Breakfast in the BronxEdit
Jay was asleep. The earliest hours of the new morning were creeping across the palace grounds.
"Jason," he heard his mom say.
Jay turned groggily over in the bed. "...what do you want now, Momma?"
"Jason...prepare yourself, baby."
Jay then began to have a new dream.
He was back in New York, an MIB agent in the familiar black suit. He found himself in what he thought was his Mercedes E500, but he wasn't driving - Laura was. She was in a black MIB suit and black MIB-issue glasses. Jay did not question this, he went with the flow of the dream. It was about 7:30 in the morning and it was a weekend, judging from the lighter traffic on the streets. The pair were driving in the South Bronx, northbound on Westchester Avenue. Laura was doing about 45 mph up the street. "Be careful with my ride, baby," Jay said with slight concern.
"Who said this was YOUR ride?" Laura said right back.
Laura swung effortlessly up Prospect Avenue and drove on to a brownstone she knew from when she was a kid. A drunk homless person tried to cross the street in front of the car. Laura mashed on the horn. The man jumped away rapidly, frightened. Laura rolled down the window. "Look where the hell you're going! You could get hit out here!" she yelled. There was an accented hint of boricua in her voice. Jay was stunned and was also quite impressed. "Damn, girl, you are from the Bronx!"
Laura flashed a glance at Jay and grinned. "This is home, papi," she said.
They got out of the car in front of the brownstone and went up the short steps. The front door was open and they went right inside the building. The brownstone was gray, old and creepy. The hallway was dark (almost black, with very little light), cold, musty and woody smelling. Jay had his noisy cricket gun ready in case something tried to attack Laura.
They climbed the steps to the second floor and knocked on the door of an apartment. And who answered the door, but none other than Kay! With a bright, friendly GRIN on his face!!! On seeing this Jay almost fell over in shocked surprise.
"Hey! Come on in slick! Breakfast is ready." The beaming Kay, slapping the bewildered Jay on the back, was wearing nothing but a crew-neck t-shirt and MIB-issue khaki shorts. On his feet were a $4 pair of blue flip-flops from the Duane Reade store down the street.
Jay and Laura walked gingerly inside the apartment. The kitchen had a bright, cheery look to it, like Jay's old kitchen in New Orleans. And his mother was doing the cooking. "Damn, that food smells good", Jay said. "She's cooking chorizo and eggs!" Laura exclaimed to Jay with a wide smile.
It appeared that Kay and Angie were the occupants of this weird place. Angie was in her blue cotton bathrobe she always wore when Jay was a little kid. Her dreadlocks were tied up in a bun.
"Hey kids," Angie said, just as matter-of-factly as if this was a normal, everyday occurrence. Jay walked over and kissed his mother on the cheek. She kissed his cheek right back.
"Ummm...Momma...umm...what's this all about?" Jason asked.
Angie looked right at him with a warm smile. "Breakfast, Jason. It's Saturday and our family is coming together for breakfast. Sit down over there across from Kay."
Angie was cooking eggs with some chopped chorizo sausage mixed in, along with some rice; she was also starting to make some biscuit batter, from a package of White Lily flour on the counter. White Lily flour is not common in NYC, but it sure is in New Orleans.
"This is veggie chorizo, Laura. My own recipe," Angie said. "It smells so good, Angie," Laura replied with a little giggle.
Laura felt warm and happy in this dream. The family was indeed together, and this was so critically important to Laura, who spent most of her life in group homes in this very part of the Bronx. Jay, his mom and his old boss, whom she instinctively knew had a deeper connection to Jay than simply a professional one, were the closest thing to a real family she had right now - especially so soon after the loss of Ben, and she did not want one thing to spoil this moment.
Angie walked over to the table and she and Kay gave each other a little kiss on the lips.
Jay was not pleased. One minute he's in a post office clueless, the next he's shackin' up with my MOMMA for chrissake. the goddamn nerve...
"Is there a specific reason why we're here?" Jay asked, tersely. Laura sighed slightly. Why did Jay have to act like this, now? In Laura's opinion, this was showing blatant disrespect for Angie and Kay. All this shit is for you, Jay (Laura thought to herself), lighten the hell up already.
Kay looked up at Jay. "We're just gettin' you guys ready for the tour, slick." Kay calmly lit up a Marlboro with that same beat-up Zippo lighter he always used back at headquarters or on missions, the one with the orange University of Texas longhorn symbol on it, inlaid in mother-of-pearl on the side.
"What did I tell you about smoking, Kay? I thought you were tryin' to quit."
"Ain't time to quit yet, slick," Kay drawled, and took another drag. "Just you remember that."
