Beyond, the Call

  Beyond, the Call

“Women are like slot machines.  You put the money in and pray, but you know you’ll always lose. Do you want your drink with or without the cherry?” the bartender asked.  He leaned over and smirked at Homer. 

            “Without the cherry… I guess I see a woman as a rose in a bouquet of roses. They are all so beautiful yet all the same,” Homer said back.  He shifted in the bar seat, once again recognizing how small he was compared to other people.  He’d been in the same life for fifty years, and he knew his legs would always remain short with his slightly larger torso. 

            “You are a hopeless romantic,” the bartender said. 

            “I guess I’m an old fool.”  Homer drank the alcohol too quickly. He felt his gut swell in the dim light, the twilight of his fuzzy brain not helping anything.

            “That makes two of us,” the bartender said, agreeing. Already, he’d begun cleaning the glasses and getting ready for closing time.

            “Hey, Clown-nose,” the bartender went on, “I’ll make that nose a cherry if you aren’t out in five.”

            “Alright, sir,” Homer said.

            “I do have something that might cheer you up.  We’ve got one Hell of a lady around here. She’s cheap, too.”

            Homer was confused with what seemed like the bartender’s change of opinion.  His body felt so heavy.  He wanted to lay down.  “I don’t think…”

            “Ha, Jennifer would be so sad if you didn’t. She hasn’t had a client for a week, and she’ll let you do anything.” 

            Homer couldn’t help but perk up.  He hadn’t had a woman in years.

            The alcohol is doing this to me, Jack, don’t blame me.  Jack was his older brother.  His chest hurt when he remembered Jack laid out on the dirt after a motorcycle accident.

            “Alright, champ, now that you’re loosened up and paid your tab, I think you’re ready for a night in paradise,” the bartender said. 

            The casino blasted music behind the bartender and Homer.  They came to a dog statue where the bartender pulled a lever.  Homer saw a room of beads, rugs, and a soft, heart-shaped, red bed with a beautiful woman in the center.

            “Ah, ain’t she beautiful?” the bartender asked Homer.

            “Prettier than eyes can see,” Homer said.  He recalled his past girlfriend, Andy. Her long, red hair accented with polka dots, a cute, perky girl, and a liar.  In the end, he couldn’t take her running around with other men.  When she did, he became an animal, growling, and groaning.

            “Men do not have sway over my autonomy,” she said on judgment day.

            “You hurt me when you do that, Andy.  I love you. I want to be together.”  Thunder echoed outside.  Lightning hit a tree.  The old, dirty apartment he lived in shook and trembled, not wanting to lose its roof. 

            “I need a man, Homer. I need a real man.”

            Homer tried to fight the tears.

 “Be selfish.  It’s always been all about you,” Homer said.  He felt a mix of sadness and anger.

“Enjoy your food stamps and tramps,” Andy said.


“I’m all yours,” Jennifer said. The perfume reminded Homer of divinity.  Her soft, long, and blonde hair flowed down to her waist. 

She can’t be over sixteen. I need to stop…

Jennifer began to massage Homer’s shoulders, slowly intoxicating him with soft sounds and running her long, plastic nails up and down his back. 

Homer felt alive in a way he hadn’t before.  He closed his eyes and enjoyed the touch and the arousal.  He was almost ready to flip her over when he felt a sharp prick, in his arm.

“What was that?” Homer asked as he tried to turn around.  He saw his grey pants and blue shirt over a broken chair.  The distance between him and his clothing would inspire an epic. 

I’m so embarrassed.  I, I, I…

            The room shifted.  The lights went on and off, illuminating strange geometric shapes.

            “You are entering the big universe, and it’s a banger,” the woman said. She was different now. Her long tail twisted around his body, holding it up.  Soon his clear blue eyes were level with hers. She smiled with snake fangs, dark yellow, tinged with blood. Her tongue began to slip out of her mouth.  Homer felt himself become squished more and more. 


            “Don’t talk yet.  You’ve always wanted to know,” she said.  “Ever since you read that line about control, you’ve wanted it, and I saw you there tonight, and the thought twisted around your head in hindsight, but I am going to show you there’s more than where you are.”

            “The line?” 

            “After the DMT, the drug where our worlds connect as one in dreams, too. Your masters try to stop the pineal gland with fluoride, with an endless television buzzing and humming, trying to keep the truth from coming out,  ‘Keep ‘em dull and within control.’"

            “Creation is the purpose of consciousness,” Jennifer said. Her name became a hiss to him, Hiss.


