AUGUST 7, 2016

THE PERSIEDS

 

So anyway, the recent heat wave yielded to a pattern of cool air and dappled skies in late afternoon. The fog returned to drape the golden hills in the morning and cloak the trees where the hawk continued to cree-cree. At dusk, earnest fawns went about their business and adolescent deer stood in the intersections, trying to puzzle the meaning of it all as drivers cruised slowly past, also wondering what this all means. Ears of corn remain on sale at Paul's Produce at two for a dollar, so that means the Fall is yet a ways off.

Teachers are talking about how their summer season came to an end on the 15th, when the real work began again with seriousness and so the more serious among them are looking forward to that time.

An old Irish tune lilted across the Island in the form of a Grateful Dead song, although few remember that the tune is copped from the traditional "Aislean an Oigfear" going back now some five centuries, but first translated in 1792 by Edward Bunting and set in verse by Thomas Moore in 1805 in Kilkenny.

So there is some truth to the old saying that the best of the English was wrought by the Irish

When the last rose of summer pricks my finger
And the hot sun chills me to the bone
When I can't hear the song for the singer
And I can't tell my pillow from a stone

I will walk alone by the black muddy river
And sing me a song of my own
I will walk alone by the black muddy river
And sing me a song of my own

As night fell along the Strand the strands of Pegasus began to gallop to the West and the new crescent moon set with the flaming Jupiter for company. Across the water the skyline of Babylon burned with usual ferocity as the City's soul consumed its soul in lights of neon and halogen, producing a new Hell that did not require death or travel to get to. As night advanced across the land with engulfing shadows of strangulating fear and the sun became ever more a distant memory of freedom and light and warmth that once was the rule, the stars emerged in their age-old patterns of majesty. Some things do not change.

in a little while, the Perseids would begin

Kathy, returning from walking the dog, pointed out Andromeda, chained to her rock, before going inside. Denby remained out there, looking until he found Pegasus. All the world was aflame out there beyond the horizon, in DC and Idaho and Kandahar and Babylon and Rio de Janeiro with violence and shouting, and the two immense front runners went at each other like the Greeks and the Trojans, but in a short while, in a little while, the Perseids would begin; still, it was yet difficult to find from where they would emerge. Taurus marched argumentatively to the West and Beatrice called from inside the house about a problem with the voicemail system, so he left the dark to enter the light, leaving the gods to argue among themselves in the heavens.

In the offices of Island-Life, the Editor hunched over his desk, his remaining white hair flying about his head in an aureole lit by the lamp. A timer stood on the desk, placed there by Jose some hours previously before going out. The Editor continued to work . . . .

In a dank basement, the Angry Elf lit a candle in front of his shrine to his idol, Meyer Lansky, and renewed his singular vows not to kill anyone again this year while plotting new ways to hurt people he imagined have dissed him in some way. He picked up the revolver at the center of the shrine and caressed the barrel. The revolver was said to have belonged to Bugsy Malone. Angry Elf contemplated the next punishment fire his gang would light to get even with somebody falling behind on payments. He smiled and replaced the gun between the candles.

At the open space where Sherman and Buena Vista come together, Office O'Madhauen sipped his Styrofoam coffee, waiting for speeding scofflaws and red-light runners. A brief flash of a comet or shooting star lit up the cruiser, then all was dark once more.

Xavier, cleaned his Glock 9

Piedro stepped out of the office of Express Mess in South City to look at the light show taking place overhead while his colleague, Xavier, cleaned his Glock 9 and the lights of the Island across the water went dark with people retiring for the night. There had been no need for a weapon while working in the dispatcher office of a courier service, but you never know. Some people want to be ready for anything.

On the Strand, Pahrump and Snuffles and Jose and Javier all fell asleep on the sand among the bulrushes with the empty five gallon jug at their feet, and their dreaming eyelids were crisscrossed by the streaking stars, causing visions of a more better world free of anxiety, free of homelessness, free of stupidity -- foolish and unrealistic visions, but visions of possibility nevertheless.

In his apartment, the Amazing Anatolia Enigma put aside his cape and his top hat and his cane and fed his rabbit Chechesque, before stepping out on the balcony to observe a far more awesome magic show than he ever could devise.

