Noble X - Episode 4: Redlining

Noble X - Episode 4: Redlining

by Mike Vinopal

Neither John nor Jerry really remember their precise first meeting. If each were asked John would say kickball and Jerry would say over at Anthony and Bree’s apartment in 2012.

Jerry doesn’t know everything going on in John's mind right now but Jerry can tell that his body is struggling to hold it together. He knows a few details of John’s recent break up as word had quickly circulated throughout their overlapping circles of friends, especially at John’s show Friday. But he can tell there is more there.

“What’s going on dude? Are you OK?” Jerry asks him with the gentleness of a good friend. Even though he has imbibed heavily today, Jerry snaps sober with concern for John. John squirms and struggles to respond verbally. His pupils dart quickly back-and-forth, evading Jerry’s sad worried eyes. John finally manages a hoarse whisper, cracking with anguish, eyes bloodshot from joints smoked and the sheer effort he has put forth to hold back tears. 

“I’m just kind of fucked up about everything in my life right now.”

Jerry cracks a beer from their shopping-cart-reserves and hands it to John as he places his shark-finned hand on John’s blue shoulder. John lets a handful of tears escape at last and then drinks deeply. The moment passes and their team returns. 

Some drunk, some stoned, all exhausted yet still stimulated, the masses descend upon one final destination for the closing ceremonies. John decides he will go just for a short while. This spontaneous addition to his schedule had replaced time for resting this afternoon for another friend’s bachelor party beginning at a brewery, mere hours from now. 

“Ain’t no rest for the wicked,” tumbles around in John's head.

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Bree notices something off with John as well because as he prepares to leave the closing festivities to head to the bachelor party she reaches out and stops him. Bree offers to tagalong and grab a final beer before she heads home to see Anthony. John thanks her and agrees. He doesn’t really want to be alone. 

They start off on foot but having walked miles already today they only make it a short distance before they order themselves an Uber. En route, Bree listens patiently as John unloads a little pressure he has been bottling up all day. She tries to understand best she can, but mostly she just is with him, providing support merely by her proximity.

Bree and John walk into the brewery still partially in costume, a little rough from the road. They find the bachelor party, John buys her a beer while assuring the bachelor-party-goers that his racing teammate will be heading home after a pint. And the guys make her feel welcome. John gets into the whiskey, and things get blurry, then spotty...then black. 

John doesn’t remember Bree leaving though it couldn’t have been too much longer after their arrival. He recalls eating many delicious things but is unsure of the specifics. His mouth is no longer delicious. His head pounds. He has a vague recollection of piling into his friend Aaron‘s car. He has made it home safely, sprawled on the couch, still fully clothed in blue. He’s not even sure what day it is. His phone is dead. 

“Where is my mind?” plays in the back of his head.

John strips, shuffles to his bedroom, plugs in, and waits to set his alarm. He stares at the ceiling, thinking to himself, “you’re going to be worthless for this recording session tomorrow without a few winks.” His phone buzzes back to life. Nearly 4am. Optimistically he says to himself, “4 hours should do it,” setting his alarm and falling back into blackness. 

John’s sleep is different now. His sleep is getting thinner.  He floats at the line between consciousness and subconsciousness. This is fantasy and reality all at once. A vivid hallucination, disguised for the moment as a dream. 

Someone is at the door. John shuffles over to open it. To his surprise, two very familiar characters have paid him a visit. They stand there matter-a-factly, as if John should be expecting them. King Arthur and the prolific Dr. Seuss. King Arthur held his famous sword, Excalibur, while the good doctor held a scroll. It wasn’t that they said it out loud but somehow John and his characters began to communicate, all eyes and expression. John has been chosen as the recipient of an honorary doctorate to conduct a sleep study on himself. John kneels and is knighted. He stands and is handed his scroll. 

At this moment, John feels a great baritone God-voice deep within his head speak the words “good luck” and with that, he snaps out of semi-consciousness. With some fear, he realizes that he has been doing something akin to sleep walking while dreaming, shambling through his apartment naked. John shakes slightly as he looks at the mess he has made and his lack of clothing. Books strewn about in disarray, a bit of scribbled marker on the mirror and on his arms, familiar symbols and chaos intermingled. 

John cleans up and begins writing down what he thinks of as his “first fit” in a notebook on a clipboard. He retires to his room once more to attempt to get some sleep. John is supposed to spend Sunday at the recording studio. He’s exhausted but excited so he tosses and turns while the city birds wake and begin singing.

Stay tuned for Episode 5.

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Links to previous episodes:

Noble X - Episode 1: Cowardice & Heartbreak

Noble X - Episode 2: New Month's Eve

Noble X - Episode 3: Racing

Managing a House for 50,000 People

Managing a House for 50,000 People

I Believe… ["Abolish ICE" at the Statue of Liberty is How We Should Be Resisting]

I Believe… ["Abolish ICE" at the Statue of Liberty is How We Should Be Resisting]