My appt was at 8:15. I got there at 8. I filled out the requisite paperwork then sat and waited. The New Yorker had some quippy letters to the editor. The letters seemed overly self- serving and oddly tinny. I disturbed an elderly woman seated a couple of thick cushioned chairs down from me with my out loud wonderings ( I had not realized that I was musing with volume). Perhaps I would be one day disturbed by someone like me- then I might appreciate how this woman was feeling. At this particular moment, though- I didn’t give a shit about how or what she felt. I enjoy old people. This one not so much. She had a crankiness about her that merged into bitterness. Cranky I can take- bitter is another thing altogether. In the middle of yet another lengthy article about some minor player in the 9/11 plot ( note: I think 9/11 was a horrific event), I switched to reading Texas Highways. I imagine that if I was a new Yorker, I would feel differently- as if evil exists only to bother new yorkers. Bluebonnets being trampled by toddlers, who waddled alongside fervent, camera- wielding moms, made me put this periodical back in it’s spot. What I wouldn’t give for a Highlights. Goofus was my hero. Gallant was a schmoozer and probably became a politician or a funeral director or a preacher. At least you knew with goofus. But no teacher worth her weight in mrs cleaver’s peanut butter cookies would ever tout goofus skills over gallant qualities. A rebel without applause. The old lady moved further away from me. A voice calling my name broke the overwhelming silence and i was shuffled off to the X ray area. It was 8:30. After they peered straight thru my innards again, I was escorted to another waiting room where they found that my blood pressure was sufficient then walked me to the area where a doctor’s assistant came in to speak to me after I had been there for an hour. Just before she arrived all cheery and brisk with her air of assistance, I was reading another new Yorker article written by some sly academic who was telling me how things really are and pooh-poohing things written by some other equally sly academic. The magazine boasted that- among others like fran lebowitz- woody Allen had written articles in the new Yorker. This was impressive in some way inferred the new Yorker. I read once where miss lebowitz was quoted as saying that many folks were wrong when they mistook the elite for the rich. She says that smarter than normal people are the elite and that is what confuses people (who are not of the elite) when they are speaking of the rich. I try and not speak about either. I wouldn’t know one if I spoke to one or the other. I consider that a highly cherished goofus trait and it keeps me from thinking I know too damned much about things I don’t know too damned much about. Someone interrupted my self- effacement at exactly 10:15. Two hours had passed and there stood the doctor. He invited me to look at my innards with him. He pointed out a couple of things and showed me where spinal fluid ought to be and where mine actually wasn’t in one or two places- and this could be the reason for my discomfort but maybe not and that this or that might happen and if it did to call him. Otherwise, he advised me to do whatever I usually do but not too much of it and we would play it by ear and see what happens. Cleverness strands us at the most inopportune times and all i could muster was a weak nod and an even weaker ok. my first inclination was to head- butt him for making me read the new Yorker for so long. Yet, I thanked him for seeing me then paid someone at the front desk $50 for supplying me with some much needed misery.
Ferd on wtf would folks name their children after themselves. God, Jr.? Even step-Dad, and fairly decent carpenter, Joseph ( the other half(?) of Immaculate Receiver and willing partner to invisible men- Mary, was loathe to name baby Jesus, baby Joseph. Perhaps, when Joey Joe and sacred Mary were kicking around a few names, they were overruled by the overruler. Besides, The Big Lebowski loses a ton without Tuturro’s bowling Jesus. “Tha Joseph”? Not even close.
Bolt had his own opinion of the oxymoronic “virgin birth”. Out of his mouth, words fell:
– imagine it. Mary and J are hangin at the crib. Maybe a little vino after dinner. A knock at the door sorta startles them. Who knocks on a door this late in sleepy Nazareth! I don’t know about you- but when I see a real damned angel at my door, I’m puttin the bottle down. But there he was- Gabe the Angel! And he ( he??- did they have boy and girl Angels??)- has a cable from Tha Man! Listen/ If a guy can impregnate an unsuspecting virgin from like a bunch of miles away, why would he not just whisper in her ear and let her know his zany intentions. I mean- they say that this guy is everywhere all the dang time. Maybe he figured that she might get scared. Who wouldn’t be!! But- I guess when you know every dang thing about every dang thing, then he must’ve had a decent reason for sending a fairly important missive via heavenly courier. Who am I to doubt somebody who can build a world in a week. One week!! I can’t even drive to Oregon in a week! Lordy. Anyways- there he was, Good News Gabe. Stepdad Joe answers the knock. Now I don’t know about you, but the simple fact that a freakin angel is knocking on your door is enough to send a man to an early daisy pushing event. Stepdad J was 90- so his daisy pushing was on the Nazareth horizon. But to have an angel show up at your door, and give you a little note signed by Tha man his own self- and to have that crazy request laid out in writing??? There’s been plenty of blues tunes written about these kinds of shenanigans-And plenty of whisky downed due to some indolent rock n roller absconding with your bride. But this was something else altogether. Well then- after Angel Gabe bid his adeiu, Sacred Mary called out to Stepdad Joe- who was trying to slink off to another part of the casa ( for obvious reasons). “ who in the world was that, honey?” Who in the world, indeed. More like- who in some other danged world. Befuddled Joe thought about crumpling up the sex demand letter but was worried about a future rendezvous with some form of cement shoe wear and a body of water. So he made his way to the living room where his soon-to-be-not-a-virgin-bride was waiting.
