Bird’s Nest

blog photo 207 osprey on nestWHAT IT IS

Samantha Gallant looked at herself in the large mirror, then surveyed the other reflections in front of her, an eight pot Bun-o-matic coffee machine, a green milkshake mixer, thirty-six cup and saucer combinations ready for coffee, stacks of off white plates of various sizes and two grey caddies filled with forks, spoons and knives. From her stool at the counter, she could see the restaurant’s entrance and as noon approached the lunch crowd began to enter.

One of the first patrons through the door was a young couple with two small girls. Two teddy bears accompanied the girls, whose outstretched arms held up the bears and perused the restaurant looking for the best table. Once the teddy bears selected the booth in the far corner, the father sat down while the mother and daughters headed for the washroom. The single file procession saw one of the little girls drift away and amble toward the long row of stools at the counter. At first, she chose a stool far away from Samantha, but quickly bum-hopped up the row until she was sitting next to her. The little girl held up her teddy bear so Samantha could get a good look.

“This is Babs.” Her voice oozed confidence.

“Babs says go down the Cormier road, stop at the big bird nest, your friend is close by.”

The little girl jumped off her stool, “That’s what Babs says.” She ran off to the washroom, but not before adding, “We’re going to Lake Springfield tomorrow.”

The Cormier Road was a few hundred feet from the restaurant and when Samantha spotted the birds nest, Cathy, Leo and Tiny were just emerging from the swamp, planning their next move.

WHAT IT IS NOT

Mrs. B was told to check the oil every hundred miles because the  ’79 Chevy truck had a considerable thirst for 10W30 and if it didn’t get what it needed, Mrs. B would find herself walking to Missouri. As oddities do happen, Mrs. B noticed that the radio station she was listening to played an Elvis Presley song approximately every hundred miles, so when the rockabilly wonder Heartbreak Hotel soared out of the speaker, Mrs. B knew it was time to pull over.

Elvis was followed by some grim news; fires in California, Australia and Brazil seemed to show the planet on fire. Floods in Europe, earthquakes in Iran and entire islands in the South Pacific disappearing made Mrs. B’s world and troubles seem rather small. She wondered if things were getting that bad or were the microscopes just getting so much larger? With the dipstick registering full, Mrs. B slammed down the hood and climbed back into the truck. As the afternoon passed by her windshield, she glanced at the odometer, turned up Kentucky Rain and pulled over. Grabbing a quart of Valvoline from behind the seat, Mrs. B popped the hood and fueled the truck’s addiction while admiring the south western Illinois countryside.

Down a picturesque valley, near a stand of pine trees, Mrs. B watched an osprey feeding its young and because she had never seen this bird before, she decided to take a closer look. The distinctive rumblings of the old truck caused Jackson to sit upright, let out a loud yelp and bolt toward the road. Mrs. B’s journey ended well, with the waggy tailed dog now in her arms.  But now, the translucent man needed some serious attention.

ELLIE’S STORY CONTINUES

0B2A3812_19-12-26_0714A short essay submitted by Ellie to the admissions board at the University of Indianapolis led the board to grant Ellie an admissions interview. Below is part of the essay.

There is a country wide epidemic gripping the United States of America, and indeed many parts of the democratic world, that if not stopped, will forever stain freedom loving individuals and cause irreparable harm to all democratic institutions that our free society has erected and embraced for hundreds of years.

This scourge plays out daily in baseball and football stadiums, hockey arenas and parades of all kinds. The depravity of this activity, once the purview of adults, now runs amok with the young, who’s moral compass has no ability to cease and desist. So, it is the grown-ups of this great nation that must lead by example and show everyone this behavior will no longer be tolerated: THE TEDDY BEAR TOSS MUST END!

Ellie sat at a wooden table, three hey boomers, all greying and staunchly entitled, sat around her taking notes on everything she was saying. Rapid fire questions shot out of their Gatling gun mouths, but Ellie was ready with swift responses, in depth analysis and detailed and succinct logic. Until she wasn’t!

“When was the American Revolution?”

Ellie was dazed and puzzled over the question, she eyed up her tormentors and cleared her throat. “1968, August, the great Beatles song Revolution first played on WABC FM in New York City!”

“Who were the Founding Fathers?” A bifocaled, red-checkered, shirt wearing professor pointed  his crooked finger in Ellie’s direction.

Ellie was stunned. “I wouldn’t know that, but one of the Fathers knew best.” Ellie slumped face down into one of the books in front of her and lost consciousness.

