Moonbrocket’s Exact Change
Carol Sumilas Boshears
It was all black, then it turned red and green with yellow circles and then stars swirled in unison around everything like a fine ballet going on fast forward. The seemingly endless void twirled and whirled and there appeared hordes of blurred people passing by him. Was this a taste of hell or of heaven, or was it some sort of dream state. He didn’t know and couldn’t know. He saw nothing but black and there was the feeling of head pain. It was impossible for him to know what was happening. One could try to retain the knowledge learned in an instant, yes, only try. Sometimes people say only God knows.
“Jacob, come quick. I need some help”, cried out a man who was standing by the fountain. The man crying out was a bearded man of fairly small stature. His balding head shone in the light and so did his reddish beard. He was dressed in a uniform of sorts with a black collar around his neck. “Look, here’s a man. He’s hurt.”
The man lay near the colorful splashing fountain outside the Sennyville Square Mall.
He looked a sight. Maybe he was a drunken homeless man that fell, but no one could say they even saw him before that moment.
“Where in the world did he come from?”
Indeed, world might be the correct term. He was looking much taller and brutish than the lot of the people gawking at his prostrate body.
“Jacob, call the medvan. He’s waking up”, said the man kneeling over the prostrate person, who was looking as if he had readied himself for bed on a cold Christmas day in the 1800s. There lay Gary Moonbrocket in what looked like a long john outfit gone awry, twisted all over his body. The bruises were deep as seen through the huge holes and tears. And blood was dripping at such a pace from his skull it looked like his time was ending. Precious life was oozing from the stranger.
The medvan was on its way when Gary opened one eye, the other being covered in deep dark red, caked blood, and swollen. “What’s going on? What happened? he groaned deep and long.
“We don’t know, but medical assistance is on its way now. Just stay still, “urged James, the man who spotted him lying there helpless and hurt. When he looked up he looked up, James saw a small crowd forming, looking at the man as if he were the star of the day.
They were ogling the very tall muscular man. He had slightly wavy dark brunette hair that was starting to show signs of wear and tear. He was very fit, and when his one eye opened its blue glistened and seemed to bounce off the small sun. He was rugged handsome of sorts and women wouldn’t turn a blind eye...
James walked into Gary’s hospital room checking up on him. James was a concerned and compassionate man, not because of his position as a religicon, but because he happened to be taught by his parents the value of caring and its many rewarding returns. Gary was sleeping soundly, but his breath sounded a bit shallow.
A pretty woman in a bright green uniform excused herself and went past James into Gary’s room. She checked his vitals and commented to James that he was doing okay except he had a strange heart rate they couldn’t explain. She conjectured perhaps he was born with this anomaly. It needn’t be that fast considering their planet’s atmosphere, but indeed it beat somewhat quicker and harder. “Oh, well,” she said, “I’ve seen many unusual things here at Sennyville General”. And with that she scurried out the door to her next patient.
As she walked out, the patient opened his eyes with a squint. “Where am I? What the hell happened?”
“We were hoping you could tell us.”
“I can’t remember anything….I mean anything. Oh, God. Who am I?
“With that I can help,” remarked James. Your name was in your, your, for lack of a better term, your long johns. You are Gary Moonbrocket.”
“Huh? I have no idea what you mean. It doesn’t even sound familiar,” Gary said with much consternation. Ooooo, it hurts. My head feels like a giant cabbage about to bust.”
“Take it easy. Look. I found you lying outside the mall. You were critically injured. I will help you all I can, and so will my friends and family. But now you must relax and rest. We can talk later about what we could do.”
“I, I can’t be..lieve,” and with that Mr. Moonbrocket fell back into a semi-conscious state. He dreamed of swirls in different colors like a kaleidoscope that never stops. It made his head spin and he cried out in silence. There were faint voices in the background calling out. He couldn’t hear them as moments passed by.
“Jacob,” said James, “I think as a scientist that you put entirely too much into some things. You go overboard, my friend”
“Well, if I am proven to be right it could mean a lot to all of us. It could mean renewed life on a limited basis, and proof of my theories.”
The two were discussing the “stranger” James rescued.
They all lived in a world that was having many difficulties. People and plant life both were affected. It has been a long time since things were renewed. And how that happened was an unexplained fluke in the universe. It wasn’t always a necessity, but there were times far apart that this phenomenon occurred. It was when the men didn’t seem quite themselves and some plants gave up on reproducing. It was as if the plants bent over, sighed, and exclaimed that they were just too tired to go on with their drab lives. No one seemed to know the reason, but naturally scientists and philosophers and part time gabbers had their theories.
