TREES

blog photo 206vertical treesWHAT IT IS

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

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

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

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

WHAT IT IS  NOT

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

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

“Want your fortune read?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE WASP

blog photo 205 wasp and flowerWHAT IT IS

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

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

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

WHAT IT IS NOT

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

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

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

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

 

TRACKS

blog photo 204 railroadWHAT IT IS

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

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

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

 

WHAT IT IS NOT

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

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

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

DRAGONFLY

blog photo 203 dragonflyWHAT IT IS

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

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

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

WHAT IT IS NOT

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

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

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

 

RASPBERRY

blog photo 202 rasberryWHAT IT IS

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

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

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

WHAT IT IS NOT

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

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

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

FISHING

blog photo 201 heron & fishWHAT IT IS

It was a simple image on a calendar– the July photo of a heron eating a fish –that opened the flood gates of this alien mind to occupy territory having no boundaries, no solutions and no agreements. This pain in the abattoir, this torture in the lobster pot, the 303 almost to the heart, the harvester ripping up fertile soil that we pray, not religiously, will sustain the clan long enough until someone emerges whose self interest is diminished a thousand fold and is the possessor of that rare quality not yet revealed. Of course, they argue that possessor is all of us, that it lies dormant at the bottom of the heron’s pond awaiting its awakening. The infliction of pain is the cornerstone by which all things can be measured and no matter what lofty goals are rained down upon us, it is with great difficulty that we can escape this simple truth, although many are skilled in the avoidance.

Hobbson saw himself in the image. Was he fish or heron, or perhaps just flotsam drifting around the pond watching the drama unfold and keeping his head down? Much of Hobbson’s journey on this earth was a mistake, a series of events that unfolded with him occupying a space that vacillated between comedy and tragedy. Today he hoped to change all that and as Slim opened his office door to greet Hobbson, the Jesus drive that sat on the floor beside Hobbson, purred softly.

WHAT IT IS NOT

Sapphire’s mission was a serious one, but when she spotted a great blue heron fishing on the edge of a swamp, the cameras came out and she and Cricket began a covert-op toward the bird. There were plenty of birds around that day, especially chickadees who seemed intent on buzzing around the heads of the two photographers. Undeterred, the two got the photographs they came for, but the chickadee silence filled the air as Melena Schulz and her ragged sidekick, handguns drawn, walked out of the bush.

No words were spoken, exaggerated gestures instructed Sapphire and Cricket down a narrow path, through an open meadow and back to another path. They walked slowly in single file with Schulz at the end of the troupe in a constant hyper vigilant state, her eyes darting from side to side and head swaying forwards and back. They crossed by a white fountain; birds were drinking. Sapphire noticed a man, Drake Johnstone, crouched down beside a large rock. The parade kept moving.

Shots rang out from all directions. It looked like Schulz’s partner was hit in the shoulder, but Sapphire and Cricket were hustled out of harms way by Jessica Potts so quickly they couldn’t be sure of what really happened.

 

 

THE FOUNTAIN

blog photo 200 drinking chickadeeWHAT IT IS

Drake Johnstone sat awkwardly on a sharp rock that became, over several decades, an integral part of an unrecognizable piece of farm equipment that remained behind when homesteaders scattered into the winds. His thoughts today were not of these souls, but instead of how a funky chickadee may have saved his life, although not through any heroic deed on his part.

Drake fed the birds in the small corner of his world, and a preponderance of the winged charges were chickadees. Over time he came to realize that individuals in the group not only had different personalities but upon close inspection each individual looked very different from one another. It followed from this, that Drake would assign names to the various birds; Freddie could be hand fed, as could Chauky, Buck and Tailfeather. Fanny would eat seeds from the hat on Drake’s head but disliked the feel of human flesh below her feet. Chester was the most gregarious of them all; hand feeding, hat feeding and even tapping on the kitchen window when the seed supply was getting low. He’d follow Drake to the water well and the woodshed for  no apparent reason…like a dog with wings.

Drake had been gone most of the day, doing some landscape sketches near Devil’s Mountain. Nearing the cabin, Drake spotted Chester in the fountain taking a drink and a few hundred feet beyond that two scruffy transgressors with ill intent written across their faces.

 

WHAT IT IS NOT

Morley suggested his guests enjoy the canoeing and fishing on the river and if trail exploring was more to their liking, the pine ridge nature trail would certainly please. They were encouraged to swim at the beautiful sand beach, play frisbee golf on a wonderfully manicured field or even bat around some baseballs on the lodge’s regulation diamond, but it was strongly suggested to stay away from an old barn up the road because strange occurrences were known to take place there.

Marie was on a solo trip, taking in everything Northern Ontario and getting as far away from the Arizona heat as possible. Choke cherries were on her mind, so early on a Sunday morning she left the lodge with a small bucket in her hand and started on her day’s adventure. She followed a stream, crossed over it on a fallen tree, walked up a steep hill then heard an odd thumping sound.

A knight repeatedly smashed the ground with his sword, sparks flew, and rocks exploded in all directions and water gushed from the ground. The knight moulded the rocks into a white fountain and ancient water bubbled up from the ground into it. The knight spoke in a language Marie didn’t understand but she thought it was a dedication of some kind. Insects by the thousands left the nearby barn and hovered over the fountain but it was a lone chickadee who was the first to drink.