MARCH 14, 2015
So anyway it looks like the Valentine's Night Dance fundraiser at the Sons of the Golden West parlor hall went well. A stiff Lionel showed up with the subject of his torch-bearing of many years, Jackie of Jacqueline's Salon.
By stiff, we mean a bit awkward. During one slow dance, Eugene Gallipagus leaned over and whispered to Lionel to dance "a little closer. That's the way it is supposed to be."
Things went better after that and Jackie smiled and actually seemed to enjoy herself. She figured that going out with Lionel for once would get her at least a good supper at some place good, but it turned out by the end of the evening she was starting to like the guy.
Lionel, born and raised in Carbondale, came West for some of those, what some people called at the time, "social unrest" benefits. But he still remembered the night rides of the local KKK in that part of the country, and the terror of some of his friends and so he slept with a loaded .45 under his bed even after all these years. Still, there were many sides to him, for he was by no means a simple man to understand. He had been exposed to Shakespeare and to Plato and Aristotle before college by his grandfather, born in slavery in Louisiana and who never finished a year of high school
Such were the times and such were the men in those days, for if you thirsted for knowledge, you went and got it yourself, for sure as certain, no schoolhouse in the Nation would provide it for you.
So Lionel arrived in the land where the Free Speech movement was born and where Bobby and few other brothers hung out with AK-47's and the Zebra killers were caught and tried and convicted and sent to prison and nobody lynched them, despite them being even more despicable than most of the oh fay out there. And although some things were different, and some things changed, some things stayed the same for the man overlayed with the Classics and Romanticism and .45 caliber guns and ownership of the Pampered Pup hot-dog shop, Jim Crow and the Civil Rights Amendment.
So there was this man with this checkered consistency of soul -- with quite a lot more personal history above and beyond anything related here -- a Man with a Past in the arms of a beautiful woman and the desire of his dreams and as it turns out -- quelle surprise -- a woman with significant history and character development of her own and she feeling things on which she had not counted at the start of this, this thing.
If all of us were so sure and definitive of what we truly wanted and what we truly desired and knew precisely how to get it without fuss, the theatre could close up shop everywhere and there would be no Blues, no Gospel, no Albert King, Freddie King, nor BB King. The courts would all close down and all the attorneys would turn to more useful occupations like short order cooks and conga musicians. We would all be living in a land of candy hearts and the temperature in St. Paul would remain a constant 75 degrees all year around.
Not that such a set of circumstances would be desired by everybody. Plenty of people enjoy the healthy vigor of minus 40 degree temperatures, but someone up there would desire it and they would figure out a way to get it while people who like ice fishing would be operating on some other principle.
So as the dance winds down and the Monkey Spankers conclude their live presentation with a Tom Waits song, we draw the curtain gracefully across the set that hosts the Lionel/Jackie opera and let whatever comes out, come out as best it may.
This is what far more authors should do with their romantic descriptions. For even the best of the most randy "bodice rippers" leave the best to the imagination. For in that perfect world of the imagination, everything, including hot-dogs and sex, tastes better. Taste, of course, is that about which we are speaking.
March has come on here in California with unfortunate dry weather. This past week the coastal morning fogs yielded to stunning sunshine which populated the beaches, such as they are in NorCal, where people born in Santa Barbara claim there is no serious beach of any kind here.
Emma, a short and sweet girl working here as a clinical therapist, walks around stating emphatically that there are no beaches here in NorCal and Baker Beach is a cold anomaly that is not really a beach if you look at all its characteristics. There is no squid shop, for example. When brought to the Strand on the Island, she looks at the signs warning about skin parasites and looks at the area zoned off for mating of the snowy plover, and says, "This is not a beach."
But there are people in the water and children frolicking in the sand and sunbathers and of course quite a lot of sand.
"No, the sand was imported and the water is cold and there are no waves, no ocean out there -- only a view of the industrial skyline of Babylon and the parasites hurt and there are rules. A beach is broad and warm and sunny and the people frolic in the waves that are the very nature of the ocean, our mother and the source from which life crawled millenia ago. This place is cold and the images do not frolic. That is not a beach and those things are not people, they are automatons or projections."
She came to Denby nursing a hangover created by the effort to wash away the memory of what happened Valentine's Day.
"You are not a man," Emma said. "You are a character."
People from SoCal are odd, but they probably say the same about us in NorCal.
It is getting on to the only fake holiday that both annoys and thrills the Irish diaspora in America -- St. Paddy's day.
They are all getting geared up for this profitable and irksome day at the Old Same Place Bar. Once again, Padraic has designed an embarrassing miniskirt outfit for Suzie to show off her long legs, along with himself and the missus, Dawn O'Reilly, to show off their respective sturdy assessments. Suzie has been posting up cardboard shamrocks and bearded leprechauns on the windows, while Dawn has been preparing for what seems to have become a regular annual visit by the mysterious Wee Man, who always appears near midnight and always has something amazing to say and always causes mischief of some kind to vex both the clientele and the management.
