January 14, 2018

Keys to the Highway

 

 

I AM BILLED OUT AND GOTTA GO

The time comes for every artist who has constructed an opus that creates its own virtual reality over an extended period of time and effort to find a way to resolve the entire project or find a way to make it self perpetuating.

Different artists have done or not done things to wind up the whole affair. Every Trilogy has a resolving chapter. Every Symphonic sequence has a resolve. Literary opi have presented variegated resolutions. Some, like Berk Breathed, have written simple exits for its characters. One character becomes a eunuch living in Tibet. Another goes to jail. A final frame is presented with a vacant office and scattered papers blowing in the wind.

Done with that, says the creator. Or not, as in the seemingly endless recursion of Star Wars.

In the Odyssey, Homer presents a possible future for our wandering hero who has wandered through so many stories.

William Faulkner kept his unpronounceable Mississippi county alive so that he could milk its content until he died and so that fictional reality remains with us.

No one knows what Garrisson Keillor had in mind for disposition of his Lake Woebegon. He pulled out from major involvement with the radio show, but external events caused him to pull back even further. Ironically, these events resembled stories he himself had created, almost as if he had written his own disgrace. Keillor will remain a solid rock in American letters as a storytelling genius long past the memories of all who now recall him fondly, and Lake Wobegon will persist in the imagination in a sort of stasis, which is, come to think of it, entirely appropriate for the Town that Time forgot.

JRR Tolkein wrote quite an extensive epilogue in footnote form, detailing the fates of all the adventurers and how and when they died and how some passed on to the West to the Undying Lands. His books have been translated into many languages and are as widely read as the Bible.

As for those nasty orcs left running around in bands, the less said the better.

Berk Breathed decided to suddenly empty his Bloom County and send various characters off to bizarre fates. Frankly we feel what happened to Binky was entirely too severe, even as we understand Breathed wanted to make this finish absolute with no possibility of return.

In movie-dom, we have Avatar slyly suggesting a continuation of the story. The Godfather lived on through three murderous films until finally laid to rest as in the original book. And so on.

So now we come to our dear, dear Island. Circumstances have caused us to consider a serious artistic shift, while we are loth to let it all go. There are stories in these folk yet, my friends. They came to life, sometimes against our best wishes, and insist on living on.

Just as it is difficult to imagine the room without us sitting there, we must face the future. One day will come when neither you nor I am here to occupy the chair in the room filled with people. All our inventions will have to stand on their own merit. Yet there remains in any artist, no matter how trivial, the desire that things continue in the world without them. This is the simple desire to have children, but in the form of art, which is normally by nature static.

So it is. We will present two possible endings for the Island. One ending shall be the imagined consequence of a hack who seeks only flamboyant novelty, violence for the sake of entertainment for jaded viewers, cheap tugs on the heartstrings with canned emotions. The sort of easy writing you find in the aisles of the grocery store while waiting for the cashier to bring down the total cost of what you bought without thinking.

And then there will be the other ending, the transcendent one. As in the Life of Pi, where the insurance agents are given an option to pick which sequence of events really did occur, we will provide just such a choice and the choice will determine who you are.

So it is with God. You can believe one thing or another. God is supposedly the ultimate artist. Maybe all that was made is not free of valid criticism, but then, this is all we have. This is the only Reality we have, and I am not so sure there is even a Reality.

GONNA SET OUT RUNNING, 'CAUSE WALKING MOST TOO SLOW

So anyway, the boys got work fixing up Mr. Howitzer's yacht that sat in dry dock at the Marina. Basically, the way drydock works in most working shipyards, the ships are brought into a narrow channel during high tide, turned by crane to face perpendicular to the narrow sides, and floodgates close to allow the ships to settle down until keels touch the concrete floor of the drydock where qualified shipwrights assemble frames to support the ships as the water continues to be pumped out of the drydock area.

Mr. Howitzer balked at paying the port costs for such a formalized setup, so he had the Depuglia brothers build a another drydock on mudflats as an "addition" to the formal Marina drydock, with another basically semipermeable floodgate built by the Depuglias out of prefab slabs of concrete meant for landside retaining walls. This one only went fully dry during high tide, and during other times, seawater lapped up against the base of the frameworks which had the stanchions embedded in concrete. This meant work could really only take place on the lower parts of the hull and keel every 12 hours, but it was cheaper, as Mr. Howitzer thought, than paying the rental for full drydock. The Harbormaster hated the Depuglias and Mr. Howitzer with a vengeance, but Mr. Howitzer possessed wealth and influence in the town.

This was the sort of thing qualified engineers would point at and say, "This is a really bad design."

While scraping and painting the hull and fixing hardware issues that had occurred during the crab pot debacle last year, Javier and Jose and Pahrump would take the dingy out for spins on the water, which was easy to do, given the nature of the "wet" drydock employed by the DePuglias. The dingy, which had been a Boston whaler type of craft in its heyday, moved like an SUV through butter, which meant it had the maneuverability of a tank, but without so much power from its single Evinrude motor.

The boys managed to beach the heavy thing twice, forcing Jose to sleep in the sodden hull until high tide floated it free again, yet nevertheless the jolly crew continued to cavort with the boat with gallons of dollar wine aboard to fuel their mad energy.

The New Year had come and gone and the air was latterly heavy with sodden quality, missing the sharp, incisiveness of Winter proper. Each day the sun arose through high cloud, which in normal years indicated that the change of seasons was already underway. Perhaps it was. But much had become uncertain after the fires and the mudslides, claimed by Governor Moonbeam to be the new normal.

Climate change had arrived and not a single George Bush had a thing to say about it.

The Angry Elf gang continued to assemble explosive material in that house off of Santa Clara Avenue and most businesses continued about their business so long as they could still afford the usurious rents.

MLK day was a moderate Holiday, with all government buildings closed and most businesses pretending.

Little Adam asked Marlene about Martin Luther King Jr., for MLK looked a lot like him and he wanted to know. A program about Django Reinhart played on the miniature TV while Marlene cleaned up the kitchen.

Marlene, with her black hair swirling about in a nest, said MLK had been a great man even though he had not wanted to be one, which is to say he was even greater because of it. His dream was to set people free from fear of one another, had been murdered for his pains, and his legacy had nevertheless improved the lot of millions in a society, in a nation, that was not much better than Stalinist Russia to a large portion of the population, and Adam had much to thank for all that.

And yet there was a lot more work to do, as evidenced by the disgraceful utterances spewing from the White House, so Adam had some work cut out for him.

Adam mused on this for a while.

"I wish everybody loved each other like we do in the Household," Adam said. "But I know for a fact that aint gonna happen."

At that moment the red Toyota truck loaded with members of the Angry Elf gang drove past outside, whooping and cackling their evil laughs. They were headed off to burn someone's car in the street.

"We are like the Roma," Marlene said. "We endure and provide example by the way we live."

"Fur shizzle," Adam said.

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and died between the Edwardian house-rows as the locomotive click-clacked in front of the shadow-shuttered Jack London Waterfront, trundling past the Ohlone burial mounds to an unknown destination.

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