Thursday, December 08, 2011

You Should Help Her More

I catch a glimpse of Lady outside the window. She is walking very fast to the utility shed from the basement door. (None of these settings corresponds to any waking experience.) She is dragging flattened cardboard. 

What's she doing? Why does the cardboard belong in the shed instead of the basement?

I make preparations to go and assist, grudgingly. Is this necessary? I am lacing boots by the back door. 

A grandson, not Peej but one who plays a grandson in our play, approaches. 

"You really should help her more," he says. I know he's repeating what my son has said, but I pay it no mind. These aren't really my own family. 

I walk beside Lady now. I'm telling her my adventure. 

I tried to find you, I said, but opened the door of the shed and there was a miniature football stadium where the storage building should be. There were young boys playing football. The ball flew out the window. 

Nobody knew what to do about it. They mostly stood around and waited. With great shrugs and nods, an adult, a coach or parent of one of the boys, is trying to indicate to me it would be nice we're I to retrieve the football. It was almost expected of me. 

I went around the corner. I guess like magical fairies, none of them in the shed could leave it. I'll bet someone has the ball by now. 

Around two corners, the side of the shed opposite the only door, the ball lays in a lot like a horse pasture. Approaching is a group of boys. One of them just ahead of two others bends to scoop up the ball and they stride up away from the pasture. I watch them go. 

This is what I want to tell Lady, but she shushes me. On her other side is a blonde lady, smiling through crinkly make-up and gazing straight ahead through eyes that do not see. I am to understand she'a an old friend of Lady's and she's been talking and I interrupted. 

Okay, I think, and I bolt away. I won't be going to the car to drive home with Lady then. She can look for me. 

Where am I? It seems to be the bare underside of a huge stadium. Over there is a ward. I enter it and lay down on one of the beds. 

I remain there. That should fix her! Don't want to hear about the lost and found football, well, I son't care about the glazed blonde neither. Bet she wasn't even there in the flesh. 

I jump up as spontaneously as I entered the ward. It was the time to enter now it's time to go. 

On one of the other beds is my list brother Reloj. He isn't leaving. 

Tim Bowden is twiddling his thumbs on his  iPhone 4S!

Friday, November 18, 2011


On a bike, a long down, going so fast vision is bleary, my helmet blocks vision ahead. I see another start up the hill, worry we might collide in my partial blindness. 

I note how I'm able to bounce uphill with ease. 

I stop at Dr Jim's. His lady says, oh, wait. She retrieves an insert from a window. It's a rectangle out of four 1 x 12" planks of unknown construction. It's open, so I have no idea what use it might be. I also do not remember loaning it to them. I do not recognize it at all, but I accept it. 

Dr Jim says, confidentially, "You really should go by and see Boss." This is an actual dim soul from my home town, given over to alcohol. I'm really too tired for Boss. Dr Jim reminds me he's my cousin. "Fish doesn't write to him anymore." This is another from the old days, a guy I was raised with of loony habit and imbibing nature. 

So a highly educated pair from my online acquaintance connects me with my meager hardscrabble past. 

Tim Bowden is twiddling his thumbs on his  iPhone 4S!

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

The Mountain Daily

Hut's Hunches
Renouned column in
Bonham Daily Favorite
It isn't daily, of course, or even weekly. After all, says the editor, nothing changes from day to day in our little unnamed village high in the Anonymous Mountains.

But when anything does happen, we all look to the Daily. And something has.

It was the only topic this day, and many after. A high wind at the peak. Much snow, presaging a flood of Something River, which runs through our village. Or perhaps it's one of those mine disasters. (We were reassured on that last point by the lack of mines or anything to dig out of Anonymous Mountain.)

What could it be? Surely, we all knew, something had gone wrong somewhere. We waited until the Daily could be printed.

The only distribution point was the Coffee Shop. (There was a contest one year to name that establishment, but nobody entered.) We roamed by the open door of The Coffee Shop all the day long.

The price of each issue was $5, which we paid, because each edition might carry months of incidents, and we were able to pay once for all of it, unlike the big city paper subscribers, who must pay a daily rate for their gossip, which amounted to a great deal over the year.

Here it is, freshly printed and in the bin. The paper flew out the door.

Something had happened, we read. Either a big snow at the peak, which would bring floods down below, or a mighty wind somewhere else.

