From the edge of the swamp

Location: marengo, il, United States

Friday, September 29, 2006

Notions of a Bicycle (part four)

The vibrating noise has finally stopped. Everything is still and quiet now. Questions begin to rise silently from the others.

Jostling again. A tossing about. A yell and a shout.

A lone object moves among us. It travels hurriedly, and it strongly desires to be at a far-away location. The being acts impatient and uncaring.

Six of us are transported by this object for a short distance. It activates its sticks, forcing us along to a staging area. It wants nothing more than to be done with this assigned task.

As the frail sticks labor together, its thoughts drift elsewhere. The entity is desperate to score some illicit item. Another strange idea, and a stranger thing it wishes for. I have much to learn.

One of the brothers next to me agrees, yet we all smile in anticipation: we know that our release is eminent.

Motions cease. I hear another world slide by me, and then a muffled thump. A sister is laid on one side. A brother is roughly placed above her. Then another, and then two more.

I am the last and put on top.

The object picks up a tool…no, a weapon, as he imagines, and then it hurriedly begins to slice through my outer wrap. An end flap of my world then opens up, allowing light to stream in. Fresh cool air follows the light. An unseen force grabs my front foot, and I am jerked forward, wrestled and pulled. My shoulder rubs hard against the sides of my inner world, and then suddenly I am extracted by the strange-looking component. It sets me on a hard surface, kicks my third leg into position, and then stands me aside.

My front foot is out of kilter with my shoulders, which swing about loosely. Connections have lost all of their tightness. One of my feet has gone flat. My disarray doesn’t seem to bother the object.

My Old World is tossed aside. The tool then slashes into the next sister’s outer barrier. Light rudely invades her cradle, and then she too is removed and stood up. Her fears immediately climb to new heights while I try to focus on wonders the future might hold. The thing continues to work fast and without any regard.

As it stands the last of us up, another object arrives on scene. This one advances on its own set of sticks and it acts unruffled. A near-by sister begins to moan softly.

The first object wants to leave here. It has no idea that I know about the weapon it concealed. It hid the device moments ago in a slit where the walking sticks connect, and now it attempts to obscure the fact by applauding the other one with loud sounds from its fluctuating gap, as well as making motions with its two upper sticks.

Deception; a feigned interest in the other – I see through this ploy so easily and wonder why the pleasant one does not. Then I feel the focus of its attention on me: it was not even listening to the dishonest unit.

Continuing to demonstrate the most meticulous care, it fastens and adjusts and tightens me just where I need it. My shoulders feel right again. An ample hiss from a long tube, and then my foot feels firm once more. It takes time and shows attention to detail for not only its duty, but for us as well. It gains our respect. It is repeatedly called Juan by the gesticulating object.

Suddenly the Juan surprises me with an over-powering wish. It want the other object to go jump into what appears to be a large body of water. What is the significance of that, I wonder?

Yes, these objects are very odd, indeed, and I anticipate learning more about them in the future, for us bicycles are a curious lot, and keenly aware.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Notions of a Bicycle (part three)

This I cannot explain: I have an ability to reason. This capacity, this flair, this knack – call it what you will -- seems to expand on its own, and it continues to grow by the hour, causing shapeless new questions to taunt me. The source of this gift invites a great amount of curiosity on my part, but somehow I know answers will come later.

My peers also possess similar talents, yet I remain firmly rooted in my own beliefs and unaffected by their theories. Still, something troubles me. It is a thought which I must keep hidden until I am able to examine it more.

I am learning more about the objects on sticks. At least I have absorbed new facts about them, albeit each one that I collect seems to brings to mind even more perplexing things. Understand; we all knew from the outset they were the ones who formed us, for example. We could not have existed, otherwise.

But I dare not characterize some of the ideas proposed that first night as rational. I remember a claim made by one brother that we each evolved – another proposed that we simply made ourselves. Both proponents then spent an extraordinary amount of time expressing individual views, and both seemed bent on convincing the lot of us that only one of these systems could be feasible. That particular period also brought on a great deal of consternation to our brotherhood.

