THE WARBLER DID IT.

WHAT IT IS

Ted had an uneasy feeling that he might not make it to the end of the night shift and when Graham showed up thrusting his three digit fist in the air and generously showered him with expletives, Ted knew his time as an INSECT technician was over. Ted’s explanation of events fell on deaf ears with Graham parading around INSECT’s temporary compound ridiculing his story that a knight showed up at midnight and with a fiery sword in hand, liquified the locks on the cages and released all the songbirds INSECT was using in their experiments. Security escorted Ted into the damp Missouri morning with not so much as a bus ticket to get him home.

The flight of the songbirds is a poet’s dreamy vision of unknown sensations and wide eyed bemusements of what a life, lived well and free, must be like when the shackles of tiny tyrannies chained to distressed lives are raised up to something resembling a heaven. Is it the soaring to grand heights or the desire of the adventure? For the pedestrian, it may be neither, just a frantic grasp for a glimpse inside another’s world…to feel the feather and live on the wing. The flight of the songbird is more about hope then depression, they will go where we can not or will not and although we resign ourselves to the terrestrial, most will not condemn them because condemnation will magnify our exposure in this sordid affair and peel back the layers of detachment from nightingales to night hawks. We have done our best to discourage these adventures with roadblocks, chemicals, particulates and interferences only human ingenuity could manage but still they fly to great heights and hidden destinations.

WHAT IT IS NOT

Little Mr. Deakins was upset! He spread his wings far apart in an effort to intimidate and he scored the gravel with his feet, sending small plumes of dust in the air, just as Feather, No. 1 and a small warbler dismounted from their horse. Little Mr. Deakins was not a fan of change, he had a small group of companions and that was enough for him. Point out the fact that just a few months ago he disliked Jackson, loathed the duck, thought the horse too slow, the translucent man too weird and now all these assertions met with a rooster’s shrug. Through some pain, Little Mr. Deakins shattered the bonds of solitude that he and Jared carefully assembled in their minute community of us versus them. With each broken bond, a vulnerability altered a state and shone a light on an entrenched place, but not necessarily a dark place. This irritated Little Mr. Deakins, but slowly he came around, grudgingly at first, accepting and then a final embrace.

Feather was not here to befriend a rooster, so she ignored the bird and walked straight toward the translucent man being soothed by Mrs. B. The presentation of the songbird as a gift, fleeting and unpossessable, hot wired the all but seized innards of the translucent man and as he considered all that this bird encompassed, he summoned up the images that linger outside of the self and decided that his mission must continue.

A BLUE JAY'S TRIP

WHAT IT IS

Her manner of dress was unique and intentional, it belonged to a different era, perhaps a half a century ago when paisleys and tie-dyes were common among women of her age. Auburn hair, long, frizzy and awash in split ends cascaded over her shoulders, covered her back and danced around her thighs. Her walk was slow and deliberate, no bounce in her step, no faulter in her direction.

For as long as he could remember, Miller’s recurring dream would play over night after night, to the pointy where he actually relished in the anticipation of another night’s sleep and another encounter with his serial vision. It even got to the point where Miller believed he could induce the dream in the moments before sleep arrived. His heart pounding run through the forest saw ghosts and phantoms closing in on him as he reached a steep gorge with menacing waters rushing below him. On the other side, a woman watched a blue jay, brilliant yellow leaves swayed in the breeze as she encouraged him to jump the gorge to her side. He never could…a distance too far.

Miller reached inside his breast pocket and fingered the soft Strathmore envelope. For the first time in his life the dream had changed, as had his trajectory. As the women drew near, he recognized her from a lifetime of encounters, and he handed over the envelope.

WHAT IT IS NOT

His head cocked in that curious way monocular creatures do when they survey their surroundings. The blue jay’s landing was unplanned, a massive down draft grounded thousands of birds on this day, but his descent and subsequent landing could not have left him in a bleaker place. The tree he was perched on was dead, the water below him dank and muddy with a colorful oily scum glistening on the surface. He saw no other creatures, just debris shifting endlessly in the strong wind, disturbed occasionally by erratic dust devils on their way to collect what they were owed. The moral authorities who created this oasis must have had a special connection with the synapses that fired off inside their collective brains bringing them together in a dark orgy where they stood shoulder to shoulder with a god of their choosing. A heritage of annihilation doesn’t disappear easily, scars of the billionaires wrestle the victims into an eternity of promises and lies where the pressure of deceit, overtime, convinces the victims that fault and blame are inconsequential. It’s a soft landing for the billionaires, and they of course embrace it, live for it…to the point where they sit at the right hand of what once was a moral compass and watch the dial spin wildly in all directions. A heritage of annihilation doesn’t disappear easily, but when the blue jay blinked once either he or the landscape vanished.

