Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Even Ender Edge of the World.

We’re still in the future…

It is the day after Christmas.

Rabbit calls Murdoc, “Hey, I’m bringing the big red, white, and blue train back home.  I’m thinking I’ll stop and grab some beers and then if the cold in the garage isn’t too much, we tip a few.  How’s that sound brother?”  Rabbit is a locomotive engineer, one of the last down on Sparrows Point.

Murdoc is sitting in the parking lot of the Food Lion (roar!), the only grocery store out here on the end of the world, were time blends into the black water and nothing and everything makes sense.

“Alrighty Rabbit.  Let me get my shit and I’ll meet you in a few.  You need anything?”  This is what they do.  If someone else is making a run, they offer to pony up and get them what they might need.  Momma Joe picks up dog treats for Rabbit.  Rabbit picks up country ham for Funeral Ken.  Some Sunday’s at the bar, the exchange outside in the parking lot would make you wonder just what the hell is going on.  You have to be there, be inside, to understand. 

Murdoc knew he was a part of the “family” when he was asked to step outside and found himself on the receiving end of a dozen fresh brown eggs and a box of Bisquix.

“Here ya go honey” Mamma Joe smiles, “We take care of our own.”

So Murdoc is sitting in the parking lot of the Food Lion (roar!).  Rabbit asks for nothing, “All good, just come on over.”

Murdoc chimes back, “10-4”.  It’s that simple.

The sky is beginning to change, dramatically.  Two weather fronts have converged over Sparrows Point and if you were a weaker soul, you would think it was the end of the world.  Gray and white, mottled blue hidden behind the blackest of fast tearing clouds on the heaviest and almost unimaginable winds.  A couple leaving the Food Lion (roar!) comments, as the look up, “Damn maybe it is the end of days?”   Two days have passed that the locals describe as “fuckin’ New England dumpin’ in our back yard.  They need to keep it to themselves.”  It’s gray, white, heavy fog, snow, sleet and cold rain.  It’s too early in the season for this kind of nonsense.  The road into the Fort, along Todd’s Farm is flooded deep.  Bauers Farm is under as well, and Millers Island is again a water park.  And the wind howls, and as the tide comes in they all hunker down and ride it out.  Sane, normal people would run to higher ground.  But these natives know and understand what they’re up against.  “Shee-at Murdoc,  It’s only time to go when you have to wade out or steal a neighbor’s boat.  And you never do that.  Someone will always give you a ride, as long as you’re family.”

So Murdoc leaves the Food Lion (roar!) after picking up what he needs to get by and heads out the Lodge Forest Road towards Rabbits.  It is less than two miles, but in the winds and rain and fog, it might as well be the South Pole.  Along his drive he has to stop and let a small group of deer amble across the road.  Lucero is playing…

It is all so purrfect, the deer, the fog, and the song.  He knows where he has been and knows damn well where he is going.  But something beautiful gave him pause asked him to stop.  And as he sat in the strange white glow of the fog, he thought of her, his love so very far away.  She would have loved this, strong delicate, dark beasts of the land emerging from clouds of white with diligent, slow purpose.  They had no need to run or dart into shadows this night.  It was us who needed to be afraid. 

In an effort of good gesture, Murdoc kills his head and fog lights, only the yellow running lights on top of the truck glow, soft.  The road has gone really dark now, but the white echo light of the fog seems to still illuminate everything.  It is as if Murdoc and the deer are trapped inside the softest of clouds,    He wanted to step outside and lie down upon the white ether, curl up with the dark creatures of the forest and be one.

But the song ended. 

And just as he found himself jaded and back, just before he hit the lights and brought machinery and man back into being…

Two small, white speckled does emerged from the scrub, danced in the fog, chased and played with one another across the road and then out into field, out into the hidden expanse of Todd’s Farm.  It is late in the season for such new things to emerge, to survive.

Murdoc sits, in the slow easy cadence of his diesel rumble, lights out, on a lonely road that leads to the end of the world.  He waits, patiently; to make sure that all the beautiful and innocent things have found their way across.

