Chapt. 20

Venus & Mars

by Weader Snictus

It was early morning, just after sunrise. Mars, bare-ass naked, squatted on a large gray rock at the islandís highest point catching the first rays of the new rising Sun. Watching through the trees the mist dancing on the waters of the new lake. Mars then became aware of the sound of music which seemed to come from inside his head, it was familiar but he couldnít place it. He didnít think very long on it, he just enjoyed it as a pleasant backdrop to the scenery. The locals knew of the eccentric hermit who lived on the island in the lake and they knew he owned the valley that held the lake and so it was only natural that they named it Mars Lake. Mars had a habit of coming up here each morning and each evening to watch the lake fill his beautiful valley. The lake had now reached itís capacity and spilled out once again over the plug in the narrow gap in the mountain range at the Southern end of the valley. Mars had also witnessed the remarkable speed with which this previously unknown area had become exploited. Boats and jet-skis flocked to the lake for recreation. A boat ramp appeared. A snack bar. A pier and a gas station. A motel, a campground. A boom was placed around Marís island along with ĎNo Trespassingí, ĎKeep Outí and ĎPrivate Propertyí buoys to keep the boaters from landing but he still found campfire ashes on the beaches in the mornings and sometimes found graffiti on some of the rock outcroppings. Mars found himself singing the words to the song playing in his head. "Angel! Jimi Hendrix." he said out loud, pleased with himself having named-that-tune. "Where did that one come from?" he thought to himself. He sang one of the lines, "Angel came down from heaven yesterday, just in time to rescue me." with a fleer. He imagined it to be another omen of a visit from Venus.
Mars sat up on that rock thinking that this island had become a prison. This was no longer a peaceful place. It had changed. Everything had changed. Perhaps it was time he too made some changes. He was now rich beyond comprehension. He could do anything he wanted, go anywhere he wanted. He could always find another wilderness. Yeah, thatís it, there are plenty of little hidden forested valleys around. He didnít need a lot of room. He made up his mind then and there it was time to move on. He stood up, dusted off his bare butt and headed back down to his room in the mine tunnel.
As he entered the tunnel, the music in his head grew louder. A lone electric guitar accompanied a solitary singer, and it was coming from inside the mine. He figured some kids had found his cave. As he entered the room he found a lone black man in psychedelic clothing, sitting on the headboard of the bed, playing an electric guitar. The guy was good, and left handed too. Hell, he was incredible, and it sounded great, even though there was no cord coming from the guitar and no amplifier in sight. When the playing stopped. The black man looked up at Mars.
"Nature Boy!" laughed the man in the pink silk headband. Then, in a mock serious tone, "Killer natural reverb in here, man. Hope you donít mind." And just as quickly changing his tone of voice to that of a scolding matron, he said. "Youíre the richest cat in the world, man. Damn!, Get some threads. You canít go Ďround with your thang wagginí in the wind like that."
Mars, who was wearing nothing more than a thin coat of dust looked around the room, then replied. "Uh, this is my home, in case youíre unaware. I donít wear clothes because theyíre superfluous. I donít need Ďem." Mars moved closer. "Speaking of clothes, you sure as hell ainít dressed for camping. What are you, a Hendrix impersonator or something? Uh, by the way, killer guitar, man."
