Yayray looks around and sees the clownfish scurrying to a hidey hole in the coral. he wrists his hand and the fish slowly matches the slowness of the surrounding water and reverses direction into his palm.
Finding Nemo (wipes sweat off brow): oh, phew, it's just you.
Yayray: soon, but too soon would be conspicuous. how's your family?
Finding Nemo: still reunited and it still feels good.
Yayray: never stop counting your blessings.
the yesterdays of Yayray have become a blur ever since he started drugging with the Stones. time stands still, it can stand still now under his control. he was always an upstart brat, the Stones have calmed him, he sees things far, he doesn't worry as much with presents, he sees the final gift. it's unbelievable to him how quickly he's taken to his new powers, and how much they have transformed him, he's Optimus Prime now, he doesn't speak with a forced urban cool anymore, he doesn't treat people as stepping stones to more beautiful women, he still wants things but he sees the clear path to them. no more anxious guesses, just bright rungs.
but he's still a noob.
Yayray: why me? why a stupid kid like me?
Esid (at The Store): the fact that you are asking that shows growth.
Cucumber: i don't have to worry about you anymore.
Natalie: we'll see about that.
Pear: i am still an x factor in all of this.
Yayray: man i remember when all of us were here together at this place, i was so messed up i don't remember a thing.
Cucumber: we miss seeing your cute little head at register row.
Yayray: i kinda have a new job.
Natalie: any word?
Yayray: i can if you want.
Natalie: i don't know if my mother would have wanted this. but i miss her.
Yayray: skype me when you get to your empty home, you might have a change of heart.
Cucumber: i miss my dad, too, but i'd never do that. but i'm old school i guess. when you lose a staunch primary parent figure like that, you'd be surprised how much of a tailspin you go through. i searched the rest of my life for that kind of force but it was never there. it left me always vulnerable. i couldn't quite go out there on my own. everyone needs support. no man is an island and i should know, i work out in the open water for a living.
Esid: i'm better since you put hands on me.
Yayray: anytime you want another scrap, just skype me. tho i'm thinking that my skype might have to be put on private soon.
Esid: no, it wasn't like that. you healed me with some pebbles, i still don't believe what i just saw. coinkydink or not, we were in the cereal aisle and had some Pebbles afterwards. i don't believe in coincidences, everything means something, you might have to tryhard to squeeze it into your narrow view, but it gets forced through with enough pressure.
the friends finish their last scraps of cold cuts off the just-mopped shiny white floors by the deli. people stare at the group and contort their faces, they are happy to see a celebrity in their midst finally. local boy finally makes good and this rinkydink grocery store isn't such an eyesore anymore.
Yayray: y'know what, i haven't felt this good in a longass time. for old times' sake, i'm gonna man a station here again. it's my day off, why not work?
Yayray's old apron doesn't fit his midesction anymore. he leaves it on cos it's the only one with a Cotard parody sticker on it, if he has to show a little belly to the customers it's worth it if they also see the sticker.
no cute girls or milf bored housewives comment on the sticker. a couple of old hairy bald guys comment on his belly cos they have paunches, too. Yayaray is no-expression-faced at this but he's learning to let out his disappointment with distraction before it bubbles over into rage. he blows some bubbles on his dinner break.
as he's red-gunning a crate of cantaloupes, Natalie from one register down nudges his ribs.
Natalie: did you get my instagram DM?
Yayray: i'm not seeing what's right in front of me. it's against the rules to even look at a phone at work, but what the hell, i'm gonna be god soon.
the screen says RAISED.
Yayray: so you want me to raise your mother from the dead?
Natalie dips down below the counter, tugs on Yayray's apron and nods with one part embarrassment, one part determination, and a third indefinable almost ghostlike part.
Natalie: i'll die if you don't. my moms is everything to me.
the old man that came with the crate has a stomach and smiles slyly at the duo, he points to Yayray and to Natalie below the counter and the glint never leaves his eye even after his gaze rapidly turns to that new pina colada flavor of gum. "i'm next," he cackles. he points at his heart and laughs irritably.
Yayray: why didn't you tell me privately in the breakroom?
Natalie: two people aren't allowed to be alone together in the breakroom anymore. door's always open now. besides, there's no privacy anymore.
