Friday, July 5, 2013

The Dealey Five: Chapter 5

The Dealey Five
Chapter 5 (or, "Churros and Covers")

Last Episode: Squirrel was chased across Manhattan by a group of people dressed in black who wanted his boombox.

“Has anybody told you that you are the craziest mofo in the history of crazy mofos?” Mac asked Squirrel as they sat on the A train, headed uptown. Mac’s bike and Squirrel’s boombox sat next to each other in the mostly empty car.

Squirrel shrugged. “I don’t care. That was kind of awesome.”

“You have no idea what you were going through,” Mac said, shaking his head. “And furthermore we don’t know who those people were. We should be done with all of this madness, and the world should be stable. So who would be going after your boombox?”

“I don’t know, and I don’t care about that, either.”

“You just don’t care about anything, do you?”

Squirrel sighed. “You’re from New York, right?”

“Basically. My family emigrated here from Ireland.”

“See? There’s your problem. You’re really strung out about everything. You’re thinking that these people are somehow involved with some sinister organization or something. Dude. I just didn’t want them to get my boombox. That’s all. I don’t care who they are or where they were from.”

“Suit yourself.” Mac sighed and crossed his arms. “But if something blows up and you’re expected to fix it, don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

Squirrel sat back on his seat, watching the local stops fly by through the train windows. He wasn’t going to fight about this any longer. There really wasn’t anything to fight about. Instead, he tried to relax the best he could, but couldn’t pull it off.

Looking over at his boombox again, he picked it up. It was old, with a prerecorded music slot on the side where one could put plastic discs in. When he pushed the eject button, the music disc came out, a small circle that could fit into the palm of his hand. “Jones” was written on the disc, in a scribbly handwriting, using some black pen.

“Jones? Not Squrrlax?” Squirrel thought out loud.

His voice attracted Mac’s attention; the older boy looked at the disc. “Is that your version of a compact disc?”

“What’s a compact disc?” Squirrel asked.

“It’s a slightly old fashioned music format in this world. The discs are bigger than that, and people put music on them. But most music these days is in little files on your computer.”

Squirrel looked at Mac. “I didn’t know music could go on a computer. Aren’t computers only used by the military?”

“Quite the contrary, actually.”

Squirrel turned and saw there was someone else in the car now. “What do you mean?”

“In this world, computers are used by the general public for communication, as well as for creative and work purposes. What you call a computer is vastly different from what we consider it to be. The communication devices your friends hold are similar to these. What is your name?”

Squirrel looked at the girl; she had long hair and was wearing a jacket similar to the ones he had seen Matsumoto and Amiga wearing. “They call me Squirrel,” he said. “I don’t really know who I am.”

“Perhaps that disc is a clue,” the girl said. “Jones is a popular last name -- very popular. My name is Isabel, and I’m assigned to your case. I’ve come to give you your cell phone and your jacket.” She reached behind her and pulled out a plastic bag. Inside was a blue jacket, short sleeved, with a white cross on the front -- seemingly the norm for QWERTY uniforms. “Matsumoto can teach you how to use the cell phone,” she said as she then handed that to him. “It’s rather simple.”

“Squirrel?” That was Mac. “Who are you talking to?”

Squirrel turned to Mac, then Isabel. There was almost a wistful look in her eyes. “That’s Mac, isn’t it?”

“You know him?” Squirrel asked.

“I can hear him, but I can’t see him. He probably can’t see or hear me. Just tell him I say hi. Matsumoto and Amiga, as well. I’m sure I’ll meet them shortly.” Then, without any warning, Isabel disappeared from Squirrel’s view.

He turned back to Mac. “Did you just see any of that?”

“See any of what?” Mac then seemed to understand. “Did you speak with someone from QWERTY?”

Squirrel held up the phone and the jacket, unwrapping the plastic around it. “I did. She gave me these. She said you knew her, and that she said hi.”

Mac was silent for a moment, then spoke. “Was it Isabel?”

Squirrel almost dropped his boombox in surprise. “How did you know?”

