"Lucas," the bartender said calmly, mostly trying
to draw the man's attention. He swiped a wet glass with a dirty old cloth and, satisfied, set it on the counter. "Lucas,"
he repeated, snapping his pudgy fingers in front of the man's face. When there was once again no reply, he yelled. "LUCAS!"
The man jumped, nearly tumbling from his bar
stool. Steadying himself by effectively banging his elbow on the counter, he asked, "What? WHAT?"
The bartender sighed. "You can't sit here all
day, just taking up space. Can I get you something? Would you like some tea? Imported coffee? A Shirley Temple guaranteed
to raise your blood alcohol level to 30%?"
Lucas rubbed his sore elbow. "Aah, no thanks. I'll just have water. And some
of those complimentary peanuts."
"Water?" The bartender threw his arms up in rage.
"Are you CRAZY? Where do you think water comes from? The SKY?"
"Actually-" piped up Lucas, pointing a finger.
He was clearly going to make one of his annoying speeches that were annoyingly known across the entire planet for being annoyingly
"Shut UP, Lucas! You're the most obnoxious bastard
on the entire planet! The entire UNIVERSE, maybe!" He gestured wildly, indicating that Lucas should perhaps go sit somewhere
else . . . away from the man who refused to share his nuts and water. "Water . . ." The bartender was still grumbling as Lucas
slunk away. "You'd think I'm a COMMON bartender . . ."
As Lucas searched for an unoccupied table, he
commented to himself, "Universe . . .did anyone ever think about there being a MULTIverse?"
"Ha!" a drunk replied to his out-loud thought
in a slurred manner. Lucas backed away from the horrible stink of his breath as he spoke. "Multiversh, my ass!"
"You . . . have a multiverse in your ass?" Lucas
said carefully. Angering a drunk wasn't exactly the brightest thing to do - it was comparable to the brightness of a solar
eclipse - - but the punch-line was one that he couldn't resist. "Or would that be Uranus?"
"The little man! 'E thinks 'e's 'ot shtuff! Ah'll
show you a multiversh . . ." Leaving Lucas with that last thought, the drunk passed out, viewing multiverses of his own.
However, everyone had heard his words and scoffed
at the idea of a multiverse. "Universe already MEANS everything there is." "Why waste time and thought on something so stupid?"
"Half-wit!" "Multiverse . . . maybe on an acid-trip . . ." "Hey! Who took my beer . . ."
For some reason, everyone's denial and fierce
disapproval of his idea had thickened his resolve. "I'll show you! I'll discover the secret of the multiverse and not share
it with you, any of you!"
"Then what's the purpose of discovering it?" The patrons hissed and yelled at him. "You're no
good!" "Loser!" "Crawl into a multiverse of your OWN and disappear!"
But suddenly, out of nowhere or the back of the
bar, came a new voice. "Hey." Lucas and everyone else in the bar turned, searching for who had spoken. It was a wizened old
man, sitting hunched in the corner. "So you're searching for the secret of the multiverse, eh?"
"Yeah, uh, that's the general idea," Lucas began,
giving the strange man an uninterpretable glare. "Look, if you're going to mock my beliefs also, let me start by planting
my foot firmly in your -"
"As I was saying," the man interrupted, holding
up an ancient hand to silence Lucas. There was something about him, a strange aura that made Lucas know that he should let
the man speak, so instead of arguing, he looked at a fresh cut on the old man's face, wondering where it had come from. "I
know the secret of the multiverse."
The bar was so quiet, you could hear a rat scratch
itself in the corner. Finally, someone spoke up. "The old fart's as nutty as a fruitcake and the kid's worse. They're perfect
for each other. Leave them alone to talk over their stupid thoughts together." Everyone turned away and proceeded to finish
their own drinks. "But the fruitcakes my mother makes don't have nuts . . . actually I don't think they even have fruit,"
"So how can you help me?" Lucas sat down across
from the old man at his table and leaned forward, intrigued by what he might discover.
The man didn't reply; he merely turned his eyes
on Lucas with a glazed over expression. There was something about the eyes that made Lucas think that the man was not all
there . . . maybe it was that they didn't point in the same direction; maybe it was that they seemed to penetrate his soul
and read his mind like the front page of the news; maybe it was that they were a sickly yellow color . . .
"So . . ." Lucas repeated a little louder, as
if he thought the man might be deaf. "HOW CAN YOU HELP ME?"
The man spoke slowly and softly, his voice as
smooth as sandpaper. "Only your heart can guide you . . ."
