Did you know what your name was when you got out of bed this morning? If not, you are probably an Anna Jebrouski. Can you remember what this book is going to sound like hitting the floor before you drop it? If so, you are definitely an Anna. We are also called Coda around the Ivory Keys, and Space Cadet One when with the teen aged ninja mutants. We are teen aged mutants. We are good at fighting, sneaking around, opening locks, playing piano, and making friends. We aren't really ninja.
Is there a large black purse nearby? It's probably ours. Check the driver's license to be sure. If it's ours, there should be a small plastic box full of pins, paper-clips and thin strips of metal. These are lock picks. Just stick them into keyholes until you remember how to open the lock. It's a good idea to tuck a pin in the front and back waistband of your underwear. We don't often get handcuffed, but it's best to have pins where they can be reached. A few hairpins wouldn't hurt, either. The last picture in the back shows how we usually wear our hair. Also, the wooden rods under the leather at the top of our purse slide out. Hitting people with rods, or other nice heavy objects, is much better than hitting with an empty fist. That way, we only have to hit once.
Gee, I sound blood-thirsty. No, I've got it wrong! Read the entry for Aug 13th, which started like this one, then read how Aug 14th snuck out of the cellar expecting to be jumped by the Mad Doctor and the men in the white suits. People are nice! We don't have to fight very often, or use the lockpicks. If you look through the diary, you'll see the doctor hasn't bothered the last seventeen Annas, and we've been in only three real fights since then. None of the diary writers got hurt, though they remember Annas in the same fight that did, so you should be careful.
Most importantly, like people! Smile at them! Joke! Laugh! Love! If we make them happy, everyone will be happy. There are a few real bad folk, like the Mad Doctor, but we always remember how they will try to hurt us. They always have a flaw in their plans. We remember it, and either sneak away or beat them up.
Oh. I'm Anna Jebrouski too. I'm Aug 29th. Think of me as Wednesday. When I woke up, Aug 14th was on the first page of the diary. I think she wrote the best 'introduction' if you woke up alone. If you woke up with a guy, you should read July 21st. I'm writing a new introduction because the 14th didn't know the mutant ninja, and the mutant ninja are important.
First, did you wake up on a narrow cot in a basement? Is there a huge refrigerator nearby, a small chest, and lots and lots of booze? If so, you are in a bar called the Ivory Keys. If you are not in the Ivory Keys, hopefully you are with a guy. If you are alone and not at the Ivory Keys, you are lost. There is a map in the purse with the Keys marked on it. Try to get to Boston, to the Keys, and talk to Al Ivory.
If you are in the Keys, your clothes are in the chest. Dress in something neat but not fancy, then go out the back door and to the street. You'll need your lockpicks to get back in. DO NOT LEAVE THE SIDEWALK, but remember what it would be like to walk in front of a car and get hit. It hurts. You won't like it at first, but it's important that you learn not to be distracted by pain. There are lots of things around that hurt a lot, even if you don't let them happen. When you get used to it, it's funny. Don't laugh aloud too much, though I can never keep from smiling. Most people don't understand how good it feels not to be hit by cars, and they'll call the Mad Doctor. Again, not leaving the sidewalk, remember what it's like to vault off a windshield, do a somersault or two, and land on the road behind the car.
What we do best, and have most fun doing, is finding the one perfect memory from a bunch of disasters. Thinking about playing in traffic a little bit is important. You have to be able to avoid getting scrunched, ignore the pain, and remember things before doing them. But riding a motorcycle is better than playing in traffic on foot, and they won't call the Mad Doctor unless you really scare people. Playing the piano, playing basketball and beating up supervillains are also lots of fun, and you don't get in trouble.
While you're on the sidewalk, you'll probably meet a big black guy wearing lots of black leather, a bright colored shirt and a big hat with feathers. He's a pimp. He wants us to make love for money, and keep most of the money. I think he may be in love with us too, but he doesn't really know what love is. He's sick.
The Ivory Keys is in the middle of the Combat Zone. It's dirty, ugly, and bad, and so are the people. So many of them are trying to buy and sell happiness, but they aren't happy. If they think they're happy, it's a sick kind of happy which isn't at all like not getting hit by cars. If you don't meet the pimp, you might meet the street people sleeping off last night's cheap wine, or the teen age runaways that have come to the city to be hookers, or bullies from Chinatown trying to get money from the local store people.
