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DREAMS CAN COME TRUE (A Probable Reality)*

The two children ran through the streets of the small Kentucky town. They ran past the small diner, they ran past the toy store, they even ran by the local candy shop.

"Hurry up, Jackie!"

The larger of the two, Brian, a boy of eight, rounded his last corner and saw their destination: the new comic book store. This was big news for such a small town. Hell, it was a rare occasion to see a new neighbor, let alone a whole new business.

"I'm coming as fast as I can, Brian! Don't run so fast! I'm tired!"

Jackie, the smaller of the two, was an average seven-year-old. She liked playing with the animals on the farm. Riding the horses, feeding the chickens. But it wasn't every day when they could break away from the watchful eyes of their mothers and run into town. It had to have been the longest two miles ever. But they had to get into town to see the new store somehow, even if it meant jumping onto the back of a truck and hoping they'd not get caught.

When Jackie finally rounded the corner, she saw it: their "Holy Grail," what they'd been hearing about from friends and multiple times from Brian's older brother Josh, who boasted how he had gotten a job in the store.

"Look, there it is, Jackie. It took us awhile, but we made it! Lets just hope Josh doesn't turn us in when he sees us...."

The two youngsters took that as their cue to enter the shop and begin browsing. Before long, Josh began screaming at them for messing up the racks.

"Can't you keep your grubby hands off the merchandise? Do you have any idea what they'll do to me if you mess this crap up?!"

Jackie and Brian stared at Josh. Then Brian gave Josh the typical response.

"Ha, hah! Josh said a bad word! Mom's gonna get you!!"

By this time, Josh had had enough of his bratty brother and his little girlfriend. Grabbing the closest comics he could find, he shoved a copy into both kids' hands and shoved them out the door.

"Here! Take these and go home! You'd better hope Mom hasn't noticed you're gone yet!"


Sitting on a bench outside the drug store on the edge of town, Jackie and Brian looked over the comic books that Josh gave them.

"What'd he give you, Brian?"

"An issue of Superman. What about you?"

"I've never seen it before. It's called Elastique, The Incredible Elasticized Woman! It's really cool!"

"Maybe. But not as cool as Superman."

"Oh yeah? Well, when I grow up, I'm going to be just like Elastique!"

Brian glanced over at Jackie. She was absolutely beaming at the prospect of becoming a superhero.

"Sure Jackie...whatever...It's getting late, we'd better head home."


The lined face, grey hair tied in a bun, corncob pipe, and old gingham dress might have seemed to be from a Norman Rockwell painting, but the expression was one Rockwell would never have dared: an intensity in the eyes, furrowed brows, hands on the chair arms.

"Where were you?" the icy words seemed more to emanate than speak from the old woman sitting in the rocking chair on the porch of Jackie's old farmhouse.

Jackie hesitated. No one could lie to Grandma Varley and get away with it--they said she was psychic--so there was no point in trying.

"There's a new store in town. We got some comic books."

Elaine, Jackie's mother, came out the screen door and said dryly, "Oh really, and with whose money?"

"Josh gave them to us," said Brian shyly.

"Lessee," said Grandma Varley, teeth clenching the pipe and hand out.

Jackie approached, as towards the guillotine.

"Now Gram, don't rip them, they're just books," said Elaine.

"I won't rip them," said the old woman said, slightly exasperated. She scanned the two comics when Jackie gave them to her.

"Superman," muttered Grandma Varley. "A good-looking straight man in blue tights and a cape. What is wrong with this picture? And this...." Varley looked at the other. "Elastique. Sounds French."

Jackie held her breath. Grandma Varley was horribly unpredictable--Chaos incarnate--and she might rip it up anyway. Grandma Varley's face hardened even further, brows furrowed so deep they looked pushed into her eyes. Lips pursed around the pipe.

Her black eyes shifted to Jackie and the latter swallowed wide-eyed at what might come out of Grandma Varley's mouth.

Varley handed back the comics and muttered, "The things they think of nowadays."

Jackie ventured a smile. It wasn't outright condemnation, so it was worthy of conversation.