When he is certain that all is well, he turns his heavy beast, his diesel fueled soul, out across the night and heads towards Rabbits.

“What took you so long Murdoc?”

“Deer, Rabbit.”

"Everyone knows there ain’t no deer here.  Hasn’t been since the Bauers hunted them out years ago.  You’re seeing things in the fog.”  Rabbit looks at Murdoc, raises his hands like a man aiming a rifle, and winks.  “Deer, huh?”

“Yuppers.  But what the fuck do I know?”

Rabbit get’s up from his chair in the garage and get’s a couple of beers from the fridge.  As he hands Murdoc his, he also, by some well practiced trick of slight of hand, hands him a picture.  It’s old, but still within their time.  It is a picture of a buck, a big buck, twelve points, and it is standing in the clear morning light, right about where Murdoc saw his phantoms in the fog.

“Ain’t no deer here Murdoc.”  Big smile.

Murdoc smiles back and replies, “Rightly so.”  He winks back at Rabbit.

Rabbit speaks, “And that’s why you’re family.”

Murdoc turns his head to the side and down and, stops.  “Hey Rab, you’re alright.”

Rabbit replies, “I know, you just need to know that you’re alright too.  The cold and fog has a way of messin’ with peoples minds.  You’re alright brother.”

And when all is well and good, Murdoc heads out into the heavy fog; towards his place on the even ender, edge of the world. 

“You’re alright brother,”

These are the words he remembers…
As he pushes the door open to his cold dark, lonely, home.

“You’re alright brother.”   

Friday, December 14, 2012

Navigating By Falling Stars

We are still a bit forward in time.

It is nights like these that remind him of his journey and path, the test.

He returns home onto the island, runs the dark lonely road past Bauers Farm and then the tough turn through Todd’s Farm, and he is home. 

In just a few small hours he has navigated the dull and oppressive lights of the city, his old home, and found his way across the Black Marsh to a place were the sole and lonely light sits beneath the flag pole by the Post Office, just around the corner, that opens at seven and closes at four.  It gets dark here, and he is okay with this.

His ride home back to the island is troublesome.  He smokes and spits blood out the window into the cold winter’s air.  There is no music; Just the keening of the diesel’s low rumble and an echo of a voice of love so very far away.

Tonight he went back.  He has done this once before, only once.  This time he was closer to his old home than he has ever been.  A friend, a brother, for better or worse, wanted to sit and pretend that everything was okay, alright.  And so he went back.  And it was, okay.

And nothing had changed.  It was all the same.

Some new paint, stronger bar stools and eleven televisions, but it was as if he had never left. 

The same drunks rolled in and out.  The bar keeps hadn’t changed.  And no one knew why he had disappeared.  They heard rumours and speculated, but they didn’t know.  They just assumed he had “moved on”.  They never knew he was pushed away, forced out.

And so he was embraced…again, like always. 

But it wasn’t enough to make him feel like he was home.  In his heart he knew that he was so far away that he could never find his way back to this place that was once his.  And uglier still, he never wanted to go to this place again.

“Fuck these fools, God bless them.  Their cages need to be rattled, they aren’t living.” 

Nothing had changed.

Only him.

And as the dusk fell, and the phony dark of the city night crept in, he bid them all farewell and charted the new familiar course towards his home on the edge of the world.

And as he headed out into the black, the real dark, lit only by stars; his phone began to ring.  Call after call came in.  Word had spread that he was out and tangible, real once again, and everyone wanted a piece. 

But the calls were never returned.  He had enough for one day and drew up the drawbridge that traversed the black waters between him and all those good souls that wanted or needed something from him. 

Only one thing, one soul could ease his weary head and make it all make sense. 

This is why he didn’t listen to music as he diesel rumbled his way back home; this is why the windows were down and the cold salt wind blew in through the windows of the truck…

He was trying to hear her voice.

If he kept the engine at a low gurgle and grunt, around 1500 RPM, he could almost hear her…and she was singing.  It was something unfamiliar, but he was sure it was Joan Baez.

He hates Joan Baez, but loves when she sings her to him.  It reminds him that he has his angel on.

He rumbles up to his cottage of exile on the black water. 

