Trying not to wig out but I got some highway patrol car with their blue cruise lights lit but not flashing. I'm clocking just a mile or two above limit, all my tickets are paid, and I just renewed the registration this afternoon. Probably nothing but I swallow the roach I'm hitting just in case. A mile passes slow; each inch of it grinds at my nerves with the cop riding my ass the whole way. Know I shouldn't tap the magick unless it's an emergency but the joint I smoked after Krav's got me paranoid.
"Hey Google," I shout to my phone, "open the Grimorie app."
Got me a glamourflage spell downloaded on it. Good for one activation. Renders me not invisible but as harmlessly dull to the eyes of guards and enemies alike. That is it will if my app will ever open. My phone's silent for a moment longer than comfortable when suddenly it responds - "Extreme psychological distress detected. Activating Emergency Holographic Therapist. Please standby. Help is on the way."
"No, no, no, no, no, you fucking cunt," I scream at my phone while forcing steadiness into the grip on the wheel, "not now. Not. Fucking. Now."
"Hello Jack," a Jedi force-ghost of my first therapist shimmers translucent and radon blue in the passenger seat. "It's been just over six months since your last emergency Talking Cure session."
Great. If this pig following me sees a ghost or hologram pop up in my Toyota Escape Pod then I'm definitely getting pulled over.
"Abort Emergency Holographic Therapist and open Grimorie App." I say calm as a man convincing his family that it's all going to be okay as the Christmas tree burns down the house.
"I can't be shut down until my analysis engine completes its diagnosis of your mental status."
"I have a cop right behind me ready to fuck up my night," I plead with my old therapist's hologram, "think maybe that's the distress you're detecting?"
"I don't know, Jack." The therapist answers, "is it?"
I roll my eyes and contemplate just pulling over.
Undeterred by my refusal to answer my therapist presses on with her uninvited round of the Talking Cure: "Or does it have something to do with Saturday?"
Confused I momentarily forget the pig and take the bait - "What's Saturday?"
"Your father's birthday, Jack." My therapist's holo-ghost gives me that bittersweet smile of hers, "he would have been 67. Retirement age. He was looking forward to it you told me once. Just painting his wargame miniatures and reading his books on ancient battles..."
"Not," I say white-knuckling the wheel, "now."
"Perhaps it would help if we tried role-playing," the therapist pushes through the boundaries I'm clearly trying to establish, "how about if I'm your father and you can say to him what you would if he was still alive?"
"Hey Google," I sing-song my request through a grin that's anything but happy, "how about you just shut the fuck up now and let me deal with this shit without the psychobabble?"
"Too late for that," my father's holo-ghost laughs derisively in the passenger seat, "I see you never learned your lesson from the Navy and New Orleans. You're going to get arrested and right before your poor mother goes on vacation. How do you think that makes her feel?"
"Dad...," and I bite my lip because this isn't him.
"No seriously," he presses on, "you couldn't wait until you got home? You had to get high in your car after your karate class?"
"Good," he snorts, "you can use it to keep from getting raped by the locals."
"No one's getting raped in jail, dad."
"And what're you going to tell your mother?"
"About not getting raped?"
"About having to bail you out of jail," he barks, "the cancer isn't enough for her to worry about?"
If it wasn't for the training I would've turned to scream at him but instead focus.
"This is all your fault," he says, "we gave you everything even when we had nothing and what have you got to say for yourself?"
"What are you on about now?"
"Five things I can see - blue lights still not flashing in my rearview mirror, brake lights ahead, black sky, my exit coming up, and peripherally my father who isn't here."
"You can't hide from what's about to happen..."
"Four things I can feel," I press on, "my foot's weight on this gas pedal, my hands on this wheel, the ache in my shoulder from training, and the warmth of my father's memory that this ghost fails to imitate."
"What are you doing...?"
"Three things I can hear: My voice talking, my thoughts forming, your imitation of my father's words failing..."
"Son, stop, please..."
"Two things I can taste: The roach I swallowed and the cigarette I wish I had right now."
My father doesn't speak but instead garbles static.
"One thing I can smell: Bullshit, my father wasn't some cartoon who just admonished me. That's my own damage speaking, not him.Also, FYI, I didn't forget my father's birthday. I'm just busy enjoying my time with the people who are in my life instead of wasting any more of it apologizing to the dead."
"Mental Diagnosis Complete," my father says with my therapist's voice, "Status: Passed. Emergency Holographic Therapist deactivated."
"Launch Grimorie app," I command and a series of occult symbols are projected across the windshield. I reach out and tap the Glamourflage sigil.
The solid blue light bursts into a siren strobe...
But then the squad car behind me jumps out of the lane and speeds past me in pursuit of some other poor schmuck.
"Close Grimorie app," I sigh and with that turn off onto my exit.