"We can get a great falafel and then make art all night," yelled Monkletto in the radio station pavilion. Virtually yelled, thought Quantus. Can't he hear me practicing 'gongs in the wind' by Matsuo Basho? Monkletto was urging his cohorts to join him in his chariot on a food run, having been emptied by some intense jamming and audio editing. He was sweaty, in a charred way, under his armpits.
Quantus did not recognize the group of youths and musicians gathered around Monkletto, but judged them by the quality of their teeth. He was cranky, and preoccupied at how Monkletto only made splash art and still garnered so much attention.
Monkletto had found an old chariot in a decaying mechanic's garage, overgrown in gourd vines, and took it home. He made it into his own party vehicle; during a late night, strung out art session, he cast a lead dildo erect on a lead shield for the front of his chariot. It made Quantus uncomfortable.
It was this chariot that was now rolling out the gravel compound drive, carting all youths and musicians, no doubt for soft serve grille with a side of vegan tofu. "Double bass and a piccolo," muttered Quantus at the departed. It was becoming dusk, the epitome of Ohio. Quantus watched the corn fields darken past the pines which rimmed the compound. His compound; the crowd had not invited him for soft serve for they sensed the gravitas of his position as caretaker of the Ji sect transmitter.
His compound, only for the time it took to unfurl his zither and sail across the radio. The dog was by his side. They walked out to the pines, smelling the air there. Old Hanuman's barn stood hovering over the corn fields. It had a bright spotlight on it, over its door, that went on and off, supposedly triggered by the movement of a skunk, the old farmer, or Quantus himself, when he moved a certain way in the pines: remote action.
Quantus thought about this a bit, long enough to hear a mosquito, feel it pierce his leg, and to smack it dead and bloody. The dog licked the blood and ironic insect, barked once at the night. Didn't the barn light go on when I smacked my leg? It was on now, and very far away to sense me... Yet it is still, no animals moving, and he could see Heinmann through bay windows, illuminated by TV in his house, sedate.
Yes, that old barn must have an ultrasound transceiver, which is an "input" for its lighting circuit. I am standing in the pines, which whistle at very high frequencies because of their needles, and so they are interacting with the ultrasound field. When I change position, it triggers the light. He held still. The light went out. It was very quiet over the corn. The dog was still, watching him. He moved his arm; the light turned on for a few seconds; it went out. The corn stood still. It, the pines, and the dog were inviting Quantus to ponder ultrasound.
Suddenly the light went on, at a rush in the road near it, of a vehicle driven by a single driver. It illuminated the lead, sweaty looking dildo, as Monkletto drove his chariot back up the drive, leaving orange dust in the barn light. Quantus snorted at the sight.
When he pulled into the courtyard, Monkletto hopped out. "Nah, the group is sleeping at the waterfalls tonight," he said to Bingzi. That explained why he was alone again. Quantus could see him smoking a cigarette, like an orange LED an inch from his lips.
Quantus did not intend to play a magic trick on Monkletto that night, but it did happen. He admired how the artist broke from the group and rode his chariot into the night to pursue his splash art alone in the lounge or transmitter booth. And so he walked down to the courtyard and met Monkletto.
"Would you like to see my gongs? I'd like to try soft-playing them in the pines." Quantus gestured to Monkletto with a grand gesture of his robed arm. Monkletto, hungry for an experimental ritual after soft-serve, followed Quantus to the edge of the compound, stopping on the way to check his phone for updates on the group's art activities, or to puff on his cigarette. They arrived in the pines, where the corn stood like a still and the barn was primed to indicate an "event."
Quantus struck the gong; the light on the barn went on. He looked over at Monkletto: in the harsh pink light of the barn, his eyes were like coals or black holes like charcoal. His mouth was like white noise. He was entranced by the gong's ability to trigger a pink light on a barn. The light went off; they heard the sound of paper rustling in the corn, but it sounded like corn rustling so they didn't listen to it.
"I'm sorry I made you paint your chariot," Quantus suddenly said. He appreciated outbursts that broke silence. The two men stood very still, thinking about how they competed aesthetically in their youth. When Monkletto found the chariot, he wanted to keep it looking rotten, coated in beeswax and encrusted in other substances. Quantus, channeling the council's emphasis on painted supergraphics, eventually convinced it to force Monkletto to paint his chariot and make it look new over old.
The art drama spun out, eventually leading to Monkletto's phallic master statement on the front of his chariot: a movement machine that pierces the night with a heavy metal dick, carrying people over two spoked wheels. Maybe if Quantus hadn't forced him to paint it, it wouldn't also have a penis on the front.
The men stood very still. The barn light turned on. Quantus mentally scrolled through a list of events that could trigger it: a skunk raising its tail, a turkey shuffling in its nest, the farmer stepping outside to smoke a cigar. Monkletto did the same, and focused on the magic of the gong. But none of these events were here; it was actually Blanc hiding in the corn.
"Now what do I do?" Blanc whispered to himself. His hand darted for a random cargo pocket on his pants. "Ah! Driftwood and a sharpy, to sketch a barn in the night, that has just lit itself with a random thrust of my hand into my pocket of art materials. Too bad I didn't reach into my holster!"
"I will wait for Monkletto to leave the compound, but first I must draw. I use the sharpy to make a black fill on the driftwood; that is the night. Fuck stars; you can't see them anyway. I leave a halo un-sharpied, that is the cone of light around the barn. Then I lightly sketch some details: oak siding, a giant latch, tattered rope."
Irrationally then, Blanc threw the driftwood straight up in the air and a little toward the two figures in the pines. They startled, looked out, and started moving toward him. He could hear them crunching through the corn. Monkletto was the point man, extending his art adventure into the corny night. Quantus trailed behind, curious about this weird prank.
They tromped into the corn. Still far, Blanc said to himself, "I'm gonna crunch-walk toward them, and we'll see what happens when we meet in this thickest corn."
But they didn't meet. Quantus and Monkletto rustled through the corn until they arrived squarely in front of Hanuman's barn... The light was on, it was quiet and still; the light went off. They heard Heinmann snoring.
Blanc rustled loudly the other way; the two parties could not sense each other because of their own loudnesses. They crossed close but slipped by each other.
Blanc walked up into the compound with his paper shirt on, strolling through the empty, well-lit lounge. He ate a chip from the bowl on the table. His shirt swished as he turned around, walked out the back door. He walked a little on the gravel path, then turned around and ran back, yet he didn't see anyone. He walked up to the pavilion, completely missing Bingzi cooking spicy seafood soup in the kitchen. The courtyard was empty, so he walked out of the compound and back to the lake.
He arrived at the sound of the morning bird, annoyingly piercing the silence and reminding him that he hadn't slept. He slept a bit when the sun rose, and then woke to eat some breakfast sandwiches and a smoothie. Exhausted from his night of stalking, he spent a hellish day stabbing at art. "Why we didn't meet in the corn is why I keep this story going," Blanc muttered to himself.
In the next installment of "Quantus Barney: Secluded Residence,"
The deertick, spirochete, and dog.