"I want to be just like her when I grow up!" said Jackie, beaming.

Grandma Varley looked away and pulled out a flat silver lighter out of her apron--one of the old-style ones ("Not one of those cheap plastic things," she always said)--flicked a light and sucked the flame into the pipe with even pulls. Remembering the beautiful long dark-haired heroine with a stern look in a stretched action pose ready to fight the inevitable villain--an ugly thug--on the cover, Varley only muttered more to herself than anyone, "Maybe you will."

"Inside, you two," said Elaine. "Dinner's almost ready. Gram?"

"I'll be there," said Grandma Varley softly.

Inside, Elaine scolded the two. "Why didn't you tell me where you two were? I almost called the Sheriff to have a search party organized."

"Sorry," said Jackie. She knew this would happen.

"I've almost a mind not to give you any dessert. I made apple pie. Gram helped."

Jackie gasped. Elaine's apple pies were one of the most delicious pastries in the county. They won prizes at fairs. It was really Grandma Varley's recipe, which was of course a family secret. Something to do with a certain addition of a certain alcoholic beverage. But no one could quite place it.

Elaine noted the keen note of disappointment in the two: Brian and every other kid it was served to asked for seconds of that pie.

In a few minutes, Grandma Varley shuffled in slowly, appearing very old, but Jackie knew this was illusion. She placed her pipe carefully in the living room ashtray. She never smoked in the house.

Entering the kitchen, new life seemed to enter Varley's veins. A scan of the food cooking, smells, state of the utensils used--it all clicked together faster than any operating system Microsoft had yet produced.

Varley pulled the dishes and set them on the dining table, then the cutlery, moving at such an efficient pace as to make even Elaine wonder who was younger: Elaine or her.

Sometimes Elaine entered the kitchen to help, but usually she let Grandma Varley sort things out. Varley had learned to cook from her own mother and grandmother, the latter a legendary cook in the Great Depression era when local men got together in corn crews every fall harvest. "Those women were all great cooks then," Grandma Varley would say. "Those days are gone." Elaine knew better than to argue. Each generation had its own good times and bad, its own strengths and weaknesses. Varley made it a point to learn as much as she could from those old women of her own childhood so the future wouldn't forget. Elaine tried to learn from Varley and in some recipes made even the old woman smile--a rare accolade.

Josh arrived at the house after six--like Brian he often came over--and Varley reheated some dinner for him.

Elaine's husband was off on another business trip--Atlanta this time. The farm (which was Varley's) was only a shadow of what it used to be in her prime. Then, her husband Jim and two full-time men worked it. They farmed it and they all helped Varley's parents on their own farm nearby.

The death of Varley's parents was only half the blow Jim's death had been--the latter felled by a stroke when they were in the hayfield the summer of '76. Six months later, her own son and daughter-in-law died in a car crash. Her granddaughter Elaine survived but had a long recovery. Elaine was Jackie's age then. As next of kin, there was no question. Varley took her.

Jackie never could fathom Grandma Varley. She only knew she was old. Sitting on that porch smoking that pipe, Varley reminded Jackie of the Sphynx as she had seen in an encyclopedia at school, sheer age granting a certain awe and veneration. She never knew much of what Grandma Varley was seeing behind those old eyes--if anything. Once, she asked her. Varley, not wanting to hurt the child, only said, "Just thinking about old times." Then was silent.

"You must be as old as God," Jackie said once when she was five.

"I'm older," Grandma Varley quipped. "'I was before the Creator made,'" she said softly and chuckled, quoting the goddess Sophia from an old Gnostic text she found in Jim's library once. Jim--openminded and skeptical from his youth, like Varley--was only a nominal Christian, very interested in studying other religions, a reaction to the tiresome southern Baptist foisted on him as a child. Jackie only gasped.

"'Sides," Varley continued, "God is gay. Why the hell did he hang out with twelve guys all the time?" And she cackled as Jackie's eyes got wide.

"Gram!" said Elaine, leading Jackie away. "She's just pulling your leg, Jackie. Don't pay any attention to a word she says." And Varley cackled again as Elaine gave her an enormous frown.