The way in which Gary had been found, appearing out of nowhere made Jacob suspect him as a newcomer like some others decades ago. The biggest difference was that he seemed to be more like them. That’s what excited Jacob and the others.
These random and novel theories did not matter to James and his wife Judith, but they sometimes annoyed them. Yet people with diverse opinions could remain friends and even respect one another.
“We’ll see,” said James without much conviction. He was solely concerned for Gary’s health and helping him to find his family if there was one to be found. When we find his family you’ll see.”
“I know you think my theory of outer worlds is crazy, James. And the cause of renewals too. We can't be here forever like this. But if we find no family will you at least explore the possibility that someone sent him for a reason?”
“I, above all, would hope for this, being a religicon, the minister of God and Conductor of His word, but I have to believe there would be other signs,” James retorted shaking his head back and forth.
“I know, I know. The population has a hard time accepting outer worlds and beings, and reasons for the renewals,” replied Jacob resigning himself to a draw on this topic. “So, for now, let’s help this torn man. It will take him long to heal completely.”
James put his iced tea down on the antique table and agreed as he poured more.
“Judith, would you please place an ad for Gary on Finder’s list on the intertalk.”
She was doing their dishes when she turned and replied, “Yes, dear, we should get started helping him, James. I’ll also place an ad in the Tribune. You can take his picture and we can pass flyers around to all the right places. I feel badly for him. He is so broken, but he does have spirit, holy or not,” she said with a wink of her eye.
“I have to help Michael with his Induction Ceremony”, James said as he hinted to Jacob that their discussion regarding outlandish theories hit a stalemate.
“I have some late work to do anyway. Good-bye Judith. Give me a call if you hear any word.”
“Will do,” said James as he closed the door bidding good-bye.
Dr. Donnamari DeSanti finished her exam of Gary and asked him some questions. The first was about his faster heartbeat and was it congenital.
“Can you tell me if you have had any unusual illnesses or experiences, or is that all a blank too?”
Gary looked at her strangely and only shook his head and threw up his arms in disgust.
“I am in much the dark as you doctor,” he commented with a sad scowl on his face.
Donnamari was upsetting her patient and that was the last thing she wanted to do. She would have to meet with Jacob and his cohorts to discuss some important factors involving her unusual patient. For now, she would not push him, or he might have permanent memory damage later. She was certain there was a way to pull facts from his mind. It was too fragile now though.
“But Dad”, why is this induction ceremony so important?” pleaded Michael as he studied his meditation. His father explained, “It prepares one for the lonely void they must pass through to salvation and it will prepare you for a safe passage to the other side.”
Also, being a religicon’s son, his questioning or misgivings should never be a public subject. Michael resigned himself to that fact he was a minister’s son, even though he knew he was adopted as a small child. The way the young teen felt these days was like his life was a giant void anyway. He had been found on the footsteps of James’s center for worship. His parents were never found. James and Judith Charles had no other children at the time and welcomed him into their household. Several years later they were blessed with a daughter, Lindy, who made all of them smile even when times were gloomy.
“Gary, are you ready? Did the clothes fit you?” said James as he stretched his neck into the door to see if Gary was finishing.
“Yeah, they’re fine. I appreciate all your help, James.”
“I know you’re disappointed that we haven’t made any headway in finding your family,” he told Gary with hesitation in his voice.
“Me too, I guess. Since I don’t remember anything, I don’t miss it,” he said with a half-hearted grin.
“We’re going to my home where you are welcome as long as it takes for you to settle. In the mean time, have you had any more thoughts on your situation?”
“My thoughts are all garbled, James. One thing though, I seem to have a lot of numbers in my mind. Kind of like formulas of a sort.”
“Hmmm, very interesting,” pondered James. “Perhaps you are something like an engineer or math teacher?”
“Hey, pal, your guess is as good as mine.” chuckled Gary. It was the first time he actually cracked a smile, let alone an actual chuckle. “Maybe things are looking up, James, maybe looking up.”
“Marty, Linda, are you in with us?” asked Jacob at their clandestine meeting in the basement of O’Toole’s bar.
“We need more definitive information, which Donnamari here can hopefully provide,” retorted Linda. “You know we have to err on the side of caution.”
Donnamari sat biting her lip and going over her records of Gary. She pondered the entire situation and theory once again. Now she was ready to talk and render her point of view.