"There are some extra things you guys have to know before you go," Angie said, while she was at the O'Keefe and Merritt gas oven scrambling eggs.
"What kind of things, Angie?" Laura asked, quickly whisking out a pen and a pad of paper. The scowling Jay wanted to take out his neuralyzer. But he held back.
"When you visit these tribes, be sure and take down lots of information - but don't get caught up in their dramas. The tribes on Zartha are kind of divided right now. Some of them want to fight each other. That's the main thing you guys have to try and fix during your reign. How many biscuits you want, Jason?"
"Six or seven of those, Momma," Jay replied instantly, for this was a question he was always asked every Saturday morning as a young child. Then Jay felt embarrased - he was on a mission, for cryin' out loud? Why am I being given breakfast and what in da HELL is Kay doing in my momma's house!
"Kay, listen, just what are you doing in my momma's house, man?"
"I live here, slick," Kay chuckled.
"Why?" Jay was getting pissed.
"Jason, it's OK. I told you Kevin and I were partners." Angie looked at Jay with a slightly tense look. "Kay's a big part of what's going on here."
Jay looked at his mother with a slightly pained look, and then looked across the table at Kay. "All right, Kay, but don't try any funny business. I see how you're lookin' at her." Kay rolled his eyes and grinned, shaking his head.
"Jason, be quiet, please," Angie said.
"OK", Jay replied. What the hell is up with this weird-ass dream?
Laura looked over at Jay and rolled her eyes.
Angie continued. "You guys need to be especially careful of the S'aa. Laura, that's your tribe. They are friendly, but some of them don't like the fact that I'm queen. Here you go, baby." Angie scooped some of the eggs onto Kay's plate. "Thank you, darlin," Kay drawled, and he began eating. Angie walked around the table. "Hold up your plate, Jason."
Jay instinctively held up his Texas Ware plate. He felt the familiar, comforting heat of the Revere Ware skillet next to his face as Angie scooped some scrambled eggs onto the plate.
"Is that enough, baby?" She scooped some more eggs and tried to slam them on the plate, but she missed and a few eggs got right on Jay's slacks.
"Momma! My suit!" Jay hurriedly reached for a napkin and tried to clean the eggs off the pants leg. Laura got up to get a dishtowel from the sink.
Angie cringed and sighed with embarrasment. "Oh, I'm so sorry, baby, are you OK?"
"Yeah, Momma, I guess I'm not gonna need this suit when we go on tour." Jay tried not to show frustration to his mother at this point. He took the wet dishcloth from Laura and wiped the rest of the eggs from his pants.
"I got some extra shorts if you need 'em, slick," Kay drawled, taking another drag of his Marlboro. Kay always smoked as he ate, and Jay usually made jokes about that, but that wasn't gonna happen in this dream.
"I'm alright, Kay, but thanks, man." Jay began to eat his eggs. Damn, these eggs were good. He had forgotten how good his mother's cooking was.
Angie dished out some chorizo and eggs to Laura and lastly herself. "Laura, go get the orange juice from the fridge," and Laura sprang up once more to do so. If Jay's not gonna show some love, I will.
"Momma, you know you could have just scheduled another conference call," Jay said, devouring his eggs.
"Oh, nonsense, baby, you still need your sleep," Angie said, as she poured Kay some Cafe Du Monde coffee. "Sometimes dreams work just as good, slick," Kay drawled, allowing more of his beloved Permian Basin to show in his speech.
"What do YOU possibly know about dreams?" Jay asked incredulously to Kay.
"I know about enough to have 'em, son and that's about it," Kay chuckled.
"Angie, why do the tribes fight against each other?" Laura asked. She then looked at Jay with a slight frown. Jay frowned back, with a puzzled look.
"Each tribe has special gifts, different physical, spiritual attributes," Angie replied. "And each thinks their particular attributes are better than the others. Now take the C'ola'a, the rock tribe, for example. These people are the miners. They mine all the rocks, minerals, and precious gems on Zartha. They are the builders of all the physical infrastructure on the planet. Without them, Zartha wouldn't even be half as powerful as it is, but they are treated as second-class citizens, especially by the S'aa."
"Momma, this was something you weren't able to stop?" Jay asked, with another slight puzzled frown on his face. He began to get a slight headache.
"I passed decrees, baby, making inter-tribal discrimination illegal. Most people on Zartha obey my edicts, Jason, but others still have a problem with me tellin' them what to do. And it's those others I need for y'all to be careful about. Look at me, baby."
Jay looked at his mother and she flashed a bright red burst from her eyes, across the table. Jay's eyes flashed red in response, and just like that, his headache was gone. "Holy shit", Jay marveled with a surprised chuckle. "Just like you used to do to me when I was a little kid," he said.
