Providence is mythos, New England’s dreaming; a rainyday skycastle of noise music, Xerox comics, and cute fuzzy-wuzzy creatures with monsters hiding underneath the fun. It is not a paradise, by any means, but it does provide. My guardian daimons- the den of white rabbit cherubs- have followed me here from Richmond, Virginia, as evidenced by my staggering and impossibly good luck in the Northeast corner. Understand that Brandon Joyce really has no faith in forces from the beyond, but sometimes his fortunes just confound the statistics. Flyballs into the far right field of the bell-curve. The gods have gone mad and lost all discretion, spoiling me with synchronicities and an endless supply of dumpstered treasures. Ask anyone. If I so much as mumble an order for a soda fountain, some snack food, a kiss, an Operation game, a Xerox machine- anything we will inevitably find one curbside or downtown in under forty-eight hours. Sign, sale, delivered. And with those flying rabbit cherubs of mine, the further I push my luck, the better the returns. They are trickster gods, I’ve concluded.
The Hopi believed that the world was
composed of events rather than objects.
hen again, maybe I’m barreling towards a head-on collision with my own doom. Have I ever thought of that? Perhaps I’m just being stuffed and fattened for a great, big, trickster-god Thanksgiving centerpiece, with my head on the platter and an apple in my teeth. A cosmic joke, burning up six millennia of good karmic energy in under one lifetime until whack- the trap closes shut and Brandon Joyce is made to suffer reality like everyone else. But I like to think that benevolent forces are responsible; that maybe, because I’m such a swell guy, the gods are willing to open up loopholes in the casual chain of necessity. Maybe I’m being coifed and groomed for Future Greatness. A perfectly reasonable explanation, if you ask me. But I’ve probably let them down a few times. Right about now, the gods are probably having thunderous shitfits over the incompetence of their little protégé. “Dammit, that boy has fucked up again! Man, this is really embarrassing. Gabriel, Lugulbanda, whatever your name is, go downstairs and spring him again, but not without a warning this time. Make his girlfriend skip her period or something, just to scare some sense into that fruitloop. This will teach us to bet on a rocking horse.”
And the synchronicities abound. Give me ten friends and I’ll find them halfway around the globe; we’ll cross paths in the middle of the fucking Gobi desert. Synchronicity is, by far, the best measure for the density of life. Spin enough meanings, and you’re bound to catch a falling star- that kind of thing. This is my secular explanation. Baiting serendipity, greasing the Wheel of Fortune. Not to mention a rose-tinted outlook that can transform even the bleakest, shittiest circumstances into a motherfucking bowl of ice cream. “No, no, really mother, prison will give me time to find myself and work on my novella.” But how is it that I can find an unopened twelve-ounce sodacan pretty much every day for a month? Because I have developed The Eye, you see. I jiggle doorknobs, check out supply closets, go where no reasonable human being would want to go. I ask ridiculous questions to nervous, new box-office workers at the cineplex ribbon-cutting. Take and ye shall receive. Yes, it must be something I’m doing. Lemonade from lemons, shit from shinola, whatever “shinola” might be.
Well, the real explanation eventually dawned on us, deducted from cold, hard, indisputable facts. It was so obvious. How could we have overlooked it? The luck flowed, not from benevolent gods, cherub rabbits, or as by-products of own resource. What a buncha crackpot spooks-and-goblin theories. The real answer: it was merely the handiwork of our future selves, who were floating gifts down the stream of Time. I’ll never know why I let an explanation as simple as time travel ever escape me. It was so perfect, so lyrical, and much more in line with the myth of self-creation. But what Great Plan might our future selves have in store?
To unearth the answer to this and other weighty future-historical questions, construction has begun on a brand new time machine, in the furthest and darkest chamber of our headquarters. A cushier time machine than our last, considerably more H.G. Wells this time, designed specifically to cloak the signals and disturbances from the all-knowing eyes of the Time Police and their sister agencies in Timecrime prevention. See, our previous voyages with the port-a-pack unit nearly cost us our necks. Partly due to our dyslexic misreadings of the stolen timemaps, partly due to weird interference from our future selves, who for whatever reason refuse to send us the details of their Great Plans in anything as straightforward as handwritten letter. It would be incriminating evidence, I suppose. Once an object is created in the space-time continuum— a letter, a blueberry pie, a baby— it remains intact until the some great wave or gravitational fluctuation changes the shape of space-time itself. Something cataclysmic enough to send multiple universes spiraling in every direction. Until this happens- and its not good policy to depend on such a fluke- there is ample opportunity for the time police to get their grimey little gloved hands on it. So it makes sense that our future selves would send clues and encryptions in which only our personalities could decode- “Would I actually rendezvous with myself or another time bandit in the middle of a Chucky Cheese Playland?” Only I know the answer to this riddle. The enemy may be time travelers, but mindreaders they’re not.
On the Manhatttan Island one night, strolling the sidewalk with Jeffrey Mallare, eyes peeled wide for clues and insinuations, I come across a striped-green matchbook sitting conspicuously in the pinpoint center of the sidewalk, a matchbook from none other than the Time Café itself. Could my future self be guilty of such a rotten pun? Could a future associate of mine? In the excitement, I shrugged off the danger-signs and make a quick mental appointment with the Time Café, for the following afternoon. Was this mathcbook a true secretion of a future reality, or merely a lame-o timetrap set by an agent from the year 2300?
Coincidently enough, the Time Café came to me, twelve hours later, as I was meandering aimlessly around Manhattan again. Travelling solo, dressed to the nines in my slick, silver timebandit ensemble, I entered the Time Café, trembling with the possibility of either catastrophe or self-collision. Something was awry, misplaced. I could tell. Not one plate on the menu was under ten dollars, a bad sign. This could no longer be the doing of my future self, who certainly knew my aversion to any restaurant fancier than Ruby Tuesdays (and my inability to afford them). A foreign power was now controlling that corridor of Time. I approached the hostess. “Uh, excuse me- This may sound a bit odd but I was supposed to meet some friends here, and I think I might’ve missed my appointment. Are any messages left for me- my name is Brandon Joyce.” Politely, but with eyebrows still raised from the shock of my silver timejacket, she checked around with folks in the know, the waitstaff and day managers. “No, no messages, but I’ve only been here since seven. You might want to check with the bartender in the lounge. They might know.” —
Space-time, by then, was filled with white-noise and background ringing. It was thick, mellifluous, moving along in slow-motion. Bad omens: evidence of an upheaval in space-time. I was sitting in the quiet eye of some vortex, but I knew all would be well if I just stayed spry and alert. I turned to enter the blacklit lounge, and there, in the back booth, were four hard-boiled, well-dressed gentlemen, oblivious as always to the subtleties of twenty-first century fashion. I’d been ambushed! Before arousing attention, I detoured into the restroom and paced the tiles waiting for my next brilliant plan. “They couldn’t have seen me. But if they have a reading on me, they may know anyway. Could they have pegged my coordinates already? If so, I’m probably surrounded by now. Fuck, fuck, and double fuck. What am I going to do” Without another thought, I burst out of the restroom, with my face buried in my collar, focusing all my hopes on the front doors. With an ambiguous nod to hostess, I’m safe in the open-air, then down into the turgid flux of the New York subway system. Man, that is the last time I’ll ever step foot into a joint with fifteen dollar sandwiches.