stretch of the highway, allowing the driver to see clearly. On the left side of the highway he sees a late 1980s light blue canvas-top Jeep.

Then he sees someone standing there: A young man hitchhiking on the opposite side of the road from the Jeep. You can see his white cowboy hat first. An odd sight, this cowboy in blue jeans and a white shirt and white cowboy hat standing by himself in the middle of the Navajo Nation! His bright white tee shirt reflects the soft light of the morning sun as the blue VW approaches the hitchhiker by the side of the highway.

The driver slows down and the hitchhiker runs toward the VW. You can tell that the hitchhiker is both a cowboy and an Indian.

His Jeep apparently ran out of gas out there in the middle of nowhere. You feel a strong urge to stop and give him a lift. Keep telling yourself that. How much trouble can you possible get into because of one act of generosity?

He climbs into the passenger seat and you notice his powerfully-built body. This hitchhiker is about six feet tall, but he was thick and solid like a warrior. You accept that choosing to pick up a hitchhiker may be a terrible mistake.

Then you cannot help but see the raw masculinity in his dark eyes as they catch the early morning light. The realization sinks in that you are making a fatal error.

Never pick up hitchhikers! No matter how you may think you’re doing them a favor. Never know what might happen. Can’t just leave him out here alone at this hour on a Sunday. You must help him. Nobody will be driving by this way for hours.

The hitchhiker gets into the VW Beetle passenger side and shuts the door. Then he removes his white cowboy hats and runs his left hand through his thick black hair that reaches down his back and is tied in place by a white strip of burlap.

He is a Navajo man around 30. He speaks in a very unusual accent that you have never before heard. He says his name is Vincent Wauneka and that he comes from a small town named Tuba City located here on the main highway of the Navajo Reservation.

He has dusty brown cowboy boots that look like they have carried him uncountable miles thus far in his young life. His tight jeans are equally time-worn and authentically faded. He gives off a vibe of strength. The way his white tee shirt hugs his muscular torso and the way that he fills out his jeans would make even a straight man take notice.

Vincent Wauneka sits there in the passenger seat, noticing the way the driver of the VW is looking at him. That could explain why the Navajo declares, “You white guys are so hung up on sex!”

The driver cannot hide his embarrassment. He couldn’t just leave this man there at the side of the road since the nearest gas station is hours away across the huge expanses of Navajo land. But, you can tell that the driver is becoming freaked out that apparently Vincent Wauneka can read his mind.

The driver tries to convince himself that he wasn’t deliberately staring at Vincent Wauneka’s crotch held tightly inside faded blue jeans. “I meant nothing by it,” the driver admits aloud.

“No problem,” Vincent Wauneka says calmly. “I am a sex worker. I am supposed to attract the longing gazes of the men that I meet.”

“OK,” the driver replies, choosing to believe that the hitchhiker is bullshitting him.

“You lost? Got that look. Who are you?”

“Call me Danny West. From Los Angeles. I had to get away from the millions of people there for just a little while. Wanted to see Four Corners. Never been there before. Stayed last night at a motel in Kayenta. Got on the road early. Before I fully woke up. What are you doing out here by the side of the highway by yourself so early in the morning?”

Vincent Wauneka explains that he has been urged by his relatives to become a holy man, a “singer” as the Navajo people say. But, he has rejected what his culture and his upbringing want him to do and chose instead to embrace the ways of the White man. “So, you sell your body for sex?” the driver asks. “Yes, I do,” Vincent Wauneka admits with obvious pride. “Only male clients. No females.”

“OK,” the driver replies again, choosing yet again to believe that the hitchhiker is bullshitting him.

Vincent Wauneka explains further in the Navajo culture, a “singer” is one chants or sings. Such a religious leader guides people by tuning in to the wisdom that comes from the spirit world. He performs ceremonies. Vincent Wauneka says that he was on his way to join in with a cousin at one of these ceremonies when he ran out of gas. He says the light blue Jeep belongs to his cousin, who would be pissed off when he learns it is still out there on the highway.

Along the horizon you can see what look like fires. Vincent Wauneka says that the fires are for the ceremonies. “Magic?” the driver wants to know. “The white man looks at ghosts and spirits and sees magic. Something that scares him. Something out of the ordinary. The People, the Navajo, are different. There is evil, yes. Ghosts can hurt. But, not all do. The ceremonies serve many purposes. They focus what you might call ‘energy.’ Toward something specific. Not what you call ‘magic.'”

He sounds very convincing, yet the sum of the driver’s experience tells him that Vincent Wauneka is a psycho, probably hallucinating from native-grown hallucinogens most people have never even heard of and couldn’t pronounce correctly anyway. Vincent Wauneka smiles and looks at the driver, apparently assessing the driver’s disbelief using homegrown psychic powers.

Vincent Wauneka explains, “My hands once had such severe pain nobody could understand. The white doctors in New Mexico could not find anything wrong with my hands. They gave me shots and pills. But, the pains in my hands would not go away. The oldest brother of my mother is a singer. I came back here to the Reservation to see what he could do.”

The driver just nods, apparently believing that if he remains silent it will make it more difficult for Vincent Wauneka to use his powers as a mind reader.

“Had the Navajo way of driving the ghosts out. Now my hands no longer feel the pain. I went back to work again.”

“Work meaning selling your body for sex. Only to male clients. No females,” the driver says. Vincent Wauneka laughs freely as though he really enjoys what the driver has said.

You can see State Highway 160 winding down the hills into Tuba City, a Navajo community, which tempts motorists with a couple of gas stations and numerous Navajo jewelry vendors. At this hour of the morning, the town is quiet and looks very lonely.

Vincent Wauneka watches the driver’s eyes. “Tourists drive through the Reservation,” he says, “They will stop and tell us how isolated and barren it looks here. How ‘run down.’ Most of them do not mean to be disrespectful. They buy lots of jewelry anyway. They stare at us like we all are some kind of strange people compared to them. Look down on us and our land. We are a nation. Sovereign. Yet our nation is within state lines. We belong here. Yet we are told we do not belong. Better respect us or we will open up a casino and take a lot of the White man’s money. Here,” he points out the window. “You can turn right at the next street. My aunt’s place is just ahead up here over on the left side of the street.”

He follows Vincent Wauneka’s directions and heads off the street onto another dirt road toward a cluster of brown stucco houses. Each dwelling looked livable but, as Vincent Wauneka has said, the phrase “run down” is one that most people would select to describe what they see here—such poverty left unchecked within the vastness and abundance of a civilized country. He feels anger at what he sees here.

Vincent Wauneka explains that he is staying temporarily in what he refers to as his “aunt’s house.” Once they are both inside, the movie character named Danny West discovers that this is a very small house with only one bedroom and there is no explanation about why the “aunt” is nowhere to be found. Maybe she was killed by Vincent Wauneka and is buried under the floor. What about the cousin who allegedly owns the Jeep?

The kitchen is Spartan and the cabinets are unpainted. There is a small round wooden table with only two chairs.  The kitchen is clean, but very dark since the small window does not allow much sunlight in.

The only illumination is a small circular fluorescent ceiling fixture over the sink. The blue-white light hits Vincent Wauneka’s profile, giving him a jagged, threatening appearance. He motions for his guest to sit down next to him at his small rectangular kitchen table. Vincent Wauneka reaches over and opens a cupboard door behind which is one unopened bottle of tequila. “Want you to know:  Not legal to have alcohol here on the Reservation,” he explains.

“It’s not even noon,” Danny West. “You depressed?”

“Ya think?”

“Drinking tequila in the morning will make you feel better?” the driver asks.

“So, you are a psychiatrist, then?”

“No, of course not.  I’m trying to be a writer.”

“How does a man try to be writer?” Vincent Wauneka asks.

“What I meant is nobody’s buying what I write.”

“Forget being a writer. You must be no good at it anyway. Drink with me instead.”

“You’re getting on my nerves. I should never have stopped to pick you up.”

Vincent Wauneka brings out two small glasses and sets them on the table next to the unopened tequila bottle. He motions for the driver to open the tequila. “I am grateful that you picked me up today, Danny West. Did I get that right? Not your real name, of course.”