Out on the sealanes, Pedro minded the lines while overhead the Hunter pinwheeled amid a flurry of shiny, startling arrows. He glanced at the dark radio face, and wished that someone was still there to accompany his lonely hours. Perhaps in October things would change for the better. Ferryboat went "Woof!" to remind him he was not entirely alone for all that.

In Marlene and Andre's Household, the sleepless Marlene got out of bed, leaving her sleeping mate there and walking past the zonked Little Adam, she went down the hall past the snoring people in the the bunks to the bathroom where she did her business without turning on the light.

As she came out a sleepy voice said, "Who zat?" And she said, "Shh. It's just me. Marlene."

"O . . . ! Zzzzzzzzzz . . . .".

Life was often wretched

Rather than disturb anyone else in that household of shattered lives, misfits, and ne'er do wells, Marlene went out the back through the kitchen and stood in the back area near the ironmongery garden that Martini had welded together for the pole beans and the vine squashes, which now clambered quite high. The garden planted with corn, beans, tubers, root veggies and herbs helped supplement their visits to the food bank, as the collective living there had little money and no one could afford the obscene rents now charged by the landlords everywhere. So fifteen lives had found each other and sufficient space to get out of the weather in that one bedroom cottage. Life was often wretched and packed with horror on this indeterminate journey through a vale of tears, but in this place, each had found like-minded souls. Beneath the floorboards, the wharf rats scurried back and forth around the shell of the old central heating furnace.

As the Girl with the Ruined Womb stood in the garden, flashes of light from falling stars began to illuminate the yard and she looked up in wonder. She felt a presence behind her and Andre sang quietly into her ear.

When you wish upon a star
Matters not who you are . . . .

The punk boy from Oaktown put his arms around her and held her as the stars fell around them.

And the Editor continued to work in his windowless cubicle deep within the offices of Island-Life, as the timer continued to tick.

Before leaving for the night, Jose had asked if the Editor was going to watch the big show tonight.

"TeeVee? No time for that nonsense," said the Editor.

"No amigo. It's the sky. Something special."

"Hrrmmph . . . ". The Editor wished his cigar from one side of his mouth to the other. "What is it?"

Jose went out and returned with the digital timer. "When it goes off, take a break and go outside. You will see." The boy then left.

So there the Editor sat, his remaining white hair flying about his head in an aureole lit by the pool of the desklamp while all around hung the blank darkness. Somewhere out there beyond the light was a like mind, seeking Company. Somewhere out there in that ocean of pitch black nothingness was a sympathetic consciousness. There he sat, constructing his meditations, one failure after another, working hour after hour, doing all for Company.

The alarm shocked him into the next moment.

He reached out and silenced the thing and sat a moment, staring into the void. He then got up and moved down the aisles of silent desks and dark computer screens to the back door, which he opened to step out on the deck and there he stood looking at the Old Fence and the trees, still in the windless summer night. Something flared from above and he looked up and stood with his jaw open as the heavens began the show. And there he stood for more than an hour with his hands on the railing, looking up. The Perseids had begun.

The long howl of the throughpassing train ululated from far across the water where the gantries of the Port of Oaktown stood glowing with their multi-kilowatt sentry lights; it quavered across the starlit waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the star-lit grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline railway; it moaned through the cracked brick of the old abandoned Cannery with its ghosts and weedy railbed and chainlink fences as the locomotive glided past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off on its journey beyond the stars to parts unknown.

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

'Tis the last rose of summer,
Left blooming alone;
All her lovely companions
Are faded and gone;
No flower of her kindred,
No rosebud is nigh,
To reflect back her blushes,
Or give sigh for sigh.

I'll not leave thee, thou lone one!
To pine on the stem;
Since the lovely are sleeping,
Go, sleep thou with them.
Thus kindly I scatter,
Thy leaves o'er the bed,
Where thy mates of the garden
Lie scentless and dead.

So soon may I follow,
When friendships decay,
And from Love's shining circle
The gems drop away.
When true hearts lie withered,
And fond ones are flown,
Oh! who would inhabit
This bleak world alone?

Thomas Moore

 

 

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