Morgan Jane Solvent was clad in all creamy, sparkling blue, like a cornflower in the hot rain, that day I stepped into the restaurant and ordered a big bushel of breakfast because it was time to do such a thing.
Morgan Jane Solvent was the egg girl. Her fame came in the form of eggs on plates, plates cradled in spindly arms, plates delivered to tables uneventful. Her dirty-blonde hair was pulled back into a ponytail and it flopped around wildly, left to right, as she walked and bee-bopped about the place. Her face was small and cradled fractured features — evidence of meth abuse sprinkled about: darting brown eyes sparkling like dying stars; a pointed, English nose; lips the color of bruised blood; a broken porcelain chin of delicate doll stature; skin like whitewashed buttermilk.
She resembled a puppet — a devotchka Pinocchio subtly panting to be split in two — as I could tell, as she talked rapidly, nervously about her favorite sexual positions and needing snow tires for her groovy love van because she was planning a drive to Albuquerque for the luscious holidays — she was nervous about that, it weighed heavy on her mind — the great pass, the snow, the ice, the treacherous conditions that could send her reeling over a cliff to crash and burn.
Even so, Morgan Jane Solvent was always giddy — somewhat too giddy, like huffing gas giddy. She smelled of perfumed sweat and steamy eggiwegg breakfast because the Yokester Café of Elicott West was always booming and banging, and Morgan Jane Solvent was always moving; swinging and swaying she was, as I watched her all along as I ate a Belgium waffle and a cup of mixed fruit — mind remnants of the olden days Oasis gig in Atlanta and the long, hungover crawl home to Oceanside bungalow and deep, disturbing sleep.
Sweet n Sour Chicken Morgan Jane Solvent would always try to make tippy conversation as she poured more coffee and nervously smiled, those not so sparkling lady choppers gleaming with too much spit when she talked through all the brokenness.
That particular sunrise spreading, some grand duke of douche at another table grabbed her hand like in a dream and yanked the wee jewel she had there on her ring finger. He dropped it into a cup of coffee — kerplunk. She looked at him all wild-eyed with passionate mouth gaping wide with luscious glory and wonder.
“What the fuck, man!? That’s my wedding ring, asshole!” The restaurant went to dead silence for a moment. Even the coffee was stunned.
I never heard Morgan Jane Solvent curse before; she had always been so polite, like fine pie; nothing like the dirty mouth that now spewed horrific ash at the customer who went too far.
Then the man blatantly used the Q-Town love van mind trick on her small brain with a slight wave of his hand.
“You don’t need to be married anymore. He’s a bolshy bastard and a twit,” he sneered then laughed. He reminded me of Bluto from Popeye. He even dressed the same — a tight navy-blue T-shirt, a sailor’s cap atop his head — and his black beard was wild and scraggly just like the cold seas he sailed upon in his fat boat.
He slurped at his coffee like a dime store hooker and sucked the hard ring into his mouth, swirled it around a bit, chewed on it, like a piece of sexy hard candy. Then he spit it back out on the table, it spun across the faux Formica like a toy top, shooting off shards of shine into the eyes of all that wandered there in the den of eggs.
“What time do you get off work?” he boldly asked Morgan Jane Solvent.
“Umm, 2, no 2:30 … why? What are you doing to me?” she said, suddenly pressing a hand to her forehead and swirling around in a panic attack.
A sweaty fry cook back in the kitchen was madly pounding on one of those little silver bells with his greasy spatula because some other order was steaming away beneath the red, radiant glow of the heat lamps that sat atop a shelf there.
“Morgan! Pick up!” the obnoxious prick yelled from the hectic back of the house.
She rushed away from the Bluto redux, and I relaxed in my place at the booth. I looked at my favorite Christmas watch — it was 122 after 112 — and then looked out the big, big window at the town and the city, the steaming, vibrating wreck of it all with a few squirts here and there of some decent stuff, but mostly slutty strips of shops, the fast-paced flickering neon, glass, cement, brick, asphalt, autos, traffic lights, billboards — too much mad rushing and shoving of petty shit in the faces of all the peoples that live here with I and the Egg Girl and all the other inhabitants — her now buttering warm toast with a big, oily broom back in the back all laughing out loud and groveeting with her co-workers, touching everyone with her fingers and her face like some needy drug fiend, shoving her awkward, wooden ass into everyone’s crotch and blowing kisses like a real piece of work. She was a social butterfly when she wasn’t being insane, and every damp crotch was a gas lamp, every smile a torch, every warm hunk of human flesh a bonfire for her to swarm and spit and spread.