As a whole, most of us understood and accepted the objects on sticks as our creators. All seemed to revere them; to exhibit a sense of awe and wonder at their marvelous abilities, but I admit now to having suspicions. My negative thoughts have come from deliberations each of the objects entertained, and of which I have had ample time to observe.

From the beginning I recall a purpose. Cogent steps, sensible plans, an injunction set down; laws and specific commands to be followed. But interspersed among all this cohesion, I visualize other ideas; separate and random thoughts, confusing fractals of unrelated things.

At once, it came to me as untranslatable, and therefore above my limited understanding. But now I believe it was pure nonsense, and as a result, I confess to these doubts.

I do trust with absolute certainty the information I have gathered so far. But these unstable and puzzling objects can only be identified as just that: unstable and puzzling.

Some of the thoughts they carry around can only be depicted as intense cravings for other objects. I feel at a loss for enlightenment, yet this position is expressed by many of them. In most, it seemed to be playful; yet in a few, I was struck by something evil or malevolent. I became very uncomfortable listening to them.

Later, I was surprised to sense deep hostilities coming from almost every object. Petty annoyances with others. Criticisms. Grievances. Complaints of things I have yet to fathom. I received many confusing ideas about rights being violated, and I marvel still at possible meanings.

Then there were the desires to act upon others, or of acting more important than the rest. It had to do with inner value or worth, and focusing on it seemed to give some of the objects intense pleasure.

A few craved mood-altering sustenance. This odd thought is inexplicable.

Strangest yet was the impression some gave that they were indeed different and special and original and without blemish or flaw. I cannot explain that type of reasoning, nor justify why any object would wander into such a strange area.

I only know the thoughts they think.

One thing I have established: they all are very odd creatures.

(I should note that some acted more kind and more gentle than the others. This gives me hope, for I have concluded that I am utilitarian in design. I am meant to help in some way.)

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Notions of a Bicycle (part two)

They took command swiftly, communicating with each other by making rapid-changing tones. These curious but baffling bursts of sounds came from a single flexible aperture located near the upper part of each of the objects. In no amount of time, the creatures hurried by us on their sets of sticks, arriving quickly at various posts; apparently, prearranged sites where functions would soon be performed. Before long, wails of foreign machines began to fill the air. Their nauseous cries combined with the object’s clatter, both of which dampened any possibility for us to conduct rational thought, so we withdrew ourselves to listen.

A short time later, my brothers and sisters and I were put in this darkness where we now rest. The actions of the objects drew no protests from any of us. No, their admirable efficiency reigned for awhile, right up until the final moments when I felt myself being carted upwards, hauled about, and then after a jarring thud, a hushed quite settled over our gathering.

The stillness lasted awhile before this current loud rumbling suddenly invaded our space. Its noise must be the source of vibrations we now feel. And as we travel, the heat, the growling, the bumps and tremors in the dark might possibly continue on forever and ever; only patience will reveal any future knowledge to me.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Notions of a Bicycle (part one)

The big rise in temperature only puzzles me. It is unlike anything I have ever encountered up until this very moment. But the mystery continues to go unanswered, for I am enveloped by a restrictive darkness.

Also, I notice that my parts have begun to emit a mix of curious odors. The fresh red rises, sharp and pungent. It feels powerful. And the black, an exotic blending of synthetics, calls for action. But then there are the relaxing motes of aromatic oils swirling hypnotically around me.

My shoulder was dislocated earlier; loosened out of necessity, as I understood it. Now only this cramped night surrounds me. Strange vibrations keep me guessing and alert. Muffled thoughts and snatches of conversations come and go. I lay here, content simply to note things.

Reflecting on my brief past (while occupying this cavity) is a way to busy the mind. I am somehow internally entertained by my study in the dark. Many more questions are beginning to form.

The others and I met earlier, and there we communicated as one body before this current journey began, but rumors then began to spread concerning our fate. I thought of the introductory ideas as fanciful, as well as plenteous and unhelpful. Some of them admittedly sounded interesting, but too far-fetched to be true. After a time, several began to reverberate as absurd meanderings with no sound beginning or any sort of plausible finish. At the end of our encounter, however, not a one of us could exhibit any type of authority in this regard.