FALLING WATER

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

blog photo 215 fallsWHAT IT IS

Both Hobbson and Adnan appreciated the photos, videos and various reports concerning the geology and topography of the small piece of land they wanted in exchange for the J-Drive. Slim’s real estate holdings were vast and he salivated over the prospect of exchanging a piece of Missouri dirt for the endless possibilities the J-Drive offered. The two men were to study Slim’s documentation and arrive at his office the following morning with the drive, where land titles and ownerships were to be finalized.

Some years earlier, Frank James was holding a friendly poker game where the participants included Slim and the CEO of Bayer, along with several other influential captains of industry. The long and the short of it, was the Bayer executive put  up a devastatingly poisoned piece of acreage to cover a ten thousand dollar bet and he ended losing the land to Slim. For his part, Slim vaguely remembered winning the land, had certainly never been to the acreage and the title languished in his lawyer’s offices until Hobbson and Adnan showed up looking to acquire the property.

At nine AM on a Thursday morning Hobbson and Adnan arrived at Slim’s office and found a chaotic scene of lawyers, secretaries and delivery people bouncing off cell phones, swearing at memos and making threats to anyone who would listen. In the middle of all of this, Slim’s booming voice harangued a Missouri bureaucrat regarding the confiscation of his property.

WHAT IT IS NOT

He did not think of time as linear, a piece by piece existence divided into equal parts of 24’s, or 7’s or other such portions because his time was more like a big box from which he extracted events of importance and designated morsels of do’s and don’ts. He thought of it as a learning disability, but he trained himself to mask it sufficiently in order to fit into other people’s schedules and expectations. The march onward would happen with or without his consent, so he balled his world up into a skein of yarn and let the cats of the world untangle the strands left behind, leaving a small waterfall of strands to grace the world that enveloped him. It made him fell courageous, like his belongingness was self made and allowed some measure of swagger to shine through.

As agents go, Miller was an efficient one; thoughtful in process, purposeful in execution and letting the allowances of the job neither lead him to haste or complacency. He rolled well with the punches, and when the small gesture of securing the evening meal for the other agents fell upon him for the fifth day in a row, he gladly left the cabin and headed into town. Graham placed the order, the chosen meal was Chinese, and the thirty minute wait time was up when Miller walked through the door. The place was packed, boisterous laughter and voluminous banter careened off the walls as four baseball teams staged a coup at the restaurant…the wait would be twenty more minutes.

Miller walked outside to take in some fresh air and give his ears a break from the racket. On the restaurant’s roof, near the exhaust fan, a teddy bear and No. 1 sat watching the agent. A woman, taking a cue from No. 1, walked toward Miller.

AFTER SUNSET, BEFORE…

blog photo 214 sunsetWHAT IT IS

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With Samantha, Cathy and Leo crammed into the back seat, Jaclyn drove them back to their vehicle and back to where Mauls and Johnsey lay unconscious. Not only was the horse missing , but the four pales of insecticide had also vanished. Loosing daylight, Jaden ordered the triad to remain in the cruiser while she radioed an ambulance and took a look around for the missing chemicals.

Long inky black shadows from a stand of evergreens stretched across a seldom used footpath leading to a catfish swamp. As the trees whispered the stories of their day in the dying seconds of the sunset, the horse too wanted to divulge the accounts drawn up and distributed. The cool air from the shadows surrounded the horse, he had never felt better, except, perhaps…and he then thought about a time and a place where neither the time or the place could be sucked out of its natural location in the universe and deposited into the arms of warlords and other legal criminals. He tried to walk softly, even over hard stone and uneven ground because he needed his footprints to bare witness to the soldiers occupying the future, he needed them to know it was not he who was causing them their anguish and pain.

Baines Wanescott walked the same path, and when he saw and recognized the horse as Leo Barnard’s, they walked back to the road and met up with the others.

WHAT IT IS NOT

Jill Deakins was not hurt, a little shaken, more at the sight of seeing her brother Jared than any minor accident might have caused. Jared eased his sister out of the open passenger window and they both sat on the ground, awkwardly but successfully avoiding one another. They both thought of it, not daily, but at least occasionally as they muddled along their unrecognizable journey that they were told would result in a life of some sweet satisfactions, some divine possibilities, some slice of what we mere creatures are looking for. They did not dwell on a brother and sister estranged, because this did not describe their reality, as their reality was more like drifting icebergs and fading aftershocks whose time and distance just dwindled away until unreliable memories filled in the gaps and spaces. It was not about love, or lack of it or too much of it or too little off it; it was about expectation and explanation and whose cruise ship approach to life would settle on the sea of convention. Jared’s voyage was not Jill’s, and long ago accepted that fact.