Ten years passed, and Jackie, once a freckle-faced scrawny kid had blossomed into an astonishing flower. Preferring exercise at home, she was very fit. Of average height, her face had become flawless and her eyes without makeup were dark, almost exotic. With makeup, they were beyond description. But it was her hair that grabbed attention first. Unlike the current style of short bob for girls, Jackie had let her hair grow and it cascaded down her back right to her bum in beautiful dark brown natural waves. A loner in high school, she was universally hated by girls for her stunning looks and her indifference to them. Boys, well, suffice it to say, she had the look boys walked into open lockers for or into each other in the halls and fell down flat. Jackie, already with a bit of the faraway look of Grandma Varley, paid no attention to bitchy gossip or boys running into people by staring at her, and continued on her way.

Final year Biology was very hard and Jackie was actually quite pleased to be partnered with Eddie Straw, the school geek. Eddie, who preferred to be called Edward, was actually far from unattractive, but his large black glasses and usually drab wardrobe and unkempt hair--not to mention an introverted nature and occasional stutter--gave him the universal epithet of "fag." When the partners were read out on first day of class by the teacher, Eddie winced, not knowing what to think. He had known Jackie since Grade One and had grown up with her. His working relationship with her, however, turned out surprisingly well. Since he knew everyone thought he was gay, a girl like Jackie would pay no attention to him as a guy. And she didn't, but not for Eddie's reasoning. She simply hadn't seen any guy worth pursuing, in her estimation. Jackie worked hard, but Biology as well as many other subjects weren't hard for Eddie and he helped Jackie often without even thinking.

The Science Fair was an annual event at the school. Often, corporate recruiters from Lexington and elsewhere were there to observe and perhaps give the nod to scholarships at a university. Eddie had decided on creating a kind of anti-cell-division serum, a method to block cell growth which might be applied in cancer research or hell, maybe even a fountain of youth.

Working in the lab one evening, Eddie was tweaking a sample under the microscope while Jackie took down his comments on paper. She agreed this was reasonable. He was the genius, not her, and if he perfected the serum, he wanted to know exactly how it was done.

"No, no, no, this isn't working," muttered Eddie. "I', I'm going to toss this batch out." And he picked up the bowl and began heading out.

"Why?" said Jackie.

Halfway across the room, Eddie turned, "Because it's...aahh!" A stool in the middle of the floor tripped Eddie's foot, the bowl of serum flew and splashed on Jackie's bare arm. (Eddie was always the one with the lab coat.)

"Jackie!" shouted Eddie, "wipe it off! It might be toxic!"

Jackie only gave him a frown, took a paper towel, and wiped it off. Her eyes grew wide when she saw the skin of her arm move with unusual ease.

"Jackie, I'm sorry! Are you all right?"

After the serum was wiped off, she began to feel a burning through her arm rushing to her shoulder. She just held her breath. The burning filled her whole body but it was not painful. In fact, it felt like orgasm mounting on orgasm, unstopping, and she felt she was going to scream.

" you want me to get a doctor, an ambulance?"

When the ecstasy diminished, Jackie only looked at Eddie with an incredible loose and sensual feeling.

Jackie approached, and without a thought, both her bare arms stretched like rubber around and around Eddie's body. Eddie was stunned, not just by Jackie's stretched arms but by her...everything.

"What was that serum supposed to do?" she said.

"" Eddie stammered. "It was making cells...elongate."

"Eddie..." whispered Jackie, "you've done it. You've made the Elastique formula." Jackie remembered a comic and a fantasy discarded years before. "How long can I be this way?"

Eddie only swallowed. "I have no idea. Jackie, Jackie, you'd better stop."

"Why?" she said, smiling, and her hands stretched up and removed Eddie's glasses.

"It's not right for inferior stock like me to be touching someone like you."

"I never said you're inferior. In fact, without these're not bad at all."

"I'm...not...bad...?" But Eddie couldn't finish because Jackie was forming her face over Eddie's, moulding over it with delight. Her legs wrapped around his legs.

