WATER WORRIES

WHAT IT IS

It is when water meets an unintended consequence, its use bastardized for warped motives that divorces it from the core and commodifies the place it holds, this is when the foundations are rocked. When we politicize the trust it has, alter its spirit, kill it half to death before stomping it down just in case…dare we say…we could be in trouble now! If the ancients had it right and the myths and mysteries were that of givers of life, preservers of harmony and healers unfamiliar with intolerance, it begs the question of what have we done to this simple chemical? Going beyond distortion to altered to blurry, the place this fluid inhabits is as dark as a dungeon and as transient as a fashionista, but it still grasps its own purpose and is master over its spectacular gifts. That we rearranged motive, misunderstood reason, and completely collapsed meaning for water is yet one more simple gesture on the way along a path were enlightenment is dragged onto the auction block…just to see what we might get for it. The cost we extract will be cushioned by providence and natural brawn, but the durability of these traits cannot be endless, and exploration of their expiry dates may show them already passed.

Hammer finally finished. His task was to hollow out an acorn nut, fill it with water from a fast moving river and have it delivered, via carrier pigeon, to his ailing Polacka where it was said on good authority, by those officials who issue such notifications, that his Polacka would fully recover.

WHAT IT IS NOT

He would vanish for days at a time, usually before sunrise. Secretly stirring around the campsite, looking in on those sleeping and finally checking his look in a piece off broken mirror used to start the campfire. Little Mr. Deakins, being a rooster after all, bore witness to this ritual in the early hours and often shook his comb in polite approval as the duck became airborne.

Flight was the elixir that would not intoxicate, would not weave threads of fantasy into shimmering wings to lift unfortunate terrestrials like Little Mr. Deakins into lands of awe and seasons of unbridled possibility. Head down, shoulders square and heart centered in civilization, this brigade of the incapable, with all their blandness and folly, wake daily and march to where no accolades are bestowed,  and no grandiose contribution acknowledged. They do not look to the future with its cloudy proclamations of evil decrees ordering what must be done, by who and at what cost. They know the cost is theirs to bear, a pragmatic lot they are and a pragmatic lot they will remain. When all this navel-gazing is behind us and the historians deliver their brand of the truth, the brigade will collectively roll their eyes, scratch their heads,  and cry out in unison…REALLY!

Where did the duck go for days at a time? Little Mr. Deakins knew, and he was OK with it. To some, water is hope that keeps it all going and represents the little bit more, while to others water is a tasteless, odorless ,etc., etc., etc., etc.

A LEAF HOLDS ON

WHAT IT IS

A strong wind can push you around, not like a storm chaser practising sanctioned voyeurism, but more like the commands and the denials that we square off against in our day to day lives. Winds of persuasion, gusts of inspiration mix with crystal clear caution and jostle to marshal the forces that influence what we become and what we leave behind. These breezes are diminutive by nature, but the ability to morph them into weather balloon size and status is just another exceptional hallmark of the human experience. Whether riding on the updrafts of anxiety or the lows and highs of immaculate pressures, it may be wise to turn inward once in a while, look away from the storms and check the ledger to confirm the pluses and minuses of our lives.

That was what Ned Doucet was attempting to do, or so he thought. The life of a Pennsylvania patrolman’s weather patterns was defined and succinct, with little variation, but now in retirement Ned was propelled to look past the nightly forecasts and seven day guesses and attempt to see the invisible air columns that toggle between despair and disbelief. Ned did not carry around despair, nor did he shock easily, but he knew something was amiss when he seen it.

On this boisterous day, as Ned stood on an old wooden bridge waiting for Justine Flagstaff, all the leaves…all the leaves…had been swept away, except for one and no matter how strong the gusts blew, the leaf remained.

WHAT IT IS NOT

Sapphire was fixated on the cards she received from Aquena, she trusted her intuition and Cricket trusted her, so the pair quickly changed their vacation plans on Nevis and were biding their time in Indianapolis waiting for Slim to return from a trip to Missouri.

Ellie should have been sentient by now, but she sat lifeless on top of Slim’s file cabinet. So, with little to do but wait around, Sapphire grabbed Ellie, asked Cricket to bring the car around and soon the trio were cruising the quiet roads of Brown County, where teddy bear rumours told the story of super wasps whose venom could wake a teddy bear from the deepest of comas.