There are Christmas lights on neighbor’s houses, and still the lone light at the Post Office, illuminating the tattered flag that only comes down when there is almost nothing left to remind them of the wind that never ends and pulls their skin tight across their faces.

He steps out of the truck and begins to walk the few steps towards home.  There is no light on to guide his way.  Why should there be?  It is only him.

And just before stepping onto the porch, he stops.

A star, brilliant white, shoots over his head, over his exile, and out into black water beyond.

And he freezes, cannot move.  He just stands in the weird crazy dark of distant Christmas lights and waits.  What ever light there is down here, while comforting and giving of peace, means nothing when compared to the lights above that sometimes rain down upon us. 

And it all makes sense, “Fuckin’ Christ, it’s the Geminid Shower.  I am an asshole.”

So he goes inside, grabs a quick bite to eat, packs a cooler with beer, and then heads out onto the pier and waits to watch the heavens fall over the black water.

And as the stars rain down through the soft salty breeze, he is sure he hears her voice, gently singing.

It might be Joan Baez, but he wants it to be Leonard Cohen.

Either way, it doesn’t matter.

He is just comforted knowing that even though she isn’t with him, here on the pier on such a stellar night…

She is.

The black water that divides them, is nothing compared to the onyx infinite sky above, that draws them back to one another, through a sea of falling, brilliant white, stars.

    "And maybe I'm the man that's wading out into the night, singing don't fall thru the stars."

Friday, December 7, 2012

We leave the story for a brief interlude and share the latest interview with Murdoc.  It’s a bad phone connection that cuts in and out, as the wind has its way with the signal as it reaches out to him in his exile across the winters emerald water.  Again, some silly fool has taken interest in his work and he suffers the intrusion with the usual aplomb.  The fool trying to get something from him is named Mike.  He is an upstart writer and is proud for hunting Murdoc down and cornering him for some time and words. 

After a number of disconnects, dropped signals, they finally connect with a clarity that is muddy at best, but purrfect for the exchange that will occur.

What follows is an edited transcript.

Mike:  So can you hear me now?

Murdoc:  Yuppers.

Mike:  What?  Was that a yes?

Murdoc:  Yuppers.  (pause)  Yes, I can hear you.  Now what?

Mike:   Sorry, you keep breaking up and falling out.  I…

Murdoc:  That’s pretty much the routine for me.  But then the Fort might have something to do with this as well.  One road in and one cell phone tower, and damned by God.  We take turns making calls out.  The old guy up the street had a stroke two days ago and his wife had to wait to call the volunteer fire department until her neighbor had finished talking to her sister in Cleveland.  Living here teaches us patience and what’s really important.

Mike:  So you live on an island?

Murdoc:  It will be one day; and probably soon the way things are going.  So, when are you going to get to the prepared questions?

Mike:  Okay. (pause) But can I ask a couple of more questions off the list? 

Murdoc:  Sure, you get two.

Mike:  (pause, Mike thinks hard and wants to make the best of this candid opening)  So what’s your newest toy?

Murdoc.  No toys right now.  Not in the cards.

Mike:  From your work we have heard and read about the Triumph, is it done?

Murdoc:  That’s your second question, and no, it’s still sitting in the living room, sulking like a spurned child.  But Christmas is coming and I’ll wrap some lights around her and make her feel loved again.

Mike:  Can I ask one more off the script?

Murdoc:  Yuppers, but make it good.  And that’s three.

Mike:  So why haven’t you written anything in the last two months?

There is no pause before he answers and the signal gets stronger and suddenly clear.

Murdoc:  I fell in love, and then went fishing.

Mike:  As a reader of the HME Papers, this is clear, but could you explain? 

Murdoc:  Sure, but I thought this interview was supposed to be about the Papers and the change in the narrative and redirection of the experiment.  Is it back-story that you want?

Mike:  I was hoping for a glimpse into the writers mind and how it is that you can just jump in and out of the work?  I don’t think I am alone on this.

Murdoc:  That’s six unwelcomed questions now Mikey, and it should be noted that I am no writer.