Cucumber one register up pops his head over the partition and glances at the screen.
Cucumber: you got raised up a level. that's good, right? i dunno, i'm old skool, you kids and your gadget lingo, your convoluted language. back in my day we didn't have subtweets, we were straight shooters, talked from the hip. whatever you have to say to someone, say it before it's too late.
Esid: oh i don't know, surreptitious code is a sign of creativity. where would language be if everyone said the same things in the same ways? there would be one expression, and one expression, one figure of speech, and not a million synonyms for the word good.
Kenyatta (at Wiki): well shit, you two work here again?
Binny and Quinny: uh uh uh, please address us with respect. we are in the higher echelons of power, we have powerful positions now, we're not your scrubs.
Kenyatta: YOU'RE NOT MY SUPERVISOR!!! hey i didn't want to fire ya gals, you were cool, we could've had a little clique thing going, relive what we didn't have in high school, even though you two are old enough to be my grandmothers, but hey, more power to you, i'd do the same thing, i'd lord it over folk.
Binny: we've learned so much large in such a small span.
Quinny: i still haven't been fired yet. i'm in uncharted territory. i would always use my current job's computers to help land me my next job.
Kenyatta: ever the actress. anyway, this cylinder went off the rails and never reached its intended destination: you guys.
Binny: got you sidetracked.
Kenyatta: nah, i love telling others what to do. so you're to read this.
Binny and Quinny: oh fuck no!
Quinny: so now not only do we have to read every single page of wikipedia and its corresponding talk backpage of grudges, gripes, and corrections, we have to look up each strange word we come across and run it through the Google Translate computer. what does he mean by that?
a rigger is working on a deep-dive submarine outside the window. he's
DRINKING HIMSELF TO DEATH DURING HIS LUNCH BREAK, CLICK HERE, RIGHT HERE AT THIS LINK.
Kenyatta: well that was convenient. like take that rigger over there. so now you must examine closely the word "rigger". do you know what "rigger" actually means? you have to go through each word like this on Google Translate, take apart each letter of the word. don't use a word unless you really know what it stands for, its origin, its history, don't think you know until you really know. so you'd input on Translate first the r, then ri, then rig, then rigg, then rigge, then rigger. and then you musn't miss what would happen if the word had no second g, so r, ri, rig, rige, riger. the last two gives you Danish for "rich kingdoms", that is what we are all striving for. fun fact: that extra e is everything, take any word in the English language and add an e to it, guaranteed to be a word in another language. we must know more than our enemy, knowledge is the ultimate power. we must read our dreams. language is precious, it's vital for our survival, it must be used right, it must never be used for evil, how we harness language, what combinations we can make out of letters, how well we can twist and turn words will determine if we inspire people or have to quell an uprising. the truth finds its light, no matter if it takes decades, it emerges from the darkness with the right words, with just the right thing to say.
Binny (slumped shoulders): being thorough.
Quinny (slumped shoulders): *sigh*
Kenyatta: hey just be glad he hasn't moved you biddies onto Spanish. yet. well i'm off for dress rehearsal. it's coming sooner than ever. rumor is Alex Trebek is gonna debut his mustache again!
Binny and Quinny: say hello to Sean Connery for us! what a silver fox.
*waits for Kenyatta to leave*
Binny: psst, hey Quinny, did that tube derail cos of...
Quinny: probably. i ever so subtly searched for it while making sure no one could search for our search. i made it seem like it was part of my work.
Binny: the entire Exchange was on standstill for hours, though.
Quinny: don't worry, they'll never know it was us. it affected everyone, they'll think it was some weird worldwide glitch, no connection to anything else. i know where the photo is stored.
the two surreptitiously slip out of the mainway into a dusty corridor and down the up stairs. this area is still under construction. Quinny runs her fingers up and down the dewey decimal system cabinet until she reaches the right box, she pulls it out and disattaches the manila card. in the back of the card is an old photo of their mother.
Quinny: yes! it's actually still here after all these years! technology hasn't drowned out everything. good ol' Mom, right where she said. Mom was always the voracious reader.
Binny (smiling, crouching down with Quinny): that's where we get it from.