A covered bridge made of aged wood and skillful hands, stood as a stoic entrance to the other side and the symbolism was not lost on Sapphire as it was the same bridge see seen on one of Aquena’s cards. We meander often to the other side, to the other side to test resolve or relationships or partnerships. We look for what the other has, what the other does and what manner of palace or peace we have been denied or bestowed. It is true that this materialism has been beaten hard into the ground, but it is also true that messages of faith, community and altruism dance around in pockets of privilege that compete with the coins of consumption occupying the same pockets. The give and take live in the same house, but they don’t hold the same currency with some of the bills going directly to a deity in exchange for good fortune while the remaining bills are weighted down by the misfortune of events and discriminations found on the scales of justice and scales of life.

Sapphire, Ellie cupped in her arms, got out of the car and placed Ellie on the bridge’s top rail next to a greying leaf. The wasp, examining the leaf, eyed up the teddy bear then landed on Ellie’s leg. The sharp stinger gently plunged into her leg and Ellie twitched slightly then telekinesed into the back seat, ready to go.

WHEN A WASP DANCES

WHAT IT IS

Mutt had the puzzled look of a puppy trying to understand his first command. The mechanic hit the air brake, swung open the cab door and climbed down from the rig all the while praising the condition of Mutt’s truck and its mechanical worthiness. If there had been a problem, the combined forces of mechanical engineers and the vessels their spirits moved on, solved Mutt’s transportation problems. At first light, Mutt would be back on the I95 wheeling toward Boston.

Mutt’s encounter with No.1 was a lesson in the art of the muddle where the seemingly apathetic are anointed and notified that inactions are the excuses that create the perforated bags in which the water is carried. Spilling time into an ocean of misappropriated wisdom, gave observers the opportunity to heckle what they did not hear, chastise what they could not see and, best of all, relish in the warmth of their own bathwater. Mutt was not part of this cohort, but he knew of the possibility of their hypnotic effect and often searched his soul to see if the tentacles of supremacy had claimed him.

Mutt broke off a tiny bit of his peanut butter and jam sandwich and placed it on the leaf next to the insect. The wasp ignored the offering at first, but after several minutes he tentatively shuffled toward it. Rubbing his legs together and staring at Mutt. Tthe creature neither heckled nor chastised and if he wore a hat, Mutt thought, he would have doffed it.

WHAT IT IS NOT

Pickles sat in a wicker basket surrounded by potions, lotions, scented soaps and mini chocolates from around the world. She had been fondled and touched by many of the town’s quasi-sophisticated who were undecided if their money would better be spent in the caverns of the big city or over the Wi-Fi waves of the internet. Small town chic waged a perpetual war on itself, inflecting scars of inadequacy that only itself, and a small cadre of keen observers, could recognize, while most everything else just floated down the river to a lake of practicality. The complete irrelevance of this egomaniacal army is not lost on all, bit those that embrace it, walk a line so thin and so corrupt that the human conditions becomes altered in ways that shatter not only the truth that is us, but bends our spirits in hideous pursuits of vanity.

Pickles languished in the store front window for weeks and no amount of stings from the local bees, wasps and hornets could restore her sentientism. Finally, after a plea from Leo, No.1 sent his first lieutenant to free Pickles from her coma.

WHAT AN IRIS SEES

WHAT IT IS

Hammer failed to mention it, Mary never realized it and the Polacka just went ahead and did it…ate the wild iris. It is a common misconception that the Polacka is the result of an unlikely union between a Polar Bear and an Alpaca, when it fact the Polacka is a common pet from Mizar that reacts poorly when it consumes bloodroot, indigo, iris and other earthly plants.

After eating copious amounts of iris while Mary was off picking blueberries, the Polacka collapsed on the edge of the wetland and bellowed out a pitiful sound akin to that of a tomcat in the throes of passion. Mary did something a blind person shouldn’t, she came running, slipped on a patch of moss and fell head first on to the moaning beast…her sight slowly coming back into focus. This time her vision wasn’t just ocular and although she couldn’t exactly see on a cellular level, she could observe connections and interactions of the world around her that few others will ever see. The timidity of time, the dissolution of lifespan and the forfeiture of ones self to the splendid existence saw the entire ethos merge and submerge for the simple purpose that life deserves life. The boundaries that Mary saw were not boundaries in the ordinary sense, just stations along the way, some, portals to other planes, some obligations to oblivion and still others a fight to the death. It all seemed like a sea of acceptable chaos, with nothing getting ahead and nothing getting left behind as it was both agreeable and tragic and as hard as hell to understand. Mary wished for her unfamiliar vision, something tangible and understandable and over time she’d get her wish and more.

