NOVEMBER 10, 2019
DEATH SAYS NOTHING BACK
So anyway. Mercury once again was in retrograde. In the early morning, before Dawn afflicts the sky with shards of painful light. Pedro courses along toward the fishing grounds in his boat El Borracho Perdido. In recent days he has found his old radio friend Pastor Rotschue appearing here and there with increasing frequency after a period of hiatus caused by MeToo hysteria, which consequences might have been amplified by a rising desire to retire while still alive and kicking in the world.
The fog bank has arrived again, announcing the change of seasons. Summer is now entirely gone and the dense morning pogonip has arrived. Through this white world of whiteout Pedro pilots his ship. In this time, between preparations, he has time to reflect on mortality and life. Recently he has attended memorials for old friends and for family. His abuelita, Lizabet, passed away after a long time of hanging on in that in-between state of life and vegetation, and they set up an ofreta during Los Dias de Los Muertos, with pictures of her dogs and her favorite foods.
Death is not something that ever waits for you to finish what you are doing. It takes you by the hand and you must go there and then, whether you are a soldier in battle or a salaryman working a desk in an office or a grandfather doting on his grandchildren.
Life is a vale of tears full of sorrow and suffering. There is wan comfort in knowing it does not go on forever. Yet there is no guarantee on what comes after, not reincarnation and not heaven or hell. We only know this life ends at some point. And because of this, Pedro thinks, there is nothing you or I can do about it. Death will come and that is that and there is no fighting against it.
The boat chummed along through the fog with Pedro navigating by instrumentation. He turned the dial in search of his favorite program, knowing it was gone, but perhaps there would be reruns, however he found only static instead of that sonorous, avuncular voice that had accompanied his sea voyages for over 30 years. There is, however, for radio at least a sort of afterlife and so he hummed and scatted a little song as he put on a CD labeled "12 Monologs".
"I hear that old piano
In the East, the trees have all revolved into colors of burnt orange, reds, vivid yellows and browns. Word has it from the Elders of the Miwok and the Lakota that a cold wind shall come down from the North, bringing an early Winter, for it must be that Demeter is especially displeased this year to make her annual grief for the loss of Persephone happen so soon and so violently. In truth Old Gaia has not been treated well and the recent devastating fires are evidence of that along with the polluted air and waters.
Denby has been sitting on the bench outside the Household since his return, staring into space. Not even Snuffles with his gallon of 99 cent wine can bring him out of his funk after the last visit to the Underworld on the last day of Dias de Los Muertos. This time the trip was especially bad.
Javier came out after a day of philandering and people mentioned there was something going on with Denby so he went out and sat down on the bench as the evening cool grew and the moon swelled for it was soon to be pregnant and full.
"So my friend I bring some good mescal with me from Mexico City and I want to share with you because I hear you have had a loss in your family. Here is a glass and the bottle I put down here."
"That is kind of you Javier."
"In my life I have seen much passing. I am older than you and believe me it does not get any easier as each passing year there are more and more empty places at the table of celebration."
"The curse of survival and getting older is that many of our dearest friends and relations do not."
"That is true. That is true. But the answer to that is not to stop living any more, for that is surrender to the Adversary. I have always felt that every sexual release is a small blow against the Empire of Death. That is why I live my life the way I do."
"You are an Odd Fellow," Denby said. "I guess that is one of the reasons I like you."
"Have another shot of mescal, for you have many more valuable sufferings and enjoyments to experience on this earth."
"Slainte," said Denby.
"À t'santé," Javier said.
"That is French," Denby said.
"Of course I speak French as any cultured gentleman should. Besides the ladies love it and you know I dearly love the ladies."
"I know you love women - as many at one time as you can. But their status as 'ladies' I would have to question, Javier," Denby said.
Javier guffawed. "Touché! I am glad grief has not cost you your wits!"
"You would have liked my friend Chad. He had a trenchant wit."
"You know in Mexico we have Los Dias de los Muertos in which we play games, make sugar skulls and dress up in costume with many skeletons as a theme. This is not to mock the departed or make light of our suffering grief, for we are indeed sad whenever we lose someone. The skulls and all the decor is just to remind us that this life is but a show for a time and that afterwards there will be reunification and resurrection to eternal life. It is a wan hope, but some hope is better than cynical despair."
"I did not take you for being religious."
"I am not. These things of eternal afterlife began with the Azteca and the Tolmec. They are far older than Christianity and they remain embedded in the souls of our people. It is the reason modern Nahuatl people face the four directions and chant 'Ta Hui" in a language that has been forgotten these five thousand years. Cortez and Columbus and the missionaries all came one after another to erase the past, but they could not entirely succeed. I cannot say for sure, as I am unlearned, but all around the globe I suspect the old ways persist despite the sternest of Church Fathers. And look now -- the moon has arisen through the fog."
Indeed the swelling moon now hung over the ridgeline that bordered the San Geronimo Valley.
Pahrump came out to join the two on the porch.
"What says Pahrump tonight?" Denby said.
Pahrump remained standing and pointed a few houses down where a blur
of white motion appeared. It was Missy Moonbeam, entirely naked and dancing
her lunar dance in her not so well screened backyard. "Despite everything,
joy abides," he said.
The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slid over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railbeds that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over Fairfax and White's Hill, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridge-tops through the drifts of fog to an unknown destination.