JANUARY 27, 2013

SNOW ANGELS

 

So anyway the weather has turned to sunny after a gloomy time of overcast skies. Got a wharf sizzler earlier in the week, which has left everything dripping and pooled along the curbs and gutters in odd places, leaving the ground saturated and mucky topped with dead leaves which did their job a long time ago.

Everyone is sitting in front of grates waiting patiently for dry warmth to invade the earth once again. Those with the means, like Tommy and Toby, are packing up their boxy cars with the snow tires and chains and heading up into the areas around Taboo to enjoy the fresh deep powder. Report has it from Patrick in the hills that snow is falling as of this minute and all his little rug rats are out there making redundant snow angels.

Inside the frosted windows Toby, mother of all those rug rats now pelting their dad with hasty snowballs without regard to the fact that this guy will be the fellow paying for their college tuition in a few years, silently remembers one of the Newtown 26, Charlotte Bacon (6).

for the grace of some kind of god or whatever, Sandy Hook could have just as well claimed one of hers

While dad and the kids go screaming off down the way, causing untold rampant destruction of morals and propriety among the Sierra foothills, Toby comes out into the hard chill air and, as the snowflakes fall gently, she gently lays down among the other imprints and spreads her legs and her arms while looking up at the falling snowflakes, which cling to her long lashes. Toby is herself a schoolteacher in Grass Valley and knows that, but for the grace of some kind of god or whatever, Sandy Hook could have just as well claimed one of hers.

She gets up and leaves the little angel imprint, a memory of Charlotte, a redhead who used to light up the room whenever she entered, the way that temperamental redheads sometimes do and goes inside. Tomorrow was another school day and there were tasks to organize.

Every teacher spends a portion of homelife preparing for the next school day. But then, some say nothing you do for children is ever wasted.

these kids, their childhood stolen

In Oaktown, at the Jack Sparrow Orphanage, the Editor has returned to his clerical duties, knocking about the place on a wooden crutch. In his rounds he comes across the kids from the Avalon school on the grounds and has to reintroduce himself -- the kids don't hold much for long in their heads. Most of them are autistic, PTSD, any number of acronyms needing medication besides. None of these kids will ever lay back in the snow with casual abandonment. They are serious, not laughing very often, these kids, their childhood stolen as effectively as if some maniac had barged in with a fully automatic assault rifle into their lives. Some of these kids lived brief lives in the media when they were discovered in some backyard shed or dank basement chained to a post after several years of non-childhood possession by a deviant maniac armed with knives and blowtorches. Some simply abandoned by foster homes grown too tired of the complications.

As Woody Allen used to say, life is divided between the horrible and the miserable. Just thank your lucky stars you belong to the merely miserable.

As the Editor stumps up the path one of the kids is standing there facing a staffer who alerts the kid, "Someone is coming up behind you."

"Hello!" says the Editor merrily, letting the kid know he is heaving his heavy bulk up the way.

"Hello," the kid says absently before moving inside the school.

The Editor is an adult who will not hurt him. Okay fine. On to other things.

The Editor humps on up into the Administration building. Nothing you do for children is ever wasted. Nothing ever so small.

At Marlene and Andre's Household everyone is huddled around the coffeetable under which Occasional Quentin sleeps. It is bread soup night, so everyone is there with their "Bush Bowl", named after the family that made these circumstances, filled with thick red bread soup somewhat fortified with the meat of a couple squirrels Pahrump had managed to trap.

Life, indeed was good. Warm bread soup with squirrel meat and a warm dry place to squat until the greedy developers got too savage and Mr. Howitzer raised the rent again. One could not complain on this chilly night in January when so many had so little and things were bound to get worse, given the trends.

Out behind the backdoor a couple of bloody squirrel hides hung drying. Martini and the others stood there while Quentin picked his nose and Pahrump went through the age-old practice of squirrel-skinning, which, if you did not know, involves making a few sharp cuts, stomping on the critter's tail with your boot and yanking hard upwards, separating the rodent carcass from his former insulation. If you have seen such a thing, you learn why they call what is left pelt and carcass. Sarah and Tipitina went into the house, unable to eat dinner.

"What the heck is he going to do with that fur pelt", Martini wanted to know.

"Don't ask", Jose said. "I am not so sure I want to know myself. Have another helping of stew?"

"No thanks," Martini said. "I've had enough."

In the offices of the Island-Life the Editor started wrapping up the week. Seems a group of younguns are starting up a gallery in Oaktown. Keeping their mitts in the ring and staying feisty. That was the spirit.

He passed down the line of empty desks to exit the offices and stand in the chill air on the deck bounded by orange and lemon trees now in full abundance of yield, despite the season. There he inhaled the deep scent of citrus and life in bloom. Somewhere somewhere else all life was still encased in ice, but here, in California, the golden land of promise, the oranges were bursting.

all the souls of the children who had died danced in a roundel

He closed his eyes and there on the deck among the lemon trees and the oranges the editor had a vision. This was the Editor's vision. He dreamed that all the snow angels around the world rose up out of their cold beds in all of the countries all over the globe, in Germany and in Norway, in South Africa and the slopes of Kilimanjaro, Australia and Tibet and the angels started to sing. They sang of spring and renewal and patience and the eternal return of life to the land. In the frosty heavens all the souls of the children who had died danced in a roundel, circles of snow angels arose in flocks to join together and so circle the globe, all the murdered children forming a protective blanket around the earth, and all of these angels spread their wings to block the effects of global warming and so a great thing was come to pass and all the sea levels returned to normal and the wine dark seas were calmed to quiescence and there were no more hurricanes and the glaciers returned to their former majesty.

The long howl of the the throughpassing train ululated from far across the water, across the waves of the estuary and across the non-native grasses of the Buena Vista flats as the locomotive glided past the dark and shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off on its journey to parts unknown.

That's the way it is on the Island. Have a great week.

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