“Mind your own fucking business. Not sure I believe who you are, either. I’m not gonna sit here and get drunk with you. What’s the point?”

Vincent Wauneka replies, “The point? Ah, yes, the point. Old Navajo proverb: When refusing the gratitude of your host in his home, a great offense occurs.”

Danny West looks mortified at having insulted his host at his house kitchen table.

Vincent Wauneka twists open the tequila bottle, and smiles as he says, “I made that up just to fuck with you. No such proverb exists. I love the smell of tequila in the morning.”

“Yeah, I know. Smells like victory,” Danny West replies under his breath. The two men consume several shots of straight tequila too quickly while seated at the small table. “Why do you want to drink like this?” Danny West asks finally.

Vincent Wauneka pours himself another shot and finishes it extraordinarily fast. He looks at his guest with such intense sadness. “A son,” he says, barely audible. “Paul was his name. Killed here on the Reservation. Hit by a car. By a drunk Indian. We do not handle alcohol well at all. Everyone knows that.”

Danny West looks surprised, but says nothing in response. He pours himself more tequila and then serves Vincent Wauneka more, too.

“But, I must head back to Nevada,” Vincent Wauneka finally says. “Only came here to bury my son. Cannot stay here or I certainly will drink myself to death. I work the casinos in Nevada on the Colorado River. On the California and Arizona borders. Can you give me a ride there? It is on your way driving back to Los Angeles across the Mojave Desert.”

“How long a drive from here?”

“Only six hours,” Vincent Wauneka says.

“Six hours! You cannot be serious. We’re getting drunk!  This tequila has made me dizzy already. You want me to get behind the wheel now?”

“Come on, then. Outside. Better get some air,” Vincent Wauneka says.

Danny West stands up from the table. Vincent Wauneka ties to stand up also, but loses his balance, falling directly into his guest. “Another drunk Indian,” he mutters as his legs give way beneath him. Danny West attempts to stop Vincent Wauneka’s fall, but cannot support the weight of the muscular Navajo as he falls forward.

Vincent Wauneka ends up lying unconscious on the dirty wooden floor on top of Danny West, effectively rendering him immobile. The Navajo’s snoring becomes more unpleasant than his body weight upon Danny West.

Try as he might, Danny West cannot push Vincent Wauneka off to free himself. There is just no choice but to lie on the floor trapped beneath a man with a powerful body.

From his subordinate physical position on the wooden floor, Danny West suddenly curls his legs up around Vincent Wauneka’s hips and whispers softly, “Fuck me, Indian warrior! Just go ahead and pound me hard like you know I need!” Danny West writhes and moans in pretend ecstasy. He fakes a shuddering orgasm and cries out in a very loud voice. Somehow, through it all, Vincent Wauneka remains in a deep sleep and continues to snore loudly.

In the middle of the night, the snoring Navajo rolls off Danny West and lands face-up on the floor. Danny West gets up unsteadily to his feet and crouches down and flips Vincent Wauneka over on his back. For some reason, that new position stops his snoring.

Then, Danny West starts rubbing the unconscious Navajo’s crotch. The big man remains out cold and completely unresponsive. This gives Danny West the confidence to unzip Vincent Wauneka’s tight blue jeans as he whispers, “I wonder what a sex worker’s equipment looks like?” He discovers that this man does not have any underwear on and he pulls down Vincent Wauneka’s blue jeans to release his cock and balls into the open.

Danny West carefully caresses Vincent Wauneka’s manhood as he lies unconscious on the kitchen floor. He is not surprised when Vincent Wauneka becomes substantially aroused even though the man is obviously deep asleep, running on autopilot.

A combination of manual manipulation with both of Danny West’s hands and the power of his warm, moist mouth work in concert upon Vincent Wauneka. Danny West whispers, “Can I make you shoot your load even if you’re out cold?” Danny West soon finds an unmistakable answer to his question.

Afterwards, he zips Vincent Wauneka back up and attempts to move him in the direction of a nearby beaten-up sofa. He manages to get his hands under Vincent Wauneka’s arm pits from behind his back and pulls him from the kitchen a very short distance to the living room. Vincent Wauneka’s legs and cowboy boots drag across the dirty floor. There is no way that this journey is going any farther. Danny West passes out before reaching the sofa and Vincent Wauneka’s head falls back against the worn cushions of the sofa.

You will not be surprised to learn that there is a difference between what happened in the real life events in Tuba City, Arizona compared to what is depicted in the Hollywood movie version:

Danny West stands up from the table. Vincent Wauneka ties to stand up also, but loses his balance, falling directly into his guest. “Another drunk Indian,” he mutters as his legs give way beneath him. Danny West attempts to stop Vincent Wauneka’s fall, but cannot support the weight of the muscular Navajo as he falls forward.

Vincent Wauneka ends up lying unconscious on the dirty wooden floor on top of Danny West, effectively rendering him immobile. The Navajo’s snoring becomes more unpleasant than his body weight upon Danny West.

Try as he might, Danny West cannot push Vincent Wauneka off to free himself. There is just no choice but to lie on the floor trapped beneath a man with a powerful body. From his subordinate physical position on the wooden floor,

Danny West suddenly curls his legs up around Vincent Wauneka’s hips and whispers softly, “Fuck me, Navajo warrior! Just go ahead and pound me hard like you know I need!” Danny West writhes and moans in pretend ecstasy. He fakes a shuddering orgasm and cries out in a very loud voice. Vincent Wauneka suddenly awakens straddling Danny West on the dirty wooden floor and makes direct and very intense eye contact with him. “Normally, I charge hundreds for this, but I will give you a free ride,” Vincent Wauneka says aggressively without smiling.

Vincent Wauneka expertly strips Danny West naked and plunges into him unrelentingly on that dirty wooden floor. Danny West cries out from the mixture of pain and pleasure.

In the movie version, the morning after features a cruel sunrise for two men who each suffer from severe hangovers. Danny West awakens on the harsh wooden floor with thunder inside his throbbing head. He crawls outside after noticing that Vincent Wauneka has gone. But, the Navajo did not get too far. Vincent Wauneka is on all fours puking in front of Danny West’s VW Beetle. So begins the new day.

Danny West and Vincent Wauneka sit across from each other in a small booth inside the only roadside diner within several hundred miles. They each drink black coffee as if there is no other liquid in the entire universe. Vincent Wauneka starts to speak, but Danny West holds up his right hand to beg for silence.

“Come on, let’s get going,” Danny West says after a few moments without speaking. “I will drive you to the Colorado River and those Nevada casinos like you want. You pay for our coffee.” He gets up very quickly from the coffee shop booth as Vincent Wauneka looks him over with a wry smile.

Nobody speaks in the VW Beetle for the time it takes to travel several miles. Finally, just outside of Flagstaff, Danny West asks, “Why did you move away from the Navajo Nation?”

“Actually, I was recruited,” Vincent Wauneka explains. “I had to move because of the new job.”

“Who recruited you?” Danny West asks.

“You ask that like you do not think anyone would recruit me,” Vincent Wauneka replies. “Such disrespect. I can sense it clearly. You think that because I am a Navajo. Because I grew up here on the Reservation.”

Danny West has no response.

Vincent Wauneka explains: “I will give you more than answers to your questions. I do not care if you feel prejudice against me. I will give you a story that you can write about. You will be able to make money from the things I tell you.”

“You’ve got my attention,” Danny West says.

“First, you need to understand that I am not supposed to tell you anything about what I do.”

“You mean having sex with men?” Danny West asks. “Not even original. I suppose maybe the Native American angle would probably be a fetish for some guys, though. Who knows? Maybe you could come to LA and be in porn videos?”

“I really turn you on sexually,” Vincent Wauneka says. “I get that.”

Danny West says nothing in response when he could have tried to deny everything.

“I am a sex worker, but that is not important. You are right. Not even original. I am an undercover agent. That is the story you should be paying attention to here,” Vincent Wauneka announces. “More of an undercover enforcer. I fix situations. Make things turn out the way they should. Work guys up sexually. Then, make them do what I need them to do. You do not believe me.”

“Why should I?”

“You can make money from what I tell you,” Vincent Wauneka explains. “Really simple.”