"Yeah, I've still got the touch, Jay. After all this time." Angie gave her son a warm smile. Kay leaned over and kissed her again. "Thank god you do, sweetie," he said.
"Jason," Angie continued, "there are two main questions we always ask when dealing with conflict between the tribes, or for that matter, when making any major decisions about Zartha.
"Number one: is it in the best interests of all the people of Zartha?
"Number two: will the final result be peaceful?
"If you can't answer yes to those two questions, you should think twice before acting on the plan."
Jay frowned his face in puzzlement. "Momma, if these tribes are breaking the law, shouldn't they...I don't know, face charges or something?"
"Jason, one thing about Zartha is that the people there like their freedom. Anything that could be seen as taking away from that freedom, they see as a threat. Even if that threat comes from me."
"But you're the queen, Momma."
"So? Some of those people don't give a rat's ass that I'm the queen, baby."
Kay chuckled again and shook his head. "Still talkin' like a rookie, slick."
Laura said, "How can we...how can we make things more peaceful on Zartha, Angie?"
"All you guys need to do is remember to keep the basic idea of Zartha in mind. You see, Zartha is a land where everyone, every living thing, has the Light inside of them. And when people have the Light, people have the opportunity to be Light. And when you're Light - when you know that you are a being of Light - well, that's about as far as you can go, as far as existence means. But let me tell you, from experience - it's a pretty damn good place to be." Angie was smiling broadly at this point, and looked at Laura.
In response, Laura suddenly got a shocked look on her face, as if she remembered something. Angie saw this and grinned with a slight tinge of embarrasment. Laura grinned in response and the gargantuan smile on her face could have lit up Times Square right now.
"Just what are y'all grinnin' about?" Jay asked. He shook his head with more puzzlement.
"This is fun!" Laura exclaimed, with a massive amount of joy coming out of her. Her eyes began to glow whitish green again.
And just like that, Jay found himself awake, in his bed in the royal palace, nine million light years away from the South Bronx. The first of the twin suns orbiting Zartha were just beginning to rise over the palace gardens.
Jay sat up, fully rested, with no headache or pain whatsoever, but he was extremely hungry despite the virtual "food" he just ate. Laura began to stir in the bed next to him.
"Laura," Jay said, shaking his bride-to-be slightly. "Wake up, baby, we gotta get going soon."
"mmmm...I want some more chorizo," Laura mumbled. She rolled over to where Jay was just laying and noticed he had sat up, so she woke up.
"What in the hell was that weird ass dream all about?" Jay asked.
Laura, sitting up by now, yawned and stretched her arms outward. She looked deep into Jay's eyes and gave a soft smile. She was silent for a second, as if she was wondering why Jay couldn't see, couldn't feel what she was seeing and feeling right at that moment.
After a second more, Laura spoke.
"That was a briefing, Jay," Laura yawned.
"Yeah, I gathered as much...Why did she do it like that???"
"Look, baby, you have to learn to show some respect towards your moms, dude, she was making us breakfast..."
Jay looked away. "My mother is a weird woman, Laura. I cannot for the life of me understand some of the shit she is pulling."
"Your mother is the queen, she can do that," Laura said, and leaned over to kiss him. The two kissed deep and long. In the middle of the kiss, Jay thought he smelled soemthing. "Hey, do you smell something in the kitchen? Did you just cook?"
"No, I woke up just now," Laura said. "Maybe Shakita had the commissary staff make breakfast," and the both of them walked into the dark living room, and on into the kitchen. There on the counter, illuminated by the small under-cabinet lamps, were three steaming plates heaped full of White Lily-made biscuits, scrambled eggs and veggie chorizo. A large pitcher of fresh-squeezed orange juice was nearby as well as a large bowl of fruit salad.
Another wide smile erupted from Laura's lips and she went over to get a couple of the plates. She saw a note on the counter, on the official letterhead (Office of the Queen, St, Gabriel, Louisiana), handwritten, from Angie.
"Don't stop dreaming.
Have a good tour.
"Thanks, Angie," she said, looking up towards the ceiling.
Jay stood silent. What is the point of all this? Momma, why are you doing this to me?
The more answers Jason got about his mother, the more questions seemed to get raised. Why were Kay and his mom so damn friendly? Did they have an affair? And if so...Jay suddenly got a deep chill. The thought, the very notion, that he might be Kay's...son? That was almost replusive to him, but now Jay's detective mind just could not stop working on this one. This was a "case" he had to solve. Forget all this shit about being king. Jay took this as a quest to find out who the hell he was.
Shakita came into the room a couple of seconds later with her arms full of dossiers and set them down on the coffee table, and the three began to eat.
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Sun of Zartha