“Folks,” Donnamari started,”I truly believe we have an actual case of an outworlder. I base this on my many exams of Gary. He has too many anomalies regarding his body’s systems. Plus, look at his size. It may not be as noticeable to him at first, but it is to us”
“Okay then,” spoke Marty excitedly. “We have heard this from you. But how do we get him to stay, especially if he regains his memory and learns so much about us?”
“Let’s give it a little time to see what happens,” replied Jacob. “Then we can move forward. Remember, he is only one man. He can’t renew or redeem us all or our whole world, but he is extremely important as a sign of redemption and passage for us all. He may have more to teach us.”
‘”I’m so glad that James recommended that you help me,” Richard said with a big smile. “You are a whiz at numbers and figuring out the hard details for me. It saves a lot of time for me.”
“Hey, no problem, Richard. I’m absolutely glad I am contributing to something. Sometimes I feel like a leech or lost soul,” replied Gary with a happy sound in his voice.
Times were looking up for Gary now. He got payed for his mathematical mind while also helping James around at his worship center. He had become quite curious about their beliefs and ceremonies and so he attended some services, which lauded His way and teachings. He had also heard about this legend named Zeke and pondered whether there was any truth to the story. He felt almost like Zeke II when he heard it. Maybe he should undergo this right of passage that Michael has been meditating and studying for.
“You guys sure have a lot of places of worship,” Gary queried to Richard.
“Yes, and we can’t seem to build enough. I guess we need to find answers. They are all slightly different, but the goal is the same,” he replied.
“I know, to journey across that dark void to enlightenment and eternal salvation, right?
“Hey, pretty good. You can tell you’ve been staying with James,” Richard said with a laugh.
Gary couldn’t help but wonder what they were saving themselves from, but he didn’t want to pry more yet. Everyone he met so far had been hospitable and genuinely concerned for his welfare. In fact, he thought, maybe a bit too concerned.
Richard informed him that Gary was finished for the day.
“Sorry, Gary, I can’t give you a ride today. I have a must attend meeting. Maybe you can call James, or, have you taken one of our trollies yet?”
It sounded like a fun adventure. Gary had observed these colorful vehicles and thought it might be fun.
“You know, I think the trolley is a neat idea, Gary said with a sparkle in his eyes like he was a kid again on a new venture. “First I study meditation with James in trying to help myself and maybe cross my big void. After all, my life is a blank anyway,” he went on.
Richard’s brows perked up when he was enlightened with this new information.
Gary went on his way as he bid good-bye to his building mentor.
Richard, an architect, had gotten to like and admire Gary. He possessed much fortitude while keeping a good attitude. He would like to believe he was some answer to why everyone seemed to be stalled in this vicious circle in this world, but he was questioning himself about what others wanted to accomplish regarding Gary.
They were all back at O’Tooles for their meeting with Richard being the first to speak his mind.
“I really have gotten to admire Gary after working with him. I don’t know if he can be persuaded to stay if things go his way.”
“What are you saying,” responded Jacob in a worried and somewhat angry tone.
“Yes, Richard,” said Donamari, “are we to give up because of your feelings?”
“I’m not saying that exactly. You see, he told me today that he might actually go through our Induction ritual. Perhaps if he is successful it will tell us something.”
“Oh, yea, and it might tell him something too,” railed one of the other members. “We may then lose him forever… and is that what you want.”
Tempers were starting to flame up like the fires of hell with this entire exchange.
“Hey,” Donamari said in a loud voice for such a tiny lady,” Let’s be sensible here and make a decision. Should he be allowed to go through this ceremony or not, or should we try to discourage somehow? What do you all think?”
“Only God knows if we should,” said Jacob. “What do you propose we do? I’m asking impartiality here folks. How do we get his help, or are we still afraid to ask out right to stay?”
Gary walked the two blocks to the fancy trolley stop. People walked by saying hello and gawked somewhat. He got used to it so it didn’t bother him anymore.
The trolley was about to go up onto a bridge where he could get a good view of the city which he now called home. At least until his memory came back he thought. He took a bill from his pocket not knowing the cost of the ride. It pulled up to the station and stopped with screeching wheels. He doors opened and the citizens poured in. He let a little old lady on before him. The approached the payment box and was about to place the bill in when the driver stopped him.
“Sorry, sir, that will be 75 cents. We take exact change only,” said the driver as he looked up with brows furled.