The setting sun revealed the translucent man’s clock was stuck at midnight, but yet he still breathed. He was surrounded by the ones he loved and the ones that loved him, and the faint glimmer of hope in his eyes grew stronger as Feather and No. 1 appeared among the shadows and out on to the road.

A HORSE’S STORY

blog photo 213 horseWHAT IT IS

They looked like two gladiators, huge men standing toe to toe fighting to the death. Mauls with an enormous pipe wrench and Jonsey with his five feet of industrial steel chain were caught up in a standoff from which there was no escape. The blows were lethal and merciless, and when it was all over, Mauls lay upside down in the ditch oozing blood and a contorted Jonsey swayed erratically toward his motorcycle to get his Glock.

Leo had left the small horse to watch over the 1,4 Dichloropropene and the horse would not let Mauls or Jonsey anywhere near it. In a rush, Jonsey decided a simple bullet to the horse’s head would solve their dilemma, but the horse loving Mauls was not about to let that happen.

Jonsey grasped the gun with both hands, his feet barely lifted off the gravel as he shuffled toward the animal. A mixture of sweat and blood blurred his vision and as soon as he wiped it away, it reappeared. It always reappeared, after the old man beat the shit out of him.  Time would pass until the next beating. It was not just the petty crime, the soaring highs, the crushing brawls or the loveless existence that kept him in a place of servitude where white trash was picked apart by the chatty class, the appointed intelligentsia, and the numerous elites that constantly proclaimed where such individuals belonged or did not belong. The Jonseys of the world were cut adrift from a fantasy of privilege, they couldn’t see their brothers lingering at the door of the fortune five hundreds let alone knocking on the door itself; an absurdity they might rise a beer to. At best they were ghosts, phantoms of what could have been and what will never become. With no reclamation in sight, this flight to the bottom would give the chatty class and their allies something to talk about, to discuss the proper order of who is where and how they got there.

Jonsey felt weak from his fight with Mauls, the gun seemed heavy and difficult to hold. He let it fall to his side before passing out in front of the horse.

WHAT IT IS NOT

The world is freaked out at the sight of sentient teddy bears. Peace, order and good government can be snarled up in the unconventional and the reality of such an existence becomes neither implied or stated even by those who know, and yes, some do know. It muddies the waters and untangles possibilities that we have no time for as we must ‘get on with our lives’, like that wouldn’t happen anyway. Beersey and Buttsey were keenly aware of this phenomenon as they peaked out of the trunk in a parking lot of a fast food restaurant in Truro, Nova Scotia. The INSECT agents were inside feasting,  and the cover of darkness was about to aid the teddy bear’s escape.

The two things Beersey and Buttsey needed most could be found in this central Nova Scotia town:  an agricultural college in possession of a horse formerly associated with a certain maintenance man, and a minimum security prison housing two women, Bella and Dizzy.

Valentine’s Day saw the loose rules at the prison eased up even more, with a festive atmosphere pervasive as friends and relatives roamed the grounds and special events took place all over the compound. The women of the prison loved this bash, and Dizzy and Bella were particularly struck by the horses from the college and the teddy bears from the local Walmart. During the hoopla, Buttsey telekinesed into the warden’s office, found the prison’s master key and placed it under the saddle of the horse. Bella and Dizzy were last seen riding west along the Salmon River clutching two teddy bears.

FLY

blog photo 212 flyWHAT IT IS

A Caribbean vacation was exactly what Sapphire and Cricket needed after the shoot out captured the killer of their parents. With the trial over and the man locked away, it was time to put the whole experience behind them.

Nevis possessed the tranquil lifestyle and laid back vibe they were looking for, so with suitcases packed and flights booked, Sapphire and Cricket soon found themselves walking along Pinney’s road, watching the soft waves push against the sandy shoreline. Bathed in the warm sun and sweet ocean breeze caused both to reflect on recent events and perhaps it was this susceptibility  that led the pair off the main road into a tiny cluster of brightly colored houses where children ran around at break-neck speed and adults lingered on the street side porches. One house in particular caught Sapphire’s eye with its deep marine blue wood shingles and brilliant yellow trim and its hand written sign in the front window….FORTUNES READ!

Aquena greeted the couple warmly, but instinctively knew it was Sapphire who believed in her gifts. Sapphire was ushered into a darkened back room and shown nine decks of cards, of which three had to be chosen. Three cards, one from each deck, must be selected and given to Aquena face down. She then left the room leaving Sapphire to complete her instructions.

