Like most of you, I am not the master of much of anything, though there is a list of items to my credit.
(filing system more intuitive to new hires; rebranding of department e-newsletter; correction of erroneous assertions maintained by the blowhard I replaced; organization of meaningful emplo(more)yee rewards system)
This weekend I dined with a cache of Nouveau Anarchists (both terms they would dispute). The conversation was sophomoric, and believe me when I say I loved being a sophomore, naive in all the right places. I felt superior and professional to the end, a man in a suit, judicious in my choice of words.
I had anticipated that I would feel that sense of moral superiority that makes my voice shake in a moving and humiliating way. Instead I realized it is too late to plant peppers. I have visions of fava beans in my future, not as a measure of protection against some impending chaos but to watch them grow in a lanky heap and marvel and their homely exteriors and exquisite interiors. The spongey white pulp in the pod reminds me of the perfectly fit case of my father's gun (therein lies a row of fat smooth beans, each with a small horn, a cache of napping dragons).
I am just as willing to do my work as I was last week, but less bothered by my lack of mastery. It is 10:47 and the fog is lifting, and I found a blank list of things that want doing. I can't plant beans here. I will be back with a revised plan at 3:30.
Chubby was gone again. He’d run away three times already that month. Usually he ended up downtown, at The Shank. He wasn’t allowed in, but the bouncer was cool and let him hang out with him outside the bar.
All this running away was getting to be a(more) drag, though. I’m sure he liked the freedom of being off on his own. Mostly, though, I think it was because he hated me. I know for a fact that he hated his name. True, I would never think of calling a person Chubby. But a dachshund? He was such a portly little guy, I just couldn’t resist.
I drove to The Shank, but the only dog outside was a pit bull, tethered to the door by a chain heavy enough to restrain a lion. Or a ship.
“He won’t bite,” the bouncer said to me.
No, I thought. But he might swallow me whole. In fact it was entirely possible that Chubby was already in the pit bull’s belly -- sucked down like an oyster in one ruthless gulp. But the bouncer said he hadn’t seen him in days.
“I love that little guy,” he told me.
“He hates his name,” I said.
“Tell me about it,” said the bouncer. “My parents named me Ellerd. Fuckers. But I changed it.”
He didn’t say what he’d changed it to, and I didn’t ask. If he’d brought up the vagina tattooed on his forehead -- well, that might’ve gotten a conversation going.
Never far, the crow thinks, lifting on a gust of warm air spewing out of a vent in the industrial district, not quite downtown. Never far, the smell of the city. Even soaring over the green hills surrounding the massive cityscape, the smell wafts like bread baking in an(more) oven. But this smell is not pleasant, not really. McDonalds wrappers with rotting cheese, blue clouds burping out of sputtering mufflers, perfume to hide the musk of sex, sweat and blood. Beneath that a hint of desperation, of frantic movement, of hours much too short coalescing into the sweet and complex smell of millions of people dying one day at a time.
The crow cawed, almost a cackle, definitely its version of a snorting laugh, and pecked at a half eaten rib, smothered in hickory barbecue sauce. (less)
we keep dreaming as if nothing were to happen
when doors and minds were left open
And here we are saluting the stars with the topside
of our Eyebrows
Pretending the parallaxed people were teacups in our hands
I live on the wrong side of the tracks—for real, my hometown has tracks. And people who want their kids to go into something modern and stable, like plastics, live on the north side. They buy houses described as “cottage” or as “having gingerbread trim”—it’s a real fairy tale(more) over there, apparently.
My side isn’t all blood, hookers, and wicked witches—it’s more “mixed income,” as they say. Part of why other people look down on my side of town is because of our abandoned water park. Which was just inside city limits—dammnit, another block and Roseburg would have had to deal with it.
There’d never been anything else much other there, so when the park folded, so did the road leading out there, and, man, was that one creepy road. So of course that’s where all us kids cruised when we were in high school. Cuba Road, it’s named—what good baby-boomer water-park builder calls a road Cuba Road? The thing was doomed from the start.
Except that wasn’t enough! What really ruined us was the water park attendant! No, not Scooby-Doo and the Ghooooost of the Water Park Attendant. What do you think this is, a lie? This is my childhood, man. No, I mean, one of the live water park attendants frackin’ stayed even after the park closed down. Like the captain of a sinking ship! The dude made minimum wage. He didn’t design the place. He wasn’t responsible to investors.
I don’t know. My wife’s church makes the park one of their Meals on Wheels stops, they leave food at the base of the Tower of Terror, and that’s all I know.
“…You can always go, downtown.
When you’ve got worries
All the noise and the hurry
Seems to help, I know, downtown”
“Right.” I stated as we walked out of the restaurant and away from it’s music. I knew that I had plenty of worries lately, but al(more)l of those people! Being short in a crowd has its disadvantages. And the noise! The “music of the traffic in the city” sounds more like blaring radios, honking horns, and pissed off drivers to me.
Downtown was not what I needed, and yet there I was. In the mix of the noise and the people, the stress and the hate. The one blessing was that I was there with a group of my friends, and one of them was tall. So all I had to do was walk behind her and she became a people plow, moving them out of my way.
Then I fell behind. There was just enough space between me and my tall friend. A man stumbled into me. “I’m sorry. Really, I’m sorry.” He said, looking at me as if checking to make sure I wasn’t hurt.
“You aren’t from here.” I stated, noting that he looked as frustrated as I felt and his accent was different.
The man smiled. “No. And you aren’t either. My home’s north of here. And definitely not in this crowd.”
I grinned, happy that I guessed right. “I’m not a downtown girl myself.”
“Where are you going?” He asked. “Can I come with you? Two country folk lost together?”
“I am following that tall woman.” I pointed to my friend who was slowly walking away.
Then let s follow that tall woman. He exclaimed, and took my hand before taking off after my friends.(less)