Some say he is a leprechaun, if that is any sort of explanation at all, and some say he is, because of his magical powers, of the Bann Sé, who are known to howl about the chimneys during storms, make the roof slates fly off into the yard, and cause other mischief. Some say he is an elf of the old nasty type, and others say he is an Elv of the newer, nicer,Tolkein type, and some say he comes from the legendary Fir Bolg that were the original inhabitants of the Emerald Isle.
That he is of an Island and therefore a kind of Islander there is no doubt, for he is impish, unpredictable, full of strong opinions, dedicated to action regardless of consequences, nostalgic to a fault, an antiquarian of renown, a randy gossip, perverted to a devious degree, a bit magical, and endowed with anachronistic inventions and sentiments that are sure to cause charm as well as irritation in providing obstacles to the momentum some people call progress and others communal degredation.
And so the nights before his appearance everyone has taken to taking precautions. All on account of the Wee Man and his powerful effect upon the universe and people's knickers. Both Dawn and Suzi are packing extra pairs. Just on the off chance he returns. For he certainly has a curious fixation and he is impish.
There is not much to occupy people's minds and senses since Mardi Gras ended and Lent has started for the Xians. Even the Wiccans lack a significant sky sign during the Ides of March, so everyone is left renting Netflix and Redbox movies and catching up on who won the Oscars. Seems for about 5,000 years nobody celebrated anything during these weeks, even though it is entirely probable that the Xian Jesus was born in this month, and not in December, when you look at all the data. It would be just like that rabble-rousing Socialist named Jesus to get born in March and then lead the world on a merry chase about December and Xmas for about 2,000 or more years. People do not imagine that Jesus had a sense of humor, but please remember: his mother was Jewish and so was his earthly father. How could he not have a sense of humor?
Well the details don't matter much; it is all in how it comes out in the end.
Pastor Nyquist was quite at a loss for a sermon this Sunday and in desperation he took the entire congregation out of doors, which sort of thing stood as unusual and entirely unprecedented for the normally regularized Lutherans. Ms. Martinez had to be wheeled out in an electronic motorchair to the daisy field outside.
"I don't know what to say today," the Pastor said. "Here we are and this might be all it is. Don't look for someone to provide the reason you are here. You are here because this is where you are and that is all you need to know. So do your best to do your best and be the best you are. Think of who invented you and go from there. Look at these lilies -- they sow and reap not and nevertheless are beautiful . . .". And so the Pastor went into the classic "lilies of the field" sermon, but everyone who listened heard it as if they had never heard it before. This is only possible at the incipience of Spring where there leaps up a bit of false hope.
In the darkened offices of the Island-Life Agency the Editor wrapped up the week's edition and prepared for changes to come. Some of the Directors were thinking of expanding, becoming a bit more formal. Some were thinking of diversifying. The Editor was not so sure about all of that. The Online World is like the Radio world, is temporal, evanescent. Each show lasts so long as an audience attends, then vaporizes save for memories and all the love that lasted for only so long as the performance held their attention. The doing is the thing. Why complicate matters?
Eventually the last office light is turned off and all is darkness and there is nothing but the memory of things that once were glorious, performances that astounded those present, moments that made all the drudgery worthwhile during the brief term of its presence -- not unlike our entire lives.
The Editor put his hand on his left side and felt the silent, still beating of the aging heart, still capable of some minor deeds, still possible.
Been left for dead before, but still fight on. Don't wait up leave the light on. I'll be home soon.
Round about the pool of light provided by the last desklamp burning upon the Editor's desk hung the muttering curtains of night while the Editor labored over the manuscripts, darned slippery galleys. Somewhere out there, enshrouded by the curtains of darkness, hovered a like mind, while he remained islanded in this oasis provided by the lamp, laved and tossed by waves of ignorance and foolishness and all the powers of darkness, all the World's crazy blathering that blocks the soul's link to creation, like the caveman of old beside his fire with the all the creatures of the night moving around out there beyond the reach of the luminosity, watching him doing all for Company while beyond the firelight, reflecting back, the gleaming eyes of sentient and insentient beings.
Then came the ululation of the throughpassing train from far across the water as it trundled from the gantries of the Port of Oaktown with their moonlit towers, letting its cry keen across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, through the cracked brick of the former Cannery with its leaf-scattered loading dock, its weedy railbed, its chainlink fence interstices until the locomotive click-clacked past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, trundling out of shadows on the edge of town past the old Ohlone shellmounds to parts unknown.
That's the way it is on the Island. Have a great week.
BACK TO STORY INDEX