MISERY IS THE RIVER OF THE WORLD: JAVIER GETS THE BLUES

APRIL 26, 2009

 

It's been a bluesy week on the Island, our hometown set here on the edge of the San Francisco Bay.

The weather has turned cool, windy and cloudy after the record-topping heatwave of a week ago, causing some of us to retreat indoors to finish off Keillor's "Leaving Home", a collection of pre-1987 monologues from the PHC. As fans will know, Garrisson took a misguided break from the popular radio show on NPR in 1987, only to return as fresh as a Nordic lion. We finished off Pontoon a while ago and are looking for delivery of his "Liberty: A Novel of Lake Wobegon". That feller sure can write.

Fans of IslandLife must know that our Editor always wanted to grow old, dispensing avuncular wisdom with well-placed commas, hosting the fabulously talented from all over the world, have gorgeous Scandanavian women hanging on the arm and throwing intimate articles of apparel in adoration with scads of roses while singing -- in perfect pitch -- misty-eyed songs of yesteryear, a well-chiseled image of well-matured wisdom and grace, wearing red tennis shoes to work.

And have devoted friends like Pat Donaghue and Fred Neumann.

Instead, he just got old.

Oh well, disappointment is a requirement in life, which is frequently unfair.

Javier went up to cover a social event the other day, and really made a mess of things there. He forgot to bring his press credentials, so the hostess thought he was an uninvited guest dressing down as a sort of joke.

While there, surrounded by the glittering stars of the firmament of Belles Lettres he managed to gabble around the foot in his mouth about music to two fellows who had been members of popular bands, then he managed to bumble a half-formed theory about psychology to someone who turned out to be an Associate Professor at the Jungian Institute, queried a fellow about the importance of rhymes to a fellow who turned out to be a respected published poet. The lovely, young and lithesome Leona was there and, at one point, she helpfully notified Javier of the spinach stuck between his teeth. and finally he caught the edge of the crystal soup tureen with his sport coat as he escaped a botched discussion on religion with a dignified Unitarian minister.

The soup -- Thai lime-prawn, went over onto the probably every authentic Persian carpet with a great clatter, pretty much destroying glass tureen, soup, carpet and what remained of Javier's self-respect.

In his gallop to get out of there, he forgot to apologise to anyone, especially the hostess, who probably did not really deserve the treatment, and headed across the Bridge to Oaktown where he contemplated various forms of suicide at the railroad tracks, while drinking from a gallon of red wine.

So much for the lovely Leona.

The train, outbound from the port paused there and, a boxcar being empty during these trying times, he filled with the sudden body of himself and his jug, leaving the battered volvo sitting there in the darkness.

Somewhere in an industrial area, the train stopped with a mind, so it seemed, not to proceed any further. Javier got out with his jug and ambled away. With a heave and a chuff, the train took off again without him.

Things were not going well.

It was as he was walking along the road lights grew bright behind him. The white lights of the headlights yielded to the unmistakable mixture of cherry and orange that signalled to him he was really in trouble now.

A voice from an electronic speaker ordered him to stop right there.

A door slammed.

Never had an officer of the law looked so large as Authority looked him over behind a flashlight.

"Boy, you smell like lime-prawn soup," said the flashlight. "Where you from?"

In answer, Javier spilled out most of his childhood, the miseries of High School at Washington in the City, wretched love affairs, life-long penury, and much detail about his current circumstances and how he had arrived there, meaning at the railroad tracks.

The flashlight snicked off. "Get in the car."

Javier set down his jug, but the sheriff told him to pick it up. "No littering in my District."

Javier apologized and picked up the jug again.

The aroma of lime prawn soup filled the little cruiser.

Which to Javier's creeping horrow stopped in the middle of nowhere. The sheriff ordered him to get out.

Expecting to be beaten to a pulp right there Javier did as he was told.

The sheriff spoke through the window. "Now I could haul you in and book you for D&D and vagrancy besides, but I won't; yer too damn pathetic. That soup done make me hungry and it would be hours before I get anything to eat and besides. Ah don't want the likes of you soiling up my nice clean jail and corrupting the decent prisoners. This here is the edge of my District. Train stops over there at the crossing in about . . . fifteen minutes. It sets there about five minutes to make sure the way is clear and then it heads on north again. Get on it and don't come back, y'hear?"

Javier assented.

"Ok now, git. I'm gonna fetch me some Chinese."

With that the sheriff drove off. In a few minutes a train stopped and Javier climbed into an open boxcar, of which there were many, some occupied by men riding the rails just like him, and some with whom he shared his wine. Sometime near daybreak he found himself back in Oaktown. He found his car where he had left it just as a metermaid was slipping a ticket under the wiper. He drove home and slept a while before coming into the Offices where he asked the Editor to taken off of the film and society page and be put back on the fire and ambulance beat. The surprised Editor did so, mentioning that Javier's aftershave smelled an aweful lot like lime prawn soup.

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

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