The Julio Factor: Juno

Mark Craig

driving in the snow

11:33 p.m.
Somewhere out there on the streets of NYC, there’s a guy named Chuck in a 4×4 Bronco—who’s covered his license plates with bodega bags—blasting The Rolling Stones. Middle finger out the window, this vigilante hero stops for no one; only for more beer. Dubious of the weather reports and shutdowns, his mission tonight is to uncover what’s really happening in and beyond the boroughs…

12:17 a.m.
Stalking the streets in search of nothing but the truth, Chuck reaches back for more sonic fuel. His fingers plod through the splay of fast-food wrappers and cigarette boxes littering the back seat of the Bronco to find one of his old favorites. Although the case reads “White Fang ‘High Expectations'” he knows damn-well that this one holds a different cassette that will feed his next helping of soundtrack. The winds have picked up. The police nigh in their pursuit, he pokes his head out the window expelling a mix of condensed breath and smoke. With slanted eyes, our hero searches the Heavens for the turn bleeding from the lips of the talking heads…

2:24 a.m.
The snow is blinding now, covering Chuck’s tracks by the second. It’s been maybe five, 10, or 45 minutes since he last saw a cruiser’s lights in his rearview; he’s wasted. As he crosses over Irving and Schaefer, he sees a hobbling man in a dress wearing one stiletto, hugging himself away from the wind shear and drifting snows.

“Get the fuck in the car. Christ, what the fuck is wrong with you!?”

“Thanks…I, I, I’m Julio.”

“What the fuck are you doing out here dressed like that?”

“It, it, it was an org… it was, a, uh, a party. I, I. I’m not sure…” Julio quivers, mascara dripping from his frozen eyelash extensions.

“What-whatever. Where are you going? Where do you need to go!?”

“I, I, I dunno. I’m… I’m…”

“Fuck, Julio. You gotta give me something here.”

“Oh, well, uh, well, I, I got this,” Julio pulls a small baggy from his bra to reveal what he’s reticent to admit is likely a mixture of Molly and meth. “Someone, someone said, uh, like, um, uh, ‘Sassafras’ earlier. I, I, I think I’m sick. Thank, thank you. Who are, who are you? Did I see you earli…”

“Uh, well I’m drying out and crashing, my man. Sounds like you need what I need, and that’s what’s in your lil’ fuckin’ baggy and in the cans back there. Do me a solid, give me that shit, and grab me and your ass a brew… oh, SHIT!”

Lights swerve behind the Bronco two blocks back.

“Fuckin’ L-RAD cruiser at our seven, Julio.”

“Wha, wha, what….?”

“Fuck! The brew, the drugs, Julio! Now! Time to get alert, my dude. We got problems beyond your borderline hypothermia and gonorrhea.”

“Oh, oh, my god. It’s them.”

“Fuckin’ who, Julio?”

“I, I don’t know. The Reptilians, the NWO SS! This storm; this, this, thing Juno. It’s HAARP, it’s them. They’re here! Oh, god. They, they, they control everything! They’re not alien, they-they’re not of this earth though… well, I dunno, maybe. People say ‘extra-dimensional’…”

“What the fuck are you talking about, Julio!? Beer, NOW! And pop in that CD by your feet. Every track skips except the second one. And refrain from that fuckin’ conspiracy talk right now; I got reality on my plate!”

Chuck turns sharply onto Myrtle headed southwest. An eight-wheeled monstrosity of an SUV police vehicle leaps behind, blasting crippling noises from what looks like a bell atop the roof.

“Fuckin’ Juno cruisers! Fuck, JULIO! JUNO CRUISERS!”

Chuck covers his ears in pain causing the car to slide. Julio grabs the wheel seemingly unaffected by the sound waves emitting from the juggernaut in pursuit.

“Oh, oh, oh my god…” Julio gasps as the wheel becomes one with Chuck again. Julio collects himself, taking a key-load from his bag which he ushers over towards Chuck in attempt to seem compliant and aware.

“TRACK FUCKIN’ 2, JULIO!” Chuck screams brushing the side of a snow-banked sedan as he hooks left onto Bushwick.

Julio’s finger shakes as it depresses the play button on the Bronco’s stereo.

Is Chuck stepping closer to the truth, or further away from reality?

3:29 a.m.
Chuck, distressed by the skipping of track three and the onslaught of the Juno cruiser, searches for answers in another cassette, skimming the Bronco’s floorboard.

“Chuck, I, I, I know this isn’t a good time to ask but I’m really, really, c-c-cold, and my foot is numb…”

“Jesus, Julio! There’s probably some shit back there to wrap yourself up in. I dunno… here, take some of these hair ties and rubber bands and make it happen.”

Julio dresses his feet in various Taco Bell and White Castle bags and napkins sealing his found footwear off right above the ankle.

“I, I, I guess this’ll work, Chuck.”

“Whatever, JULIO! Fuckin’ Juno cruiser is climbing cars, hopping curbs! I can’t hold this douche off for much longer. HE’S RIGHT UP OUR ASS, JULIO!”

“Oh my God, uh, WOW! Oh my god, I’m so high. I think I’m sick.”

“STOP SPILLING YOUR BEER, JULIO! GET IN THE GAME!”

The Juno cruiser belts out another sound wave, tossing Chuck into a bout of psychedelic insanity.

“Oh my god!” expels Julio as he takes the wheel once again…

4:48 a.m.
“JULIO, YOU’RE A GENIUS!” shines Chuck.

“Oh, well, th-th-thanks, Chuck. It was n-n-nothing.”

“Whatever you crazy freak! Did you see that thing flip!? WOOOOOOOOOH!”

“Chuck, I-I-I need, I need to… Chuck, I, uh, I…”

“What is it, Julio!? There’s more beer back there if you…”

“PULL OVER, CHUCK!”

Chuck pulls the Bronco to the side along St. Johns in Crown Heights in view of a Rite Aid. It’s calm, slight winds with gusts of flurry and drift.

“Do you have an a-a-auxiliary input?”

“Julio, I don’t want no freaky shit right now. I just wanna get some smokes. You want anyth…”

“Trust me.” Julio hooks up his iPhone sporting 6% battery life into the Bronco’s stereo.

“Now, w-w-what are you doing out here, Chuck? I-I-It’s against the law to b-b-be driving right now—w-well, that’s what my phone t-told me…a-a-and why, Chuck!? What is that you’re l-looking for!?”

“It’s none of your filleted-brains’ business.”

“N-no, Chuck. W-what was that? Why are they after you, Chuck? Why are you eluding a m-m-military-grade vehicle on the streets of Brooklyn in a f-fucking blizzard?”

“Julio, you wouldn’t understand. I used to work with these people. That Illuminati shit you were spouting off to me—I mean, well, it’s, it’s kind of right, but it’s all contrived. So, you see, it’s all wrong, sort of… I, I…just, 9/11, Sandy Hook… the Gulf of Tonkin… FUCKIN’ APOLLO 11! It’s, it’s… De Blasio wasn’t supposed to win—he wasn’t supposed to e-even run! The unions around here!? It’s every… uh… I, uh, I-I suspected—it’s not everyone, NO! It’s just so deep… and this whole Juno thing was a tes…”

Chuck trails as the beams of a garbage truck fitted with a hood scoop T-bones the Bronco.

“HOLY SH…..”

Arthur Russell continues to sing over the crippled mass of metal, snow, blood, and paranoia.

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