“Ah, what, exact change, ah, yes,” Gary said fumbling in his pocket and looking very upset and like his brain sparked and went to another world. He took care of it and sat down at the first seat available. Various things and pictures and voices were flashing in his brain. He appeared upset.
He repeated to himself, “Exact change, that sounds so familiar. Why” A few minutes or so passed.” I think I remember riding trollies before, somewhere.” He racked and racked his brain until a small opening of light ripped into his brain. “My God,” he whispered in amazement to himself,” I think I used to ride some trolley in Pennsylvania. Yes, Pennsylvania, that’s the name of the place I remember.”
One phrase prompted and pulled out memories for Gary. Perhaps the rest would now flow out of him. He smiled and enjoyed the sites while the trolley rumbled and shook back and forth to his destination. He was hoping this destination would lead to his final one….home, his real home.”
The doctor and her friends decided that when and if Gary went through their ritual of induction that it was the perfect time to intercede on their behalf. If it was successful then Gary would remain with them and provide a wonderful addition to their number.
What they didn’t know at this time is that his memory was coming back. They believed this place of theirs had provided a great place for him to reside for as long as he wished.
James was Gary’s friend, but he was not one to intercede on behalf of himself or anyone else. He felt that each individual was unique and had a mind of his or her own to decide on outcomes involving their own lives. He wasn’t sure exactly what to think now that Gary arrived at the house and told him something he had discovered.
“James, you won’t guess at what happened to me riding home on the trolley,” Gary hurriedly exclaimed.
“What is it, you didn’t get hurt or anything, did you?” said James.
“No, no, nothing like that, but I did remember something. I remember Pennsylvania,” he told him.
“What exactly is that and what do you remember?”
“Well, just that I think I lived there once,.” he excitedly said and went on, “The trolley said I had to have exact change…and that brought a memory back to me of riding on such a thing long ago in a place called Pennsylvania I think.”
“Anything more,”injected Judith as she was listening.
“No, not yet, but I’ll give it time to sink in and see what happens. I’m just wondering if I should tell Dr. Donamari.”
“You are well, so I don’t think it’s necessary, but if you want to she may be interested,” said James with a question like tone to his voice.
“I think I’ll wait. I am kind of excited about the induction ceremony too. I know you will be my sponsor, but I’d like the doctor to attend as well. She has been really good and patient with me…besides, she did save my life.”
The day was coming soon for Gary. The day that he faced the dark abyss and found his way from what James had said. Michael had gone through it and he seemed to find his way and was very happy afterward. They had a big celebration and then Michael went on a very special trip with youngsters his own age. James said it was about time to cut the old apron strings and let the boy “fly” on his own. Michael as it turned out seemed to find his way and had been no problem since that glorious day.
“Oh God, come on Harry. Keep the tether tight. We have him, but the pull from that small black hole and whatever that swirl is it's just too strong.”
Two of the men on the spaceship had basically lassoed their shipmate when his tether broke from the pull toward the imploded star. Only one tiny thread lay between the Major and total darkness. At first they couldn’t even see him for the gaseous swirling cloud, but a tiny ray of light emanated from the cloud leaving them a small window to get a grapple around him.
Folks, this is a solemn time for Gary and his journey. Let us all pray that it is a successful one.
Gary had gone into the soundproof dark chamber that signified his journey across darkness and then light. He had learned the proper meditation and prayers and was excited at the prospect of seeing the light as the saying goes. Seeing the light to him meant peace and contentment with his life and mostly thankfulness for what he did have even if he never had the exact change in his life.
“Damn it, Charley, I’m losing him again. I don’t think he can be saved. The source pulling him is just too strong and if we use anything stronger we could rip him apart.”
“Dear God, Harry, don’t give up yet. I know this pull and let go has lasted an hour, but if there’s even a slight chance we have to take it.’\”
“Oh, shit!” shouted Captain Harry Kaminski, “This damn thing is losing its strength somehow. Wait….no,noooo. Charley, it didn’t work. Our fight is over. The major is gone….Gary is gone. Damn!”
Deep in thought Gary was taken on a mind trip through his own dark abyss. He knew many things were pulling him one way or another, but finally he was at peace with his inner self. He came through his journey with mind and body intact and fully knew where he wanted to go and what he wanted to do. His whole life seemed to have led to this conclusion. He would go on helping the architect, but he would then become a teacher of young people. Math was his passion and he would help to make it theirs. And he knew math was very exact, as in his mind opener, exact change phrase. After all, math could figure out everything in the universe, couldn’t it?