“Someone’s first got to buy what I write,” Danny West says.

“I told you: I fix situations. Make things turn out the way they should,” Vincent Wauneka says slowly.

“I heard you the first time. But, you’re right. I do not believe what you’re telling me. I don’t understand why you would want to tell me anything.”

Vincent Wauneka sighs with deep frustration and replies, “I have been trying to find someone—anyone—who would listen to what I have to say. To put what I have experienced in my line of work out there into the public view. A movie would be great for doing exactly that.”

“You do realize how crazy you sound?” Danny West asks. “That’s a horrible cliché.”

“And you are one of about five hundred guys who has told me the same thing in so many words,” Vincent Wauneka explains.

“Five hundred guys? That’s not really possible,” Danny West fires back. “You would need to reach out to two guys a day for a year to hit that.”

“So, you are fast with numbers,” Vincent Wauneka observes. “I have been reaching out—to use your words—for quite a while now. Not just one year. Many years. I hope you will listen to me like nobody else has: I have the power to make sure the screenplay you are going to write makes you money and gets produced into a Hollywood movie. How do you like those numbers?”

“Okay, you’ve got to sell me on this. But, I will listen to you with an open mind.” Danny West says.

“Of course,” Vincent Wauneka admits. “I will describe it all for you. What you keep driving, all you need to do is imagine what this movie will look like on screen.”

On a big motion picture screen the Colorado River at the very bottom of the state of Nevada looks especially inviting. There are boats on the glistening, slow-moving water. Happy tourists crowd the boats on a very hot afternoon. Handsome young men in swim trunks are in plentiful supply at the pool. A majestic, twenty-seven story casino hotel rises up on the Nevada shore. A construction crane looms over the unfinished structure, catching the afternoon sun.

The movie is narrated by a main character whose name is Vincent Wauneka. You just can sense that he’s an Indian from the Southwestern States by the way he speaks—a blend of some unknown, yet indigenous language and notorious Los Angeles sarcasm.

Your eyes scan the various floors of an unfinished Nevada casino as the narrator’s words set the context:

Time stands still in Nevada. This is a never-never land—never wised up; never settled down; never outgrew frontier territory attitudes. I have a very special love/hate relationship with Nevada. I lived there. I also died there.

The last morning of my mortal existence took place in the late Nineteen Nineties about a hundred or so miles from Las Vegas down in Laughlin. This place is an unimpressive casino venue intended for age 50-plus people on the Colorado River where the states of Arizona, California, and Nevada come together in the Mojave Desert. It is impossible to miss the almost-finished twenty-seven-story casino hotel at the edge of the river. In this little gambling town, that skyscraper is the only building reaching so high upward.

All the other casinos have no more than ten stories. But, your attention is immediate drawn to the huge bright white construction crane working above the unfinished tower that can be seen from miles away on your approach to this forsaken region. Here you could easily become mesmerized by the stunning contrast between the bright blue desert skies and the hot white of the construction crane.

The day before I died, I had sex with three different men who each paid me to fuck them anally. I watch a bright orange bus from Phoenix bearing the name “Desert Harmonies” arrive under the pink and blue neon rainbow entrance to the casino.

This is the instrument of my death. This bus has a full load—fifty hopeful day-trippers with white hair looking forward to a day of gambling in the desert by the river.

I am distracted from the orange bus by two small explosions—just seconds apart—and I look into the sky to follow the sounds. I see explosions tear apart the midsection of the construction crane above the unfinished tower. This causes the top of the crane to break in half.

The heavier rear section of the crane falls downward and makes a horrible scraping sound as it slides down the steel that shapes the triangular roof of the tower. The counter-weighted end of the crane, however, falls through the roof and crashes downward through the top stories.

The lighter front section of the crane falls straight downward. It had been sticking out past the edge of the unfinished tower directly over Casino Drive. So, the unweighted nose section of the crane had absolutely nothing in its way as it falls straight downward to the street like a gigantic white arrow. I hold my breath as the huge steel structure crushes the bus from Phoenix parked under the neon rainbow at the main casino entrance.

I am stunned by the speed of that bright white steel projectile hitting that bus. The crushing metal sound is unimaginably loud and terrifying. I instantly know what had just happened to all 50 people inside the bus. Then, the bus explodes. I was not expecting that. Nor was I expecting two tires from the bus to fly through the smoke and flames from the crash site directly to where I am standing on Casino Drive.

I wake up in a hospital across the Colorado River in Bullhead, Arizona. So much pain and blood! I lie there in that hospital bed unable to move because many of my bones were cracked by the impact of those bus tires. I can see how much blood is covering my broken body under the bed covers. I hear the heart monitor screaming in a solitary and ominous pitch that tells me I have just died. How wonderfully refreshing it feels when the pain suddenly stops like that!

You see Vincent Wauneka riding inside Danny West’s VW through Northern Arizona. “Your character is killed off in this movie you want me to write?” Danny West wants to know.

“Yeah, it makes for more emotionally powerful storytelling,” Vincent Wauneka explains.

“What happens in the rest of the story if you character is killed?” Danny West asks.

“Well, truth is the story is not focused upon my character,” Vincent Wauneka explains. “That would be self-serving and egotistical. I believe that is what you Hollywood people call it, right? The story follows my character’s encounters with strange and mysterious men back in the year 1990.”

“That’s this year,” Danny West says.

“Yeah, sorry. Nineteen Ninety is now,” Vincent Wauneka says. “This story takes place in the present day.”

“Who are these strange and mysterious men you’re talking about?” Danny West wants to know.

“My character is one,” Vincent Wauneka says. “He is an undercover agent. From another place and time.”

“Another time? Are you talking about science fiction?” Danny West asks.

This is the moment when Vincent Wauneka explains: “There is a rare element found only on the moon. Named Lunar Blue. Cliché name, sure. Blame the Chinese scientists for that. They never spoke English. Did not know how odd the name would sound in other languages beyond their own. So, anyway, this element was discovered deep beneath the surface of the crater Clavius in the year 2190. That is 199 years from now.”

Danny West listens as Vincent Wauneka says, “All schoolchildren where my character comes from in the future are taught in history class that this started with the Chinese. They became the only ones to explore the moon after all other countries stopped due to budget cuts. The Chinese may have felt some sort of karmic responsibility to keep exploring the moon. Who knows and who cares. What matters is that they discovered Lunar Blue. Their scientists combined this new substance named Lunar Blue with liquid diamond and the gasses of two other Earth elements. They got the recipe right and invented technology that enables men to travel back to the past.”

“The Chinese? They control the moon?” Danny West interrupts to ask.

“Not anymore,” Vincent Wauneka clarifies. “After their discovery, the Chinese announce to a shocked world that they perfected time travel to be used as a weapon. They plan to use time travel technology to go back to the past and change things to turn out the way they want.”

“Weaponized time travel?” Danny West asks.

Vincent Wauneka says solemnly, “When a group of people can travel back to the past and change things in a timeline to turn out the way they want, this means that they can rule all civilizations.”

“The Chinese invent time travel and end up ruling the world?” Danny West asks.

“No, the Chinese only invent time travel,” Vincent Wauneka explains. “They announce to the world that they plan to use time travel as an invincible weapon over all other nations. They see that as their karmic destiny. Or, so they say to the rest of the world. But, they only get the technology to work in experimental laboratories. When the Chinese try to produce the first prototype of a time travel device and run the first tests, something really awful happens. The technology fails and causes an explosion under the city of Nanchang that kills half a million people instantly. That destroys China’s reputation and power. They bring upon themselves and their civilization an unexpected outcome. They abandon their lunar base beneath Clavius and stop all lunar exploration as their country fell into panic and chaos following the Nanchang blue inferno in 2191.”

“What is ‘karmic’”? Danny West asks. “Something the Chinese believe in?”

“An ancient concept. Karma is a process defined by men centuries before in ancient Greece and Rome,” Vincent Wauneka replies. “The Chinese are not the only people who came to believe in karma. Others around the world did, too. The process of karma has no deity who controls it. The control is held by each individual person and nobody can escape the responsibility for what behaviors they exhibit. Each person’s behaviors have some effects upon the person and other people. According to this concept, everything that I or you do always will have certain consequences.”