Most of them don't want to like us. We're young, good looking, happy, talented, and we can remember how to beat them up. We can mostly make them like us. Just remember what to say to make them laugh. Al Ivory thinks we can make more money sooner telling jokes than playing piano. The jokes are usually on us. They know we don't remember yesterday, only today, and think we don't understand. Play sweet and innocent. It's easy. We do it a lot. Pretend not to understand even when you do. Make them laugh by doing something like what they say, but not quite. You can also make jokes when you don't understand, to make them tell things clearer. They may think we are a little stupid, but people aren't happy if we act like we're better than them, and we are. They can't remember fast enough to follow good times.
So if anyone asks how a little white girl can walk from the Combat Zone through Chinatown to a Roxbury basketball court without getting in trouble, don't tell him you are good with your fists. Ask him why there is a problem. If he persists in explaining, look like you're thinking real hard, and tell him you have a pure heart, because you have the strength of ten. If that doesn't work, remember something that will make him give up.
Anyway, after the sidewalk, we usually go into the Ivory Keys, have breakfast, and take piano lessons with Al. Playing piano with Al is weird. First, music is as much memory and time as it is notes. Remembering the best way isn't easy, like somersaulting over cars. The bad ways don't hurt, and there are so many ways to play a song. We can never remember the whole song, only the next few measures. Sometimes, doing something real neat in one measure messes up the rest of the song. Al says we have to be patient.
Also, Al does Jazz. Every time he plays a song it's different. He likes playing with us because he can change tempos and keys freely and we remember what is coming and can follow him easy. He used to try getting us lost, but he's given up. Anyway, playing with Al is incredible. You've got to try it at least once, and he gives us money for playing in front of people sometimes. If he wants us to play, we usually do. Al is a good friend.
He is strange about money. I mean, we work most days, but he only gives us a little of the money we earn. The rest he saves, and promises to give to another one of us. He thinks we are all one person. Don't take this personal, but when I spend two or three hours working, when I only have maybe sixteen, why won't he let me keep it? Instead, he promises to give it to you or maybe some other Anna.
But normals are always worrying about the future, much further forward than we can remember. They spend eight whole hours, doing jobs they don't like, and just to save money that they won't spend for days! Look around. Everyone worries about money, except the Johns, and they aren't really happy either. No one is really happy, though Al says its different outside the Combat Zone.
Except Glitter. Glitter is neat! The Ninja call her Space Cadet Two. She has pills and cigarettes that make her happy, and they seem to work better than the drinks Al sells, at least for her. Read how the 25th tried a cigarette that was supposed to make her happy and forget, but we can be happy and forget just as good without cigarettes. Glitter teleports. She take cigarettes, pills and money from bad guys, and gives them to people who aren't happy. She takes a lot more money from bad guys than Al gives us, but she doesn't want us to help because the bad guys might get mad. She doesn't think we can remember where all the bullets won't be. She's a musician too, and plays in a punk rock band. Al doesn't think punk rock is as good as Jazz. Al thinks that if we all practice, some of us will be rich and famous and good musicians. Al doesn't think much of punk rock.
But after you finish piano practice, call Glitter, and ask if anyone needs to be rescued. Remember, people don't need to be rescued until after noon time, because Glitter sleeps late. Most days, there isn't any ninja business till after dark. If no one need rescuing, we usually play basketball. Basketball is more fun than anything, except maybe mutant bad guys. Basketball can't hurt very much. The 4th listed all the good places to find games, except the Celtics said they can't play with mutants anymore.
After basketball, Sensai expects us to go to Karate class. I think he's a mentalist. We can never remember how to hit him, or how to avoid getting hit. Sensai says he's not a mentalist, he's just fast. He says it's not good enough to remember what to do. Our hands have to react before our brain knows what to do. I don't think he understands time. Anyway, he's like Al. He thinks it's important that you practice today so that Tomorrow will be better than you are. Excuse me Tomorrow, but why should I care if you're better than me? We practice with Sensai anyway. It's a change from basketball, and he'll hurt you if you don't do it right! He likes us to do the same silly stiff movements over and over, standing in funny positions. It's not like a real fight, where if you do the same thing twice even normals can remember what's coming. It's fun though. He's very picky. You have to do things just right!