“She...she used to be in this world. She was Carissa’s friend, until your world merged with ours. In order to make sure our world wasn’t destroyed like yours, Isabel sacrificed herself. Sarah had said that she might be part of QWERTY now.” Mac smiled. “I’m glad you found her. Wait until I tell Carissa.”


“No,” Amiga said for the fifteenth time, “you’re supposed to stir clockwise, not counterclockwise.”

Matsumoto wanted to throw the spoon. “Who cares which way I stir it?” he asked. “It’s not like it really matters in the long run.”

Amiga huffed. “Oh, trust me. I’ll make sure it matters. Miss Lopez?”

“For the last time,” Carissa said from her seat in the living room. “I’m Carissa. I’m reading. And Matsumoto can stir any way he wants. Now, please let me get back to this book. It’s really cool that you guys are here in this world, but it can’t interfere with my studies. You focus on your future, and I’ll focus on mine.” With that, the living room was quiet again.

“Told you,” Matsumoto said as he began to stir again.

Amiga rolled her eyes. “Just you wait until Mac and Squirrel get here,” she said. “They’ll make sure I’m taken care of.”

“Yes,” Matsumoto noted, “just like the princess you insist you are. I’ve never met someone so hypocritical in my entire life.”

“You don’t even remember your previous life,” Amiga noted. “So how can you make comparisons?”

“I mean within the last 36 hours or so.”

The buzzer rang in the kitchen, and Carissa trotted back in and pressed the button. “Mac?”

“And Squirrel,” Squirrel’s voice rang out over the crackly intercom.

“Well well well. Moose and Squirrel have returned,” Carissa joked as she pushed the button.

“Moose and Squirrel?” Matsumoto asked. “You mean from that anti-Soviet cartoon?”

Carissa had a confused look on her face. “I suppose the Russians were the bad guys,” she said, “but they mostly fell all over each other and didn’t do anything.”

Matsumoto licked the spoon he had been using to stir the churro batter with. “What are Russians?”

The apartment door opened, and Mac, bike, and Squirrel all came inside. Squirrel had his boombox hoisted over his shoulder, and Mac parked his bike by the door. “About time you got here,” Carissa said as Mac gave her a light hug around the shoulders.

“This is Squirrel,” Mac said, introducing Squirrel. “Squirrel, this is Carissa Lopez, the guardian of our world, but most importantly, my girlfriend.”

“Nice to meet you,” Squirrel said, putting his boombox down on the floor and shaking Carissa’s hand. He then went over to the kitchen, where Matsumoto and Amiga were standing. “What are you guys making?”

“Churros.” Amiga smiled. “I think I used to make these somewhere before. Matsumoto’s making them wrong.”

“Hey! Carissa said I could stir them any way I wanted. Just saying.”

“Who died and made you king of churros?”

“I never said I was king of churros!”

They say when two people fight, they really care about each other, Squirrel thought to himself, though he wasn’t sure what he was referencing. He grabbed the batter bowl, stuck his finger in, and took a long lick.

Amiga scrunched up her face. “Eww! What are you doing?!”

“Being hornery,” Squirrel said as he dashed off, Amiga chasing after. Matsumoto only watched, glad to see that, even though their world had ended, at least everybody was getting along.


“It started out just like every other normal day,” Carissa said that night over burritos and churros. “I went to the local coffee shop to get my usual drink.”

“You mean the coffee shop with that red logo and the dude who’s a horse?” Squirrel asked. “I don’t remember having that in our world.”

Carissa laughed. “Yeah. That one. Anyway, all of a sudden, this guy collapsed and died. The next morning, nobody remembered it had happened except me. Mac saw that some things were going on as well, mostly because he had his own problems with continuity.”

“Problems?” Amiga asked.

“I wasn’t supposed to be here,” Mac said. “But Carissa fixed all of that later.”

