Right off the bat, there are a couple things that you ought to know about my friend, Bi-Po.
The first is that when it comes to bipolar people, Bi-Po is the bipoliest. His depressions are the deepest and the most depressive. His manias are the highest and the most maniacal.
One morning, we’ll find him comatose on a downtown bench, looking like he hasn’t eaten or bathed in forever. Then, only a few weeks later, he’ll come running up to us full-speed and unannounced, lecturing us – complete with charts and with graphs – about how the mayor is spying on him by means of the city’s sewer rats.
The second thing you should know about my friend, Bi-Po, is that when he tells you the thing about the sewer rats spying on him, after about a half hour, you almost start to believe it. This guy can find connections anywhere. He could have been the World Champion of the Kevin Bacon Game if only his life had turned out a little different and there was such a thing.
The third thing you should know about my friend, Bi-Po, is that he hates houses and neighborhoods and domesticated people. If he’s at the right mood-pole when you meet him, he will give you his speech about belonging to some feral urban tribe that doesn’t need IDs or air-conditioning or money.
Taken together, these three things add up to something. Last week, they added up to this: When Bi-Po and Captain Torus left downtown Houston and came a-knocking at the door of my apartment, it meant Bi-Po had to be manic and touting some new theory he thought was really, really important.
Bi-Po is a little guy and right about my age. He might best be described as rat-like in appearance. Despite his diminutive size, he wears reading glasses that are somehow too small even for him. I can’t imagine where he could have ever found reading glasses so tiny. I mean, does CVS carry generic reading glasses intended for toddlers?
When I opened my door for Bi-Po, he was already mid-sentence, talking to me. He was carrying a lot of papers, too, and he pushed right on past me and he pushed right on past Doctor Belloq, who I have it on good authority is my girlfriend now. Bi-Po and Captain Torus smelled like they had died several weeks back. They might always smell that way, actually, but I am not usually in small, closed-in spaces like my apartment with them and my girlfriend.
“Shangri-La, Katy!” Bi-Po shouted, spreading his papers across my dining room table. “Shangi-La!”
I did not know what that meant. I introduced everyone anyway.
First, I introduced Bi-Po and Doctor Belloq. Bi-Po looked Doctor Belloq up and down. He squinted. “You have very large teeth,” he announced.
Bi-Po was right.
Next, I tried to introduce Captain Torus and Doctor Belloq, but Bi-Po launched into his theory before I could finish.
His theory went like this***: Several decades back, a major oil company announced plans to build a new space for its employees beneath its downtown Houston headquarters. This space would have restaurants and entertainment rooms and a gym and sleeping areas and showers. Now, this was really forward-thinking stuff, and they made a lot of progress on it, only the Great Oil Bust of ’82 came along at just the wrong time.
They had to stop construction. Then they had to sell the building. Then the people they sold the building to had to sell the building again.
As best as Bi-Po can tell, the unfinished subterranean space is just sitting there, all sealed up, three decades later.
“Shangri-La. Waiting for us. Just waiting for the houseless to find it and to move in.”
I looked at his papers. Then I said some things.
I said, “It’s at least three stories underground.”
I said, “It’s beneath what is now a defense contractor company.”
I said, “They could be using it for storage. Morgan Freeman could be using it as a lab to build cool weapons for Bruce Wayne.”
I said, “We’d probably have to go straight down in complete darkness through an air vent or something to reach it.”
I said, “No. I won’t do it. Sorry.”
It got quiet. Everybody looked at me.
Then Doctor Belloq said, “I’ll do it!”
Everybody looked at Doctor Belloq.
She said, “What? I’m an archeologist. I’ve been caving on six continents and mountain climbing on three. I’ve got my own hardhats with headlamps. Ropes. Hitches. Slings. Carabiners. Flexi-ladders. The works.”
She said,“I’m ready to go get them right now and get this started. This is going to be cool.”
Immediately, everybody forgot about me and forgot about my warnings.
Doctor Belloq got ready and headed out the door with these two strange homeless strangers.