Mike:  Sorry, but why the black out?  Why the pause?  It was just getting good.

Murdoc:  The big Rockfish came in season.  They run when the waters blend.  The trophy’s gather up and school and wait for the cold to draw them out of the Bay.  It’s simple migration, “Hey Renata, its getting cold let’s run south.”  So fools like me chase them.  You’d be a fool not to slowly glide the surface of the upside down black universe, knowing that something great and beautiful is down deeper than you, waiting to rise and fight you and then change you forever.

Mike:  Are we talking about fishing now or love? 

Murdoc:  Fishing fool.  You never kill love.  But I have to say that fishing is love and what you take from the water, if you are a good man, becomes a part of you.  Fishes?  Loaves?  It’s all killing.  But appreciate the gift and understand where it is coming from.

Mike:  So can I ask about love?  It seems that you have found love, a profound love. 

Murdoc:  Great love.  The only love.  A love I have chased and waited for, for as long as I have ever been.

Mike: So the new character in the HME Papers is real?

Murdoc:   Yuppers, and she has a great ass.

Mike:  So again, you are writing fiction and non-fiction at the same time?

Murdoc:  Are you saying her ass isn’t great?  Them’s fighting words.  But seriously, It’s always been real.  It just seems like I made the whole thing up.  I mean, I’ll be honest, if I read this shit, I would have a hard time believing this crap was real.  But it is.  And the few times I go back and read this, I still find it all unbelievable. 

Mike:  So she’s a writer?

Murdoc:  Best writer I know.  The woman can write soft white circles around the moon, that make you smell snow, and light your way home on a cold winter’s night.

Mike:  So is it strange to both be writers?

Murdoc:  Nope, ‘cause I’m not a writer.  I can only speak for me, but I think she feels this as well…We inspire each other.  She is trained and I am a rough animal.  I learn something new from her ever day and I know my writing gets better.  The best part will be when she is done with her studies and finally has the time to edit all my shit and make me look all edjumacated and smartzie. 

Mike:  Will she change you stylistically?

Murdoc:  She already has.  I don’t wear tapered jeans anymore.

Mike:  I meant as far as writing?

Murdoc:  Of course she has.  She has raised the bar.  I fell in love with her words and the way she gathered them together and set them to flight.  She has a natural gift, and yet has worked so very hard to hone this craft that she has taken as her own.  Anyone can sharpen a stick into a crude spear, only a few know how to heat steel, temper it, sharpen it, and create a potential, threatening beautiful weapon.  That’s what great writing is.  My gal has a gift. 

Mike:  I’ll be honest, I figured out who she was and read her work.  It’s stunning.

Murdoc:  Good for you.  It’s not hard to find her, us, we’re out here, and I pass along a thank you from her for appreciating her work.  We try to hide and protect our intellectual and creative children, but we are proud of them and take great pride when they come home with good marks.  Her baby is in the “gifted and talented program,” mine is still licking bus windows and laughing at farts.

Mike:  (laughing)  So what’s next?

Murdoc:  We get married, I settle into “soft alcohol middle age” and she punches fools in the face with important ideas and words.

Mike:  So no more writing for you?

Murdoc:  Hey Diptard, I have to keep writing.  I have to.  When I stop, the story ends; but sometimes the call of the black water, and its lull of tide, take’s precedence over words and ideas.  Sometimes, it’s nice to just rise and fall upon the universe’s pull, and let the black waters run deep and through you....(pause, cell phone signal starts to break up)  Until you’re ready, and then you dig in and start wrestling with words once again.  (pause, last sentence almost imperceptible)  That makes no fucking sense, but what the fuck is writing anyway?

Mike:  I’m losing you.

The signal fades and breaks upon the heavy wind that has rolled over the Fort.

Mike:  Can you hear me?

Murdoc:  Yuppers, sorta.  This is purrfect.

Mike:  (heavy static)  One last question…

Murduc:  Go ahead.

Mike:  Who is she?

The radio signal glows strong and the lights over the Fort surge bright for a brief moment.  The street light next to the post office will vibrate under the push of soft amber to blinding white heat and light, and then burst.

Murdoc:  She is….