It seemed like forever, but Aquena returned and held her hands over the three cards, explaining two cards were journey cards and the third and most important, was the destiny card. She turned them over slowly and with great purpose. The first a desolate, dry image; perhaps a desert. The second a bridge and the final card was an image of a pale, sickly man holding a child’s teddy bear in his arms, the teddy bear looking exactly like Ellie. The loud buzzing sound of a housefly and Aquena’s forceful voice urging Sapphire to heed the cards, caused her to stir from a thoughtful state and she walked slowly toward the front of the house where Cricket was waiting.

WHAT IT IS NOT

Adnan sank deep into the leather chair and although a tall man, it made him feel much smaller than he actually was. A businessman’s tactical advantage, he thought, as he waited for Slim to arrive, another tactical advantage…make them wait. The office was clean, quiet and professional, except for a small teddy bear perched on top of a file cabinet. Adnan believed it to be out of place with the rest of the office, but assumed it held a place of significance to Slim.

Inventorying the room for other oddities, Adnan noticed a housefly crawling around a window ledge and it immediately took him back to his boyhood in India. Before the visitors transformed into a human form, they looked eerily similar to this insect, large bulging eyes but with more hair and no wings… a look that took some getting use to. Most of them died off within weeks of their arrival, but Miles Hobbson did not, and he was the reason Adnan now sat in Slim’s office.

Hobbson was a Cringhig, a kind of maintenance man, aboard the ship from Mizar. Soon after the ship landed, the Mizarian who was selected to remain on earth was struck and killed by lightning and it was decided that a maintenance man could be spared for the return trip, thus Hobbson was left behind. He was given the J-Drive, a set of instructions and sent on his way. Unfortunately, the instructions were incinerated in his adoptive parent’s house fire on Nevis, and he was left with a device he knew almost nothing about. Adnan now waited for Slim with the intent of negotiating a fair price for the J-Drive.

BLACKBIRD

blog photo 211 blackbirdWHAT IT IS

The stark red numbers of the cheap alarm clock had Graham entrenched in a staring contest he would not win. He rubbed the brows of his eyes in hope of victory, but 3:06 AM was the reply. As he did every time he woke early, his right hand grabbed his left and searched for his two missing fingers; still missing. Trying not to disturb the other sleeping agents, Graham snuck into the kitchen, sat down with a glass of orange juice and became bemused at a strange looking orange teddy bear perched on the refrigerator.

Like most sentient teddy bears, Babs could remain inert for hours or even days and when necessary weeks at a time. Sitting straight and stoic, Babs listened as Graham’s numerous tirades filled the kitchen. Chief among Graham’s rants was the fact INSECT just lost two thousand robotic nano bugs in a fight with No.1’s elite group of insects. Graham’s visceral reaction and obvious distain for No.1, made Babs relieved that he didn’t know it was her who advised No.1 to strike before the robots were fully ready.

While the morning light wrestled into visibility, Graham received a call from Rene Boudreaux in Louisiana. Rene had found the missing four pales of 1,4 Dichloropropene and he and five CHAPS were personally delivering the cargo to Lake Springfield later that week. A beaming Graham left the kitchen and Babs slipped off the refrigerator, congratulated a blackbird on his singing prowess and returned to her cabin.

WHAT IT IS NOT

The conductor said it was a problem with the track, then he said a swarm of grasshoppers flew into the engine’s air intake and finally he admitted that for some unknown reason, the diesel engines just stopped working. An overnight layover just outside Indianapolis was good news for Justine Flagstaff and  her beloved teddy bear Leo. She gathered up Leo and her belongings and readied herself for a peaceful night at Mae’s B&B.

On a privately owned, left handed dirt track some eight and a half furlongs long, just outside Greensburg, Indiana a teddy bear sat on top of a flagpole and was soon joined by a dragonfly. The tete-a-tete lasted long into the night with speculation being the only certainty as to what transpired. The night watchman claimed to have heard ticking sounds, reminiscent of the telegraph that then morphed into unfamiliar musical notes, then into syllables and finally words. The confused watchman related that the point that is infinity keeps shifting in this terrestrial world with the abstract rush into oblivion not born of conscious thought, but more of a stupor state of indifference and ignorance. The path stumbles along, gathering up essences for examination and dismissal, more examination and more dismissal until the whole exercise gets lost in political rhetoric, economic bravado and social voodooism. The i’s get dotted, the t’s crossed and the point that was infinity gets changed again. It is most likely that beyond infinity is some kind of paradise a dragonfly may wonder, why we didn’t take advantage of already, because we have it, we had it, but still alludes the clean grasp, the solid hit.

This world of abstractions didn’t touch the dragonfly or the teddy bear in a direct way as they sat on the flagpole, but like a tsunami, they, and the singing blackbirds, would be swept up in it and deposited in a place where paradise was scarce and the point of infinity would change again.