Some Fiona Apple song started blurping out of the speakers wired invisible inside the ceilings they had there. It was that familiar sound of soft anger. I bit into a mushy grape and then a piece of unsavory honeydew melon as I listened to Apple, me then grasping a pen in the free hand, holding it to my jugular real careful, like a tattooed Picasso all hopped down on the fringe of drink ready to fill the veins with octopus ink so that I could write a novel all mad with eight tentacles and suction cups to keep the pages in distinct order on the walls of my place uptown that was now burning to the ground. Ass and ash, such is life.
Morgan Jane Solvent snuck up on my daydream and smecked some question like “More coffee, more anything?” her breath radiating like a dragon, all boozy with the scent of grape bubblegum and powdery drugs, and she held the jostling coffee cup and poured, and she poured too much, and some was spilling over the rim and the pointy pen was uncontrollably doodling all over the skin of my neck.
“Morgan Jane Solvent,” I politely, yet sternly, said. “You’re spilling coffee all over my new shirt and this pen is about to pierce my throat.”
She looked at me kind of funny.
“What’s the matter, you don’t like how I do my job?” she said with an innocent, smile and the fluttering of dumb midnight falsehood eyelashes.
“You’re doing your job just fine, but don’t you know that coffee burns. Coffee burns baby, coffee burns baby. You know, like that movie Rain Man.”
Some guy butted in, shaking his head at me like I was stupid. “No, no, no. You got it all wrong. It wasn’t coffee, it was hot water in the bathtub. He was burned by hot water because Tom Cruise was too busy thinking about chicks. He was being irresponsible.”
“Who in their right mind takes a bath?” I replied, turned away, not caring to hear his stupid answer.
“I love this song,” Morgan Jane Solvent said, looking up at the ceiling suddenly as if Fiona was right there singing from inside the light bulbs. “It makes me want to get in the back of my love van and do all sorts of dirty and animalistic things.”
“I’ll be on my way soon,” I warned. “Do you want to drop the eggs and go to the Green Head Storm with me and look out at the lonely sea?”
“I don’t know what that is. You make so little sense… But you don’t want to do dirty and animalistic things to me in the back of my love van?”
“We’ll find someone to pump you full of lead and then some later. You’re not my type. Besides, a zodiac-painted psychic told me that some beautiful angel with ocean water eyes will be crash landing into my life any day now, and I must put my faith in only that. Right now, I just want to get out of here, walk around a bit, get some fresh air for once. It’s all noisy and congested and hot in here. It’s bugging me, man, like that old guy Bono says. And I think you need to get away from this chaotic scene for a while.”
It was brisk outside and Morgan Jane Solvent clutched at herself tight inside her puffy pink jacket as we walked through a tempest of crinkled leaves and ice chips toward the Green Head Storm shore and the abandoned seaside piccadilly arcade there. It was one of my favorite places to just go and get lost for minutes or hours or days, the white brick tunnels cold and wet and hollow — the glass like broken mirrors, broken teeth, and beyond the cold sand leading up to the ferocious ocean with its lullaby churning making life lonely and sad or maybe even perfect for someone like me who longs to be alone in the mist, but then again, on this day down at Green Head Storm shore, a human calliope of piped espresso encased in uptight skin trailing behind in the blustery 100-acre wood wind and part of me just wanted to run, run, run mad like Tarzan swinging on the last thread of life and not really giving a damn about anything anymore in the boiling jungle down below.
Inside the old buildings that sat like the unworn clothes of a dead life, full of holes and hanging in a closet untouched for eons, with the cracking cement, the creaking floors and steps, and there were the musty smells of old wood and old time and old paper and old carnival food and the stale perfume of ghosts all mixed together in a burnt dead electric orgy of flashing memories inside someone’s fading mind and it made my bones and soul feel good and sick at the same time, made me feel like home where I didn’t live, made me feel like time standing still for once, the cuckoo all fluid nonsense in reverse now, not like all that constant rushing about in the hateful real world where sucking is success and slime ball stupidity gets you a ticket to a platform to rally the idiot masses, and for some reason not unlike fear I keep going just to get nowhere but the present-tense spinning and spilling in big, boring circles, merely catering to the flighty and ungrateful souls of chaos.
