MOOSE

blog photo 210 mooseWHAT IT IS

Being alert, is being alive. If days existed when tranquility was morning coffee, roaming was afternoon utopia and contemplation of the minute and inconsequential rounded out the evening, then those days were gone forever. Not all of the seven and a half billion declared an almighty intervention of farms, interstates, chainsaws and rifles, all culminating in the self serving science of wildlife management and a dominion granted by us, for us and about us. When the gate keepers, awkward and ridiculous as they can be, roam the convenient habitats of the places they do not belong, their belief in virtuous destruction and the superiority of human kind will imprint and eventually destroy these habitats, as we have numerous incidents hidden and occasionally revealed in our own historical records.

The wash is; it will be unkind, it will be unkind forever, it will be unkind as we look around at the drained swamps, the gnarly clear cuts, the speed-kill highways and broken communities of chopped up biodiversity unable to sustain what bureaucrats and managers promised. It doesn’t take seven and a half billion, it will never take seven and a half billion.

The moose watched as a small Saw whet owl was shot out of a pine tree by a young man. After tumbling to the ground, the young man casually moved it around with his boot before walking away. Not in season. Not out of danger. The moose trudged silently into thicker bush.

WHAT IT IS NOT

It is said, a moose hasn’t been seen in the beautiful state of Illinois in over twenty-five thousand years when stag-moose roamed the mid west terrain of North America. But a citizen’s report is expected to be investigated, so with that in mind, Jill Deakins was meticulously scouring the backroads of Illinois looking for such a beast.

Mrs. B poked her head from beneath the truck’s hood just in time to see the police cruiser go by. It was the second time that morning, same cruiser, same cop; she wondered if she was being followed.

Jared Deakins bartered his way into possessing a perfect carrying case for his small plant from a blind woman staying at the same hostel as he had a few weeks prior. In exchange for the case, the woman wanted Jared to tell her how he and Little Mr. Deakins met.

Several years ago, Mr. and Mrs. Deakins, along with their two children, Jill and Jared, were vacationing in San Francisco. An evening stroll through Fisherman’s Wharf turned ugly when a live chicken kill demonstration being conducted by some culinary students went afoul. A head chef, holding a sizable meat cleaver, was about to lop off the head of a rooster when a massive swarm of insects invaded the area, throwing everything into chaos. The startled chef dropped the cleaver, cutting off two fingers of one of the students, the fingers unfortunately fell into a vat of superheated virgin olive oil originally intended for the rooster. As the havoc continued, the rooster escaped, flopping and running around the restaurant until seeing what looked like an opening to the outside then crashing his way through a large window into the arms of a passerby, Jared Deakins.

Jared looked at the small plant and told him it needed water, so off they went toward a small stream just off the road. The barking dog in the distance sounded like Jackson, the huge swarm of insects overhead reminded him of San Francisco and the sound of metal careening off cement made him go and investigate.

Looking down the road a police cruiser was flipped on its side, further down an epic struggle between  robotic nano bugs and insects darkened the sky and beyond that the translucent man staggered across the road, helped along by Mrs. B.

KNIGHT

blog photo 209 knightWHAT IT IS

Mutt Jefferson’s eighteen wheeler was full, front to back, with pancake mix, pancake syrup and simulated blueberries destined for Boston Massachusetts for a grand Paul Revere celebration. Mutt left PEI in the late afternoon and was closing in on Portland Maine when the big rig’s drive wheels locked up, but Mutt managed to pull over to the side of the road and into a motel parking lot without incident.

Mutt had the entire rig meticulously examined a thousand miles ago and was perplexed that such an occurrence could happen now, but still he felt obliged to check out the problem in the unlikely event he could fix it. Mutt kind of pushed on the tires, tapped on the wheel nuts and pulled off the leaf springs before nearly jumping out of his skin when he turned around to walk to the motel office and found himself face to face with a knight in full regalia.

No.1, the next No.1, crawled out from behind the warm exhaust pipe and watched as Feather reached into her saddle bag and pulled out and opened a small chest-like box. No. 1 floated and dropped like he was descending stairs until he was suspended over the box. His head twisted in Mutt’s direction and he was soon centimeters from the truck driver’s eye.