Eddie could only groan with pleasure and could only stammer out when his lips were free, "'re beautiful, Jackie."

And Jackie stopped, her rubbery face reforming instantly. She was wide-eyed at Eddie.

"What did you say?" she said.

Eddie looked down.

"Don't be surprised. You're the most beautiful girl in school. And this: incredible."

Jackie uncoiled herself.

"Don't you think you should be tested?" said Eddie. "That serum might be toxic. It might kill you. I...don't want to see you hurt."

"I feel all right. In fact, better than I ever have. Let's call it a night. If you want, we can do another project."

"No. I think I'm close to my original goal. But this: you can make more serum at this stage of its development. Provided you're all right."

"Do you want to be elastic too?"

Eddie swallowed, thinking about if they were both elastic and making out. But he shook his head.

"I better not. Like the old saying goes: one man's garbage is another man's treasure. That serum on my skin might BE toxic for me and not for you. I don't want to chance it. The formula obviously 'liked' you. It might be deadly for someone else."

Jackie nodded, realizing this made sense.

"Listen," said Jackie. "You've done something great for me. Can I do something for you?"

Eddie nodded.

"You've GOT to get rid of these glasses. And I can take you to a stylist. You'd be hot with short spikey hair and some new clothes."

"Why do you care, Jackie?"

Jackie's fingers touched Eddie's face and like animated spaghetti wormed all over his face. Eddie gasped, shuddered with the sensations.

"Maybe 'cause I like you. Maybe."

Eddie smiled.


One evening, Jackie came home late from working with Eddie.

"Anyone home?" she said.

Elaine came downstairs. Her dyed blonde hair was unkempt and her eyes were red from crying.

"Mom, what's wrong?"

Elaine struggled to form the right words.

"Set your books down, Jackie. Come on upstairs."

"It's Grandma Varley, isn't it?"

Elaine nodded.

"Oh no, she's not...."

"No, not yet. She wants to see you."

Elaine and Jackie went upstairs to Grandma Varley's bedroom.

Doctor Sanders the family doctor was there, himself elderly, very sad-looking now. Jackie's father, looking as worn as Elaine, was there too.

Jackie looked at the old woman lying in bed, the latter's eyes shut.

Sanders approached Jackie. "She could go anytime," he said.

Tears fell from Jackie's eyes. She never felt so helpless. "There must be something you can do."

Sanders shook his head. "I'm sorry, Jackie. It's simply her time."

Jackie approached the bed.

Varley's eyes opened and she saw Jackie. The wrinkled skin slowly pulled into a grin.

"Grandma Varley..." Jackie whispered.

"Didn't know if I was going to see you again," Varley whispered.

Jackie gasped and she felt tears welling in her eyes.

Varley stared at Jackie and for a second, the sharpness came back into the old woman's eyes. Varley beckoned Jackie close and Jackie leaned down. Varley took both Jackie's shoulders and Jackie hardly felt them. Many times in the past, Grandma Varley had taken her shoulders to give advice or to scold her, and her grip was as strong as if they were steel hands. But Varley was now only a shadow of her old self.

"Jackie," said Varley softly. "Jackie. Be careful of men. Be careful! They'll HURT you. I don't want to see you hurt."

Funny, Jackie recalled Eddie had said the same thing when "the accident" happened. Varley removed her hands. Laid them on the sheets.

Elaine approached. Varley looked at her. "See ya around," the old woman said softly.

Then Varley looked off to the side of the bed and stared as if seeing someone.

"'Bout time you showed up," Varley said softly. And she died.

Jackie grabbed Grandma Varley's shoulders and immediately burst into tears on her face. Elaine came around to the other side and held her dear grandmother one last time.

Brian was now in Residence at University of Kentucky. When he arrived at the house from Lexington that night and saw he was too late to say goodbye to Grandma Varley, he cried and cried.



(This short story has been adapted for a screenplay.)

*If someone doesn't know what this means, ask me sometime.



The Holy Insurgent of Uncertainty