COYOTE APPLES

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

blog photo 198 fall colorsWHAT IT IS

Whenever Slim drove the I 76 in Pennsylvania during the fall of the year he was reminded of a chance encounter that started him on his road to philanthropy. A first year University student in the early seventies, Slim found himself on the way to Ellwood City to attend a Young Entrepreneurs of America conference when he got lost on a Lawrence County back road. As he studied his road map to get back on to the interstate, Slim heard a most pleasant sound coming from an old Ford van parked in a field just off the road. A guitar player, a banjo player and a wizard on the upright bass were called Coyote Apples and their sweet bluegrass harmonies drifted into Slim’s soul as he walked toward the trio to hear more.

The bands story was a familiar one: van broken down, low on cash and gigs hard to come by. Slim fronted them two hundred dollars, gave the band his mailing address and told them to pay him back if they ever got big. They never got big. The guitarist had a mental breakdown and became a sickly, delusional man who wandered the state aimlessly. The banjo player became a veterinarian and settled in New Orleans and the upright bass player joined the army and was sent to Vietnam.

WHAT IT IS NOT

For the past month Davey Doucet rolled down the Travis road in Lawrence County to check on his uncle Ned Doucet after his tussle with the water pistol wielding man at a pet store. He looked forward to the quiet drive that took him close to farmer’s fields and he enjoyed watching the families take part in the October harvest. He especially enjoyed one entrepreneurial farmer, or more accurately, liked his sign at the entrance to his farm: For Sale – Eating Apples – Baking Apples – Deer Apples – Coyote Apples. He had a good idea of what the first three offerings meant, but was unsure of the last one. His intention of driving up to the farmhouse to satisfy his curiosity never happened, deciding instead that the farmer had an affinity for the canines.

As for Ned, he was coming along nicely. Davey was a frequent visitor, his doctor looked in on him regularly and the women from St. Paul’s parish often brought in hot meals and pleasant conversations to pass away the hours. So, it was with great shock and surprise when Davey walked through an open door at Ned’s house to find his uncle gone and a scribbled  note on the kitchen table. A Justine Flagstaff called and wanted to meet Ned in Missouri!

 

 

WAXWING

blog photo 197 waxwingWHAT IT IS

Mark Malloch sat on a wooden bench outside the courthouse admiring the intricate carvings covering most of the seat and back. M.J. apparently loved C.K. a great deal as it was displayed in four different locations and B.B. loved no one in particular but had visited the bench on at least three occasions. Being a star witness in the trial of Dizzy and Bella, Malloch wondered if these two misfits might have enjoyed simpler times where they too may have carved their initials in a tree or perhaps even a bench.

The waxwing Malloch had been watching sat eye level in a white spruce and swayed with the branches that constantly moved in the mid morning sea breeze. It induced Malloch into a daydream where the conflicts of his work and the realities of the world broke out of their carefully constructed boxes and drifted without constraint. His ambitious visions would rightfully trump the ever increasing voices petrified by an uncertain climate, saddened by grinding poverty and bewildered by a strata of privileged individuals whose grasp of the world and consequences of their actions would fit into a thimble. Malloch was an educated man whose duty far outweighed the musings and opinions of simpler minds and if changes were to come to this world they would have to be incubated and instigated by others. Malloch ran with a crowd of pseudo-captains whose air of superiority dominated a room, twisted the discussion and predicted outcomes of fantasy and delusion. As he drifted out of his daydream, he acknowledged there would be no epiphany today, as they are released only on the young and naïve.

WHAT IT IS NOT

Mrs. B spent two days driving around the backroads in her neighbour’s 1979 Chevy pick-up looking for Jackson who had been spooked while the two were on a walk to Sullivan’s pond. Exhausted, Mrs. B dropped the truck off and went straight to bed.

A restless sleep was loudly interrupted by a commotion in the front yard. Staring out the front door, Mrs. B watched as a duck and a rooster squared off in what looked like a prize fight. The rooster circled around the duck, kicking up dust as his tiny head bobbed and weaved back and forth. For his part, the duck stood his ground following the rooster’s every move, sticking out his barrel chest in an effort to intimidate. The two combatants even had a fan in the nose-bleed section, a lone waxwing seemed ready to watch round one.