Certainty and useful knowledge eluded our entire lot. Many of us were frightened, I knew. All of us were, from the outset. Several tried to hide behind bluster and false bravery. Some even complained.

Those and their disquiet disturbed me for a time, but then I found myself being drawn to the positive thinkers. We connected, them and I. With that group I found myself in total agreement on every point brought fourth, and even they with me. Our corner soon became the encouragers of the bunch.

I then began to realize how we few were the exceptions among the many, yet I felt not one hint of arrogance nor any self-love among any of our company. That attitude still remains intact.

I point out that I also sensed no self-pity from the others. Only the original fear. And then wonderment. Curiosity too. Soon a multitude of concerns and doubts were expressed. All of the brothers and every sister each gave a voice in turn, and as a group, we studied and we contemplated, one after another, as each issue arose.

We stood the entire night as ideas flew (the place naturally went quiet when the objects who traveled on two sticks had all left). Our collective huddled together in the dim light, and we pictured to ourselves in our fashion.

At one point, I thought.

I look forward.

The idea sprung from me. One brother agreed as another nodded in silent accord.

It is what I naturally want to do.

I could have halted there, but compound negative responses began to emanate from some of the others, compelling me to reason and justify, so I continued.

It makes perfect sense to do so. All about me is order of a particular fashion. It denotes purpose.

Several brothers agreed again.

I am not made for waste.

No, you are not, they thought in unison.

I am not designed to be static, or to be unused.

No, no, no.

Look at my construction. There is no doubt that I am but a wonder.

You are indeed a wonder.

A sister whimpered. I hushed then, so the group shifted their attention to her. She began to first describe an uneasy future she foresaw, all in grand detail. Qualms she envisioned; troubles and doubts. Unfulfilled needs arose; a dismal cry for proof of purpose that left each of us with no answers, yet we stood at rest and took it in. No one disagreed outright or argued, nor did anyone offer any support for her lament.

But then I saw how she took pleasure from the complaining, and complain she continued to do. She carried herself elegantly too, throughout the long remonstration.

We all have various skills. Some are learned. Some must be inherent, as hers seemed to be.

A brother (one whom I might describe as having a shoddy build, were I a faultfinder) took up the sister’s cry before bewailing about his own situation. Several of my kin immediately identified him as a crossover, an aberration; yet we allowed him to run with his odd thinking, and without judgment or harsh discrimination.

He has certain rights as we all do.

His greatest fears we understood to be expected abuse, and then abandonment. He shared with us inner feelings of inadequacy, and of his inability to last any length of time under the perceived strain. He also expressed a desire to be something entirely different.

I could not relate.

Then another brother, a small replica of myself, interrupted the rant with noticeable glee. An obvious impatience for life gripped at his small frame, but his exuberance gave some of us considerable relief from depression (his feet, although several sizes smaller than average, appeared to be much fatter, which I think might have encouraged some of his lofty ideas). But all minds turned to him in unison as he began to blow his own horn, and we all listened attentively while he asserted his imagined future upon us.

The places he would go, the fearless daring he would show, the steep mountains he would eventually climb; all this I understood, yet at the same time his over-confidence and pretentiousness began to rise over the top, and his new bearing made me want to lurch backwards. The others and I held back any council, however, and so allowed him to continue in his swagger.

He bragged about tours he would certainly take someday, and of records he would most-assuredly break, when a string of lights above our collective heads began to flicker and buzz. Then as we stood bathed in the sudden brilliance from above, we realized that the objects who moved on sticks had returned.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Was it Pizza or Tacos?

Okay, settle down. And I don’t mean go get married.

There are certain advantages to growing old. The main ones that I can recall (there are certain disadvantages as well, but these, like lemons, are supposed to be used to improve the flavor of a bland life, as we shall see shortly. That is, if I remember to come back to it. Work with me here.) are unmerited respect from strangers, unwarranted love of children, and the ability to wander into women’s bathroom at malls, restaurants and movie theaters without encountering serious repercussions, such as police. Handcuffs, however, are a different matter.

