Mind Games pt 7 "Shoot your way to freedom, kid"It was a Spanish, 1960s vintage, machine made, side-by-side 12 bore with authentically blued barrels, case hardened and patinated box lock and brass bead fore sight. The trig...
It was a Spanish, 1960s vintage, machine made, side-by-side 12 bore with authentically blued barrels, case hardened and patinated box lock and brass bead fore sight. The trigger pull was six and a half pounds and there was an 'improved cylinder' on the left and a 5/8 choke on the right [I think 'full choke' is 40 thou]. It was chambered for two and three quarter inch long cartridges, although it would take two and a half inch ones. It was nitro proved to withstand a pressure of 3,000 psi at the breech face and could be loaded with anything from dust shot to solid ball.
It was MY Marixa shotgun, abandoned by my father in Rhodesia when 'information, Immigration and Tourism' minister P.K. van der Byl had suddenly kicked him out, after failing to get the independent judiciary to convict him of anti-state propaganda in the high court, by the simple expedient of refusing to renew his two year work permit... at only three days notice... just before a weekend. Perhaps it had something to do with that post UDI press conference at which, after someone had asked if the new Rhodesian Front government would be replacing the Union Flag, my father had chipped in with, "...and will all the school children be taught to chant, 'Heil, heil, van der Byl'?" It was said that 'P.K.' had gone 'almost pure white' with rage!
In the time that it had taken me to remember all of that the Professor of Existential Philosophy at Berkeley, California, had smoothly brought the gun up to his shoulder and fired its left barrel at the 'AREA 51' warning sign putting a dozen holes in it. They were clustered around the 'R' and 'E'. Even as the resulting cloud of dust and rust particles was still dispersing in the warm, light breeze that was blowing over the desert he said, "I've always wanted to do that... haven't you?" turned to me, and offered me the shotgun. "Why don't you aim for the '51', laddie! See what kind of pattern you get with the choke?"
As if I'd done it before only yesterday I brought the gun up to my shoulder, cuddled it into my cheek and squeezed the trigger. Another dozen holes all but obliterated the number. The gun had been loaded with 'special SG' rounds, a kind I'd never fired before. "Well, that was fun... have we got any more?", I asked, as I broke the barrels of the Marixa and plucked out the used cartridges. They were fire engine red and had 'ELY KYNOCH' stamped into the brass base in a circle surrounding their authentically firing pin dented centre fire caps. I looked vaguely at Karl who simply told me to throw them out of the car. I did, noticing that they had joined a small scattering of empty shotgun shells of various colours and makes. "But... that sign had no holes in it before we got here!"
"Of course it didn't, where's the fun in shooting at a sign that's already been shot up?". I almost didn't notice when the gun simply disappeared from my hands. "Well, we must get on. Open the gate will you, young fellow. You're fitter than I am..." I left the car and pushed open the left gate. It squealed melodically. In fact the notes went up, down again, up, further up and then back to the penultimate note. The other gate played a slow, descending arpeggio of four notes, returning to the first note briefly and then the last note that had been played by the left hand gate; and then they were open; having just played two bars from the famous 'X-Files' theme, note perfect. "Hey, that was great. You really nailed it!" , said Karl with a warm note of congratulation in his voice.
"How many of these silly jokes am I going to have to put up with?"
"Well, it passes the time, doesn't it?"
"It would have passed anyway!", I said. I'd already begun to spot my cues. I climbed back into the car and drove through the gates. I didn't bother to get out and close them. What would have been the point? Would they have played the X-Files theme backwards? I wasn't curious enough to try it.
The professor and I had plenty of time to talk about things while I drove through the yellow scrub land towards an almost featureless horizon. I guessed that this was part of the Mojave desert. It was the kind of place Captain Beefheart had lived in for eight months while he taught his Magic band, and dragooned them tirelessly and mercilessly into playing, the exact sounds that he had imagined for his compositions; before taking them into Zappa's STRAIGHT records recording studio, where FZ had generously booked a whole weekend of studio time, barely enough to play the material that wound up on the Trout Mask Replica double LP straight through once, with little or no studio rehearsal time.
Time... there was enough of it while driving through the desert to talk about many things; West Coast acid rock; the films of Truffaut and Hitchcock, Antonioni and Passolini... and then we started talking in earnest about the professor's own subject; existence. Karl and I discussed what kind of entities might have an authentic claim to some real existence. We took it for granted, in Cartesian fashion, that WE existed. But what else could be said with confidence to exist? We talked about brains in jars, human personalities in boxes and People kept in suspended animation and fed dreams, like the hapless earthlings at the end of James Gunn's novel, The Joy Makers. I remembered the great machine God which ran all their dream sims, 'Hedon', with a shudder.
We talked about space-time. We talked about GR and QM and the lack of success the theoretical physics double domes had experienced so far in reconciling the two. We teased apart the implications of Bell's Theorem, the ERP 'paradox' and the results of the Alain Aspect experiments in the early 21st century. We discovered, each of us, that if there really was an Outside World the 'reality claims' that its inhabitants made for their physical reality; that it was objective, observer independent and subject only to locally contiguous physical cause-and-effect 'laws'; were simply untrue, according to the best peered reviewed scientific evidence we had.
"Why is this drive taking us so long?" I asked, eventually.
"To give us time to have this chat without any distractions, mainly... oh, and the team are still waiting for the electrician... so that they can hook up your Gleissner peripheral to Good Dog and give you more freedom next time.!"
"Waiting for the electrician?"
"...or someone like him.", said Professor Karl Young with a wry chuckle. He was becoming good at picking up his cues, as well.