Once inside the lifeless caravan of once great architecture, Morgan Jane Solvent wandered about with wild-eyed wonder. She looked all strung-out and overdose blue and with a flair of elegant fail, all cracked bedazzled and full of dream flashbacks as her distorted face scanned the places we strolled along.
“Wow. I’ve never been to such a lonely and forgotten place such as this,” she said to me, spinning around slowly, and then nearly toppling over. “I don’t understand your attraction to this place… It’s so broken.”
“There is something great and peaceful about abandoned history,” I told her. “I know it sounds crazy, but what the hell, I’ve never been anything but crazy. It’s like a time machine for me. That’s my favorite movie by the way — The Time Machine — the one from 1960. It’s about a man who wants to escape his own time because the slice of it he has been forced to live in has gone completely awry.”
I looked over at her and she hadn’t been listening to me at all. There’s yet another reason for me to seek another time… No one ever listens to me. She was just taking it all in and I was invisible and then she cupped her small hands around her small mouth and shouted out “Hello! …” and her voice bounced and echoed throughout the place, for it was indeed empty, long abandoned like I had made clear earlier, dust covered and legitimately raped and ravaged by time. And I had the skeleton key that fit perfectly inside the hole buried inside my very own head.
Morgan Jane Solvent screamed loud like a lunatic and then laughed; then some great seashore bird flew from its perch somewhere in the shadowy ceiling like a molasses dappled spaceship, startled by her slaughtering, murderous voice, and out it went through a hole in a dome of broken glass above us, out to that aluminum sky rolled in bruise-colored sugar.
I leaned against a cold wall, and I was down, down, down, all of a sudden, like a light switch, like magic, like the snap of old, broken fingers.
Morgan Jane Solvent took notice of my despondence, and she then came closer to me and looked at me like was some freak in a human zoo surrounded by scarecrows with cabbages for brains.
“Why do you look so dark sky bleak all of a sudden?” she asked.
“Maybe I really do need a doctor to cut into me.”
“Something is not quite right.”
“What? What is it?”
I clasped my hands to my own swimming, tortured head. “This whole end of the world thing… I don’t think I can take it. It’s really gnawing on my root bitter nerves.”
“None of us can take it. It just is the way it is. But I do believe you are being a bit overdramatic. Time machines… What a silly notion. It doesn’t work,” she grudgingly scoffed.
I looked up at an old clock hanging down from an upside-down post. It probably stopped 43 years ago. “Tell that to time,” I said.
And a wave of something all broken then washed over me like the sea gurgling all bitter out there in the beyond of us and the old, ravaged arcade and its once bustling adjoining café and trinkets parade. I thought about all the ones I knew; the ones I loved, laughed with, held, kissed, wiped tears away from their faces, and I could taste the salt of their own broken hearts running down my soul and mingling with my own sovereign eternal ache and there was nothing left to do about it, but swallow and spit the blood. Love and joy all misguided. Love and peace a wayward missile. Love of life, a moment under street lamps at midnight, cigarette ash smiles caught in a wind tunnel, all that electricity will soon come to an end, like the last drop of water in the Dead Sea — and we just had to kill it all then, eh? — you baboons, you bastards and all your wayward ways — too hot to heal, too cold to kill, but kill it all you do, and now this, time takes its final breath in one cacophonous inhalation, like colored bulbs popping out one by one at a carnival, finally, the ride ends. No more puking, no more cheating, no more under-the-weather comas and promises coated in blood strawberry lies.
I finally looked up at her concerned face — that raspberry mouth made raw by the kiss of a winter’s invisible bludgeon twisted in sheer puzzlement.
“Oh, by the way,” and I had nothing else to say but this, “There was a big hunk of shell in my plate of eggs this morning. I hate that.”
“Really? I’m so sorry,” Morgan Jane Solvent, the egg girl of Earth said with real concern. “Well, next time you…”
And she stopped in mid-sentence.
I looked at my beautiful Christmas watch. It snowed in seconds and minutes. “There will be no next time for me,” I said, and that’s when everything began to move and fall as the Earth suddenly decided to flip over on its side, it wigged out, and then like in an instant, there I was swimming through the stars with everyone else, like drunken angelfish dizzily soaring through the wet womb of endless space with swords clamped in our mouths; it was the transition from this world to the next. We were relocating, on our way to a new home, way out there, with new bodies and minds, with new reasons to live and without these bullet-holed hearts — all of us now, on our way to a place with peace and quiet and a better breakfast.