Where was I?

Oh, yes. Of course. Food. I almost had a heart attack here because a sail phone someone left on my desk just went off, making me think Gene Krupa was in the house. I literally mean in the house. Do I look like some kind of hip hopper to you? Seriously?

Where was I?

Oh, yes, food. Of course.

But wait. I have to go heat up the oven to 400 degrees now. Why? Why, you must ask?

Why is a good question. I will think about that as I go.

Uh -- uh

Achoo! Pardon me, but I just got a sneezing fit. Be back later.

Friday, September 22, 2006

My Bad Homies

Okay, you tubes.

Ride a carrousel and dream.

Watch Tommy burn Classical Gas.

See Bela beat up on Bach.

Victor sounds amazing, Grace.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Pure Fun

Stop bothering me. Go to Youtube and watch Skeleton Man instead.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Lunacy Tunes

Everyone but dad cheered after reading the postscript of mom’s letter. At the tender age of 65, the woman had finally reached the end of her rope.

“Today, I am done with doing housework for that ungrateful man. You can all now consider me officially retired.”

She then ripped the neatly-sandwiched batch of paper-and-carbon sheets out of the typewriter so she could scribble her signature across the bottom. Then she changed her mind and reinserting the whole thing once again, just to add one more dramatic sentence.

You could tell what she had done because the last line slanted oddly.

“Oh, and I went down and signed up for nursing classes today.”

She had, too. And she went on to complete the entire course, as well as finish near the top of her class.

Good for you, mom! Way to go!

Then, to properly celebrate, one of my crazy sisters decided it would be nice to reward the dear woman by inviting her along for a week-long holiday down at Cancun in Mexico. How nice.

(I say crazy for good cause. It makes no sense to invite my mother any place where booze tends to flow freely.)

I am only surprised that she did not bring back a new boy-friend at the end of the trip, or maybe she tried to but the crazy sister suddenly became wise and more-demanding -- no one in the family will talk much about that.

I do know, however, that late one night and on one of the star-lit, pristine beaches of the Spanish Main, my liberated mother not only entered but took home second-prize in a wet tee-shirt contest.

My mom. My dad. My sister. My family.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Keep in Mind

There goes a tiny spider searching the walls
A lone hummingbird returns for sips
Who can count the blooms on the hoya vine outside

One hundred-fifty pounds the bathroom scales read
Concord grapes wait to be picked
Five years have passed for some or is it just the two

Friday, September 08, 2006

A Story of Many Tails

I have no recollection of where this came from, but it keeps rattling around inside my gourd, possibly encouraging a future lawsuit for telling lies. (I mentioned the word tail in my last post. That will always make a man think. Or maybe it’s just me.) But if I do get a summons (a man can sure hope), who among you knows of a good lawyer? I would be delighted to entertain emails (or Instant Messages) on the matter, for I have no real life to look forward to for the rest of this week, and could use the excitement.

It seems that all of the dogs wanted to get together and have a meeting of some sort. Was it for educational purposes? Did they form committees? Were journalists or cameras allowed in? Who was in charge of flyers?

Look, these were dogs. Dogs live in the moment, like Cesar Milan says. They simply gathered together to meet.

But here is the unknown thing that occurred, the gist; the untold part, the legendary thing that happened which you will never read about in history books.

Dogs, at one time, were civil creatures.

Yes, and polite too. I mean Southern-hospitality polite, not that fake, Yankee-style, smile-at-your-brother nonsense. Straight-up mint julep-polite. Whew. Can’t you just imagine?

So word got around there was a need for a big meeting, and so all breeds showed up punctually.

No phone calls. No time wasted with who might host, or who needed directions. No out-of-state howls of handsome excuses were heard, for the assembly happened smoothly and without a hitch. The event convened inside a cavernous building, and it all seemed to unfold as natural as seasonal changes.