“What about the top-secret base on the moon?” Danny West asks.

“I am getting to that,” Vincent Wauneka explains. “The people of Earth come to believe that time travel is merely theoretical. After half a million people in China are killed, the world just accepts that time travel cannot be taken out of the laboratory setting. The world is wrong. The key that the Chinese never figured out was gravity. Time travel technology always fails in Earth’s gravity. But, gravity on the moon is roughly one-sixth of the gravity on this planet. Time travel technology works perfectly fine under the crater Clavius where the gravitational conditions are perfect.”

“And, you’re saying that the agency your character works for uses this technology on the moon to travel back to the past and change things on Earth to turn out the way they want?”

“Yes. And rule the world.”

Danny West asks, “What’s the agency’s name?”

“The agency name is MMDI, but that is top secret and officially denied,” Vincent Wauneka says. “The agency was created by the cooperation of several nations on Earth—not including China, of course. We agents refer to the agency only by using a pretty stupid codename, ‘Moon Men Deep Inside.’”

“And your character is an undercover secret agent,” Danny West says. “You travel back in time to change the past the way the agency wants things to turn out. And rule the world.”

“Yes,” Vincent Wauneka says. “And I know what you are thinking. What most people would think. If there were some almighty deity who could intervene in the lives of human beings on Earth, then MMDI would not be able to change past events and people. But, where my character comes from in the future, people within MMDI accept the reality that no deity exists at all. MMDI changes timelines in the past without any deity stopping us agents. MMDI time travel rules the world, not God or Allah or whatever other name. Not religious leaders and not the laws of karma.”

Danny West says, “Why mention God at all?”

Vincent Wauneka explains: “The concept of the interventionist deity who needs to be obeyed and worshipped was invented right here on this planet by human beings. People choose to believe that God created mankind. They just got it backwards. In this science fiction movie, MMDI computers make the decisions about how timelines are supposed to turn out. To prevent the world from descending into disorder and chaos. There are no political or religious or morale agendas. No interference with our time travel missions from some deity. No interference at all. MMDI sends my character and other agents on missions to repair the timelines. That is how these men from the future think of the work they do. Repair missions.”

“Repairmen who rule the world?” Danny West asks.

“Something like that. Does not sound too glamorous, does it? My character was recruited for that work. It is why he left the Reservation. Left the planet. He only travels here to Earth on missions,” Vincent Wauneka says. “His home is the moon. Where he belongs nowadays.”

Danny West remains silent. He looks like he is thinking carefully about what he has heard.

“Often what seems impossible to mankind is deemed to be science fiction or even magic,” Vincent Wauneka says. “The work of angels. Or powerful ancient spirits. I am not an angel or a powerful ancient spirit. I am a man. Flesh and blood just like you. I go on missions to change timelines in the past to prevent chaos. The screenplay I want you to write will blow the lid off the secrecy about all this.”

“You? Or your character?” Danny West asks.

Vincent Wauneka remains silent in response. “Okay, just to show some respect to you here,” Danny West says, “If what you’re telling me about is true—if there is a classified, top-secret time travel agency—won’t that agency and its leaders protect that secrecy with lethal force if necessary?”

“They do. No question about that. I have worked on missions with a fellow agent—a guy whose brain physically processes memories very differently from mine and from all other agents,” Vincent Wauneka explains. “He told me that agents like him and me can be killed on missions. Like men are killed in other military missions. But, we are resurrected from the dead using time travel technology.”

“What? That’s crazy!”

Vincent Wauneka says, “Not to me. The technology we use to get from under the crater Clavius to the surface of planet Earth to timelines of the past is extremely powerful. I was told by that other agent that the technology can be used to keep us agents alive. Sends us back in time to a point before we die. Replaces us with a fresh version of us with all our memories intact. So, in effect, we agents never die.”

“Immortal repairmen who travel through time?” Danny West asks. “This is just plain crazy. You expect me to believe you? To believe this story you’re telling me?”

Vincent Wauneka smiles. “I have been brought back from the dead over and over. Cannot count how many times. I have changed the past. Spanning centuries. The powers I have are real. The technology is real. It will not be difficult for me to manipulate people and history to get your screenplay produced into a Hollywood movie.”

Vincent Wauneka and Danny West reach Desert View at the rim of the Grand Canyon. Together they walk to the canyon edge and come upon the tall Watchtower, a contemporary homage to the ancient towers found on the nearby reservations, perched as if ready to shoot out over the South Rim itself.

Facing west into the warm afternoon sun, Danny West looks down into the Grand Canyon, overwhelmed, lost. Its enormous dimensions and presence often make humans feel so tiny and unimportant. “My first visit here,” he admits to Vincent Wauneka while they climb up inside the stone tower.

At the very top, the winds wash through the Watchtower, creating a mournful sound like you might imagine a very sad soul would make. The sound makes Danny West feel afraid. Irrational. The sound he perceives as haunting sound is too overpowering for him. “Got to get back down from here,” he says to Vincent Wauneka with panic in his voice. “Just don’t want to be here in the middle of nowhere.”

Vincent Wauneka helps a very unsteady Danny West descend the stone steps of the Watchtower. “I should just let you fall,” he says. “This is not the middle of nowhere. These lands are sacred to me and my people, you fucking asshole.”

When they arrive back at ground level, Danny West says, “I’m sorry. No offense intended. I just got freaked out up there. Especially after all you’ve told me today.”

“Maybe I can just hitchhike from here,” Vincent Wauneka offers. “You can just leave me here. Go on ahead without me.”

“No,” Danny West says quickly. “You tell a terrific story for sure. But, I need to be convinced by more than merely an expertly-told storytelling.”

“Sure, I can do that,” Vincent Wauneka says calmly. “But, you will not like the experience.”

You see Danny West inside some other stone tower. He wears only a rough cotton loincloth. His wrists are bound in thick brown rope that stretch his arms above his head and suspends his body just inches from the floor of the stone tower. His ankles are also bound with a similar rope that anchors him to metal hooks embedded into the stone floor.

“What the fuck is going on?” Danny West screams. “Where am I?”

Every now and then it is necessary to break a man down completely if you expect to get him to do what you want him to do. To get him to do what he must do for this particular timeline to be repaired like it must be.

You see Danny West struggle desperately to free himself from such a defenseless position inside the stone tower. But, no matter how hard he tries to get out of the ropes, he cannot. His face reveals that he knows he is trapped there.

What does he fear more? His obvious loss of the ability to defend himself? Or, can he imagine torture as a specific outcome of being so defenseless?

You see Vincent Wauneka walk up to Danny West inside the stone tower, kicking and punching him hard in the balls several times, ultimately causing him to vomit. Then you see Vincent Wauneka driving the VW after sunset with Danny West asleep and snoring in the passenger seat. Just as it was before. “Just sleep now,” Vincent Wauneka says aloud to his passenger who is held tightly by the shoulder strap and seat belt.

Danny West merely keeps on snoring. “You will not be able to get it up for at least a full week,” Vincent Wauneka says with a chuckle. “Your manhood will heal. Maybe I should stop and take you to a doctor in an emergency room. Oh, yeah, wait. I do not believe in western medicine. Maybe instead I could sing a trusty old Navajo chant. Yeah, that should make you feel a lot better.” Vincent Wauneka starts chanting a series of phrases in his native language, but does not get very far before he breaks into uncontrollable laughter.

– – – – – – – – – – – – –

Vincent Wauneka walks through what clearly is the back lot of a motion picture studio. The ruins of an ancient street for the Roman Empire give way abruptly to an abandoned ghost town street in a Southwestern desert, complete with tumbleweeds. You have seen him dressed this way before. Dusty brown cowboy boots, a white tee shirt hugs his muscular torso, and tight, faded blue jeans. Is this a costume? Is he an actor?

On either side of him walking through the back lot are two young men who are wearing contemporary business suits. The way that the two men look at Vincent Wauneka conveys a strong sense that they are in awe of him. They display an unspoken sense of being sexually attracted to Vincent Wauneka. He is confidently ignoring them and shows them no respect by refusing to make eye contact with them. They, however, cannot keep their eyes off of him.

