Sunday, February 17, 2008
Part I and II Working Title: The Pedestal
In The Desert
In the desert there is sunlight and heat and rattlesnakes minding their own business, not even bothering with their rattles. There's brush here and there. Off in the far distance is a huge dark wall of a mountain, but straight ahead is a winding road to an ocean shore.
In this desert I'm hot but happy, comfortable and careless. This location isn't one far from civilization, it's just on the edge, not far from a shore or change of landscape or life. There's a paved road and in this desert that's where I'm walking, almost shuffling, thumbs in my jeans. There's a hot wind blowing, giving my hair a treatment. My hair seems long from the top, but is cut short and thick with layers blowing over my face and off again. I'm quite pleased with it.
I'm thinking about this because it's just me and the desert, me and denim and cotton and canvas-rubber shoes and a cool haircut. It's just me and my hairdo and my freckles and my form, shuffling along.
I could go off road and watch a rattlesnake, but I'm headed toward the beach. I'm not afraid of snakes, even venomous ones, but I'm walking to the ocean. This desert turns into dunes before joining the ocean, but before that, I'm stopped in my tracks.
Off to the right maybe twenty-five long steps away I see a pedestal. I don't know if it's ionic, or Doric, or Corinthian, that hardly seems the point. There's a clear glass box on top with blood red contents. Off in the distance, there are bushes and a young man, or maybe a boy is hiding there. I pretend not to notice. There's no way I'm not going to look at that box. I'll deal with that person if I must.
This is a perfectly cube shaped clear glass box. I step up and can open it from the top, the top frame of glass is a lid. Inside there are rose petals! Rose petals! How delicate, beautiful, vivid, soft. I reach my hand in to feel and find something like a card that I pull up. It's a photograph- of me!
Kind of. It's this beautiful version of me. I mean, more um...polished. Well not really me on any given day, but it's me nonetheless. And all I can think is-
What is this shit?
Children of the Apocalypse
There's at least one person who knows.
The cryptic missive in the bushes knows I saw him, but he's a child of the apocalypse. Children of the apocalypse don't answer questions. These children have a set mind that 1) at any given moment they've done something wrong and 2) others have bad motives toward them; and so to hide their vulnerability and protect themselves from harm, they answer all questions wrongly regardless of topic. They could be asked where they purchased their rations for the day, or simply what time it is, but every question is a potential assault. Even eye contact is out of the question. They dart to and fro continually as scavengers of sorts. If they like you, they don't mind if you figure things out on your own. Hints or clues will be dropped sometimes. I can see that he's still peeking at me from behind the brush, but just the thought of talking to him sends a wave of irritation over me from head to toe. Presently, I don't feel like playing games.
My thoughts return to the mystery of the pedestal and the box. My moves aren't planned in advance, so this wasn't placed here for me. This was not supposed to be seen by me, and it doesn't feel like it has anything to do with me at all. Yet, this is a picture of me, kind of. So anyway, which is the creepier reality? For me, or not for me?
These are the things I'm pondering after turning on my heels to head back to my bike. My steps now are much more purposeful and speedy. I expect there to be a couple more children of the apocalypse near my bike, but I won't ask them anything.
Children of the apocalypse are so named because they are survivors of such. Had there been a planetary apocalypse, I suppose we would all be children of the apocalypse, but theirs was a localized destruction. Only their settlements were obliterated.
All that they had, every resource, every tool, every tradition, all that they knew to be true fact and every shared belief was gone, torn away, ruptured and raptured at the cellular level. What didn't rip apart atomically was damaged and so failed to replicate and so died. Many children live on, as do some of the mothers, but these mothers live in the past, unreachable.
The children that dart to and fro scavenging here and there and avoiding eye contact, these are the boys. Their given names are like Noah, Josiah, Jeremiah, Zeke -short for Ezekiel, Hosea, Amos, Elijah, Seth, Isreal, Jebediah, Micah, Jonah, and Bo- short for Boaz (my personal favorite and the nickname I have given any and all of them.) Their worlds are gone, they live in no world. Yeah, that's right, come to think of it, they live in no world.
There were girls, but they're all gone. They've easily assimilated into any group of their choosing. Melding together with new loved ones and new identities, they were changelings, or simply became invisible. These are called Mary.
The boys make their way daily by being useful to others which is quite a feat considering they do this with no direct communication. It has to be experienced to be believed. Schematics of archaic apparatus from their tribes survived their apocalypse, so these boys are good with technologies and adapt them to others' apparatus that, they believe, could use a retro-fit for improvement. All are water technologies. Now, in reality, people have the water technologies that they need and these children of the apocalypse came from tribes that used cumbersome and cryptic technologies to get anything done. I've never personally found anything that they've had to offer useful, and most settlements won't either. But there are those with limited time and resources to plan well, and sometimes these boys can fit a niche here or there, "upgrading"- as they like to think of it- a traveling vendor's water apparatus, or some motorcycle here and there. It's a temporary fix, whatever they're doing and the materials are not renewable, but it's cheap so for the time being all parties in the transaction are happy.
That's why they love my bike. It's not really powerful and it's obvious that I've made some adjustments to it, so they figure I'm the type that wouldn't mind a "more efficient" (it's not) water system. I happen to know that, if anything, it's a lateral move at best. Anything they could offer is done better on the new bikes. New bikes are cheap anyway. I just happen to like my bike.
You can't blame them for trying, so sure enough, my bike has a couple of Boes examining it, and they're having an animated conversation with each other for my benefit. I figured as much anyway. I know what to do. As usual they are avoiding direct contact but the message is loud and clear. It's not appropriate for me to address them directly, so I start up my bike and happily mumble something in a friendly tone about getting a new one. I grab two wrapped pieces of candy from my pocket and throw them on the ground behind all three of us, I wink with my left eye to no one in particular and put my helmet on, which in these parts is necessary for a sand screen, and I speed off.
The Boes are young enough to dart for candy and they laugh hysterically at some funny joke that I'm not in on. They like to try to make people feel that they are laughing at them. Frankly speaking, Boes are punk asses. Alot of people don't like them, but they're in a tough position.
It's really hot out here, and I don't know where I'm headed.
Posted by MarT at 8:10 PM