“The thing about QWERTY is that they can’t save the world for you,” Carissa explained to Matsumoto, Amiga, and Squirrel. “They can only do what they can to keep you on the right track. It’s true that Dvorak wanted to destroy everything, but if I hadn’t woken him up, I would have never thought to go to limbo myself to try to rewrite the world. Had Dvorak stayed asleep, our worlds would be a lot different.”

“Did I tell you all about my hypothesis earlier?” Mac asked.

Matsumoto shook his head. “You have an educated guess about something?”

“You have to remember that nobody was picked from your world for a reason. Maybe Sarah tried looking for someone from your world, but couldn’t find anybody worthy enough. Or maybe, when she got to your world, something changed her mind. Maybe she wanted to only pick this world over yours. That would mean that there would have been something really wrong with your world, something so terrible that Sarah’s only choice would be to save our world instead by initiating what she did. Of course, I’m not a full QWERTY member, and neither is Carissa anymore. We just help out every once in a while.” Mac turned to Carissa. “Though I do know of one person we know who is definitely, absolutely a QWERTY member.”

Carissa almost dropped her plate. She didn’t say a word, but she looked at Mac, and then she smiled, tears welling up.

“I didn’t see her,” Mac said. “But Squirrel did. Something about dimensionary laws, I’m sure.”

“It’s okay,” Carissa finally said, and Mac sat by her and put her arm around her.

“Did we miss something?” Matsumoto asked Squirrel.

“One of their friends is in QWERTY,” Squirrel said. “I guess she’s kind of like us. There was a big battle or something and she sacrificed herself, but like us, she was made a member.”

“We never knew what had happened to her,” Carissa explained. “Sarah had said it was probable that Isabel would still be alive, but we never got any actual confirmation.”

“She already had her jacket and everything,” Squirrel said, remembering his own jacket. He took off his jean jacket and searched for the blue one with the white cross, putting it on over his yellow shirt and matching Matsumoto and Amiga. “I think she woke up before us.”

“And she probably had an easier time remembering who she was, considering her world didn’t disappear like yours did,” Mac said. “I bet she’s already connected with Mick and is going through more training, which is why you saw her on the subway, Squirrel.”

“She said she couldn’t see you, Mac, but she could hear you,” Squirrel noted as he went over to his boombox. “That reminds me. The disc in here says ‘Jones’ on it. What do you guys think that means?”

“Sounds like a last name,” Carissa said. “Albeit a very popular one.”

“That’s what Mac was saying. Do you think that Jones is my last name?”

“You won’t know until you remember for certain,” Matsumoto said. “I got lucky because my last name was programmed into my head in my original language. I’d still like to know my first name, though.”

“And my entire name,” Amiga noted.

Squirrel picked up the boombox. “Do you guys have anywhere I can charge this at?” he asked. “The batteries are chargeable. Don’t ask me how I know that.”

Mac took a look at the plug. “It’s the same as ours. Any outlet should work.”

Carissa’s parents arrived home from their new jobs, and Carissa introduced Matsumoto, Amiga, and Squirrel to them. “My parents were in limbo for a couple of days,” she explained, “so they remember everything and they know what QWERTY is. You’re safe here.”

They hung out and talked for a while as the kids tried to remember everything they could about their world. Amiga figured out she wasn’t Dominican or Puerto Rican, and determined she was Mexican because she remembered Día de Los Muertos. “We don’t celebrate it, but we hear about it,” Carissa explained.

Everybody was surprised that Squirrel’s boombox was charging just fine -- everybody except Squirrel. Matsumoto tried to remember why he was wearing goggles and Carissa suggested he may have been a swimmer. Squirrel still couldn’t remember which part of America he exactly was from, though he knew it wasn’t New York.

“With that laid back attitude, I’d say you’re a Cali guy,” Carissa noted.


“California. Out west. Like, the direct opposite of New York. It’s sunny all the time and everybody’s super laid back...”

There seemed to be recognition on Squirrel’s face. “Yeah! That’s it!”

Carissa’s parents turned on Telemundo for the news. “That does make sense,” Mac said. “You don’t really care about anything, Squirrel.”