Vincent Wauneka walks up to a red Jeep Cherokee from the late Nineteen Nineties parked anachronistically near the ruins of a Roman temple. He arrives at the driver’s side door of the SUV and opens it. He glances at the two young men in suits as if to say nonverbally that they are not welcome to get into his Jeep. They both take a few steps back away from the Jeep as Vincent Wauneka gets into the driver’s seat. One of the young men in suits approaches the open window on the driver’s side and it seems as though he wants to speak to Vincent Wauneka. In response, Vincent Wauneka makes direct and glaring eye contact with the young man in the suit, who raises both of his hands up slightly in a gesture of resignation and acceptance. Vincent Wauneka manages a half smile at the young man’s surrender. You see Vincent Wauneka drive off down the back lot street leaving the two young men in suits standing there by the ruins of the Eternal City.

– – – – – – – – – – – – –

Vincent Wauneka is driving the VW after sunset with Danny West asleep and snoring in the passenger seat. Danny West awakens in the passenger seat of his VW that Vincent Wauneka is driving. “How long have I been asleep?”

“My estimate is your entire life up until this very moment,” Vincent Wauneka replies.

“I’m not saying that I believe your story, but, I ask you to tell me more,” Danny West says. “You obviously have certain powers that ordinary men do not have.”

“Perhaps I merely hypnotized you,” Vincent Wauneka says. “Maybe you only hallucinated that I had you tied up in that stone tower where I performed cock and ball torture on you.”

“I don’t want to talk about that,” Danny West quickly replies. “Tell me more so that I can write the screenplay you want me to write. How does that agency get away with such extreme manipulation of events and people?”

Vincent Wauneka explains: “Nobody knows about MMDI. There are rumors, of course. But, MMDI is officially denied. It exists deep inside the moon. Two hundred years from now. Who will ever find that base under Clavius? Nobody. And nobody sees the effects of agents changing the timelines. Human memory cannot track alternate versions of a timeline. I operate right out in the open. Nobody figures out what I have done. I go back in time to a movie studio in Los Angeles and I manipulate a couple of key decision-makers. So, your screenplay gets optioned. The movie gets made. You become wealthy. The secrets are revealed within a science fiction story. Everybody ends up happy.”

“Is this movie supposed to be anti-religious? People who go to church certainly will be offended.”

“Well, you go to church as well,” Vincent Wauneka replies. “The gym is your church. You and the others like you all focus on your bodies—how you look. That is your religion. You really do not believe in God in the traditional sense. You merely believe in physical good looks and health. That is what you pray for.”

“Yeah, I go to the gym. What has that got to do with anything?” Danny West asks.

“The movie needs to focus on believable human characters like you. Young characters who live for looking good and strive for physical perfection. Very popular with moviegoers. Sells a lot of tickets. People want to see good-looking and young characters. I am talking about movie characters who never get into any religious aspects. The movie characters are not people like in real life who believe in showing obedience towards some deity up there in the heavens,” Vincent Wauneka explains. “They just live for today and want to look as good as they can.”

“I really don’t care about making any statement about God or religion,” Danny West admits.

“Good,” Vincent Wauneka answers quickly. “I only pointed out that you think of the gym as church to make a point. People will choose to keep believing in whatever they choose. God. Religion. The gym. Looking good. Seeking sexual pleasures. The reality is: What MMDI does is far more intrusive in people’s lives than anything any organized religion ever did to people. MMDI does not care if people believe in a supreme deity. All MMDI needs is to keep hiding beneath the cover of complete secrecy. The work I do proves every day that there is no intervention by God in the passage of time or the actions of men on Earth. And the manipulation continues. This goes on and on because most people believe time travel is merely science fiction., something for literary geeks.”

“All right,” Danny West replies, “I do not want to believe that time travel is real. But, I can write a science fiction screenplay that shows time travel and the effects it has upon people.”

“I could not ask for more,” Vincent Wauneka admits.

“The agency,” Danny West says. “It was created to exert control over people?”

“Not exactly, no,” Vincent Wauneka replies. “That they figured out later on.”

“How did the agency get started on the moon?”

“After half a million people were killed in China, the Chinese had no choice but to abandon all hopes to perfect time travel,” Vincent Wauneka says. “Other scientists around the world sought to figure out what went wrong with the Chinese efforts. Eventually, the science guys figured out that the gravity on Earth was what made time travel so explosively volatile. The nearest place with a much lower gravity is the moon. And the rest is history.”

“Yeah, but, wait.” Danny West replies. “The moon is a couple of hundred thousand miles away from the surface of our planet, right? How did anybody get there will all the technology for time travel?”

“I have no idea,” Vincent Wauneka admits. “I do not get into the science or technology. I guess they started slowly and brought up small payloads. Maybe like how the Apollo program managed to get men and small amounts of equipment from the Earth to the moon and back again.”

“This happens 200 years from now?” Danny West asks.

“Yes,” Vincent Wauneka says. “The real important thing is that agents are sent on time travel missions to the past every day. Several times a day. I believe that I must have been sent on missions to Arizona and Nevada in both the 20th and 21st centuries. I also believe that other agents like me get assigned to the same timeline in the past with me, but different missions.”

Danny West remains in stunned silence. Vincent Wauneka keeps driving the VW Beetle into the night.

The actor who portrays the character Vincent Wauneka in the movie is standing in a small audio booth with a script and microphone positioned near his face. He has a few pages of movie script in front of him on a music stand and he is watching images on a nearby screen. In character, he reads from his pages, pacing himself by the images he sees on the screen:

Danny West finds his way in Nineteen Ninety to the Nevada casinos on the Colorado River. He spends most of his time concerned with how his body looks. He visits a casino gym daily and could tell you anything about each of the gym customers. He refers to these guys, for instance, as the “three wise men” because they are so utterly brainless. Their presence is so consistent at the gym in that casino, you can almost set your watch by the time of day that they walk in.

You can watch these three young men every day enter a small, crowded gym and walk past all the others in the room without saying one word or even acknowledging anyone else with eye contact. Each always wears tight gym shorts—one red, one white, and one blue. Their muscular torsos are accentuated by their string tee shirts that barely can contain their muscles.

They radiate an impossible-to-miss hyper-masculinity, especially as a trio. In their macho presence, lesser men will easily feel motivated to work out more diligently and play through the pain in hopes of gaining such physical strength and muscularity.

You can watch other men in the gym looking at the three wise men, clearly indicating a certain longing that they, too, could work out to look as muscular and masculine as the trio.

The tallest of the three wise men is Karl “Dutch” Von Zell. He is born in Arizona and is white except for one very red neck. A second Caucasian male has blond hair and blue eyes like he’s a descendant of the Hitler youth. He rarely uses big words if he speaks at all. His full name is Blane Corcoran, but often is referred to behind his back as “Blank.” Completing this magnificent trio of masculinity is a young Asian fellow nicknamed “Squirrel.” He is called that because on his back there is a tattoo of a muscular flying squirrel wearing cowboy boots and leather gloves. Nobody ever learns his full name—Anthony Marugo—nor his top-secret job as an undercover time travel agent from the future.

You see Danny West in the gym dressed in blue shorts and a yellow tee shirt doing bench presses as Squirrel walks over to him after breaking formation from his workout crew. You may notice that the actor who plays Squirrel looks familiar from the screen tests you saw earlier. Squirrel positions himself deliberately so that his bulging crotch in white gym shorts is directly above Danny West’s face as he lies on the bench. “See anything you need here this afternoon, West?” Squirrel asks quietly.

The actor who portrays the character Vincent Wauneka in the movie is standing in a small audio booth with a script and microphone near his face, reading from his narrator script:

“A romantic interlude inside the men’s shower usually accompanies such a cliché of an opening lime.” The actor who portrays Vincent Wauneka slips out of character and smiles nervously with an uncharacteristic embarrassment. He slaps himself on the side of his face as if to punish himself for making an error. “Ah. Shit. That’s not correct. Opening lime? I’m really sorry. Fuck.”

You hear a voice coming from an overhead audio source: “No problem. Just start over at the top of that paragraph.” The actor quickly returns to being in-character and not using contractions to complete the recording of his narration:

A romantic interlude inside the men’s shower usually accompanies such a cliché of an opening line from the handsome young man known as Squirrel.

