Important: Please read the details about what this story is, how it came to be and
why it's not polished here
He swore on his mother's grave
He swore on his mother's grave, but then he swore on just
about everything. Max looked intently at Karen.
"I promise! If swearing
isn't enough, what else is there?" he said.
"I guess there's nothing but
to take your word for it then," Karen said gritting her teeth and wincing
at the thought of what was about to happen.
"Now whatever you do, don't
"Yeah, cos that's the first
thing that comes to mind!" she said.
Max gripped Karen firmly by the
hand and stepped from the ledge overlooking the Hoover dam below them. Karen
squeezed his hand hard and shut her eyes as tight as they would possibly go.
Her faith in Max's promise was justified. Rather than falling to their deaths,
they were lifted as though feathers on the breeze.
"Shit!" Karen cried as
she opened her eyes and looked down on the river and rushing water far below
"See I told you," he
"You couldn't have just
shown me that you could fly, you had to make me crap myself!"
She may be young, but she's not
stupid, Max thought. Karen had followed him around at school like a lost puppy.
She knew there was something about him that she just couldn't work out and she
had to know what it was. The way Max seemed to move, his effortless motion,
that was what drew her to him. At first, Max was annoyed, some young girl
doting on him. Then it became sweet. Eventually, they spent time talking and
became the best of friends.
"I wish you had shown me
this sooner," Karen said over the sound of rushing air. Max had taken them
higher, and the valley view below was spectacular. Karen had been in a
helicopter before, her father being a pilot in the army had taken her up in the
past. Being in the air without the sound or vibration of the helicopter engines
was an indescribable feeling.
"What do you think?"
Max asked. Having finally given in to his personal trepidation about anyone
knowing about his ability, he felt more relaxed and himself than ever before in
"It is amazing. Scary as
fuck, but amazing!"
She was standing behind the counter, giving him this root-beer-float
kind of smile.
"Hey Max," Karen said
beaming from ear to ear. "The usual?"
"Sure, whipped cream too if
there is any," Max said.
Karen had not stopped smiling
since their trip down the Hoover dam yesterday. She hardly slept all night,
writing in her journal about the amazing man that Max was. He had pleaded with
her not to tell anyone, for fear of what might happen to him. Everything
Hollywood had told him about people with super-powers scared him out of his
wits. If it wasn't the secret identity or the persecution of those with
abilities, it was the sheer terror that he would have to find a purpose in all
of this and do something with it.
I'm just a kid, he'd told
himself. Can't I just be a kid and deal with this later?
Karen set the root-beer-float
down on the counter in front of him, snapping him out of his daydream.
"So where are we going
tonight?" she asked him.
keep your voice down," Max replied sternly.
"Why, don't people go out
"Sorry, I thought you meant
- you know," and indicated towards the ceiling with his eyes.
"He was skating on thin ice
- that's all I can say," said a large built man dressed in an army uniform
to a colleague as they walked in the door of the diner.
"Hey dad," Karen said
to her father when she saw him.
"Hi sweetheart," he
replied. He turned and addressed his colleague, "See to it that you find
out exactly what they saw. And keep it quite for
"Yes General," the
soldier replied, saluted and took his leave.
General Taylor walked over to the
counter in front of his daughter and put his hat down. She leant over to give
him a kiss, but her father wasn't overly keen on public displays of affection.
He reluctantly leant over, as Karen stood on tiptoes waiting and kissed her on
"Doesn't that feel
better," she said, knowing full well it embarrassed him. A two-star
general, being embarrassed, she thought it was hilarious.
"Dad, this is Max. He's a
friend from school. He's been helping me with my math,"
"Sir," Max said
straightening up and putting out his hand to shake.
The General stood and looked at
him with a dead-straight face, no sign of emotion at all. Max swallowed hard
and started to sweat. Did he know something about him? Did he make people who
got close to his daughter disappear?
The General was thinking,
"Does he know about the thing she did to the brakes on the Honda?" He
decided that he'd made him stew long enough and shook Max's hand. Max visibly
relaxed and started breathing again. There was no evidence, but the General
suspected that Karen had tampered with the brakes on the Honda belonging to
Jake, a fellow student who had been harassing her at school. She had reported
it of course, but nothing had been done about it for months.
One day, Karen confronted Jake at
school when he was particularly unpleasant towards her and people say she made
some threat about him dying horribly in his penis-mobile, that was what a lot
of people called his Honda.