Before the donnybrook began, Mrs. B recognized the duck as belonging to the translucent man and decided she better intervene. Opening the front door, she heard a man call out “Little Mr. Deakins” and soon she could see him walking down the road toward her house.

Jared sat on the front porch steps sipping the tea Mrs. B brought him while she read the note that had been attached to the duck’s right leg. The translucent man found Jackson and he was safe and sound, staying with him as he journeyed toward Plot 82. With Jared headed in the same direction, he offered to pick up the dog and return him to Mrs. B. within a few weeks.

 

YELLOW LEAF

blog photo 196 yellow leafWHAT IT IS

A sleep-deprived Jared Deakins sat on a red oak log the size of a county road culvert.  Its  bark was getting soft from years of inclement weather and now bright green moss covered much of it. He had spent the night on St. Peter’s trail, looking for escaped teenagers, but saw not a one and now that daylight was overtaking the eastern sky his plan was to return to his cabin and book some serious sack time.

The translucent man had already passed Jared, the duck and horse that followed walked side by side in what could only be described as a waltz pattern. Synchronized strides to the left side of the road, then more strides to the right side of the road, culminating in the duck performing a feet and feather type of pirouette and then it all starting over again. Amused, Jared thought the critters were bored and didn’t pay them much mind until the translucent man abruptly stopped and walked back to where Jared was sitting. He stopped about ten feet from Jared, at the end of the log. Kneeling down he reached into the rotting butt of the tree and pulled out a small yellow leafed plant and placed it on the log before walking away.

Jared opened the door to his cabin, the little bastards had ransacked the place, stole his beer and threw what little food he had in the fridge against the walls. He looked at the small plant in its planter and read the child-like printing on it: From Plot 82. Jared quit work that day, he knew it was coming, he just needed a little push. He stuffed his few worldly possessions in a knapsack, carefully put the plant in a box and went looking for Plot 82.

WHAT IT IS NOT

Leo Barnard’s sight came and went for no apparent reason and today it was leaving like a Tokyo bullet train, but his innate ability to accurately weigh just about anything was still intact and that was what Cathy Jennings needed him for.

While breaking into Tiny’s van, Jennings saw Leo carrying a small yellow leafed plant while aimlessly wandering the roadside ditches looking for abandoned money, abandoned food to eat or any manner of bric-a-brac that could be sold. With Jennings offering up the princely sum of one hundred dollars for Leo’s help, the two quickly devised a plan to remove the four pales of 1,4 Dichloropropene insecticide and replaced it with a less disastrous substance.

Four gallons of thick, fowl smelling bayou water, two handfuls of needles from a bald cypress tree and a spadeful of fine swamp mud were mixed together and substituted for the insecticide. When Tiny returned with Sebastian from the garage he checked his cargo while the mechanic repaired his tire and soon Tiny was airport bound.

TURTLE

blog photo 195 turtleWHAT IT IS

The weather can be quite comfortable in late May and early June around Mount Pulaski and with the tourist season starting to ramp up, the two person police department is determined to see that all folks, residents and tourist alike,  experience a peaceful, law abiding city  to enjoy.

Crime in Mount Pulaski is minuscule, a fact that chief Bob Shickle and officer Jill Deakins are proud to point out. But, they do have a concern, an increase in motor vehicle crashes on the roadways leading into town. This spike in accidents occurs during the spring months and this year Jill has been told by the chief to get to the bottom of, and to solve whatever is causing the increase. Jill spent the last two weeks in May pulling extra duty patrolling Hwy. 55 and County Rd. 700, paying particular attention to early morning travelers who seemed to be involved in many of these occurrences.

One of the witnesses said it was a monstrous turtle crossing the road, so he hit the brakes hard to avoid hitting the beast. Two other witnesses on a motorcycle saw the turtle and a sickly, pale man crossing the road; she put the bike into a skid. Jill took their statements, then headed into the cornfields adjacent to the road to look for the diapsid.

WHAT IT IS NOT

Davey Doucet’s metaphoric ship began to right itself after a three week stay in the Boca Ratan Regional Hospital. Another three weeks of convalescence at Slim’s Cape Cod chalet and Doucet was up and about on his own on most days. Long walks along the beach, the smell and sound of the surf and the huge seaside bonfires at dusk all served to mold Doucet back into some form of reality similar to his reality pre-Nevis.