First the Poodles arrived to set up chairs. Then came a pack of German Shepards, who all agreed to line up the folding tables, which they did with great precision. A contingent of Coon-dogs soon trailed behind a slew of Chihuahuas. Their small group skittered about, yapping among themselves in rapid Spanish as a squad of Saint Bernards took up positions near the entrance, nodding balefully to the Dalmatians, Terriers and Bulldogs who trotted through the door. Whippets breezed by, silent and ghost-like, while Sheepdogs assembled to one side, commenting and nodding among themselves on all the hubbub. The noise must have sounded dreadful to any local cat, for none were ever sighted or reported that afternoon.

Now, civility demanded one strict requirement from each of the dogs: one by one, every mannered mutt in the crowd must stop and hang up his or her tail on hooks provided just inside the entrance. All obeyed this unwritten and orderly edict without question, and so in short order, all sat expectantly, waiting for the pack leader to speak, sans tails. A hush soon fell across the great room.

And that is exactly when the unfortunate incident took place, although the details are still questioned, even today.

A jolly Cocker Spaniel, who had taken command of the rotisserie (dogs did enjoy their barbeque as well), became distracted by a low Basset Hound, and somehow they knocked over a temporary wall. The loud noise frightened everyone within earshot, but the flames that arose from the (supposed) accident sent the entire mob into a panic. As the fire quickly spread, dogs of all sizes began to bolt for the door.

Tails were hastily grabbed on the way out, but in the mass confusion, mistakes were made, which explains why dogs today take time to stop and sniff each other.

Could that one be mine, they wonder?

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Good Times

You got the bushy eyebrows too?

The squirrel froze and looked at me bug-eyed. Then he flicked his tail twice and scampered up a near-by tree.

Oh. So that’s a tail you got, roof rat. You lucky rodent. Me, I am fresh out.

Uninspired, exhausted and running on fumes. I got the flat-line mind, I tell you. In West Texas, such a man might brag, “It feels like I been rode hard and put up wet.”

It seems like these four-day weekends take longer then ever to get over. Wife came and told me the game plan early Saturday morning: we will drop by her brother’s place for lunch after church Sunday.

I quickly took my second sip of java for the day, and then the other eye suddenly popped open. What did she just say? Was that informational overload somehow meant for me? Who are you talking about? Where does he live? What brother? When? And why? Wait a minute! Come back here!

Oh, man. Is this really necessary? Do we have to? Can’t we just go straight home so I can nap?

When I finally twirled my emptied cup in a tight circle, the last little drop remaining at the bottom made it almost half-way around the track. A distorted reflection of my face looked up at me looking back. A mug in a mug. Okay, I sadly relented. Fine. We will go. But only for a half-hour.

We stayed way too long. She totaled up the hours spent as we pulled into our driveway. Eight. No, eight and a half.

Who knew her brother would wisely have a few beers on-hand?

Friday, September 01, 2006

Just A Few Notes

One of my sisters regularly met with mom during her final months. Curious, she quizzed her on family histories while at the same time scribbling down her last words. What a brilliant idea, I thought! So after hearing about this event many years later, I asked for a copy, hoping to learn some new things. I had to laugh after reading the end of the last page, because when I finished, I had even more questions and less knowledge than before.

Good old mom. She liked to enhance things, and when in the right mood, she liked to ramble as well, and the lady could effectively talk a wildcat out of a tree if she was of a proper mind. I could barely decipher some of the speedily-written words and phrases my sister had put to paper, but I could easily visualize her pen moving furiously as mom jumped from one far-related story to another.

Uncle Wingo, the one who walked around the world backwards. That great-grandfather, thrown in prison during the Civil War. Your great-grandmother who drove a team of horses through Shriver’s Swamp, where she then beat and defeated a band of desperadoes with a homemade whip. Oh, honey, and then there was the time…

If I were to ever publish a volume of stories about dear mom, the title would have to read, “For the Millionth Time, Stop Exaggerating!”

In the meantime, I will be satisfied merely attempting to put together a few for this blog. Look for one soon.

Hey, no lie.