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Vincent was whistling as he walked down the dirty back of the infamous Dongba Pass. The trail was notorious for spirit sightings and encounters with off-planet entities. Vincent often made fun of the folks that turned up in Rosie’s Cafe with mystical stories and celestial ramblings. He once interrupted Frank Bean as he was informing the patrons of his encounter with a blurry being from Burgoliquid. Frank had just finished stating that Burgoliquid was not so much a solid planet as it was a place within a moment within a thought. Vincent saw how intrigued the individuals were from the stories inception… and this bugged him. He wanted the encounter, he wanted to tell the story.

“Nice one lean bean, tell us some more about the moment Frank furter.” Vincent was not well versed in sarcasm and although he was revered for his heroism during the burning of the Hack Seed Company building, the locals shushed him, even little Maggie Blippo. Vincent sat back down and pushed his fork slowly through a slice of lemon meringue pie, so as not to allow the fork and plate to collide through the crust. He was so interested but never looked directly at the story-teller.

Vincent incessantly tried instigating meetings with aliens, spirits or even animals, but his efforts always fell shy of damn near interesting. He would tell himself that he did not care, but he knew better, his heart was an informant. At his humble home on Henry Louis Aaron Avenue, Vincent would light incense and try his best to recite mantras in foreign tongues, all while staring at a maze of triangles and lotus petals. He often had visions but could never transcribe their meaning or message. Tenacious in his efforts, Vincent felt he was moving up on the trail’s encounter list, due to his relentless meditation.

The only light Vincent could see was the sunlight that filled the spaces between the leafs and branches along Dongba Trail. Having traversed this route nearly 423 times, Vincent knew it would be dark soon… very dark. He did not care. Today was the day he refused to exit without a story or a major injury. Vincent took a slug of potent coffee from his father’s Marine Corps canteen. Dad’s friend Marty always hooked Vincent up with a free canteen of coffee that he brewed for his clients at the local bookstore, The Lethargic Lamb. Marty would always say the same words as he poured the coffee in the Corp’s canteen: “Ain’t nothin’ but heroes in that family, runs in the blood.” If any of the old Veterans were in attendance they would just nod their heads and mumble a series of tones that could only be deciphered by birds well versed in semaphore.

Midnight was tracking the footprints of 11th hour seconds when Vincent heard someone, or something approaching. A twig snapped right behind him and Vincent instantly found himself in a karate pose, even though the only instruction he was ever given in this art was by Marty, who himself had no training. “Who goes there?” Vincent was a bit scared and demanded whatever was there to show itself, or else.

“Hi Vinny my boy, ya miss me?” A voice chuckled. There was only one person that ever called him Vinny, his father.

“Holy shit pops, you scared me. What are you doing out here?” Vincent seemed to not be phased at seeing his dead father. Quite the contrary, he hugged him and asked what was new with him. As Vincent’s own words struck the center of his thoughts he laughed.

“Not much is new son. I applaud your efforts and your continuous meditation. Your unique vibration allowed me to find you, specifically, in a labyrinth of unfathomable magnitudes. So now we have this brief moment together. I can only allow you 4 questions and 2 statements. It’s too complicated to explain. There is no time limit though.” Vincent’s dad was all smiles.

After a few seconds of thought, Vincent asked his father what it was like on the other side of life. “I knew that one was coming. On this side you just know everything, but none of it is necessary. Most of the knowledge is so irrelevant in the massive scheme of the OM. The Humans are barely a blip in the entire makeup of it all, but are damned interesting to many of the entities. Oddly enough, the ability to eat and drink fascinates them the most. Speaking of drink, hand me my canteen Vinny.” Walter was thirsty for some of Marty’s coffee and he took full advantage of his ruhumanized gifting. He also knew he would be scorned when he returned if he drank or ate nothing.

As Vincent handed over the canteen, he asked his second question. “Why did you not fight harder in the hospital? You could have made it. You were my best friend and I feel so lost without you.” Vincent felt the overpowering hand of grief move right through him. All the sadness from 6 years ago was resurfacing and Vinny flat-out cried.

Walter held his son close and he also cried, which was downright crazy for a returning being. The entities that were witnessing the event were stunned because they had absolutely no emotional attachments. Tears were as rare as a triple eclipse on Burgoliquid. “I was shown the outcome if I survived son, and I would have been a fraction of what you remember. Yes, you would have still had me around but my wounds that I sustained from the fire were too grave and…” Walter paused. He felt overwhelmed and dizzy.

Then Walter felt a rush of star power flooding into him. He dropped to his knees and Vincent witnessed an event that had never taken place in the human realm: Walter was being granted a relife by entities with extreme powers, entities he had never met. It was given not out of emotion, but out of the consensus of thought in a billionth convergence magnitude quadrant spliced split atom explosion… this never happens.

Light burst out of Walter in all directions but Vincent was fixated on the intense beams shooting out of his father’s eyes. There was a sonic boom, then all fell quiet. Vincent looked at his father and asked him what just happened. His exact words were: “What in the name of a hollering hedge hog just happened? Speak to me poppa! Speak to me!”

Walter opened one eye and looked around. He had a massive headache and the coffee had served an eviction notice to the last meal he had eaten… 6 years ago. Walter knew he was human again and was not sure if he was thrilled about it… until he opened his other eye and saw his boy looking down at him. Walter then felt both of his ears pop and now all sound filtered into his mind. He heard his son’s voice and began to weep with sweet joy. “Help me up Vinny, I’m starving! Let us ramble down to Rosie’s and get some pie.” Walter’s words brought a smile to Vincent’s face, and together they walked down to Rosie’s Cafe.

When the tiny bell warned folks that another patron had entered, an interesting thing happened… nothing. It was as if Walter had never been gone. Vincent laughed as the two of them sat down to eat. “I have got the best story in the history of humans and I can’t even tell anyone!”

Walter laughed with his son. As the waitress greeted both men while pouring them coffee, she asked them if they had made any decisions on their choice of appetite suppressors. “Pie! Pie! Pie!” Walter exclaimed as he stomped his fork on the table. Everyone was laughing in the cafe and Mrs. Blitzski blurted out “Oh Walter, you’re always such a card!” This sent Vincent into side-splitting laughter.

“Why do they not remember dad?” Vincent asked.

“The sonic boom son, it pieced together those 6 years into the time continuum and now you and I are the only ones that know. So, Vinny, what is your last question?”

Vinny wanted to save the question but it just flew out of his mouth, “Does anyone else know? Anyone at all?!”

Walter stated that there may be one person that knew besides them, but he was not sure.

“Who?” Vincent queried.

Just then the bell sounds and in walks Marty. He walks over to the table and looks at Walter, then he looks right at Vincent and says “Fucking knew it.”

The End