He was found dead at the bottom
of a gorge the next morning. The investigators said the brakes failed, but
apart from some wild accusations, nothing was proved. The General had kept an
eye on Karen since, and for a whole year, she seemed to have been fixated on
the teenager who now stood in front of him. Max.
"So Max, I appreciate you
helping Karen with her studies. You are in your final year aren't you?"
"Yes sir, I am."
Karen wondered how her father
knew anything about Max at all, as they'd only just met.
"Dad, can I have a word with
you for a minute?"
"Sure thing sweetheart -
Max," he said fixing Max with a quick stare before walking towards the end
of the counter where Karen was waiting for him.
"You've been spying on me
haven't you," she exclaimed as loudly and as quietly as she could.
"For your own protection
sweetheart. Since the thing with Jake -"
"There was no thing with Jake. I didn't do anything to
the bloody car!" She said this a little loudly towards the end and drew
the looks of a few people sitting in booths eating breakfast.
She looked around at those eating
and for a moment lost herself in the smells from the kitchen. Pancakes with
cinnamon, iced teas with mint that reminded her of her mother’s garden. She
missed her mother so much. Karen was only eight when her mother died, killed by
a drunk driver. The one smell that reminded her so much of her mother, oddly,
was mint. The summer herb garden was always fresh with it. Normal mint, lemon
mint and some other kind that just became mint in her memory.
For a moment she found herself
standing outside her own body, looking back at herself arguing with her father.
Although she could see what was happening, she realised everything was in an
almost perfect balance of black and white. Like looking at an old silent movie.
She looked around, lost in the
lightness she felt from the detachment of her mind and body; someone sitting at
the counter drinking coffee, Max pretending not to listen to her fighting with
And as if from nowhere a dash of
colour dazzled her, not in its brightness, but in its bold, intense redness. A
booth at the far end of the room stood out, and she could now see the book or
perhaps a journal laying on the table in front of the man enjoying his morning
Hurriedly walking towards the
beacon of colour, she felt as if she was losing a grip on this reality. As
unreal as this view of her world seemed, the reality she felt herself being
drawn back to now felt as equally unreal. It felt like she was dreaming,
walking through treacle to get to that damn journal. Sounds started to bleed
back into her mind, the drone of the dishwasher, the clinking of glasses and
cups. The horrible prrftt noise the coffee machine
makes when you froth the milk.
She found him in the Terminal Bar and Grill. He was sober,
for a change. In the year since Karen and Max had run away together, things had
become strained between them. Their relationship blossomed, initially. Passion
and romance gave way to confusion and fear.
Max had started to drink, for
reasons aplenty. They had discovered that Karen's father had been keeping very
close tabs on both Karen and Max since they met. They were convinced that it
had something to do with Max's ability, but they found it hard to accept at
"Why did you leave like that
last night?" she asked him, sitting next to him and putting her hand on
"You know why. You promised
you wouldn't do it again," he said staring at a scotch on the rocks in
front of him.
Karen removed her hand slowly and
looked down at it. "I can't always control it. You know that."
"But you are aware when you
start, you can stop if you try. At least try," he pleaded without looking
up from his untouched scotch.
"I wish it were as simple.
You can control your ability, mine is - it's not me, at least that's what it
feels like," she tried to explain again. They had had the conversation
before, it never makes much sense.
"Can I get you a drink
miss," said the tall barman as he wiped the bar top in front of them.
Can I get you out of that top and
into my - The barman froze and locked eyes with Karen. His mind was suddenly
not his own, and he was very aware that he was bearing down on his subconscious
for the comment she was not supposed to hear. It was tucked away inside his
mind after all.
They were all the same, she decided.
Men were men, they all had the same primordial thoughts. She could just see
them now. Just like Max had kept his ability hidden from the world, Karen had
begun to discover a secret she had not realised she was keeping until that
morning in the diner with her father.
The black and white world she
witnessed, was an amalgamation of peoples thoughts and feelings projected into
a reality that she could move around in and later discover, manipulate to some
The barman was released from
Karen's mind, berated suitably and came back with her lemonade and lime moments
"See, you did it again
didn't you?" Max said. "What did he think? Or did you just plant the
idea of your drink in his mind for fun?" Max picked up his drink and took
a large swig.
Note: This story was never completed. The next Non-Sequitur was "the day Lillian learned to drive"