She noticed the wadded parchment in Stepdad’s shaky hand. Now- this was a wholly unpredictable predicament for an aging carpenter in a semi forgotten part of the world. Words feebly escaped from just above Olding Joe’s beard “ well, sweetie- I don’t know how to say this- but I have some pretty weird instructions for you”.
Mary: “ my lord, Joe/ your color isn’t so good.
Joe:” this guy, Gabe- well- he claimed to be an angel who was sent from God his own self to tell you that he is going to get you pregnant”.
Mary: “ the angel wants to get me pregnant??”
Joe: “no, hunny bunny/ Tha god wants to get you pregnant”.
Mary: “ whoa. Hang on now. Tha God? As in Tha god from above??”
Joe:” I can only assume so, M.
Mary:” in that case, I better break out my best perfume. This won’t be an ordinary date”.
Ordinary date, indeed. Stepdad Joe sat heavily on the rickety couch. His mind, already a wandering batch of aging ganglia, whirled like a bad carnival ride. He pondered just how much the world would be different had he been on the toilet when the angel came knocking. A man his age could spend extended periods atop the porcelain. Mary- out of earshot- might never have heard the celestial knock either. These are things to be considered.
Ferd wandered. This skyfalling involved Stinky Lazarus. It’s one thing to wash off the day’s sweat or bat remnants from lengthy cave living. It’s a whole other thing to wash off some fairly recent death. Stinky Lazarus could have (should have) created a couple of cottage industries with his interesting turnabout. Botox ( for slouching skin). Holy Water ( rehydration after a short bout with death). Death Defying Body Wash ( for obvious reasons). All kinds of opportunity. But Socialist Jesus would have none of that capitalist coercion. So Stinky Lazarus had to settle for life after death over a small business opportunity. It’s fairly important to remember that empirical evidence had yet to be invented- at least in this part of the world. There was only one ” known” world for the folks in this particular known world. The inhabitants of the ” unknown” world ( at least unknown to the folks in their respective ” known ” worlds) had their own set of rules and rulers- their own set of kings and messiahs. So, envisioning the scene, and hearing the revolutionary conversation twixt The Jesus and Stinky Lazarus, Ferd allowed the unfolding vignette ( with Stinky Laz frothing first followed by the reluctant Messiah):
– JESUS CHRIST! Am I at the pearlys?
– please- just Tha Jesus to all my friends. Lord have mercy, boy- let’s get you to a Roman bath or something. You stink worse than the dead
– well- I AM worse that the dead- I’m reborned!!
– yeah-that reborn stuff has always struck me as a bit fishy.
Stinky Lazarus laughed a toothless laugh. The death visit not only scrubbed some good skin off his bones, it allowed natural progression to do some bad dental work. Nevertheless, he was somewhat heartened at the subtle Supreme Jokester. He continued.
– That’s a good one! Well- I’m much obliged for the second chance. You sure have a mysterious way with things.
– so I’ve been told. It’s a burden. I make it look easy. But it’s not. It takes all I have not to go back to the damn desert for another 40 day stint. The wide open spaces are for me. The masses thing is just not my deal. But apparently, the commandant is interested in this mission – and he’s a slave driver.
– but wait- I thought/
– yeah, I know. It’s confusing. Imagine MY confusion. It’s hard enough being one person. But it gets real crowded when you have another couple folks rattling around inside. Carlos Castaneda has nothing on me.
– never mind. The simultaneous/everything at once theory is difficult to wrap one’s head around. You shoulda stayed dead. Much more peaceful there. Wherever there is. By the way- could you do me a quick solid and cover yourself in something? You have no idea what your appearance is doing to my psyche.