“Hey! That’s a lie! I just know what NOT to care about!”

“some sort of dark secret --”

“Hey, guys,” Amiga said, “did you hear anything?”

“Besides,” Squirrel said, unfazed by Amiga’s question, “wasn’t that chase kind of fun?”

Mac glared at Squirrel. “It most certainly was not.”

“doesn’t anybody hear their voices?”

“Guys,” Amiga said. “Seriously. Didn’t anybody hear that?”

Matsumoto turned toward Amiga. “Heard what?”

And then it caved in.

“-- taking you live to the city where more information can be found --”

“-- what could be possibly wrong with him to let it get to this level?”

“He is a disgrace to his company, to his family, and to Mexico and to the entire Allied force. It is my opinion that he should step down immediately.”

“What a girl. She should be locked up and go to hell.”

“Amiga?” Matsumoto asked, but the girl was no longer responsive. Her dark eyes stared straight ahead, no life in them.

“Until we get more information, the entire Querida network will be offline. We apologize for any inconvenience.”

“December 25 will forever be a day that lives in infamy.”


Matsumoto got up from his chair and grabbed Amiga by the shoulders. “Amiga? Are you in there?” He turned to Mac. “What’s wrong with her?”

Mac and Squirrel both got up. “Give her room,” Mac said, but Matsumoto wouldn’t let go of her shoulders. Mac looked into her eyes. “She’s breathing, right?”

“She’s got a pulse,” Squirrel noted.

Mac took a deep breath. “She wouldn’t be disappearing, right?”

“We now take you live to the plaza, where a riot has started in response to Jorge Querida’s announcement this morning on his network.”

“The United States of America will not stand by these terrorists who have infiltrated our Allied countries.”

“Miss Querida is still in holding.”

“At this time, six hundred and forty nine are confirmed dead.”

“What? Disappearing?”

“If she’s not stable in this world,” Mac theorized, “she might just disappear. It wouldn’t surprise me. You aren’t native to this world.”

“Don’t joke like that!” Matsumoto yelled, looking into Amiga’s dead eyes. His voice broke. “You’ve got to be in there somewhere, Amiga! You can’t quit now. You want to rescue the other kids, don’t you? Don’t disappear on me, Amiga!”

“Coverage of the cathedral bombing began at 7:00 AM local time, exclusively on the Querida network. At that time, the bombs went off and Miss Querida escaped the carnage, only to be caught later by police.”

“The suspect is Querida’s daughter, 16 year old Latin actress and pop sensation Rosa Elena Meira Querida. Her motives are unknown. Jorge has been arrested with conspiracy charges and is being held without bail.”

“The rumor right now is that Rosa is actually being kept in a mental facility. We’ll have more on that after the break.”

“No word from the Mexican government or the now defunct Querida network at this time.”

“In these times such as ours, where the Soviet enemy can strike at any time, terrorism on our own soil will not be tolerated. Both Jorge and his daughter are in custody and will remain there until further notice.”


The room was white, with only one chair in it.

“Well, Miss Querida.”

There were no windows, no visible doors. Only the white.

“What have we done now? What did we do to make them so mad at us?”

She was dressed in an orange jumpsuit, nothing else. Her black hair had been cut short.

“Oh, that’s right. It was you. You were the one who did everything.”

“That’s right,” Rosa said as she looked at the white ground in front of her. “I did everything. I planted the bomb. I killed those people. I am a terrorist.”

“You killed those people and they suffered. And you didn’t even care. It’s all your fault, Rosa. You deserve to die for your sins.”

A pause. “Did I do it for the Soviets?”

“Hah! For the Soviets? Not for those communists, sugar. No. You did this all for me.”

This white room. The room she would live in from now on, she had been told. The white room that the Allied soldiers had said would cleanse her of her sins. But she knew she would not be cleansed. Instead, it would be a slow death here in this room, alone, but not alone.

“You killed those people, Rosa, all for me. Because don’t you get it, silly girl? I am the most important person to you. I am your doppelganger, after all.”

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