We gathered in knots to discuss the news. Someone from time to time would take out her rolled copy of the Daily and slap it for emphasis with the back of her hand. It says so, right here, she would say.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Great Wall

The plan was to build a wall. But instead of a barrier, it was to be s a community-building project to run like the Great Wall of China for miles and miles, from Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, through Laredo to Austin, Texas.

Walking along the first section past Laredo, Eloy Cavazos marvels,"These are truly unique." He was referring to what were billed as Flying Buttresses along the way, set every three miles (the wall was made for long hikes) as the rest stops occurred.

"Heh-heh," was B T Wright's reaction when he learned of the coment. "Reckon them buttresses been around since Roman times." The wall was passing through B T's land and he kept up with what was said in his neighborhood.

"I don't know where Mr - Wright, is it? - I don't know where he studied architecture (nowhere, is where; B T was born in the family ranchouse on them grounds and had not been out of pistol shot from it since) but they taught us at Autonoma the purpose of a Flying Buttress was to offset load, which these don't, thus they are unique in that regard."

He made his point, but some of the neighborly amity seeped out of the enterprise during the encounter. The general idea of the wall was leveling but the fact was not many of the Anglos took well to an old boy made a fool of by a Mexican, especially an educated Mexican.

It was not the first nor last time a thesis to be proved instead buttressed its antithesis, but logic and irony were even less understood on the lone prairie than architecture, so the wall continued.

It's complete now, the Wall. There was of course a ceremony. Instead of the proverbial year in Europe, recent grads might take up the three-month hike along the Great Wall. There are provisions at each rest stop, plus sleeping accommodations. The passports are checked on leaving Monterrey or Austin and not again until arrival at the other. (The way is elevated to fidty feet and so rather difficult to access from any point except for the two entries.)

A survey was taken at both the University of Texas at Austin and La Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León in Monterrey some ten years after the wall was finished. It was multiple choice, and the first question was, What was the purpose of the Great Wall. Of all the respondents, 12% had the right answer.

The next question was, Did the Wall achieve its purpose?

87% said yes.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Lost Kitten

The delay in the image downloading; that came first. It was much later than today, and it was explained one of the legs had kicked out. 
The legs were four and they propped the target so the visualizer could reach four dimensions. A hologram, shot from the inside, but a leg fell, so the image didn't load. 
The rest of the gallery just waited, and then I grew impatient and zoomed off. There are plenty of galleries and they stream so fast. 
The image from the set left standing had someone holding something. What was it? I am trying to maintain my balance here. 
I ask Lady Kale, did you see that one? Someone holding something delicately, like a recovered kitten? No, she said. Just French Onion Soup and chiffon settings. 
We can choose, I say. What we watch on the scanner is up to us. And there is more to choose from than was available to the world for any century before. And we're in control. 
But I'm alone again. I say this out loud, but I'm talking to me. 
I try and think if I am truly sustained. We use that word a lot. The ice is full of penguins and you have to remember where you left your hat. 
I say that. I have lots of sayings. It's okay, because most everyone says the same slogans. We don't remember where we heard them. 
I take time for thinking. Was I like this always? Is it okay being me? I try and remember how I was. 
It's a unique experience, the scanner. It's made to order, your own history and preferences, made to order. They know me better than I know myself. 
Ordering is easy. A point, a punch, and it arrives in your in-box, or to your door. 
I already know how to hold it when it arrives, though I'm not sure what it's for. (It's okay, says Marly, always. I don't know what I'm for. Marly has a laugh like a kitten trilling the high keys.)
I know how I'll hold it, though, when it arrives. Like a lost kitten I've just found. 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Shaman

Another one of those mystical windy numbers through dark passages. I am expected to join my Army unit. I do not know how to find it, though I should, hence I'm reluctant to ask. There are two guys setting something up; I don't know what, and I expect neither do they. Anyway, it's for certain nobody's in any hurry for it.

I say, maybe in the orderly room, I may find my assignment? One of them says, with an effort - though he speaks slow and low, it's almost too much for him - "Don't think so. They're just electricians."

I walk down the aisle, which is but a pathway between big tents with indistinguishable overhang and dubious surroundings, and halt by a raging stream. I stand because that makes as much sense as anything else. The current rises, walks up the backside like an animal. I must lay supine to prevent it's dragging me away.

Nobody seems to find my predicament of any note. At least, it doesn't seem to bother them. I suddenly realize why.

I have become their shaman. I take away all the evil spirits in the camp, like a lightning rod. All manner of clumsy lost sad happenstance is mine for as long as I stumble about in their region. I don't like this job.

I stand up straight. Stride up the bank. The river recedes like a tamed beast. I consult my iPhone; that's the ticket.