Ellie lost sentientism. The last hundred days had been hard on her and now she was a mere teddy bear heap on the table. The door to the interview room opened slowly and Slim walked in and scooped up Ellie in his massive arms and left.

TREES

blog photo 206vertical treesWHAT IT IS

When he realized what he was looking at, the hands on the clock in his mind’s eye began spinning uncontrollably, one clockwise, the other counter clockwise until they abruptly stopped only to start up again. The clock’s gears squealed like nails on a chalk board, the ticking sound replaced by thunder and no matter how hard he clutched his head the sounds remained. Finally, the clock’s crystal began to vibrate, gently at first but within minutes it fractured and cracked into a thousand pieces and the clock’s hands came to rest at midnight.

The translucent man staggered off the road and collapsed, his body flat on its back, his eyes fixed on the tree tops above him. His tortured soul encompassed  all the sleepless nights and all the anxious moments that creep into the hearts of the habitually concerned who have locked away their own doomsday clock in the naïve hope that concealment not transparency would be their fate. As he looked skyward, he flew with the three billion songbirds extinguished in the last three decades, sank deep into the permafrost and swam into phantom coral reefs. Peering into this stark forecast boomeranged him to places and events that shocked his vision both then and now. He thought of his uncle, shot up and mutilated in the Italian campaign, and would not allow his PTSD to be a spokesman for remembrance  or the virtuous accolades of freedom won when racism, discrimination, injustice and acts of genocide never even got on the table. He accepted these shortcomings as pillars or at least balusters that somehow were required to uphold an umbrella of truth, a collapsible instrument to be manipulated when required.

Entombed in a future he would never know; the translucent man experienced a sliver of what he had been dancing around his whole life and it shook him in a way that predictable events do even when you see them coming. He saw the tipping point of climate, but it was obscured by migration wars, armed and gated communities, enormous acts of hoarding and millions of fingers pointing outwardly.

The duck sat on the horse’s back, Jackson sat close by, and all three waited for the translucent man, but he never showed up. It was the small horse who decided to turn around and after walking back some distance he stopped and starred at thousands of insect body parts strewn across the road. Mixed in with the carnage, tiny mechanical bits and pieces of steel, glass and wire. A few feet off the side of the road, the translucent man struggled to his feet.

WHAT IT IS  NOT

The accident up ahead was at least two miles away.  Baines Wanescott stood on the roof of his rented car to get a better look but could see nothing discernable. A few people mulled around their vehicles speculating what might have happened and still others, who walked up to the crash site, came back and reported two trucks collided and the wait would be hours.

Baines hopped off the roof and walked aimlessly around to kill a bit of time.

“Want your fortune read?”

Baines stopped and looked inside one of the many cars stopped along Interstate 20. Two little girls, each holding small orangish teddy bears and a handful of playing cards, sat in the backseat.

“Want your fortune read Mister?” asked one of the girls as she held up her teddy bear, a teddy bear wearing peculiar looking round pretend eyeglasses.

“This is Babs, she sees the future.” The little girl added.

“Sure!” answered Baines, as he stood outside the open car window.

“OK, you’re looking for a blind man who is not blind and yes…yes a small horse that’s not a horse.”

The little girl looked intently at the teddy bear. “That’s what Babs says.”

The girls parents turned around in the front seat and scolded them for bothering a stranger.

“Babs says you’ll find them just down the highway, then down that dirt road,” she pointed in the distance toward a stand of pine trees.

THE WASP

blog photo 205 wasp and flowerWHAT IT IS

A nano mechanical pollinator, its single eye-like camera rotating in the middle of its head, sat in a nanoscopic hangar. Dozens of nanowires running from a nearby supercomputer  was checking and rechecking the bugs thousands of operating systems in preparation for its release into a Missouri corn field. With each successful test, the robot became more animated until the INSECT team was ready to launch. The nanobug rose smoothly from the hangar, surveyed the surrounding area methodically then bolted to the edge of the corn field to a patch of wild radish, wood sorrel and bugloss.

Insect researchers randomly chose a wasp at the edge of the field in which to conduct the nanobug’s first elimination experiment. With a simple computer command the unsuspecting wasp was dive bombed from above and a considerable but inconsequential piece of his abdomen was ripped away. The wasp immediately turned toward his enemy and jabbed his stinger into its underbelly but instantly knew it did not penetrate, so he grabbed the robot and attempted to devour its head but without success. The nanobug retaliated by body slamming the wasp then executing a quick decent on top of the disoriented wasp, pinning him to the ground. Just as the wasp’s thorax was about to be crushed, he summoned up the strength to flip the nanobug off and disappeared under some thick leaves.