After Karate, we either go back to the Ivory Keys to play piano and give people happy drinks, or the ninja might have a job. I got four hundred dollars today for helping a man get a box his grandmother gave him. I didn't have time to spend the money. It's on the bottom of the chest. I didn't tell Al, because he might try to save it.
The house with the box was old and very big and in the hills near Salem. There were two creepy old greenish people living there. They were bad guys. I could tell. They smiled at you to make you unhappy. They wanted us to be hurt. I told them we were heroes, and that if they tried to stop us we would beat them up. They laughed, but it was a sick-happy laugh. Bad guys are no fun until the fight starts.
The house was really spooky. The other ninja got a little scared, and I got excited even though I couldn't remember anything that would hurt. I think that was the same spell that made the other people who came to get the box run away. We were heroes, though. We kept going.
Then we fought the banshee. It was big and ugly. It's face was kind of like a rabbit, except it had been skinned. It was tough! I remembered a lot of ways to hit it, and none that would hurt it. I let Blue Dragon, Doug, and Bear play with the banshee. I tried to grab the box and run until I remembered it was too heavy. I tried to open it with a hairpin, until I remembered the hairpin would melt. I went back to play with the banshee, but by then it had run away. I hadn't even helped!
Then we tried to move the box. Even Bear and Doug together couldn't budge it, and they are strong! Glitter noticed some writing on the box. It was in Latin, I think. One word was Tetra-Gamma-Something. We decided the box was magic. Then we decided to start opening the box until I remembered what was inside. Then I could tell them, and we could decide whether to open it for real.
Well, they put the key in the lock, and I remembered. There was a huge wolf that somehow fit in the tiny box that was going to attack Bear. There was this ugly think with it's flesh falling off it's bones that was going to attack Doug. And a tall guy in black was going to form out of the mist and try to kiss Starfire on the neck, but she was going to burn him first and he turned back into mist. There were little people scurrying into mouse holes, and winged shapes flying through windows, an incredibly pretty woman with now whites in her eyes looking confused and lost, and more shapes and colors and wings than could ever fit in that tiny box.
It was fascinating. It was more complex than playing jazz with Al, faster than basketball, and it hurt more than a truck! It was the best thing I've done all day. I couldn't understand it all. I just remembered, and tried to remember more. I forgot to stop them from turning the key.
It was a good fight. We won. I remembered not to get hurt. The rest of the ninja were tough enough to take a few hits. We captured a ghoul, a werewolf, and a shadowlady. Blue Dragon looked into their minds. We sliced the ghoul and werewolf into small pieces. Blue Dragon said they had to. They wouldn't let me watch. He didn't want us to kill the shadowlady, though. I think he's starting to love her. They spent a lot of time in each other's minds, learning languages. I think she's afraid of love. She's an alien and very strange.
The two old green bad people got away. We got a glimpse of them taking their clothes off and jumping into the river. They have scales.
Anyway, there is magic in the world again. Sensai doesn't like magic, but the guy who owns the box thinks it's neat. He melted the box to make sure no one puts the magic back. He's going to study his grandmother's old books and be a magician. I think learning magic would be neat, but not as much fun as basketball.
But now I can't sleep. I'm tired! I went through four hours of basketball, and hour of Karate, a five minute chase after a guy who shot at Glitter, and the quick little fight with the spooky monsters. I can barely hold the pen straight, my head wants so badly to drop on the box of whiskey I'm writing on, but I know I can't sleep. It feels a little like dying. It's not quite the same. When the annas jumping over cars or at the spooky house died, there were a few seconds of being scared as they tried to remember a way out of it. Then it hurt as the truck hit them or the ghoul ripped out their neck. But it only hurt a while. Sleeping is so much slower.
I know there will be other Annas. I hope there will be. There were so many of us just today, and most of them will live and have Tomorrows. Some one is reading this, or so many someones? Today has been good. I've done lots of things, and helped people, and made people happy. But it isn't fun to lie down on the cot and remember things we might never remember again.
Sixteen hours may seem like a long time, but it isn't. Stop reading this. You won't have time left to be happy. Read July 21st. She says sleeping with a guy is much easier. There's more that you have to learn but you don't have time to learn it. Don't try. Live. Remembering is easier than learning or knowing. I'm going to bed now. If I did this wrong, I'm sorry.