It sets a screen of me in the camp. There is me on my screen. I shake it good. The image forms a map, on it is drawn a thick red line, at the beginning of which is a throbbing blue dot, meaning me.

That's better. I step off, towards my assignment, and the blue dot moves with me. That's more like it.

Behind me is a crash. One of those who were doing something had the hood of the project fall on his head. He curses with more alacrity than he's shown during my visit.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Old Man Mose is Dead

Old man Mose came out of them piney woods and never again was the same. Nobody knows what happened there, except'n it was bad and he was behind it.

From that time forth, he was plagued by owls. Often went into the woods, which is what you do if you live there, only he was a gentle critter holding neither rifle nor ax. But he done something, no doubt about that.

Came back very often after that with rips in the flesh. The owls caught him from behind, and, you know, the problem is, everybody always has a behind, and there are many owls.

Why didn't he just leave this mountain, go down to the flats? Lots of folks live down there and everywhere with more serious plagues than owls, and they just adjust to it. Heat, winds, no rains, they say, where you gonna go? For them, for most anyone, their world is all there is. Nobody makes good sense in their living arrangements.

There was no real askin', neither, as you don't want to partake of another's evil and banished forlorn pride and anguished isolation. You behave to him as if you didn't know what was perfectly obvious, like a lost limb.

Once he met a mountain maid way back in the piney woods, up before the wind begins. He meant to leave her but was distracted by owls, she said. Didn't leave soon enough. And so he brought her back to his cabin.

The little girl was born the requisite time after. Eyes open and following him as he came into the bedroom, until he left. Not smiling, neither.

Whatever happened way back long ago, she was there to account for it. Nobody doubted it, as nobody could explain it neither. But you see lightning, then thunder, and eventually you link 'em in your head, before it's explained rightly.

The little girl made sure as soon as she was able there was no need of owls. He was safe from them in the woods now, at least, though no longer could he hide from trouble in his cabin.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

A Small Bird

The motion was made and duly measured and presented in proper order and, as no member of the illustrious panel charged with remedies, solutions, proposals, or alternatives sputtered in utter incredulous stupor, in fact to a member seemed in rapt contemplation, I determined my own best posture and proper countenance was to lean attentively forward with my contemplative chin supported on one studious fist as were the rest of the assembled.

Maybe I had simply misunderstood. Was it in fact suggested that financing must be secured and expended upon the contemplated engineering project described as follows?

That clouds be seeded with dry ice in order that the nitrogen be boosted in atomic weight over the span of Israel within the 1949 Armistice borders at the narrow strait of eight (8) miles in order that the waist of land be expanded so that the north be not cut off from the south, or the reverse, in any emergency, and further that the braced air be sufficient in its entirety to bear the weight of a small bird.

And the President of the Council said, "Question?"

A hand went up. Now it will be clarified. Good for Representative Ruth.

"Just how small a bird?"

Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Oaxacan Rig

From Evernote:

The Oaxacan Rig

I had brought home the goods, all the way from southern Mexico. Everything was fine and swell, but now I needed to return the big rig with which I had hauled the freight.

I don't know why I didn't think of this before. We live in a bordering state, probably Texas, and it's a two-day journey back down to Oaxaca.

Maybe I'll start in the morning. A few hours won't make any difference.

In the morning I am still sluggish and procrastinating. It has to be done. You can't just leave an 18-wheeler parked in front of your house. Besides, some Oaxacan must have need of it.

Here I go, I think. A fool and his empty truck. I could maybe find cargo to sell down there, hammocks or straw boaters; make the trip worthwhile, but I'd have to pay plenty of mordida and the chance of losing the entire shipment during the long journey was right at 100%. Not good odds for investment.

Rolling south, I think of just stopping at a roadside park and hiking to a bus stop. Somewhere south of Waco, this scheme takes shape. Might even leave a suicide note, but I'm not sure there is anything north of Oaxaca to connect me with the rig.


I rode near to Austin, and transferred to a route heading back north, to home. When the Greyhound passed the roadside rest stop, I said, mostly to myself, "I wonder if the drivers live in those rigs."

A gent across the aisle in a Peterbilt gimme glanced at where I was gazing, said, "Looks like an abandoned Oaxacan rig to me."

Sent from my iPhone

Friday, April 08, 2011

Time Did What We Couldn't

We fell out before noon on the appointed day with our mauls and saws, ten of us. Plague had sent over a 'dozer and operator, but he just sat on the machine and waited for us to start. After all, he wasn't a native. It was our play, to begin.