Hendrix got down off the headboard, dropped his guitar on the bed and put an arm around Marís shoulder. "Check it out man, itís really heavy." Looking Mars square in the eyes. "I am Jimi Hendrix, . . . well, uh, I mean I was Jimi Hendrix but he died, so now Iím an angel. Can you dig that? But uh . . . itís really far-out, I didnít know it would be this groovy. Ya know, death is cool, man but dyinís a drag."
Mars looked through his eyebrows at Jimi. "Youíre Jimi Hendrix, and youíre an angel?"
"Yeah." Hendrix replied, matter-of-factly. "Got any mushrooms?"
Mars sat down on the floor. He thought for a moment and then looked up at Hendrix. After all the things heíd been through since he met Venus, he was ready to believe anything. This wasnít so hard. "So whatíre you doing here?" He asked, half-fearing the answer.
Jimi picked up his guitar and sat on the bed. "Well, . . ." he paused, not quite knowing how to begin. "They tried sending you signs but I guess you either missed Ďem or didnít understand them. They were subtle at first but lately theyíve tried some fairly drastic measures and they didnít work either."
"Signs?" Mars asked.
"Yeah, you know, a message."
"What message? From whom?"
"Whoís sending the message isnít important right now. Whatís important is that you understand the message, dig?"
"Alright then, whatís the message that is so important that I receive?"
"They say that your timeís up. Itís time to go, man." Jimi unconsciously strummed some blues chords as he delivered these words.
"What!?" Mars remembered now the dentistís chair hallucination by the lake. But wait, what about Karl and John, or the disappearing town, or the guys who looked like the Blues Bros., which one of these was the sign? All of them? Any of them? Or was it something else. What was it?
"They said it wasnít working out, man." Jimi explained. "Itís time to call it a day, pack it up and vacate, you know? Go home. The showís over, man, the fat lady done sang."
"My time is up?" Mars queried in a semi state of shock. "What does that mean? I gotta die now, or what? If it just means moving on to another place, well, I was just about to do that very thing."
"Look man, all I know is you gotta leave this world. Your time in this one is used up. You ainít supposed to be here anymore. You gotta split, pay the bill and go home. Other people are waitiní for their turn. Nobody said anything about dyiní."
"Sorry Jimi, but Iím having a real hard time with this." Mars said shaking his head. "First of all, Iím not even sure youíre for real. Second, you deliver a message that Ďmy time is upí but then tell me that who itís from isnít important? Thirdly, youíre supposed to make sure I understand the message but you canít tell me what the message means. I gotta leave this world, but not by death? Sorry man, but I just donít get it."
Jimi broke into ĎSpanish Castle Magicí as he spoke. "You know what it means, you just ainít thinkiní on the right channel."
Hendrix thought for a moment and then said in a serious voice. "OK, first of all, youíre not who you think you are. Here in this world you are what you think you are but thatís an illusion. In the real world you are who other people think you are. Dig this, man. Imagine you are a tree but you can only see one branch of that tree and so you think that is the whole tree. Most of the tree, you donít even know about. You have to go back to the real world where you can see the whole tree. You canít make out any detail but you can see most of the tree." He began to ramble. "Ďcept in your case, youíre more like a root than a branch. Maybe thatís why youíre liviní in a cave."
In an intuitive way this all made sense to Mars and a far-away look came into his eyes as wheels turned inside his head. What part did Venus play in all of this?
Hendrix closed his eyes and said as he began to play, "Hereís one Wagner showed me".