The INSECT researchers monitoring the struggle where struck by the tenacity of the wasp, but of course they had no way of knowing he was a direct descendant of No.1. As the nanobug lingered a few feet above the corn field looking for its prey, the wasp silently crawled through the litter, coming upon a large sweetgum tree then ascending its  deeply furrowed bark until he was high above the ground. The wasp surveyed what was below him and saw a water filled mud rut created by the farm tractor. He waited for the nanobug to pass over the mud hole, and without hesitation he hurled himself downward, clutched his enemy in a death grip sending both plummeting into the murky water. The brief struggle that ensued gave way to some muted sparks, a whiff of smoke and the nanobug sinking to the bottom.

WHAT IT IS NOT

The stairway leading to the basement was dimly lit with a burnt out curly bulb at the top and a 40 watt at the bottom. The cement stairs in the century old building were cracked and crumbling and in the places where patching cement had been used, it only served to hasten the stair’s demise. The basement smelled of mold and the dampness penetrated everything within its walls. The keeper of this crypt kept everything wrapped in clear plastic bags, hoping this would keep all the nasty elements at bay.

In amongst the bankers boxes of legal papers, sealed bags of knives and guns, castaway items of clothing and endless envelopes of forensic reports two teddy bears were squished into a plastic bag and recklessly thrown above a storage cage in this evidence locker belonging to the local police department. Constable Mike, a soon to be retired police officer and the man in charge of this dank dungeon, was just about at his wits end with the three INSECT agents assigned to watch over the teddy bears and eventually confiscated the teddy bears when the trial of Bella and Dizzy was over.

Beersey and Buttsey had not been sentient for several months and were kept in the evidence locker in the off chance their presence might be needed at the trial.  But, with the trial now over and the sentences handed down, the INSECT agents were ready to claim their prize.

When Josh, Jack and Jimmy showed up on a Monday morning with two black velvet sacs in which to transport the teddy bears, Mike was up over the stairs and already outside with the teddy bears, ecstatic to be rid of the five thorns in his side. The agents did not notice the small wasp hold up under the lip of the car trunk and certainly did not know it was a gentle injection of wasp venom into a dormant teddy bear that brought it back to sentientism.

 

TRACKS

blog photo 204 railroadWHAT IT IS

To many it is a certitude, to some it is immaterial and to still others it is obvious that teddy bears belong to someone.

When Justine Flagstaff walked through the door of her room at the Moose Lodge, the warm hues of the rustic wood made her feel comfortable and reminded her of her own room as a child. Bright silk flowers on the dresser, a bay window adorned with colorful trinkets and a cute teddy bear on the bed launched her into a tranquil mood. Justine’s three night stay was all the time Leo, the teddy bear, had to convince her to contact Ned Doucet and for all of them to start their journey to Plot 82. Each night as she slept, Leo would squirm out of her arms, bounce out of the room to the white water fountain and return with this new elixir, replacing the water in her glass on the nightstand. Leo would then sit atop one of the many pillows on Justine’s bed and whisper into her ear about taking a wonderful train trip to Missouri.

The last time Morley saw Justine was on her last scheduled day at the lodge when she pushed a fifty dollar bill on Morley, begging him to let her take the scrumptious teddy bear. Morley insisted the bear did not belong to the lodge, but the bill remained crumbled in his hand as Justine, with Leo firmly in tow, climbed into her car.

 

WHAT IT IS NOT

Mikey and Don eased the two-car freight train along the spur line. The fall colors sizzled along both sides of the track, and the silence of the large steel wheels rolling over the smooth steel impressed the two veteran railroad men. A speed of five miles an hour was a delicious treat and the twenty minutes to the main line was twenty minutes to savor.

Dispatch ordered the train to come to a complete stop at mile three where they would be joined by a track inspector. Mikey eased on the brakes and the train glided to a stop. They waited for an hour; no one showed up. Radioing dispatch resulted in dead silence. To relieve the monotony, Don went to check on the freight:  the one thousand five hundred and sixty six wooden crates of coyote apples all appeared intact.

Davey Doucet was hired by the Business Development Director of the Indiana Railroad company to investigate the bizarre disappearance of a two car freight train from a spur line outside Indianapolis. Doucet walked the spur line for a week looking for clues of what might have happened. A steel suitcase, warm to the touch, was the only thing of interest he found.

DRAGONFLY

blog photo 203 dragonflyWHAT IT IS

He surmised the dragonflies were slower because it was late in the season, their usual frantic darting about now replaced with deliberate hovering as they looked for scarce meals. For reasons not clear to him, this behavior reminded Jared of his adolescence when he and his father trudged into unfamiliar neighbourhoods with offerings of canned goods, boxed macaroni, and turkeys or hams.