It was a right good scheme, too, well thought out and practical. The American Theatre was very famous in our county. It had been the host of D W Griffin silents, such as Intolerance, which some elders in our town remember seeing there. It was a potential Historic Society relic if ever there was one in Bowdoin.

Our job was to partially destroy it.

The town of Bowdoin was dying. You could see it, feel it dying. Buildings up around the square were vacant, and some abandoned for a while were falling. We needed help to save the little village of our ancestors.

And so, during one or another city council meeting at Keene's (there were regular meetings but they were too formal, what with Ma there from the Favorite to rwrite down what was said) the plan was hatched to qualify for state development funds.

This was the program to raise property values in blighted regions with reconstruction and bank the additional taxes assessed for more civic remodeling. Redevelopment. Easy as pie, but the state would not buy into just your standard issue ghost town. There were just too many of those out in the dusty Texas plains, so we had to offer up something worth saving.

We figured we could render the American. It was so pretty; ornate and noir-gothic, with fillagreed columns and painted high frescoes and heavy purple velvet curtains. It was designed to allow for one day a week the commons to feel special, if that ain't a contradiction.

Calahan set his sledge on the floor, the handle resting against his thigh as he pulled on his gloves. Woesong circled beneath the screen, seeking where the most damage might be inflicted quickest.

Reloj just stood and looked. Up there in the balcony was where the Blacks were confined, but he had been up there one splendid night with Anna Lou. Right at the low railing towards the east, where the projectionist would be unable to see them.

Woesong thought, in the lower front section, just above the lateral aisle, that's where everything I knew about natural-motion activity beyond Bowdoin was absorbed. We had no TV in his early days, so we were pretty much left to entertain ourselves, to work out our own version of enterprise and folly and old glad social networking.

Nobody saw Abbot and Costello, or Francis the Talking Mule, as cultural forces worthy of emulation, fear or rejection. The movies were westerns or big city gangster or drawing room comedy flicks, and we walked out the same door we came in. It was foreign, like the carnies that came to town with their strange alien critters, and then they packed up and went on out 82 come some sunup.

It was TV followed us home, but that came later.

"Remember the tunes they played so low you could hardly hear in the time just before they drew the purple velvet aside and the previews began?"

Reloj wasn't moving, not even preparing to move. He sang very softly.

Atomic power,
Atomic power,
'Twas given by the mighty hand of God

"Yes. Oh, yes. You can date that one. 1949, before the Russkies had their own bomb."

"And there was the very thin transparent mesh curtain behind the purple one, which remained to cover the screen for a little while to mute the picture, almost like it was through a glass darkly, or waking up from a dream, instead of drifting off into one."

Reloj turned with his big hammer on his shoulder and walked clean out of the American Theatre. Not saying anything, not even looking back. I followed him. We weren't the first, and the stragglers came soon after.

The guy on the 'dozer watched us head on up and down South Main to our vehicles, then cranked up his own.

Time did for us eventually what we couldn't, which is ever the way. There were other schemes, but none of them worked. But such measure and manner as our civic pride took was expressed most elegantly and honorably the day we came to do damage to our heritage, like insulting our ancestors to please fickle strangers, and didn't.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

A Most Excellent Novel

From Evernote:

A Most Excellent Novel

A most excellent novel, chock full of my favorite ingredients. It was freighted, dense and quirky. Love them kind. it was written by a woman, and I love them kind, too.

It came in a little classic brown jacket, probably of the Everyman library. It was recommended in an article by someone I had read of elsewhere. Faulkneresque, it was labeled. Boy, show me to it.

I could not find it. Everywhere I searched for it - online, at our extensive bookshop - I came up empty. I could not even find it listed anywhere. I was embarrassed to conclude the "article" where I'd read the review was actually a short story. Okay, I say, I'll go back and see if there is a fiction identifier in the piece which recommended the ghost novel.

I could not find it. Everywhere I looked, at home and online, was dry of any notion of any series of paragraphs anywhere which may have boosted the Femme Faulkner.

What was the name of that novel anyway? I tried to think. Can't remember. But the author's name ... escapes me.

Oh, well, I know I could ask someone who will know... if I'd taken a class anywhere ever. Then I would be able to fit both writers and their production into oeuvres with a professor guide up at the U.

Wait ... what was the name of the author of the recommendation?