Despite his progress, Doucet felt stuck in a quagmire of conflicting identities. Aquena’s revelations were from an inventive mind, steeped in sorcery and burdened with a strange populist objective that both mystified and traumatized those seeking her counsel. Her collage of manifestoes, theatrics and legends could have been meant to confuse or, to enlighten and elevate the subscriber to a plane from which to observe and lay testament. This plane of existence escaped Doucet for the most part, partly due to his specific upbringing, but more to do with his inability or unwillingness to embrace concepts and characteristics that would turn his world from its solid ground and granite foundation to a mushy existence of fluffy clouds with convenient deeds and unexplained truths.

Doucet was a turtle! Slow and cautious in the face of a world that was not really changing, but merely shifting its priorities, applying makeup to cover the blemishes and convincing anyone who would listen that truth and trust, though good and noble, would not be the currency of the future, that currency had already been spent and now habitually under supplied.

 

 

BEE A FLOWER

flower and bee

    WHAT IT IS

Hammer’s horse let his head droop slightly, flicked both ears in unison and then exaggeratedly swayed his head from side to side. It was time for water! Scanning the road up ahead, Hammer could make out a crumbling barn further down the road and he hoped an old well might be close by.

It took some coaxing and a degree of patience but soon the horse was lapping up the water as Hammer sat on a collapsing garden wall watching a lone bee pollinating a single Hosta that still survived among the thistle, goldenrods and asters. As he watched the bee work, a fox pup caught his eye, as it hopped through the tall weeds and into the barn.

The Polack’s greeting was nothing short of amusing. A goofy smirk came across his face as he stretched his long neck on the ground. His chin vibrated uncontrollably; his wide eyes transfixed on Hammer as he stood in the barn’s doorway. The Polack abruptly flipped on to his back and punched the air with all four feet, before finally laying on his side, head cocked toward Hammer and his eyes dreamily leering at his newly found master. When Hammer whistled, the Polack sprang to his feet and the two companions were together at last.

At the far end of the barn Hammer watched the fox pup standing stone still, intently looking at the side of the barn. As Hammer approached, the fox scurried away and he saw that the pup had been fascinated by an unusual pattern in the wood created by dozens of wood boring insects. Hammer recognized the pattern as something very close to the layout of Plot 82.

WHAT IT IS NOT

When Adnan is not a turkey vulture looking for misfortune, turning and twisting the fate of unfortunate circumstance into something auspicious, he fancies himself as the hard working bumble bee pollinating plants and flowers, the giver of new life, the bearer of new fruit and the sower of new seed. He is a student of life, his two degrees in the social sciences carefully tucked away in favor of a handshake and contagious smile. His wit for the nimble businessman, his warmth for the downtrodden, his analytics for the academics, his emotion for the apathetics and the entire cauldron of tricks and traits that he wears  like a well fitting suit,  is what brought him to this point in his life.

He neither believes nor questions the messaging  from his boss, his awkward friend and occasional confidant, Miles Hobbson. Adnan’s web is spun in many directions and one of those threads, due to history and predicament, is Miles Hobbson. For now, the two are linked, they travel a path together that may very well alter the direction of humankind, or on the other hand, they may both drift into absolute obscurity.

Adnan looked at his watch, the tall robust man walking along the edge of the food court was right on time. Without saying a word, Slim dropped an envelope on the table where Adnan was sitting and exited through a nearby door. Adnan opened the envelope, set aside the cheque for a quarter million and read the note inside. This is an investment, not a donation…expect repayment in full within six months.

 

DRAGONFLY

blog photo 193 DragonflyWHAT IT IS

 

It reoccurred with the regularity and accuracy of a Citizen Caliber 0100 quartz watch. Every Sunday night at 2 am Flagstaff would awake, turn on the 2 watt lamp on her bedside table, drop a couple sleeping pills then fall back to sleep. She did this in the hopes that the dream she was about to have would somehow resolve itself.

It was cold, fresh snow that covered the ground and she shivered in the summer dress she wore, the same dress she wore when she met No. 1 months ago. The inside of the barn smelt like straw, old straw, and not even the wind rushing through the many broken boards could diminish the smell. The barn door was missing, but when she tried to walk through the opening to the outside, an impenetrable force kept her inside the barn. She attempted to pry away loose boards without success, then started digging a tunnel under the barn’s wall but hit solid rock. Finally, in desperation, she set the barn on fire and as the flames grew larger and the heat intensified, a dragonfly emerged from the flames and Flagstaff woke up.