Venus

The sunlight on her face woke Venus from her sleep. She sat up, rubbed her eyes and stretched the sleep out of her bones. She shuffled into the bathroom and glanced into the mirror over the sink as she passed it. Not believing what she saw, she went back for a second look and screamed. Mars stared back at her from the mirror, mimicking her every move. She put her face right up to the mirror and squinted at her reflection, it was so real. She looked down at her own body just to make sure. Yes, she was really Venus but that was Mars in the mirror. She shut her eyes hard and then looked again. She saw her usual visage staring back at her looking quite shocked. Venus threw cold water on her face in an attempt to snap back to reality. She turned on the radio as she dried her face with a towel. The radio announcer was just finishing the weather report.
"It looks like plenty of sunshine cominí our way for the next week or so folks! Nice weather for something, so get out there and do it! And now for the community bulletin board: . . . uh, well, nothing much today just this message that goes out to Venus - Honey, itís time to go home. So, why donít you make everybody, including yourself, happy and, well, just go home. O.K., sweetheart. Alright! Back to more K95 music with Jammy Gammaglobulin . . ."
Venus hit the switch, cutting him off. "What the hellís going on?" She thought to herself. "My life just keeps getting weirder and weirder. Maybe I did lose my mind and maybe Mars didnít cure me. Yeah, thatís it, pretty soon Iíll be diddliní my lips and drooling on myself. What the hell is Ďgo homeí supposed to mean? I donít have a home. Both my parents are dead. I have no brothers or sisters. No husband. No house. No home." Venus was raised in apartments, no place to put down roots. To her, home had always been wherever she happened to be living at the time. Right now home was right here in this RV, so what was Ďgo homeí supposed to mean. This was the third or fourth time that sheíd received this message. And what, if anything, did all this have to do with Mars?
"Why the long face, honey?" Venus sat up startled and looked around. It was only the TV. She got up to turn it off, wondering how it turned itself on in the first place. "Donít touch that knob!" The woman on the TV spoke in a gravely Joan Rivers type voice. "Címon Venus, letís talk, youíre confused."
"What the . . . ?" Venus smirked at the screen. "Take a hike." She smirked turning the TV off, or rather, attempted to. It wasnít turned on. She found the power cord and yanked it out of the wall socket.
The woman on the screen watched her and waited patiently. "Whenever youíre ready, hon." she said as she checked her nails.
Venus realized now that this wasnít a coincidence, the woman on the screen really was addressing her. She stood in front of the set with her head cocked to one side.
"Youíre not going to believe this, girl." The talking head said, pausing for effect. "The last time we met, my name was Wohaka. Since that last little dance and chant you did, Iíve been living a digital existence. Now my nameís Mona. Iím a talking head, Iím sort of like a fairy godmother of the airwaves. We try to keep up with the technology, ya know." The woman on the screen intoned in a husky voice. "Letís talk, hon. Whatís on your mind?"
"Wohaka?" Venus laughed. "Since I canít turn you off, I guess I have no choice. Whatís on my mind? I wish somebody would explain all this weird stuff thatís been happening to me. And What does Ďgo homeí mean? Why do me and that guy Mars keep running into each other? Why is my life so freaking weird? And donít tell me everybodyís life is weird. Nobodyís life is this weird."
"Whoa! Slow down, girl. Get a grip." Mona paused for a moment, eyeing Venus sternly. "I think youíd better sit down."
Venus sat.

"Your life is weird because you donít know who you are. And, you donít know what youíre doing. On top of that, you donít know where you are either."
"What do you mean?"
"OK, who did you see in the mirror when you woke up?"
Venus looked perplexed.
"That was you, hon." Mona replied.
"Mars?"
"Yeah, and you donít keep coming together. You keep trying to stay apart."
"Are you saying weíre the same person?"
"Bingo." Mona said pointing a red-nailed finger at Venus. "Youíre a sharp one."
"And thatís where Ďhomeí is?" Venus asked, slack-jawed.
"No, but you might say heís half of the transportation home. You could say heís a leg, your a leg."
"But where is home?" Venus beseeched.
"Sorry hon, thatís a question only you can answer. I mean, what could I say?" Mona said chewing her gum. "Home is where the heart is? Home is the center of the universe? Even if I knew the answer, I donít think it would be possible to explain using words or even pictures. Youíll know it when you see it, I always say. All I can tell you is, you are each others reflection, opposing sides of the same being. Neither of you can exist without the other. In this place, you exist as the opposite of each others reflection but you are still two halves of the same entity. And, until you get yourself together, so to speak, youíre not going anywhere."
"Well, . . . am I Venus or am I Mars?"
"You are Venus, he is Mars." Mona flicked her wrist at Venus. "The question is; who is Venus and Mars?"

(to be continued)


Way Out West ©1993 Martin Scherer. Venus & Mars © 1995 Martin Scherer. E-mail: Scherer@tesserak.net