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

A Perfectly Fine Gadget

From Evernote:

A Perfectly Fine Gadget

It was just hefty enough to feel important. It was metallic and intricate on it's face; very impressive. About the size of a large paperback.

We handled it, nodded, passed it on. Another of us did the same. It went all around.

I was the one who discovered that you could twist the barrel after shoving the base upward and it would lock in place. I tried it twice, then said, "Hey, lookahere."

I demonstrated the move again, more expertly, assertive, even. Everybody around nodded. I placed it back on the shelf and made to walk away to another part of the plant. Others did, after long admiring glances back at the gadget.

Nobody, then or since, had the slightest idea what the use of it might be.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Strange Visitors

From Evernote:

Strange Visitors

Isn't it strange we are in their house and not ten feet from them and yet our two families have never spoken, nor even been introduced? I am a bit uncomfortable.

They are arrayed in a family setting, and so are we. They are collected near the foyer and we are near the front door. The house is a rambling complex with an assortment of roofs in a shady noir (as in, I'm not sufficiently visual to describe it) floor plan which leads very soon out of sight.

We must gather our trappings. Plastic toys for our only child, a daughter, strewn about. Yes, yes, we really must go; I'm sure of it. We move about, preparatory to our exit.

Bit first here is a lady who needs assistance. This means professional office duty; else she would only ask for help.

I sit and I listen and make notes. "I see," I say, and "Do go on."

She has the voice of a senior haggard Asian. I glance at her for the first time. "She" is actually what looks to be a middle-aged Hawaiian with deep lines in his face. He is pressing an index finger directly into his brow between his eyes, which are closed. What's he doing, channeling?

To my right and utterly still is one who matches my first supposition based upon the voice I have been hearing. She also presses an index finger just above her eyebrows but her posture is otherwise unremarkable. She remains perfectly still, with her eyes and her mouth closed.

It is really getting on time for us to leave.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Rocha's Curtain Call

He worked in Supply most of the time I was in the unit. Hermerejildo Rocha, called Herman, was a Spec-4 with a laconic manner and a steel plate in his head from a recoilless rifle injury in Vietnam. He had waived any disability claim in order to re-up in the Army for a six-year term. When asked why, he shrugged. 'In business back home, they don't pay any attention to you when you're my age.'

Home was Garden City, one of the most depressed regions of the nation then or now, and, even were there some sort of economic miracle possible, it still would be in Kansas.

He and a buddy from his home town had remained together throughout their enlistments. The buddy was also disabled in that war, with a rifle wound to his foot ... from his own weapon. "It was bad over there," Herman admitted, "but ..." and he just shook his head. The buddy seemed always very depressed, spoke in a quiet voice, had a pretty wife who danced for the boys in one of the many go-go grind shops along the main street of Lawton, OK.

I had a very soft time in the Army during those horror years for some troops. I was able to drive home most weekends. And one Sunday night or Monday morning I came back to the post to discover the laces missing from my dress shoes.

I lived in NCO quarters, though I wasn't one, and neither was Herman, my roommate for the period just before his ETS to another post. Our boots and shoes were displayed under our beds in the two-troop rooms, and mine were bereft of ties and Herman was gone. I guess he was just short a pair for his dress green traveling uniform.

Why not just requisition from me? He'd never see me again, so why even bother with a note? He was probably too busy with packing to even wonder about somebody already a ghost.

Rocha just walked into a dream, leaned on a bureau in his uniform, looking just as he had way back when. I didn't speak to him because of distractions in my dream, and I regret it now.

I wanted to ask him about the laces.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

New South River

From Evernote:

New South River

I need something, for I am cold. I will drive somewhere there is perhaps a sweater.

On the roadway (which like in all my dreams is familiar to me only in my dreamstate) I encounter signs which tell me New South River is just ahead. Okay, I think.

Houses thicken until I am in a veritable nest of single story white frame one- and two-bedroom structures. They are set out like cabins, with little space between, as if a flood had gathered them along a river run and left them here. They were all in good repair, as far as I could determine, although there was not a sign of life about.

Oh, here's some. Milling about an old fashioned storefront with steps to a porch. Inside there is a jumble of dry goods as if the prop folks had quickly dumped it onto the set.

"The New South River is historic!", reads a sign over a bookshelf. There is a guidebook there up high and I think I will learn now about New South River, which I never heard of and don't want to ask about because maybe I should have.

There is a map on the wall showing the river itself, which seems to be running down the center of the US, somewhere in the Great Plains. It is drawn in a very dark blue line to rival the Mississippi to the east. It is progressing for many miles over flat terrain; no loss of elevation to boost it.