Mutt was captivated by the thousands of ommatidia in No.1’s two compound eyes which reflected a chaotic newsreel-like account of what Mutt first believed was the insect’s life, but the scope and enormity of what he was seeing made him think the representations in front of him may well be of all insect life. Mutt both coaxed and rejected human emotions from these observations and stood firm in his belief that self awareness, purpose, agony and contentment could not belong to this creature in front of him. There was a message being conveyed but Mutt was ill equipped to answer the question that was the message. The dark elevator in No. 1’s eye was filled with the desperate being dragged down by the superpower of human achievement, and the swirl of the tornado inside would not let go of its grip on anyone within its reach. There was no end to the mayhem except for the paradise of the unaffected and that paradise was transient and uninspired. The generations accumulated into mountains of science and technology, education and entertainment, death and destruction and through it all the light of consequence randomly came on and off until it simply stayed on all the time.

No.1 disappeared into the box sitting on Feather’s lap, his story taking only seconds to reveal. When the horse reared to move, Mutt asked where they were going. Missouri was Feather’s brief reply.

WHAT IT IS NOT

Mary Sampson sat on a shiny metallic steel bench overlooking the Ohio River in Evansville Indiana trying to figure out exactly what the bench was made of. She allowed the palm of her hand to press hard against the seat then gently rub the smooth surface; copper she decided. Her sight was nearly gone but she could still make out the blue waters of the river and an interesting silhouette of what she believed was a knight sitting on a horse, but when the silhouette moved toward her, panic and fear quickly overtook her.

Hammer’s deep, reassuring voice eased Mary’s apprehension and the gentle approach of the Polacka further put Mary at ease. She stroked the Polacka’s white, curly locks and marvelled at the texture of the fur, a texture she had never felt before, owing to the fact that only one Polacka is known to exist.

Once Mary was calm and trusting of them, Hammer got down to business. He had been told by the translucent man that she had been chosen to Polacka-sit his pet while he was sent off to Missouri on a most urgent matter. For her part, Mary recalled the translucent man giving her a bouquet of lupins and telling her she had been chosen, but she hoped the event would be much more than pet sitting. Nevertheless, Mary agreed to take the Polacka to the nearby hostel where she was staying and await the knight’s return.

SWALLOWS

 

blog photo 208 swallowWHAT IT IS

The three hundred and twenty acre farm had been in the Hislop family for over five generations. Corn and soybeans were the mainstay crops, but tomatoes and cucumbers were planted some years with decent results. The land had been good to the Hislops, providing steady income and a modest hard working lifestyle the family had come to be known for. Proud as they were, the Morgan County Hislops spoke very little of Frank Hislop, the 1930’s patriarch of the family who ended up in a mental institution, having declared that spacemen had visited the farm on more than one occasion.

Frank was on Fay’s mind as she drove the John Deere around the edge of the partially harvested corn field and came to stop at the precise location where Frank’s contorted, quivering body was found by sheriff’s deputies. The shotgun across Fay’s lap was to make her feel better. In the very early morning hours of the same day, Fay saw a blue light at the edge of the corn field, eerily close to where she now sat on the tractor.

It was fall now, but the honeybees  still rummaged through the corn tassels, Japanese beetles enjoyed the banquet, click beetles roamed freely and tree swallows feasted on these and other delectable treats. Looking around, everything looked normal to Fay, except for the hysterical laughter coming from beyond the wood lot in front of her. Fay used the shotgun to knock aside the branches as she made her way through the woodlot. The laughter grew louder until she could see two men sitting beside a two car freight train, looking completely out of place in her neighbour’s field.

 

WHAT IT IS NOT

Jaden drove Mary Sampson to the greyhound bus stop in Mount Pulaski. Mary wanted to go on to Missouri, but Jaden needed to return to her police duties in New Orleans. Hugs and kisses went postal with Jaden leaving her cell number with Mary along with strict orders for the two to keep in touch.

Jaclyn and Jaden’s cruiser inched its way along a Louisiana back road, eyes peeled for a motorcycle reported to be in the ditch. Jaclyn gently slapped the dashboard, motioning Jaden to stop the car. A crude wooden box housed a clutch of tree swallows and the adults were kept busy feeding the hordes. Both women puzzled over what they were seeing, neither women had children or ever remembered wanting kids or ever remembered wanting the questioning looks of family and friends as they aged out of prime child bearing years into older adulthood. Some people were openly hostile, others crushingly condescending, but few exhibited genuine understanding, and all this was OK because no profound principle was at stake, just a path taken, consequence chosen and a quiet desire to live unjudged. In many ways this passage to the outside made them more resilient and better prepared for the irregularities that oppression, poverty and mental illness occupy in the policing world.

A knock on the window; two heads turned to see Samantha, Cathy and Leo Barnard  peering inside the cruiser.

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.