WHAT IT IS NOT

Deep inside a scruffy piece of wetland on the edge of the Mark Twain National Forest, No.1 rested on a wild iris flower after a long day of infecting insects and birds with the enzyme he believed would provide immunity from INSECT’s deadly insecticide 1,4 Dichloropropene. Worry and weary, not traits ascribed to those in this Kingdom, permeated No.1’s habitual natural selections. His ascension to the status of No.1 was by appointment, a directive given by a scrupulous awareness of the coming eradication. Trying to create normalcy in a time of unheard of edicts, No.1 went about his business as a bearer of responsibility and a teller of truth. His march onward would be his end, but nothing he could do was going to change that fact because the forces of someone else’s justice would find him, pass sentence and give the final order. Like his predecessor, No.1 found solaces and turmoils in the deep ravines of the long history of his kind and his fear did not lie in the fortunes of the executed, but in that of the executioners. They were the sheep destined to survive and left to watch the rising sun reveal the madness left behind.

No.1’s sleep was restful and when he woke, he saw Feather at the edge of the swamp, beckoning him to continue their journey.

A Bear’s Story

WHAT IT IS

The confrontation between the Polacka and the Black bear didn’t last long, the tranquilizing dart to the bear’s rump saw to that. CO Micheals tagged the bear, put a tracking device on the animal  and waited for it to wander off into the bush.

Months later, many months later, Micheals got a call from a wildlife management scientist with the Missouri Department of Conservation telling Micheals that his Black bear was detected not far from Springfield. Knowing these animals never travel such great distances Micheals convinced his boss that an investigation was warranted, and he was soon on a plane for Missouri. The bear’s wanderlust was not that of a tourist, whose ornate accommodation and promissory understanding keeps them ill informed on most things outside of their specific area of tunnel vision. He had neither the will nor the pretense to reveal a condescension that would bathe over indigenous realms because he came to the party as he was, not what he wanted to be. His trek was outside his history, indeed outside of any bear’s history, and the compulsion to keep moving became a force from the cosmos, that finally became an obsession, then a duty. If the day of arrival materialized, if the slings and arrows and bullets and press releases missed their target, the bear fantasized about his turn on the witness stand. Knowing he would never see that day brought him a measure of sadness, but he really didn’t care about that because another mile awaited.

WHAT IT IS NOT

Tiny LeBlanc was on his third week crawling around Louisiana swamp country, trying to avoid The Chaps, the police or anyone else looking for a piece of him. A diet of arrowroot, wild rice, watercress and the occasional coypu left Tiny a weak and confused man, ready to return to civilization and take his chances.

On his twentieth day of being on the run, Tiny heard a guttural sound coming from the edge of the swamp on a piece of high ground. He cautiously approached, soon coming face to face with a black bear whose rear hind leg was wedged solidly into a rock crevice. Tiny was no hero, but he knew stuck when he saw it and the crippling grip that tightened as you looked around for freedom. Tiny’s freedom, Tiny’s idea of freedom, was not that which is written in a constitution or famously elaborated on a declaration, but his was simpler and more direct. Tiny could see his freedom floating along beside him, as if it existed inside a companion mirror allowing him to look at it but never really experiencing it or altering the events or changing the destinations. The mirror was a cruel reminder of being stuck and it pissed him off enough to look into the bear eyes and decide to get him unstuck.

Tiny saw a fulcrum, just behind the bears leg, he scavenged a strong branch and now all he needed was a diversion so he could get close to the bear. As he pondered what to do next, Kitty-kitty and Kitty-cat scrambled along the ridge above the bear and launched a suicidal jump onto the bears back. As fur flew and cats were knocked about, Tiny lifted the rock imprisoning the bear and within minutes the bear was free and running into his new found freedom.  

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 point 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

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.

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 on 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.