Squirrel is naked and glistening wet as he stands in the men’s showers of the gym behind the naked Danny West. “Hey, West, I don’t think I’ve fucked you more than twice today,” Squirrel says in a raised voice so that he can be heard of the sound of the rushing shower water.

“Your voice, Squirrel,” Danny West says with obvious embarrassment. “It’s a little loud, you know?”

Squirrel replies quickly, “Maybe your screams while I’m in pounding you will mask my voice so nobody hears me?”

Squirrel enters Danny West from behind, causing him to cry out in response. “Really not loud enough, West,” Squirrel insists.

So, Danny West expresses vocally his enjoyment of sex with Squirrel in a much louder voice. But, he and Squirrel are not in the gym showers any more. They are naked on top of a small bed in a very messy bedroom with men’s clothing and used pizza boxes strewn on the tiled floor. “Told you, West, I need to hear you much louder!” Squirrel shouts dramatically while he is having an orgasm.

Squirrel sits inside a casino near a row of slot machines. He is fully clothed wearing tight blue jeans, open-toed sandals, and a revealing white string tee shirt. Danny West walks up to Squirrel. In contrast, he is less provocatively attired in tennis shoes and loose blue jeans and a dark, long-sleeved sweatshirt. He hands Squirrel three twenty-dollar bills. “What’s this for?” Squirrel asks. “Paying me for fucking you three times today? This is all you think I’m worth to you, West? Twenty bucks a pop?”

“Just play the damn slots, Squirrel,” Danny West replies. “I gotta get back to work. Maybe you’ll get lucky.” Then he walks away leaving Squirrel alone near a row of slot machines.

“Already got lucky, West,” Squirrel says aloud to himself as he inserts one of the twenty-dollar bills into the slot machine with an Arabian Nights motif. He pushes the biggest button on front panel of that slot machine. Squirrel grins, obviously enjoying the experience of winning as the machine lights up in bright neon accompanied by loud music.

An animated sheik with a handsome face smiles and winks at Squirrel from the front screen of the slot machine. Squirrel’s happy expression suddenly changes when this time the machine swallows his twenty-dollar bill without rendering any reward. “Big Danny West.  Real generous,” Squirrel says aloud. “Just use me for sex. Then dump me in the casino.”

Danny West walks from the casino floor through a door marked “Employees Only” and emerges in a hallway. After walking a short while down several hallways, Danny West arrives at a door with a small sign on it that reads “Marketing Department” and he goes inside.

Squirrel is in bed with Danny West in the same messy bedroom with men’s clothing and used pizza boxes strewn on the tiled floor. Danny West is wide awake and watching Squirrel, who is deep in slumber next to him in the bed. Squirrel’s mouth is moving as if he is speaking, but nothing can be heard! Danny West’s eyes grow wider as he gets closer to Squirrel to hear him better. “Moon Men Deep Inside,” Squirrel says in his sleep. “My mission,” he mumbles. “Kill the traitor,” Squirrel says in a soft, but clear voice. Danny West now looks very upset at what he has just heard Squirrel say.

Later, Squirrel is in the shower by himself. Danny West throws open the shower curtain suddenly and startles Squirrel. Then, Danny West swings the bristled toilet bowl brush he is holding in his right hand so that the bristles crash directly into Squirrel’s balls, causing him to double over in pain and humiliation. Squirrel cries out, “What the fuck?”

“Who are you really?” Danny West demands aggressively as he shuts off the shower water leaving Squirrel still covered in soap suds looking humiliated.

“What’s this all about?” the frustrated and angry Squirrel asks.

“Your name,” Danny West says in an angry voice. “Tell me your real name.”

“Can I have a towel to dry off first?” Squirrel asks.

“Answer my question,” Danny West replies.

“Why are so pissed off at me? I didn’t do anything,” Squirrel insists as his level of humiliation increases.

“You lie to me every day,” Danny West says calmly. “I just figured it out last night when you were talking in your sleep again.”

Squirrel looks more upset and replies, “What exactly do I say in my sleep?”

“First, tell me your real name,” Danny West repeats.

“Anthony Marugo,” Squirrel says. “Nobody calls me that.”

“Your tattoo of the cartoon flying squirrel on your back,” Danny West says. “That’s why everyone calls you by your nickname.”

“Yeah,” Squirrel says quickly. “So what?”

“You’re Japanese-American?” Danny West asks.

“Both my parents were born here in the United States,” Squirrel says. “My grandparents were born in Tokyo. What has this got to do with my talking my sleep?”

“Nothing. You just keep repeating these four letters when you talk in your sleep,” Danny West says finally. “Like an acronym. ‘MMDI.’ You say that quite often when you’re talking in your sleep. What do the letters stand for?”

“That’s classified,” Squirrel says quickly.

In response, Danny West raises the toilet bowl brush into the air, ready to swing it at Squirrel. “You also repeat the phrase, ‘Moon Men Deep Inside,’ which happens to start with the exact same letters,” Danny West says firmly. “Very fucking often, Squirrel. I want to know what that means. Oh, and you also started saying ‘kill the traitor,” so, that’s what finally got my attention. Even though what you say in your sleep seems impossible to me.”

Squirrel covers his midsection with both hands because he anticipates further cock and ball pain from the toilet bowl brush. Tears form quickly in his eyes. “Nightmares,” he explains. “I have nightmares. A lot. Ever since I was a kid.”

“About what?” Danny West asks without any hint of sympathy.

Squirrel exhales deeply and answers, “My work is top secret. I sometimes have to kill guys as part of my mission.”

“In real life?” Danny West asks, “Or only in your nightmares?”

“Nightmares come from my work,” Squirrel answers quickly. “Don’t hurt me again, okay? I’m seeing a doctor at work who’s trying to help me cope with the stress.”

“Wow, you’re experiencing stress from killing guys?” Danny West asks sarcastically. “Now that you’ve told me, do you have to kill me, too?”

“No, of course not,” Squirrel says quickly. “You don’t actually believe me anyway. I could tell you that I’m James Bond or something. Or, I could tell you I am a time travel agent from the future. You still wouldn’t believe me.”

“Is that what you are?” Danny West asks.

Squirrel merely nods to indicate “yes,” but remains silent and keeps his hands protecting his genitals. Danny West smiles in enjoyment at Squirrel’s vulnerable emotional state in the shower and says, “You’re right. I don’t believe you, Mr. Bond. Fucking liar.”

Squirrel asks, “Can I get out of the shower now?”

“One more thing,” Danny West replies quickly. “I will keep your secrets. About nightmares. About ‘Moon Men Deep Inside,” and all. I really don’t want to know or get involved. You just need to know that I’m aware of information about you that don’t want others to discover.”

“What do you want from me?” Squirrel asks.

“You’re the top,” Danny West explains slowly. “And I’m the bottom. Just better keep me satisfied. That’s all. Know what I mean?”

Squirrel says nothing, but looks hurt and angry when he nods to indicate that he understands what Danny West has said.

Danny West throws the towel to the floor and walk out of the bathroom, leaving Squirrel naked and alone in the shower with a very sad expression on his face.  Then, he slides down the tile wall so that he rests his butt on the floor of the shower. Squirrel breaks into tears. He uses his hands to cover his eyes. “Losing control,” Squirrel repeats to himself while crying unashamedly.

Vincent Wauneka once again is driving the VW after sunset with Danny West asleep and snoring in the passenger seat. Danny West awakens in the passenger seat of his VW that Vincent Wauneka is driving. “Are we there yet?” Danny West asks.

“Just a few more miles to go,” Vincent Wauneka says reassuringly.

Danny West says, “That construction crane that crashes down. The way you want me to write it in my screenplay is to kill your character? But, what causes that crane to crash down?”

Vincent Wauneka smiles at the question. “The ‘three wise men’ in the movie are the ones who cause it. They set small explosives inside the crane. Gravity does all the rest.”

“One of the ‘three wise men’ is named Squirrel?” Danny West asks. “He’s the one in the screenplay who is a time travel agent from MMDI, right?”

