MARCH 30, 2014

ORANGES AND POKER

 

So anyway we had a grand dockwalloper set in this past week, leaving everything gloriously sodden and sending those DPW trucks everywhere to pump things out. Another one is slated to arrive Monday, preserving the old adage, in like a roaring lion and out like a Liberal -- or something like that.

We have never done well with success -- Liberals and Democrats (not at all the same thing) -- are way used to being kicked around on the schoolyard by arrogant bullies, so when it comes around to actually running things, we tend to screw up badly by picking low-grade trailer park types like Monica Lewinsky with whom to have affairs, distribute selfies of personal private parts on the web and kowtow on important legislation to the point that it perfectly satisfies all our enemies, like the medical insurance industry, in the name of bipartisanship.

The Other Side fails in more spectacular fashion by adhering to wildly improbable financial dogma that just does not work in real life, hiring vastly incompetent fools to do important work just because of family loyalties, and spending tax money like sailors on shoreleave while accusing the Democrats of doing just that.

It is now nigh on to April, and two significant events have the boys in the Old Same Place Bar up in arms. April 16th is a sort of National Day of Nastiness, and then we have the Primaries of June. Consequently Papoon and Babar have been spending a fair amount of time in the Local, gauging the temperature, feeling out the hoi polloi, sounding the vox popli.

With this weather, people chose places like the Old Same Place Bar to have their gatherings while the cold rain patters the tiles and the outdoor tabletops. Each week the parlor of the Native Sons of the Golden West down by the marina holds the Thursday Mixed Coterie, which features both men and women volunteers getting together to talk about how to raise money for the Cleft Palat Foundation. This tends to segue most evenings into far ranging discussions well fueled by the Old Man Box Wine. Friday nights, the parlor hosts the weekly poker game with Doyle, the cowboy Wiz, David, and Wally, with Paul or Ruth's boyfriend Marty and Kitson, and then the boys get into harder stuff. They have tried various stakes, with Doyle, a landlord, suggesting entire building units, and Wiz, a cowboy actor, proposing women.

"I lay you down a Valerie and those two girls we met in Cabo," Wiz said. "I still got their numbers and they are up for anything."

"I don't know about Valerie; didn't you used to be married to her, Kitson?"

"I don't want to talk about it. You can have her," Kitson said.

"She left you after you paid for her boob job," Wally said. "You shoulda known with her looks she would do that."

"Hey! There is nothing in this for us girls," Ruth said.

"O, I don't know about that. If we put you in the kitty as well, it could be win or lose for you, depending on who holds the highest hand," Doyle said.

This latter suggestion for the stakes got a vigorous thumbs-down from Ruth, much to Marty's chagrin, and she hit Doyle vigorously with a serving tray. Marty thought a few hours, or even a few minutes with Valerie would be worth all the pain she was sure to put you through, but he kept that idea to himself.

Eventually it came down to matches and, on one memorable occasion, cans of beer.

At Marlene and Andre's Household, things are feeling a bit compressed. With the recent rains, everyone has been huddling inside the cottage, which at first was fine for all the warmth in the confined space. As the weeks have dragged on, dank smoldering hose and coats and sweaters trying desperately to dry out in the submarine closets have yielded to a constant state of peckishness among the inhabitants.

Life is hard and savage and cruel and unfair.

Sunday brought a respite of gorgeous cold sunshine streaming down, and all the citizens there spread out into the ironmongery garden and the porch to soak up the rays the way Californian's are reputed to do. Life is hard and savage and cruel and unfair. But for now, the sun shone down to restore vitamin D and sooth the souls of the Household. Out back the scraggly orange tree which had fought the depredations of squirrels and rats and basic urban living hung with several oranges the way those trees will do. The lemon tree fared not so well in this time, for three massive warty fruits hung from its branches, looking a bit brownish and inclined to kiwi's in color.

Oranges are significant in California history for it was the growers who sent out circulars to the East during the Dust Bowl to attract farmers to the Central Valley, promising "scads of oranges hanging from the boughs, free to pick for one and all".

Like many California promises, this one turned out to be thoroughly savage in its retraction. There were oranges to pick enough, all right, so long as you signed up to be a picker for ten cents on the quarter ton as payment. For them oranges you had to work, you damned Okie, and be damned as an Okie for all of that.

And just like their instructors down Dixie way, sack cost you extra for use. Yes, oranges have a long and complex history here in the Golden State. Nothing here is so simple as reach up and grab one from the tree. Everything comes with a consequence, a cost, another extraction.

Pahrump reached up and pulled down a navel orb about to drop, peeled it and bit into the succulent, bursting fruit. Mankind may be packed with lies and deceptions and all kinds of nonsense but Nature does not play games. The odor of orange and sweetness of juice filled Pahrump's senses, for in that orange was all the knowledge and joy of life. At the end of the day, all the struggle erodes before what is really important.

In the effulgence of orange-ness, Pahrump had an epiphany.

Something will always evade your savagery

Pahrump got Jose and a sack and together they brought down several dozen oranges from the tree. Pahrump strapped the bag on the back of his scooter and drove out to the Friday night poker game at the Native Son's Parlor, intending to tell them they had it all wrong. Intending to tell them joy is in the moment, not in the fiction of history. My people, he would say, burned the hills each year so as to bring the acorns and restore life. We have seen our world totally destroyed before our eyes. Yet still the oranges persist, giving life. Something will always evade your savagery. Spring will still return to the Dead Lands.

As it turned out, Pahrump failed to signal on turning left off of Grand Street which caused Officer O'Madhauen to pull him over and then cite him for contempt and traffiking produce without a license and being suspicion of DUI. So Pahrump got sent to the jail and his scooter with the oranges got sent to impound.

In the Offices of the Island-Life news agency, the Editor began to close down the operation close to midnight. He went along the aisles turning off the errant desklamp after the housekeeper had left and all the news desks had gone silent. Now was come the witching hour when all was silent and still. Lately the issues had been rather perfunctory, glossing over the news rather than digging into the meat of it, and the Editor had to think that Denby's preoccupations with his day job had something to do with it. Everyone's dayjob was a means to an end, a way to pay for getting the real job done.

If you think about it, this is the truth for everybody. Nobody is really the definition of what they do anymore.

Out on the deck, the clouds scudded across the waning moon high above the box elder branches and the budding apple tree, which no one on his staff had determined convincingly was either a crab apple or a demented fuji-apple exponent.

He breathed the night air and felt the rising winds and felt also the small tremors that have been occuring every few hours lately, the incipient reminder that not even the earth upon which we build and walk can be relied upon to remain stable.

A great change was coming and he hoped that all were ready for what came, be it life of Spring or destruction. Time would tell. Drifting on the heavy air, came the scent of cherry blossoms as the Editor mused to himself that Life was a great game of chance.

Sakura Sakura

Sakura sakura
Noyama mo sato mo
Miwatasu kagiri
Kasumi ka kumo ka
Asahi ni niou
Sakura sakura
Hana zakari

Sakura sakura
Yayoi no sora wa
Miwatasu kagiri
Kasumi ka kumo ka
Nioi zo izuru
Izaya izaya
Mini yu kan

traditional Japanese folk song


 

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