Jared became agitated as this season of giving approached, when his parents and their friends would work themselves up in a frenzy of twisted conflected generosity and distribute alms to the poor. Jared loathed this ritual and could take no pleasure in the feeble contributions made to these poor individuals.  In fact, he felt somehow complicit in creating their circumstance with his family having so much and others not much at all. What irked Jared the most were the self-congratulatory ones who were so high on themselves and their deeds that they failed to see it was the misery of others that fueled their rocket.

The dance of the dragonfly is never ending, this dance must go on forever not only to alleviate the conscience but to categorize these souls into the boxes we have created. The dance is not about elucidation:  that has been solved and rejected thousands of years ago.  And now with our addiction to consumption, it will be a thousand years hence. Jared watched the dragonflies, pleased they needed  or wanted nothing from him.

WHAT IT IS NOT

On a privately owned left- handed dirt track some eight and a half furlongs long, just outside Greenbury Indiana, a dragon fly rested on top of a flagpole watching the Flowtron BK-150 zap mosquitoes as the evening light vanished into the bullying night. The unfolding drama was indeed a drama, with the night creatures readying to put on their act and the day creatures beginning their retirement. Cast members from both camps scuttled about, taking up their places and waiting for the final curtain to fall. The dragonfly loved this time of day.

From his perch high above the racetrack, he watched as a black SUV came into sight and slowly crawled along the driveway stopping not far from the flagpole. Two men got out, the driver, a large heavy set fellow, was the first to exit followed soon by a smaller man with soft brown features, wide blue eyes and a neatly trimmed chin strap beard. The second man held a steel suitcase, placed it on the ground and opened it. A flash of blue light rose up from the suitcase and formed a horseshoe pattern against the night sky. The other man, the bigger one, reached into a paper bag marked Coyote Apples and tossed an apple into the light. The apple disappeared, then reappeared, a bit larger, about a hundred feet away.

The dragonfly’s head twitched from side to side as he flexed his four wings preparing for take off. He flew directly into the blue light, disappeared briefly, then found himself sitting on a mound of horse dung in the middle of the race track.

 

RASPBERRY

blog photo 202 rasberryWHAT IT IS

They were well ensconced in the middle class, driving an Audi e-tron, living in a gated community in Brooklyn, vacationing across North America and bringing up two perfect daughters to be sober citizens of the world. Their silent EV hugged the twisting paved road leading to ‘The Pioneer Cabin,’ a four thousand square foot colonial style abode overlooking Lake Springfield.

The children were excited. They leapt out of the car and ran toward the cabin only to abruptly stop in unison and run back to fetch Babs and Betty, two identical orange teddy bears who had been the girl’s favorite companions…like forever. The teddy bears were virtually indistinguishable from one another, so one of the little girls fashioned a pair of make-believe eyeglasses out of round plumbing washers and twist ties and fixed them over her teddy bear’s eyes, a kind of teddy bear John Lennon, she was Babs, the other Betty. There was one other difference between the two, a difference no one ever noticed, Babs had no retail tags…no made in Vietnam…no 100 percent polyester!

It was the adults who unloaded the luggage, keeping an eye on the playful girls and receiving polite nods of welcome from the six men sitting on the deck of the next-door cabin. Sleep came hard and fast for the little girls on that first night and as the family slept away the hours, Babs got up and visited the neighbours, smelling some fresh raspberries left on the kitchen table and checking out the general layout of the cabin.

WHAT IT IS NOT

Mutt just started crossing the Confederation Bridge over the Northumberland Strait when the 70km/h winds picked up to something closer to ninety. His big rig was fighting the cross winds and he was grateful to be hauling heavy steel and not Styrofoam insulation. He looked at the covered bird cage on the passenger seat, the two juncos from Missouri were now awake and scratching and pecking on the ribs of the cage.

McCormik messaged Mutt that he believed he isolated an enzyme that accelerated the junco’s ability to metabolize and subsequently degrade toxic chemicals like those used near Plot 82. He needed Mutt to bring him some live Missouri juncos to further develop his hypothesis and Mutt was more than willing to help out. A basket of fresh Missouri raspberries was also requested and now sat in a cooler behind the passenger seat, Mutt was unsure if the fruit was a part of McCormik’s experiments or if he was just partial to the fruit.

As Mutt pushed on to Charlottetown,  he was unaware of the dragonfly wedged behind his exhaust pipe. This dragonfly was the successor to No. 1.