"WHAT!" Lucas slapped his palms on the table and stood up, enraged.
"'Only my heart can guide me!' Where did you get that? Some Disney movie? Give me the truth, old man!"
"Only your heart can guide you," the old man
said simply. " . . . Or you can ask that guy over there." He jerked his thumb over his shoulder pointing at a man behind him.
"Ah, that's a mirror . . ."
"Exactly. The multiverse is within you, my son
. . ." And, having served his purpose on this planet, the old man promptly died and vanished into thin air. (Perhaps it would
be fat air, because the man was about as slim as a pumpkin.)
"Within me . . . what a load of sh-"
"Shipwreck!" The door to the bar slmmed open
and the heavy wind outside carried a young woman in.
"Shipwreck!" she screamed again, swerving as
if the wind had put out her vision. "All the men are alive, but they have nowhere to go and nothing to do."
Lucas grinned. How ironic life was . . .
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
"But you're a crew with nothing to do!" Lucas
pleaded with the six dozen men to take on his adventure.
"Hey, that rhymed. Can you do that again?" one
man asked giddily.
"I never rhyme!" Lucas said.
"You did that time!" the man rhymed.
"I did not!"
"You know a lot!" It didn't make sense, but it
"Stop rhyming with me!"
Most of the crew had joined in by now. "It looks
to us like you're out to sea!"
"Stop it now, I MEAN IT!"
"Do you want a peanut?"
"Actually, yes." They all then sat down on the
dock to eat some stolen complimentary peanuts.
"Would you like to join me on my journey?" Lucas
"No!" they all shouted in unison, then began
to recite a poem about being true to themselves. Their uniform
chant "We're all individuals!" was broken only
by one sailor in front who insisted he was not.
"But I'm searching for the secret of the multiverse!"
Lucas shouted above the lyrical sayings, hoping to instill a sense of duty in the men.
That stopped them all in their tracks; they ceased
the sonnet and looked at Lucas, their interests piqued. "Multiverse, eh? Why didn't you say so in the first place?"
"I did." Lucas put his hands on his hips and
cocked his head at the crew. "You all just weren't listening."
"Ah." The men grunted as one. They would now
follow him anywhere but only out of morbid curiosity.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
"Onward and upward!" a crew member yelled emphatically,
thrusting a triumphant fist into the air. He was standing at the helm of the large boat, looking over the salt water. "I'm
the king of the worrrrrrrrld!"
"Actually, you're not," Lucas said very un-tactfully.
"What exactly is it we are looking for?"
"The secret of the multiverse! Honestly, do ANY
of you pay attention to what I tell you?"
"No." "Not really." "Someti- uh, no." "Did you
"Geez," Lucas said, pulling at his hair in blatant
frustration. "Now let me tell you what to look for. Are you all paying attention?"
Three of the crew nodded. One shook his head.
Everyone else poked the person to their left on the knee.
"You are looking for the multiverse," Lucas explained,
pacing up and down the men like a cat torturing its prey before it moved in for the kill. "I trust you all know what that
This time, everyone nodded. Lucas bobbed his
head in approval. Unfortunately, he didn't know that this particular crew was from the Land in the Mirror in the Bar and nodding
meant no, shaking your head meant yes, and poking the person to your left in the knee meant "I'm going to vomit."
"Now don't come running to me if it's NOT the
multiverse. I want you to be just like the National Enquirer and gather ALL your facts before even THINKING about consulting
me. Check, re-check, and check again! THEN you may come get me!" He stalked off, satisfied.
Everyone poked the person to their left in the
knee and then rushed to the edge of the boat, where they made the water quite a different color than the vacant and deep blue.
Now it was a TECHNICOLOR ocean!
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Meanwhile, Lucas was in his cabin, attempting
to shave. "Why isn't there a dang mirror in this whole place?" With that, he cut himself. "Ow!" He dropped the blade. When
he bent to pick it up, something caught his eye. "What the . . ." It was a mirror. Instead of his own cold brown eyes, he
saw the strange, unfocused yellow eyes of the old man from the bar.
Without warning, he was back in that bar, sitting
where the old man had sat. A tall, lanky, angry-looking man sat across from him. His brown hair was kept tidy and straight
and his nose was at a sharp angle, making his whole appearance rather fierce. "HOW CAN YOU HELP ME?" the man said angrily,
his words sounding abrupt and clipped.
Lucas grinned, his wrinkled old face growing
more creases. He waved his wizened, crippled hand in front of himself dramatically. "Only your heart can guide you . . ."