How is it running, this river? And, at the spot where it is drawn, there is no river in the real world.

I wonder if it matters. There is a lady who seems to be in charge. At least she has much enthusiasm and she keeps moving and everyone smiles as she passes by.

There's a ghost river, and some are very enthusiastic about it, but I wonder what can be the utility of the project. I see one worn rudimentary pamphlet and doubt it will become a best seller. Yet all around there are avid believers in New South River. And how can anything labeled 'new' be historic?

From all about me here there is great hope and some joy about a current which does not exist  I walk out of the store alone.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Nothing Like the Sun

It was a most satisfying accomplishment, if only because the results were so far above either effort or expectation. I had appended a singularly pedestrian comment unto a blog posting.

It was altogether quite reasonable, maybe a bit so sensible as to appear banal. (A trivial remark on second mortgages, say, will abstract to profundity quite well, as: "A citizen's Liberty is not owed, but paid to his nation's military.") The point I have forgotten, as have all who ever knew of it, because the sole paragraph I had supplied was strangely unmoored from the particular and cast into the general, as a boat in a storm.

My comment was copied, shared, passed on, until it went viral. From large-scale news sites to small neighborhood blogs, my lines appeared, were read, commented upon, repeat.

I personally saw no benefit because only my alias was attached to the newborn wisdom of the paragraph. Then, over time, my by-line disappeared, and a variety of famous names was substituted, from Aristotle to Hume.

Hey, I wrote that, I said in the small forum in which I was able to appear. But, as one or two asked the circumstance, and I was unable to supply without cheapening the whole enterprise, I soon gave up all attempts to mount the bandwagon I had launched.

Well ... not really launched, except as the pebble to the landslide, because my own small candle flame spark to the project was nothing like the sun it became. So I was left to muse whether all fame were like this.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

A Repetition of Unintelligible Sounds

We sometimes gather at bus stops, but the buses no longer run, and we know it. It's mostly dark after the sun goes down. We have this sensation of the day ending for months now.

Someone will hear something said, step up to anyone on the street, inquire. They're going to do a deal. My cousin works there. Everyone nods and eventually the group dissolves, the elements reforming on down the road.

Almost any sound will bring a pause, and everyone will look towards it. There are fewer vehicles, and inside them faces look grim. They do not look out at us, those who are able to ride in autos. "Hear anything yet?" is the most common greeting on every street.

It isn't clear what we're waiting for. Nobody knows how we arrived at where we are. Everything just stopped. All scheduled events weren't canceled, they just didn't happen. Groceries and markets are still open, and there's no rush anymore. We've in some sort of slow-burn emergency, but we continue the same day and night for weeks now, so the anxiety is low-key.

Milling in front of store windows where nothing is for sale except for perishables. The power doesn't work in houses so we come into the street to find where broadcasts are happening. In furniture and convenience stores, with speakers high up above the show windows. We stand on the street to silently watch and listen. Announcements are sporadic and brief.

They tell us of plans. We are going to package our debt, we were told recently.

"We will attempt to lease the deficit to other nations which we don't owe already. There is an electronic auction in Canada. It is suspected good will come of this initiative from Mrs Margaret O'Connell of Peach Street. Thank you, Mrs O'Connell."

It will be like all the rest of them. They have ideas sent to them by Concerned Citizens. They say they will implement the plan. Then they come back in some days.
"It was actually not a good plan from Mrs O'Connell. It would be like selling the hangover and not the party. We expect more of our citizens. This will never do."

Then we will hear out of the speakers:

"Mr Magruder has suggested that if all citizens were to take turns dragging on a large treadmill, then power would be restored. We could then export what we don't need to our creditors. Thank you, Mr Magruder."

We watch the guy who is the only one we will see all day and into the night who is smiling. It is like a hasty drawing of a smile, however. It is unnerving that the only notions for correcting whatever has gone wrong come from individuals writing to the station.

The central, maybe only, state of our being is anxiety tamped down just below panic. The children still play in the park, but it's as if they are at a funeral. They know something is sad, but not what, and nobody is able to tell them. How do you tell a kid that everything just stopped?

Some will begin, "I tell you, if only we'd ..." and then someone else will always cut him off. "There's no need to go over the past. What's done is done."

We had grown accustomed to the noises in our town, of course, but what we hear now is often unfamiliar; sometimes ... disturbing. A sort of rumble, a muffled concussion, and always just beyond sight. We all stop and wait, everyone quiet, but it will not repeat. We are waiting for a repetition of an unintelligible noise, is what.

