PCs get a talking to by the police, and a citation for vandalism, and a court date. When they return to the store, the briefcase that the businessman left on their doorstep is still there. It’s locked but a successful Body roll will unlock it. There’s a few binders and folios inside, but their pages are all blank.
When Wyst gets home her stoner housemate is loopy and her boyfriend is acting as her ‘trip sitter’. She looks at Wyst with dilated eyes and exclaims, “What an amazing mask, it looks just like your face! I thought your other masks were good, but this one is almost too realistic.”
“You’re pulling my leg right? Come on, show me how you take it on and off, I can’t figure out the seams.” She reaches for Wyst’s face and pulls at her jawline and hairline. After a moment of this she looks at her boyfriend and at Mike. “Are you guys pulling a prank on me? Just tell me how you made your mask, I’m just curious.”
Her boyfriend says something to her softly and she covers her eyes. “Yes, okay, I’ve been seeing a lot of strange things anyway. … I thought this stuff had already worn off.”
“It’s only been a couple of hours honey.”
The boyfriend explains that he’s her sitter while she tries a psychedelic, it’s called UPS. Universal Perceptual Solvent. It’s supposed to open your ‘third eye’ and show you what’s true and what’s an illusion at the same time. It’s his turn to try some tomorrow.
Ira explains that he’s hired someone on a bit of a whim. “I don’t normally take risks like this. But this kid, Renata her name is, she and her social worker came in a few days ago and she and I really clicked. I think we can help her get into a normal routine. She’s in juvie, and she’s on work release. I told her that we’re used to misfits here. She didn’t say anything, but I think she’s had a rough time, maybe a broken family or something. I want you all to be welcoming and extend a little trust to her.”
Renata is driven to and from the McDonald’s for her shifts by her social worker, Brian.
Renata gets into a shouting match with Alistair on her first day, but with the exception of him she manages not to step on anyone’s toes. Within a few shifts she is visibly more comfortable. She says of her jail time, “It’s a long story.”
“My parents… one day I came home from high school and they were gone, they just left. They used to have all these superstitions and they had little ceremonies and things they did. I tried one of them – they used to spin a top all the time and note where it pointed when it fell over – and it was like a compass pointing toward them. I followed them, by myself, I was hitchhiking and I stole a car at a truck stop. I met … some creep who I thought was following me. Eugene, he read me a message from a plate of eggs…” she has to calm down.
“It was like a con man’s trick, but it was true. He said he was following my real father, my biological father, and he was looking for my father, but he found me instead. Because my parents weren’t my actual parents. They used to be friends, Eugene and my real father, but it all went to shit before I was born. They were all fighting among different cults … and then my real father grew a cult of personality around him. My parents were in his new cult and they adopted me for him. They raised me because he wanted them to.”
“I didn’t know what to do, so I hitched a ride with Eugene, because he wanted to follow my spinning top trick. When we found my parents, they were living with the whole cult, together in a compound. With an electric fence. They were all there waiting for my real father to show up, like they were waiting for the resurrection or something. Eugene … he had a shotgun, and he started calling them out, and his voice got really intense. I yelled at my mom and dad, but they wouldn’t even look at me. My parents didn’t even use their names with me. Everyone there called them by different names. Those were their real names!” and she begins to cry and quickly bottles it up.
“There was a gunfight and I shot my dad because he pointed a gun at us.”
“He’s alive. I got five years in juvie. I told you it was a long story.”
On the list Regina (the supply & distribution executive for the West Coast, who fancies herself a True Queen of her earthly Realm) occasionally mentions a Dream with a large D. Leonard would tell you that she described a metaphysical awakening – she calls it mythical or portentous – when she saw her coworkers in a sort of court setting.
(Rob will show you the passage if you need)
That was her dream. Regina had another Dream. This is a new dream, and it was very confusing, but it featured the 3rd & Pine franchise. And a meatpacking plant that works with McDonald’s. She knows exactly which one because it’s within her Realm – it’s outside of Spokane. She described it thus: “Everything was red, like terminator vision, or rose tinted glasses. Before my vision adjusted I almost thought the cows were red, you know, like the red cow in the apocalypse.” It was like the slaughter factory floor and the 3rd & Pine franchise were overlapping in her mind, and she figures there must be a connection.