Monday morning saw a pale and anxious Justine Flagstaff slouched in the threadbare, upholstered armchair beside the assignment desk, waiting for her boss to confirm she was on her way to Northern Ontario to chase down some stories about three chipmunks, precious metals, some real life crime drama and anything else she could dig up during the ten day assignment.

Flagstaff found herself a few kilometers from the Moose Lodge, white knuckled on the steering wheel trying to navigate the worse washboards she’d ever driven on, when she slammed on the brakes, pulled over to the side of the road and starred at the barn she’d been dreaming about.

WHAT IT IS NOT

To drown the noise of twenty teenagers doing calisthenics, Jared Deakins would slap on some headphones, slip into a beer buzz and meditate the night away or at least ruminate as meditation did not jive with his way of thinking. He hated camp life, the structured activities, the buddy-buddy complexions, the one size fits all modules…but here he was. What of the truck driver who hates to drive or the introvert who leads the “team”, the doctor, trained for seven plus years, then becomes a bureaucrat? The world is full of people doing something they shouldn’t and it’s a damn good thing,  Jared thought as he cracked open his last beer.

As for Jared, he remembered clearly when his love for all things mother nature came to a halt. He was a young boy of ten, walking with his parents near Pine Creek Gorge trying to net butterflies and dragonflies on a Sunday afternoon when he got separated from the adults and came face to face with a black bear. As the bear reared up on its hind legs a man appeared out of nowhere and attacked the bear with his white cane. Leo Barnard fought off the bear and received numerous bites, cuts and scrapes but in the end was more than alright, as the unexpected encounter saw the return of his sight.

LUPINS

blog photo 192 lupinsWHAT IT IS

Mary Sampson wanted to see the lupins, wanted to see Plot 82 and wanted to breath in as much of this beautiful world as she could because of an unexplainable feeling that she would soon die. So, early on a Wednesday morning Jaden put Mary on the back of her Harley and off they went toward Illinois where Jaden had it on good authority that the lupins were aplenty.

Jones and Brown drove through the sleepy little town of Mount Pulaski at 8 AM on a Wednesday morning on their way to meet with Graham and Smith at Lake Springfield. With Brown at the wheel, the monotonous uneventful trip was starting to weigh heavily on him to the point of asking Jones if he’d like to drive.

It was not unusual for the translucent man to wake up alone. His small horse and obnoxious duck were always up before him, on the road before him and getting into all manner of trouble despite him. But on this bright Wednesday morning, the sun was up and it warmed him into pleasantness, a state of being he remembered as the Berlin Wall fell, when men and women of substance at least tried to right the wrongs of the past. There was even hope in failure and hope could sustain the translucent man on most days. Shaking off these grim thoughts, he rolled up his bedroll, looked to the southwest and started walking across the highway.

Jones hit the brakes hard and Jaden put the bike into a controlled skid. The car passed right through the translucent man as he casually walked across the road, down into the lupin filled ditch and up the other side and into a corn field. Jaden, coming from the opposite direction of the car, clipped the translucent man as she slid along the gravel shoulder, coming to a stop in the colorful ditch. While everyone checked everyone else for injuries, the translucent man approached Mary with a large bouquet of lupins and told her she had been ‘chosen’.

WHAT IT IS NOT

Myrtle was one of those people who didn’t need another person to carry on a riveting conversation, she just required someone in the general vicinity and the way she’d go. You know he’s a lot like you Basil, a veterinarian, of course he went to Cornell, he’s coming to UPEI in the fall to lecture for a whole week, all the way from New Orleans, imagine that…

Basil McCormik was standing inside the Hunter River Post Office looking out the large window at a colorful mob of lupins,  ‘imagining’ how long it was going to take Myrtle to find the parcel Mutt Jefferson sent him. Through their mutual friend, Frank James, Mutt was given Basil’s name as a person who might be able to analyze the junco blood now somewhere in the possession of Canada Post.

Between serving customers at the front counter and rummaging through recently arrived sacs of parcels, Myrtle continued to convey the virtues of her New Orleans nephew when finally, she shouted, “I found it.”