“Right,” Vincent Wauneka says. “The agent whose nickname is Squirrel is the brains behind the crane tragedy. He sets that whole crane-crashing-down scenario as part of his mission in that timeline in the past.”

“What’s the purpose?” Danny West asks.

“I will leave that to you,” Vincent Wauneka says with a smile. “But, I suggest that you write the screenplay so your character becomes a sex client of my character at the casino hotel where your character works in the marketing department. Squirrel gets jealous that your character is having sex with my character.”

“So, I can write in several sex scenes between your character and my character,” Danny West says. “And write a make-up sex scene between my character and Squirrel.”

“It is your screenplay and your sexual fantasy,” Vincent Wauneka says.

Danny West asks, “Did you just make up the casino crane tragedy?”

“Another agent I work with,” Vincent Wauneka says. “His name is Ted Avila. Forget that I told you his name. Just know that he gave me files on a storage device that has all these things spelled out, chapter and verse.”

“Storage device?” Danny West asks. “Like a CD?”

“A what?” Vincent Wauneka asks.

“You know. Compact disk,” Danny West explains. “Don’t they have compact disks for computers where you come from?”

Vincent Wauneka shakes his head to indicate “No.” Then he says, “The storage device given to me by my fellow agent in 2012 is a very sophisticated thing. Not even invented yet in the 21st century.”

“Then how did you open it and look at the contents?” Danny West asks.

“I get help with technology from other agents,” Vincent Wauneka explains. “Another agent from where I live in the 23rd century provides a device to me so that I could read the file contents. Is any of this technical explanation really necessary for your screenplay?”

“Just curious,” Danny West admits. “Just connecting the dots. So, you’re saying that the crane tragedy will actually happen. Does that means Squirrel is someone that I will actually meet in real life?”

Vincent Wauneka remains silent. Danny West grows uncomfortable. “Vincent, are there things you are not supposed to tell me that will happen to me?”

“You are smart,” Vincent Wauneka says. “And, yes, I dare not give you too much advance knowledge about specific things that may happen to you. The truth is that you have the ability to change many things about how your own life turns out. MMDI does not manipulate every single thing in every timeline. The most important thing right now is for you to write that screenplay. My job is to go Hollywood and make certain that the movie gets produced and released.”

“You sure you’ll be able to pull this off?” Danny West asks.

“Hollywood is the sexual manipulation capital of the world,” Vincent Wauneka says confidently. “I will fit right in.”

– – – – – – – – – – – – –

Things turned out very differently in alternate timeline where an entirely new set of events unfolded:

Vincent Wauneka walks slowly into a small coffee shop on the edge of the Brown University campus in Providence, Rhode Island in the 1990s. The room is dark because of the deep cherry wood walls and insufficient overhead lighting. But, he immediately finds the person who has agreed to meet with him this afternoon.

She is a middle-aged overweight woman dressed all in black. She is Katherine Snowe, a writing professor at Brown University. She looks up at him briefly over the top of her glasses from the pages of the paperback book she holds in her hands at the small wooden table where she sits alone. Then, she glances down and continues reading as if to communication that what she’s reading is more important than her guest. She adjusts her long white hair pulled tightly behind her head.

“Before you say anything,” Katherine Snowe says to Vincent Wauneka without looking at him as he stands at her table, “I want you to know that I do not believe one single word of what you told me on the phone. I wasn’t born yesterday. I don’t easily fall for bullshit stories from total strangers.”

“Doctor Snowe,” Vincent Wauneka says very respectfully, “Thank you for agreeing to meet me. I will not waste your time. I promise. What I have to say will at least appeal to you as a writer.”

She looks up at him and manages to give him a half-smile. “Well-prepared,” she says sarcastically. “Sit down. I won’t hurt you. Much.”

Vincent Wauneka pulls the old wooden chair away from the table and sits down across from Katherine Snowe in that coffee shop. He nods at her to indicate his respect.

“So, you claim that you know Teddy,” Katherine Snowe says with an obvious anger in her voice. “My ex-husband.”

“Yes, Doctor Snowe,” Vincent Wauneka replies with unusual deference.

“Don’t need to call me that,” she says. “I’m Kate. You and Teddy are gay lovers?”

Vincent Wauneka smiles broadly in response.

“Good-looking young man,” Kate says. “That long hair of yours is just stunning. Very sexy overall. Native American look. Or maybe you are just an actor playing a part.”

“Full-blooded Navajo,” he replies quickly. “I met your ex-husband in Arizona.”

“You’re the top,” she says. “He’s the bottom. Isn’t that correct? He lets you fuck him.”

Again Vincent Wauneka smiles broadly after hearing what Kate has said.

“Well, that lover of yours dumped me and headed back west to Arizona,” she says. “He wanted to go home. Never going to forgive him. That’s for goddamned sure.”

“I want you to know that he is dead,” Vincent Wauneka says solemnly.

Katherine Snowe does not react. Her face remains unchanged. She does not even blink.

“Crashed his truck,” Vincent Wauneka explains. “In a desert ravine.”

“Well, he bought that damn truck of his he loved so much right here in New England. Just before he dumped me,” she says without emotions. “Like he knew somehow. Like he planned his whole exodus. Packed up that brand new truck with whatever belongings would fit inside. He must’ve fantasized about driving off into the sunset without me.”

Vincent Wauneka only nods respectfully, but remains silent.

“Teddy and I were together almost fifteen years,” she says. “I thought he was the perfect man. Because he took care of me. I needed that from him. From a man such as him. It could have been anyone else. But, it was Teddy. I will never forget that. I don’t know why he stayed with me for as long as he did. I knew he was not satisfied with me. Or our marriage. Always thought Teddy was gay. But, I honestly don’t care about any of that anymore. It’s all ancient history to me.”

Vincent Wauneka nods once again at Katherine Snowe.

“So, hot stuff, what is it you planned to tell me? Other than, of course, to waltz in here and so easily announce the untimely passing of Theodore Joseph Avila,” she says as tears of grief start forming in her eyes.

Vincent Wauneka exhales and explains: “He made me promise him. He was insistent that I find you somehow. To tell you about his work. So you would know. Maybe even that you would want to write about it.”

“His work? Said to me he worked on the air as a television anchor. An obvious cover story.”

“Yes, of course, Doctor Snowe.”

“Look, your formality is not needed here. I’m Kate. Can you call me that?”

“As you wish, Kate. You were correct about his cover story.”

“So, why did Teddy need a cover story at all, then?”

“I am—or was—an undercover agent. That is the real story here,” Vincent Wauneka announces. “More of an undercover enforcer. I fix situations. Make things turn out the way they should. How I met your ex-husband.”

Katherine Snowe stares at Vincent Wauneka over the top of her glasses. For the first time, she smiles at him as if to indicate that she is finding pleasure in his company and his conversation. Then, she shakes her head to indicate that she does not believe what she has just heard.

“You can make money from what I tell you,” Vincent Wauneka explains.

“False promises at best. Someone’s first got to buy what I write,” Katherine Snowe says quickly.

“I told you: I fix situations. Make things turn out the way they should,” Vincent Wauneka says slowly.

“I heard you the first time. I just do not believe what you’re telling me. I don’t understand how you could tell me anything if it’s undercover.”

Vincent Wauneka sighs with deep frustration and replies, “I have been trying to find someone—anyone—who would listen to what I have to say. To put what I have experienced in my line of work out there into the public view. A best-selling novel written by you or a movie script would be great for doing exactly that.”

“You do realize how crazy you sound?” Katherine Snowe asks. “That’s a horrible cliché.”

“And you are one out of about five hundred other people who has told me the same thing in so many words,” Vincent Wauneka explains.

“Five hundred? That’s not really possible,” Katherine Snowe fires back. “Quite an exaggeration. That’s all you do? Travel around trying to get someone to believe your bullshit? How do you pay for all your travels? Are you independently wealthy? Why don’t you write your own best-seller?”

Vincent Wauneka deliberately drops his eyes to the table to break off contact with Katherine Snowe.

“Come on,” she says. “You can’t manipulate me. I’m a master of that. I see your technique clearly if you don’t mind my telling you so. Know what? I also can sense that you never had sex with a woman, either. What do you all call that? Gold star gay?”

