Our un-named hero is resting his battered body in the shade of one of the countless billions of boulders in Alzheimer’s Canyon. He is anxiously and sleepily awaiting the return of Dusty Rhodes, his invisible benefactor, who is shopping at PillVille. Don’t forget: his entry to the Canyon has literally stripped him of everything he owns, including the shirt off his back and the pants off his butt. All that remains is what he has been able to cobble together… a somewhat beat set of adult diapers, now rapidly nearing the end of their useful life…
Now, when did he say he’d be back? Fifteen minutes? Or was it fifteen minutes walking to the sunset place? And, wait a minute…forget about sunset…. That’s the full moonlight bouncing off the rock towers providing the light anyway…What the f**k is going on around this place, and… When?
”Talking to yourself again, good buddy? Careful now, keep that up and you could wind up with a personal Zoloft prescription. Ask me how I know.”
“Dusty, so glad to see you!….o’course I mean, not see you again!”
Looking around, I see no stuff.
“Uh-oh, Problems in PillVille, Dusty?”
“What, you doubt my skills, pardner?”
“Well, no. It’s just that I don’t see your stuff…”
“Of course y’all don’t see my stuff. And why? Why don’t y’all see my stuff? There’s a very simple answer, knucklehead…Y’all don’t see my stuff BECAUSE IT’S MY STUFF! Now keep standing right there and watch this..I’ll show you something. Y’all might want to use your ears, too. Now, hush!”
“What do you hear?”
“Just the same plastic diaper crinkling I’ve been hearing all day.”
“You quiet y’all’s self, listen closer and tell me what y’all hear,” says Dusty.
It’s really quiet out there. I strain to hear, something, anything beyond my breathing and a distant breeze. Wait, what was that? A faint repetitive noise somewhere overhead.
“There’s something tapping up over our heads, Dusty,”
“That so, bud?”
“Yeah, Dusty, something different.”
“Jes stay still now. Sit and pay attention.”
I sit. I stay. I pay attention. I hear my breathing. I maybe hear Dusty’s too (?) and, so very lightly: tap, tap, tap…
All of a sudden…a CRASH and off my face bounces a plastic-wrapped pair of Fruit of the Loom Briefs, Size M.
“Dusty, what the hell?”
“I got you a few pair, want to try it again?”
“White all right?”
“How do you do that, Mr. Dusty?”
“Easy as falling off a rock….Jes look close and pay attention. See those undies on that ledge?”
“Keep watching them.”
All of a sudden the package is gone, vanished.
“You want ‘em back, bud?”
“OK, last one for now. I know it’s getting kind of dark, but looky here for a VERY special Fruit of the Loom.” And all at once a package of underwear is flying straight upward at high speed, reaches its apex, then returns toward earth. At about five feet from the ground, the package vanishes with a snap.
“Hey, Dusty, thanks, man.”
“Actchally, we ain’t done yet, buddy. That is, unless y’all's one o’ them NOOD-ists, ah figured on a few basic clothes to get you by. Plus, we all got to eat, right? Dusty takes a few steps back, revealing camping supplies, food and a few layers of comfortable clothes.
“Holy Mandoli! This is amazing, Dusty. Wow! It’s like you touch something and it disappears?!? For real?!?” I quickly start pulling on clothes before they disappear again.
“Disappearing is a little strong. More lahk losin’ its visibility for a while… But we ain’t gonna talk more about this now. Y’all got to learn the basics first. And there’s a whole lot o’ basics. And you got a whole lot to learn. C’mon, let’s repack this while we’re talkin’ so we can get to the viewpoint.”
I am wired. I just can’t believe what might be possible down here. I’ve got to make a few calls…”Dusty! I forgot to remind you, but my phone got trashed when I let go of the cliff back there.”
“No fergettin’ involved, bud. I was there. I saw the whole thing. Y’alls dead lucky to be here, kickin’ and grinnin’. And, nope, no phone service in the Canyon. No need for any of that techno-stuff anymore. Here, follow me up this trail. It’s just a bitty ways.”
An hour, more or less, later. The boys are stretched out on their sleeping bags, quiet but for the tumult of stars….so many stars. Their campfire is burning low, random embers cracking.
“Dusty, why is this vista place called SUNRISE/SUNSET ?”
“WAHL, finally an easy question…thank you. You know how out on big water there’s floating, colored buoys to guide you? Well, you won’t find them out here. Too much to remember, really. ‘Red, Right, Returning.' Too much to forget…We don’t name hardly nuffin’ out here. What’s the point? There’s one direction we all end up with…..DOWN.
“Maps and charts are good for headaches mainly. We try to reserve naming for simple things that have some meaning on their own. Take this place. You could probably answer your own question about the name. You have skills. I can tell. Try. Why would a place be named SUNRISE / SUNSET?”
“Umm, because it's especially interesting at those times?”
The silence settles deeper over the camp
“And one more thing. We don’t have a name for you yet.”
“For the Canyon. For your new self.”
“You’re not gonna get cult-y on me now, are you Dusty? I’m just me.”
“Sure, you’re just you. You’ll always have that you inside somewhere. And, you will NEVER be that person again. You on a ONE WAY street, brother. And I got y’all’s name too.”
Invisible Dusty was twinkling now…..
“Like I said, I like your attitude, bud. We can call you Explorer…X for short. Yeah, I like that fine…..X.