Stinky Laz found a fig tree and grabbed a few Adam leaves and obliged the Saver.
Pauls Fountains was borned beside his stillborned brother. His momma had named ’em Paul and Peter. But Peter never made it past birth. And just ’cause stillborn Pete never took a solid breath, she decided to throw a extra “S” on the end of Paul so he could begin his life-climb. Pauls would have to carry it on. (Whatever “it” was). Peter got some birth stuff wrapped round him that would not let go. The result was not a decent damn thing for anyone involved in the mother push. A good day gone haywire was half good. (Half bad, I guessed). Bad fer Peter, one might say. Peter would probably say so- if he had maneuvered the birth canal better. Worse fer Pauls- as he would find out soon enough.
Pauls hinted more than once that his momma was bent to give him a good hand up the misery ladder. She held high esteem in the persistent thought of stillborn Pete. She knew him not one single day. She knew Pauls all his life – and held dirt low regard for him -,- and held him solely responsible fer stillborn Pete’s early demise.
“You crowded him out. You just crowded the boy out”. Said Pauls’s mom. Pauls would feel pretty dang bad about this just about his whole lifetime. I can imagine that it might.
The ensuing conversations would go like this-
” Hey- I’m so and so. Howdy”
” howdy back. Pauls Fountains here” then they would shook hands in the typical fashion.
-Oh really! Y’all make those ones with the swans and roman flowers high in the concrete?
-Uh- ones what?
-Huh? What’s a ones?
-The concrete swans.
-Oh/ the fountains. I was talking about fountains. How much?
-How much what?
-How much are your dang fountains?
-I ain’t got any.
-Oh- y’all out?
-Out of what?
-The swans- fer gosh sakes.
This is what pauls’s momma did to him purposeful. Full of purpose she did that. Just ’cause of stillborn Pete. A person who never really existed- except in name- weighed more heavy than a person you’d know all your damn life. I’d say it’s a pity. But that just ain’t wordy enough fer that type of aggressive natural idiocy.
The other thing was the possessive. Pauls had one headache of a time his whole life long dealing with his mom’s revenge. English class was particular hell. They’d say ” pauls’s locker is unlocked”. Then while he was tryin to figure out how the possessive worked with his name, several items were lifted from his locker. He was in for it like this for quite a time. A lifetime to be exact.
Pauls’s mom would say it was not god’s will that prevented stillborn Pete from seein’ daylight ever. That was the devils makin’. She’d say that the imposition that was now Pauls was the devil’s work too. She could not make headway with one borned and one not. And she’d say so to god once each night as she lay wonderin’ why on the brief planet would something so malignant fall upon her. Prayin’ to her lonely god and beratin’ the bedeviled one , she figured she needed only a recipient and bearer of her forced upon bad will. Pauls was the waning recipient.
Ferd had a semi-fallin out with a way back friend who happened to be a priest in Rocky Pete’s Big Church. They hadn’t spoken for quite a span- and one dim day came back upon each other. A cooped up concoction began like this- with the sandaled Pop swoopin in without even a cordial:
– so I heard that you were suffering from some disunity.
– I’m a bit from gittin ya
– a downsizing in your church ways
– I’m sure that’s a proper pension in my case.
– proper indeed. We have these lapses into reality from time to time, do we not?
– I’d be lapsing frequent if I had that tight of a collar clamping me hourly
– it can be quite a reminder
– pray tell, why must you be reminded?
– you can refer to me as Father
– but you’re not
– not what
– my father
– it’s just a manner of speaking, I’m afraid
– don’t be
– be what
– oh I’m never afraid
– really. I’m mostly terrified
– of what
– mostly end of the world type stuff. Nothin serious
– well we should be thankful for that day to come
– can’t say that I’d be thankful in the least
– perhaps you’re not ready to meet your maker judge
– I’d say you made a correct statement
– thank you. My counsel is a learned and valuable aspect
– of what
– of what, I said
– what did you say?
Dimness is a hired foe. If there was an unearthly power, it relied heavily on the dim being. The doomed dim provided a firm undergirding for big power. A mighty fortress one might say. And Ferd said it. The high walled kept at bay all thought and left the contrary to their collective contrariness.
The Pops regained his momentum.
– let’s skip ahead shall we
– skip on
– the disunity. Is it an ongoing suffering?
– I’ll engage that line. I’m fairly unified. Atoms are a fickle bunch. Mine do become unbalanced at their discreet discretion.
– we are all subject to the will of god
– I was referring to atoms. The devil is in the details. And atoms are pretty basic detail stuff.