The women seem most patient, are the most assured. They keep us up, tell us we'd better and we ought to and don't let this or be sure of that. They are marvelous. I don't know what the men would do without them, nor the kids, although nobody believes any steps we take will ever make the slightest difference.

"Mrs Kinoffka of Liberty Street has an idea that throwing wide our borders and allowing everyone in will dillute our difficulty like how a cesspool be cleaned by a creek in a storm. Thank you, Mrs Kinoffka!"

I remember the countenance of my mother in her casket. Her hard last days had left her looking like her stern elder sister. And there was the begger with her child in the market that year, Mazatlán, her face a mask of woe. The torero, Eloy Cavazos, on missing with the sword, lays over the back of the animal and moans to the heavens.

It's a very common expression now.

Saturday, February 19, 2011


We are called back into a litigious labyrinth we thought we had done
with. There is a hearing room with heavies at the door. They only
lounge there; no force is otherwise implied. However, we don't try to

The question for the Case Management Conference, the hundredth in a
series, is the figure of speech possibly mentioned, maybe thought, in
one of our depositions.

"We will bury you."

It may have been "Wilbur, you ...", as that was the name of the
bailiff. (Young then; he now is retired and sets his teeth in a glass
overnight, we hear during our long hours spent on these premises.)

There is on our land, we understand, a mound which resembles a grave.
It is considered by all parties that perhaps the inferred, implied, or
imagined threat might be alleviated were we to level that ground, thus
causing less anxiety for someone, or no one, who might link a
simulated (in the mind of a casual viewer) grave to the fantasy quote
from a deposition. We do not even begin to take up the odds anyone who
mangled a transcript from a court reporter might also walk upon our
grounds and spy the mound and be sore afflicted by it.

Okay, we say, and stand.

The judge intones, "One other matter ..."

We sit.

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Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Club

Monica had written extensively about Disgustus, the primitive manlove tribe which would not allow women among their illustrious charter membership. This was because, as J Cletis the spokesman would inform the admiring cub reporters, men are better. Boy, said J C, do we love us some men here at Disgustus.

They would, however, allow in maids and cleaning ladies, secretaries, if they went about their business without jostling the guests. That's how Monica sneaked in. As an office worker. She took her own private notes of the gossip in the kitchen and laundry room. How the boys acted like frat fools away from the family. Towel popping, raw unfunny humor, raunchy comments, vulgarity, odd wrestling in the

The story hit the front page of the Atlanta Clarion under an alias by-line. Some consternation resulted at the club, for what supercilious executive can afford to look like a loutish teen in public?

It was calculated some feminist must've sneaked in under a menial's disguise. Rules were changed. Henceforth, no maid or laundress would be hired if she knew even three word of English.

Especially were they careful during the week of the US Open. After all, the overweight drunk and the obsessive philanderer would not care to be interviewed while off the links. One must retain one's indignity at all cost.

The heavy drunk had a typical last round, for him. Slicing into the trees, dumping into the rough, even missing the ball during a put. But he was such a good sport nobody minded. What a guy; tossing a wedge into the lake then diving in after it. The gallery loved it.

When the cameras were turned off, another came on. From across the fairway a solitary figure, the overweight drunk approached, weaving, staggering. Dropping his driver along the way. Strangely, as he drew near the camera, he seemed to collect himself, walk upright, straight.

On the green, he pulled off the Hawaiin shirt he always wore. Took off also the padding beneath, then the trousers with the stuffed leggings. Stood there in shorts and tee, smiling. Maybe you saw it on YouTube?


In the office of Disgustus the week she worked there, it was she who took the call to alert the club the drunk was back in rehab. Kept it to herself until her story ran, and the story became the most sensational to hit that town since the Civil War.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Our Show

What's anything but as it's valued? -  Troilus and Cressida.

All day we wander these corridors. The set is a shopping mall, but the walls are plastic and styrofoam designed to look like stucco and brick. There is all manner of vegetation about, made from nylon and other fabric.

It does look like a shopping mall, at that, with folks milling and walking and sitting and talking. We are, all hundred and twenty of us, paid extras in the giant reality program Our Show. We do what most do in such places, except leave the premises. Ever.

Our living quarters are on the second floor of the end closest to the parking lot. The walkways are very long and, as you can't see from one end to the other because of the dogleg at the end away from the parking lot, nobody knows just how extensive is our home ground.

