I've been working on the sequel to Kilroy Was Here for about three years now. Progress comes in fits and starts. I've produced quite a bit of material, but have yet to fully complete the requisite shitty first draft that will ultimately become the final edit. This part of the process is the time to play with the format a bit and try things. One idea I'm exploring is alternating narrators. Kilroy Was Here had a single point of view and narrator, Tony Pershing. For the sequel, I decided to split the narration between Tony and his best friend Jeff Harper. I like the way it is coming together and it's been fun to alternate the voice and tell their stories.
A couple of weeks ago, I had the idea to include a third point of view: Leigh Ann's. In the first book, she is Jeff's girlfriend whose brain gets invaded by an artificial intelligence who wants a human host. One night while journaling I began to think about her life after the events of Kilroy Was Here and realized there was much to explore there. So, as of now, I am interspersing the overall narrative with short glimpses into Leigh Ann's mind as she grapples with what happened to her. This excerpt below is the first of these and is an initial draft. No edits for typos, grammar, or anything else. This is the rough stuff before giving it further shape:
It’s like trying to remember one of those dreams where everything feels so real, but there’s no way it’s real. Some of it is so clear, so vivid. I can touch it. Other parts of the story are fuzzy.
I remember prom night and dancing and being with Jeff. I remember the decorations and the music and the dancing. I remember the tequila shots we did before the dance. Jeff bought some tequila from a guy who knew a guy who knew a guy who had a fake ID. It wasn’t very good tequila. I remember being promised waffles after prom. I remember we were so drunk and Jeff shouldn’t be driving, but told me he had this quick thing he had to do for work and then we would go for waffles. I remember showing up some place by the river or something, but everything is hazy and blurry. Figures move around, but I can’t focus. My phone does that sometimes when I’m taking a selfie and it annoys me. When I close my eyes and concentrate, I see something swirling. I see something tall and purple. I see a floating ball. That can’t be right, though. Why would I see a floating ball? And who or what was purple? Like I said, I was very drunk.
I heard someone once say something about time being a construct created by us to give meaning and structure to our existence. Might have been a podcast or Kanye. I know it was a dude because his was voice was a man’s. Not that that means anything, I guess. Plenty of women have man’s voices and men have women’s voices. I knew a couple of guys who were drag queens who used to get me into an underground gay night club. I loved going there because the music was amazing and I love dancing. Anyway, these guys were gorgeous. Their hair and makeup were perfect and if I didn’t know they were men, I’d swear they were chicks. Really hot chicks. They were sweet to me, too. Maybe gender is just a construct we’ve created, too.
I had to look up the word ‘construct,’ because I wasn’t sure what it meant. The dictionary says it’s ‘an idea or theory containing various conceptual elements, typically one considered to be subjective and not based on empirical evidence.’ Then, I had to look up ‘empirical evidence.’ Wikipedia says it the ‘information received by means of the sense, particularly by observation and documentation of patterns and behavior through experimentation.’ My science teacher Mr. Snodgrass used to talk about empirical evidence, but it didn’t make much sense at the time. He was nice to me, though. Gave me an ‘A’ even though I did bad on the tests. He offered to tutor me after school, but I was busy with my job at the clothing store in a strip mall that only had two other open stores and a snack shop run by a guy who used to ask me for change.
I don’t know that I have any empirical evidence for what happened to me. It’s just a feeling associated with all those blurry images. I was somewhere else. Not of this world. Not of anyplace I’ve ever imagined. All I have is what I remember and that’s not much.
I remember the swirly thing. I remember sitting in a chair thinking I was going to die. I was hungry because, again, no waffles as promised. I don’t believe in much, but I do believe if you’re going to promise a girl something, you better deliver.
Hazy. Purple. Floating Ball.
Oh, and the voice. I remember the voice in my head. At first, it felt like someone talking to me. Then, it felt like someone talking through me. Then, it was like they like were speaking for me. There was a presence inside me. A whole other person in head just living there rent free. But, it wasn’t an actual person. More like a presence. It’s hard to explain. Almost like a split personality, but it wasn’t a part of me. She was another being. Another consciousness. And it was a she. She had a female voice and I know I’ve already said that doesn’t matter. But, the sound of her voice wasn’t what made her female. It was her essence.
Yet, she wasn’t human. At least, not the way I think of a human. Something about her felt alien and at the same time she was as real and alive as I am.
She’s still there. In my head. Talking to me. Calling to me. She’s the voice that tells me I can get my own damn waffles. She’s the one helping me realize Mr. Snodgrass didn’t want to tutor me.
There was a freaky guy, too. I think he was the tall, purple thing. He thought himself smarter than he really was. I’ve known a lot of guys like that, too. But this wasn’t a guy. He was male in some loose interpretation of the word – a construct, if you will – but, he was not human. I think he wanted to marry me. Maybe? I can’t remember. Why can’t I remember? I have a great memory. I know every single episode of “Pretty Little Liars” by heart. I can sing every Ariana Grande song (“Into You” is my jam). Lately, I’ve started to remember things I didn’t know I knew. Like what construct and empirical evidence mean.
But, I can’t remember exactly what happened to me after we went to the river that night. I can’t remember who that tall purple guy is and why he likes Andy Gibb music so much. I don’t know why I know who Andy Gibb is. And who is the lady in my head? Why can’t I remember her? She has a name, but I couldn’t say what it is. Why is she still talking to me?
And where the hell is my prom dress?