– is your faith compromised?
– I’ve tried to meet it in the middle. But it won’t budge. It’s a fixed fixation and there ain’t much in tryin to move it. Like tryin to revise a good fairy tale.
The forty-first parking lot episode spurted one blustered ice day in early February. The lot was littered with gray islands–frozen and suspect. A big grackle strutted nearby and shouted an aluminum screech as Ferd’s brother Bolt kicked off:
– these chinawomen are peddling their new newborns on Al Gore’s interweb. The real big newly arrived have to be sold on Amazon.com (Bolt smiled broadly at his new form of funny). The boys who run the place over there- well most of em anyway-have minimum six or seven chinaman siblings apiece. They caused all the crowded. Then they got the nerve to tell their bland constituents that the only child they can have is an only child. Some nerve those boys have. But when you got a decent size bunch of guns with a decent number of folks who can shoot said guns, then nerve is just a manufactured thing- and you can do pretty much any old dang thing you want- includin’ keeping excited spermatozoa from meetin up with some ready-to-go eggs thus creating more than the one and only one that you are allowed to create. Then- ya got those nice folks down in Florida who are children chunkin’ out car windows at high speeds. Just don’t seen right that the god who chooses parents for those little people who are gettin chunked outta car windows is a god that folks clamor to get to know. There’s somethin about that kinda stuff that just ain’t right. Does it seem strange to you, Ferd?
– most of the time, I aim low and always make the ground my target. Gravity takes care of the rest. I never miss.
– what in sam’s hill are you speakin of?
– about what?
– about ever dang thing.
– but I was talkin about folks doin weird stuff
– you aim too high, Bolt.
The lightning that killed Ferd was unexpected. Particularly it was unexpected from Ferd’s perspective. Killed him and his two iron. The rest of the set survived. Trouble will find you if you go lookin for it. And the day you go walkin around in wide open spaces with a good conductor and playin with high electricity from the sky is a day you might wake up dead. Ferd never woke up after that day.
Some folks said it was God’s will that Ferd was struck. Guess you could see it that way – that is, if you’ve never watched water boil or mercury rising. I figure it was Ferd’s errant drive off the twelfth tee box that got him into position to accept the electricity. High voltage is not fit for human consumption. The funny thing about it is- he rarely hooked the ball. But there are approximately a hundred and sixty one things that can and will go wrong in a golf swing. Ferd had categorized em from time to time. The things that could go wrong with a golf swing, that is. This time, his right foot slipped out from underneath him just a little bit which caused him to turn too much on his downswing and the fickle little globe took flight on its left -half ellipse. Could have been the one worn out spike on the heel of his right shoe that caused the slip. Funny what one worn out spike can lead to. The drive hook left him left and about two fifteen out. So instead of an easy five to the hole, Ferd had to pull a club not fit for mankind out of his bag. At least this club was clean. When you are a decent driver of the golf ball and if you play from the whites, there ain’t much cause to test the will of a two iron. So beneath a roiling boiling charcoal sky Ferd is walking under tilting large live oaks with a long piece of metal in his hand looking for his golf ball gone awry. The peeking and dimpled heartache lay there in wait just past a shadowed brush batch. It’s a large task to undertake to explain the sub-atomic attraction to this game. It runs straight from some lonesome place underneath netted gray ganglia all the way down the insides of your arms thru the thumbs then spreads over your palms. Feels like the natural world has entered and alighted spherically and balances among the atoms between your hands. It is an entirely whole thing and allows you to see a slight sliver of the infant universe- if you are one inclined to look. Ferd was inclined. A slight opening to the green between a couple of hundred year old oaks was all he needed. The choice to lay up doesn’t exist on the weekend on a semi- decent municipal course. You don’t pay 35 plus to lay up. The thunder was makin big world war noises. The release of large energy is never uninteresting as it makes its way thru the air at high speed. And some of it was about to find Ferd and his lanky two iron. Two fifteen thru the trees. Ferd stood staring at the sandwiched green. The visual hazard is worse than the actual thing. Water. Sand. Wood. Ferd stands over the resting globe. In full backswing, his feet begin to go to sleep. His ankles are jellywobbling. A string being pulled from just above his head is being threaded thru his groins then up past his midsection slowly languidly past his heart up to his chin as he follows thru with his last earthly motion. The wind sways the tired oaks. The rising ball drifting right finds a wall of air pushing it back left towards the green. And as it lightly bounces onto the surface and stops 6 feet from the hole, Ferd explodes in a singing throng of sparkling reds and swollen blues. Stardust to stardust.
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