Homer swam in the different colors singing around him.  He saw creatures of bizarre and unknown origin.  Every time he thought he’d touched solid ground, the objects moved and shifted.

            “A flatlander, you see, has no idea he is on a sphere until he gets back to the place he started.  That is the knowledge of humanity, with their droll shows and distractions.  When you go around so many times, you become dizzy enough to stop and lookup.  Life can be more than the surface world.  Geometry offers infinite dimensions.  Where would you like to go?” The snake woman asked.  Homer called her Hiss more and more.  She could be called nothing else in those moments.

            Homer thought of good and evil when he looked at her tail, heard her voice, the cliche of things that slither and talk.  Neither definition could describe Hiss.  Above all, she seemed to have a sacred knowledge that titillated him. 

            Is knowledge good or evil? A random thought swept in and out.

            “How about we take off that skin?” Hiss said.  Homer felt his skin tighten, loosen, then tighten again.  His arms were anchored to his body...  Like a baby learning to walk, he twisted and turned. He pulled his chest up, falling down several times. The skin peeled and peeled.  His right hand stretched the fabric of his being, and he tore off the dead skin over and over again.  It seemed a never-ending task, but finally, he broke through.

            The discarded snakeskin was absorbed by the ground. 

            “What is happening to me?” Homer asked.

            “You shed the old for the new.  Where would you like to go?”

            Homer paused, his mind racing. The forms below him threw him off. He saw his legs fall down further and further into the shapes.  The light became stronger and stronger. 

            The question rang in his head.  He thought of the universe, all the directions, how vast it was, and yet, his heart centered on home. 

            “I want to see my brother,” Homer said.  His voice quivered.

            “The familiar, I suppose,” Hiss said with disappointment in her eyes.  “I suppose you don’t know how to go beyond the familiar yet.”

            The colors changed and Jack flooded up from the shapes below. 

            “Jack!” Homer said.  He rushed over to his brother.  The shapes began to combine and the colors flooded to recognizable objects.

            Jack didn’t move.  Homer placed his hand on his brother’s shoulders.  He rocked his brother. 

            “Homer,” Jack said. “Sorry, it took me a while to get here.”

            “Where?” Homer asked.

            “To your memory. I’ve been so busy lately with creation.”


            “Creation. I’m helping to build the universe.  It’s what we do.”

            Homer and Jack embraced for a minute, and Jack disappeared again, at the speed at which he had come. 

            Hiss came back into view. The tip of her tail shined red with ruby light. 

            “Thank you,” Homer said.

            “Nothing special.”

            “What do you mean?” Homer asked.

            "Anyone can dream up the familiar." She yawned. "I've invited so many humans...

. I suppose you want to go back to the casino and play your little game of life away, a moment of pain, a moment of pleasure.  Then you do it all again as is the Flatman on a sphere.  Your brother figured it out.”

            “He always talked about the beyond, but I couldn’t understand.  Just like I can’t understand what you mean by something that isn’t familiar.”

            “I’ll take you back to the beginning.”

            The shades all around them morphed as strange rainbows engulfed the two.  The tunnel of light led them on several branches of time at once.  They ended in a dark place with no light. 


            Homer shook from the cold.   

            “HELLO!” Homer yelled, trying to pull anything out.

            “HELLo, HEllo, Hello…” echos came back to him.

            “Hiss, I don’t get it.  Why did you take me here? Dark is familiar.”

            “That gets you to the point.  You must go beyond.”

            Where was she?

            Beyond, Homer thought. He walked forward with his hands out.  Is it physical? Is it mental?  He tried to think of all the names for beyond.  Then he reasoned.

            Maybe if I call out again, something will come.

            “Homer,” Homer yelled.

            “Homer, Homer, Homer,” his voice replied in echos.

            “I’m echoing inside to outside,” he whispered to himself.  “The past travels behind me. The present goes into the future where I will go and have been beyond.”


            The future.  There is beyond with me, the call.


A hand smacked him across the face.

“Hey, junkie,” the bartender said.  “She took all your money.” 

            “What?” Homer rubbed his eyes.  He saw needles all around him. 

            “Get out of here, lowlife,” the bartender said.  “You ain’t got no business for me now. Scram.”

            Homer stood up and limped out of the casino with its lights mostly out, save for a sign in front of him that read, “Vegas, Don’t Be Lost. Start here.” 

             He knew he’d never go back.


Kaela E.


Kaela E. published in the online children's magazine, "Bumples


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