An essay by Joshua Harken, as provided by Aaron Moskalik
Art by Shannon Legler
“I love you, man.” Jericho Bailey plants his face in my chest and puts me in a bear hug.
I hold my drink out to the side, careful not to spill it. It’s all too much. Jericho Freaking Bailey. And here I am in his house. Mansion?
No one had seen Jericho in a decade. The rumor is he doesn’t let anyone in. Even the delivery guys have to unload half a mile up the road, and robots take it the rest of the way.
Well, there’s never been a party I couldn’t crash. In this case, I brought the party to Jericho. Three of my closest friends are downstairs right now, exploring his well-stocked bar.
OK, so I met them just last Tuesday, but Hell, we’re on a road trip together, and by definition that makes us besties, right?
California, here we come. We cruise down the Coastal Highway where it turns inland a few miles and gets lost among the hills. Angelica … Angelique asks, “Isn’t this where that hermit billionaire lives? What wouldn’t I give to see his digs.”
Digs? Who talks like that? Anyway, I whip the Mustang onto the first turn off and head straight up a mountain. When we get to the top, I point toward the ocean. The sun glints off something hidden behind the palm trees. “That’s where Jericho Bailey lives,” I tell them. “On a clear day, you can see Hawaii from his penthouse.”
“Yeah, how would you know?” Desiree … Denise asks.
“Jericho and I are tight. We went to college together.”
“Maybe you can introduce us?” Damien says. Damien is full of ideas. “Let’s check out that hot ride you’re always talking about. Let’s go on a road trip. Let’s drive along the coast.” Maybe it’s his muscles rippling under his too tight shirt or the way his brown eyes twinkle over that crooked grin, but the girls always endorse his suggestions, and I can’t help but go along.
This time I’m not so sure though. I haven’t spoken to Jericho in twenty years. It was the first and last time I saw him laugh.
To read the rest of this story, check out the Mad Scientist Journal: Autumn 2016 collection.
Joshua Harken was living a lie. Fast cars, casual friends, it all blurred together as one big skid-mark of a life. All he knew was he had to keep the pace, or he’d realize where he went wrong.
Nobody knew how unhappy he was. His quick wit and devilish charm made sure of that. He kept on the move anyway. No sense taking any chances. Joshua couldn’t outrun his dreams though, a half-forgotten face behind Coke-bottle glasses. Get him drunk enough, he might even say his name, Jericho Bailey. Yes, that Jericho Bailey. Jericho the Freaking Billionaire Recluse Bailey.
Aaron Moskalik was supposed to be writing his doctoral dissertation. Instead, he found himself producing lexical doodles, odd scraps of poems, and pieces of stories. This compulsion subsided for the better part of a decade after graduation. Life happened, a wife, a day job, a daughter.
A few years ago he rediscovered the passion to write and decided to study the craft this time around and produce finished works that will be happily read.
Shannon’s professional title is “illustrator,” but that’s just a nice word for “monster-maker,” in this case. More information about them can be found at http://shannonlegler.carbonmade.com/.
“Final Thoughts” is © 2016 Aaron Moskalik
Art accompanying story is © 2016 Shannon Legler