I used to know directions. Like, which way is north. Now, I only know from the parking lot.

It doesn't really matter, though, because we have enough room to wander. Besides, once you go out any exit, you can never enter the premises again. (It is rumored a whole gang in a shop were expelled with the shop in one fell swoop. They didn't like the diner on the set and what's a half-dozen more or less millers along the mall? They sealed it off and built something else and never again were seen those who had wandered into the shop.)

The camguys carry their tools unobtrusively on a shoulder. They swing their arms as they walk so we hardly notice them. At first there was the tendency to act out before the cameras like all the other shows, but that became too much effort after a time. If you are always on-screen, then you never are truly. At least that's what some of us have decided.

Anyway, all the passion necessary for melodrama just fades away with time.

A condition of our participation is that we never forbid the camguys from wherever we may be. If any of us hook up, then they might follow us up to our rooms. Nobody seems to mind anymore. It will be shown vividly in it's time, but we never know when, as the live stream for Our Show does not follow consistently the day it was taped. There is ever, as we say, a mismatch in the sequence. Besides, loving up in the rooms has become similar to what goes on elsewhere. I don't mean we make love in the fountain (that's only happened a couple times since I've been here); I mean all we do has become ritual and has sort of lost its excitement, if you know what I mean.

We are of all ages, though like most shows (and like most malls), the young predominate. The lady I often sit with at the taqueria (no kitchen, that we can see, so the grub must come from elsewhere -
the shops carry real corporate names, though, as they sponsor the show - we are cautioned to never complain about anything but one another) is a senior, in fact. I mean, she's elderly; we aren't allowed to ask how long anyone has been in Our Show.

What is strange is that ... I do complain about those who annoy me to Alice. She nods and seems to understand. I tell her Jack is messing up scenes because he can't seem to remember who he is. He was in the obnoxious jock role and yet there he was crying down by the fountain because all his pals were alienated from him.

I never saw Jack anywhere about the set after that.

Sometimes we talk about the life we had before. Some say they did something useful and the others will laugh her down and she won't be convinced by anyone that what she did might have been accomplished just as well without her. Besides, what is 'useful' outside has no real application on the set. Everything is of the same value in here. It's good when it's on tape and worthless otherwise.

Some fall in love, or seem to. But it's just too difficult to distinguish that from any other act which brings pleasure and perhaps prestige - along with a camguy. We all make gestures, after all, hoping (with a degree of avidity inversely proportional to the length of our time on set) to end up on tape for the day. We are, after all, under the illusion we are worth the tape and also there is the suspicion (unstated) that a certain time without tape means expulsion.

Some have been disappeared from Our Show. They broke a rule, like hitting the exit and wildly chasing off into the night, screaming. I don't know what happens to them then. Maybe they go back to doing something useful outside. We never see them again.

And whenever I complain to Alice about anyone, that one is gone immediately. Maybe there's a parallel set they are cast into. Maybe there are many parallel sets for any number of expulsions.

Some days I just don't feel like rising in the morning. And that's all right. Nobody seems to mind. Or even notice.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Houses Divided

There is a vast neighborhood welling up out of the foothills. It begins innocently enough; low wall the color of the sandstone and both growing with the hills. It's going to be something, all right.
It will be an insular city, like all of them which would select us over them. Only it will take up every buildable acre between the sheer wilderness canyons on either flank to where the mountain grows too serious for civilization.
A homeowners group has already formed. It was a bone tossed to the wretched poors. A full 10% of the townhouses shall be reserved for the working stiffs. As those are designated the first built out on the plains without a view, they are the units first completed.
Okay, says the HOA for the poors, we're ready to move in. Not so fast, says contractor Bilge Builders and financiers Acme Hushfund, for if the poors move in now, we won't be able to sell the upscale units higher up.
Too bad, say the poors. Give us the keys. Forget you, say Acme, come only when you're called.
Lawsuits brewing on the rocky plains. Lawyers gathering like gulls at the dump. An ex parte halts all building.
Everyone sits, or waits in the corridors of the courthouse. Out on the lonesome prairie, nothing moves. Each side blames the other. If we wait, our poor clients will never be able to moves in, for the project shall never be completed. If the lower sector be trashed, then the building shall end anyway, for who wanted to invest the amount necessary to return our investment on a slum?
The judge sought mediation, suggested arbitration, tried to force settlement. Nothing worked. First he would have to reconfigure human nature.
Out in the red sandy foothills, dust blows over walls unable to hold out the ravages of human nature.

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