He returns to full eye contact with her. “Ted and I worked together. I am telling you the truth.”

“You both were undercover spies? You’ve got to do better than that,” she says like a professor would say.

“Never said we were spies,” he clarifies.

“Law enforcement?” she asks.

Vincent Wauneka slowly says, “In a manner of speaking, yes. An agency not known to the general public. Top secret agency.”

Katherine Snowe leans closer to Vincent Wauneka and says, “Okay, you’ve got my attention. You sound like you are talking about strange and mysterious men.”

Vincent Wauneka says. “Yes. Both Ted and I. Undercover enforcers. Concealed identities. From another place and time.”

“Another time?” Katherine Snowe asks. “You are here to suggest that I should write this as if it were a science fiction?”

This is the moment when Vincent Wauneka explains: “You could think of it that way. You should think of it like that, yes. Just think of me as a character in a science fiction if that helps this all make sense. There is a rare element found only on the moon. Named Lunar Blue. Cliché name, sure. Blame some Chinese scientist on the moon for that awful name. This element will be discovered deep beneath the surface of the crater Clavius in the year 2190.”

Katherine Snowe listens intently as Vincent Wauneka says, “All schoolchildren where my character comes from in the future are taught in history class that this started with the Chinese. They became the only ones to explore the moon after all other countries stopped going there due to budget cuts and lack of political will. The Chinese may have felt some sort of karmic responsibility to keep exploring the moon. Who knows and who cares. What matters is that they discovered Lunar Blue. Their scientists combined this new substance named Lunar Blue with liquid diamond and the gasses of two other Earth elements. They got the recipe right and invented technology that enables men to travel back to the past.”

“The Chinese? They control the moon?” Katherine Snowe interrupts to ask.

“Not anymore,” Vincent Wauneka clarifies. “After their discovery, the Chinese announce to a shocked world that they perfected time travel to be used as a weapon. They plan to use time travel technology to go back to the past and change things to turn out the way they want.”

“Time travel?” she asks.

Vincent Wauneka says solemnly, “When a group of people can travel back to the past and change things in a timeline to turn out the way they want, this means that they can rule all civilizations on this planet.”

“The Chinese invent time travel and end up ruling the world?” she asks.

“No, the Chinese only invent time travel,” Vincent Wauneka explains. “They announce to the world that they plan to use time travel as an invincible weapon over all other nations. They see that as their karmic destiny. Or, so they say to the rest of the world. Could have been sheer greed to become a world power. But, they only get the technology to work in experimental laboratories. When the Chinese try to produce the first prototype of a time travel device and run the first tests, something really awful happens. The technology fails and causes an explosion under the city of Nanchang that kills half a million people instantly. That destroys China’s reputation and hopes of becoming a world power. They bring upon themselves and their civilization an unexpected outcome. They abandon their lunar base beneath Clavius and stop all lunar exploration as their country fell into panic and chaos following the Nanchang blue inferno in 2191.”

“Karma is not from Asia,” she replies. “It was thought to have come from ancient Greece or Rome.”

He answers, “Of course. You are absolutely right about that. I work with this each time I go on secret missions. Karma has no deity who controls it. The control is held by each individual person and nobody can escape the responsibility for whatever behaviors they exhibit. Each person’s behaviors have some effects upon the person and other people. According to this concept, everything that I or you do always will have certain consequences.”

“Yes, you are correct. I was not trying to challenge you,” she says. “And in this science fiction the Chinese set up a top-secret base on the moon?”

“I am getting to that,” Vincent Wauneka explains. “The people of Earth come to believe that time travel is merely theoretical. After half a million people in China are killed, the world just accepts that time travel cannot be taken out of the laboratory setting. The world is wrong. The key that the Chinese never figured out was gravity. Time travel technology always fails in Earth’s gravity. But, gravity on the moon is roughly one-sixth of the gravity on this planet. Time travel technology works perfectly fine under the crater Clavius where the gravitational conditions are perfect.”

“And, you’re saying that in this science fiction story, you and Teddy are characters who work for some agency on the moon that uses this technology to travel back to the past and change things on Earth to turn out the way they want?” she asks to indicate she will play along with Vincent Wauneka.

“Yes,” he replies with a grin to show that he knows she is playing along.

Katherine Snowe asks, “So, Teddy and you actually come from the future. You both work for this mysterious agency so secret it has no name.”

“The agency name is MMDI, but that is top secret and officially denied,” Vincent Wauneka says. “Some believe it was from the Roman numeral MMDI. The agency was created because of the cooperation of several nations on Earth—not including China, of course. Not sure who came up with the name or why. We refer to the agency only by using a pretty stupid codename, ‘Moon Men Deep Inside.’”

She holds up her left hand to silence him and shakes her head to indicate that suddenly she does not find him so credible.

“You can continue to think that I am proposing a science fiction novel to you,” Vincent Wauneka says. “Think of it that way if you like. But, you need to accept that what I am telling you is not really some made-up story. I have a disk to give you that contains files you can look at on your computer. Once you do that, you will know I am not making up some science fiction story. This is serious.”

“Why me?” she wants to know.

“They always ask me that,” he says. “Each time, I have a different answer. In this instance, you are Katherine Snowe, the ex-wife of Theodore Joseph Avila. That is why I searched for you. That is why I am here in Rhode Island with you in this coffee shop this afternoon.”

Katherine Snowe says, “If you guys really are time travelers, then how is it your secret agency didn’t use their technology to bring Teddy back to life?”

“I expected you to ask me that,” he replies.

“It’s classified,” she says. “That’s what you’re supposed to tell me, right?”

Vincent Wauneka’s face is overtaken with a broad smile in response. He realizes that he has convinced Katherine Snowe to cooperate with him.

A fictional casino on movie set located in Los Angeles, California in the year Two Thousand One is a long way from Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. It’s supposed to appear to be a real casino, but there’s way too much red everywhere. Maybe you will see things differently when you see the film. If you ever see the film. Beyond the director, the crew members and the large camera on a crane you see a dozen or so fictional gamblers seated at fake slot machines, mindlessly inserting currency and pushing buttons. You won’t hear the slot machine sounds because those will be added in postproduction.

At one particular slot machine you see a handsome, muscular, twenty-something Asian male in tight blue jeans, open-toed sandals that show off his beautiful toes, and a revealing white string tee shirt that clings to his torso. He is grinning, obviously enjoying the experience of winning.

But when he taps the big button again to spin the machine’s reels, there is a jarring buzzing sound accompanied by bright white sparks and billowing black smoke. He looks right into the camera with a horrified, helpless look on his face. He knows that’s not supposed to happen. He suddenly shouts out in pain as he jerks both hands away from the slot machine, coughing as smoke begins to surround his head.

The director yells out, “Cut! Get him medical help right now! Is he burned?”

The production may be doomed. This is only the first day of the first week of filming. An actor gets seriously burned while working on camera on the set.

You see the screenwriter with a horrified look on her face. She is Katherine Snowe, an overweight woman in her fifties. She is unafraid to cry like a young girl whose dream has been stolen from her suddenly. She fears that her career certainly is over before it can even begin.

Katherine Snowe throws herself into a large swimming pool. This is how she wants to end it all. From her vantage point, the sensation of approaching death feels so good—especially when you’re being fully clothed all in black with a long-sleeve shirt as you stretch out your arms, allowing the warm water to soak into your clothing.

Because the writer is also wearing cowboy boots, she easily sinks feet-first into the deep end of that swimming pool overlooking Los Angeles in late afternoon. Her black cowboy hat floats off on its own but she keeps facing downward towards the bottom of the pool. While welcoming death, she realizes that he could become a dead narrator, just like William Holden’s character in the original Sunset Blvd. movie from the year 1950.

But, no. This Hollywood writer is not going to die today. And she won’t get the opportunity to become a dead narrator.

She musters the strength to kick upward from the pool floor and splash to the surface so she can climb out. The sun is setting and she is dripping wet. You can tell by the look on her face that she scared herself with the suicide attempt. She starts vomiting on the redwood deck of the pool.

– – – – – – – – – – – – –

Episode 11 is next
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