She looked back at me. “Are you coming with us?” she said, and she waved her arms around. “Shangri-La, Katy! Shangri-La!”
The fourth thing you should know about my friend, Bi-Po, is that his theories are wrong a lot. And by “a lot,” I mean more often than not.
***I am changing enough of the specifics of this story that you couldn’t find this space even if you wanted to. Not even if you had a whole army of super-spy sewer rats, Madam Mayor!
They had to stop construction for a reason. They had to sell the building after Obama's online profiling campaign stop receiving funds.ReplyDelete
Then the Guardian bought the building to house the unnamed, well-placed, unnamed well-placed, official, unofficial, official unnamed, official well-placed and unnamed reliable sources
Then it was sold to the the #freekate bowl movement, so that the could hide their faces in shame...
Therefore, there are women incarcerated under subhuman conditions. Force to wear daisy dukes and light weight halter tops. While suffering unspeakable torments at the hands of their conservative blogging captors.
However, tension builds in Shangri-La when a sweaty cat fight breaks out in cell block DD and the guards have to turn on the fire hoses on the vixens of Buxom County Prison
kathy, don't forget your camera!
This sounds exactly like the kind of place I'd want to break into.Delete
I always liked women's prison movies. They're much better than women's prison series, which don't heave nearly the number of tight white and wet t-shirts.
Orson Scott Card was roundly criticised once for writing a short story in which he and his real-life family encountered actual aliens, although it was all fiction. Just sayin'.ReplyDelete
I'm never sure what's fiction and what's not fiction around here. That goes for the blog and for real life. Sometimes, I think something is really happening and it turns out just to be fiction.Delete
I admire that. And I hope you find a bunkerfull of rainbows.Delete
Probably not a bunkerful of rainbows, but something to keep me interested.Delete
I think that's what it's all about. Staying interested.
Although it would be cool if I figured out where they store the rainbows when they're not in use!
I see BiPo has the same initials as I do. All right, I'm neither small nor your age, and I have it on good authority that I don't look like a rat, but what are these little fiddling details anyway?ReplyDelete
Now the thing about Shangri-La was that it was an awful place. We had to study the book - Lost Horizons by James Hilton - in school, and believe you me, you wouldn't have wanted to live there. By the time I finished it my hands were itching to strangle every single character and to burn the place down.
So, if BiPo et al find the Promised Underland, you can be assured that before the week is through they'll all be dead at your hands - and probably be better off for it too. Being half-dead prisoners of an anti-aging drug isn't my idea of paradise.
I looked up where the term came form last night as I was writing this. I had never realized that it was from a 20th century sci-fi book before.Delete
If I were going to make you a character, it would be as a crazed dentist in a "Hostel"-like situation. "Ah, yes, the specimens are here! Excellent!" You might have a dragon assistant. And bombs.
My airotor handpiece would be quite lethal enough when fitted with a diamond point, I can assure you.Delete
You don't have to convince me. Each time I go to the dentist, I'm sure I'm going to die.Delete
Feral Urban Tribe is my favorite neo-garage-rock-electronica-hybrid band. But you could have stopped the description of Bi-Po at "wanting to live without air conditioning" as that alone is enough to qualify someone for powerful psychiatric medicine, particularly in Houston. If that Shangri-La is beneath a defense contractor, there's no way it's not occupied by something like "Occupy-Busters" or "pictures of all current and future presidential candidates in compromising positions."ReplyDelete
If there's a random room beneath a defense contractor headquarters, I imagine that Dick Cheney would be sitting down there behind the turret of a giant space cannon, plotting with Cthulu.Delete
Katy. I think you are speaking of the big tower out near the Galleria. I was doing business down there in the early eighties and heard rumblings that they, the oil field giant, were digging catacombs. Then there's that building over to the Greenway area. Is it still called Greenway and do the Houston Rockets still play there?ReplyDelete
I delivered a huge amount of compost over there back in the early nineties, and there was this one woman who worked in that energy company building said they had done something below it that fucked up the gravity inside. She would come outside every chance she got and stare at the piles of compost.
"What you are doing is both good and bad, mister. Can you hear their voices? Sometimes it feels like my brain is floating inside my head," the woman told me and on numerous occasions, "it's the people in the basement." She was maybe mid-twenties and of that perfect age wherein schizophrenia gets its hook fully sunk into its victim's soul.
Maybe I shouldn't have waved her off as just one more unfortunate victim of Reagonomics. She was also very cute in that "do you own a bunny rabbit?" kind of way. And that reminds me to say that it seems you have more than just a girlfriend. Mayhaps you've got yourself a keeper.
The Rockets used to play at the Summit over in Greenway Plaza.Delete
That place was first rented and then purchased by Joel Osteen for Lakewood Church. They fill up that arena multiple times per weekend.
I'd rather invade the space of a defense contractor than of a few thousand Pentacostals.
Speaking of brains floating around inside skulls... That guy's smiley face makes me want to commit ax murder. And the wife makes me want to use the ax on Barbie dolls.ReplyDelete
Those television Christian types certainly do have a type. They seem to always look like an alien who's pretending to be human and failing. You know, like an alien with a human mask on.Delete
Some of the old Christian Coalition folks were like that, too: Ralph Reed, Gary Bauer.
I don't have a lot of room to talk, because I look creepy as hell. But I only have to look at myself for long enough each morning to make sure nothing gross is smeared across my face.
Sewer rats, yes, but what about my trained army of roach spies? They can penetrate almost anything almost anywhere, almost anytime!ReplyDelete
Plus, roach spies would survive a nuclear bomb, so you could continue to spy on future post-apocalyptic societies, too.Delete
You said no too quick. So what if he's usually wrong? MAYBE. It's exciting! What if you really DID find Morgan Freeman's Bruce Wayne weapons? It would've been just as likely and even more badass!ReplyDelete
I'm glad you followed, is what I'm getting at.
I'm working really hard to stop doing stupid stuff that could get me into trouble. I'm having mixed results.Delete
By saying no initially, I'm hoping to weed out at least the worst of the ideas.
I might have to find another strategy.
If anything, Doctor Belloq needs to go down there so she can discover the subterranean race of mole men. How good would that look on an archaeologist's resume?ReplyDelete
I don't want to give away the ending, but I will say this: That whole "South Park" Crab People episode contained more truth than the government probably wants us to know.Delete
(By the way - Happy Birthday!)ReplyDelete
It is also the one-year anniversary of my breakup.
My goal for the first year was to survive and, you know, Mission Accomplished!
I remember the oil bust of 82. I had just graduated college and could not find a job in my field. Mortgage interest rates were 14%+. The office vacancy rate for Houston was 40%. Huge buildings were left unfinished. Bi po could very well be right this time. Of course if the place were under a defense contractor you could just as easily wind up in a federal detainment facility. I am guessing all y'all got out alive and unmolested by the man
I have heard stories of such things. The economy of the Rust Belt collapsed, so everybody moved down here just in time for the Oil Bust. You don't here much about that anymore, but if you ask Houstonians when their family moved to Texas, it seems like they all say 1981.Delete
As for federal detainment, I have a really good attorney, so I can get away with almost anything...
And how is Adri doing these days?ReplyDelete
She hasn't gotten into any serious trouble in a long time.Delete
I'm not sure whether that means she's getting smarter or getting old.
As I remember when you were first introduced, you were in an abandoned subterranean unspecific location.ReplyDelete
I spend a lot of my time in various subterranean locations.Delete
Adri spends a lot of time on roofs.
The two of us sort of balance each other out.
There is such a place. I read it in a book by Alice Hoffman, and everybody knows all of her stories are 100% true, with names and dates changed to repel the unworthy.ReplyDelete
I'm glad you have my back, Nessa. There are doubters among us this time.Delete
Everything I write is 100% true, with only a few names and dates changed. Especially the posts with monsters.